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You know [[{{Mooks}} this guy]]. You've seen him before. There are a million others like him, and they're [[YouALLLookFamiliar all the same]]. He's just another minor pawn in the BigBad's army. He probably doesn't even have a [[NominalImportance name]]. And yet...

Sometimes, a [[EvilMinions basic generic minion]] isn't content with remaining so. Instead, this character, initially so insignificant that you might not even think of them as a character, becomes a major antagonist. This may be achieved through actual promotion ([[KlingonPromotion Klingon-style]] or otherwise), through a [[OneWingedAngel transformation]], or through doing something so [[MoralEventHorizon vile]] that they personally become the target of the wrath of the fanbase. Alternatively, the writer may simply give the character more and more lines and appearances until they become a significant villain through sheer familiarity. In video games they may take the form of a regular enemy who functions as a level boss, making them an inversion of DegradedBoss.

After all, [[FromNobodyToNightmare every villain has to start somewhere]]. Maybe even the BigBad was a mook once.

Contrast VillainDecay, where a major antagonist becomes less major as a series progresses, as well as BossInMookClothing, where the enemy is clearly meant to be a "basic generic minion" but is as tough as a boss. See also NotSoHarmlessVillain.

See DragonAscendant for the next step up the career ladder. See also MauveShirt and AscendedExtra for a similar promotion to a member of the RedshirtArmy.

May overlap with ChekhovsGunman, since the boss looks generic at first, but if he shows up more times he becomes important.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/PokemonSpecial'' plays this forward and backwards in the R/S arc. For their success in stealing a vital submarine component, Archie promotes Matt, Amber, and Shelly to [[EliteMook Admin]] status, but they have a new mission as a price tag - they failed to bump off Chairman Stone due to the interference of one Sapphire Birch, so their new mission is to put her on ice.
** The inversion comes after Archie takes Amber and Shelly onto the submarine provided by Maxie 60% of the way through the arc - said sub required the component that was stolen earlier. Archie ordered Matt to stay put and defend the base as a means of demoting him. Prof. Cozmo provided the meteorite to Shelly that Amber used to kill Mt. Chimney, but Sapphire's still alive, right?
** Then Amber gets demoted and left for dead by Archie...for doing his goddamn job perfectly.
* ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'':
** ''Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam'': Jerid Messa starts out as a test pilot and bully who once made fun of Kamille's name. He ends up sticking around for the entire show, evolving into Kamille's main rival, and being responsible for the deaths of numerous named characters before making his exit in the penultimate finale.
** ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamZZ'': Glemmy Toto, who begins as a joke pilot in a joke squadron under a joke commander, and ends up as part of the BigBadEnsemble.

* During the first time of ComicBook/TheAvengers, the Nazi fugitive Baron Zemo had a base [[ArgentinaIsNaziland somewhere in a jungle in South America]]. Zemo finally died fighting against Captain America. One of his mooks, wandering alone in the jungle, had a great idea: use on himself the machine that Zemo once used over some guy to turn him into Wonder Man. This mook got similar powers, and took the name Power Man (yes, the same former name of Luke Cage: they fought for the name, and Cage won). Some years later, he got size-changing powers. Then, ionic powers. And then he became a super-hero, Atlas of the ComicBook/{{Thunderbolts}}.
* In [[Creator/MarvelComics Marvel's]] ''[[ComicBook/GIJoeARealAmericanHeroMarvel G.I. Joe]]'' comic, the S.A.W. Viper who killed Doc and a few other Joes was just a nameless mook. At the same time, {{Hasbro}} introduced an unrelated character to the toyline named Overkill who was originally a soulless android. Later versions of Overkill retconned his background as a Cobra soldier who had half of his body parts replaced with cyborg implants. The Overkill in the Devil's Due series is a [[CompositeCharacter composite]] of the formerly nameless S.A.W. Viper from the Marvel series and the second Overkill from the toyline.
* Remember Mr. Morden of the Brotherhood of Evil? Probably not. But after the Brotherhood disbanded, he underwent [[PowerBornOfMadness sanity experimentation]] and became Mr. Nobody, leader of the Brotherhood of Dada and one of the greatest enemies of the ''Comicbook/DoomPatrol''.
* While Sarnak was a short-lived villain in the pages of ''Comicbook/WerewolfByNight'', one of his unwilling derelict subjects was hired by [[NebulousEvilOrganization The Committee]] and was given corrosive powers, becoming the villain Tatterdemalion.

* In ''Film/TheGodfather'' movies, Al Neri and Rocco Lampone are minor hitmen in the first movie and are promoted to bigger roles as Michael Corleone's capos in ''Film/TheGodfatherPartII''. Willi Cicci is also a hitman with few lines in the ''Part I'', then Frank Pentageli's right hand man in ''Part II''. In ''Film/TheGodfatherPartIII'' he was supposed to appear again in a NoCelebritiesWereHarmed version of real life mobster John Gotti but the actor Joe Spinell died before filming began and was replaced by Joe Mantagna playing a new character "Joey Zaza".
* One of the more striking examples is Boba Fett from StarWars. He started off as just a freelance version of the FacelessGoons who was hunting Han Solo. He never actually fought anyone and his death was rather mundane, his jetpack was damaged and he flew out of control into the Sarlaac's mouth. And yet He and Bounty Hunters like him are one of the most popular aspects of the Fandom.
* The Brain Gremlin in ''Film/Gremlins2TheNewBatch'', as you might suspect from his name, quaffs a randomly-selected intelligence-enhancing formula and instantly becomes the creatures' leader and spokescritter.
* A rare ''heroic'' version of this occurred in ''WesternAnimation/TheLegoMovie,'' where Emmett, just a random, nameless cog in President Business's empire, winds up revealed to be The Special, destined to defeat him. [[spoiler: Taking this a step even further, Emmett in reality is just a generic construction-worker that Finn picked up and started playing with, and The Man Upstairs even informs him that rather than being a licensed or special toy like Batman or Superman, Emmett is a nobody.]]
* Agent Smith from ''Franchise/TheMatrix'' starts out as an interchangeable faceless Agent, until he sits down alone with Morpehus and gives his "humans are a virus" speech and begins displaying his own personality and following his own agenda. In the later movies he works against both the humans and the machines, with a black suit rather than dark green and no earpiece, indicating that he is now outside the system.

* Tom from ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'', who becomes an important antagonist late in the series, and a major player in the final battle.
* ''{{Literature/Redwall}}'':
** In ''Mariel of Redwall'', Terramort searats Garrtail and Grimtooth were promoted to Captains following [[spoiler:Gabool's slayings of Captains Skullgor and Bludrigg, repectively.]]
** Slagar [[spoiler: started out as the offspring of the healer employed by the BigBad in the previous book, then in the intervening fifteen-to-twenty seasons suffered a snakebite to the face, went insane and started working with a child slavery ring.]]
** Ripfang in ''Lord Brocktree''. Initially a young ex-searat and recent recruit into Ungatt Trunn's horde, Ripfang's brutality and cleverness enable him to swiftly rise through the ranks, becoming one of Trunn's CoDragons alongside [[NumberTwo Karangool]] and the [[MouthOfSauron Grand Fragorl]]. By the end, he's the only major villain left (and may go on to become a pirate who threatens Salamandastron on his own in ''Mossflower'' depending on who you ask).
* Padan Fain from the ''[[Literature/TheWheelOfTime Wheel of Time]]'' series. Long story short, he was the ''original'' [[Film/TheMatrix Agent Smith]].
* Given its ACastOfThousands nature and being spread over several decades of in-universe time, this happens to several characters in the Literature/HonorHarrington series. One of the more notable ones is Kevin Usher. Seen in one book in a brief bit where he's part of a team that assassinates a member of the Havenite leadership to kick off the revolution that throws out the Legislaturists, he reappears sometime later in a short story as a member of the Havenite embassy on Earth. Several books later, after the second revolution, he's Haven's top cop and counter-spy.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', a Borg drone is given the name Hugh in the episode "I, Borg". He would eventually stir up trouble by getting into a misinformed alliance with Data's EvilTwin Lore in the "Descent" two-parter (he helps the heroes later after he realises Lore's exploiting the drones.) Perhaps the ultimate example--it's harder to get much mookier than a Borg drone without getting into ''naturally''-occurring [[HiveMind hive minds]].
* Damar in ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' was first introduced as a random Cardassian bridge officer. In fact, he was always going to be a much meatier role, and was shot like a main character throughout that episode, but that didn't stop the actor nearly turning down the role because he felt it was a meaningless bit part. In fact [[spoiler:Damar ends up personally saving his entire planet from the series' BigBad by leading a rebellion after a HeelFaceTurn and dying a hero]].
* Braca of ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' has a very interesting career path - he starts off as seemingly just another RedShirt, but his loyalty to [[BigBad Scorpius]], unthreatening demeanor and ruthless opportunism means that by the end of the series, he's gone from being a random mook to having his own command (and even a [[AscendedExtra first name]]).
* In the final season of ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', Gordon Godfrey starts out as just one of [[BigBad Darkseid's]] [[DemonicPossession host bodies]], used by him to start an anti-hero PropagandaMachine. However, Darkseid must have liked what he saw in him, because when he's next seen, he's been promoted to [[CoDragons Co-Dragon]] along with [[EvilOldFolks Granny Goodness]] and [[TortureTechnician Desaad]].
* In an episode of ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003'', the Colonials nickname a Cylon Raider with a distinctive wound "Scar" and put a bounty on its head, the only time in the series that they treat a Raider as a distinct individual instead of just another Mook.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''[[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons Dungeons & Dragons]]'', baatezu and tanar'ri (devils and demons, essentially) "evolve" from weaker forms into truly nasty monsters that are easily a Boss Battle on their own.
** Except for [[CuteMonsterGirl erinyes]], which are born as such but can still evolve higher.
*** In a 3.5 rulebook it is explained that when a Baatezu gets promoted enough it can rise to a rank of 'unique' and be given, uh, unique-ness.
** As well, a lot of D&D rulebooks, especially 4e, have templates you can apply to bog-standard monsters to make them more challenging.
* The TabletopGame/{{Chess}} pawns can become more powerful pieces when the player reaches the other side of the board, making this trope OlderThanFeudalism.
* Inverted in ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'', in that it's the ''players'' who are the mooks of Friend Computer, promoted up out of Infrared anonymity to be Red-level Troubleshooters. In theory, they could go even higher, but seldom live long enough to do so.
** Of note, in Alpha Complex, ''everyone'' starts at the bottom. NPC Ultraviolets (or even PC Ultraviolets with the High Programmers sourcebook) started out as lowly Infrareds at some point and earned their way to higher clearances. It's just that the [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder nature of Troubleshooters]] means it's very, ''very'' rare for them to survive long enough to be promoted.
* Unusual semi real life example: Feared ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' Ork Warboss Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka was originally just a regular mook in the army of one of the game developers, with the name created via random generator tables. Over time he was given his own new model and rules as a Warboss, his backstory developed and was eventually resculpted as a giant tank on legs and holds the position of the most feared Greenskin leader in the universe.
* The backstory of one supervillain NPC from the old TabletopGame/{{GURPS}} Supers, Darkshell: he was a rather stupid thug hired to test a PoweredArmor suit for a MadScientist. He slowly becomes ''smarter'', and not only that - he becomes able to [[{{Telepathy}} read minds]]. Thus he realises the MadScientist hadn't bothered to put in radiation shielding on the suit's Phlebotinum reactor, reasoning it was just a prototype and not caring if his minion died - [[GenreBlindness not counting]] on the risk of a FreakLabAccident. Darkshell kills him, now that he is smart enough to handle the armor himself, and sets out to become his own villain.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}''
** The Man Eater, a regular enemy in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaAriaOfSorrow'', appeared in the BossRush for some reason.
** Possibly as a bane to speedrunners, annoying three-headed bastard...Well technically eyes, but you have to kill every one of them. If you're not using the Red Minotaur when you enter, you should be.
** And by ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaOrderOfEcclesia'' it's gotten to be a full-fledged boss at the end of the Skeleton Cave.
** Spectral Sword first appeared in ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaRondoOfBlood Rondo of Blood]]'' and was a normal enemy in several games. It finally got promoted to boss status in ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaTheAdventureRebirth The Adventure Rebirth.]]''
* In the ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'' franchise:
** The King Goomba in ''VideoGame/PaperMario'', who begged Bowser to turn him into a king using the Star Rod.
** Nearly every boss and sub-boss in ''VideoGame/YoshisIsland'' is a common enemy turned giant by Kamek.
** A beefed-up Hammer Bro. in ''VideoGame/SuperPrincessPeach'' served as the precursor to the Final Battle.
** The IncredibleShrinkingMan plot of ''VideoGame/MarioParty DS'' allows for boss roles by a Piranha Plant, Hammer Bro. and Dry Bones. ''Mario Party 9'' also includes a Lakitu, Cheep Cheep, Chain Chomp and Spike.
** Those two Mandibugs that are stacked on top of each other from ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'' and ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy2''.
** The Fly Guy R Thieves in ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiDreamTeam''. They decide to steal a valuable object the party is after, and then later attack them. They're absolutely no different in appearance or abilities to the normal versions fought a dozen times alrady, with the exception of the boss intro and boss music played throughout the fight.
* In ''VideoGame/SpyroYearOfTheDragon'' the bosses are all {{Mooks}} which the BigBad turns into monsters.
* In ''VideoGame/LiveALive'', in every room of the Technique Dungeon, you will be pursued by an obese, pink guy who seems to be infatuated with your player character, no matter what gender they are. Being caught makes a fight ensue. If you finally find the treasure of the dungeon, he will fight you again for one last time... except the only thing that changes is that the boss song plays. He's still as strong as he was before.
* In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheMinishCap'', minor enemies are occasionally promoted to GiantMook bosses. In this instance, though, the enemies haven't become more powerful; Link has simply been [[IncredibleShrinkingMan shrunk to a smaller size]].
* Also from the Zelda series: Vire, the miniboss of both ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOracleGames Oracle]]'' games' sixth dungeons. He's graphically identical (though tougher and faster) to a regular late-game enemy in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaLinksAwakening''.
* Johnny Sasaki from ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid''. In the first game he was a bid at humanising the mooks by giving one a name and history. In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'', he graduated to the role of recurring comic relief character. By ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots'' he becomes, in a scene that really has to be seen to be believed, [[spoiler:a super-smooth action man who helps save the world. And steals Snake's girl.]]
* In ''Videogame/SuperRobotWars Z'', an anonymous female grunt witnesses her squad wiped out by the time/space bomb at the start of ''Orguss''. She is Xine Espio, Akasim's sidekick.
* In ''VideoGame/CityOfVillains'' this is a major part of the plot line for the Arachnos archetype player characters.
* In the fluff of ''VideoGame/SwordOfTheStars'', for the [[BeePeople Hivers]], if your [[MonsterProgenitor mommy]] loves you very much, when you die, she'll eat your brain and reincarnate you in a new body, with the chance of being reborn as a [[MonsterLord Prince]]. And if you should manage to impress [[HiveQueen grandma]] enough, you might even come back as a Princess.
* All of the Chapter 6 Guardians in ''VideoGame/DarkCloud 2'', which protect the crystals needed to activate the Time Gate, are regular enemies given a massive HP increase. Likewise, the foes that bar the way across the Spiral Of Dreams at the endgame are bigger and badder versions of already difficult mooks. Their tactics remain exactly the same, however.
* The ''KingdomHearts'' series has been, as of late, giving upgrades to the [[TheGoomba Shadow]] Heartless, including adding [[GiantMook supersized-versions]] for ''358/2 Days'', and creating their [[EliteMook elite]] subspecies, the [[TookALevelInBadass Neoshadows]]. Then, they have a promoted Neoshadow, called Novashadow, as a boss battle.
* ''Patapon'' has an example that covers two games. In the [[ScrappyLevel Desert Level]], when you kill Aiton, a minor Zigoton soldier, his friend Makoton swore revenge on all Patapons, even going to the point of leaving General Gong to die and selling his soul. In the sequel, he was the Dark One said to hate all Patapons.
* The Waddle Dee in ''VideoGame/KirbySuperStar Ultra'', Revenge of the King. You actually hear King Dedede promote him right before the fight.
* Armies in the ''VideoGame/TotalWar'' series of games will be led by generic "Captain" units when not in the command of a General/family member. Combining this trope with AscendedExtra, the Captain can be promoted to General and adopted into the royal family after winning a major victory.
* In ''VideoGame/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' all minibosses, except Bebop, are promoted mooks.
* In the ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' series, Vladimir Makarov, BigBad of the second two games, was in fact just another soldier in Zakhaev's army when Price shot his arm off in Chernobyl in 1996. Makarov saved Zakhaev's life and was rewarded as a loyal minion, rising through the ranks of the Ultranationalist command until Soap killed Zakhaev in 2011. Makarov took control of the radical elements of the Ultranationalists, and became a vastly greater threat than his mentor ever was.
* In ''VideoGame/EvilGenius'', not only you can promote your mooks, it is actually indispensable to do so to get anything over the construction worker mook.
* This is one of Videogame/MiddleEarthShadowOfMordor's schtick. If a mook manages to kill you, it moves up in the Orcish hierarchy and is promoted to a captain. Said orc can continue moving up all the way up to the rank of Warchief. In fact, one of the in-game achievements involve helping an orc who killed you get promoted all the way to Warchief and subsequently killing him.
* ''VideoGame/MordheimCityOfTheDamned'': The "Lad's Got Talent" passive skill lets you graduate a basic Henchman into a Hero unit, giving them extra attack and movement points and letting them take master-level skills.

* Redcloak of ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' is an archetypal example. Author Rich Burlew at first intended for him to be an ordinary [[{{Mooks}} Mook]], and indeed the name Redcloak derives from the original ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}'''s tradition of killing off its "{{redshirt}}" security officers. The character, however, took on a life of his own and became the living vessel of the will of the god of goblins. Not a bad promotion!
** Redcloak's [[NumberTwo right-hand man]] may be a case of this as well. WordOfGod suggests that the seemingly various hobgoblins that have filled this position are in fact just one hobgoblin--Jirix--who has been [[TheyKilledKenny resurrected behind the scenes each time]].
** The wight with Thanh's shoes was one of Tsukiko's generic wights, but he became the only one to survive the encounter and is seen as her NumberTwo [[spoiler: right up to the moment that Redcloak takes control of him and his fellows and has them eat Tsukiko alive]]. He even gets to hang out with Xykon.
* [[http://gigaville.com/comic.php?id=21 This fellow]] in ''Webcomic/TheLastDaysOfFOXHOUND'' tries [[http://gigaville.com/comic.php?id=270 this.]] It doesn't work out, since nobody [[http://gigaville.com/comic.php?id=278 remembers him.]]
* Stanley the Plaid/Tool of ''Webcomic/{{Erfworld}}'', the protagonist's Overlord, is revealed in his backstory to have started off as a piker - which amounts to line infantry. That's one ''hell'' of a promotion.
** Technically, Stanley had four promotions: Piker to Warlord, Warlord to Chief Warlord, Chief Warlord to Heir Designate, and finally, Heir Designate to Overlord. And promoting common infantry to Warlords is not that uncommon in Erfworld, and is one of the two ways of becoming a Warlord in Erfworld. The other is being [[strike:born]] popped into the position.
* A RandomEncounter in ''Webcomic/RPGWorld'' had Olaf, who after "Disc 1" returns in Monster City as a Boss with his [[DualBoss girlfriend]] still upset and traumatized that the PlayerParty ''ran away from him''.
** It might've been a tutorial how to run away from monsters though.. Fat blokes. Honest.
* One of [[http://www.antiheroforhire.com/d/20030929.html Dr. Nefarious's henchmen]] in ''Webcomic/AntiheroForHire'' returns in an interlude phase later on as [[http://www.antiheroforhire.com/d/20071105.html Union]], gathering mooks of all kinds, for... well... ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Roleplay/TheGamersAlliance'', Zenobia is first introduced as a mere mook in the Totenkopf death cult but she slowly climbs up the hierarchy and eventually becomes one of the Master's Blessed.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Harley Quinn from ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' was originally supposed to be a minor accomplice of the Joker and ended up a full-blown SuperVillain, making appearances in numerous other adaptations.
* The Monarch of ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' used to be a mere henchman for Phantom Limb before gradually building himself into Dr. Venture's archnemesis and being the BigBad for the first two seasons.
** Also from ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' is Henchman 21, who, as the name indicates, was just another generic henchman until [[spoiler: his comrade 24 dies, and after a brief sabbatical, he returns as a total badass]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheBatman'' The Black Mask would [[YouHaveFailedMe kill his Number One]] then point to a random mook and make him or her his new [[NumberTwo Number One]].
* [[DarkActionGirl Shego]] in ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' was originally designed as a fairly generic henchwoman for Dr. Drakken, but Nicole Sullivan's performance pitched her as smarter than Drakken, treating his [[EvilPlan evil schemes]] with [[DeadpanSnarker mockery and sarcasm]]. The writers remade her to include this, and she became [[EnsembleDarkhorse the series' most popular villain.]]
* Dr. Zin does this twice in ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuestVersusTheCyberInsects''.