Bit Part Bad Guys
aka: Lowly Criminal
They're not the Big Bad
; they're too small time for that. Heck, they're not even Monster of the Week
level. But they're not working for another villain, either, so they're not really Mooks
. These are Villains
whose duty is to show up for a single scene, maybe two if they're lucky, and cause some minor trouble before the heroes kick them into next week
and move on to the real
Why bother including such a meaningless bad guy? It could be the story was running a little light on its action quotient and needed an excuse for some mindless violence. Maybe the writers wanted to show what the heroes' lives are like in-between more significant adversaries, or create an Establishing Character Moment
for a hero we don't know very well yet. Maybe the episode was running a little short, and they had to fill up an extra five minutes with something
Or maybe, while the Bit Part Bad Guys themselves aren't important, something that happens during the fight with them is. The hero might meet the Girl of the Week
by saving them from one of these villains, or maybe it's during one of these quick fights that the Superhero
will discover something's wrong with their powers, or maybe, because the hero was busy taking this bad guy down, they weren't at home to stop someone from getting kidnapped
, which may even elevate them to the level of Small Role, Big Impact
Whatever the case may be, the Bit Part Bad Guy always gets the short end of the butt-kicking stick. They'll almost always be quite low on the Sliding Scale of Villain Threat
and, compared to the rest of the story, on the silly side of the Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness
. The best hope a Bit Part Bad Guy has is to make a strong enough impression during their brief appearance that audiences demand they be brought back again, possibly upgraded to Monster of the Week
status. Only once in a scarlet moon can such a villain even dream of becoming Big Bad material
Common varieties include Bank Robbers
, Thuggish Bar Patrons
, Muggers, and generally Stupid Crooks
. Also known as the Lowly Criminal
of Bit Character
; Super Trope
of Mugging the Monster
. Will often be given Kick the Dog
or Politically Incorrect Villain
traits, if only to justify their getting a comeuppance. Common in a Batman Cold Open
, when said Cold Open
doesn't feature a recurring villain; however, Bit Part Bad Guys can show up anywhere in the story, up to and including right before the climax.
See Random Encounters
for the Video
and Tabletop Games
version of this trope.
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Anime & Manga
- Darker Than Black has occasional appearances of Yakuza, Triads And Tongs and sundry thugs, most of whom exist just to be beaten up or killed in horrible ways by major characters.
- The Snake Baron's bandits in the first story arc of Berserk basically existed for Guts to show off his repeating crossbow skills and his gigantic sword for the first time.
- Muteki Kanban Musume, being a deconstruction of the Fighting Series Played for Laughs, presents protagonist Miki as she encounters an unfortunate thief, Lowly Criminal Yakuza, and Japanese Delinquents, all of them only there to Mugging the Monster Miki and give her an excuse to Curb-Stomp Battle them, and then be forgotten.
- Codename: Sailor V has a few ordinary bandits and other criminals who exist only to show that Minako wants to humiliate the police by stealing their job, introduce a number of police officers as recurring characters and explain why Sailor V is a celebrity by the time of Sailor Moon.
- The plot of one chapter was kicked off by Sailor V wasting time in beating up two bullies, thus not having time to change back into Minako to take part to a lottery and winning a vacation to Hawaii as Sailor V.
- Marvel Comics have loads of these villains who show up in single issues or possibly in the middle of larger story arcs just to get beaten up: The Rhino, The Wrecking Crew, and The Blob just to name a few.
- The beginning of Sin City's A Dame To Kill For features the private investigator main character spying on an Abusive Boyfriend and beating him up when he tries to hurt his mistress.
- Also in ADTKF is a brief scene where Marv shows up to take out some bad guys at Kadie's. This is subverted in that Marv was a secondary character in that story.
- Hell And Back also features a brief scene when Manute shows up to fight Wallace. Manute was working for a different mob boss that had ties to the Big Bad but otherwise, this was a bit part for him.
- All over the place in all three of the Spider-Man movies.
- Dirty Harry: Some bank robbers.
- Two muggers show up at the beginning of the first Tim Burton Batman movie, robbing an innocent tourist family (with one mugger pulling a Kick the Dog moment by turning his gun on the family's kid), laying down the fearsome reputation of "the bat" and then getting their asses kicked by the Batman.
- Just about every Batman film since then has featured at least one such character. Batman Returns included a brief scene with a nameless, nondescript mugger (and, it is strongly implied, rapist) who exists only as an Asshole Victim to get butchered by Catwoman - and, of course, to establish that Selina Kyle has Taken A Level In Badass after all the injustices done to her and will never be the same again.
- Batman Forever, on the other hand, featured an entire street gang sporting a weird combination of tribal face paint and Tron-like glow-in-the-dark uniforms who are so eye-catching that they veer dangerously close to Ensemble Darkhorse territory. What makes this so jarring is that they only appear in one scene, and then only as an opportunity for Dick Grayson (the future Robin) to demonstrate his latent fighting skills and also to work through his great anger at having seen his entire family murdered by the Dragon of the film, Two-Face. (Interestingly enough, a lot of planning went into the creation of these one-shot villains, with the film's costume designers studying Aboriginal rock paintings to get a feel for how they should look.)
- Batman & Robin, by virtue of its notoriously Biblical cast of characters, has two instances: the punk bikers whom Dick Grayson and Barbara Wilson race on motorcycles through a tunnel in the "bad" part of town; and another group of Day-Glo, tribal thugs who exist only for Bane to have somebody to beat up.
- In the Line of Fire begins with Clint Eastwood's character busting unimportant counterfeiters while undercover.
- Steven Seagal's Out For Justice features some random goons in a bar ripe for beating up.
- The 1978 Superman movie has a mugger go after Lois Lane... with Clark Kent right next to her.
- In Superman Returns, Superman's first act upon returning is against a pack of bank robbers, armed for bear.
- The two muggers that try to rob the blinded Jenny soon after the first shootout of The Killer, only to get beaten up by Ah Jong.
- The first humans the T-800 interacts with in the first two Terminator movies, with the parallel scene in the third film being a bit more of a tonal inversion of the biker bar scene from Judgment Day.
- Duke, a villain from the Warrior Cats book The Lost Warrior is one of these. His only reason for existing was so that Graystripe could fight someone in the first book, and out of all the villains in the series, he is one of the quickest to go down.
Live Action TV
- As Buffy the Vampire Slayer continued, vampires gradually lost their Villain Pedigree, going from Big Bads to Monsters of the Week, to Mooks, until in the later seasons they appeared almost exclusively as Bit Part Bad Guys. We'd see Buffy patrolling the graveyard, quickly dispatching a few vampires who don't even get a single line, then we'd shift scenes to the real plot of the episode. Other kinds of demons would occasionally fill this role, too, but since those required more expensive makeup effects then vampires, they tended to be saved for more important roles.
- To the point where it was lampshaded in song.
- While occasionally having one or two episodes devoted to them, the Weevils from Torchwood fall under this. If any character needs to be in a specific place at some point during the episode in order for the plot to work, more often than not they'll be hunting a Weevil.
- They're so minor, "weevil hunting" is the excuse Jack and Ianto use when they need to sneak out of work for some alone time.
- The Blowfish in "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" is basically used to set up Torchwood Three's status as Everyone Knew Already and Jack's return.
- Poor old Cenred from Merlin. He was only incorporated because the Big Bads Morgana and Morgause needed his army to overrun Camelot, and he never gets to fight either Arthur or Uther before he's killed off in a classic case of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
- It happened again with Helios in series three, a warlord whose sole purpose is to provide the man-power for a takeover, and then die in battle.
- Invoked by Ash regarding Ed, in Evil Dead The Musical. Then partially subverted, because Ed gets a song "Bit-Part Demon" before he gets shot.
- The Powder Gangers in Fallout: New Vegas are a gang of escaped convicts. They're probably the weakest faction in the game and play no role in the main storyline.
- The general formula in the Touhou series is that the first two bosses will have absolutely nothing to do with the plot, and the third will actually kick the main plot off (either by being loyal to the villains or leading you to them). These bit part bosses are often quite popular (one eventually starred her own game!) and most of them are grouped together in fanworks. Exceptions to both rules exist though.