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Villain No Longer Idle

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The Big Bad takes matters into his own hands after many failures.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
WiseMan23753 on Jan 8th 2019 at 9:05:42 AM
Last Edited By:
WiseMan23753 on Mar 9th 2019 at 12:47:15 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

"There is an old saying: If you want something done right, do it yourself."
Hazel Rainart, RWBY

Something that the Evil Overlord List would agree most of all is not to rely on barking orders at your subordinates. Sometimes, they may too stupid or too incompetent to do anything. Or rather that kind of barking intimidates them so much that they can't do anything over the fear of what will happen. Overall, work from your subordinates are way too slow, so the Evil Overlord does things by his own hands instead.

The trope can be used when the Big Bad is above his minions in both power and competence. Usually lampshaded if the villain is Surrounded by Idiots; at some point after one too many failures, the villain will tend to say "If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself!" and then proceeds to do far better at any given mission than his underlings have ever done, making you wonder why he didn't just do this in the first place.

This can be a buildup to a Final Boss, if the Big Bad is one. Contrast Non-Action Big Bad and Orcus on His Throne, when the Big Bad remains on his chair and lets all his subordinates do the work for him. Compare It's Personal, which can be a motivation for this trope.


Examples include:

Anime & Manga

  • Full Metal Panic!
    • After the loss of Gauron and Gates, Amalgam takes matters with Mithril more seriously. Their first response is both occupying Merida Island while Leonard, who has been sitting out much of the first few arcs, personally trashes the Arbalest and retrieves Kaname, something they continuously failed until now.
  • Found in both Big Bad Wannabe villains in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED:
    • Azrael suffers a mutiny by Nartele, who locks him up in the command bridge during a critical battle with the Archangel. Therefore, he personally operates his flagship's weapons. If it wasn't for Mu La Flaga's intervention, he might have won.
    • Patrick Zala likewise ends up having many soldiers questioning his orders to fire GENESIS at Earth, especially since they already won the battle (and probably the whole war). He ends up shooting a soldier for questioning his orders and operates the controls himself, despite being warned that he will destroy his own forces as a result.
  • Sailor Moon Crystal
    • Queen Beryl, who spent much of her time sitting back in the manga and anime, gets off her throne for once in the middle of the Dark Kingdom arc. She successfully defeats Tuxedo Mask and retrieves him the first time. However, the second time she does so, she's defeated long before the Shitennou do.

Film - Animation

Film - Live-Action

Video Games
  • Ratchet & Clank
    • In the first game, Qwark and Drek do this as part of their boss fights. The former sends his pet creature the first time, and during his boss fight, he sends out a squadron of fighters to attack Ratchet. After they get destroyed, he says it word for word that if he wants to finish the job in defeating Ratchet, he'll have to do it himself. The latter has him personally press the button for the Deplanetizer aimed at Ratchet's planet, additionally armed with a large robot to confront the duo.
    • The third game has Dr. Nefarious, who relies on his minions, including his butler Lawrence (much to his annoyance). When even he is absent in a crucial moment against the duo, Nefarious decides he will just fight them himself.
  • Happens in both the Brotherhood and the Ronin arcs in Saints Row 2. The Brotherhood leader Maero holds back his retribution against the Saints even after they scar him with radioactive tattoo ink, but after they kill his girlfriend and maim his Best Friend, he goes out of his way to destroy them. The Ronin arc, meanwhile, has Kazuo Akuji, the Ronin overboss, fly over from Japan to personally deal with the troubles his American branch is having with the Saints (in a subversion, he does an even worse job of it than his US-based underlings, due to lacking all cultural context).
  • Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty
    • When invading Char, Kerrigan finally has it with relying on her minions and personally goes after the Terrans to retrieve the Xelnaga artifact.

Web Original

  • As part of the Evil Overlord List 101: "I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me - I'll do it myself."

Feedback: 35 replies

Jan 8th 2019 at 9:24:33 AM

Why is this limited to villains?

Jan 8th 2019 at 10:55:59 AM

Title is a stock phrase.

Jan 8th 2019 at 8:37:06 PM

^ But we also have Non Action Guy - and cases where NAG gets in action also sounds like a trope in itself (and distinct from this one).

"Villain No Longer Idle" is good, though it could be better.

Jan 9th 2019 at 2:28:28 AM

  • Happens in both the Brotherhood and the Ronin arcs in Saints Row 2. The Brotherhood leader Maero holds back his retribution against the Saints even after they scar him with radioactive tattoo ink, but after they kill his girlfriend and maim his Best Friend, he goes out of his way to destroy them. The Ronin arc, meanwhile, has Kazuo Akuji, the Ronin overboss, fly over from Japan to personally deal with the troubles his American branch is having with the Saints (in a subversion, he does an even worse job of it than his US-based underlings, due to lacking all cultural context).

Jan 9th 2019 at 2:27:38 AM

  • Laconic: changed "in his own hands" to "into his own hands".
  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Italicized work names as per How To Write An Example - Emphasis For Work Names.
    • Deleted a redundant "her".
    • Changed "in" to "during".
    • Replaced garbage text (caused by non-standard text characters) with standard text characters.
    • Put quotations around quoted material.
    • Corrected punctuation (added necessary commas).
    • Changed media section titles as per Media Categories.

Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context. Warning: providing Zero Context Examples can result in being suspended from editing.

Jan 9th 2019 at 2:44:15 AM

Contrast also The Unfought.

  • Mega Man Zero: for most of the the third and fourth game, Dr. Weil, the Big Bad, is just a cyborg scientist with no combat capabilities and relies on his right hand robot (different in each game) to spearhead his plans. In the end of the fourth game, however, after Craft, his henchman, betrayed him and later got killed by Zero, he decides to take the matters of destroying Area Zero in his own hands by taking over Ragnarok, and later, merging with its core, becoming the Final Boss.

Jan 9th 2019 at 11:07:40 AM

  • In the Power Rangers Zeo episode "Mondo's Last Stand", Mondo is frustrated that all his various Monster Of The Week have failed to defeat the Power Rangers, so he decides to personally face them himself in battle, using a sword he sealed away for being too dangerous to use. He ends up being destroyed by the end of the episode, though being a machine he is repaired and rebuilt over several episodes.

Jan 9th 2019 at 11:22:18 AM

Much as I personally approve of the name, it's a Bad Snowclone by definition and would need to change.

Actually, thinking about it, I'm not sure if this is really a trope as-is. "Big Bad who does stuff" isn't really a trope. And "Big Bad who was previously on his throne" isn't so much a trope as an inevitable part of Orcus On His Throne.

Now, maybe I could see "the particular moment where Orcus gets off his throne" as separately tropable, but I would need to be convinced.

Jan 9th 2019 at 11:34:51 AM

^ This

And, as someone else asked previously, why is this villain only?

Jan 9th 2019 at 12:08:55 PM

Yeah. Another thing that could be a trope that I don't think we have is "Badass character that usually waits on the sidelines finally joins the fray." It would basically be a Super Trope to Hes Back, Back In The Saddle, and Awakening The Sleeping Giant.

If we don't have it already, that could be a trope.

Tossing in a bomb to offset the two hats.

Jan 9th 2019 at 1:39:04 PM

Something about the moment where someone takes matters into their own hands. I know that's not gonna fly as a title, I'm not suggesting it, but that's basically what we're talking about, is that right?

Jan 10th 2019 at 6:19:46 AM

^^ Lets Get Dangerous is when the badass "goes to town", showing why they're badass. That's probably the supertrope you want?

Jan 23rd 2019 at 6:45:03 AM

  • Quake III: Revolution is the only game of the Arena/Champions series where the player can fight the Vadrigar. As such, he teases their confrontation a lot in certain rungs and appears halfway through the story mode.
    "What kind of trickery is this? Never has a warrior triumphed in so many of my arenas! Are you more than you appear? No matter! You will now taste and swallow the bitter pill of defeat!"

Jan 23rd 2019 at 8:50:45 AM

Oh, and Recess: School's Out is an animated movie, not live-action.

Jan 23rd 2019 at 9:45:23 AM

  • Zordrak usually left things to his bumbling Urpney minions throughout most of the The Dreamstone, though on sporadic occasions took an active role himself, most often during the first season. Reconstructed in "Megattack" where he finally engages a full invasion on the Land of Dreams, still sat on his throne, which has been installed with a jet pack by Urpgor.
  • Team Rocket leader, Giovanni is largely a Greater Scope Villain through the Pokemon anime, though plays a key antagonist in Mewtwo's arc in the movie series, and also leads the organisation into a full invasion on Unova in the Best Wishes series. Incidentally it took until the latter for Giovanni to finally battle Ash, his Persian defeated Pikachu in a matter of seconds.

Jan 23rd 2019 at 11:01:46 AM

If the villain is Surrounded By Idiots, then at some point after one too many failures the villain will tend to say "If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself!" and then proceeds to do far better at any given mission than his underlings have ever done, making you wonder why he didn't just do this in the first place.

Feb 23rd 2019 at 3:57:15 PM

Bump! Here's a quote:

"I'm tired of working through others. It's time I took a personal hand in your demise."
Sarah Kerrigan, Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty

Feb 23rd 2019 at 11:25:11 PM

See also Frontline General.

  • Initial plans for the Lord Of The Rings film had Aragorn fighting an avatar of Sauron himself during the final battle, this was changed to a troll.

Feb 24th 2019 at 3:06:11 AM

Steven Universe: Blue and Yellow diamond finally attack the crystal gems directly after Steven escapes homeworld

Feb 24th 2019 at 3:12:45 AM

Copied from Characters.MCU Thanos:

Feb 24th 2019 at 8:41:56 AM

Film Animated

  • Disney's The Little Mermaid came very close to kissing Prince Eric, which would have sundered the Evil Plan of Ursula the sea witch. Determined to be a Shipping Torpedo, Ursula takes the guise of Vanessa, departs her morbid undersea lair and exerts Mind Control on Prince Eric. Ursula even lampshades this while preparing her transformation potion:
    Ursula: Well, it's time Ursula took matters into her own tentacles!

Feb 25th 2019 at 1:55:02 AM

The title is still a Bad Snowclone of Orcus On His Throne. All of the hats given so far are therefore illegal, as this proposal cannot be launched with that title.

Please add bombs so this cannot be rogue launched.

Feb 25th 2019 at 5:15:37 AM

^ Even though I get what "Orcus off his throne" means... oh well.

"Villain No Longer Idle" sounds like a good idea.

Feb 25th 2019 at 11:22:52 AM

^^ If only bombs did prevent launching... oh well.

Feb 25th 2019 at 3:19:31 PM

That could be solved with a name crowner.

Feb 25th 2019 at 6:24:52 PM

Is this an MF SMT reference! Yesh got to love that and sounds real badass when those powerful villians get off their butts to get some real action know what I ma saying?

Mar 7th 2019 at 12:50:29 PM

Bombing to balance the hats: Needs A Better Title. Who's in charge of this draft?

Mar 8th 2019 at 3:25:34 AM

^ This was last edited by the OP WiseMan23753 on January 10th, so it's still under their control.

It becomes Up For Grabs after two months of inactivity: March 11th.

Mar 8th 2019 at 7:11:58 AM

So who actually changed the title now?

Mar 9th 2019 at 4:11:26 AM

The OP edited this proposal on March 8th, so the Up For Grabs countdown clock has reset.

Mar 9th 2019 at 7:50:01 AM

^ Are you sure it was really that guy? The "Last Edited By" part is often misleading...

Mar 9th 2019 at 12:47:15 PM

Literature

  • In His Dark Materials, the Authority plans to directly intervene in the arious worlds, due to him finding the various churches and religions too lax.

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