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Arc Villain

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The Super-Trope to Filler Villain, an Arc Villain serves as the antagonist for one Story Arc, having an Evil Plan to threaten the heroes. After that, though, they're killed off, imprisoned, sent into a Humiliation Conga, make a Heel–Face Turn, or are otherwise taken out of the picture, and the heroes continue their adventures to the next arc.

The Arc Villain serves as the most visible opponent for a story arc, and with their defeat contributing to the resolution of that arc. They serve a purpose between a Big Bad and a Monster of the Week as they do not cause the end of the story or the hero's character development but are still seen as a milestone in the greater storyline. There may be The Man Behind the Man involved or a Greater-Scope Villain, or they can be a minion of the Big Bad from the start, but they can also stand alone. They often tend to stand as a seasonal Big Bad driving the Myth Arc side of the Half-Arc Season, but someone new can take over the position for the following season. As the nature of arc based storytelling, they can still be the final antagonist of a series that serves as a cap to the heroes adventures.

Generally speaking if their story intersects or parallels the plotting of another villain they would not be an Arc Villain, but either just a recurring antagonist or part of a Big Bad Duumvirate. They can overlap with a Big Bad but their actions would often be considered a lower tier threat in terms of the setting no matter how prevalent their impact is, even if a Post-Script Season (or sequel) starts an entire new story. They are often used as middle rungs on the Sorting Algorithm of Evil if surpassing them takes one or more Story Arcs and may also being used as a Starter Villain.

Compare Big Bad Wannabe. Contrast Disc-One Final Boss and Interim Villain.


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    Asian Animation 
  • Catch! Teenieping: Akdongping serves as one in the first half of Part 2, helping other Teenieping cause trouble.
  • In Season 8 of Happy Heroes, Big M. and Little M., the main villains of the show, get help from a wizard named Huo Haha to locate some magic staffs that are contained within a book his ancestor Xiao Haha wrote called A History of Magic. Thus, Huo Haha has the closest connection to the season's plot, and he also does not appear in a major role in the show outside of this season until the spin-off season Happy Heroes and the Magical Lab.

    Comic Books 
  • In most contemporary Super Hero comics, which are written with collected editions in mind, this has effectively replaced the older villain-of-the-month trope.
  • Animosity so far has the Dragon for its synonymous arc, and the Headmistress for the "Power" arc.
  • Each arc of Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men had one:
    • "Gifted:" Ord.
    • "Dangerous:" Danger.
    • "Torn": Cassandra Nova and the Hellfire Club.
    • "Unstoppable:" Aghanne.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer continues the precedent established by the show:
  • Disney Mouse and Duck Comics got many, such as Evil Sorcerer Mirengue in the Millennium Orbs arc.
  • Hellblazer: As different writers take runs on the title, they each give Constantine a Arc Villain to tend with:
    • Jamie Delano: Nergal.
    • Garth Ennis: The First of the Fallen.
    • Paul Jenkins: God.
    • Warren Ellis: Joshua Wight.
    • Brian Azzarello: S. W. Manor.
    • Mike Carey: Rosacarnis.
  • Hellboy: While the Ogdru Jahad serves as the greatest threat to Hellboy's world, and there are a fair share of recurring baddies running around, most individual stories have their villains:
    • The Wolves of St. August: William Grennier, the last member of a werewolf family out to destroy the town that killed his kin.
    • Almost Colossus: The Colossus
    • Box Full of Evil: Igor Bromhead
    • Conqueror Worm: Herman von Klempt
    • The Third Wish: The Bog Roosh
    • The Island: The Book
    • Darkness Calls: Baba Yaga
    • The Wild Hunt and The Storm and the Fury: Nimue the Queen of Blood
  • Most issues of the Invader Zim (Oni) comic series are standalone, with any antagonists (other than Zim himself) likewise not lasting more than one issue. However, there are a few multipart stories with their own prominent antagonists:
  • Justice League of America (Rebirth)'s first arc has the JLA going up against Lord Havok and the Extremists, who want to impose their own brand of law on Earth.
  • Lament of the Lost Moors has the usurper king of the land of Eruin Dulea and sorcerer Bedlam in the first two books. Lady Gerfaut in the last two.
  • MonsterVerse: In the Godzilla vs. Kong prequel graphic novel Kingdom Kong, the bat-like Titan Camazotz is the main threat. Though he hasn't appeared outside in the novel and is swiftly defeated, he is revealed to be partly responsible for the Perpetual Storm system closing in on and consuming Skull Island by the time of Godzilla vs. Kong.
  • The longer, four-issue story arcs of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) each have their own villain:
    • The "Return of Queen Chrysalis" arc (issues 1-4) has the titular Changeling Queen.
    • The "Nightmare Forces" arc (issues 5-8) has the new Nightmare Moon, Rarity.
    • The "Reflections" arc (issues 17-20) has the Mirror Universe versions of Celestia and Luna.
    • The "Siege of the Crystal Empire" arc (issues 34-37) was entirely engineered by Sombra's mother Rabia in order to free the Umbrum.
  • Star Wars: Republic: individual arcs have their own antagonists.
    • "Prelude to Rebellion": Jabba the Hutt
    • "Outlander": An Big Bad Ensemble between Jabba and Gardulla the Hutt, who are in an Enemy Civil War. Aurra Sing is The Heavy. Sing has been hired by Gardulla to assassinate Sharad Hett, but is later revealed to be an informant for Jabba.
    • "Emissaries to Malastare": Myk'chur Finux Zug for the fist part of the arc, in the second part of the arc, is was Gargonn the Hutt.
    • "Twilight": Chom Frey Kaa.
    • "Infinity's End": Zalem
    • "The Hunt for Aurra Sing": Aurra Sing. Although she has been hired to kill a senator by Tallet and Lekket, Aurra Sing is clearly The Heavy of the arc, and is the ones that the Jedi spend arc trying to capture, as indicated in the arc's very title, even before Tallet and Lekket hire her. Tallet and Lekket only appear in a single issue to hire Sing, and even then, Sing only accepts because the mission will also ger her an opportunity to kill her mentor, the Dark Woman.
    • "Darkness": Volfe Karkko
    • "The Stark Hyperspace War": Iaco Stark
    • "Honor and Duty": Venco Autem
    • "The Defense of Kamino": Passel Argente is the mastermind of the attack on the cloning facilities on Kamino, with Commander Merai as The Heavy leading troops into battle. In a larger sense, Argente is The Starscream to Count Dooku, hoping that a successful attack will allow him to supplant Dooku as the leader of the Speratists. However, Sidious and Dooku caught on to his plans, and ensure his plans are leaked to the Republic in order to sabatoge the invasion and discredit him after the Separatists are defeated.
    • "The New Face of War": Asajj Ventress and Durge
    • "The Battle of Jabiim": Alto Stratus
    • "Show of Force": Kh'aris Fenn is responsible for putting bounties on Jedi, although Mika is The Heavy, as the leader of the bounty hunters trying to collect the bounty.
    • "Dreadnaughts of Rendili": Asajj Ventress and Mallor Yago
    • "Siege of Saleucami": Sora Bulq is The Heavy directly at the battle. However, Bulq's master, Count Dooku, does appear via hologram in attempt to turn Vos over to the dark side.
    • "Into the Unknown": Clone Commander Vill, who is hunting Jedi Dass Jennir after the activation of Order 66.
    • "Hidden Enemy": Clone Commander Faie, who is hunting the Jedi Quinlan Vos after receiving Order 66 directly from Palpatine himself.
  • Superman:

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Alan Jonah serves as the primary/most visible villain for the first six chapters' Story Arc, when San and Vivienne Graham reborn as Monster X are in their crippled first form and are imprisoned by Jonah.
  • Perfection Is Overrated
    • Chapter 1-4: Hitomi
    • Chapter 6-7: Toki
    • Chapter 8-10: Shizune
    • Chapter 14-15: Sekai
    • Chapter 17-19: Bachiko and Meiko, as well as Ishigami
  • Ancienverse: Both Zinnia and Dalton serve as this for "Teamwork" and "Turbulence", respectively. Lusamine, as per the games, is this for the entire "Alola Trilogy".
  • Becoming a True Invader: While the Employer is the overall Big Bad of the story, there's a couple of lesser yet important villains who are unconnected to him.
    • Pel is the main antagonist of the heroes' misadventures on Heboad, whose cult threatens all of them while they’re stuck on the planet.
    • Invader Togan is the Irken in charge of the armory planet Oberox, whom the heroes have to fight in order to steal the weapons they need for their campaign against the Tallest (as they're not even aware of the Employer yet at this point).
  • In The Bridge (MLP), while the story has a central Big Bad, each story arc has a defined villain after the status quo is established.
    • Everfree and Canterlot Attacks: Gyaos Horde, specifically the Albino Hyper Gyaos in the Everfree attack and the Alpha Super Gyaos standing in for her in the Canterlot attack.
    • Crystal Empire Arc: King Sombra
    • Human World Arc: Enjin
    • The Jeog, Ki Seong's Arch-Enemy, becomes one upon arriving in Ponyville.
    • King of Terror arc: Grand King Ghidorah.
    • Winter War arc: The Windigoes Three, Boreas, Zephyrus, and Notus. Eurus ends up as the Final Boss.
    • Queen Beryl for "Gojira tai Chibi-Tsuki - Furīkī Furaidē" omakes.
  • An interesting case in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series: though the fic generally is episodic, the fourth season had a shadowy figure always showing up at the end of an episode. Then, the two-part Season Finale "Our Solemn Hour" reveals that a decent amount of the season's plots were caused by Holographic Retro, who Calvin then proceeds to fight. It ends in a Cliffhanger where both characters try to take the other with them into the lava, and the fifth season premiere reveals Holographic Retro was Killed Off for Real.
  • Earth's Alien History has a few examples, mostly from its various War Arcs but also elsewhere:
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage has Ganondorf in Season 2. While he's the Big Bad of the season, his presence in Equestria was (unknown to the heroes or even himself) engineered by Majora and Dethl, in order to a) keep his presence in Hyrule from messing up their own plans, and b) hopefully allow Vaati and the Mane Six to eliminate him for them.
  • This is generally averted in Forum of Thrones, as most villains hold significance for more than one storyline and over a longer period of time. However, there are some minor exceptions.
    • Maya's storyline in Book 1 Chapter 3 features Lord Trymon Brune, head of House Brune and lord of the Dyre Den. He is killed at the end of the same chapter and held overall little importance for her plot, other than to introduce Aldrik Wolver to her group.
    • After some minor encounters as an Arc Villain for Maya and John Gutten, Rodrik Stone becomes this to Samantha and the people that surround her in Chapter 7 and 8 of Book 1.
    • Rayden, Clayton's Arch-Enemy is the Arc Villain for a very short time in Kersea's storyline, during chapters 6 and 7.
  • The Grim EDventures of Ed Edd n Eddy has Eris the Big Bad... for the first 47 chapters, after which she is replaced by Pandora.
  • Hellsister Trilogy: In "Hellsister", Mordru intends to seize the ultimate source of black magic and simultaneously destroy the Legion of Super-Heroes; In "The Apokolips Agenda", Darkseid intends to learn and speak the Anti-Life Equation to eliminate Free Will; In "Hellspawn", Nemesis intends to kill Supergirl in revenge for his mother's death Satan Girl.
  • Highschool Dragon: The villains for the original fic are mostly comprise of members from the Legion of Doom:
    • Chapters 1 to 17 has Nightmare Moon and her Co-Dragons, Trixie and Descent.
    • 19 to 20 has a lamia named Camille.
    • 21 to 27 has Queen Chrysalis with a brainwashed Sunset Shimmer serving as her Heavy.
    • 31 to 33 has Nightmare Rarity.
    • 34 to 46 has King Sombra.
    • From 47 to the rest of the story has Lord Tirek and his Co-Dragons, Grogar and Katrina.
    • So far in the sequel, Harem Legion, only the Storm King and his commander, Tempest Shadow, has appeared. But it is heavily implied that there are other villains lying and waiting.
  • Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily: the two most prominent villains that White Gestalt face off are Mad Ben in the Desert Racetrack Car and Alex Shepherd/Pyramid Head in the Fog Car.
  • Inkopolis Chaos: Each installment has a different main villain: Scarlet in 1, the Octobusters' leader in 2, and Lieutenant Obsidian in 3.
  • Kaiju Revolution:
    • The entries from the Mothra larvae through Mothra has Jyarumu.
    • The entries from Skull Island through Godzuki have the Vagnosaurs in the past and Godzilla in the present.
    • The entries from Varan to Kumonga have Kumonga.
    • The entries from Mu through Titanosaurus actually have the UN, whose decisions risk destroying Mu though the Atragon's crew is the Dragon-in-Chief. However, Godzilla takes over in the arc's final stages.
    • The entries from the Morlocks through to Biollante's combat forms have the Morlocks.
    • Gaw is the overarching antagonist for Kong's return to Skull Island.
  • Kara of Rokyn: In "The Early Stories", Blackflame manipulates people behind of the scenes in order to get Kara killed off; In "Zoners", Faora Hu-Ul and the remainder Phantom Zoners try to take over planet Rokyn; finally, in "Last Waltz with Luthor", Lex Luthor attempts to murder Superman and steal his powers to take over the world.
  • A Minor Miscalculation: Mataro Mankanshoku becomes The Rival to Ryuko after his introduction and battles her on even ground for a few chapters, until Nui shows up and reasserts her status by brutally murdering him.
  • Neomorphs: Mersa is a significant individual threat for several books before being dealt with.
  • The original version of The Night Unfurls takes a step-by-step approach in dealing with the main conflict, the war against the Black Dogs, by splitting the story into many Story Arcs (the first arc is an outlier that happens before the main conflict). Progress is made by hunting down the antagonist responsible for the conflict in an arc.
    • Olga Discordia is the main obstacle of the first Story Arc, the Assault of the Black Fortress Arc (Chapters 1-3 of the original version). Kyril and co. are tasked to head to the North, capture her, bring her back to the South, and end the longtime war that's plaguing the lands.
    • Prime Minister Beasley is the antagonist who kicks off the Feoh and Ur Arc (Chapters 6-8 of the original version). Wanting a personal fiefdom among the Sex Empire, he starts the conflict by taking measures to secure Feoh and Ur for the Black Dogs. Due to his actions, there is an increase in monster incursions at the two strongholds, with no army defending said incursions (because they are held back) and no message from the one in charge, Alicia (because she is subdued). In order to prevent Beasley from welcoming the Black Dogs into the fortress, Kyril and co. head there to investigate, fight the mooks, and free the captives. Beasley's death resolves the arc.
    • Although Michelle Pantielle isn't the only antagonist of the Ansur Arc (Chapters 9-11 of the original version), the arc is resolved not only by stopping the Black Dogs from taking over Ansur, but also by tracking his whereabouts (which points towards where Maia is living), arresting him, and killing him.
    • Shamuhaza is responsible for starting the conflict of the Rad Arc (Chapters 14-16 of the original version) by breeding Elite Mooks and other monstrosities to bolster the Black Dogs' power. Due to his actions, Kyril and co. have to contend with a threat bigger than usual. His retreat and hence Rad being denied to the Black Dogs resolves the arc.
    • Subverted for Morgan. He is set up as the main obstacle of the Hunt for Leaping Lizards Arc (Chapters 17-22 of the original version). Kyril and co. set off to Scathlocke Province to hunt down the Leaping Lizards, including the leader Morgan, for a number of reasons (to provide closure for Grace, to find out any connections the slaver has, to root out traitors). However, Shamuhaza later takes over his place as the main obstacle and is finally defeated in the end, while Morgan doesn't even get a proper introduction and is implied to have died off-screen due to Shamuhaza's machinations.
    • The head of the Church, Archbishop Grishom, kicks off the conflict of the Rebellion in Ken Arc (Chapters 23-26 of the original version), being the one leading the uprising in the eastern district of Ken, rallying the supporters of the Black Dogs and publicly denouncing Celestine's rule. The arc is resolved via his imprisonment and the end of the rebellion.
    • Sir John Mandeville is the antagonist who kicks off the Hunt for Mandeville Arc (Chapters 27-30 of the original version) by kidnapping Chloe when she was following a lead into his location, prompting Kyril and co. to go find them. He is revealed to be one of the major players in sponsoring the rebellion and the Black Dogs' cause. Hunting him down is key to the arc's resolution.
  • one day at a time (Nyame):
    • Lady Shiva for the first flashback arc and Stephanie's introduction arc.
    • The Court of Owls for the gala arc, though they're more of a background presence.
    • The Joker for the post-gala arc.
    • Future Tim for the second flashback arc.
  • Ruby and Nora has the first four BigBads, who have nothing to do with Salem. There is also an Interim Villain after the Fall of Beacon.
  • RWBY: Destiny of Remnant:
    • The Haven Arc has Cinder Fall, who Team RNJR seek to bring to justice after everything she did at the Battle of Beacon. When the confrontation leads to Ruby and Jaune's capture, their friends need to band together with every huntsman and huntress they met to rescue the two of them.
    • The White Arc has Adam Taurus, whose brutal regime of the White Fang causes the members of Team Beacon to go on a mission to put a stop to him and free the founder and original leader Claudandus Pirinci.
  • Tales of the Undiscovered Swords: Ishida Sadamune, the series' first true Big Bad who only appears in one entry, story #4.
  • TFA Kaleidoscope has a few standalone villains on top of the more prominent antagonists:
    • The CMX Police drone functions as this for the "Who Polices the Police Drones?" arc, functioning as the Starter Villain for the Orion crew.
    • Pyro Goblin in the "Fire Convoy" arc, serving as a Starter Villain for Optimus and Sari.
    • The Beast Pretenders in the "Beasts of Burden" arc, with Prometheus Black as the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • The A Song of Metal and Marvels series is a crossover between A Song of Ice and Fire and Marvel Comics, thus merging the former's complex Big Bad Ensemble with the latter's vast Rogues Gallery. As such, each book has standalone plots and antagonists that are notably distinct from the series' main conflicts:
    • A Man of Iron: While the main plot plays out, The Mountain becomes the most prominent foe of Tony and Jon's storyline, as he becomes obsessed with defeating Iron Man, and later Centurion.
    • A Crack of Thunder has multiple storylines that are more fully fleshed out, each with its own villain:
      • Tony and Jon: Ivan Vanko, who is on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the lords of Westeros.
      • Robb: Asha Greyjoy eventually emerges as Robb's main antagonist, as she launches an attack on Winterfell.
      • Jane and Thor: Melisandre, who eventually turns out to be Amora the Enchantress, and is manipulating Stannis to her own ends.
      • Tyrion: The Night's Queen, who is possessing Sansa Stark and competing with Tyrion for influence on King's Landing.
      • Daenerys: The Warlocks of Qarth, who try to take over the city and enslave Dany's dragons.
    • A Shield of Man continues the previous book's mechanics of having multiple storylines with their own antagonists, though they're more intertwined here:
      • King's Landing (mostly those of Jon, Natasha, and the Spiders), has Ser Adrian of the Tombs/the Vulture King, who is on a crime spree in and around the city. Meanwhile, there's also still the looming threat of the Night's Queen, while the Tyrells and Qyburn/Sinister are also looming the wings.
      • The North (specifically Robb, the Guardians, and Shireen) has Euron Greyjoy, who is nominally rampaging on behalf of the Others, but is also seeking greater power to betray and overthrow them.
      • North of the Wall (Jeor and Steve) has the Commander of the Others/Red Skull, who is spearheading the Others' plans to gather their power and assault the Wall.
      • Braavos (Tony, Arya, Theon and Brienne) has the Mandarin, who is plotting to take over the city as part of a larger agenda.
      • Slaver's Bay (Daenerys) has the Juggernaut, who is hired by the Great Masters to stop Daenerys' liberation campaign, only to turn on them to take the city for himself.
  • Later, Traitor: Just like its source material, all of the mental levels usually have an antagonist for the level.
    • Dogen's mind has Bonfear, the representation of Dogen's Power Incontinence anxieties made manifest.
    • Freezie, an evil living ice sculpture of Frazie, is this for the latter half of Phoebe's mind.
    • The "boss" of Clem's mind is a giant Killer Gorilla representing Clem's abusive father.
    • Just like in the real world, Mikhail is Maloof's bodyguard inside the mafia kid's head... except since he sees Mikhail as unstoppable, his mental version IS.
    • Chloe has a giant robot that works as the brain's natural defense against internal tampering when Frazie tries to bring her out-of-control telepathy to a more reasonable level.
    • The Drag-on symbolizes Vernon's long-winded storytelling in the form of a dragon that's equally as long. That is to say... very.
    • The new patients created for the fic also have their own antagonists. Pepper's is Salty Sally, Pepper's handmade puppet that serves as an unhealthy replacement for her deceased daughter.
    • The Night-Mare is the trauma and guilt from Jakob's past that haunts his dreams and inflicts him with debilitating insomnia.

  • Dagur the Deranged takes over as the antagonist of the "Dagur Arc" in Dragons, Butterflies, And Who Knows What Else?, being the first fully-evil antagonist introduced in the series.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The Artemis Fowl series has one every second book. There's Artemis himself in the first book, John Spiro in book 3, Leo Abbot in book 5, and Turnball Root in book 7. Opal Koboi is a recurring villain in the other books, though she's part of a Big Bad Duumvirate with Briar Cudgeon in book 2.
  • The Brightest Shadow: Aryabaus is not a general or major leader, but serves as the main antagonist (even if sometimes in the background) for the first book.
  • Chronicles of Ancient Darkness has a different Soul-Eater as the main villain of books 2 (Tenris), 4 (Seshru), 5 (Thiazzi), and 6 (Eostra). The first book's villain, the demon bear, was created by the second one's, and book 3 has the four remaining Soul-Eaters working together. From her introduction in book 3, Eostra is the Greater-Scope Villain until book 6.
  • Kasreyn of the Gyre is the main villain of the Bhrathairealm sequence in The One Tree, fifth book overall in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. His subplot is noteworthy for being largely self-contained (events Kasreyn sets in motion play key roles later on; Kasreyn himself does not) and for the fact that Kasreyn is the only major villain in the series who has nothing to do with its overall Big Bad, Lord Foul.
  • Master Nine aka Daniel Tucker in The Dreamside Road serves this role for the early Wintertide Festival arcs. He enables the Liberty Corps plan and poses the biggest local threat. But after his defeat, the Liberty Corps reveals itself as a much more widespread problem.
  • The Dresden Files: Nicodemus is the antagonist of Death Masks, Small Favor, and Skin Game, and one of the few villains who has so far remained unconnected with the Black Council.
  • Several books in Goosebumps get sequels with returning villains in both the original and spin-offs(The Mummy and Deep Trouble books avert this by having returning heroes who have different fantastical adventures each sequel).
  • The first five Harry Potter books have these, although four of them are affiliated with the series-wide Big Bad, Lord Voldemort, who takes his rightful place as the Big Bad from book six onwards.
  • Newsflesh:
    • In Feed it was Gov. David Tate
    • In Deadline it was Dr. Joseph Wynne.
  • Star Wars Legends: The New Jedi Order has several of these, which makes sense when one considers that the series is largely composed of linked duologies and trilogies that together tell a Myth Arc. The most prominent are Shedao Shai from the Dark Tide duology, Lord Nyax and Czulkang Lah from the Enemy Lines duology (each holding down their own half of the story arc), and B'Shith Vorrik from the Force Heretic trilogy.
  • Tortall Universe: The Trickster's Duet has Bronau as the main antagonist for the first book. His recklessness first indirectly endangers the Balitangs (and makes their exile among the raka less easy thanks to his flagrant racism), then through his smugly inept plan to seize the throne through Sarai. Book two is about the wider rebellion throughout the Isles.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: Lily Rutherford is the main enemy during the orientation arc, which features all the rookie witches trying to survive a lethal obstacle course that their evil Wizarding School requires them to run. Lily is introduced at the arc's start and, along with her clique, immediately picks fights with the protagonist Emily. She remains a thorn in Emily's side through the arc until they have their final fight during Emily's last orientation run, resulting in Lily finally being defeated.
  • In the second book of The Witchlands, the main villain is not the Big Bad, but one of his mooks trying to deliver the heroes' country into his boss' hands.




    Web Animation 
  • Lobo (Webseries): Sunny Jim serves as the main antagonist in the first five episodes, while the last four episodes have the gluttonous Snake as the main threat due to eating Lobo's current bounty Mudboy.
  • Madness Combat features Tricky the Clown, who serves as the main villain of the Tricky the Clown Saga lasting from Depredation to Consternation. Before him was the Sheriff, who serves as this for the earlier episodes, and after Tricky was the Auditor in the Auditor Saga, though as the Interquels show, the Auditor's influence extends far beyond his arc.
  • In Red vs. Blue: The Recollection, The Meta serves as the overarching antagonist — first as the sole Big Bad of Reconstruction, then as part of a Big Bad Ensemble in Recreation, and then finally as half of the Big Bad Duumvirate of Revelation (Before betraying his partner, Washington, and serving as the sole Big Bad for the last few episodes, as well as the Final Boss).
  • RWBY: Each Volume has a particular villain that the heroes have to overcome. Even with the overarching villains popping in and out to give the heroes hell, there's at least one villain who is only an active threat for one arc before they go away.
    • Cinder Fall is the leader of the villains who are active in Vale for the first three volumes. Roman Torchwick is the Starter Villain, who is the villain the heroes know about, and through which get sucked into the main plot. However, Cinder is in charge of him, and is herself carrying out the orders of the Big Bad, who is introduced at the end of the third volume once Cinder completes the mission.
    • The Nuckelavee Grimm is the overarching antagonist of the RNJR part of Volume 4, with its presence foreshadowed throughout the volume in destroyed villages across Anima, and its mere existence and memory of its attack deeply affecting Lie Ren and Nora Valkyrie. The volume's last quarter features the monster itself quite prominently, and it serves as the final antagonist in the last episode of the volume.
    • Volume 5 has two main arcs that intersect at the climax of the volume. Adam Taurus is the focus of the Menagerie storyline, and the reason why the Faunus intervene to help save Haven Academy. Hazel Rainart is Adam's overseer for the Big Bad to coordinate Adam's plans with Salem's. The main thrust of Salem's plan is led by Cinder, whose job it is to obtain the Relic of Knowledge. Character flaws in all three of these villains ensures that the heroes emerge victorious from a conflict they otherwise could not have won.
    • Though Volume 6 doesn't have an overarching villain, it has two mini-arc villains for the last few episodes of the volume. The heroes are unable to get to Atlas, since their route's blocked by Special Operative Caroline Cordovin; the conflict between her and the heroes is affected by the conclusion of Adam's story as an Arc Villain and personal nemesis of both Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long. However, the volume's final threat is neither Cordovin nor Adam, and ultimately requires the heroes and Cordovin to work together to defeat.
    • Volume 7 focuses on Arthur Watts and Tyrian Callows carrying out Salem's plan to turn Atlas and Mantle against each other, while the heroes struggle to counter them and resolve Weiss Schnee's personal storyline involving Jacques's own villainy. Just as the heroes think they're getting on top of everything and have captured the pair, Cinder makes her presence known by pressing the Trauma Button of James Ironwood, who has already been pushed to breaking point by the other villains and learning the Awful Truth about Salem. This transforms him into a villain by the end of the volume, and the next volume sees him become the Arc Villain when Oscar Pine temporarily indisposes Salem.
    • Volume 9 focuses it's main conflict on Team RWBY and Jaune Arc dealing with the aftermath of what happened in the previous volume and resolving their own personal issues in the Ever After as Ruby struggles to deal with her own while Neopolitan uses the Jabberwalker to hunt down Ruby in revenge for Roman's death. While Neopolitan actually succeeds and causes Ruby to be Driven to Suicide, she begins to realize that Vengeance Feels Empty and that she didn't have anything else left to live for. At that point, The Curious Cat also reveals that they are Evil All Along and have been trying to break Ruby in order to possess her; they feel it's the only way to escape to Remnant and learn why their creators abandoned the Ever After. When Ruby "ascends", however, they possess Neopolitan, whose Empty Shell state makes her an even better vessel than Ruby was.
  • SMG4, It started to upload arcs starting from the Waluigi Arc

  • Deities has had two Arc Villains. In the Evil Rising arc there is Lucifer and in the Flood arc there is Mother Nature.
  • Damien in El Goonish Shive, followed by Magus. After their respective arcs ended, things have shifted into a Big Bad Ensemble.
  • Sam Sanders in Endtown is a mixture of this and Filler Villain. Once the arc is completed, he is never mentioned again, and when Al and Gustine do reappear, they don't mention him. He is also one of the examples in which he had no minions or a dragon — he operated completely by himself.
  • Inverloch has Berard for the main antagonist for the first three volumes. He has nothing to do with Kayn'dar, but he stalks the party while they look for clues about Kayn'dar. After he kidnaps Acheron for a Forced Prize Fight, Varden kills him and the story turns completely to Kayn'dar.
  • Kirby Adventure: several segments have their own independent villains.
    • The First Mission has King Dedede, though he surrenders before Division A can even fight him.
    • To The Tower has Fusion Kirby, the leader of a gang of thieves residing in the Old Tower.
    • Tear In The Fabric has Ybrick Etamitlu, the Evil Twin of the Author Avatar, Ultimate Kirby.
    • Master Of Puppets has Master Green, an enemy from Kirby's past who creates clones of Kirby and the other members of Division A in order to get revenge on Kirby.
    • Technical Difficulties has Captain Stitch, another enemy from Kirby's past who hijacks the Halberd as part of his plot to get revenge on Kirby.
    • C Central has Chef Freeze, a Chilly chef who speaks in Gratuitous French and who wants to cook the members of Division C for his recipe.
  • L's Empire has had three, with each arc (referred to as sagas in the comic) named after them: Dark Star, Phala (the Pixl Queen), and Sergeant Smacka.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the main villain is Xykon the sorceror, but there are several lesser antagonists:
    • Daimyo Kubota is a villain in Azure City (and in exile) in the No Cure for the Paladin Blues and Don't Split the Party story arcs.
    • Bozzok is the leader of the Greysky City Thieves' Guild and the villain from Haley, Celia, and Belkar's perspectives in Don't Split the Party.
    • General Tarquin is only an Arc Villain in the Empire of Blood story, but he thinks he's the Big Bad and his son is The Hero. It kind of makes him more dangerous, since he has the power to try to force the story go his way with extreme prejudice.
    • Vampire!Durkon, the goddess Hel, and the vampire formerly known as Gontor Hammerfell are the Arc Villains in Book 6.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: "Sleipnope" was the main threat to the crew for the second part of Adventure I, but was ultimately dealt with before that story arc ended.
  • Loan Shark Kim Lurker from Tower of God in the first "episode"note  of Season 2.
  • A regular feature of Zebra Girl, starting with Lord Tool in the "Angels With Dirty Fur" arc.

    Web Original 
  • In Atop the Fourth Wall, there usually is one major villain per story arc:
    • Mechakara in "His Heart is Steel".
    • Dr. Linksano in "The Other Insano".
    • Lord Vyce in "All That He Sees, He Conquers".
    • The Entity in "A Piece of the World is Missing".
    • Lord Vyce again in "His Blue Soul".
    • The "Guns and Sorcery" story arc is where the main villain is harder to place. Holokara serves as the main antagonist for the first half of the arc, the Gunslinger is the major antagonist for most of the story and Dr. Insano just steals the show by the end of the story arc.
    • Lord Vyce for a third time in "Ghost of the Machine".
    • The King of Worms in "The Machinations of Worms".
    • Mechakara in "The Atop the Fourth Wall Movie".
    • The Entity returns in "The Sleepwalker", with Lord Vyce being the final threat in the story after its death.
  • C0DA has a segment where the "Pseudo-6th-House" (essentially a superhero style team of Physical Gods) battles "The Intellective", "a bionic despot of a parallel reality" who attempting to invade the reality of the work. Meanwhile, the Reality Warping Humongous Mecha Numidium serves as the actual Big Bad of the work.
  • Critical Role has one for most of its story arcs across campaigns.
    • From Campaign 1:
      • Kraghammer Arc: K'Varn, a powerful Beholder creating Body Horror abominations below the Dwarven city.
      • Vasselheim Arc: The party is split into two groups, each taking on one. The first has Rimefang, a White Dragon. The second has Hotis, a Rakshasa from the Nine Hells who had infiltrated the city. Hotis went on to become a recurring antagonist later in the campaign, as Rakshasas are vengeful and don't permanently die unless killed in the Nine Hells.
      • Briarwoods Arc: Lord Sylas Briarwood and Lady Delilah Briarwood, an Unholy Matrimony couple of a vampire and a sorceress, responsible for the death of one party member's entire family.
      • Chroma Conclave Arc: Four Ancient Chromatic Dragons: Thordak, Raishan, Umbrasyl and Vorugal. Thordak, being the leader of the Conclave, serves as the primary antagonist. Until Raishan is revealed as The Starscream and becomes the final opponent. This arc went on for so long that several mini-arcs occurred in between dragon fights, some of which had their own arc villains — The Feywild Arc with Saundor, a corrupted Archfey; The Ank'Harel Arc with Anna Ripley, former follower of the Briarwoods; and The City of Brass Arc with Ghurrix, a Pit Fiend.
      • The final arc has Vecna, an ancient lich who seeks to become a god. He was also The Man Behind the Man for the Briarwoods arc.
    • From Campaign 2:
      • The Iron Shepherds mini-arc: The Iron Shepherds and their leader Lorenzo, a band of slavers who abduct Fjord, Jester and Yasha.
      • The Bad Guys arc: Captain Avantika, a fellow follower of Fjord's evil patron Uk'otoa, who plans to unleash him onto the world.
      • The Bright Queen's Favor arc: Obann, a devil from the Abyss and worshiper of the Angel of Irons, who has been opening mysterious rifts that unleash hellish creatures all over Wildemount.
      • Swords and Angels arc: Obann again, although this time he is mind-controlling Yasha, and assembles an increasingly terrifying Big Bad Ensemble over the course of the arc. Mid-way through, the Mighty Nein learn that the Angel of Irons is a false identity used by Tharizdun, the Chained Oblivion, in order to trick people into freeing him.
      • Family Ties arc: Vokodo, a powerful psychic being living in the volcano of Rumblecusp, who erases the memories of all who live there and forces them to worship him as a god.
      • Weird Magic arc: Lucien/The Nonagon, previously known to the Nein as Mollymauk, and the Tomb Takers. Lucien's goal is to travel to the Astral Sea, merge with the living, screaming, eternally hungry city of Cognouza, and unleash it on the Material Plane.
  • Dream SMP has a major overarching villain who becomes a threat throughout the season, usually being set up in the previous season.
    • Season 1 plays with this, as while Jschlatt was the villain throughout the season once the elections were over, it was Wilbur who ultimately became the main antagonist after Jschlatt died suddenly, having resolved to blow up L'Manburg in an attempt to off himself while Technoblade helped clean up the remaining mess with Withers. Wilbur's case is played with, however, as he saw himself as a Villain Protagonist as a result of an arc-long mental breakdown and while he is an antagonist, he's closer to an Anti-Hero than a villain proper.
    • Season 2 plays this straight with Dream, being an active threat throughout Season 1 before he took a backseat to Jschlatt, coming back in full force by horrifically abusing and gaslighting Tommy and being responsible for both his exile and the permanent destruction of L'Manburg. He even has a Final Battle with Tommy at the very end, and overall seems to act as the Big Bad.
    • Season 3 initially has the Eggpire, a cult worshipping a Botanical Abomination that had its start in Season 2 but became a major threat in Season 3. Though Dream was in prison during the season, he still managed to exert a significant amount of control over the server and generally played a Big Bad Ensemble with the Crimson, the aforementioned Botanical Abomination.
      • Later in the season, the Las Nevadas arc muddies the waters a lot more—post-Despair Event Horizon, Quackity acts as a somewhat antagonistic force (he gets better by the end of the volume), but pales in comparison to Techno, who gets broken out of prison by Philza and eventually breaks Dream out of prison in the season finale, allowing Dream to act as the Returning Big Bad in Season 4.
    • In Season 4, however, even with Dream and his threats looming on the horizon, the Crimson starts to make a comeback to the lore after being dormant for about ten months in real-life time...
  • Pinot Noir mostly has the eponymous assassin taking out gang leaders one by one throughout the story, with him targeting a new gang in each chapter.
  • Tails of the Bounty Hunter has Cale Tomlik taking out the Five-Man Band of the Quintuple Cartel one at a time until he eventually takes out the Big Bad.
  • In the roleplay Tamrielic Adventures, the "Escape from Vvardenfell" had no real antagonist, but the "Threads in Windhelm" arc had Malvirian Linvail, a Dunmer pirate lord.
  • Total Pokemon has A LOT:
    • Lightning, Jo and Topher play the role of the Begubbubg arc's main antagonists, but it switches just to Lightning and Jo in the second arc when Topher is apparently killed off via McArthur's truck exploding and incinerating him in the last episode of said arc.
    • Starting with the Diamond Days arc, Alejandro becomes the main antagonist for a LONG time. Topher also comes back (he apparently survived being incinerated in the explosion). However, once again, Topher is removed from the main antagonist role.
    • In the Ho-Oh arc, a Ho-Oh (which is just Ezekiel when he performed a Fusion Dance with his Fearow) is the main antagonist.
    • The Frozen Wasteland arc has Jacques and Josee take over as the main antagonists.
    • Evil clones of Cameron and DJ take over as the antagonists in the Nova arc.
    • The final time Alejandro takes over as main antagonist is in the Hellbent arc, where he is killed off at the end. Topher also comes back AGAIN. Arcs are planned beyond that point, but they don't have planned villains yet.
  • Unwanted Houseguest has the Shadow Demon. It later turns out the Demon was summoned by a Greater-Scope Villain, but Doctor Wolfula doesn't get the chance to elaborate.

Alternative Title(s): Arc Villainess



The main antagonist of Season 1.

How well does it match the trope?

3.5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArcVillain

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