->''"You know, I actually like working for someone else. It lets me be a little more... ''hands-on."
-->-- '''Slade''', ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans''

In the natural progression of the SortingAlgorithmOfEvil, a stronger BigBad will replace the previous villain for the new season. However, what happens if the previous villain is still here? One of the things the former BigBad can do now is to work for the new BigBad as his [[TheDragon Dragon]]. This is Demoted to Dragon in a nutshell.

Demoted Big Bads will almost always become TheStarscream or a DragonWithAnAgenda.

Contrast DragonAscendant, the inverse, and BigBadDuumvirate, when the previous BigBad isn't explicitly subservient to the new one. See also BigBadWannabe.

'''Beware of spoilers.'''
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', Pain, thought to be the BigBad, is eventually revealed to have been the DragonWithAnAgenda to [[spoiler: Tobi]], who turns out to be the dragon to [[spoiler:the real Madara. Until Tobi [[DragonAscendant kicks Madara to the curb and takes over his plot]]. Well, Madara is the BigBad again anyway, thanks to his other [[TheDragon Dragon]] Zetsu.]]
* In ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagicaTheMovieRebellion,'' after [[spoiler:Homura [[AGodAmI becomes the devil]], Kyubey]] is forced into this role, turning from a potent and incomprehensible chessmaster to a lapdog whom she apparently {{Mind Rape}}s at the end.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/SonicTheComic'', Robotnik is Demoted to Dragon twice. First in the Drakon arc, he makes a deal with Emperor Ko-Dorr -- the Drakons would provide Robotnik with resources and transport, and he in turn would deliver the Chaos Emeralds. Then, in the Shanazar arc, Robotnik work for Princess Kupacious as Grand Vizier. Both times he was [[DragonWithAnAgenda using them to further]] [[TheStarscream his own goals]], and he was a [[DragonInChief far greater threat]] than Princess Kupacious.
** In SonicTheComicOnline Robotnik is Demoted to the brute of [[FiveBadBand The Syndicate]] in the Sonic Adventure 2 arc.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Fray}}'', the vampire Icarus used to be the boss of all the vampires in Manhattan, (or Haddyn, as the FutureSlang of the world calls it) but willingly chose to give that up and become TheDragon to [[spoiler:VisionaryVillain and UndeadChild Harth]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Carmen Cole, the BigBad of the novel ''Literature/{{Hottie}}'' by Jonathan Bernstein, becomes TheDragon to Emperor Vakudos in ''[[http://alaxr274.deviantart.com/gallery/37280372 Hottie 3: The Best Fan Fic in the World]]''.
* Matt Pinfield, the BigBad of Series/TheNakedBrothersBand animated special "Supetastic 6", becomes TheDragon to Princess Jody in the SpinOff, ''[[http://fanfiction.wikia.com/wiki/Hottie_x_Supetastic_6:_March_Madness Hottie x Supetastic 6: March Madness]]''.
* ''FanFic/ThePowersOfHarmony'': Eclipse [[spoiler: (formerly Nightmare Moon)]] ends up forced to serve [[BigBad Cetus]], her own creation. Naturally, she's [[TheStarscream not pleased with this]].
* ''FanFic/MyLittleMagesTheNightmaresReturn'' has [[{{Necromancer}} Chrysalis]]. Fifty years ago, she led one side of a war between the living and the Undead, but was defeated and forced to go into hiding, before [[BigBad Nightmare Moon]] recruited her for her new QuirkyMinibossSquad.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In the first Michael Bay ''Film/{{Transformers}}'' movie, Megatron is the BigBad. In [[Film/TransformersRevengeOfTheFallen the sequel]], he's resurrected, but the BigBad is The Fallen. As of [[Film/TransformersDarkOfTheMoon Dark of the Moon]], Megatron is still TheDragon. This time under [[spoiler:Sentinel Prime.]]
* In ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean: At World's End'', the previous film's BigBad Davy Jones is demoted to being TheDragon for Cutler Beckett. Justified by Beckett possessing [[SoulJar the heart of Davy Jones]], and therefore being quite capable of having Jones killed and [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt replaced]] if he doesn't obey Beckett's orders. And in the climax, Davy Jones regains control of his heart, going into full DragonInChief mode.
* Poor King Ghidorah of the ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'' franchise. He started out as the BigBad in ''Film/GhidorahTheThreeHeadedMonster'' and was considered the ultimate evil in the universe. The next film, ''Film/InvasionOfAstroMonster'' reduced him into the mind-controlled pet of an evil alien-race. And he's pretty much been that way ever since.
* James [=McCullen=] spends most of ''Film/GIJoeTheRiseOfCobra'' as the BigBad. Then [[spoiler: his MadScientist revealed himself as Cobra Commander, Turning [=McCullen=] into his Dragon Destro in the process.]]
* ''Film/HellraiserBloodline'': After Angelique summons Pinhead to help her with John Merchant they stand on roughly equal ground. When Merchant tricks them, Pinhead drags her back to Hell for her failure and makes her a part of his retinue of servant Cenobites.
* ''Film/TheHobbitAnUnexpectedJourney'' has the Orc Leader Azog as the main villain, pursuing Thorin and Company. However in ''Film/TheHobbitTheDesolationOfSmaug'' the Necromancer [[spoiler:Sauron]] tells him to stop hunting Thorin so he can lead his troops. This means Azog sends his son and Dragon Bolg to continue the hunt.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Brokenstar was the BigBad of ''Into the Wild'', the first book of the ''Literature/WarriorCats'' series. Then he gets driven out of his [[TheClan clan]] and killed, leaving [[BigBad Tigerstar]] in control of his army. Later in the ''OmenOfTheStars'' arc, Tigerstar and Brokenstar meet up in the afterlife and Tigerstar becomes Brokenstar's dragon.
* [[TheChessmaster Caine Soren]] is reduced to this briefly during ''HUNGER'' (the first of many sequels to ''Literature/{{GONE}}''). He bounces back though.
* Occurs in ''Literature/NeedfulThings'', where John "Ace" Merrill, the BigBad from ''Film/StandByMe'', becomes a lackey for Leland Gaunt.
* Happened in the backstory of the ''Literature/ChroniclesOfThomasCovenant''. The three Ravers[[note]] ''Moksha'' Jehannum, ''Turiya'' Herem and ''Samadhi'' Sheol[[/note]] (formerly human, bodiless possessing demons) were the Land's reigning supreme evils for centuries, possibly millennia- at least until [[GodOfEvil Lord Foul the Despiser]] showed up to seize the throne of BigBad ''de jure''. In the process, he made the Ravers his [[CoDragons chief minions]] (an arrangement which worked out well for the Ravers; Foul was as evil as they were, far more powerful, and an extremely subtle [[TheChessmaster chessmaster]], so allying with him made them if anything even more dangerous[[note]]and they think they'll get godhood themselves when Foul busts free of the Arch of Time, though it's unclear if Foul can actually deliver this[[/note]]). However, by the time the actual books take place, this is entirely a matter of legend; the Ravers are well-known primarily as Foul's minions, and are even described as such in the books' glossaries.
* A rather... tense... version in the later books of ''Literature/TheDeathGateCycle''. Lord Xar is a SorcerousOverlord BadassGrandpa and MagicKnight; Kleitus is an [[OurLichesAreDifferent undead]], [[OmnicidalManiac omnicidal]] ImplacableMan {{Necromancer}}. When they meet, Xar is able to force Kleitus into serving him by the simple expedient of being too powerful to kill (and Xar can't just kill Kleitus because he doesn't know the one spell that can destroy him). It's explicitly stated that Kleitus follows Xar around and does his bidding not out of any sense of loyalty, but out of the pure hope that he can be there when Xar slips up and use the opportunity to [[TheStarscream finish what he started]]. Xar, of course, is fully aware of this and doesn't trust Kleitus as far as he can kick him.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''
** When Angel became Angelus, former BigBad Spike became Angel's Dragon.
** Mr. Trick, after having [[DragonHisFeet abandoned]] his master, Kakistos, to the Slayers, seeks to install himself as the next BigBad and TheManBehindTheMan. Cue the Mayor forcibly recruiting Mr. Trick.
** Also subverted when the Mayor attempted to do this to Angelus. Angelus initially goes along with it (in a very openly-[[TheStarscream Starscreamish]] way) but [[spoiler: it turns out the Mayor failed to actually take Angel's soul, and he was just [[ReverseMole playing along to get information from Faith]]]].
* A strange variant in ''Series/{{Smallville}}'''s Season 10 episode, "Dominion". General Zod, the BiggerBad of Season 5, and Major Zod (his clone), the BigBad of Season 9, were fused into a single being by {{Darkseid}}, the Season 10 BigBad, and used as his surrogate in the Phantom Zone.
* Regina Mills, the BigBad of the first season of ''Series/OnceUponATime'' becomes TheDragon to her mother Cora in the second.
* Darken Rahl is the BigBad of the first season of ''Series/LegendOfTheSeeker''. Then he's killed in the season finale. Come season 2, the [[TheDevil Keeper]] has become the new BigBad, seeking to kill every living thing, with the Rahl's soul being his Dragon. Not only that, but he reveals that he has ''always'' served the Keeper after making a DealWithTheDevil for more power, and all his murders and slaughters were partly to appease his master. Then again, Rahl is a dick either way and really enjoyr killing. Of course, he turns out to be a DragonWithAnAgenda and betrays his master by the end. Additionally, in the episode where Zedd's spell goes awry and rewrites history, Rahl becomes Richard's willing assistant, after Richard brainwashes him. Then the spell is broken, and Rahl is back to his old self. By the end of season 2, Rahl finds a way to return to the world of the living and turns his back on the Keeper.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'': Crais briefly experiences this once Scorpius deposes him as captain of his Peacekeeper battleship, but takes the first opportunity to desert and [[WildCard do his own thing]].
* Done briefly in ''Series/StargateSG1''. Initial BigBad Apophis is hunted down by replacement BigBad Sokar and dies while hiding on Earth. In a later episode, [[spoiler:one of the lesser Goa'ulds serving Sokar has a First Prime named Na'onak who turns out to be a regenerated Apophis in disguise. However, Apophis rapidly pulls a [[TheStarscream Starscream]] on both and reclaims the BigBad throne.]]
** Later on, the new BigBad Anubis is defeated by [[spoiler:O'Neill controlling the Ancient super-weapon]]. He is presumed dead, and Ba'al, whose rise to power is previously facilitated by SG-1 to counterbalance Anubis becomes their number 1 threat. Near the end of the Goa'uld rule, though, it's revealed that Ba'al has since become this trope after Anubis manages to come back and retake his empire. After the fall of the Goa'uld, Ba'al is the only real Goa'uld threat remaining.
* In ''Series/PersonOfInterest'', Mr. Greer willingly and ''happily'' demotes himself to the role of TheDragon after succeeding in his two-season mission to install [[spoiler:Samaritan, an ArtificialIntelligence unfettered by morality,]] as the show's new BigBad. [[spoiler:His goal is to put ''all of humanity'' in the control of AIs, believing them to be logical, incorruptible and superior to human leaders in every way.]]
* ''Series/DenshiSentaiDenziman'' / ''Series/TaiyouSentaiSunVulcan'': Queen Hedrian, the BigBad of Denziman, is revived and forced to serve Führer Hell Saturn (himself revealed to be TheDragon to The Omnipotent God, the actual Big Bad of the series) at the start of Sun Vulcan.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/TheUndertaker, as the leader of the Ministry of Darkness, was clearly seen as the biggest threat in the Wrestling/{{W|orldWrestlingFederation}}WF at the time, to the point where it seemed even VinceMcMahon was getting face cheers over him and was being portrayed somewhat sympathetically. However, Taker began making references to a "Higher Power", and when it was time for the reveal, [[spoiler:it was none other than [=McMahon=] himself who had been pulling the strings all along. The Ministry merged with The Corporation to form the Corporate Ministry, and Undertaker immediately became [=McMahon=]'s dragon.]]
* The Wrestling/{{n|ewWorldorder}}Wo were the main PowerStable during their time in Wrestling/{{WCW}}, but after WCW was bought out by the WWF, they were reduced to Mr.[=McMahon=]'s lackeys.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/SuperMarioLand''. Tatanga is the FinalBoss. In the sequel, Wario is the FinalBoss, and Tatanga is simply guarding one of his coins for some reason. It's implied he may have been working for Wario the whole time, given that Wario takes over when Mario was distracted by Tatanga.
* Dr. Cortex becomes Uka Uka's [[TheDragon Dragon]] in ''VideoGame/CrashBandicoot3Warped''.
* Happened to Lechuck in ''VideoGame/EscapeFromMonkeyIsland'', though he does turn on the game's new villain in the endgame when they're defeated.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'', the seemingly BigBad FinalBoss called Sin turned out to only be an ''armor'' used by Yu Yevon, the center of the world's only religion and pretty much their god. From the moment the cast learns this, Sin is technically Demoted to Dragon, because the player had expected that Sin would be the BigBad.
* ''[[VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeonExplorers Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky]]'' actually took this literally with [[spoiler:[[DiscOneFinalBoss Primal Dialga.]]]]
* [[GorgeousGorgon Medusa]], the villain of the first ''VideoGame/KidIcarus'' game, is actually reduced to this in ''VideoGame/KidIcarusUprising''. Though in what may have been an AuthorsSavingThrow in case this wasn't well received, it's revealed that the Medusa in ''Uprising'' [[spoiler:isn't actually Medusa, just a whole bunch of random souls Hades put together in a Medusa-shaped container.]]
* In ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords'', Darth Sion starts out as one half of a BigBadDuumvirate with Darth Nihilus. During the events of the endgame, in which [[spoiler:Nihilus dies and Kreia reclaims her identity as Darth Traya]], he becomes the sole BigBad for a time, only to be forcibly demoted upon Traya's return.
* In the arcade version of ''VideoGame/DoubleDragon'', Machine Gun Willy is the leader of the Black Warriors and the final boss in the game. In the NES version, he's simply the last guy the player must face before the final battle against the player's twin brother, [[AdaptationalVillainy who became the main villain in the NES version]]. Note that while the sibling battle also occurs in the arcade version, it was an optional fight that only occurs if two people were playing, whereas in the NES version it's mandatory to completing the game.
* Sagat was the final boss in the original ''VideoGame/StreetFighter''. In ''VideoGame/StreetFighterII'', he's simply the last fighter the player must face before M. Bison.
* The Magician reappears in ''VideoGame/HouseOfTheDead 2'' as the penultimate boss before the final stage. He isn't any easier to beat, though. Probably doesn't count though, since he isn't related the the bad guy's plan at all. He's a GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere.
* Also happens to Geese Howard in ''[[VideoGame/FatalFury Fatal Fury Special]]'', where he is the last opponent the player must face before facing Geese's half-brother Wolfgang Krauser. In ''Real Bout Special'', it happens the other way around.
** Speaking of Geese, in the first ''VideoGame/ArtOfFighting'' game, the main boss is an escrima using crime lord named Mr. Big. In II, it's established that Geese defeated Big and took control of the underground in South Town. It's also why Big appears on the Villains team in KOF'96 alongside Geese and Krauser.
* In the Genesis version of ''VideoGame/GoldenAxe'', the player must face Death Bringer (a console-exclusive final boss) after defeating Death Adder (the final boss in the arcade version).
* As of ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance]]'', [[spoiler:Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Xemnas, the [[BigBad Big Bads]] of the first and second game, respectively, have ''both'' been Demoted To Dragon under Master Xehanort (either that, or Master Xehanort was playing [[TheManBehindTheMan the Man Behind The Men]] the entire time) For the record, these are all different incarnations / versions of the exact same guy.]]
* The second ''VideoGame/NinjaGaiden'' game for the {{NES}} managed to pull a ''double'' dragon demotion.. Jaquio, the {{big bad}} of the first game, is revealed at the start of the sequel to have just been the dragon of Ashtar, the true Big Bad who had been pulling the strings all along. But then Ashtar ends up dying halfway through the game, and the player spends the second half wondering who's really in charge. Turns out it ''was'' Jaquio all along. Ashtar was actually {{the starscream}} of Jaquio's organization, so Jaquio let Ashtar think he was in charge so he'd stick his neck out and get killed by the hero. It worked, and [[{{nice job breaking it hero}} as a result Jaquio is more powerful than ever.]]
* In ''VideoGame/BattleClash'', the space alien Anubis is the last boss of the game. In the sequel, ''Metal Combat'', it is revealed that Anubis was following orders from a race of alien invaders who were plotting to conquer the Earth as a replacement for their lost home.
* ''VideoGame/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaAsPortable: The Gears of Destiny'' has former BigBad Lord Dearche becoming the subordinate of the Unbreakable Darkness, the true master of the Materials. [[spoiler:At least, that was the plan. Then it gets subverted when the Unbreakable Darkness [[PowerIncontinence turned out to be more unstable than expected]] and unintentionally [[FightingAShadow destroys the physical bodies of the Materials in her introductory scene]], [[EnemyMine forcing the Materials to join forces with the heroes]] to stop/save her. Lord Dearche does eventually become the subordinate of the Unbreakable Darkness, but only after a HeelFaceTurn for everyone involved]].
* ''VideoGame/HyperdimensionNeptuniaMk2'' features Arfoire, the AnthropomorphicPersonification of {{digital piracy|IsEvil}} as the BigBad and the leader of her own gang of powerful software pirates. In the sequel ''VideoGame/HyperdimensionNeptuniaVictory'', she's merely a member of the Seven Sages, another group of supervillains plotting to wreak havoc across an AlternateUniverse Gamindustri.
* In ''VideoGame/LunarEternalBlue'', [[BigBad Zophar]] resurrects Magic Emperor [[spoiler:Ghaleon]], the BigBad of ''VideoGame/LunarTheSilverStar'', to serve as his Dragon. [[spoiler:In the end, this backfires spectacularly. It turns out that being dead for a thousand years gave Ghaleon plenty of time to think about what he did wrong in his previous life, causing him to act as a StealthMentor to the heroes. Zophar had been quite prepared for the possibility of [[TheStarscream a straightforward betrayal]] and revived Ghaleon in such a way that he could simply withdraw his power and cause Ghaleon to instantly die. But it never occurred to him that Ghaleon would pull a HeelFaceTurn and [[HeroicSacrifice be entirely willing to die to stop him]].]]
* Yuga, the supposed Big Bad of ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkBetweenWorlds'' turns out to be the Dragon to [[spoiler:Hilda]], though he turns out to be a DragonWithAnAgenda.
* [[spoiler: Delekhan]] from ''VideoGame/BetrayalAtKrondor'', though supposedly in charge, ends up the whole time to be working under the direction of [[spoiler: Makala and The Six]], which the player doesn't figure out until at least Chapter 6 (if not later) and the party doesn't figure out until Chapter 8 (of 9).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/HarryPotterComics'', Voldemort is revived by a mysterious Necromancer for the sole purpose of being his Dragon (and fully opening the Chamber of Secrets).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* On ''WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall'', Mechakara was the BigBad starting from the May 2009 episodes. After the storyline concluded in February 2010, Mechakara later reappeared as TheDragon to the new BigBad, Lord Vyce. Unlike other cases, Mechakara doesn't suffer from VillainDecay, becoming more of a threat due him being upgraded.
** Played straight in ''WebVideo/ToBoldlyFlee'' where Mechakara infiltrates the ChannelAwesome team for Terl, though he later [[TheDogBitesBack turns his attention on him and Zod, too]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Magmion was the BigBad of the first season of ''WesternAnimation/GormitiTheLordsOfNatureReturn''. Season 2 introduced Obscurio, and Magmion was reduced to his main henchman
* The Trix from ''WesternAnimation/WinxClub'' were the main villains in season 1. In seasons 2, 3, the 2nd movie, and 5 they work for the more powerful villains Lord Darkar, Valtor, the Ancestral Witches, and Tritannus.
* In ''Franchise/GIJoe'', this happens to Cobra Commander when Serpentor is created.
* Slade from ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' is demoted to Trigon's dragon when the latter tries to take over the world. An unusual case where the former BigBad is actually ''more'' of a threat to the heroes when he's serving as someone else's henchman, because Trigon gave him [[EmpoweredBadassNormal a truckload of powers in the bargain]].
* Shendu, from ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures''. For the first season he was the one calling the shots but after his defeat he is forced into servitude to his demon siblings. Though in this case, he demoted ''himself'' so they'd stop beating the crap out of him for leaving them to rot in their prison.
* In ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'' the Fright Knight became Pariah Dark's Dragon when he awoke. Though in this case, the Fright Knight was ''always'' Pariah's Dragon, his boss was just SealedEvilInACan when the Fright Knight was unleashed the first time. Vlad convinced him to turn against his master offscreen.
* ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'': This is played with when [[EldritchAbomination Unicron]] shows up. [[BigBad Megatron]] ''wants'' to serve him, but Unicron doesn't give a crap about Megatron, viewing him as beneath him. Which is a total reversal of the G1 situation ("serve me or get ''eaten''") and the ''Anime/TransformersArmada'' situation ("you've actually been [[BatmanGambit serving me all along]].") where it's an unwilling Megs being made to work for Unicron until he can turn the tables. (If you go with the AllThereInTheManual RetCon that there's just one Unicron, it could be that the Chaos-Bringer has just learned that Megatrons don't make good servants.)
** They do cross paths again in the finale movie. [[spoiler:He still doesn't become Unicron's dragon. Megatron's dead body is hijacked by Unicron, and Unicron proceeds to torture Megatron whenever he speaks out of turn.]]
* [[ArchEnemy Vilgax]] from ''Franchise/{{Ben 10}}'' becomes the Dragon to [[EldritchAbomination Diagon]] in the ''WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien'' season 2 finale, though he is hinted to be a DragonWithAnAgenda. This is confirmed in the GrandFinale, where Vilgax is a successful [[TheStarscream Starscream]], killing Diagon and absorbing his power to become the most dangerous villain the franchise.
* Professor Pericles from ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated'' acts as the BigBad of season 1 but in the second half of season 2 is revealed to be the Dragon to [[UltimateEvil the Nibiru entity]].
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS4E25TwilightsKingdomPart1 Twilight's Kingdom, Part 1]]", Discord ''thinks'' he and Tirek are a BigBadDuumvirate, but in actuality he's this trope.
* Skeletor was the BigBad of ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983'', but became TheDragon to new villain Flogg in ''WesternAnimation/TheNewAdventuresOfHeMan''. However, Skeletor's role wasn't all that different functionally, as he constantly manipulated the clueless Flogg.
[[/folder]]
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