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1%% Image kept on page per Image Pickin' threads: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1468729137044255700, https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1526407217017703100˛%% Please do not replace or remove without starting a new thread.˛%%˛[[quoteright:350:[[Series/GameOfThrones https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dragon-in-chief_game-of-thrones_6672.jpg]]]]˛[[caption-width-right:350: Power does not always sit on the throne.]]˛˛->''"Any man who must say 'I am the king' is no true king. I'll make sure you understand that when I've won your war for you."''˛-->-- '''Tywin Lannister''', ''Series/GameOfThrones'', "[[Recap/GameOfThronesS3E10Mhysa Mhysa]]"˛˛The Dragon-in-Chief is a version of TheDragon who serves as the BigBad of the story ''in spirit'', even if they’re not technically the one in charge. They're nominally subordinate to [[BigBadWannabe the "real" Big Bad]], but [[HyperCompetentSidekick so much smarter, stronger, more skillful]], just as evil if not more so (and almost always scarier) that it's clear who's really the bigger menace. This character tends to have almost no respect for the Big Bad due to their comparative lack of {{vision|aryVillain}}, [[VillainousValour courage]] or common sense. The Big Bad, for their part, either seriously or fatally overestimates TheDragon's loyalty, or is just too afraid of them to be able to do much. In a nutshell, the Dragon-in-Chief is [[TheHeavy the main villainous driving force behind the plot]], even if they did not initiate it, to the point that the Big Bad is pushed aside or even endangered by them, and rendered less important by comparison.˛˛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 their greater evil persona). ˛˛Because of their disrespect, there are few straight Dragons amongst Dragons-in-Chief: There are those who barely restrain themselves from taking over thanks to their ego and [[TheCreon those who are fine with letting the supposed Big Bad be the nominal superior]] because [[TheManInFrontOfTheMan it is safer and leaves them with more freedom of movement and string-pulling]]. They are either a DragonWithAnAgenda, a more dangerous [[TheStarscream Starscream]], or just a more inevitable DragonAscendant (and don't be surprised if they are DragonTheirFeet). The Dragon With an Agenda type will probably be using the Big Bad for their own ends, working as a mercenary to fund their own projects that usually turn out to be [[EvilerThanThou much more threatening (or interesting) than the Big Bad's goal]].˛˛If one of the other kinds, then they will probably be complaining about how the Big Bad runs things -- typically, they think the Big Bad either lacks ambition, or is just an idiot. These ones are often junior partners in the Big Bad's business: After years of hard (but fun) living as a dangerous felon, they have found themselves steady employment with the Big Bad and hope to take over the business some day or retire on the fortune made from their latest [[EvilPlan Master Plan]]. This is when they start to complain about their master’s unambitious and/or [[PointyHairedBoss just plain incompetent way of running things]], though the Big Bad might retort that their way is from experience and The Dragon's ways will ultimately lead to ruin. [[CassandraTruth Occasionally, their warnings turn out to be right]].˛˛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. ˛˛TheManInFrontOfTheMan is a related, but different trope where the position of the TheDragon as the actual BigBad is kept hidden until TheReveal, thus TheDragon is less likely to act like a true Dragon-in-Chief in order to keep the jig up from the audience as well as the in-universe characters, including the supposed BigBad, [[UnwittingPawn who might not be aware that they are being manipulated]]. The Dragon-in-Chief doesn't need this theatre, making their position as the true BigBad clear from the start.˛˛When a character fills this role because the Big Bad is merely absent from the main story (or simply not as important to the main character), then they are TheHeavy, possibly to a GreaterScopeVillain (if they're operating entirely or almost entirely on their own). In addition, a NonActionBigBad will often have one of these so the heroes will have someone to take on in a fair fight (especially if it’s a {{Video Game|s}} and The Dragon serves as the FinalBoss).˛˛See also HyperCompetentSidekick, SupportingProtagonist and especially the BigBadWannabe, whom Dragons-in-Chiefs (usually) work for. Compare/Contrast DeceptiveDisciple.˛˛[[noreallife]]˛----˛!!Examples:˛˛[[foldercontrol]]˛˛[[folder:Anime & Manga]]˛* Zabuza from ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' is this to Gatou. Gatou may be a billionaire shipping magnate and crime lord, but he stands no chance of defeating Team Kakashi without this badass missing-nin.˛** [[spoiler:Tobi aka [[FallenHero Obito Uchiha]] is this to [[SmugSnake Madara]]. A large part of the plan of Madara is based around Obito and without him, Madara's entire plan completely falls apart. Thus with Madara dead for most of the series (and the 17+ years prior), Obito was the one actually pulling the strings behind Akatsuki and Pain, as well as the person who actually started the war. When Madara resurrected on war, he joins to Obito and forms a BigBadDuumvirate with him. But it did not last long, as Obito [[OutGambitted outsmarts]] Madara by becoming the Ten-Tails Jinchuuriki and displacing him [[BigBadWannabe in a second plan]]. And as written in the trope description, Madara became the main villain again ''only after'' Obito was defeated and had a HeelFaceTurn.]]˛** [[spoiler:Black Zetsu is this to Kaguya. This genius planner and devoted minion/son spends millennia manipulating the entire ninja world in order to enact the plans necessary for Kaguya to return. Even after she regains her original form, Black Zetsu has to handle most of the planning, with her having barely any idea how to strategize against the heroes without him. And as if to prove this stance further, after the heroes succeed in sealing Kaguya away, Naruto makes sure to hunt Black Zetsu down and seal him in the new moon as well in order to prevent him from resurrecting Kaguya at a later point and to end her threat once and for all.]]˛* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'':˛** Chigusa has been implied to have been a simple pawn; even her actual dragon was defeated by an overpowered Vampire [[BigDamnHeroes arriving on scene]]. The arc was effectively over with the defeat of Fate Averruncus.˛** 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. He himself is working for the Lifemaker, who spends most of the series being {{sealed|EvilInACan}}]].˛* This is common in ''Anime/DragonBallZ'':˛** Majin Buu is more or less this to Babidi; though in a subversion, since he starts out as an overgrown baby, Buu takes a while to realize how little power Babidi has, and quickly kills him when he does. Majin Vegeta might also counts, and he ''does'' realize that Babidi is inferior, and almost ignores him when he turns on him and instead focuses on stopping Buu.˛** Before Buu there was Dabura. Unlike Vegeta and Buu, he remained loyal to Babidi until his dying breath, even trying to warn Babidi that a demon like Buu wouldn't remain loyal to him. Of course, Babidi didn't listen.˛** Dr. Gero is inferior to (and killed by) his android creations, though his [[TheDragon Dragon]] Cell never meets him, as Gero dies before he wakes up. Cell expresses admiration for Gero for being so smart as to create him, but it's reasonable to assume that, if Gero were alive, that would probably not have saved him.˛** In the Red Ribbon Army, there's Officer Black, who is much more competent and threatening (and has more morals) than Supreme Commander Red. When he finds how petty the wish Red planned with Dragon Balls, making himself taller, he kills him. And as a subversion there is General Blue, who in between his skills as a commander and his vast martial arts prowess ''could'' probably overthrow their chain of command if he desired, but instead displays nothing but complete obedience.˛** Frieza was also this to his father, King Cold. Not only was he a more talented warrior,he was also the public face of their empire and the one whose status as TheDreaded [[SwordOfDamocles kept their servants in line.]]˛** For most of his first appearance, Broly is under mind control from his much weaker father Paragus, who led the Z Fighters to the planet to fight his son. When Broly is freed, [[SelfMadeOrphan he quickly disposes of him]].˛* ''Anime/{{Hellsing}}'': In the 2001 Creator/{{Gonzo}} the BigBad is a vampire named Incognito. Although he allegedly has a superior, that character is [[TheGhost never seen]] and Incognito acts very autonomously. Additionally, he supplies the big threat to Hellsing as after [[spoiler:he's killed in the climax, a blurb of text is given to let the audience know his master was caught and silenced]].˛* ''Manga/OnePiece'':˛** Rob Lucci is the Dragon-in-Chief to Spandam, since despite being leader of the CP 9 Spandam is vastly inferior to Lucci (and the rest of his team), and it is Lucci that Luffy ultimately has to defeat to secure a proper victory.˛** Eric the Whirlwind serves this role for Commodore Nelson Royal, as well as being a Starscream. Nelson Royal is an extremely fat man who can't even walk anymore - though apparently he's at least reasonably competent at naval warfare, and hires Eric the Whirlwind to do his dirty work, since they share the same goal. By the end, Eric [[spoiler:kills Nelson]].˛** One could argue that Admiral Akainu is this. Though he's considered the main antagonist of the Marineford Arc, he was still under Fleet Admiral Sengoku's orders. Nevertheless, he causes the most damage to Whitebeard and his allies, from deceiving Squad, to [[spoiler: provoking and killing Ace]].˛*** Akainu and Sengoku are an interesting case. Both are extremely powerful and dangerous antagonists (and it's anybody's guess who's the stronger of the two), but if Akainu is more dangerous, it's because Sengoku is [[GoodIsNotNice ruthless]] [[HeroAntagonist but ultimately on the side of good despite opposing the Straw Hats]], whereas Akainu is [[AxCrazy completely psychotic]] and [[GeneralRipper without remorse]] (not that Akainu doesn't [[KnightTemplar think he's good]]).˛*** After the timeskip, Sengoku retires and Akainu is promoted to Fleet Admiral, but he's still a Dragon-In-Chief. Now it's to the Five Elder Stars, the ruling council of the World Government, who don't bother getting involved in the wars fought on their behalf and whose ability to put up any sort of fight is completely unknown. Given that Akainu is a [[AxCrazy madman]] and [[PersonOfMassDestruction basically a walking volcano]], it's likely that even if they can fight he's still more dangerous than all five of them combined.˛** During the beginning of the series, several people in-universe thought that Zoro was Luffy's Lancer-in-Chief, not knowing how powerful Luffy actually was...and seeing the former's serious and ruthless demeanor when compared to the latter's behavior as IdiotHero whenever he's not angry.˛** The World Nobles are the Chiefs to the Marine's dragon, while the Marines as a whole are a HeroAntagonist, they're still at the beck and call to the Nobles, who are the epitome of cruel and evil (slaveholding and genocide being among their crimes) and set draconic laws for which the punishment is death, all while hiding behind immunity from justice for their deeds because their ancestors were the ones who civilized their world. Assaulting (or just angering) a world noble immediately makes you one of the greatest enemies of the law even if the reason for it was an unambiguously good deed [[spoiler: as Luffy learned when he punched out a celestial dragon at a slave auction]].˛* Younger Toguro from ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' is the man who drives the plot and everything behind the whole [[TournamentArc Dark Tournament saga]], but he is in all reality just the unstoppable muscle of Sayko. Even Sayko admits it, as his ultimate goals are almost completely unrelated to the main character conflicts.˛* ''Manga/SailorMoon'' has a few:˛** ''Sailor Moon R'': [[TheFaceless Wiseman]], Prince Diamond's Dragon, was actually TheManBehindTheMan. Oh, and he's an {{Omnicidal|Maniac}} EldritchAbomination too.˛** ''Sailor Moon S'': [[DimensionLord Pharaoh 90]], despite being an EldritchAbomination, is [[SealedEvilInACan completely helpless]] until its Dragons [[MadScientist Professor Tomoe]] and [[TheAntiChrist Mistress 9]] free him. Actually both Tomoe and Mistress 9 also count: Tomoe lacks any combat skills, and going OneWingedAngel in the SeasonFinale (with AwesomenessByAnalysis no less!) didn't even slow Uranus and Neptune down. Mistress 9 (before she's PoweredByAForsakenChild) can't even [[GrandTheftMe control the host body]] of an IllGirl.˛* In ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'', it seemed that Shinomori Aoshi was this; once Kenshin arrived on the scene, he began openly disrespecting Kanryuu, the real BigBad. He proves to be Kenshin's biggest challenge and nearly kills him. However, Kanryuu manages to get ahold of a [[GatlingGood Gatling gun...]] And for once in shonen, guns ''aren't'' [[GunsAreWorthless worthless]].˛* Amshel of ''Anime/BloodPlus'' is the ''de facto'' leader of [[BigBad Diva's]] [[QuirkyMinibossSquad Chevaliers]], and he's the one who engineered the events which allowed Diva to become a threat in the first place. He's smarter, more ambitious, and more level-headed than Diva is. But being a Chevalier, he doesn't have the kind of unique, raw ability that Diva possesses, so he puts up a facade of subservience while manipulating Diva and his fellow Chevaliers into getting him what he wants. Diva isn't bothered by any of this because she just doesn't care about such larger schemes. Nor does [[spoiler:Nathan]], the only Chevalier who's explicitly more powerful than Amshel.˛* By the time ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'' has gotten started, [[TheEvilPrince Gihren Zabi]] has usurped control of Zeon from his father, Degwin. He's isolated his father from the people, cut him out of the running of the war, and turned him into little more than a [[PuppetKing figurehead]]. When [[TheStarscream Gihren]] decides he has become a liability, Degwin dies a horrible death by WaveMotionGun.˛** In ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam0083StardustMemory'', Anavel Gato is this to [[GreaterScopeVillain Admiral Delaz]] and the Delaz Fleet.˛* ''Anime/StrainStrategicArmoredInfantry'' has Ralph Werec, the protagonist's [[BrokenPedestal once-idolized]] [[CainAndAbel brother]] and the best pilot either side of the war has ever had, and Vivian Medlock, the immediate superior he's got around his finger. Ralph is clearly Medlock's {{Dragon}} for much of the series, but he, not her, is always presented as the main antagonist. [[spoiler:Ralph ultimately leads the FinalBattle, while Vivian [[AlasPoorVillain gets screwed over]].]]˛* 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]].˛** Kawarino was also responsible for [[spoiler:the invasion and destruction of Palmier Kingdom, the homeplace of the mascots. And he's pretty much responsible of enslaving its inhabitants]].˛** In ''Anime/SmilePrettyCure'', Joker plays this role. While he is technically just the highest-ranking subordinate to the BigBad Pierrot, Pierrot spends almost the entirety of the series in a dormant state, and doesn't show much in the way of personality the two times he's active. Joker, meanwhile, is the one who spends the whole time running around, directing Pierrot's other minions, hatching schemes, displaying [[VileVillainSaccharineShow gleeful sadistic cruelty to both the Cures and to his own allies]], and doing his best to make the Cures' lives a living hell. [[spoiler:He even goes out on his own terms rather than being vanquished by the heroines]].˛* Ru-Kain from ''Anime/BlueCometSPTLayzner''.˛* Legato to Million Knives in ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'', Legato proving to be more badass and actually manages to [[spoiler: drive [[ThouShaltNotKill Vash]] into killing him]]. This is especially true in the anime since it ended before it go around to the points where Knives got more active [[spoiler: after Legato's death]], in which Legato can be considered the anime's actual BigBad with Knives as a distant GreaterScopeVillain.˛* Mard Geer of the dark guild [[OurDemonsAreDifferent Tartaros]] in ''Manga/FairyTail'' is the ''de facto'' guild master, yet he's actually the TheDragon to [[TheDreaded Master E.N.D.]] However, [[GreaterScopeVillain E.N.D.]] is currently sealed within his [[TomeOfEldritchLore Book of Zeref]], which is the entire goal of the arc: Mard intends to revive his master and return to the role of [[TheDragon Dragon]], and he is utterly devoted to the goal, even willing to [[TheMagicGoesAway destroy all the magic in Earthland]] just so he can remove the seal on the book. [[spoiler:After the fall of Tartaros and Mard's death and failure, however, [[BigBad Zeref]] reveals that in reality E.N.D. [[DecoyLeader was never really Tartaros' leader]]. Mard Geer had found E.N.D.'s book and used it as the rallying point for the other demons to follow his leadership alongside his power. The plan to awaken the most powerful Etherious was still legitimate to gain his aid in killing Zeref, however.]]˛* [[SmugSnake Quattro]] to [[BigBad Dr. Scaglietti]] in ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikerS''.˛* [[spoiler: [[BigBad Claude Faustus]]]] from ''Anime/BlackButler''. Although [[DecoyProtagonist Alois Trancy]] is introduced as the main villain of season 2, it is soon revealed that he is simply [[spoiler: a way for Claude to steal Ciel's soul.]]˛* ''Manga/TailStar'': The Black Queen might be a PhysicalGod with the power to destroy any country instantly ''using her bare tentacles'', but it's clear from her hysterical paranoia and periods of collapse that her calm and mysterious second-in-command is running the planet.˛* Team Rocket's Mimikyu is rare case of a Pokemon acting as this in [[{{Anime/Pokemon}} the anime series]]. It's by far their most competent and sinister capture, able to match and routinely overpower Ash's Pikachu. While Mimikyu voluntarily joined the TerribleTrio however, it only joined out of [[BerserkButton it's vendetta with Pikachu]], otherwise it fights independently and even ignores Jessie's commands altogether when not facing an opponent it is interested in. Like Team Rocket's other Pokemon however, EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas, and after a while it started to bond with Jessie and obey her in select circumstances.˛* ''Anime/FlintTheTimeDetective'': Officially, the Dark Lord is the BigBad and the cause of the Time Shifters being lost in time. But he spends nearly the entire series in the Land of Dread, not getting involved in the action himself, resulting in Petra Fina, his Dragon, to be the villain who actively takes on the protagonists and causes most of the conflicts they face.˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Comic Books]]˛* The ComicBook/RedSkull was this to [[UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler Hitler]] towards the end of the Reich. Especially in [[WesternAnimation/TheAvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes certain versions]] of the Marvel Universe that refer to World War II as a war against ''Hydra'' instead of Nazi Germany.˛* [[EvilutionaryBiologist Hermann]] [[LosingYourHead von]] [[OmnicidalManiac Klempt]] provides an interesting variation on this in ''ComicBook/{{Hellboy}}: Conqueror Worm''. While he's still under the control of [[TheManBehindTheMan Rasputin]], whom he believes to be the Angel of Death, and is following the latter's gameplan to the letter, he is still the ''de facto'' BigBad of the story. This is due to [[DarkMessiah Rasputin]] having been reduced to an impotent ghost; when Von Klempt is slain, he can't step in and fix things. The heroes actually believe Von Klempt to be the BigBad, and never find out about Rasputin's [[HijackedByGanon involvement]].˛* ''Comicbook/TeenTitans'': ˛** Terra was this to Slade in "ComicBook/TheJudasContract" story. Slade barely had to lift a finger while Terra did most of the work bringing down the Titans. The moment she turned against him, he knew his plan was screwed.˛** When the Fearsome Five were under [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain Doctor Light]]'s leadership, Psimon fit the bill perfectly.˛* Lord Hebi (a giant snake!) fills this role in ''ComicBook/UsagiYojimbo''.˛* Thulandra Thuu in ''[[ComicBook/ConanTheBarbarian King Conan]]'', as the adviser of King Numidides.˛* Prometheus is this to ComicBook/LexLuthor in the ''Franchise/{{J|usticeLeagueOfAmerica}}LA'' "World War III" arc. Prometheus is a vastly superior combatant to Luthor, his intellectual peer, and implied to have been the one who came up with the EvilPlan to begin with, but he lets Luthor think he's in charge because the scheme depends on [=LexCorp=]'s resources and Luthor's connections in the supervillain community.˛* Often happened in ''Franchise/TheAdventuresOfTintin'':˛** In ''Recap/TintinTintinInTheCongo'', the villain, Tom, is a henchman of UsefulNotes/AlCapone, who would only appear in the next adventure.˛** In ''Recap/TintinTheBlueLotus'', Mitsuhirato is working for series BigBad Rastopopolous.˛** In ''Recap/TintinTheBlackIsland" Müller appears to be working for Puschov.˛** In ''Recap/TintinKingOttokarsSceptre'' Musstler is working for Kurvi Tasch. The same applies to Sponsz in ''Recap/TintinTheCalculusAffair'' and probably Miller in ''Recap/TintinDestinationMoon'' and ''Recap/TintinExplorersOnTheMoon'', although Tintin never comes into contact with Kurvi Tasch himself. ˛** Chiquito is arguably the main villain of ''Recap/TintinTheSevenCrystalBalls'' and ''Recap/TintinPrisonersOfTheSun'' as his Inca boss is far more agreeable, albeit only after Tintin has tricked him.˛* In ''ComicBook/NewKrypton'' ComicBook/LexLuthor plays this role to General Sam Lane. Lane is in charge of the Human Defense Corps, but his plans only work because he has Luthor's technical know how and supervillain experience. Remove Luthor from the equation, and the entire plan falls apart.˛* In issues 5 to 8 of ''ComicBook/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicIDW'', the Commander of the [[DarkIsEvil Nightmare Forces]] is technically [[spoiler:[[DemonicPossession Nightmare]] Rarity]], but the one who is responsible for her creation and the true BigBad is the provisional leader of the Nightmare Forces - [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Shadowfright]].˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Fan Works]]˛* The BigBad of ''Fanfic/EbonyDarknessDementiaRavenWayVsCanon'' is [[Fanfic/MyImmortal Tara Gilesbe]], but Jenny is far smarter and far more dangerous than Tara can ever hope to be.˛* Played with in ''FanFic/TheImmortalGame''. [[BloodKnight General Esteem]] is a much more serious threat than his direct superior Prince Empyrean who, despite being a PhysicalGod, is a RoyalBrat HarmlessVillain. When Empyrean is finally confronted by the Mane Six, he goes down easily, as opposed to Esteem, who is fought multiple times and is ultimately only defeated for good when Twilight Sparkle [[spoiler: taps into the full power of the Elements of Harmony and becomes a PhysicalGod herself]]. On the other hand, Esteem's ''real'' master, Empyrean's father Titan, is far and away more dangerous than any other character in the story; even his avatars are magnitudes more powerful than Esteem.˛* [[UnfortunateNames Gumdrop Giggles]] from ''FanFic/DuelNature'' is vastly more threatening than her supposed boss. Especially once she [[spoiler:murders him to unseal the SealedEvilInACan]]˛* [[GeneralRipper General-Admiral Makarov]] from the Shining Armor Arc of the ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries''. While he's [[TheDragon just the leader of the military]] serving Father Deer, the Hooviets' alleged GodEmperor, Makarov is the de facto BigBad for the arc, considering he's an extremely powerful SuperSoldier directly out for Shining Armor's blood. On top of this, it's stated he's playing his higher ups as his pawns and [[spoiler:is actually an [[HumanoidAbomination Equinoid Abomination]] called the Shadow of Chernobull who [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor is granting the Hooviets' desires for a]] SuperSoldier and world domination]]. In fact [[spoiler:it turns out that Father Deer actually doesn't exist, being a fabrication by the Hooviet Empire to cover up the existence of their true deity, Mother Deer, who's disgusted with them and leading LaResistance against them]].˛* ''Fanfic/HardBeingPure'' : Despite Haeten being the de-facto leader, it's Astrex who's the driving force behind Blue Moon's operations. Not only are her powers fit for reconnaissance, she is deadly enough that [[spoiler:Phobia's]] plan hinges on disabling her as fast as possible.˛* ''FanFic/QueenOfAllOni'': Flashbacks to Tarakudo's rebellion show that [[NobleDemon Hiruzen]] was this to the [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Oni Elders]]. Hiruzen was so strong and skilled that Tarakudo only defeated him because Ikazuki defied orders and intervened in their duel to help him; the Elders, on the other hand, were so decrepit that Tarakudo [[CurbStompBattle easily]] killed them.˛* ''FanFic/QueenOfShadows'': The Yojimbo is this to the Queen of the Shadowkhan. While there have been six Yojimbos and 98 Queens (counting the one Jade has replaced), this has always been the case -- the Queens are inherently [[NonActionBigBad physically weak]], being meant to rule and [[MookMaker create new Shadowkhan]], while the males are fighters (with their abilities varying between them, but always being vastly more skilled than the Queens).˛* ''FanFic/{{Hachin}}'': Bataar's [[CainAndAbel half-brother]] [[PsychopathicManchild Unegan]] is the main villain of the story, but the far greater threat is the ghoul that he summons to do his will. [[spoiler: And it turns out to be the one [[TheManBehindTheMan calling the shots]].]]˛* ''FanFic/{{Webwork}}'': Tarakudo is more powerful than [[FallenHero Jade]] is, even in her [[SpiderPeople Jorogumo]] form. However, due to still being [[SealedEvilInACan sealed]], he's utterly reliant on her to do anything in the mortal world. Ms Hartman is quick to lampshade this in her TheReasonYouSuckSpeech to him, pointing out that he needs Jade more than she needs him, and that the day she realizes that, Tarakudo will be left with nothing.˛* In ''[[Fanfic/ChildOfTheStorm Ghosts of the Past]]'', [[GeneralRipper General Lukin]] is the official head of the Red Room. However, everyone (including Lukin himself) is aware that the true brains of the operation is his resident EvilGenius [[spoiler: Sinister]], who is also the most literally powerful person in the whole organisation, save for [[spoiler: Maddie]], who's firmly on his leash; the only reason he doesn't take official control is that he doesn't want to.˛* In ''Fanfic/TheNewAdventuresOfInvaderZim'', Zim gains a new ally in the [[OurVampiresAreDifferent vampire]] Norlock, who quickly becomes his chief minion. He happens to be much physically stronger, smarter, and more [[EvilerThanThou outright malevolent]] than Zim is, to the point it's clear the only reason he's not taking charge is because he's content to play EvilMentor and guide Zim towards being a greater villain. [[spoiler: When he ultimately gets fed up, however, [[TheStarscream he turns on Zim]] and nearly kills him.]]˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Films -- Animation]]˛* In ''Disney/AladdinTheReturnOfJafar'', Jafar plays this in an incredibly obvious version of this trope as Abis Mal's genie. He curtails any authority Abis Mal may have had with JackassGenie tactics and threats of giving him a FateWorseThanDeath, and sets up the whole plan to best Aladdin himself. He knew how to be this all too well from being the Sultan's second-in-command for a big part of his life. In most of the first film he had almost complete control over the kingdom by hypnotising the Sultan and being more actively in charge of running the kingdom. But the Sultan was not malevolent so Jafar wasn't a full example then and he was too egotistical to accept being the hidden power for too long anyway.˛* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyTheMovie2017'', Tempest Shadow is working for the Storm King, and on top of being a more serious antagonist than her boss, she's the more immediate threat to the ponies. That said, the Storm King is competent enough that he was able to conquer most of the world outside Equestria before Tempest joined his ranks, and he becomes a legitimate threat when [[spoiler:he gets the Staff of Sacanas working and, perhaps out of savviness to this trope, effectively backstabs Tempest]].˛* ''WesternAnimation/{{Planet 51}}'': General Grawl is this to Professor Kripple.˛* Nigel from ''WesternAnimation/{{Rio}}''. While his owner still drives the plot to some degree, Nigel is the more direct threat and far more menacing and evil than the poacher he's working for.˛* ''WesternAnimation/SouthParkBiggerLongerAndUncut'':˛** UsefulNotes/SaddamHussein was more or less this to ''Satan''. They are in a homosexual relationship, and Satan calls him his partner in evil, with Saddam emotionally abusing him and comes out as the main antagonist of the film. When the boys hear Saddam Hussein and Satan are coming to Earth, the boys seem more scared of Saddam. When Saddam and Satan finally arrive on Earth, Saddam tells Satan that he's better seen and not heard. Of course abusing ''Satan'' only goes so far, and he gets a very nasty end for it.˛** [[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]].˛* 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.]]˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]˛* The ''Film/JamesBond'' film series:˛** The title character of ''Film/TheManWithTheGoldenGun'', Francisco Scaramanga. He's the world's premier assassin but in the film he has started to work with CorruptCorporateExecutive Hai Fat in their plot to sell stolen solar tech. He's obsessed with 007 and thrilled when their paths cross (since he hopes to duel him to the death), but gets tired of Hai Fat, who freely admits to being out of his league with the secret agent. Ultimately he kills Fat and steals the tech (and his company), only to be unceremoniously shot by Bond by the end of the film.˛** 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.]]˛** Auric Goldfinger is this to Red China in ''Film/{{Goldfinger}}''. He is helping them destroy Fort Knox to bring economic chaos to the west, but he is really only cares about making his own gold more valuable, and he even kills Mr. Ling, his Chinese ally.˛** Blofeld himself is this in ''Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice'' to what is implied to be Red China. He has been hired by them to help them start World War III and [[TakeOvertheWorld take over the world]], but they need Blofeld's genius and power over SPECTRE to carry out the plan. But Blofeld makes it ''explicitly clear'' who's actually calling the shots.˛** Renard to Elektra King in ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough''.˛* Doctor René Belloq to Colonel Herman Dietrich in ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk''.˛* Cyrus Grissom is this to drug lord Francisco Cindino in ''Film/ConAir.'' Cindino is Grissom's employer, but Grissom is the only prisoner on board with a gun, and is the main authority figure Amongst the escaped convicts. When Cindino betrays him, Grissom executes him and becomes the [[BigBad Big Bad]] proper.˛* In ''Film/{{Shane}}'', the titular character warns his friend that gunslinger Jack Wilson is more dangerous than his boss, Rufus Ryker.˛* Frank from ''Film/OnceUponATimeInTheWest'' may be the UrExample. He's a cold blooded killer who is now working as muscle for a crooked (he's handicapped) railroad mogul who has a dream of expanding out West (so he can see it) - the violent Frank makes it clear to his face he wants to take over the business and doesn't care about his bosses' dreams. Their plans hit a snag when they have to get rid of a widow with land and a house in the way of the track. She is defended by a mysterious harmonica playing cowboy who, it turns out, is really after Frank. Cue epic western masterpiece. Subverted somewhat though, in that the BigBad is able to [[spoiler:convince all of Frank's men to betray him in exchange for money, and would have succeeded in having him assassinated were it not for the hero's interference]].˛* Ramon Rojo is this to his elder brother Miguel in ''Film/AFistfulOfDollars''. Miguel is the Don of the family, but Ramon is a much more dangerous fighter, and is the true power of the family. ˛* In ''Film/{{Scarface 1983}}'', Tony Montana briefly acts as this to small time drug lord Frank. Tony wants to change supplier and expand the business; Frank thinks small is safe and warns Tony that ambitious guys in their trade tend to meet bad ends. When Tony sets up his own operation Frank sends guys to kill him - it doesn't work out, and Tony lets him know how he feels about things like that. The same thing happed between Tony Camonte and his boss Johnny in ''Film/{{Scarface 1932}}''.˛* ''Film/TheDarkKnightTrilogy'':˛** ComicBook/TheJoker in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' offers to work as a professional TheDragon for the mob to take out Franchise/{{Batman}}, but he really wants to use their money to bring chaos to the streets and become Batman's archenemy. He doesn't think highly of the mob and believes the city deserves a better class of criminal... so he takes over. In a decidedly hostile way.˛** Bane is this to [[CorruptCorporateExecutive John Daggett]] in ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'', carrying out the latter's plans for usurping Wayne Enterprises but being far more imposing than him, [[spoiler:and once Bane has full control of Daggett's resources, [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness he disposes of Daggett altogether]]. He also has shades of this for Talia al Ghul, in full charge of the plan to disrupt and destroy Gotham while she remains [[TheMole hidden]], though it's possible they are [[BigBadDuumvirate equal partners]] rather than Bane being fully subservient to Talia]].˛* In the Martin Lawrence film ''Film/BlackKnight'', Percival (played by Vincent Regan) is this. He's the only one who distrusts TheHero early on (King Leo trusts him completely), and he's the final enemy who's defeated at the end of the movie. [[spoiler:During the rebellion, he kills King Leo out of annoyance for his cowardice]].˛* 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.˛* Bill "The Butcher" Cutting from ''Film/GangsOfNewYork'' works as TheDragon for Tammany Hall's [[HistoricalDomainCharacter Boss Tweed]], but that doesn't mean their views don't clash. The Butcher doesn't much like that Tweed keeps wanting to bring in these "foreign hordes" of Irish workers, while Tweed thinks Cutting's semi-racist views are outdated. But while Tweed might be the Mayor, it is Cutting who runs the gangs and therefore Cutting who has the monopoly on violence. As [[TheHero Hero]] Amsterdam is on a mission of vengeance against the Butcher and since Tweed is merely corrupt, and not murderous, Cutting serves as the main villain of the story. The cagey Tweed manages to outlive him and survives the film.˛** Tweed wasn't even mayor - as the Boss of Tammany Hall, the main Democratic Party institution of New York City, he was himself a bit of a Dragon in Chief to the Mayor and actual elected officials in the city. At the time of the film's setting, he not only wielded the most political influence in the city, but also was one of the largest landowners, and was a director for railroad, banking, printing, and hotel companies. Effectively, he controlled the city completely during the height of his power, despite not holding any elected government position. ˛* Tommy [=DeVito=] and Jimmy Conway to Paul Cicero in ''Film/{{Goodfellas}}''.˛* Hitman Benedict in ''Film/LastActionHero'' is this to mob boss Tony Vivaldi. He hates his boss for his stupidity and especially for his [[{{Malaproper}} idiotic quips, which often make no sense]]. Benedict kills him halfway through after Vivaldi's plan fails (which he blames entirely on Vivaldi) and uses the magic ticket to start an inter-dimensional crime spree.˛* Though [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Parker Selfridge]] is the nominal leader of the human forces in ''Film/{{Avatar}}'', the main antagonist of the film is [[BloodKnight Colonel Quaritch]], who runs his mercenary army exactly how he wants to and ultimately becomes the real power in the operation -- and it's clear they both know it. About the only things that keep Selfridge in place are the fact that he's paying, and that Quaritch can't be bothered with the administrative details. At the end of the movie, [[spoiler:Quaritch is killed in an epic battle, while Selfridge is subsequently shipped off-planet with a minimum of fuss]].\˛A deleted scene made this explicit. In it, Selfridge threatens to terminate Quaritch with a phone call to Earth. Quaritch, who is ''much'' larger than Selfridge, grabs his nominal superior and points out that Earth is a very long way away. The scene was probably cut from theatrical because this dynamic was already extremely obvious.˛* ''Franchise/StarWars'':˛** {{Word of|God}} Creator/GeorgeLucas is that Darth Vader was [[WhatCouldHaveBeen intended to be this early on]] (possibly sharing the spot with other Imperial officers). Traces of this remain as late in the game as the ''Film/ANewHope'' novelization, which describes TheEmperor as a weak-willed man controlled by ambitious underlings. The actual movies as released, however, make it plain that while Vader is incredibly powerful and evil, the Emperor is worse on every imaginable scale.˛** The original movie, in which the Emperor does not appear, displays the trope in a more straightforward manner. Moff Tarkin is Vader's nominal superior, and Vader has at least a little respect for his authority (the [[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse Expanded Universe]] later establishes they really are old friends, like Tarkin indicates), Tarkin is far less of a threat.˛** In the prequel trilogy, it was strongly implied that Darth Vader was initially well on his way to becoming this when he first joined the dark side: his powers were growing so rapidly that even The Emperor himself theorized that Vader would soon eclipse his own abilities and potentially [[TheStarscream overthrow him]]. However, after Vader suffered his near-fatal injuries on Mustafar (including having all of his natural limbs amputated), his powers with the Force were greatly reduced and he was never able to exceed the Emperor's skills again.˛* In ''Film/IronMan2'' Ivan Vanko is recruited by Justin Hammer as the only one who knows how to mimic Tony Stark's Iron Man tech. But he constantly berates Hammer for the quality of his Iron Man knockoffs and at the end of the film [[spoiler:he takes control of Hammer's battle drones and becomes the final villain]].˛* Simon Phoenix is this in ''Film/DemolitionMan'', until he's finally [[DragonAscendant had enough]] of Dr. Cocteau. While Cocteau programs Phoenix to be unable to kill him, he neglects to do this for the other criminals Phoenix has released. Oops.˛* Davy Jones became this in [[Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanAtWorldsEnd part three]] of the ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' trilogy to Lord Beckett. He had formerly been the BigBad in [[Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanDeadMansChest part two]], but was forced into servitude due to Beckett's leverage (Jones' Cursed Heart). In the final battle, Jones seizes his opportunity to regain control of his ship, where he promptly [[spoiler:kills Mercer, Beckett's regular [[TheDragon Dragon]]]]. Beckett himself is this trope to [[GreaterScopeVillain King George II]], since Beckett is serving as his duly appointed representative in the campaign against piracy. However, the fourth film revealed that King George was nowhere near as intelligent as Beckett was. ˛* Alexander Minion in ''Film/SpyKids1'', to both the fake BigBad ''and'' the real BigBad.˛* A bizarre chain-Dragon-in-Chief scenario appears in the awful ''Film/DungeonsAndDragons'' and its vastly-superior-but-still-awful sequel, ''[[Film/DungeonsAndDragonsWrathOfTheDragonGod Wrath of the Dragon God]]''. In the first film, Profion is utterly useless by himself, and relies on Damodar to do everything for him. At the beginning of the sequel, Profion is dead and Damodar has ascended to the mantle of BigBad -- whereupon ''he, too'' becomes completely impotent, and has to rely on the lich Klaxx the Malign to do everything for him. This is hilariously lampshaded near the end, when Damodar tells Klaxx to kill the onrushing hero. Klaxx {{Deadpan Snarker}}s back, "Kill him yourself, O great and powerful Damodar," and flies away. Damodar flees for dear life.˛* In ''Film/NoCountryForOldMen'', Anton Chigurh has been sent to retrieve the stolen money, but he is so focused on completing the job at all costs, that he will kill other people sent by his employers.˛* In ''Film/{{Commando}}'', Bennett is considered to be a much bigger threat than Arius and his army.˛* In ''Film/OzTheGreatAndPowerful'', [[spoiler:Evannora- the future Witch of the East- is the villain responsible for the threat the characters face, but her actions turn her sister Theodora into the more ruthless and insane Wicked Witch of the West]].˛* Freddy Krueger is this to the Dream Demons in the ''Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet'' franchise. The Dream Demons gave Freddy his powers, and Freddy states that he works for them, but they seem to be letting Freddy hunt and kill whoever he wants to, and they presumable can't harm the children of Elm Street directly.˛* Krueger himself had Jason Voorhees in ''Film/FreddyVsJason''. By the beginning of the film, Freddy has lost his powers and is trapped in hell, so he disguises himself as Pamela Voorhees, and manipulates Jason into killing the children on Elm Street, thus reviving fear of Freddy Krueger and allowing Kruger to regain his powers. However, Jason won't stop killing, so Freddy ended up with a rival to contend with.˛* In ''Franchise/{{Halloween}}'' Michael Myers is cursed by Dr. Terence Wynn to kill his own family, but has no respect for Dr. Wynn, and kills his followers as well.˛* ''Franchise/TheTexasChainsawMassacre'':˛** Leatherface is considered the main antagonist, even though he is clearly the subordinate of his family. This is kind of a subversion as the only movie in the series where Leatherface has his own agenda is ''Film/TexasChainsaw3D'' and in that one is to [[spoiler:avenge his family]].˛** Sheriff Hoyt from the remakes, even more so than Leatherface. While Luda Mae is the head of the Hewitt family, he's the one who got them into cannibalism in the first place, and a WordOfGod interview says Thomas Hewitt (Leatherface in this continuity) basically followed Hoyt like a puppy, giving Hoyt complete control of Leatherface.˛* In ''Film/IngloriousBasterds'', Colonel Hans Landa is the biggest threat to the Allied plan to kill Adolf Hitler and the other Nazi leaders.˛* Stephen in ''Film/DjangoUnchained'' is a rare loyal example. He is far brighter than his nominal master Calvin Candie, and all but runs his slave-staffed plantation for him. He also proves to be a much bigger threat than Candie, discovering the protagonists' plan and dismantling it effectively, while Candie remains in the dark about their intentions until Stephen tells him. [[spoiler:[[DragonAscendant He also outlives his master]], and while Lara Candie then becomes his new superior, he's still effectively in charge and Django's main target.]]˛* While Cobra Commander is the BigBad, Zartan is the most prominent antagonist in ''Film/GIJoeRetaliation'' and does more to set Cobra's evil plan in motion, with Cobra Commander being largely a plot-irrelevant antagonist whose only real purpose of the film is to get broken out of prison at the start and then pull a VillainExitStageLeft at the end to set up a SequelHook.˛* In ''Film/TheKarateKidPartII'', there's Chozan to his uncle Sato. While Sato is a rich industrialist and the one calling the shots, he is rivals with Miyagi, whereas Chozan bullies Daniel throughout the movie. [[spoiler:When Miyagi and Daniel save Sato's life, Chozan refuses to help them. Sato, who has a HeelFaceTurn disowns Chozan and as a result, he becomes a DeathSeeker and the FinalBoss of the film.]] ˛* ''Film/ThePatriot''. Colonel William Tavington takes his orders from General Cornwallis and his direct subordinate, but he's by far the biggest threat in the film to Martin and the militia as the British troops' field commander, a more vile villain, and much better at hunting them down.˛* ''Film/{{Elysium}}'': Kruger, who, albeit subordinate to Delacourt, is the main villain in the story. And by the end he becomes [[spoiler: TheStarscream as he kills Delcourt and takes over her conspiracy for himself]].˛* Peoples Hernandez is this to [[Creator/ChristianBale Walter Wade Jr.]] in ''Film/{{Shaft 2000}}''.˛* The son of [[BigBad Viktor Cherevin]], Aleksandr, is this by the third act of ''Film/JackRyanShadowRecruit''.˛* ''Film/TheEqualizer'' has Teddy, Vladimir Pushkin's chief enforcer. Pushkin, despite being the BigBad, spends most of the movie as a GreaterScopeVillain, while Teddy has a lot more screen time.˛* At least three of the ''Lethal Weapon'' movies features one:˛** The [[Film/LethalWeapon first one]] has Mr. Joshua to General [=McAllister=] and ends up becoming Riggs's personal arch-rival in the movie. [[TheHeavy His actions drive the plot of the first movie,]] [[DragonAscendant and he even outlives his boss in the climax.]]˛** The [[Film/LethalWeapon2 second movie]] has Pieter Vorstedt to Arjen Rudd. In fact, Riggs's hatred for Vorstedt is because [[spoiler: he was responsible for the death of Riggs's wife]].˛** The [[Film/LethalWeapon4 fourth movie]] has Wah Sing Ku. He's trying to free his bosses, the Four Fathers, from prison, and one of them actually includes his older brother. With the Four Fathers in prison, Wah Sing Ku drives most of the plot.˛* ''Film/TheLongKissGoodnight'' has Timothy. The BigBad at first is Daedalus [[spoiler: who is killed halfway in the movie, which then Timothy becomes the BigBad. However, he also works for the corrupt CIA boss Leland]].˛* The [[AntagonistTitle titular]] Winter Soldier from ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'', in addition to being TheHeavy, is revealed to be this to [[spoiler: [[BigBad Alexander Pierce]]]].˛* Frank Nitti to Al Capone in ''Film/TheUntouchables''.˛* Nash to [=McDuff=] in ''Film/NationalSecurity''. He does most of [=McDuff=]'s work and is also responsible for Hank's partner's death. In the climax, [[DragonTheirFeet he's the last villain to be killed]] [[DragonAscendant after McDuff's death]].˛* In ''Film/FireBirds'', Eric Stoller is a mercenary helicopter pilot hired by the Cartels to protect their interests. He does not run the Cartels, and it is never indicated throughout the film that he is anything other than a cunning mercenary. Just the same, given that the primary mission of the heroes is to get rid of him so the DEA can go after the [[BigBad Big Bads]], [[TheHeavy he is given the primary focus as the bad guy, and in fact is the only bad guy to appear in the film,]] aside from some wide-angle shots from a scout chopper's camera, and a pair of fighter jets.˛* This trope is common in Franchise/{{Godzilla}} films. In many films, the villains have taken control of a giant monster in order to [[TakeOvertheWorld take over the world]], and the main objective of the heroes is often to help Godzilla defeat the monster, or to destroy the villains' control over the monster. Here are some examples:˛** King Ghidorah to the Xiliens in ''Film/InvasionOfAstroMonster'', Ghidorah to the Kilaaks in ''Film/DestroyAllMonsters'', Ghidorah and Gigan to the Space Hunter Nebula M Aliens in ''Film/GodzillaVsGigan'', Ghidorah to Wilson and Grenchko in ''Film/GodzillaVsKingGhidorah''.˛** Mechagodzilla to the Black Hole Planet 3 Aliens in ''Film/GodzillaVsMechagodzilla'' and ''Film/TerrorOfMechagodzilla''.˛** The Xiliens in ''Film/GodzillaFinalWars'' control many monsters, but Monster X is the strongest of them.˛* The first ''Film/BeverlyHillsChihuahua'' made a nice comparison between the BigBad and his DragonInChief. The BigBad, Vasquez, who runs the dog fights in Mexico City is technically in charge but his pet dog, El Diablo, is de facto the main villain of the story. He is more of a direct threat to the heroes who are also dogs, and certainly has a lot more screentime and interacts with them personally. Plus, he also has a [[ItsPersonal personal history]] with Delgado whose partner El Diablo killed many years ago and was responsible for Delgado being thrown out of the police force. While Vasquez is El Diablo's owner and he was the one that technically gave orders to him, he barely has any screentime and would not really be that much of a threat if El Diablo got defeated.˛* In ''{{Film/Spaceballs}}'', Dark Helmet is a somewhat more intelligent threat than his boss, President Skroob, and despite his stature, is actually able to put up a decent fight against Lone Starr.˛* In ''{{Film/Fargo}}'', Jerry Lundegaard hires Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud to extort money from his father-in-law, but gradually loses control over them as the film progresses.˛* Jim Taylor's political influence is what keeps Senator Joseph Paine in power in ''Film/MrSmithGoesToWashington''.˛* Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes to Lieutenant Wolfe in ''{{Film/Platoon}}''.˛* James Munroe to General Garza in ''Film/TheExpendables''.˛* ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'' has another example in no less then Lex Luthor. This version of Lex simply doesn't have the power to DIRECTLY stop Superman. Without Batman or Doomsday? He is taken out with ease. ˛* The Jabberwocky is this to the Red Queen in ''Film/AliceInWonderland2010'', given that Alice's goal is to slay it and [[spoiler: as soon as she does, all of the Red Queen's followers abandon her and she's quickly banished]].˛* ''Film/TheBourneSeries'' has five of them. The Professor from ''[[Film/TheBourneIdentity Identity]]'', Kirill from ''[[Film/TheBourneSupremacy Supremacy]]'', Paz from ''[[Film/TheBourneUltimatum Ultimatum]]'', LARX-03 from ''[[Film/TheBourneLegacy Legacy]]'', and the Asset from ''Film/JasonBourne''. This is because the main villain is always a NonActionBigBad who sends out these field agents from the comfort of their intelligence agency offices.˛* Movies produced by Creator/ShaneBlack have these as the villains, most of them serving as the EvilCounterpart to the [[TheHero Heroes]]. Examples include the first two ''Film/LethalWeapon'' movies, ''Film/TheLastBoyScout'', ''Film/LastActionHero'', ''Film/TheLongKissGoodnight'', and ''Film/TheNiceGuys''.˛* In ''Film/TheAccountant'', while Lamar may be the BigBad, the mercenary he hired Braxton serves as the biggest threat in the film. He is the one who does all TheHeavy lifting, the planning, the only one who can match Wolff, his brother, in hand to hand combat, while Lamar stays out of his way and remain a NonActionBigBad. Braxton himself doesn't really like Lamar at all and lets his brother shoots him.˛* ''Film/LittleEvil'': [[spoiler:Reverend Gospel]], leader of Satan's cult, acts as this due to his master being stuck in Hell.˛* In ''Film/BladeRunner2049'', Even though Niander Wallace is nominally the BigBad, he doesn't do anything to actively antagonize the main heroes, and in fact rarely leaves his building. The real threat of the movie is Luv, who actively confronts the heroes and is the one that K fights [[spoiler: and kills]] in the climax.˛* ''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 and is the biggest threat confronted by Wick in the film. ˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Literature]]˛* Nurse Ratched in ''Literature/OneFlewOverTheCuckoosNest'' has authority over her asylum that is unchecked even by her superiors.˛* In the backstory to ''Literature/SkulduggeryPleasant'', the BigBad [[PosthumousCharacter Mevolent]] fought a war in an attempt to bring back the [[EldritchAbomination Faceless Ones]], whom he worshipped. However, his [[TheDragon Dragon]] Lord Vile was implied to be even more powerful than he was, and was not trying to bring back gods - [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu he simply wanted to see if he could kill them]].˛* Lieutenant Colonel Korn, from ''Literature/CatchTwentyTwo'', to Colonel Cathcart. He easily manipulates Cathcart throughout the novel, and most of the schemes are his idea. He remains Cathcart's subordinate due to lower rank and because he doesn't want to take the fall if something goes wrong. ˛* Arguably Martel from ''Literature/TheElenium'' by Creator/DavidEddings. Though the BigBad, [[GodOfEvil Azash]], is far more ''powerful'', he's too much of an EldritchAbomination to understand humans well enough to effectively plot against them, and his [[EvilSorcerer high priest]] is, to put it bluntly, an idiot. As a result, Martel's scheming drives the vast majority of the plot, while at the same time he is the hero's [[TheRival rival]], WorthyOpponent, and ShadowArchetype. He ''definitely'' fits this role in relation to [[SinisterMinister Primate]] [[SmugSnake Annias]], as it's made quite clear that Annias's drive for power would go nowhere without Martel's resources, skills and brains to back it up.˛* In ''Literature/TheMalloreon'' by Creator/DavidEddings, [[DemonLordsAndArchDevils Nahaz]] is Dragon-in-Chief to both [[AGodAmI Urvon]], who is completely insane, ''and'' his BastardUnderstudy, [[DragonWithAnAgenda Harakan]], an EvilSorceror who needs Nahaz's [[TheLegionsOfHell Demons]] to both do his fighting, and help him maintain his [[DarkMessiah Mengha]] persona in front of the Demon-worshipping Karandese. Without Nahaz, both their plans would quickly fall apart, and it's worth noting that he both outlives Harakan (who originally summoned him) and dies in the exact same moment as Urvon, who he drags into hell with him. No one who has read this will be surprised to learn that Nahaz has [[DragonWithAnAgenda his own agenda]], which would more or less have resulted in the end of the world if successful.˛* Ghend is this in ''Literature/TheRedemptionOfAlthalus'' by Creator/DavidEddings, as his boss, [[BigBad Daeva]], is never encountered, due to rules against the gods interfering personally in human affairs. As a result, it's Ghend who drives the plot, and the story ends with his defeat.˛* Metatron to the Authority in ''Literature/HisDarkMaterials''.˛* The ogre [[MagnificentBastard Grand Lord Golgren]] from the ''Literature/{{Dragonlance}}'' Minotaur Wars and Ogre Titans trilogies is this to the Ogre Grand Khan, being much smarter and more charismatic than his boss and being capable of overthrowing him at any time, only keeping him around because he likes the perks his current job has. [[spoiler:And then he decides he wants his boss's job too. The Grand Khan is dead in hours.]]˛* ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'': How does a demonic godlike spirit with whole nations and 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 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. He shows why he is called "Sauron the Deceiver" by making the king dependent on him and by preying on his arrogance and selfishness. He should know about these better than anyone.˛* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', Lara Raith appears to be this to the world at large after [[spoiler:breaking her father's will. In fact, she's the one who runs the show]].˛* In the TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms ''[[Literature/TheLegendOfDrizzt Hunter's Blade]]'' series, Obould and Gerti are the dragons working for the very manipulative band of drow that set the whole plot into motion. However, Obould [[TookALevelInBadass takes a level in badass]] and very quickly takes charge of the situation. Three of the four drow [[TooDumbToLive think they've still got control of the situation]], but after Obould [[CurbStompBattle puts Gerti in her place]], there's little room for debate about who's running the show.˛* In ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'', even before his [[DragonAscendant promotion to Visser One]], Esplin 9466 AKA Visser Three serves as by far the most horrifying and powerful of the Yeerks. For a significant portion of the series however, he is outranked by the original Visser One. The series is roughly half over before he is assigned full control over the invasion of Earth and he does not become Visser One until the final installments. Even then, he is under the orders of the Council of Thirteen, the high command of the Yeerk Empire.˛* RenegadeRussian Colonel Yegor Viktorvich Zakharov from Creator/DaleBrown's ''Act of War'', who acts as the head of operations for the GAMMA [[WellIntentionedExtremist eco-terrorist group]]. While Ruiz recognises his military talent, [[spoiler:he doesn't realise that Zakharov is a DeceptiveDisciple, and neither do us readers for some time]].˛* In ''Literature/{{Dune}},'' Baron Harkonnen is far more dangerous than TheEmperor, though the Emperor is quite formidable himself and would be able to pose a major threat to our heroes without Harkonnen cooperation. Still, it's the Baron who fills the antagonist role, while answering to the Emperor, [[TheStarscream at least for appearances' sake]].˛** It's a little more complicated. Both houses officially answer to the emperor, making him the CombatReferee. TheEmperor changes into a bad guy upon becoming convinced that the Atreides were becoming too powerful.˛* An interesting case in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix'' where Umbridge is nominally subservient to the Minister, who gave her access to those powers to start with, but she's far more of a personal antagonist than the Minister for Harry and the other students.˛* In Literature/WarriorCats, BigBad Tigerstar's son Hawkfrost serves as the main villain for the ''New Prophecy'' arc. However, unlike usual, Tigerstar is every bit as powerful and cunning as Hawkfrost, but is severely hampered by the fact that [[spoiler:he's dead and communicating through the afterlife.]]˛* In ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'', [[spoiler:Simon Heap serves this purpose in ''Flyte'' on behalf of Dom Daniel, who is still only a pile of bones]].˛* The Literature/InDeath series: ''Ceremony in Death'' introduces Selina Cross as the BigBad and Alban as TheDragon with a cult of Satanists. [[spoiler: However, Alban kills off Selina in an YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness manner, reveals that he was actually in charge, and that the cult was supposed to be just a long-term con that evidently turned into SeriousBusiness.]]˛* ''Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms'':˛** Dong Zhuo's ascent from western provincial warlord to Imperial Chancellor and almost-Emperor was contingent on swaying the warrior Lu Bu to his side by offering [[CoolHorse Red Hare]] and some gold, as he'd been the mightiest warrior and bodyguard for the one court official who stood up to him. Unfortunately for Dong Zhuo, a man who could be swayed by worldly things could be swayed by worldly things again -- such as the hand of Diaochan, a dancer and adoptive daughter of the Minister of the Masses -- and eventually Dong Zhuo's advisor Li Ru outright tells him: "''Sir, you aspire to be ruler of the empire. Why then for a small fault do you blame the General? If he turns against you, it is all over''."˛** This could apply to quite a few people, actually; most of the big movers and shakers of the story were ''not'' kings or emperors. Cao Cao, as another Imperial Chancellor, is probably the most powerful person in the story. Even Zhuge Liang, Chancellor of Shu-Han, was the one really calling the shots for most of the kingdom's existence.˛* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'':˛** King Joffrey is not really the power on the Iron Throne in: his mother and his grandfather are... the thing is, whenever Joffrey does manage to slip his leash and do what ''he'' wants to do (when it doesn't conform to what his family wants) the results are usually ''horrific''.˛** Varys[[note]]Master of Whispers, court spymaster[[/note]] and Littlefinger[[note]]Master of Coin, treasurer[[/note]] are not really Dragons to Joffrey, but do wield significantly more power in court than might be otherwise suspected, and both shore up the way King's Landing works in such a way that it begins to crumble when Littlefinger leaves his role as Master of Coin[[note]]in no small part because he funded the court via ''heavy'' borrowing[[/note]].˛** Really, the consistent thread in the work seems to be that the [[NumberTwo Hand of the King]]'s true job is to do all of the work in managing the affairs of the kingdom while the king tackles whatever addles his own mind. Tywin ruled where Aerys was insane, Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark mitigated Robert's drunken stupor, and Tywin and Tyrion tried their best to limit the lackadaisical sociopathy of Joffrey. As Robert says, "''the King eats, and the Hand takes the shit.''"˛** Mace Tyrell is Lord Paramount of the Reach and Head of House Tyrell. However in both of these fields he's clearly behind someone else. In the military side, his bannerman Randyll Tarly is the one that really wins his battles for him and most of the Tyrell dynastic politics is dealt with by his scheming mother Olenna. However this may be exaggerated, Olenna mentions in her first scene that her son barely takes her advice, and that she was against him crowning [[VillainWithGoodPublicity Renly ]][[TheEvilPrince Baratheon]] in his bid to usurp the Iron Throne due to Renly marrying Mace's daughter.˛** Historically Aegor Rivers "Bittersteel" seems to have been the prime mover behind the Blackfyres during his lifetime, convincing his half-brother Daemon Blackfyre to rebel against their legitimate brother Daeron II, and then aiding Daemon's sons in their further attempts to take the Iron throne. Aegor even founded the Golden Company to aid them.˛* 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.˛* '' A Fire Upon the Deep'' from Creator/VernorVinge's ''Literature/ZonesOfThought'' {{Trilogy}} has Steel, who represents shades of just about every variant of this. [[{{Backstory}} Before the events of]] ''A Fire Upon the Deep'', he was a DragonWithAnAgenda bordering on TheStarscream to nominal BigBad Flenser, but by the time the story starts, he is a DragonAscendant who took over after Flenser left to invade a neighboring territory. [[spoiler: In an amusing reversal, Flenser returns [[FirstEpisodeSpoiler early in the book]], weakened, and fulfills the ''exact same roles'' to Steel while he schemes to regain his power.]]˛* ''Literature/AnnoDracula'': In an AlternateHistory World War I, Vlad III Dracula was supreme commander of all Central Powers' armies despite having the title of Graf (Count in German) and being technically outranked by Kaiser Wilhelm II, King Franz-Joseph, Tsar Ferdinand and Sultan Mehmed V, he was considered the real mastermind of the conflict as he sought revenge for being deposed from Great Britain. Ironically, some characters lament that without him, [[HistoricalInJoke this war would have never happened]].˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Live-Action TV]]˛* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':˛** Lord Tywin Lannister is this on several occasions.˛*** He serves as the Dragon-in-chief to his grandson, the incompetent teenaged fool of a King Joffrey Baratheon, who he is technically only the Hand to, and not even that until Season 3. Perhaps best exemplified by the Season 3 finale in which Joffrey claims that it was his father who won the war while Tywin "''hid under Casterly Rock''!" In response to this challenge, Tywin just sends Joffrey a ''DeathGlare'', which Joffrey quickly buckles under after a just few seconds of attempting to keep eye contact. Tywin then casually declares that "''the king is tired''", and has ''Joffrey sedated and dragged off to bed'' despite Joffrey very insistently protesting that he isn't tired.˛--->'''Tyrion:''' You just sent the most powerful man in Westeros to bed without his supper. \˛'''Tywin:''' You're a fool if you believe he is the most powerful man in Westeros. \˛'''Tyrion:''' [[SarcasmMode A treasonous statement. Joffrey is king.]] \˛'''Tywin:''' You really think a crown gives you power?˛*** He was also TheDragon as Hand to King Aerys until he resigned. When Robert's Rebellion tilted in favor of the rebels, Tywin became TheStarscream and slaughtered Aerys' grandkids.˛*** This is further cemented when Tommen names him Protector of the Realm, which is a title reserved for the King; the kid knows who really runs things.˛** 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 Tyrell’s top general and is the only commander who dealt a loss to Robert Baratheon.˛** There are times when Dagmer straight-up tells Theon what to do, and Theon does it.˛* ''Series/ThePrisoner1967'' gives us a revolving-door version of this. Within the Village, Number Two's authority is absolute and he functions as the episode's BigBad, but he still answers to a Number One who we never see. The twist is that each Number Two gets replaced each episode (and the twist on THAT twist is that each new Number Two acts almost as if he's had this job all along).˛* In the ''Series/LawAndOrderCriminalIntent'' episode "Cuba Libre", Joel Grey plays a Badass Senior who is definitely a MagnificentBastard and openly defies Det. Goren in his role as the BigBad... until Goren does some psych profiling and discovers that the [[TheDragon evil gang leader]] Joel's character has been relying on to carry out his hits is really TheChessmaster, and has been using him in an [[ThePlan elaborate scheme]] to get out of jail. Goren cracks the case by getting the two to turn on each other, after telling him how the gang leader imagined the feisty old man as a puppet, sitting on his knee.˛* From seasons 1-3 of ''Series/TheWire'', Stringer Bell. Stringer is technically second-in-command to Avon Barksdale (in their drug-trafficking operation) but is the brains and muscle of the organization. During Avon's incarceration, Stringer takes full control of all operations, and orders the secret murder of [[spoiler:Avon's nephew D'Angelo, and makes a treaty with Avon's hated enemy "Proposition Joe" Stewart. However, towards the end of the third season it's shown that he's not as thoroughly in-control as he might think]].˛* ''Franchise/PowerRangers'':˛** For ''Series/PowerRangersInSpace'', Astronema takes on this role in the grand scheme of things. She is the strongest foe in Dark Spector's inventory but secretly plots against him behind his back, and she would have been the one to kill him if [[TheStarscream Darkonda]] didn't beat her to it. And ultimately the heroes never face [[OrcusOnHisThrone Dark Spector]] directly, and Astronema remains their primary enemy to defeat by the end. (Another reading of the show is that Astronema is the BigBad; Dark Spector is the GreaterScopeVillain.)˛** In ''Series/PowerRangersSamurai'', Serrator becomes this for a good chunk of the second half. The regular BigBad, Master Xandred, is more of TheBrute and is perfectly willing to let others come up with battle strategies - which lets Serrator direct the enemy forces to [[TheStarscream further his own schemes]]. Of course, when Serrator makes a misstep, Xandred gets ticked enough to remind people why ''he's'' the BigBad, nearly turning Serrator and the Rangers into smears on the wall.˛** In ''Series/PowerRangersMegaforce'', Admiral Malkor is set up as the BigBad at first, but the conflicts the Rangers face are mainly caused by Vrak.˛* ''Series/{{Chuck}}'': [[spoiler:Shaw ends up as this, after coming back from the dead and downloading an intersect into his head. His superiors are all senior bureaucratic types, like General Beckman, and they don't interact with Chuck or his team in any way other than getting captured at the end of the season 3 arc]].˛* In ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' season 1, [[EnigmaticMinion Nina Sharp]] is set up as this to [[CorruptCorporateExecutive William Bell]]. [[spoiler: Turns out, while both are morally gray, they are both without a doubt good.]]˛* Gatehouse from ''Series/TheShadowLine''. While he's technically subordinate to [[BigBadDuumvirate the leaders of Counterpoint]], he's the driving force of much of the plot, and he's undoubtedly the main antagonist. [[spoiler:And in the end, he ends up killing his bosses and becoming a DragonAscendant.]]˛* Mr. Gold in the first season of ''Series/OnceUponATime''. Technically, [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen Mayor Mills]] rules over Storybrooke with an iron fist, but he's the BadSamaritan with a ChainOfDeals that has ''everyone'' in his back pocket, mayor included. Plus, he's the Storybrooke identity of Rumplestiltskin, who is the GreaterScopeVillain in the BigBadEnsemble. He's also the one who created the curse for Regina, but did it [[DragonWithAnAgenda for his own reasons.]] [[spoiler:He even invokes this idea in Storybrooke to get Emma elected as Sheriff over Regina's personal pick, by getting her in a position to finger Gold himself in a crime but admit there is no hard evidence to prove it. He tells her later, to win she needed to do more than stand up to Regina, she needed to show she would take even him on to convince enough people and thanks her for being the woman he expected her to be.]]˛* ''Series/TheVampireDiaries'':˛** In season one, John Gilbert serves as this to the Founders Council.˛** Season Three's BigBad [[spoiler:Esther]] was menacing on her own [[spoiler: she molds Alaric into this, combining his evil alter ego with mega-powerful vampirism. Alaric, when his good side is in control, kills Esther for threatening Jeremy and Matt, but Evil Alaric still tries to carry out her plan.]]˛* ''Series/LizzieMcGuire'' has this [[ZigZaggingTrope zig-zagged]] with [[BetaBitch Claire Miller]] to [[AlphaBitch Kate Sanders]]. While Kate is usually the main antagonist of the series, Claire was even worse. This is best demonstrated when Kate breaks her arm and Claire takes over the cheerleading squad, and starts treating everyone as if they are below her and showing Kate no sympathy for her, that was until Kate's arm healed and she took back her place as head of the cheerleading squad. Whenever Kate has DefrostingIceQueen moments, Claire would also pressure into not befriending Lizzie again, it should be noted that [[spoiler: Kate's HeelFaceTurn in the movie was likely because of the lack of Claire's influence.]]˛* At the end of the second ''Series/{{V 1983}}'' miniseries, Diana claims that she really was the driving force behind the Visitor invasion of Earth and that Admiral John was a useless figurehead who only held the crown. A disgusted John notes that she can have it, as it will only make her the queen of a poisoned realm after she annihilates all life on Earth with a nuclear bomb. She later ascends to BigBad level in the weekly series.˛* ''Series/StargateSG1'': Lord Yu's First Prime, Oshu, ended up basically running Yu's domain for him after his master, the most ancient of the current crop of Goa'uld System Lords, began to go senile. Oshu stayed loyal to his master right up to the part where [[spoiler:they were both killed by the Replicators]].˛* ''Series/{{JAG}}'': In "Scimitar", Colonel Ahmad Al-Barzan who obviously works for UsefulNotes/SaddamHussein, but for plot purposes he is the highest ranking official the heroes have to deal with.˛* ''Series/{{Defiance}}'': Stahma Tarr, wife to the Castithan [[TheDon Don]] Datak, was implied throughout the first season of the series to be the real brains behind their operation. Datak, while not stupid by any means, was short-tempered and prone to reacting with violence to any perceived disrespect. Stahma, meanwhile, was quiet and calculating, able to [[LadyMacBeth subtly manipulate her husband]] to what was best for the family. By Season Two, [[spoiler: with Datak imprisoned, she's dropped all pretense and is running things herself, making it clear to her weak-willed son Alak that she's only allowing him to appear to be in charge because the male-dominated Castithan society won't let her be]].˛* ''Series/{{Justified}}'': ˛** Theo Tonin is the BigBad of the fourth season, but never appears in person, leaving his left-hand man, Nicky Augustine, to coordinate the search for Drew Thompson (while he and his right-hand, Elias Marcos, make tracks for Tunisia). Augustine succeeds in antagonizing the entire cast, turning [[CowboyCop Raylan Givens]] and [[VillainProtagonist Boyd Crowder]] against him, and by the last episode of the season, everyone's goals have shifted from "putting Theo in prison" to "getting rid of Augustine."˛** In Season 5 episode "Shot All to Hell" Theo returns to the USA to kill Mr. Picker, the man who murdered his son, Sammy. However, since Theo has been rendered an invalid by his heart condition, it's Elias Marcos who does the heavy lifting of the episode, and poses the actual threat to the cast.˛* In Season 2 of ''Series/{{The 100}}'', Cage Wallace is the BigBad since he took over Mount Weather and put them into an unresolvable conflict with the MainCharacters. However, his father, Dante, is clearly the more intelligent and capable leader, to the point where Cage has to actually ''beg'' him for advice when the heroes march against them. The only reason Dante's not the Big Bad is because he's either too smart or too moral to start an unnecessary war, and only helps his son outmaneuver the heroes because Cage, left to his own devices, would lead them all to ruin.˛* In Season Two of ''Series/{{Primeval}}'', Helen Cutter aligned herself with Oliver Leek. Despite being the brains of the mission, Leek was very easily intimidated by Cutter's psychotic disposition and was frequently threatened if his plan didn't deliver. When Leek finally made a power play and [[TheDogBitesBack grown a backbone against Helen]], she was savvy enough to [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere instantly abort the mission]], finding more dignity in performing an EnemyMine with the protagonists than becoming Leek's lackey for real.˛* Two of the biggest public enemies of ''{{Series/Gotham}}'' and future enemies of Batman started out as nobodies who needed the support of more influential individuals in order to ascend and fulfill their nefarious potential. [[spoiler: Specifically on the side of organised crime the Penguin and on the side of deranged maniacs Jerome Valeska.]] In the case of the former he knew that it was in his best interests to become a member of a powerful criminal's court and then supplant him [[spoiler: which is what he did with Don Sal Maroni and Don Falcone]]. While none of the two were incapable they were just out of their league when it came to scheming. In the case of Jerome he became a part of Richard Sionis circle because he had nothing better to do and was attracted to serial killers like him while they were both incarcerated in Arkham Asylum (even though Sionis treated more like a vacation). Both were more intelligent and competent than their supposed bosses and that's why it worked. ˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]˛* This is a very common trope in wrestling, especially with the classic "Manager and Monster" dynamic used in classic examples like Wrestling/AndreTheGiant & Wrestling/BobbyHeenan or Wrestling/PaulHeyman & Wrestling/BrockLesnar. While the MonsterHeel will technically be subservient to and taking orders from the manager, the fact that the manager is a NonActionBigBad in a medium all about action means that it is truly his monstrous client that is the real threat to overcome.˛* [[Wrestling/RonSimmons Faarooq]] was the leader of Wrestling/TheNationOfDomination but after taking in [[Wrestling/DwayneJohnson Rocky Maivia]], he quickly found himself out shown by what he would become, the most electrifying man in all of entertainment, The Rock. After The Rock won the Intercontinental Championship, he bought every single member of the nation a Rolex watch, except for Faarooq, whom he gave a blown up picture of the belt. Faarooq wanted to kick him out as a result but this only resulted in The Rock [[DragonAscendant taking over the group]] and taking it in a new direction.˛* During the Wrestling/{{n|ewWorldorder}}Wo angle in Wrestling/{{WCW}}, Wrestling/EricBischoff was clearly in charge of the nWo and served as their corporate guy and their mouthpiece, but [[Wrestling/NewWorldOrder Hollywood]] [[Wrestling/HulkHogan Hogan]] was also in charge, giving most of the orders and getting the belt on him was one of the most important things of the group.˛* Team No Respect was the brain child of Wrestling/{{FMW}}'s deluded commissioner Kodo Fuyuki, but the men who actually ran the group were "The World Class {{Tag Team}}" Gedo and Jado.˛* While Wrestling/ChristopherDaniels was the leader of the prophecy, Xavier was the one to beat Wrestling/LowKi for the Wrestling/RingOfHonor Championship belt, thus allowing for all title matches to be free of that pesky CodeOfHonor.˛* Perro Aguayo Jr. was a textbook example of being the "de facto" big bad. He was the one who ran Los Perros del Mal in Wrestling/{{CMLL}}, who later spread to Wrestling/{{AAA}} and eventually [[VillainBasedFranchise started their own promotion]]. However, it all went back to seemingly small time PDM player Héctor Garza, who turned Aguayo evil in the first place.˛* Wrestling/AwesomeKong for [[Wrestling/CheerleaderMelissa Raisha Saeed]] in Wrestling/{{TNA}}, and [[Wrestling/{{Chikara}} wherever else]] the two showed up together. Saeed seemed to be able to get Kong to follow her orders partially because her plans usually ended up working and partially out of sheer bossiness. Saeed directed ambushes, Saeed put together the [[PowerStable Kongtourage]], Saeed insisted Kong continue to attack opponents after matches had ended and was [[AxCrazy the crazier]] of the two but ''also'' far less threatening. When Awesome Kong demanded an end to the entourage there was no argument. When Saeed's plans stopped working, Kong [[YouHaveFailedMe dropped her]]...off the Impact stage, and went back to doing her own thing.˛* While Wrestling/RicFlair was the driving force behind Fourtune, it being a group he started in the vein of Wrestling/TheFourHorsemen, Flair was no longer an active wrestler. This made Wrestling/AJStyles responsible for getting most of the actual work done, then Styles became the leader when Flair deserted the group, which then became Wrestling/{{Fortune}}.˛* AJ Styles was also the man to beat in Wrestling/BulletClub, even though he was not the leader (that would be "''Machine Gun''" Wrestling/KarlAnderson, who was there more often) because he was the one to defeat [[Wrestling/KazuchikaOkada Okada Kazuchika]] for the [[Wrestling/NewJapanProWrestling International Wrestling Grand Prix]] (IWGP) Heavyweight Title, while Karl Anderson was an IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion.˛* Truth Martini had been running his house for twelve years up to that point but the man responsible for bringing The House Of Truth ''back'' into Wrestling/RingOfHonor was Wrestling/JayLethal, who began to overshadow Martini to the point Lethal's HOT membership became an after thought when Donovan Dijak broke away from the group and put Martini in the hospital. ˛* World Wrestling League President Richard Negrín is also the leader of The Gentlemen's Club, but it's doubtful anyone would be talking about his little stable if it wasn't for [[Wrestling/AlbertoDelRio El Patron Alberto]] World Heavyweight Champion [[TheAce of not only WWL]], but also Wrestling/{{AAA}} Mega Champion![[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Tabletop Games]]˛* In ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'', one thing High Programmers worry about (besides everyone [[KlingonPromotion gunning for]] their job) is that some of their Violet-clearance underlings are instead conspiring to pull off this trope by tampering with the Ultraviolets' communications.˛* 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 nor lost until the relatively passive King surrenders or is immobilized via checkmate.˛* 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.˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Video Games]]˛* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'':˛** Ocelot could be the trope example in the page description. Not only does he trick his supposed allies into believing they are in charge not one, not two, but three times, he also does it in only two games! ([[spoiler:Liquid, Gurlukovich, Solidus]]) In the third game he's a DragonWithAnAgenda [[spoiler:but really just got the BigBad's trust to steal from him]]. In the fourth game, he takes the role of the actual BigBad [[spoiler:but to not much suprise at this point, he isn't.]] He's not the trope creator of ChronicBackstabbingDisorder for nothing. In the first game he may have genuinely wanted Liquid to succeed. He certainly did nothing to stop him, and his only "treachery" was not being there at the end (fat lot of good he would have done with [[spoiler: only one hand]]), and selling the Metal Gear design to various countries after the events of the game are over, something that might actually have furthered Liquid's goal anyway. At one point he tells Snake that he greatly admires Liquid and that he is the one man who can make his dreams come true, and while he lies and says the dream is the revival of Mother Russia, he does briefly admit that his real motivations was to reignite conflict because it was the only thing that allowed humanity's emotions to be revealed, something he feels the current age was suppressing, which are actually very similar to Liquid's goals, or more specifically [[spoiler:Big Boss's goals]].˛** Liquid himself fits this trope too, if only in spirit, in regards to Big Boss (even though he technically isn't Big Boss's dragon due to Big Boss being dead/in a coma/[[spoiler:in hiding]] during the events of the game). Although he intends to bring about Big Boss's dream, he hates Big Boss for his role in his creation, and also implies that he's really only bringing about Big Boss's goal in order to further tarnish his already soured reputation ("Now I'll finish the work that father began. I will surpass him... I will destroy him!").˛** In fact, Liquid once ''saved the world'' with the help of Dragon-In-Chief Psycho Mantis... then he almost destroyed it. To elaborate, in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain'', Psycho Mantis effectively becomes the Dragon when Skull Mask used him as the control system for Metal Gear Salanthropus, a perfected ''humanoid Metal Gear'' with nuclear launch and nuclear kamikaze attacks. This effectively gave Psycho Mantis the most power in XOF, but Skull Mask wasn't worried because Psycho Mantis' powers enslaved him to whoever had the most hatred in their psyche, and Skull Mask was living hatred... until Liquid came along, filled with rage at recently learning he was a defective copy of Big Boss (truth was more complicated) and had a better hatred projection due to the lack of myelin sheaths in his neurons. So the Dragon-In-Chief defected to an even GreaterScopeVillain.˛* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'':˛** Seemingly invoked with ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', where despite Baron and the King being the enemy for the first third of the game, it's Golbez, the captain of the Red Wings, that everyone is worried about. However, it later turns out [[spoiler:not even Golbez is the real bad guy, but Zemus. Golbez was actually brainwashed]]. Golbez subverts the trope with regards to Baron, as it turns out, he had the King killed and replaced with one of his subordinates by the time the player returns to it, Golbez was in charge the whole time, hence he's assumed to be the presumed BigBad for most of the game.˛** Gestahl in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' is TheEmperor of TheEmpire, but it's [[MonsterClown Kefka]], his court mage, who leads the Imperial forces in most every run-in you have with them. He goes on to [[spoiler:become a DragonAscendant by kicking Gestahl to a DisneyVillainDeath (after [[ElectricTorture humiliating him by having the Warring Triad zap him with lightning]] before absorbing the powers of the Warring Triad to [[AGodAmI become a god]]]].˛** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'', though it turns out [[spoiler:all of Yevon is evil and corrupt]], before and after this it's Seymour who serves as the game's main villain besides Sin. Sin itself is also this in a way, being the beast the game centers around before TheReveal that Sin (or rather, the current incarnation of Sin) is just [[spoiler:Jecht as the Final Aeon under the control of Yu Yevon.]] Even before he unveils his true agenda, Seymour is [[spoiler:Mika's]].˛** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'', Emperor Gramis is the leader of the Arcadians, but everyone is worried about [[EvilPrince Vayne]], Gramis' son and a ruthless, power-hungry politician that has everyone worried about another war. He eventually [[spoiler:kills Gramis and [[DragonAscendant assumes the throne]]]].˛* Pious Augustus in ''VideoGame/EternalDarkness: Sanity's Requiem'' becomes one in the timeline where Chattur'gha is the BigBad. The latter, a millennia-old [[EldritchAbomination eldritch being]] who exists outside of space and time, definitely isn't dumb by human standards, but, being a god of physical strength and matter, isn't the schemer that the other Ancients are and prefers to just use his powers to brute force through any opposition, since, by his belief, that's all he ''should'' need to win a battle. Pious, a trained soldier and skilled commander, knows differently, so while Chattur'gha empowers Pious to do his bidding, Pious handles most of the planning and strategy.˛* A variation occurs in ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'', as it is revealed later on that [[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 [[spoiler:Saren]] for everything, not seeing the threat that's staring at them.˛* In ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilTheUmbrellaChronicles'', [[FormerRegimePersonnel Sergei]] [[ColonelBadass Vladimir]] is the ''de facto'' BigBad, carrying out EvilCripple [[EvilOldFolks Ozwell Spencer's]] orders for him. When Sergei dies, Spencer is left with no allies and no support, and in the following game, is killed by WildCard and series BigBad [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder Albert Wesker]].˛* You as Aldo Trapani in ''VideoGame/TheGodfather: The Game'' sit on the line between TheDragon-normal and this. While you're undeniably loyal to Michael and he's the one with the plan, he's no active gunfighter like Sonny. Since ItsUpToYou, his plans would surely fall apart without you to help pull triggers as needed. For that matter, if you accept it as {{canon}}, much of the actual ''movie'' couldn't have happened without you being in the right place to help out the characters.˛* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'' has Frank Horrigan serving as this to [[PresidentEvil President Richardson]], the head of the Enclave. President Richardson, despite being the BigBad, is [[NonActionBigBad weak]], gullible and naïve, while Horrigan is a ten-foot-tall, [[TheJuggernaut near invincible]], [[AxCrazy homicidal maniac]]. He's also a rare example of TheDragon aspect of this trope being played completely straight, as Horrigan is completely devoted to the Enclave's genocidal agenda.˛* ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'':˛** [[BigBad Caesar]] is commonly stated to be a brilliant leader, but he is more than content to let the [[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking Legate]] lead the attack on Hoover Dam because Lanius happens to have a much stronger physical presence and be better at leading an army on the frontlines.˛** [[PlayerCharacter You]] can also be this, should you side with Mister House. If you end the game with [[KarmaMeter Evil Karma]], the ending slide even states that [[spoiler: House "afforded [the Courier] with every luxury at his disposal in the Lucky 38, partly out of gratitude, and partly out of fear."]]˛* There is an interesting version in ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire''. Death's Hand is set up from the beginning to as Dragon-in-Chief. 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, as it turns out, the Emperor is actually making everyone ''think'' this in order to obfuscate his own 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]].]]˛* ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'':˛** Sindri. While [[BigBad Lord Bale]] appears to know about and share his goal, it is clear that Sindri is the one in charge. He is very disrespectful of Bale, at one point even being openly annoyed at him interrupting a ceremony. Even when Bale threatens him, he just responds sarcastically. But despite all this, [[TooDumbToLive Bale appears to think he is the one in charge]]. In the end he is betrayed and left to die, while Sindri reaches his goal alone, which was clearly the plan all along.˛** This dichotomy is played up again in ''Dawn Of War II: Retribution''. Eliphas the Inheritor is the leader of the Chaos Warband, and sorcerer adviser Neroth (who even has the same [[Creator/ScottMcNeil voice actor]] as Sindri). In this case however, Eliphas is shown to actually be mostly competent, just occasionally more interested in self-preservation and personal power than the overall battle plan. Neroth hangs around to ensure he sticks to said plan. And when Eliphas gets too lippy, [[GreaterScopeVillain Abbadon The Despoiler]] psychically intrudes on their conversations to remind ''both'' of them who's really in charge.˛** Eliphas served as this role in the previous Dawn of War II expansion ''Chaos Rising'' as well. His master, Araghast the Pillager, is certainly a competent villain, but Eliphas successfully betrays him and proves to be more dangerous than he ever was.˛** Assuming you play as the Dark Eldar in ''Soulstorm'' Tahirl will play this role to the leader the Dark Heart Kabal, Asdrubael Vect, since Tahirl is the character the player controls and upgrades, and Vect won't even take part in a battle outside of the Dais of Destruction.˛* In ''VideoGame/MegaManZero 3'' Omega serves as this to Dr Weil. While Weil is FAR from helpless without him it is Omega who serves as the final boss and his defeat completely DESTROYS Weil's plot for game 3.˛* ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'':˛** Cesare Borgia from ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedBrotherhood''. His father, Rodrigo, is the game's BigBad, but Cesare is the most visible antagonist and the one that poses the biggest threat to the Assassins. He also believes Rodrigo lacks vision for being content with consolidating his power in Rome following his failures in the previous game, rather than proactively trying to conquer the rest of Italy. [[spoiler:Like many of the examples on this page, he eventually kills his father and takes over as the proper BigBad. Granted, this is about the time where all of his plans [[HumiliationConga go to hell]] [[VillainousBreakdown and back]].]]˛** And in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII'': Charles Lee is this to [[spoiler: Haytham Kenway]]. More like the other way around: Charles Lee is the figurehead and most prominent public figure the templars had, and he was the spearhead of his plans, displaying authority both with the general public and within the order itself, however, it was [[spoiler: Haytham Kenway]] who came up with the ploy, appoointed Lee on the position of power, but takes a backseat to the plan itself, merely aiding the templars on his own, much like the assassins player characters usually do.˛* [[TheStarscream Tanya Winters and Warren Williams]] in ''VideoGame/SaintsRow'', also Chief Monroe to an Extent.˛* ''VideoGame/SwordOfMana'' and ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyAdventure'': Dark Lord rules TheEmpire, but he is simply a powerful but mundane BlackKnight. His archmage Julius is the one providing the knowledge and magic necessary for Dark Lord's plans to gain the Mana Tree's power. [[spoiler: And does just fine carrying out those plans alone once Dark Lord is dead.]]˛* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemGenealogyOfTheHolyWar'': [[DarkMessiah Prince Julius]]. He's being manipulated by Manfroy and was specifically "bred" by him for his plot to resurrect the dark god. The point being for Julius to eventually take his rightful place as the dark god for himself... which he does, seizing all effectual control of his kingdom and acting as the game's FinalBoss. (It's technically subverted in the final chapter where he outlives both nominal contenders for the BigBad role: his father and the aforementioned Manfroy.)˛* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'':˛** [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Deathwing]] in ''[[VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft Cataclysm]]''. The Old Gods are the real [[BigBad Big Bads]], but due to their imprisonment by the Titans, they can't use the bulk of their power and are mostly limited to slowly corrupting and influencing the inhabitants of Azeroth. Deathwing presents a much more immediate threat with his titular Cataclysm, and is the [[TheHeavy driving force]] of the expansion's plot, to the point where he's the BigBad of the expansion while the Old Gods are a distant GreaterScopeVillain. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, Deathwing actually is loyal to his masters. Also, he happens to be a literal dragon.˛** In ''Warlords of Draenor'', Blackhand is the DragonInChief to Grom Hellscream. Though technically only the second-in-command of the Iron Horde, he leads the strongest clan and owns the foundry that crafts their war machines. When he takes to the field personally in Talador, he [[HeroKiller kills]] both [[spoiler: Vindicator Maraad]] and [[spoiler: Orgrim Doomhammer]]. His eventual death in the Blackrock Foundry also marks the point where the Iron Horde begins to fall apart; without him, their remaining forces crumble and the surviving warlords betray Grom and join Gul'dan in a desperate attempt to save themselves from the heroes' forces. It is also worth noting that in the main timeline, Blackhand ''did'' outrank Grom, so Grom being made Warchief over him is likely just a result of Garrosh's meddling.˛* Surprisingly, the Genma Triumvirate of ''VideoGame/OnimushaDawnOfDreams'' are both this and not at the same time. They fit as {{The Dragon}}s of Hideyoshi, but it is clear early on that they're simply using him as a means to an end and [[spoiler:revive their god]] who they're truly {{The Dragon}}s to.˛%%* Cecile in ''VideoGame/WinBack''. Also TheStarscream.˛%%* Wild Dog of the ''VideoGame/TimeCrisis'' series, at least in the first game.˛* Namir is this to Zhao in ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'' he is an effective, powerful, and plain-out scary fighter to his fragile boss.˛* In ''VideoGame/HaloWars'', the Arbiter [[BloodKnight Ripa 'Moramee]] is the main villain, while subordinate to the Prophet of Regret. His orders come the Prophet, but he commands enough authority as a general to be as much of a military threat, and is far more powerful physically as well. Fortunately for Regret, 'Moramee is a straight example of this trope, fanatically and unwaveringly loyal to the Hierarch and the Covenant he stands for. Regret himself isn't fought until the events of ''{{VideoGame/Halo 2}}'', as a DiskOneFinalBoss.˛* Galcian in ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia''. He is subordinate to [[NonActionBigBad Empress Teodora]], but he's the biggest threat to the protagonists, has more military support from their nation and [[spoiler:kills her to become the main villain proper]].˛* At the end of ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'', [[spoiler: Ghetsis reveals that N was a false hero, intended to outlaw Pokemon husbandry in Unova so that Ghetsis, who considers himself above that law, could use Pokemon to rule unopposed]].˛* ''VideoGame/ShinSuperRobotWars'': In the Earth Route, [[Anime/BlueCometSPTLayzner Lu Cain]] gives orders to the [[Characters/SuperRobotWarsAlpha Ze Balmary Empire]], but gets his orders from Laodecia. In fact, Laodecia never makes an appearance in the Earth Route.˛* ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'': Death occasionally fulfills this role. Though Dracula is still considered the main villain of the series, it's often Death that helps to revive him and pose the major threat to the heroes.˛* Jack Layzon from ''VideoGame/CannonDancer''. While he's technically the BigBad and the reason [[TheHero Kirin]] is out for {{Revenge}}, he has no fighting skill whatsoever, [[spoiler:and even dies in a cutscene, without fighting back]]. The three assassins he hired, all Kirin's former comrades, are the actual threat. ˛* In ''VideoGame/{{Tenchu}} Z'', Shigi is much more of a threat than his boss, Lord Ogawara, and pretty much the actual antagonist in the game. While the latter is no slouch in combat skills, Shigi has just stronger and better ninja tricks up his sleeves.˛* Lord Yuna from ''VideoGame/BreathOfFireIV'' was one of the dragons of Emperor Soniel, but the latter has all but an insignificant role in the story (in fact he's only scene in the game has him getting killed by [[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds Fo-Lou]]), whereas Yuna is pretty much behind most of what happens. ˛* An interesting VillainProtagonist example in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV''. The two main antagonists, Steve Haines and Devin Weston are virtually helpless without the protagonists on their side. What makes them the antagonists is that they also make a mistake of turning against two of the protagonists, Michael and Trevor. The conflict between Michael and Trevor has more effect on the plot then either antagonist. It should be noted, [[spoiler: the only way Steve or Devin can win is if Michael or Trevor dies, and even then they need help from the third protagonist, Franklin, who ''can'' TakeAThirdOption]].˛* In ''VideoGame/ProjectXZone'', Due Frabellum is revealed to be this to [[spoiler: the ''true'' BigBad, Meden Traore]].˛** In the second game, [[VideoGame/NamcoXCapcom Saya]] is this to [[spoiler: Byakushin]].˛* In ''VideoGame/LostEden'', [[spoiler: the {{Tyrann|osaurusRex}}, not Moorkus Rex, are the genuine threat. Moorkus Rex never leaves his lair, lies literally every time he opens his maw, and underneath the fearsome exterior is a tiny little mouse, which the tablets reveal at the end]].˛* First Kar'Ukan in ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'' is a de-facto version, with Loriss as a NonActionBigBad. Technically, being Dominion, they are all under the Founders, but circumstances have cut them off from that, leaving them to operate on their own. Loriss, as a Vorta, speaks for the Founders, making her Kar'Ukan's superior, but he (being a Jem'Hadar First) is the military leader and much more physically imposing. [[spoiler:The military leader aspect becomes important when the Federation arranges for a Founder to show up and order them to stand down. Loriss complies and transports to the Founder, Kar'Ukan refuses and orders a last stand, with his Jem'Hadar following his lead.]]˛* In the ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' DLC ''The Darkspawn Chronicles'', [[VillainProtagonist the Hurlock Vanguard]] arguably counts, as it is the one that leads the Darkspawn offensive and defeats the alliance created by King Alistair, while the actual leader of the horde, the Archdemon, is too preoccupied doing battle with Alistair to really take part in the active conflict. In the game proper, it and the Hurlock Emissary are closer to {{CoDragons}}, as both lead the Darkspawn army.˛* The second-to-last bosses of most ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' games are some kind of NumberTwo to the last boss, but in ''Double Dealing Character'', the last boss, Shinmyoumaru, is an innocent child and the second-to-last boss, Seija, is a TreacherousAdvisor who tricked her into causing chaos. Shinmyoumaru is apprehended by the heroes as every previous last boss has been, but Seija escapes to [[VillainProtagonist star in her own]] GaidenGame, [[NoEnding her fate uncertain]].˛* In ''VideoGame/YuGiOhReshefOfDestruction'', while Reshef is the overarching threat, he's also a SealedEvilInACan. His servant Sol Chevalsky leads the villains to kill/defeat the protagonist and revive Reshef.˛* General Korbut in ''VideoGame/MetroLastLight''. While he's "merely" the head of the Red Line's military and therefore a subordinate of the communist state's leader Moskvin, he's the one who organized all the events of the story, including the final assault on the Rangers' main base at the end of the game. [[spoiler: He's also responsible for putting Moskvin in power in the first place, having orchestrated the death of the Red Line's previous leader to install Moskvin, and uses this knowledge to make Moskvin comply with his plans.]]˛* In ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamOrigins'' it was originally said that mob boss Black Mask would be the BigBad, but it turns out that The Joker had impersonated him and sent out the 50 million dollar bounty on Batman. One of the assassins, Bane, proves to be the most feared and [[RecurringBoss ends up fighting him several times]]. And while the Joker could intimidate most of the other assassins, Bane was immune to his threats and threatened him in return (which the Joker found amusing). Notably, the true FinalBoss is Bane for the third round, and the gameplay ends with you beating up Joker as a PostFinalBoss with mostly ActionCommands.˛* In ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series, this is the case for the Dark Brotherhood, an illegal [[MurderInc organization of assassins]] whose membership mostly takes a [[PsychoForHire sadistic glee]] in killing and who practice a ReligionOfEvil. Because the [[OneBadMother Night Mother]] is the "official" leader of the Dark Brotherhood, the Listener ([[MouthOfSauron the one she communicates with from the Void]]) is in charge of the organization but is technically subordinate to the Night Mother.˛* In ''VideoGame/VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines'', Prince Lacroix is technically the BigBad (unless you choose to side with him), but he's a flimsy schemer who goes down without a fight in the end. His Dragon, on the other hand, is a hulking monstrous brute who wields a sword the size of a door and is only known as 'The Sheriff', and is the ''real'' end boss.˛* In ''VideoGame/DevilSurvivor'', if you go the morally ambiguous Naoya Route, Naoya becomes this to you (not that you're exactly incompetent without him). You are the one who is going to become the King of Bel, but you don't actually start calling the shots until Babel is defeated at the end of the 7th day; Naoya is the one who makes the plans and gets you to where you need to be.˛* ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry'''s Vergil to [[spoiler:Arkham. While Arkham manipulates Vergil, and does out-gambit him, it's blatantly obvious in the storyline that he was nothing without Vergil backing him. As soon as Arkham makes his move and gains Sparda's power...he degenerates from a copy of Sparda into a near-mindless demonic blob. His powers are easily destroyed by both Sparda twins and he's summarily shot by Lady]].˛* ''VideoGame/{{Armello}}'' has Zosha, who is TheDreaded assassin for the Night Mother and is acting on her behalf. While Zosha is slated to also claim the throne for her employer, [[DragonWithAnAgenda claiming it for herself is also up in the air]].˛* Played with in ''VideoGame/GodOfWarII''; the Sisters of Fate are older and said to be even mightier than Zeus, as their power to manipulate fate is unchallenged and their decree unquestioned - it was them who declared that the Titans would lose the Great War against the Olympians. It just so happens they benefit Zeus the most. Its only after defeating them that Zeus can be confronted.˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Visual Novels]]˛* ''Franchise/AceAttorney'':˛** The final villain of the second ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' 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]].˛** For most of ''VisualNovel/{{Ace Attorney Investigations|MilesEdgeworth}} 2'', there are two rivals opposing you- the prosecutor Yumichiko Ichiyanagi/Sebastian Debeste and the judge Hakari 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]].˛* Gilgamesh is arguably this in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''. He is vastly more powerful than Kotomine, the actual BigBad of the ''Fate'' route, and he is by far the greater threat to the heroes. When he dies in ''Heaven's Feel'', Kotomine lacks the capacity to carry through with his plans on his own. In ''Unlimited Blade Works'', he [[DragonAscendant becomes]] the BigBad after Kotomine is killed. Atypically, Kotomine is still probably more ''effective'' as the BigBad, because he is a cunning and ruthless planner, whereas Gilgamesh's massive ego prevents him from using his power effectively most of the time.˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Web Comics]]˛* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'':˛** {{Deconstruct|ion}}ed in the prequel book ''Recap/StartOfDarkness'', which shows what happens when a villain is nominally subservient to a WellIntentionedExtremist. Xykon is initially TheDragon to Redcloak: despite being more brutish and less intelligent than his "boss", over the course of the story he evolves from TheDragon to Dragon-in-Chief to BigBad, by virtue of his [[TheUnfettered total lack of moral compunction]]... though the fact that he's a lich with access to a wide array of arcane spells while Redcloak is a mere (albeit high-level) mortal cleric might help, too.\˛In the comic proper they have a complicated relationship. Redcloak is the one Xykon's hobgoblin army recognizes as their leader, despite Xykon being more powerful and the de facto boss. And there are definitely hints that Redcloak will turn into TheStarscream once their goals irreconcilably diverge (meaning [[spoiler:when ritual to control one of the [[ArtifactOfDoom Gates]] is carried out; once that's done and Redcloak's god has control of the Gate, it won't actually matter if Xykon kills him on the spot, he'll still have won]]). On the flip-side, Xykon is far more powerful, dangerous and evil, and has shown more cunning than Redcloak gives him credit for. Further, Redcloak is visibly horrifed when he realizes he's becoming more like Xykon, and regards working with him an extremely unpleasant necessary evil. Also, Redcloak himself is TheHeavy for The Dark One, his GreaterScopeVillain GodOfEvil, so he is technically TheDragon to somebody else.˛** Within the Empire of Blood, General Tarquin holds this position: the Empress (an actual dragon) is more concerned about where her next meal is coming from. Tarquin's band of six adventurers fills this in various places all over the western continent. Each of them prop up governments and switch around as the situation demands. Since kingdoms in the region are routinely overthrown, the group preempts this by doing the "overthrowing" themselves, ie killing off their current figureheads periodically and installing new ones.˛** Tarquin himself has his own DragonInChief, but it's unusual in that Malack is his ''appointed'' successor, and Tarquin fully ''expects'' him to take over as the Empress' DragonInChief. He just wants a bigger statue. ˛* ''Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids'' restores Darth Vader to this position (see the ''Star Wars'' example above in the movies section) by making Palpatine a good man who (through Vader's manipulation of both him and the Jedi Council) evolves into a WellIntentionedExtremist ˛[[/folder]]˛˛[[folder:Western Animation]]˛* Shego of ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' is almost this to Drakken. The only thing that stops her fulfilling all the criteria is that for most of the series, she [[BrilliantButLazy lacks the ambition]] to become the bigger threat -- she (mostly) helps Drakken carry out his schemes rather than invent and execute any of her own. But we know she has the power to completely overthrow Drakken if she wants to -- see ''A Sitch in Time''. What stops her is that Drakken is a significant threat in his own right, and still drives the plot of most of their stories. Without her around he's somewhat less competent, but that's just as likely to make him even more dangerous as his plans are more likely to [[GoneHorriblyWrong Go Horribly Wrong]] (case in point, creating advanced killer robots that end up turning on him). He ''is'' more [[MadScientist scientifically savvy]] than Shego -- she just has a lot more common sense and can actually fight on a near-equal level with Kim.˛* Barry Dylan in ''WesternAnimation/{{Archer}}'' is this to Odin head, Len Trexler and later [[spoiler:Nikoli Jakov, head of the KGB]]. More so to the latter. He is the ArchEnemy of Sterling Archer, and when he is in [[spoiler:Jakov's]] services, [[spoiler:he eventually becomes a cyborg and plots to ruin Archer's life. To get support for this, he usurps Jakov as head of the KGB, and has his men hunt Jakov down, event though as we see later, Barry is more then capable of hunting him down himself. It turns out his motive for this is to hurt Archer who was bonding with Jakov under the assumption that Jakov was Archer's father. Then after he steals Archer's OneTrueLove, she takes on this role before usurping him officially]].˛* Nihilus, the Roman Centurion, from ''WesternAnimation/TheStoryKeepers'' plays an incredibly obvious version of this trope to [[BigBad Emperor Nero]]. While Nero gives orders, Nihilus is much smarter and more cunning than his Emperor and he is more of a direct threat to Ben the baker and the children. When they escape Rome, Nero no longer is a threat to them while Nihilus keeps pursuing them.˛* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. It turns out Mr. Burns is actually the de-facto head of the Nuclear Power Plant. He placed a Canary as the head of the power plant, that way if he got the Plant in trouble, the Canary would take the fall. Homer lets the canary go and Mr. Burns eventually become the offical head of the Plant.˛* Despite collectively being TheDragon in ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'', The Delightful Children from Down the Lane show signs of being this, especially in the first season, comparatively to BigBad Father. They're nonetheless afraid of him whenever he starts BurningWithAnger.˛* Black Beetle to the Reach Ambassador in ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice''. The Ambassador is MagnificentBastard and in the BadFuture he's shown have succeeded in conquering Earth and pulling an EvilerThanThou on [[BigBad The Light]], but he's still a NonActionBigBad, while Black Beetle could defeat most of the protagonists on his own. Black Beetle serves the Ambassador [[LawfulEvil out of law and tradition]], but when it's clear the Ambassador's schemes have failed [[spoiler: the Beetle effortlessly deposes him and takes over the Reach delegation]]. ˛* Skeletor is DemotedToDragon in ''WesternAnimation/TheNewAdventuresOfHeMan'', since he has to ally with a pre-established army, the Evil Mutants led by Flogg, upon his arrival to the Tri-Solar Galaxy. However, Skeletor manipulates Flogg so much that he may well be still in charge. An episode where the Mutants go to invade Primus while Skeletor goes his own way to face He-Man has a piece of dialogue that pretty much sums up the relationship between Skeletor and Flogg:˛-->'''Flogg:''' When you return, I will be King of Primus!˛-->'''Skeletor (to himself):''' No, Flogg, when I return, you will be mine. Primus will be mine. The whole Tri-Solar Galaxy will be mine! And He-Man will not be.˛* In the 2006 revival of ''WesternAnimation/BikerMiceFromMars'', the Catatonian army that replaces Lawrence Limburger, Dr. Karbunkle, and Greasepit as the main villains is led by Hannibal T. Hairball, a diminutive runt who is so stupid that it's a mystery how he got in charge. His older brother Cataclysm, on the other hand, is his second-in-command, but is the one who usually gives orders because he's a lot smarter than his brother.˛* In ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGummiBears'' episode, "Toadie the Conqueror", when Igthorn seeks out a legendary suit of invincible armor, only to discover its pint-sized (it wasn't said, but apparently the original wearer was a midget), Toadworth dons it and gains it power. Igthorn has Toadworth [[CurbStompBattle Curbstomp]] the forces of Dunwyen and Igthorn takes over easily. However, once Toadworth realizes he's now more powerful than Igthorn and reflects on all the abuse he's been given by him up to that point, he pulls a TheDogBitesBack combined with DragonAscendant. Fortunately, thanks to Zummi, [[StatusQuoIsGod things go back to status quo by the end]].˛* In the spin-off of ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'' Underfist: Halloween Bash, there is Bun Bun who actually leads on AlphaBitch Mindy into taking over the world on his account by manipulating her feelings and letting her act as if she in charge.˛* ''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.˛˛[[/folder]]˛˛----

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