Laharl: What do you want? I’m busy right now.A comedic version of the Recurring Boss, the Goldfish Poop Gang are characters who keep popping up, requiring you to fight them multiple times through the game. They quickly devolve from being actual threats to pesky nuisances, something the party may comment on. The party (and developers) may take a shine to them, and you won't actually be allowed to kill them off in the end. The trope name comes from the Japanese idiomatic phrase kingyo no fun, which literally means "goldfish crap" but idiomatically means a sycophant or hanger-on. That's because goldfish poop has a tendency to stick to the goldfish. So it's vaguely loathsome stuff that follows the fish around, just like a Goldfish Poop Gang. May overlap with recurring Quirky Miniboss Squads if they're not treated seriously. Frequently overlaps with being an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain or Harmless Villain. May also fill the shoes of the Unknown Rival, explaining why they keep coming back to annoy the party. Occasionally made a threat with Team Rocket Wins. In Anime they're often a Terrible Trio.
Mid-Boss: Tsk tsk tsk. You weren’t thinking of calling yourself the Overlord without first settling things with moi, were you?
Laharl: I already settled things with you. Twice, as a matter of fact.
Mid-Boss: Tsk tsk tsk. You weren’t thinking of calling yourself the Overlord without first settling things with moi, were you?
Laharl: I already settled things with you. Twice, as a matter of fact.
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Anime and Manga
- Team Rocket from Pokémon (Jessie, James and Meowth), who thrive on popularity despite no longer posing a threat to Ash and friends.
- When we say they thrive on popularity, we mean that literally. On one occasion they save Ash's life on the premise that if he dies, the show's over and they're out of a job.
- This even applies within the fourth wall. On several occasions they've helped Ash out or cheered him on in battle, because, as Meowth put it during Ash's battle with Tobias: "This is the guy who beats us all the time! So if he loses, think how bad it'll make US look!"
- Subverted in the Best Wishes! series as Team Rocket truly Took a Level in Badass, even ignoring Ash and company sometimes. Officially zig zagged by XY, where they're back to their usual selves, though noticeably more competent than they were before Best Wishes!.
- When we say they thrive on popularity, we mean that literally. On one occasion they save Ash's life on the premise that if he dies, the show's over and they're out of a job.
- Lina Inverse from Slayers actually gave this nickname to Naga at one point, as she constantly insists on calling Lina her partner (or rival, depending on which season/movie you're watching).
- Depending on the story, Zenigata can be this in Lupin III. No matter what the plot/enemy is, he's pretty much guaranteed to be involved in some capacity, but that can vary from him being a serious threat to Lupin and his plans, a grudging ally, a useful patsy, or (this trope) simply a minor annoyance who's only there because the fans would miss him if he didn't make an appearance.
- Rex Raptor, Weevil Underwood, Mako Tsunami, and (to a lesser extent) Mai Valentine from the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime are basically this for the main characters or the bad guys. Although presented as credible threats, they pretty much exist for two purposes: another duel (against a supposedly strong opponent) to be won by Yugi/Joey, or to showcase how skilled a duelist a new character (sometimes the Big Bad) via The Worf Effect.
- Less so in the manga, where Rex Raptor is never seen again after losing to Esper Roba, and Weevil is never seen again after losing to Joey. Mai also does pretty well for herself against Big Bad Yami Marik, even managing to acquire one of the God cards from him, only to find she couldn't use it. Marik really only won on a technicality—if Mai had been able to use the card, she would probably have won.
- Dragon Ball:
- Pilaf, Shu and Mai in Dragon Ball. However, they eventually disappeared as the series underwent Cerebus Syndrome. Their final appearance in the manga was shortly after Demon King Piccolo was released, while in the anime they had one more filler appearance just before the start of Dragon Ball Z. They were eventually brought back in Dragon Ball GT to help kick off the plot by accidentally turning Goku into a child.
- And they're back on the newest movie, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. As children, after asking Shen Long for youth, on an ironic reversal of what they did on Dragon Ball GT.
- They reappear in the same capacity in Dragon Ball Super, where they're more of a Greek Chorus, commenting on the plot without affecting it. After one more feeble attempt at villainy, they seem to have given it up, and now live at the Briefs compound, engaging in extremely minor hijinks.
- Tom and Tab from Kimba the White Lion.
- The MK5 from Beelzebub. It's even stated that losing in one page is their specialty.
- Zonge and his followers in Toriko are a non-villainous version, though they are technically rivals to Toriko et al simply by virtue of being other Bishokuya, they show up in many arcs and are almost always ineffective (or if so, he is not deliberately effective).
- In Rave Master there was the Jiggle Butt Gang (Big Butt Bandits in the dub) three crooks who were likely the most incompetent thieves in existence. How did they get their name? Guess.
- The Jiggle Butt Gang is persistent enough to return even in a different series, specifically Hiro Mashima's second manga series, Fairy Tail.
- In Guardian Fairy Michel, the Black Hammer Gang turn into this as the series goes on, in later episodes usually being defeated by the fairy they tried to control.
- Crumplezone and Ransack degenerate into this in Transformers Cybertron.
- Re:Zero has two-bit alley thugs, Ton, Chin and Kan. They regularly encounter and harass Subaru or his friends, and their meetings almost always end with the trio getting beat up or scared off.
- In Kurohime Onimaru starts out as a one-man Goldfish Poop Gang, being a warlord with a grudge against Kurohime who keeps turning up in pursuit of her and driven away as soon as she can use her power. His life manages to go downhill from there when he loses his gang and gets turned into the Team Pet during the Shinigami arc.
- The Wrecking Crew from The Mighty Thor were once a gang of super strong villains that could even give The Avengers a run for their money but in the past decade or so, they've become more of a punchline when superheroes need someone to beat up over and over again.
- Sin City has Shlubb and Klump, two idiot do-anything-for-a-job criminals that often show up and get pummeled by Dwight McCarthy.
- Team Turmoil from Mark Waid's run on The Flash were this. Defeating was such a routine task that the Flash rarely bothered to interrupt his conversations while doing so - except to make fun of them, of course.
- The evil Enforcers were a trio of Badass Normals who used to be able to give Spider-Man a hard time when he was starting out, but they're rarely treated as a serious threat any more.
- The Royal Flush Gang has been sort of the default team of minor Justice League villains for decades. If you need a brief cutaway shot of the League defeating some baddies, it's likely to be the Royal Flush Gang. They keep popping up mostly because they do look memorable, with their playing card motif.
- E.G.G. from Chew is a terrorist group that believes the government is covering up the real truth behind the bird flu epedimic and tries to correct said injustice by holding people hostage in order to force them to do something. Usually they show up only to be easily defeated, whenever there is a need to show, how badass certain character is (sometimes in-universe and sometimes to the audience).
- Malazan Book of the Fallen:
- Korbal Broach and Bauchelain are a rare literary example. They're actually brutal serial killers (Korbal is noteworthy for making golems out of the internal organs of orphans), which would lead one to think that the author might take them seriously. He doesn't.
- The Tiste Liosan Trull and Onrack encounter in House of Chains on their journey are mostly portrayed as humourless twits and are consequently ridiculed. Not even the other characters take them seriously, despite them being so ralrely seen nowadays that their existence is mythical.
- Played with in Harry Potter. In perspective, Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle pose less of a threat to Harry as Voldemort rises in power. Though the goldfish poop gang join with Voldemort, they come to realize that it's not as fun as it sounds. Ultimately subverted when the gang endangers the Power Trio's lives in the seventh book.
[Harry] could not believe that he was this close, and he was going to be thwarted by Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle.
- Out of the thousand-plus Nadir tribes alluded to in the Drenai saga, the Green Monkeys have this reputation in-universe. The name probably doesn't help.
Live Action TV
- The Trio from Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Inverted by Warren Mears, who goes from Goldfish to Piranha thanks to a wine bottle to the head & the luckiest gunshot in the world. Appropriately enough, he meets his supposed demise being flayed like a piece of salmon.
- Harmony. After being turned into a vampire, she proved the most welcome of thorns in Buffy's side in large part due to her uselessness in a fight, culminating in the most epic push-fight ever.
- The Invisible Man Arnaud DeFöhn to the world at large, a rather frightening terrorist-for-hire. To Darien Fawkes, a mincing little prick who'd be dead or in jail if not for his infuriating penchant for smug speeches and improbable escapes.
- Darien does have a personal grudge against Arnaud, as one of Arnaud's goons killed Darien's brother. Interestingly, Arnaud himself did not want Kevin Fawkes dead, as Kevin was a genius (and a friend) but forgot to tell his Mooks about it. Technically, though, the Mook was aiming for Darien, but Kevin pushed him out of the way.
- Chris Hero and Necro Butcher during the early stages of what would come to be known as "The CZW Invasion". Obviously, they got more threatening as time went on but they started as two guys repeatedly kicked out of ROH events for harassing the wrestlers.
- On NXT there's the duo of Emma and Dana Brooke, Team Disingenuous. They spend a lot of time bullying and antagonising the various women on the roster, always eventually getting their asses kicked for it.
- The base rulebook for Werewolf: The Apocalypse contains an obscure quote, warning Game Masters not to fall into this trope:
Just remember this: Antagonists are probably the most common purveyors of conflict to appear in chronicles, and they can make or break a good plot. One common mistake is overusing antagonists or bringing them out from behind the curtain too soon in your chronicle. If, for example, you're going to have two or three major antagonists, don't let them tip their hands all at once. Keep some things secret. Likewise, don't make them too predictable. When you're describing the approaching Pentex First Team, the last thing you want is for the players to say, "Look, it's Delta Bob and his goon squad. Don't forget they're all carrying cans of pepper spray! Battery-powered fans at the ready, packmates!" You get the picture.
- The Prism organization in Bleak World they're to busy fighting each other to bother anyone else with their goal of assimilation.
- In Chrono Trigger, Ozzie, Flea, and Slash. Made even more apparent in a late-game sidequest during which you fight them again. For crying out loud, Ozzie gets taken out by a freaking cat. If that doesn't scream "unbelievable incompetence", then what does?
- Solt & Peppor in Chrono Cross are a combination of this and He Knows about Timed Hits.
- The last time you fight Solt & Peppor (which is optional), they actually get serious. Their Cross Slash attack can do enough damage to kill one of your party members, which you might not expect, and they'll deal out relatively strong magic damage. They still aren't immensely difficult, especially compared to other optional boss battles, but they're not the free win they used to be, either.
- The Mario RPGs love these. It's seemingly mandatory for them to feature at least one in every game:
- Croco the mobster wannabe from Super Mario RPG;
- "Master" Jr. Troopa from Paper Mario;
- Popple the Shadow Thief from Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga;
- Lord Crump from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. At first he appeared as The Dragon to Sir Grodus, but his continuous screw-ups cemented his position as the resident Goldfish Poop Gang.
- O'Chunks, Count Bleck's no-brains-all-brawn henchthug from Super Paper Mario.
- Midbus of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.
- Gilgamesh in Final Fantasy V is the first one in the series, and one of the most popular ones too. He is once again a Goldfish Poop Gang member in Final Fantasy IX, going most of the game as Alleyway Jack before revealing his true identity. He also reappears as a Bonus Boss in Final Fantasy XII, makes a cameo in Final Fantasy VIII if the player has acquired Odin (who is killed by Seifer and replaced by Gilgamesh), and was retroactively added to Final Fantasy VI in the Advance series as a hidden esper. He is a Bonus Boss again in Final Fantasy Advance: Dawn of Souls and a DLC boss in Final Fantasy XIII-2, but he's vastly more difficult in that game. He is the only character in the series that is implied to have been the same person from game to game, in effect becoming goldfish poop for the whole series.
- Ultros and Typhon in Final Fantasy VI.
- The Turks in Final Fantasy VII. (They were also Those Two Guys, even though the group technically had four members; Elena and Tseng didn't get nearly as much time in the limelight as Reno and Rude.)
- Biggs and Wedge in Final Fantasy VIII.
- Fujin and Raijin in Final Fantasy VIII though somewhat less.
- The Leblanc Syndicate in Final Fantasy X-2, though they become allies later on.
- Final Fantasy XI has the Chebukki siblings, who have a tendency to brown nose whoever is currently antagonizing you in the Chains of Promathia storyline. Including an omnicidal deity.
- For Final Fantasy XII Ba'Gamnan and his siblings fall under this trope, particularly later on in the narrative, but more or less it is averted almost all together. Likewise, much like other games set in Ivalice, the other villains never take up this role. In Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, however, Ba'Gamnan and his motley crew play this role perfectly. To the point that Ba'Gamnan's own siblings grow tired of his bumbling leadership and decided to ditch him, prompting the ruthless bangaa bounty hunter to beat some sense into them, literally, affer a kidnapping they staged went wrong.
- The Elements from Xenogears. Of the four of them, their leader Dominia is the only credible threat posed to the party. Seraphita is so dumb she sometimes forgets she's a bad guy, Tolone spends much of her time reminding Seraphita she's a bad guy, and Kelvena just doesn't really seem to care all that much.
- Benny & Clyde in River City Ransom.
- Dotty and Petty in Monster Rancher EVO most definitely fit this definition. You battle their weak monsters every so often, and they play this trope as straight as possible, often citing "Evil Villain Rules" that they live by.
- The Team Rocket trio (see above) actually apply to this trope in the video game sense in Pokémon Yellow, despite being somewhat more competent in said game (like they were in the show before Villain Decay set in).
- Cruelly deconstructed in the second Robopon game, where the "rival" is an impoverished orphanage owner who challenges you to win money "for the children!" and has an absolutely pathetic team that always has at least one Gear or Bulbot.
- The quite appropriately nicknamed Mid-Boss in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, as well as Axel/Akutare in the sequel (you fight each one at least four times during the course of their respective games).
- Interestingly enough, Mid-Boss and Axel are both voiced by Grant George in the English versions (but sound nothing alike).
- In Disgaea 3, the Vato brothers fit this trope to a tee, as well as being about as strong as the trope implies.
- The same Axel plays the same role in Disgaea 4, taken to an absurd degree in Chapter 6.
- The Hell Hounds in the first Galaxy Angel game, until...
- In somewhat of an example for Guitar Hero II (Xbox 360 version), Nirvana's Heart-Shaped Box is significantly more difficult than the songs around it on Easy mode. It gets ridiculously easier on Medium and Hard, and stays mostly the same on Expert.
- Liz and Ard from Wild ARMs 2, and the members of Cocytus, though to a lesser extent since they're all quite powerful and competent, not to mention that you fight none of them more than twice (Liz and Ard, however, are fought three times, almost always follow up a fight with them by throwing one of their robot bosses at you, and also accidentally set a very powerful optional boss on you late in the game).
- Not to mention Zed in the original Wild ARMs 1. The rest of the demons basically follow the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, but Zed just shows up to cause havoc independently.
- And let's not forget the Schrodinger family (Maya in particular) in Wild ARMs 3. They pose a moderate threat (though nothing TOO bad), but they're still gimmicky comic relief and they reappear enough times to be annoying.
- Subverted in Romancing SaGa; The Minions of the Big Bad are actually highly competent, and are the ones that are actually causing the Havoc in the world rather than the Big Bad since he is also the Sealed Evil in a Can.
- In Banjo-Tooie, Klungo gets three Boss Battles with our heroes. The first time, he's the Warmup Boss, and he doesn't get much more challenging after that, despite (randomly) switching strategies.
Banjo: Don't you ever learn?
Klungo: Klungo clever, learn lotsss. Hasss learnt new potion.
Kazooie: Is it as useless as all the others?
- The Dark Wings from Tales of the Abyss are a fairly unique example. Unlike most examples, you don't actually fight them, and they're actually fairly competent. Not to mention that you're technically on their side once Asch hires them. That doesn't stop them from being comic relief that fill the storyline role to a tee, though.
- Sheena from Tales of Symphonia is treated like this, until the inevitable Heel–Face Turn. Showing her playing hide-and-seek with kids and helping sick people certainly did nothing for her villain cred.
- Dio? and his lackeys in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters.
- Tales of Vesperia has Zagi, who appears threatening at first but, as the party levels, becomes less and less to the point that Yuri is legitimately exasperated at his final appearance near the end of the game. To a lesser extent are the beast tamers Karol seeks the approval of, though they aren't so much bad guys or rivals so much as looking to make sure Karol can handle being Nan's boyfriend.
- Cave Story has Balrog, who does a Heel–Face Turn after being defeated for the third or fourth time.
- Shogo: Mobile Armor Division features Samantha Sternberg, a hot-headed female who constantly appears out of nowhere, screaming that she'll kick the player's ass, only to be quickly dealt with with no trouble at all, yet somehow manages to survive every encounter. Near the end of the game, however, you have to face her on foot while she's in a Humongous Mecha.
- The Specter in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne.
- As well as the Terminal Guardian in Shin Megami Tensei IV.
- Street Urchin Sabu in Bangai-O. His profile in the instruction manual even states that he's addicted to the "Goldfish Game" salesman's waffles. Yeah.
- Camp Gay Bandiger in Thousand Arms.
- Ace Combat examples:
- In Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, the Yellow Squadron devolves into this in the final mission, since it had already been starting to take in rookies (with veteran members being transferred to augment other groups) even before the player shot down both Yellow Four and then their leader Yellow Thirteen; even though they're flying the same planes, for this mission instead of 150 points per Yellow shot down, you only get 90 points each.
- Strigon Team in Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation go from being elusive, deadly opponents in the first mission to being completely wiped out multiple times over in later missions.
- In Super Robot Wars D you had to fight five generals throughout the game and all five of their mechs in the final battle.
- Pete in Kingdom Hearts II fills this role perfectly, though he actually becomes a legitimate threat in the Paradox Cups thanks to the restrictions set upon you and his stats getting boosted to extremes.
- Korg and Zet show up several times in Magi Nation for the Gameboy. They tend to run around trying to ambush Tony, then fail miserably due to Korg being only slightly more intelligent than a box of rocks, and the otherwise-intelligent Zet being very meek and letting Korg call the shots.
- The Scorpion Army from Secret of Mana.
- Adecor and Boccos AKA Tweedle-A and Tweedle-B, fulfil this role in Tales of Vesperia with their persistent bumbling attempts at arresting the protagonist. Though they are mostly dealt with in cutscenes, player involvement is only required when the game needs a punching bag for a Forced Tutorial.
- That said, the final Tutorial fight with them, the Burst Arte tutorial, is annoyingly hard because it's two on one and they keep interrupting your attacks. Outside the storyline, you can also fight them in the arena (where they suck) and in the Bonus Dungeon (where they don't).
- Wheeler from Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia. While most of the members of Team Dim Sun, even the lower-level Mooks, like to throw down with relatively powerful (stolen and brainwashed) Pokemon like Rampardos and Magmortar, Wheeler is the sycophantic second-in-command to the Big Bad, and his Pokemon of choice is...Bidoof. And that's the only one he uses. Ever.
- Tony and Renee, A.K.A. the "Mook Squad" from Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis. Even Tony's (self-proclaimed) archenemy, Flay, doesn't take them seriously after a while. When they make a Big Damn Heroes moment to pull off an Enemy Mine (if they're actually considered real enemies), the party's reactions to their arrival are, hilariously:
"Not now...""We don't have time to play with you!"
- And in the sequel, Mana-Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy, a set of different colored Punis that come after the party during Puniyo's character quests. They very quickly become annoying, because they have to be dealt with at least once per quest.
- Subverted with the three Garlyle Forces female sergeants Nana, Saki and Mio in Grandia. You encounter and fight them repeatedly, but if anything they get more dangerous as the encounters go on, using a lot of new moves and fighting more as a team. They must have been leveling up and getting new kit just as busily as your party.
- Phantasy Star Universe has the Vol Brothers, one of the most grievously irritating examples of this trope. See this review for a more detailed rundown of their effects on some players.
- Big John from Viewtiful Joe 2. He constantly stalks Joe and Sylvia across several movies with a different disguise each time. Two of the other bosses actually take him out themselves.
- An even better example would be the Babylon Rogues from the Sonic Riders games, consisting of Jet, Wave, and Storm. They are never a threat to the heroes. They show up in nearly every race, though.
- The BB Bandits in Fossil Fighters—or at the very least, the main Terrible Trio, consisting of leader Vivian, obnoxious lackey Snivels, and Team Pet Rex. When they first appear, they might seem tough, but quickly prove to be little more than a recurring nuisance. Even when you invade their base! However, after you beat the game and after their Heel–Face Turn, they're upgraded to Bonus Boss status—and a hard Bonus Boss they are, too.
- The Tour Official, Sally Dobbs, in Backyard Skateboarding.
- Sly in Mystic Ark. He's actually something of a threat when you first meet him in the second world, but then after beating the Beetle King, the guy starts to get a little strange. Then he just doesn't show up until the final world of the game where he expects you to give a flying hoot when he shouts "My plan is too brilliant for a dumbass like y-o-u to understand!" though he's surprising pathetic for a boss that late into the game, but then again, the game decides to subject you to two more moderately hard boss fights after him. He also never really did explain what that brilliant plan was...perhaps he's supposed to be Darkness' right-hand man?
- Skies of Arcadia's Baltor the Black Bearded is an example of this. He is the first ship battle you have to fight against, and is relatively challenging when you come across him. However, the second time you fight him much later in the game, you have the most powerful airship built to date that has a cannon that you literally use to kill ancient gods of destruction, while he still has the same old sailing ship he used last time. Too bad Baltor can't let go of things...
- Super Robot Taisen OG2 has The Inspectors. They start off as a threat, sure, but by the end of the game, they've cemented their position here. Well, except for their TRUE leader...
- The Dread Lord of Contagion from Lusternia. Don't let the name fool you, he's about as dread as a paper bag. Persistent little bugger, though.
- In Breath of Fire III Ziggy is just a jerk you have to help a guy beat up to eventually gain access to a ship. But in Breath of Fire IV a similar Ziggy shows up who constantly challenges the party to fight him, and is not all that much of a threat what with low HP and, at his worst, can poison a member of your party.
- The Bandit Trio from Half-Minute Hero.
- Giacomo in Baten Kaitos Origins: Arrogant and headstrong, he goes from being a cruel Wake-Up Call Boss to one of these over the course of three fights. The last time he and Sagi fight, it's revealed The Empire threw him out for being one of these, and Sagi even admits to envying his perseverance. However, by the time Baten Kaitos rolls around, well...
- In Jay's Journey, Thinbeard and his dragon companion Azareth are constantly referred to as "Annoying recurring wannabe RPG villains".
- Persona 3 has Strega, a team of Flawed Prototype Persona users that often hound the heroes. While they are responsible for killing Shinjiro, one of the more important moments of the game, aside from that they are for the most part mere inconveniences for the player who generally don't put up much of a fight (though it certainly helps that you always outnumber them).
- Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard has Sting Sniperscope, a meathead with a dumb accent. He's also Matt's (surprise) would-be replacement as video game protagonist and his intended executioner. With help from a hacker, Matt kills Sniperscope (effectively derailing his game's intended plot) and heads off on a quest to find out why the game developer wants rid of him. Matt has to fight Sniperscope two more times throughout the game, because he has three lives. Matt and Sting get more and more annoyed with each other every time they fight.
- Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 4 introduces the Fish Force, a blatant Expy of Team Rocket, who even have their own theme song! They show up several times to menace the heroes, despite having no connection to the greater plot, and while they can be challenging to an underleveled party, represent no real threat. If you fight them enough times, at the end of the game they become your allies.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV's Terminal Guardian is a one-man poop gang. Every terminal you find is guarded by one man, wearing a different disguise and throwing different demons at you each time you find a terminal.
- The Beastector in Mischief Makers, a trio of animal-men who have giant robots and goofy voices. They constantly hound Marina and bicker among themselves, and are actually challenging bosses, but in the grand scheme of the plot, they serve little purpose. They do end up as the final boss; after the real plot is over of course.
- Star Trek Online: Ja'rod, son of Torg, captain of the IKS Kang, for the Starfleet player character. He tries to take them out several times during the "Klingon War" arc and ends up with Starfleet PC leaving the Kang dead in space every time. To add insult to injury, the PC then reveals Ja'rod's mentor Ambassador B'Vat was a nutcase trying to send the Klingons and Federation into a Forever War, and poor Ja'rod ends up on tribble extermination duty and the Kang gets disabled by the PC again.
- Dondera Tank from Holy Umbrella is an unusual example in that your first encounter with him is a Hopeless Boss Fight. He still returns repeatedly after being defeated, each time with a new body and the same old bluster. In his fourth appearance, he gets taken out by another character before the player can fight him. The fifth time around, he desperately tries to prove he's still relevant by singing a Villain Song and breaking the fourth wall when Dondera complains about it.
- Spider-Man 2 has Mysterio. Dude's got a million robots that are actually threatening... but he himself is not. Aside from being a walking cliché by pretending to be an alien invader and hiding out in a Funhouse of Doom (hidden within an apartment), he's probably the easiest "boss fight" in video game history.
- Superman 64 has Brainiac who, despite being one of Superman's most formidable foes normally, is about as easy to defeat as Mysterio above, as he literally has no AI programmed and will just stand there throughout the entire battle.
- EXALT from XCOM: Enemy Unknown's expansion Enemy Within. Exalt is a paramilitary organization opposing your team and committing acts of sabotage around the globe. When you first meet them, they are using ballistic weapons and no gene mods, while wearing business suits, while your team probably fields laser weapons, if not plasma. A while later, elite EXALT agents appear, fielding one gene mod each, and a pretty low powered one at that, laser weapons, and wearing body armor show up. XCOM soldiers definitely have access to plasma weapons, Power Armor, and possibly Psychic Powers by then. EXALT doesn't progress further than that.note
- Mortal Kombat 9 has several fighters in the Story Mode, who are generally portrayed as ineffectual hangers-on to the big bad. Baraka has this lampshaded by Cyrax.
- Sir Ronvid of the Small Marsh in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a knight who challenges Geralt to a duel multiple times to defend the honor of his love Maid Bilberry. Ronvid is comically incompetent at combat and Geralt gets more annoyed with every challenge.
- Kid Radd features two examples: Gnarl, Radd's "Evil Twin", and Kobayashi, a Ninja. Both subvert the trope by executing dime-perfect Heel Face Turns, and Kobayashi learns how to fight effectively.
- Plus they gain the ability to fuse instantaneously into one being for more powerful attacks. And then they can unfuse to avoid attacks.
- The Linear Guild in The Order of the Stick, who are well aware of their status.
- Though it turns out that they're really the unwitting (apart from Sabine) agents of the Three Fiends, recently introduced but highly competent major villains. The Guild can actually be pretty dangerous on their own, too- it's just that their victories never last long, due to their leader Nale's attempts at being Troperiffic always giving him a giant Villain Ball.
- As of strip #913 however, every member of the Guild is either dead or MIA, with the sole exception of Sabine, making this Goldfish Poop Gang pretty much dead in the water.
- Of course, Adventurers!! made fun of this too.
- The gnomish monks of WTF Comics start out as a bit of a threat and get less effective every time they are encountered. The first time they were encountered they were a surprise to even Straha.
- For a while in Sluggy Freelance, after Torg escaped from the Dimension of Pain demons, one of them would show up every Halloween to try and kill him and take his soul back to their dimension for eternal torment. The Main Characters never took these attempts seriously; they actually started charging people admission each Halloween to watch the demon try and kill Torg. However, during the "That Which Redeems" Story Arc, the demons get a major dose of Not So Harmless Villainyness.
- In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, it's implied that the Daltonian Hyper-Oceanic Piratical Extortion Squad will become this, and given that its members include Ultros, Chopon, Gilgamesh, Berty, Bart, the Scorpion Army, and, of course, Dalton himself, it's quite appropriate.
- Professor Lupin Madblood of Narbonic. Lupin tries to be the Big Bad, but ends up being easily defeated no matter what he tries. One time, he lost when a gerbil convinced his army of robots to unionize.
- Stunt and Bumper, the two thieves from Dominic Deegan, play this role in the early years of the comic, before their respective Heel Face Turns.
- The ninja team from the Yama Dojo, in the Whateley Universe. Team Kimba thrash them before the team is really a team. They come back on Parents' Day (it's a Superhero School) and get pummeled so easily that Chaka has time to steal ninja weapons for some of the little brothers along with the visiting parents.
- In Xiaolin Showdown, Jack Spicer starts out as an actual threat, but quickly undergoes Villain Decay that turns him into a one-man Goldfish Poop Gang, to the point where the Xiaolin Warriors start beating him up for sport and he's left with only a single Shen Gong Wu by the end of the series.
- However, in the Grand Finale, we are introduced to an alternate Bad Future where Omi was not present, and Jack has taken the mother of all levels in Badass and has successfully taken over the world, and has Wuya, Chase Young and Hannibal Roy Bean as his prisoners. Also at the beginning of that same season, his good side had been split from him and he was proving himself to be quite formidabble.
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Scratch and Grounder, the Sonic Super Special Search and Smash Squad. They don't even have half a brain between them. More like a quarter.
- Scratch and Grounder themselves have Goldfish Poop in the form of Coconuts. They're all technically on the same side but rarely work together to capture Sonic, the former two being goal-oriented and the latter much more egotistic. Despite actually having half a brain over Scratch and Grounder, Coconuts is usually tasked with degrading housework (although he does tend to fail his solo capture attempts).
- The Mutant leaders on ThunderCats (1985) deteriorated into this over the course of the series, near the end unable to muster even a tiny iota of competence. At times, they even made mistakes they were even specifically warned against. (For instance, in one episode, Vultureman builds a thundrainium-powered cannon - thundrainium being a Weaksauce Weakness to Thundarians - but warns them that it won't work if fired at close range. This is exactly the miatake Sslith and Jackalman make when using it.) This is in stark contrast to Big Bad Mumm-Ra, who remained a major threat.
- The Trix become this in the third season of Winx Club. While they were formidable foes in the first two seasons, they are horribly outclassed by the fairies' new Enchantix forms, to the point where any one of the fairies is often enough to take down all three witches.
- Hack and Slash from ReBoot, who consistently fail to execute Megabyte's plans.
- The Box Ghost of Danny Phantom. But with a name like that, would you really expect otherwise?
- However, we see a possible alternate future in which he's taken enough levels of Badass to be considered epic.
- Bebop and Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Because regardless of species, common thugs/henchmen are no match for trained ninjas.
- All the 1987 villains were delegated to this status during the Turtles Forever movie, mainly because they were stupid enough to release Ch'rell from his cosmic prison.
- Sgt Blob, Frizz and Nug are this in The Dreamstone, blundering mooks for Zordrak, who constantly fall against the heroes in their attempts to steal their MacGuffin, and even described by the latter as "tiresome".
- The Amoeba Boys from The Powerpuff Girls. Their attempts at villainy are truly pathetic, although they manage to do something by accident that requires the girls' assistance to rectify.
- Ben 10: the Circus Trio Freak, could be considered this, though they never really were a threat to begin with; most of the time, the only thing that makes them dangerous in the episode they show up in is the boss they are working for (successively Zombozo, Ghostfreak and Forever King Discroll). Most of the time, however, Ben kicks their ass pretty easily, to the point it's borderline humiliation for them.
- Fung and his croc bandits in Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Let's just say there's a good reason his Catch-Phrase is "Darn it!"
- The Dirt Dudes from Mr. Bogus fall into this territory Depending on the Writer.
- The Dark Hand in Jackie Chan Adventures. Doesn't help that their formerly badass boss got canonically retconned later on. The Shadowkhan at times as well, though their effectiveness appears to depend on how close the mask holder is.
- League of Super Evil is what happens when one makes a show about this trope.