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The most important thing is that the Big Bad [[TheManBehindTheCurtain is just not a significant factor]] if The Dragon is gone. This Big Bad must be much more manageable and less dangerous than their underling, or less likely to make a splash. The Dragon-in-Chief is either the true villain or the star of the show in their own right, and the actual Big Bad ends up relegated to supporting villain status. The Dragon can become the real Big Bad, while the theoretical Big Bad would be moved to the position of the EvilGenius, or for extra irony, be DemotedToDragon.

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Notably, this does not necessarily mean that any story where the BigBad is not much of a ''physical'' threat and can be dispatched with ease once their physically superior Dragon is dispatched is an example of this trope. Plenty of physically weak villains present far greater moral, psychological or other challenges to the hero and their actions drive the character arcs of the protagonists. It is these roles that must be supplanted for a Dragon to truly ascend.

The most important thing is that the Big Bad [[TheManBehindTheCurtain is just not a significant factor]] if The Dragon is gone. This Big Bad must be much more manageable and less dangerous than their underling, or less likely to make a splash. The Dragon-in-Chief is either the true villain or the star of the show in their own right, and the actual Big Bad ends up relegated to supporting villain status. The Dragon can become the real Big Bad, while the theoretical Big Bad would be moved to the position of the EvilGenius, or for extra irony, be DemotedToDragon.
DemotedToDragon.


* ''Film/JohnWickChapter3Parabellum'': Although the Adjudicator drives the plot by being sent by the High Table to deliver the consequences of John's actions as well as those who help him, the assassin hired by the Adjudicator, Zero, does a lot more of the heavy lifting for both the Adjudicator and the High Table.

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* ''Film/JohnWickChapter3Parabellum'': Although the Adjudicator drives the plot by being sent by the High Table to deliver the consequences of John's actions as well as those who help him, the assassin hired by the Adjudicator, Zero, does a lot more of the heavy lifting for both the Adjudicator and the High Table.Table and is the biggest threat confronted by Wick in the film.

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* ''Film/JohnWickChapter3Parabellum'': Although the Adjudicator drives the plot by being sent by the High Table to deliver the consequences of John's actions as well as those who help him, the assassin hired by the Adjudicator, Zero, does a lot more of the heavy lifting for both the Adjudicator and the High Table.

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* Kaecilius serves as the main antagonist of Film/DoctorStrange as he is the clearly the main threat of the movie. But even then, he is little more than a servant to [[EldritchAbomination Dormammu]] who only shows up briefly during the climax.



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* ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars: Occasionally, the lieutenants of designated {{Arc Villain}}s fall into this, the most notable being General Kalani to Sanjay Rash in the Onderon arc. Rash is pathetically inept as a leader, while Kalani is a much more competent and dangerous threat, to the point he could have won the war had the Tandin not undergone a HeelFaceTurn. Once the war is declared lost, Kalani even shoots Rash dead without being ordered.


* ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'': How does a demonic half-godlike spirit with whole nations armies ready to die for him deal with a superior army of mortal men. He simply allows them to win and believe that they took him prisoner in front of their king and pleading loyalty and subservience to him which is only the first step into stroking his ego. Afterwards it is not long before, through useful suggestions and generous doses of flattery, he climbs socially from a defeated and assimilated enemy to the king's most trusted advisor. This spirit was Sauron. He always exemplified in this role because of his understanding of human nature and the flaws that can lead to corruption. He shows why he is called "Sauron the Deceiver" by making the king dependent on him and manipulating him towards certain ruin and damnation.

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* ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'': How does a demonic half-godlike godlike spirit with whole nations and armies ready to die for him deal with a superior army of mortal men. men? He simply allows them to win and believe that they took him prisoner in front of their king and pleading pleads loyalty and subservience to him which is only the first step into stroking his ego. Afterwards it is not long before, through useful suggestions and generous doses of flattery, he climbs socially from a defeated and assimilated enemy to the king's most trusted advisor. This spirit was Sauron. He always exemplified in this role because of his understanding of human nature and the flaws that can lead to corruption. He shows why he is called "Sauron the Deceiver" by making the king dependent on him and manipulating him towards certain ruin by preying on his arrogance and damnation.selfishness. He should know about these better than anyone.



* The drama of ''Emilia Galotti'' by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing centers on the trial of the titular character and her family which is caused by the lecherous prince of Guastalla, Hettore Gonzaga and his obsessive attempts to seduce her. In order to do so he has his conniving chamberlaine Marinelli take matters into his own hands and gives him absolute freedom to act in his stead. Everything that happens afterwards and makes it a tragedy is really Marinelli's doing and the Prince is less than enthusiastic when he finds out that his courtier's schemes include a few dead bodies as the most practical solution to ensuing problems. But... he only protests very weakly and shows just a little resistance towards the more wicked Marinelli which makes his slightly less the villain than the absolutist order that he represents and the ambition of those who wish to get this order on their side.

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* The drama of ''Emilia Galotti'' by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing centers on the trial of the titular character and her family which is caused by the lecherous intentions of the prince of Guastalla, Hettore Gonzaga and his obsessive attempts to seduce her. In order to do so he has his conniving chamberlaine Marinelli take matters into his own hands and gives him absolute freedom to act in his stead. Everything that happens afterwards and makes it a tragedy is really Marinelli's doing and the Prince is less than enthusiastic when he finds out that his courtier's schemes include a few dead bodies as the most practical solution to ensuing problems. But... he only protests very weakly and shows just a little resistance towards the more wicked Marinelli which makes his slightly less the villain than the absolutist order that he represents and the ambition of those who wish to get this order on their side.


** The final villain of the second ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' game does not dirty his own hands, but rather, hires an assassin to carry out his murder plot. The assassin himself is a very gentlemanly and honorable person, which helps tie up the case for Phoenix.
** For most of ''VisualNovel/{{Ace Attorney Investigations|MilesEdgeworth}} 2'', there are two rivals opposing you- the prosecutor Yumichiko Ichiyanagi and the judge Hakari Mikagami. While Ichiyanagi is nominally in charge of the investigation, he's an incompetent idiot whose arguments are usually nonsensical and easy to tear apart unless Mikagami is feeding them to him. She's far more dangerous, both in that she's a whole lot smarter and that she [[InternalAffairs presents more of a threat to Edgeworth]].

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** The final villain of the second ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' game game, [[spoiler:Matt Engarde, does not dirty his own hands, but rather, hires an assassin to carry out his murder plot. The assassin himself is a very gentlemanly and honorable person, which helps tie up the case for Phoenix.
Phoenix]].
** For most of ''VisualNovel/{{Ace Attorney Investigations|MilesEdgeworth}} 2'', there are two rivals opposing you- the prosecutor Yumichiko Ichiyanagi Ichiyanagi/Sebastian Debeste and the judge Hakari Mikagami.Mikagami/Justine Courtney. While Ichiyanagi is nominally in charge of the investigation, he's an incompetent idiot whose arguments are usually nonsensical and easy to tear apart unless Mikagami is feeding them to him. She's far more dangerous, both in that she's a whole lot smarter and that she [[InternalAffairs presents more of a threat to Edgeworth]].


** A lesser example is shown later with [[spoiler:Dynamis actually being the real boss of Cosmo Entelechia. However, Dynamis is still plenty powerful and ''very'' clever, so he realizes he needs to stall Ala Alba from getting to the more dangerous Fate. And succeeds]].

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** A lesser example is shown later with [[spoiler:Dynamis actually being the real boss of Cosmo Entelechia. However, Dynamis is still plenty powerful and ''very'' clever, so he realizes he needs to stall Ala Alba from getting to the more dangerous Fate. And succeeds]].succeeds. He himself is working for the Lifemaker, who spends most of the series being {{sealed|EvilInACan}}]].



* Double subverted with Kawarino from ''Anime/YesPrettyCure5''. While the NonActionBigBad Desparaia ''is'' much powerful than him and he ''is'' loyal to her, Kawarino is the greatest threat to the heroines and he's the most evil and the most competent villain in this season. The only reason why Desparaia [[spoiler:accomplishes her goal]] is because of him, her strongest and most loyal employee. While Kawarino is the most difficult villain the girls have to face in this season, the only things Desparaia does during the GrandFinale is [[spoiler:summoning {{Mooks}}, blocking the attacks with a barrier... and undergoing a '''HighHeelFaceTurn''']]! And that's not only that: [[spoiler:Kawarino ''survives'' the team's FinishingMove]].

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* Double subverted with Kawarino from ''Anime/YesPrettyCure5''. While the NonActionBigBad Desparaia ''is'' much powerful than him and he ''is'' loyal to her, Kawarino is the greatest threat to the heroines and he's the most evil and the most competent villain in this season. The only reason why Desparaia [[spoiler:accomplishes her goal]] is because of him, her strongest and most loyal employee. While Kawarino is the most difficult villain the girls have to face in this season, the only things Desparaia does during the GrandFinale is [[spoiler:summoning {{Mooks}}, blocking the attacks with a barrier... and undergoing a '''HighHeelFaceTurn''']]! '''HighHeelFaceTurn''']]. And that's not only that: [[spoiler:Kawarino ''survives'' the team's FinishingMove]].



* A variation occurs in ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'', as it is revealed later on that Saren is [[spoiler:not actually the BigBad in control of an invincible ship, but the ship Sovereign is the true villain and Saren only its Dragon. To outsiders it would seems that Sovereign is a Dragon in Chief, but they both knew that Sovereign was the master and Saren just his most valuable minion.]] By the time of the sequel, two years of 'verse time later, nobody believes that [[spoiler:Sovereign]] was in charge. Everybody's back to blaming Saren for everything, not seeing the threat that's staring at them.

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* A variation occurs in ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'', as it is revealed later on that Saren [[spoiler:Saren Arterius]] is [[spoiler:not actually the BigBad in control of an invincible ship, but the ship Sovereign is the true villain and Saren only its Dragon. To outsiders it would seems that Sovereign is a Dragon in Chief, but they both knew that Sovereign was the master and Saren just his most valuable minion.]] By the time of the sequel, two years of 'verse time later, nobody believes that [[spoiler:Sovereign]] was in charge. Everybody's back to blaming Saren [[spoiler:Saren]] for everything, not seeing the threat that's staring at them.



* There is an interesting version in ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire''. [[spoiler: Death's Hand is set up from the beginning to appear to be the Dragon-in-Chief, but as it turns out, the Emperor is actually making everyone ''think'' this in order to obfuscate his own agenda.]]

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* There is an interesting version in ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire''. [[spoiler: Death's Hand is set up from the beginning to appear to be as Dragon-in-Chief. Silk Fox believes that Death's Hand is this for her father, Emperor Sun Hai, and that he is the Dragon-in-Chief, but one responsible for all the atrocities committed by the Lotus Assassins. [[spoiler:But, as it turns out, the Emperor is actually making everyone ''think'' this in order to obfuscate his own agenda.agenda. Death's Hand has no free will, it's all her father's doing after all. He is, however, a pawn of [[TreacherousAdvisor Master Sun Li]], [[CainAndAbel his brother]].]]



* In ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire'' Silk Fox believes that Death's Hand is this for her father, Emperor Sun Hai, and that he is the one responsible for all the atrocities committed by the Lotus Assassins. [[spoiler: But, Death's Hand has no free will, it's all her father's doing after all.]]

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* In the Freedom in the Galaxy boardgame, Redjac, the leader of the Imperial Knights, is that - although he takes care to let neither PuppetKing Emperor Coreguya nor his RoyalBrat daughter Thysa Kimbo become aware of it.


The defining feature of a Dragon-in-Chief is that the Big Bad's EvilPlan completely falls apart without them; essentially, the main story ends with the Dragon's defeat. TheHero turns out to be way too much for the Big Bad to handle, and The Dragon is really the only significant threat in their arsenal. At times, The Dragon and The Hero come from the same place, the same (usually violent) world and not the kind of environment in which the Big Bad normally operates. Often ItsPersonalWithTheDragon: The Dragon and The Hero may have heard of each other by reputation, brewing a rivalry between the two, or The Hero might have been after The Dragon to begin with, such as for revenge for a past misdeed. In either case while the Big Bad might stake all their fortune and dreams in the outcome of the fight, The Dragon and The Hero see the Big Bad as nothing more than an annoyance who should stay out of the way. Often the Big Bad's only hope of survival is that these two destroy each other. Sometimes, the only way for a Big Bad to still be the main villain, is for The Dragon to have a HeelFaceTurn though this would still undermine his greater evil persona.

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The defining feature of a Dragon-in-Chief is that the Big Bad's EvilPlan completely falls apart without them; essentially, the main story ends with the Dragon's defeat. TheHero turns out to be way too much for the Big Bad to handle, and The Dragon is really the only significant threat in their arsenal. At times, The Dragon and The Hero come from the same place, the same (usually violent) world and not the kind of environment in which the Big Bad normally operates. Often ItsPersonalWithTheDragon: The Dragon and The Hero may have heard of each other by reputation, brewing a rivalry between the two, or The Hero might have been after The Dragon to begin with, such as for revenge for a past misdeed. In either case while the Big Bad might stake all their fortune and dreams in the outcome of the fight, The Dragon and The Hero see the Big Bad as nothing more than an annoyance who should stay out of the way. Often the Big Bad's only hope of survival is that these two destroy each other. Sometimes, the only way for a Big Bad to still be the main villain, is for The Dragon to have a HeelFaceTurn though (though this would still undermine his their greater evil persona.persona).


** [[MoralGuardians Sheila Broflovski]] is this to Bill Clinton. Although Clinton presides over America during its war against Canada and persecution of Canadian-Americans, he only shows up in a single scene in the entire film, a televised speech where he announces the declaration of war against Canada, the execution date of Terrence and Phillip, and appoints Mrs. Broflovski as his "Secretary of Offense". However, as soon as Clinton makes the announcement, Shelia Broflovski immediately steals the spotlight from him, and when Clinton reminds her that she is Commander-In-Chief, she hits him on national television with no apparent repercussions. Even before her appointment as Secretary of Offense, Mrs. Broflovski was a more plot-relevant antagonist than Clinton, as the founder and leader of "Mothers Against Canada", where she was the one who riled up Americans against Canada in the first place during her VillainSong, "Blame Canada". Unlike Clinton, Mrs. Broflovski was physically present during the FinalBattle, [[spoiler: where she personally kills Terrence and Phillip. After Satan and Saddam Hussein are unleashed, they both hold "her' responsible for enabling their return]].

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** [[MoralGuardians Sheila Broflovski]] is this to Bill Clinton. Although Clinton presides over America during its war against Canada and persecution of Canadian-Americans, he only shows up in a single scene in the entire film, a televised speech where he announces the declaration of war against Canada, the execution date of Terrence and Phillip, and appoints Mrs. Broflovski as his "Secretary of Offense". However, as soon as Clinton makes the announcement, Shelia Broflovski immediately steals the spotlight from him, and when Clinton reminds her that she is Commander-In-Chief, she hits him on national television with no apparent repercussions. Even before her appointment as Secretary of Offense, Mrs. Broflovski was a more plot-relevant antagonist than Clinton, as the founder and leader of "Mothers Against Canada", where she was the one who riled up Americans against Canada in the first place during her VillainSong, "Blame Canada". Unlike Clinton, Mrs. Broflovski was physically present during the FinalBattle, [[spoiler: where [[spoiler:where she personally kills Terrence and Phillip. After Satan and Saddam Hussein are unleashed, they both hold "her' responsible for enabling their return]].



** Rosa Klebb is working for Blofeld in ''Film/FromRussiaWithLove''. Some consider Red Grant, who is also a henchman, to be the main villain of the film as well. The same could be said for Kronsteen. In the book Klebb and Kronsteen are both main villains, and are both working for General G, who is replaced with Blofeld in the film. [[spoiler: Eventually subverted in the film. After Red Grant's death at Bond's hands, Blofeld has Kronsteen casually executed for failure, and Klebb is clearly intimidated by him.]]

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** Rosa Klebb is working for Blofeld in ''Film/FromRussiaWithLove''. Some consider Red Grant, who is also a henchman, to be the main villain of the film as well. The same could be said for Kronsteen. In the book Klebb and Kronsteen are both main villains, and are both working for General G, who is replaced with Blofeld in the film. [[spoiler: Eventually [[spoiler:Eventually subverted in the film. After Red Grant's death at Bond's hands, Blofeld has Kronsteen casually executed for failure, and Klebb is clearly intimidated by him.]]



** Olenna's role as DragonInChief of House Tyrell is played up in the TV adaptation to the extent where most other Tyrells are barely characters once she appears.

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** Olenna's role as DragonInChief of House Tyrell is played up in the TV adaptation to the extent where most other Tyrells are barely characters once she appears. On the military side, Randyll Tarly is Mace Tyrellís top general and is the only commander who dealt a loss to Robert Baratheon.


* In ''TabletopGame/{{Chess}}'', the Queen is the most powerful and active of the chessmen It has the most dangerous, dynamic and far-reaching moves and its capture can be a brilliant coup by the opposing player. Still, the game is not over until the relatively passive King surrenders or is captured.

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* In ''TabletopGame/{{Chess}}'', the Queen is the most powerful and active of the chessmen chessmen. It has the most dangerous, dynamic and far-reaching moves and its capture can be a brilliant coup by the opposing player. Still, the game is not over nor lost until the relatively passive King surrenders or is captured.immobilized via checkmate.


* Grimmel the Grisly from ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragonTheHiddenWorld'', plays this role to the remnants of Drago Bludvist's army. They hire him to deal with Hiccup and the dragons, but it is quite obvious that Grimmel is a much bigger threat than the Warlords who hired him. [[Spoiler: He also backstabs them at the end and they can't do natch about it.]]

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* Grimmel the Grisly from ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragonTheHiddenWorld'', plays this role to the remnants of Drago Bludvist's army. They hire him to deal with Hiccup and the dragons, but it is quite obvious that Grimmel is a much bigger threat than the Warlords who hired him. [[Spoiler: He [[spoiler:He also backstabs them at the end and they can't do natch about it.]]


* Grimmel the Grisly from ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragonTheHiddenWorld'', plays this role to the remnants of Drago Bludvist's army. They hire him to deal with Hiccup and the dragons, but it is quite obvious that Grimmel is a much bigger threat than the Warlords who hired him.

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* Grimmel the Grisly from ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragonTheHiddenWorld'', plays this role to the remnants of Drago Bludvist's army. They hire him to deal with Hiccup and the dragons, but it is quite obvious that Grimmel is a much bigger threat than the Warlords who hired him. [[Spoiler: He also backstabs them at the end and they can't do natch about it.]]


* Grimmel the Grisly from ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragonTheHiddenWorld'', plays this role to the remnants of Drago Bludvist's army. They hire him to deal with Hiccup, and the dragons, but it is quite obvious that Grimmel is a much bigger thread than the Warlords who hired him.

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* Grimmel the Grisly from ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragonTheHiddenWorld'', plays this role to the remnants of Drago Bludvist's army. They hire him to deal with Hiccup, Hiccup and the dragons, but it is quite obvious that Grimmel is a much bigger thread threat than the Warlords who hired him.

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