Not Orcus, but far too comfy to get up.
"Sorry, Kimmie. The Supreme One always delegates.
Deep in Mordor
, at the top of the Evil Tower of Ominousness
, the Evil Overlord
awaits. He has his Legion of Doom
, the Artifact of Doom
and any other Doomy Dooms of Doom
you can think of. His power is vast and he is poised to strike and destroy all we hold dear at any moment.
Any moment now.
Looks like we have a case of Orcus On His Throne. A villain with great power and the potential to wipe out the Forces of Good turns out to be an awfully retiring
sort. Sure, they're out there somewhere being evil, probably oppressing someone else
, but they don't actually seem to do much; they just sits about resting on their laurels
or at most maintaining an active training regimen
, waiting for the heroes to come and overthrow them. One wonders how they ever mustered the ambition to climb to their position of power in the first place.
Named for a line in the Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons
Manual of the Planes, where it mentioned that Orcus, the lord of the undead, might once more be on his throne, one bony hand clutching his terrible rod
. The original justification for this was based in the way D & D
works; by not having Orcus (or any other given major villain) actively doing anything, but prepared to strike out against the forces of good, the dungeon masters who were buying the source books and playing the game could have the villains do whatever they wanted or needed them to do for their custom-built campaigns.
Relatedly, this is a very common trope in Video Games
, where the villain waits passively in their throne room while the hero is leveling up
, killing increasing tiers of their minions
, Storming the Castle
, occupying each base
and methodically foiling
their plans. If the Big Bad
is coming, why not just wait and prepare yourself? But if the Big Bad
is sitting by their Lava Pit of Doom, for whatever reason, just waiting for the Hero to arrive, then of course the Hero has to make their way all the way there.
In the villain's defense, maintaining order in one's domain can be a really time consuming task
, what with all those Rebel Scum
, stupid henchmen
, backstabbing lieutenants
, and the other daily tasks an Evil Overlord
has to face everyday. And any tactician will endorse the benefits of a fortified position surrounded by your most powerful servants. Then again, what kind of Evil Overlord
doesn't take the time to smell the roses, pillage a village, and give a hero a good Final Boss Preview
every once in a while? They deserve a little "me" time, too!
The Big Bad
might also be spending all their time offscreen searching for a Plot Coupon
, Artifact of Doom
, etc.) that would render conventional means of conquest unnecessary
. Why waste time and effort commanding the Legion of Doom
when you could conquer/corrupt/destroy the kingdom/country/world/galaxy/universe with the push of a button? When they do
get off their throne, expect them to be a Mobile Menace
. Still, it's easier to send their minions
out to do this instead, which is probably another reason they never have to leave the castle. In the case of a Non-Action Big Bad
, the villain acts like this because personally, they don't
have power, or at least not the sort that would be useful in direct combat
, and they primarily work through their subordinates.
Villainous counterpart to Take Your Time
. Compare Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering
. Contrast Royals Who Actually Do Something
and Frontline General
. The opposite of this is Risking The King
. Not to be confused with - though principally very similar to - Bigger Bad
. See also The Pawns Go First
for when the Big Bad
chooses to let their minions fight a particular battle for a while before intervening. Similar to Offstage Villainy
, where we only know the villain is evil because the author says so; with Orcus On His Throne, we only know the villain is dangerous
because the author says so.
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Anime and Manga
- Queen Beryl, and to a lesser extent her lieutenants, in Sailor Moon. In the original series Queen Beryl would do nothing but sit on her throne looking at an orb. Especially egregious early on, where even though it was clear that even just one of Queen Beryl's lieutenants was a problem for all the Sailor Scouts, they would often only come in one at a time while the rest would just stay back at their base and wait around. Queen Beryl did come out to attack the scouts in one episode in Sailor Moon Crystal, but she doesn't do anything except make the screen wavy and then leaves after just one attack that didn't even hit her.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
- Lordgenome spends most of his screentime doing the Slouch of Villainy while ordering around his lieutenants. However, once Simon reaches him, it's all too clear why he gets to lounge around. And why he has to, since the very Spiral Power he possesses is exactly what he was trying to protect the Earth from by forcing humans to live underground.
- The Anti-Spiral King doesn't even show up until the penultimate episode and doesn't directly fight the heroes until the final one. In their case it's justified by their battle tactics, which involve giving their opponents a small but obtainable chance of victory, providing hope, only to snatch it away at the last second to induce maximum despair. Going all out at the first opportunity doesn't fit that.
- Dragon Ball: In the King Piccolo Saga, King Piccolo typically sits on his throne in Emperor Pilaf's airship while his "children" do the fighting for him. He finally steps in personally after the deaths of Cymbal and Tambourine, and beats Goku so thoroughly that Goku is presumed dead afterwards.
- The Emperor of Darkness, the Big Bad of Great Mazinger, the sequel of Mazinger Z. He spent the whole series sitting on his throne in the underground as his generals led the war against the surface, and he never left the Underworld, not even when all generals of his army were killed off. The only thing he did in the entire series was bring Dr. Hell, Big Bad of the former series, back to life to lead his army, which did not work exactly well. He not even was Killed Off for Real in that series, but in a manga chapter of UFO Robo Grendizer (the version penned by Gosaku Ota), the last part of the Mazinger trilogy.
- Excel Saga has Il Palazzo, who sits on his throne playing dating sims and guitar while Excel and Hyatt do all the actual work. This, despite having (in at least the anime) psychokinetic powers that let him tear through an squadron of Ropponmatsus without the slightest effort, as well as at least some level of Super Strength and Super Speed. Among other things, he is unscathed by a half-dozen or so Ropponomatsus latching onto him and self-destructing, catches a mini-missile launched at his face with one hand before throwing it aside like a piece of junk, and zips across the floor too fast to follow and Neck Lifts the original Ropponomatsus... then proceeds to behead them by squeezing his fists shut. In the manga he has various technology-based powers, most notably teleportation, but it takes him over ten volumes to discover most of them due to his amnesia. He is eventually either cured or overtaken by a secondary personality (it's unclear to say the least), and gets off his throne to personally lead the conquest of (the economy of) Fukuoka.
- Quite literally the Phoenix King from Ranma ½, as he is expected to do nothing but sit on his throne and shed light and heat so his subjects enjoy a comfortable life. Saffron, the latest incarnation, can vaporize mountains with heat beams whenever he feels like it, and yet he suffered an incomplete maturation that deprived him of control. One wonders why his previous, perfect, embodiments didn't go out and raze the world unopposed.
- Justified in Code Geass. The Emperor has since left the conquering to his elder children Schneizel and Cornelia because he's busy preparing to "kill the gods."
- Sosuke Aizen, despite being the Big Bad for much of the series, seems content to wait on the sidelines looking pretty until he's forced to intervene. Of course, then the Vandenreich arrive and their leader averts this - he sends in the elite fighters first, and *then* the mooks, and on top of that, personally leads the assault on the good guys, a few chapters after he first showed up. They end up drastically decimating the Gotei 13 and killing their leader, with at most 6 causalities on their own side.
- Baraggan was like this in his backstory, too. He'd consolidated his power in Hueco Mundo so effectively that he had nothing left to do there but sit on his throne, and he was considering dividing his army in two and making them fight just to relieve his boredom. Why he didn't try attacking the Soul Reapers, the eternal enemies of the hollows, isn't addressed.
- Father, the Big Bad from Fullmetal Alchemist is the perfect example; the only thing he does until the day of the eclipse at the end of the series is sitting down in his throne, letting the homunculi carry on his plan.
- Two Transformers examples: Deathsaurus in Transformers Victory and Gigatron in Transformers Car Robots. You could almost tell that Leozack and Black Convoy, respectively, were the real Decepticon leader of each series.
- In Saint Seiya the Pope Gemini Saga spend most of its time waiting for Bronze Saints to come in the throne room on top of the Sanctuary.
- Shinzo has Lanancuras, who technically has a good reason to sit on his throne: it's his prison. Except he never tried breaking out until AFTER the barrier maiden had discovered the power to keep him there, which is three hundred years (five hundred in the dub). And he does absolutely nothing during that time. This is the result of a second-season Retcon that revealed him as The Man Behind the Man of the original Big Bad.
- Knives from the Trigun anime fits this to a tee. The ability to destroy cities? Check. Rabid hatred of humanity? Check he looks human but isn't, he's actually a plant. Sits in an oasis in the middle of nowhere for the entire series? Check.
- Great Demon King Chestra in Violinist of Hameln follows this trope in letter, but, amusingly, not in spirit. He stays on his throne until his crippled body regenerates both legs, yet this does not prevent him from bringing his magic to bear against armies that challenge his minions as soon as he appears in the story.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- DIO, in Part 3 sends assassins to try and kill Jotaro Kujo and company rather than seeking them out and killing them himself for much of the story arc. Justified, because for one, he's a vampire who can't survive in direct sunlight, and for another, he spends the time integrating his head to his old nemesis Jonathan Joestar's body and can't fight, himself, without the 100-year-old body falling apart on him before he completes its integration.
- Kira Yoshikage in Part 4, after stealing Kosaku Kawajiri's face and identity, decides to just stay in hiding rather than go after Josuke and co. It isn't until he fails to hold back his Serial Killer impulses and gets found out by Kosaku's son that he's forced to get proactive again.
- Jellal from Fairy Tail is quite happy to send out minions to attack the Tower of Heaven's intruders, rather than fight himself. In the next arc, Laxus sits in Kardia Cathedral while everyone fights his team and tries to avoid a set of magical traps. There's a reason for the second example though: Laxus may hate Fairy Tail's reputation enough to try and take over the guild, but he's not truly a bad person, and won't admit to himself that he doesn't have the guts to deliberately kill someone.
- Pasdar, the Big Bad of the first half of GaoGaiGar would sit on his throne... if he had a butt. Instead he justifies this trope by being a giant grotesquely horrifying mechanical head that's growing out of the ceiling. When he eventually grows a body, it requires a huge amount of energy to do, so much so that he has to assimilate most of Tokyo to do it.
- The Former Crimson King from Samurai Deeper Kyo spends nearly the entire manga doing this until he finally gets up and fights in the last 10 chapters or so.
- Almost every Big Bad in Digimon Adventure has this problem. Devimon separates the kids and instead of killing them himself he lets his black gear possessed minions do it, while he broods on Infinity Mountain. Myotismon is perfectly content to let Demidevimon try to cause strife amongst the children instead of attacking them himself (initially), and each Dark Master waits until their comrade has been defeated and the Digi-destined reach their territory.
- Digimon Xros Wars has Bagramon, leader of the Bagra army. He doesn't do much for 50 episodes except sit in a chair, looking menacing. In the last 2 episodes he finally takes matters in his own hands, literally.
- Justified on Akazukin Chacha. The reason Big Bad Daimaoh is always inside his castle is because the Sealed Good in a Can set a spirit barrier around it that damages him if he tries to leave, thus only Sorges and other minions can go out.
- Takuma Saiou of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Barely any of his interactions with the main cast serve any purpose throughout the first half of the season. Halfway, he gets a weapon of mass destruction that allows him to destroy the world, and he literally spends days doing nothing but contemplating whether he should destroy the world or not and he pretty much falls out of focus, until some weird split personality crisis makes him give away the keys to the satellite to the heroes.
- Frieza from Dragon Ball Z definitely qualifies. Basically his entire army had to die before he finally decided to get out of his chair and do something, despite the fact that he could've very, very easily curbstomped anyone on the planet.
- Zagato of Magic Knight Rayearth stays at the Water dungeon for the entire story and sends out his minions one by one, only confronting the Magic Knights when they come to him. In the anime adaptation he does intervene a couple of times, but one of them is via remote magic.
- Usually subverted in One Piece. A quite large percentage of the villains are introduced sitting on comfortable furniture, often surrounded by their Quirky Miniboss Squad, and may continue to do that for the next few chapters, but as soon as they realize that the Straw Hats or other heroes are a serious threat, they will step up to fight them. Played straight with Gekko Moriah, whose shtick is laziness, and a couple of other villains who simply are so arrogant that they think even their weakest henchmen can defeat any opponent.
- The Pretty Cure franchise has many Big Bads of them, they are all dangerous and could destroy the world, but they depend more on their minions.
- Justified with Jaaku King from Futari wa Pretty Cure. He was somehow bound to the Dusk Zone and he wanted to find the remaining Prism Stones. They are tiny, he was Large and In Charge, so he was forced to depend on his minions. In the sequel, his minions try to revive him, so this trope isn't played anymore or inverted, as his Dragon Baldez is revealed to be (a part of) himself.
- Akudaikahn from Futari Wa Pretty Cure Splash Star wants to destroy the seven fountains and he orders his minions to find them. He doesn't do anything until the heroines arrive to face him. It's later revealed that Akudaikahn isn't even the Big Bad, it's Gohyan who disguised himself as his dragon's dragon.
- Desparaia and the Director from Yes! Pretty Cure 5. They do almost nothing until all of their minions were killed or left them or disappeared. And in Desparaia's case, she doesn't do that much when she stands up from her throne. The Director even has a floating chair to sit in wherever he arrives.
- Justified with Moebius from Fresh Pretty Cure! who is revealed to be a supercomputer and he can't do anything to enslave the parallel worlds until he gets Infinity.
- Subverted with Mephisto from Suite Pretty Cure ♪. He doesn't do anything to find the music notes until he is tired of his minions' failures, so he has to take action himself. And he succeeds.
- Ronin Warriors has Talpa, a frighteningly powerful demon emperor, who spends most of the time sitting back in his castle, giving orders to his Dark Warlords. The number of times he actually confronts a hero in battle can be counted on one hand. Justified in that he needs the armors of both the Warlords and the Ronin to physically manifest in the mortal world.
- In Fables, Mr. Dark originally comes to Earth to wreak revenge on the Fables who he thinks have abused his power. But after he discovers they have fled their New York place of residence, he decides to build his domain there and wait for the Fables to come looking for him. However, this trope is subverted in issue #100. After Frau Totenkinder has learned how to Box him, she comes to New York to face Mr. Dark, and almost defeats him — but not quite. This near-defeat makes Mr. Dark finally abandon his throne and come after the Fables, who are forced to flee Earth altogether.
- Darkseid from The DCU, despite being a major Big Bad who ruled an entire planet with an iron fist, had access to incredibly advanced technology, and possessed divine powers that could smite just about anything in the universe, didn't get around to committing much actual villainy (outside of the original New Gods series anyway). Justified by his obsession with the "Anti-life Equation", a formula that removes the free will of anyone that hears it. In Final Crisis, when he finally has a chance to use the Equation, he immediately enslaves the population of Earth, has his son Orion killed, launches a campaign to subdue the Earth's heroes, and nearly conquers the Multiverse.
- The Kingpin is a street-level version of this trope. He can and has fought the likes of Daredevil and Captain America but prefers to keep the illusion that he is a legitimate businessman (or at least a fat mob-boss) and has his mooks do much of the fighting. When it comes time to throw down, however, it turns out that all that weight is pure muscle and despite his size, he is a skilled and even agile martial artist.
- The Goblin King in the Superior Spider-Man saga is this, acting behind the scenes and building up his army but not actively attack Spidey in any meaningful way. It isn't until the final arc, "Goblin Nation", that he finally does something. And he does it in a big way.
- The Big Bad of Loki: Agent of Asgard, Old!Loki, who has Story-Breaker Power, and the benefits of foreknowledge, but no real inclination to use it for anything more than trolling. For the moment, he's quite content to kick back in his cell. An explanation for this could be, that he is (allegedly) a time traveller and when he actually messes with the present he could very well derail it into something else or even better, than what he remembers and potentially destroy himself.
- Titan from My Little Unicorn, befitting of his Generic Doomsday Villain status.
- The Immortal Game:
- Titan spends most of his time until the Final Battle in the Dark Heart of Everfree, where he is apparently unraveling the enchantments placed by Celestia and Luna on Equestria so he can impose his brand of order once again. Subverted somewhat in that he is actually fought multiple times, mostly through avatars of himself, but not always.
- Prince Empyrean walls himself in his palace and not seeming to actually do anything much. It's justified in his case, since he is a Spoiled Brat who, despite wielding the power of Celestia, has none of her skill and experience and is way too scared at the thought of endangering himself.
- Baron Zeppeli from Tealove's Steamy Adventure. He does directly menace Tealove and Minty in his introductory scene. After this, however, he's content to just sit in his zeppelin, watch Tealove's progress through his crystal ball, and boast that everything is proceeding exactly according to plan. He completely disappears from the story without doing anything more, or even explaining what his plan is.
- Lord Maledict from Sonic X: Dark Chaos is this until Episode 63, when he is so aggravated by Tsali's failures that he shows up personally to challenge Sonic and his friends - and promptly wipes the floor with them. It explicitly justified, as he's both The Chessmaster and trying to run a gigantic universal empire at the same time.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Throughout Acts III and IV, Hokuto relies on his mooks, Co-Dragons Jovian and Jacqueline, and/or his Unwitting Pawns (i.e. Kuyou) to fight Tsukune's gang for him or carry out Hostage Situations while he either does something to advance his plans along or simply pulls a Villain Exit Stage Left; this happens to the extent that Tsukune and co. explicitly call him a Dirty Coward on multiple occasions. He finally fights on his own when Tsukune corners him at Alucard's grave... and even with his Restraining Bolt, he thoroughly spanks Tsukune. When he decides to go One-Winged Angel, he actually manages to kill Tsukune, only for a Superhuman Transfusion from all four Shuzen sisters to revive him as a pureblooded vampire, which directly leads to Hokuto's undoing.
- In Kill Bill, evil supervillain assassin kung-fu samurai guy Bill sits in his plush Central-American villa, waiting for The Bride to work her way through his subordinates and seek him out for a personal duel. His only real action was to warn (and possibly bail out) his brother.
- Star Wars: Emperor Palpatine in the Original Trilogy (not so in the prequel trilogy, where he's The Chessmaster playing both sides for his own benefit). But then, he's got an Empire to micromanage and plots to set in motion; he has Darth Vader to do the in-person chasing after of Rebels.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort sits out most of the climatic battle. This is partially justified: Harry has been systematically destroying his Horcruxes and Voldemort is understandably worried that Harry might succeed in killing him if given the opportunity. It still counts because he lets minions pound away at Hogwarts' protective shield to no effect, only to singlehandedly bring it down in a fit of rage. He could have conceivably destroyed the entire castle if he had been so inclined.
- Hades in Disney's Hercules is surprisingly passive. Despite being a god with an arsenal of fire based abilities, he never fights Hercules directly, instead sending out Pain and Panic or some monster from Greek myth. Justified in that he doesn't want his treacherous nature to be exposed by directly attacking the son of Zeus.
- Mickey in Killing Them Softly, who does not spend one single iota of effort to pursue the thieves he was specifically ordered to Boston to kill. Unusually, his doing so is not actually a plot hole; it's a very deliberate illustration of just how far organized crime has fallen.
- Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He shows up in the stinger to The Avengers to reveal that he was the unseen backer of Loki's attempt to take over earth, and Guardians of the Galaxy shows that he is also behind Ronan the Accuser and is seeking the Infinity Stones. Despite being The Dreaded, at least to those who know of him, he has yet to take any direct action. For bonus trope points, in every scene featuring him in The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy he is actually sitting on a throne.
- Power Rangers in general has Big Bads who subscribe to this trope. Sometimes they have a reason for this; other times, however, they're content to sit around and berate their underlings' continual failures until the final five episodes or so.
- Lord Zedd from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is one of the most egregious examples of this; he's been shown to be capable of clobbering Tommy with little effort, but spends most of his time sending ineffective minions after the rangers and yelling at everybody.
- Power Rangers Operation Overdrive had Flurious, the smartest and most powerful of the four competing factions of enemies attacking the Rangers that season. After being a major threat in the first three episodes, he spends the next 27 lazying around in his arctic base, letting the other villains do all the work. It isn't until the finale that he swoops in and attempts to make a grab for victory.
- Lothor from Power Rangers Ninja Storm is indeed very powerful, just not quite powerful enough to carry out his ultimate plan, so he deliberately plays up this trope and sending monsters and generals to their deaths just to fill up the abyss of evil so he can absorb that power once it overflows.
- Justified in the case of Venjix of Power Rangers RPM, a computer virus inhabiting a hard-drive cylinder. Once he builds a robot body, he starts to have a more active role.
- Master Xandred of Power Rangers Samurai. He has a good reason for staying in the lair (he'd dry out and die in minutes if he crossed over to the human world) and he gets more active later, but in the early episodes he didn't even do any scheming; he just spent most of his time saying "Yeah, do whatever; I need some medicine for this freakin' headache."
- Power Rangers in Space has the Ultimate Alliance of Evil, composed of every one of the series villains. All they ever seemed to do was throw parties for themselves. Even Astronoma, who took command of assaulting Earth, played this role. That being said, they shook it off with a vengeance in the series finale, where they launched a coordinated assault on the entire universe. They defeated the Rangers and all their allies very quickly, and required a Dying Moment of Awesome from Zordon to lose.
- Dark Specter might be the worst example of this in the series. He's portrayed as the Ultimate Evil and The Man Behind the Man for all of the Zordon-era villains (Rita, Zedd, The Machine Empire, Divatox, Astronema, etc.). Sadly, he never once fights the Power Rangers, and he never does anything other than give orders/make idle threats, and spends the entire season being unknowingly plotted against by his subordinates. In Part 1 of the Grand Finale he's killed by The Starscream, though to his credit he at least takes him down too.
- This applies to almost half of all the Big Bads in Super Sentai, Power Rangers' parent show; they spend most of their screen time in the show in their throne, sitting like a living furniture, and only get off their asses in the Grand Finale to fight the heroes in giant form.
- Operation Overdrive's Flurious seems to be in keeping with Boukenger, in which Gajah (the villain Flurious essentially replaced) mostly winds up hanging back, only really doing anything of significance after one of the other factions has one of their plans fail, in at least one case using the flaming wreckage of the failed plan as the foundation for his own. And then he turns out to be the Big Bad after showing up sporadically.
- You know we said about Master Xandred above? His Samurai Sentai Shinkenger counterpart, Chimatsuri Dokoku, is the same, only he's not taking medicine - that's sake and he spends all his time drinking himself into a stupor.
- While Kamen Rider doesn't do this trope much due to how their villains are structured, they do fall for this trope occasionally, though these reasons are justified.
- Kamen Rider Fourze has the Big Bad not do anything while his loyal Horoscopes do the work for him. Justified because he doesn't really care if they live or die, provided that their Switch is intact so that he can invoke the Dark Nebula. Though it's only when it gets close to the end after he mortally wounds his dragon when he realizes the latter's double life that he manages to kick the heroes' asses.
- Kamen Rider Wizard subverts this trope. The Wiseman can actually just zap away the mana from Haruto on his throne (really, it's a stone bed thing but still), ensuring he won't be defeated easily. He still sits on his throne and lets his mooks do the work for him, but he does do stuff when he's the White Wizard.
- Arthur Petrelli from Heroes gained practically godlike power in the first few episodes he appeared in. After that he spent most of his time sitting in his base, drawing pretty pictures and sending out his incompetent minions occasionally. You'd think an unkillable guy with power over time and space could be a bit more proactive. Admittedly he thought he already had everything he needed for his master plan, and when he found out that he was lacking the last component of the formula for the Super Serum he wanted to make... he and the rest of the cast were Brought Down to Normal that same episode, so he couldn't use his powers to get it.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- The Mayor did precious little villainy, even counting what he delegated to his minions or Dragon; hell, the second Dragon came to him looking for work. Being a Non-Action Big Bad limits his options, and by the time the heroes even know he's a villain he's already unkillable and just needs to wait for the time of Ascension, but this doesn't explain why he did nothing about the Master or Angelus, given their plans would have severely wrecked his plans.
- Glory was like this in the fifth season. She was powerful enough to kill Buffy easily, but she spent most of the season hanging around her penthouse and sending ineffective minions out to do her work for her. In her defense, she was established as not being mentally all that stable (she needed to eat people's sanity on a regular basis just to maintain any sort of coherent thought) and it's implied that Ben is the dominant of the two beings for most of the season, so Glory was unable to come out to play most of the time. Only by the last few episodes of the season is she able to come out for more than a few hours before her energy was depleted, and she spent that time being much more proactive.
- The First Evil was like this in the seventh season. The entire season is spent warning, warning, warning that eventually an army of uber-vampires will arise to destroy the world, but it never actually happens. Finally, in the last episode... they still don't arise. Buffy and the potential slayers decide they're simply tired of waiting for them to attack and go attack them instead. In it's case, being Made of Evil means it has no physical form, and must rely on its minions to actually do things.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Orcus, of course, through most of his history. Justified, in that not only is he in an Evil vs. Evil war with various other Demon Lords, but also with the Fallen Devils as well. Back in First and Second Edition however he was a real terror; first he died, then he came back from the dead, terrorized the planes, killed a bunch of gods nobody cares about, and died again. He hasn't been the same since his second resurrection. In 4th Edition, Orcus is fully statted out for combat in the Monster Manual. Clearly he's gotten a bit more active if he needs epic-level heroes to face him. What's more, he's not only the most powerful monster in that book, but he got himself put on the cover.
- Asmodeus' true form is a serpent the size of a galaxy, so his avatar can't go far from it for long periods of time, and he is enough of a Magnificent Bastard that he doesn't have to do much personally to be the most evil and powerful creature in existence. 4e offers another justification for Asmodeus; Hell is his prison and he can't leave. It's worth noting that he wasn't imprisoned there to protect the mortal world from him, but to protect the other gods from him. He became a god through deicide, and the other gods are scared shitless of him (and potential copycats).
- Orcus' arch rival Demogorgon tends to do the same thing. His excuse is that he considers the wars with devils and other demons a necessary annoyance, and his true interest is researching the nature of the Abyss. For the record? Demogorgon is said canonically to be more powerful than Orcus, and at least in some versions, was the demonic equivalent of Asmodeus himself.
- Justified for Zuggtmoy — she spends most of the "Temple of Elemental Evil" sitting around because she's magically bound to her throne. If the PCs smash the binding spells in the course of the adventure, she's perfectly willing to "thank" them in person.
- Many, many Darklords in the Ravenloft setting. The most extreme example is Soth, who spent decades literally just sitting on his throne because he didn't care any more. It has been theorized that the Dark Powers let him escape Ravenloft because he ceased to be of any interest, in contrast to Darklords like Strahd, Drakov, or Azalin whose existence is a constant cycle of Yank the Dog's Chain.
- Warhammer: Nagash, the lord of the undead, has been sitting on his throne in his fortress of Nagashizzar ever since the human demigod Sigmar beat the crap out of him. He lost last time because Sigmar had the most powerful of his tools, his crown, and that is still held in the Imperial capital. That said, all of his lieutenants that remained loyal have been raised and re-united with various undead factions, Arkhan found his staff, he still controls his own capital, and even the last of the von Carsteins is his ally, and in 2014 he got his own game expansion and campaign featuring him finally making his move. It turned out while he was sitting things out he was maneuvering his servants and allies to complete the rituals needed to bring him back to full power, and now that he's back he intends to conquer both the world and the gods themselves.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Of the daemon Primarchs only a handful have left their daemonworlds and attacked the Imperium on a regular basis. Mostly because they don't actually give a crap about the Imperium anymore; they have godlike powers and rule entire worlds that are shaped according to their whims, so they have very little reason to leave their homes and go kick some mortals around. Angron, the most active, is a bit different as he exists to kill things, and mortals are more fun to kill than demons (as demons can't truly die). Not to mention it takes an enormous amount of energy to actually summon them to the physical world... and every time poor Magnus the Red ventures out, the Space Wolves stab him in the eye.
- This goes double Lorgar and Fulgrim. Every other daemon-primarch assaulted the Imperium at least once. Lorgar has spent the last ten thousand years meditating on the nature of Chaos, while the Word Bearers are ruled by his lieutenants. Fulgrim left his legion shortly after Horus Heresy and even the Emperor's Children can't find him. The Emperor's Children no longer have any kind of unified command structure after that incident with World Eaters, Kharn and a flamethrower.
- Thanks to Twin Switch antics, it's ambiguous as to whether Alpharius is alive, whether his twin brother Omegon is alive, or whether they're both alive. Whatever the answer is, they haven't been heard of in ten thousand years.
- The Emperor is effectively sustained by life support on his throne, and has been for ten millennia. He's less of a villain, but this is WH40K we're talking about.
- The Chaos Gods, when they aren't stuck in their literally eternal Enemy Civil War, rely on their daemons and mortal followers to cause havoc in the Materium. In their case they're just so powerful that they physically can't manifest in or influence the Materium in any way. Their ultimate goal is to permanently merge the Materium and Immaterium, which would give them free reign over everything.
- Asdrubael Vect, ruler of the Dark Eldar, is an in-game example. His model is a floating open-topped tank, which he's had a throne installed on, and while there are rules for him leaving the vehicle he's very expensive, so doesn't get to go out in person much. In the lore he's The Chessmaster and Evil Overlord, so it's justified that he doesn't get stuck in all that often.
- Exalted: The Deathlords once unleashed the Great Contagion, a plague that wiped out 90% of all life in Creation. Then they did nothing but plot for millennia. Somewhat justified, in that their Neverborn masters really hate failure and have dolled out some nasty punishments already; if one of them's going to come up with a fiendish plan to destroy Creation, they're going to make damn sure it works first. Additionally, they all want to be the one to destroy the world themselves, which means they spend a lot of time keeping an eye on each other to make sure no-one else gets the glory. (Some treatments, such as Eye and Seven Despairs, or the Lover have been presented as being more interested in the distractions and satisfactions of existence, and have strayed from the path of seeking Oblivion as anything other than lip service.) This, more than any other reason, is likely why the Neverborn have deliberately set about having the Death Lords unknowingly train their own replacements (that being the Abyssal Exalted).
- Cthulhu Tech:
- Hastur. Sure, the Rapine Storm does all of his dirty work, but if a Great Old One - even a weakened one - actually entered the Mêlée à Trois himself, it would be over very quickly. It's implied that he's actually unable to leave his domain on the Plateau of Leng, but he's an Eldritch Abomination, so it's hard to say for certain.
- Nyarlathotep assumed a human form and runs a Mega Corp. which secretly helps almost every cult in the setting. He could probably drive a small country mad all by himself, but for some reason he lets his secret network of cultists do all the heavy lifting.
- In Nomine:
- God and Lucifer come across as this - they might intervene in small ways (i.e., via divine or infernal interventions on certain rolls), but will not appear in person (until Armageddon, maybe).
- The Superiors from both sides, to varying degrees. Yves, Archangel of Destiny, Kronos, Demon Prince of Fate, or Malphas, Demon Prince of Factions, prefer to work through others.
- Pathfinder reveals that this tends to happen to Liches. Powerful evil spellcasters who have achieved immortality, and thus have all the time in the world to discover even more powerful magic, along with the additional powers their undead state grants? They should be ruling the world, right? While it's true that many start out with Evil Overlord ambitions, as the centuries pass the concerns of the mortal world matter less and less to them. Lacking the need to eat and sleep, they spend all their time on their research, until even that bores them, and a creeping lethargy sets in. Eventually they may cease to function entirely and become barely sentient (though incredibly powerful) demiliches.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda I Ganon doesn't seem very concerned on actually gathering the Triforce pieces, even though the dungeons are full of monsters (who are supposedly his minions).
- Ganondorf in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Sure, Hyrule Castle Town is deserted apart from ReDeads and the castle is transformed into his evil lair, but the rest is relatively safe from him. He has his minions spreading terror, Zora's Fountain has been frozen solid, but he's just sitting in the castle waiting for Zelda to show up. You'd think he'd go after Link when he starts gathering the Plot Coupons, but no, he doesn't. He makes just one appearance after you take down Phantom Ganon, but that's just to get rid of him in a You Have Failed Me moment and taunt Link about how "the real me won't be so easy" before returning to the castle.
- In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Ganondorf sits around in his Forsaken Fortress, only actively doing something twice in the game (the destruction of Great Fish Isle and the kidnapping of Zelda).
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, once Zant gets Hijacked by Ganon he just seals himself inside Hyrule Castle and does nothing. Same with Zant after the fourth dungeon (where he appears to revive the boss).
- In The Legend of Zelda Oracle games General Onox shows up in the beginning, captures Din, sinks the Temple of Seasons, then retreats to his Fortress of Doom. It never occurs to him to finish off Link before he gets the Plot Coupons and invades the Fortress. Compare this to Veran in the other game, who is actively trying to build the Black Tower and interacts frequently with Link.
- Bane in Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. He actually appears outside of his citadel a few, but despite the fact that the player has already ruined most of his progress, he's pretty lazy at that point.
- Kefka in Final Fantasy VI. After becoming a god, ruining the world and wiping out many cities, he doesn't exactly do much afterwards, at least nothing the player is made aware of. It is implied by talking to NPCs though that Kefka spent the year Celes was in a coma randomly firing the Light of Judgment at anyone who irritated him, just because he could. Then the Returners stormed his tower and he decided pissing on the ashes of the world wasn't fun anymore. There's also the theory that he was so bored for that year he actively waited for the heroes to band back together and fight them one last time because really, when you become an all-powered God of Magic who rules a dead world, what else is there to do but smack down anyone who opposes your rule?
- In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Chaos does remarkably little for being the God of Discord and the Big Bad of, possibly, the entire series. Sure, he nukes Cosmos that one time, but aside from that one moment, he spends the game doing an impressive Slouch of Villainy on his throne until someone finally shows up to fight him. It's mostly because the endless repeating cycles of his war with Cosmos have burned him out to the point that he just doesn't care any more. He is slowly driven to self-destruction, to wipe out both sides of the conflict permanently. In the end, Chaos and his army are defeated from the inside out, through entropy. Which is perfectly in his nature.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Bowser's tendency to wait around doing nothing while Mario comes for him is lampshaded in the Paper Mario games, where his minions are shown to do things like host game shows and go on field trips to while away the boring hours of sitting around being evil.
- Justified in Super Mario Sunshine, where Bowser is on vacation and his son is the one causing all the trouble. When Mario finally catches up to him, he's lounging in a giant hot tub.
- Bowser Jr. seems to put his dad to shame in the active villain department. Whereas his pop practically invented the practice of game villains sitting in their castles waiting for the hero, Junior is constantly wreaking havoc throughout the course of the game. This happens in New Super Mario Bros. Wii as well: Junior shows up to taunt you at the end of each level and occasionally attacks in his airship. Meanwhile, Bowser doesn't appear in the game at all until the very last stage.
- Smithy, Big Bad of Super Mario RPG, is never seen until the confrontation at the end of the game. That said, since it's implied that he personally forges every member of his mechanical Evil Army by hand, it could be argued that he's a little busy.
- Subverted in the older computer RPG Ultima VII, where the Big Bad plays mind games with the player before the player generates his character and enters the gameworld. Within the gameworld, you're never quite certain either, as the Big Bad (named the "Guardian") continues to try to Mind Fuck the player - sometimes by helping the player with hints, sometimes by misleading the player with those same hints. The player's ultimate goal in VII is to prevent the Guardian from entering the gameworld and Ending The World As We Know It - this is not revealed to the player until near the end of the game.
- Every Mega Man villain strategy, starting with Dr. Wily, has been "wait for Mega Man to fight his way to each Robot Master who themselves are waiting for him in a airlocked room, beat them, go through one more level and possibly fight all the copies of the Robot Masters in a row before fighting the main villain of that game. The implication, of course, is that Wily is controlling his various Robot Masters to take over the world. When Mega Man inevitably defeats them, he barricades himself in his massive, well-defended fortress, hoping it will be enough to keep the Blue Bomber away. Through the magic of video game protagonist determinism, it never is.
- In the first Mortal Kombat game, Shang Tsung is a literal example; he doesn't get off his throne, which he watches much of the tournament from, until the player defeats Goro. Big Bad Shao Kahn in much the same way in subsequent games, only getting involved in the Final Battle, and not doing much except watching until then, and he seems to have quite a few places to do so (there are several arenas where he's in the background). Ironically, Mortal Kombat 9, where Raiden's altering of the timeline changed the events, Shang Tsung is a lot more active in the Story Mode where the first tournament is concerned. Goro, on the other hand, has his own throne in the arena named after him, and doesn't do much except watch the other people fight. (Of course, you could probably rationalize that he's sizing everyone up via observation, seeing as he's the one who fights the winner.)
- In World of Warcraft, nearly every villain is found within their lair, or in some cases prison. From Onyxia in her lair, to the Lich King on his Frozen Throne, Illidan in his Black Temple. Justified with the Lich King, who, although this is debated and flip-flopped endlessly, is struggling with the two souls inside his own head, and one of them is actively holding him back. Though he also reveals that even though he could have crushed the party the second they entered Northrend, he intentionally let them survive and carve their way to his thone room, where he would one-shot the raid party and raise them as his newest undead minions once they actually got to him since they obviously proved themselves to be strong.
- Dracula seems to be waiting in his throne room in most games. He'd have a much better chance if he were to attack the intruding Belmont the instant they enter the Castle, with his Bosses helping out. It's not like Belmonts use stealth. Given a possible explanation hilariously in this parody video, where Dracula doesn't have any time to get out of his throne room after he wakes.
- Dracula was also like this in the Lords of Shadow series. According to lore found in game, the massive armynote seen at the beginning of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 had apparently been besieging his castle for months, but Dracula never bothered to join the battle until they finally breached his throne room. This is because, unlike the Dracula from the classic Castlevania games, This Dracula is a Tragic Hero/Fallen Hero who had long since given up on the world. Being nigh unkillable, he didn't give a rat's ass what the Brotherhood of Light was up to, and the only reason he entered the fray at the end was to humor them.
- Justified by Brauner in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, as sealing himself in a painting behind a protective barrier allows him to create more "masterpieces" with which to exact his revenge and ensures that no meddling vampire hunters or reapers can reach him. In fact, his downfall is a direct result of his daughters getting impatient and deciding to take the fight to the heroes.
- Happens in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, where Raziel goes through dungeons to kill his brothers. Although a couple are trapped and can't move most seem to know he's coming and can't be bothered to seek him out. Kain on the other hand avoids him only to manipulate. Dumah takes it the most literally, partly because he's the only one left with enough humanity to actually be able to sit, and partly because he's nailed down to it when you find him. Zephon is fused with the wall and literally cannot move from his "throne room". Rahab can only move underwater and is extremely vulnerable to sunlight, while Raziel cannot enter the waters, and mostly roams well-enough lit areas, for Rahab to be uncomfortable tracking him down. As for Melchiah... it is possible he hadn't known for long enough, since Raziel had showed up quite recently.
- Queen Zeal in Chrono Trigger. Once the Ocean Palace has risen and been reconstructed as the Black Omen, in the year 12,000 BC, she has a direct line to Lavos (which he apparently tolerates) which grant her and the Omen an eternal existence. Even if you visit in 2300 AD, centuries after Lavos brought about the end of the world, she has never actually done anything with her vast powers and it's evident she never will. Random NPCs in previous eras will just comment on how pretty and shiny that malevolent floating castle with the ominous name looks in the morning sun, implying that Zeal doesn't even bother ruling the world. Then again, if you try to enter the Black Omen in 2300 AD, it's clear that Queen Zeal has lost her mind and doesn't have enough sanity left to actually do anything with the power at her command other than admire the wreckage.
- In Chrono Cross, FATE has already succeeded in opening the seal to the Frozen Flame using Serge's body, and she can control the mind of every single inhabitant of El Nido via the Records of Fate. What reason could she possibly have to let Serge and his small army infiltrate Chronopolis, other than brag to them in person about erasing Prometheus? And for an almighty, otherdimensional creature of Gaia's Vengeance that has vowed immediate annihilation upon humanity, the Dragon God seems pretty content just chilling atop Terra Tower, keeping an eye on the Frozen Flame, and waiting for the heroes to arrive.
- The vast majority of villains that aren't Sealed Evil in a Can are like this in the Wario Land series, with Captain Syrup in the first game being seen to do absolutely nothing other than sitting in the throne room before the final battle (although averted in the second, where she's a Recurring Boss). The Black Jewel in Wario World just lays dormant in a treasure chest until the final battle, and The Shake King in Wario Land: Shake It!, after taking over the world, putting his face on everything and capturing the princess, just sits on his throne waiting for Wario to enter, in complete darkness. Although in that case, the time out penalty is Wario being warped to his boss arena, so it may not be completely unjustified.
- Kagan in BloodRayne 2 plays this straight almost to the complete description. In earlier years he was a Nazi commander who got his hands dirty in field work until a booby-trapped MacGuffin blew up in his face (not quite a defeat, nor facing a superior enemy). In the game he's occasionally shown in cutscenes, surveying his domain and getting surly with the help, but is only encountered near his throne.
- System Shock: Being an AI, SHODAN might not have the option of hunting you down and murdering you personally, but that doesn't stop her screwing with your head with taunts and threats as she sends her minions to destroy you. She does mess with doors and other remote-controllable equipment when she can, though.
- Every final end boss of the Ghouls 'n Ghosts series, especially Lucifer, who doesn't even get off his throne when actually fighting.
- In Lords of Midnight, based on The Lord of the Rings, the Big Bad Doomdark patiently waiting in his fortress HQ for the good guys to arrive and fight him.
- Played straight for a large majority of bosses in Fire Emblem. They basically just sit there as you wipe out their minions. Although sitting on thrones gives them a large boost in their stats - they can dodge better, tank better, and thrones even heal them - this makes defeating them much easier due to their very limited range (in fact, some such enemies don't even have a ranged attack, so by doing nothing but sitting on the thrones you can easily pick them off from a distance).
- Shadow Dragon justifies it in the case of the Big Bad Medeus: his resurrection is not yet fully complete, and as a result he is physically incapable of leaving his castle.
- In Path of Radiance Ashnard never actively interacts with the heroes before the final battle. You later find out he has a very good reason for this: he's a Social Darwinist Blood Knight who wants to see if the heroes are worth his time before fighting them himself.
- Heroes of Might and Magic:
- The Demon Sovereign in V. Justified in that he's been imprisoned in the last war and needs his Demon Lords to do the job. His primary goal in this game and Dark Messiah is to free himself from the metaphorical Throne and in two of the endings of the latter he succeeds. Other villains in the game also tend to do this after reaching their primary goals.
- Markal, after taking over the Griffin Empire. Justified by being caught up in the war with demons trying to capture Isabel. And he does launch a massive invasion of the Sylvan Elves' homeland lead by his newly vampirized Dragon Nicholai.
- The various evil villains in RuneScape don't seem to do very much between quests, and the bosses like the King Black Dragon pretty much just sit around and wait for the players to try and kill them. Extra credit goes to the vampyre Lord Drakan of Morytania, whose Throne-bound behavior is so extreme that it inspires his own sister to arm La Résistance with her own race's Kryptonite Factor and have an interesting conflict rather than put up with it anymore. To be fair, no one has seen him for centuries and we only have Vanescula's word for it, who it is strongly implied is not giving the player the whole story.
- Subverted in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, where Kyurem goes to deal with the hero personally after his followers fail to do the job.
- Draak, the Big Bad of the PC adventure game Darkstone, is like this. It's somewhat justified in his case, as he's so corrupt he doesn't have a chance of collecting the MacGuffin pieces the player character is seeking. All he can really do is send out his hordes of evil and hope that they sufficiently screw things up for the Pure of Heart. In one of the randomly-generated quests, he actually does put in an appearance (in human form, as opposed to his usual dragon body), but all he does is make some snarky comments and threats before wandering off and letting a minion fight for him.
- The Illusive Man in the Mass Effect universe does most of his villainy/Well Intentioned Extremism from his chair, but it's acceptable, since he's a leader, not a soldier. Plus, if you had an office as awesome as his, you'd never want to leave either. In the book Mass Effect: Retribution, the Illusive Man does personally supervise a project... which promptly gets ambushed by a whole army of turians. His escape confirms our hypothesis about his combat skills, as, though he can fight, he's hardly end boss material.
- Played with in Evil Genius. While the player (as the titular Card-Carrying Villain) can send his minions out into the world to commit various acts of camp villainy, most of your time is spent maintaining the evil base. And once they obtain enough loot to keep their minion's loyalty up, the player's avatar will probably spend all their time skulking in their sanctum out of the way of wandering assassins. There's also how every enemy agent will be gunning for your Player Character, so the best bet is to put him deep in the belly of the lair. At most, you can have him execute a random minion for a quick stats boost of all those nearby.
- Xemnas in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days spends the entire game sitting on his throne and making vague proclamations as to the aims of the organization. This a a particularly fun example, because Days has you playing as one of the minions that Xemnas does his dirty work through. It works for Xemnas, since his entire aim is to absorb a Kingdom Hearts strengthened by the hearts released by Heartless destroyed by Keyblades. There's nothing he can personally do to aid that goal, so sending his minions to die in battle also helps—less to share.
- The Order from Strife is utterly apathetic to the point of absurdity. When your mercenary hero isn't runing around the town with an arsenal of obviously illegal weaponry, he's sneaking into the Order's facilities to wreak havoc and murder guards en masse - and yet the Order never bothers to as much as send a bunch of assassins after him, and the mooks encountered around town still treat you like any other citizen. The Order's high-ups basically just sit on their asses and wait patiently until the hero arrives to kill them. The only point in the game where they actually take action is if you accidentally destroy the "power tap" The Front uses to hide themselves from The Order's scanners - a bunch of mooks will then pop up at the doorstep of the Front's secret base, supposedly a "scanning crew" (who nevertheless are unable to detect a bustling base which is just behind a secret door in a next room).
- Action RPG Metal Walker reveals the final boss, and the source of the island's problems, is a supercomputer, justifying why the Metal Masters are sent out in its stead. Supercomputers can't walk.
- Dragon Age:
- Subverted in in Dragon Age: Origins by Witherfang, who is found in the inner sanctum of its own turf, but couldn't be called 'evil' even while she was bound by a curse.
- Mother in Awakening never leaves her heavily secured chambers; even while her most crucial agents are dying in the field, all she can do is throw tantrums. This chamber is naturally where the Final Battle takes place. Justified for her at least as she doesn't appear to be physically capable of leaving said lair.
- Also subverted by the Arishok in Dragon Age II, who just looks like he's been lounging in the same spot with the rest of his qunari for years, but was rather searching for the relic Isabela stole from them and keeping as much as he can in line with the Qun while trying not to let the chaos, weakness, corruption and strife of Kirkwall get to him. When he gets off that chair, a Duel Boss ensues.
- Guilty Gear X2: Overture: Zepp's current leader just sends Potemkin to do some errands most of the time. Justified in that this is Potemkin we're talking about: He can handle it.
- BlazBlue: Rachel spends most of her time teleporting around, "observing" (she's canonically one of the most powerful beings in the game, and is referred to as Princess by her subordinates). However, her "observations" can sometimes help people, and she actually does fight the big bad (though there is implications that she shouldn't be doing so).
- Deconstructed in Planescape: Torment. The Big Bad spends the entire game attacking you through pawns and intermediaries and killing off anyone who's been in contact with you, but will never face you personally until you crash into its lair and confront it yourself. People you talk with (such as Coaxmetal) explicitly describe this as the Big Bad's Fatal Flaw, and in the end you even figure out why — the Big Bad is afraid of you, and wants to avoid you at all costs because of what you two meeting will entail for you both.
- Knights of the Old Republic:
- Darth Nihilus in the second game. You hear from everyone that this guy's dangerous, eats planets, is hunger personified, etc. He comes out of hiding once and is a 30-second Boss Battle once you catch up to him. He has a very good reason for avoiding younote , but he doesn't know that.
- Malak in first game is not quite as bad, but he clearly prefers to send agents after you than pursue you himself. Granted, he is in midst of managing a massive interstellar war against the Galactic Republic, so it's not as though he has nothing else to do. Also, you do confront him once in person before the end of the game, but that's somewhat inadvertent: you have already been captured by Admiral Karath and are in the midst of escaping when he arrives; he does not seek you out. Nevertheless, considering that he knows that you and Bastila are by far the biggest threats to him and his ultimate victory, and that he knows, or should know, exactly where you are going on your quest, it is more than a little strange that he does not bother coming after you personally when he knows that you are still relatively weak.
- In both Lightning Warrior Raidy games, every boss and mid-boss is far too busy raping and fornicating with their prisoners to go stop the protagonist rampaging through the dungeon. On the other hand, the floor design is made so that Raidy has to come to them anyway, so it all works out.
- Escaton of Might and Magic VIII spends the entire game sitting on his throne waiting for the Elementals to reach the Ravenshore Crystal (which would cause The End of the World as We Know It). Justified by him not keeping an eye on the mortal realm and not wanting to complete his plan. It is also implied that not sitting on the throne, or at least remaining in the Plane between Planes could weaken the spell. Since he doesn't actually have any agents in the other planes (the Elementals are being influenced towards a specific course of action), that means he can't really do anything until you get to him.
- In the first two FEAR games, Alma was an active threat, either directly hindering the player or killing his allies, or even directly attacking him at certain points. In the third game, however, she is pregnant with her third child and can't do much more than randomly appear in the form of ghostly apparitions. On the other hand, her influence is still very strongly felt, considering she's a Reality Warper whose mere presence has driven most of the people in the city insane, and her birth contractions are powerful enough to knock down skyscrapers.
- In Halo 4's Spartan Ops co-op campaign, Covenant remnant leader Jul 'Mdama is never seen in combat, despite the fact that as a Elite, he likely earned his rank through his personal asskicking abilities.
- Radiant Historia: Queen Protea does absolutely nothing of note, lounging in luxury while her city falls to pieces and a rebellion brews right under her nose. This is an intentional move by her retainers, Dias and Selvan; as long as they ostensibly do anything she says and keep up her illusion of power, they can persue their own agendas freely.
- Nicely Subverted in Realm of the Mad God. Oryx spends most of the game bragging about the power of his boss minions from afar. When you kill all of said bosses, however, he summons you to fight your way through his castle, after which you fight him in a showdown.
- The Syndicate in Saints Row: The Third. They take a proactive role in the story exactly twice: once in the beginning, when they give the Saints a reason to come after them, and once at the beginning of Act II, when they blow something up and frame the Saints for it. Otherwise, they spend the entire story sitting on their butts, waiting for the Saints to show up and start trouble, and never striking back or trying to reclaim what they lost.
- Mundus in DMC Devil May Cry. Justified, as his Immortality Inducer is in his throne room. Most of the game is spent trying to get him mad enough to forget this.
- Double subverted in Vampire Night when Auguste was about to stand up and face Albert and Michel, only to be stopped by his lover Diane.
- Defied in Demon's Crest, in which as soon as you clear the first level, you have the option to storm Phalanx's castle and catch him off guard. If you keep putting it off, on the other hand, he'll have more time to prepare himself and his traps, in addition to figuring out how his crest works.
- Laodecia does little to drive the plot in Shin Super Robot Wars. Lu Cain and his grunts drive the plot in the Earth Route, with Master Asia and the Devil Gundam interfering here and there. Char Aznable drives the Space Route plot until he is defeated. When Laodecia steps up to fight the Londo Bell in the Space Route, it turns out the Zyflud has the most HP of any of the bosses on that route and can put a hurting on the SRX.
- Ristar has Greedy the Tyrant, who you don't see until the final battle, and even then he sits on his throne and sends minions at you at first.
- King Kenji of Infernal Tokyo sits alone in the Reactor Chamber of the JGSDF's Camp Ichigaya in Shin Megami Tensei IV. It's a Justified Trope - he's so depressed and bloodthirsty he willingly has himself locked down there so his bloodlust won't kick in, letting the citizens above carry on their business.
- Melac, one of the bosses in Azure Striker Gunvolt, never even bothers to get up from his throne, even during his boss fight. It is justified, however, by the fact that he's a psychic with the power to create wormholes at will and that his fancy chair also doubles as floating combat robot.
- Played with in Star Control II, with both the Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah. There really isn't much reason to enter their spheres of control (other than a small incursion for one crucial quest), so for the majority of the game there will be zero contact with either of them. And although they are directly responsible for the entire premise of the game and pretty much everything about its setting, they do not directly influence any of the action during much of the game itself. On the other hand, this is mainly because the Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah are busy fighting each other. Once that fight is over, however, the Kohr-Ah will suddenly become extremely active, triggering the Ticking Clock to Game Over.
- Quest for Glory:
- Baba Yaga, the main antagonist of Quest for Glory I spends the entire game, and even the backstory, cooped up inside her chicken-legged hut. She never performed any villainy to provoke the Baron into trying to get rid of her, and relayed her curse on the Baron and his family through the commander of the troops sent to drive her out of the valley. She herself never acts against the Hero, either. The first time the Hero encounters her, she turns him into her personal errand boy... and that's it.
- The Brigand Leader spends her entire time in the back office of the brigands' fortified lair in the south of the valley, preferring to act via minions such as the Warlock. It's not until the Hero actually makes his way through the fortress for the final confrontation that it's revealed that the Brigand Leader is actually a Brainwashed and Crazy Elsa von Spielberg.
- In Quest for Glory II, Big Bad Ad Avis is The Man Behind the Man, ruling Raseir in secret through the Emir, with most of his dirty work being done through either the Emir, his own minions such as Khaveen, or the Elementals he sends to attack Shapeir. It's not until the Hero arrives in Raseir (after the Hero tips off his presence by saving one of said pawns being punished for displeasing him) that Ad Avis takes an active hand in the events of the game.
- The Demon Wizard in Quest for Glory III hides out in the Lost City in Tarna, and directs events either through subordinates, or via possession, and doesn't confront the Hero until he attacks the gate between realms.
- In Quest for Glory IV the Dark One, Avoozl, has no choice but to sit around and wait for things to happen, seeing as he's trapped partially summoned and imprisoned in the Cave of the Dark One. Big Bad (sorta) Katrina spends most of her time in Castle Borgov, periodically venturing out only to manipulate the Hero into retrieving the rituals necessary to free the Dark One. Katrina only directly interferes after the Hero rescues Tanya, and during the End Game.
- Quest for Glory V. All of the events are being orchestrated by Minos, who spends most of his time relaxing on his private island while supporting Elsa's bid for the throne of Silmaria, and using Bruno to first assassinate the previous King, then take out the other competitors and Rakeesh, and finally begin the process of breaking the pillars to release the Dragon of Doom. He shows up periodically in council, but otherwise, the Hero only encounters him when he goes to rescue Elsa (at which point Minos commits suicide to bring his plans to fruition and unleash the Dragon).
- The Lord of the Dead in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow. His throne has become part of him, so he can't move around any more. He's further bound to his throne by shackles and chains.
- Justified in the original trilogy of the Dragon Quest series. It's implied that the villain of the first game, the Dragonlord, has all but won and probably isn't aware that someone is seeking out the armor and sword that can help kill him, so he has no reason to leave his base at Charlock Castle. Likewise in Dragon Quest III, Zoma has already won and there are no threats left to go out and eliminate. Baramos from the same game might be a straightforward example, although it turns out that he himself had been delegated by Zoma.
- The title character of Five Nights at Freddy's, Freddy Fazbear, is the least active of the murderous animatronic characters, content to stand on stage. Then night 4 and 5 come around. Freddy wasn't being lazy. He was analyzing your strategy. And that's when he joins the fray.
- The DomZ in Beyond Good & Evil are content to sit back and let La Résistance go about their goal of instigating a popular uprising, with the DomZ Priest not even making an appearance until just before the penultimate boss. In their case this is exactly what they wanted, as it was a Batman Gambit to trap all their foes at once.
- In Half-Life the Nihilanth doesn't do anything against Gordon directly until he's literally right in front of it. In its case, directing an interdimensional invasion and personally keeping open the rift its forces are using with its mind means it's far too busy to bother with one person, regardless of how many of its soldiers he kills.
- In Half-Life 2 Breen is an odd case, as while he does just sit in his office until Gordon arrives being a Non-Action Big Bad means he can't really do much else, and he's much more proactive than most examples; it's repeatedly made clear that until Nova Prospekt all the Combine soldiers Gordon fights are either targeting him personally or targeting La Résistance outposts in an attempt to find him. The Combine Advisors play this completely straight, as they don't even wake up until their home is about to get blown up. They get off their thrones (or stasis pods, in this case) by the time of Episode Two, and they waste no time in getting down to business.
- Ilya from Fate/stay night. Her Berserker is the strongest of the servants currently participating in the Holy Grail War and she's an extremely powerful magus on top of it — but besides her first appearance in which she almost effortlessly subdues both Shirou and Rin combined, she never takes another offensive action afterwards, in any of the three routes, despite how that she could probably flatten all the other participants except for Kotomine and Gilgamesh. This is probably because she is the vessel for the Holy Grail, which takes over her body when it activates, so she has no reason to even try.
- In Adventurers!, Khrima is frequently shown waiting like this. Sometimes he gets impatient when Karn's out Level Grinding instead of advancing the plot, and wishes he'd brought a Game Boy or something. He's occasionally shown researching lasers or playing Scrabble or something. Subverting this forms the basis of a short arc: Khrima says he's tired of waiting for the heroes to do stuff, and along with one of his lieutenants, decides to go steal a mini-Cosmic Keystone to use as a water cooler.
- The Wotch. Melleck Xaos pretty much subscribes to this philosophy. When he does bother doing anything, it's usually to banter with his minions or create some new Fallen. The few times he does get involved in a fight he usually stomps a mudhole in his enemies. Furthermore, it's revealed early in the story that one of Xaos' few limitations is that he can't escape the dimension he rules due to a powerful curse. He spends most of his time either sending his minions to "test" the Wotch or hunting down the artifacts that will allow him to circumvent his imprisonment.
- The Order of the Stick:
- When Xykon is first introduced he appears to be this, sitting down in his lair waiting for the heroes to arrive (and watching them on his crystal ball, with picture-in-picture for when the party gets split up). However, after his defeat, he becomes a much more proactive villain. But then he goes back to warming the seat on his throne (in a manner of speaking; he's a bone-cold lich) after conquering Azure City. He explicitly states that even crafting magical items takes up only 8 hours of his day, and, for lack of anything else to do, he has taken to offbeat torture of his prisoner, forcing gladiatorial sport on his slaves, and has developed a liking for Zombie Gladiators. Xykon stated in Start of Darkness that, with the immortality of lichdom, time is on his side, and he can afford to dilly-dally as much as he wants.
- Nale sees his father Tarquin as an example of this and resents him for it. He doesn't understand why his father is content to spend his dwindling days in the lap of luxury when he has the resources and skill to conquer the world and rule it forever. Although from Tarquin's point of view, it's entirely reasonable, as he's a very active Chessmaster who is actually constantly expanding and reinforcing his empire though an elaborate continent-wide campaign of manipulation.
- In Sluggy Freelance the Dimension of Pain demons were a recurring threat for several years, had their own B-Side Comics for a while, and became major antagonists during the "That Which Redeems" storyline. Yet the Demon King, the guy who's in charge of the dimension and bosses Horribus around barely appears, and actually seems barely interested in or even aware of the demons' actions. That is until Torg interrupts him on the toilet.
- The Black Queen doesn't really do much except sit on her throne and make Jack Noir wear silly outfits. Subverted later on, as Jack completely shakes the game up as soon as he kills her and takes her power and has shown no signs of stopping. It is implied that the Royalty in Sburb are limited in what they can do till certain conditions are met as it is part of a "game". Jack in the B1 universe and DD and the Condesce in the B2 universe demonstrate just how broken the game can be if the royals start acting Genre Savvy.
- Subverted with Lord English, who doesn't enter the story until fairly late in the comic, but not because he's just sitting around. He has to prepare everything so that he can even enter the universe in the first place and has been manipulating nearly everyone since the very beginning to do so. When he finally does make his presence known he more than makes up for sitting around.
- El Goonish Shive has Lord Tedd, an evil alternate-dimensional version of one of the main characters who hasn't made any significant actions since his introduction (although it is later learned that he did create the Goo Monster that the first story arc was centered around).
- Emperor Kreedor from Dubious Company is this both literally and Up to Eleven. Throughout the story he has personally done NOTHING to carry out his evil plans, instead relying on his elite squad of goons to carry out his goals. In the meantime, the only things Kreedor can be counted on to do are issue orders, yell at his minions, and call out every so often for whatever bit of pampering he wants to undergo next. Even gaining immense, world-threatening godlike powers has done nothing to convince him to actually get off his throne and actually do something.
- Fire-Human, from the Water-Human series, spends the entire series sitting on his throne and playing Nintendo DS games. When The Hero is captured and delivered to his fortress, he just sends the captors away because he's too busy playing, and never realizes whom they brought.
- After The Nostalgia Critic succeeds in taking over Molossia in Kickassia, he spends all of his time watching Hogan's Heroes instead of actually running the country though not before wiring up the entire place to explode in case of "nasty-wasties".
- In the Metamor Keep storyverse, Nasoj is quite content to just bide his time instead of making another attempt to destroy the keep and conquer the midlands. However, zig-zagged in that there is one arc dedicated to him assaulting the keep.
- In The Slender Man Mythos, half the time Slendy just stands there. It varies. However, most of the time, after a certain point, whenever he actually shows up, either it's going to be a Wham Episode, it'll take out the current protagonist, or just end the story outright.
- The godmodder in Destroy The Godmodder has a tendency to not do very much other than occasionally brainwashing and summoning new minions. Until he gets pissed off, then he goes on a rampage and obliterates the battlefield.
- In Kim Possible, Shego does this during her stint as The Supreme One during A Sitch in Time.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Fire Lord Ozai filled out this trope to a tee for two and a half seasons. "You must defeat the Fire Lord before he takes over the world" was the mantra. In the last season he makes up for it, however. Word of God comments that he was designed this way from the start, saying the first villain they designed for the show was Ozai and that they imagined him "leading from the comfort of his own throne" up until the end.
- Subverted in the first season of The Legend of Korra with Amon, who was extremely active with his equality plans.
- Prince Phobos of W.I.T.C.H.. This becomes a plot point in the second season finale- the Guardians are trying to lure him to a place that will rob his powers if he enters, but he throws a wrench in that plan by simply being too lazy- or as Raythar puts it, "doesn't want to muss his hair"- to leave his throne room until his forces are victorious.
- Van Kleiss of Generator Rex, though with good reason: his powers only work if he is in contact with his native soil of Abysus. Most of his plans involve him trying to avert this somehow, with varying degrees of success. As long as his powers are active (or he has some plan in the background that will get his powers active), he's perfectly willing to leave home to fight the good guys directly. After Van Kleiss got a new powerset that doesn't tie him to Abysuss, he became quite the Mobile Menace, helped out by how one of his minions has impressive teleportation powers.
- In Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, Betrayus is this. Losing his body and being reduced to Sealed Evil in a Can seems to have made him really lazy. Despite having powerful Playing with Fire abilities, he just sits on his throne watching his minions on TV. He says it's his job to do so! The fact that he's terrified of the thought of Pac eating him and spitting out his eyeballs helps.
- Mr. Selatcia of Metalocalypse is notorious for always ordering his secret tribunal to wait and observe Dethklok without interfering... despite how the tribunal's stated purpose is to get rid of Dethklok. Eventually this annoys two of his underlings so much that they begin secretly attempting to murder the band. When Selatica finds out, he is VERY unhappy. Selatica's plans require Dethklok to be alive, and the real reason he's leading the tribunal is to prevent them from carrying out their mission.
- The Queen of the Crowns in Galaxy Rangers rarely leaves her well-appointed palaces, instead making use of Slaverlords, paid mercenaries, and Mooks to do much of the heavy lifting. Justified by the fact that she does have an Empire to run and that her palaces have the necessary equipment to mash her enemies down for Life Energy. Why waste time going to them when you can trick your enemies into coming to you?
- Darkseid in the DCAU is a bit more active than his comics counterpart, but he's still pretty passive for an evil alien tyrant. This is justified in that after his first attack on Earth it was under the protection of New Genesis. The final episode of Justice League Unlimited has Darkseid coming back from the dead and so angry that he's decided being passive is for wimps. He immediately decides to invade Earth, and when an aide reminds him that New Genesis will retaliate, Darkseid tells him that's where he's going next after he's done turning Earth into rubble.
- Zordrak of The Dreamstone is a gargantuan Eldritch Abomination who could probably trample the Land Of Dreams under his foot, let alone with any of his dark spells (such as the power to place his spirit into another being). For some reason however his duties rarely exceed sitting on his throne and chewing out his far less fearsome mooks, the Urpneys, who he instead charges with the duty of stealing the title MacGuffin the large majority of the time. There was at least one case when his throne was equipped with a jet engine; he Curb Stomped the good guys, they Summoned a Bigger Fish - an entire living planet - the two engaged in a Beam-O-War, which Zordak was winning... then the good guys pulled the plug on that engine.
- In the The Transformers episode "Triple Takeover", Blitzwing makes a football stadium his new headquarters and has the Constructicons build a giant highway maze around it. He then gets the Autobots' attention by firing into the city. He then waits in the stadium for the Autobots to come to him, occasionally sending the Constructicons into the maze to deal with them. By the time they finally reach him, they're exhausted and injured, and he casually tramples them and makes a throne from their bodies.
- Lord Darkar in Winx Club is initially active, nearly killing Aisha and freeing the Trix, but he then spends the rest of the time scheming in his castle and operating through minions.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's premiere for its third season portrays King Sombra in this way during the flashback to his oppressive rule over the Crystal Empire. This case is more justified than most considering his 0% Approval Rating; all of his subjects are kept enslaved by him and his Black Magic, with no army of mooks to shoulder the grunt work for him.
- Mumm-Ra, in the original ThunderCats, rarely leaves his citadel, except when powered up into Mumm-Ra the Everliving, and even then he can't bear to spend much time away from it. Justified when it turns out that the "Ancient Spirits of Evil" are either bound by unbreakable arcane laws or else major-league jerkasses; they will grant the power that Mumm-Ra uses to become Mumm-Ra the Everliving to anyone who stands in the mystical chamber and invokes them in the proper manner. As proven when Snarf does so and becomes "Snarf-Ra the Everliving".
- General Mudula fills this role in Sym-Bionic Titan, sending monsters and mooks after the protagonists but not bothering to go after them personally. However it's quite justified since he's too busy managing his new empire and crushing rebellions to be bothered to chase after three measly enemies, regardless of how important they are.
- Barbie In A Mermaid Tale 2 has Eris in the finale—though it's justified in that she has to stay on the throne or she won't gain the power to spin merillia.
- During the second season of Transformers Animated, Megatron could have left the underground base of operations he'd set up any time he wanted, and there was no one on Earth who could stand in his way. But Earth didn't interest him, nor did going out of his way to kick around a lowly Autobot repair crew. In fact, Megatron stayed in not because he was taking it easy, but because he had a project in the works that he intended to use to bypass Cybertron's defenses, and it kept him too busy to go out.
- Justified in Samurai Jack; Jack's sword is the only thing that can kill Aku, so he mostly hides in his lair and sends minions out to do his dirty work, and he only ever attacks Jack personally if Aku has some advantage he's sure will let him win.