Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness
An antagonist can be classed on three orthogonal parameters:
This is a method of quantifying the second one.
Note that this does not cover any degree of sympathy; rather, it covers how probable their success is. To expand on this scale's orthogonality to the other two: it is entirely possible for a Complete Monster
to fall at 'credible' or even 'low' on this scale (for example, a monster who is merely chief henchman
to, say, Ming The Merciless
); and it is possible to have a villain who bats at the level of Superman
, but is so dumb that most of his threat comes from the fact that his plans will inevitably fail in a spectacular way.
Further, please do not add in Villainous organizations, groups, or nations to the Examples section at High
levels, and be particularly aware of Fan Myopia
The villain succeeded in his evil scheme, but it wasn't destroying the world at all, it was... to step on a flower?!?
Or alternatively, there's no villain at all
Low: The villain can be safely allowed
to foil their own scheme.
Credible: Rarely succeeds
- Examples: Most Looney Tunes villains, Dr. Drakken from Kim Possible, Invader Zim (most of the time), Waluigi, The Ice King, The Dark Hand, many villains written by Dean Koontz, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, the Diamond Dogs, Mashmyre Cello (in the first half of the series), Dr. Eggman (from Sonic Adventure to Sonic Unleashed).
, but only because heroes take action.
- Examples: Most Disney villains, the Master from Doctor Who, Invader Zim (on his worst days), Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon, The Galactic Empire from Star Wars, The Decepticons (occasionally highly effective), Twilight's Hammer, The Fire Nation (whenever Azula isn't available as a strategic consultant), Tarrlok, The Enclave, Sauron during the late Third Age, Dr. Eggman (pre-Sonic Adventure and post-Sonic Unleashed). Bowser fits here, but is frequently highly effective against anybody other than the Mario Brothers. The typical villains from Power Rangers / Super Sentai also fall into this category.
May succeed without realizing it, so heroes must be especially cautious.
Almost always succeeds when not thwarted by a hero and have a decent number of victories under their belt; expect them to get a secondary goal completed
even when they lose.
Infinite: The villain will always win, and the heroes will always lose, even if the heroes should by all rights win
- Examples: The Daleks, David Xanatos, The Light, Gendo Ikari, Kefka Palazzo, Littlefinger, Hazama/Terumi Yuuki, Relius Clover, and Izanami, Palpatine, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Princess Azula, Amon, the Dark Spirits and Unalaq, Freeza, Cell, and Majin Buu, Katsuhiko Jinnai, XANA, Shego, Ra's al Ghul, the Joker, and Bane, Bowser whenever the Mario Brothers aren't around, Lionel Luthor and Brainiac, Rau Le Creuset, Haman Khan, Morgoth (pre-War of Wrath) and Sauron (pre-Third Age), Raul Menendez, Naraku, Kyubey, Nightmare Moon, Discord, Queen Chrysalis, King Sombra, Lord Tirek.
. This may be due to the villain being truly all powerful, or the heroes being utterly incapable of confronting them in the first place, let alone stopping them. At best, the heroes could delay or annoy the villain, but the villain will triumph in the end regardless and the heroes must evade or escape the villain now that its goals are met.