Better to be lucky than good.
who succeeds in his plots against the world or the protagonist, not because of his own cleverness
(which he may or may not have), but because luck favors him. The Million-to-One Chance
works for him.
Compare Born Lucky
, may result in the villain becoming a Karma Houdini
if luck takes a shine to him.
Anime and Manga
- Jinnai from El Hazard. He lands in an alien world and immediately becomes ruler of a powerful nation with millions of slavishly-loyal and murderous servants (not to mention the not-unattractive Queen). For no reason other than dumb luck. Ironically enough, Jinnai sees Makoto as this.
- It is important to note, however, that while dumb luck may have been what gave Jinnai power, it was his tactical genius that (at least in the first OVA series) allowed him to continue being successful as a villain. The Bugrom had been attacking other countries for centuries after all. They had little, if any, success until Jinnai began leading them. Once he did, he made conquest after conquest, coming very close to taking over El-Hazard. He most likely would have succeeded were it not for the heroes' Plot Device super weapon.
- In Code Geass, Lelouch and Suzaku stop the FLEIJA with their countermeasure. The odds were so low you can probably scream Plot Armour.
- Although not actually a villain, the Donald Duck character Gladstone Gander, created by Carl Barks, is both Born Lucky and typically a major Jerkass Smug Snake.
- Dr. Robotnik/Eggman from Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog: When he was first discovered by Charles and Jules, Robotnik was being shot at for undisclosed but obviously serious crimes. In the years between his discovery and eventual takeover, nobody in the royal court stopped to both think about why he was being shot at and/or plan ahead in case he tried something. He later stole the roboticizer from Uncle Chuck, who seemed way too open about it given what it could do, gaining the means to build up his robot army. Even King Max, who was literally being guided by a primordial intellect, was taken by surprise at Robotnik's takeover. As the book has gone on and revealed all the powerful wizards, factions, and occasions that could've ended in his defeat, but have obviously not, he really seems to be this. To the point that Sonic's Chaos Factor is really just someone finally getting a counter ability.
- Earth and Sky: The Flim-Flam brothers seem to have reached this status ever since the Pegalathon started, and is the only reason they're still in the race. Whenever it seems they're about to be arrested (or harassed by the other racers), something happens that stops it (usually in the Amusing Injuries category) and lets them get away scott free. Up until they nearly kill all the other contestants by accidentally burning down the Appleloosa prison. Then Princess Celestia decides she's had enough of their horse apples, and has them disqualified from the race and pursued by an entire battalion of her best guards. They still manage to dodge the guards all the way to Canterlot, but then their luck runs out and their flying machine falls apart just short of the finish line.
- Chris Wilton of Match Point: he murders his pregnant mistress by trying to make it look like a robbery but ends up making a few mistakes and one of the investigating cops manages to figure out his methods and motive to the letter...but one of the rings he took to simulate the robbery ends up falling on the street instead of the river he threw it at, was picked up by a drug dealer who was then found dead and thus ended up taking the fall for the robbery, allowing Wilton to get away with it scott free.
- Ferris Bueller undeniably accomplishes some of his achievements through his own cleverness, but he had a hell of a lot of luck with some of them.
- Helen, the Big Bad from Primeval. Nearly every episode she appears in she gets captured at gunpoint, and she always either manages to convince her captors to let her go or she tackles away their weapon. Considering she's a 40-ish archeologist and the people holding her at gunpoint are usually trained soldiers with good reason to hate her, she must have some sort of superpower that causes any heroic character within earshot of her to juggle Idiot Balls. At one point she escapes from the middle of the hero's base by taking another villain hostage and demanding to be released... for some insane reason, the heroes not only let her go but give her the MacGuffin as well, instead of just shooting them both. Thankfully karma gets her in the end too. In the form of a Velociraptor.
- The other villain (Christine Johnson) happens to be an important government official, so her getting shot by the heroes would probably cause problems.
- Xykon the lich of The Order of the Stick has a few instances of this, such as when he and Redcloak (who was carrying his phylactery) were inadvertently saved from death by the actions of Miko Miyazaki, which also ended the Battle of Azure City in their favour. A more recent (half) example (in a strip actually titled " Lucky Breaks") his phylactery just misses the hole into the Snarl's prison, although it still falls into a sewer which will carry it somewhere difficult for Xykon to recover it from.
- Pretty much any major character benefits from this at times, as narrative probabilities in OOTS are not exactly driven by the bell curve. Flip a coin and it has roughly equal chances of being heads, tails, or a manipulative long-lost relative in disguise. Naturally, lampshaded.
- Believe it or not, one of the most evil men in history is an example. Yes, we mean Adolf Hitler. While Hitler was of average intelligence (at first, he went mad later on) and had incredible skills as an orator, his success at rising to power and ruling practically all of Europe was by sole virtue of dumb luck. He was literally in the right place at the right time- or, more accurately, the worst place at the worst time- to gain power. He survived a gas attack in World War One merely because he was lucky. The Great Depression messed up the world's economy just as Germany was starting to recover economically, the Treaty of Versailles produced huge backlash and anger in Germany, and the Jews were a convenient target as anti-Semitism was on the rise. Hitler showed up just as all this was happening with fiery oratory about how Germany deserved better and Jews were to blame, and Germans responded in force. Then, when he was in control, his legitimate threat to the world was ignored because the Soviet Union under Stalin had started to act up, letting him build power with a relatively free hand. When the German army was having great difficulty penetrating the superior armor of French tanks, the desperate tactic of turning the anti-air guns on the enemy tanks worked brilliantly, saving the war for Germany and letting them conquer France. When somebody finally came up with Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, and started trying to kill him, he survived far more assassination attempts than anyone really should. Not by awareness or the competence of his guards, either, but solely because he was lucky. One incident involved him deciding, for no apparent reason, to shorten a speech from an hour to five minutes then leave. The building exploded shortly after he left. There's only one explanation for this. The "Valkyrie" attack plan would have worked, but the bomb was moved one foot behind a table leg just before it went off- what are the chances? Historians are actually aware of this, and have coined the term Devil's Luck to describe Hitler. Thankfully, Karma eventually got him, and even then he ended up taking his own life. Had he tried to survive, the bastard probably could have, knowing his luck, shaved his mustache, worn a wig, used a uniform from a captured Soviet prisoner, and escaped.
- Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga (whose Historical Villain Upgrades you can enjoy in dozens of anime, videogames, and Jidai Geki) was a tactician and strategist of impressive skill and appalling ruthlessness, but it certainly helped that two of the most powerful lords opposing him (and who were also the best generals in Japan during the era) suddenly dropped dead of mysterious causes just as they were about to enter a full scale war with Nobunaga.
- Nobunaga's luck versus viciousness is a question that many Japanese historians debate. The timing is just too great, and Nobunaga did have access to men trained in undetectable assassination. This is why historians hate ninja.