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Big Bad Wannabe / Anime & Manga

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Big Bad Wannabes in anime and manga.


  • Prime Minister Honest, from Akame ga Kill!, may be the de-facto leader of the empire, but the only reason he's still in charge is that he has Esdeath's support. He will not even consider annoying her in any way and allows her to do whatever she wants, even if she goes against his authority because he knows his title, his authority, his reputation, and his life are all forfeit otherwise. When his son, Syura, asks him to disband the Jaegers on suspicion of secretly working against them, he counters by pointing out that Esdeath's very existence covers their asses, and refuses to oppose her in any way. When Esdeath humiliates Syura and provides evidence that he needlessly harmed the people of the Empire, Honest is forced to disband Wild Hunt.
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  • Clovis and Viceroy Calares in Code Geass. The latter less so than the first; Clovis is set up at the start as the first big obstacle in Lelouch's way for taking down Britannia, being the ruler of Area 11/Japan and one of Lelouch's half-brothers, making him a personal villain. He's dead at the start of the third episode. Meanwhile, Calares in R2 has an even shorter lifespan once Lelouch regains his memories; Lelouch casually knocks him off while breaking an encirclement to get to his goal in the second episode.
  • Death Note: Kyosuke Higuchi is an Arc Villain who gains Light's Death Note as part of his Memory Gambit. The task force initially sees his crimes as a major threat but his carelessness makes him much easier to catch on to than Light ever was and he's killed off once Light decides he doesn't need him anymore.
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  • Digimon Tamers: Hypnos and the Devas are pretty big threats on their own, and probably would be main villain material in any other situation. Thing is, compared to the D-Reaper, the true main villain, they’re a complete joke. In the end, they’re both even forced into joining with the good guys, simply because it’s clear everything will die if the D-Reaper isn’t stopped.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Pilaf pictures himself as the main villain in Dragon Ball, but is more of a whiny, spoiled brat. It would be a while before any really evil villains showed up.
    • Commander Red of the Red Ribbon Army. He sees himself commanding an army that can take over the world and hunts down the Dragon Balls for his own vanity. He is brought down almost single-handedly by Goku and is killed by Officer Black when he learns the real reason why Red wanted the Dragon Balls. note 
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    • His Hypercompetent Sidekick Officer Black becomes this trope once he kills Red and takes over what is left of the Red Ribbon Army. He claims that he will lead the army into a new era of greatness and take over the world. He is killed within minutes of taking command by Goku.
    • Master Roshi's friend turned rival, Master Shen, shows up at the 23rd Martial Arts Tournament seeking revenge on Goku and his former students but is quickly chased off.
    • When Raditz first shows up in Dragon Ball Z, he seems to be an unstoppable menace the likes of which has never been seen before. Moreover, he's Goku's older brother, and surely such an obvious Evil Counterpart to the hero would be the main villain, right? But it turns out that in the larger scale of things, he's just a glorified Elite Mook for Vegeta. He becomes an even smaller fish compared to the overall pond of Frieza's mooks (especially since both Nappa and Vegeta are stronger than he is, and even a Saibaman is equal to him in power, which the Z Fighters are able to easily dispatch by the time Nappa and Vegeta arrive.
    • Vegeta is reduced to this in the Frieza Saga. He is still a legitimate threat who kills many of Frieza's men, including his Co-Dragons Dodoria and Zarbon, and would have killed Krillin and Gohan if given enough reason, but he's little more than a flea compared to Frieza. What keeps him ahead is that he's cleverer than his former boss, who relies on brute force and his resources to get his way. However, once Vegeta is brought into the open and is forced to confront Frieza directly, he's left trembling in terror before the tyrant and is mercilessly tortured to death.
    • Dr. Gero, aka Android 20. Although he is very powerful, being many times stronger than Frieza, him underestimating the Saiyans and Piccolo despite his research proves to be his undoing. That and he thought raw power alone was enough to beat a group who have trained their entire lives and he was shortsighted enough to give himself the weaker, outdated android design instead of the much more powerful endless energy model like Androids 17 and 18. (Though this is implied to be because the elderly Gero was too frail to survive being converted into the more powerful model.)
    • In spite of his dark magic powers, Babidi is really no match for any of the Z Fighters and is completely reliant on the likes of Dabura and Majin Buu to do all the fighting for him. Once Buu finally gets sick of his BS, it's all over for him. His counterpart in Future Trunks' timeline was no better, as even though Dabura was a much larger threat to Trunks than he was to the Saiyans of the main timeline (that ultimately led to the death of Supreme Kai and by extension Beerus), Trunks ultimately killed them both before they could successfully resurrect Majin Buu.
  • Namie Yagiri from Durarara!!; when we first see her, she's played up as the main antagonist and indeed is one of the main threats towards the protagonist, Celty Sturluson due to her intentions toward her. Unfortunately for her, she suffers a humiliating defeat at the hands of Mikado Ryugamine and is ultimately rendered subservient to the story's true Big Bad, Izaya Orihara.
  • Fairy Tail:
  • Marie from Flame of Recca manages to easily "defeat" The Smart Guy Mikagami Tokiya through a string of coincidences, but is later smacked around by Recca and Domon, and she's been a non-factor ever since.
  • Gates from Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid, who spends the entire season being set up as the Big Bad. In the climax, he kills a henchman of another villain and defeats Mao... And then Sousuke enters the arena and kills both Gates and his Elite Mooks in a matter of minutes.
  • Gintama has Hitotsubashi Nobunobu. He seems quite menacing and important in his first appearance during the Shinigami arc, looking like a good candidate to be the series' next Knight of Cerebus... Then the Shogun Assassination arc comes, and just as he is making a little Villain Speech about how everyone is just a pawn in his hands he gets punched by Kamui, one of the "pawns" he thought he was controlling, so hard he spends the rest of the arc in the hospital while Takasugi takes center-stage as the main antagonist. Even when Nobunobu is brought back near the end of the arc it is only as a Puppet King for the Tendoshu, and he can't impose his authority to anyone on his own..
    • Then comes the next arc, and even after being placed on the throne, he again got punched in the face and hospitalized after Kicking the dog too hard, and the ones who really take the role of antagonists are his Dragon-in-Chief Isaburo Sasaki and once again, the Tendoshu.
    • And because two times is not enough, during the following arc, he tries to personally lead the hunt and chases after his enemies in space with a fleet of space ships, only to get thwarted and taken hostage in a matter of seconds, kicking the dog another time and getting punched in the face by Bansai.
    • Turns out the Tendoushuu, the Greater-Scope Villain of the entire series, are ultimately revealed to be this, Outgambitted in an Eviler Than Thou moment by Utsuro, whom they believed was under their thumb. Even in their return during the last third of the Silver Soul Arc, they were nothing more then puppets to the dead Utsuro.
  • Gundam:
  • The original series of Gunnm has Bigott Einsenburg who seems to be a high ranking official in Zalem and has a smug disdain for scrapyard cyborgs who defile their bodies with electronics. He betrays Gally several times because he just sees her as a disposable tool. He also has access to the superweapon "Abbadon" which crushes a full-scale rebellion led by a Humongous Mecha in seconds. However Desti Nova then reveals all citizens of Zalem have their brains replaced with chips when they come of age. Cue an epic psychotic fit which leads to the guy and all his co-workers being eradicated by Zalem's true robotic rulers.
  • Heavy Object: After all the buildup to the reveal of the mastermind behind the volume's conflict, Flag Eggnog turns out to be an utter incompetent who was (incompetently) trying to cover his ass. He couldn't even do that alone and had to rely on the Information Alliance to arrange the plan and the Winchel family to actually execute it. His death is less climax than cleanup.
  • Encrico Maxwell, the head of the Vatican's Section XIII in Hellsing. When he joins the London battle, he does so with the grand ambitions of killing Alucard and even equips his vast number of troops with anti-vampire weapons. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't aware that Alucard was capable of going One-Winged Angel and summoning an army of the dead and when he does, Maxwell's forces are completely decimated before he himself is betrayed by one of his subordinates and left to die by the hands of Alucard's zombie-minions.
  • High School DXD: Diodora Astaroth is given much the same treatment as Starter Villain Raiser Phenex before him, being in a class above Issei, trying to take one of his harem away, and with the added threat of having orchestrated much of the grief that followed Asia for much of her life. He has the dubious honor of being the first foe Issei utterly flattens.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
    • Hol Horse from the Stardust Crusaders arc. He even tries to kill Dio at one point, only to be given the first demonstration of Dio's Time Stop.
    • Donatello Versace is this to the main villain three arcs later. Like Hol Horse, he starts out under the villain's command but seeing no motive to help him and feeling more entitled to Dio's legacy due to being his son Versace tries to hijack his plan.
  • Kinnikuman:
    • Kinkotsuman appeared during the early days of the series, back when it was an Ultraman parody; He proved to be as effective a villain as Kinnikuman was a hero. But while Kinnikuman Took a Level in Badass, Kinkotsuman, well, didn't. He tried to take over the American Chojin world by having his lackey Iwao and creation Black Shadow enter the Tag Tournament, but Black Shadow was easily torn apart by the American Tour Arc's true Big Bad, Skull Bozu and his partner Devil Magican. Kinkotsuman joined Iwao for the next match, but they were beaten by Kinnikuman alone. After that Kinkotsuman was regulated to the background, making cameos here and there.
    • Mixer Taitei is one of the only villains to ever straight-up defeat Kinnikuman himself, but immediately afterward suffers the ignominy of being killed by Kinnikuman's milquetoast kid sidekick, Meat. To be fair, Mixer Taitei is a giant blender Choujin and his fight with Kinnikuman has knocked a few of his screws loose without him realizing it, making him extremely vulnerable to drops and suplexes... but the fact remains that after beating The Hero, he was in turn defeated by a preteen 1/8th his size. The only reason he won against Kin was that the 5 Evil Gods gave him a temporary power-up, meaning the match was 1 against 6. Mr. VTR has to alter reality enough to reverse Kin's Finishing Move in Mixer's favor.
  • Kurt Grendel of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force. He and the Grendel Family make a fairly impressive entrance, proclaiming their intent to Take Over the City, giving trouble to Tohma, Erio, and Caro, and successfully performing a Grand Theft Prototype. Then one of their members meets Hero Killer Cypha, another member meets the Crazy-Prepared Isis, and their last member together with Kurt himself meets the Weak, but Skilled Teana. All of them are then summarily taken out over the course of one and a half chapters with ridiculous ease.
  • Orochimaru from Naruto slowly became this in Part 2. In Part 1 he's too strong for any of the heroes to defeat, forcing the Third Hokage to sacrifice himself to save the village (which doesn't even kill him entirely). But later it's revealed that he lost to Itachi in the past while trying to claim his body, and in most of the battles after that, he's defeated easily or forced to retreat. This is partly because he wasn't at full strength when he fights, but it shows that he's lost much of his original threat. This was worst when he fought against Itachi (while fighting Sasuke) in the manga, and was defeated in merely a few pages.
    • Pain was introduced as the Big Bad in charge of Akatsuki, but was soon Demoted to Dragon with aspirations of becoming the supplanting Tobi after gathering the Bijuu. Despite gaining a massive Hero Killer reputation by killing Jiraiya, he was defeated by Naruto in his second appearance and after only the first of Naruto's Shounen Upgrades.
    • Kabuto tried very hard to take his master's place, using some incredibly extreme methods. His Edo Tensei army was dangerous but personally, he was defeated relatively easily despite extensively modifying his own body and achieving an Evil Counterpart to Naruto's Sage Mode and was mostly forgotten by the story for a few years.
    • Madara Uchiha, the villain of the series, was reduced to this in the end. Up until that point, he was one of the two biggest threats in the war, soundly curb-stomping the Five Kage and most of the Alliance. Even after Obito betrayed him and briefly took control of the plan by becoming the Jinchuuriki for the Ten-Tails, Madara still posed a huge problem (although and in a lesser degree than Obito on that moment). By all rights, he should have been the Big Bad once he was fully-revived and sealed the Ten Tails into himself. However, soon after he activates the Infinite Tsukuyomi, he's immediately betrayed by his Enigmatic Minion, Black Zetsu, with his body being used as a vessel for the revival of his ancestor, Princess Kaguya. He isn't even dignified with a final face-off against Naruto and Sasuke.
  • In the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind anime, Kurotowa pulls the most half-assed attempt at this ever. When Kushana is missing and presumed dead, he plans to take command from her and use the Giant Warrior to carve out a position for himself — or even conquer the world, it's really not clear just where his ambition would end. Then, when she turns up alive, he just quietly gives up on this plan, complaining that his chance is gone now. It's even more jarring if you read the manga first, as there he shoots up to Not-So-Harmless Villain territory in record time. To be fair to the guy, with Kushana presumed dead he would be left in charge of their forces and the operation to revive the Giant Warrior. Backing off when Kushana reappears just means he's just loyal to her and his complaining is more bemusement that actual bitterness.
  • One Piece
    • Hody Jones may be the Big Bad of the Fishman Island arc, but compared to the post-Time Skip Straw Hats, even with his steroid abuse, he's nothing but fodder. It's particularly telling that he's the only Big Bad of an arc who was beaten before his minions. Despite that, he is the most dangerous member of the three-man Big Bad Ensemble in that same arc, is the one whose minions actually fight with the Straw Hats, and came close to committing genocide against his own people (twice, in fact). If he wasn't so hopelessly outmatched, he would have been the Big Bad, and he was at least stronger than everyone who wasn't a Straw Hat. The only exception to this was Jinbei, and he would have joined the crew if it weren't for the fact that he had personal business to attend to first. This even carries over into their eventual fate. Many of the villains are defeated and have to live with their dreams being crushed, but they're still around, and some of them are better off when they find something new to do with their lives. Hody and his crew talked big about sacrificing their lives for the strength the Energy Steroids gave them (the steroids being the only reason they were ever a threat at all) but after going to jail, the toll of the steroids turns out to simply be turning them into harmless, wrinkled old fogies. The would-be conquerors of the world are too lame for even their defeat to have a modicum of dignity.
    • A lot of One Piece's earlier villains were this, to varying degrees. For all their big talk, none of them actually posed a threat to Luffy himself, and most of them were taken out rather easily. Most of their impact was on Luffy's crewmates. In fact, one could easily argue that the series didn't have a legitimate Big Bad until Crocodile during the Alabasta arc.
    • Vinsmoke Judge, Sanji's Archnemesis Dad; He's the one who got Sanji engaged to one of Big Mom's daughters so he wouldn't have to sacrifice his more loyal kids to basically life-imprisonment in Big Mom's house. He hoped to use the Villain Team-Up with the Big Mom Pirates to someday conquer the North Blue sea. However, it turns out that the "Alliance" is just a trap so the Pirates can steal his technology. When Judge realizes that he's about to be killed, his bravado crumbles and he's basically sobbing and begging for someone to save him.
  • Pretty Cure has two villains who were believed to be the Big Bads for a long time, until the origins of their evil actions, the Man Behind the Man/Greater-Scope Villain, were revealed:
  • Kyoko of Puella Magi Madoka Magica appears to be the most significant non-witch threat in the show during her early appearances. However, Walpurgisnacht, the most powerful witch, is definitely the greater threat to our Main Characters. Then, as Kyoko undergoes a Heel–Face Turn, it turns out that the girls' main foe is in fact Kyubey, who ruins their lives and robs them of their humanity in order to stave off the heat death of the universe. Bonus points in that this is the catalyst for Kyoko's turn to the light side. Kyubey is also the one who created Walpurgisnacht.
  • Noah from Soul Eater. He is thought to be the 3rd Big Bad of the series until it turned out he was simply a tool of the Book of Eibon's Table of Contents.
  • Sword Art Online: While the legitimate Big Bad of the Fairy Dance arc and introduced as the villain preceding Akihiko Kayaba, Sugou Nobuyuki is ultimately just a shallow imitation of his predecessor. The entire system for ALO was hijacked from SAO and he even shows himself to be extremely jealous of the far more talented Kayaba. His inferiority is cemented when Kayaba easily overrides the code in his game and gives Kirito admin privileges, while Sugou is helpless to do anything about it but whine and cry. Even when he manages to usurp the title of Big Bad of SAO in the video game continuity of Infinity Moment/Hollow Fragment, it's only because Kayaba was indisposed in dealing with the glitches in the Cardinal System and couldn't take care of Sugou himself, forcing Kirito and company to do it instead.
  • Vampire Knight: Despite being built up as a new threat, Sara Shirabuki ends up accomplishing very little, if anything at all, and ends up as a mere bump in the road.
  • Wolf's Rain: The Nobles are all prominent antagonists: Lord Darcia, Lady Jagura, and Lord Orkham. Lord Orkham was the one who stole Cheza in the first place and but he's implied to merely be The Caligula compared to the other Noble's more grand designs. His troops are the main threat for much of the few episodes, but he has few appearances before Lady Jagura's troops infiltrate his base and unceremoniously murder him. His nameless Mook Lieutenant has more characterization and appearances than him.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Marik Ishtar in the original manga and its anime seems to be the Big Bad of the Battle City arc at first, even teaming up with a more significant threat, Dark Bakura. But in the finals, his Split Personality, Dark Marik, is revealed to be the true threat, and is revealed to be behind Marik's motivation to kill Yugi. Dark Bakura, on the other hand, just waits until the final story arc to make his move.
    • Yugioh GX: Chosaku Manjoume/Slade Princeton and Shoji Majoume/Jagger Princeton both are the manipulative uncaring brothers to Chazz/Jun, wanting their younger brother to be the best at dueling, as they've already conquered financing and politics in order for the family to be on top of the world. In one episode, they attempt to take over Duel Academy and face their brother in a duel after Seto Kaiba stated he'd only sell the school if they win. However, they come right before the duels with the Shadow Riders, the Light of Destruction and Yubel, making them more a minor nuisance compared to the threats that would come later. Their brother wins and they're forced to withdraw. In the dub, Kaiba even states they have a lot to learn about world domination.
    • Rudger Godwin/Roman Goodwin from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's was this for the Dark Signer arc. He was the defeated before the two female villains, and he was nothing but an Unwitting Pawn to Rex Godwin/Goodwin, the real Big Bad and Man Behind the Man.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL took this Up to Eleven. At first, Tron was a third-party threat to both the heroes and Dr. Faker, who seemed to be the Big Bad. But then, it was revealed that Faker was just an Unwitting Pawn to Vector. But it was revealed much later that Vector and the other Barian Emperors, along with most other villains, were pawns to Don Thousand, the true Big Bad.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho:
    • While Gonzou Tarukane is dangerous thanks to his wealth and his connections being the founder of the Black Book Club and hiring various demons and humans to do his dirty work. He overestimates his chances of winning, loses everything when Younger Toguro is defeated, and doesn't compare well to the rest of the antagonists in the series. It doesn't help that The Toguro Bros were actually working for the real Big Bad who had caused him to lose his money and that they end up killing him after this is revealed.
    • In the final arc, after the preliminaries end, just before the first match of the tournament, a contestant approaches Yusuke and tells him that after he wins his first fight, he will fight him in the second round and kill him, before going on to kill Yomi (who had the best chance of winning overall) in the third round, and then win the tournament and take over the entire Demon World. Yusuke wins his first match... but his would-be second-round opponent does not.


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