Knight Of Cerebus / Western Animation

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_lichking.png
That's a huge understatement.

As Western Animation is a medium that is generally seen as more "child-friendly", when one of these guys appears, they tend to stand out.
  • Adventure Time:
    • The Lich is a diabolical Eldritch Abomination with an appetite for all-encompassing destruction, and the end byproduct of the Mushroom War. His picture comes from an excerpt of concept art of the Lich. In the concept description, it specifically outlines that there is nothing silly about him compared to the laughably twisted world the main characters live in, and that Finn and Jake, in contrast, would probably charge him without thinking just like the general fare of monsters they face, only to find out this guy is not going to be a pushover. This guy is unremittingly evil and so horrifyingly set apart from every other villain on the show that he earned his place at the top of the list. To add to his unexpectedly dark arrival, he was downplayed the first time he appeared in the story, introduced in passing like a run-of-the-mill foe defeated by a legendary hero named Billy as another footnote among his many victories, but when the Lich King first appeared in person for the first time on in series, we learned the hard way that the account of Billy's exploits grossly simplified his battles, and this guy was very bad news. All hell broke loose the instant he escaped his imprisonment. In addition, he's voiced by Ron Perlman of Hellboy fame as both the voice and portrayal of the titular red demon, and the voice of Slade on Teen Titans and the narrator on 1000 Ways to Die, known for his prominently deep and sinister-sounding voice.
      • The Lich manages to kill and possess Princess Bubblegum, and even after his defeat, he still manages to live on through a certain background character. Nevertheless, The Lich is not immune to slapstick comedy and being made a fool of, although he still has absolutely No Sense of Humor and it's also worth noting that in the pitch of the show, it specifically mentions in bold dripping letters that "The Lich Kingnote  is not funny." After his return in the season 4 finale, he's still as frightening as ever. He appears in Finn's dream complete with a jump scare, is in possession of the Enchiridion, currently possessing Billy, a famous hero of Ooo, and then manages to trick Finn into giving what he wants. Even after being out of the spotlight for nearly two whole seasons, he still shows how cunning he is through a manipulation of events. He didn't just possess Billy. He killed him and took his skin. In his appearance after that, he kills Prismo in cold blood and unleashes a prison full of ancient dangerous criminals, with intent to destroy the universe. He was later defeated via the blood of the guardians turning him into a big baby-like humanoid and being adopted by Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig which apparently puts him in a more comical light. However, in "Gold Stars" it's shown that even if his new baby form may be kind and simple-minded, The Lich is still somewhere inside him, and if Sweet P. feels threatened, the one attacking him will find out that he's still a terrifying creature. the King of Ooo discovers this the hard way.
      • With one word, the Lich King cemented how terrifying he can be by putting Finn under his thrall simply by the sound of his voice:
      Lich King: FALL. (Finn instantly drops to his knees)
      • The scariest fact about the Lich is that it took an apocalyptic bomb to make him, as whoever or whatever was at ground zero was transfigured into him after the bomb exploded. And in an alternate timeline, where Jake was the one at ground zero, he became the bestial equivalent of the Lich. That not only means a weapon of Ultimate Evil existed at one point in the story, it means multiple versions of the Lich could be spawned depending on the circumstances.
    • The Earl of Lemongrab, starting with the very fact that his Ax-Crazy behavior is not played for laughs. Notice that many of the episodes involving him such as "All Your Fault", "Another Five More Short Graybles", "Too Old" and "Lemonhope" are serious Nightmare Fuel.
    • Orgalorg, another Eldritch Abomination, and of the destroyer-of-worlds class. He is the true form of Gunther the penguin, and the real reason why that character seemed steeped with malice up until his true identity was revealed, because traces of his monstrous nature were leaking through. Then the monstrous nature literally leaks through due to a nasty bump on the head, finally jogging "Gunther's" memory that he was really Orgalorg, who fell to Earth from space, got compressed by gravity into the uncanny likeness of a penguin, and lost his memories from the impact of crashing into the planet. He's so unstoppable in his true form that the only way to stop him is to make him fall back to Earth all over again and revert back to being Gunther the penguin.
  • Aladdin: The Series:
    • Mozenrath. Prior to his introduction, the recurring villains on the show had been a bunch of cartoonish joke characters like Abis Mal and Mechanikles. Then, suddenly, we meet this highly competent dark wizard with an army of zombies and a magical glove which is slowly eating his flesh. Only his flying eel sidekick prevents him from being too dark.
    • Mirage as well, while most of the villains Aladdin and his friends faced are typical cartoon-y bad guys. Her introduction begins by lighting a village on fire. She was very much Darker and Edgier compared to the other villains, with goals usually being aimed only at making Aladdin and the other heroes suffer, or just outright causing destruction For the Evulz. Her exploits have included kidnapping children and turning them into nocturnal monsters, transforming Jasmine slowly into a poisonous hybrid snake monster in order to destroy her and Aladdin's love, and finally to wipe out Agrabah's very existence with a monolith that permanently erases anything that falls under its shadow.
  • Barry Dylan in Archer became this over time. At first he was simply another, more competent secret agent Archer didn't get along with, but after he became a cyborg and became (even more) mentally unstable, he killed Archer's fiancée, Katya. When Katya herself was resurrected as a cyborg, he attempts to kill her again, but then just steals her from Archer. He also murdered his boss Nikolai Jakov, simply to spite Archer, and became the head of KGB in Jakov's place. He was eventually stranded on the space station Horizon by Cyril, but later murdered the entire crew. He eventually returns to Earth, but in the interim, Katya herself has taken over his Knight of Cerebus status by taking over the KGB herself and keeping Barry on a proverbial leash. By season six, it's revealed Katya left him, destroying what little sanity he may have had left. After kidnapping Pam and attempting to kill Archer because he happened to see them at the airport, the ensuing fight leaves him a bare endoskeleton by the episode's end. What's worse is he appears to power down for good... only to turn back on and cackle maniacally. Taken to extremes in Dreamland, where he brutally murders Trexler's goons and uses their bodies for a "Last Supper" Steal, and turns out to have been responsible for the events of the season.
  • Supreme Dog from Arthur is a rather dark villain for a show aimed at young children. He gave children candy bars that were designed to get them hooked, and since he refused to eat one when asked, it is rather implied that they contained rather nasty ingredients. Thankfully, he was eventually arrested and his business was shut down.
  • Although Avatar: The Last Airbender was never exactly light or fluffy, considering it launches viewers right into a 100 year war dealing with the consequences of genocide, things get darker when Firelord Ozai is introduced in "The Storm". We discover that in addition to being the leader of the Fire Nation he also physically and emotionally abused his son Zuko, permanently disfiguring his face with fire and banishing him for speaking out of turn. A reason for this is given in the tie-in comics that further emphasizes Ozai's role thus: Zuko's mother, Ursa, had a lover before the Fire Nation effectively forced her to marry Ozai due to her being Avatar Roku's granddaughter, and cut off all connections from her old life. In an attempt to regain her old life, Ursa wrote a letter that states Zuko's is her lover's son to provoke Ozai into revealing his meddling of letters. She had underestimated Ozai's reaction.
    • When Princess Azula, Ozai's daughter, made her first proper appearance in Season 2, she brought in a level of villain competence that hadn't been seen before. Not even the Gaang was fully prepared to deal with her at that point, leading to the second season ending with a crushing defeat for the heroes and their Darkest Hour in the entire series.
    • Admiral Zhao, while no where near as dangerous or as much of an example of this as Azula, did come off as a greater genuine threat than Zuko in the first season, due to both resources and lacking any of the noble and heroic qualities that Zuko had.
    • Amon from the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra. The couple of episodes before his first appearance were quite lighthearted. Once he showed up, the first season got darker and darker with each episode.
      • The most notable thing about Amon is that he's the only major villain in either of the two series who's never once Played for Laughs or the butt of jokes from other characters.
      • The second season adds another villain with that distinction: Vaatu, the dark spirit of chaos, a victory by whom would bring about the end of humanity. While he isn't able to act until the finale, his presence adds a level of menace never seen in either show before.
      • The Red Lotus from Season 3; a group of four powerful benders with abnormal abilities, their end goal is to "free" the people of the world by destroying all established governments and states. They are also the first villains in both series to actually kill onscreen.
      • Kuvira from Season 4 is a notable aversion of this. While no less threatening than the other villains in the series, Season 4's considerably darker tone and subject matter makes her stand out less in terms of making the plot serious.
  • While Avengers, Assemble! may not be as intense as The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, it has a rather dark villain in Hyperion, a Knight Templar alien "protector", whose idea to eliminate crimes and help people is essentially enslave everyone and have them submit to his ideal, but if somebody doesn't agree with his methods, then he considers you to be a part of a problem. He also has no problems with attacking children and it's revealed that he had enslaved his entire home planet and later destroyed it, simply because the people refused to submit to his totalitarian rule. Aside from one moment where he's comically deafened by Doctor Doom, he's been played dead seriously. Oh, and now he's part of the Cabal.
    • Dracula also qualifies, as his debut episode plays out a lot like a horror film (not to mention that he turned Black Widow into a vampire and nearly killed her, then drank the Hulk's blood and only lost because the gamma radiation turned out to be poisonous to him).
    • The Red Skull isn't a tiny bit friendlier than he was in EMH, either. He starts out as the Big Bad from the word go, but when he kicks his plans into high gear, that's when the show itself does the same.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!:
    • The show would often slide on how serious its villains got. The most serious were likely the Skrulls, their story arc, the longest in the series, prompted massive Paranoia Fuel and their manipulations nearly succeeded in breaking up the Avengers.
    • Outside of them, the biggest example is Surter. While he never got the chance to act as a direct antagonist, the episodes that merely dealt with the aftermath of his actions showed he laid waste to the whole dwarven realm, and to reforge his giant sword, he destroyed the star of an inhabited solar system.
    • On a more mundane level, the Red Skull is easily the most vile villain in the show, in spite of, or in part due to the fact that he is still a mere human (for a measure of "mere").
  • The Bad Santa of Axe Cop. In "Birthday Month", he kidnaps children to make his weapons, wants to kill God to become Jesus and killed Axe Cop's parents in a failed attempt to kill Axe Cop himself.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold, while mostly focusing on campy stories in homage to The Silver Age of Comic Books, occasionally threw in villains with none of the show's usual camp. Ironically, the most serious character in the show wasn't a villain, but one of the guest heroes, The Spectre, essentially a walking Roaring Rampage of Revenge, or the apotheosis of Inspector Javert. With a Creepy Monotone and Voice of the Legion provided by Mark Hamill, he's scary even when he isn't seen displaying his powers.
    • And when he is seen displaying his powers, get ready to not sleep for a long time. He may not be a villain, but prepare for the show to completely forget it's supposed to be Lighter and Softer whenever he shows up.
  • The original Ben 10 series had, for the most part, episodes that feel somewhat like Silver Age stories, with a usually comical feel to it. This rule doesn't apply to Vilgax and Ghostfreak. Vilgax pointedly showed more explicit hints to the first season's Story Arc and Grandpa Max's Hidden Depths. He managed to instill enough fear into Max that he decided to retrieve all of his best gear before going to rescue Ben. He was also so powerful that Ben had to resort to outsmarting him rather than simply using an alien to overpower him in every confrontation up until the movie, where he unlocked Way Big and tossed Vilgax into space. Ghostfreak started out as a rather scary alien in the Omnitrix, but later he broke free and became one of the most ruthless and terrifying villains in the series.
    • Ben 10: Alien Force has the Highbreeds, who opened an entire era of two Darker and Edgier seasons in the franchise.
    • In that same vein, the Forever Knights in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, combined with Took a Level in Badass. In the earlier series and several earlier episodes, they were pathetic mooks that got beaten easily and usually made Monty Python references. In the episode "the Purge" their founder, Old George returns, ends their Enemy Civil War and unites them as one faction to rid the world of aliens, and the excrement hits the cooling device.
    • While the fourth series, Ben 10: Omniverse, is Lighter and Softer than the two sequels; Khyber the Huntsman is not played for laughs at all. In fact, he's the first villain in Omniverse to fully defeat and capture Ben.
    • Malware, a villain who first appeared in the first episode and whose origins were explained in "Trouble Helix". His origin episode, while showcasing his Fatal Flaw (a particularly bad case of boasting and talking on and on), also shows that he has committed murder (though not on-screen; the flashback cuts off before it shows the gruesome details), though the rest of the episode showcases him as what just seems to be another villain, until "Of Predators and Prey" reveals that he's the Big Bad, and shows that him, Khyber, and Dr. Psychobos forcefully test the Nemetrix on Phil, with no amount of comedy appearing.
    • And then Malware not only kills some more members of his own species, he tops it off by blowing up his own home planet.
    • In the reboot series, Vilgax himself is definitely one of these. The reboot is as a whole Lighter and Softer than the previous iterations of the franchise, so you'd expect that the main villain would be too. Not this time. Instead, Vilgax is shown with pretty much the same personality he had in the original series, making for a stark contrast with the reboot's typical goofy comedy.
  • The Boondocks Season 4 has Ed Wuncler II, whose sociopathic antics are rarely ever Played for Laughs, who keeps the Freeman family in a multi-million-dollar debt, and his plans to "help" them only digs them deeper. Robert ends up having to literally sell himself into slavery, and later they have to work in a slavery-themed amusement park called Freedomland, along with others in his debt as slaves. He later attempts to cut off Huey's foot for defying him.
  • Toadborg from Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars. The Air Marshal was ineffectual. Toad troops were ineffectual. Toadborg was powerful, cold, calculating and competent.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers:
    • The episodes with Verminous Skumm as the primary villain tend to be Darker and Edgier than the rest of the series. He's one of the only villains who specifically wants to hurt and kill people, not the environment.
    • Zarm, Spirit of War and Destruction, began as The Corrupter, turned the Eco-Villians into a dangerous Legion of Doom who ruined the world and nearly killed Gaia twice.
    • Captain Pollution even with his Totally Radical surfer persona, became an effective Evil Counterpart to Captain Planet.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • Father brought about the first of many, many dark storylines. Also Chad, Cree, and Class President McGarfield are all rather intense former allies whose personal relationships with the main characters made most of their appearances pretty heavy stuff. However, they're not totally uncomedic, which is not the same for...
    • Grandfather, the Big Bad of The Movie, whose plan is truly the most evil of all the villains on the show.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • Vlad Plasmius himself served this role in the first season. His first appearance marked the beginning of the show's main Story Arc, and subsequent episodes that featured him tended to be darker in tone. He was also the first villain to utterly curb-stomp Danny.
    • Even though he appeared in only one movie, Dark Danny, Danny Phantom's Bad Future version, made quite an impression as the most dangerous and evil villain in the entire series, even worse than Vlad Plasmius.
  • Daria:
    • Tom Sloane is an interesting example. While not a villain (which this show doesn't have much of, and in fact, he's not an obnoxious guy), he could very well be responsible (whether directly or indirectly) for driving the series into a more realistic and character-building show.
    • Jake's father, a.k.a. "Mad Dog" Morgendorffer. Although he never made an appearance in the series (he's confirmed to have died), he's probably the worst of all jerks in the series, starting because he mistreated his son, didn't care what happened to him, and didn't accept it as he should.
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • While the other villains are comical and overly arrogant, Taurus Bulba is a crime boss of the Magnificent Bastard category who rarely acts comical or over-the-top. Not only did he kill Gosalyn's grandfather, but he also tried to kill her onscreen, just to blackmail Darkwing Duck for a passcode. The best part is that he's the very first villain to ever appear in the show.
    • Then there's Darkwarrior Duck, who's an alternative futuristic version of Darkwing Duck who has gone insane and overzealous on crime, and appearently even killed Negaduck at some time just to prove to everyone who was in charge.
    • Negaduck himself, while comedic, was also quite frightening, some of his plans involved actual murder.
  • DCAU:
    • Darkseid and the armies of Apokolips in Superman: The Animated Series. While Superman wasn't a goofy show, being largely a good combination of silliness and seriousness, the eight episodes where Darkseid appears are much more serious that regular episodes. In "Apokolips... Now!! Part 2", Darkseid kills Dan Turpin, a major supporting character; and in "Legacy Parts 1 and 2", Superman is brainwashed by Darkseid to attack Earth and many other planets, killing who knows how many people. It culminates with a brutal brawl between Superman and Darkseid.
    • Justice League Unlimited had several end of season threats amping up how much darker things were. The last season had this from the beginning via Gorilla Grodd (himself a recurring Knight). What would top this? At the end of that season, Darkseid returns and sets out for revenge against the Earth. Not only does he set crust digging machines all over the world to cover the entire surface in boiling magma, he also brings a kryptonite knife to carve out Superman's heart as a war trophy.
    • Likewise, Amanda Waller, starting in Season 3 but becomes much more pronounced in Series 4. She masterminded the Cadmus Arc and the episodes dealing with Cadmus and their experiments were among the darkest of the entire show.
    • Justice League had a few even before it became Justice League Unlimited that never appeared there, yet still had a lasting impact:
      • First of all there's Vandal Savage, who was one of the League's most recurrent foes in the first two seasons, and arguably the most dangerous. In his first appearance, "The Savage Time", he changed history so that the Allies win the War and he's set up as the dictator of a totalitarian world government, based in the US; the League (sans Batman, who didn't have a Ripple Effect-Proof Memory due to circumstance) spend the entire three-part Season One finale having to fix this, and the stakes are high. His second appearance in "Maid of Honour" isn't as dark, but remains serious as he marries Princess Audrey of Kaznia (after covertly paralysing her father with poison) and tries to seize the world using a space station that can initiate a Colony Drop on any part of the world he wishes. His final appearance is in "Hereafter, Part II'', where it's revealed that his latest plot to Take Over the World wiped out humanity and civilisation; this dark tale ironically had him as The Atoner in the Bad Future, and after helping Superman return to the past to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, the reformed future Savage is erased from the timeline content that he was able to redeem himself.
      • Next there's the Justice Lords, an Alternate Universe version of the League who became Knight Templar despots that seized power after President Lex Luthor had The Flash executed on trumped-up charges and nearly started World War III. The Cold Open is deliberately designed to Freak-Out the audience with Luthor a ranting madman threatening to hit the Big Red Button when his Shut Up, Kirk! works, and Superman incinerating him with his heat vision, making viewers realise something is not right; cut to two years later, and the self-titled Justice Lords are planning to enter the main timeline after stumbling upon it in order to enforce their own brand of justice... Tellingly, this storyline actually plays into the establishment of the Cadmus arc, as the Justice Lords are what the League (save Flash) could become if they gave in to their darker impulses.
      • Finally, the Thanagarian army in Season Two finale "Starcrossed". after which Nothing Is the Same Anymore. Odd hints about Hawkgirl not being who she seems come together and we discover she is The Mole, sent as an advance agent to Earth, and her entire backstory was a lie; then it comes out that the Thanagarians are lying about protecting Earth from the Gordanians and have far darker motives, and by the end of Part I the Javelin is destroyed, the League captured and Hawkgirl has picked her side. What follows sees the original Watchtower destroyed in order to stop a device that would destroy the Earth, and while Shayera manages to redeem herself it leads to her becoming The Exile from Thanagar for her treachery, and her teammates are torn about whether they can trust her again; she ends up leaving to find atonement (her relationship with John Stewart greatly damaged and their Relationship Upgrade undone), and events set up Unlimited from there. What makes the Thanagarians so dark, besides their lasting impact on future storylines, is that unlike some villains they aren't one-dimensional at all - their commander, Hro Talak is a terrifying case of He Who Fights Monsters as he's ready to do anything to do anything to end the Gordanians including mass murder of an uninvolved world, and his scenes with Shayera when he learns she loves Green Lantern and not him are uncomfortably close to Domestic Abuse thanks to battle choreography; next to nothing involving Thanagar in the future is portrayed in an idealistic light from then on, including when some of them return in JLU.
  • Played with in The Dreamstone with Zordrak. While he appears in each episode dishing comical banter to his far less threatening minions, the Urpneys, he is a genuinely intimidating villain, and the odd time he has an active role in a plan it is usually a sign things are going to get a bit more serious.
  • Most of the villains in Duck Dodgers were usually Played for Laughs at least or were even harmless, befitting the show's Looney Tunes inspired nature. However, General Z9 from the two-part originally planned series finale "Of Course You Realize, This Means War, and Peace," is not one of them. He seeks to takeover Mars and conquer the Earth, even enslaving the Queen, and is (save for the very end of part two) played completely straight and menacing the entire way through.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show: Eddy's brother. Considering that he is the only villain in the entire series who has dedicated all his life to physically assaulting children, starting with his own brother Eddy. While his abuse on Eddy is still displayed in a cartoony manner, the trauma is played in a poignant light and is probably the single most serious scene in the entire series. Not to mention the fact that meeting him put Eddy's entire character into perspective; It's implied that his brother was the only person Eddy had to look up to as a role model, despite the implication that his brother would abuse him on a regular basis when he lived in the Cul de Sac. It's no wonder Eddy grew up to be as scheming and emotionally unstable as he did.
  • The short-lived animated series Family Dog was mostly a lighthearted series about a dog and the dysfunctional family he lived with, but the episode "Dog Days of Summer" introduced a trio of callous teens and their vicious dog that nearly killed the titular family dog.
  • Family Guy has Jeff, Diane Simmons, Charles Yamamoto, and whoever originally did, and now has tried, to run over Brian in "Life of Brian". They were some characters in this show with no comedic or cartoonish traits in their villainy.
  • In the Joe Oriolo Felix the Cat cartoons, we have the Master Cylinder, who is a lighter example — he was introduced into the (child aimed) series as this to offer something resembling a legitimate threat to Felix, something not really offered by the hapless villainy of Professor and Rock Bottom. While his victory streak is the same as Professor's and he's a Laughably Evil personality, he at least gets the edge over Felix right off the bat in most of his appearances and offers threats bigger than just the petty thievery the Professor's crimes consist of — for example, In "Master Cylinder Captures Poindexter", he comes dangerously close to destroying the Earth with a meteor he hijacked. On top of that, while Professor has an on-and-off rivalry with Felix, Master Cylinder is almost always hostile and antagonistic towards the cat.
  • Armondo Guitierrez has shades of this role in the early episodes of Freakazoid!. Most of the villains were primarily sketch-comedy caricatures, providing laughs first and conflict second, but the cliffhanger ending of "The Chip", where Guitierrez has Dexter tied to a chair and orders a man with a gun to kill him is played completely straight. In his second appearance, he returns as Freakazoid's fully realized Evil Counterpart and only loses by a fluke.
    • The character still has a bit of comedy in him; in his first appearance he tends to unintentionally quote Khan Noonien Singh, while in the second he gained Freakazoid-like wackiness along with his powers, in particular flipping out whenever Freak calls him a weenie ("DON'T SAY THE WEENIE WORD!")
  • Serpentor from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is a debatable case. In his debut appearance, he proves to be a more ruthless leader than Cobra Commander and nearly conquers the United States in a single day. However, despite being a more effectual Big Bad than Cobra Commander, the tone of the series doesn't really get darker. The Movie, on the other hand...
  • In G.I. Joe: Resolute, Cobra Commander himself has become a darker, edgier, effective villain, explaining away his old incompetence as a (failed) method to coerce his minions into being better soldiers (adaptability, resourcefulness, so on). This CC manages to be a credible threat to the world.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Gideon Charles Gleeful starts out as some brat with a crush on Mabel. Then he tries to cut off Dipper's tongue for "getting in his way". Then he summons a demon, and nearly succeeds in taking over the Mystery Shack.
    • Bill Cipher introduces himself as this silly triangle-like creature, and then he rips out a deer's teeth! In his second appearance, he gets Dipper to make a Deal with the Devil, and then steals Dipper's body, and abuses it for his own amusement. And then he and his buddies break into reality to unleash The End of the World as We Know It. Things don't get better for a while. Bill may look and sound silly, but even Gideon is terrified of what he can do.
    • Despite lacking supernatural powers, Preston Northwest still proves to be one vile man underneath his reputable image, mentally abusing his own daughter with Pavlov-style conditioning, and willing to let his party guests die due to a curse inflicted on his family, all to selfishly maintain his public image.
    • The Author, aka Great-Uncle Ford, when he makes it into the series proper. Although firmly in the side of good (he might even count as Big Good), his many revelations (in particular, his history with Bill Cipher) really ups the ante and shows just how high the stakes are.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: While a Sadist Show with a fair share of funny moments, these examples are remarkable examples of the edgy nature in the show.
    • In the first season, before the show developed its trademark wackiness there was Yog Sothoth who in its brief role was played as straight as one would expect from a cosmic horror from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft to be.
    • In a Halloween Special, there is Jack O' Lantern. While quite comedic, mostly due to personal quirks, he is shown to be the only villain intelligent enough, to outsmart Mandy by not falling for her trap and capturing her. He is only defeated when Irwin, in the most hilarious use of Deus ex Machina shows up and humiliates himself enough to destroy Jack's army.
    • Perhaps the most extreme example both in terms of role importance and competency would be Morg, from Billy and Mandy versus the Martians special. Throughout his special he managed to break Grim free from his contract by using a loophole and then manipulated his passive anger to assist him in taking over Earth and gave the others a run for their money, even Mandy.
    • A zig-zagged case would be Nergal Jr. whose first appearance was played without any jokes and was a mix of horror and sadness. By his next appearance he softened up considerably and became much less edgy, even though he was still more serious than the average recurring character.
  • King Hiss in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002). Shortly after being released, he defeats Skeletor and his entire army of evil warriors, before breaking into Castle Grayskull. Although temporarily defeated, he later returns and destroys the royal palace of Eternia.
  • The second season of Hero: 108 has Twin Masters, an Omnicidal Maniac and embodiment of Chaotic Evil determined to destroy all life in Hidden Kingdom. Their introduction take the show from lighthearted to a more serious action show.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, the most recurring foes are the inefficient members of the Dark Hand, but they serve in every season different Arc Villains that each bring seriousness to the plot.
    • For the majority of the 1st season, the heroes clash against the Dark Hand, unaware that they're working to release the enigmatic Sealed Evil in a Can draconic demon Shendu. When Shendu is released in his full power for the season finale, he betrays the Dark Hand and nearly kills Tohru, sets out to destroy all of Asia to avenge his imprisonment and nearly manages to kill the title hero before he's defeated thanks to Jade. He's then killed, but he returns to cause trouble as a spirit in the next season and is resurrected in the 3rd season. Whenever he regains his true form and full power, it's treated with utmost seriousness.
    • The 2nd season has Shendu's seven powerful demon siblings who are imprisoned in the Netherworld. When any of them is released on Earth, the silly tones diminish immediately. This is especially pronounced during the Demon World duology when they're all free and in control of the Earth. A special mention goes to the Moon Demon Tso Lan, who attempts to alter the Earth's landscape by disrupting the Moon's gravity field and gets the least amount of jokes of all the show's villains. The Water Demon Bai Tza tries twice to flood a city to create for herself a new underwater kingdom, and she comes close to succeeding on both occasions. The exception is the Sky Demon Hsi Wu who ends up repeatedly as a Butt-Monkey partly due to being the smallest demon.
    • The Arc Villain of the 3rd season, Daolon Wong, first appears as a recurring minor foe in the 2nd season, but he shows himself to be a credible threat even back then. He's the most humanlike and hapless of the Arc Villains, but he's always treated much more seriously than the Dark Hand or any other human foe that appears in the series. He becomes Uncle's Arch-Enemy in his first appearance mainly because Wong reveals that he "defeated" Uncle's (later confirmed to be deceased) teacher, making him one of the few villains in the show who's confirmed to have killed someone. He's also responsible for bringing Shendu back from the grave in the 3rd season and kicking off the 4th season's plot by (accidentally) awakening Tarakudo, the king of the Shadowkhan.
  • Warhok from the Kim Possible Grand Finale. He planned to take Kim to his homeplanet to kill her and mount her on his mate Warmonga's wall.
  • King of the Hill has a few:
    • Leanne Platter. The whole reason Luanne lives with her aunt and uncle is because her mom stabbed her dad with a fork. Only appeared on screen in one episode where she gets released from prison, but it's clear she hasn't changed a bit.
    • Debbie Grund qualifies. The girl likes seducing her bosses and, when Buck gets in trouble with his wife, he ends up losing his job, leading Hank to become the new manager. She tries to seduce Hank, and threatens to tell Peggy that they had sex. She also plans on killing Buck when he gets back together with his wife, but, due to poor thinking, she ends up killing herself.
    • Trip Larson from Pigmalion. He is presented as a normal guy, but as time goes on, he shows deeper signs of dementia, such as odd speaking patterns, keeping a pig in his mansion and having Luanne dress as the woman on his company's logo. He dresses as a pig and claims that he want Luanne to marry a boy who resembles the farmer on the logo and that they could live as a family based on the logo (with Trip as the pig). She naturally and sanely refuses, but Trip chases her into a slaughter house, and when the machines are activated, he attempts to pull Luanne with him so they can become the very meat they sell to the public. Is it a wonder that he gets killed in the one episode he appears? Rather tragically, he got an electrical shock right to his brain during the climax, after which he comments that the voices in his head have stopped and he has no idea where he is or why he's wearing a pig costume... Mere seconds before his death.
    • There is also Wes Archer. A death row convict who's in the slammer for "accidently" killing his friend and uses Peggy's trust as a teacher to get her to unwittingly smuggle cocaine in hour glasses into prison. His plan gets uncovered, and he tries to pass the blame onto Peggy, but the evidence falls flat, so he attempts to attack Peggy on the spot.
    • Mad Dog, a Right-Wing Militia Fanatic who takes over Dale's gun club, takes Hank, Bill and Boomhauer hostage and fully plans to torture and kill them until Dale outwits him. Even then, he nearly kills Hank and Dale by blowing up his cabin. He's Played for Laughs more than most characters on this page, but still a serious threat.
    • Tid Pao, Kahn's delinquent niece and Connie's cousin. She plays The Corrupter to Bobby, even tricking him into helping her build a meth lab, which nearly to Bobby to going to jail.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes had a very quirky and upbeat first season. Season 2 opened with Imperiex making it to the past to conquer it, setting up the Darker and Edgier season.
  • Megas XLR: The appearance of Evil Coop marks the only time in the show's run were the villain was taken completely seriously. Given he destroyed his dimensions' versions of the Glorft, the S-Force, RECR and even Megas.
  • Surprisingly enough, Mr. Bogus actually shows one in the form of Bogus's Evil Counterpart, Baddus. Introduced in the second season premiere episode "Computer Intruder", this mean, green, more gremlin-like version of Bogus will often show up, depending on the tone of the episode. Baddus was introduced to indicate that while Bogus is a goodhearted gremlin, Baddus is actually the opposite, striving to make things miserable for Bogus and/or the denizens of Bogusland.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: The Cluster usually straddles the line between serious and comical, but for purely serious villains there was Armagedroid, a gigantic robot designed to destroy all weapons and almost killed Jenny in its first appearance, and Gigawatt, a towering electricity-eating energy vampire who although a bit quirky, proved to be one of Jenny's most difficult opponents.
  • Inverted in My Little Pony: Earlier villains (like Tirek) were rather terrifying, while later ones are extremely goofy and hilarious.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the first season, we have Tragic Villain Nightmare Moon combined with some bullies and jerks, but when Discord turns up in Season 2, the stakes definitely get higher. To contrast, Nightmare Moon was barely present in her own appearance, sending threats of varying effectiveness. Discord, however, constantly interacts with each of the main cast (though mainly Twilight), successfully manipulating and breaking their minds. That, and the fact that his power level is vastly above anything the Mane Six has faced before.
    • The Canterlot Wedding has the Changeling Queen, Chrysalis, who plans to feed off of the love and magic of Princess Cadence's groom, Shining Armor, in order to enable her invading army to breach the magical Deflector Shield that Shining Armor cast over the capital city and seize control over all of Equestria.
      • She gets even darker in the comic where she turns the Mane 6 against one another (although they get back together and she intended them to), and intends to kill Twilight after draining her magic, and have her changelings feast on her friends when their emotions peak. Not to mention she kills a luvcat in front of the Cutie Mark Crusaders ( whom she also intends to do away with).
    • King Sombra, the villain of the third season's premiere "The Crystal Empire", is the most evil antagonist yet seen on the show between the sheer scale of his atrocities and the fact that a selfish lust for power is apparently his only motivation for it all.note  Unlike earlier villains of his tier, his episode almost treats him less like a character than a disembodied force of hostility (hence his few lines of dialogue; he prefers monstrous roars instead), and in a first for this show, he's seemingly Killed Off for Real in the end. Naturally, outside of some tension-lightening comedic moments, the overall events of the episode are presented quite seriously even when compared to past two-parters.
    • Lord Tirek from the Season 4 final "Twilight Kingdom - Part 1 & 2" takes the cake out of all the previous Knights in the show, considering he's literally stealing everyone's destinies by robbing them of their magic and cutie marks. To hammer the point home, see Discord up there? Tirek managed to one-up Discord by emotionally breaking him, something no-one thought was even possible considering that was Discord's schtick. Add that to the sheer damage he's willing to inflict to get what he wants, even blowing up Golden Oaks Library, Twilight's home.
  • Crud from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; granted, as a stand alone villain, he's a Laughably Evil cartoon blob who wants to make the world messy, in comparison to the rest of the series' Rogues Gallery; however, he's pretty terrifying (especially since most Pooh works don't even have an antagonist). Adding to this is the fact that he's actually voiced by Jim Cummings, using his Robotnik voice!
  • The Beast in Over the Garden Wall is an absolutely terrifying villain, as any scene with him is taken seriously and immediately drops all the humor before he appeared.
  • In The Penguins of Madagascar, Dr. Blowhole can be established as one since he tried to melt the ice in the world and flood it so that the humans would have to go through a ring of fire, and in his second appearance, he intentionally tried to drown Skipper when he gave him amnesia.
  • Several of these can be said in Phineas and Ferb:
    • Rodrigo from "Minor Monogram", as he planned to split up the entire Tri-State Area into two, that will ultimately kill thousands of people (including Doofenshmirtz and Perry).
    • Liam McCracken from "Primal Perry", as he planned to turn both Perry the Platypus and Doofenshmirtz into trophies (due to his severe hatred toward platypuses and having a reputation of going rogue).
    • Mittington Random from "The Klimpaloon Ultimatum", as he planned to kidnap a rare creature called the Klimpaloon and unravel it for his sales gimmick of old-timey suits a for a good fortune, something that even Phineas and the gang strongly disapprove.
  • The Powerpuff Girls actually have a great deal of serious threats:
    • Him, compared to the rest of the show's Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain cast, had a much creepier presence (even noted frequently by the cast and the narrator) and frequently supplied Mind Rape or other much deadlier tactics of bringing the girls to an end. Granted he also often supplied Nightmare Retardant and did have the occasional bumbling role (he was a Sissy Villain after all) but he was still miles deadlier than most of the Rogues Gallery, especially when he was the villain of the episode, in which none of the scenes with him were Played for Laughs note . And then there's the episode "Speed Demon".
    • Dick Hardly from "Knock It Off", who tries to slowly kill the girls by slowly draining them of their Chemical X, even after Professor Utonium offered to become his slave for the rest of his life.
    • Mojo Jojo himself became one in The Movie, where he had a much more dark presence than any episode of the series. He deceives the Powerpuff Girls, and is probably responsible for a mass murder and mass destruction in the city at the climax.
    • The RowdyRuff Boys. Three boys that have powers equal to the girls with talents and abilities to match. Despite their achilles heel the first time around; their revival removes that heel at the cost of some personal side effects (Boomer becomes more of a ditz. Brick is twice as cruel, but his guerilla tactics are still strong. Finally, Butch's bloodlust has been ramped up way beyond buttercup's own).
    • The Gnome from the episode "See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey". While not as terrible as those mentioned above, is probably the most powerful villain that has appeared in the series, since it seems to be a greedy, Manipulative Bastard that he just wants to be the only villain, a massive hypocrite manipulating and controlling the masses. He is also responsible for killing all the recurring villains of the series. They did get better with the gnome's destruction.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: While the show was usually light-hearted in nature, there were many episodes featuring a ghost that was truly sinister, serious, and far more lethal than most threats the boys in gray faced. Notable examples include the Boogieman, who scared the living daylights out of children For the Evulz, and the Grundel, who's M.O. was corrupting kids to transform them into members of his own kind. One example that really stands out, though, is Mee-Krah from the episode "Standing Room Only". The episode in question was from one of the Lighter and Softer later seasons, but Mee-Krah was an Eldritch Abomination that sought to devour every ghost it could find and had caused an alarming swath of destruction before the Ghostbusters succeeded in destroying it.
  • ReBoot:
    • The Web Creature. The thing itself only appeared in three episodes, all told, but that doesn't matter. The damage had been done.
    • Megabyte himself is an example. Despite being there from day one, he inverts the typical Villain Decay of 1990s animation. He goes from season one's daily nuisance, to season two's master manipulator, to actually having won in season three and taking over the mainframe in the Cliffhanger.
  • Recess has a few:
  • Rick and Morty, despite being a show that very much runs on Black Comedy, has a couple of characters who drop the "comedy" aspect of this:
    • King Jellybean from "Meeseeks and Destroy" initially acts friendly to Morty when they meet in a bathroom, only to attempt to rape him, in a scene that completely averts Black Comedy Rape and is played 100% seriously. The Stinger further shows that he's an outright child molester who has been using his position of authority to assault numerous children for years.
    • Evil Morty is an even bigger example. Despite having only appeared in two episodes, they were both wham episodes where his identity was a huge reveal. In the first, "Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind", he is The Quiet One who only has two lines (which are completely devoid of any kind of humor) and is the assistant of the episode's Big Bad, Evil Rick...in appearance. In actuality, he is the true mastermind, controlling Evil Rick remotely, and gets away completely undetected at the episode's end. He dives further into this in his second appearance in "The Ricklantis Mix-up", in which it's revealed that the recently elected new leader of the Citadel of Ricks, President Morty, is actually Evil Morty. His first acts as President are to murder the Shadow Council of Ricks that planned to use him as their Puppet King and have their bodies (and those of many others who died during the episode) Thrown Out the Airlock, along with a still-living Rick and Morty who knew about his identity. At this point, he is undoubtedly the biggest threat to the "main" Rick and Morty that the series follows, and they don't even know he exists.
  • The giant rat from the Van Beuren Studios cartoon "Rough on Rats"; once he shows up, kidnaps and tries to kill one of the kittens, the tone of the once happy, frolicky cartoon takes a total 180 as his two brothers race to save their brother from being sawed in half by the rat.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • The Minions of Aku in The Premiere Movie. Their first scene marked the Darker and Edgier nature of the show. And unlike most of the villains in the show, there's nothing funny about them.
    • Aku himself is a zi-zagged example. In some episodes, such as the three-part Premiere Movie and The Birth of Evil two-parter, he's every bit the embodiment of evil he claims to be. In other episodes, he's a complete clown with some hilarious lines. Basically, depending on the episode, he can make you laugh or scream. Sometimes both in the same episode, which is perfectly demonstrated in the penultimate episode "C". In the first half of the episode, Aku is mostly portrayed in a comedic light, with him and Scaramouche doing a Happy Dance at the news that Jack lost his sword. Even his murder of Scaramouche for giving him outdated information is mostly Played for Laughs. However, it all quickly goes to hell once Aku finds out Ashi is his biological daughter and he takes control of her body to force her to fight Jack. Jack cannot bring himself to kill Ashi and surrenders himself and his sword to Aku. In other words, in one scene, he managed to bring the series to its lowest point.
    • The Demonic Spirit from "Jack and the Haunted House" is easily the most unsettling villain in the first 4 seasos, and one of the few beings in the show that is taken completely seriously. It has no comical moments like most other villains, including Aku, and its episode is perhaps the scariest in the whole show.
    • Inner Jack later revealed to be Mad Jack. He has been unconsciously haunting Jack in the decades since he lost his sword and the last time portal was destroyed, driving him to acts of violence, making him lose all hope in his cause, and even nearly driving Jack to suicide. While he is in many respects a product of Aku's scheming, he ultimately caused as much harm to Jack by himself as Aku ever did.
    • The High Priestess from Season 5. Her first scene marked the point where Season 5's Darker and Edgier atmosphere made itself known. She is easily one of the darkest characters in the show.
    • The Daughters of Aku. While Aku's robots are clearly just as pathetic as ever, these gals mean business, able to wound and frighten even Jack.
    • The Dominator from "XCVI" is one of the most frightening villains in the entire show, starting with the very fact that he's an actual human doing dark things to the innocent population.
  • Professor Pericles the parrot from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, who is hands down one of the most frightening villains in the franchise's history.
    • The Freak of Crystal Cove, AKA Mayor Jones, is even worse then Pericles. His deeds involve: Chasing off the original Mystery inc. Kidnapping the son of two of their members as insurance to raise as his own, scarring Pericles and pinning Mystery Inc's dissapearance on him, and causing the dissolving of the present Mystery Inc. as Fred leaves to find his real parents, Daphne blames it on Velma for not figuring it out sooner, Shaggy gets shipped off to military school and Scooby gets sent to a farm. And all this from a villain on a Scooby Doo show.
    • The finale has a final one, though only for its two-part sequence: the Nibiru Entity, a being whose evil has projected onto everyone, and is responsible for all the costumes, all the cruelty, and all the evil, including that of the previous two. Once freed, he kills Pericles, eats the original Mystery Incorporated, and eats all of Crystal Cove. His destruction raises this to a meta-level — as he was erased from the timeline, all the evil characters grew up to be good, and everyone's lives are for the better, bar Daphne's sisters.
  • From the Shaun the Sheep Movie, Trumper the animal control specialist is a double subversion. While his hero-wannabe tendencies add to his pathetic nature and are somewhat humorous, he's much viler than even the pigs, who were at worst annoying bullies. He treats the animals that he imprisons very cruelly in a way that isn't played for laughs, and in the climax he attempts to outright murder the farmer, Bitzer and all the sheep, briefly resembling the Grim Reaper all the while.
  • Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons. While still rather slapstick prone and displaying humorous wit (being voiced by Kelsey Grammer and all) most of his appearances he attempts to kill Bart (sometimes the rest of the Simpsons family too, if they happen to be standing between him and Bart) or Krusty The Clown and his intents are (mostly) played seriously with episodes becoming more intense and dark when he appears. He even has his own creepy music soundtrack...
    • His brother Cecil Terwilliger as well. He's more evil and amoral than Bob, particularly in his first episode.
    • Mr. Burns also qualifies, at least in seasons 1-8. While he does have some comical traits and funny quirks, many of the episodes involving him are more serious and dramatic than any other episodes and his actions are played seriously. Most notable examples are "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" two-parter, where he screws over all other characters and finally blocks all the sunlight from Springfield. This was so evil that his loyal doormat Mr. Smithers objects to this and all of his actions are played seriously and theepisode is dramatic and intense, not to mention that it's the only two-parter episode in the series. In "The Curse Of Flying Hellfish", he attempted to drown Bart and in "Mother Simpson" where he worked on biological warfare and made Mona Simpson, Homer's mother, run from the law and hide from the rest of her life, meaning that Mr. Burns is responsible for Homer losing his mother and setting some of the series' plots in motion. The darkest Burns episode - ironically, also the one in which he makes a temporary Heel–Face Turn - is the one that reveals that being evil is literally the only thing keeping his ancient, frail body alive, so Burns vows to never reform again in the hope of getting to live forever.
    • The series has had a few villains who have no funny quirks and are played seriously. Examples include the winemakers from "The Crepes Of Wrath", who treated Bart like a slave and could have killed him by giving him antifreeze-laced wine, the Babysitter Bandit from "Some Enchanted Evening" (who tied up the kids and tried to rob the house), Bart's kindergarten teacher from "Lisa's Sax" (whose treatment of Bart made him consider suicide when he was only five, and made him what he is today), and the brother and sister of the rich kid Bart impersonated in "Double,Double, Boy in Trouble", who try to ''kill Bart" (believing him to be Simon) to claim his share of their family inheritance.
    • Frank Grimes. Although he's not completely vile (only a jerkass), things turn very dark in the only episode where he appears, "Homer's Enemy". For many fans, it's one of the darkest episodes of the series.
  • South Park:
    • The Super Adventure Club from the episode "The Return of Chef", who brainwash Chef and turn him into a pedophile, among other things, which eventually leads to Chef's death. Despite the Psychotic Manchild antics of the club leader, the episode on whole is darker (and more bitter) than most South Park episodes.
    • Grandma Stoch, despite the absurdity of a grandmother acting like a schoolyard bully, is still rather disturbing, especially when she buries a fork in Butters. In the only episode where she antagonizes (Butterballs), the issue of bullying is played very seriously for Butters.
    • Sheila Broflovski in The Movie is one of the few antagonists of the series that has been played seriously, where her Moral Guardian antics instigates a Canadian American War, and attempts (and succeeds) to execute Terrence and Phillip.
    • One of season 20's Big Bads, Lennart Bedrager, qualifies. He is arguably one of the most serious villains in the entire history of the show, even more so than the Super Adventure Club mentioned above. Aside from a few comically serious moments in his earlier appearances, there's really nothing all that funny about him. While the damage his TrollTrace system causes upon implementation is shown in a rather exaggerated manner, he's presented as a legitimate threat and is most definitely not Played for Laughs.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants:
    • Doodlebob was actually the earliest example. While Plankton was a Harmless Villain who only wanted to steal the Krabby Patty formula and The Flying Dutchman only wanted to be left alone, Doodlebob actively went out to cause mayhem and destruction, and when Spongebob got in the way, he intended to Kill and Replace him.
    • While still Played for Laughs for the most part, when Dennis, a brutal mercenary, makes his debut in The Sponge Bob Squarepants Movie, the movie definitely went downhill from the usually light series.
    • Plankton manages to be one in The Movie after he successfully manages to steal the Krabby Patty Formula and almost get Mr. Krabs killed.
    • Mrs. Puff becomes one in the infamous Season 8 episode Demolition Doofus. In the episode, Mrs. Puff punctures her inflation sac thanks to her pupil SpongeBob's reckless driving. When she learned that she may never puff up again, she enters SpongeBob into a demolition derby and hoped that he would die in it. To her frustration, SpongeBob survived due to his reckless driving, and he becomes a champion of the demolition derby. She then gets into a large monster truck and tries to run him down herself. She chases his truck all the way to the Boating School, and she ends up destroying it. She's able to inflate back up again after this.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil has Toffee, an "Evil Efficiency Expert" who manages to manipulate Ludo, the main villain up to this point, into hiring him. From that moment on, viewers know something is up. By the time the first season finale arrives, he proves to be The Starscream by becoming the true Big Bad of the season, kidnaps Marco, and even manages to defeat Star. He gets this even more in the second and third seasons, efortlessly defeating the Magic High Commission and Queen Moon, and manipulating Ludo into killing Glossaryck, and very nearly killing Star. It's even been revealed that Toffee killed a previous Queen, Star grandmother. And even then, it's still not clear what his ultimate goal ever was.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • The introduction of the extremely competent Bounty Hunter Cad Bane at the end of Season 1 was the point where the series took a major turn for Darker and Edgier, as well as came into its own.
    • The series takes an even darker turn midway through Season 3 with the introduction of the Nightsisters, a viciously misandristic cult of witches who use their Black Magic to brainwash and painfully transform a warrior named Savage Opress — the brother of the infamous Darth Maul — into a mindless instrument of their revenge against Count Dooku.
    • At the end of Season 4, the darkness levels are taken Up to Eleven when Darth Maul himself makes his return. Over the course of Season 5, he goes on a galaxy-wide killing spree, resulting in the death of hundreds of innocent civilians (including children), the brutal takeover of the peaceful planet Mandalore, and the cold-blooded murder of Obi-Wan Kenobi's Love Interest Duchess Satine right in front of Obi-Wan's eyes.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • The Inquisitor takes over this role as Darth Vader's personal assassin. Unlike the other Imperial villains in the first season, most of whom were either Punch Clock Villains or comedically incompetent buffoons, the Inquisitor is an unfettered loyal servant of the Empire who comes the closest to killing the heroes. In their first encounter with him, he tricks the heroes into infiltrating a prison containing Jedi Master Luminara Unduli, only to reveal that she was Dead All Along and the prison was a trap to kill any rebels. In his subsequent appearance, he cemented his status with such acts as torturing Kanan and remorselessly executing the Imperial officers Aresko and Grint on Tarkin's orders. Even Agent Kallus was horrified by the Inquisitor's brutality and sociopathy.
    • Tarkin himself should not be underestimated either. When he arrives on Lothal, he comes down hard on our heroes, and makes it abundantly clear that failure will not be tolerated.
    • The Wham Shot at the very end of the first season finale and previews of the season two premiere indicate that Darth Vader is stepping up to serve this role. And boy, does he show it by undoing everything the rebels managed to complete for the past several episodes, by orchestrating Minister Tua's death and framing the protagonists for it, and then by remorselessly trying to kill his former padawan Ahsoka
    • Like with The Clone Wars, Darth Maul brought tons of Family-Unfriendly Violence and other dark themes to the show. For starters, he bisects the Seventh Sister after Ezra refuses to, stabs the Fifth Brother, and then slashes Kanan in the eyes with a lightsaber, permanently blinding him.
  • Steven Universe began as a purely lighthearted, episodic show about Steven and the Gems fighting random monsters or having a comedic day. However, the usual comedy takes a backseat for a while when Peridot makes her first appearances. After Peridot's Heel–Face Turn at the end of the second season, Jasper and Yellow Diamond take on the role, with Jasper being the first threat to make Steven realize how serious the conflict with the Gem Homeworld really is, and Yellow Diamond driving the point home.
    • Before that, in the mid season, the appearance of Lapis foreshadowed the conflict between the Crystal Gems and the Homeworld. And shown us a different shade of morality on the Crystal Gems that kept her locked in the mirror for thousands of years.
  • Shere Khan's TaleSpin incarnation is similarly far more serious than in the first film, and compared to the show's other Rogues Gallery is far sinister and dignified (even if there was some humor generated from this). However, in contrast he has a more affable side, his tendency to side with Baloo on many occasions prevents him from fully entering this trope.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • Lord Dregg of the 1987 cartoon. The fact that he plays his actions more seriously than Krang, the Shredder and his goons, who were all Laughably Evil Harmless Villains, definitely shows that this guy means business.
    • The first episode of those Red Sky seasons introduced Berserko, a rogue scientist from Dimension X, vying for revenge on Krang, and also cause trouble on Earth. He's far more serious than any of the other villains in the show, except Lord Dregg, and this is the episode when the show takes a Darker and Edgier turn.
    • The Shredder was made crueler and more brutal and competent in the 2003 cartoon. This was just a small change compared to his even more completely monstrous self in Turtles Forever. And so far he's been this in the 2012 series. Even with the show operated on Rule of Funny, none of the scenes with him were Played for Laughs. When the Turtles actually face off against him for the first time, they end up getting their shells handed to them; they only manage to escape because the Shredder was distracted by Xever and Bradford mutating. Following that, the show got darker with the other main villains the Kraang becoming far more of threat with the gradual reveal that their plan was to terraform the entire Earth to suit their needs. Shredder's seriousness as a villain in this series only gets worse when he mutates and eventually kills Splinter.
    • In the 2012 series, once Dogpound becomes Rahzar, he's nobody's comic relief anymore.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Though he was introduced in the very first episode, Slade didn't take center stage until the end of the first season, and the previously light and comedic storyline took a much darker turn. Though humor episodes were still very common later on, any time Slade's around things get dead serious very fast. Things get even darker with the introduction of Slade's master, Trigon, though they return to normal after both are defeated. Needless to say, this was a show that tended to dance a jig up and down the Sliding Scale of Seriousness Versus Silliness.
    • The Puppet King from the episode "Switched" was very creepy and tried to trap the Titans' souls in puppet versions of them so that he could destroy their spirits and control their bodies forever.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine has Sailor John, the first official human villain, debuting in Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure. He's not that dark at first, but as time goes on, he becomes more desperate to obtain the titular treasure, culminating in a chase scene that plays out more like a fight scene where he tries to throw a stick of dynamite at Thomas! He gets comically sent to jail at the end of the film, however, with everyone else coming out okay in the end.
  • Total Drama is a dramatic, but still fairly lighthearted reality show with antagonists more focused on winning the game and voting out their competition than causing lasting harm to others and even the ones that do have redeeming factors to balance it out, however two antagonists from season 5 vastly contradict this and prove to be some of the darkest villains on the show:
    • The Malevolent One, or Mal for short, is a sociopathic alternate personality of Mike. When he's not breaking people's video games and phones, he regularly goes around harming people For the Evulz. Such incidents of this include, but are not limited to, brutally beating down Izzy in a boxing match when all he had to do was defeat her, attempting to knock Zoey off a cliff, and later drown her, attempting to leave Cameron to die by pushing him in the way of bloodthirsty animals effected by the Harvest Moon while Cameron was blind, breaking Alejandro's wrist as well as using Svetlana's athletic abilities in such a process that makes her slowly fade out and causes her pain to beat the crap out of Alejandro in a challenge, and attempting to toss Heather into a pool full of toxic waste even though she was trying to help him win a million dollars. Not only that, but it's revealed he actually got himself/Mike sent to juvy, before Mike could seal him inside his mind.
    • The second part of the season Pahiktew Island has Scarlett who reveals herself to be a Mad Scientist who programmed her brother's toys to attack him for 6 years after he pulled her hair. Then willing to let the island blow up if Chris doesn't give her the money. She's so vile that Chris wasted no time eliminating her on the spot after everything was said and done with.
  • Megatron of Transformers Animated is another semi-example like Slade and Rubilax. He was there from the beginning, but once he gets his body back, things get bad.
    • And then when Shockwave gets involved, things get worse.
    • The biggest one in the series is Lockdown. He has no comedic traits, is only interested in getting paid and claiming trophies from his victims, and is often regarded as the most evil Transformer in this series. Infact, his debut episode Thrill Of The Hunt, establishes that the series is not as immature as the art style makes it out to be. Lockdown's actions also led to the dark and troubled pasts of both Ratchet and Prowl. What's worse is that his backstory, alternate mode, and blank rubsign obscuring his faction brand all seem to suggest he was a former Autobot.
    • Prometheus Black/Meltdown is one for the human supervillains of Animated; the other villains, like Angry Archer, Professor Princess, and the Headmaster are all very comical and very much played for laughs. Meltdown, however, is played as a legitimate threat to the Autobots and also engages in some pretty horrific genetic experimentation, turning unwilling subjects into horrible monsters.
    • Unicron, essentially the Transformers equivalent of Satan. Transformers: The Movie opens up with him destroying an entire planet full of life, helping setting up the tone for the first of the movie.
    • Transformers: Beast Wars II is an incredibly light-hearted show with hilarious characters, that hardly ever takes itself seriously. And its villains are no exceptions - Galvatron - the Big Bad is a narcoleptic who spends most of the show asleep, leaving his inept kid brother Megastorm to run the show with effeminate The Dragon (Starscream), a thug who can only repeat his own name (BB), and Beavis and Butt-Head (Thrust and Dirge) under his command. Cue the last 10 episodes of the show, where Galvatron wakes up, takes command, and we learn that he has a gigantic Doomsday Device en route to Gaia, which he intends to use to destroy the whole planet and siphon the Anglomois energy. And then things go grimdark... Gigastorm (Megastorm after his makeover) is fatally wounded and dies in Galvatron's arms, and the whole series ends with all the Maximals sacrificing themselves to destroy the Nemesis, in the end flying up to 'robot heaven'. Granted, Beast Wars Neo retcons this.
    • Transformers Prime is very much Darker and Edgier compared to earlier shows in the franchise, but its far more evil depiction of Megatron, snarkiness aside, still puts into their trope, with plans he gets involved with often extending beyond killing the Autobots to wiping out all life on Earth, along with a world of pain for anybody who tries to get in his way that isn't Optimus Prime. There are two more notable and recurring ones, the former being Soundwave who's almost always creeping other characters out, and the latter being Airachnid, who commits genocide for fun and is brutally cruel to the point that other Decepticons hate her.
      • Prime also has Silas and MECH, the show's only human villains— their obsession with discovering the secret of Cybertronian biology led them to repeatedly try to kidnap and vivisect Autobots and Decepticons alike. And on top of that, they had no problem threatening harm on any fellow humans who got in their way. They ripped out Breakdown's optic and cut into his chest, found Jack's house and abducted his mother, cut out Bumblebee's T-cog, and eventually used Breakdown's body as a new vessel for their leader after he was fatally injured.
    • Transformers: Robots in Disguise is intentionally a much Lighter and Softer show compared to Prime, with Decepticon villains who are mostly comedic and not that threatening. The exception, however, is Steeljaw, their de facto leader. His introduction sees him easily subdue the Autobots sent to capture him, and he displays a level of cunning and savviness seen nowhere else in the show before easily escaping from justice. He plans to force the other escaped prisoners under his thrall and form them into a new army to take the Earth.
    • Beast Wars, while Darker and Edgier compared to its precursor, does have several light-hearted moments during the first season. Season two introduces Rampage, a Serial Killer who's an expy of Hannibal Lecter. His appearance marked the show's descent into more nightmarish territory, and episodes where main characters get Killed Off for Real.
      • Tigerhawk, when his shell was possessed by the Vok. His arrival was directly responsible for throwing Beast Wars into the endgame phase and the Nemesis two-parter that followed contained some of the bleakest moments in the series.
  • TRON: Uprising has Cyrus. While TRON: Uprising was already much Darker and Edgier than most other Disney animated shows, it becomes even more so when he shows up.
    • He comes across as friendly and seems to be a good guy (albeit a creepy one, what with his face... tattoos), until he reveals his plan to blow up the entire Grid.
    • Later, he forces the Renegade to make a Sadistic Choice in an attempt to ruin his reputation, and it works.
    • Before Cyrus, there was Dyson. A vicious piece of work that even the show's primary villain was terrified of. Fantastic Racism against Isos to start with. Then add Cold-Blooded Torture against Tron Dyson's primarily responsible for that impressive collection of scars. Tron has such a vendetta against the guy that he almost kills Beck for getting in the way of revenge. We kinda suspected he was starting to slip from Disney Prince status before, but the episode cemented just how bad the situation actually was.
  • While the show on a whole is lighter than previous continuities, Ultimate Spider-Man's version of Venom is, half the time, not played for laughs and there are less Imagine Spots whenever he manages to make an appearance. Similarly, his creator, Doctor Octopus, while hardly ever seen outside of his lab, also appears to have no humorous quirks and if he's in an episode, the episode has a likeliness of taking itself seriously.
    • And when Norman Osborn becomes the Green Goblin, things really get dark.
  • Both lampshaded and played straight in The Venture Bros. episode "Victor Echo November." When Phantom Limb gets in an argument with Harmless Villain The Monarch, he shows his superiority by calling for the immediate killing of the Venture family, whom the Monarch has ineffectually antagonized for the whole series. When the Guild henchmen prove to be much more dangerous than The Monarch's Mauve Shirts, Dr. Venture asks, "This is different, isn't it, Brock?" Brock replies, "Yeah, we might not win this one." Later on, the Monarch himself becomes much more threatening by Season 4. When the person he's after is not Rusty Venture, he can come off as downright scary.
  • Wakfu:
    • Season 1 has Nox. When most of the villains of the series are harmless, being slightly ridiculous or just not evil at all, Nox is one hell of a dramatic villain. He is eager to destroy any living things to get their primordial energy, including a baby that he stalked for ten years. And some flashbacks seems to indicate that he's responsible for the death of his own family, and ready to kill anyone/anything to bring them back to life. Altougth it might be a slight subversion, because he was introduced in the very first episode; the later villains were more light-hearted.
    • Season 2 is relatively light-hearted, since the true Big Bad isn't revealed until episode 20. The villains preceding him all have humorous elements that make them less serious, even Rushu. Qilby the Traitor however is a real piece of work. He wants to suck the World of Twelve dry of its wakfu for completely selfish and petty reasons, and unlike Nox he has no real redeeming qualities. Season 2 become a lot more serious when he stops pretending to be a nice guy.
  • Wallace & Gromit has Piella. She murders 12 bakers, and plans on making Wallace her 13th victim, all because of a grudge over getting fired from advertising baked goods over her weight. While still comedic, Piella is also more disturbing and psychotic than many previous antagonists, her abusive treatment of Fluffles in particular is conveyed with serious effect on the character and is quite unsettling to watch.
  • In season 2, Wander over Yonder introduces Lord Dominator, a villain so powerful and sadistic, she manages to leave the other four main cast members trembling in fear and all the other villains bowing down to her. Normally, Wander's friendliness can get through to even the meanest people—not this one. By the end of the season, she had destroyed every planet in the galaxy, except for one, forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes in terror. She's also notably the first character to actually KILL a sympathetic character on-screen.
  • Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa has Skull Duggery, the skeletal ghost of a greedy miner who died in a cave-in while trying to retrieve his hidden fortune of silver. It's especially notable in his second appearance "Skull Duggery Rides Again", where he teams up with two other ghosts in a plan to raze Cowtown.
  • While the Woody Woodpecker series was consistently comedic, most of Woody's earliest foes were incompetent Asshole Victims to Woody's constant heckling such as Wally Walrus. Buzz Buzzard however made his mark by being an outspokenly sleazy and malicious villain, his first appearance starting off with him conning Woody into a phony insurance policy and then attempting to kill him to claim the profits. Buzz was toned down in later shorts, but remained one of Woody's most belligerent foes.
  • Miss Power from WordGirl. Magnitudes more powerful than every other villain and WordGirl herself, and much more intelligent. Pretends to be a hero and trains WordGirl while slowly corrupting her and the citizens. When WordGirl finds out she's being played, Miss Power simply beats her up and takes over anyway. And given the nature of her powers, she's pretty much the embodiment of bullying.
  • Chase Young of Xiaolin Showdown was introduced as the Big Bad in the second season. In the first season, the villain had been Jack Spicer who's comically beaten once an episode. While he was partly taking orders from Wuya (an evil spirit with no physical form), she was also strictly comical, except in the Season One finale. Chase, however, was a strictly non-comical and threatening villain.
    • Wuya deserves special mention. Like Rubilax, her snarking makes her strictly comedic for the most part... Then she gets free and suddenly the laughing stopped.
  • Apocalypse from X-Men: Evolution. After he appeared, the series got less goofy and more serious, with more dramatic tension and more focus on stories about mutant persecution, less on high school drama. Apocalypse's ultimate genocidal plan really emphasized this.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/KnightOfCerebus/WesternAnimation