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Villain Team-Up
They all met while shopping for masks.

If a Superhero has a Rogues Gallery, it's an obvious plot for the villains to team up. A Villain Team Up is almost always for the sole purpose of ganging up on a hero or hero team and finishing them off once... and for all!!! Villains will almost never team up to rob a bank together, or commit any other crime together. Which makes sense, because the typical Rogues Gallery has villains with nothing in common at all, other than hating the hero.

This is also why they lose; unlike the heroic team they fight, the villains never trust each other. One of them will betray the rest of the group. Usually after they've captured the heroes, thus letting the heroes escape. Some heroes can even cause a "solid" Villain Team Up to implode with Flaw Exploitation. Other times, one of the villains has planned the whole team-up as a trap from the start. Cue An Aesop about The Power of Friendship. This is one of few situations where maintaining the Status Quo is well justified.

A variant is that instead of ganging up, they make the heroes Run the Gauntlet. If they get on reasonably well, they'll compliment each other on their evilness. If conditions are right, they may become a Big Bad Duumvirate. While this is usually a one-shot team up, a Legion of Doom is a recurring team of villains and are a major opposition together. Can easily lead to a Joker Jury situation. When done badly can lead to instant Villain Decay, as the hero trashes six people who each used to be a threat to him on their own. This trope is the opposite of Evil Versus Evil. When a villain teams up with the hero, that's Enemy Mine.

Compare Evil Is One Big Happy Family and Legion of Doom. Contrast Super Team.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Malik/Marik and Yami Bakura from Yu-Gi-Oh! Battle City arc.
  • In the episode of InuYasha entitled 'Naraku and Sesshomaru Join Forces'...Take a wild guess.
  • In the Mazinger Z versus Devilman feature, Dr. Hell and the demons collaborate to take down Kouji Kabuto and Devilman. It may be subverted, since Hell used a mind-control device to enslave the demons, and he was mainly interested on taking down Mazinger Z (he only sent some demons and Mechanical Beasts against Devilman because the demons warned him he would interfere).
  • In the Devilman versus Getter Robo Crossover, the demons team up with the Dinosaur Empire.
  • In Naruto, Kabuto and Madara Uchiha are doing this.
    • Kabuto takes it a step further with his mass resurrection jutsu of every big name character to ever die in the series, forcing them to work together against the protagonists. They are mostly villains, but they also include some heroes.
  • In Dragon Ball GT, practically everyone the protagonists had ever killed teamed up in Hell to try to get revenge, though most of them were just used as distractions until Dr. Myuu and Dr. Gero could create Super Android 17.
  • The final arc of Tiger & Bunny saw a Villain Team Up of Big Bad Maverick and villain from one of the earlier episodes, Doctor Rotwang. They got along very well, despite that one of them was NEXT-hater and the other was secretly a NEXT himself until they were at the verge of Disney Villain Death, with Rotwang begging Maverick to save him, only for him to reveal he is a NEXT and kick him in the face.
  • Defied in Bleach: Juhabach made a point about visiting the last major villain, Aizen, in his prison cell to offer him to join his army. Aizen refused, presumably because his delusions of godhood left him too proud to become anyone's henchman, even if the person making the offer was capable of one-shotting an enemy that Aizen wasn't willing to approach without major preparations.

    Fan Fiction 
  • The Disney Fanfic The Hellbound Hearts consists of several Disney villains forming a loose companionship to get revenge on their enemies, and eventually take over the world. Then there's another group that wants to take advantage of the war to take over the world. And Frollo...he's just...there.
  • Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams plays this trope with an unusual spin. Instead of any of Sleepwalker's enemies teaming up, it's Spider-Man's enemies that reunite as the Sinister Six to carry out Doctor Octopus's latest diabolical scheme. Sleepwalker and several other heroes are hastily recruited by the web-slinger into an impromptu team to even the odds.
    • A very similar story happened in the ''Revenge of the Sinister Six" storyarc in which Spidey enlists the aid of Sleepwalker and other heroes in order to fight Doc Ock and the SS.
  • A Dark Knight Over Sin City has various Batman villains teaming up with Sin City villains.
  • Fallout: Equestria: Red Eye and the Goddess, though both are plotting behind each other's back.
    • Subverted example: the Enclave tries to form one with the Goddess. Since she has just a few minutes before being killed by a megaspell when they make the offer, the Enclave has incredibly bad timing.
  • Getting Back on Your Hooves: the story's definite Big Bad, Checker Monarch, employs the Diamond Dogs to help her ruin her sister Trixie's life. It's worth noting that the Dogs don't care about this goal, and they have no real agenda of their own either — they're Only In It For The Gems. Which is what allows Rarity to buy them off during the climax. Well, that, and the fact they find out that Checker was planning on double crossing them anyway.
  • Played With in the Calvin At Camp episode "A Stalkers Life"—multiple villains appear to attack the kids, yet they do nothing but trip each other up.
  • Down quite a few times in the Facing The Future Series.
  • Earth and Sky: After Chrysalis replaces Diamond Tiara, her husband Prince Blueblood discovers it, and takes advantage of the situation to strike a deal — he'll stay quiet about what he knows, in exchange for Chrysalis using her new position to help him gain power of attorney over his wife's fortune. However, the deal ends up falling through when Chrysalis exposes herself to avoid getting arrested for the real Diamond Tiara's crimes only to get arrested anyway, at which point Blueblood throws her under the bus to protect his own hide.
  • Burning Black: Remy has coerced both Crocker and Dr. Bender into working for him, and at the same time is in a secret alliance with the Pixies, which even the other villains are unaware of.
  • Olivia Goes West: After Cat R. Waul from An American Tail: Fievel Goes West rescues Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective from falling to his death from Big Ben, Waul takes Professor Ratigan to America in a scheme to run him for president and take over the country.
  • XSGCOM: Near the end of the first story, Anubis and Loki strike a resource-sharing alliance against Earth and the System Lords.
  • The Pooh's Adventures series pulls this off tons of times. The villain of the movie Pooh is going through will almost always have back up from another villain, sometimes a villain working for a Bigger Bad. And then there are times when an entire Legion of Doom teams up with a villain, or have them join their ranks.
  • In My Little Unicorn Nightmare Moon and Titan's henchmen team up in order to take over Equestria.
  • Justice League of Equestria:
  • The Powers Of Harmony: Chrysalis frees Sombra from his imprisonment in order to help her take over the Crystal Empire (and by extension, all of Tarandus) as part of her larger plan for a full-scale invasion of Equestria. She keeps him on a short leash, however, which makes him plot against her even more than he probably already would be anyway.
  • Shadows Awakening: Daolon Wong and The Phantom/Kyosuke ally fairly early on in the story, with The Phantom making it perfectly clear that he's only using Wong to further his own agenda. And then it turns out that The Queen and Tarakudo are operating under a similar setup.
    • Near the end of the story, it turns out that the Queen and Kyosuke cut a deal behind their partners' backs; on condition of Wong's failure and the Queen proving herself a more worthy ruler of the Shadowkhan, Kyosuke will pledge loyalty to her. This is exactly what comes to pass.
  • Dave Stdider Pokemon Traner: Team Bad and Elite Four Boss have teamed up on several occasions in order to accomplish absolutely nothing, because they all really suck.
  • In Mega Man Reawakened, Dr. Wily is allied with Glyde and his Birdbots.
  • The Lion King Adventures have a few examples:
    • Hago and Scar, the two main villains of Series One, team up in King's Ransom to eliminate Simba and Nala and take over the Pride Lands. However, when this plan fails, they blame each other and go their separate ways... until Army of Evil, where Hago convinces Scar to team up again, leading to the successful conquest of the Pride Lands. This lasts until the following story, Friends to the End, where Scar goes insane, causing Hago to kill him.
    • Rebirth sees Shocker, the Interceptor, and Froggy team up to resurrect Scar and use him to destroy Simba and his friends. Even after this plan falls through and Froggy runs away, Shocker and the Interceptor stay in an increasingly-strained alliance for the rest of Series Four, which ends with the Interceptor throwing Shocker into the lava destroying the Pride Lands in a (failed) attempt to kill him.
    • One Bad Night sees Froggy return and ally with Simba's Enemy Within, the King of Dreams, in an attempt to trap Simba in the dream world and kill him. As soon as he's no longer needed, the King kills Froggy.

    Films — Animated 
  • Double Subverted in The Thief and the Cobbler. When the evil grand vizier Zigzag goes to join the Big Bad, the Mighty One-eye (who has an entire army of monstrous one-eyed men at his command), One-eye is unimpressed and has Zigzag thrown to his alligators. However, with his charisma Zigzag is able to convince the alligators to spare his life and help him out of the alligator pit. This impresses the Mighty One-eye enough to let him join him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Superhero movies this seems to be required for sequels. A single villain can occupy for the first movie, but once a sequel comes out you've got to throw more and more villains together. Batman Returns: Penguin + Catwoman, Batman Forever: Riddler + Two Face, Batman & Robin: Mr. Freeze + Poison Ivy (whether Bane is a villain or a henchman, you pick). Superman: Lex Luthor, Superman II: Lex + 3 Kryptonians. Spider-Man avoided this for the first sequel, but made up for it by throwing in three villains (Sandman, Venom, New Goblin) for Spider-Man3, two of which team up (Sandman + Venom).
    • "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"has a villain team up between Harry Osborn/The Goblin, who takes the role of the big bad, and Max Dillon/Electro, who takes the role of the Dragon. Their alliance is very shaky though, as Electro hates Harry, but he hates Spider-Man even more.
    • The whole point of Batman Returns was to deconstruct this trope, by showing Catwoman and the Penguin working together for all of five minutes before breaking it off.
    • Batman Begins has the Scarecrow initially working with Falcone, and unwittingly working for Ra's Al Ghul. The Dark Knight is borderline, as the Joker creates the second villain but never truly works with him; however, the Joker does initially work with the mob. In The Dark Knight Rises, Selina Kyle being blackmailed into providing some assistance to Bane is borderline given she becomes more of an Anti Heroine later and is the one who kills Bane at the end... but Talia Al Ghul being the woman behind the man mantains it on "two villains per movie". Cillian Murphy's cameo as Dr. Crane, here presiding judge at the Kangaroo Court, is too minor to count.
    • X-Men and X2 avert this since, while there are multiple villains, they're on opposite sides (human villains who want to imprison or kill all mutants, and the Brotherhood using extreme means to ensure this doesn't happen), with the X-Men playing a role that is closer to a peacekeeping force trying to limit the amount of damage either can do. (In both cases, it's actually the Brotherhood that successfully thwarts the human villains' plans.) X-Men: The Last Stand had Magneto convince Jean Grey in Phoenix form to work together; sadly, this was because Jean didn't trust Charles Xavier and killed him while Magneto watched.
    • All of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films feature this:
  • The 1966 Batman: The Movie featured a team-up between Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman.
    • Several of the TV episodes of that series featured team-ups between various villains, they did no better or worse than usual against Batman.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O: Climax Deka features the Imagin Negataros forms an "evil syndicate", and to strengthen their numbers, he recruited Fangire into his cause. In turn, this necessitates the arrival of the Fangires' main enemy, Kamen Rider Kiva, to come to the aid of Den-O and his allies.

    Literature 
  • The fourth Skulduggery Pleasant book see's the 'Revenger's Club' created, a group of various nefarious figures from the previous books who have tentatively teamed up under the Big Bad who's promised them each their personal vengeance on the protagonists. It doesn't last very long.
  • In Lies, the third book of the Gone series, Caine and Zil team up to burn down Perdido Beach, which acts as a distraction to let Caine escape to the island.
  • In the Star Trek Novel Verse, Villain Team Up is essentially the idea behind the Star Trek: Typhon Pact series, only with a twist. It's uncertain if the Typhon Pact will be an enemy of the United Federation of Planets or not. Politically, everything is highly uncertain, following the formation of the Pact in A Singular Destiny (a novel detailing the aftermath of Star Trek: Destiny). While the Pact members were historically antagonistic, their outlook may be changing, at least in some cases. The extent to which they will remain "villains" is unclear. The Tholians, at least, look set to remain enemies, whether the rest of the Pact follows their lead or reins them in is anyone's guess. As of the most recent books, a division between those members who hate the Federation and those who seek peace and even alliance with it looks increasingly likely.
  • The Omen Of The Stars arc of Warrior Cats features all the villains who were killed off except Scourge and Bone teaming up to destroy the clans.
  • The failure half of this occurs in the Star Wars novel Darth Bane: Path of Destruction due to nature of the Sith's Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. Bane creates his rule of two to avoid this problem.
  • In The Warlord of Mars, third book of the John Carter of Mars series, Matai Shang (a previously-offscreen but often mentioned chessmaster), Thurid (a minor villain from the previous book) and Salensus Oll (a newly-introduced Evil Overlord) pull off one of these, which ends up falling apart messily, since all three hate each other's guts and have only temporarily-related goals. Rounding out the partnership is Matai Shang's daughter Phaidor, though she's genuinely loyal to her dad and is mostly along for the ride rather than a co-conspirator.
  • In Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen, this is a fear of the Grand Alliance should their two enemies (the Japanese-aided Grik and the Holy Dominion) find out about each other. While they admit that the thoroughly racist Doms wouldn't even consider allying with such vile creatures as the Grik, they wouldn't put it past Hisashi Kurokawa or the Celestial Mother to offer the Dominion a chance to join the Hunt. By the end of Storm Surge, both of the enemies are aware of one another. The Doms intend to send an expedition across the Atlantic to see if the Grik can somehow be subverted to serve their "holy" purpose. Of course, the "Grand Alliance of all Allied powers united beneath (or beside) the Banner of the Trees" is the heroic version of this. Originally made up of the crew of the USS Walker and several Lemurian Homes, it now includes most of the known Lemurians, several more crossed-over crews, the Empire of New Britain Isles, and the Republic of Real People. Additionally, another potential new ally is found, the United States.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Burn Notice: Had an episode with "Dead" Larry Sizemore and Tyler Brennen, two of Michael Westen's worst enemies, team up. Their partnership lasted just half the episode, since Larry never intended to work with Brennen long-term and simply stabs him in the chest, killing him.
  • Defiance: Near the end of the first season, Datak allies with the corrupt Earth Republic (represented by Colonel Marsh) in order to discredit Nolan and Amanda and help Datak win the mayoral election. In exchange, the plan is that Datak will help the E-Rep gain control of Rafe's mines (with Datak getting a sizable chunk of the profits). Then, in the season finale, it turns out Marsh was just using Datak to take over the town and get to the ancient Votan ship buried underneath it. When Datak realizes this, he kills Marsh in a rage.
  • Doctor Who: The episode "Doomsday" makes this a Subverted Trope; the Cybermen offer the Daleks an alliance. The Daleks instinctively refuse. The rest of the episode involves the Daleks and the Cybermen kicking the snot out of each other, with the Doctor and the humans trapped in the middle.
    • A comic strip from the 1990s also parodies this, with an omnipotent superbeing uniting all the Doctor's enemies together as one super-army, and then siccing them on all (then) eight Doctors. The Doctors point out the obvious flaw in the logic of bad guys all of whom they'd already defeated uniting to try and defeat them again... and then go on to defeat them all again.
    • This is basically the plot of "Mark of the Rani" wherein the Master and the Rani team up against the Sixth Doctor, though it's not really a mutual agreement. The Master blackmails and bribes the Rani into cooperating with him, and when he eventually botches the entire plan due to his obsession with the Doctor, the Rani registers her displeasure.
    • In "The Pandorica Opens" almost all of the Doctor's enemies we've ever heard of and more descend on Earth in 102A.D. to witness the titular event. Turns out that, while the Doctor knew the Pandorica was a prison of some sort he had assumed it was already occupied by someone. Really what happened was that all of his foes came together to trap the Doctor in the Pandorica in order to prevent the destruction of the universe at his hands.
  • Heroes: Season Three is about every villain still alive being united to serve Arthur Petrelli.
  • Power Rangers in Space: There was the United Alliance of Evil, a group formed by Dark Spectre and comprised of the villains from the first five seasons of Power Rangers, namely Lord Zedd, Rita Repulsa, the Machine Empire and Divatox.
    • In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, when Lothor returned, he briefly teamed up with Mesogog. After the Rangers foiled their plan, Mesogog ended the alliance and the two villains fought each other. Mesogog won.
    • In Power Rangers S.P.D., when Emperor Grumm went back in time, he teamed up with Zeltrax.
    • With four villain factions in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, it was unavoidable there'd be some occasional team ups but the most memorable was when Thrax, the son of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd, temporarily united all of them against the Power Rangers. The villains made it quite clear they'd only be united against the Rangers and, after the heroes were permanently dealt with, the factions would war among themselves again. Well, it was said at the top of the page the villains usually only team up to destroy the heroes. That alliance ended when Thrax was destroyed.
  • Revolution: Monroe and Randall Flynn ally in the second half of the season, starting at the end of episode 11.
  • Smallville: There have been a few villain team-ups. Firstly, in season 3, three of the meteor freaks Clark Kent had taken down teamed up to steal his powers and escape. There have also been team-ups between Brainiac and Bizarro, Lex and Toyman, and recently several Superman villains from the comics were teamed up by LuthorCorp to become Smallville's version of the Injustice Gang.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Cardassians and the Dominion form an alliance in the last few seasons, which eventually expands to include the Breen.
  • Supernatural: Subverted Trope. Crowley tries to pull one with the Boss Leviathan (he even bakes gluten-free baby uvula muffins for the occasion!), but gets shot down.
    • He did manage to temporarily team up with Raphael in the previous season finale after his previous deal with Castiel fell apart, but that lasted all of ten minutes before Cas Out-Gambitted them both, killed Raph, and sent Crowley on the run.
  • TV Colosso: There was a sketch named "As Aventuras do Super C„o" (The Adventures of Super Dog). Not that superdog. In one episode, the villains teamed up and the eponymous hero wasn't worried. The villains argued about who had the idea one of them was presenting.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • There have been MANY stables in wrestling history that were centered around a manager who was supposedly looking out for the financial interests of his wrestlers. While this was usually Kayfabe, "Precious" Paul Ellering, who assembled the original Legion of Doom in Georgia in the 1980s, which featured the Tag Team The Road Warriors, really was the team's legitimate business manager in Real Life.
  • The Four Horsemen can be considered the Trope Codifier for professional wrestling. The heel group, known in wrestling as a "stable" or "faction," first formed with Ric Flair, Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. Various incarnations lasted for 13 years; however, they have direct descendants running up to today's current wrestlers.
  • Professional Wrestling sort of did this when rival heel stables The Corporation and The Ministry Of Darkness put aside their differences and teamed up to take on their mutual enemies.
  • The Undertaker and Kane would alternate between heels and faces during their time as a tag team: the Brothers of Destruction.
  • The Miz and R-Truth, two heels in separate stories at the time, somehow found common ground and teamed up in September 2011. They were disqualified from a tag team title match at WWE Night of Champions when Miz attacked a referee. The next night on Raw, then-WWE COO Triple H, sick of their antics, "fired" them. In a reverse Nice Job BreakingItVillain, this set off a chain of events where most of the WWE roster turned against Triple H, leading to Triple H's ouster as the on-screen authority figure. Miz and Truth returned to WWE TV in mid-October 2011.

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Universal-Adaptor CastEnsemblesWith a Friend and a Stranger
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Batman: The MovieImageSource/Live-Action FilmsBatman

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