open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- From Pokémon:
- Gary Oak in the first season. He's a Jerkass antagonist to Ash for absolutely no reason, and continually antagonizes him in ways that never add anything to the story. In his defense, the anime was originally only going to last through this first season before the franchise became such a phenomenon, and the original ending had Ash vs. Gary as the final battle, so had that happened, his previous antagonism would have actually been building the rivalry up so that the story's climax was more satisfying. Incidentally, this ends up happening in the Johto season, buta by that time, he has already lost most of his jerkass tendencies.
- The Team Rocket trio sometimes fall into this, particularly in Hoenn and Sinnoh. While they often help pivot the plot (or accidentally solve it) through their schemes, sometimes they only show up to keep up appearances, with Ash's team treating them as little more than nuisances to their own situations. Later seasons try to downplay this by omitting them from occasional episodes they are unnecessary.
- Code Geass has Mao, who merely serves to distract Lelouch from the real antagonist, his sister Cornelia, for a few episodes, and to provide a bit of exposition (even in this he doesn't actually explain anything himself, but his actions cause others to explain things). In this case, Tropes Are Not Bad, especially as Mao became an Ensemble Darkhorse.
- In the first season of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, there was Devack, one of the Dark Signers; while most members of this group had extensive backgrounds, motivations, and some sort of connection to the heroes, Devack had none whatsoever in all three areas. He was a Card-Carrying Villain who seemed to despise the Signers for no known reason. (The Yu-Gi-Oh! 10th Anniversary Animation Book explains that Devack was originally intended to be from a demon worshipping cult and was sacrificed to the Earthbound Gods, but then reborn as a Dark Signer.)
- Tokyo Godfathers features a sequence based on real life where some random ruffians attack Gin for no reason at all. It has absolutely nothing to do with the plot and yet they end up more hated than the plot-relevant Anti-Villain.
Films — Animation
- Although he's a very memorable character, the plot of The Nightmare Before Christmas happens without Oogie Boogie, and the Final Battle happens after the climax as a way of tying off loose ends rather than causing any resolution or character development (specifically, a need for Jack to visibly demonstrate his repentance for ruining Christmas to Santa Claus). Tellingly, in the original poem (found on the blu-ray narrated by Christopher Lee), Oogie Boogie doesn't appear at all despite the movie following the rest of the poem. However, Oogie does fill the Plot Hole regarding Santa's whereabouts during the climax. Averted in the prequel and sequel video games, where his origins and taking revenge on Santa and Jack (respectively) are the basis of the plot.
- Mor'du in Brave is only tangentially related to the main plot of the film. He's just a bear, who likes to eat things... like a bear.
- In Monsters University, the main conflict was not dependent on the members of Roar Omega Roar being jerks to Oozma Kappa. They could have been the nicest rival frat ever and the plot still would have happened, given that the story was hinging on Mike's desire to prove himself and his tension with Sulley.
- The closest Madagascar has to a villain are the fossa — but they are a menace that hardly appears. The major conflict is both the protagonists being stranded in a strange place, and the sole carnivore of them becoming hungry.
- Clayton from Tarzan is the leader of the poachers and the greatest threat to the gorillas and Tarzan. However, he doesn't show up until the second half of the film, not even having an effect on the first half, with the main conflict being with Tarzan trying to deal with the fact that he is different from the gorillas.
- Prince Hans from Frozen is largely indirect from the conflict with the eternal winter, taking advantage of a situation instead of causing it, with his main purpose being someone for Anna to protect Elsa from and perform an Act of True Love. A strange example, as there is a reason for Hans existing (to inadvertently start off the conflict by trying to take the throne), but not much reason for him being a villain besides being part of the moral about true love.
- The Sword in the Stone has Mad Madame Mim, who has been described as filler for a good reason. She does spice things up and provides an entertaining battle, but most of the film could have happened without her, as it is about Merlin giving Arthur life-lessons.
- Apart from briefly hindering the protagonists' attempts to return to the present, the villains from Dino Time are largely incidental to the plot.
- Alice in Wonderland: There's not much of a plot to begin with, but the Queen of Hearts appears during the last twenty minutes of the film, after Alice has been through all sorts of wacky adventures and wishes to return home. She does make her wish that more than even, though...
- Unlike Shere Khan, who causes the plot of The Jungle Book with his mere existence, Kaa is nothing more than another obstacle who reminds that danger always lurks in the jungle.
- The Elm-Chanted Forest has an Evil Overlord with a whole army at his disposal and yet there is also a race of intelligent and chauvinistic mushrooms who appear out of nowhere and do not do much other than capture and delay the protagonist, make the film even trippier than it was, and provide for a unique case of Wacky Wayside Tribe.
- Despite causing the revolution and being responsible for Anya's amnesia, Rasputin in Anastasia zigzags essentially with this for the rest of the film. The focus instead falls on Anya learning how to act like a princess and rediscovering her past. The protagonists aren't even aware of Rasputin until the climax.
- Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure: Hoo boy. There's both Greedy and King Koo Koo and his minions.
- Ice Age: Not in the first movie, but both Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs feature dinosaur predators who stalk the main characters incidentally and just represent a more dangerous obstacle.
- Thunderclap and his gang in The Good Dinosaur exist mainly to act like jerks, accidentally bring Arlo to Butch, and to enrage Arlo by trying to eat Spike. Narratively speaking, Arlo could've met Butch and returned home without them.
- Bela from Hotel Transylvania 2. He enters the narrative in the third act alongside Vlad, and does nothing but hang around seething with fanatical, murderous loathing for humans while his boss Vlad actually interacts with the main characters. Bela eventually, and with very little in the way of a trigger, calls in an army of his brethren just so there can be a climactic final battle.
Films — Live Action
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: The whole Pelegosto tribe eating people alive sequence qualifies; they've got absolutely nothing to do with Davy Jones or the East India Trading Company, and they never appear again once Jack and company escape their island. The Prison Dog is left stranded on the island, however, and is last seen being chased into the distance by the entire tribe... only to somehow appear unscathed in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, apparently with the help of "sea turtles."
- In the movie Fired Up, the stereotypical evil cheerleader captain of the Opposing Sports Team is introduced as a big villain... and does nothing in her five minutes total screen time other than badmouth the good team a couple of times and have sex with the female lead's Jerkass boyfriend (who the audience knows is sleeping around, so this role could be filled by any random girl).
- The rival climatologist team in Twister is entirely redundant and has no useful role in the story.
- The film Recipe for a Perfect Christmas had an office rival for the heroine who did not directly harm the heroine at all but still gets a verbal slapdown for offering her own ideas to the boss while the heroine has been suspended from her job.
- Humma Kavula from the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. Oh yes. He's given little backstory, his motives are only hinted at, and seems to exist only to push for the inclusion of the MacGuffin used to save the day at the end. No doubt if sequels were made he'd have a larger role, but sequels seem unlikely at this point. And the most aggravating point is that the movie already had villains! Do the Vogons chasing Zaphod for kidnapping the President (himself) and stealing a ship not count?
- Gigantic is an indie romantic comedy. Not exactly a genre needing a villain, yet for some reason it has a strange homeless man who attacks the male lead at random intervals for basically no reason whatsoever. One of the more bizarre examples, as there is not even a token attempt to shoehorn him into the plot, he's just there.
- SF Debris found the Duras sisters to be this in Star Trek: Generations, arguing that if you gave their dialogue to any other villain, you'd have the same effect, as he demonstrated by reading their lines as a Dalek, a Cylon, and Londo Mollari, and later using Admiral Piett's death from Return of the Jedi to stand in for their own.
- American Mary has Ruby's husband as a minor villain — so minor, in fact, that he isn't even named. He appears in literally two scenes, and his only role in the plot was killing Mary at the end, and even then, it comes off as a Diabolus ex Machina to keep Mary from being a Karma Houdini.
- Cobra Commander only appears in G.I. Joe: Retaliation to have him escape from prison, killing the warden in the process, and pulling off a Villain Exit Stage Left in the climax to set up a Sequel Hook.
- Azog the Defiler in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Yes, he did kill protagonist Thorin's grandpa, and the two have shown enmity towards each other, but the main plot isn't about it — it's about a group of dwarves trying to retake their old city of Erebor from a dragon. In the original novel, he's only briefly mentioned, but his inclusion in the movies helped pad the film adaptation into a trilogy.
- The title antagonist in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a downplayed example. The "conspiracy thriller" half of the plot would work just as well if you swapped him with any other ultra-competent assassin - being brainwashed, he's not in a position to do much beyond follow orders. Cap's own emotional arc is another matter.
- Harry Potter:
- Draco Malfoy is this most of the time in the early books, where he spends his time being Harry's Jerkass nemesis at Hogwarts, and serve as a Red Herring while his father takes on plot-relevant villainy stuff. He only really starts to dovetail with the actual villains in book 5, and even that was a role that wasn't needed for the book, especially since he at last got a true plot-relevant role in the following book.
- Dolores Umbridge is largely just there to give the main characters something to keep them busy during most of Book 5. She has no relevance to the book's climax, which is a fight in the Ministry of Magic and an explanation of why Voldemort wanted Harry dead in the first place. The only important role she provided was The Reveal that it was actually her that sent the Dementors after Harry early in the book, not Voldemort or Fudge as the reader likely suspected.
- Umbridge is actually this from the perspective of the Order of the Phoenix members. She's not related to the war they are fighting, but just as vile as the opposition. And she at least is a major character in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The subplots of the other books bring the characters in conflict with much less significant characters, like Gilderoy Lockhart who was a fraud, the monstrous spider Aragog, and the odious Rita Skeeter.
- Cribbins in the Discworld novel Making Money, an old partner of Moist's who's out for revenge. Barely affects the main plot at all, turns up after the climax only to dispose of himself painfully.
- Akivasha in Conan the Barbarian book The Hour of the Dragon is a vampiress encountered by Conan while exploring the Stygian tombs in search of the Heart of Ahriman. While a very sinister foe that makes for a memorable encounter, she has no relation to the plot or with the main villains, Conan chooses to flee rather than fight her, and she never appears again in the story, making her one appearance a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
- The insane simulant in the Red Dwarf episode "Justice": Aside from providing an excuse for reaching the space station, he had no purpose other than to tack on an (admittedly funny) action sequence after the plot proper was resolved. Need to get the crew in a Wild West simulation? Simulant. Need a reason to get Rimmer on his own planet for 600 years? Simulant. Need a way to introduce a drugged-up twin brother of Kryten? Simulant. The only Simulant that appears that is directly related to the plot of the episode is The Inquisitor, and really, he might as well not be one, as his motivation isn't the killing of humans, but replacing them in history with those who in his opinion deserve life more.
- Kamen Rider Den-O worked well as an ensemble Monster of the Week show, and then basically fell apart at the very end, when they tried to introduce a primary antagonist. Not helped by the villain's motivation being rather obtuse up through the end of the series.
- The Jabberwock in the 1985 Irwin Allen version of Alice in Wonderland is an unnecessary addition to the "Through the Looking Glass" portion of the film. In the original book, the Jabberwock never appeared outside the poem "Jabberwocky". Irwin Allen, however, believed the story needed an equivalent to the Boogeyman, so he made the Jabberwock appear and scare Alice when she reads the poem, and then turn up again twice later (once at the end of the Humpty Dumpty scene, the second during the climax). But really it contributes nothing to the story, aside from allowing the producers to put in a climax somewhat more comprehensible than the book's rather bewildering finale.
- The smilers, from an episode of Doctor Who called "The Beast Below", don't appear to do anything of note except look a bit grumpy. They're eerie enough, fitting three faces on a two-sided head, and they appear in some very creepy scenes, but it's never clear whether they're actually causing trouble or they just happen to be there at the time. The closest they come to participating in the plot is marking a child's homework in the cold opening.
- Midboss from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness: Laharl even named him Midboss because he was a seemingly unimportant villain, and he continually returns to antagonize Laharl's troupe for no apparent real reason. Subverted when it's revealed that he was helping the seraph's Batman Gambit by monitoring Laharl and co. to make sure everything was going according to plan.
- In the Spider-Man games, Shocker qualifies. Almost every other villain has an important role in the story to some extent. Shocker is just there to get his ass whupped and not make a single contribution to the story.
- Batman: Arkham Series:
- Batman: Arkham Asylum has Bane: he shows up once to fight Batman and gets taken down immediately, unlike the other villains who all come back at least once. His indirect role in the plot, however, is much greater: Joker plans to use a derivative of the Venom formula in his blood to make rampaging monsters out of all of Gotham.
- Hugo Strange in Batman: Arkham City. We briefly see him at the beginning of the game, and then he spends most of the game on the top of Wonder Tower and is only heard through the intercom. Near the end of the game, Batman climbs the tower, takes out his guards, and faces Strange, who is killed almost instantly by Ra's Al Ghul. While the unlockable stories set before the game make him a bit more important, he could have been replaced by Quincy Sharp without much rewriting.
- Two-Face in the same game. He is seen once in the main game. With the Catwoman story DLC, twice. The only part he serves in the story is capturing Catwoman for a while so Batman can save her.
- Mad Hatter has no actual bearing on the plot, yet his side-quest shows up by actually making you believe the plot is solved. All other sidequest villains, like Deadshot or Hush, don't even bother pretending to belong to the plot. To be fair, they can be mostly ignored. But if it's the first time you're playing the game, ignoring Mad Hatter is really hard to do.
- Riddler, just like in the first game, doesn't actually contribute to the plot, but, again, he certainly doesn't like being ignored, so there's no chance not to run into his sidequest.
- Only two of the eight assassins in Batman: Arkham Origins directly impact the plot — Bane and Firefly. Another two — Shiva and Deadshot only show up in sidequests. The other four just show up to serve as a boss fight while Batman's trying to do something else. Two of the latter six do indirectly impact things, however — Electrocutioner's gloves become a very useful tool for Batman after his death, and Shiva provides some futureshadowing for the first two Arkham games.
- Mad Hatter is, once again, irrelevant to the plot, but you get an "invitation" to his sidequest as soon as you finish a story mission.
- Most of the villains in LEGO Batman 2 don't do anything, although most of the Batman villains do at least show up to be beaten up in the first few levels. Overlaps with The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, considering there's at least two dozen of them.
- Final Fantasy:
- While Final Fantasy VI has quite a few boss fights that have little relevance to the plot, the most obvious is recurring boss Ultros, the wisecracking octopus. His first boss battle takes place at the end of a river level, so it makes a little bit of sense, but you fight him three more times over the course of the game with less and less relevance to the plot in each fight.
- Seymour Guado in Final Fantasy X becomes this after his plans get thwarted at Bevelle, only appearing to challenge the party in impossible attempts to take back Yuna so that he can become the next Sin. His main claim is showing up as That One Boss in one such appearance, but not even the characters take him all that seriously by the end when they run into him yet again after already making it impossible for his scheme to succeed anyway.
- Paper Mario
- Paper Mario 64 has Jr. Troopa. He fights you in the prologue because you intrude on his turf, then shows up in nearly every chapter after that trying to get revenge. He has nothing to do with Bowser or the Star Spirits, he just can't let it go that you beat him.
- In a way, Bowser ends up in this role for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. His entire story arc basically comes from the fact that somebody else usurped his role of Big Bad for the game and Bowser's desperate attempts to make himself relevant to the plot. Aside from serving as a boss fight when he finally manages to meet Mario at the end of the game, he's around as a comic relief role.
- Bowser Jr., carries on the tradition in Paper Mario: Sticker Star where he spends his first two appearances attacking Mario to force him to hand over his rare stickers. He only becomes relevant when he uses an airship (implied to have been given to him by Bowser) to prevent Mario from reaching Bowser's Sky Castle in his final appearance.
- Spelunker HD has the black Spelunker, who steals items you wanted and occassionally makes you run away from a bomb. He does nothing to further the "plot", which is just to explore a dungeon, and you don't even contribute to his defeat.
- The Covenant remnant in Halo 4 do nothing important in the main plot aside from being obstacles. The real threat comes from the Sealed Evil in a Can, the Ur-Didact, who doesn't appear until the third level of the game.
- The same thing applies to the Covies in Halo 5: Guardians (hell, their leader is killed off at the end of the very first level), though they do have a little more importance in the Sanghelios sections.
- Funny Business has two sets of these, since the main conflict isn't with any of the villains, but rather the main character's extreme self-loathing as a result of her powers. Isabella serves as the Alpha Bitch who harasses and bullies Jeanette, but can't actually make her feel any worse. Later, a group of Moral Guardians is convinced that Jeanette is a witch and a threat to society, but the only thing they accomplish is getting her family to move to where they live at the start of the story.
- The main antagonists, Duchess and Terrence, from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, were important in the pilot and pretty well ignored since. The show never really needed bad guys, and when it did, it could usually be better performed by Bloo, the resident Jerkass.
- The Christmas Special Christopher the Christmas Tree has a scene where a fox and weasel show up for no reason other than to lend the end of the special a little suspense by planting the idea that Christopher will be chopped down for firewood, rather than picked to be a Christmas tree.
- Transfer (and his boss, Sullivan) in Around the World with Willy Fog: Transfer sets up a lot of obstacles for the heroes, yes, but in the original book those obstacles arose just fine without anybody trying to sabotage the trip.
- Parodied in the American Dad! episode "Don't Look a Smith Horse in the Mouth", where Roger is riding Stan in a horse race (Stan's mind is temporarily in a horse's body). Roger mentions his regret that he doesn't have a rival to race against and make it more exciting, so when Stan points out that it isn't too late, Roger deliberately picks a fight with another jockey just to create a rival.
- Young Justice, most of the members of The Light serve no real purpose that couldn't have been filled out by their henchmen. Queen Bee and Ra's Al Ghul do little more than give orders to henchmen, the Brain is only active for one episode, Ocean Master never does anything is replaced with Black Manta in Season 2, who to his credit did have a significant role in the plot, after a incident that led to him being "disgraced" that the show never gave any details about. Even the group's de facto leader Vandal Savage did little for most of the series besides provide exposition until the finale where he and Klarion hijacked the World World and delivered it to Darksied.
- Peyo's original comic book version of The Smurfs story "The Astrosmurf" had No Antagonist; the cartoon adaptation, however, put Gargamel in it for some scenes, trailing the Smurfs with a crystal ball to give an added risk of Dreamy Smurf catching onto the plan; he was driven away quickly, and really wasn't necessary for the story as a whole.
- Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero: Rippen is this in "The Ripple Effect". His goal in that episode is to convince the cutelings to move to a planet named Ploopiter and he's not responsible for the catastrophe that made them need to move from their home planet in the first place. Penn is the one who caused the trouble.
- Teen Titans Go! reduces Slade to this as a joke, not even letting him do anything villainous on-screen.