"And when she arrives, I shall squirt her... With CITRIC ACID!"Villains are vile, ruthless, merciless, and bloodthirsty; any pretension of civility is just a smokescreen to hide a really twisted Big Bad. Not exactly kid-friendly, is it? So what are kids shows and movies supposed to do, if the original source's baddy eats babies? Why, make them a Harmless Villain of course! Their goals can be as grandiose as any other villain's, but the way they go about their plans makes one wonder what they'd do if they ever win. Instead of putting the heroes through a Death Course, it'll merely be an obstacle course strewn with riddles. Rather than threatening to use Anthrax in the heart of London, they'll use sleeping gas to get away with a heist. If they capture the hero, expect only the most benign of Death Traps (usually with a tub of Mr. Pibb instead of a Shark Pool); and instead of outright torture, they'll use feathers to tickle the hero into submission. Or, they may say they're trying to do something truly evil, but they will fail, every time. Specific evil plots will usually include amazing MacGuffin devices that mildly inconvenience people and get the hero involved; often, these plots are of such a scale and intricacy that if someone Cut Lex Luthor a Check, they'd be so rich, they wouldn't need that giant Gold-only Orbital Magnet to steal the world's supply of gold. But, then again, where's the fun in that? The only people "seriously endangered" by them are the Innocent Bystanders and Distressed Damsel that they occasionally capture, and they end up no worse for wear than if they'd spent the afternoon in a Time Share seminar, which is usually far less entertaining at that, and the villain will probably even provide far better snacks, along with room and board! The Harmless Villain might possess an impressive array of powers, but they'll end up using it with all the effectiveness of Misapplied Phlebotinum, or have a glaring and easily exploited weaknesses that bring them to their knees just in the nick of time. Basically, they aren't saddled with a bag of Villain Balls so much as they're expert jugglers, using them to entertain rather than as signs of stupidity (it is a kid's show, after all). A few of them are even Genre Savvy enough to be aware of this, and are pretty easy-going about it. These amiable villains will more often than not show that Even Evil Has Standards when that Very Special Episode rolls around. Out of all the villains, they're the likeliest to enjoy a good time with Villains Out Shopping, or even be Friendly Enemies with the hero! A Harmless Villain will never Kick the Dog, much less cross the depravity line. However, they will Poke the Poodle...a LOT. Their minions are as often as not Faceless Goons and comically good Mauve Shirts, both of which tend to do kooky and funny things when their boss isn't looking. These villains often have a degree of Karmic Protection because of the small scale of their "evil", especially when there are more serious villains around. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes they become a Not-So-Harmless Villain later on. Even Team Rocket Wins every once in a while. Compare Big Bad Wannabe, where the Harmless Villain tries to be dangerous but the more harmful villains quickly snuff him/her and make him/her know his place. Contrast Beware the Silly Ones, where an apparently Harmless Villain is only so because, as Fridge Logic reveals, The Hero is just that good. Also contrast Vile Villain, Saccharine Show, which is when a genuinely nasty villain appear in a work that would normally merit this trope. Also see Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
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Film - Animated