Greater Scope Villain

aka: Bigger Bad
Taran: Another of Arawn's servants?
Gwydion: Gwyn owes allegiance to a lord unknown even to me, and one perhaps greater than Arawn.

There is the Big Bad, a character directly responsible for the plot even while sending out various minions and lieutenants to make the hero's life busy. But what about a greater enemy that is indirectly responsible for the plot? That's where this trope comes in.

A Greater Scope Villain is a threat that's more dangerous, affects more people, or a villainous presence that is more significant than the story's current Big Bad in the setting as a whole, but isn't causing the conflict of the immediate story (and may have little to do with it at all). While the Big Bad is directly responsible for the current story — the Big Bad is the villain or situation that the protagonists are attempting to defeat or overcome — a Greater Scope Villain isn't a major force in the plot. They are just responsible for anything evil or fueling at least a part of the fictional setting (how much of it depends on the scale of the Greater Scope Villain's influence) in which the story takes place. A Greater Scope Villain may be the Big Bad's superior, but just as often they're completely unrelated — indeed, a Greater Scope Villain may threaten the Big Bad just as much as they threaten the protagonists. Whatever the relationship between the Big Bad and Greater Scope Villain, the Greater Scope Villain is always Out of Focus — the threat they pose is general and in the background, while the threat posed by the Big Bad is specific and immediate.

This is not a subtrope of Big Bad. A Greater Scope Villain is a more threatening force of evil in the setting and overshadows it, but due to various factors, it is disconnected on a personal level from the main plot, which is caused by the Big Bad. There are different ways this may manifest, for example:

If the Big Bad tries to harness the Greater Scope Villain for their own gain, they'll likely learn the painful (sometimes fatal) lesson that Evil Is Not a Toy.

A Greater Scope Villain doesn't always have to remain a Greater Scope Villain. Hinting towards a greater enemy is a common method of foreshadowing who the next big bad is going to be, the current Big Bad is defeated and the Sorting Algorithm of Evil kicks in to provide a bigger threat for the heroes to face. Alternatively, the Greater Scope Villain could show up and try to ruin everyone's day, becoming the new Big Bad and possibly forcing an Enemy Mine situation between the heroes and the previous villain. Inversely, a Big Bad can be Kicked Upstairs to become a Greater Scope Villain.

There can also be more than one Greater Scope Villain — either multiple Greater Scope Villains working together (a la Big Bad Duumvirate), multiple Greater Scope Villains each with their own agenda (a la Big Bad Ensemble), or in multiple layers of Greater Scope Villains, each bigger than the last (eg, the Big Bad threatens a city, the first Greater Scope Villain threatens the country, and an Even Greater Scope Villain threatens the whole world).

In a general sense this should also not be considered the same as The Man Behind the Man, because if they are behind the plot they would be a Big Bad. However, The Man Behind the Man and Greater Scope Villain can overlap if The Man Behind the Man remains distant enough from the story. The Greater Scope Villain must not give orders to the Big Bad, but they can corrupt the Big Bad to make the Big Bad work for them. They allow the Big Bad to do their own thing and don't interfere unless it's in their interests to do so. A Greater Scope Villain is a frequent Conflict Killer.

Compare Villainous Legacy, where a villain serves this type of role long after their defeat and/or death. May also overlap with Predecessor Villain, if the predecessor was significantly worse than the current Big Bad and still exists in some form.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Frieza is this to Vegeta during the Saiyan arc before becoming the Big Bad himself in the Namek/Frieza arcs. Same for his father King Cold, before showing up himself at the beginning of the Androids arc. Despite never coming into contact with the protagonists until much later in the story, his transformation of the Saiyan race into genocidal killers-for-hire and his decision to ultimately destroy their planet, Vegeta, ultimately sets the entire Dragon Ball series into motion. Even after his demise, his influence is still felt. The Super Saiyans exist directly because of him, he lives on in a sense in Cell (who takes on most of his personality traits), he is the reason why the Namekian Dragon Balls can now revive several people at once (use to be one per wish), and his defeat leads Beerus to Earth seeking a Super Saiyan God.
    • While having been dead long before Goku and his friends were born, Bibidi is indirectly responsible for the Majin Buu saga. He unleashed Majin Buu on the universe, including the Kais, and after his death, Babidi came to Earth to unleash the pink monstrosity on its people.
    • Near the end of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Lord Beerus states that there are eleven other universes out there, and that each one has their own God Of Destruction, and each of them has their own attendant like Whis. The English dub hints that some of them may be even more powerful than Beerus and Whis themselves.
  • Death Note:
    • Ryuk is the Greater Scope Villain to Light, since he's responsible for all of the events while Light simply uses the weapon Ryuk gave him, and eventually kills Light.
    • Overshadowing Ryuk is The Shinigami King. Although never seen in person, he casts a shadow over the entire world of Death Note, having created the MacGuffins in the first place. Indeed, he was the one who gave Ryuk another notebook that allowed him to kick off the entire story to begin with.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: The evil Lord Nightmare
  • Naruto:
    • The Ten-Tailed Beast, the original tailed beast, of whom the other nine are pieces of its chakra divided. Big Bad Tobi wants to reform the Ten-Tails and become its Jinchuriki, so he can enslave everyone with his Mangyeko Sharingan.
    • The Akatsuki were the Greater Scope Villains for Part I. We're told that they're out there, and that Sasuke's brother, Itachi Uchiha, is a member, and that current Big Bad, Orochimaru, is motivated in part by fear of them. Two of their agents (Kisame Hoshigaki and the aforementioned Itachi) put in a brief importance and inflict horrible damage on the town, but then they pass right back out of the story, and Orochimaru becomes the focus again. In Part 2, the Akatsuki take center stage, and their leader becomes the series' new Big Bad.
    • The series' final arc revealed that the greatest Greater Scope Villain of all is Kaguya Ōtsutsuki, the first Chakra user, the true identity of the Ten-Tailed Beast, and a Physical Goddess allegedly more powerful than any other enemy fought so far. Black Zetsu, who is revealed to have been responsible for setting in motion the entirety of history since the Ten-Tails' defeat all for the sake of reviving Kaguya, is a manifestation of her will. She is essentially responsible for the entire series, and beyond, with Black Zetsu manipulating EVERYONE to set in motion the Infinite Tsukuyomi.
  • The Overdevil in Overman King Gainer.
  • Chaos in Sailor Moon, with all the Big Bads of each arc revealed to be incarnations of it.
  • Lord Tamamo in Ga-Rei, master of the original Kyuubi and Mitogawa's superior.
  • The Emperor of Darkness from Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger fits the bill. The Humongous Mecha previous Big Bad Dr. Hell found were ancient — and severely outdated — weapons of his army. During the first series, he did not directly interfere with the plot, and he remained in his underground empire, watching the war between Kouji Kabuto and Dr. Hell as one of his underlings schemed to bring both of them down. After causing the end of Dr. Hell's army and Mazinger-Z, he became Big Bad of the next series. And again, together with the rest of the Mycean Empire in Shin Mazinger.
  • In Outlaw Star, the Big Bad is a Kei Pirate named Hazanko who seeks to overthrow the Tendo King, an unseen Greater Scope Villain. But there is an even greater villain above the Tendo King called the Tenpa Emperor, who is only mentioned once. The identity, powers, and position of these characters is never explained, but the fact that Hazanko had to use the Leyline in order to become a Physical God to beat them means they're terrifyingly strong.
  • In Berserk, that would be The Idea Of Evil. Invented by humans to explain their suffering, it keeps the world a miserable place, enabling characters like Griffith and the rest of the Godhand to run rampant over humanity. It has no actual will though, and cannot enact any plans of its own, leaving Griffith et al. to actually drive the plot.
  • Kardis, the goddess of destruction in Record of Lodoss War.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Zeref the Black Mage. It's been 400 years since his death, and people are still fighting against demons and other evil artifacts he made back then. And it turns out he's still alive, but dormant...expect not and intends to wage war on humanity. At this point in the series, he finally takes up the role of the overall Big Bad.
    • It also turns out that Hades, master of the Grimoire Heart dark guild, is behind half the events before the Time Skip, with his servant, Ultear, manipulating Arc Villains Lyon and Jellal, and Brain forming the Oración Seis dark guild while being a mentor to Jellal. However, Hades doesn't become a Big Bad until the Sirius Island arc, only to be a Disc One Final Boss to Zeref.
    • It's later revealed, after Zeref is found on Sirius Island and becomes a Big Bad, that there's a being that even he fears, Acnologia: The Black Dragon of the Apocalypse.
    • For the Tataros arc, Mard Geer is serving as the Arc Villain / Dragon-in-Chief to Master E.N.D.'s Greater Scope Villain, since the later is currently sealed away and the former seeks to free him.
  • Digimon
    • Apocalymon in Digimon Adventure. His existence created the Dark Masters, who in turn were responsible for almost everything the children endured in the Digital World.
    • Millenniumon and Myotismon in Digimon Adventure 02. Milleniumon infected Ken with the original dark seed that led to his corruption. Myotismon was responsible for everything else, even the villains who used Ken were unaware they were helping him revive himself.
    • The D-Reaper in Digimon Tamers is responsible for Calumon coming to real world, Zhuqiaomon's Devas attacking the humans and all of the chaos the Digital World suffers, yet the kids don't know of its existence nor does it harm the human world until the final third of the series.
    • Digimon Frontier: Until they defeated Cherubimon, the kids thought Lucemon was already gone. But they soon find he corrupted Cherubimon into unintentionally giving him the strength to return.
  • Pokémon
    • Team Rocket (the organization) was this in Mewtwo Strikes Back as they were the ones that commissioned the creation of Mewtwo.
    • Madame Boss is this to Giovanni, as she was his mother and the head of Team Rocket before him. Giovanni himself is this in the anime, since getting on his good side is the main reason the Team Rocket trio constantly try capturing Pokemon, namely Pikachu. In fact, he barely pays any attention to them and is only involved during major situations. In fact, at the time of this writing, he's only battled against Ash once and won.
    • Team Magma was this to Butler in Pokémon: Jirachi: Wishmaker, as he used to work for them and tried to create a Groudon for Team Magma using a machine utilizing a piece from the Pokémon, but failed and was admonished for it, making him want to seek out Jirachi and use its power to bring forth Groudon that way.
    • Team Plasma is this in Pokémon: Genesect and the Legend Awakened , as they were the ones responsible for the creation of the Genesect Army.
    • Primal Dialga was portrayed as one in the anime adaptation of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time-Darkness-Sky. Granted, as he wasn't even the villain of the game.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, Team Rocket is this for the events of the Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum chapters, as the Rocket Generals managed to capture Arceus during the HeartGold and SoulSilver chapter and use its power to create Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina, which after the events of the chapter were sought out by Team Galactic for their own goals.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, we have the Big Bad Takano Miyo, but Tokyo just used her and her goals to further their own plans.
  • In Code Geass R1, Cornelia is the one making decisions about how Britannians in Area 11 will deal with Japanese rebels, while The Emperor of Britannia is far away and sets national policies but gives his children some free rein (within certain boundaries) in how they govern their territories. (This leeway is to see which child can achieve results and prove their worthiness to succeed him.) There are only two scenes in the entire R1 series in which The Emperor has more than a cameo-like appearance — one of them is a speech he gave, and the other is a Back Story flashback.
  • The main antagonist of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the ever-adorable Kyubey, plays a role like this in the spin-off Puella Magi Oriko Magica. In another spin-off, Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, he decides to emulate Ganon.
  • In a similar function to Sailor Moon's Chaos, Black Hole of Pretty Cure All Stars DX 3 was this for not only the separate villains, but for those who showed up in even the team up movies. It only applied for the All-Stars movie series.
  • Jesei is spoken of in the third to last episode of Inukami!, and only after that does he affect the plot directly. The rest of the time, he was just an observer and instigator of an unknown part of another character's backstory.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The first series and the manga have Zorc Necrophades, the demonic being originally defeated by the Pharaoh. He's both Made of Evil and The Corruption, and was born of slaughter and genocide. Dark Bakura is trying to release him, and at the very end of the final arc, Zorc finally takes center stage as a Big Bad in his own right.
    • The manga only spin-off Yu-Gi-Oh! R has two:
      • Though he never appears, Dark Bakura is technically this due to killing Pegasus in the Duelist Kingdom arc, which fuels the motivation of the Big Bad of the spin-off, Yako Tenma, to resurrect Pegasus, since Yako was his adopted son.
      • At the same time, however, Yako was corrupted by the Wicked Avatar, a card that was meant as an Evil Counterpart to all three Egyptian God Cards, but Pegasus never published the Wicked Avatar. Yako published it after Pegasus' death and it corrupted him, and the corruption drives Yako to resurrect Pegasus and get revenge for his death.
    • The Light of Ruin in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Season 2's Big Bad was serving it, and the third season's Big Bad turned to evil because of it.
    • The King of the Underworld in the Dark Signers arc of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, being the force behind the Earthbound Gods and the reason that the Dark Signers can make a Deal with the Devil and return Back from the Dead. This one may not qualify, though, as there's no indication it's even sentient and it, along with its Good Counterpart the Crimson Dragon, is being played like a violin by the straight Big Bad, Rex Godwin.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL has an evil deity called Don Thousand, the true ruler of the Barian World.
  • The Zabi family and Gihren Zabi in particular become this in the various sidestories set during Mobile Suit Gundam's One Year War. Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket and The Plot to Assassinate Gihren are all examples of this.
  • Blue Cosmos leader Muruta Azrael, and his successor, Lord Djibril, take on this role in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny's sidestory, CE 73: Stargazer. As the heads of Blue Cosmos, and the powers behind the Atlantic Federation, all of Sven Cal Bayan's actions can be traced to them, as can the Earth Forces' eventual assault on the Stargazer satellite. Despite this Azrael makes only two, non-speaking, appearances, and Djibril, while mentioned, is never seen.
  • Except for Part 2, which deals with the creators of the stone mask that gave Dio his powers, Dio Brando is this for JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, affecting the plot whenever he doesn't take up the Big Bad role directly, especially in Part 6.
  • The Celestial Serpents or World Nobles from One Piece are the ones who hold the reigns of the military, using them as playthings and sentencing innocents to death to cover up the world's lost age, while also gleefully owning and abusing slaves of every race and doing literally everything they condemn because they're above the law. Currently Sakazuki/Akainu and Teach/Blackbeard are fighting for the position of Big Bad, but the World Nobles are always in the shadows telling Akainu what to do.
  • In Guilty Crown, GHQ is secretly being assist by Da'ath. An ancient organization exist since human evolution and is responsible of the Apocalypse Virus' creation for their Adam and Eve Plot.
  • Sword Art Online's first Big Bad, Kayaba Akihito, is the source for the next two Big Bads, as his game helped influence them in some say. One of them is his rival who used his game as a template for his own and the other was a survivor of Akihito's game who wasn't quite done with his fun. He also invented a lot of technology associated with virtual reality, or at least had a hand in them, and made the first VRMMORPG, so almost everything the later arcs make plot points out of, from World Seeds to Medicuboids, can be tied back to him.
  • The Greater Scope Villain of Kill la Kill eventually turns out to be the Original Life Fiber, the source of all life fibers, who manipulated the evolution of mankind since its arrival on Earth and eventually seeks to assimilate all humans and consume and destroy the planet to launch its spawn into space to reproduce Lavos-style. Big Bad and The Man Behind the Man Ragyo Kiryuin is merely a servant to the Original Life Fiber.
  • In Arpeggio of Blue Steel the Fleet of Fog claim to answer to a mysterious Admiralty Code, though what it actually is remains unclear and it has not appeared onscreen.
  • The Demon King in The Seven Deadly Sins is the master to Fraudrin, Meliodas's brothers, and all the other Commandments, but has yet to get out of his can.
  • The Anti-Spiral in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Its existence wasn't brought up until Lordgenome the Spiral King gave a vague warning of its coming. Its war on all Spiral lifeforms led to humans being forced into the underground. Assuming it has any sentience and not just an event, the Spiral Nemesis is the bigger threat, as its capability to destroy the universe is why the Anti-Spiral turned against all life in the first place.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • The "Here Comes Tomorrow" story arc of Grant Morrison's New X-Men gave us the original character John Sublime, who was introduced with the strong suggestion that he may be the greatest overarching threat permeating the X-mythos. A sentient colony of bacteria almost as old as the Earth itself, Sublime was revealed to have orchestrated many major events in the X-Men's past, including the creation of the Weapon X program, all in a bid to wipe the mutant race from the Earth (as they are the only species immune to his mind control). It's implied that he may have even manipulated humanity to create the very idea of anti-mutant prejudice in the first place, thus making him the one villain who has managed to consistently keep the heat up on the X-Men since Day 1.
    • Apocalypse is this in Uncanny X-Force. He himself is killed effortlessly in the very first arc as a result of rejuvenating himself into a helpless child body, but almost every subsequent villain is working to either recreate him or find a successor for him. The arc even carried over into Remender's new book, Uncanny Avengers.
    • Due to the chaotic nature of creative teams on the books at the time, the comics of the '90s featured a lot of these, with a writer introducing a mysterious mastermind character of some sort, then abruptly leaving or being kicked off the book shortly afterward, with the next creative team deciding not to follow up on the plotlines of the previous and aborting the entire arc. Typically these characters are never so much as mentioned again, although Peter David got to revisit one he created, the Isolationist/Armageddon, nearly twenty years after the fact.
  • The Ogdru Jahad tend to be behind most villains in Hellboy stories.
  • The Marvel Universe has the cosmic beings Death and Oblivion, who are incredibly powerful and exactly what they sound like. They tend to empower mortals to achieve their goals for them; Thanos and Maelstrom, respectively, are their favorite "heralds," each of whom is a universe-threatening Big Bad in his own right. The two cosmic beings have each been around for (in our time) decades, and have been directly battled only a handful of times.
  • Transformers Generation 2 has the Liege Maximo, founder of Jhiaxus's Decepticons (and, possibly, all Decepticons). Later, Unicron, Eldritch Abomination and Satan-figure, to the franchise as a whole.
  • The Lord of the Locusts in Bone
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: One could make an argument that Mammoth Mogul is this. Thousands of years ago, he founded the Order of Ixis, which eventually led to the creation of Ixis Naugus, whose actions, which may include starting the Great War, in turn led to Dr. Robotnik's rise to power, who's death ultimately led to nearly every villain in the book today, with Naugus responsible for the ones that aren't Mogul. Naugus and Robotnik are still quite active (and are, in fact, the current top two villains of the series), whereas Mogul has semi-retired from active villainy, running a casino and deciding to use his immortality to outlive the heroes and make his move then.note 
  • Locke & Key: the Big Bad is Dodge; the Greater Scope Villains are the Eldritch Abominations behind the Black Door that he wants to release.
  • As revealed during Fear Itself, the Marvel Universe's real Satan. The other demon lords hold meetings around his throne sometimes, but it's stated that all of them, including, apparently, cosmically-powered ones like Shuma-Gorath and the aforementioned Dormammu, are terrified of even trying to sit on it. He's been gone from this plane of existence so long that even among the demons themselves it's a common belief that he doesn't actually exist.
  • Green Lantern baddie Krona may well be the Greater Scope Villain responsible for almost everything wrong with The DCU. While he's not the most powerful villain in the setting (though he's close; in a crossover with the Marvel Universe he curbstomped Galactus), he's the man behind Parallax, the Manhunters, and, indirectly, the Anti-Monitor, as his experiment was the thing that fractured the original Monitor probe in two. In turn, he thus unintentionally caused virtually every Crisis Crossover the DC heroes have ever faced. In his early appearances, it was actually stated that his experiment created evil itself, though this has since fallen by the wayside and may be Canon Discontinuity.
  • The trope can easily become a problem when a bunch of writers work in a shared universe, especially one where the characters are in speaking distance of each other. For example, Marvel kept doing multibook crossovers over the course of the two years Lucifer was, or at least six hundred and sixteen fragments of him were, running wild and free on Earth. With the possible exception of Annihilation, nothing that inspired the crossover events was a bad a problem as this but Ghost Rider was the only one who seemed to care about it.
  • Batman: In Grant Morrison's Batman, Dr. Hurt is the main Big Bad, but is revealed to have a Greater Scope Villain controlling him, who he thinks is the demon Barbatos, but is actually a weapon Darkseid sent back to the dawn of man when Batman was hit by the Omega Effect in Final Crisis.
  • The early Conan the Barbarian comics from Marvel often had the royal family from the Kingdom of Turan as this trope.
  • The Transformers IDW:
    • Shockwave. While Megatron or Scorponok or any other Decepticon are always front and center as the Big Bad, Shockwave has always worked behind the scenes with his regenesis project, which is a number of energies which bond to planets and create different Ore. This kicks off the earth conflict, which he is absent for, as the empowering Ore is there and everyone is fighting over it. It kicks off Spotlight Kup, which he is also absent for, because it drives Kup crazy. It is the reason behind the Syndromica arc, which he has very little to do with. In addition his projects have been behind the destruction of numerous civilizations, which he was also absent for because the Dynobots got to him before he could stabilize them. As of Transformers Dark Cybertron he has subverted the Trope, and stepped up as the major threat, requiring all the Transformers to unite against him.
    • The Dead Universe and alternate universe that seeks to consume the one present and mind controls anyone it can reach, even controlling the Decepticons to do its bidding. Later we learn that Shockwave is responsible for its existence.
  • Senator Roark and Mob Boss Wallenquist in Sin City. The former is an immensely powerful and unashamedly Corrupt Politician who can get away with anything while the latter is an immensely powerful crime lord controlling most of the organized crime in the city. While both men are responsible for the greatest evils in Basin City and perpetuate the Crapsack World itself, neither would really qualify as the main villain in any of the stories. Their organizations and influence are so vast that they're usually concerned with larger matters than direct confrontation with the (Anti-)heroes.
  • In Spider-Verse Solus is the Greater Scope Villain. He is father to Morlun and all the other Inheritors, but doesn't take part in the Great Hunt for totemic beings himself. He also turns out to be a cosmic-scale threat capable of going toe-to-toe with the Spider-Man of Earth-13, a reality where he kept his Captain Universe powers.
  • Darkseid, in the New 52, the first villain the Justice League faced, has been conquering the multiverse, and is responsible for the invasion and subsequent destruction of Earth-2.
  • The Anti-Monitor, even more dangerous being with second to no one (except, maybe, Marvel's the Beyonders) awesome Crisis Greater Scope Villain background, who made the Crime Syndicate to escape their world (Earth-3) and destroyed it. He is going to kill Darkseid and is in league with his daughter.
  • Brainiac, easily number #3 on this list for DC, his true form as giant artificial entity, capturing cities from different timelines and universes before their destruction. Vril Dox Brainiac guy is just one of his pawns. Brainiac serves as Greater Scope Villain in Convergence, as the reason for why Telos is doing what it's doing. Telos even refers to him as "the master", as he is in charge of every other Brainiac.
  • Empty Hand, sinister entity that led the Gentry to the invasion of the DC Multiverse. Currently, just decided to wait. Probably qualifies as THE Greatest Scope Villain in DC.
  • In Violine, Muller and Marushka are the main villains in the plot, driving much of the backstory as well as Violine's adventures, especially Muller who actively hunts her and her father down.

    Fan Works 
  • Carmen in Hottie 4: Even Better Sequel, who was also the Big Bad in Hottie and the last chapters of Hottie 3: The Best Fan Fic in the World.
  • Princess Jody in Supetastic 6: Year Four.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • Discord in the second and third parts, while he was the Big Bad proper in the first part. While Loneliness and then Princess Gaia/Nightmare Whisper are the Big Bads for the second and third parts, Discord's actions in the first part (and the actual show) are the reason one, possibly both, of them even exists at all and everything in the entire fic can be traced back to Discord, even though he's been Sealed Evil in a Can the entire time. He is set free and becomes the Big Bad for the final arc.
    • Discord's father Havoc fits for the series as a whole. After all, he created Discord in the first place, plus he's more or less directly responsible for Discord's original reign over Equestria, as he fed Discord his own brother and Havoc's avatar in order to increase his power, then sent him to Equestria. Though that was actually his Avatar, which had gone Drunk on the Dark Side to the point it was considered insane even by Draconequus standards.
    • Nightmare Paradox, Twilight's potential Nightmare self is this for the Dark World. At first, it looks like she and Discord are in an Evil Versus Evil Big Bad Ensemble. However, after Discord's death, it turns out that she's been forcing Discord to live out a "Groundhog Day" Loop. So by this point, Discord's only still an Evil Overlord because she's forcing him to.
    • Subverted in the Shining Armor Arc. Father Deer is set up as the supreme leader of the Hooviet Empire, above even General-Admiral Makarov, but not only is Makarov revealed to be playing his superiors, but it turns out Father Deer doesn't really exist.
  • New Dawn revealed the real villain of the first book was not the cat's paw Nebiros, but rather the insidious New Order, at first seemingly spearheaded by Chris, but in reality controlled by an even Greater Scope Villain: Sharon Tate Roman. And to add to the intrigue, it is unknown if Nebiros or Chris even knew she existed.
  • Satan is this in The Prayer Warriors, since he is said to have created the false gods and had a hand in the rise of communism in Russia, but hardly ever appears.
  • The Avatar in Perfection Is Overrated, having created the SUEs and the Usurper as a means of testing whether a Mary Sue could compete with a canon character on equal terms, is this.
  • Queen Chrysalis in The Nuptialverse, as everything wrong in-universe is more or less related to the emotional fallout caused by her invasion in "A Canterlot Wedding", from the strain on Twilight's friendships to fuel for Olive Branch's anti-Celestia tirade. Not to mention she's still at large while everypony else deals with their own problems. That said, Discord is an even Greater Scope Villain, seeing how he made Chrysalis what she is in the first place.
  • Chrysalis plays a similar role in Cadence In A Minor. She never actually appears in person, but raping a brainwashed Shining Armor while taking the place of his bride is the root cause of most of the fic's conflict.
  • Discord again in Secrets and Lies. Twilight's fear that he is attempting to escape once more, and that he provoked her into killing another pony in order to weaken the Elements of Harmony, kick off the events of the story, and Topsy Turvy, said other pony, in fact planned it in order to sow enough chaos to release him.
  • Moriarty was there was an essay published by Doyle's Fandom trying to upgrade Moriarty from Break Out Villain to true Big Bad status for the Sherlock Holmes book series by doing a Revision about Holmes cases and arguing that Moriarty was there as a Greater Scope Villain for various BigBads cases: after all, canon has established him as a Diabolical Mastermind, with vast criminal resources that can be exploited by minor criminals by a fee. For example, the essay proposes that the criminal of the very first novel, A Study in Scarlet, after losing his Memento MacGuffin and recognizing he is Lured Into a Trap by whoever put the ad in the paper to recover it (Holmes), then consulted Moriarty, who commissioned a Master of Disguise to pose as an elderly woman to get it (it worked!).
  • Metal Sonic in Mario and Sonic: Heroes Unite!. His power is claimed in the description to be "bigger than Eggman and Bowser's powers combined".
  • Justice League of Equestria would appear to have Darkseid for the series as a whole, judging by Athena's comments about the War in Heaven against his forces. Mare of Steel ends with him opening a boomtube to Equestria, setting him up to be the Big Bad of the main Justice League of Equestria story.
  • The Cadanceverse has Nemesis, the entity/force that corrupted Celestia and Luna, and is still free and on the loose even after they're purified by the Elements of Harmony.
  • In The Lion King Adventures, the Ultimate Evil of the entire series is the Writer, an Author Avatar of ThatPersonYouMightKnow's dark side. He created the entire universe and all the characters in it, as a means of having his own world in which to create chaos and destruction.
  • In Lanterns Of Equestria Blackest Night, the Black is the true villain, while the Black Lantern of Commander Hurricane serves it and acts as the de facto Big Bad of the story.
  • In the Medaka Box fanfic World As Myth, Ihiko Shishime seems to be this, as his existence is heavily implied to be the reason for the Big Bad's plans.
  • Tales of the Oppressed has King Sombra. He's the one responsible for everything bad that happened in the story, but 38 chapters in and he's only had one major appearance.
  • The War of Megazords Vs. Gundams has two Greater Scope Villains: Patrick Zala and Mykan Yuki. They fueled each other's hatred towards Naturals and Coordinators receptively and are what sparked their respective wars. In short, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED had Zala the Big Bad and Mykan its Greater Scope Villain, while Megazords vs. Gundams had the reverse.
  • In Memories, Discord's mother is this. It was because of her that Discord took over Equestria, because of her that Discord "Discorded" the Mane Six, and because of her that Serenity had to die. (she got better) She appears to be becoming the Big Bad in the sequel, though.
  • Rainbow in the Wastes has Queen Chrysalis. The entire events of the story were all just a hallucination caused by her- Rainbow Dash isn't in the world of Fallout, she's in a Lotus-Eater Machine. The whole thing was a case of The Bad Guy Wins.
  • Somber Ties has two. The first, as one might expect from a story that takes place in the Chrystal Empire, is King Sombra. The second (and greater) one is Blackheart, as the evil force behind his rise to power.
  • In The End of Ends, Trigon created the Dark Prognosticus, thus giving rise to Logan’s power.
  • In Young Justice: Darkness Falls: Darkseid serves this role to the first 2 seasons of the show, as Vandal Savage's endgame involved him, making him an essential part of the plan. He also serves as one to Superman, as he was actually behind the destruction of Krypton as well. Although, once his invasion of earth begins, he takes on the role of Big Bad as well.
    • Following this, Young Justice Titans has another Greater Scope Villain in the form of Trigon. The new secondary villians the church of blood are dedicating their efforts to finding a way to release him into earth.
  • Most fics in the Shadowchasers series have one:
  • Ask Jappleack: Applelox is revealed to be the father of Discord and Wolfilor, and the one who sent them to Equestria, making him directly responsible for the events in PONY.MOV.
  • Ace Swift, the Asshole Victim of Turnabout Storm. His immoral actions indirectly caused the conflict in the story. He's never met in person though since he's dead.
  • Being Dead Aint Easy has the Big Five. They're technically behind a lot of major events in the story, as they're responsible for sabotaging KaibaCorp and siccing Morrison on Kaiba—inadvertently starting the entire plot—but aren't personally involved or seen at all. At most, they get a couple mentions.
  • Shattered Skies: Chaos, mentioned above, is one of these not only to the Sailor Moon universe, but to every magical girl universe, claiming to be the ultimate source of all evil and darkness.

    Films - Animated 
  • Disney Animated Canon as a whole seems to have the Chernabog from Fantasia, who appears to be the Disney version of Satan.
    • In The Black Cauldron, the spirit trapped inside the titular Black Cauldron is one. The Horned King wants to use the cauldron to Take Over the World with an undead army.
    • The Lion King Big Bad, Scar, becomes this in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and The Lion King 1˝, with the Big Bad of the former wanting to avenge him and the villains of the latter working for him.
    • Treasure Planet has Captain Nathaniel Flint, based on the original Captain Flint from Treasure Island. While he is long dead by the main story, it is his treasure that drives the plot not to mention he set the planet to explode when the treasure was found.
    • In The Princess and the Frog, the friends on the other side appear to be the dragons for the Big Bad, but ultimately his evil scheme was to sacrifice souls to them in order to get out of a deal he made with them before the film.
    • Wreck-It Ralph has the Cy-Bugs from the game Hero's Duty, who are powerful and a great threat as a whole, while just being a threat in Ralph's quest and having nothing to do with the situation at Sugar Rush. However, they come back in the climax, when they begin to destroy Sugar Rush, and the Big Bad even fuses with one of them!
    • Beauty and the Beast has the enchantress from the prologue, who kicked off the entire plot by turning the (implicitly eleven years old at the time) prince into a Beast and his entire household (including the dog and the tea lady's children) into furniture and kitchenware in an act of supreme Disproportionate Retribution, but then disappears from the narrative so the story can focus on the conflicts between Beast, Belle, and Gaston.
  • Rothbart, the Big Bad of The Swan Princess, for the second and third sequel, and the Forbidden Arts for the entire franchise as a whole.
  • Pharaoh Seti I in The Prince of Egypt. He was causing suffering for the Hebrews since before the movie began, which no doubt influenced Rameses and contributed heavily towards the way he turned out (and him being an emotionally Abusive Dad could not have helped.) Moses does not have a direct confrontation with him though, as Rameses becomes Pharaoh by the time Moses returns to Egypt.
  • In Anastasia, there's the Dark Forces that Rasputin sold his soul to and gained most of his powers from to get revenge on the Romanov family. The deal he made with them spectacularly backfires; first he's reduced to a decaying zombie stuck in limbo after he drowns and stuck like that until the last Romanov dies, and when his reliquary is destroyed they immediately claim him, and he dies a rather horrific death.
  • In The LEGO Movie, Lord Business' actions are metaphorically linked to the actions of "The Man Upstairs", a human whom the LEGO people regard as a godlike figure. The Kragle is only one of many tubes of Krazy Glue in his possession.
  • The Gorg from Home. The conflict of the film is because of the Boov finding refuge from them.

    Films - Live-Action 
  • The Dark Side in Star Wars is the most powerful evil in the setting, but is a metaphysical force of evil rather than a character. The Emperor is the Big Bad of the movies as a whole, and Darth Vader is The Dragon. See the Big Bad page for a (largely) complete listing of Expanded Universe Big Bads.
  • In James Bond, this crops up a few times, usually in the early films but it's returned for the Craig movies. Generally the Greater Scope Villain is either a Nebulous Evil Organization like SPECTRE (e.g. Thunderball) or Quantum (e.g. Casino Royale) or some unnamed client country that is generally implied to be Red China (e.g. Goldfinger). Dr. No has both, as No works for SPECTRE but it's implied they were hired by China. You Only Live Twice has SPECTRE and its chief Blofeld acting as the Big Bad while working for this Greater Scope Villain (though, as he blatantly extorts money from them at one point under their protest, this might be more of a Big Bad Duumvirate).
  • The Tyrell Corporation of Blade Runner, which created the replicants and the resulting social hierarchy between them and humans.
  • Sky High: The powerful supervillain Baron Battle. He's presently serving a quadruple-life sentence and never gets out at any point in the film, but he greatly influences the backstory and is strongly implied to be far more evil than Royal Pain. Word of God says that had the planned sequels actually been made, he would've put in a personal appearance.
  • Big Game has Herbert and the Vice President, who turn out to have been masterminding the entire operation of killing the president to restart the War on Terror.
  • Norman Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man. He is Curt Connors' boss, who is said to be dying and wants Connors' experiments to save his life, and he is never seen on screen and speaks through his assistant. It's also heavily implied he was involved in the deaths of Peter Parker's parents. With the character's (apparent) death in the sequel, it looked like Gustav Fiers/The Gentleman was going to be the Greater Scope Villain from this point on.
  • Krona in Green Lantern, posthumously. He is the Guardian who absorbed the yellow energy of fear, with Parallax as the result.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier has Arnim Zola, who is revealed to be the instigator of Hydra's infiltration into SHIELD. In addition, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who is revealed in the mid-credits scene to be one of the current leaders of the modern-day Hydra, although he is mentioned to be on the same level as the Big Bad Alexander Pierce. Due to Hydra's involvement, Strucker's influence also extends to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2.
  • The Mandarin in the Iron Man films. He is the leader of the Ten Rings, the terrorist organization who held Tony Stark hostage in Iron Man, and he personally appears as the Big Bad in Iron Man 3. In actuality, he is an actor named Trevor Slattery who was drugged and hired by the real Big Bad of the movie, Aldrich Killian, as a cover for his failed Extremis experiments. Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King reveals the existence of the true Mandarin, on whom Trevor's portrayal was loosely based.
  • In John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness Satan, the Big Bad in this dimension, turns out to be just The Dragon for his father: the Anti-God, who is in a mirror-universe waiting to be summoned.
  • In Die Hard 2, the Big Bad Colonel Stuart is trying to release Ramon Esperanza, a deposed The Generalissimo who is being extradited. A Good Day To Die Hard has Yuri Komarov as the hidden Greater Scope Villain with his daughter Irina being the big bad and final antagonist.
  • Horror franchises sometimes have Greater Scope Villains.
    • In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Leatherface's grandfather is called by the family "the ultimate killer", although because he is aged beyond normal human standards, he remains The Unfought.
    • In Scream 3, the Big Bad, Roman Bridger, is revealed to have told Billy Loomis, the Big Bad of the first movie, about his fathers affair with Laureen Prescott, and is thus indirectly responsible for the events of the first movie, and even more indirectly, the Roaring Rampage of Revenge of Mrs. Loomis in the second one. Billy Loomis himself is the Greater Scope Villain of the rest of the movies, posthumously.
    • The dream demons in A Nightmare on Elm Street, who gave Freddy Krueger his powers. They do make an appearance by way of flashback in Freddy's Dead, but they are never directly involved in the plot.
    • In the Hellraiser films, there is Leviathan, the god of hell. The films' Big Bad Pinhead is the leader of the Cenobites, who are Leviathan's foot soldiers, but Leviathan itself only appears in the second movie. It has a slightly more active role in the comic spin-offs.
    • In Halloween we have the man in black, who is really Dr. Terrence Wynn the leader of the cult of Throne, who placed the curse on Michael in the first place. They wish to aid or possibly control Michael. He is only directly involved in the fifth and sixth film.
    • The Jigsaw Killer is the Big Bad in the first three Saw movies. After he dies at the end of the third one, he becomes a Greater Scope Villain posthumously, as his remaining legacy hovers over and still drives the actions of his various apprentices nominally trying to continue his work: Amanda (who dies before Jigsaw himself), Detective Hoffman, and Doctor Gordon. Plans he deliberately set into motion before his death still have far-reaching effects long after he died.
    • Cube Zero has Jax, a Faux Affably Evil member of the shady government group responsible for the construction of the cube. He acts as The Heavy and is the highest ranking member we see. He is not the leader of the group though, and receives a call from his own higher ups telling him to get on with his work. The unseen higher ups could be considered the Greater Scope Villains.
  • Assuming Prometheus is in continuity with the rest of the franchise, the Engineer race serves as this to the Alien series, having created the Xenomorphs to begin with.
  • In the Starship Troopers films, Behemecoatyl is retroactively the Greater Scope Villain of the first two films when it's introduced in Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. It is the absolute leader of the Bugs, but is never seen in the previous ones, in which the humans only fought its minions.
  • The unseen King George III in The Patriot, ruler of the British Empire. He's only ever referred to in passing, but Cornwallis and the other Generals ultimately answer to him.
  • In The NeverEnding Story the Nothing is the actual Big Bad; that is, the one threatening the world. G'mork acts as The Heavy but hints that there is a Greater Scope Villain.
    G'mork: I am the servant of the power behind the Nothing.
  • The main villain in Ghost Ship implies he is working for Satan, or at least Hell. He says he needs to find enough souls to make "management" happy, and he needs the current salvage crew to fix the Graza for him to accomplish that mission.
  • President Patel, the leader of Elysium. While he personally disapproves of Delacourt's methods for enforcing the status quo, he sits at the very top of a tyrannical system that can only be sustained through the continuous exploitation of Earth's inhabitants.
  • In Smiley Smiley himself is this. It turns out he is a Red Herring for the events of the film, which turn out to be an elaborate prank on the protagonist based on the legend of Smiley. However, just when we think Smiley himself never existed in the first place, he shows up in the last ten seconds of the movie.
  • Daryll Lee Callum is this in Copycat. Peter Foley, the actual copycat of the title, is a fan of serial killer Callum who is committing his killings in an attempt to impress the imprisoned Callum.
  • Lockdown's employers in Transformers: Age of Extinction. They're the ones who sent Lockdown to hunt down Optimus Prime and it's revealed that they were the creators of the Transformers.
  • The writers behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe seem to be setting up Thanos as the Greater Scope Villain of the universe as a whole. So far, he has (indirectly) served as The Man Behind the Man to three different Big Bads in three separate movies: Being the true commander of the Chitauri army in The Avengers, Ronan the Accuser's benefactor in Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Scepter that he gave to Loki being used to create Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The heroes never even get to meet him face-to-face in either film. Being a genocidal galactic emperor with vast armies at his command, he may well be the most powerful villain so far unveiled in the series.
  • In The Karate Kid, Kreese could be seen this way, being the cruel sensei who helped turn Johnny into what he is but is never directly confronted during the movie.
  • In Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, Master Pain (later "Master Betty") is the delegate of the mysterious Evil Council, who seem to be set up as one side of a larger conflict. ("Behold, the symbols: One... over here. The other... over there.") All the audience knows about them by the end, including their long-term goals, is that they're aliens... and French. It makes just enough sense to be weird that we don't learn more and seem like material for a sequel.
  • The Purge: The New Founding Fathers are responsible for the annual purge's existence, along with the millions of people murdered as a result of it and what the main characters go through, yet none are shown or directly confronted in the film or its sequel.
  • Home Alone 3 has the Korean terrorist who orders the criminals to look for the chip.
  • Minister Sorokin from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
  • Paranormal Activity: Grandma Lois
  • In The Westerns Utu, Mad Dog Morgan, Ned Kelly, The Outlaw Michael Howe, and Van Diemens Land, the Evil Brit colonialist officials commit atrocities in the name of the British monarch.
  • Throughout Sherlock Holmes, our Sherlock and Watson work to stop the evil plot of Lord Henry Blackwood, except that Holmes realizes that a few details just don't add up. At the end of the film, he finally learns that Blackwood and Irene Adler are working for a more powerful villain with loftier goals: Moriarty.
  • In Jurassic Park, hadn't Lewis Dodgson from BioSyn and Dennis Nedry mess up with their ambitious goals, the carnivore dinosaurs wouldn't have caused a rampage of murder and the park could have worked perfectly. Though on the other hand, who knows what sort of mayhem would have caused that hurricane...
  • Félix Reyes Torreno from Collateral. He hired Vincent for the sake of killing everyone involved (lawyers, witnesses) in the investigation of his persona.

    Literature 
  • The man with a beard but no hair, and the woman with hair but no beard for Daniel Handler's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte for two Paul Féval novels John Devil (1862) and ''The Mysteries of London'' (1843-44) adapted for the stage as Gentlemen of the Night. The Big Bad of each claims to have met Napoleon on St. Helena in about 1815-1816. Both have their own reasons for the Wars against England however, and Henri Belcamp in John Devil could have actually benefited Napoleon (Since the other's main narrative is set after he died), and Henri even more so is really about his own Ambition, he really wants to be the next Napoleon, freeing the first is merely for a Passing the Torch moment. O'Brean in Gentlemen of the Night is motivated by liberating and avenging Ireland. Both are made in continuity with each other via The Black Coats.
  • Another Féval story, The Vampire Countess, uses Napoleon as the Big Good. The Greater Scope Villain of that story is Count Szandor who the title character is in love with.
  • The unseen Evil priest in Vampire City.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • Morgoth was always the ultimate evil presence in Middle-Earth, but after his defeat and imprisonment at the end of The Silmarillion, Sauron took over the role of the active Big Bad, overlapping with Dragon Ascendant. Morgoth was not destroyed, however, and Tolkien's writings indicate he will free himself in time to command the forces of darkness once again at the Last Battle.
    • Sauron himself as the Necromancer during The Hobbit - he definitely exists and will later be revealed as the canonical ultimate evil, but has no direct role in the story's plot, except as a device to give Gandalf a reason to leave the group for chapters at a time to go get information on him.
  • In the Chronicles of the Kencyrath, the ultimate enemy is Perimal Darkling (think The Corruption on a cosmic scale), which appears to be largely mindless and is in no sense a "person", nor does it seem to have desires beyond consuming the whole universe. Master Gerridon, nominally The Dragon, generally serves as the primary antagonist.
  • The Lords of Norsunder are the ultimate malevolent force in the Inda books, but during the timeline of the series are largely uninterested in human affairs. Erkric, the Big Bad, came up with his schemes on his own but bargained with one of them for his powers, but when he failed to live up to his end she killed him and then departed.
  • Several of Tad Williams' works feature an entity called Unbeing or Old Night, which is the representation of entropy and ultimate decay. It's never any of the Big Bads, but is portrayed as being tied to their actions, and at least one (Hellebore of The War of the Flowers) planned to deliberately unleash it.
  • In The Belgariad and The Malloreon, the King of Hell is mentioned several times as a demon god Sealed Evil in a Can who controls the single nastiest faction in existence, but because he isn't part of the conflict between the Light and Dark Prophecies, he to all practical intents and purposes sits the series out. A couple of his top minions do show up in supporting villain roles, but were likely acting independently.
  • Animorphs:
    • The Council of Thirteen are the political heads of the Yeerk Empire, but only appear in one book, a Villain Episode where they're more focused on judging Vissers One and Three than the conquest of Earth per se. Visser Three is the commander of operations on Earth and consequently functions as the Big Bad. The main plotline ends with his defeat.
    • Crayak is a Sufficiently Advanced Alien who plays The Chessmaster throughout the galaxy to encourage mass genocides of entire species for no reason; in a series full of shades of grey he's one of only a handful of characters who qualify as pure evil. However, he only becomes directly involved in the story a handful of times and isn't terribly invested in it. The implication is that he and his Good Counterpart, the Ellimist will continue their long "game" millennia after the Animorphs' series has ended.
  • The Black Thing in A Wrinkle in Time. IT is the Big Bad, and the Man with the Red Eyes may be ITs Dragon, while the Black Thing is more a manifestation of Evil as a concept. On the other hand The Movie states that the Black Thing was created by IT, making IT the biggest villain of that adaptation.
  • Azathoth in the whole of Cthulhu Mythos, a manifestation of perfect amoral chaos who creates and destroys, kept asleep by the Lesser Outer Gods with 'pipes and drums' so his awakening doesn't destroy the universe, but never does anything except listening to music. Most of the other powerful Eldritch Abominations (Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth) also take a very distant role in most of Lovecraft's stories, a notable exception being "The Call of Cthulhu". Nyarlathotep is a bit more hands-on, and August Derleth's Mythos stories frequently feature the likes of Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth about to personally emerge everywhere before being halted by a Deus ex Machina or explosives.
  • The Crimson King was presented as the central evil in Stephen King's metaverse; however, in an example of The Devil Is a Loser, when he's finally confronted in the Grand Finale of The Dark Tower series he's revealed to be nothing more than an insane old man armed with nothing except suspiciously familiar flying grenades, who is promptly defeated in one of the most ignoble manners possible. It's later revealed he had relied on ancient technology to give him most of his seemingly multiverse-spanning omnipotent powers, and when he lost that through the efforts of various heroes on various realities he was reduced to the pathetic wretch confronted by Roland.
  • The Rift War Cycle: Nalar, Raymond E. Feist's God of Evil, is slowly revealed to fill this role, and being imprisoned in another dimension, can do little more than be the influence for the various Big Bads in his books and the true Big Bad, the Dread, has nothing to do with him. Leso Varen, his minion, fills this role as well (making Nalar a Greater Scope Villain).
  • Ian Fleming's James Bond novels often have the Soviet Union sponsoring some or all the activities of a novel's main villain.
  • In Gone, Caine is the Big Bad, the counterpart to the hero, and the one who usually drives the plot. The Gaiaphage is an Eldritch Abomination that arrived via meteorite, crashed into a nuclear power plant, Mind Rapes several main characters including Caine, and looks at the whole situation as a game, but rarely shows up and is usually just a vague threat in the background.
  • Chronicles of Prydain:
    • Arawn Death-Lord who played the role of the Big Bad for The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron, is this for The Castle of Llyr and Taran Wanderer. By The High King, he's the Big Bad again.
    • There's also Gwyn the Hunter's unnamed lord. Even Gwydion doesn't know his name or identity, but believes that he's greater in power than Arawn - although not necessarily evil, since Gwyn's function (basically a Grim Reaper figure) is a necessary one.
  • In The Last Battle, Tash, the chief Calormene god, is revealed to have been this all along throughout The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • In Dragonlance, the evil deities frequently play this role in the novels, such as Hiddukel in the Taladas Trilogy, or Takhisis in Chronicles. There is also Morgion in the Minotaur Wars Trilogy.
  • The Void of The Word and the Void is the Greater Scope Villain to each of the trilogy's respective villains. Due to its status as an All-Powerful Bystander it never intervenes in the plot, and as such, has little impact beyond merely existing. Canon Welding by the author makes the Void the Greater Scope Villain of the long running Shannara series as well, where it has less of a direct role.
  • The Warren of Chaos in Malazan Book of the Fallen, chiefly opposed by Anomander Rake and the Warren of Darkness. The actual Big Bad, or the closest thing to one, is the Crippled God.
  • Set, in Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian and Kull stories.
  • The Bellon-Tockland Institute in Dean Koontz's False Memory, a semi-fascistic psychology think tank. The main villain of the book, Mark Ahriman, is a psychologist who develops a form of mind control and employs it both on behalf of the Institute and for his own deviant amusement; the trouble he causes for the main characters stems from his grudge against the stepfather of two of them, another academic who spammed Amazon with with negative reviews of Ahriman's work, as well as a previous affair with the wife/mother which ended badly. Although we do see Ahriman manipulate a patient into biting off the nose of the U.S. President as a "message", and the Institute's connections are used in the Back Story to explain how he has escaped any accountability for his murderous pastime, the Institute's plans have no direct bearing on the novel's events and they are ultimately cleared of any connection to Ahriman after the protagonists break his control on them and another one of his unstable pawns randomly kills him.
  • The Otherness from the Repairman Jack series, a vast, impersonal cosmic force locked in an endless war to conquer the multiverse. In our world, its goals are carried out by the immortal Rasalom and his disciples.
  • Quinn Dexter is the Big Bad of The Night's Dawn Trilogy; behind him and threatening the entire universe is the Dark Continuum.
  • Florence de Peyser in Peter Straub's Ghost Story.
  • The Shard Odium is shaping up to be the most powerful evil in Brandon Sanderson's universe The Cosmere, though some Word of God indicates that something more subtle but even more dangerous may be out there. Odium takes the role of Big Bad proper in The Stormlight Archive.
  • In Warrior Cats, the Dark Forest serve this role during the Power of Three arc. They are recruiting an army to destroy the Clans, and are made up of the most powerful villains the heroes have ever faced. However, this is mostly going on in the background, as the main driving point of the arc is uncovering the secrets of the past and defeating the villain Sol, who is trying to make the Clans destroy each other.
  • Big Brother from 1984...maybe. He never actually enters the story, and the major Party officials (like O'Brien) do most of the villainy. George Orwell intentionally leaves lots of questions about Big Brother unanswered. How much power and influence does BB have? Has there only been one BB, or has the title been passed on from person to person over time? Does he even exist, or is he just the Party's fictional mascot?
  • The Nameless in the Coldfire Trilogy. He/she/it/they (it's complicated) is far and away the most powerful evil in the series, but while it features prominently in the backstory of Gerald Tarrant, the bad guy actually responsible for the conflict is Calesta. The Nameless's only real role in the present-day story is to punish Tarrant for apparently backing out on the Deal with the Devil they made.
  • A Tale of Two Cities gives us the first Marquis de Saint-Evremonde. By the time the story begins, he's already dead, but it's revealed in a flashback that he was the linchpin for everything bad that happened when he raped Madame Defarge's sister, causing the good Madame to swear revenge and mark the Marquis' entire family and anyone who would help them for death. Unfortunately, this includes the completely innocent main characters.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • The first six books of the Galaxy of Fear series have Borborygmus Gog as the Big Bad. He's got a very long leash and a lot of discretion, but ultimately is employed by The Emperor. Palpatine only appears once, in a call to the scientist.
    He [Gog] could order the deaths of hundreds if he wished. With his terrible knowledge he could engineer nightmares. But as powerful as the scientist was, the Emperor could snuff him out with little more than a thought.
  • In the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, the Unseelie King is the ultimate evil force but makes no obvious appearance until the end of book five where he saves the day. Seemingly still evil since he is still technically the originator of all the evil things going on because he created all the Unseelie..
  • The planet Mesa and Manpower Inc. was eventually revealed in the Honor Harrington series to be ultimately responsible for the long and bloody war between Manticore and Haven. When their role was revealed, then it was discovered they were merely a front for the secretive Mesan Alignment organization. Manticore and Haven were.... less than impressed to find out just who was responsible for their long, bloody conflict. So they decided to do something about it.
  • The Skulduggery Pleasant series seems to like this trope. The first two Big Bad characters (Nefarian Serpine and Baron Vengeous) were only the men they were because of their now-dead master Mevolent. Mevolent was considered the Big Bad of the setting prior to his death before the beginning of the series, but he wouldn't have gotten there without his master, the so-termed 'Nameless One'. Furthermore, Mevolent, along with Serpine, Vengeous, the Diablerie (whose leader is the Big Bad of book three), Dreylan Scarab (Big Bad of book four) and Eliza Scorn (who is yet to be a Big Bad but is still a significant threat in later books) were all primarily motivated by their worship of the Faceless Ones, evil gods who were themselves worshipped (albeit also eventually banished) by the long-dead Ancients. Meanwhile, possibly the most powerful magician in the setting is Mevolent's one surviving lieutenant, Lord Vile, who wasn't actually loyal to Mevolent in the first place, simply wanting to kill everything, but has yet to significantly impede the heroes as he is usually kept mostly subdued on account of being Skulduggery's Super-Powered Evil Side. And on the subject of SuperPowered Evil Sides, there are all these prophecies about how Darquesse AKA Valkyrie Cain is destined to cause The End of the World as We Know It, but seven books in she's still yet to come to the fore.
  • The Brethren, by John Grisham, makes reference early on to one Natli Chenkov, a Russian politician and Communist hardliner who is suspected of planning to stage a coup and start a war the director of the CIA doubts America can win. The main action of the book involves three former judges (the titular Brethren) who run a blackmail scheme from prison and unwittingly hook the congressman whom said CIA director hopes to install as President to beef up the military and block Chenkov's ambitions, bringing down the CIA's wrath on them. Whether this makes Teddy Maynard (the CIA director) the Big Bad (albeit a Well-Intentioned Extremist) or the Brethren Villain Protagonists (albeit sympathetic ones) is arguable, but Chenkov is hardly mentioned after the initial explanation.
  • Similar to King's The Dark Tower, all the horror novelist Brian Keene's works are connected by the Labyrinth, in which dwell the Thirteen, Eldritch Abominations that existed in the Primordial Chaos before the birth of the universe. Among them, the Thirteenth is the most powerful and feared.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Kthonia is the most powerful villain in this story but she is neither involved, aware of, or inclinded to assist with Jihadain's Evil Plan. When Kalak kills Jihadain, however, she becomes the True Final Boss.
  • Lord Voldemort, the official Big Bad of Harry Potter, is in this role instead sometimes:
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. If you consider each Horcrux as a separate person, the main portion of Voldemort's soul (residing in the disembodied Voldemort himself) was a Greater Scope Villain in this book. Tom Riddle was more a manifestation of Voldemort's will, and in any way acted independent from him (although in his interests).
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He wasn't directly involved in that book's events at all, although the villain does work for him.
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince doesn't feature Voldemort at all, and all his actions take place outside the main events of the plot. The Big Bad of the book eventually turns out to be Severus Snape, who kills Dumbledore and set most of the events in motion to further himself in Voldemort's eyes. Although the next book reveals that Snape was actually a deep-cover double agent for the good guys.
  • In The Chathrand Voyages, it's established early on that Arunis (most dangerous individual member of The Big Bad Shuffle the series has going on) worships entities called the Night Gods. These gods later turn out to be very real, and Arunis doesn't just worship them, he wants to be one. They've set him a task to complete before they'll accept him into their ranks- namely, scouring Alifros, the world where the books are set, of life- but otherwise take no direct part and Arunis (and the other villains) stand and fall by their own merits.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East, the eponymous evil empire is ruled by mortal men, particularly by Emperor John Ominor, the Big Bad. It was founded, however, by Orcus, the king of all demons, whom Ominor overthrew in a coup and imprisoned. It will probably not surprise anyone to learn that Orcus eventually escapes.
  • Dale Brown's books have portrayed the Chinese presidents and high commands that tacitly condone the generals' and admirals' actions as this, in contrast to the Russian presidents who have directly been Big Bads.
  • The Ix from The Last Dragon Chronicles. They trump Gwilanna hands down.
  • Charles "Trout" Walker in Holes, the even worse deceased grandfather to the Big Bad. The entire plot ultimately stems from his racially-motivated murder of Sam the Onion Man, which caused Green Lake to dry up and Sam's lover Kate Barlow to cross the Despair Event Horizon and become an outlaw, ultimately burying treasure in the desolate lakebed. Trout became obsessed with finding the treasure, even forcing his granddaughter to help him dig, which is why she forces other children to dig in the present.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a Big Bad Ensemble with Littlefinger, the Lannisters, the Boltons and Freys although they're working, sort of, for the Lannisters,and Well Intentioned Extremists Varys and Melisandre. Overshadowing them all, are the Others.
  • Eighth Doctor Adventures "Alien Bodies" has the Enemy and the Celestis in this role. The Doctor does encounter them, though in his future.
  • Chancellor Paige from The Maze Runner Trilogy, the head of all the mess that is WICKED. Eventually, though, the cruelty of that position gets to her and she decides to cut their losses and stop torturing people for a cure that might never come.
  • In "Prisoner of the Daleks" Dalek X (the Dalek Inquisitor-General) serves as the main villain. However it is mentioned he answers to the Supreme Dalek.
  • In the Nightrunner series, the God of Evil Seriamaius seems to encourage his followers, especially necromancers, (and others) in villainous actions, but never appears as an actual character except in prophetic dreams. Granted, none of the more benign gods put in personal appearances either.
  • In The Hunger Games, Snow implies that District 13 caused the Dark Days in an attempt to rise to power, only to back down when the Capitol defeated them and the rebelling Districts, causing the rise of the Hunger Games. He says this when he realizes that Alma Coin was playing this trope from the beginning for that exact same reason. Thankfully, Katniss decides to bump her down to the Big Bad and off her afterwards.
  • Since the first three Age of Fire novels all take place at roughly the same time, the Wrymmaster — the Big Bad of the first book — is this for the latter two. It's his minions and allies that set the events of the series in motion, scattering the three sibling protagonists and sending them all on their own individual storylines. And while he only shows up in the first book, his presence is still felt in the other two to varying degrees.
  • Asmodeus is too busy overseeing the destruction of entire worlds to get involved in day-to-day evildoing. Until his son Magnus summons him in City of Heavenly Fire, at which point he briefly appears in humanoid form and acts as a Deus ex Machina before returning to his more cosmic interests.
  • Derek Leech, who appears in the background of various stories by Kim Newman, is a monstrous hybrid of Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch, and also The Antichrist. He is clearly plotting some kind of evil Tory apocalypse, but has been known to help sympathetic characters fight other evil types whose preferred apocalypses would clash with his own.
  • In The Heroes of Olympus, Lamia wove the spell that allows monsters to detect demigods, three thousand years ago. That one act has shaped everything that happened since.
  • In Alex Rider, Zeljan Kurst is the leader of SCORPIA, and the one who orders the BigBads of Snakehead and Scorpia Rising to carry out their plots, though he never comes face to face with Alex.
  • The Zombie Knight has Dozer and Morgunov, the Big Bad Duumvirate of Abolish. They are the co-leaders of a group that controls at least a third of the known world and whose ultimate goal is the extinction of humanity, and even their Dragons are strong enough to take on entire countries if they can be spared to do so.
  • The Widow (a.k.a. Indira Gandhi) in Midnight's Children. The fate that Saleem suffers in the climax is performed at her orders, but Saleem never encounters her directly, only her subordinates.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agent Carter Season 1: Arnim Zola.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1: Alexander Pierce, but posthumously.
  • Angel: From seasons 1 to 3 and much of 4, the law firm of Wolfram & Hart play the role of Big Bad; however the unseen Senior Partners are always portrayed as the Greater Scope Villain. Angel spends the whole show and all his strength trying to grind their operation to a halt, even for a moment, by destroying their means of influencing Earth. Optimistically, he was just successful enough to make them focus their attention upon him. The downside would be that he now has their attention. As of Season 9, they've been branching out in the Greater Scope Villain department; their machinations are now starting to affect Buffy and the Scoobies too.
  • Arrow: Ra's Al-Ghul is this for the first two seasons, with Season 2 revealing that he was the one who trained Season 1 Big Bad Malcolm Merlyn, and his presence being felt throughout the second season via his League of Assassins minions, all without ever showing up. Come Season 3, however, he finally does appear, stepping down into the main Big Bad role.
    • Late in Season 3, Ra's reveals the existence of his rival, Damien Darhk, leader of the HIVE, who is revealed to be responsible for several events throughout the series.
  • Breaking Bad: Don Eladio, the head of the Juárez Cartel. His actions drove Gus Fring to the be man he is in the show and his cartel causes problems for Walter and Jesse for three-and-a-half seasons. Despite all this, he only appears twice in season 4 and is killed off in his second appearance.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Acathla in the Season 2 finale, with Angelus' motivation being to unseal him and inflict literal Hell on Earth.
    • The First Evil is introduced as the source and personification of all evil in season 3, but doesn't take on a direct Big Bad role until season 7. Even then its lack of physical presence meant it had to work through others.
    • The True Demons were Eldritch Abominations that ruled the Earth before humans, and all the monsters and "demons" that the heroes fight are nothing but remnants of them that they left behind as one final "screw you" before leaving/being kicked out.
    • In Season 9, Whistler is revealed to have been behind Twilight in season 8 and seems to be the new Big Bad
  • Charmed: The Source of All Evil in in the first three seasons.
  • Firefly: It is implied that the Blue Sun Corporation was going to end up like this, being responsible for River's ordeal at Academy (note how she freaked out whenever she saw the company logo), sending the Hands of Blue after her, and being the ones to which all the nastier members of the Alliance answered. Cancellation of the series, however, left things at just implications.
  • Freddy's Nightmares: Freddy Krueger. He was only directly involved in the plot of eight episodes, though a few implied he was pulling the strings behind the scenes.
  • Goosebumps TV series: There's the implication that it's actually R.L. Stine himself (the author of the books) who's behind everything in all the stories (in a meta sense he is, of course) and the ultimate evil of the series, even though he doesn't appear in any of them. In the intro, a man in black walks up to a town, and his briefcase (clearly marked with his name) flies open. The papers fly out and morph into the Goosebumps logo, which proceeds to spread misery around the town until it reaches a creepy mansion, which then shows clips of some of the stories.
  • House of Anubis: Rufus Zeno in seasons 1 and 2. He was much more dangerous and insane than the other villains, but had little to do with the main plotlines. Instead, he was more of a subplot on both of occasions and caused a lot of problems that weren't directly connected to the main mystery but did influence things.
  • Justified: Theo Tonin, the head of the Detroit mob, is this in Season 3. His adoptive son, Robert Quarles, is the actual Big Bad of the season, providing all of the drama, and driving the plot without any instructions from Theo. That said, Theo is the one who made Quarles who he is, and is the reason he's in Kentucky in the first place. In Season 4, Theo takes over as The Big Bad, sending Nicky Augustine to Kentucky with specific orders to kill Drew Thompson.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider OOO has The Original OOO, who had alchemists make the Core Medals, including the ones that'd give birth to the Greeeds, in an attempt to take over the world.
    • Kamen Rider X, Kamen Rider Amazon, and Kamen Rider Super-1: Great Leader. He wasn't a presence in any of those series, but few people were surprised when he showed up in Kamen Rider Stronger and Kamen Rider ZX to take credit for the founding of each show's respective Generic Evil Organization Squad.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim has the Helheim Forest. While it's the central reason why the Riders are fighting Inves and each other and later on the Overlords, it takes a backseat to the overall conflicts. Case in point, even when Takatora reveals its true nature and why Yggdrasil is fighting it, Kouta still finds a reason to oppose Yggdrasil more than Helheim. An even bigger case in point? Near the finale, all the villains are taken care of save for Helheim, whose avatar personally appears and reveals himself to two big bad wannabes (who both wind up getting pushed out of the conflict soon after). The final battle isn't with him, but rather with Kaito who had obtained the same level of power as the Overlords. The closest thing Kouta did to defeating the actual Greater Scope Villain is moving his operation away to a far off distant planet, and depending on how you view his reaction, the avatar of Helheim is cool with it.
  • Nikita: For the first season-and-a-half, Oversight was this to Division, officially giving Percy his orders even as he was recognized as series Big Bad. As time went on, and Percy started overstepping his boundaries, Oversight grew more wary of him, and by the time Season 2 started, they had Percy locked up and replaced by Amanda. And now, as of the midway point of the season, Oversight is defunct, the Guardians having killed most of them in a (successful) plot to free Percy; this has resulted not only in Amanda taking Division rogue, but in the last remaining Oversight member to join forces with Team Nikita.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Cora is this for Regina the Evil Queen, as she is Regina's mother and the one who shaped her into the Big Bad she is now and her influence remains on her even though she's been out of the picture for a long, long time now. In Season 2, Cora appears personally, ditching this status and becoming the full-on Big Bad.
    • Peter Pan, the Big Bad of Season 3A, can be seen as this for much of the series. Aside from being The Man Behind the Man to Greg and Tamara in the second half of Season 2, his actions were also a major contributing factor to making Rumplestiltskin what he is. Which makes him indirectly responsible for every villainous act taken by both Rumple and his various students (Cora, Regina, and Zelena) throughout the run of the show.
    • The Dark One for the entire series. No, not just Rumpelstiltskin, but anyone who has inherited the name of The Dark One, as their actions eventually lead to the rise of not just the Big Bads, but also for The Heroes. Just take a look at Rumpelstiltskin. Eventually it's revealed that the Dark One is more Greater Scope than one can think, as it is literally darkness that binds itself to a soul.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Power Rangers Mystic Force: The "Master" couldn't do anything until near the end.
    • Power Rangers S.P.D.: Big Bad Emperor Gruumm was the leader of the Troobian Empire but was just collecting power for the Omni.
    • Power Rangers Turbo: The finale reveals Dark Specter, the Greater Scope Villain behind Zedd, Rita, the Machine Empire, and Divatox. In Power Rangers in Space he gathered together all the Big Bads of the franchise to that point under him, and sicced newcomer Astronema on the Rangers, but seldom directly intervened. In the end, he was done in by The Starscream and never faced the Rangers directly.
    • Power Rangers Megaforce: Emperor Mavro is the father of Vrak and Vekar (the latter serving this role in the first 20 episodes) but doesn't appear in person until the last 3 episodes.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force: The original Master Org. The one the rangers had been fighting was Dr. Viktor Adler, a former friend to Cole's parents who consumed the remains of the original for revenge and became the new Master Org. After being killed by the Orgs when they found out about his deceipt, he grows a real horn and comes back to life. In the final 6 episodes, he returns and killed off two of the traitors, and talks as though he and the original Master Org are now truly one.
    • Power Rangers RPM: Alphabet Soup was a corrupt government facility that kidnapped child geniuses and forced them to work for them by lying about an allergy to sunlight and drove them either to being near emotionless (Dr. K) or completely child-like (Gem and Gemma). Dr. K created Venjix for them and used it in an attempt to break free, but stopped her before she could program a firewall. Because of them, Venjix broke free and began his assault on humanity, but they tried to kill Dr. K so that no one will know where Venjix came from. By the events of the series, it's members were either arrested, captured by Venjix or killed.
  • Revenge has the Americon Initiative, the domestic terrorist group who the Graysons laundered money for (which they then framed David Clarke for). Initially just a part of the backstory, they later started influencing the story again in late season 1 via their assassin the White Haired Man, and in season 2 seem to be stepping down to knock the Graysons out of the Big Bad position.
  • Revolution:
    • Randall Flynn, appearing in episode 7, episode 8, episode 11, episode 12, episode 13, episode 16, episode 18, episode 19, and episode 20. He was a member of the USA Department of Defense before the blackout, and he may very well have been the one to have caused it to happen in the first place. In any case, he apparently has no affiliation to Sebastian Monroe, and he seems to be monitoring the locations of the 12 pendants for an as yet unknown purpose. That, and he seems to keep an extremely low profile.
    • The first season finale reveals two things: the first thing being that Randall was working for a Greater Scope Villain called the American Government and President of the United States all along, and the other thing being that the blackout was not an accident and that someone deliberately caused the nanites to go out of control.
  • The Big Bad in Sharpe is usually a French commander with wide powers, but responsible to his superiors and ultimately Napoleon.
  • The first episode of Sherlock reveals at the end that the villain was sponsored by someone else, similar to the 2009 film: Moriarty.
  • Smallville: In the fifth season, Brainiac is the Big Bad. He's behind every nasty thing that goes down that season, and is one of the greatest threats Clark ever encounters. His goal, however, is to release General Zod, a Greater Scope Villain who was trapped in the Phantom Zone on Jor-El's orders. Zod can't do anything, and in fact is unable to even communicate with Braniac. General Zod's status as the series' Greater Scope Villain is further emphasized due to him being the ultimate source of the Big Bads from almost all later seasons; his son Doomsday and his younger clone Major Zod. The General is able to come out and play on exactly one occasion.
  • The Sopranos:
    • Livia Soprano. She is implied to be chiefly responsible for moulding Tony's psychological behaviour. Ultimately, it was she who actually destroyed his family.
    • Carmine Lupertazzi. After he and his empire are referred to merely as "New York" in the first two seasons, he finally appears in-person during Season 3. Despite being a longtime ally of the Dimeo crime family, Carmine's organization is almost universally viewed by Tony and his associates with wariness and suspicion (not least because the former regularly uses its vastly greater size and resources to coerce the New Jersey mobsters into "sharing" their profits on local business ventures). After the relationship between the two families deteriorates in Season 4, the Lupertazzi crime family ultimately becomes the story's preeminent antagonist and remains so until the end of the series.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Ra was the first Goa'uld to find Earth and use a human as a host, which gave him and other Goa'uld a massive supply of hosts, soldiers and slaves and allowed them to spread all across the galaxy, with Ra as the top System Lord for over ten thousand years. He's killed off in the original film before the series, but his legacy poses the main threat for most of the series.
    • In seasons nine and ten, the Ori are the Greater Scope Villain, since they're ascended beings and thus more of a concept rather than actual characters. Their Dark Messiah Adria takes on the Big Bad mantle for season ten.
  • Supernatural:
    • Lilith is the Big Bad of Seasons 3 and 4, but the main plot of S4 is her trying to free the one who turned her evil, Lucifer himself. Lucifer becomes the outright Big Bad in S5.
    • In the tenth season's finale it's revealed that even Lucifer had a Greater Scope Villain in the form of The Darkness, which was the original source of evil in the Universe, not only the primordial force of nature that controlled everything before God and his angels, but also the one responsible for turning Lucifer evil.
  • True Blood often has Greater Scope Villains.
    • Season 4: Antonia Gavilan (for a portion only)
    • Season 5: Lilith
    • Season 6: Macklyn Warlow
    • Season 7: Sarah Newlin
  • 24's seventh season has African warlord Benjamin Juma. While Juma is behind the story's core conflict, his underling Iké Dubaku serves as the direct Big Bad in the season's first ten episodes. Subverted when, after Dubaku's capture, Juma finally appears onscreen and becomes a proper Big Bad himself.
  • The Whoniverse as a whole has the Beast and the Black Guardian. Also, Davros and the Dalek leadership could be considered this in Dalek stories where they don't appear.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Gorog, one of the Big Bads, can count as the Greater Scope Villain in the entire Disney Channel Live-Action Universe.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • According to most varieties of Christianity, this is the role Satan plays in the human world.
  • Angra Mainyu (better known by the Persian name Ahriman) in some forms of Zoroastrianism.

    Radio 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who Divergent Universe arc the Kro'ka controls where the Doctor, Charley, and C'rizz go but is working for the Divergence. In Caerdroia he is revealed to be working for Rassilon, who meets the Doctor in the next story.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is the role the Demon Lords And Arch Devils and Gods Of Evil in the Dungeons & Dragons world are likely to play in most games.
    • The best examples may be the Obyriths and their partner Tharizdun. The former are beings that predate mortal life and even gods. The latter is a god seduced by the Obyriths into evil and madness who shares their desire to destroy everything. Tharizdun used a shard of evil to create the Abyss (and by extension all demons), making him responsible for the existence of the greatest evils in the setting.
    • Vecna, one of the most notorious evil gods in the history of the game, who is known for his dreaded Eye and Hand, claims to have gained his power from a being he calls simply the Serpent, but the exact nature of this being (which is possibly his only ally) is unknown (including whether it even exists, the only source on its existence being the words of a mad and evil god).
    • The Dark Powers in the Ravenloft setting can play this role depending on what type of game the DM is running. Just as many people say that the Dark Powers are not evil at all, but may actually be good. After all, each domain is an Ironic Hell for its ruler, who is an eternal prisoner of it, making Ravenloft a prison of the damned. Seeing as the Dark Powers punish evildoers, it is very possible that they are good.
  • The Deathlords of Exalted are Omnicidal Maniac ghosts granted power by the Neverborn in the name of destroying Creation. The Neverborn themselves, however, aren't much a threat; they're busier spending time coping with the pain of being eternally-dying-but-never-truly-dead and sending strange messages to their servants.
  • Mage: The Awakening:
    • The Exarchs, who stormed the Supernal realms and broke reality in the time of Atlantis. Together all eleven of them form the main villains of the setting, responsible for both the Abyss and the depressing state of the world.
    • The Abyss has the Annunaki.
  • The Wyrm was this for the now defunct Werewolf: The Apocalypse.
  • Warhammer/Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Chaos Gods rarely pay any attention to mortal affairs, spending the vast majority of their time fighting each other, but the powers that are available to mortals because of their very existence (and the corruption and madness that results from them) are the cause of multiple evil factions in both settings.
    • Since Warhammer 40000 is that sort of game, the God Emperor of Mankind probably also qualifies, despite being "dead" for ten thousand years, considering he created and initially led the xenocidal, expansionist Imperium.
    • 40K has the even Greater Scope Villain of the C'tan, who created the Necrons, indirectly created Chaos with their war against the Old Ones (which in turn allowed the Chaos Gods to be born later), and indirectly led to the creation of the Orks and Eldar (as the Old Ones created them to fight against the C'tan). Originally they served as part of the Big Bad Ensemble, but then the 5th Edition Retcon had them be shattered into pieces millions of years ago.
  • Blue Rose has the seven Exarchs of Shadow, though it's never stated explicitly whether they actually exist or are just a myth.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Kazavon in the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign, where defeating even a small part of his legacy is an epic adventure for a group of 17th level characters. A monstrous Blue Dragon and Psycho for Hire who once served as Zon-Kuthon's Champion, Kazavon was killed long before the story began. His evil persists however, in the form of seven Artifacts Of Doom made out of his bones, which are so contaminated by the pure evil of his soul that they corrupt all they touch, exacerbating the evil that is already there in the human soul. Queen Illeosa, The Big Bad of the setting, is wearing the Crown of Fangs carved out of his teeth; with her defeat the story is over, but the possibility of someone else picking up the Crown (or one of the other six items) remains a very real threat.
    • Queen Abrogail II of Cheliax takes on this role in Skull & Shackles. Your main foe in the campaign, and the one responsible for almost everything, from Captain Barnabas Harrigan's treachery, to the confrontation you are forced into with Kerdak Bonefist at the end, is Abrogail's cousin Admiral Druvalia Thrune of the Chelish Navy, who is acting independently of the crown. While Druvalia's defeat will solve most of their problems, the PCs should step lightly—flaunting their victory overly much can result in a new war with Abrogail once the campaign comes to an end.
  • The Supreme Monstrosity in Dinosaurs Attack!, also named by fans, "Dinosaur Satan."
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Eldrazi, until Rise of the Eldrazi when they actually show up.
    • Yawgmoth, who had a similar treatment. For most of the original storyline, the various Evincars of Rath were the setting's primary antagonists, especially Volrath. Rath and its Evincars were essentially satellites to Phyrexia and Yawgmoth, it's ruler. While Phyrexia turned up quite a bit throughout the game's history (going at least as far back as Gate to Phyrexia in Antiquities), Yawgmoth Himself didn't take center stage until the Urza's Block and then not again until Invasion.
  • In many blocks, Nicol Bolas takes this Role. While he himself rarely appears, his minions (such as Sarkhan Vol) often do. In the Kahns of Tarkir block, he briefly appears in the backstory, killing the Big Good Ugin. This sets up the situation in Kahns of Tarkir, Sarkhan (now his own agent) stopping it to Set Right What Once Went Wrong causes Fate Reforged, and Ugin still being in a magical coma a millenia later results in the situation in Dragons of tarkir

    Theatre 
  • In Margin for Error, Adolf Hitler is obviously the power behind the German Consul, but his presence in the play is limited to a bronze bust and an obnoxious radio speech.

    Video Games 
  • Quest for Glory is very fond of this trope, particularly the Sealed Evil in a Can variety. Every plot from the second game onwards revolves around the chief villain attempting to summon one of these, with various levels of success.
  • The Legend of Zelda has several ones that the Big Bad wants to unseal or resurrect:
    • Ganon in Zelda II The Adventure Of Link is the force motivating all the other bad guys rather than an actual character in the game, but he didn't actually tell anyone to do anything. Who the Big Bad in Zelda II is, is up for debate.
    • Ganon is this in the first part of A Link To The Past, until Agahnim succeeds in unsealing him and leaves the spotlight to him (Agahnim isn't mentioned again until encountered in the final dungeon). Ganon comes out of Agahnim's body after this battle, and Ganon calls Agahnim his "alter-ego", meaning Agahnim was either a disguise used by Ganon or a person possessed by him.
    • Ganon again in The Legend of Zelda Oracle games only appears as a boss in a linked game, and the plot is driven by Twinrova trying to resurrect him.
    • Malladus from Spirit Tracks. The plot is actually driven by Chancellor Cole trying to resurrect/unseal him.
    • Demon King Demise from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and by extension the whole series. Hyrule's God of Evil, Sealed Evil in a Can, and Ghirahim's master, he is also the source of the continued returns of the series' Big Bad, Ganondorf, having cursed Link and Zelda for imprisoning him. You get the picture.
    • Ganon, once again, in A Link Between Worlds, except this time, instead of being revived by his own schemes or by a loyal follower, he's revived by Yuga in order to merge with him to gain the Triforce of Power. Ganon doesn't even get a chance to face Link by the end, but his power is still used by Yuga.
  • Warcraft:
    • Sargeras — the Fallen Titan and founder of the universe-consuming Burning Legion — is a Greater Scope Villain through most of the lore, with exception of the War of the Ancients (where he is Big Bad, though never fought directly) and the events leading up to the first RTS game, where he possesses the mage Medivh, and uses him to open the Dark Portal, leading to the invasion of the Orcs. After Medivh's first death he is MIA as far as the story has progressed (all of the actual gameplay except for two dungeons, which takes place in the past), and leaves the work to his Co-Dragons, Kil'jaeden and Archimonde.
    • The Old Gods are the primordial elemental beings who ruled the world before the Titans came. Even when they are not actively pulling the strings (they mostly are behind everything major that the Burning Legion is not behind, but they are usually imprisoned and asleep, communicating only through maddening whispers), one can always find signs of them in the world. This is especially true in the Mists of Pandaria expansion, where Word of God states they are not pulling the strings actively, but the VERY prevalent Sha energy is the aftermath of one who died in the war against the Titans during the creation of Azeroth.
  • The One Being in the Mortal Kombat series. Although Onaga, the original ruler of Outworld, and Shinnok, the former Elder God, would also count.
  • Kirby:
    • Nightmare in Kirby's Adventure is merely a Sealed Evil in a Can - the actual leader of the villains (if you can call them that) is King Dedede.
    • In Kirby's Dream Land 2, all Zero did was send Dark Matter out to Pop Star. Zero never appeared until Dreamland 3, which was where Dark Matter was changed from a single entity to a species mostly controlled by Zero. In Dreamland 2 however, Dark Matter is the Big Bad while Zero is the Greater Scope Villain. However, considering Zero never shows up until the end, Zero can be considered the Greater Scope Villain of the entire Dark Matter trilogy, with the Dark Matter in Dreamland 2, the Dark Matter possessing Dedede in Dreamland 3, and Miracle Matter in Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards being the Big Bads of their respective games.
  • The Mysterious Man in House of the Dead series.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • Word of God confirms that Sephiroth is in control, but all of his powers and motivation, most of Shinra's military might, and the reason for the WEAPONs' creation is Jenova. She might have been the secret Chessmaster, but she doesn't actually seem to be anything more than a vegetable during the game proper. Considering Ifalna's report, she was basically kicked upstairs from the role of Big Bad.
    • Hojo, the Mad Scientist responsible for Sephiroth's existence, and for Sephiroth gaining enough power to enact his Evil Plan, and who is also the single most vile entity in existence.
  • Golbez acts as the Big Bad through most of Final Fantasy IV, until it is revealed that he was brainwashed by a Lunarian named Zemus. Then, after Fusoya breaks Golbez out of his mind control, they kill Zemus, only for the spirit of his hatred to be released and manifest itself as Zeromus, who becomes the real Final Boss.
  • Hector is like this in Yggdra Union and Knights in the Nightmare; he is the Big Bad proper of Riviera: The Promised Land.
  • In the Baldur's Gate series, as revealed near the end of the first game, the dead god Bhaal pushed the plot into movement in the backstory but takes no active part in the story of the games, other than as semi-impersonal power scattered among his mortal children. The Player Character is one of them, and all three Big Bads in the series are after this power in some way or another, which forms the crux of their conflicts. However, he is responsible for his taint providing some unsavoury side-effects, such as a portion of his consciousness driving his children towards dark ways and means, and driving his children, dubbed "Bhaalspawn", to kill each other — the first is For the Evulz, the second to speed up the rate of their deaths because by doing so they accelerate his return.
  • Phantasy Star has The Profound Darkness. The series protagonist's struggle against the Dark Force/Falz, the recurring Big Bad, amounts to Fighting a Shadow of a fraction of the Profound Darkness' own evil and hatred. DF himself is a threat to the entire universe, so nobody wants to find out what the Profound Darkness can do if left unchecked.
  • Gerald Robotnik from Sonic Adventure 2. The main conflict of the story is against Eggman, but it was Gerald's actions 50 years in the past that caused many of the problems in the game. However, he is only a Posthumous Character and has a rather indirect effect on the story in general. The story doesn't revolve around stopping him and his machinations are only revealed after Eggman accidentally sets off the Colony Drop at the end.
    • Shadow the Hedgehog would reveal Black Doom was the GREATER Greater Scope Villain of the previous game. He made a deal with Gerald, he gives him DNA for his experiments and Gerald would ensure Shadow would help him claim the Chaos Emeralds
  • In Starcraft I and II, the Big Bads are the Zerg Overmind, Sarah Kerrigan and (in Wings of Liberty) Arcturus Mengsk. The Zeratul side missions (starting in Brood War and continuing in Wings of Liberty) reveal a nebulous Greater Scope Villain looming in the horizon: Amon.
  • In Resident Evil, Ozwell E. Spencer is one of the founders of the Umbrella Corporation, who murdered his rivals to gain total control. He was also into world domination. However, he never interacts with or even takes notice of the protagonists, and the various biohazards of the games are instigated by underlings with their own motives.
  • Might and Magic:
    • The Creators served as this between I and V, but might have been retconned out by VI - in the early games, they were an enemy race to the Ancients, stated to be evil and of fairly equal power to the Ancients (who created both the Big Bad, the Big Good, and the worlds the games take place on), but with absolutely no relation to the games whatsoever except possibly the war with them being the reasons the Ancients doesn't put more effort into correcting the Sheltem situation. The exposition of the backstory in VI contradicts their existence, or at least the war with them, however.
    • The Kreegan were sort-of this in VII - as far as the game is concerned, the Kreegan are just hanging out in the Land of the Giants, being a threat greater than the ones that comes closest to being the Big Bads for the game and keeping someone they kidnapped before VI with them. Their king gets killed, but before and after that he has no relation to the plot of the game, and Armageddon's Blade showed his death did little to slow the Kreegans.
    • Kalibaar's Master from Heroes of Might and Magic IV is set up to be this. But it's never really explained what happened to him.
  • In Opoona the Big Bad is an Artifact of Doom and the sages under The Corruption. Said artifact was created by The Dark Emperor, who never appears in the game proper.
  • Castlevania:
    • In Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow, Dracula is this, since the only time he ever comes out to play is a Non Standard Game Over.
    • Chaos is this for the entire series.
    • Dracula also plays this role in Curse of Darkness, with most the game being about his resurrection.
    • In the Lords of Shadow continuity, Satan is the Greater Scope Villain of the games, working through the lords of shadow in the first and his bastard children, the acolytes, in the second. Amusingly, the only reason he's in the background for Lords of Shadow 2 is because he's absolutely terrified of Dracula because his power visibly surpasses his own (let that sink in for a second) and doesn't wish to fight him again because Dracula as a human killed him the last time.
  • In Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, the Big Bad is a mechanical owl named Clockwerk. But in the second game Clockwerk becomes the Greater Scope Villain because he is now destroyed, shut down, and separated into several pieces, but still a very dangerous potential threat if he were to be rebuilt. The pieces are stolen by an illegal spice distributing gang called the Klaww Gang. Most of the members are just using pieces of Clockwerk for their own small-time schemes, until it becomes clear that Arpeggio, their leader, intends to fully rebuild Clockwerk to take Clockwerk's body for himself so that he can be immortal. Then his protege Neyla backstabs him and takes Clockwerk's body for herself.
  • Cubia in .hack//GU. The Big Bad is Ovan... sort of. After he is dealt with though, Cubia reappears as a side effect. Where AIDA was merely causing some comas, violence, and graphics glitches, Cubia comes pretty close to crashing the whole of the Internet... which, in a world where Everything Is Online, would be incredibly devastating.
  • In Cave Story, Ballos is the inventor of the demon crown and is the True Final Boss, but that doesn't change the fact that the Doctor was the main villain up until he was defeated.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins has the Archdemon as the Big Bad; Dragon Age II has no-one, a point that Cassandra takes the whole game to get her head around. Dragon Age: Inquisition has the Elder One, aka Corypheus. Across all three games are the machinations of Flemeth, who eventually reveals herself to be a Living Bodysuit for the Elven Goddess Mythal, and has been gathering godly powers for "a reckoning which will shake the very heavens"
    • Corypheus is one of the Tevinter magisters who created the Blight. This makes him responsible for the events of Origins (which means he's also the reason Hawke ended up in Kirkwall), as well as Merideth's insanity, which was caused by blighted red lyrium.
  • In Bully, Mr. Harrington, the father of Derby Harrington, fills a role like this. He doesn't make a personal appearance in the story and is only referenced in a few lines of dialogue, but his money and meddling in school affairs are one of the root causes of a lot of the corruption at Bullworth Academy.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Ace Attorney Investigations 2 has Di-Jun Huang, who not only took the identity of the president of Zheng-Fa but also had powerful associates in the Prison and Legal systems of Japan/the USA. However, his actions also lead to his death at the hands of the Big Bad: Simon Keyes.
    • Blaise Debeste is the Greater Scope Villain of the entire franchise, being the one who gave Manfred von Karma the first penalty in his perfect 40-year career. The penalty was for using a falsified autopsy report as evidence, but Blaise was the one who had the report falsified in the first place. This in turn lead to the DL-6 Incident, a tragic event that was both directly and indirectly responsible for the backstories of several major characters.
  • Prime Minister Bill Hawks in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. Aside from being a Distressed Dude, he doesn't play much of a role in the conflict of the story, but he was responsible for the incident that served as the Start of Darkness for the game's two main villains.
  • The main villain of Stinkoman 20X6, due to the game not having a final level.
  • The Shadow Queen from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door takes this role, being a Sealed Evil in a Can, and is most likely the catastrophe that destroyed the ancient town. Grodus, the actual Big Bad, seeks to free her so he can use her for his own ends. This proves unfortunate.
  • Final Fantasy XI:
    • The return of the Shadowlord, the Big Bad of the game's original story arc, was orchestrated by the Zilart princes Kam'lanaut and Eald'narche. They become the Big Bads of the first expansion Rise of the Zilart, but their plans unwittingly (though perhaps they were influenced by him) to allow the Big Bad from the second expansion Chains of Promathia back into the world.
    • Ultimately, all of the troubles that happened in the game stemmed from the pact made by the Shadowlord with the Celestial Avatar Odin. Odin gave Raogrimm the power to get revenge for his murder in exchange for releasing Odin from his slumber, this revenge and its consequences nearly lead to the destruction of Vana'diel at least half a dozen times since then, but none of that was ever part of Odin's goal. Odin is also not too bad of a guy if you get to know him.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's, the Greater Scope Villain of the series as a whole is the unnamed Serial Killer who murdered at least five children (maybe as many as eleven) at a birthday party in 1987, possibly causing the animatronics to develop their murderous tendencies. (One theory is that the driving force behind them is the ghosts of his victims.) It is believed that he didn't survive either, and that he is featured in the game somehow, possibly as Golden Freddy, the Puppet, or even the Phone Guy (or even all three).
    • While his identity and most information about him remain a mystery, the third installment eventually reveals that the killer died when he tried to hide from the ghosts of the dead children inside an animatronic suit. Said animatronic (with the dead body of the killer still inside it) is implied to be haunted by the killer and tries to kill you, thus making the killer the Big Bad of the third game.
    • However, there are other Greater Scope Villains such as Golden Freddy and the Puppet, who have both been responsible for past events (and thus, the rise of Big Bad Freddy Fazbear and his gang), such as the reason the animatronics were haunted as well as the reason for the Bite of '87. However, the Puppet turns out to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist and ultimately the Big Good to the animatronics, whereas Golden Freddy is decidedly more cruel and aggressive than any other animatronic when finally encountered.
    • The fourth game gives us another yet unknown Greater Scope Villain, Nightmare, who has been theorized to be Shadow Freddy.
  • Myth has the Leveler, a malevolent force that is responsible for turning a hero to darkness every thousand years.
  • As told by Tekken 6's Scenario Campaign mode, Jin Kazama is the one who set the world into chaos (and thus the actual antagonist) but only did so in order to awaken the monster Azazel. This is most apparent in the story mode, where Azazel is taken out almost casually a short while before the true final battle against Jin.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories had hints of this when it ultimately was revealed that Marluxia, the game's Big Bad, was a Starscream trying to overthrow the leader of Organization XIII (simply called the Organization back then).
  • Shows up in Pokémon Gold and Silver (and their Updated Rereleases, remakes, etc.) of all places. Giovanni, the Big Bad of the original Pokémon Red and Blue games, is AWOL in this entry but his organization is still committing crimes and experiments in his name. The Big Bad of these games is the Dragon Ascendant, who went nameless in the original Gold and Silver editions but was named Archer in the remakes.
  • Darkrai from the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers games.
  • Mega Man X:
    • Sigma is the Big Bad. His actions are tied to the Maverick Virus, which was created by Dr. Wily. He only interacts with the plot directly in Mega Man X5.
    • Lumine takes the cake in Mega Man X8, picking up right after Sigma is defeated.
  • Mega Man Zero:
    • Well-Intentioned Extremist Copy X and the Four Guardians at the helm of the plot. After the first game, the Big Bad is defeated and Phantom has pulled a bungled Suicide Attack. The remaining three Guardians go on the warpath with Zero and the Resistance, which causes its new leader, Elpizo, to snap and use the powers of the Greater Scope Villain, the Dark Elf, for vengeance.
    • The next game introduces Dr. Weil, who created the Dark Elf and shows up with his own ultra-Nigh Invulnerable version of Zero: Omega. Weil rebuilds Copy X and uses him as an Unwitting Pawn, along with the children of the Dark Elf, Crea and Prea, who never intentionally did anything evil because they're mere infants.
    • Mega Man ZX has Model W as a driving antagonistic force, though individual games focus more on their direct Big Bads. Advent implies that Model W is Dr. Weil, Back from the Dead.
  • The Infocom game Enchanter has an Eldritch Abomination sealed up directly below the castle of the evil warlock Krill; the player needs to stop Krill without freeing the entity, lest it destroy the world.
  • Solatorobo has Baion, who sees no need to learn to control Lares (since Nero and Blanck can do that for him already) or chase the protagonists as Bruno did; instead, he just wants to summon Tartaros and bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Mass Effect:
    • For the first and second games The Reapers are in dark space, and the goal of the Big Bads of those games (each an individual Reaper) is to facilitate their return. Their reasons are left secret but it is simply known that they regularly destroy advanced galactic civilizations every 50,000 years. But that fact was known only to the main characters and not to the galaxy at large, leaving many to believe they are just rumors and only the Big Bad is the threat.
    • In the third game, the Reaper horde have arrived, and serve as the Big Bad this time and at the end it's revealed that at the heart of the Citadel was an AI referred to as The Catalyst, who created the Reapers as a solution to a theory that natural and artificial life would continually destroy each other. The harvest was a way to provide balance by destroy the advanced civilizations before the artificial life they created would turn against them, leaving the lesser species to evolve and take their place in the next cycle. The DLC "Leviathan" reveals more details on this revelation through the eponymous creatures, which were the first sentient species to develop in the galaxy and are telepathic to an almost omniscient level. They created the Catalyst, who created the Reapers in their image and started the harvest cycle, destroying most of their species in the process. They're rather miffed about this, as it wasn't their intention at all.
  • Portal and Portal 2 have Cave Johnson, the deranged, corrupt CEO of Aperture Science, despite being long dead by the time of the games. He's responsible for the company's horrific (and counterproductive) policies, as well indirectly responsible for creating GLaDOS and putting her in charge of the facility.
  • Easily Yami from Ōkami, who's existence creates all of the evil beings you face in the game, being the root of all evil and all. Doesn't appear till the very final battle and is barely hinted at before, also doesn't seem to be a very intelligent being either since it doesn't talk.
    • In Ōkamiden, one of the two possible origins of the Big Bad, Akuro, is that he was the true Greater Scope Villain of Okami and was controlling Yami.
  • Assassin's Creed III reveals that the true villain is, and always has been, Juno. Juno's machinations were a major reason the Assassins and Templars were never able to put aside their differences and work together to make a better world. All so that Desmond would have no way to save the world from the solar flare that didn't also allow her to escape.
  • In the Twoson and Fourside arcs of Earthbound/Mother 2, the main threats are Mr. Carpainter and Monotoli, respectively. However, they get their power from the Mani Mani Statue, which eludes the party until Fourside, when the party can enter an illusion version of it named Moonside and destroy the statue, which breaks Monotoli's power considerably.
  • King's Quest:
    • A number of villains belonged to the mysterious Black Cloak Society, making them a potential Greater Scope Villain for the whole series. Unfortunately, the series died before anything could come of it, though they return in Fan Sequel The Silver Lining in a more direct role.
    • The AGD Interactive remake of II added The Father, a member of, and possibly the leader of the Black Cloak Society, who's the villain behind Hagitha, the main villain of the game. At the end of the game, he also curses Graham, which causes the events of the next two games.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2:
    • Storm of Zehir has Zehir, the yuan-ti god of poison.
    • The fan campaign The Maimed God's Saga has Malar, the Faerűnian god of savagery.
  • Skullgirls has The Trinity, the supposed creator of Double, who is the antagonist for many of the characters. Downloadable Content reveals that the true Greater Scope Villain is actually Eliza, an ancient vampiric monster. She is the reason the Trinity, and by extension the Skullheart itself, exists. In her story route, her ancient ambitions are rekindled...
  • The Grotesqueries Queen could be considered the true big bad in the backstory of Nier since it was because of her that the Gestalts and Replicants were created to allow humanity to outlast the White Chlorination Syndrome caused by the Queen's remains.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • ''Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem: Medeus, who, plot-wise, is basically just a tool for the game's actual Big Bad, Gharnef to use to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, and only makes a physical appearence as the Final Boss.
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: Chancellor Sephiran though this fact is only revealed in the sequel where he's the direct Big Bad.
      • In a weird example, Radiant Dawn does the inverse: Ashnard, the Big Bad of Path of Radiance, turns out to have been the cause of a major problem for Daein during that sequel. Of couse, he doesn't actively play a role due to being dead by then.
    • Genealogy of the Holy War: Loptyr, to Manfroy. We only see this character directly twice due to him spending most of the game posessing Julius: during an attack that summons him and when he leaves Julius' body after his defeat. But he is the biggest force of evil in the setting and his full revival is what Manfroy is working towards.
    • Thracia 776: Veld is the game's Big Bad, but he's only a comparatively minor member of the Loptyr Sect, and so Manfroy is still his superior. Manfroy does appear a few times in the game, but never plays a major role. Julius (presumably still posessed by Loptyr) also appears, but it's more-or-less a cameo, making those two the Greater Scope Villains of the game, due to it being a Midquel.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: Fomortiis to Lyon. Like some of the above examples, this character only physically appears during the final battle.
  • The Garlean Emperor Solus zos Galvus in Final Fantasy XIV, the unseen superior to Big Bad Nael van Darnus, who commands his invasion force. However, later content patches imply that Garlemald is currently undergoing a brutal war of succession, implying the emperor died before we ever even saw him. Once the Garleans are gone, the next Greater Scope Villain is Zodiark, the god worshipped by the Ascians. To a lesser extent, the Ascians themselves step down after Lahabrea is defeated and instead focus on teaching the beast tribes ways to summon their primals stronger than ever before. While they'll be a threat eventually, for the time they're content to just sit back and help the already dying world kill itself faster.
  • God is indirectly responsible for the awful cycles of war in Duel Savior Destiny with the constant resurgence of the army of Ruin, but he's not pulling the strings. Nor is the Big Bad his minion. In the final route you can finally fight God and actually completely resolve the story, but until then he's just not really present.
  • Fallout 3: It's heavily implied that the aliens from Mothership Zeta have been watching humanity for years, and it's also heavily implied that it was they who launched the nuclear weapons that started the Great War and ravaged the planet, just to see what would happen.
  • Fallout: New Vegas and its DLCs feature a really weird version. The Big Bad Ensemble that occurs if you have all DLC installed- Caesar, Elijah, Klein, and Ulysses- are all to a degree responsible for the conflicts of the game, and each other's plans. By the end, they all seem to be the Greater Scope Villain to one another.
    • Caesar (AKA Edward Sallow), the Big Bad of the vanilla game, was the one who led the Legion when it conquered Ulysses's tribe, thus giving him his motivation in Lonesome Road. He's also the one who ordered the White Legs to destroy New Canaan, the one who gave them intelligence, attack dogs, and other aid, and the one who sent Ulysses to help them. This, along with the fact that Salt-Upon-Wounds, the leader of the White Legs, considers himself a soldier for Caesar, makes him the Greater Scope Villain of Honest Hearts.
    • Father Elijah, the Big Bad of Dead Money, has a plan that dwarfs the other's plans in monstrosity and sheer scale. It was also he who soloed the Big MT, where he acquired a lot of advanced technology that would help him enact his plan in Dead Money. The way he completely owned the Think Tank, led by Klein, also partly caused them to want to break out of Big MT to spread chaos into the rest of the world using their advanced pre-war technology. Elijah giving them the idea to do this makes him the Greater Scope Villain of Old World Blues
    • Doctor Klein and the Think-Tank, the Big Bad of Old World Blues, were responsible for the creation of the Cloud, the Ghost People, and the invincible laser-shooting holograms of the Sierra Madre. This caused the Sierra Madre to transform into a Death World, thus setting up the events of Dead Money. Elijah's plan also revolved around exploiting said poisonous gas and holograms to make himself emperor of post-war America, and he would've never been able to do that if the Think-Tank didn't so thoroughly screw up the Sierra Madre, making them the Greater Scope Villain of Dead Money. Their research and antics have also, directly or indirectly been responsible for enabling a number of antagonists in Fallout 2 and 3. With Dr. Braun and the Tranquility Lane simulation (implied to have been outsourced to the Big MT) as well as Professor Calvert's brain-preserving technology coming to mind.
    • Finally, Ulysses, the Big Bad of Lonesome Road. He told Father Elijah about the location of the Sierra Madre, and is thus indirectly responsible for aiding Elijah's plan. He also asked the Think-Tank an Armor-Piercing Question which, along with Elijah's rampage, caused them to want to break out of the Big MT and screw up the rest of the world like they did with the Sierra Madre. He was also sent by Caesar to train the White Legs in modern warfare, letting them become the main antagonists in Honest Hearts, and found caches of machine guns for them to use, giving them the ability to wipe out many civilizations in Utah, where guns were rare except among the New Canaanites. He went rogue soon after to enact his plan in Lonesome Road. In terms of the main plot and the conflict between NCR and the Legion, he's also the one who initially reported the location of Hoover Dam to Caesar.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • Ajunta Pall, the founder of the Sith Order and thus the Greater Scope Villain behind the vast majority of Star Wars media. Among Greater Scope Villains he's fairly unique in that many of his successors are much worse than he was, and indeed it's possible within the game to help his tortured spirit find redemption.
    • Revan reveals that the Sith Emperor was responsible for Revan and Malak's fall, and thus the events of the KOTOR games. He takes the Big Bad role for Star Wars: The Old Republic.
  • Several Yu-Gi-Oh! video games feature the mysterious Egyptian demon Nitemare, the original creator of the Shadow Games and thus the Greatest Villain of the entire setting. While due to numerous contradictions the games in which he appears are not canon to the greater series, it remains somewhat unclear whether Nitemare himself and his role in the Backstory are, as he was created, though never used, by Kazuki Takahashi himself.
  • Ray Bulgarin from Grand Theft Auto IV. He is an antagonist much more influential in the Niko Bellic's life than Dimitri.
  • Phazon from the Metroid Prime trilogy. A mysterious toxic mutagen that destroyed the Chozo civilization on Tallon IV, ripped open a dimensional hole on Aether, and is being used to create biological weapons by the Space Pirates. Initially thought a passive corrupting force, there are hints throughout the first two games that Phazon is actually Sentient Phlebotinum, which is confirmed in the third. Each game has its own Big Bad, and Phazon is always why they're a threat in the first place.
  • The Big Bad of Iji is General Tor, but as he explains he is utterly subservient to his military leaders, who are themselves subservient to the Komato race as a whole, because of their powerful herd mentality combined with millennia of cultural jingoism. The idea is that war is bigger than one person, and is ultimately a symptom of a severely messed-up society.
  • In the original Half-Life, the Big Bad was the Nihilanth, a powerful alien leading the Xen invasion forces. However, Valve revealed that the Nihilanth and his forces were invading earth in order to flee from the Combine. Sure enough in Half-Life 2, the Combine are the main antagonists. In fact, while Dr. Breen is the Big Bad of the sequel, he is subservient to another Greater Scope Villain, the Advisors, who not only take direct control over the remaining Combine's forces in Episodes One and Two following Breen's death, but who also implied to be the leaders of the Combine overall.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In the Dragonborn DLC for Skyrim, the main antagonist is Miraak, a former Dragon Priest and the first Dragonborn. It's later revealed that he's subservient to Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, who he's plotting to overthrow. Turns out, Hermaeus Mora was letting Miraak build up his power, knowing he'd eventually target the last Dragonborn and lure them to Solstheim, where Mora could recruit them. He then used their conflict to steal the secrets of the Skaal, before killing Miraak and informing the Dragonborn they've inherited his position. Overall, quote an impressive display of a Greater Scope Villain and Manipulative Bastard at work.
    • Mehrunes Dagon was this in Arena to Jagar Tharn. Then a really obscure text revealed that Alduin was the Greater Scope Villain to him in Battlespire and Oblivion.
  • In Warframe, much of the game's mess can be laid at the feet of the leaders of the Grineer and the Corpus, none of whom you get to strike directly at. And then there are Sentients, who waged war with Orokin Empire, which led to creation on Tenno in the first place and Empire downfall by Tenno hands.
  • In Harvester, the entire game is merely a simulation to create serial killers, making the programmers behind the simulation fit this trope.
  • Mario & Luigi:
    • In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Fawful takes over the castles of both Peach and Bowser, with the objective of using Peach to awaken a source of evil known as The Dark Star.
    • In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, the Big Bad is Princess Shroob, the Shroob leader. Except she's only been the main leader since the beginning of the game; Peach sealed her older sister away offscreen at the very beginning of the game, making the younger Princess Shroob the Big Bad and the older one the Greater Scope Villain.
  • While Prince Cort is the Big Bad in Legend of Legaia, he has been subtly corrupted by the Rogue from a Well-Intentioned Extremist into The Evil Prince. As the Rogue is the game's analogue of Satan but is disconnected from the game's plot as a whole, it qualifies as the Greater Scope Villain.
  • In the first Gabriel Knight game Tetelo is performing the Voodoo Murders in order to appease Ogoun Badagris, who destroyed her tribe after her father tried to cheat him out of a special Human Sacrifice. Her.
  • In Suikoden III, Hikusaak, Emperor of Harmonia, plans to gather the 27 True Runes to create a world of perfect order - a soulless dystopia. The actual villains of the game are the people trying to stop him, because their plan to do so will kill millions of people.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona:
    • While the Big Bad in Persona 3 is Ikutsuki, for trying to bring about The Fall by causing Nyx to descend to Earth and turn everyone into braindead zombies, it's easy to assume that, by extension, the Greater Scope Villain is Nyx. However, it's eventually revealed that Nyx is more of a force of nature than an actual entity, and doesn't really wish to bring about The Fall. No, the real Greater Scope Villain is Erebus, the manifestation of mankind's will to die, who actively does want to bring about The Fall and can do so by coming into contact with Nyx. Another, more human Greater Scope Villain is Mitsuru Kirijo's grandfather, the Corrupt Corporate Executive, Evil Sorcerer, and Misanthrope Supreme who summoned Nyx to Earth in the first place. Ikutsuki was his protege, and the other major human villain, Takaya, was experimented on by him.
    • While the real killer and mastermind behind the killings and abductions in Inaba in Persona 4 is Adachi, the path to the True Ending reveals that there's someone behind even them: Izanami, who gave the protagonist, Adachi and Nametame the power to enter the TV World in order to test humanity.
    • Persona 4 Arena reveals another Greater Scope Villain: The Malevolent Entity, who is heavily implied to be Nyarlathotep.
    • Nyarlathotep has this role in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. In Innocent Sin, The Reveal about him showed he was actually involved directly for a decent chunk of the game, but in Eternal Punishment, while his existence is revealed early, he's mostly only referenced when bringing up Innocent Sin's events and that his power caused The Plan to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, but it's mostly his pawns that interact with characters, and he himself doesn't actually appear until the very end of the game.
  • One has been vaguely hinted as existing in the main Shin Megami Tensei continuity, as well. Exact nature is unclear, but there have been various opaque references to YHVH not always being the tyrant he is now, meaning the root cause of the Order Versus Chaos Forever War is something else. Its exact nature is a point of debate among fans, as is whether or not it's likely to be "officially" revealed at all. YHVH and Lucifer themselves are also skilled at playing Greater Scope Villain when the situation calls for it.
  • Final Fantasy XII has The Occuria; all of the villains' horrible actions were done in the name of freeing the mortal races from the yoke of these Abusive Precursors.
  • The Wonderful 101 has the villains, the Geathjerk Federation, mention the reason they attack Earth is because of "The Greater Galactic Coalition". The Supreme Overlord Jergingha reveals that the Greater Galactic Coalition is the human race from 1500 years in the future, where Geathjerk came from to wipe out humanity and prevent their worlds from being enslaved and destroyed.
  • As of Contra: Shattered Soldier, it turns out that the Triumvirate is truly responsible for everything that has happened in the Contra series, when they had stole the Relic of Moirai and provoked the Alien Wars in the first place.
  • Ares in God of War, despite being the Big Bad of the first game and dying in the same game, he is the true catalyst for setting up the entire plot of God Of War in motion. That includes the deaths of virtually the entire gods of Olympus and the transformation of the entire world into an apocalypse.
  • Ares turns out to be the Greater Scope Villain of Spartan: Total Warrior, manipulating both Rome and The Spartan to complete his revenge against The Spartan's mother, a handmaiden of Aphrodite who snitched on Ares' affair with Aphrodite to her husband.
  • The Legend of Spyro trilogy has it's main villain Malefor in this role in the first two games, with whatever servant he has acting as The Dragon in each game, Cynder in the first and Gual in the second, as the Big Bad plotting his return, before taking over as the Big Bad in the third and final game.
  • In Saints Row: The Third, Monica Hughes is this for Cyrus Temple, as she is the one who spearheaded the STAG initiative.
  • The Touhou Story Arc consisting of games 10 through 13 is generally referred to as the "Moriya arc", because the events of each game are caused by a character who debuted in the previous game, despite not appearing in the game in question, starting with the Moriya Shrine members. Subterranean Animism was caused by Kanako giving Utsuho the tremendous power that gave her ideas of megalomania. Undefined Fantastic Object was caused by a geyser that Utsuho created launching the Palanquin Ship into the sky. And Ten Desires was caused by Byakuren landing the Palanquin Ship on Miko's mausoleum, giving her the boost she needed to resurrect.
  • Manus, Father of the Abyss, is this to the world of Dark Souls. He is only encountered in Downloadable Content and long dead in the present day thanks to the Chosen Undead defeating him in the past, but he is ultimately responsible for the Vicious Cycle plaguing the world. One of the reasons the First Flame needs to stay lit is to keep the Abyss (the unfettered form of the Dark Soul) that Manus unleashed sealed away. Without the First Flame keeping the Dark Soul in check, all humans would likely become monsters like Manus. In the sequel, the Big Bad is a fragment of Manus' soul granted human form. The smallest fragment no less.
  • In Psychonauts, The Butcher is the primary reason his son, Coach Oleander is as screwed up as he is, and why he embraces the whole Take Over the World schtick. In a weird variation, defeating the former (or rather a mental projection of him) is key to defeating the latter.
  • The Elf quest series in RuneScape, its longest-running storyline, hinted at a mysterious "Dark Lord" whom the Big Bad Duumvirate of Elf Lord Iorwerth and King Lathas worship and plan to summon to Gielinor. Only in the Grand Finale is this being revealed to be a shard of the Elven supreme goddess Seren, specifically the embodiment of all her bad qualities, whom the evil Elves elevated to a god in its own right. Iorwerth pays with his life for messing with it..
  • The Galactic Federation in Phoenotopia. They're the greatest immediate threat to humanity present (other than Billy), but they're not directly responsible for any major plot points; they simply prompt the abductions, spur Gale to bring Billy to the Phoenix Weapons, and give Billy a chance to take over Earth.
  • Lavos from Chrono Trigger remains mostly in the background, driving the actions of some people (such as the ancient civilization that tried to harvest his power and discovered it's a bad idea) while feeding on the planet's energy until he can awaken and cause The End of the World as We Know It. That is, if the time-travelling protagonists did not know about this and made stopping Lavos their ultimate goal once they beat closer threats.
  • Tears to Tiara 2 has Metatronius, the overseer from heaven originally sent to watch over earth but was sealed by the elves in the great war a thousand years prior.
  • Mage Gauntlet has an unusual case. Uamuleth is insulted by Lexi saying Hurgoth sent him, calling Hurgoth a "weakling." When defeated, however, he drops a crystal tether, implying he was indeed sent by Hurgoth. Neither of them is the real Big Bad - it's actually Whitebeard - but notes in Master Mode reveal Uamuleth to be a Greater Scope Villain whose cultists and demons pose a much greater threat to both Earth and the Dark Realm than Hurgoth - whom he's right about, and who has nothing to do with the crystals - ever could.
  • While the primary Big Bad's of the Senran Kagura series are Dogen and Orochi, Shin is the source of all the Yoma.
  • General Ignacio Sanchez and Nate Johns in Red Dead Redemption. Sanchez, the brutal President of Mexico, is this to the Mexican storyline. As the superior of Colonel Augustin Allende, the governor of the Nuevo Parasio region (and the closest thing to a Big Bad in Mexico), Sanchez is the true power despite never being confronted. Johns serves as this more personally to John Marston's story in the U.S., at first being a gubernatorial candidate, and later being elected Governor of West Elizabeth. Him coming from a rich family and promising to clean up crime in the state spurs Edgar Ross and the Bureau to send John out to kill his former friends. Like Sanchez, Johns is never actually confronted. However, neither of them end up well in the end. Sanchez is ultimately deposed by Abraham Reyes, while Johns doesn't survive multiple corruption scandals and is ultimately kicked out of the governor's mansion.
  • Uka Uka, Aku Aku's evil mask twin, in the Crash Bandicoot series .
  • Tales Series:
    • Fortuna in Tales of Destiny 2 may be providing Elraine with her existence and power, but she herself spends most of the game sealed and completely indifferent to the actions of the heroes and only fights you at the very end.
    • The Adephagos in Tales of Vesperia, another Sealed Evil in a Can that does not drive most of the plot. Even when it manifests, it itself is simply a mindless malevolence.
  • Asura's Wrath: Chakravartin
  • Legacy of Kain: The Elder God.
  • Though Hotline Miami has the player taking on hordes of Russian mobsters, the real Greater Scope Villian of the game are 50 Blessings, the group that was giving you phone calls and sending you off to kill Russians in order to keep America strong. The two janitors that frequently show up through the game are members of 50 Blessings, and possibly the ones personally giving you the phone calls.
  • For the longest time, people thought that the ultimate Big Bad of BlazBlue were both Yuki Terumi and Relius Clover, master manipulators and uber hax fighters on their own. By the end of Chronophantasma... Terumi got killed off, and Relius was severely depressed... just in time for their boss, Hades Izanami, the literal Death Goddess of the verse, reveal herself, took on severe measures against the heroes and plans on her universal plot of turning the whole world into the world of Death... Sure, those were the original goals of Terumi and Relius, but as far as Hades Izanami is concerned, nothing is safe from her.
  • Radia Senki Reimeihen has the man who calls himself the Master of Dreams, who motivated the Big Bad Gadiss into causing strife and summoned nightmare creatures into the Dream World of Lemuria to unite the world in fear.
  • The Lufia series has Arek the Absolute, who is shown in Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals as the Sinistrals' superior. To what degree he is a villain is unknown; the cancelled Ruins Chasers implied him to be the ultimate villain, whereas the Alternate Continuity remake Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals has Arek as more of The Watcher than a malevolent deity.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night gradually reveals over the three routes that the source of the Grail's corruption is Angra Mainyu, who will be reborn if any of the Big Bads succeed in their plans.

    Webcomics 
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The Snarl, a God-killing Eldritch Abomination, is the most powerful and malevolent presence in the series, and the whole reason everything is happening, but appears to have no real mind or personality of its own; there are some hints as of this comic (major spoilers ahoy) that this might not be the case.
    • The IFCC Directors are three fiends who are rather, were The Man Behind the Man to the Linear Guild, but they themselves refer to more powerful fiends ("the Lower Downs") from whom they are attempting to gain support for their venture, using their corruption of Vaarsuvius as proof of concept.
  • Lord English from Homestuck is the most powerful character in the setting, but remained The Unseen until after Act 5, despite a great impact (mostly in the form of his chief servant, Doc Scratch) on the plot. The Big Bad was initially thought to be Jack Noir, stab-happy treacherous Archagent, who the protagonists have much more motivation to destroy but he has since lost focus in the story as Lord English's machinations become more and more obvious as well as his possible origin.
  • Chaos of Eight Bit Theater is an evil Eldritch Abomination and embodiment of decay that is the whole reason behind the Light Warriors' quest. Although he does desire to end (and eternally torment, however that works) existence for no real reason, he does not come into play until the real Big Bad, Sarda, accidentally brings him about. Who was himself indirectly created by Black Mage.
  • In Sluggy Freelance the Demon King of the Dimension of Pain generally plays this part in Dimension of Pain arcs. The demon lord Horribus serves as Big Bad. Presumably Psykosis will be replacing him in future Dimension of Pain appearances.
  • Malefor in The Legend of Spyro Zonoya's Revenge. Not only was he responsible for everything that happened in the games, he brainwashed Cynder into slashing out the eye of Zonoya, her best friend, which was Zonoya's Start of Darkness. Zonoya was also in love with him, leading to many of her actions in addition to her revenge plot, making him responsible for most of the plot..
  • Commander Badass's superiors in the Nomura Syndrome arc of Manly Guys Doing Manly Things. They were the ones that hired the Big Bad Gackt to release The Virus and turn Commander Badass into a Bishounen. And it's just so they can market new merchandise.
  • Altair in White Dark Life is a far more villainous character than Dark Matt or Artemis. The latter are simply selfish and commit evil to keep Dark Matt from being erased once he is finally purified and are rather comical at times. The former on the other hand wants to murder all the demons, little children included.

    Web Original 
  • The Lord Vyce story arc of Atop the Fourth Wall has the Multiversal Conqueror Lord Vyce the Big Bad, but his goal in conquering is to in fact protect dimensions from, and eventually track down and kill an Eldritch Abomination that he simply refers to as "The Entity", which devours entire planets, and eventually universes. Later it turns out the Entity came to our universe as a Batman Gambit in hopes Linkara would defeat Lord Vyce, since it considered fighting him to be too inconvenient.
  • In The Gamers Alliance, the Nameless Evil, which later took over the god Dreamweaver's body and became known as Death, has been behind all atrocities which have taken place in various eras, subtly influencing events to its liking.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • The Director is this, as most of the things that happened to the Blood Gulch Crew and Freelancers were caused by him and his plans.
    • The Chairman serves as a Hero Antagonist Greater Scope Villain when he sends that Big Bad Duumvirate of Wash and the Meta to find Epsilon with the ultimate goal of arresting the Director. Actually, he's not a hero at all when the Season 12 finale reveals that he was the Big Bad "Control". He is also the Greater Scope Villain for the overall series when it's revealed that he funded the Insurrection that the Freelancers fought against.
    • Flashbacks in Season 10 show that the A.I. Sigma qualifies for the Recollection Trilogy as a whole; he's technically the Big Bad of Reconstruction, but he is killed after those events. However, his influence on the Meta still remains in Recreation and Revelation.
    • In Seasons 11 and 12, General Doyal takes this role on the account of being the leader of the Federation Army. However, he can be hardly be considered a fighter, and he has no control over Locus. Locus is working under the orders of the Big Bad, Control, and Doyal's role is subverted when it's revealed that Locus and Felix are manipulating the Civil War on the planet Chorus under Control's orders.
  • We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
    • Cipher serves as one for the entire RP in general, often acting through proxies instead of fighting the J-Team directly, having a hand in the backstories of several characters, and even created 'M which antagonized the J-Team during the Unova arc. For Orre they end up becoming the Big Bad of the arc.
    • OLD MAN's nemesis, the Magikarp Salesman, a powerful demon who doesn't really concern himself with the J-Team's antics at all.
    • The Seven Jerk Dragons serve as this for the PMD-R arc. While they don't make a direct appearance, their actions are directly responsible for the state of PMD-B when J-Team members visit it.
  • Tyrant and the King in Winter of Citadel. One holds the entire population of Europe in mental thrall while the other is responsible for freezing a large chunk of the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Worm:
    • Empire 88 are an offshoot of a more established German organisation called Gesellschaft, who sometimes send cape assistance over but are never confronted directly by Taylor.
    • Cauldron is this for a large part of the story. Long before they directly come into the picture, they indirectly aid and abet a lot of the antagonists.

    Western Animation 
  • Eddy's Brother from Ed, Edd n Eddy is responsible for Eddy being the selfish, greedy Jerkass that he is, and thus for all of the schemes that drive almost every episode.
  • A handful of episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series feature Baron Mordo as the Big Bad, who is trying to unseal his demonic master Dormammu. Dormammu is a presence in the episodes, but the sorcerer is the primary villain.
  • Unicron of Transformers is the ultimate evil in the metaseries, but is usually a distant figure, with Megatron (or his replacement as Decepticon leader) being Big Bad. In Transformers Prime he's mentioned as early as the pilot episode as the source of Dark Energon, which plays a considerable role throughout the series, before finally taking over as the Big Bad in the finale movie Predacons Rising. The exceptions are Transformers Armada, where Unicron is the Big Bad all along, orchestrating the conflict for his own purposes, and Transformers: The Movie, where he serves as the Big Bad with Galvatron as both The Heavy and The Starscream.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons animated series, one episode featured Big Bad Venger's master, an insanely powerful Eldritch Abomination that appears and starts destroying the entire realm. Even at the end, when it's banished with the combined efforts of Dungeon Master, Venger, and the Heroes, DM still remarks that what they've accomplished is but a temporary victory.
  • Masters of the Universe:
    • Horde Prime, mainly in She Ra Princess Of Power since the Horde was her primary enemy. The master of both Hordak and Skeletor, Prime almost never played a direct role, but would occasionally appear to berate Hordak for his constant failures.
    • Hordak himself is the Greater Scope Villain in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002). He plays a prominent role in the backstory as the Arch-Enemy to King Greyskull (and oddly enough to fellow archvillain King Hiss as well) and the one who transformed the dying Keldor into Skeletor. In the series proper he is a Sealed Evil in a Can who only briefly appears as gigantic cloudlike apparition during an attempt to release him only to fade away once the attempt is foiled. Had the series continued Hordak would have been freed and become the Big Bad proper for a season before being defeated by Skeletor. Also, Hordak is the one who divided that series' version of Eternia into the Light Hemisphere and the Dark Hemisphere.
    • Bravestarr used the exact same format, with Big Bad Tex Hex answering to an entity called Stampede.
  • On Invader Zim, Zim could probably be seen as the Big Bad focusing on Earth, with the Irken Empire itself (including the Tallests and Control Brains) as the Greater Scope Villain out to conquer the rest of the universe, especially since technically Zim conquering Earth wasn't even part of the Empire's plans.
  • Lucius Heinous I on Jimmy Two-Shoes. So far, he's always been frozen, but every subsequent member of the Heinous line fears him, including the current Big Bad, Lucius VII. Edward Kay has stated he might get unfrozen one day...
  • While humans in Adventure Time are long extinct (except for Finn), their "Mushroom War" not only led to the return of magic, but also one of their bombs created the Lich, who proceeded to spread monsters across the planet and kill almost everything. The Alternate Universe "Farmworld" shows that even without the Lich, humanities' actions indirectly lead to an apocalypse.
  • The Nightmare Prince's mother from Potsworth And Company.
  • Generator Rex has the Consortium, who are the reason for the nanite event.
  • The Big Bad Mumm-Ra of ThunderCats (both the original and 2011 reboot) is a servant of the Ancient Spirits of Evil, who grant him his power in exchange.
  • The Legend of Korra season 2 reveals Vaatu to be the canonical ultimate evil of the entire Avatar universe, as he is the embodiment of darkness, chaos and destruction. He was the reason the Avatar came into existence. It's not until Korra's time that he takes center stage for that season.
    • Yakone serves as the Greater Scope Villain of book one. He was a crime boss who used psychic bloodbending to commit his crimes until Avatar Aang took his bending away. He received plastic surgery and escaped to the Northern Water tribe, where he fathered two sons, Noatok and Tarrlok. When both sons were revealed to be waterbenders, he put through rigorous training to master his psychic bloondbending to destroy the Avatar. His actions caused his oldest son Noatok to hate bending and become Amon, while his youngest son Tarrlok became a corrupt politician who wanted to outdo his father. Both became enemies of Aang's successor, Korra. By that point, Yakone was already dead.
    • The Red Lotus serves as the Greater Scope Villains of The Legend of Korra as a whole, but to a lesser extent with Book 1. They attempted to kidnap Korra as a child, which resulted in her being isolated from the rest of the world for the past seventeen years of her life. When Unalaq was a member of theirs, he learned of Raava and Vaatu. He also engineered the Red Lotus' attempt to kidnap Korra, resulting to Zaheer and his gang getting captured and continuing his new plan in becoming a Dark Avatar. They're also indirectly responsible for the events of Book 4, as Zaheer's assassination of the Earth Queen lead to Kuvira's rise to power and Korra's PTSD.
    • Fire Lord Sozin served as the Greater Scope Villain in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Avatar Roku's former friend turned evil, he used Roku's death as the chance to start the hundred year war, which resulted in the extinction of the airbenders, save for Aang. Ozai served this role is seasons 1 and 2 as he never has any direct contact with the heroes, not even Zuko save for a flashback, and only becomes directly involved in season 3, where his face is actually shown.
  • Samurai Jack had an unnamed Eldritch Abomination that was killed long before the series began. Big Bad Aku is the last surviving piece of it, accidentally granted sentience, wizard-powers, and mobility by Jack's father in an attempt to destroy the evil blight.
  • American Dragon Jake Long: While the Huntsclan is still Jake's primary enemy, they're ranked as only the number 4 threat to the Magical Community. Instead, the Dark Dragon serves as the most powerful enemy in the series, and thus only gets personally involved in two episodes.
  • The Three Ancestral Witches are this in Winx Club, especially in seasons 1 and 3. Being responsible for the destruction of Domino, they are the cause of many of the series's problems. The Trix, their descendants, take over their role to conquer the magical universe, and Valtor was their creation and servant. At the end of season 3, they attempt to directly control Valtor to their will, but he's killed before he can do anything. They become more involved in the movies.
  • While League of Super Evil centers around the schemes of the League, Skullossus is the most threatening villain to the world at large.
  • The Simpsons has Wainwright Montgomery Burns, grandfather of Mr. Charles Montgomery Burns. He's the reason why Mr. Burns became a malicious and greedy old man, since Wainwright took Charles away from his parents and raised him to be selfish.
  • According to Word of God, Chris McLean will always possibly be the true villain of the Total Drama series, even though a certain contestant causes trouble in each season, Just in case he isn't.
  • Darkseid was revealed to be this in the finale of Young Justice, being the secret collaborator with The Light, and the show ended before he could take a direct role.
  • Grojband has Mayor Mellow, despite not being a villain.
  • Lauren Faust apparently had an idea for something like this to feature in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. According to her, something turned Luna into Nightmare Moon, and something freed Discord from his stone imprisonment. There are no allusions to this entity in the show itself, and as Lauren no longer works on the show, it's unlikely this will ever be picked up on. The former was picked up in the IDW comics, where Nightmare Moon is a separate entity that merged with Luna upon sensing her envy and resentment towards Celestia. It serves as the Big Bad of the second arc. Whether this story is in canon with the show is another matter.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated featured a slew of villains, from Professor Pericles, to Mr. E, to Mayor Jones, and yet all were unaware that they were pawns corrupted by the influence of The Evil Entity that was encased in a crystal sarcophagus, waiting for someone to to set it free.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Salvatore Valestra, a mobster who forced Andrea, one of Bruce's love interests, to leave the country. Without her, Batman ended up alone and took the cowl to become Batman. Ordering the death of Andrea's father led to the events of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the man he hired also led to a fair share events in the present; the man would become the Joker.
  • Due to it being a spin-off of TRON: Legacy, TRON: Uprising has the former's Big Bad, Clu, in this role. His takeover of the grid is at the heart of the conflict in the show and all of the villains answer to him, but never confronts Beck.
  • Star Wars Rebels, Darth Vader and the Emperor, the Big Bads of the original trilogy, serve this since the show's Big Bad, The Inquisitor, merely works for them.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has Grandfather, the Big Bad of The Movie, and the father of the series-wide Big Bad, Father. He's the reason why Father is the way he is, and his actions prior to the series eventually facilitated the founding of the Seventh Age of the Kids Next Door by his other son, Numbuh 0 a.k.a. Monty Uno, Numbuh 1's father.
  • Wander over Yonder has Lord Dominator, who's been described as such as a better Hater than Lord Hater according to the series' creator.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Bill Cipher shaping up to be the cause of The Author's disappearance and the cause of all of the supernatural forces in the town.
    • Nathaniel Northwest is revealed to be this in "Northwest Mansion Mystery" for why the Northwest family are uncaring and unloving, to both their daughter Pacifica and the people of Gravity Falls. As revealed in Season One, his being the founder of Gravity Falls was a lie and was given money for the cover up. He abused his wealth by having the townsfolk build him his mansion in exchange for letting them be invited to his annual parties, a promise he gleefully refused to keep. This act is also what caused the Monster of the Week, a Lumberjack ghost, to threaten the lives of his successors. His cruel and uncaring ways were passed down for generations, with Pacifica's parents being the current heads of the family and emotionally abusing their daughter into following their legacy.
  • Steven Universe: The Homeworld Gems who Rose Quartz and the Crystal Gems rebelled against before the series began, and who had insidious plans for the Earth. The end of season one reveals that the two more antagonistic gems, Peridot and Jasper, are in service to the supposed leader of the Homeworld, Yellow Diamond, who has yet to appear.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: Maltruant's plans for conquest in the final episode cement him as one for the entire Ben 10 franchise, as his arriving on Earth in the past, with Ben, Rook and Skurd following him, are why pre-series Vilgax becomes interested in a device that grants the wearer shapeshiting abilities.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003: The Demon Shredder was the inspiration for Ch'rell, the Utrom Shredder, and his reign resulted in the creation of the Ninja Tribunal, whose servant adopted Hamato Yoshi, the Utrom Shredder's eventual victim, which in turn led to Yoshi's pet rat Splinter and four baby turtles to being mutated. Five of his minions were enslaved by the Utrom Shredder, but once he is defeated and they break free, they start reviving their master and he steps down to Big Bad status for season 5.
  • Code Lyoko: Project Carthage is a military operation Franz Hopper and his wife were once a part of that they left when they felt it became too unethical. When they took his wife, leaving him and his daughter alone, he created XANA to combat them. Instead, XANA imprisoned them both and developed sentience in a bid to destroy humanity.
  • The Pirates of Dark Water: While Ren and his crew are traveling to find the thirteen treasures of Rule to destroy the Dark Water, dealing with Bloth and his crew wanting the treasure to control it, they are too busy to deal with The Dark Dweller that created the dark water to consume their world.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!: The Dark Ones were an Eldritch Abomination race responsible for the Big Bad, the Skeleton King. They corrupted him when he used to be the alchemist that created the Robot Monkey Team. One of them, a giant worm, merges with the Skeleton King and goes into space to consume worlds, and destroying it is the driving force of season 3.
  • Justice League: Brainiac for the Cadmus Arc in Unlimited. Having used Lex Luthor as a body to hide in since Superman: The Animated Series, Brainiac has been subtly influencing Luthor since by granting him super strength, greater intelligence and curing his kryptonite-induced cancer. He had also affected Luthor's actions, making him use Cadmus' resources to construct a new body for him. When that failed, they stole a piece of alien tech from Cadmus called the Dark Heart and fused into one being to use it to reshape the universe in their image.

Alternative Title(s):

Bigger Bad