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Big Bad: Live-Action TV

"The ultimate villain of the story, who's causing the problem the heroes must solve."

Note that Big Bad is not a catch-all trope for the biggest and ugliest villain of any given story. The Big Bad is the one who turns out to be behind several other seemingly independent threats.

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    #0- 9 

    A 
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: The main Big Bad is John Bly, who is eventually revealed to be an even bigger threat than previously thought when it is discovered that he's actually a time traveler from Earth's far future who will institute a 1,000-year reign of terror.
  • Alphas: The main villains are the Red Flag organization, the collective Evil Counterpart to Rosen's Alpha team. Specifically, the Big Bad would be Red Flag's leader, Stanton Parish, who so far has only been on screen for about five minutes total in season 1 finale, but has still managed to show himself as a master Chessmaster, and a very dangerous opponent.
  • Season one of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the mysterious and unseen individual known only as The Clairvoyant, who is behind Project Centipede and much else of what's happened so far in the series. "Turn, Turn, Turn" reveals that he's Agent John Garrett, who is actually a top HYDRA agent.
  • Angel:
    • The show has the Senior Partners at Wolfram and Hart as the main antagonist for the entire series, who were never properly seen and worked through their various lawyers and other agents like Lindsey, Lilah and Hamilton. On occasion their plans are disrupted by other evil forces but they represent the overriding evil Angel has to face.
    • Season 3 has a massive Big Bad Ensemble with Daniel Holtz, Liah Morgan, and Sajjhan. Out of those three, Daniel comes up as the domminate threat and Sajjhan is the Outside-Context Villain.
    • Season 4 has Jasmine, ostensibly one of The Powers That Be who manipulated events across the series in order to gain a physical form. She had her own Dragon, The Beast, who massacred the LA Wolfram & Hart branch. Angelus also took over the role for a short while in in the fourth season after killing The Beast, until he was re-ensouled again by Willow.
    • Season 5 returned to the Senior Partners, but with a twist in that Angel and his team were given Wolfram and Hart resources to do whatever they wanted with, making it an Enemy Mine situation. They kept their presence known through their Dragons, Marcus Hamilton and the Circle of the Black Thorn led by Archduke Sebassis.
    • Gunn was this in After the Fall.
  • Arrested Development:
    • Seasons 1-3 have Lucille Bluth, who, as revealed in (what was originally) the show's Grand Finale, is behind all of the corruption in the Bluth company.
    • The story arc started by Season 4 seems to have Sally Sitwell (for GOB's story at the very least), and possibly whoever killed Lucille 2 (every member of the family has a motive).
  • Since Arrow runs two storylines simultaneously (one in the present, the other flashbacks to Oliver's time on the island), it naturally has two Big Bads per season.

    B 
  • Babylon 5 always had the Shadows as the biggest threat, with their influence still being felt even after their defeat, but not always the obvious Big Bad.
  • Big Wolf on Campus: The Werewolf Syndicate, which was led by legitimate Big Bad, but they are eventually killed off, so the leaders incompetent son takes over.
  • Blakes Seven: Had Servalan, especially in Season 3 when she's risen to President of the Federation and is answerable to no-one. Despite her reduced status in Season 4, she's still ultimately behind most of the problems the Seven face.
  • Boardwalk Empire:
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Tuco Salamanca became this towards the end of Season 1, but died shortly into the second season after Hank Schrader shot him in the head.
    • The Cousins are this for the first half of Season 3. They later get killed by Gus' machinations.
    • The end of Season 3 and all of Season 4 had Gustavo 'Gus' Fring, with the Cartel briefly entering as the Big Bad Ensemble. The first half of Season 5 had Walter White. The second half of Season 5 has Jack Welker.
    • For a while, it looked as though Fring might be a lesser threat than the brutal Mexican drug cartel to which he paid tribute in return for jurisdiction over his meth market. He put those doubts to rest when he successfully assassinated the cartel's leadership.
    • Lydia Rodarte-Quayle is the series' big bad; Crazy 8, Tuco and Fring are lesser predecessors to Lydia, who can expand the cartel into an intercontinental empire. But her meek style and relative inexperience avert the big bad cliches. Lydia's descent into crime in the final season mirrors Walter White's in Season 1.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the Trope Namer, and would occasionally introduce "decoy" Big Bads to set up a surprising revelation:
    • The Movie / The Origin Comic: Count Lothos
    • Season 1: The Master
    • Season 2: First the Anointed One was a decoy big bad. Spike and Drusilla are the Big Bads of the first half of the season, and Angelus is the big bad of the second half after his Face-Heel Turn.
    • Season 3: Mayor Richard Wilkins
      • Subverted twice with Mr. Trick, initially played off as the Big Bad himself, then as The Dragon when the true Big Bad shows. Then the real Dragon shows...
    • Season 4: Most of the season has no Big Bad, although Spike returns early on as a decoy Big Bad and Professor Walsh is shaping up to be a good candidate before she is killed mid-season. Late in the season, Adam first appears as The Dragon and becomes the Big Bad and Final Boss.
    • Season 5: Glory, a.k.a Glorificus
    • Season 6: Appears to have a Big Bad Triumvirate in the form of The Trio of Warren, Johnathan, and Andrew. It quickly becomes clear that Warren is the dominant personality of the three, and he becomes the Big Bad of the season, with his murder of Tara ultimately causing Willow to snap and become the Final Boss after killing him. Joss Whedon has claimed that "life itself" was the Big Bad of Season 6.
    • Season 7: The First Evil thought some people see it as "The Big Bad" and Bigger Bad for the series.
    • Season 8 Comic: Twilight, the sentient dimension, not Angel.
    • Season 9 Comic: Has a Big Bad Duumvirate of rogue Slayer Simone Doffler and Severin in Buffy's series, and Whistler, with Co-Dragons Peral and Nash, in Angel & Faith.

    C 
  • Charmed, after it partially abandoned its Monster of the Week premise in season 3:
    • Season 1: To some extent, Rex Buckland and Hannah Webster in the first half of the season.
    • Season 2: No Big Bads.
    • Season 3: The Triad & Cole Turner.
    • Season 4: The Source.
    • Season 5: No Big Bads.
    • Season 6: Gideon.
    • Season 7: Zankou from the demons and Inspector Sheridan in the "real world".
    • Season 8: The Triad and Christy Jenkins.
  • Chuck: None present in Season One, but subsequent seasons had them:
    • Season Two: Ted Roark.
    • Season Three: Daniel Shaw
    • Season Four: Alexei Volkoff
      • Supplanted by his daughter Vivian Volkoff in the second half of the season.
    • Season Five: Decker
      • Seeing as he's been blown up, he's been supplanted by Daniel Shaw, the real person behind the conspiracy to bring down Chuck.
      • With Shaw depowered and imprisoned, he's been supplanted by Nicholas Quinn, who will be the series's final Big Bad.
    • Ted Roark and many season one villains were part of Fulcrum, which in turn was part of The Ring, which was run by The Director and The Elders in season three, and was responsible for Daniel Shaw's fall to evil.
  • In the second half of City Homicide Season 2, Billy Pierce fills this role as he frames Superintendant Waverley for corruption, before kidnapping and murdering her teenaged son.
  • Community did without for two seasons, but as in season 3 Chang steadily rose to power after the previous season's Humiliation Conga, taking over the school in the four-part finale and kicking out the Greendale Seven.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Despite being a science-themed series heavily grounded in reality aside from a few Through the Eyes of Madness scenes, there were several:
    • Season 1 and 2: Evil Genius serial killer Paul Millander
    • Season 7: The Miniature Killer aka Natalie Davis
    • Season 7 Keppler mini-arc: Corrupt Cop Frank McCarty
    • Season 8: Crime boss Lou Gedda, usurped by Undersheriff McKeen
    • Season 10: "Dr. Jekyll" aka Charlie Dimasa
    • Season 11: Nate Haskell, after serving as a secondary villain in several earlier season episodes.
    • Season 12: Laura Gabriel for Catherine's departure arc and McKeen again in the finale
  • CSI: Miami: Clavo Cruz and the Mala Noche.
  • CSI: New York: Shane Casey, the 333 caller, the Cabbie Killer, and the Compass Killer.

    D 
  • Danger 5 has a rather traditional Big Bad - Hitler.
  • Dark Angel:
    • Season 1: Manticore, at first personified by Colonel Donald Lydecker, who was later ousted by the Eviler Than Thou Madame X/Renfro.
    • Season 2: Ames White, who is secretly a government agent assigned to cover up Manticore by hunting down transgenics, and more secretly a leader in the Familiar Breeding Cult.
  • Season 1 of Dark Oracle has Evil Sorcerer Omen, who is revealed to be the one who saddled Lance and Cally with the Dark World comic in the first place. In Season 2, Vern makes a valiant attempt at becoming the new main villain, before being upstaged by Omen's return. Omen himself has Blaze and Violet in back of him, while The Puppet-Master is in back of them.
  • Desperate Housewives has a major mystery for each season, thus who committed said crime can be considered as the Big Bad.
    • Season 1: Mary Alice Young, since she was the one who killed Deirdre.
    • Season 2: Matthew Applewhite
    • Season 3: Gloria Hodge
    • Season 4: Wayne Davis
    • Season 5: Dave Williams
    • Season 6: Patrick Logan
    • Season 7: Felicia Tilman
  • In Dexter, the hero is also the villain, in a version of the Villain Protagonist and Heroic Sociopath tropes, so in one sense Dexter is always his own Big Bad. Each season has its own exterior Big Bad as well.
    • Season 1: The Ice Truck Killer, who is actually Dexter's brother, Brian, who is a doctor working on the case with the police.
    • Season 2: Dexter is clearly his own big bad, as he's trying to avoid being caught. There are superficial decoy Big Bads: Lundy, the would-be Hero Antagonist, Doakes, and finally Lila.
    • Season 3: Miguel Prado.
    • Season 4: Trinity.
    • Season 5: Jordan Chase.
    • Season 6: Professor Gellar and Travis Marshall. But it turns out it's just Travis. Gellar was Dead All Along.
    • Season 7: Isaak Sirko, Hannah McKay, and Maria LaGuerta, although LaGuerta is a Hero Antagonist.
    • Season 8: The Brain Surgeon (aka Oliver Saxon/Daniel Vogel)
  • Dollhouse had Alpha causing every problem the Dollhouse crew faced in Season 1. Season 2 has the Rossum Corporation as a whole set up this way, but only as of "Getting Closer" (2x11) do we know who the Magnificent Bastard in charge of it is: Boyd Langton.
  • Double The Fist has no main antagonist, but Mephisto has entered a similar situation at least twice.
    • In "Bush Bash", he is possessed by a Demi God and tries to destroy the forest (And the Fist Team) using an army of cloned... lumberjack pandas...
    • In Series Two, he almost plays the trope straight by secretly joining the Medieval Recreationists as their leader, and formulated a Evil Plan against the team.
  • Several seasons of Doctor Who have a Big Bad:
    • Seasons 2 to 4: The Daleks, the main villains of practically every story longer than four episodes. The Meddling Monk serves as a temporary boss of Seasons 2 and 3 but is too much of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain to really qualify. Mavic Chen and the Galactic Council could be partially considered this for Season 3 as well, working with the Daleks even though the Daleks ultimately betray them.
    • Season 5: The Cybermen and the Great Intelligence
    • Season 8 and 9: The Master; he was the villain of literally every episode of Season 8 and although he appears less in Season 9 he is still regarded as the biggest threat to Earth by UNIT. The Master basically played this role for the Third Doctor's era (although he doesn't appear in Seasons 7 or 11).
    • Season 10: The Daleks, who act as the True Final Boss above the Master, employing him to start an interplanetary war to destabilise the region while preparing a giant invasion force to take over in the aftermath.
    • Season 15: The Sontarans, who are indirectly responsible for the events of the season opener before turning out to be behind the Vardans in the finale.
    • Season 16: The Black Guardian, but he doesn't show up until the final episode.
    • Seasons 18 and 19: The new form of the Master.
    • Season 20: The Black Guardian
    • Season 23: The Valeyard and the Time Lord High Council.
    • Season 26 reveals that Fenric was manipulating events in this and the previous two seasons.
    • Series 1: The Dalek Emperor and his faction of half-human Daleks.
    • Series 2: Started off with John Lumic and his version of the Cybermen. They return for the finale, now led by a generic Cyber-Leader, but they're usurped by the Cult of Skaro (led by Dalek Sec); both factions spent more time fighting each other than the heroes.
    • Series 3: The Master, naturally.
    • Series 4: Featured the resurgent Dalek Empire, represented by Davros, but he's technically a "pet" for the Supreme Dalek.
    • Year of Specials / The End of Time: Rassilon, founder of Time Lord society, brought back during the Time War so he could save his people - even if it means destroying the rest of the universe.
    • Series 5 / 6: "The Silence", a movement determined to kill the Doctor in order to avert a prophecy that he will reveal his most terrible secret. Indirectly caused most of series 5 despite not appearing until the series 6 opening.
      • Though it later turns out that they were an extreme Renegade Splinter Faction. The main Papal Mainframe that they used to work for are fairly decent people. And it is still questionable how deliberate the events of Series 5 were.
    • Series 7 has the Great Intelligence. While it doesn't show up until the latter half of the season, its indirect involvement through Clara stretches back to the start of the season.
      • Considering the events of that episode, the Great Intelligence could be considered the Big Bad for all Doctors before the 12th.
    • Anniversary Specials/The Time of the Doctor: The Daleks. The specials have something of a Big Bad Ensemble but the Daleks are the most dangerous and the last ones standing.
    • In the 50th anniversary Official Parody sketch The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, the Big Bad is Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat.
    • Series 8 has the enigmatic Missy, who turns out to be a female form of the Master and allied with the Cybermen.
  • Dominion has the Archangel Gabriel as the primary threat, though Uriel is playing him and Michael against each other for her own ends. David Whele and Arika are also both taking advantage of the situation for their own agendas as well though Arika is working with Uriel.

    E 

    F 
  • Farscape: A succession of Big Bads. First it's Crais, then Scorpius, then Grayza, who eventually shares the limelight with the Scarran Emperor. Each of these get progressively more epic and ambitious.
  • It is strongly implied in Firefly that the Big Bad was the Blue Sun Corporation, which apparently worked with the Academy.
  • The Following has Joe Carroll, though Season 2 expands it into a Big Bad Ensemble between him and fellow cult leader Lily Gray.
  • Fringe
    • Season 1: ZFT, led by David Robert Jones.
    • Seasons 2 & 3: The alternate universe, led by Walternate.
    • Season 4: Appears to be Jones again, but it turns out he was working for William Bell.
    • Season 5: The Observers

    G 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Season 1: Cersei and Jaime Lannister
    • Season 2: Joffrey Baratheon
    • Season 3: Joffrey Baratheon
    • Season 4: Tywin Lannister

  • Gossip Girl:
    • Season 1: Georgina Sparks
    • Season 2: Poppy Lifton
    • Season 3: William Van der Woodsen
    • Season 4: Juliet Sharp (part I) and Russell Thorpe (part II)
    • Season 5: Big Bad Ensemble of Tripp Van der Bilt, Louis Grimaldi and Diana Payne.

    H 
  • In both the original and remake of Hawaii Five-O the Big Bad is Wo Fat. Almost every criminal activity is controlled by him.
  • Heroes: Sylar is the overall Big Bad, but each season has another.
    • Volume 1: Mr. Linderman
    • Volume 2: Takezo Kensei/Adam Monroe
    • Volume 3: Arthur Petrelli
    • Volume 4: Initially Nathan, then usurped by Danko, who is in turn usurped by Sylar in the season finale.
    • Volume 5: Samuel Sullivan
  • Highlander: The Series after it partially abandoned its Villain of the Week format.
    • Season 1: No Big Bad.
    • Season 2: James Horton.
    • Season 3: Antonin Kalas.
    • Season 4: Jack Shapiro.
    • Season 5: Kronos.
    • Season 6: Ahrimin for the opening arc, Liam O'Rourke for the finale (with James Horton as the Big Bad of the alternate timeline).
  • Home and Away had the Summer Bay Stalker, AKA Zoe MacCalister, AKA Eve Jacobsen, during 2005 and 2006.
    • Angie Russell was this in late 2002, early 2003.
    • Sarah Lewis was responsible for the armed siege that formed the mid-season cliffhanger in 2004.
    • Suzy Sudiro and Derrick Quaid ran the human trafficking operation that took up the 2009 season.
    • Criminal gang leader and drug supplier Darryl Braxton seemed to fill this role for the first half of the 2011 season, although the Sorting Algorithm of Evil saw rival gang leader Jake Pirovic move above him for the latter half of the season.
    • Adam Sharpe filled this role in late 2012/early 2013.
    • The latter half of 2013 had something of a Big Bad Ensemble between the Sanctuary Lodge cult, led by Murray Granger and Ethan MacGuire, and Sadist Teacher Jade Montgomery, until the two storylines collide in the finale.

    J 
  • Justified: Boyd Crowder tends to be the series' default Big Bad, but each season also has a contender.
    • Season 1: Bo Crowder, whose attempt at rebuilding his criminal empire becomes the main focus of the season's last half. There's also Gio Reyes, who is behind various other threats over the course of the season, and becomes Bo's partner just before the finale.
    • Season 2: Mags Bennett, whose plan to ripoff Black Pike Mining drives most of the season's action, while her sons Doyle, Dickie, and Coover plot against Raylan and Boyd alike.
    • Season 3: Robert Quarles of the Detroit Mob, who tries to take control of Harlan County's drug trade in the aftermath of Mags' fall, running afoul of Raylan and Boyd in the process.
    • Season 4: Quarles' adopted father, Theo Tonin takes over. His desire to see Drew Thompson dead drives the storyline, while the investigation into Drew is in and of itself aimed at bringing Theo down. In the last episode, Nicky Augustine, who has been acting as Theo's Dragon-in-Chief, attempts to launch a coup d'etat, and becomes the focus of Raylan's ire.
    • Season 5: There's a few contenders, including Johnny Crowder, Mr. Yoon & Alberto Ruiz of the Mexican cartel, longrunners Wynn Duffy & Mr. Picker, and Boyd himself, but in the end Daryl Crowe Jr. emerges as the main threat, with Raylan's attempt to arrest him, and Boyd's attempt at getting rid of him, taking up the final part of the season.

    K 
  • The textbook Big Bad for the various Showa-period Kamen Rider series was Great Leader. Although we never learn precisely what it is, it's claimed to be everything from a (relatively) mundane mutant terrorist to a living embodiment of hate and suffering who will exist As Long as There Is Evil. Typically, if there was a series where it wasn't the Big Bad, it'd pop up in the next series and claim to have been the one bossing around the previous show's villains. Other, more recent series have had the following as main villains:
    • Black had the Creation King.
    • Black RX had Grand Lord Crisis, who... may be Great Leader, it's not entirely clear, but they have the same voice actor, whose distinctive voice was Great Leader's calling card.
    • Shin had the Syndicate as well as the CIA.
    • ZO had the Neo Organism.
    • J had the Fog Mother.
    • Kuuga had N Daguva Zeba, the Grongi Lord.
    • Agito had the Overlord of Darkness.
    • Ryuki had Shiro Kanzaki.
    • 555 had the Smart Brain heads and the Orphnoch King.
    • Blade had Hiroshi Tennoji, though at the end of the series he was usurped by Giraffe Undead, the last member of the Royal Club, who was ticked at being used by Tennoji. Ultimately however, the real Big Bad may just have been the Sealing Stone, since it was what created the Undead in the first place.
    • Hibiki had The Man and The Woman and all their myriad clones. We don't even meet the actual originals until the finale. And its even possible that they aren't the originals after all...
    • Kabuto had Negishi.
    • Den-O had Kai the Singularity Point.
    • Kiva had the Bat Fangire.
    • Decade had Apollo Geist at first, then Eijiro Hikari/Dr. Death and Narutaki/Colonel Zol in the film, who are in turn usurped by the Neo Organism. Again.
    • Double had Ryubee Sonozaki/the Terror Dopant. He was the first big bad in a while to be revealed as one in the first episode. Most of the heisei Kamen Rider Big Bads are revealed after the halfway point or in the final arc.
    • OOO had Dr. Maki. Interestingly, he was supposed to just be the big bad for the second arc, and that Ankh was going to be the final villain, but things changed and he became a fully fledged big bad.
    • Fourze had Gamou Mitsuaki/Sagittarius, who heads Amanogawa High School. It is obvious that he has red eyes whenever he wants to.
    • Wizard had Wiseman, who is really an alter ego of none other than the White Wizard.
    • Gaim has the Helheim Forest, an invasive species threatening to overtake Earth. There are a lot of other villains on the show who often take the lead for a time, but everyone on the show is simply trying to either fight against Helheim or take advantage of it.

    L 
  • The Legend Of Dick And Dom: The Beastmaster is a mysterious entity behind many of the protagonists' setbacks in season two (showing up- without his identity being revealwed- at the end of each episode to punish the villains who failed to stop them). He is revealed as the antagonist for season three.
  • Leverage typically lacks one of these, but in Season 4 we have Victor Dubenich, a former mark out for revenge, who manipulates the events of the season from behind the scenes before stepping into the spotlight in the last two episodes.
  • LOST had an interesting succession, with the scope of the show panning out to reveal a Bigger Bad.
    • Season 1: Didn't seem to have a Big Bad originally. The most reoccuring antagonist that season was The Smoke Monster, who seemed more like a rampaging beast, with Ethan being a runner-up, though it's clear he was just a spy and he's killed by Charlie a few episodes before the finale, and it's only in the finale that we see other, well, Others, including Tom Friendly, but they only appear in one scene to kidnap Walt. Though it turns out this season DID have a Big Bad, as the Smoke Monster was the Big Bad of the entire series
    • Season 2: The survivors originally assume Mr. Friendly is this, but this is confirmed false and instead an unnamed and unseen leader is hinted at. It isn't until the finale when the leader of the Others is revealed to be Benjamin Linus, aka the man who posed as Henry Gale for much of the season.
    • Season 3: Benjamin Linus. Though hints are thrown at Jacob, the mysterious being the Others worship. Though he is revealed to actually be the Big Good seasons later and never approved of Ben's actions
    • Season 4: Charles Widmore, though his Psycho for Hire Martin Keamy gets more screentime.
    • Most of Season 5 skips around with lots of smaller villains, and switching back and forth between Ben and Widmore, until it reveals the true Big Bad of Lost: The Man in Black/The Smoke Monster., who finally plays the primary antagonist role in the sixth and final season directly.

    M 
  • Merlin has had several, but notably King Uther Pendragon, and then Morgana, following Uther's death. However, each season had a back-up Big Bad for Merlin to face when Uther and Morgana were busy, and because of the show's Grey and Grey Morality, it could be surprisingly difficult at times (especially in the early seasons) to pin-point who exactly posed the greatest threat.
    • Season 1: Nimueh, who is indeed the overall Big Bad of the season, being behind most of the problems in Camelot. Uther is also at his most threatening here, though in later seasons he was more of an Antagonist than an overt villain.
    • Season 2: The most complex season in terms of villainy. Uther mellowed out a bit and Morgause is initially quite justified in most of her actions and beliefs. Morgana goes through her Face-Heel Turn but is still mostly sympathetic and Kilgharrah's Revenge Before Reason arc is resolved in the finale and never brought up again.note 
    • Season 3: Morgause, with Morgana as her Dragon-in-Chief.
    • Season 4: Morgana, with Agravaine de Bois as her Dragon who also served as The Mole in Camelot.
    • Season 5: Morgana, and eventually Mordred. Interestingly, Mordred spends the majority of his appearances not evil, but his prophesied betrayal is the series main arc and biggest threat.
    • King Odin was also a major threat in the series, until he and Camelot made peace in the final season.
  • MythQuest: Gorgos is a trickster god who tries to change any myth he's trapped in. He was released by Matt Bellows, and his children Alex and Cleo try to rescue their father while preventing Gorgos from changing mythology.
  • Series/Monster High: The antagonists change at various times throughout the webseries.
    • Cleo de Nile was the main antagonist for season 1.
    • Spectra Vondergeist and Toralei Stripe were the main antagonists for season 2.
    • Season 3 had no direct antagonist as most episodes usually contain a new plot.

    N 
  • Neighbours:
    • Charles Durham in the 1985 season, a Villain with Good Publicity who made repeated attempts to obtain an incriminating casette tape from Terri, threatening her and those around her. He was shot dead in a confrontation with Terri in the final week of the season.
    • In late 2005 and for the first half of 2006, Robert Robinson filled this role, making several attempts on the lives of his father and sister while disguised as his triplet brother.
  • Nikita had Percy in season 1. For the first half of season 2 he was imprisoned inside Division and replaced as Big Bad by his Dragon, Amanda, but he eventually turned the tables on her and reclaimed the Big Bad mantle. He gets killed at the end of season.
    • Amanda retakes the Big Bad mantle in season 3, undergoing a campaign of revenge against Nikita and the reformed Division.

    O 
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Season 1: Regina Mills
    • Season 2: Cora Mills (part I) and Tamara (part II)
    • Season 3: Peter Pan (part I) and Zelena the Wicked Witch of the West (part II)
    • Season 4: The Snow Queen
  • Once Upon a Time in Wonderland has a Big Bad Duumvirate of Jafar and the Red Queen. Though it's a tenuous alliance, especially what with Jafar seeing himself as superior. It's ultimately broken when the Red Queen pulls a Heel-Face Turn while Jafar destroys all her assets, leaving him as the sole Big Bad.
  • One Tree Hill usually doesn't have a straightforward big bad after the first few seasons. However, certain villains impact the show more than others, such as Katie, whose shooting of Clay and Quinn impacted them even in the following season.
    • Season 1: Dan Scott
    • Season 2: Dan Scott
    • Season 3: Dan Scott
    • Season 4: Dan Scott
    • Season 5: Carrie
    • Season 6: Carrie
    • Season 7A: Rachel Gatina
    • Season 7B: Katie Ryan
    • Season 8: Katie Ryan
  • The Originals: The first season has a major mess of it. Initially it appears to be Marcel or Klaus, and then Sophie Deveraux is revealed to be playing them both, then Sophie is killed and Celeste seems to take the role, but she proves to be Disc One Final Boss. In the last episodes of the season the Big Bad Ensemble is in full effect with Genevieve, who becomes the leader of the witches after Celeste's death, Monique, who acts as her Dragon-in-Chief, Franesca Correa, who pretending to lead the humans but is in fact setting up the werewolves to take over New Orlens, and Mikael, who spends his time up until the season finale preparing for his resurrection. Ultimately Esther is revealed to be behind everything the witches where up to, leading to her own resurrection at the end of the season.

    P 

    R 
  • Revenge: For most of season 1, Conrad and Victoria Grayson, being at the center of the conspiracy to frame David Clarke for their own crimes, hold this position by default. However, by the end of the season it's clear they were ultimately just pawns of the Eviler Than Thou Americon Initiative, who now serve as the Bigger Bad of the series. As of a few episodes into season 2, the Initiative seems to be taking more active steps and moving down into the actual Big Bad role. Then the season finale reveals that the Initiative is just a cover for a group of Corrupt Corporate Executives making money from their acts of terror... and Conrad is now in their inner circle. This definitely puts Conrad right back into the role of Big Bad, pushing out even the horrified Victoria.
  • Revolution: General Sebastian "Bass" Monroe, initially. However, it gets more complicated as the first season goes on. First, it becomes a Big Bad Ensemble when Randall Flynn is introduced running his own scheme in episode 7. In episode 11, it becomes a loose Big Bad Duumvirate when they team up halfway through the season (with it clear they're only using each other). Finally, it goes back to being an Ensemble in the season finale as Major Neville starts a coup against Monroe, while Randall commits suicide...only to turn out to have been working for the in-exile US President.
    • The Ensemble gets streamlined in Season 2, as the Patriots and their leader President Davis prove to be Eviler Than Thou on a massive scale, leading to them becoming the dominant threat. Though that said, Monroe and Neville are both running their own schemes, and then there's the ultimate Wild Card that is the now-sentient nanotech.

    S 
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures
    • Series 1: The Slitheen, but most notably in a surprise twist, Mr Smith.
    • Series 2: Mrs Wormwood.
    • Series 3 and 4: No real Big Bad: the Blathereen and Ruby White function as the villains of the respective season finales.
    • Series 5: Intended to be the Trickster, slowly possessing Sky in order to become corporeal, but the death of Elisabeth Sladen meant the show was cancelled before this could be revealed.
  • Saul Of The Mole Men: Otnip.
  • The Savage Eye: The British Empire and the Catholic Church, as this is a series about Irish culture and why it is like it is.
  • Scandal: The first season didn't seem to have one, but Billy Chambers like qualifies. The second season, however, establishes Hollis as this, due to him having 7 people killed and framing someone for it to cover up vote tampering, and having the President himself shot and framing Huck for it! However, it turns out that he didn't have the President shot, Judge Verna did that.
  • Sea Patrol
    • Season 1: Rick Gallagher
    • Season 2: Ray Walsman
    • Seaaon 3: Campbell Fulton
  • Sherlock
    • Seasons 1 and 2: Jim Moriarty.
    • Season 3: Charles Augustum Magnussen.
  • The Shield had one in most of it's seasons:
    • Season 1: Ben Gilroy
    • Season 2: Armadillo for the first half of the season or so.
    • Season 3: The Armenian mob and Margos
    • Season 4: Antwon Mitchell
    • Season 5: This season plays around with this a bit with Jon Kavanaugh who is more of an Anti-Villain until his desire to take down Vic drives him to become a Fallen Hero.
    • Season 6: There isn't really one this season but it does set up some Big Bads in waiting in the form of Pezuela, the Armenians and Shane.
    • Season 7: Has a Big Bad Ensemble with Pezuela, the Cartel, the Armenians, Lloyd and Shane.
  • Sleepy Hollow has Moloch, the demon who's attempting to begin the Apocalypse for his own ends.
  • Sliders after its premise was changed:
    • Seasons 1 & 2: Original premise, no Big Bads.
    • Season 3: Colonel Angus Rickman.
    • Season 4: The Kromaggs.
    • Season 5: Doctor Oberon Geiger.
  • Smallville initially has Lionel Luthor as the main antagonist of Seasons 1-3, although other secondary antagonists, like reporter Roger Nixon, Kal and Jor-El also took a stab at this role in each season respectively. Following Lionel's defeat and subsequent Heel-Face Turn, the situation got a lot more complicated, but played out more or less as follows:
  • Season 1 of Sons of Anarchy doesn't really have one.
    • Season 2: Ethan Zobelle
    • Season 3: Jimmy O and Agent Stahl
    • Season 4: The Cartel is a subversion, the real Big Bad is Clay Morrow
    • Season 5: Damon Pope is set up as this initially, but takes a back seat for much of the season while Clay tries to plot against Jax again before Pope returns to prominence again at the end of the season. So... Big Bad Ensemble?
    • Season 6: Lee Toric is introduced at the end of season 5 and set up to be the big bad of season 6 until Otto kills him four episodes in. After that it's sort of a toss up between the Irish and Tyne Patterson.
    • Season 7: Gemma.
  • The Sopranos:
    • Season 1: Uncle Junior and Livia Soprano
    • Season 2: Richie Aprile is a subversion and ends up being a Disc One Final Boss.
    • Seasons 3 and 4: Ralph Cifaretto
    • Season 6: Phil Leotardo
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand:
    • Blood and Sand: Batiatus
    • Gods of the Arena: Tullius
    • Vengeance: Glaber
    • War of the Damned: Crassus
  • Stargate Atlantis: Although the general premise of the series is the battle against the Wraith, even after four and a half seasons no individual character seems to have emerged as a specific Big Bad. There are currently several prominent candidates, including: Rogue Wraith and Evil Genius Michael; Oberoth (the leader of the Eviler Than Thou Replicators); and Affably Evil Anti-Villain Todd, who seems to be making a power play for Supreme Wraith Leader. Had the series continued, it looks as though the Vanyir would have been the next adversary.
  • Stargate SG-1 has a series of Big Bads, although there are often long stretches in the middle seasons where they becomes fairly uninvolved with the plot.
    • Season 1 to 4: Apophis / Sokar / Apophis again
    • Seasons 5 to 8: Anubis
      • Late Season 8: Replicator Carter (in addition to Anubis)
    • Season 9 to 10 and The Ark Of Truth: The Ori / Adria
    • Stargate: Continuum: Ba'al, the final(?) villain, ascending to Big Bad status after 6 seasons as The Starscream.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise:
    • Silik is almost the Big Bad of the first two seasons, but since he's being controlled by Future-Guy, he fell short. The whole story is never really concluded because the Temporal Cold War doesn't really go anywhere and wasn't very popular.
    • The Xindi story of season 3 spent most of the time trying to figure out who among the Xindi Council was reasonable and who wanted to blow up Earth no matter what, or the Big Bad. Eventually every Xindi species but the Reptilians started to side with the Enterprise instead of the Sphere-Builders.
    • The Romulans begin to take on this role in season 4, working to undermine the alliances that would lead to the formation of the Federation. If the series had continued, the storyline would eventually have led to the Romulan War mentioned in the original series.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine actually manages a couple:
    • Gul Dukat is Deep Space Nine's premier Big Bad. He starts out as a fairly bog-standard antagonist, becomes a sympathetic character (an Anti-Villain if not Anti-Hero), before crossing the Moral Event Horizon and becoming, effectively, the antichrist. He's also the only recurring villain in Star Trek history to kill off a main character.
    • The Female Changeling serves as the face of the Founders (the leaders of The Dominion), although Weyoun has a fair amount of face time representing The Dominion as well.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has Q, although he becomes less and less bad as the series goes on and ends up as more of a Trickster figure. Commander Sela seems to be behind everything the Romulans are doing in late Season 4/early Season 5, and Lore has a go by setting himself up as the leader of the Borg.
  • Star Trek: Voyager has two Big Bads over the course of the series:
    • For the first two seasons, the ship is hounded by a sect of the Kazon, although the exact Big Bad is debatable: their leader is First Maje Jal Culluh, but The Mole, Seska, has center stage much more often, even going on to menace the heroes a couple more times post-mortem.
    • A few seasons later, when the Borg take over as Voyager's main adversaries, the role of Big Bad goes to the one controlling them (or the one personifying them, or whatever is going on there), the Borg Queen.
  • Suits:
    • Season 1: No real big bads, although most fans consider Trevor this due to him telling Jessica Mike's Dark Secret in the finale and due to being overall a really terrible best friend.
    • Season 2: Daniel Hardman.
    • Season 3: Cameron Dennis and Stephen Huntley.
  • Supernatural's overall Big Bad has actually always been Lucifer, who takes the stage in Season Five. The character who did nearly every action for the entire plan was The Yellow-Eyed Demon aka Azazel, who served as Big Bad in Seasons One and Two. Lilith served the role in Seasons Three and Four.
    • In season 6, the position of new Big Bad was up in the air for most of the season, with the best contenders being either Crowley, the new King of Hell, or Raphael, the leader of the angels who want to restart the Apocalypse. Midway through the season, however, Crowley faked his death and we were introduced to an entity known as the "Mother of All", who seemed set to take up the role. But then, Dean killed her, and soon after it was revealed that Crowley was working with Castiel of all people in order to take over Purgatory. So, it looked like they were going to jointly be the Big Bad of the season. But then in the season finale, Castiel tried to cut Crowley out of the deal, so he retaliated by teaming up with Raphael, making it look like they'd be the Big Bads together after all, only for Castiel to Out Gambit them at the last minute, absorb the souls of Purgatory and declare himself the new God. Guess he was the true Big Bad of the season after all.
    • In the very first episode of season 7, Castiel gives up his new godlike powers, having realized his mistake — but before he can truly redeem himself, he is replaced by the true Big Bad the Leviathans. Thus, for most of the season, our heroes are on the run from a species of monsters who are older than angels with no known weaknesses or vulnerabilities — until Castiel turns out to be alive, heals Sam's mental trauma by taking it onto himself, and recovers enough to help them decode the Word of God, which reveals how to kill the bastards for good.
    • For Season 8 it's a Big Bad Ensemble between Crowley and Naomi, the leader of Heaven's Men In Black. Though the last couple of episodes bring in Abaddon (the last Knight of Hell) as a potential Starscream to Crowley while the season finale has Naomi have a Heel Realization, only to be killed by Metatron, who casts a spell to banish all angels from Heaven.
    • Season 9 builds on the previous season's Ensemble as it stood at the end of the season: Bartholomew and Malachi emerge as the leaders of the civil war amongst the fallen angels, with Metatron — now in full A God Am I mode — also recruiting in order to secure his own position as sole ruler of Heaven. Meanwhile, Abbadon is continuing to try and usurp Crowley's position, while Crowley himself now a Wild Card.
  • It's gonna take even longer for Super Sentai than for Power Rangers, but here goes...
    • Himitsu Sentai Goranger: Black Cross Fuhrer
    • J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai: Shine. When he's taken out, Iron Claw takes over for JAKQ vs. Goranger, where he is killed.
    • Battle Fever J: Satan Egos
    • Denshi Sentai Denziman: Queen Hedrian, later usurped by Banriki Demon King.
    • Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan: Fuhrer Hell Saturn Until he's revealed to be a servant for the true Big Bad, The Black Solar God
    • Dai Sentai Goggle Five: Fuhrer Taboo
    • Kagaku Sentai Dynaman: Emperor Aton, until the Dark Knight, revealed to be Megiddo, suceeds him.
    • Choudenshi Bioman: Doctor Man
    • Dengeki Sentai Changeman: Star King Bazoo
    • Choushinsei Flashman: Great Emperor Ra Deus. Except at the very end, where he is usurped by Great Doctor Lee Keflen.
    • Hikari Sentai Maskman: Earth Emperor Zeba
    • Choujuu Sentai Liveman: Great Professor Bias
    • Kousoku Sentai Turboranger: Great Violent Demon Emperor Lagorn
    • Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman: Galactic Empress Meadow. But she was dead the whole time and never evil. The real villain is the ship, Vulgyre, who transforms into Galactic Super Beast Vulgyre.
    • Choujin Sentai Jetman: Technically didn't have one since the four major villains were competing to see who could kill the Jetmen first for the position, but Count Radiguet is the closest.
      • Jetman actually subverts this in that the Big Bad is actually Empress Juza, though she just lasts 2 episodes and Radiguet takes over being the show's technical Big Bad (he was formerly the closest for Juza's Dragon)
      • Tranza also manages to usurp the Big Bad position for several episodes, until Radiguet reclaims that position.
    • Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger: Bandora, until Bigger Bad Dai Satan takes over at the end.
    • Gosei Sentai Dairanger: Emperor Gorma XV or so it would seem. Turns out he and all the Gorma Tribe higher-ups are actually golems created by Colonel Shadam, apparently The Dragon, who eventually just takes over for real and becomes Emperor Gorma XVI
    • Ninja Sentai Kakuranger: Daimaou
    • Chouriki Sentai Ohranger: Emperor Bacchus Wrath, later he is killed off and replaced by his son, Kaiser Buldont
    • Gekisou Sentai Carranger: Emperor Exhaus
    • Seijuu Sentai Gingaman: Captain Zahab
    • Rescue Sentai GoGoFive: Grand Witch Grandiene (also an Evil Matriarch)
    • Mirai Sentai Timeranger: At first seems to be Don Dolnero, later revealed to actually be Captain Ryuya.
    • Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger: The Org Master, with the Highness Duke Orgs Shuten, Ura, and Rasetsu being the Dragons in Chief so much that they pretty much count as the Big Bads for an arc each. Unsurprisingly, the Org Master is revealed to be an unsentient figurehead with the Highness Dukes as the actual Big Bads. They soon merge into the final Big Bad: Ultimate Org Senki. For the Milestone Celebration movie, Lost Org Rakushaasa fills the role.
    • Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger: Boss Tau Zanto
    • Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger: Dezmosauria
    • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: None. All the villains are independent. The closest would be the sole recurring baddie Agent Abrella, who sells them their weapons. Though he does seem to take that role well when he executes the All Your Base Are Belong to Us plan.
    • Mahou Sentai Magiranger: Absolute God N Ma.
    • GoGo Sentai Boukenger: High Priest Gaja of the Godom Civilization; Creator King Ryuuwon of the Jaryuu Clan; Gekkou of Illusions of the Dark Shadow ninja clan; and Gai and Rei, the last remaining members of the Ashu Tribe. These four are not only against the Boukenger, but also each other, in the quest for the Precious. Gaja is the final Big Bad, in case you were curious. For this Milestone Celebration movie, Time Demon Chaos is the Big Bad.
    • Juken Sentai Gekiranger: Rio. Who was manipulated by Long, the Infernal Dragon. Upon learning this, Rio and his Dragon, Mele, perform Heel Face Turns to help fight Long.
    • Engine Sentai Go-onger: The three Gaiark Ministers, then Kirezky, and finally their boss shows up near the end: Prime Minister Yogoshimacritein.
    • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger: Chimatsuri Doukoku
    • Tensou Sentai Goseiger: Great King Mons Drake, Makuin of the Blob, and Emperor Robogog the 10th in succession. But in the end it turns out the biggest threat is Bladerun/Buredoran, a.k.a. Brajira of the Messiah, a fallen angel.
    • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: Prince Warz Gill, then Emperor Akdos Gill. For the main Milestone Celebration movie, which doubles as the Goseiger crossover, the Black Cross Fuhrer returns as the Black Cross King.
    • Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters: Messiah. He is destroyed in Episode 30, but Enter survived and is acting as the Big Bad while trying to recreate Messiah. Then Escape tries to kill him, succeeds in recreating Messiah, and is reintegrated into him... only for Messiah to die again and Enter to have survived.
    • Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger: Despite serving a larger evil, Many Faced High Priest Chaos initially stood out as the greater threat, due to Deboss being incapacitated. Until they succeeded in fully resurrecting Deboss, who took over as the Big Bad for the remainder of the season.
    • Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger: Malshina was set up to be this at first, but behind her there is Dr. Z, the Professor's father, and creator of the Rangers' tech, which was created as a way to cause the simulated monsters and such to leak into reality. Except then the Mind Screw takes over and by the end of the series the true Big Bad is an Author Avatar of the Toei executive staff.
      • In season two, season one is canon only in Broad Strokes and Malshina has a Man Behind the Man, General Pain, but he can hardly be arsed to do any real villainy and she has to keep bugging him to make monsters until episode 7. However, it's later revealed that Malshina is the real Big Bad this time and steals the abilities of both General Pain and Saburo Hatte, and the Bigger Bad this time is Prism Ace, an Ultraman Expy.
    • Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger: The Emperor of Darkness
  • Reality show Survivor has at least one contestant with the Big Bad edit every season.

    T 
  • Teen Wolf:
    • Season 1: Peter Hale and Kate Argent.
    • Season 2: Gerard Argent (although the majority of the season has Matt as the Big Bad and the kanima aka Jackson as The Dragon, but then Gerard kills him two episodes before the finale and assumes the role of Final Boss).
    • Season 3A: Big Bad Ensemble between the Alpha pack leader Deucalion and their sworn-enemy the Darach, later revealed to be Jennifer Blake.
    • Season 3B: Stiles Stilinski, who was possessed by a nogitsune.
    • Season 4: The Benefactor, as well as Kate Argent and Peter Hale, who both return as a Big Bad Duumvirate.
  • Torchwood:
  • True Blood:
    • Season 1: Rene Lenier/Drew Marshall
    • Season 2: Maryann Forrester
    • Season 3: Russell Edgington
    • Season 4: Marnie Stonebrook
    • Season 5: Lilith with Salome Agrippa as somewhat of a Dragon-in-Chief.
    • Season 6: A Big Bad Ensemble with Sarah Newlin, Macklyn Warlow and Truman Burrell during the start, who was seemingly a false antagonist.
    • Season 7 starts out with the Hep-V Vamps. After they are defeated Mr. Gus steps into the role.
  • Twin Peaks: Killer BOB

    U 
  • Within the Ultra Series, any opponent that's much stronger than usual typically qualifies as this.
  • Underbelly
    • Carl Williams and Mick Gatto.
  • Underbelly A Tale Of Two Cities: Terry Clark and Bob Trimbole
  • The Upstairs Downstairs 2010 revival has one, rather unusually for a non-speculative Family Drama: Persie, a Fascist and Nazi spy who wrecks her sister's marriage, nearly destroys her brother-in-law's career, nearly kills Beryl, and otherwise causes most of the trouble on the show. She's more pathetic than menacing, and the chaos she leaves in her wake is haphazard rather than planned, but she's a thoroughly destructive presence.

    V 
  • The Vampire Diaries has Klaus either as a Big Bad or The Heavy. Although most of the enemies they faced were his enemies too, they just had ideas of how to go about opposing him that were incompatible with the interests of the main cast.
    • Season one has the Founders Council, led by mayor Richard Lockwood. Although the more direct threat is John Gilbert, who acts as the Dragon-in-Chief and The Heavy to both the Fouders Council and Kathrine, respectivly.
    • Season two starts with Katherine Pierce, but halfway through the season Klaus offically steps up to the Big Bad title.
    • Season three has Klaus's mother Esther and Alaric, who developed a psycho alter ego.
    • Season four has Silas, who owned Klaus of all people.
    • Season five has a Big Bad Ensemble of Silas, Wes Maxfield and Katherine. Although as of episode 15, all three of them are dead.
  • Veronica Mars uses the Big Bad in its first two seasons where there is a overarching mystery plotline throughout the entire season. Usually, the Big Bad is the person who performs the corresponding crime.
    • Season one has a few decoys, such as Jake Kane, Celeste Kane, Abel Koontz and Clarence Wiedman, but later it is revealed that Lily Kane's killer was actually Aaron Echolls.
    • Season two has a decoy Big Bad, Woody Goodman, but later it is revealed that the bus crush killer was Cassidy Casablancas.
      • Cassidy should probably be considered the biggest Big Bad of the show. While Aaron's murder of Lily was changing Veronica's life, Cassidy's raping Veronica was the event that changed her forever and has gotten off scott free until his last appearance. Plus, he's the only villain to outsmart Veronica.

    W 

    X 
  • Xena: Warrior Princess had Ares, Callisto, Caesar, Alti, Dahak and the Olympian gods. Xena may not follow the Seasonal Big Bad formula, but the major villains in the series are all recurring, and (with the exception of Ares and Alti) all follow some form of a linear character arc.
  • The X-Files generally had a large amorphous government conspiracy as the Big Bad, and the ambiguously described hostile alien race planning to colonize Earth. The former was largely represented by the Syndicate (its most notable member being the Smoking Man), and the latter by the shapeshifting bounty hunter (seasons 2-8) and by the metallic super soldiers (season 9).


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