Arc Villain

The Super Trope to Filler Villain and Starter Villain, an Arc Villain serves as the Big Bad for one Story Arc, having an Evil Plan to threaten the heroes. After that, though, he's killed off, imprisoned, sent into a Humiliation Conga, or makes a Heel–Face Turn, and the heroes continue their adventures to the next arc.

There's no Man Behind the Man for the Arc Villain and no greater threat inspiring him, and he's certainly not something so minor as a Monster of the Week. At the same time, he isn't really the ultimate Big Bad of the series, either, since his defeat doesn't mark the end of the plot - or even the end of the hero's character arc. He is only the in-universe Big Bad for a limited time, after which someone new takes over the position. However, an Arc Villain can be the final antagonist of a series (of which he/she isn't the overall Big Bad).

Not the same as the situation where a character is intended as the ultimate Big Bad, but a Post-Script Season (or sequel) starts an entire new story. In fact, Arc Villains are often used as middle rungs on the Sorting Algorithm of Evil.

Compare Big Bad Wannabe. Contrast Disc-One Final Boss and Interim Villain. When the villain is around for a great portion of the series (or all of it), they're an Overarching Villain.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • This trope is very common in the fighting genre, with most entries featuring a major villain for each arc.
  • Bleach:
    • Canon examples: Tsukishima in the Lost Agent Arc with Ginjo as The Man Behind the Man and Yhwach of the Thousand Year Blood War Arc, though flashbacks have shown how he was involved with past events (i.e: Being responsible for Masaki's death, Katagiri's death (Uryu's mother), Old Man Zangetsu is actually a manifestation of him in his younger days, etc.) and he has since been cemented as the new and Final Big Bad.
    • Filler Villain examples: Jin Kariya, Shusuke Amagai, Muramasa, and Kageroza Inaba. Ouko Yushima is The Man Behind the Man for Kageroza.
  • Digimon Adventure:
    • Devimon in the Black Gears/Devimon Arc.
    • Etemon in the Etemon Arc.
    • Myotismon in the Myotismon/Eight Child Arc.
    • The Dark Masters in the Dark Masters Arc, with Apocalymon serving as the True Final Boss of the last two episodes.
  • Digimon Adventure 02:
    • The Digimon Emperor/Ken Ichijouji in the Digimon Emperor Arc
    • Arukenimon and Mummymon, with Blackwargreymon serving as a Wild Card, in the Controll Spire Digimon/Destiny Stones Arc.
    • Yukio Oikawa, with Daemon serving as a temporary competition and Myotismon as the Man Behind the Man, in the Real World Arc.
  • Pretty much every Big Bad in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. Frieza on the other hand is the exception as he appeared as the villain for two arcs and two movies so he can be called the Big Bad.
    • Cell in the Android Saga, especially since most of the universe didn't even know he exist since he died before leaving Earth.
    • Majin Buu, who is the final villain of the series and has no connections to any of the other previous villains.
  • Gato from Naruto is great example. He is the central antagonist of the Land of Waves arc, but he is of no importance to the overarching story and is just there to be the first villain. After his death heroes quickly forget about him and continue their adventures to the next arc.
  • One Piece is the Trope Codifier for anime and manga, featuring a new Arc Villain for almost every arc. The examples that best fit this trope are Eneru and Arlong, though both left their respective marks on the Straw Hats (Haki for Eneru; Jones for Arlong).
  • Soul Eater has Arachne in the Arachnophobia arc and Noah/The Tables of Contents in the Book of Eibon Arc.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Spirit of the Millenium Ring (aka Dark Bakura) is the series' recurring antagonist and overall Big Bad. However, he is only the central villain of two arcs, and over the course of multiple story arcs he's regularly relegated to scheming in the background as the heroes are forced to confront more immediate threats:
    • Trial of the Mind: Shadi
    • Death-T: Seto Kaiba
    • Monster World: Dark Bakura
    • Duelist Kingdom: Pegasus J. Crawford
    • Dragons, Dice & Dungeons: Mr. Clown (manga-only)
    • Battle City: Marik Ishtar -> Dark Marik.
    • Millennium World: Dark Bakura, Akhenaden, and Zorc Necrophades
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! anime adds its own via filler arcs, and skips the first three arcs above (or adapted them into really short non-arcs).
    • Virtual Heroes: The Big Five
    • Virtual World: Noah & Gozaburo Kaiba.
    • Doma : Dartz
    • KaibaCorp Grand Prix: Ziegfried von Schroeder.
  • The Pokémon anime makes Team Plasma (with Colress and Ghetsis in particular) the villains of the Episode N arc in Best Wishes. Less straightforward and more spaced-out examples are Team Magma and Aqua in Advanced and Team Galactic in Diamond/Pearl.
    • Team Flare follows Team Plasma's lead as the main villains of the Z arc of XY.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Series 1: The Dark Kingdom
    • Sailor Moon R: Filler Arc: Ali and En, the Maikaiju aliens
    • Sailor Moon R: The Black Moon Arc: The Black Moon Clan
    • Sailor Moon S: The Death Busters
    • Sailor Moon Super S: The Dead Moon Circus, though Nehellenia bled into the first arc of Sailor Stars
    • Sailor Moon Sailor Stars: Shadow Galactica
    • The manga technically has a similar progression, though the arcs referred to each other and the final story arc reveals that each arc's Big Bad is in reality a reincarnation of the final enemy in the series.
  • Fairy Tail, having very little in terms of overarching villains, had quite a few of these. Thus far the list includes: Bora, Duke Everlue, Erigor, Lyon Vastia, Jose Porla, Jellal Fernandez, Laxus Dreyar, Brain/Zero, King Faust, Hades, Future Rogue, Mard Geer, and Alok.
    • An argument could be made for Hades being the Big Bad pretime-skip, as he is revealed to have a hand in Jellal's arc, but it is largely his minion Ultear who gets involved for him, acting as a sidekick to the Arc Villain in every plot she turns up in, while Hades has very little buildup prior to the arc he heads.
    • Though characters like Zeref, Acnologia, and E.N.D. (all of whom are depicted as The Dreaded), all seem to be building up towards the Big Bad, since they are ultimately responsible for many of the events that transpire in the story, or at least had a hand in it.
  • As each Story Arc of Lyrical Nanoha covers a specific incident, all installments have their own Arc Villain.
  • Most villains in YuYu Hakusho are this, with only a few major villains (such as Toguro and Sakyo) being recurring beyond a saga or even sub-arc.
  • Brilliant Dynamites Neon, or BDN for short, in Trigun.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is divided up into different parts (8 so far,) each with both its own Big Bad and main protagonist.
  • Eyeshield 21, as a series about a football team, lacks an overarching villain, with most of its conflicts being settled over the course of individual matches. During the Kanto Regional Tournament Arc, however, the series gains a temporary Big Bad in the form of Reiji "Marco" Maruko, captain of the Deimon Devil-Bats' evil counterparts, the Hakushu Dinosaurs. While the Devil-Bats still play against other teams, Marco's scheming drives much of the plot on and off the field, as various teams attempt different strategies to stop him and his monstrous centre, Rikiya Gao. After grinding their way through Deimon's former adversaries in the Taiyo Sphinx and Seibu Wild Gunmen, Marco and his Dinosaurs become the final team that the Devil-Bats have to face to claim the Kanto Regional Championship and move onto the Christmas Bowl.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • The Introduction Arc: While not exactly a villain, Bakugou is the closest it has to an antagonist, especially during the Battle Trial.
    • The Ultimate Space and Jams Arc: Tomura Shigaraki.
    • The U.A. Sports Festival Arc: While The Unfought, Endeavor (with his son Shouto Todoroki as a proxy).
    • The Field Training Arc: Stain.
    • The End of Term Test Arc: Technically, U.A. and its teacher staff. Justified with this being a school setting, although some of them did go a bit too far.
    • The School Trip Arc: Dabi was the most active villain, although Muscular was part of the arc's main subplot and fight, but Shigaraki was a Greater-Scope Villain as the plan to capture Bakugou was all his.
    • The Hideout Infiltration Arc: Shigaraki started off as a Red Herring until All For One showed up.
  • Blue Exorcist:
    • The True Cross Academy Arc: While it was an episodic arc, Amaimon was the closest it had to one.
    • The Resurrection of the Impure King Arc: The titular Impure King was mostly The Heavy while Saburota Touto was the most active villain.
    • The Terror of the Kraken Arc: The Kraken.
    • The True Cross Festival Arc: Renzo Shima.
    • The Illuminati Arc: Dr. Michael Gedouin, with Lucifer as the Greater-Scope Villain.
    • The Amori Arc: Hachirotaro Okami.
  • Hunter × Hunter:
    • The Hunter Exam Arc: Hisoka.
    • The Zoldyck Family Arc: The arc didn't have a true antagonist, by Kikyo Zoldyck was pretty close.
    • The Tower of Heaven Arc: Hisoka again.
    • The York New Arc: Chrollo Lucilfer.
    • The Greed Island Arc: Genthru.
    • The Chimera Ant Arc: Meruem.
    • The Hunter Chairman Election Arc: Hisoka again.
    • The Dark Continent Arc: While the villain has yet to be revealed, it seems to building up to Hisoka again.
  • Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers:
  • Shinzo: Both seasons had a different Big Bad, but season 1 also had the so-called Enterran Generals who were essentially mini-bosses working for the first Big Bad.

    Comic Books 
  • In most contemporary Super Hero comics, which are written with collected editions in mind, this has effectively replaced the older villain-of-the-month trope.
  • The longer, four-issue story arcs of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) each have their own villain:
    • The "Return of Queen Chrysalis" arc (issues 1-4) has the titular Changeling Queen.
    • The "Nightmare Forces" arc (issues 5-8) has the new Nightmare Moon, Rarity.
    • The "Reflections" arc (issues 17-20) has the Mirror Universe versions of Celestia and Luna.
    • The "Siege of the Crystal Empire" arc (issues 34-37) was entirely engineered by Sombra's mother Rabia in order to free the Umbrum.
  • Each arc of Joss Whedon's Astonshing X-Men had one:
    • "Gifted:" Ord.
    • "Dangerous:" Danger.
    • "Torn": Cassandra Nova and the Hellfire Club.
    • "Unstoppable:" Aghanne.
  • The Disney Comics got many, such as Evil Sorcerer Mirengue in the Millenium Orbs arc.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer continues the precedent established by the show:

    Fan Works 
  • Perfection Is Overrated
    • Chapter 1-4: Hitomi
    • Chapter 6-7: Toki
    • Chapter 8-10: Shizune
    • Chapter 14-15: Sekai
    • Chapter 17-19: Bachiko and Meiko, as well as Ishigami
  • An interesting case in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series: though the fic generally is episodic, the fourth season had a shadowy figure always showing up at the end of an episode. Then, the two-part Season Finale "Our Solemn Hour" reveals that a decent amount of the season's plots were caused by Holographic Retro, who Calvin then proceeds to fight. It ends in a Cliffhanger where both characters try to take the other with them into the lava, and the fifth season premiere reveals Holographic Retro was Killed Off for Real.
  • Neomorphs: Mersa is a significant individual threat for several books before being dealt with.
  • A Minor Miscalculation: Mataro Mankanshoku becomes The Rival to Ryuko after his introduction and battles her on even ground for a few chapters, until Nui shows up and reasserts her status by brutally murdering him.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage has Ganondorf in Season 2. While he's the Big Bad of the season, his presence in Equestria was (unknown to the heroes or even himself) engineered by Majora and Dethl, in order to a) keep his presence in Hyrule from messing up their own plans, and b) hopefully allow Vaati and the Mane Six to eliminate him for them.
  • The Grim EDventures of Ed Edd n Eddy has Eris the Big Bad... for the first 47 chapters, after which she is replaced by Pandora.
  • This is enerally averted in Forum of Thrones, as most villains hold significance for more than one storyline and over a longer period of time. However, there are some minor exceptions.
    • Maya's storyline in Book 1 Chapter 3 features Lord Trymon Brune, head of House Brune and lord of the Dyre Den. He is killed at the end of the same chapter and held overall little importance for her plot, other than to introduce Aldrik Wolver to her group.
    • After some minor encounters as an Arc Villain for Maya and John Gutten, Rodrik Stone becomes this to Samantha and the people that surround her in Chapter 7 and 8 of Book 1.
    • Rayden, Clayton's Arch-Enemy is the Arc Villain for a very short time in Kersea's storyline, during chapters 6 and 7.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 

     Live Action TV  
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: This show is famous for having one Arc Villian per seasonal arc:
  • Every season of Dexter has involved some kind of Arc Villain:
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Ser Alliser Thorne is a recurring arc villain to Jon Snow, most notably in Season 1 and Season 4.
    • Viserys for Daenerys' Dothraki arc, Pyat Pree for her Qarth arc, and Kraznys for her Astapor arc.
    • Theon becomes this for Season 2's Winterfell arc.
    • Locke for Jaime and Brienne's Season 3 odyssey. He gets transplanted as a secondary one to Karl Tanner in Season 4.
    • Karl Tanner for Craster's Keep arc, especially in Season 4.
  • Nimueh from the first series of Merlin.
  • NCIS has a fair few of these, although there aren't excessive numbers of them; perhaps 1 every season or two. Notable Arc Villains include Ari Haswari for seasons 1, 2 and 3, La Grenouille for season 4 and Colonel Bell for season 7.
  • 24 has quite a few of these: Victor Drazen for season 1, Stephen Saunders for season 3, Habib Marwan for season 4, and Alan Wilson for season 7. The others don't technically count as seasons 2 and 5 had the Big Bad working for someone else, while seasons 6 and 8 featured more of a Big Bad Ensemble. Season 5's Big Bad went on to also later be part of 8's ensemble.
  • The Disney Zorro series was almost unique among 1950s television by using an arc-based plot format; following the defeat of Capitan Monistario halfway through the first season, a brief breather was followed by the arrival of "The Eagle," who drove most of the plot for the second half of the season. The second season reverted to a more episodic format.
  • Luther was episodic for its first series, but its second one introduced an arc driven format that would persist until its end. In Series 2, London Gangster Baba served as the Big Bad of the series, while serial killers Cameron Pell and Robert & Nicholas Millberry served as the villains of its first and second arcs (Luther would investigate their cases on the job, while dealing with Baba off the job). In Series 3, Internal Affairs officer George Stark was the series' driving antagonist, while the Shoreditch Creeper and Tom Marwood acted as the villains of its first and second arcs.
  • Johnny Crowder, Boyd's bitter, jealous cousin, was one of these for the first part of Justified's fifth season. Having been a recurring cast member in the previous four seasons, Johnny returned as The Man Behind the Man to many of Boyd's problems at the start of Season 5. He masterminded an attack on a heroin shipment in Episode 2, seized control of Hotrod Dunham's organization in Episode 5, and came gunning for Boyd in Episode 7, where he was promptly taken down,, leaving the rest of the season open for bigger players with connections to both Boyd and s.
  • The CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise has had several examples (most of them Serial Killers and/or users of Criminal Mind Games). Notable examples include Paul Millander, the Blue Paint Killer, the Miniature Killer and "Dr Jekyll" from "The Mothership", the Mala Noche cartel from CSI: Miami and the Cabbie Killer and Shane Casey from CSI: NY.
  • Hannibal has Serial Killer Garrett Jacob Hobbs as the Arc Villain of Season One. Though Hobbs dies in episode one, a good deal of both Will and Abigail's storylines and conflicts can be traced back to him, thanks to Will's guilt over killing Hobbs and Abigail's survivor's guilt due Hobbs killing eight teenage girls as substitute for her, respectively.
    • Mason Verger acts as Arc Villain for the latter half of season 2. Will and Hannibal's desire to help Margot, Mason's abused sister, places both in the line of Mason's "hobbies."
  • Like CSI, Bones has its own ensemble of Serial Killers, each with a specific modus operandi: Howard Epps, The Gormogon, The Gravedigger, Jacob Broadsky and Christopher Pelant.
  • Criminal Minds had George "The Boston Reaper" Foyet, an unbelievably horrifying Serial Killer even for this show who becomes obsessed with Agent Hotchner after the latter refuses to make a deal with him: Hotchner lets Foyet go free, and Foyet stops killing. Hotch having more spine than Foyet thought he would causes Foyet to switch his target from "anyone who gets in my way" to Hotch in particular.
  • Once Upon a Time uses this trope a lot.
    • Season 1: Regina for the entire season, with Mr. Gold / Rumpelstiltskin being the Greater-Scope Villain.
    • Season 2: Cora for most of the season, replaced by Greg and Tamara in the last few episodes.
    • Season 3A: Peter Pan. He's also the Greater-Scope Villain for much of the show, due to his actions indirectly influencing many of the previous Big Bads.
    • Season 3B: The Wicked Witch of the West.
    • Season 4A: The Snow Queen and Rumpelstilskin.
    • Season 4B: Maleficent and Rumpelstilskin with Ursula and Cruella acting as Co-Dragons. Halfway through the arc, Isaac the Author emerges as a Greater-Scope Villain for much of the events of the show up to this point, however he doesn't take the Big Bad mantle until the final three episodes with everyone else dispersed.
    • Season 5A: Numerous Dark Ones both corporeal and incorporeal (Emma, Hook, Rumpelstiltskin and Nimue) in the present-day story, while King Arthur serves as the primary antagonist in the flashback story, helped by Zelena. However, is is ultimately Nimue who comes out on top.
    • Season 5B: Hades.
    • Season 6A: Mr. Hyde actually a Disc-One Final Boss and the Evil Queen, now a separate entity from Regina.
    • Season 6B: Gideon (the adult son of Gold and Belle) replaces the Queen in Episode 10, only for The Reveal in Episode 16 to show that his grandmother the Black Fairy has been pulling his strings the whole time and he is only Forced into Evil. Taken Up to Eleven when it's revealed that she created the Dark Curse and is arguably the Big Bad for the entire show.
  • The 100 has the Mountain Men as the main villains of the second season.
  • Wiseguy was a fairly early adopter of the arc format. Arcs were of varying length, but each had its own Big Bad to be taken down by protagonist Vinnie Terranova and assorted stand-ins due to actor Ken Wahl's various issues.
  • ER' fourth season had a running subplot about Dr. Ellis West, an absolute scuzzball of a pharmaceutical executive whose company is attempting to buy the hospital. He seduces Kerry Weaver in an attempt to use her to get into Dr. Anspaugh's good graces, and the whole thing culminates in her awesomely breaking up with him and telling him where to stick it and him slinking off to whatever hole he crawled out of with his foot in the door gone. Kerry isn't the nicest person herself, but in this instance the viewer can't help but cheer for her.
  • Breaking Bad had a different villain about each season and a half:
    • Season 1 and the beginning of season 2 had Tuco Salamanca.
    • The first half of Season 3 had the Salamanca cousins, only to be upstaged by Gustavo Fring for the second half and all of season 4.
    • Season 5B had Hank and Jesse, but Todd, Jack, and his gang of Neo-Nazis take over this position from "Ozymandias" until the finale.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim has the Helheim Forest as the overall Big Bad, though each saga has another villain driving the plot.
    • The Beat Riders saga mostly has the Beat Rider teams competing against Gaim as the antagonists, though Zangetsu pops up from time to time.
    • The Yggdrasill Corporation takes center stage for both the Yggdrasill and Helheim sagas, with Takatora and Ryoma as its most visible members.
    • The Overlord saga has Demushu, who kicks off the arc with his arrival.
    • The Forbidden Fruit saga has Redyue for the first half and Kaito Kumon for the second half.
  • Supernatural:
  • The Walking Dead: Anyone who is not a walker that tries to kill the main group.
    • Shane Walsh for Season 2.
    • The Governor for Season 3 and 4.
    • The Terminous Cannibles for Season 4 and 5.
    • Negan and the Saviors for Season 7.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, Keeper Zathrian is the Arc Villain of the Nature of the Beast quest and Uldred is the Arc Villain of the Broken Circle quest, though the other major quests track back to either Loghain or the Archdemon.
    • Dragon Age II had ones for each of its two primary DLCs. "Mark of the Assassin" had Duke Prosper de Montfort and "Legacy" had Corypheus who went on to become the main villain in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition: many quests feature their own self-contained villains: Gereon Alexius in "In Hushed Whispers", the Envy Demon in "Champions of the Just", Livius Erimond in "Here Lies the Abyss" and Duchess Florianne in "Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts". Areas that you explore also have their side antagonists with the Western Approach having Crassius Servis, the Exalted Plains having Gordian, the Emerald Graves having Knight-Captain Carrol and the Fallow Mire having the Hand of Korth. DLC campaigns also features the Avvar god of war and winter Hakkon in "Jaws of Hakkon" and the Qunari rogue agent Vissadala in "Trespasser".
  • While Mass Effect doesn't exactly have "Arcs" per se, it's worth noting that many of its side villains are standalone, found in single missions or 'campaigns' of missions, where a group of sidequests make up a single story. In the sequel, most of them are antagonists to a certain squadmate on a personal level, and so act as the main villain of that character's loyalty mission. Notable examples include Major Kyle, Helena Blake, and Lord Darius in the first game and Gatatog Uvenk, Weyrloc Guld, Tarak, Enyala, and Donovan Hock in the second game.
  • Used fairly commonly in World of Warcraft. VanCleef is behind the low-level Defias arc, Naralex's Nightmare and the Crone of the Kraul are responsible for The Barrens' arcs, and following their father's (retconned out of continuity) death, the Big Bad Duumvirate of Onyxia and Nefarian are behind quite a lot of the rest of the plot.
  • Paper Mario games are divided into Chapters with a boss at the end; some only show up at the end of the chapter, others are this.
    • In the original game there is the Koopa Bros. in Chapter 1 and Tubba Blubba in Chapter 3. General Guy is the one responsible for the Shy Guy invasion in Chapter 4 but he does not appear until you fight him.
    • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has Hooktail in Chapter 1, Grubba in Chapter 3 and Doopliss in Chapter 4.
    • For Super Paper Mario, there is Francis the chameleon, also in Chapter 3, King Croacus IV for Chapter 5, and Bonechill for Chapter 7. Although Count Bleck sends out his minions to fight Mario and the others in those chapters, they never interfere directly with the conflict.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising, with its gameplay divided into chapters, has several Arc Villains. Medusa for Chapters 1-9, Viridi for Chapters 11-14, The Aurum for Chapters 15-17, The Chaos Kin for Chapters 18-21, and Hades for Chapters 10, 22-25, and while he serves as the overriding villain for the whole game, he doesn't become a direct threat until those chapters.
  • The Last of Us seems to have this in the form of a major threat persistent through each chapter, who is eventually faced as the boss near the end of it. You have, for each arc from start to finish: the dodgy arms dealer Robert from the Escape from Boston arc, the Bloater from the Bill's Town arc, the Looter's Humvee from the Pittsburgh arc, the cannibal hebephile David from the Winter Resort arc, and Marlene for the Jackson City arc.
  • Ōkami has three major villains for the three main areas.
    • Orochi for the Kamiki Village arc.
    • Ninetails for the Ryoshima Coast arc.
    • Lechku and Nechku for the Kamui arc.
  • Tales of Vesperia actually does this rather well:
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction has Bandit Keith and the Neo Ghouls, who invade the town of Domino for a few chapters before moving back to the main threat, Pegasus and Reshef.
  • With the exception of the second and third games who has Zeus as the main vilain, God of War has one villain each game and killed by Kratos at the same game.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour is divided into three story arcs and has different main villains for each of them. The first arc has Para and Dox as minor antagonists with Bandit Keith and Pegasus being the boss fights. The second arc has you facing Noah, Gozaburo Kaiba, and the Big Five, while the third and last arc deals with Marik and Yami Marik.
  • Ace Attorney will generally have minor villains to fill up your time until the last one or two cases, at which point the Big Bad will show up, though there are exceptions. The full list:
    • The first game has Frank Sahwit, Redd White, Dee Vasquez, and Damon Gant.
    • The second game has each case be completely standalone, so all of the villains (Richard Wellington, Mimi Miney, Acro, and Matt Engarde) are this, save for an accomplice (Morgan Fey) who shows up next game, as well as Shelley de Killer, who shows up in Investigations 2.
    • The third game has only Luke Atmey and Furio Tigre.
    • The fourth game has Alita Tiala and Daryan Crescend.
    • The fifth game has Ted Tonate, Florent L'Belle, and Aristotle Means for the core game and Marlon Rimes for the DLC case.
    • The sixth game has Pees'lubn Andistan'dhin and Roger Retinz.
    • Investigations has Jacques Portsman, Cammy Meele, and Lance Amano.
    • Investigations 2 has Horace Knightley and Dane Gustavia. Surprisingly, no one else counts, as the other villains are all major players in the plot.
  • The post-game of Mega Man Star Force 2 has an actual storyline vaguely connected to the plot of the main game. It concerns MegaMan travelling to a possible Bad Future where MegaMan didn't manage to defeat LeMu. The cause of this future is Apollo Flame, who managed to Kill All Humans and subjugate all EM Beings.
  • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is the only game in the series where the various villains aren't working together under one Big Bad; the villain of each episode instead acts independently from one another. The antagonists as follows are Octavio in Episode 1, the Mask of Dark Earth for Episode 2, the Black Baron for Episode 3, General Tsao for Episode 4, Captain Le Fwee for Episode 5, and Dr. M for Episode 6.
  • Persona 5: The first several months of the game has you finding a series of new corrupt target for the heroes' Heel–Face Brainwashing. And while you eventually learn that The Conspiracy has been messing with the Metaverse as well, it's not until near the end that your team directly takes the fight to them.
  • Assassin's Creed usually has lower-ranking Templars as the driving force behind the events of smaller parts of the story and, of course, with an overarching Big Bad to each.
    • Assassin's Creed II: Vieri de Pazzi for the Florence arc, Jacopo de Pazzi for the Tuscany arc, and then successive members of the Barbarigo family for the Venice arc. The Big Bad of the game is Rodrigo Borgia, who all the other Templars work for.
    • Assassin's Creed III: Edward Braddock for the prologue portion featuring Haytham, then William Johnson for the Boston Tea Party, John Pitcairn for Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill, Thomas Hickey for New York, and Benjamin Church for the missing supplies arc; Haytham is the Big Bad while Charles Lee is The Dragon. Nicholas Biddle serves as the Arc Villain for the naval missions.
  • The The Walking Dead video game has:
    • The St. Johns for Episode 2.
    • The Stranger for Episode 4 and 5.

    Visual Novels 
  • Each Volume (or season) of Causeof Death has an individual Arc Villain.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, the Nuckelavee Grimm is the overarching antagonist of the RNJR part of Volume 4, with its presence foreshadowed throughout the volume in destroyed villages across Anima, and its mere existence and memory of its attack deeply affecting Ren and Nora. The last quarter of the volume features the monster itself quite prominently, and it serves as the final antagonist in the last episode of the volume.
  • In Red vs. Blue: The Recollection The Meta serves as the overarching antagonist- first as the sole Big Bad of Reconstruction, then as part of a Big Bad Ensemble in Recreation, and then finally as half of the Big Bad Duumvirate of Revelation (Before betraying his partner, Washington, and serving as the sole Big Bad for the last few episodes, as well as the Final Boss).

    Web Comics 
  • Damien in El Goonish Shive, followed by Magus. After their respective arcs ended, things have shifted into a Big Bad Ensemble.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the main villain is Xykon the sorceror, but there are several lesser antagonists:
    • Daimyo Kubota is a villain in Azure City (and in exile) in the No Cure for the Paladin Blues and Don't Split the Party story arcs.
    • Bozzok is the leader of the Greysky City Thieves' Guild and the villain from Haley, Celia, and Belkar's perspectives in Don't Split the Party.
    • General Tarquin is only an Arc Villain in the Empire of Blood story, but he thinks he's the Big Bad and his son is The Hero.
    • Vampire!Durkon and the goddess Hel are shaping up to be the Arc Villains in Book 6.
  • While Talzo and his gang serve as the Overarching Villains of Kirby Adventure several segments have their own independent villains.
    • The First Mission has King Dedede, though he surrenders before Division A can even fight him.
    • To The Tower has Fusion Kirby, the leader of a gang of thieves residing in the Old Tower.
    • Tear In The Fabric has Ybrick Etamitlu, the Evil Twin of the Author Avatar, Ultimate Kirby.
    • Master Of Puppets has Master Green, an enemy from Kirby's past who creates clones of Kirby and the other members of Division A in order to get revenge on Kirby.
    • Technical Difficulties has Captain Stitch, another enemy from Kirby's past who hijacks the Halberd as part of his plot to get revenge on Kirby.
    • C Central has Chef Freeze, a Chilly chef who speaks in Gratuitous French and who wants to cook the members of Division C for his recipe.
  • Loan Shark Kim Lurker from Tower of God in the first "episode"note  of season two.
  • Inverloch has Berard for the main antagonist for the first three volumes. He has nothing to do with Kayn'dar, but he stalks the party while they look for clues about Kayn'dar. After he kidnaps Acheron for a Forced Prize Fight, Varden kills him and the story turns completely to Kayn'dar.
  • L's Empire has had three, with each arc (referred to as sagas in the comic) named after them: Dark Star, Phala (the Pixl Queen), and Sergeant Smacka.
  • Sam Sanders in Webcomic/Endtown is a mixture of this and Filler Villain. Once the arc is completed, he is never mentioned again, and when Al and Gustine do reappear, they don't mention him. He is also one of the examples in which he had no minions or a dragon - he operated completely by himself.
  • A regular feature of Zebra Girl, starting with Lord Tool in the "Angels With Dirty Fur" arc.
  • Deities has had two Arc Villains. In the Evil Rising arc there is Lucifer and in the Flood arc there is Mother Nature.

    Web Original 
  • In Atop the Fourth Wall, there usually is one major villain per story arc:
    • Mechakara in "His Heart is Steel".
    • Dr. Linksano in "The Other Insano".
    • Lord Vyce in "All That He Sees, He Conquers".
    • The Entity in "A Piece of the World is Missing".
    • Lord Vyce again in "His Blue Soul".
    • The "Guns and Sorcery" story arc is where the main villain is harder to place. Holokara serves as the main antagonist for the first half of the arc, the Gunslinger is the major antagonist for most of the story and Dr. Insano just steals the show by the end of the story arc.
    • Lord Vyce for a third time in "Ghost of the Machine".
    • The King of Worms in "The Machinations of Worms".
    • Mechakara in "The Atop the Fourth Wall Movie".
    • The Entity returns in "The Sleepwalker", with Lord Vyce being the final threat in the story after its death.
  • In the roleplay Tamrielic Adventures, the "Escape from Vvardenfell" had no real antagonist, but the "Threads in Windhelm" arc had Malvirian Linvail, a Dunmer pirate lord.

    Western Animation 
  • Commander/Admiral Zhao from Avatar: The Last Airbender was part of a Big Bad Ensemble with Zuko in the first season, but he was barely even mentioned following that (due to having provoked the anger of a powerful spirit, and being imprisoned in a Psychological Torment Zone as punishment). In the next season, the most we have is that he was the first that entered the library made by Wan Shi Tong, which led to...problems when the Five-Man Band showed up in it.
    • Long Feng in the latter half of the second season as well, who ends up making the mistake of getting into a Big Bad Duumvirate with Princess Azula.
    • The Legend of Korra has one per season.
      • Book 1: Amon/Noatak
      • Book 2: Unalaq and Vaatu
      • Book 3: Zaheer and the Red Lotus
      • Book 4: Kuvira
  • 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
  • Legends of Chima:
    • Team of Cragger and Crooler while Crooler is manipulating Cragger with the Persuader Plants
    • Worriz after Crooler breaks the Crocs' pact with the Wolves, with Crooler trying to regain lost footing
    • Cragger after he's corrupted by the Fog of Destiny and has Crooler imprisoned
    • Bat, Scorpion and Spider tribes led by Scorm and Spinlyn in season 2
    • Sir Fangar and the Saber-Toothed Cat, Vulture, and Mammoth tribes in season 3
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic uses a different villain for most of its multi-part episodes:
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man was divided into 3-4 episode arcs. Though Tombstone and Norman Osborn vied for the position of Big Bad of the overall series, each arc had its own central villain(s):
    • Arc 1: The Lizard
    • Arc 2: Tombstone
    • Arc 3: Green Goblin
    • Arc 4: The symbiote, ultimately leading into Venom
    • Arc 5: The Master Planner, aka Doc Ock
    • Arc 6: Venom
    • Arc 7: Tombstone, Doc Ock, and Silvermane in an Evil Versus Evil scenario, though it turns out they were all being played by the Goblin
    • Arc 8: Green Goblin ultimately revealed to be Norman Osborn
  • Since Star Wars: The Clone Wars follows an anthology-format of loosely connected Story Arcs, most of the villains have role only in their own arcs, and never show up again. Also an interesting case in that, a number of them are small scale dragons to Dooku, instead of independent antagonists with an agenda of their own. Examples of this type include Osi Sobeck, Moralo Eval and Riff Tamson.
  • In Teen Titans, we have Slade for the first two arcs, Brother Blood for the third, Trigon for the fourth, and the Brain for the fifth.
  • Along with fighting the Monster of the Week, Steven Universe has major villains that gradually reveal the backstory of the Crystal Gems.
  • Though Xanatos and Demona were the overarching villains of Gargoyles, each of the major multi-part storylines had their own villains (with the aforementioned two sometimes -but not always - in the position):
    • "Awakening": Xanatos and Demona as a Big Bad Duumvirate
    • "City of Stone": Demona
    • "Avalon": The Archmage
    • "The Gathering": Lord Oberon
    • "Hunter's Moon": Demona and the Hunters, in opposition to each other.
    • The non-canonical Goliath Chronicles had Castaway and the Quarrymen.
  • For the first time, South Park features its first season long villain. It's revealed that Leslie is behind a plot to destroy the town of South Park. She's actually an advertisement that became sentient, and is planning to use PC people to get the town to gentrify and make South Park too expensive for people to live in anymore.
  • In Gravity Falls Gideon Gleeful is the primary antagonist throughout the first season, then Bill Cipher starts to take a more active role.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures:
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • Season 1: The Inquisitor
    • Season 2: Darth Vader
    • Season 3: Grand Admiral Thrawn

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ArcVillain