But my dreams, they aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to beVillains commit crimes for many reasons, usually petty and short sighted. Occasionally though, there are villains with a clear goal behind committing their atrocities; some great, some terrible, all terrifyingly well executed. These are Visionary Villains, who see "the big picture", and have a clear head about what they want to accomplish and how to do it without juggling a Villain Ball. They are defined by the word "Ambition", and no matter how noble their intentions are, fundamentally want to change things and pridefully think they know best. As Antagonists, their morality can be anywhere on the scale from Well-Intentioned Extremist to Complete Monster; all that changes is the motivation for wanting to achieve their goal. The common thread is that they have seen the state of the world and want to change it, whether into something better or worse varies. A sympathetic villain may want to kill the people responsible for his Dark and Troubled Past and Freudian Excuse so it never happens to someone else, perhaps becoming an avenging angel or antihero of sorts. On the other hand, a laughing monstrous Card Carrying Straw Nihilist may want to Take Over the World (or end it) because he sees society as nothing more than a poor Masquerade, and peeling it away will expose the true face of humanity. If they assemble a team or organization around themselves, expect them to give at least one New Era Speech to less ambitious, clear sighted, or bright minions. Their individual styles of leadership are often directly related to their goal. A charismatic Dark Messiah may gather followers and teach them Utopia Justifies the Means, an Evil Overlord will rally The Empire to realize his vision of a peaceful unified One World Order, and a Mad Scientist will create Tree People not for pure science, but to replace a planet-killing humanity. The two powers all Visionary Villains share are a big brain and silver tongue. This trope is a part of what Nietzsche said defined The Übermensch, so villainous characters who evoke that trope are also this by definition. Contrast Cut Lex Luthor a Check. The opposite of Punch Clock Villain and Generic Doomsday Villain. Frequently sneer at minor or petty villains who yell "Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!!"
— "Behind Blue Eyes", The Who
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- Kars from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (the page picture above) wanted nothing more than to help his race overcome their weakness to sunlight and "conquer creation", thereby becoming the most powerful creatures to have ever existed. However, as he needed to sacrifice an insane amount of living beings in order to do so, and his fellows weren't interested in running roughshod over the world in the first place, they eventually turned on him and he was forced to Kill Them All in self-defense, making him and his 3 Co-Dragons The Last Of Their Kind.
- In Code Geass, both the motivation of Emperor Charles and Marianne's Assimilation Plot and, if you consider him a villain, also the motivation of Lelouch.
- Fate Averruncus's organization in Mahou Sensei Negima!. To the point it's questionable whether his goal is actually that bad, and the protagonists are simply opposing the means he's using to bring about that goal.
- His true ultimate goal is "saving" the Magical World (which will soon suffer complete magical depletion) through an Assimilation Plot, and he progresses towards it: 1-without informing anyone but select coconspirators about the true plan, playing the rest as Unwitting Pawns, 2-by engineering wars, unrest and disasters that cause untold suffering on a massive scale, 3-Stopping at nothing to neutralise anyone who might pose even the slightest threat to his plans, even if that "threat" is the possibility to find out how to Take a Third Option where nobody dies. He's a prepubescent Gendo Ikari.
- In Drifters, the Black King seeks a world without humans. Which he intends to create by annihilating them and teach the magical creatures how to live in society, giving them religion, knowledge and the means to survive in a single, unified front.
- Light Yagami, an example of a Visionary Villain Protagonist.
- Ribbons of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 who sees himself as the benevolent god who lead humanity into a utopia and prepare them for contact with aliens.
- Quite common in Gundam series, dating back to Gihren Zabi in the original. People like Anavel Gato, Char Aznable, Treize Khushrenada, and others fit this trope perfectly. Anavel Gato chews out Kou for not bothering to understand Zeon's objectives and mindlessly serving the Federation. Char has a very well-organized and detailed ideology he inherited from his father and resents Amuro Ray for not being similar ("Unlike you, I'm more than just a pilot!"). Treize, especially, has a vision of the glories and terrors of war and wishes to drive home to humanity the true horrors of war...but due to his suicide-through-enemy-fire, he escaped responsibility for his actions. Considering that Treize was RIGHT in his ideals, but not his methods...
- Aion from Chrono Crusade is a textbook example in both the anime and manga, even if his goals change depending on the version. The manga version presents him as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who plans to change the corrupt systems of the world. The anime version is much more of a Card-Carrying Villain, but he still has a very clear goal in mind (switching Heaven and Hell) and carefully plans his actions to reach it.
- Both Pain, Obito and Madara of Naruto have clear goals and plans to achieve the utopia they envision. The first wanted to create a system similar to the Cold War doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction, while the latter two veer more towards a standard Assimilation Plot. As the plans of the former two were mutually exclusive, they danced around each other, trying to advance their own goals faster. Whether or not Madara's claims towards his ultimate goals are to be believed is a matter for some debatable.
- Hattori from Nabari no Ou is portrayed as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to rewrite history to fix the corrupt world. Thanks to his charisma, about half of the good guys are on his side at one point.
- Despite an abundance of dickish villains who do their devious acts on a whim, One Piece surprisingly has one in the form of Hody Jones. He wants to restore Fishman pride, with his crew, The New Fishman Pirates, by fostering hatred between the people of the sea and those of the land: humans, by assassinating Queen Otohime, the greatest advocate for peace between fishmen & merfolk and humans, and using a human as a patsy, planning to kill King Neptune for his perceived "weakness", which is allowing humans to protect the island (e.g. Whitebeard, Big Mam), have his crew terrorize people who help humans, and after he takes over the kingdom and purges Fishman Island of "human-loving trash", he planned to enslave humans across the oceans, before setting his sights on becoming Pirate King.
- Jinsuke Kurogame from Gamaran. He's one of the greatest swordsmen in the world, and created his own martial art school (the Muhou Ryu), composed of strong warriors from many different styles. His plans involve take over Kyushu and turn it into an independent nation, and then use it to challenge the Bakufu, conquer the rest of Japan and turn it into a country of warriors where strength and power are the most important things.
- Griffith from Berserk. A peasant boy turned mercenary who dreamt of having his own kingdom, at least in part due to his hatred of the current nobles and class-based social hierarchy. This one has since Gone Horribly Right, in that he achieved his dream, ultimately, but at the cost of sacrificing his closest friends to demons during the eclipse.
- Griffith's a... complex example. Pre-eclipse he wants to overthrow the current class system, not so much because he thinks that such systems are fundamentally flawed, but because he thinks there's been a mistake in exactly who should be sitting on top. (Spoiler: he thinks it's him.) At best you could say that he's in favor of upward mobility as opposed to true equality, at worst he's simply self-serving and narcissistic. Post-eclipse his rule seems largely benevolent so far (discounting what he had to do to get there), but it's unclear whether this is how he intends to run things long-term or if he's just cultivating a good public image until he can solidify his rule. So while he very well may be this trope, he might also simply be a power-mad Pragmatic Villain who's found that a reputation as a visionary best serves his purpose. He's playing a long game, and his ultimate goals are still largely unclear.
- Aizen from Bleach. Although his initial motivation seems to be primarily Despotism Justifies the Means with a dash of For the Evulz, the end of his fight with Ichigo suggests a deeper motivation concerning a disgust with how the Soul Society is run; especially in regards to the role (or seemingly lack of one) played by the Soul King; claiming that just accepting the world as it is like Urahara told him to be the mentality of the weak while the strong force the world to conform to their ideals.
- Lex Luthor embodies this trope. He is thoroughly convinced that he has humanity's best interests in mind in everything he does, and that humanity's reliance on Superman shackles them. He pretty much IS the most formidable human alive, with his incredible intellect, business savvy and analytical genius. Surprisingly enough, in every Alternate Universe incarnation of his that is a good guy, he's pretty much proven right.
- Ra's al-Ghul is both Batman's most formidable enemy and the most visionary one. He sees humanity as a blight on Earth, and that the population needs to be culled for the good of the planet. Imagine someone taking David Attenborough's "controlling the population to allow the survival of the environment" quote and taking it to its extreme conclusion.
- Watchmen: Ozymandias slaughtered half of New York, killing millions, in an attempt to save the rest of the world from a nuclear apocalypse.
- Magneto, at his most Anti-Villain, wants only to prevent mutantkind from undergoing the same persecution he did in WWII. Sometimes this means creating a private island / satellite for mutants, other times it means actively subjugating the human race to ensure they will never be a threat.
- Doctor Doom believes to the very core of his being that what he's doing is right. He's looked in the future (His words) and only saw one potential future where everything ends up well, and that's under his reign, as per Doomwar.
- Likewise his Ultimate Universe counterpart is NOT this trope, but in fact Ultimate Reed Richards is!
- The IDW incarnation of Megatron started out as a working-class revolutionary seeking to end the unjust segregation of Cybertronian society and topple the tyrannical government. Ironically for someone who kicked off a civil war that would last millions of years, he actually got his start writing seditious papers and advocating peaceful reform. Then Whirl gave him a hands-on demonstration on the effective use of violence.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen Of All Oni, Jade's goals are simply to gain power so she can do as she pleases, and to prove to Jackie how she never got the recognition she feels she deserves from all the times she helped him in their adventures.
- The Villain Protagonist of the Mass Effect fanfic The Council Era, a salarian known as Tyrin Lieph, dreams of uniting the galaxy as a singular utopia. His Worthy Opponent Halak Marr seeks to overthrow the Citadel and establish the krogan as a sole-surviving Master Race. Their conflicting visions eventually erupt into the Krogan Rebellions.
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, the rebellious General Thunderhide chooses to ally himself with the clearly questionable Nightmare Moon out of his desire to shape Equestria into a better place, seeing this goal to be impossible under the continued rule of Celestia.
- Loki, Big Bad of My Little Avengers. While he may appear to be doing things For the Evulz at first, it's eventually made clear that he has a vision of a world ruled by magic (preferably with him in charge, natch), and the entire plot is revealed to be one big Gambit Roulette dedicated to bringing this goal about. When he's defeated and killed, he still manages to die happy, knowing that the magic released by his death will permanently mutate Equestria, bringing his vision to fruition.
- Whereas in canon he was the poster boy for Hidden Agenda Villain, Jewel Of Darkness turns Slade into one of these. He firmly believes that the mounting tensions between the normal governments and the superpowered factions (good and evil) will lead to World War III, and that the only true victors will be those who have gathered enough influence and reputation to become leaders in the devastated world afterwards.
- The Powers Of Harmony: Both Cetus and Eclipse have both convinced themselves that their plans for Eternal Night are what's best for the world. The only thing they disagree on is who should be in charge.
- Fallen King has Pegasus, who gleefully explains his plan to reshape the world in his image and to his rules.
- Ages Of Shadow:
- Unlike his predecessors as Himinion, Boaz was not content to simply have the Shadow Walkers hide in the shadows and rule over countrysides, worshiping Jade/Yade Khan in secret. Instead, he turned the cult militant, to begin carving out an empire dedicated to Jade's worship and service.
- Brenner wants to gain immortality, not for personal gain but to be able to live long enough to eventually free all of humanity from death.
- Dr. Octavius in Spider-Man 2 refuses to give up his dream of creating fusion-based electricity for "the good of mankind." Too bad his generator always explodes upon activation. And he plans on making an even bigger one when the first one blows up.
- M. Bison in the live action Street Fighter film wants to create a race of genetically-engineered Super Soldiers to wipe out all traces of race, nation and creed so that the whole world can live in peace under his rule.
- The Dark Knight Saga:
"I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve."
- In The Dark Knight, everyone thinks that The Joker is "garbage who kills for money", or just a homicidal maniac who kills for kicks. However, he is adamant he has grander ambitions- he is out to give the city "a better class of criminal" and sees himself as heralding a new age of supervillainy, as well as working to expose the citizens of Gotham as just as bad as he is. He wants to tear away the veneer of civilization and watch everyone abandon the moral order they claim to value so highly.
- Both Ra's Al Ghul and Bane and Talia from the first and third movies qualify, as well. Ra's sees the human race as inherently decadent and corrupt, with the League of Shadows acting to destroy the most significant sources of these sins at their zenith, the current target being Gotham. Considering what we see of the police force and general apathy of the citizens he's not entirely wrong. Bane wishes to complete his vision though more dramatically, including literally showing Gotham how awful it is as even its strides towards peace and order between movies seem to be built primarily on lies and cover-ups. When it shows later that he's merely The Dragon for Talia, and both actually want revenge for what happened to Ra's in the first film, how strong their visions remain and how much they're just used as an excuse to blow up Gotham is called into question.
- Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit made a surprisingly epic speech about his grand Earth-shaking vision of public freeways. His plan does require Toon Town to be wiped out first.
- Magneto wants to create a world safe for mutants by any means necessary.
- Sebastian Shaw from X-Men: First Class, who wants to start World War III so that mutants can take over the planet. Though in his case it's because he's just in it to Take Over the World, with little actual regard for allowing his kind to thrive (he merely uses it as his rhetoric to recruit others). As above, Magneto is much more suited to the trope, even going so far as to applaud Shaw's vision of a mutant-dominated world but in exactly those terms, without the desire to rule over them as their supreme leader.
- In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Trask genuinely believes that uniting humanity against mutantkind is the gateway to creating world peace. Conversely, Magneto has a vision of a world where mutants lord over mankind, which, in his opinion, is the only way they can coexist with humans.
- The Operative from Serenity is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to create a utopia free from sin, for which he commits many atrocities. Interestingly, he knows that there's no place for him in that world.
Jake Gittes: I just wanna know what you're worth. More than 10 million?Noah Cross: Oh my, yes!Jake Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can't already afford?Noah Cross: The future, Mr. Gittes! The future.
- Lex Luthor in the Superman films counts as this to some extent. Even if the goals of his plans (to make himself very rich and/or powerful) are fairly generic, the sheer scale of what he attempts (causing the west coast of America to fall into the sea and building new continents based on Kryptonian technology) is undeniably impressive.
- Star Trek Into Darkness gives us two examples:
- John Harrison/ Khan's speech about how the Augments were created to lead others to peace in a world at war.
- Admiral Marcus, who wanted to create a more militarized Starfleet in preparation for what he believed to be a looming war against the Klingons.
- Strack in Darkman, who bribes politicians, allies himself with gangsters and regularly has people murdered in pursuit of a dream of creating a technologically advanced industrial complex and revitalizing the economy.
- John Kramer, the original Jigsaw killer in the Saw films. After suffering a Trauma Conga Line that culminated in finding out he had brain cancer, he tried and failed to kill himself, but survived and developed a new outlook on life, feeling that most people are wasting their lives. He kidnaps junkies, adulterers, fraudsters, sleazes, and other assorted jerkasses and puts them through brutal tests where they must make a Life-or-Limb Decision and, if they survive, hopefully come away from it with a new appreciation for their lives. He's essentially a self-help guru whose idea of "self-help" involves a severed limb or two.
- Knowing that he doesn't have long to live, he also trains apprentices (mostly people who survived his traps and adopted his worldview) to help him build his traps and procure new people to "test", as well as spread his message far and wide and take up the Jigsaw mantle after his death. Of John Kramer's apprentices, however, only Dr. Gordon can truly be said to have internalized his belief that the "tests" were meant to make the victims into better people. Amanda and Hoffman simply murder people outright with inescapable death traps, viewing most of their victims as irredeemable.
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow has Doctor Totenkopf, disgusted with the world and planning to raze the planet and start over with an Ark of his own design full of animals collected from across the globe. He eventually has a change of heart, but by that time is dying alone on an uncharted island and his robots continue his work without him.
- A variant: In The Protomen's album The Father of Death, Drs. Light and Wily work together on a massive automaton network, ostensibly so that everyone would be safe, secure, and not have to worry about dying on the job. Wily's the one who ultimately gains control of the network, ruining Light's reputation in the process. Light realizes that creating the network was a mistake...
"They've waited so long for this day / Someone to take the death away / No son would ever have to say / My father worked into his grave..." - Dr. Light, The Good Doctor
- Mega Man music projects seem prone to this: one of Wily's goals as told by The Megas is to replace humans with robots, which he believes are superior.
Gamma, stand, for you are now unchainedYou’ll bring peace to a world gone insaneRestoring the freedom to make you wholeI’ll give you power, you take control— "Gamma Unchained"
- "Perfect Villain", a song by Regal Pinion, is about the narrator discussing how he used to be a visionary.
- Grand Admiral Thrawn. All right, in his first-written appearance what he wanted to do was crush the Rebellion and rebuild the Empire in a slightly less evil format than it had previously done, but later-written works and a bit of Arc Welding say that he knew that the Vong were coming. By waging war against the
New RepublicRebel Alliance, he could either crush them and have time to set up the Empire to rebuff the extragalactic invaders, or he'd force them to toughen up to defeat him. Either way, the victors would be far, far less inclined to rely on superweapons or lone heroes (which Thrawn regarded as excessively impractical and romantic, respectively), and much more likely to respond in a truly military manner when the galaxy was threatened again. Covering his bases, he had a clone set up in a secret base of his, just in case. Luke and Mara accidentally killed that clone while fighing off the base's defenses, but in Survivor's Quest they find evidence that very strongly hints that There Is Another, and this time he's not their enemy.
- Given that there has never been a canonical life expectancy for Chiss, people will still be expecting Thrawn to show up long into the future.
- In the Everworld series, most of the villains are short-sighted hedonists who avert this trope, with the definite exception of Senna Wales, who has big plans for Everworld and very definite ideas of what she is going to do to it.
- In the BattleTech novels, Visionary Villain types are quite different than those that amass power for it's own sake. The bigger heroes generally do things for the good of humanity overall, lesser heroes and some villains generally grab power for their own nation or group, and the real big villains are just in it for themselves. Examples:
- Hanse Davion fought several wars against the Draconis Combine and cut the Capellan Confederation in half. He always saw himself as striking against oppressive regimes run by madmen (Which was true, in the case of the Confederation. Debatable in the case of the Combine). He also saw himself, like many Successor State lords before him, as the fittest candidate for the 300-year vacant title of First Lord of the Star League. He was depicted as a scary man to be against, though with good intentions.
- Sun-Tzu Liao was willing to do terrible things, but his foremost goal was rebuilding the Capellan Confederation after Hanse broke it and Sun-Tzu's crazed mother all-but-destroyed the remnants. He was generally depicted as villain and very dangerous, but one who's position was understandable and not nearly as bad as some.
- Subverted and spoofed in tenth entry of A Series of Unfortunate Events - the Bigger Bad duo boast that all their murders, arsons and other atrocities are commited for higher purpose. After being asked by a mook about that purpose, they answer that their purpose is money and personal satisfaction.
- Sauron started out this way, determined to create peace and order on Middle-earth at any cost. Over time, though, he suffered Motive Decay and became a straight-up tyrant (The Dark Side Will Make You Forget is a recurring theme with Tolkien villains). Sauron's path to villainy is later repeated on a smaller scale with Saruman.
- Bigger Bad Morgoth, as well. Back at the very beginning, he just wanted to create a world of his own imagination, and when he found that impossible, settled for wrecking up the world that was actually created.
- Tigerstar, the main villain of Warrior Cats is one. He dreams of ending the constant war and uniting the four Clans as one, entering a new age of prosperity as a result. Of course, his ego makes him believe that he is the one suitable ruler of this combined Clan, and it leads him down a dark path in his struggles to create it. Hawkfrost, Tigerstar's son from the Sequel Series The New Prophecy follows his father's vision, but is just as egotistical as Tigerstar.
- Obould Many-Arrows from The Hunters Blades Trilogy of The Legend of Drizzt is an orc who has realized that the orcish traditional lifestyle of mindlessly raiding and pillaging is why the other races keep driving them back to the brink of extinction, and so he seeks to give them a better life. Using From a Certain Point of View, he convinces the Chaotic Evil orcish patron Gruumsh to empower him, and then uses that power to carve out the first ever orcish kingdom and homeland. And then he stops conquering and settles for actually ruling his empire, showing orcs that there is more prosperity to be had by farming and trading than there is by being ravening hordes. Within a decade, the peace is strong enough that humans and orcs are freely trading, and even voluntarily intermarrying.
- On Heroes, most of the Big Bads (Mr. Linderman, Adam Monroe, and Arthur Petrelli) are Visionary Villains. Linderman is a Dark Messiah whose plan to "heal the world" begins with the destruction of New York City, Monroe is a Misanthrope Supreme who wants to kill off 93% of the human race with a super-virus, and Petrelli is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to use a Super Serum to move the human race up the evolutionary ladder.
- On Heroes Reborn (2015), Big Bad Erica Kravid has foreseen the pending destruction of the Earth by a massive solar flare, and is taking steps to insure human survival by teleporting a select few into the distant future to rebuild the planet. Oh, and she's only planning on saving humans; any Evos taken along are only being taken so that their powers can be harvested and controlled artificially in order to aid in the rebuilding process.
- On Homeland, terrorist mastermind and Big Bad until he was finally killed Abu Nazir had a very long-term plan to eventually destroy Western Civilization, admitting that it might take centuries and many lost lives on both sides but envisioned his side winning in the very long term.
- Season 1 Big Bad Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer has the Undertaking, a plan to "save" the city by destroying the crime-infested Glades, not caring that it will kill hundreds (if not more) in the process.
- Sebastian Blood, The Heavy of Season 2, is a Dark Messiah who wants to use Mirakuru to create an army of Super Soldiers, that he'll then use to destroy the existing elitist society of Starling City so that he can build something better in its place. When he ultimately realizes that his benefactor, Slade, intends to just destroy the whole city as Revenge by Proxy on Oliver, Blood betrays him by giving the heroes the Mirakuru cure, which leads to his death at Isabel's hands.
- Dr. Ivo, the Disc One Final Boss of Season 2's flashback storyline, wants to use the Mirakuru to improve mankind and eliminate disease. And he's willing to experiment on and murder whoever he has to in order to achieve this.
- General Shrieve, the Final Boss of Season 3's flashback storyline, wants to use the Alpha/Omega bioweapon to devastate China, in order to prevent it from becoming a threat to America's political power.
- Khan Noonien Singh of Star Trek was once "the best of tyrants" ruling a quarter of the human population and in the AU story "Seeds of Dissent" (part of the Star Trek: Myriad Universes) presides over the genetic transformation of humanity into a Superior Species after his successful conquest of Earth. In the episode "Space Seed," upon his defeat, he gladly accepts the offer to tame a new world.
- In the Supernatural episode "All Hells Breaks Loose, Part Two" (S02, E22), the Yellow-Eyed Demon is committed to bring about a new era.
Jake: You're talking about the end of the world.Yellow-Eyed Demon: No, not the end— the beginning... a better world, where your family will be protected. More than that. They'll be royalty. Buddy boy, you have the chance to get in on the ground floor of a thrilling opportunity.
- The Last Ship: Both Admiral Ruskov and Amy Granderson, the main antagonists of Season 1, want to use the cure for the Red Flu to control who lives and who dies, in order to guide what kind of world rises from the ashes.
- Sean Ramsey, the Big Bad of Season 2, is utterly convinced that the Flu is God's doing, and that the naturally immune have been chosen to inherit the Earth. To this end, he is organizing as many of the immune around the world under his control as possible, and is killing anyone who opposes him or tries to create a cure.
- Ash vs. Evil Dead: When Ruby reveals herself as the Big Bad in the first season finale, she explains that she wants to use the Necronomicon to unite all the world's various evils under her control and bring order to the chaos.
- Z Nation:
- La Reina, the Queen of the Zeroes Cartel, intends to use the cure for the zombie virus, combined with the vast resources of her cartel (which is basically the only large-scale governing body left in North America post-Zombie Apocalypse), to rebuild society as she sees fit.
- Dr. Kurian, La Reina's resident Mad Scientist, turns out to be an Evilutionary Biologist, who intends to use Murphy as a template to create an entire race of zombie/human hybrids, who will replace both normal humans and zombies (both of which Kurian sees as doomed to extinction).
- The end of Season 2 reveals the existence of ZONA, a safe zone established by the rich and powerful of America before it was overwhelmed by the zombies. Like La Reina, they intend to use the cure and their resources to rebuild society in their image.
- Some leaders in Warhammer 40,000 are fighting for a strengthened humanity able to endure the grim darkness of the far future...united under the eight-pointed star of Chaos. Others, however, just want something, and the difference is often academic if they're offering you up to the Dark Gods or raining siege shells on your city.
- Even the Emperor would have been the visionary villain in almost any other setting, as he waged a galactic and xenocidal war while stamping out freedom of religion in hopes of bringing about a peaceful era afterwards (most pronounced in the story, "The Last Church", where he kills an innocent priest to remove the last remnant of religion on Earth, because he believes religion is incompatible with his vision for humanity's greater future). He's the designated Big Good in this setting because the visionary villains he opposed literally sacrifice babies to summon demons and craft temples out of (sometimes still living) human flesh, etc.
- The Clans in BattleTech count, they see themselves as the chosen descendants of Kerensky, and believe it's their right and destiny to conquer the Inner Sphere and rebuild the Star League. But each of the Clans have conflicting views and they don't always agree on anything, and their rule is simply a caste based military dictatorship which benefits the warrior caste only, and their culture mostly favors Trueborns and treat Freebirths like dirt.
- In Pokémon Live!, Giovanni claims his plan will change the world forever, and his villain songs describe ruling the planet and controlling each day to the point that he'll make the sun shine on him alone.
- Kerghan in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura might be the most well-intentioned and extreme extremist of all. He's traveled beyond the veil of death and knows it as plain fact that the dead eventually do reach a state of perfect tranquility in death. Since he's all too aware of how much the living and the undead suffer, his grand scheme is to permanently sever the mortal ties of every soul in existence. He's quite insane, but there's nothing in the story that indicates that things wouldn't work out exactly as he'd foreseen if given the chance.
- In the end, you have the option of joining him and helping him to kill every living thing in existence. Whether or not this is the bad ending isn't quite made clear.
- BioShock has Andrew Ryan. Some of the other old holdouts down in Rapture count in their respective fields. Though Ryan takes the cake for building an underwater city for purely ideological reasons, going to rather ludicrous ends to preserve it, and fully planning to build it back up to its glory days again even after its become a leaky, ruined mess.
- Sofia Lamb in the second game has opposite goals (the foundation of a collectivist society).
- In Infinite, we have Zachary Hale Comstock and his vision of creating his own heaven in the form of Columbia. And that's nothing compared to what he wants to do to the "Sodom Below"....
- Frank Fontaine had visions of taking over Rapture. After Rapture fell to ruin, he expanded his vision: he wanted to bring ADAM to the world market.
- Kane is probably most famous.
- Played with in that we never find out exactly what his vision (as separate from the visions he presents to his followers) is. Clearly, he has a plan, but it seems to result in wildly different goals between one game and another (exactly what is the connection between Divination and Ascension?).
- In the end his goal was a pretty humble one: to get the heck off of the third rock from the sun and return home.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert: Joseph Stalin believes that it is his sacred mission to make the Soviet Union stretch the entire European continent, launching a war that lasts years and leaves tens of millions dead. He was inspired after he witnessed himself as Europe's sole ruler in a dream.
- In Dragon Age, the Architect in Awakening is explicitly referred to as being this by Velanna after the reveal that his "Evil Plan" was to use Grey Warden blood to sever the Darkspawn's connection to the Archdemon, with the sole intention of granting his brethren intelligence and self-awareness, rather than trying to rule over them. The Warden can admit his plan could lead to peace and can choose to ally with him.
- The Master in Fallout 1. Believes that his Super Mutants are the natural evolution of mankind and the perfect solution to the irradiated, destroyed Wastelands of 22nd-century California.
- Caesar from Fallout: New Vegas. He thinks that the post-apocalyptic earth is proof that democracy has failed, and sets out to unite what's left as a monotheistic dictatorship, replete with slavery, crucifixion and institutionalized sexism (including legally-sanctioned rape). At the game's beginning he's conquered Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, and is poised to take Nevada.
- Benny's goal is revealed to have been to take control of the Securitron Army and overthrow House, allowing him to create an independent New Vegas free from the NCR and Legion. In the Wild Card Ending, the Courier takes up where he left off and proceeds to do just that.
- House as well, although his status as a true villain is rather questionable. House is an enlightened dictator... Sorry, "autocrat" who wants to guide humanity back to the glory of the Pre-War days, and be the economic superpower and financier behind it all. He has no intent to abuse or oppress people, and is more than happy to provide them comfortable lives so long as he's able to strictly control people through his Bread and Circuses and make a profit from them. He also engages in morally dubious acts to gain power, and is ruthless in crushing and eliminating anyone who stands in his way, but operates via a mindset of Pragmatic Villainy. His ultimate goal, however, is to use the combined NCR and Vegas economy to restart a spaceflight program which will allow humanity to begin anew on another planet.
- The Institute in Fallout 4 are a mysterious cabal of scientists descended from the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They see the post-apocalyptic world as a chaotic and uncivilised mess that's beyond saving, so they plan to build a brand new society underground. Unfortunately, they're a lot of the reason why the Commonwealth is a mess, as they kidnap people and replace them with synth copies so they can steal resources from starving wastelanders, murder anyone who finds pre-war technology, sabotage the rise of any attempt by wastelanders to become organised (as this would threaten the Insitute's power) and even created the Commonwealth's super mutants through their cruel experiments. They're all for advancing humanity for the greater good, just as long as it's their idea of the greater good - anything else, they'll otherwise happily smother in the cradle.
- Final Fantasy
- Seymour in Final Fantasy X is a subversion. He thinks he's this because he wants to end the cycle of life and death on Spira. However, the whole party calls bullshit on it because he very clearly enjoys being a horrible bastard and his method of ending said cycle involves killing everyone alive. He doesn't have much of a counter-argument.
- Interestingly, a bit character from the X continuity, Rin, is a more straightforward example. By the time of X-2, the Al Bhed are busily re-introducing robotics and machinery into society. Rin decides that the machines can work in unison better than a human workforce can, but his faulty programming causes them to run amok. (note that this only happens in his scenario; there are four possible culprits, and only two of them are truly malevolent.) When confronted, he gloats that he intends to continue covering up accidents and won't rest until Spira is a fully-mechanized society — presumably with himself at the helm. This is a little chilling since the character had carefully hid his ambition up this point. When Paine called him a jackass for it, he chuckled and claimed that "jackasses are the ones who change the world".
- In the first Geneforge, Trajkov says he is motivated by a desire to emancipate creations such as the Serviles from Shaper slavery and abuse. If you help him use the Geneforge and conquer the world, he does exactly that.
- In Might and Magic Heroes VI Shades of Darkness, Sandro's ambitions go far beyond his previous incarnations' desire to conquer the world (or the continent, at least. Old-verse Sandro was a pragmatic fellow). He wants to use the Power of the Void to kill the dragon gods since he believes the world they created is a prison. Sandro wishes to create new worlds and be free of destiny forever.
- The Illusive Man in Mass Effect. He dreams of a galaxy where humanity is safe and dominant. To accomplish this, all manner of mad science, assassinations, manipulations and implanting himself and nearly all of Cerberus with Reaper implants, sacrificing the whole organization for ultimately nothing are acceptable. He's sometimes described as being both the best and worst humanity has to offer at once.
- From the first game, Saren began as one ( seeing the victory of the Reaper machines as inevitable, he was trying to prove that organics served some constructive purpose, so that there would be a "logical" reason to spare some of them, and thus prevent complete galactic extinction) but the subtle yet continuous Mind Rape inflicted on him prevented him from realising three things; 1. The Reapers were not actually invincible, and it was possible to have a chance against them. 2. The reason for the Reapers purging all advanced life (revealed in the third game) meant that no logical purpose was served by keeping him or any other organics alive. 3. He was completely indoctrinated so it wasn't his vision he was implementing. By the time of the final confrontation he's simply become Brainwashed and Crazy.
- Many Pokémon villains are like this. In Pokemon Ruby And Sapphire, Archie of Team Aqua and Maxie of Team Magma seek to expand the oceans and landmass respectively, believing this will be a good thing for the world; the remakes elaborate on their motivations, explaining that Team Magma's goal is to make room for the further advancement of humankind, while Aqua's is to reclaim the aquatic habitats lost to human industrialization for the sake of Pokémon. Cyrus from Pokemon Diamond And Pearl wants to destroy the world and then re-create it as a world with no emotion, knowledge, or willpower, claiming that these things that make up "spirit" only lead to pain and conflict. Pokémon Black and White have N, who wishes to free all Pokémon and create a world where they won't be enslaved; much of Team Plasma shares that vision with him. Finally, Pokémon X and Y's Lysandre intends to solve global overpopulation and create a "beautiful world" by wiping most of humanity off the map.
- Toyotomi Hideyoshi in his Sengoku Basara incarnation, seeking to unify Japan under his rule and implement a meritocracy based on the rule of the strong, before leading a unified nation to conquer the world.
- The Ur-Quan Kzer-Za from Star Control II believe that enslaving every race they meet is in the service of the greater good. The Kzer-Za are protecting themselves from potential threats in these other races (they had a bad experience) and protecting their slaves from their Omnicidal Maniac cousins and possibly other, more sinister threats as well. Any slaves who resent this treatment just aren't seeing the big picture.
- Starcraft II: Kerrigan claims that this is one of the most important traits to have if a tyrant wants to outsmart his enemies in seconds. Her potential Bastard Understudy has a lot of trouble understanding this.
- The Tales Series tend to be rife with these villains as Big Bads. Yggdrassil from Tales of Symphonia (end Fantastic Racism and the repeating magitek wars by keeping the world in Medieval Stasis while he ascends all the half-elves into 'angels' using exspheres) and Dorian General Grants from Tales of the Abyss ('rescue' a world that is sickeningly dependent on Because Destiny Says So from its eventual destruction by replacing everything in said world with perfect replicas that cannot be predicted in the planet's destiny).
- Jacques the Aldersberg, the Grand Master of the Order in The Witcher.
- Weijuaru of Juathuur uses his position as king — a position the juathuur are never allowed to take — in order to give juathuur deserters a place to be free of Meidar and to find a way to travel to the other worlds the gods have made. When you find out how much of a Control Freak and Manipulative Bastard Meidar is, the "Villain" part gets dropped.
- Redcloak, The Dragon from The Order of the Stick, is motivated by a vision given to him by his God, of goblins being able to be equal to the other races and building their own proper society and civilization instead of scratching out a living in places none of the other races would want to live. And if one potential consequence of the plan to accomplish this is the unmaking of reality as it currently exists, well, it's all for the greater good, right?
- Tarquin as well. He runs a conspiracy to control the three most powerful nations on the Western Continent in order to bring it to peace and himself to absolute power
- Doctor Steel, whose goal is to tear down society and replace it with a Utopian playland, using a mix of propaganda, artwork, buzz saw babies, and albums composed entirely of ridiculously addictive villain songs. And if that doesn't work, he'll just blow everything up.
- Dr. Horrible from Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog had a vague plan to improve the world by taking it over. He even claimed "Murder is beneath me."
- Though his plan is so incredibly ill-defined it's doubtful he really qualifies for this trope. He came up with "anarchy...that I run!" at one point.
- In the Neopets universe, a character named Xandra wants to rule Neopia (the world of Neopets) and have it run by its inhabitants, because she thinks the world's Faeries aren't so reliable. To do this she went as far as to turn them to stone, accidentally unleashed hordes of shadowy creatures, turn most of the heroes to stone, and sent the Faeries' kingdom crashing to the ground.
- From Alfred's Playhouse, Dictator Pickles, born out of Alfred's suppressed pain and misery, dreams of power and to take revenge upon reality, enslaving its inhabitants.
- Skitter of Worm eventually develops into one of these, taking over a city's criminal underworld on the grounds that she can make it run more efficiently and with less violent crimes or drug addictions if she's in charge, and creating alliances with other supervillains that mandate their aid to fight the Endbringers.
- Accord is another example-he became a supervillain so that he could gather contacts and resources to implement his plan to end world hunger-a plan that none of the heroes or governments he proposed it to gave a moment of thought.
- Lord Doom, from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, wants to take over the world because he is a Holocaust survivor, and doesn't want to see another child go through what he went through. Along the way, he plans on improving the health and standards of living for everybody on Earth.
- Whateley Universe: Several, with Dr Diabolik being the most prominent. In seeking his goal of human space migration, intelligence increase, and extended lifespan, he has killed over 17,000 people (most inadvertently as a side effect of his actions, but he is not at all bothered by simply killing opponents when needed).
- Although his vision is not clearly revealed, Chase Young from Xiaolin Showdown fits this trope.
- Nerissa in the animated series and comic W.I.T.C.H., who betrayed her teammates and later attempted to conquer the universe, claiming to seek an end to all war and conflict.
- Avatar The Last Airbender: Fire Lord Sozin wanted to "share the Fire Nation's prosperity with the rest of the world." This ended up involving the betrayal of his best friend, the invasion and colonization of the Earth Kingdom, the (near-)complete genocide of the Air Nomads, and raids against the Water Tribes. (In his deathbed, Sozin regret what he's done.) This "Great March of Civilization" remains the Fire Nation's propaganda, but Sozin's grandson Ozai just wants to rule the world even if it's nothing but ashes.
- In The Legend of Korra (Sequel Series to the above-mentioned Avatar), the main villain of each season is an ideologue of some sort:
- In Book 1, Amon envisions a completely equal world, one without benders, brought about by forcibly purging benders of their 'impurity'. Naturally, in order to ensure maximum fair-mindedness this new world order will be governed by the Equalists, an organization which Amon leads. It turns out that Amon is himself a very powerful waterbender...and still genuinely believes that bending needs to be eliminated from the world.
- In Book 2, Chief Unalaq of the Northern Water Tribe is more than willing to invade the Southern Water Tribe in order to restore spiritual harmony there. His true goal, however, is even more visionary; remove the divide between the spirit and human worlds... by fusing with the spirit of chaos and darkness to effectively rule the world as the Dark Avatar.
- In Book 3, Zaheer is revealed to be the leader of the Red Lotus, a White Lotus splinter group seeking to bring balance and freedom to the world by toppling all governments and permanently ending the Avatar cycle.
- In Book 4, Kuvira set out from Zaofu with the intent of reuniting the Earth Kingdom, and later decides that its obsolete monarchy should be replaced with a more forward-looking government... with her holding absolute power as its Emperor.
- Transformers Prime: Aligned Continuity Megatron. Though he originally wanted to bring an end to the caste system that kept Cybertron infested with political corruption and social inequality, Motive Decay eventually set in and Megatron's new goal became rebuilding Cybertron in his own image where the strong ruled without question.
- Waternoose in Monsters Inc.
- Word Of God explicitly describes Young Justice's version of Vandal Savage as this. As he outlines his own motives in the first season finale, he (and the Light, the organization he founded) intends to make Earth the dominant power in the galaxy by means of implenenting an extreme survival of the fittest philosophy and opposes the Justice League because he feels they promote stagnation.
- In contrast to the rest of the Light, Klarion is in it For the Evulz.
- We see a particularly impressive example in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths: While the Injustice League of the parallell dimension mostly consists of superpowered thugs, Owlman is another creature entirely. Upon finding out about the existence of the multiverse he comes to the conclusion that free will is an illusion as every choice we make is countered in another dimension. He decides that this makes his and everyone else's existence pointless and in the matter of days put together a plan that will let him annihilate all life in all parallell dimensions that exist. He considers this act the only meaningful one he can make as it is truly unique and can only be done once by one being in all the multiverse.