Nute Gunray: The war is over! Lord Sidious promised us peace! We only wanted—A subtrope of Evil Versus Evil, this is for when a previous villain, whether a significant or minor one, is made significantly less of a threat (or in some cases outright killed) with the help of the next villain. The previous villain is put aside, to make way for the new villains. This often implies that the new villain is more competent, more evil, or for whatever other reason more threatening, but not necessarily. Cases where the new villain is less threatening instead can qualify as this trope, too. May be the result of Big Damn Villains. Compare Always a Bigger Fish, which sometimes overlaps with this but not always and Sorting Algorithm of Evil, and Bait-and-Switch Boss. Also The Worf Effect, depending on how they take them out. In video games, this is often the True Final Boss. Contrast Hijacked by Ganon.
[before Gunray can finish, Anakin finishes him off]
[before Gunray can finish, Anakin finishes him off]
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Anime and Manga
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyubey is, for lack of a better term, unstoppable. Killing him is utterly useless, trying to out-gambit him is nigh-impossible, and while Madoka's sacrifice denies him victory on his terms, he ultimately still gets exactly what he wants. Come Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion, Akuma Homura reduces him to a quivering, traumatized mess by forcing him to hold all the curses of the world.
- In Dragon Ball, after General Blue returns having failed to kill Goku, he is given a chance if he can defeat Mercenary Tao. After his psychic paralysis fails to have effect on him, Tao proceeds to kill him with a single strike to the head. Using his tongue.
- In the android saga of Dragon Ball Z, things are bad enough with three Nigh Invulnerable killing machines running around. Then Piccolo encounters a town's worth of slaughtered people, and the creature Cell who wants to absorb said androids to get stronger.
- This is how Phibrizo reveals his identity in Slayers, by killing current villain Gaav right out of the blue, and after he was already giving Lina and the others an increasingly tough time.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has Yami Marik do this during Battle City, taking over his normal half and then eliminating Yami Bakura who's working with a remnant of regular Marik's personality to take him down.
- After Keith Giffen took over the second series of Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, he did a storyline where Carnelian is killed off to make way for the return of the first series' Big Bad Dark Opal. This lasts for one page in that issue and two pages in the following issue before Dark Opal himself is dispatched to make way for the new villains, The Child and Flaw.
- In the buildup to the Great Darkness Saga in the Legion of Super-Heroes (which Keith Giffen also worked on — he seems to love this trope), previous Big Bads Mordru and the Time Trapper are found beaten and helpless to show how bad Darkseid is.
- In Ultimate Spider-Man the first thing Mysterio did when he showed up was shoot the Kingpin out of a window.
- In Fantastic Four when the Marquis of Death appeared he set Doctor Doom on fire and tossed him into prehistory. Unsurprisingly, he came back.
- One of Onslaught's first actions was to beat The Juggernaut to a pulp and hurl him all the way to New Jersey. Mostly to get back at Juggernaut for the crap he did to Professor Xavier all their lives as Onslaught turned out to be Xavier's dark side run amok. At the time the issue was written the writers had no idea who or what Onslaught was, they just wanted to demonstrate he was a threat.
- When trying to establish Kaine as a credible threat during The Clone Saga, the writers had him kill off longtime Spider-Man foe Doctor Octopus. It didn't take.
- Les Légendaires did this in the Anathos Cycle by having both Darkhell and the Guardian being obliterated by Anathos to show how bad the new villain was (though this had already been established by having him effortlessly delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the good guys).
- Toyed with in Captain America, where Red Skull was assassinated by the Winter Soldier during Ed Brubaker's first issue, leading many readers to think the writer was playing this trope straight. Instead, it was revealed that Red Skull had survived inside the body of the Winter Soldier's employer, setting up one of the series' longest running Plot Threads.
- For a brief period in the early '90s X-Men comics, the main villains were the Upstarts, a group of bratty rich mutants who competed with each other to kill other mutants in a "contest" sponsored by an omniscient mutant called the Gamesmaster; among the casualties numbered the Reavers, the Hellions, Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Selene, and even Magneto himself. This plotline was not well received, all the dead villains but the Hellions came back, and most of the Upstarts ended up meeting ignominious ends themselves.
- Despite supplying the page quote, Anakin killing Gunray and his minions in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith could be seen as an inversion of this. It was a prequel after all, so it was more like Make Way for the Old Villains... but well in the story's timeline he is the newer villain.
- A non-lethal example is in Batman Begins, when vicious crime boss Carmine Falcone is trying to blackmail corrupt psychiatrist Jonathan Crane... who in turn sprays fear toxin in Falcone's face then and there, forcing Falcone into an intense panic attack and leaving him insane for the rest of the movie.
- In Jurassic Park III, the Spinosaurus kills a T. rex for no reason other than to announce how much more powerful and mean she is than the last big evil dinosaur.
- In Gamera Vs Guiron, the titular Guiron is introduced by cutting a space Gyaos to pieces.
- In Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan offhandedly kills the Other, Thanos' representative from The Avengers, for annoying him during his meeting with Thanos.
- Jem and the Holograms ends with The Stinger where antagonist Erica Raymond recruits The Misfits to challenge Jem.
- Calvin killing William Henry Harrison in The Tales of Alvin Maker.
- In Magic: The Gathering, Volrath, The Heavy of the Weatherlight saga is missing and presumed dead after a climactic showdown near the end of the first half of the story. When he reappears midway through the second half, in sufficiently badass and grandiose fashion, it's only to be killed in a one on one duel to the death by Crovax, who becomes the new Ascendent Evincar.
- Happens in the Warrior Cats novel The Darkest Hour, the final book of the original series. Tigerstar, the main villain of the series, obtains the assistance of an insane cat called Scourge, and his followers "BloodClan", in the prologue. Scourge isn't mentioned again until the supposed Final Battle, where Tigerstar calls him for aid. However, after the protagonist Firestar tells Scourge about Tigerstar's treachery, Scourge realizes that Tigerstar is a terrible boss to have. Stating "Nothing will control me", Scourge rips Tigerstar apart, killing him many times in one blow. Scourge goes on to become the villain of the book.
- In The Book of the Dun Cow, Starter Villain Ebenezer Rat dies in a fight with the Basilisks, who serve the novel's major villain, Cockatrice.
- In the New Jedi Order series, two of the alien species nearly wiped out by the Yuuzhan Vong are the Yevetha and the Ssi-ruuk, two races with similar, though less vicious, MOs to the Vong, and which had served as villains in previous books.
Live Action TV
- In Star Trek: Voyager, Species 8472 is introduced by destroying an armada of Borg Cubes.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- The Anointed One (a little kid vampire who was held over from season one) is shoved into a cage and hoisted into sunlight early in season two by Spike.
- Spike gets similar treatment in this a quarter into season four where he returns ready to cause trouble for Buffy, only to be tasered and captured by members of the Initiative. He escapes from them in the next episode, but has a chip planted in his head to make sure he can't harm the heroes again, which wound up sending him directly into a certain other trope.
- A few episodes later, Initiative professor Maggie Walsh was impaled on a spike and skewered by Adam, the monster she created.
- Twilight killed the Master and Ethan Rayne by proxy.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: At the beginning of season two, Lord Zedd, Rita's superior, appears to relieve her of command after one failure too many. Her minions quickly jump ship as he sticks her in another dumpster and launches her into space. She comes back, of course...
- Power Rangers Zeo: Rita and Zedd are, in turn, ousted from the moon by the arrival of the Machine Empire. They get their revenge at the end of the season, but then (apart from a cameo in the Turbo movie) disappear until Space.
- This is done to Captain Crais by Scorpius at the end of the first season of Farscape. In fact, it's done in three different ways: first, he manages to convince Crais's own bodyguards into obeying his orders and putting their boss in the Aurora Chair; secondly, he takes over Crais's command carrier and has him stripped of rank and office; finally, just to drive home the fact that Scorpius is well and truly in control, Crais tries to kill him and ends up having his ass kicked for his troubles.
- In Mystery Science Theater 3000, Pearl suffocating a baby-fied Forrester to death, and turning out to be more dangerous.
- In Doctor Who:
- The old Daleks allow themselves to be killed by the new Paradigm ones in "Victory of the Daleks", agreeing that they're impure and should be destroyed. This doesn't actually stick, however, due to the redesign meeting near-universal scorn: the RTD-era models have remained the standard ever since.
- The Daleks were also subject to this in the Eighth Doctor Adventures, as they end brutally killed by Krotons. Yes, Krotons. Make way for the sixties monsters only remembered as a joke...
- At one point it was thought that rights issues would have prevented the Daleks being used in the 2005 series — in which case, it would have been revealed that they'd been wiped out by the Toclafane.
- Happens in Stargate SG-1 when the Replicators start picking off the Goa'uld, who, up until that point, had been formidable enemies.
- Heroes loved to do this. Arthur announced his prescence by killing Adam, and shortly afterward killing Maury. Arthur in turn was killed off by Sylar, who had previously disposed of Bob. Then Danko was killed by Edgar on behalf of Samuel. And that's not even counting all the minor villains killed by Sylar.
- Nukus in Big Bad Beetle Borgs was careful to get rid of Vexor and his minions before taking over as the main antagonist.
- Mutant X - in the final episode of season 1, new Big Bad Gabriel Ashlocke imprisions original Big Bad Mason Eckhart and takes over his mutant-hunting facility for his own ends.
- In the season six finale, God!Castiel blows up the Archangel Raphael with the snap of his fingers.
- Two episodes later, God!Castiel is momentarily taken over by Leviathans and unintentionally slaughters a room of innocent people, causing him to have a Heel Realization and voluntarily de-power himself. He is then ripped apart from the inside by the Leviathans.
- Season 3 of Sleepy Hollow literally opens with this, as in its first scene, new Big Bad Pandora confronts the Horseman, defeats him with a wave of her hand, and locks him in her box to be used as a power source.
- Once Upon a Time's villains in Season 2, Greg and Tamara, are promptly rendered useless with the introduction of Peter Pan in Season 3. They were working for him, but had been duped about his whole plan. They betray him and are promptly killed for it.
- Generation Next lived up to their name by taking out Special K, The Christopher Street Connection and The Ring Crew Express before going on to have a successful match in their Ring of Honor debut.
- Mercedes Martinez willingly stayed out of Valkyrie's way after it interrupted her match with Amazing Kong in its debut. They caught up to her after about eleven shows but points for being Genre Savvy.
- One of the first things Lord Siniestro did in The World Wrestling league was take Legio away from El Profe. Not long after this his direction lead to them traumatizing and hospitalizing El Niche of Los Rabiosos, though Rabiosos had become faces by default at that point. Around the same time "La Verdadera Revolución" made their debut as part of an ambush on Hiram Tua, who held the Mega Television Title Belt for the dominant Power Stable Gentlemen's Club.
- In Super Robot Wars Z2: Rebirth Chapter, Uther does this to Gaioh.
- RuneScape's "Ritual of the Mahjarrat" quest officially, and properly, introduces the Dragonkin by having them gang up on a recently renewed and overpowered Lucien by kicking him to the curb and impaling him with his own staff.
- In Final Fantasy VII, Shinra is rendered much less of a threat after Sephiroth appears and kills its president.
- The Kingdom Hearts series has this happen a couple of times. The first was Maleficent from the first game being ousted (but not killed) by Organization XIII in Kingdom Hearts II. Then played with in Birth By Sleep where we find out that she was slightly manipulated by Xehanort (of whom the leader of Org. XIII, Xemnas, is his Nobody) who told her about the Princesses of Heart. Then in Dream Drop Distance the trope happens again with both Xemnas and "Ansem" Seeker of Darkness (the Heartless of the aforementioned Xehanort and other Big Bad of the first game) being Demoted to Dragon to Xehanort. And even in the first game, Maleficent herself was manipulated by Xehanort's Heartless. Chances are that in these games it's ether this trope or Hijacked by Ganon with Xehanort.
- StarCraft has multiple instances of this trope:
- The Confederacy, who were the main villains for most of the Terran campaign in the original game, are eventually obliterated when their political opponent Arcturus Mengsk unleashes the Zerg Swarm on their home planet. This event mark the beginning of Mengsk's Moral Event Horizon, setting up his transition from pragmatic Rebel Leader to The Emperor and the franchise's human Big Bad.
- Mengsk himself suffers this in Brood War, where the UED establish themselves as a threat by turning him into their punching bag for most of their campaign and eventually overthrowing him. He does eventually manage to get back in power however, and is still around by the second game, while the UED is obliterated at the end of Brood War.
- Subverted in hindsight in the second game, where Amon's agents scheme to help the heroes take down Kerrigan, since despite being the biggest villain at this point she is the only one who can potentially ruin his plans. They do manage to considerably weaken her, but rather than be killed, she does a Heel–Face Turn, and eventually becomes considerably more powerful than she ever was as a villain.
- Super Mario RPG begins with the classic showdown between Mario and Bowser - and then Bowser's castle gets hijacked by the Smithy gang, and everyone within is sent flying. Bowser teams up with Mario for the first time in video game history to take down Smithy and reclaim his castle.
- In the first route of Hentai RPG Sengoku Rance, shit hits the fan after all the gourds break. The Legions of Hell Worf every unconquered house in a dozen or so turns. You then have to capture international territories at the far end of the map before you can have a go at the True Final Boss. At that point, all you can do is reload your save and hope the Random Number God rolls in your favor.
- Street Fighter V reveals that The Illuminati, the antagonist organization of Street Fighter III, was involved in the events that led to the final end of Shadoloo.
- Incognito Cinema Warriors XP: Comically ineffectual, possibly senile Dr. Harrison Blackwood, who has been holding Rick and the 'bots captive, is knocked out and shipped out for brainwashing in episode four by Jonathan Kincaid, who promptly reveals that he can shut down the 'bots, give Rick a brain aneurysm with the press of a button, and reconnect calls through the viewscreen after being hung up on.
- In Family Guy, the "evil monkey" getting a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Dylan [Brian's son] is a clear case of this. While the monkey later turns out to be a nice guy, up until that point he had been a villain, albeit minor. And, in that episode, the point was to show that Dylan was going to be harder to deal with than the monkey.
- In the second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Princess Azula's first episode has her telling Zuko and Iroh of their fugitive status and almost managing to capture them.
- Young Justice begins its second season with a species called the Kroloteans secretly infiltrating Earth, before they're finished off by an unknown "Competitor" after three episodes. Played With because these new foes are actually allies of the Light, the previously-established Big Bad of the series.
- Ben 10: Ultimate Alien played straight and inverted this trope at the same time in its finale: when Diagon arrives on Earth, he ends up, after a brief fight with Ben, killing previous villain Sir George... and is almost immediately then killed and absorbed by Vilgax, Ben's long date Arch-Enemy, who assumes the role of True Final Boss for the remaining of this finale.
- Subverted in season 4 of Teen Titans, where season 1 and 2 Big Bad Slade, after being Demoted to Dragon for the whole season following a Deal with the Devil, is apparently double-crossed and disposed of by his boss Trigon. Turns out Slade saw it coming and made sure he would be able to escape, allowing him to make an Enemy Mine with the heroes and to get what he wanted from all of this. By the end of the season, Slade is alive and free to scheme again, while Trigon has been obliterated by his daughter.
- Danny Phantom's The Ultimate Enemy played with this trope. Upon being separated from Danny Fenton, the ghost Danny turned malevolent and stripped Vlad of his ghost half, followed by merging with it to become Dark Danny. He then goes on to torment Danny's Rogues Gallery.
- In the second season of Wander over Yonder Lord Dominator makes her first appearance. Lord Hater, the Big Bad of the entirety of Season 1 had been for the most part a Harmless Villain, at least for the main characters Wander and Sylvia whom he never managed to seriously threaten (despite his fervent wishes of torturing and killing them). However, until that point he had been introduced as a serious threat for the rest of the galaxy, taking over planet after planet trying to prove himself as "The Greatest in the Galaxy", with the help of his second in command Commander Peepers and his army of Watchdogs. Cue to Lord Dominator. Her first action in the series proper is using her giant ship to slice Hater's ship in two with a gigantic drill. From that moment on she takes the role as the show's Big Bad, dethroning Hater as the Greatest in the Galaxy by overdoing him in every possible way. Hater has an army of friendly and usually incompetent Watchdogs? Dominator has an army of highly efficient robots which provide a such a great physical threat that not even Sylvia can punch them without hurting her hand. While Hater was mainly the image of his empire, showing up for conquests and defeating rival villains or heroes while Peepers was the brains keeping the Empire together, Dominator can manage her entire empire on her own. Hater was powerful enough to punch Emperor Awesome through a planet and take down his entire army by himself if angered enough. Dominator can easily No Sell and Curbstomp Hater without much effort (although in their next encounter Hater fights her so evenly that it is actually arguable that he could have beaten her if he hadn't gotten... distracted the moment he took her helmet off). She managed to climb to the top of the Villain Board in a record time and let´s say that her final objective is bad enough to horrify her fellow villains.