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[[quoteright:350:[[Series/DoctorWho http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/157f9c5c7a79b547ce09bcf722cbc27d.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:On the right: the UltimateLifeForm [[PoweredArmor wearing]] a HoverTank. On the left: its master, [[EvilCripple a blind guy in a wheelchair]].]]

->''"You see, I never had the chance to serve in battle, nor did fate provide me the opportunity to sacrifice myself for humanity as it did for so many others in the Great War."''
-->-- '''The Director,''' ''Machinima/RedVsBlue''

The BigBad, as everybody knows, is the source of conflict in a work of fiction, with their defeat being the main goal of TheHero which brings an end to that StoryArc. But, what exactly makes them such a threatening villain? Is it because they're [[TheChessmaster cunning]]? [[EvilerThanThou Eviler than anybody else]]? Or maybe because [[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking they're powerful?]] In practically every work of fiction centered around action, the latter is the case. Well, not always.

Enter the Non-Action Big Bad, the EvilCounterpart of the NonActionGuy. This guy has zero fighting skills. Or, they might have okay fighting skills ''for a human'' but they're against a superpowered hero. In any case, what they lack in physical prowess they make up for in resources, cunning, and/or [[VillainWithGoodPublicity good PR]], and will rely on a [[TheDragon second-in-command]] or QuirkyMinibossSquad to do all of the dirty work that needs to get done. In the event they do encounter the hero, they usually try to trick them into not attacking them, just run for it, or they somehow have the fight stacked in their favor.

If encountered in a video game, this character will either act as a deliberate AntiClimaxBoss or an outright ZeroEffortBoss, or even be TheUnfought.

Compare TheManBehindTheCurtain, and DragonInChief, where The Dragon serves as the de-facto Big Bad for the story, though not necessarily because of this trope. If The Dragon knows he's the one truly in charge and decides to do something about it, he may become TheStarscream. And for Big Bads who ''have'' power but act like this until the climax, see OrcusOnHisThrone, where the Big Bad doesn't carry out any plans beyond sitting around being generally evil. This trope may result in ItsPersonalWithTheDragon, as The Dragon doing all the heavy lifting may become the hero's personal ArchEnemy.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
%% * Dr. Tenma in the 2003 version of AstroBoy.
* Played with by [[LightningBruiser Aizen]] of ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. While a legitimately powerful threat who could wipe out most of main cast by himself if he wanted to, after TheReveal he just spends most of his time sitting on his ass. He still has his usual machinations, but he leaves the heavy lifting to the Espada. But even though that could be seen as OrcusOnHisThrone, after he leaves Hueco Mundo and makes it to Fake Karakura to kick-start the final battle, Yamamoto envelops him in a fire prison. Although he likely couldn't do much regardless, his dialogue makes it fairly clear he had no intention of doing anything anyway. It's only when most of his soldiers are dead or defeated does he finally decide to get involved personally...and even then only got truly serious once his MacGuffin started giving him [[PowerUp Power-Ups]].
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'': Schneizel el Britannia is a purely political figure, but he more than does the job with his silver tongue and has the protection of the [[OneRiotOneRanger Knights of the Round]], [[spoiler:and late in the series, [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveANuke FLEIJA]] and [[KillSat Damocles]].]]
* VillainProtagonist Light Yagami from ''Manga/DeathNote''. Although it is shown he can throw punches to L, this is never shown as the series progress.
* ''Manga/DragonBall'':
** Commander Red in the Red Ribbon Army saga is such a weakling that when his subordinate decides he wants to be in charge he kills him easily.
** The Crane Hermit is the main antagonistic force in the 22nd Tenkaichi Tournament arc. He's actually quite strong, but he leaves the fighting to his pupils; when he lashes out at them for [[HeelFaceTurn turning against him]], [[OldMaster Roshi]] sends him flying.
** Babidi in the Buu arc of ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' is a powerful magic user but is absolutely no match for the planet-splitting main heroes, relying on his minions to do the fighting. He's eventually killed when Buu realizes that being bossed around by someone so much weaker than him doesn't make sense, and [[TheDogBitesBack reacts accordingly]]. It didn't help that Babidi was [[JerkAss a massive dick to Buu]] either. Hint to aspiring villains, when commanding a minion vastly superior to you in power, treat them with respect.
* [[spoiler:Ghoda]] in ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'' never fights or even has any weapons, and his mooks rarely use any violent means. Which doesn't stop [[NonActionGuy Aramaki]] to [[spoiler:have him [[ChunkySalsaRule riddled with exploding bullets]]]] when he refuses to be taken into custody.
* ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'':
** Neither [[AdiposeRex Degwin Zabi]] or his [[TheEvilPrince son]] [[DragonInChief Gihren]] were up to much physical action in the original ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam''. As the political (and military in Gihren's case) rulers of Zeon they didn't need to be.
** ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED'' subverts this trope. It initially appears that {{Non Action Guy}}s Muruta Azrael and [[GeneralRipper Patrick Zala]] will be the show's BigBadEnsemble. The former is a psychopathic madman who leads the Earth Forces from behind the scenes, the latter an InsaneAdmiral turned PresidentEvil who rules ZAFT with an iron fist. Both lead massive armies, and are dedicated to eliminating one another. In reality however, they are both {{Unwitting Pawn}}s of {{Badass}} AcePilot and MagnificentBastard [[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds Rau Le Creuset]], who is the ''real'' BigBad of the series.
** ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEEDDestiny'' has a BigBadEnsemble of Lord Djibril and [[DarkMessiah Gilbert Durandal]]. Both have more than enough resources (and [[AxeCrazy madness]]/[[ManipulativeBastard manipulative ability]]) to make up for their lack of frontline combat skills, with Djibril heading a world-wide network of hate-groups, and Durandal as ZAFT's new PresidentEvil (but with both [[WellIntentionedExtremist better intentions]] and [[VillainWithGoodPublicity better publicity]] than his predecessor).
** Chancellor Wong in ''Anime/MobileFighterGGundam'' is the bad guy in the second act- he's super manipulative (he even has literal chess-pieces in the shape of the Gundams), is the De-Facto leader of everything and holds authority over [[OldMaster Master]] [[RatedMForManly Asia]]... however, he hardly stands up from his floaty chair, only sets up fights for Domon, and has an [[Manga/DeathNote L]]-Level sweet tooth. Suffice to say, [[spoiler: he's almost vaporized by collateral damage--which was the direct result of his own manipulations--and when he actually gets in a Gundam (unwillingly) he lasts all of two minutes. And most of those two minutes are spent talking.]]
* The Major from ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}''. For an OmnicidalManiac enamored of war and carnage, he noticeably lacks any combat involvement and limits himself to inspirational speeches. [[SugarWiki/FunnyMoments Hilariously]], he can't even shoot a disobedient soldier standing ''right in front of him'', despite emptying a clip of ammo at him. Eventually, he just has his more loyal {{Mooks}} do the killing for him.
* Jail Scaglietti of ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers''. Being a MadScientist with SuperIntelligence and a lot of resources, he was one of the biggest threats to the TSAB itself in the franchise and came the closest to taking TheFederation down even though he himself has little to no fighting abilities. [[spoiler:The battle against him was pretty much over once all of the [[QuirkyMinibossSquad Combat]] {{Cyborg}}s guarding his base were neutralized and [[TheLancer Fate]] finally got around the Capturing Threads set up in his lab]].
* Nagi dai Artai in ''Anime/MaiOtome'', albeit largely because males can't become Otomes.
* In the ''Mazingerverse'':
** [[BigBad Dr. Hell]] of ''Anime/MazingerZ'' is a [[MadScientist certified genius]]... and a seventy-year-old man who isn't physically fit at all. He always sends his henchmen, minions and war machines off into battle because he can't fight his enemies face-to-face.
** The Great Emperor of Darkness of ''Anime/GreatMazinger''. Despite of being a very powerful, god-like being, he never fought the heroes directly.
** King Vega from ''Anime/UfoRoboGrendizer''. He would appear throughout the series giving orders to Blaki and Gandal until the destruction of Planet Vega. While hardly ever seen in battle, King Vega commands the King of Vega spaceship that can fight in space.
* Gato in the first arc of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', which ended up being his undoing after he tried to dispose of Zabuza for failing to defeat Kakashi, only for Zabuza to return the favor by killing Gato himself. After that, every other BigBad in the series has fully embodied AuthorityEqualsAsskicking.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** Spandam is the leader of the Cipher Pol 9, an elite group of government assassins. He's also physically weaker than a single common fodder soldier. He does have a Cool Sword - The Elephant Sword - but the problem is that he can hardly use it properly. When he unleashes it on Franky, Franky [[spoiler:convinces the Elephant to squish SPANDAM]].
** The World Government are the ones ordering the marines, including the Fleet Admiral. Several of the members of the [[TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness Five Elder Stars]] have what look to be battle scars, and one even carries a sword, so it's very possible that they're retired fighters, but none of them have been seen fighting.
*** Another branch of the World Government, [[AristocratsAreEvil the Celestial Dragons]], are hardly ever seen fighting, depending almost entirely on [[ScrewTheRulesIMakeThem their ridiculous level of authority over the Marines and the populace]] and the fear of [[DisproportionateRetribution how they won't hesitate to use such authority]] against anyone who so much as annoys them - sure, they use firearms a sometimes, but it's mostly against weak or helpless targets who couldn't possibly hurt them; the few times they try on someone stronger than an average civilian or grunt marine (i.e. almost any named character), [[NoSell it doesn't have any effect]] and/or invites [[CurbStompBattle a completely one-sided stomping]] if the other party is angry enough and/or doesn't give a damn about ending up on the entire World Government's shit list.
* Marder from ''Anime/PanzerWorldGalient'', who is completely defenseless in an actual battle and got almost killed at least once when [[UndyingLoyalty Hy ]][[TheDragon Shaltat]] wasn't around.
* Every single antagonist on the ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' series, since it's the Pokemon who do all the fighting for them, while the main antagonist are not shown to have any fighting ability whatsoever. The Pokemon themselves are said to never be evil, while the theatrical [[OlympusMons legendary Pokemon]] are merely troubled, confused, or highly protective, and are EasilyForgiven at the end.
* [[spoiler:Kyubey]] from ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica''. He never ''actively'' bring the girls into harm, he simply [[spoiler:gave the girl their wishes and let them fight [[MonsterOfTheWeek witches]] as {{magical girl}}s as payment]]. There are only two reasons to consider him a villain at all: he doesn't value individual human life at all (and [[EvilCannotComprehendGood doesn't even understand the idea]]), and he is directly or indirectly responsible for everything bad that happens in the series. The reason it's all arguable is that [[spoiler:he's doing it to prevent [[ApocalypseHow universal destruction due to entropy]]]]. A more "traditional" BigBad is [[spoiler:Walpurgisnacht]], but that is more of a force of nature than a true enemy.
* Desparaiah from ''Anime/YesPrettyCure5''. While her DragonInChief Kawarino is the most difficult villain the girls have to face in this season, the only things Desparaia does during the GrandFinale is [[spoiler:summoning {{Mooks}}, blocking the attacks with a barrier... and undergoing a '''HighHeelFaceTurn''']]! Weirdly she ''is'' the most powerful being in this season, the only reason why Kawarino is so damn loyal to her.
* Sakyo of ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' is head of the antagonists in the Dark Tournament Saga, even if Toguro overshadows him in plot importance. He also knows he can't fight, despite being the fifth member of Team Toguro, so he says that the outcome of Toguro's match will decide the outcome of his, thus enabling whoever wins it to win the tournament.

[[folder:Board Games]]
* The king in TabletopGame/{{Chess}}. It's barely superior to a simple pawn, and spends as much time as possible hiding and fleeing (especially since it usually can't attack another piece without moving into check first).

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/SinCity'' baddies tend to be this trope. The Roarks, Ava Lord, Wallenquist, and the Colonel never get their hands dirty and are likely incapable of doing so. Instead, they send dirty cops, mooks, hitmen, and assassins to do their jobs.
* ComicBook/LexLuthor most of the time. He does have a battlesuit, but he tends to get in fistfights a lot less than he uses his ManipulativeBastard and CorruptCorporateExecutive aspects.
* ComicBook/IncredibleHulk villain The Leader. He may be a mutant, but his only power is SuperIntelligence, and he's got the physique of a string bean.
* ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'':
** In most forms of media SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker is this - he's generally portrayed as scrawny, and occasionally it will only take one punch from Batman to bring him down. He makes up for it by being a MagnificentBastard and stacking the odds. In a number of stories, the tension isn't on Batman beating him in a fight, but trying to catch him before he murders more innocent people.
** This usually goes for most of Bats' RoguesGallery, to various degrees. Guys like Riddler or Scarecrow are more masterminds than fighters. Two-Face or the Black Mask are gangster types who are capable of using a gun or fighting, but don't have the physique or skill needed to take Bats on in a straight fight.
* In the pages of ''Comicbook/IronMan'' and ''Comicbook/TheAvengers'', we have seen guys like the Roxxon Oil heads, Justin Hammer, and the leaders of the Maggia who were corrupt business men or mafia bosses who could not go up against the heroes one-on-one and often employed super villains. Obidiah Stane and Count Neferia also started off this way but both men either gained powers later or eventually wore a suit if PoweredArmor.
* Darth Vader, of all people ended up this way in the ''Comicbook/MarvelStarWars'' comics. The reasoning behind this was that Lucas Arts did not want to have Vader and Luke fighting too often, lest it conflicted with the movies, which the comics were supposed to coincide with.
* Most of the [[ComicBook/XMen X-Men's]] human villains like Reverend Stryker, Bolivar Trask, Senator Kelly, Arcade, etc., since they mainly represent humanity's hatred of mutants (except Arcade, who's just crazy).
* ComicBook/TheKingpin is interesting in that he is a very strong and skilled fighter but is usually in the mob boss role. In his earliest appearances, he had legitimate SuperStrength and could fight guys like Franchise/SpiderMan and even overpower him. Once he became a Comicbook/{{Daredevil}} villain, he was brought down a peg or two and less likely to fight Spider-Man. Instead, when he shows up in Spidey's books now, he is usually employing supervillains.
* ''ComicBook/UltimateSpiderMan'':
** Bolivar Trask, the man who (may) be responsible for the deaths of the Parkers, as well as the Brocks, and the main villain of the Symbiote Wars arc. Justified because he's a middle-aged businessman, without any superpowers whatsoever.
** Kingpin again. Not that he isn't strong, he just prefers to sit back and stay incredibly rich, rather than get his hands dirty. Well, dirtier.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/ThousandShinji'': Gendo and SEELE are schemers and manipulative bastards, but they have absolutely no fighting skills whatsoever. They're unable to do anything other than cringing when the main characters act directly against them, and Shinji actually mocks them for being helpless when their plots go awry and their puppets refuse to obey.
* In ''Fanfic/TheSecondTry'', Gendo was the Big Bad, Manipulative Bastard and The Chessmaster who turned everyone into his unwitting pawns. Asuka almost killed him with her bare hands. Yes, he was nearly strangled to death by an angry teenager.
* In ''Fanfic/NeonGenesisEvangelionGenocide'', Gendo and the SEELE members are manipulative bastards and schemers but no one of them can fight the heroes or the alien monsters directly. So SEELE resorted to send one of his minions to crush NERV.

* Cutler Becket from the ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' movies. He loves to sit and enjoy his tea while he watches his armies fight against the pirates. [[AllThereInTheManual According to secondary materials]] he is an expert swordsman but never gets the chance to show it in the films.
* Dieter von Cunth in ''Film/MacGruber'', for all his fearsome reputation, just stands there and gets his ass kicked when the finale comes.
* Sauron from ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings'' film series is a partial case. He does come out, and he DOES do some major damage in the prologue against the Last Alliance. But he never comes out to play again during the main story arc; in the film explicitly because his form is just an eye on his tower.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** Grand Moff Tarkin in ''Film/ANewHope'', in a prime example of the films' EarlyInstallmentWeirdness. Although he commands [[ThatsNoMoon the Death Star]] and leads the hunt for the Rebels, he's just a bureaucrat and lacks any sort of Force power, in stark contrast to the major villains of the other movies and the saga in general.
** Jabba the Hutt from ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'' serves as a DiscOneFinalBoss version of this, a [[FatBastard massive]] gangster who can't even move from his throne and is so inept at the physical stuff that Leia simply strangles him with the chain he was using [[GoGoEnslavement to enslave her]].
** Memorably subverted with TheEmperor, who projects an image (both to the audience and to Luke) of being a helpless feeble old man who needs [[TheDragon Darth Vader]] to fight for him. Then he busts out the [[ShockAndAwe Force Lightning]].
* Pretty much every ''Film/JamesBond'' villain relies on TheDragon, TheBrute, or just a GiantMook to present a physical threat to Bond, while they provide the resources and ideas. There are some exceptions though; [[spoiler:Alec Trevelyan]] in ''Film/GoldenEye'' is a match for Bond, being [[spoiler:a former [=MI6=] agent himself.]]
%% * Christo from ''Film/ActOfValor'' doesn't even try to resist when his yacht is boarded.
%% * The Governor from ''Film/AFistfulOfDynamite''
* Dick Jones from ''Film/RoboCop1987''. Aside from [[spoiler:trying to take the Old Man hostage]], he never even attempts to harm anyone directly, instead using his [[MechaMooks ED-209 drones]] and [[PetRat Clarence Boddicker]].
%% * Murad in ''Film/{{Taken 2}}''.
* [[spoiler:Rex Lewis]]/The Doctor/[[spoiler:Cobra Commander]] in ''Film/GIJoeTheRiseOfCobra''. Slightly subverted. While he does leaves the dirty work to his Vipers and [=McCullen=], he does use his tools in wanting to torture [[spoiler:Duke]]. [[spoiler:Which makes sense since Rex blames Duke for his apparent death]].
* [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] in ''Film/{{Unbreakable}}'', where the mother of Elijah Price, a comic art gallery owner, mentions the "soldier villain", basically an EliteMook who fights with his fists, and the mastermind villain, who plots and plans and is often much more dangerous. David Dunn, the NighInvulnerable protagonist, runs into the film's BigBad, who is an example of the latter, pretty much immediately afterwards. [[spoiler: It turns out to be Elijah.]]
* [[spoiler: Alexander Pierce]] in ''[[Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier Captain America: The Winter Soldier]]'' does nothing more in terms of action than use a gun to hold people hostage a few times. [[spoiler: Dr Zola]] is much the same, although he at least has the excuse of being [[spoiler: a computer now]].
* Morton in ''Film/OnceUponATimeInTheWest'', a crippled railroad baron who relies on gunslinger Frank and his henchmen to "remove small obstacles from the track." The trope's played with though: Morton initiates the film's events but Frank grows increasingly insubordinate, and the two spend the second half of the film trying to kill each other.
* All three [[BigBad Big Bads]] in the ''Film/{{Taken}}'' trilogy are this, with the [[TheDragon second-to-last villain]] putting up a big fight with [[RetiredBadass Bryan]] [[Creator/LiamNeeson Mills]] near the end of each movie.
* Valentine from ''Film/KingsmanTheSecretService''. He has no stomach for blood or violence, and he's a feeble techie to begin with, so he lets [[DarkActionGirl Gazelle]] do the fighting for him.
* ''Film/UnderSiege2DarkTerritory'': Travis Dane, the mastermind who hired the mercenaries and devised the plot to hijack the KillSat, isn't much of a physical threat. This is exacerbated by Ryback's InvincibleHero status, as TheDragon lasts only a few minutes in a fight against Ryback, Dane only seconds.
* In ''Film/RamboIV'', unlike the other villains, Major Tint is [[DirtyCoward shown running for his life]] and hiding from the battle at the end of the movie.
* {{Downplayed}} in ''Film/MissionImpossibleRogueNation''. Solomon Lane is the only villain in the series that doesn't engage in hand-to-hand combat with Ethan. Nonetheless, he usually makes an effort to be on-site whenever an EvilPlan is being carried out, even if his minions are doing the actual work, just to make sure everything goes according to plan. [[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking He is also a decent shot and sometimes carries out murders on his own]]. [[spoiler: In the finale, he chases Ethan down [[Franchise/{{Terminator}} Terminator-style]], only to find he was lured into a trap and is captured.]]
* Balem only has one fight in ''Film/JupiterAscending'', and he loses pretty easily. Even Jupiter, who gets abducted or taken hostage by ''everyone'' in the film, can easily defeat Balem once they're in a one-on-one fight.
* Franz Oberhauser, [[spoiler: a.k.a. Ernst Stavro Blofeld]] from ''Film/{{Spectre}}''. He is never seen engaging in combat, and during the FinalBattle in London, he simply watches as Bond tries to save Madeleine from the bomb going off at the ruins of the {{MI6}} building at Vauxhall Cross.

* The bad guy in ''Literature/DragonBones'' is a noble who has all the dirty work done by his underlings. He is after a substance that can greatly increase a mage's power, but doesn't intend to use it on himself, he wants to use that on a powerful mage who is completely loyal and subservient to him.
%%* Malkaris in the ''Literature/{{Redwall}}'' book ''Mattimeo''.
* President Snow in ''Literature/TheHungerGames'', being a politician who has lots of underlings to do things for him.
* ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'':
** The Council of Thirteen are Non-Action {{Greater Scope Villain}}s, as they're political leaders and their hosts are apparently just normal Hork-Bajir and Taxxons (though a few have unknown hosts). They could take a normal human in a fight, sure, but they probably wouldn't stand up to the Animorphs. Their [[VoluntaryShapeShifting morph-capable]] servant, Visser Three, is the real BigBad.
** Subverted with Visser One. You wouldn't think a middle-aged housewife could be very formidable in a fight, even if she is controlled by the leader of the initial invasion of Earth. You would be wrong.
* Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse:
** Grand Admiral Thrawn from ''Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy'' can get physical when required and is implied to be at least a decent fighter, but he has no interest in engaging in combat himself- it's strategy and trickery that hold his interest, not brawling.
** The BigBad for the first six books of ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear'' is a [[ShapeShifting Shi'ido]] named Borborygmus Gog. While the series' ''other'' Shi'ido, Hoole, takes several different forms in order to fight various menaces, Gog prefers to use his talents for impersonation and trickery. His menace comes from [[MadScientist his projects and schemes]], and while he menaces people with a blaster a couple times and once [[spoiler:detonates an ExplosiveLeash in a creation's [[YourHeadASplode skull]]]], he never actually fights anyone himself.
* Lord Straff Venture in the second ''{{Mistborn}}'' book- he's a thoroughly evil man, but is middle-aged, out of shape, and a Tineye (meaning that he has magical abilities, but they involve SuperSenses rather than anything physical). As such, he prefers to work through his army and his AxCrazy [[TheDragon Dragon]] [[spoiler: and illegitimate son]] Zane.
* Lord de Worde in ''Discworld/TheTruth'' doesn't hit people. He hires people to do that.
* The [[VillainProtagonist title character]] of ''Literature/ArtemisFowl'', largely because he's [[TeenGenius twelve years old]] and wouldn't last two seconds in a fight. And ''doesn't''; although his scheming in the first book causes no end of trouble, once Holly escapes she just [[TalkToTheFist punches him in the mouth]].
* Prince/King John in most versions of the RobinHood tales never confronts Robin directly, leaving that up to the Sheriff of Nottingham.
* In one of the Israeli writer Bormor's short short stories, an adventuring party fights its way thorough the VeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon, defeating many bosses along the way. At last they encounter the BigBad in his throne room... and he falls after the first strike. The adventurers [[JustifiedTrope justify it]]: after all, the BigBad was dangerous because of his commanding talents, not because of personal fighting prowess.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Most of ''Series/TwentyFour'''s {{Big Bad}}s, who prefer to leave the fighting to TheDragon or other more violent underlings.
* Linderman from ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', who as a [[AffablyEvil seemingly friendly]] old man with [[HealingHands healing]] as [[GoodPowersBadPeople his power]] is the only BigBad without decent combat skills.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** The Mayor hates getting his hands dirty (literally, as he's a NeatFreak who loathes germs) and while he gains NighInvulnerability that's all he gets; [[ButtMonkey Xander]] could probably take him in a fight. The problem is he's just as good a politician amongst demons as amongst humans, with no end of {{mooks}} and evil pacts to give the Scoobies a headache. His ultimate goal is to become [[ScaledUp a giant demon snake]], averting this trope... for all of ten minutes before the Scoobies blow him up.
** The First Evil, having no physical form, must resort to MindRape as well as TheDragon and its EliteMooks. It does not ''want'' to be this trope and attaining a physical form is implied to be its endgame (since it is MadeOfEvil, the more evil it can make the world the closer to fulfilling this ambition it gets). On the flipside, it is completely invincible and AsLongAsThereIsEvil it will always exist, so its a pretty high-functioning example of this trope.
* [[spoiler: Tousei Kaneshiro]] from ''Series/GAROTheOneWhoShinesInTheDarkness''. Justified, as he knows that the sect of demon hunters that oppose his plans are forbidden to slay ordinary humans. Thus, his complete lack of superpowers ironically becomes the perfect defence against his superpowered enemies.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** Davros is an EvilCripple who created the Daleks. He can't do much beyond sit and talk and laugh maniacally, although he gets an artificial hand [[ShockAndAwe that can shoot bolts of electricity]] later in the series.
** The Daleks were occasionally depicted in this way in stories such as ''Frontier in Space'' in which the Master was said to be working with the Daleks as silent partners, where they only appeared at the end. In ''The Daleks Master Plan'', the more visible and active BigBad was Mavic Chen and even included an appearance by the Meddling Monk.
** The Master didn't start as this but became it later. The Roger Delgado incarnation did a lot of dirty work himself and got into quite a few physical confrontations, including a [[SugarWiki/AwesomeMoments memorable]] sword fight against the Doctor in "The Sea Devils". Later incarnations changed him to be more of a ManipulativeBastard who preferred working behind the scenes and through patsies, and would run at the first sign of an actual fight.
* Common enough in ''Series/{{Justified}}''. While [[VillainProtagonist Boyd Crowder]] (Seasons 1-the present), [[ArchnemesisDad Bo Crowder]] (Season 1) and [[SerialKiller Robert Quarles]] (Season 3) were capable (and in Quarles' case, terrifying) combatants, most of the other big players rely on their underlings to do their fighting for them. [[EvilMatriarch Mags Bennett]] (Season 2) was an older woman who operated through her sons and never personally pulled the trigger, [[SmugSnake Nicky Augustine]] (Season 4) executed an unarmed man, but always let [[TheDragon Mr. Picker]] do the fighting, and Theo Tonin (GreaterScopeVillain to Quarles and Augustine) never appeared in person, operating through more physically capable agents like [[ProfessionalKiller Sarno]] and [[PraetorianGuard Elias Marcos]].
* In ''Series/BlakesSeven'', Servalan was originally meant to be just this. It was initially thought that the Supreme Commander (later President) of the Federation would have better things to do than personally go around chasing Blake. In the real world, a Commander in Chief wouldn't command a flagship during wartime, let alone go about chasing terrorist units. Those are jobs for his generals, admirals, and Black-ops units. The Federation was [[SpaceIsBig just that big]]. Originally, he (yes, Servalan was orignially conceived as a male character) was only to have only appeared once in the series. Jaqueline Pearce's performance was so well received that she became a regular character and archenemy of Blake and Avon.
* ''Series/BreakingBad'''s VillainProtagonist, Walt, becomes this toward the end of the series after he assumes the role of Big Bad. Being an older man with no combat or shooting experience dying of lung cancer means he's useless in a fight and can be taken out by his own protege, the short, string-beaned Jesse Pinkman. Walt uses this in his favor at points as more dangerous drug lords consistently underestimate him through the series; his intelligence, chemical knowledge, and cunning make him far more dangerous than you'd think.

[[folder: Music]]
* Dr. Wily in Music/TheProtomen's albums. It's lampshaded in Act I.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* King Cepheus and Lady Vega in the first two ''VideoGame/MegaManStarForce'' games tend to rely on their ultimate weapons, {{Quirky Miniboss Squad}}s, and minions to do the fighting for them. In both games, the final boss isn't the villain, it's the device they planned to use to take over/destroy (delete as applicable) the world.
%% * Queen Brahne from the first half of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX''
* ''VideoGame/BioShock'':
** Sofia Lamb from ''VideoGame/BioShock2'' spends all her time ranting at Delta over the radio, and even in her attempt to kill him she didn't harm him directly. Andrew Ryan of [[VideoGame/BioShock1 the first game]] as well, [[spoiler:until you deal with him and Fontaine takes over the show.]]
** Zachary Comstock from ''VideoGame/BioShockInfinite'' is weak and dying from years using dimension-tearing technology and in no shape to put up much of a direct fight against Booker. This wasn't always the case, but saying any more than that would spoil it.
* Bob Page from ''VideoGame/DeusEx''. Although he's in the ''process'' of [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence becoming a god]], at that particular stage in the process he's so vulnerable that effectively all you do is turn off his life support.
%% * Gabriel Roman from ''VideoGame/UnchartedDrakesFortune''.
%% * Lord Lucien in ''VideoGame/FableII''.
%% ** King Logan in ''VideoGame/FableIII'' is this too. After cutting a swath through his armies, TheHero storms Logan's throne room, only for him to surrender gracefully.
* Henry Leland in ''AlphaProtocol''. [[spoiler:He can be the final boss, but the fight is [[AntiClimaxBoss a joke]] and its made clear that this is just an act of desperation.]] [[spoiler:Sergei Surkov]] is also one.
%% * The head of the terrorists in ''VideoGame/SilentScope''.
* John Brightling in ''VideoGame/RainbowSix'', to the point that once you reach his lab he simply surrenders.
%% * The Kilrathi Emperor and [[spoiler:Admiral Tolwyn]] in ''VideoGame/WingCommander''.
* In the arcade version of ''TheCombatribes'', the main heroes spent the last two stages chasing after a man in a suit who fits the image of a stereotypical crime boss. When the crime boss is cornered in the final stage, he is betrayed and killed by his [[BodyguardBabes female bodyguard]] Martha Splatterhead, who proceeds to fight the player in her boss' place.
%% * Dr. Curien, Goldman, and the Mysterious Man in ''HouseOfTheDead'' series.
%% * Massimo Torini and Paulie Sindacco in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoLibertyCityStories''.
* Baron Alexander in ''VideoGame/AmnesiaTheDarkDescent'' never fights the player. Unlike most games it isn't as jarring, as there's no combat anyway.
%% * Dr. Harlan Fontaine in ''LANoire''.
* ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'':
** Caesar does not fight unless you decide to [[StormingTheCastle assault his fort]], preferring to let his [[TheDragon Dragon]] Lanius take command of the military campaign. It's justified in that he's an aging man with a brain tumor and doesn't put up much of a fight by himself, though statistically he is equivalent to an EliteMook with nonexistent armor since he wears ceremonial robes and is surrounded by {{Praetorian Guard}}s.
** Dr. Mobius in the ''Old World Blues'' DLC. While he spends the entire DLC siccing his Robo-Scorpions on you in as maniacal a manner as possible, when you actually meet him he turns out to be a heavily senile and grandfatherly old brain who can barely remember half of what he says. Most of his more maniacal rants are due to him taking Psycho. You can fight him, but he's hardly a match for you. Similarly, [[spoiler:The Think Tank at the end are equally pitiful in combat, though it's made clear early-on that without their pacification field there's nothing stopping you from curb-stomping them.]]
* ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'':
** [[TheManBehindTheMan Ozwell]] [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Spencer]] is a [[EvilOldFolks old man]] [[EvilCripple in a wheelchair]]. Needless to say, without the UndyingLoyalty of his DragonInChief, [[ColonelBadass Colonel]] [[FormerRegimePersonnel Sergei]] [[TheUndead Vladimir]], he wouldn't be very dangerous.
* Marian Mallon in ''VideoGame/DeadRising2: Case West'' is an EvilCripple in a wheelchair. In ''VideoGame/DeadRising3'' [[spoiler:she fights Nick with a series of cranes, but doesn't physically challenge him. She is later killed unceremoniously by the game's real BigBad.]]
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'':
** Major General Nikita Dragovich from ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps''. The best he can muster against Mason and Hudson when he confronts them directly at the end of the game is to try and shoot the former with his sidearm, before being easily beaten up and choked to death.
** The same can be said of Imran Zakhaev from the original ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare''. Without his Ultranationalist armies to protect him, he's just an angry old dude with one arm. The only reason he manages to kill Gaz and most of Soap's other squadmates is because they previously had a tanker truck explode in their faces. The moment Soap gets hold of a gun, he's done for.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'':
** After spending ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' in an uneasy alliance with Shepard, the Illusive Man becomes this, with Kai Leng acting as TheHeavy. It's kind of like they split the role Saren had in the first game into two people - Shepard and the Illusive Man constantly try to talk the other around to their way of thinking, while Leng is an exclusively physical threat who [[spoiler:ends up on the wrong end of Shepard's omni-blade]]. Originally, the creators intended for the players to fight a reaperized version of The Illusive Man as the final boss, however they felt that since TIM was meant to be a villain whose intelligence was his greatest weapon it would undercut the character for him to become a GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere.
** [[spoiler:The Catalyst]] doesn't seem to have any weapons, powers, or anything else to oppose you or anyone else, until [[spoiler:the Crucible]] is plugged in - yet, as the Reapers' governing intelligence, it at least indirectly controls thousands upon thousands of enormous machines designed and optimised solely to destroy entire species.
* Dr. Breen in ''VideoGame/HalfLife2''. The final battle consists of sabotaging his teleporter before he can ''run away'' (nuking you in the process), while he taunts you.
* In ''Videogame/EvilGenius'', the Evil Genius character is unable to attack enemies (though that doesn't stop him/her from [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness dispatching]] {{Mooks}}).
* Dr. Neo Cortex of the ''Franchise/CrashBandicoot'' series, he's a super genius and at least arms himself with a deadly laser gun, but he's also a weedy midget with a head almost bigger than his stick-like body. Granted RuleOfFunny applies on occasion, in ''VideoGame/CrashTwinsanity'' he actually ''brawls with Crash toe to toe''.
* The alien brain in ''VideoGame/{{X-COM}}'' does absolutely nothing but sit in its underground base, waiting for someone to shoot it.
* [[spoiler: Hyman Roth]] in ''VideoGame/TheGodfather 2''. Once you get past his plans and mooks, he's a ZeroEffortBoss who can be killed however you like with ease.
* [[spoiler: Jack Denham]] in ''VideoGame/{{Syndicate}}'' (2012). He tries to shut down your CHIP, but when that fails he doesn't raise a single weapon.
* [[spoiler: Victor Branco]] in ''VideoGame/MaxPayne3''. The one time he tries to pull a gun on Max, he gets disarmed quickly and only TheDragon saves him. The "boss fight" with him is just [[spoiler: blowing out his private jet from under him.]]
%% * Adrian Malprave from the ''Fracnhise/JamesBond game ''VideoGame/AgentUnderFire''.
* In ''VideoGame/AceCombatJointAssault'', neither the Valahaia leader nor [[spoiler:Oliveri]] fight you in the air.
* ''VideoGame/ActionDoom2UrbanBrawl'': Peter Crisp, the old, wheelchair-bound CorruptCorporateExecutive, who doesn't actually do anything during the final showdown, instead sending [[FlunkyBoss waves of mooks]] (and a helicopter) at you.
* ''VideoGame/SlyCooperThievesInTime'' has Le Paradox, to an extent. As Sly points our while dishing out a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech, Le Paradox never actually stole the Coopers' various canes himself, instead leaving it up to his various partners to do all of the dirty work for him. That being said, he does put up a good fight against Sly during the FinalBoss fight.
* ''VideoGame/TombRaider2013'' has Mathias, who largely leaves it up to his Solarii goons or Himiko's Stormguard to do the fighting for him. He does attack Lara in the finale, but is easily shot off of a cliff.
* In ''Byteria Saga: Heroine Iysayana'', TheManBehindTheMan Behind The Man is [[spoiler:an unidentified superior being attempting to bring down the CelestialBureaucracy]]. He doesn't want the archangels to come for him, of course, so he [[spoiler:stays hidden and lets Paulinus, his mortal DragonInChief, execute his plan. He only (carefully) manifests himself when he tries to convince the heroes to join him; he could presumably wipe the floor with them but doesn't risk leaving traces]].
* ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'':
** The Center, leader of the Council. Heroes have only ever been able to talk him via radio in a mission added over six years after the game's launch. Villains can meet him in person during one of their story arcs, where he is indeed not a combatant.
** King Midas, leader of the Gold Brickers, has never appeared in person at all.
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance''. With the bad guy being a Senator, you'd think you'd only have to reach him, and it would all be over. After all, you're a cyborg. Then he goes and starts riding a Metal Gear. [[spoiler:And then he further subverts this to ridiculous lengths, personally giving Raiden the worst beating he'll take in the whole game. Nanomachines are a thing of wonder, ain't they?]]
* The Camerata in ''VideoGame/{{Transistor}}'' were never combatants to begin with, but while two of them gain some method of fighting Red, [[spoiler:Grant, their leader and the cause for everything,]] ends up being TheUnfought.
* ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'' has Hugo Strange; his "fight" with Batman consists of a cutscene where he's shoved aside so Batman can access some consoles. The Joker, as the other major player in the BigBadEnsemble, is even more of an example than usual, as he's dying of blood poisoning and understandably not up for a fight.
* ''VideoGame/ShadowrunReturns'': Adrian Vauclair of the expansion, Dragonfall, is an elderly scientist in the process of dying of leukemia. His [[TheDragon security chief/assassin,]] Audran, is a huge orc with a minigun and military-grade power armor. Unsurprisingly, the latter is the final boss, while the former [[TheUnfought shoots himself once it's clear his plans have failed.]]
* The Emperor in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyII'' is a powerful magician, but spends the majority of the time out of the spotlight, plotting and wreaking magical havoc on the world. Even when [[spoiler:he gets a demonic upgrade after the party [[AntiClimaxBoss easily kicks his mortal head in]]]], he's content to sit on his throne and let his minions do the work.
* In ''VideoGame/WatchDogs'', Lucky Quinn and [[spoiler:Damien Brenks]] are both physically unimposing and prefer to get others to do their dirty work.
* In ''VideoGame/AliceMadnessReturns'', [[spoiler:Doctor Bumby]] cannot fight at all in the real world. At the climax of the game, Alice (who also isn't much of a fighter in the real world, and is much younger than he is) is able to [[spoiler:finish him by shoving him in front of a train.]]

[[folder: Web Comics]]
* [[Music/TheProtomen Doug Fetterman]] in ''WebComic/DeadOfSummer''. This may explain some of why he's evil; he didn't get any cool powers like the rest of the group did.

[[folder: Web Original]]
* The Shadow Overlord in the "Rise of Red" story arc of ''WebVideoGame/TheIrateGamer''. He's trapped in a mirrored prison and relies on [[EvilTwin the Evil Gamer]] and R.E.D. to carry out his plot to defeat the Irate Gamer. He is ultimately crushed by the decapitated head of the HumongousMecha sent to destroy his arch enemy, who remains in the dark about his existence.
* ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'':
** Season 10 has The Director of Project Freelancer. [[spoiler:While the main characters are hunting him down, he does nothing to stop them except leave a bunch of Tex-bots for them to deal with]]. The page quote comes from season 6, ''Reconstruction''.
** General Doyal is this for Seasons 11 and 12, not even having any fighting experience (he was promoted from brigadier's secretary) and having no control over Locus. [[spoiler:Even when he is revealed not to be the BigBad, this trope still counts to the true BigBad, Control, who only gives orders for Locus and Felix to carry out while Control sits and waits.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Subverted by Tombstone from ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan''. Spider-Man invokes this trope, right before Tombstone beats him in less than 5 seconds.
* Dr. Drakken in ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' can be beaten by [[ThisLoserIsYou Ron]] in a fight and relies on [[HypercompetentSidekick Shego]] to do all the dirty work for him, but his plans are surprisingly menacing [[NotSoHarmlessVillain when he gets serious]].
** In the "A Sitch in Time" BadFuture where Shego took over the world, she sends other villains (including Drakken, who is now [[FutureBadass a mass of muscle]]) to do her fighting for her -- "The Supreme One always delegates".
* Dr. Claw from ''WesternAnimation/InspectorGadget''. He doesn't lift a finger throughout the show, or even [[TheFaceless deigns to show his face.]] He just dispatches his {{Mooks}}, then escapes at the last minute once Gadget defeats them. He ''has'', however, personally engaged in vehicle-to-vehicle combat with the Inspector a few times, usually at the beginning of an episode before the plot's kicked off, but it rarely has anything to do with his plans.
* The Brain from ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' season five is a very good {{Chessmaster}}- but he's also a literal BrainInAJar, and without his minions he can't even defend himself against a slap.
* Shendu from ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures''. Being TakenForGranite will do that to you. Averted with his true form- [[OurDragonsAreDifferent a 16 foot tall flightless dragon]] and powerful and devious [[OurDemonsAreDifferent Demon]] [[EvilSorceror Sorceror]] who even without his magical talismans is seemingly invicible and an extremely dangerous enemy. In both his natural form and when he's stuck [[DemonicPossession possessing unwilling human hosts]], he demonstrates supernatural and impressive fighting skills as well as the ability to breath fire. And until the 4th series, he could summon his EliteMooks [[MadeOfEvil the Shadowkhan]] at will to fight either for or with him.
* Xanatos from ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' starts out this way; he's a MagnificentBastard to the bone, and surrounds himself with lots of MechaMooks and a very dangerous [[BigBadDuumvirate partner]], Demona, but while a skilled fighter by human standards he's physically no match whatsoever for any gargoyle. [[SubvertedTrope He does, however, recognize this, and soon has a suit of]] PoweredArmor [[SubvertedTrope made for himself that levels the playing field]].
* On ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice,'' [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen Queen Bee]] is a LivingAphrodisiac with the resources of [[{{Qurac}} her own country]], but WordOfGod [[http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/search.php?qid=15648 admits]] that her powers "aren't particularly physical." The one time she was involved in an actual battle she was knocked out pretty quickly by a female assailant, allowing the males of the Team to enter the fight. ComicBook/LexLuthor admits that he thinks physical battles beneath him, though he does keep his trusted bodyguard [[{{Cyborg}} Mercy]] around for that purpose.
* ''{{Hurricanes}}'': Being a CorruptCorporateExecutive, Stavros Garkos usually dispatches minions to do his dirty work. However, he's not above doing some of it himself.
* The ''WesternAnimation/{{Ultimate Spider-Man}}'' version of Norman Osborn started out as this; he [[TheManBehindTheMan the one behind]] [[TheDragon Dr Octopus]]'s chasing of Spider-Man, but for most of season 1, he remains passive and does nothing besides giving Octavius orders. [[spoiler:[[TookALevelInBadass Then he becomes]] [[HulkingOut the Green Goblin]].]]
* ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'':
** The Delightful Children from Down the Lane from They rarely face off against the heroes without a tough fighter, an army of {{mook}}s, or a HumongousMecha backing them up, and they get [[CurbStompBattle soundly beaten]] in the rare event that they do.
** Also, [[EvilCounterpart Negative Numbuh Four]] from the half-hour episode "Operation: P.O.O.L." Not only is he not a fighter, he's a spineless coward, as the regular Numbuh Four was, [[SmartBall ironically, the first to figure out.]]
* Varrick from ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' is this. He is quite ruthless and surprisigly competant a villain, yet hardly lifts a finger when opposing the heroes. Varrick isn't effective on the field, instead relying on {{Mooks}} to do his dirty work. He also makes up for it by being a MagnificentBastard.
* The Tallest in ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' rule the Irken Empire, which seeks to conquer/enslave everyone and everything, but they much prefer to [[OrcusOnHisThrone sit back and eat snacks]] than bother with any hard work. Though to be fair, they ''do'' manage to win a space battle when attacked by [[LaResistance the Resisty]], and [[AllThereInTheManual an unfinished episode script]] reveals that they used to be members of the Irken Elite.
* Major Nixel from ''WesternAnimation/{{Mixels}} prefers to just stay at base and let his minion Nixels do the dirty work. He brilliantly spelled out in "Nixel 'Mix Over'":
-->'''Major Nixel:''' Now go. Get me. Some Cubits! And I'm just gonna stand here!
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirlsFriendshipGames'': Principal Abacus Cinch of Crystal Prep Academy has no magic or physical skills of her own. Instead, she mentally and emotionally manipulates the human Twilight Sparkle into being her [[TheDragon Dragon]], and the real threat of the film.