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Big Bad Ensemble
The story features two or more Big Bads, each of whom has their own distinct agenda and resources. The result can be Evil Versus Evil, Eviler than Thou, Enemy Mine, Villain Team-Up or Big Bad Duumvirate, but it may be the case that none of the villains have anything to do with each other. Played straight, each Big Bad should be of a comparable threat level to prevent one from overshadowing the other.

Having multiple main villains can bring new dimensions to the story and make it more complex and less predictable. It can force The Hero to face a range of different challenges, for example if one villain seeks to Take Over the World while another is a more personal enemy from his past, though it's possible for both to have identical goals without making the story any less interesting.

The success or failures of one Big Bad can affect the fortunes of another as they may have to consider each other in their plans, or might try to profit from another's defeat. The hero might defeat one villain before fighting another, or might regard one as more dangerous or important than the others. The Sorting Algorithm of Evil may be either avoided- if all the Big Bads are equally powerful and dangerous - or inverted, if some are more powerful and/or more dangerous than others.

Remember this must be simultaneous - if a new Big Bad arises only after another is defeated, then this does not count. See also Rogues Gallery, which is similar but usually forces established villains to act as Monster of the Week. When there are so many Big Bads involved that one needs a score card to keep them straight, this is The Big Bad Shuffle. See also Gambit Pileup; something that usually result from this trope when these big bads plot against each other for power in the same way they plot against the good guys, which can also sometimes result in a Mêlée à Trois between the heroes and the two big bads.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bakura does this a lot in Yu-Gi-Oh! with Pegasus, Marik, and Dark Marik, respectively.
  • Code Geass has Emperor Charles zi Britannia and his son, Prince Schneizel el Britannia. The former has an Assimilation Plot called the "Ragnarok", where all humans, living or dead, will become one being in an attempt to destroy all gods and unite all humans. The latter has an A God Am I mindset, with the plan to launch a Kill Sat called the Damocles that fires F.L.E.I.J.A. missiles, all to unite the world through fear.
  • Digimon Adventure features one of these in the Dark Masters, a quartet of Mega-level Digimon who serve as the Big Bads of final ten episodes. MetalSeadramon, Puppetmon, Machinedramon, and Piedmon each have their own armies and territories and only appear together once, when they're first introduced. Otherwise they appear to function as four separate Big Bads whose mutual goals seem to include ruling over the Digital World and killing the DigiDestined who are trying to stop them. Otherwise they don't lift a finger to help one another while the children clobber their way up their hierarchy, and in case of Piedmon, he actually seems to enjoy watching the other three get obliterated one-by-one. And that's not taking Myotismon, Etemon and Devimon into account.
  • In Naruto, Orochimaru serves as the Big Bad for Part 1, but Akatsuki takes over after Orochimaru gets saddled with Villain Decay. Partway through the second half, Danzo throws his conniving hat into the mix. It becomes The Big Bad Shuffle later on when Orochimaru and Akatsuki are defeated and replaced by Kabuto and Tobi, respectively, who form an unstable Big Bad Duumvirate. And then there is Sasuke, the wild card (though he is nominally a pawn of Tobi). The shuffle continues into the final parts of the manga; Sasuke kills Danzo and helps his brother take Kabuto out of commission, and Tobi forms yet another duumvirate with his resurrected ancestor and Predecessor Villain Madara to summon the Ten-Tailed Beast. Then Sasuke revives Orochimaru and the two of them decide to help the good guys take down Tobi and Madara.
    • To make it even more confusing, Chapter 678 has Black Zetsu (literally) backstab Madara and reveal that he isn't a manifestation of Madara's will, but Princess Kaguya's, the first chakra user and the mother of the Sage of the Six Paths, and the one ultimately responsible for the Ten-Tails' existence. This puts both Black Zetsu and her in the running as well.
  • In One Piece, most villains tend to survive their arcs and maintain possibility of returning.
    • The Four Emperors are the most powerful pirates of the world, ruling the second half of Grand Line. The most antagonistic, as well as the ones with the highest resumes, are Marshall D. Teach (or Blackbeard) (who caused the Whitebeard War in its entirety), Kaido "of the Beasts" (who has Doflamingo under his wing) and Charlotte "Big Mom" Linlin (whom Kid and Luffy have personally challenged).
    • Several of the Eleven Supernovas could easily turn up as antagonists in the future, but the biggest ones are Eustass Kid (the most savage one by far) and Trafalgar Law (who's made it clear that he will go after Luffy eventually).
    • The Five Elder Stars, or Gorosei, are five elders that control the World Government, so they're solely responsible for all the reprehensible policies that the World Government operates with. However, they're more of a Bigger Bad, since Fleet Admiral Sakazuki serves as The Heavy from the Marine side.
    • Allied with Marines are the Seven Warlords of the Sea. While their ranks have dwindled and some are on friendly terms with Luffy and his crew, Bartholomew Kuma, Donquixote Doflamingo and Dracule Mihawk are bound to be dealt with at some point. Doflamingo has actually been confirmed for the mastermind behind the Punk Hazard, but he's actually operating under Kaido.
    • On the front of former Big Bads not affiliated with anybody yet, there are Sir Crocodile, who decided to head for the New World when he heard of Luffy's return and Buggy the Clown, another rival of Luffy for crown of the Pirate King, who's been gathering an army of loyal followers and also has been contacted by the WG for joining the Seven Warlords of the Sea.
  • Whenever there's an Arc Villain in Soul Eater, like Arachne, Shaula or Noah (The Tables of Contents), Medusa and Asura are not too far behind, similar to Bakura from above.
  • Subverted in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. The series appears to be shaping up to a battle between Muruta Azrael of Blue Cosmos and Chairman Patrick Zala of ZAFT, but the real Big Bad Rau Le Creuset is manipulating both of them in an attempt to bring about The End of the World as We Know It
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny: Most of the series is defined by a brawl between ZAFT Chairman Gilbert Durandal and Blue Cosmos leader Lord Djibril over control of the world. Interestingly, Durandal is much more competent than Djibril, a fact that is made clear from the start. However, despite his Stupid Evil status, Djibril's resources, combined with the fact that he's essentially pure evil and is a strong believer in There Is No Kill Like Overkill (complete with a Wave Motion Gun and a penchant towards nuclear warfare), means that both of them absolutely have to be defeated in order for the story to end well.
  • The One Shadow Nine Fists in History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi, consisting of several Evil Mentor martial artists, many of which verge into Anti-Villain on a handful of occasions, barring Silcardo Jenazad and the mysterious Bigger Bad of the group, Miu's father, Saiga Furinji
  • Kimba the White Lion did this with Viper Snakely and Claw.
  • Transformers Cybertron did this in a way. Megatron was the obvious one, but Starscream later became a Big Bad in his own right after an attempt to backstab narrowly failed. Then there's Sideways and Soundwave, who seem to be avenging their homeworld. The comic adds in Unicron, Back from the Dead and going all Omnicidal Maniac once again.
  • D.Gray-Man: While the Millennium Earl has been the main villain since day one and is still the most prominent threat, recent chapters have The Fourteenth and Apocryphos challenging the Earl for the position of Biggest Bad (literally, in the Fourteenth's case). Also, due to the Black and Gray Morality of the series, one could also arguably stick Black Order leader Lveille on the list as well.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL has Dr. Faker and Tron, who are opposed to both the protagonists and each other. It remains to be seen which will prove Eviler than Thou.
    • None, they were both beaten by Yuma (through Dr. Faker was the final boss of the first arc), both reformed and both controlled by the bigger bads, the Barians
  • A Certain Magical Index and its spinoff A Certain Scientific Railgun have a lot of evil people who oppose each other or don't even know about each other, with complex plans that intersect and are hard to keep track of.
  • In the Getter Robo manga (but not the anime), the Hundred Demon Empire shows up before the Dinosaur Empire is defeated, leading them to clash both with the heroes and each other. The Dinosaur Empire is the underdog in this fight, to the point where the Getter Team swear to avenge the dinosaurs' leader after the demons give him a humiliating death.
  • FLCL has Evil Inc. Medical Mechanica, who plans to iron out free thought all over the world, and Villain Protagonist Haruko, who wants to steal the power of legendary Space Pirate Atomsk, which unfortunately involves freeing him from imprisonment by the former by helping them along with their plan (and she doesn't really care what happens afterwards.)
  • In Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha FORCE, there are Curren Hückebein, the leader of the Hückebein Family, and Hades Vandein, the head of the Vandein Cooperation. Both of them are fighting the TSAB, especially Special Duty Section 6, but they also oppose each other. While the Hückebein are huge Jerkasses, they admit their actions, while Hades pretends to be a normal innocent guy despite being Obviously Evil, who is even more evil than any of the Hückebein.

    Comicbooks 
  • Almost every superhero worth his salt has his/her own Rogues Gallery, so this is played several times. However, most comic villains can only be counted as Big Bads within their own stories. The best examples exist when dealing with crossovers and prolonged story arcs, which can feature multiple villains and can last several months or even up to a year. Some examples from The DCU include:
    • No Man's Land involves Gotham City being abandoned by the US and falling prey to the crazed villains of Gotham, who take over various parts and rule each as their own fiefdoms. The story climaxes with Lex Luthor and the Joker initiating their own unrelated schemes simultaneously and Batman and co. having to stop them, a takeover under the guise of Villain with Good Publicity and a plot to murder new-born infants to break Gotham's spirit, respectively.
    • 52, Chang Tzu, Lex Luthor, Lady Styx, Neron, and evil Skeets, courtesy of Mister Mind are all the Big Bad to a variety of heroes starring in a number of inter-connected stories.
    • Krona and an undead Swamp Thing, which believes itself to be Nekron, are the two biggest threats in Brightest Day, but Max Lord, Eclipso, Black Manta and Siren, the Queen of Hawkworld, D'kay Drazz, and Firestorm (who is actually serving the Anti-Monitor), are all causing all kinds of trouble.
    • The New Krypton arc in the Superman comics has Generals Zod and Lane opposing each other in Evil Versus Evil, though Lex Luthor and Brainiac have their own agendas as well.
  • And from the Marvel Universe:
    • Dark Reign is about Norman Osborn accumulating substantial political and military power after he is placed in charge of all superhuman matters in the United States. During this he forms The Cabal with Doctor Doom, Emma Frost, Namor, Loki, and The Hood, while organizing and running a range of super-teams made up of anti-heroes and lower tiered supervillains. This was a year-long crossover arc that affected several titles, so many heroes in their own stories had to deal both the Monster of the Week and their own story arcs while also having to worry about Osborn or his minions.
    • The Messiah Myth Arc in X-Men, which covers a multitude of story arcs from Messiah Complex up to Second Coming over a number of years, has the X-Men dealing with anti-mutant activists eventually united under Bastion, traitor X-Man Bishop and Stryfe, Selene and her vampiric underling, and appearances by Apocalypse and Sinister amongst others, as well as the possibility that the child they are protecting will grow up to be a mutant Antichrist. All of these villains have their own agendas, most revolving around the girl, many of which impact on each other and affect the strength level of the X-Men. Some of this takes also place during Dark Reign, which means Osborn and co. factor in too, notably during the Utopia X story.
    • Infinity follows two plots simultaneously, so has one of these by default. Namely, a massive Enemy Mine alliance (including the bulk of the Avengers) going up against a universal invasion by the Builders, and the remaining heroes on Earth holding off another attempt by Thanos to regain the Infinity Gems (via an invasion of Earth). And then Shuma-Gorath shows up...
    • In Young Avengers vol.2 at first it looked like the Big Bad is going to be the Mother but then Speed got kidnapped by what is assumed to be completely different Eldritch Abomination posing as Patriot's impostor, who seems to happen some nefarious plans for the team, but completely unrelated to Mother's, even if they had one very short Villain Team-Up. And then adult version of Journey into Mystery character Leah, whose plans may, but don't have to be aligned with either of them, showed up.
    • From The Kree Skrull War, we have Ronan the Accuser, usurper of the Kree throne, and the Skrull Emperor, opposing both the heroes and each other. H. Warren Craddock, the anti-alien McCarthy-esque American politician, initially looks like a third contender, but is eventually revealed to be a disguised Skrull agent.
  • In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Dr. Robotnik/Eggman has always been the Arch-Enemy of the heroes and premier Big Bad of the series. However, over the years, more and more villains of equal or greater threat have shown up to rival the doctor — Ixis Naugus, Mammoth Mogul, Enerjak, Dr. Finitevus, Scourge, the Iron Queen, and most recently, the Battle Kukku — so you can't call him the sole Big Bad anymore. This has been most apparent in the issues leading up to and following the Genesis arc, wherein Naugus has currently become the villain most equal to Eggman for the position.
  • Across the pond in Sonic the Comic quite a few villains try to take the role of Big Bad from Robotnik. The first to try is Emperor Metallix then Commander Brutus, after that Super Sonic.
  • Simon Furman's run on IDW's Transformers Ongoing comics set up a large number of potential villains from the Rogues Gallery. Nemesis Prime and the Dead Universe, The Machination, Shockwave, Doubledealer, The Decepticons, the Deathbringer and his Reapers, Galvatron, and Ramjet all step up to the plate as the bad guys in the numerous plotlines Furman's run had. By the end of his run all of them except the Decepticons and Galvatron have been taken care of however.
    • This is cropping up again in the new, Post-War Transformers stories. Megatron, Shockwave, Tyrest, the Decepticon Justice Division, and possibly the Galactic Council, all have conflicting plans to control or destroy the Cybertronian race.
  • In the IDW Godzilla comic series, we have Space-Godzilla, Monster X, Gigan and Hedorah.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • Batman Returns is a chess duel between the Penguin, Catwoman, and original character Max Shreck. The Penguin is clearly the main villain and certainly the main threat as his plans increasingly escalate to mass murder and eventually destroying Gotham City itself, but the other two are formidable problems and all three engage in double-dealing, backstabbing and triple-crossing.
  • Lovers Lane features three distinct killers; Doctor Jack Grefe, his daughter Chloe, and sexual sadist Ray Hennessey. All three of them use hooks though.
  • On Stranger Tides, the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, has a three-way one between Blackbeard, Barbossa, and the Spaniard. All three want to get to the Fountain of Youth, albeit for different reasons, and all oppose each other- with Jack Sparrow caught in the middle.
  • In Satan's Playground we get the psychotic Leeds family, a group of Satanists, and The Jersey Devil.
  • In the second Ginger Snaps film, we are introduced to a werewolf who is simply The Heavy of the story, but the Big Bad who comes out on top is Ghost.
  • The comedy-horror Psycho Sleepover has a mass breakout at a mental institution, so the main characters have deal with dozens of different psychos.
  • Without Warning has the alien hunter and a psychotic Shell-Shocked Veteran.
  • The Hobbit has three Big Bads. The dragon Smaug serves as the overarching Big Bad for the entire trilogy and the ultimate obstacle for the protagonists attempting to retake Erebor. Azog the Defiler serves as a more "direct threat" villain, spending most of the films hounding the heroes. Finally, there's the Necromancer, responsible for the corruption of mirkwood and who is revealed to be Sauron preparing for his big comeback and rebuilding his armies. He's also Azog's boss, but Azog is still acting on his own.
  • Layer Cake features a Serbian drug trafficker, Eddie Temple, and Jimmy Price. All three are leaders of prominent criminal organizations, with various motivations for inciting the plot. Eddie Temple is the most benevolent one, and X comes to work for him.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness: Khan and Admiral Marcus. The former wants to revive his crew of superhumans and take over the Earth, while the latter plans to sacrifice the Enterprise so he can start a war with the Klingons.
  • Escape from L.A.. The American President is a religious fascist who turned his country into a police state and is willing to destroy entire countries if necessary to maintain his supremacy. Meanwhile, Cuervo Jones runs the largest gang in Los Angeles and has united Latin America under the Shining Path to invade the United States to get that power himself.
  • 2 Guns has the heroes going up against no less than three different villainous factions — a cartel boss, a corrupt Navy commander, and a dirty CIA operative. The final shootout is between all four groups.
  • X-Men:

    Literature 
  • In Let the Right One In and its film adaptions, there is Conny/Kenny, the main characters bully. There is also Lacke who tries to kill the main vampiric character. In the American adaption, Lacke is replaced by an unnamed police officer who is a Designated Villain at best. There is also Jimmy, who is the Final Boss and Conny/Kenny's Big Brother Bully, and he takes the role of the Big Bad by storm.
  • In Codex Alera there are numerous Big Bads active throughout the series, mostly independent of one another if prone to making and breaking alliances at whim- High Lord Aquitainenote , Invidia Aquitainenote , High Lord Kalarusnote , Sarlnote , and the Vord Queennote  are the biggies, and High Lord Rhodes is billed as one, despite very limited development and pagetime.
  • In Everworld, there are several villainous characters (the majority of the gods actually fall under this), but the most prominent are Loki, Ka Anor, and Senna.
  • Robin Hobb did this in the Farseer trilogy with Prince Regal and the Red Ships.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Big Bads are Lord Voldemort and Cornelius Fudge (with Dolores Umbridge as Dragon-in-Chief), though they have nothing to do with each other.
  • The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara. There's the Isle Witch and her former mentor The Morgawr, who form a Big Bad Duumvirate, and are plotting against both the heroes and one another in their race to claim the books of magic that the Jerle Shannara is voyaging to find. There's also Antrax, the Knight Templar computer system that guards the books against all comers, and operates completely independently of the other two. Between them, they manage to do a whole lot of damage to the heroes' and one another.
  • In the first Myth Arc of Warrior Cats, Tigerclaw and Brokenstar were this for a while. Then they teamed up and Brokenstar died. In the Power of Three arc, both Sol and Tigerstar were vying for the spot of Big Bad, and the arc ends with Sol leaving, however he has been confirmed to return in book five of the Omen of the Stars arc, and Tigerstar is still around. And then you've got the end of the Omen of the Stars arc, which brings all the Big Bads back to try and get revenge from beyond the grave.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has Littlefinger, the Lannisters, the Boltons and Freys although they're working, sort of, for the Lannisters, Well Intentioned Extremists Varys and Melisandre and, overshadowing them all, the Others.
  • Swedish writer Simona Ahrnstedt gives us three villains in her debut novel Överenskommelser. We have Wilhelm Löwenström, the abusive head of the household, his son Edvard, a serial abuser sadistic sociopath, and last but not least Carl-Jan Rosenschiöld. And what is their common goal? To use the female protagonist Beatrice for their own gain or pleasure! (Wilhelm and Edvard, her own uncle and her own cousin, want to marry her off to Rosenschiöld...)
  • For most of The Riddle Master Trilogy, Morgon and Raederle have to deal with the separate threats of Ghisteslwchlohm and the Earth-Masters, who are apparently lead by Eriel... up until about the last third of the last book, when Eriel captures Ghisteselwchlohm and forcibly demotes him to her Dragon.
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia: The villains in the main part of the novel are Warlord Zsinj and Gethzerion, leader of the Nightsisters; they form something of an alliance but don't trust each other at all. People who are partially responsible for why the heroes go to Dathomir in the first place and can be considered antagonists are Ta'a Chume, who sends assassins after Leia, inadvertently driving her into Isolder's arms, Threkin Horm, who apparently attempts to send Han on a long mission to separate him from Leia, and possibly Omogg, a previous "owner" of Dathomir, who according to a later sourcebook lets Han have it specifically to get back at Zsinj.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: Has this in its final two seasons. Although there's the main Big Bad that serves as the chief antagonist there's also a clear threat in a former hero working against everyone trying to kill said antagonist for personal reasons and who also has to be stopped because if he succeeds the consequences could actually make things even worse: Tony Almeida to Alan Wilson in season 7 and Jack Bauer (despite being the protagonist) to what was already a Triumvirate of Charles Logan, Allison Taylor, and Yuri Suvarov in season 8.
  • American Horror Story: Asylum takes place in an asylum run by a tyrannical nun, who is fighting with one of the doctors who experiments on their patients, while a demonically possessed nun, a Serial Killer posing as a one of the doctors, and some aliens run around the asylum doing awful things to the rest of the cast for kicks.
  • Angel:
    • This show was a master of this trope - at the height of Season 3, the Big Bads (Lila Morgan, Daniel Holtz, and Sajjhan) each got about as much screentime as the heroic main cast. Fans still debate over which of them "won" in terms of being the season's defining villain, while a few nominate a fourth character entirely.
    • The series is this, the big bads being Wolfram & Hart and Jasmine, who is directly or retroactively responsible for many events of the series until her death in season 4. After that point, Wolfram & Hart's Senior Partners stay as the undisputed Big Bads of the show.
  • Farscape: Season 4 has Commandant Grayza of the Peacekeepers and Emperor Staleek of the Scarran Empire, who are actually at war with each other as well as with the protagonists.
  • GoGo Sentai Boukenger: The Negative Syndicate.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim: As of episode 33, it's between Ryoma Sengoku and a Duumvirate consisting of Redyue and Mitsuzane Kureshima. Given how many episodes are whams, this is subject to change at any time.
  • Nikita:
    • Season 2 is shaping up to this: in addition to the Evil Versus Evil rivalry between the Division and Zetrov (the Big Bads in this case being their respective leaders Amanda and Sergei Semak), there are also the various members of Oversight, The Man Behind the Man to Division (to whom Amanda has become The Starscream). Oh, and former Big Bad Percy — despite his current condition of being locked in a maximum security prison — is still semi-active and plotting against everyone else.
    • Update as of the middle of the season: Oversight — bar one member who pulled a Heel-Face Turn — have all been killed on orders from Percy, who's escaped prison and is plotting revenge. Meanwhile, Amanda is revealed to be in a secret alliance with Semak's Dragon Ari Tasarov; together, they're plotting against both Semak and the protagonists. So in some ways things have gotten simpler, and in some they've gotten even more complicated.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • The Evil Queen/Regina and Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold. While they've worked together, by the end of the first season they've ended up in a Magnificent Bastard versus Magnificent Bastard tennis match, with all of the good guys in the middle of the fight.
    • Then in the second season, we get Regina's more evil mother Cora and Rumplestiltskin's sworn enemy Captain Hook. They start out as a Big Bad Duumvirate, but Hook is later cast out of it while Cora gets her daughter to join her. And in the last quarter of the season, another Big Bad Duumvirate appears: a pair of Muggles, Greg and Tamara, who are assisted by Hook.
  • Penny Dreadful has this as a natural result of the number of Plot Threads the series has:
    • The Master vampire (most likely Dracula), with Mina Murray serving as his proxy is season 1.
    • Caliban, for Victor's storyline.
    • The entity possessing Vanessa, which claims to be Satan himself.
  • Person of Interest: Straddles the line between this trope and a Rogues Gallery. Occasionally multiple villains will show up in a single episode.
  • Done on occasion in Power Rangers, although not as often as the "one after another" format.
  • Revolution: So the pilot of the first season starts off with General Sebastian Monroe of the Monroe Republic as the Big Bad. Then there's Randall Flynn popping in and out, before he teams up with Monroe in episode 11. Tom Neville started out as Monroe's loyal dragon, until he had to run off to save his neck in episode 13. By the first season finale, Tom Neville takes charge of the Monroe Republic via a coup, Monroe is on the run from said coup, Randall succeeded in his mission and killed himself afterward, and now the American government Randall's been working for is coming back to retake what's theirs.
  • The Secret Circle: So far, there's at least both Charles and Dawn — who often seem on the verge of stabbing each other in the back — and the witch hunters (especially Eben), neither of whom really seem to know about each other. There's also the threat of demons, along with anything else that may come up. Big Bad Duumvirate: John Blackwell and Eben are both the real Big Bad in the season finale.
  • Smallville loves this trope. While the first three seasons had Lionel Luthor as a more or less consistent Big Bad, later ones got much more iffy and complicated, often featuring one human antagonist, and a superpowered one:
    • Season 4 had Lionel competing with Genevieve Teague and Margaret Isobel Thoreaux for control of the Stones of Power.
    • Season 5 had Lex Luthor up to no good while Braniac attempted to free General Zod.
    • Season 6 had Lex continue his villainy amidst the Phantom Zone prisoners running amok, culminating with Bizarro's debut.
    • Season 7, had Brainiac and Lex Luthor as the primary antagonists, the former out to end the world, the latter attempting to find out Clark's secret no matter what the cost.
    • Season 8 was probably the most complicated, with Brainiac back and firmly in Omnicidal Maniac territory, while new villains Tess Mercer and Doomsday entered the scenario, with Lex and Faora as their respective Man Behind The Man's and Bigger Bads. One would expect that one of The Chessmasters would win out, but when the dust settles it's Doomsday and his host, Davis, who are the last villain standing, serving as the main emotional and physical threat as the season draws to a close.
    • In Season 9, Zod and Checkmate, led by Amanda Waller and Maxwell Lord, competed with one another and the main cast for control of the metahumans and the world.
    • Finally, Season 10 would appear to have Darkseid as the Big Bad, with Rick Flag and the Suicide Squad trying to take down the government and the Justice League, Slade Wilson and the Vigilante Registration Agency (VRA) trying to force all heroes onto the government payroll, and Alexander Luthor, Earth-2 Lionel, and the real Lex all waiting in the wings. It ends up subverted though, as Slade is a Disc One Final Boss corrupted by Darkseid himself, and the others are just Big Bad Wannabes when compared to the God of Evil that is The Great Lord of the Dark.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: By the final arc, Sisko is having to deal with the entirely separate threads of the Dominion and their allies on one hand and Dukat and the Pah-Wraiths on the other.
  • Supernatural tended to have more or less consistent Big Bads for its first four seasons, before using this trope in season five:
    • In season five Lucifer is freed from his Cage, and starts the Apocalypse. He wants to wipe out all humans, as well as the demons, and turn the Earth into his own personal playground, considering it a last testament of God's work. On the other side of this are the forces of Heaven, led by the Archangel Michael. While Michael is the Lesser of Two Evils between the two, he still intends to destroy part of humanity as a "necessary sacrifice" for defeating the forces of Hell and bringing about Paradise on Earth. The Winchesters finds them both despicable, and strive to find another way to beat the devil. In the end, Lucifer and Michael both get trapped in the Cage.
    • Season six takes it even further, featuring four separate Big Bads. Early on in the season, to start with, we have Crowley - the new King of Hell - who wants to find Purgatory and take control of its souls, and the Archangel Raphael, who is trying to take control of Heaven and restart the Apocalypse. Then, midway through the season, we meet Eve, the "Mother of All", who wants to overrun the world with her "children". And then, a few episodes before the season finale, we find out that Castiel has been in a tentative alliance with Crowley to find Purgatory so that he can defeat Raphael and prevent his plans from coming to fruition.

      Eve is killed about the same time we find out about Castiel and Crowley's alliance, so that knocks her out of the competition. This all comes to a head in the season finale, where Castiel cuts Crowley out of the deal; Crowley retaliates by teaming up with Raphael, only for Castiel to Out-Gambit them both. He absorbs the souls of Purgatory, kills Raphael, and sends Crowley running, all before proclaiming himself the new God.
    • Season eight has the Winchesters fighting both Crowley and the angel Naomi — the latter indirectly most of the season through her Manchurian Agent Castiel — for control of the Word of God tablets. Abaddon gets in on the act near the end of the season as a potential Starscream for Crowley while Naomi has a Heel Realization in the finale, only to be killed by Metatron, who casts a spell to banish all angels from Heaven.
    • Season nine builds on the previous season's Ensemble as it stood at the end of the season: Bartholomew and Malachi emerge as the leaders of the civil war amongst the fallen angels, with Metatron — now in full A God Am I mode — also recruiting in order to secure his own position as sole ruler of Heaven. Meanwhile, Abbadon is continuing to try and usurp Crowley's position, while Crowley himself now a Wild Card. In something of a subversion, Bartholomew is impaled by Cas in his second appearance while Malachi doesn't get a second appearance, being Killed Offscreen by Gadreel.
  • Twin Peaks in it's first season had Laura Plamer's killer Leland/BOB and Ben Horne . After the Laura Palmer mystery was solved the Big Bad Ensemble shifted to Jean Renault, Windom Earle and then finally BOB again

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Exalted, it's not a question of who's trying to destroy Creation — it's a question of who's pulling ahead in the race. The Deathlords want to feed the world into the great cosmic garbage disposal in the name of their eternally-dying-but-not-yet-dead god bosses, the Yozis want to make Creation indistinguishable from Hell on the very off chance that they might be allowed to move in then, and The Fair Folk view Creation the same way one would view a turd in the swimming pool and want it to stop ruining their beautiful chaos.
  • Warhammerbeing a supremely cheery place, has entire armies of this trope. The Chaos Gods and their Champions, the Dark Elf Lords (headed by Malekith the Witch King), the Skaven Warlords, the Orc Warbosses and the Vampire Counts (their founder, Nagash, would easily qualify if he was still around), and others.
  • Warhammer 40,000, had this as well, mostly inspired by those above: At the very top of the Sliding Scale of Villain Threat are the Chaos Gods and the Tyranid Hive Mind, and going down there are the Daemon Primarchs, Chaos Lords, Ork Warbosses, Dark Eldar Archons and the various sundry madmen and psychopaths the galaxy breeds like mosquitoes.
    • Don't you need at least one "good" faction for this trope? The Imperium, Eldar, Tau, and Necrons would also be over-the top villains by the standards of any other setting.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, Yawgmoth was the main villain before he got wiped from existence. Now the story has this trope between the remains of Phyrexia, the Eldrazi, and Nicol Bolas.

    Theatre 
  • Jesus Christ Superstar: Judas, Caiaphas and Annas, Pilate, and Herod all participate equally as villains toward Jesus, the protagonist. All are sympathetic to a degree except Herod (Caiaphas and Annas want to protect the Jewish people, Judas is concerned that Jesus is bigger than even he can handle, and Pilate only sentences Jesus to death because Jesus refuses to fight back), but all contribute to Jesus's crucifixion.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham City has most of Bat's Rogues Gallery vying for the position of Big Bad over the course of the game. At the end, Hugo Strange and The Joker take their positions as the two Big Bads of the game, with Ra's al Ghul as Bigger Bad to the former.
  • Street Fighter has this with M. Bison and Akuma, who both have their own agendas which revolve around the hero Ryu. Bison's goals revolve around his plan to Take Over the World, while Akuma is more of a Noble Demon and Blood Knight trying to goad Ryu into surrendering to the Dark Side to give him an ultimate showdown. In Street Fighter IV, Seth adds to the list, while in Street Fighter III (which chronologically takes place after IV) Gill takes the place of Bison.
  • World of Warcraft originally had this, with players having to fight several Big Bads of varying importance such as Van Cleef, Nefarian or Hakkar. Later patches and expansions generally focus on one threat, but the ensemble is still technically present, mainly with the Scourge, the Burning Legion, and the Old Gods.
  • The Disciples series of Turn-Based Strategy games has a number of major villains in conflict with one another, including Mortis, Bethrezen, Uther, and Gallean. None of them are powerful enough to claim the title of the Big Bad, but all of them are serious threats to the setting.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II featured the former Big Bad Triumvirate of Darth Nihilus, Darth Sion, and Darth Traya. Prior to the story they led a massive assassination campaign against the Jedi still alive after the events of the first game, but Sion and Nihilus turned on Traya, the teacher and parted ways, though Traya survived; thus, all three are up to no good in the story and have to be deat with. Sion seeks to kill you; Traya seeks to corrupt you; and Nihilus, the most powerful, doesn't really care about you, but is the greatest and most imminent threat to the galaxy.
    • There are two more, actually - Atris, the one who summoned the Jedi to Katarr and unwittingly drew Nihilus into the universe; and GO-TO, the one who put a bounty so large that every criminal wants a piece of it.
  • The main Halo trilogy has the Prophet of Truth at the head of the Covenant and the Gravemind representing the Flood.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Tools Of Destruction had a definite Big Bad in the form of Emperor Tachyon, but Ratchet was also menaced by Captain Slag, who serves as the games second major villain.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3 has 3 different Ultimate Evil entities competing for the power of the Mana Tree. Which one succeeds and ends up becoming the main villain depends on which hero you choose as your main character.
  • Likewise with Legend of Mana, which has multiple plot-arcs running together simultaneously throughout the game, each of which features a world-threatening Big Bad behind everything.
  • A staple in the Dragon Age series:
    • Dragon Age: Origins has you dealing with Darkspawn led by the Archdemon while dodging assassination attempts and other nefarious plots from Teryn Loghain. Doubles as The Good, the Bad, and the Evil, as Loghain is more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist than a true villain, whereas the Archdemon wants to destroy everything in it's path.
    • In Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, you are caught in a crossfire between two sentient Darkspawn, the Architect, and the Mother, each with their own army of Darkspawn, while having to deal with a conspiracy of local nobles unhappy about the Grey Wardens being granted their land.
    • In Dragon Age II there are many people that could qualify as being a Big Bad. In the framing story, one character thinks that it's you.
  • The Mortal Kombat series has multiple Big Bad characters, and in the later games (especially Mortal Kombat Armageddon) they ended up operating at the same time due to the series' tendency to keep old characters while introducing new threats. The most prominent would probably be The Emperor Shao Kahn, the God of Evil Shinnok, the preceeding and resurrected emperor Onaga, and (to a slightly lesser extent) the duo of The Starscream sorcerers Shang Tsung and Quan Chi. Shao Kahn would probably be the one with the best claim to being the Big Bad of the series, as he was the main villain in the largest number of games, and also the canonical winner of Armageddon according to Mortal Kombat 9.
  • God of War 3 has Zeus, Gaia, and Athena.
  • Archie and Maxie, the leaders of Team Aqua and Team Magma, in Pokémon Emerald, and any adaptations of the plot of the Advance games (In the Anime and Manga), even though in Ruby and Sapphire only one of them was the villain while the other helped the protagonist.
  • In Resident Evil Survivor, we have a janitor Driven to Madness by the zombie outbreak, the leader of a mercenary group sent to cover up the outbreak, and the Umbrella executive responsible for the whole mess.
  • Asura's Wrath had Lord Deus as the leader of the Demigods fighting the Gohma, while Asura is opposed to both of them. Then the true ending adds the Golden Spider/Chakravartin as the Bigger Bad.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 looks to have Dark Falz as its Big Bad. Defeating him in a story mission reveals, however, that there are actually several Dark Falzes, of which the one you defeated, Dark Falz Elder, is only one. Aside from him, there is also Apprentice, who takes the form of a female Newman; Double, a pair of human twins; and Persona, a mysterious masked man.
  • Prototype has Greene and Randall being the big nasties of the Infected and the Military factions out to get each other.
  • Mass Effect 3 has this with Harbinger and the Illusive Man... initially. While The Illusive Man and Cerberus are a separate threat in their own right, and fight the Reapers occasionally, by the end The Illusive Man is ultimately nothing more than Harbinger's unwitting pawn.
  • StarCraft II has Arcturus Mengsk, Sarah Kerrigan, the Tal'darim Protoss, and Amon.
  • Sacrifice, the bad guys are Charnel, Pyro, Stratos, and Marduk.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine has Grimskull and Nemeroth.
  • Fallout: New Vegas only has one Big Bad in the vanilla game: Caesar, leader of a horde of barbaric Roman wannabes, who is trying to defeat the New California Republic and annex New Vegas. However, with all DLC installed, it's revealed that there are more villains who have their own plans- all of which are even more dangerous than Caesar. The ensemble ends up consisting of Caesar, Ulysses, Father Elijah, and Dr. Klein.
  • Final Fantasy X has three major antagonists: Seymour Guado, Yu Yevon, and Sin, aka Jecht.
    • Though Jecht as Sin is merely an extension of Yu Yevon's will and is mostly just his Dragon-in-Chief by all accounts.
  • Bioshock Infinite gives us Zachary Comstock and Daisy Fitzroy, though Fitzroy leaves the plot early and then the game focuses completely on Comstock.
  • Xenogears has Krelian, Ramsus, Miang, the Emperor, the Gazel Ministry, and Grahf.
  • 2nd Super Robot Wars Original Generation has the Garden of Baral, the Guests, the Gaia Sabers, and the Ruina.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has antagonists representing all three alignments: The Three Wise Men (with Mastema as Dragon-in-Chief) for Law, Louisa Ferre and Mem Aleph for Chaos, and Captain Jack for Neutrality. Notably, Jack is the only human villain, the only one without a single redeeming quality or idealistic motive, the only one who cannot be sided with, and the only one to die no matter what path is taken. Should tell you all you need to know about him, really.
  • Hitman Absolution has Blake Dexter and Benjamin Travis, who both want Victoria for different reasons.
  • Grand Theft Auto V has Devin Weston and Steve Haines. Weston has a bigger influence over the story, but Haines is a bigger menace. Along with that, Wei Cheng and Stretch serve as personal menaces to Trevor and Franklin, respectively, and are dealt with in the Golden Ending.
  • Saints Row: The Third has Cyrus Temple and Killbane. With Killbane it's an It's Personal situation, being the head of the main rival gang and a Shadow Archetype of the Boss. With Temple, he's a threat to both the Siants and the Syndicite, as STAG has more powerful resources then either Saints or the Syndicite, making him a bigger threat.
  • Tekken While the game has many villains through it's installments (Heihachi Mishima, Kazuya Mishima, Ogre, and later Jinpachi Mishima, Jin Kazama, and Azazel) in which some are present in multiple games, sometimes their presence as literal antagonists is often played straight. Tekken 4 (and Blood Vengeance to a lesser extent) had Heihachi Mishima and Kazuya Mishima both fighting over each other, as antagonists towards Jin Kazama. In Tekken 6, Lars found himself facing opposition from Kazuya Mishima, Jin Kazama AND Azazel.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog features Dr. Eggman and Black Doom, both with their own plans to conquer the world. Depending on which path you take and who you side with, G.U.N. may oppose you as well, although they fall more into the Hero Antagonist group.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Order of the Stick, there are several factions, both good and evil, and most of the evil ones can qualify as independent big bads:
    • Lord Xykon is the most prominent throughout the story, though he might not be the ultimate big bad. Redcloak pretends to be his Dragon.
    • The IFCC is a Big Bad Triumvirate.
    • As revealed in Start of Darkness, the Dark One, the goblin deity. Redcloak is really his Dragon.
    • Elan's brother Nale probably doesn't count (though he certainly thinks he does), but his father Tarquin is shaping up to be one.
    • With the end of Book Five Tarquin might be demoted to villain fo another story, but Hel, Northen Godess of Death, has joined race for the gate in his place.
  • 8-Bit Theater had a sort of "guess the Big Bad" thing going on with several characters being built up as potential "Final Boss" candidates:
    • Black Mage, Villain Protagonist and hinted at eventually (seriously) betraying his comrades. Which does happen before the plot gets Hijacked By Sarda.
    • The Dark Warriors. In the beginning, Garland seemed to be a joke villain who had a greater role in the story. It turns out their purpose was to become Fake Ultimate Heroes.
    • Sarda, the biggest threat whose motives were hidden, but came across as a Trickster Mentor. He turns out to be the "real" Big Bad but is assimilated by Chaos.
    • The Fiends, who were teaming up in Hell as they were killed. Killed by Black Mage.
    • "Darko," who was The Dragon to Bigger Bad Chaos and trying to manipulate Black Mage (and previously Garland) into bringing about his plans. He eventually gives up.
    • And finally, Chaos, said Bigger Bad the villains were destined to eventually face. They do, at a point in time they're woefully unprepared for it. Chaos is killed off-screen by White Mage instead, saving the world and setting up the Dark Warriors as the ones who defeated him.
  • El Goonish Shive, has Lord Tedd, Pandora Raven, Sirleck and Magus and formerly Damien.
  • Homestuck originally set up the Black King as the Big Bad, but then is killed when JackNoir goes rogue, leaving Act 5 as a struggle between Jack, Vriska Serket, and Doc Scratch. It turns out that Scratch was manipulating everybody, including the other villains, and sacrifices himself, leaving his master Lord English as the sole Big Bad. As of Act 6, English is the only Big Bad, since Jack is being manipulated by him, Her Imperious Condescension is working for him, and Caliborn is his past self.
  • In Sonic The Comic Online with Robotnik driven insane several characters have taken the place of the Big Bad: Dr. Zachary, Don Long-Legs, head of The Family, Grimer, Dr. Robotnik and The Drakon Empire

    Web Originals 
  • In The Gamers Alliance, many major antagonists are working for different goals separate from one another during the Godslayer era:
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, The Emperor, Lord Doom, Doctor Simian, Abyss, the Blood Red King, and Omega all present a threat to the whole world. They do this simultaneously, though they don't do it cooperatively.
  • The Whateley Universe has a ridiculous number of potential Big Bads. The most prominent is Hekate's Master, but there's also Lady Jettatura, The Palm, Necromancer, Dr. Emil Hammond, Dominus and whatever Bladedancer saw in her dream, plus dozens of smaller bads. The only reason the world didn't implode by now is because there's also a ridiculous amount of heroes and other elements to balance things out.
    • In particular, in "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl", Hekate and The Necromancer team up to attack Team Kimba. Hekate is stuck hiding in a magical bunker, and The Necromancer is using her talents since it's his bunker: he owes Hekate's Master a huge favor.
      • And this leads to another supervillain stepping in, during the big battles, and the Necromancer doesn't like him, so things get confusing.
  • At the start, Worm has three Big Bads, all of them supervillains bent on control over the city of Brockton Bay. First there's Kaiser of Empire Eighty-Eight, a Neo-Nazi organization that, thanks to his prolific recruiting, is one of the single largest parahuman groups in the country. Second is Lung, an Asian gang-leader with the power to turn into a dragon, who relies upon this, a few parahuman underlings, and a small army of gang members to hold his own. Finally, there is Coil, a Diabolical Mastermind with a literal private army of mercenaries, who has declared war upon Kaiser and has even greater long term plans. All three hate each other.
    • As the story goes on, however, the perspective of the story expands, and we are introduced to the world-scale Big Bads, of which there are also three. First are the Endbringers, a group of three Kaiju with ruinously powerful superpowers which are bent on destroying humanity for unknown reasons. Second is the Slaughterhouse 9, a group of psychopathic superpowered murderers who are predicted to be the ones to cause the end of the world. Finally, there is Cauldron, a Nebulous Evil Organization with the ability to create a Super Serum which it has leveraged to gain control over the majority of the most powerful heroes in the world, and whose ends remain unknown.
  • The commanding officers of the Army of Shadow in Rplegacy's Dark Clouds Gathering fantasy crossover RPG are comprised of various Big Bads and their Dragons from fiction, including Ganon, Morgoth, Absalom, and of course the Army's leader, the Phantom-lord Grogna.

    Western Animation 

Big Bad DuumvirateEnsemblesBig Guy, Little Guy
Big Bad DuumvirateVillainsBig Bad Friend
Big Bad DuumvirateAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Big Bad Wannabe
Armor-Piercing QuestionFanfic/Shadows Of GiantsBody Horror

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