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  • Age of Fire: Since the first three novels all take place at roughly the same time, the Wrymmaster — the Big Bad of the first book — is this for the latter two. It's his minions and allies that set the events of the series in motion, scattering the three sibling protagonists and sending them all on their own individual storylines. And while he only shows up in the first book, his presence is still felt in the other two to varying degrees.
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  • In Alex Rider, Zeljan Kurst is the leader of SCORPIA, and the one who orders the BigBads of Snakehead and Scorpia Rising to carry out their plots, though he never comes face to face with Alex.
  • Alien Hunters: Emperor Lore only shows up a few times via hologram messages and gives out orders to Skrum and Grotter. Besides that, he never shows up in person or directly impacts the plot, even though he's Skrum's boss and a major figure in the Skelkrin Empire.
  • Allegiant:
    • It's revealed that Jeanine Matthews, the Big Bad of the first two books, obtained the serums used for execution and mind controlling Dauntless members from the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, the mastermind behind the experiment in Chicago and several other metropolitan cities for more than eight generations.
    • It's also revealed that the experiment was done to produce genetically pure children from the genetically damaged, who were the subjects of an earlier experiment to "correct" human genes of their "imperfections". So, ultimately, whoever had the insane idea to do the "correction" in the first place is this.
  • Animorphs:
    • The Council of Thirteen are the political heads of the Yeerk Empire, but only appear in one book, a Villain Episode where they're more focused on judging Vissers One and Three than the conquest of Earth per se. Visser Three is the commander of operations on Earth and consequently functions as the Big Bad. The main plotline ends with his defeat.
    • Crayak is a Sufficiently Advanced Alien who plays The Chessmaster throughout the galaxy to encourage mass genocides of entire species for no reason; in a series full of shades of grey he's one of only a handful of characters who qualify as pure evil. However, he only becomes directly involved in the story a handful of times and isn't terribly invested in it. The implication is that he and his Good Counterpart, the Ellimist will continue their long "game" millennia after the Animorphs' series has ended.
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  • Quite a few of Laird Barron's works (specifically the short stories "The Broadsword," "The Men from Porlock," "Mysterium Tremendum," and the novel The Croning) feature a race of Puppeteer Parasites with insidious intentions for humanity, who are the spawn of an interplanetary entity only known as Old Leech.
  • In Battlefield Earth Terl and Limper are the direct threats. The Catrists are revealed to be the masterminds behind the empire opposing humanity... and are dead by the time their existence is revealed.
  • Bazil Broketail: Waakzaam the Great, also known as the Dominator. He used to be one of seven divine beings, created by the Great Mother in order to mold the worlds she created into their final shape, and then die and unite with them. Waakzaam was the only one to renege on his duty, as he was not satisfied with how he and his brethren's work came out and thought he could improve it. Sadly, his attempts at "improving" the worlds has universally led to unspeakable cruelties, including massacres of their inhabitants and installing tyrannical rulership. He has already devastated twelve worlds that way and in book six, he finally makes an appearance in person, intent on making Ryetelth suffer the same fate.
  • In the Belgariad and The Malloreon, the King of Hell is mentioned several times as a demon god Sealed Evil in a Can who controls the single nastiest faction in existence, but because he isn't part of the conflict between the Light and Dark Prophecies, he to all practical intents and purposes sits the series out. A couple of his top minions do show up in supporting villain roles, but were likely acting independently.
  • The Brethren, by John Grisham, makes reference early on to one Natli Chenkov, a Russian politician and Communist hardliner who is suspected of planning to stage a coup and start a war the director of the CIA doubts America can win. The main action of the book involves three former judges (the titular Brethren) who run a blackmail scheme from prison and unwittingly hook the congressman whom said CIA director hopes to install as President to beef up the military and block Chenkov's ambitions, bringing down the CIA's wrath on them. Whether this makes Teddy Maynard (the CIA director) the Big Bad (albeit a Well-Intentioned Extremist) or the Brethren Villain Protagonists (albeit sympathetic ones) is arguable, but Chenkov is hardly mentioned after the initial explanation.
  • Dale Brown's books have portrayed the Chinese presidents and high commands that tacitly condone the generals' and admirals' actions as this, in contrast to the Russian presidents who have directly been Big Bads.
  • In The Chathrand Voyages, it's established early on that Arunis (most dangerous individual member of The Big Bad Shuffle the series has going on) worships entities called the Night Gods. These gods later turn out to be very real, and Arunis doesn't just worship them, he wants to be one. They've set him a task to complete before they'll accept him into their ranks — namely, scouring Alifros, the world where the books are set, of life — but otherwise take no direct part and Arunis (and the other villains) stand and fall by their own merits.
  • The Last Battle reveals that the chief Calormene god Tas] was this all along throughout The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • The Chronicles of Prydain:
    • Arawn Death-Lord who played the role of the Big Bad for The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron, is this for The Castle of Llyr and Taran Wanderer. By The High King, he's the Big Bad again.
    • There's also Gwyn the Hunter's unnamed lord. Even Gwydion doesn't know his name or identity, but believes that he's greater in power than Arawn — although not necessarily evil, since Gwyn's function (basically a Grim Reaper figure) is a necessary one.
  • Chronicles of the Kencyrath: The ultimate enemy is Perimal Darkling (think The Corruption on a cosmic scale), which appears to be largely mindless and is in no sense a "person", nor does it seem to have desires beyond consuming the whole universe. Master Gerridon, nominally The Dragon, generally serves as the primary antagonist.
  • The Nameless in the Coldfire Trilogy. He/she/it/they (it's complicated) is far and away the most powerful evil in the series, but while it features prominently in the backstory of Gerald Tarrant, the bad guy actually responsible for the conflict is Calesta. The Nameless's only real role in the present-day story is to punish Tarrant for apparently backing out on the Deal with the Devil they made.
  • Brandon Sanderson's The Cosmere: The Shard Odium is shaping up to be the most powerful evil, though some Word of God indicates that something more subtle but even more dangerous may be out there. Odium takes the role of Big Bad proper in The Stormlight Archive.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: Azathoth is a manifestation of perfect amoral chaos who creates and destroys, kept asleep by the Lesser Outer Gods with 'pipes and drums' so his awakening doesn't destroy the universe, but never does anything except listening to music. Most of the other powerful Eldritch Abominations (Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth) also take a very distant role in most of Lovecraft's stories, a notable exception being "The Call of Cthulhu". Nyarlathotep is a bit more hands-on, and August Derleth's Mythos stories frequently feature the likes of Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth about to personally emerge everywhere before being halted by a Deus ex Machina or explosives.
  • In Daniel Faust the Kings of Man are behind the Network, an occult criminal organization with its fingers in more pies than you can shake a stick at. They're not demons, but dwell primarily in the Void Between the Worlds.
  • Dark Shores: The Seventh god, also known as the Corruptor. Gods of Reath usually do not interfere directly and only act through their chosen. And while Derin's queen Rufina, the Big Bad of Dark Skies, is marked by the Seventh, Lucius Cassius, the Big Bad of Dark Shores, might be acting independently. Or not.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle, the Serpents are led by the Royal One, but though he appears in the fourth and fifth books, afterwards he plays no direct role in the story, leaving the jobs of The Heavy of the series and The Face of Serpents as a faction to his minion Sang-drax. Haplo also speculates that the Serpents as a whole are merely the minions of some even greater evil power, but if this is true, such a power never makes itself known directly.
  • The Shadow Lord in Deltora Quest, an Evil Overlord and part-time ascended Cosmic Entity, is responsible for most of the immediate antagonists of each book but is rarely seen or directly faced. While the focus shifts towards the Shadow Lord as the endgame villain in the later books of each series, the primary focus stays on a smaller-scale villain (though often orchestrated by the Shadow Lord himself). Exceptions where the Shadow Lord could be considered the Big Bad are the finales of the first and especially second series.
  • Despite the fact that most adaptations have established Dracula in the public consciousness as "merely" a very powerful vampire, in the original novel it is openly stated that his vampirism is the result of a damning Deal with the Devil and only a sample of the dark sorcery that he has been taught in the occult academy of the Scholomance. This black magic that has transcended the natural limits of life and death makes him nothing but a mere student (if a very good one) who will always serve the powers of darkness and his headmaster, Satan himself, by crawling in the shadows of his hideous unlife and never become a teacher himself.
  • In Dragonlance, the evil deities frequently play this role in the novels, such as Hiddukel in the Taladas Trilogy, or Takhisis in Chronicles. There is also Morgion in the Minotaur Wars Trilogy.
  • Throughout the first few volumes of The Dresden Files, Harry fights standalone monsters of the book, but eventually begins to suspect that there may have been a single guiding hand behind all of them. His suspicions are partly confirmed in Proven Guilty, when his mentor Ebenezar McCoy agrees that the circumstances are too much to be just a coincidence, and the two of them dub this hypothetical group "Black Council". Later, in Cold Days, Harry arrives at a conclusion that the Ancient Conspiracy he envisioned may not be what he thinks it is, but rather something right out of the Cosmic Horror Genre, and is told its name is “Nemesis”. That said, its influence is only ever felt indirectly, and it has only ever spoken through intermediaries. It’s still unclear whether the Black Council is controlled by it, or perhaps working alongside it. But Peace Talks has basically confirmed the Greater Scope Villain of the entire series is the Outsiders. They’re constantly trying to break into our reality, and if they ever get in “Everything stops. Everything” (Implying a potential class 6, but on a cosmic scale.) Nemesis is one of theirs (described as an infiltrator) and they are implied to be connected to the Black Council as well.
  • Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): Nale is the main antagonist, as he doesn't believe the Desolation is coming and is trying to stop the people who have the means to stop it, but the novella reveals that he's been set on this path by another Herald, Ishar, who convinced him that the signs of the upcoming Desolation are anything but. Whether the latter is treacherous or merely insane, he's certainly a bigger problem going forward.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East, the eponymous evil empire is ruled by mortal men, particularly by Emperor John Ominor, the Big Bad. It was founded, however, by Orcus, the king of all demons, whom Ominor overthrew in a coup and imprisoned. It will probably not surprise anyone to learn that Orcus eventually escapes.
  • Ephemeral Prince reveals the Lord, Rizec, is responsible for ruining the lives of Edgar, Lina, Soan, and Xiri, causing them to become the main villains of the prequel game. He had his underling, Zuan, manipulate Soan into eating the demon Xiri, leading to Xiri going insane and manipulating Soan to destroy his own kingdom. He also torched the kingdom of Sabine, forcing the residents to flee to the remains of Soan's kingdom and pushing Edgar and Lina over the Despair Event Horizon. This leads to the couple backstabbing Soan to steal his power and sealing Xiri inside of Snowe, causing the events of the game.
  • Lindsay Buroker's Fallen Empire: The initial villains are various criminals and thugs, but as the series progresses, the machinations of an evil Starseer who is also the protagonist's uncle become more and more apparent. In works by Buroker herself and authors in Amazon's Kindle Worlds program set before the events of the main series, Emperor Markus of House Sarellian is the ultimate villain even if the on-page antagonists are various Imperial soldiers.
  • The Bellon-Tockland Institute in Dean Koontz's False Memory, a semi-fascistic psychology think tank. The main villain of the book, Mark Ahriman, is a psychologist who develops a form of mind control and employs it both on behalf of the Institute and for his own deviant amusement; the trouble he causes for the main characters stems from his grudge against the stepfather of two of them, another academic who spammed Amazon with with negative reviews of Ahriman's work, as well as a previous affair with the wife/mother which ended badly. Although we do see Ahriman manipulate a patient into biting off the nose of the U.S. President as a "message", and the Institute's connections are used in the Back Story to explain how he has escaped any accountability for his murderous pastime, the Institute's plans have no direct bearing on the novel's events and they are ultimately cleared of any connection to Ahriman after the protagonists break his control on them and another one of his unstable pawns randomly kills him.
  • The Fell of Dark centers on various factions attempting to stop or hasten the arrival of the first vampire Azazel. Azazel himself just stays in the background and flashbacks but is indicated to be far more dangerous then any of the various competing factions.
  • Paul Féval:
  • In the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, the Unseelie King is the ultimate evil force but makes no obvious appearance until the end of book five where he saves the day. Seemingly still evil since he is still technically the originator of all the evil things going on because he created all the Unseelie.
  • The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate: Father Earth himself, causing massive disasters and toppling civilizations because Orogenes cost him his only child; the Moon.
  • In A Frozen Heart, a tie-in novel to Frozen that's half Perspective Flip, while Hans is the main villain despite being indirectly responsible for the plot, his father, the King of the Southern Isles, was responsible for shaping Hans into what he is. While Hans had a desire to appease them despite being The Unfavorite of thirteen sons, they played a role as The Corrupter to most of their sons, including Hans. By the end of A Frozen Heart, their toxic influence has slowly poisoned Hans into becoming an unfeeling and ruthless man, driving him to dehumanize everyone (namely Anna and Elsa) in his quest for power.
  • In The Girl from the Miracles District, the true villains are Ernest and Irena. They're both responsible for Ture's and Nikita's psychological instability — and, by extension, Ture's actions in the story — and Irena has been manipulating Nikita from the start to be her perfect little weapon.
  • Gone: Caine is the Big Bad, the counterpart to the hero, and the one who usually drives the plot. However, the Gaiaphage is an Eldritch Abomination that arrived via meteorite, crashed into a nuclear power plant, Mind Rapes several main characters including Caine, and looks at the whole situation as a game, but rarely shows up and is usually just a vague threat in the background.
  • Morbin Blackhawk from The Green Ember rarely appears throughout the series, and he's never the direct source of conflict in any of the books. Nevertheless, Morbin's slaying of King Jupiter several years ago is what led to the country spiraling into turmoil, and every Big Bad or Arc Villain is working for or with him to some extent.
  • The Heroes of Olympus:
  • Charles "Trout" Walker in Holes, the even worse deceased grandfather to the Big Bad. The entire plot ultimately stems from his racially-motivated murder of Sam the Onion Man, which caused Green Lake to dry up and Sam's lover Kate Barlow to cross the Despair Event Horizon and become an outlaw, ultimately burying treasure in the desolate lakebed. Trout became obsessed with finding the treasure, even forcing his granddaughter to help him dig, which is why she forces other children to dig in the present.
  • The planet Mesa and Manpower Inc. was eventually revealed in the Honor Harrington series to be ultimately responsible for the long and bloody war between Manticore and Haven. When their role was revealed, then it was discovered they were merely a front for the secretive Mesan Alignment organization. Manticore and Haven were...less than impressed to find out just who was responsible for their long, bloody conflict. So they decided to do something about it.
  • Set, in Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian and Kull stories.
  • The Hunger Games:
    • In the first book, Katniss is only interested in surviving the Hunger Games and not in taking down the government, so the main antagonists are the other Tributes. However, the other tributes are also just trying to survive; President Snow is the only truly evil character. He is downgraded to Big Bad in later books.
    • Snow implies that District 13 caused the Dark Days in an attempt to rise to power, only to back down when the Capitol defeated them and the rebelling Districts, causing the rise of the Hunger Games. He says this when he realizes that Alma Coin was playing this trope from the beginning for that exact same reason. Thankfully, Katniss decides to bump her down to the Big Bad and off her afterwards.
  • Inda: The Lords of Norsunder are the ultimate malevolent force, but during the timeline of the series are largely uninterested in human affairs. Erkric, the Big Bad, came up with his schemes on his own but bargained with one of them for his powers, but when he failed to live up to his end she killed him and then departed.
  • Ian Fleming's James Bond novels often have the Soviet Union sponsoring some or all the activities of a novel's main villain. Notably, From Russia with Love reveals that SMERSH was behind the events of Casino Royale, Live and Let Die and Moonraker. SMERSH continues to be behind Goldfinger's scheme to create economic chaos in the West.
  • The Kane Chronicles:
    • Set is the Big Bad of the first novel, but at the end, it is revealed that he is ultimately manipulated by Apophis, the Serpent of Evil who seeks to annihilate Ma'at, the essence of order. He takes up the Big Bad spot in the next two books.
    • Again, like the Chaos example above, The Kane Chronicles also has its own nitpicky example: the Sea of Chaos (named Nu in the real-life mythology), located deep below Duat. It is the ultimate origin of everything in the universe. The sea attracts everyone who comes closer and would dissolve them if they touch it.
  • All of horror novelist Brian Keene's works are connected by the Labyrinth, in which dwell the Thirteen, Eldritch Abominations that existed in the Primordial Chaos before the birth of the universe. Among them, the Thirteenth is the most powerful and feared.
  • The Crimson King was presented as the central evil in Stephen King's metaverse; however, in an example of The Devil Is a Loser, when he's finally confronted in the Grand Finale of The Dark Tower series he's revealed to be nothing more than an insane old man armed with nothing except suspiciously familiar flying grenades, who is promptly defeated in one of the most ignoble manners possible. It's later revealed he had relied on ancient technology to give him most of his seemingly multiverse-spanning omnipotent powers, and when he lost that through the efforts of various heroes on various realities he was reduced to the pathetic wretch confronted by Roland.
  • The Cthaeh is this for every evil in The Kingkiller Chronicles. It was the Cthaeh's manipulation that sparked the war between the Shapers and the Namers, the Cthaeh who arranged the creation of the Chandrian, the Cthaeh that set in motion whatever catastrophe is going on in the background as Kote tells his story to the Chronicler.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Kthonia is the most powerful villain in this story but she is neither involved, aware of, or inclinded to assist with Jihadain's Evil Plan. When Kalak kills Jihadain, however, she becomes the True Final Boss.
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: Like the real-life mythology, Loki is presumably set up as the Big Bad of the series, but the first book focuses more on his son, Fenris Wolf, and the fire giant Surt, while he is relegated to appearing in Magnus' dreams. He steps down to Big Bad after being freed from his chains in the second book.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • The Crippled God is the power behind the Pannion Seer as well as Emperor Rhulad Sengar in Memories of Ice and Midnight Tides, respectively, who are both the Big Bads of their respective books, and is trying to hijack the Apocalypse Rebellion in Seven Cities.
    • The Forkrul Assail on Kolanse. While the Crippled God presents the immediate threat for most of the series and acts on his own accord, the Forkrul Assail are a step higher up by having captured his physical heart and sapping power from him, thus using him indirectly for their own means.
  • Martín Fierro: All the misfortunes Fierro and all the Gauchos suffer in that book are by design: Real Life President Evil Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (who never appears at the book) had decreed the "Conquest of the desert" so the Indians will be subjected to Kill 'Em All and the Gauchos will be replaced by the Gringos (immigrants of European descent).
  • The Maze Runner Trilogy:
    • Chancellor Paige, the head of all the mess that is WICKED. Eventually, though, the cruelty of that position gets to her and she decides to cut their losses and stop torturing people for a cure that might never come. Notable in that she is never seen in the series, barring The Film of the Book.
    • Then there's Katie McVoy, a bit character who is only mentioned in two short letters published in The Maze Runner Files whose Small Role, Big Impact involves suggesting the method to kill half of the world population using the V C321xb 47 virus AKA the Flare virus, which mutated unpredictably, as in, setting off all this mess in the first place. By the events of The Maze Runner, however, she is already long dead due to catching the virus and committing suicide to prevent it spreading over as her last act of redemption.
  • The Widow (a.k.a. Indira Gandhi) in Midnight’s Children. The fate that Saleem suffers in the climax is performed at her orders, but Saleem never encounters her directly, only her subordinates.
  • In The Mortal Instruments, Asmodeus is too busy overseeing the destruction of entire worlds to get involved in day-to-day evildoing. Until his son Magnus summons him in City of Heavenly Fire, at which point he briefly appears in humanoid form and acts as a Deus ex Machina before returning to his more cosmic interests. This is standard for all of the Princes of Hell, most especially Lucifer. While they can be summoned (or at least avatars of them can) they do not dirty their hands with normal villainy, instead focusing on warfare against God across The Multiverse.
  • In The Mouse Watch, the Big Bad is Cyborg Mad Scientist Dr. Thornpaw. However, Thornpaw is working for a Nebulous Evil Organization called R.A.T.S., whose leader is not introduced until the novel's epilogue. His name is Kryptos, and all we learn about him is that he wants to Take Over the World, he thinks rats (the species) "deserve more" than just ordinary lives, and he anticipated Thornpaw's failure and is ready to start another Evil Plan.
  • Isaac Asimov's My Son, the Physicist: Mr Cremona is a government physicist, and when a Jovian expedition that went missing over four years ago with only enough supplies for one year suddenly phones home from Pluto, he immediately suspects extraterrestrial involvement. However, the alien threat merely colours the setting, making it urgent to communicate clearly and concisely with the recently re-acquainted expedition.
  • From The NeverEnding Story we have the mysterious beings who created the Nothing and sent G'Mork to kill Arteyu. They are mentioned once by G'Mork and never play any role in the story after the Nothing is defeated. If they're even sentient creatures is up for debate.
  • In Prisoner of the Daleks Dalek X (the Dalek Inquisitor-General) serves as the main villain. However it is mentioned he answers to the Supreme Dalek.
  • Derek Leech, who appears in the background of various stories by Kim Newman, is a monstrous hybrid of Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch, and also The Antichrist. He is clearly plotting some kind of evil Tory apocalypse, but has been known to help sympathetic characters fight other evil types whose preferred apocalypses would clash with his own. There are some stories, including the short stories "The Original Dr. Shade" and "Organ Donors" and the novel The Quorum, where he plays a more directly antagonistic role, but even then usually he's enabling the story's main villain rather than being the villain himself and it's made clear that whatever the villain's up to is just a part of Leech's real plans.
  • In the Nightrunner series, the God of Evil Seriamaius seems to encourage his followers, especially necromancers, (and others) in villainous actions, but never appears as an actual character except in prophetic dreams. Granted, none of the more benign gods put in personal appearances either.
  • Quinn Dexter is the Big Bad of The Night's Dawn Trilogy; behind him and threatening the entire universe is the Dark Continuum.
  • Nina Tanleven: The Ghost in the Third Row has Andrew Heron, who doesn't appear at all but is revealed to have filled both his wife and daughter with stories about how he was innocent and was set up to take the fall for Lily Larkin's death, and unwittingly inspired Lydia to try to shut down the play based on the story of he, Lily and Edward Parker.
  • Big Brother from 1984...maybe. He never actually enters the story, and the major Party officials (like O'Brien) do most of the villainy. Orwell intentionally leaves lots of questions about Big Brother unanswered. For example, how powerful is he, really? And is he a single person, a Legacy Character, or just the Party's fictional mascot?
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Big Bad of the first two books is Luke Castellan, and the third has Atlas. However, both are only servants of the Kronos, who steps down to Big Bad for the last two books in the series after being freed from Tartarus.
  • Red Wall has a very obscure, but nonetheless ominous, mention of a possible Greater-Scope Villain pervading the entire series in the book The Taggerung. Vulpuz is mentioned as both ruler of the Hellgates, where evil Redwall creatures go after they die, and the ancestor of the foxes who are one of the most prominent evil species in the series.
  • The Otherness from the Repairman Jack series, a vast, impersonal cosmic force locked in an endless war to conquer the multiverse. In our world, its goals are carried out by the immortal Rasalom and his disciples.
  • The Rift War Cycle: Nalar, Raymond E. Feist's God of Evil, is slowly revealed to fill this role, and being imprisoned in another dimension, can do little more than be the influence for the various Big Bads in his books and the true Big Bad, the Dread, has nothing to do with him. Leso Varen, his minion, fills this role as well (making Nalar a Greater-Scope Villain).
  • Daniel Handler's A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Man with a Beard but No Hair, and The Woman with Hair but No Beard are clearly much more important members of The Conspiracy than the fortune-seeking Count Olaf and the Baudelaire parents. In fact, they turn out to be very influential citizens of the state and pillars of the respectable society as they are Judges which immediately allows them some critical decision-making in public matters as well. Despite this their relevance and plans are not directly tied to the Baudelaire's story outside of two novels, and even then, Olaf is still the major villain, while they hang out in the background and act out their own plans, only slightly influencing Olaf's own.
  • The Skulduggery Pleasant:
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a Big Bad Ensemble with Littlefinger, the Lannisters, the Boltons and Freys (although they're working, sort of, for the Lannisters), and Well Intentioned Extremists Varys and Melisandre. Overshadowing them all by many degrees, however, are the Others. Not to mention the generalized threat of "myth" and magic coming back in other dangerous, if somewhat less maliciously deadly, shapes to complicate everything they also represent.
  • Salocin, the evil entity from Spectral Shadows, is basically responsible for all the evils in Ra's Universe. If there's something evil or something corrupt, chances are it can be traced back to him in some fashion.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The first six books of the Galaxy of Fear series have Borborygmus Gog as the Big Bad. He's got a very long leash and a lot of discretion, but ultimately is employed by The Emperor. Palpatine only appears once, in a call to the scientist.
      He [Gog] could order the deaths of hundreds if he wished. With his terrible knowledge he could engineer nightmares. But as powerful as the scientist was, the Emperor could snuff him out with little more than a thought.
    • The works set between Return of the Jedi and New Jedi Order (including The Thrawn Trilogy, the Jedi Academy Trilogy, and the X-Wing Series) feature an array of villains of varying threat levels and goals, but almost all of them serve the Empire, even if in name only, and would not have their power if it weren't for the Emperor, despite him being long dead at this point. The exception is Dark Empire, where the Emperor is Back from the Dead and serving as the Big Bad.
    • In the New Jedi Order series itself, it's revealed by the repentant Yuuhzhan Vong priest Harrar that his people became Scary Dogmatic Aliens after their home planet was laid waste to by a race "more technological than animate." Supplemental materials would establish that this was the Abominor, an entire species of Mechanical Abominations out to assimilate everything they come across.
    • The Empire again in Razor's Edge. Imperial Commander Degoren is after Leia because he received emergency orders to break off his usual sector-patrol duties and pursue her, since no other ship was in position to ambush her at the leaked coordinates. He knows that the Empire will reward him greatly for succeeding and and punish him severely for failure.
    • The Wham Episode online novella Supernatural Encounters, which had been stuck in Development Hell for over a decade before seeing release in 2018, reveals that the greatest villains of the Star Wars Legends universe were, are, and always have been the Old Ones, a pantheon of Eldritch Abominations who members include such luminaries as Abeloth, Waru, and the Bedlam Spirits from Alan Moore's Marvel UK comics. Among other things, they are the collective Man Behind the Man to the aforementioned Abominor, the Yevetha, the Pius Dea, and the various mystical menaces from the Ewoks cartoon; one of them, Typhojem, invented the very idea of worship of The Dark Side in the first place, thus without him the Sith and most of the other Force-using antagonist groups would never have existed. There is one villain even greater than the Old Ones, however — Nakhash, Father of Shadows, a renegade Celestial of whom even this story says little but who appears to serve a role in the cosmology similar to Morgoth or Nyarlathotep. In fact, it's implied he tempted the first generation of Old Ones into evil in the first place.
  • A Tale of Two Cities gives us the first Marquis de Saint-Evremonde. By the time the story begins, he's already dead, but it's revealed in a flashback that he was the linchpin for everything bad that happened when he raped Madame Defarge's sister, causing the good Madame to swear revenge and mark the Marquis' entire family and anyone who would help them for death. Unfortunately, this includes the completely innocent main characters. In fact, everything bad includes bad things that have befallen said completely innocent main characters, with Charles Darnay forced to reject his name and emigrate to England (and according to his uncle they would have him imprisoned if they could for doing) and Dr. Manette rotting away for most of his youth in the Bastille for refusing to condone said atrocities.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • Melkor a.k.a. Morgoth was always the ultimate evil presence in Middle-Earth, but after his defeat and imprisonment at the end of The Silmarillion, Sauron took over the role of the active Big Bad, overlapping with Dragon Ascendant. Morgoth was not destroyed, however, and Tolkien's writings indicate he will free himself in time to command the forces of darkness once again at the Last Battle.
    • Sauron himself as the Necromancer during The Hobbit — he definitely exists and will later be revealed as the canonical ultimate evil, but has no direct role in the story's plot, except as a device to give Gandalf a reason to leave the group for chapters at a time to go get information on him.
  • The Trials of Apollo reveals that the mortal threats Luke and Octavian were themselves being helped by a greater scope villain — The Triumvirate. They turn out to be the villains in this series.
  • Utopia 58: The original Father was the leader responsible for turning Isonomia into the eponymous False Utopia that it is, as well as being the one forcing the nation to fight off Zion and other nations who oppose Isonomia's regulations. The current Father and Big Bad is his successor, Ellie.
  • In Warrior Cats, the Dark Forest serve this role during the Power of Three arc. They are recruiting an army to destroy the Clans, and are made up of the most powerful villains the heroes have ever faced. However, this is mostly going on in the background, as the main driving point of the arc is uncovering the secrets of the past and defeating the villain Sol, who is trying to make the Clans destroy each other.
  • Several of Tad Williams' works feature an entity called Unbeing or Old Night, which is the representation of entropy and ultimate decay. It's never any of the Big Bads, but is portrayed as being tied to their actions, and at least one (Hellebore of The War of the Flowers) planned to deliberately unleash it.
  • The Void of The Word and the Void is the Greater Scope Villain to each of the trilogy's respective villains. Due to its status as an All-Powerful Bystander it never intervenes in the plot, and as such, has little impact beyond merely existing. Canon Welding by the author makes the Void the Greater Scope Villain of the long running Shannara series as well, where it has less of a direct role.
  • A Wrinkle in Time: IT is the Big Bad, and the Man with the Red Eyes may be ITs Dragon, while the Black Thing is more a manifestation of Evil as a concept. On the other hand The Movie states that the Black Thing was created by IT, making IT the biggest villain of that adaptation.
  • The Zombie Knight has Dozer and Morgunov, the Big Bad Duumvirate of Abolish. They are the co-leaders of a group that controls at least a third of the known world and whose ultimate goal is the extinction of humanity, and even their Dragons are strong enough to take on entire countries if they can be spared to do so.


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