Big Bad: Western Animation

"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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     Transformers 
  • Megatron in almost every incarnation of Transformers, only to usually force an Enemy Mine when Unicron appears.
    • Generation 1: Led the Decepticons on Cybertron and constantly tried all sorts of evil schemes to steal energy from Earth. Since these plans tended to fail, the writers eventually resorted to an Enemy Mine plot every other episode to avoid Villain Decay.
    • In Beast Wars, he was the Big Bad twice. Firstly he's the standard ruler of the Predacons, fighting against the Maximals. During The Reveal, it is shown that the G1 Megatron had orchestrated the plan, ordering the Beast Megatron to go back in time and kill the G1 Autobots while they were in stasis. Only for that plan to be ignored. Beast Wars Megatron only followed this plan as a last ditch effort, in only one plot, which failed. (Thankfully so, or they all would have been killed by Unicron at some point). Other plots include successfully killing both Optimuses (Optimi?), inventing new classes of Transformers (Transmetal 2, Vehicons) and introducing ham to prehistoric Earth.
    • Beast Machines: He succeeds in conquering Cybertron and ruling over a planet of mindless, sparkless drones. All this happens before the series begins. During the series, he absorbs every spark on the planet and comes within a millimetre of godhood. Yes, godhood.
    • Armada: Leads the Decepticons and gets his servos on the three most powerful minicons in the universe and would probably have destroyed the Autobots if Unicron hadn't forced them into an alliance.
    • Energon starts off with Alpha Q as the Big Bad though once Megatron becomes revived he rallies the Decepticons into once again fighting against the Autobots, and then hijacks Alpha Q's plan to restore his home planet and instead manages to successfully revive and, for a time, control Unicron. Oh, and he reformats Scorponok's and Demolishor's sparks to make them less moral and more loyal to himself.
    • Cybertron: Goes after the Omega Lock and the four Cyber Planet Keys to steal the power of Primus and become a god. He intends to use the Unicron Singularity to destroy the universe and then recreate it as he pleases. Later in the series, Starscream successfully betrays him and becomes a Big Bad in his own right, forming a Big Bad Ensemble.
    • Transformers Animated: His body was destroyed in the pilot, leaving him a head in a scientist's lab. Hooked into the lab's computers, and with the right words to Professor Sumdac, he spends the first season working on getting a new body and taking shots at the Autobots through intermediaries. When he gains a new body and comes bursting out of Sumdac Tower in the first season finale, the 'bots know exactly how screwed they are. Circumstances still force him to spend most of his time plotting, but it's still a step up from "Decepticons, RETREAT!"
    • Transformers Prime: Arrives on Earth via space bridge during the Five-Episode Pilot, armed with "Dark Energon", which has the power to revive Cybertronian corpses as mindless berserkers. The mini-series ends with him and an undead army disappearing in a space bridge explosion. Starscream promptly becomes the Dragon Ascendant and takes over as Big Bad for the next several episodes, but Megatron is ultimately revived and retakes the top spot. In the last few episodes of Season 1, though, he's overshadowed by Unicron as the premier threat, only to retake the position in Season 2. This series so far as a pattern of alternating between Megatron and someone else for chunks of episodes, going Megatron-> Starscream-> Megatron-> Unicron-> Megatron.
      • Unicron is the Big Bad of "Predacons Rising".
  • Robots In Disguise averts this, instead having Steeljaw as the Big Bad.
  • The Japanese series have added some other Big Bads, such as Scorponok, Devil Z, Overlord, Deathsaurus, Violen Jiger, and Dark Nova.
  • The Japanese sequels to Beast Wars also had their own. Beast Wars II had brothers Galvatron and Megastorm, and Beast Wars Neo had Magmatron.
  • The comics also added a few of their own, including Shockwave, Thunderwing, Ratbat, Bludgeon, Soundwave, Straxus, Scrash, Trannis, Clench, and Jhiaxus. The finale of the Generation II comic revealed that ALL of the G1-era Big Bads were unknowingly reporting to Liege Maximo, the very first Decepticon. Unfortunately, the comic was canceled immediately after this revelation, so that storyline never went anywhere.

  • The Huntsman and later the Dark Dragon from American Dragon: Jake Long.
  • The KGB as an organization is the main opponent in Archer, so the Big Bad tends to be whoever's heading it at the time:
    • Nikolai Jakov is this at the start of the series.
    • In "Crossing Over", Jakov undergoes Redemption Equals Death and is usurped by Barry Dylan.
    • Barry is himself usurped by Katya in "Viscous Coupling".
    • Played with with Malory Archer. While Barry and Katya may be the most obvious (albeit: current) opponents of the main characters, Malory Archer has consistently proven herself to be the series' primary conflict creator, often using ISIS and its employees to commit heinous and criminal acts bordering on treason (ranging from the sake of financial gain, to revenge against another, to just getting her sex tape(s) back). To say nothing of how she treats her subordinates, more often than not, she tends to get away with it all most of the time. And that's not even covering the events of the fifth season.
  • Maximus I.Q. from Atomic Betty.
  • Avatar The Last Airbender settled this on Fire Lord Ozai, who usurped the throne from his older brother, manipulated his wife into killing his father to seize power for himself, psychologically forced his daughter to become a perfectionist and abandoned her when she served her purpose, viciously disfigured and disowned his thirteen-year old son for speaking out of turn, and is the lead suspect in his wife's mysterious disappearance. A real piece of work, all right, and that's just his personal life in the backstory. Professionally, he's an Evil Overlord, who gleefully tried to burn half of a continent to nothing just to quell a few uprisings. However, the comics that take place after the series each have a Big Bad:
    • "The Promise" has Zuko, but he subverts this because he's as much of a victim to political complications as much as Aang is. Ozai however, is the Greater Scope Villain in the story.
    • "The Search" has Azula.
    • "The Rift" has a Big Bad Ensemble between Loban and a spirit known as General Old Iron. However, Loban undergoes a Heel-Face Turn.
    • "Smoke and Shadow" has the Kemurikage and the New Ozai Society.
  • Avenger Penguins - Caractacus P. Doom. As if life could hold anything else in store for a chap with a name like that.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! had Loki as the ultimate Big Bad of its first season, and Baron Strucker, Baron Zemo, the Leader, Kang the Conqueror, and Ultron as Arc Villains of smaller arcs within the season.
    • In the second season, the Skrulls, lead by Queen Veranke, were the main villains for the first half (the second half, being more episodic, didn't really have one, though it was all leading up to a showdown with Galactus).
  • Todd Ianuzzi from Beavis and Butt-Head, also an example of Big Bad Friend.
  • Vilgax, from Ben 10, is a textbook example. He's wounded grievously in the pilot, drives the plot of most of season 1 from behind the scenes, and finally shows up in person in the season 1 finale, bigger, meaner, smarter, and tougher than anything Ben's faced before. From there on out, he's usually put somewhere between appearances that keeps him from getting involved... He's also an Implacable Man and a Determinator, so he HAS to be kept out of the picture for other plot arcs to happen. Here are the other Big Bads for the following seasons:
    • Season 2: Kevin 11
    • Season 3: Ghostfreak
    • Season 4: The Forever King
    • For Ben 10: Alien Force:
      • Season 1: The DNAliens
      • Season 2: The Highbreed
      • Season 3: Vilgax
    • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien
      • Season 1: Aggregor and then Kevin
      • Season 2: Diagon but usurped by Vilgax
    • Ben 10: Omniverse:
      • Arc 1: Khyber (working for Malware, the real villain)
      • Arc 2: Malware
      • Arc 3: The Incurseans
      • Arc 4: Albedo
      • Arc 5: Zs'skayr and Lord Transyl
      • Arc 6: Vilgax and Eon
      • Arc 7: Proctor Servantis and the Rooters
      • Arc 8: Mad Ben
      • Arc 9: Vilgax and Maltruant
  • In Biker Mice from Mars, the main antagonist is Lawrence Lactavius Limburger, a member of a race of fish-like aliens called the Plutarkians, who have invaded Mars with Limburger being one of their agents stationed on Earth. Pretty much every episode involves the titular Biker Mice thwarting his attempts to strip mine Chicago of resources that would benefit Plutark and help the Plutarkians continue conquering planets. While he gets replaced by the Catatonians and Ronaldo Rump in the 2006 revival, he does attempt to regain his stride in the episode "It's the Pits" and the first two parts of the three-part episode "Once Upon a Time on Earth".
  • Class of the Titans: Cronus.
  • Butchy and Blendar from Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island.
  • XANA from Code Lyoko. An artificial intelligence villain who's never seen, but whose influence is certainly felt.
  • On Codename: Kids Next Door, Father was undeniably the top of the villain hierarchy.
  • Katz from Courage the Cowardly Dog, although in the series Grand Finale's "Remembrance of Courage Past"/"Perfect", this is occupied by the Cruel Vet/the Teacher.
  • The Red Guy in Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel.
  • Hacker from Cyberchase was this prior to his in-universe Villain Decay.
  • Danny Phantom
    • Vlad Masters/Plasmius. He's introduced in episode seven, but his influence is felt as early as the opening scenes. Until his Villainous Breakdown, only two people could claim to lay an effective hand on him: Pariah Dark and Jack Fenton, the latter aided with anti-ghost technology. Some have compared him to Slade in deviousness.
    • Pariah Dark himself, despite only appearing twice, one of those being a cameo during a Gondor Calls for Aid situation, probably counts as well. He's essentially Ghost Darkseid, and is one of the strongest characters, if not the strongest seen in the series. The only person who can match his power would be Fright Knight, his Dragon.
    • Each of the double-length movie episodes has one. First is Pariah, as mentioned above. Next is Dark Danny, who is somewhat less powerful but a more personal (and psychotic) threat. Then is the ordinary Muggle Freakshow, who spends the movie trying to get his hands on an Artifact of Doom that will give him reality warping powers. The final Big Bad is not a person, but rather the ecto-asteroid. As Vlad is still the series-spanning Big Bad, he was active in all of these storylines as well (except for the third).
  • Ms. Angela Li from Daria. Her various schemes to raise money and increase Lawndale High's prestige have put her at odds with Daria.
  • Syrrus becomes this in Dex Hamilton: Alien Entomologist.
  • Mandark from Dexter's Laboratory, especially in the Ego Trip television film.
  • Alvin the Treacherous from Dragons: Riders of Berk. Later becomes a Big Bad Ensemble of Alvin, Dagur, and the Screaming Death in Defenders of Berk until Dagur (nearly) kills Alvin in "A View to a Skrill, Part 2" by using the Skrill to electrocute him to death, then it's just Dagur and the Screaming Death.
  • The Jew Producer from Drawn Together.
  • Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series: The Evil Incarnate summoned by the Box of Balefire, which Venger attempts to welcome, calling it "master", until it accuses him of failure and reduces his (most recent) castle to a lava-filled crater. Then it goes after the main characters.
    Bobby: C'mon, Dungeon Master, who is it? Or what is it?
    Dungeon Master: His name is not for your ears, Barbarian! He is not life as we know it. He has many identities, on many different worlds! But all know him as... Evil!
    (Dungeon Master teleports himself and the children to the other side of the world)
    Dungeon Master: The ruler of many universes! But his goal is to rule the entire cosmos with evil.
    • Arguably, Tiamat was the more commonly-encountered form. Even Venger hauled ass when she showed up.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Kanker sisters are the closest thing this show ever had to one. Until the movie, that is.
  • Thanks to the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, the Big Bad of The Fairly OddParents has changed a few times. In the first three seasons, Mr. Crocker was Timmy's worst enemy, appearing as the bad guy in every special that had a true villain. "The Big Superhero Wish" was the first special where he was not the main bad guy, and "Channel Chasers" reduced him to a cameo. After that, Anti-Cosmo of the anti-fairies and HP of the pixies took over for the next three seasons as a Big Bad Duumvirate, especially in season six, where the characters never appear separate. Then The Darkness for the "Wishology" trilogy. With the birth of Foop, he took over for season seven (appearing as the villain in that season's finale). The movies are a good example of this.
    • Abra-Catastrophe: Crocker
    • Channel Chasers: Vicky
    • School's Out! The Musical: HP and the Pixies
    • Fairy Idol: Norm the Genie
    • Fairly Oddbaby: Anti-Fairies and Pixies
    • Wishology: The Darkness and the Destructinator
    • There's also the Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour crossovers:
      • Part 1: Crocker and a malfunctioning Goddard
      • Part 2: Professor Calamitous and Anti-Cosmo
      • Part 3: The Villain Whose Name Isn't Shirley
  • Prime Evil from Filmations Ghostbusters.
  • Futurama doesn't always call for a Big Bad, but when it does, it's almost always Richard Nixon's Head, Mom, or Lrr. Each of the movies have had one.
    • Bender's Big Score: Nudar.
    • The Beast With A Billion Backs: Act 1: Dr. Ogden Wernstrom. Act 2: Zapp Brannigan. Act 3: Yivo. Act 4: Bender.
    • Bender's Game: Mom/Momon.
    • Into The Wild Green Yonder: The Dark One/ The desert muck leech.
  • There are two main villains whose overarching schemes drive the plot of Gargoyles: Xanatos and Demona. As the show progresses, however, Xanatos gets character development leading to a Heel-Face Turn (kind of), leaving Demona the unchallenged Big Bad by the time of the Grand Finale. In season 3 Castaway and his Quarrymen took on the role, while the (canon) comic continuation has Thailog stepping in to fill the empty shoes of main bad guy.
  • Van Kleiss from Generator Rex, though it might end up being a bit more complicated than that seeing as White Knight, nominally the Big Good, isn't the nicest guy himself...
  • Turk from Good Vibes.
  • Dean from The Goode Family.
  • Cousin Mel from Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.
  • In Gravity Falls Gideon Gleeful holds this position in season 1, but in season 2 it becomes apparent that Bill Cipher is the true threat.
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series:
    • Arc 1: Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lanterns
    • Arc 2: The Anti-Monitor, later Aya after she destroys it and takes control of its body
  • Trina Riffin from Grojband, especially in "Ahead of Our Own Tone" and "The Bandidate".
  • Horde Prime is the guy giving orders to the much more famous Skeletor and Hordak. He's also a prime example of why Nothing Is Scarier, as when he finally came out of the shadows in the comics, this was the result.
  • Hot Wheels Battle Force 5: Krytus.
  • The Professor in Huntik: Secrets & Seekers.
  • Stavros Garkos from Hurricanes.
  • Dr. Claw from the Inspector Gadget franchise.
  • The Almighty Tallests in Invader Zim.
    • Depends more on how you look at it: Are they stupid? Yes. But, all Irkens are very materialistic and wasteful, and they are willing to kill everyone on a planet just to they can use them as silly things like parking garages and package shipping.
    • Depending on whose side you're on, Zim, Dib, or Tak can also qualify.
    • Looking at it from Dib's POV as the Hero Antagonist, you could say that Zim is the Big Bad trying to take over the world, Tak is the Big Bad's more competent rival, and the Tallest are the Greater Scope Villain trying to take over the whole universe.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures:
    • Season 1: Shendu, who is consistently treated as the J-Team's most dangerous individual enemy
    • Season 2: The Demon Sorcerers (Shendu's brothers and sisters, with Shendu's spirit doing their legwork)
    • Season 3: Daolon Wong, usurped by Shendu in the season finale
    • Season 4: Tarakudo
    • Season 5: Drago, who eventually forces the heroes to unseal Shendu in a Summon Bigger Fish moment.
  • Lucius Heinous VII on Jimmy Two-Shoes was this when he wasn't a Villain Protagonist.
  • Jonny Quest the original series (1964-65). The arch villain named Dr. Zin appeared in four episodes ("Riddle of the Gold", "The Robot Spy", "Double Danger" and "The Fraudulent Volcano"). All of the other episodes' villains only appeared once.
  • The Big Bad of the Cadmus Arc of Justice League Unlimited was constantly being teased. At first it seemed Amanda Waller was the mastermind, then Lex Luthor, until it was finally revealed in the next-to-last episode as Brainiac, who enters into a Big Bad Duumvirate with Luthor.
    • This was far from the only example in the DCAU. Batman Beyond had Derek Powers, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who soon became known as the supervillain Blight, as its Big Bad for the first season.
    • Superman: The Animated Series featured an ongoing arc of Superman's struggle with the Galactic Conqueror Darkseid, and his increasingly daring designs on Earth. (By contrast, Lex Luthor's schemes were almost purely episodic in nature.) Darkseid only first appeared in the second season, however: in the first, Brainiac was the overarching Big Bad.
    • Even Ra's al Ghul in Batman: The Animated Series arguably qualified, being introduced in the final moments of one episode, and following up on it later with a cataclysmic two-parter.
    • There were several contenders for the title in the final season of JLU. At first it looked like Grodd, until he was deposed by Lex Luthor leading to an apparent Big Bad Duumvirate between Lex and the remnants of Brainiac's consciousness. In the end, though, the real threat turned out to be Darkseid. Again.
  • Dr. Drakken and Shego from Kim Possible are the primary antagonists and the ones that get closest to their goals.
    • Monkey Fist served as the Big Bad of the Yamanouchi arc, but was treated like a Monster of the Week in the overall series.
  • Mechanikat from Krypto the Superdog.
  • The Legend of Korra, set seventy years after Airbender, shifts this role to Amon, Rebel Leader of an anti-bending faction known as Equalists in Season 1. However, it ended up being more complicated than that seeing as Tarrlok, who at first appeared to be the nominal Big Good, wasn't really the nicest guy himself. It turned out that he was another Big Bad all along, as he ultimately betrays everyone by staging a False Flag Operation that would lead him to arrest innocent non-benders before turning on the Avatar and her comrades. Eventually, he was put in his place by Amon. Then it turned out the two of them were brothers, and had been raised by a villain Aang fought and de-powered during the timeskip. Basically, bad parents are responsible for nearly everything in this universe.
    • Book 2 has Korra's uncle Unalaq, who is the leader of the Northern Water Tribe that is at war with the Southern Water Tribe led by Korra's father Tonraq. However, the real threat is revealed to be Vaatu, the spirit of darkness and the Avatar's ancient enemy, who Unalaq merges with in the season finale to become the Dark Avatar. There's also a Big Bad Ensemble with Varrick, though he's not the evil type, but he was still a threat to Korra's mission by trying to escalate the civil war even though he's more comedic than the other villains.
    • Book 3 has Zaheer on one side, who is the leader of the Red Lotus, a cabal that plans to have a world without leaders. However, on the other side was the Earth Queen Hou-Ting, the evil tyrannical overlord who rules the Earth Kingdom like an empire, but went out of her way to antagonize the Avatar by declaring Korra an wanted enemy of the state and having the entire Earth Kingdom military hunt her down. In actual fact, after Hou-Ting's death, Zaheer and the Red Lotus are the true big bad of the season as their role becomes bigger in the final four episodes.
    • Kuvira in Book 4. Eventually, redeems herself in the finale after surrendering herself and calling off the invasion.
  • Legion of Super Heroes had a Five-Bad Band led by The Emerald Empress as the most common villain in the first season, in the second season the Big Bad was definately Imperiex, even though Imperiex was upstaged by Braniac 1.0.
  • Janja from The Lion Guard.
  • Delilah from Littlest Pet Shop (1995).
  • Marvin the Martian and Yosemite Sam from the Looney Tunes.
    • Marvin himself is the Big Bad in the 2003 series Duck Dodgers.
  • M.A.S.K. has Miles Mayhem, the leader of VENOM.
  • Panthea from Mia And Me.
  • Mighty Max: Skullmaster.
  • Mary Gibbons and Anton St. Germain from The Mighty B!
  • Hawk Moth from Miraculous Ladybug.
  • Monster Allergy had Corrupt Corporate Executive Magnacat in season 1, Evil Overlord Moog Magister and Hector Sinestro, a dark Tamer, in season 2.
  • Ms. Censordoll in Moral Orel was set up to be the Big Bad but the show ended before anything could come of it. Instead, Clay Puppington became the Big Bad.
  • Abraham Kane, the leader of Detroit Deluxe in Motorcity.
  • In ¡Mucha Lucha!: The Return of El Malefico, the titular character is the Big Bad.
  • Ninjago:
    • Pilot: Lord Garmadon
    • Season 1: Pythor
    • Season 2: Lord Garmadon, up until The Overlord takes the position
    • Season 3: The Overlord, later known as the Golden Master
    • Season 4: Master Chen
    • Season 5: The Preeminent, with Morro as The Heavy
    • Season 6: Nadakhan
  • Dr. Kamikazi from Robotboy.
  • Fritz Huhnmorder in Robot Chicken, since he forces the chicken to watch the crossovers on the television. In the 100th episode the chicken kills him and in the season 6 intro turns him into a robot and sentences him to watching the show in retaliation, then his son takes over as the villain in the season 7 finale.
  • Lord Peel from Rocket Monkeys. He's an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who became a shell of a man (or rather a peel of a banana) after Wally and Gus tried to eat him, leading to him making his life goal to destroy them. On rare occasions will the two actually acknowledge him as a threat.
  • One-Tom from Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat.
  • Aku on Samurai Jack. His destruction is one of Jack's two big goals, the other being getting back home.
  • Winx Club:
    • Season 1: The Trix
    • Season 2: Lord Darkar
    • Season 3: Valtor
    • Secret of the Lost Kingdom (first movie): The Ancestral Witches
    • Season 4: The Fairy Hunters
    • Magic Adventure (second movie): The Trix and the Ancestral Witches
    • Season 5: Tritannus
  • W.I.T.C.H. had Evil Overlord Phobos in season 1, who was succeeded by Nerissa, a Chessmaster and former Guardian, in season 2. Nerissa was manipulating from behind the scenes even during season 1. Pretty impressive, considering she was trapped in a coffin for quite a while.
  • X-Men has Apocalypse in a more series-wide capacity, since Magneto's Heel-Face Revolving Door was played up. Mister Sinister clearly holds this status in Season 2, though.
    • In X-Men: Evolution, Magneto is the Big Bad for the first two seasons, and Apocalypse takes the role in the last two.
    • And in Wolverine and the X-Men, Mastermold is the Big Bad of the Bad Future Xavier is stuck in, while Magneto and Senator Robert Kelly largely takes the role among several long-term villains Though the Inner Circle also has a pretty good claim on driving a lot of the plot. The Sequel Hook set up Apocalypse as the Big Bad for an aborted second season.
  • The Light, which consists of Vandal Savage, Ra's al Ghul, Lex Luthor, Queen Bee, Ocean Master, The Brain, and Klarion the Witch Boy in season 1 of Young Justice. In season 2, the Light replaces Ocean Master with Black Manta.
    • In Season 2, the Light shares the role of Big Bad with their mysterious "partner", later revealed to be the Reach, who are led by the Ambassador, the Scientist, and Black Beetle. Of course, both groups are also using and plotting against the other and at the end of the season, Black Beetle takes full command of the Reach and sets in motion the doomsday threat the heroes must deal with in the Grand Finale.
    • However, the very last scene of the final episode revealed that the Light (or at least Vandal Savage) had been working with Darkseid the entire time, implying that the Lord of Apokolips would have stepped up to fill this role had the series continued.

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