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Greater-Scope Villain

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Taran: Another of Arawn's servants?
Gwydion: Gwyn owes allegiance to a lord unknown even to me, and one perhaps greater than Arawn.

Nearly every conflict in fiction is caused by the Big Bad, the character directly responsible for the plot and likely sending out various minions and lieutenants to make the hero's life busy. But what about a greater enemy that is indirectly responsible for the plot? That's where this trope comes in.

A Greater-Scope Villain is a threat/villainous presence that's more dangerous, affects more people, or is more significant than the story's current Big Bad in the setting as a whole, but isn't causing the conflict of the immediate story (and may have little to do with it at all). While the Big Bad is directly responsible for the current story — the Big Bad is the villain that the heroes are attempting to defeat — a Greater-Scope Villain isn't a major force in the plot, only a major force in the background. They are just responsible for anything evil or fueling at least a part of the fictional setting (how much of it depends on the scale of the Greater-Scope Villain's influence) in which the story takes place. A Greater-Scope Villain may be the Big Bad's superior, but just as often they're completely unrelated — indeed, a Greater-Scope Villain may threaten the Big Bad just as much as they threaten the heroes. Whatever the relationship between the Big Bad and Greater-Scope Villain, the Greater-Scope Villain is always Out of Focus — the threat they pose is general and in the background, while the threat posed by the Big Bad is specific and immediate.

This is not a Sub-Trope of Big Bad. A Greater-Scope Villain is a more threatening force of evil in the setting and overshadows it, but due to various factors, it is disconnected on a personal level from the main plot, which is caused by the Big Bad. There are different ways this may manifest, for example:

  • A Sealed Evil in a Can which is several steps above the strength of the characters, but the current villain is obsessed with them either to be released or as a threat to everyone else. If they are released, the Big Bad may learn that Evil Is Not a Toy.
  • A demon lord, archdevil, God of Evil, or Eldritch Abomination — perhaps even The Anti-God — with a Religion of Evil and/or Path of Inspiration built around them, if they do not appear directly. Their threat is indirect; they work through lesser villains by encouraging them to do evil and their power may be proportional to the evil that is caused, with the Big Bad likely to be the head of their religion. Satan is often portrayed as such with a Christian bent.
  • A Dreaded Warlord who has much deeper resources or area of influence, inspiring immense fear (or even admiration) from the current but either due to location or the immediate conflict being Beneath Notice neither are quite yet on each other's radar. This furthers the idea that they are on a different level of villainy.
  • The Evil Overlord, The Emperor, The Generalissimo, the Evil Chancellor, or President Evil in a dystopia or war/spy story that focuses on a specific conflict within a much larger military or political situation. Adolf Hitler may play this role in a World War II story in which the villain is a Nazi general; the conflict of the story is merely one aspect of an immense war machine and Hitler may be acknowledged peripherally.
  • An N.G.O. Superpower or Nebulous Evil Organisation that is aware of and possibly sponsoring/employing the villain but has little connection to the story's specific conflict. The apparent lack of a centralized leadership or location makes it difficult to identify what they are trying to accomplish or if they even exist as an organized committee.
  • A Sentient Cosmic Force (e.g., The Dark Side) that can't, by any realistic stretch of the definition, be considered a character. It may be a Background Magic Field that has made a conflict possible, with others mulling that it may be better if it never existed so that the villain wasn't empowered.
  • An Outside-Context Problem that may not be fully accounted for by either the hero or the previous villains, but may have been subtly foreshadowed to emerge as a distant consequence of their actions. Sometimes abstract dangers occur as the underlying threat everyone was trying to avoid, compare Space Whale Aesop.
  • An evil character who wronged the other villain(s) and kicked off their initial evil. They may be dealing with their own problems and unaware that the brat they kicked became a rabid monster.
  • Depending on the order various installments were released, the main villain of a prequel may be revealed to have set in motion the events of a work released chronologically earlier but did not appear or is only mentioned briefly in the earlier work. This may also be used when the authors want a villain that can be defeated or avoid conflict with a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Conversely, the main villain of the original installment can become a Greater-Scope Villain of the sequel after their defeat, as they may influence a loyal minion to become the new villain in their stead.

A Greater-Scope Villain doesn't always have to remain a Greater-Scope Villain. Hinting towards a greater enemy is a common method of foreshadowing who the next Big Bad is going to be, if the current Big Bad is defeated and the Sorting Algorithm of Evil kicks in to provide a bigger threat for the heroes to face. Alternatively, the Greater-Scope Villain could show up and try to ruin everyone's day, becoming the new Big Bad and possibly forcing an Enemy Mine situation between the heroes and the previous villain. Inversely, a Big Bad can be Kicked Upstairs to become a Greater-Scope Villain.

There can also be more than one Greater-Scope Villain — either multiple Greater-Scope Villains working together (a la Big Bad Duumvirate), multiple Greater-Scope Villains each with their own agenda (a la Big Bad Ensemble), or in multiple layers of Greater-Scope Villains, each bigger than the last (e.g., the Big Bad threatens a city, the first Greater-Scope Villain threatens the country, and an Even Greater-Scope Villain threatens the whole world).

In a general sense this should also not be considered the same as The Man Behind the Man, because if they are behind the plot they would be a Big Bad. However, the Man Behind the Man and Greater-Scope Villain can overlap if the Man Behind the Man remains distant enough from the story. The Greater-Scope Villain must not give specific orders to the Big Bad (at least no orders with relevance to the plot), but they can corrupt the Big Bad to make the Big Bad work for them. They allow the Big Bad to act on their own initiative, even if the Big Bad finds it more convenient to claim to be Just Following Orders, and don't interfere unless it's in their interests to do so. A Greater-Scope Villain is a frequent Conflict Killer or arc welding machine, especially when used under the right circumstances. The Greater-Scope Villain, if taking advantage of the original Big Bad, may create a Sympathetic Villain, Despicable Villain dynamic if the Big Bad becomes more sympathetic and reconsiders their villainy.

Contrast Greater-Scope Paragon, which is the Good Counterpart of this trope. Compare Villainous Legacy, where a villain serves this type of role long after their defeat and/or death. May also overlap with Predecessor Villain, if the predecessor was significantly worse than the current Big Bad and still exists in some form. Suitably powerful Greater-Scope Villains can count as Powers That Be. If the villain is said to exist somewhere but doesn't appear in person at any point, this overlaps with The Ghost. Can also overlap with Villain of Another Story if the Greater-Scope Villain doesn't antagonize the current story. If they aren't The Unfought in a video game, then they are usually the True Final Boss.

Compare Not the First Victim, when the scope of the villain's damage done to other characters was undiscovered for a period of time, but their goal or intention is not necessarily wider.

The mere existence of these villains are often plot-twists, so Beware of Unmarked Spoilers.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 


  • Batman:
    • In Batman (Grant Morrison), Dr. Hurt is the main Big Bad, but is revealed to have a Greater-Scope Villain controlling him, who he thinks is the demon Barbatos, but is actually a weapon Darkseid sent back to the dawn of man when Batman was hit by the Omega Effect in Final Crisis.
    • Later on, it's retroactively revealed that Barbatos was Real After All. Barbatos is an ancient cosmic entity that rules and resides in the Dark Multiverse, the dark side of The Multiverse. He's also an object of worship for the Court of Owls, making him the Greater-Scope Villain to them too. In Dark Nights: Metal, he finally decides to make his move and attacks the regular multiverse with seven evil Batmen from the Dark Multiverse. It's heavily hinted that he may or may not be directly or indirectly responsible for every bad thing that has happened to Batman in his life, to the point that he even calls himself the "father of Batman" and claims to have been the bat which flew in through the window on the night that Bruce declared "Yes, Father. I shall become a Bat". Obviously, Bruce did not know which 'father' he was speaking to during that night...
  • In Dark Nights: Death Metal, it's revealed that Perpetua is the creator/mother of the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor and the World Forger. Her goal was to trick her sons into freeing her from her prison by destroying the current multiverse. When the Anti-Monitor was defeated during the first Crisis on Infinite Earths, she chose other "agents" to do her will and she subconsciously influenced them the same way she did for her son. Parallax, the Alex Luthor of Earth-3 and Superboy-Prime, Darkseid and Mandrakk, and Barbatos were all influenced by Perpetua to destroy the multiverse, which makes her retroactively responsible for Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis and Dark Nights: Metal. The mainline Luthor is also trying to revive Perpetua, which culminated in Justice League (2018) and DC Year of the Villain.
  • In the New 52, Darkseid is the first villain faced by the Justice League, has been conquering the multiverse, and is responsible for the invasion and subsequent destruction of Earth-2. In turn, there are two Greater-Scope Villains behind his villainy.
    • Believe it or not, there's someone who even Darkseid is afraid of: his father, Yuga Khan. Thankfully for the universe at large, all he cares about is learning the truth about the Source, and was trapped, as most everybody else is, attempting to penetrate it. However, when he freed himself, he briefly terrorized Apokolips even worse than his son did and caused Darkseid to attempt to hide. His reign ended when, having learned nothing from his previous attempt, he once again attempted to invade the Source and ended up once again trapped.
    • The Anti-Life Equation that he is constantly after. If Darkseid finally finds it, it would make him gain knowledge to make everyone lose hope and become his slaves.
  • Green Lantern baddie Krona may well be the Greater-Scope Villain responsible for almost everything wrong with The DCU. While he's not the most powerful villain in the setting (though he's close; in a crossover with the Marvel Universe, he curb-stomps Galactus), he's the man behind Parallax, the Manhunters, and (indirectly) the Anti-Monitor, as his experiment was the thing that fractured the original Monitor probe in two. In turn, he thus unintentionally caused virtually every Crisis Crossover the DC heroes have ever faced. In his early appearances, it was actually stated that his experiment created evil itself, though this has since fallen by the wayside and may be Canon Discontinuity.
  • The Multiversity: The Empty Hand, the sinister entity that led the Gentry to the invasion of the DC Multiverse. Currently, it's just decided to wait. Probably qualifies as THE Greatest Scope Villain in DC.
  • Superman:
    • Brainiac, easily number in the top three on this list for The DCU (along with Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor), has a true form as a giant artificial entity, capturing cities from different timelines and universes before their destruction. The Vril Dox Brainiac is just one of his avatars, similar to the retcon made about Darkseid's nature in Final Crisis. Brainiac's true form (dubbed "Blood Moon Brainiac" or "Future's End Brainiac" by fans) serves as Greater Scope Villain in Convergence, as the reason for why Telos is doing what it's doing. Telos even refers to him as "the master", as he is in charge of every other Brainiac.
    • Speaking of Vril Dox, the true Brainiac prior to this story (and his current incarnation as of Rebirth) qualifies. An enormously powerful alien scientist turned conqueror equipped with super strength and toughness surpassing Superman's, psychic powers strong enough to warp reality, super intelligence sufficient to let him store exabytes of data in his brain and build just about anything, and toting some of the most potent tech in the DCU, he was revealed as The Man Behind the Man to all previous versions of Brainiac in the Superman: Brainiac story arc. The pants-less mad scientist in the flying saucer? The Skele Bot? The nanites possessing Milton Fine? The scrawny green guy with the goatee, telekinesis, and cape? The seven-foot tall purple and green humanoid robot? The nanoswarm? All of them and more, despite acting as the Big Bad in various storylines from Panic in the Sky to Doomsday Wars, were simply techno-organic probes being controlled by the real Brainiac.
    • The cause for Krypton's destruction tends to vary from incarnation to incarnation. however, sometimes, a villain is directly responsible for destroying said planet (Especially Brainiac). Said villain then becomes the indirect cause of Superman's story by causing Jor-El to send his son to earth to protect him and by killing Superman's biological parents. This would also by extension make them a greater scope villain for Supergirl too.
    • In the Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis eras, it was Black Zero. In the former era, it was the name of a supervillain whose modus operandi revolved around rigging planets to explode for hire. In the latter era, it was the name of a terrorist organization that fought in a war over the rights of the clones the Kryptonians used as organ banks. They were eventually defeated, but not before they initiated the chain reaction that would destroy Krypton thousands of years later.
    • Lex Luthor can be this in some interpretations of several of Superman's Rogues Gallery: through LexCorp he has an either direct or indirect involvement in the origins of the Parasite, Metallo, Bizarro, etc. who pester Superman with or without Luthor's knowledge or involvement.

Marvel Universe

  • The cosmic beings Death and Oblivion, who are incredibly powerful and exactly what they sound like. They tend to empower mortals to achieve their goals for them; Thanos and Maelstrom, respectively, are their favorite "heralds", each of whom is a universe-threatening Big Bad in his own right. The two cosmic beings have each been around for (in our time) decades and have been directly battled only a handful of times.
  • The early Conan the Barbarian comics from Marvel Comics often had the royal family from the Kingdom of Turan.
  • As revealed during Fear Itself, the real Satan. The other demon lords hold meetings around his throne sometimes, but it's stated that all of them, including, apparently, cosmically-powered ones like Shuma-Gorath and the aforementioned Dormammu, are terrified of even trying to sit on it. He's been gone from this plane of existence so long that even among the demons themselves it's a common belief that he doesn't actually exist.
  • The trope can easily become a problem when a bunch of writers work in a shared universe, especially one where the characters are in speaking distance of each other. For example, Marvel kept doing multibook crossovers over the course of the two years Lucifer was, or at least six hundred and sixteen fragments of him were, running wild and free on Earth. With the possible exception of Annihilation, nothing that inspired the crossover events was as bad a problem as this but Ghost Rider was the only one who seemed to care about it.
  • Solus in Spider-Verse. He is father to Morlun and all the other Inheritors, but doesn't take part in the Great Hunt for totemic beings himself. He also turns out to be a cosmic-scale threat capable of going toe-to-toe with the Spider-Man of Earth-13, a reality where he kept his Captain Universe powers.
  • Sub-Mariner has Set, the ancient serpent god loosely adapted from Conan the Barbarian. Namor has rarely fought Set in person, but Set's servants Paul Destine, Naga, Llyra, and Ghaur have been involved in many of the terrible things that have happened to him and Atlantis over the years.
  • X-Men:
    • The "Here Comes Tomorrow" story arc of New X-Men gave us the original character John Sublime, who was introduced with the strong suggestion that he may be the greatest overarching threat permeating the X-mythos. A sentient colony of bacteria almost as old as the Earth itself, Sublime was revealed to have orchestrated many major events in the X-Men's past, including the creation of the Weapon X program, all in a bid to wipe the mutant race from the Earth (as they are the only species immune to his mind control). It's implied that he may have even manipulated humanity to create the very idea of anti-mutant prejudice in the first place, thus making him the one villain who has managed to consistently keep the heat up on the X-Men since Day 1.
    • Apocalypse is this in Uncanny X-Force. He himself is killed effortlessly in the very first arc as a result of rejuvenating himself into a helpless child body, but almost every subsequent villain is working to either recreate him or find a successor for him. The arc even carried over into Remender's new book, Uncanny Avengers. Most X-Men adaptations set Apocalypse up as this as well.
    • Due to the chaotic nature of creative teams on the books at the time, the comics of the '90s featured a lot of these, with a writer introducing a mysterious mastermind character of some sort, then abruptly leaving or being kicked off the book shortly afterward, with the next creative team deciding not to follow up on the plotlines of the previous and aborting the entire arc. These characters are typically never so much as mentioned again, although Peter David got to revisit one he created, the Isolationist/Armageddon, nearly twenty years after the fact.
    • The Wolverine comics revealed not only that Weapon X is in fact controlled by an organization of greater scope villains called Weapon Plus, a secret governmental organization hellbent on eradicating mutants, who is responsible (directly or indirectly) for a lot of the crappy stuff that Wolverine went through in his life, but also that they are (directly or indirectly) responsible for the existence of many heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe, not just Wolverine himself. They created project rebirth, which makes them indirectly responsible for the creation of Captain America and Isaiah Bradley (or, to be more specific, the super soldier serum, a.k.a. Weapon I). They also created Weapon II (a weird squirrel with Wolverine's powers), The Skinless Man (Weapon III), Nuke (one of Daredevil's villains and Weapon VII), X-23, Deadpool, Huntsman (Weapon XII), Fantomex (Weapon XIII), The Stepford Cuckoos (clones of Emma Frost and Weapon XIV), Ultimaton (Weapon XV), Allgod (Weapon XVI) and according to Word of God, they are also responsible for creating or empowering many more unknown characters, both heroes and villains. They also created Project:Gladiator, which makes them indirectly responsible for creating Man-Thing. In some comics, it's also implied that they might have been involved with the prison experiments that gave Luke Cage his powers, the program that created the Sentinels and the Red Room Black Widow Ops organization that created the multiple Black Widows (like Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova). The organization has also been known to work with and provide money and resources to other villainous organizations (especially those that hate the X-Men) like A.I.M., HYDRA, the Hellfire Club, ROXXON, The Purifiers, OSCORP, etc. Later on, it's revealed that Weapon Plus was created and controlled by an even greater Greater-Scope Villain known as Romulus. He claims to be responsible for everything that happened in Logan's life and more, with plenty of evidence to back up this claim (such as immense and intimate knowledge of Wolverine's life, for example). The aforementioned John Sublime was pulling strings in the program as well, and to make things even more confusing, Word of God from the writer of the very first Weapon X story indicated that the original greater scope villain was going to be Apocalypse, but this never saw print for unknown reasons.


  • While Skinner Sweet is the closest thing to a consistent antagonist in American Vampire, he is overshadowed by two even greater evils:
    • Dracula, the Monster Progenitor for the European vampires and regarded as the most powerful and dangerous vampire in the world. He is referred in a ominous and dreadful manner by those who know him for committing genocide against other vampire species and slaughtering countless vampire hunters. In fact, Skinner (and the entire American bloodline subsequently) owes his existence to Dracula since the vampire who unintentionally sired him belonged to his bloodline. With that said, Dracula is never actually fought by him nor by Pearl Jones (he is confronted on a spin-off series focusing on supporting characters) but his shadow falls upon them regardless. In addition to his effect in the storyline, he also served this role for Jack the Ripper of all people, having driven Albert, Duke of Clarence to madness and made him target prostitutes in the Whitechapel area of London.
    • And even greater than the Dracula is the Beast, an eldritch horror from Babylonian times that spawned nightmarish creatures and demons upon the Earth and it's implied that vampires are actually originated from it. The Vassals of the Morning Sun is said to have been actually founded to fight and destroy the Beast rather than to hunt vampires, but the VMS have focused their efforts exclusively on them ever since the Beast slumbered.
  • For most of the story in Amulet, all the strife is caused by the Elf King waging war...until it's revealed that the spirit of the Amulet (who so far has been a guide of sorts, if somewhat evil in its own special way) is the real cause behind everything. To top it all off, this isn't the first time the Amulet spirit has done this either, having done the exact same thing 500 years prior.
  • Asterix: Even when other Romans are the episode's main antagonists, Julius Caesar is very often behind their actions directly or indirectly.
  • The conflicts of Black Science revolve around jump-to-jump survival and interpersonal strife within the team. In the background is Mr. Block, who financed the pillar's research specifically to steal technology and dominate multiple dimensions.
  • The Lord of the Locusts in Bone.
  • The Ogdru Jahad tend to be behind most villains in Hellboy stories.
  • Locke & Key: The Big Bad is Dodge; the Greater Scope Villains are the Eldritch Abominations behind the Black Door that he wants to release one of which corrupted him in the first place.
  • The Mice Templar has the evil serpent spirit Donas, who controls the Nathair and wants to destroy the world through Karic.
  • Nemesis features a sinister organization that helps supply the titular supervillain in his criminal activities, but otherwise is never identified or encountered. They send Officer Morrow a letter congratulating him on his victory against Nemesis and promise to leave him and his family alone. However, they also state they will expand their operations and provide bored rich people the opportunity to become super-villains and carry out their psychotic impulses. He only receives this letter at the very end of the comic.
  • Raptors has Don Miguel Y Cera as the leader of the vampire conspiracy that controls the world and kickstarted the plot by killing Drago and Camilla's parents, pushing the twins to get revenge against him and his minions. With that said, he leaves his Council of Vampires to handle the day-to-day politics and deal with this threat while he stays in his little corner feasting on any food that his servants bring him. In the end, the protagonists don't even kill him, he is dispatched by completely unrelated minor characters.
  • Satan's Hollow: Satan and the four members of his court. While they're the benefactor of the Shadow Man, who is trying to release them onto Earth in exchange for power, they spend their entire screentime in Hell waiting for the portal to be opened.
  • Senator Roark and Mob Boss Wallenquist in Sin City. The former is an immensely powerful and unashamedly Corrupt Politician who can get away with anything while the latter is an immensely powerful crime lord controlling most of the organized crime in the city. While both men are responsible for the greatest evils in Basin City and perpetuate the Crapsack World itself, neither would really qualify as the main villain in any of the stories. Their organizations and influence are so vast that they're usually concerned with larger matters than direct confrontation with the (Anti-)heroes.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): One could make an argument that Mammoth Mogul is this. Thousands of years ago, he founded the Order of Ixis, which eventually led to the creation of Ixis Naugus, whose actions, which may include starting the Great War, in turn led to Dr. Robotnik's rise to power, who's death ultimately led to nearly every villain in the book today, with Naugus :responsible for the ones that aren't Mogul. Naugus and Robotnik are still quite active (and are, in fact, the current top two villains of the series), whereas Mogul has semi-retired from active villainy, running a casino and deciding to use his immortality to outlive the heroes and make his move then.note 
  • In Alan Moore's run on Supreme, The End is an enigmatic villain imprisoned within Supreme's Hell of Mirrors. He's apparently very powerful and is feared by the other members of Supreme's Rogues Gallery, but he never actually does anything except sit around waiting for an unspecified something to happen. In fact, he turns down an opportunity to kill a captive Supreme because it isn't time yet and later is notably the only villain who chooses not to escape the Hell of Mirrors during a prison breakout.
  • Many of the villains Tintin faces are in fact agents working for a superior that either serves as a secondary briefly encountered villain or is never even seen.
    • Marshal Kûrvi-Tasch, the dictator of Borduria, is the ultimate authority behind any Bordurian agent Tintin fights over the course of his adventures (with the possible exception of King Ottokar's Sceptre, in which he doesn't seem to already be in power). However, he also never directly takes part in the plans of his subordinates and never makes an appearance outside of the occasional statue or portrait.
    • Tom in Tintin in the Congo is working for Al Capone.
    • Allan in The Crab with the Golden Claws operates a drug smuggling business on behalf of Omar Ben Salaad, a wealthy merchant of the fictional port of Bagghar.
  • The Transformers (IDW):
    • Shockwave. While Megatron or Scorponok or any other Decepticon are always front and center as the Big Bad, Shockwave has always worked behind the scenes with his regenesis project, which is a number of energies which bond to planets and create different Ore. This kicks off the earth conflict, which he is absent for, as the empowering Ore is there and everyone is fighting over it. It kicks off Spotlight Kup, which he is also absent for, because it drives Kup crazy. It is the reason behind the Syndromica arc, which he has very little to do with. In addition his projects have been behind the destruction of numerous civilizations, which he was also absent for because the Dynobots got to him before he could stabilize them. As of The Transformers: Dark Cybertron he has subverted the Trope, and stepped up as the major threat, requiring all the Transformers to unite against him.
    • The Dead Universe and alternate universe that seeks to consume the one present and mind controls anyone it can reach, even controlling the Decepticons to do its bidding. Later we learn that Shockwave is responsible for its existence.
    • In James Roberts and John Barber's run, the role is given to Onyx Prime. He's responsible for a great many things that happen over the course of the series, both good and bad. Garrison Blackrock, the Headmasters, Chela, the Talisman, Eukaris, the Axalon and its crew, Galvatron and Arcee, the Dark Cybertron Prophecy, the Torchbearers, Infraspace, and the Beastformer army were all either indirectly created by his machinations or served him directly. Then it's revealed that, through a complicated series of Stable Time Loops, Onyx is Shockwave...
  • Transformers: Generation 2 has the Liege Maximo, founder of Jhiaxus's Decepticons (and, possibly, all Decepticons). Later, Unicron, Eldritch Abomination and Satan-figure, to the franchise as a whole.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, Lord Hikiji, the warlord who killed Usagi's lord, started off as the main villain, but as the story's focus shifted elsewhere, he settled into this role. Nowadays, his plots and schemes are largely relegated to the background and they rarely ever directly affect the main characters. Hikiji himself almost never appears in person anymore with lackeys like Lord Hebi being dispatched to do his bidding for him.
  • In Violine, Muller and Marushka are the main villains in the plot, driving much of the backstory as well as Violine's adventures, especially Muller who actively hunts her and her father down.

    Fan Works 
  • Always Visible: In Galbraith's eyes, this is exactly how doctor Baselard.
  • Alya and the Harem Reality: The new reality created by the Wish introduces an unseen individual that wiped out the Guardians 200 years ago. A young Fu managed to escape with the Chinese Miraculous Box but lost the Butterfly and Peacock Miraculouses in the struggle, which ended up in the hand of the Agrestes. The entity would soon return in the present day, forcing Fu to scatter and hide the Miraculouses for their potential chosen to find them before he is killed fighting the entity.
  • Arrow: Rebirth: While Malcolm Merlyn and Tempest are, naturally, the primary threats of the first story, Oliver also has to deal with them while not tipping off the other future threats, among them Slade, H.I.V.E., and the Ninth Circle. Most of all, he goes through great pains not to piss off the League of Assassins, because unlike the other organizations, they're integral to the balance of the world, so he can't do anything to get rid of them this time around.
  • Ask Jappleack: Applelox is revealed to be the father of Discord and Wolfilor, and the one who sent them to Equestria, making him directly responsible for the events in PONY.MOV.
  • Autobot Academy: While Megatron is the Big Bad of the present, he's ultimately overshadowed by Great Convoy, who not only killed him, but became a ruler so tyrannical that the only way to stop him was using time travel to ensure he could never rise to power.
  • Being Dead Ain't Easy has the Big Five. They're technically behind a lot of major events in the story, as they're responsible for sabotaging KaibaCorp and siccing Morrison on Kaiba — inadvertently starting the entire plot — but aren't personally involved or seen at all. At most, they get a couple mentions.
  • The Bridge (MLP):
    • While Bagan is the Big Bad of the main story, the side story The Bridge: Humanity's Stand has him in this role, as the primary antagonists are the Red Dawn Apocalypse Cult he created. And in A Shimmer in the Dark, the crossover with The Shimmerverse, he acts via his Aspect Mizu as the benefactor of Countess Mircalla's last remaining remnant of the Nightmare Army.
    • Grogar is this for King Sombra, having taught him Dark Magic as his Evil Mentor. It eventually turns out that Lord Tirek, Queen Chrysalis, and Discord all learned it from him as well, and he's implied to be the true cause of the outbreak of horrible evils a thousand years ago. More importantly, he's the Nexus of Dark Magic, just like Harmony and Bagan are for their respective magics implying he's on the same tier, and Chrysalis is currently attempting to exploit her Villain Team-Up with Bagan to restore Grogar to his full power.
  • The Cadanceverse has Nemesis, the entity/force that corrupted Celestia and Luna, and is still free and on the loose even after they're purified by the Elements of Harmony.
  • The Child of Love: SEELE. In the first story they were behind Gendo, ordering him around and watching him to ensure he fulfilled their goals, knowing fully well he had an agenda of his and being aware of his project to create a new lifeform to fight them with. In the sequel they remained in the shadow, sending their agents to spy on the heroes and destabilize them as they get ready to fight them and carry forward his plot to create a new god.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Thanos maintains this status from the canon MCU. In addition to having sent Loki and the Chitauri to invade Earth in The Avengers, it's implied that he also sent Gravemoss to Earth as well, confirmed in-universe to have been behind the destruction of Krypton, and Word of God is that he also has a connection to Gorr the God Butcher, who Thor fought in the past (and is still traumatized by). Strange eventually reveals that the entire Gambit Roulette Long Game that he's playing is designed to prepare Earth for when Thanos eventually comes for it, which suggests that he'll be the Final Boss of the series.
    • There's also Chthon. Gravemoss's use of the Darkhold is allowing his influence to spread throughout the universe, breaking down the dimensional barriers separating Earth from all kinds of scary shit, both of Chthon's making and of various other evil deities (the side story Chaos Reigns is about one such infestation). There's also the fact that while the various villainous factions at play (the active Death Eater/HYDRA alliance, and all those powers working in the shadows) are fairly limited in scope, only wanting to control Earth, Chthon would destroy and dominate everything. During the Final Battle of Book 1, he seizes control of Gravemoss amidst the chaos of HYDRA's downfall, serving as the Book's Final Boss.
    • Ghosts of the Past brings in Surtur a.k.a. the first Dark Phoenix. His rampage across the universe millions of years ago is what led to the creation of Yggdrasil (as the complex locking mechanism on his prison) and the ascension of the Asgardians to godhood. And now cracks have started forming in his prison as a result of Chthon's actions in the previous book, hinting that soon Harry and co will have to deal with him too.
  • Cinderjuice and its sequels increasingly suggest, if not outright state, that the plot is the ultimate enemy of the heroes. It's treated more and more as a Sentient Cosmic Force as the stories progress, with Beetlejuice in particular accusing it of Comedic Sociopathy for its own amusement. The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You is invoked more than once, implying that even the author is not safe from the machinations of the plot.
  • Code Prime: After hints dropped throughout R1, its final chapter confirms that Unicron is the greatest threat in the setting, beyond the Britannians and even the Decepticons. The Thirteen Primes state to C.C. their belief that Unicron is somehow the source of Geass, which would indirectly make him responsible for much of the plot, while Word of God confirms that he's still sealed in the Earth's core, leaving him as a looming threat vs the Deceptions immediate threat. With Megatron dead and the Decepticon army decapitated by the end of R2, Unicron is now setting himself up as the Final Boss for the last chapter of the story.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In the sequel Diplomat at Large, the Storm King's unidentified master, whose existence is only revealed with his whispered dying words. The epilogue of the fourth story, The Diplomat's Life, reveals that Lady Aputsiaq is working for one; on the same level as the Storm King's unidentified master.
  • In Earth's Alien History, the Daleks are this, as the Time Lords are merging universes for the purpose of making humanity into the perfect soldiers to face them in the Time War.
    • Thanos seems set up to be this in the Andromeda Dreams spinoff, given that his presence has already been felt via his minions, in both the Klingon and Romulan storylines, but he's currently occupied in his own fiefdom on the other side of the galaxy.
  • The Elements of Friendship: It's implied that The Omniscient Council of Vagueness that Moondancer is part of is in service to one of these, and are manipulating events as part of some plan they put in place long ago.
  • The Masks We Wear (Teen Titans): Samantha Vanaver is the true villain, forcing John Grayson to be her assassin since Dick Grayson was born leads to him betraying the Court of Owls and creating the identity of Slade. She also plans to kill all the Titans using her Talons by pretending to be their friend and installing a security system owned by one of her companies in Titans Tower so the Talons can infiltrate Titans Tower and kill them all.
  • In The End of Ends, Trigon created the Dark Prognosticus, thus giving rise to Logan’s power.
  • In The Equestrian Wind Mage, Majora is this for the first two seasons, being responsible for Ganondorf's arrival in Equestria, as well as ordering Dethl to revive and recruit various antagonists. In Season 3 Majora officially takes over as the Big Bad.
  • Fate: True Bizarre reveals that Francesca Prelati had sent the grimoire to serial killer Ryuunosuke Uryu in hopes he will cause chaos in the Fourth Grail War. However, after Jotaro Kujo stopped Ryuunosuke from killing a family as sacrifice, she uses the Mysterynote  of his Stand to make him a Master. She does this so that she can inevitably torture him in the future.
  • General James Ironwood serves as this for Volume 1 of A Girl and Her Bike. He doesn't have much presence in the story and isn't directly involved in the ongoing plot, but Winter is present on Patch on his orders to investigate the "Mantlite bomb" (aka Bumblebee) and he does have his soldiers form an alliance with the Decepticons to pursue whom they believe is a wanted criminal, meaning that his actions are ultimately what help drive the conflict for the first Volume.
  • Morgoth in The Heart Trilogy, a series of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson versions) fics. Kathryn sees him in her visions repeatedly, leading her to learn of his imprisonment in the void. Gandalf states that should the first Dark Lord ever return, then Sauron, the current Dark Lord, would bow to him once again. The main goal of Kathryn's main enemy, Fankil, is to release his father Morgoth by using Kathryn's powers to locate the void's entrance, the Door of Night.
  • Carmen in Hottie 4: Even Better Sequel, who was also the Big Bad in Hottie and the last chapters of Hottie 3: The Best Fan Fic in the World.
  • Inkopolis Chaos: If not for Magentark Clover, Natalie wouldn’t have been framed, and as a result, she wouldn’t have met Samuel. Not only that, but his death caused Cyalux’s descent into Villainy, so if not for him, The Octobusters wouldn’t have been founded, so Luke wouldn’t have met Summer. Melissa likely wouldn’t have changed her views on octolings either, as a result of no octobusters for Ruby to save her from. As a result, if not for him, the majority of the events in the story wouldn’t have happened.
    • He gaslighted his brother into hating octolings, was responsible for Natalie being framed, tried to kill a dozen octolings, and even in death, his actions haunt the story, with Cyalux being so stubborn in believing octolings were bad, and Ruby feeling responsible for everything. Heck, even Ruby’s emotional breakdown in the oneshot “A Burden To Bear” really solidifies this guy as a scumbag, even though we never see him.
  • Ignited Spark, has the Inner Circle, a Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy led by All for One, and composed of the Meta Liberation Army, Humarise and the Hero Commission, and those are just the villains we are aware of. The Inner Circle's power also seems to extend beyond Japan, with Vigilantes confirming their activities around China.
  • Invader Zim: A Bad Thing Never Ends: Lex is working on behalf of an unnamed new Tallest who has taken over since Red and Purple were lost in the Florpus, and is now working to stop the Empire's decline and revitalize it, which somehow requires Minimoose's power source.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: While Darth Nihilus is the undisputed Big Bad of the story, there are several Greater-Scope Villains present in the setting.
    • Next to Nihilus, Salem is one of the greatest threats to humanity's existence on Remnant. Ozpin's focus is on defeating her and Cinder is ultimately carrying out her orders.
    • Then there's also the God of Darkness. The terentatek that attacked and nearly killed Jaune in "Fear" was a Super Prototype he made while experimenting around with various Dark Side creatures prior to his creation of the Grimm. The Temple of Shadows — a death cult mentioned in "Dance" and which appears in "Legends" — worshipped him and carried out countless brutal murders in his name. Nihilus's spirit impersonated him after his mask was found by one of the cult's monks and he used his identity to have the cult bring him hundreds of victims to consume during the Great War.
    • Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire. Despite only being mentioned once during a flashback, the whole reason that a team of adventurers dumped Nihilus's mask on Remnant was to hide the dark artifact from them.
  • Justice League of Equestria would appear to have Darkseid for the series as a whole, judging by Athena's comments about the War in Heaven against his forces. Mare of Steel ends with him opening a boomtube to Equestria, setting him up to be the Big Bad of the main Justice League of Equestria story.
  • In Lanterns of Equestria: Blackest Night, the Black is the true villain, while the Black Lantern of Commander Hurricane serves it and acts as the de facto Big Bad of the story.
  • In The Lion King Adventures, the Writer, an Author Avatar of ThatPersonYouMightKnow's dark side, created the entire universe and all the characters in it, as a means of having his own world in which to create chaos and destruction.
  • In The Lunar Guardsman, as more and more is revealed about the rifts that Raegdan came through, there come hints that there is something out there that specifically uses them to destroy worlds, and an organization in another world that uses these rifts to explore is starting to research this possibility. Raegdan might have come into contact with this, and might have either served it voluntarily or not, but he believes it was just something his mind made up. He doesn't believe it was real because going by the description it was Morgoth.
  • Mad World (Invader Zim) has The Thing in the Wall, which spends the whole story manipulating Dib as it did Nny, but due to being sealed, it can't directly interact with the real world. Until it gets loose during the climax.
  • Metal Sonic in Mario and Sonic: Heroes Unite!. His power is claimed in the description to be "bigger than Eggman and Bowser's powers combined".
  • In Memories, Discord's mother is this. It was because of her that Discord took over Equestria, because of her that Discord "Discorded" the Mane Six, and because of her that Serenity had to die. (she gets better) She appears to be becoming the Big Bad in the sequel, though.
  • Mischief (MHA), has Thanos, who isthe one in control of the Big Bad Ensemble between his forces, Loki, All for One and Ultron, and seeks the power of the Infinity Stones for himself.
  • Moriarty was there was an essay published by Doyle's Fandom trying to upgrade Moriarty from Break Out Villain to true Big Bad status for the Sherlock Holmes book series by doing a Revision about Holmes cases and arguing that Moriarty was there as a Greater Scope Villain for various BigBads cases: after all, canon has established him as a Diabolical Mastermind, with vast criminal resources that can be exploited by minor criminals by a fee. For example, the essay proposes that the criminal of the very first novel, A Study in Scarlet, after losing his Memento MacGuffin and recognizing he is Lured into a Trap by whoever put the ad in the paper to recover it (Holmes), then consulted Moriarty, who commissioned a Master of Disguise to pose as an elderly woman to get it (it worked!).
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, SEELE. While Gendo only wanted to save his wife, they wanted to merge all human souls to create a new god. They were the real employers of Kluge, who spent the whole story looking for ways to destroy NERV. In the final chapter though, they are all Out-Gambitted by the mad A.I., the Emerald Tablet, who usurps the role as the true Big Bad of the story from right underneath them.
  • King Gidorah takes this role in The New Age Of Monsters. While he hasn't shown up yet due to being stuck frozen on Mars, he is clearly being built up as the greatest threat to earth out there and even the other antagonists are wary of him.
  • New Dawn revealed the real villain of the first book was not the cat's paw Nebiros, but rather the insidious New Order, at first seemingly spearheaded by Chris, but in reality controlled by an even Greater Scope Villain: Sharon Tate Roman. And to add to the intrigue, it is unknown if Nebiros or Chris even knew she existed.
  • The Avatar in Perfection Is Overrated, having created the SUEs and the Usurper as a means of testing whether a Canon Foreigner could compete with a canon character on equal terms, is this.
  • Cyrus to Ash in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. While he was the one who set the events of the story in motion (by virtue of causing the collapse of the previous reality), he's not the current main active threat, with that role filled by Giovanni and Team Rocket, and the Bloodline King. It's almost a Foregone Conclusion that Ash will eventually have to face Cyrus when he gets to Sinnoh, though.
  • Satan is this in The Prayer Warriors, since he is said to have created the false gods and had a hand in the rise of communism in Russia, but hardly ever appears.
  • Prehistoric Earth has Percival von Grimm. He's the man that Duncan Kent reports to and helps to attempt to sabotage the titular park for, serves directly as The Man Behind the Man for Frank, and is the one who both set up the prehistoric animal smuggling ring that Frank serves as immediate supervisor for as well as helped orchestrate a mass breakout at the park for the sake of an attempt at allowing Duncan to get ahold of the main portal technology to use as a replacement for an inferior jury rigged copy that the smuggling ring is forced to use in its place. He eventually graduates to full on Big Bad once enough things start heading south to make him feel its time to get directly involved.
  • Queen of Shadows has Shendu. His actions kicked off the plot, and in the new reality, he's the Evil Overlord of half of Asia. However, he hasn't really done anything since reality was altered, and it's not even clear yet if the Shendu in the new reality is the same one who damaged the Book of Ages.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Tirek, who has long been sealed away inside Tartarus, and doesn't actually want to leave after Princess Luna stole most of his power. That said, before he was sealed, he planted fragments of his soul everywhere, which cause trouble on more than one occasion. He also backed Grogar's attempt to gain immortality, and indirectly responsible for the creation of Cadence.
  • Rainbow in the Wastes has Queen Chrysalis. The entire events of the story were all just a hallucination caused by her- Rainbow Dash isn't in the world of Fallout, she's in a Lotus-Eater Machine. The whole thing was a case of The Bad Guy Wins.
  • In the Pokémon fanfic Return of the Hero, it's revealed that Kyurem joined forces with the Sky Soldiers in order to fulfill two goals - a) lure Reshiram and Zekrom out into the open so that it could fuse with them and recreate the original dragon that ruled over Unova, and b) get its hands on the Pixie Plate that represents Fairy-Type Pokemon in order to destroy it and assert the dominance of Dragon-Types.
  • Saving the Boy: President Snow. For all that Misu and the other tributes are threats to Peeta in the arena, Katniss, Haymitch, and the other Victors are well aware that all of them are still at the mercy of the Capitol. To that end, Katniss does everything she can to please Snow, knowing that doing otherwise could doom Peeta like it did Gale.
  • Most fics in the Shadowchasers Series have one:
  • Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights: Chaos, mentioned above, is one of these not only to the Sailor Moon universe, but to every magical girl universe, claiming to be the ultimate source of all evil and darkness.
  • Somber Ties has two. The first, as one might expect from a story that takes place in the Chrystal Empire, is King Sombra. The second (and greater) one is Blackheart, as the evil force behind his rise to power.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos has several of these. Maledict is quickly revealed to be this to Tsali and becomes one of the primary villains. However, it's also shown that Jesus and Allysion had quite a large part to do with the Metarex War and the Crapsack World as well. And of course, there's Dark Tails, who eventually becomes the Big Bad everyone else winds up fighting.
  • Princess Jody in Supetastic 6: Year Four.
  • Tales of the Oppressed has King Sombra. He's the one responsible for everything bad that happened in the story, but 38 chapters in and he's only had one major appearance.
  • There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton: As per MCU canon, Thanos and his Black Order are the greatest threat looming on the horizon. Even more so here, as he has indirectly caused the actions of at least two other Big Bads — Vilgax's own rampages have been for the sake of getting strong enough to defeat him for revenge, while Doctor Doom's actions are driven by a need to prevent Thanos from devastating Earth with the Snap the way he did in Doom's original timeline.
  • The Twilight Man: Kars still plays the role of Greater-Scope Villain in the Phantom Blood adaptation Blood Obligation, not only creating the stone mask that is used to create the vampires plaguing England, but assigning the Pillar Man Santanta to create the vampires and kill their Arch-Enemy Wamuu.
  • Although the story has yet to get very far, the appointments of the main characters by Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf in the Pokémon fic series Unwilling Service is a clear indicator that they will eventually travel to Sinnoh to fight against Team Galactic.
  • The War of Megazords Vs. Gundams has two Greater Scope Villains: Patrick Zala and Mykan Yuki. They fueled each other's hatred towards Naturals and Coordinators receptively and are what sparked their respective wars. In short, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED had Zala the Big Bad and Mykan its Greater Scope Villain, while Megazords vs. Gundams had the reverse.
  • In the Medaka Box fanfic World as Myth, Ihiko Shishime seems to be this, as his existence is heavily implied to be the reason for the Big Bad's plans.
  • In Young Justice: Darkness Falls: Darkseid serves this role to the first 2 seasons of the show, as Vandal Savage's endgame involved him, making him an essential part of the plan. He also serves as one to Superman, as he was actually behind the destruction of Krypton as well. Although, once his invasion of earth begins, he takes on the role of Big Bad as well.
    • Following this, Young Justice Titans has another Greater Scope Villain in the form of Trigon. The new secondary villains, the Church of Blood, are dedicating their efforts to finding a way to release him on Earth.

    Films — Animated 
  • Abominable has the mysterious client that hired Dr. Zara and the Captain to steal Everest the Yeti from Mr. Burnish. They're only ever referred to as "the buyer" and nothing else is ever revealed about them (except that they plan on chopping Everest up for their "experiments" once they get their hands on him), but the fact that they were apparently able to give the two villains a better offer than a billionaire like Burnish certainly implies they're very, very rich and powerful.
  • Alma: Who on earth is running the toy shop that traps children and turns them into dolls? We have no idea.
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven: While Carface is Charlie's rival and the villain of the story, after Charlie uses the divine watch to restart his life, giving up his place in Heaven in the process, he starts having nightmares about a terrifying Satan figure—depicted as a titanic Big Red Devil resembling an unholy mix of a dragon and a hellhound—waiting for him in Fire and Brimstone Hell. It appears after the watch fills with water and stops, ending his life, to take him to Hell. Fortunately, he died trying to save Anne-Marie, which restores his place in Heaven, and the whippet angel drives the beast away.
    • There's also Red's "boss" who "yanks his leash" near the end of the sequel, who may or may not be the same demonic creature described above.
  • In Anastasia, there's the Dark Forces that Rasputin sold his soul to and gained most of his powers from to get revenge on the Romanov family. The deal he made with them spectacularly backfires; first he's reduced to a decaying zombie stuck in limbo after he drowns and stuck like that until the last Romanov dies, and when his reliquary is destroyed they immediately claim him, and he dies a rather horrific death.
  • Played with in the case of the Witch from Brave. Her magic was responsible for creating the movie's "villain", Mordu and turning the protagonist's mother into a bear, and she's hardly involved the movie's main conflict, but she hardly has any malicious intentions and just seems to misinterpret her patrons' requests.
  • The Death of Superman/Reign of the Supermen sees Darkseid as the one responsible for both Doomsday and Cyborg-Superman.
  • Despicable Me: Mr. Perkins, the head of the Bank of Evil, is the largest threat in the franchise because he can finance whatever evil scheme he wishes and, therefore, has the entire criminal underworld in his pocket.
  • Disney Animated Canon as a whole seems to have the Chernabog from Fantasia, who appears to be the Disney version of Satan.
    • In The Black Cauldron, the spirit trapped inside the titular Black Cauldron is one. The Horned King wants to use the cauldron to Take Over the World with an undead army.
    • Treasure Planet: Captain Flint. A fearsome Space Pirate who terrorized ships for years, the treasure he took from those ships is the stuff of legends and the MacGuffin for the entire plot. Then, it turns out that he rigged the entire planet to explode if anyone found the treasure, and escaping the planet before it explodes becomes the object of the climax.
    • The king of France in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He may not appear in person in the film, only ever being mentioned once by Esmerelda in a passing comment, but surely everyone, including Big Bad Judge Claude Frollo, is subordinate to him, and he's either, at best, completely ignorant of Frollo's oppression of the Gypsies, or at worst, fully endorsing it. On top of that, while Frollo is merely a Minister of Justice and his atrocities are mostly limited to Paris and the surrounding countryside, the king is.... well, the ruler of all of France, so there's probably a lot more Roma and minorities being mistreated under his rule throughout the whole country.
    • Lilo & Stitch: The Direct to Video sequel introduces Dr. Jacques von Hämsterviel, Jumba's former partner and the one who funded all of his experiments. He ratted his partner out in an attempt to steal the experiments for himself to have an army to conquer the universe. If it weren't for him, Stitch would never have come to Earth. He remains the Big Bad for the rest of the franchise.
    • Wreck-It Ralph has the Cy-Bugs from the game Hero's Duty, who are powerful and a great threat as a whole, while just being a threat in Ralph's quest and having nothing to do with the situation at Sugar Rush. However, they come back in the climax, when they begin to destroy Sugar Rush, and the Big Bad even fuses with one of them!
    • Frozen II: While King Runeard died long before Elsa and Anna were even born, it is his crimes against the Northuldrans, mainly that he killed their unarmed leader in cold-blood and built a dam to subjugate Northuldra, that instigates the natural imbalance that causes the second film's conflict. It's also revealed that the spirits behind Northuldra's power are the source of Elsa's powers, making him this for the first movie too.
  • While he appears in only one, albeit quite memorable, scene, the very fact Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio is set in fascist Itally makes Benito Mussolini into this. In fact, two out of three parts of the movie's Big Bad Ensemble have motivations tying back to Mussolini - count Volpe wants Pinocchio as his show's star in hopes of getting rich by impressing Mussolini, while the Podestà wants to mold Pinocchio into perfect soldier for Mussolini's army.
  • The Gorg from Home (2015). The conflict of the film is because of the Boov finding refuge from them.
  • The humans in the first Ice Age movie. They were the ones who killed Manny's family, and them wiping out half the saber-toothed tigers' pack is ultimately what drives the latter to commit the heinous acts that set the plot in motion, namely trying to steal and kill the baby out of spite. Plus, as we all know, in real life, they were (largely) responsible for the extinction of all mammoths.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 has Lord Shen, whose actions shaped the story of the film trilogy as we know it. Had he not done what he did, the story of Kung Fu (and Po's destiny) probably would have turned out FAR different.
  • In The LEGO Movie, Lord Business' actions are metaphorically linked to the actions of "The Man Upstairs", a human whom the LEGO people regard as a godlike figure. The Kragle is only one of many tubes of Krazy Glue in his possession.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, Pharaoh Seti I is the main villain during the first half and the man directly responsible for the massacre of Hebrew slaves that led to Moses coming into his care, but he dies offscreen during Moses' exile and it's ultimately Rameses who takes center stage as the antagonist.
  • Ratatouille: Ego is indirectly responsible for Gusteau's death and, consequently, his restaurant's downfall, allowing Skinner to take over the business.
  • Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island has the honor of having two greater-scope villains: Morgan Moonscar, who invaded the island with his crew and slaughtered all of the inhabitants except for Simone and Lena and thus is the very reason the latter two became werecats to begin with, and the cat god who cursed them all.
  • In the first Shrek film, it is briefly mentioned that the curse that causes Princess Fiona to become an ogre every night was placed on her by an evil witch, but said witch never makes an appearance at all in the franchise, leaving her identity and motives unknown. (Some fans have theorized that it was actually the Fairy Godmother who placed a curse on her, but it is never been directly evidenced.)
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron has the US government as the greater scope villains, as the actual villains are the US Military. Though they are never seen, the actual Big Bad, The Colonel comments that there are those among the US government who doubt that the West can be settled. Given that the US army is a long way from Washington, there are obviously those in Washington who disagree, so it's a rare case of where a Greater-Scope Evil is at odds with itself. It might be safer to say that the ACTUAL greater-scope villains are the government members who endorse the Colonel's campaign and actions.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie introduced the legendary "Cyclops" as this to the SpongeBob SquarePants universe as a whole. The Big Bad of the movie is Plankton, with Dennis serving as The Dragon, but when we finally meet the Cyclops, he absolutely dwarfs them in scale in a Humans Are Cthulhu kind of way — he's actually the owner of a seaside gift shop that sells dried-out fish and other marine life as souvenirs. Fortunately, the heroes only meet him briefly and manage to escape — but it's really tense for a moment there.
  • Rothbart, the Big Bad of The Swan Princess, for the second and third sequel as he worked with the big bads of the first two sequels to gain power, only to betray them. The Forbidden Arts takes this role for the entire franchise as a whole.
  • In Turning Red, Grandma Wu serves as a Greater Scope Antivillain as she was the reason why Ming turned out the way she did. Wu antagonized Ming the same way Ming antagonizes Mei.


    Myths & Religion 
  • According to most varieties of Christianity, this is the role Satan plays in the human world.
    • Satan is this in most of The Bible as well, for the most part. The only books in which he's actually the Big Bad are Book of Revelation, Book of Job, and possibly Book of Genesis (if one takes the interpretation he was the Serpent of Eden, though many scholars believe this was a late idea). This is particularly the case in The Four Gospels, where he does appear briefly and attempts to tempt Jesus, but leaves the narrative almost as soon as he arrives; the main villains of the Gospels are the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, and Pilate.
    • In fact, the Gospels depict Satan as the spiritual force truly at work BEHIND apostate Israel and Rome of the first century (the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, the Sadducees et al, and Pilate, representative of Caesar in Judea); flowing from Jesus' understanding of his own vocation—bound up inextricably with the very the purpose and meaning of his death on the cross—so Jesus squarely identifies the Big Bad as those vain principalities and powers governing human affairs in the heavenly places, NOT the human groups themselves! Yet, the nature of the Satan as the Big Bad is just Out of Focus, and in this unique case the Greater Scope Villain is NOT in fact 'other than' the Big Bad.
    • This is particularly true of preterist eschatology, where Satan is currently bound in Hell note , and while unable to influence the world directly anymore, is ultimately responsible for all evil in the world.
  • Angra Mainyu (better known by the Persian name Ahriman) in some forms of Zoroastrianism.
  • Norse Mythology has Surtr, the king of the Fire Giants of Muspellheim. The Big Bads of most myths are the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and, later on, Loki, but Surtr has stood since the beginning of time at the entrance to his realm, immobile and brandishing his flaming sword Laevateinn, just waiting for the end of the world, where he will finally awaken and cause more destruction than all the other villains put together.
  • Egyptian Mythology has the serpent Apep, who is the eternal enemy of Ra, as well as Ma'at on the whole. Set, who is often depicted as the Big Bad, hates Apep as much the other gods, and when the chips are down, will fight with them to stop the serpent.
  • Classical Mythology
    • Theogony has the primordial deities Ouranos and Gaea serve as this role during the Titanomachy and Typhon's assault respectively. Cronus is the Big Bad of the Titanomacy due to eating and opposing Zeus and his other children, however Cronus was motivated to do so by his own father Ouranos making him paranoid his children would overthrow him like he did to save his own siblings. And while Typhon directly opposes the gods and spawns legions of monsters to later trouble them, Gaea spawned him in the first place out of revenge for the Titans' imprisonment. While they never directly oppose the Olympians (with Ouranos permamently indisposed), the Divine Conflict can be linked back to them.
    • The Trojan War is traced back to Eris, the goddess of discord. Scorned by being the only divinity not invited to a celebration, she threw an apple with the phrase "To the fairest." into said festivites, resulting in a feud between the various goddesses before being narrowed down to Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. The three goddesses go to exiled Trojan Prince Paris to judge, and he chooses Aphrodite with the caveat that she give him the fairest woman in the land, Helen. The resulting elopement naturally angered her husband, King Menelaus of Sparta, and he rallies the rest of the Greek kings and their armies into going into war to bring her back.
  • In Japanese Mythology, no matter what strange or unique creature you are. Izanami-no-Mikoto will always be the most fearsome and threatening. Why? Well, she's a fallen goddess with an eternal hatred towards humanity. A hatred her own ex-husband established, when he left her to rot in the Underworld. Ironically, as much as she helped create the world, she can and WILL destroy it, if given the chance.

  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who Divergent Universe arc the Kro'ka controls where the Doctor, Charley, and C'rizz go but is working for the Divergence. In Caerdroia he is revealed to be working for Rassilon, who meets the Doctor in the next story.]]

    Tabletop Games 
  • Blue Rose has the seven Exarchs of Shadow, though it's never stated explicitly whether they actually exist or are just a myth.
  • Demon: The Descent introduced the concept of God-Machine as the primary antagonist. But the thing is, it is not a single entity that can be confronted, but rather an overarching system encompassing the entire setting, the sum of all its parts composed of Infrastructures, Occult Matrices, and Outputs. Although, to call it a 'villain' might not give it enough credit, as the rulebook states that at times it works to protect the earth itself.
  • The Supreme Monstrosity in Dinosaurs Attack!, also named by fans, "Dinosaur Satan."
  • In Delta Green, Nyarlathotep inspired and guided the creations of the Cult of Transcendence, The Fate and Karotechia. Although it mostly stays in the background and leaves the affairs of the cults to its subordinates.
  • This is the role the Demon Lords And Arch Devils and Gods Of Evil in the Dungeons & Dragons world are likely to play in most games.
    • The best examples may be the Obyriths and their partner Tharizdun. The former are beings that predate mortal life and even gods. The latter is a god seduced by the Obyriths into evil and madness who shares their desire to destroy everything. Tharizdun used a shard of evil to create the Abyss (and by extension all demons), making him responsible for the existence of the greatest evils in the setting.
    • Vecna, one of the most notorious evil gods in the history of the game, who is known for his dreaded Eye and Hand, claims to have gained his power from a being he calls simply the Serpent, but the exact nature of this being (which is possibly his only ally) is unknown (including whether it even exists, the only source on its existence being the words of a mad and evil god).
    • The Dark Powers in the Ravenloft setting can play this role depending on what type of game the DM is running. On the one hand, they maintain a prison of extremely powerful and evil entities. On the other, for every Darklord trapped in an Ironic Hell, there are thousands upon thousands of regular people trapped alongside them as unwitting extras in the ghastly charade, stuck at the bottom of the food chain in a Crapsack World and subservient to the Darklord's whims.
    • On Mystara this is built in the system of attaining its equivalent of godhood, Immortality - to become Immortal, you need to pass tests and trials set up by another Immortal, who is your sponsor. This means that pretty much all Immortals from evil Sphere of Enthropy have their sponsor serving as this tope and are this to anyone they may be recently sponsoring or probing to see if they're a good cadidate.
      • However, even among them, Thanatos, possibly the eldest Immortal of the Sphere, stands out. Not only has he personally sponsored all big names and main active villains of the Sphere, including Alphaks, Atzanteotl, Demogorgon, Loki and Orcus but also is still active himself. He is responsible for corruption and eventually destruction of both Taymoran and Nithian empires. He created the Burrowers, the main threat to the destruction of the Hollow World and Night Dragons, with their Queen, Synn (Big Bad of Shadows Over Mystara) currently being his candidate to Immortality. He is also behind Storm Soldiers, whose influence has corrupted both entire Hattian culture and the Heldannic Order (Fantasy Counterpart Culture for Prussians and Teutonic Knights, respectively). It is easier to list bad things in the setting that aren't somehow tied back to him, that those that are. And these are things we know about. By a principle, only small handful of candidates to Immortality actually succeeds. Him having succesfully sponsored so many Immortals implies a horrifying number of mass murderers, Evil Overlrods, warlords, mages and other monsters who failed to meet his expectations.
  • The Deathlords of Exalted are Omnicidal Maniac ghosts granted power by the Neverborn in the name of destroying Creation. The Neverborn themselves, however, aren't much a threat; they're busier spending time coping with the pain of being eternally-dying-but-never-truly-dead and sending strange messages to their servants.
    • A far straighter example is the Ebon Dragon, a Yozi (Primordials who, unlike their Neverborn brothers and sisters, survived their overthrowing at the hands their servants the Gods and the Exalted who the Gods made for doing this) who is plotting to take over everything and is egging the Neverborn and the rest of the Yozi (who are stuck in hell) along to spread more misery and to distract them from his plans.
  • Mage: The Awakening:
    • The Exarchs, who stormed the Supernal realms and broke reality in the time of Atlantis. Together all eleven of them form the main villains of the setting, responsible for both the Abyss and the depressing state of the world.
    • The Greater Abyssal Powers are gangrenous, semi-real universes using lesser entities to spread their influence to the real world; if their servants can be believed, the Anunnaki are even more powerful.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • On Zendikar it's the Eldrazi, until Rise of the Eldrazi when they actually show up.
    • Yawgmoth, who had a similar treatment. For most of the original storyline, the various Evincars of Rath were the setting's primary antagonists, especially Volrath. Rath and its Evincars were essentially satellites to Phyrexia and Yawgmoth, its ruler. While Phyrexia turned up quite a bit throughout the game's history (going at least as far back as Gate to Phyrexia in Antiquities), Yawgmoth himself didn't take center stage until the Urza's Block and then not again until Invasion.
    • In many blocks, Nicol Bolas takes this role. While he himself rarely appears, his minions (such as Sarkhan Vol) often do. In the Khans of Tarkir block, he briefly appears in the backstory, killing the Big Good Ugin, setting up the block's situation; Sarkhan (now his own agent) stopping it to Set Right What Once Went Wrong causes Fate Reforged; and Ugin still being in a magical coma a millennium later results in the situation in Dragons of Tarkir.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Kazavon in the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign, where defeating even a small part of his legacy is an epic adventure for a group of 17th level characters. A monstrous Blue Dragon and Psycho for Hire who once served as Zon-Kuthon's Champion, Kazavon was killed long before the story began. His evil persists however, in the form of seven Artifacts Of Doom made out of his bones, which are so contaminated by the pure evil of his soul that they corrupt all they touch, exacerbating the evil that is already there in the human soul. Queen Illeosa, the Big Bad of the setting, is wearing the Crown of Fangs carved out of his teeth; with her defeat the story is over, but the possibility of someone else picking up the Crown (or one of the other six items) remains a very real threat.
    • Queen Abrogail II of Cheliax takes on this role in Skull & Shackles. Your main foe in the campaign, and the one responsible for almost everything, from Captain Barnabas Harrigan's treachery, to the confrontation you are forced into with Kerdak Bonefist at the end, is Abrogail's cousin Admiral Druvalia Thrune of the Chelish Navy, who is acting independently of the crown. While Druvalia's defeat will solve most of their problems, the PCs should step lightly — flaunting their victory overly much can result in a new war with Abrogail once the campaign comes to an end.
    • In Iron Gods, the Big Bad Unity became evil after an encounter with the Dominion of the Black, an interstellar empire of Eldritch Abominations. Though the players only fight a small expeditionary force, the threat of the Dominion hangs over the entire campaign. In fact, the Dominion can be considered this for the entirety of Golarion, as several adventures have hinted that a full-scale invasion is coming very soon.
    • Asmodeus, the King of Hell, has made it his personal mission to prove The Evils of Free Will — and then expunge it from the universe.
    • The god Zon-Kuthon himself has a Greater Scope Villain, being a formerly Good deity who was corrupted by something from beyond the multiverse.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: OblivAeon. Some heroes and villains are only around because of him - Parse gained improved powers from his upgrade of Omnitron into Cosmic Omnitron (with some parallel universe Parses being directly empowered by shards), the Void Guard, Proletariat, Infinitor and Captain Cosmic are all empowered by OblivAeon shards, and Visionary, Iron Legacy and Omnitron-X could only travel in time and between dimensions because he shattered the timelines. He upgraded Omnitron to Cosmic Omnitron, he created Progeny as one of his Scions, and his whispers drove Infinitor to madness. His Scions also destroyed the Procitor homeworld, the sole survivor of which would attack Earth as Deadline and then try to save it as Lifeline, and corrupted the organisation FILTER to become OblivAeon's pawn. And then he launched his big apocalyptic attack in the OblivAeon expansion.
  • Warhammer/Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Chaos Gods rarely pay any attention to mortal affairs, spending the vast majority of their time fighting each other, but the powers that are available to mortals because of their very existence (and the corruption and madness that results from them) are the cause of multiple evil factions in both settings.
    • 40K has the even Greater Scope Villain of the C'tan, who created the Necrons, indirectly created Chaos with their war against the Old Ones (which in turn allowed the Chaos Gods to be born later), and indirectly led to the creation of the Orks and Eldar (as the Old Ones created them to fight against the C'tan). Originally they served as part of the Big Bad Ensemble, but then the 5th Edition Retcon had them be shattered into pieces millions of years ago.
    • There have been vague but definitely existent hints that the Tyranids are invading our galaxy because they're on the run from something even worse in their own.
  • The Wyrm was this for Werewolf: The Apocalypse.
  • A somewhat complicated case in Against the Dark Yogi, since the Greater Scope Villain is technically not born yet. Geli the Demon Raja is prophesised to be born as the last of the Eighteen Wicked Kings, and to overthrow the gods and rule for a thousand years of sin and degradation, after which the world will finally end. That makes him a great deal badder than the Big Bad of the game, Tamapara the Dark Yogi. However, while Geli's eventual birth is inevitable, it can happen in a few generations (which is Tamapara's goal) or it can be in a distant future (as the player characters are assumed to be trying to make the case by stopping Tamapara).

  • Billy Elliot: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is the one who sets the conflict in motion with her privatization of the British mining industry, but none of the on-stage characters so much as lay eyes on her and her stage presence is limited to a giant, caricatured puppet the community builds to make fun of her.
  • Macbeth has the witches, whose Self-Fulfilling Prophecy causes Macbeth's Face–Heel Turn.
  • In Margin for Error, Adolf Hitler is obviously the power behind the German Consul, but his presence in the play is limited to a bronze bust and a Dropped-in Speech Clip. (Stage directions regarding the latter generally refer to Hitler as the "Awful Voice.")
  • The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui: Arturo Ui's rise takes place at the same time as that of Adolf Hitler, and almost everything he does is a smaller-scale version of something Hitler actually did. However, Hitler never actually appears.
  • Young Frankenstein: The songs "The Happiest Town in Town" and "He Vas My Boyfriend" make it clear that the recently departed Victor Frankenstein was a domestic abuser who relished his experiments, got people killed and maimed, and made the villagers' "lives a living Hell" for decades before leaving a will that will lure his reluctant grandson into the family business.

    Theme Parks 
  • In the 20th year of Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, "Fear" was revealed to have been the entity that was secretly pulling the strings of everything that had occurred in the history of the event.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney
    • In Ace Attorney Investigations 2 the president of Zheng-Fa had an unnamed Body Double. The latter had powerful associates in the Prison and Legal systems of Japan/the USA, to the point where one of the Big Bads and his second-in-command are subordinates of his. However, despite being an important figure in the game’s plot, he mostly doesn’t directly antagonize Edgeworth, leaving that to Blaise, and his actions also lead to his death at the hands of the other Big Bad Simon Keyes. The game also introduces former chief prosecutor Bansai Ichiyanagi/Blaise Debeste, the aformentioned subordinate, who has his fair share of responsibility for the whole series happening. Manfred von Karma, Big Bad of the first Ace Attorney game, ended up using evidence forged by Blaise in court, and when Gregory pointed it out, Blaise had to penalize Von Karma in order to divert the blame from himself, leading the perfectionist prosecutor to start the DL-6 incident, which would change the lives of Miles Edgeworth (and Phoenix Wright by association) and Mia Fey (who also had considerable influence over Phoenix), as well as the rest of the Fey Clan (Misty went missing because of her involvement in the DL-6 incident, which caused the clan to lose prestige and Mia to become an attorney; Morgan and her daughter Dahlia would also have life-changing events happen to them because of this) and Godot/Diego.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations:
      • Case 3: Recipe for Turnabout, has Bruto Cadaverini, The Don of The Mafia (the Yakuza in the original Japanese version). The killer, Furio Tigre, is driven to murder to repay his debts to Bruto, but he is The Ghost and not directly involved in the murder.
      • The final case revolves around a Benevolent Conspiracy to protect Maya Fey from the murderous spirit of her cousin, Dahlia Hawthorne, who was in turn following the plans of her mother and Maya's evil aunt Morgan Fey (who was arrested in the previous game).
  • Choices: Stories You Play
    • The Crown & the Flame has Azura, who was in conflict with the Nevrakises before the events of the series, thus originating the conflict between them and the Ryses. She later becomes the Big Bad of Book 3.
    • The Freshman
      • The Freshman: Book 1 has Shannon Davenport, who is a Villainy-Free Villain but raised Becca to be a Jerkass.
      • The Freshman: Book 2 has a duumvirate formed by Dorian Delacroix and Nathan Sterling, both being the motivation for Sebastian's actions.
    • Desire & Decorum has Rupert Foredale, who forced the marriage between his son Vincent and Henrietta after annulling the former's previous marriage to Mary and Duke Richards was his protege, thus originating all the problems Clara has to face.
    • Rules of Engagement has Jonathan, Mallory's ex-boyfriend, who convinced her that her family didn't love her, turning her into the Big Bad of the series.
    • The Royal Masquerade has Damon Fierro, who motivated his daughter Renza to become queen at all costs.
    • The Royal Romance has the Queen Sigrid Runarsdottir who literally rules the world via the Via Imperii secret society, which is responsible for each and every threat to Cordonia. The society in which she is leader chooses "the right people" to rule a monarchy and these people are those that belong to the society. Beyond her is Julius Caesar, the Big Bad of A Courtesan of Rome, who was revealed to be a member of Via Imperii and since no older members are known, he might be the founder.
    • High School Story
      • Book 1 has Rodger and Loretta Crandall, the Big Bad Duumvirate of Class Act, Book 3, who raised their son Brian to be a Jerkass.
      • Book 2 has Blackbird and Phantom, two criminals Big Bad Principal Isa became indebted with.
    • It Lives
      • It Lives in the Woods has Douglas Redfield, the original Mr. Red. Jane takes his place after her death.
    • In Bloodbound, the Greater Scope Villain of each book becomes the Big Bad in the next one.
      • Book 1 has Gaius Augustine, who, among other things, ordered Jameson to bite Lily.
      • Dark Solstice has Count Grisha Nikolaus, whose amulet was stolen by Greg Pfoznik, turning him into the new Red Saint.
      • Book 2 has Rheya Apostolous, who motivated all of Gaius' evil actions.
      • Book 3 has the Sons of Ares, who attacked Rheya's village, thus turning her into the evil monster she was.
      • Then there's the one who started it all: King Kaelisus of Mydiea, who made unwanted advances towards Rheya and exiled her when she rejected him, resulting in her discovering the Tree of Life and becoming the First Vampire.
    • Nightbound has the shadow monster who killed Thomas and his family, causing him to hate all the supernatural creatures. Since Josephine Vance's appearance suggests the book takes place before It Lives Beneath, and thus before The Elementalists, Book 1, this shadow monster might have been summoned by Raife Highmore.
    • Veil of Secrets has Margaret Sterling, who ordered the hit on Jeff's mother, making him become the Big Bad.
  • Ever17 has No Antagonist, but there is plenty of Offscreen Villainy provided by Megacorp Leiblich Pharmaceutical, which serves as backstory for several characters. Among others they were studying Tief Blau virus to sell it as bioweapon, which made them responsible (by negligence, not malice, but still) for outbreak that killed several thousands of poeple including You's parents and experiments related to Cure virus on Tsugumi and later her children.
  • Extra Case: My Girlfriend's Secrets: Nya is the one sending Marty back in time whenever he regrets his decisions. Additionally, their cult recruited Sally's mother and caused the latter to neglect her daughters, depriving Sally and Seira of the emotional support they needed, which contributed to Sally developing a violent Split Personality, Shadow, out of the belief that she isn't loved. However, Shadow herself is killing Sally's boyfriends for her own purposes and has no direct connection to Nya.
  • Fate/stay night gradually reveals over the three routes that the source of the Grail's corruption is Angra Mainyu, who will be reborn if any of the Big Bads succeed in their plans.
  • The first Galaxy Angel trilogy has the Valfask race as a whole. For starters, they were the ones behind the Chrono Quake catastrophe that caused Lost Technology to be lost in the first place, and the collapse of the EDEN civilization that came with it six centuries before the start of the story. This in turn led to Eonia's motivation in the first game to turn the Transbaal Empire into warmongers for the sake of the Lost Technology's promise of increased prosperity, and while he was partially manipulated by the Noah interface, her reason to act that way was because she and the Black Moon were originally created as a defense mechanism against the Valfask (which required merging with the White Moon in order to create the ultimate weapon against the Valfask). For a straighter example of a Greater-Scope Villain, there's Gern, the Emperor of the Valfask and the final opponent that Tact and the Angels must face in the third game.
  • In both games of Kyle Hyde's story, the criminal organization Nile is the one responsible for the character's woes despite never being confronted in-game. Hotel Dusk: Room 215 has them be the ones behind the murders that ultimately set off the plot while Last Window shows them as The Man Behind the Man for the Condor group.
  • Minotaur Hotel:
    • The ancient gods, who created the labyrinth to imprison Asterion for all eternity, and make him a slave for any human that comes across him. The lack of free will Asterion has because of them combined with how he's been abused over centuries shows how ruthless the gods were towards Asterion. In the main route, it's in the best interest for the protagonist to figure out enough loopholes in the system to get Asterion out of the cycle.
    • Clement. Although there were mean and abusive masters before him, he's particularly awful in that he kicked out all the guests and employees out of the hotel, without paying them, and keeping Asterion in a cold room for over half a century. Not only did this remove all the progress the hotel has made over the centuries, but it also caused Pedro's grandfather to have a major falling out with his family and make everyone in it hate each other, on top of whatever happened to the numerous other guests and employees. His actions more or less kickstart the events of the game, as you would have never become the master and restore the hotel, and Pedro would have never started his journey to look for the hotel where his supposed inheritance laid. The worst part about him is that he's so old and senile at the start of the game, that doing anything to him (killing him, punishing him, imprisoning him, etc.) would be utterly pointless besides some small catharsis. It says something that even the hint that he's still alive is enough to send Asterion into a funk.
  • Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: The supposedly Medieval Stasis town of Labyrinthia was funded by the British Government (whose Prime Minister might be the same one from Layton's Unwound Future, see the Video Games section) as an experiment on Mass Hypnosis. The game's actual antagonists have much more personal reasons for maintaining the ruse, which form the main conflict of the story.
  • Psycholonials: Z is a Villain Protagonist, but much of her evil comes at the urging of Riotus, who interacts with the story only through her dreams. Riotus is the avatar of an ancient cosmic force, the spirit of evil clown culture, who seeks to spread his ways throughout the galaxies. At the end of the story, Z turns away from the ways of the Jubilities and declines to become the Successor to Riotus, but the ending shows the spirit of the Jubilites spreading from planet to planet regardless.
  • Science Adventure Series has the always offscreen Committee of 300 who plan to reduce humanity to a population of one billion and unite the remainder under a single totalitarian government. Although they are directly responsible for Project Noah, Project Mars, Project Atom and Sern's Z-Program they only act by proxy and are never shown or identified.
  • The Stinger of Sunrider Liberation Day has Crow Harbor, Sola’s Evil Uncle and a time traveller who ends up stranded in the present after a failed attempt to alter the outcome of a battle in his favor. Since he can’t go back to the past due to his time machine having broken, he decides to conquer the galaxy and rebuild the Holy Ryuvian Empire with his Ebon Fleet. Apart from this making him an Outside-Context Problem due to possessing advanced technology leagues beyond what anyone else in the setting has, his mere presence in the current time threatens to create a Reality-Breaking Paradox. Averting said paradox is the entire reason that Claude gets involved in the plot, and part of the reason why the villainous Prototypes are trying to unify humanity under their rule is to get them ready to fight the Ebon Fleet. The failure of Crow’s time machine is also implied to have transported Sola into the present.
  • Multiple examples from the Zero Escape series:
    • Lord Gordain, a British Lord who survived the sinking of the Titanic, became obsessed with the ship that he tried to collect anything related to it, including one of its sister ships, the Gigantic. He created the Nonary Games as a means of getting young English men to work off their debts, making it a major source of entertainment for the British Peerage.
    • Gentarou Hongou, the CEO of Cradle Pharmaceutical, wanted to test a particular phenomenon. So, to do that, he set up the Nonary Game from 9 years ago, which got one of his subjects killed. The current Nonary Game is to both Set Right What Once Went Wrong as well as to get Revenge upon him. Subverted a bit - he was also a Nonary Game player back when Gordain ran the show and the Big Bad of the current Nonary Game when Zero isn't running the show.
    • Brother is the leader of Free the Soul and is responsible for the events of the trilogy, indirectly so for Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Virtue's Last Reward, and directly so for Zero Time Dilemma. Most of his motives and backstory are explained in Zero Time Dilemma. In ZTD, he calls himself Q, and is later revealed to be Zero II, the Big Bad of the game, and Delta, Phi's twin brother and Diana and Sigma's son. He was born in 2029, November 16, and was sent to the past with his newborn sister, to 1904. He was adopted by a couple of researchers and their son, Left. In 1920, Left is murdered, and it leads Delta into creating the Free The Soul organization. Free The Soul then funds Gentarou Hongou's Nonary game, which leads into the events of 999. In 2028, through the Decision Game described in Zero Time Dilemma, Delta also liberates the Radical-6 virus, thus leading to the events of Virtue's Last Reward. His motive for releasing the virus is that it could kill a religious fanatic that would, through butterfly effect, lead mankind to destruction, but it is unknown if he tells the truth or not. Another of his motives to creating the Decision Game is so that he could be born, as Diana and Sigma give birth to Phi and Delta during one of the timelines described in the game.

    Web Animation 
  • Gaming All-Stars: Andross serves as a powerful but largely indirect threat for much of the story. He pulls the strings on the entire plot by waiting for one of the lesser villains to pull the moon into Earth's orbit so he can cause a worldwide cataclysm, crafts an alliance with Polygon Man under the pretense that the latter would grant said lesser villain a massive power boost, and yet he doesn't get himself directly involved in the heroes' affairs until all is said and done.
  • Glitchtale has two examples.
    • The creator behind Bête Noire (Season 2's Big Bad) and the reason for her evil actions is Agate Lightvale, the Wizard of Bravery who reversed her magic trait to Fear and made Bête using her own soul to carry out her will to wipe out monsterkind (and therefore Agate has control over Betty by technically being part of her).
    • The second one, which counts as an example for the entire series, is HATE, a fully sentient Eldritch Abomination and Omnicidal Maniac spoken of by Agate as a power greater than Fear that Betty may use to gain control over the entire planet. HATE was behind Chara's corruption in Season 1 and gains physical form in Season 2 after absorbing Betty's remains and magic, desiring nothing less than the complete and total erasure of absolutely everything in existence.
  • The Paul Mask of Llamas with Hats, as it's the one ordering Carl around from episode 8 onwards.
  • Madness Combat has the Higher Powers, unseen entities who pull the strings behind the world and occasionally revive the main characters to allow them to continue fighting, for no other reason than they find their constant violence amusing.
  • Nomad of Nowhere: King El Rey is the one who actually wants the Nomad Of Nowhere, but being the king, and therefore presumably handling other matters, he's mostly just mentioned in passing and Don Paragon, the tyrannical ruler of the Oasis, is the one sending his soldiers and offering rewards to bounty hunters to capture the Nomad, pretty much just because he knows the king wants him and he hopes to become one of The King's Co-Dragons, as a reward for his capture.
  • SMG4 has Zero, a malevolent virus from an alternate universe who has been going around destroying universes for god knows how long. However, the destruction of one specific universe (SMG1 and SMG2’s universe) would cause Luke Lerdwichagul to create the SMG4 universe, which would cause the events of the series.
  • The Fallen was revealed in The Transformers: Titans Return to be the one responsible for Trypticon's rampage, Overlord's plans, and the events of the prior series The Transformers: Combiner Wars before becoming the main villain of The Transformers: Power of the Primes.
  • Wolf Song: The Movie: Cerberus is the one who tasks the Death Alpha with collecting 3 important items to escape, kickstarting the plot by doing so. He is indirectly behind all the conflict in the film, yet it’s his brother The Death Alpha who the heroes are trying to beat. It is implied that Cerberus is even more dangerous than his brother should he leave the Gates of Hell

  • Chaos of 8-Bit Theater is an evil Eldritch Abomination and embodiment of decay that is the whole reason behind the Light Warriors' quest. Although he does desire to end (and eternally torment, however that works) existence for no real reason, he does not come into play until the real Big Bad, Sarda, accidentally brings him about. Who was himself indirectly created by Black Mage.
  • In Erfworld, the eponymous world is heavily implied to be a Genius Loci. Fate, the guiding intelligence behind this world, manipulates events to enforce prophecies like a Railroading game master. Charlie, the Big Bad, is responsible for many reprehensible acts, but he wishes Parson, the protagonist, no personal harm, and is only trying to stall Parson's fate to kill him for as long as he can. But as long as Fate continues to manipulate events, conflict between him and Parson is inevitable.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Subverted with the Other, who plays a nebulous background role through Volumes I-IV. All that we know about them is that they created the slaver wasps & revenants our heroes fight and that they caused the terrible war that Baron Wulfenbach had to stop. But then in Volume V, the Other steps on the stage in person - or rather in a person - serving as the Big Bad for the rest of the comic. However, even then they are mostly stuck manipulating events whenever they get the chance to.
    • Played straight, albiet to a downplayed degree, with Dr. Dimitri Vapnoople. He was the teacher of Arc Villain Martellus von Blitzengaard, knew many of the Old Heterodynes and Mongfishes personally (even creating the Sparkhounds that Dr. Mongfish used as Elite Mooks), and was aware of Lucrezia Mongfish's true identity as the Other.
  • Hardcore Leveling Warrior: The Witch, who is behind the existence of Lucid Adventure, and whose motives remain largely unknown except for her vague interest in seeing how things turn out. In season 2, she seems to be aware that her actions will have consequences that could potentially destroy both worlds, the game one and the real one.
  • Lord English from Homestuck is the most powerful character in the setting, but remains The Unseen until after Act 5, despite a great impact (mostly in the form of his chief servant, Doc Scratch) on the plot. The Big Bad is initially thought to be Jack Noir, stab-happy treacherous Archagent, whom the protagonists have much more motivation to destroy but who has since lost focus in the story as Lord English's machinations become more and more obvious as well as his possible origin.
  • Klonoa: Dream Crusaders: While Tenebrae Hue drives the plot with his mysterious, ambitious plans, Claire the Ancient is a far more evil being who was sealed away long ago, and easily attacks Hue when she is released.
  • The Legend of Spyro: Zonoya's Revenge: Not only was Malefor responsible for everything that happened in the games, he brainwashed Cynder into slashing out the eye of Zonoya, her best friend, which was Zonoya's Start of Darkness. Zonoya was also in love with him, leading to many of her actions in addition to her revenge plot, making him responsible for most of the plot.
  • Commander Badass's superiors in the Nomura Syndrome arc of Manly Guys Doing Manly Things. They were the ones that hired the Big Bad GACKT to release The Virus and turn Commander Badass into a Bishōnen. And it's just so they can market new merchandise.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The Snarl, a God-killing Eldritch Abomination, is the most powerful and malevolent presence in the series, and the whole reason everything is happening, but appears to have no real mind or personality of its own; there are some hints as of this comic (major spoilers ahoy) that this might not be the case.
    • The IFCC Directors are three fiends who are rather, were The Man Behind the Man to the Linear Guild, but they themselves refer to more powerful fiends ("the Lower Downs") from whom they are attempting to gain support for their venture, using their corruption of Vaarsuvius as proof of concept.
  • The Scarecrows are the Eldritch Abomination villains of The Sanity Circus, but their creator The Last would be the even bigger threat if they hadn't died millennia ago.
  • In Sluggy Freelance the Demon King of the Dimension of Pain generally plays this part in Dimension of Pain arcs. The demon lord Horribus serves as Big Bad. Presumably Psykosis will be replacing him in future Dimension of Pain appearances.
  • Altair in White Dark Life is a far more villainous character than Dark Matt or Artemis. The latter are simply selfish and commit evil to keep Dark Matt from being erased once he is finally purified and are rather comical at times. The former on the other hand wants to murder all the demons, little children included.

    Web Original 
  • 330 Hours: The Yofren government as a whole, as the ones who created the program in the first place and the ones behind Don, though they don’t play an active role in the conflict. They gain a more proactive role in the sequel 330 Hours: Revolution.
  • Arby 'n' the Chief
    • Seasons 6 and 7 both had Justin, the programmer who developed the Fragban hacks that Chaos Theosis used in Season 6, and which Colin Hunt used as the basis to create his own "Fragban 2.0" in Season 7.
    • The finale of Season 8 reveals Adam McIntyre got his Evil Plan and the resources needed to complete it from Colin Hunt, who devised it as a means to get revenge on Arbiter and Master Chief. And right after that Arbiter and Chief meet the even bigger force behind everything they've faced — the creator of the series, Jon Graham.
  • Ask That Guy with the Glasses:
    • The series doesn't really have a plot, so it's hard to call any character the Big Bad, but the closest thing is the titular Ask That Guy. However, even Ask That Guy is horrified by the depravity of Bennett the Sage.
    • Satan also appears as a background character.
  • The Lord Vyce story arc of Atop the Fourth Wall has the Multiversal Conqueror Lord Vyce the Big Bad, but his goal in conquering is to in fact protect dimensions from, and eventually track down and kill an Eldritch Abomination that he simply refers to as "The Entity", which devours entire planets, and eventually universes. Later it turns out the Entity came to our universe as a Batman Gambit in hopes Linkara would defeat Lord Vyce, since it considered fighting him to be too inconvenient.
  • Tyrant and the King in Winter of Citadel. One holds the entire population of Europe in mental thrall while the other is responsible for freezing a large chunk of the Northern Hemisphere.
  • In Critical Role, the lich Vecna is the greater scope villain for the married evil aristocrats Silas and Delilah Briarwood. It's eventually revealed that the reason they conquered Whitestone is because there's a corrupted temple to the goddess Ioun beneath Whitestone's royal castle and they plan to use it to help him become a full-fledged god. Vecna himself is the villain of the final story arc of the first campaign, and the Briarwoods return as some of his Co-Dragons.
  • The Evil Entity of Markiplier Manor is this in DAMIEN, one of the side stories of Who Killed Markiplier?. While they were responsible for all of the events of Who Killed Markiplier?, they really aren't present in DAMIEN; rather, it's Mark the Actor who is responsible for the main conflict in that story
  • The Big Bad of "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared 3" is Shrignold the butterfly, but he is just a servant of Malcolm, king of the Love Cultists.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has Bad Horse, leader of the Evil League of Evil the titular (Ineffectual Sympathetic) Villain Protagonist wants to join.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the Nameless Evil, which later took over the god Dreamweaver's body and became known as Death, has been behind all atrocities which have taken place in various eras, subtly influencing events to its liking.
  • Hero House gives us both Dio and Big Boss who seem to be operating on a scope well beyond Kratos.
  • Himmler in the Hitler Rants parodies is this, having been the one that mentored and teached antics to Fegelein, the series' Big Bad and resident troll.
  • Alex Kralie is the main antagonist of Marble Hornets, but The Operator is clearly the one pulling his strings. Same goes with any Slender Man series where a proxy is the main bad guy.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • The Director, as most of the things that happened to the Blood Gulch Crew and Freelancers were caused by him and his plans.
    • The Chairman serves as a Hero Antagonist Greater Scope Villain when he sends that Big Bad Duumvirate of Wash and the Meta to find Epsilon with the ultimate goal of arresting the Director. Actually, he's not a hero at all when the Season 12 finale reveals that he was the Big Bad "Control". He is also the Greater Scope Villain for the overall series when it's revealed that he funded the Insurrection that the Freelancers fought against.
    • Flashbacks in Season 10 show that the A.I. Sigma qualifies for the Recollection Trilogy as a whole; he's technically the Big Bad of Reconstruction, but he is killed after those events. However, his influence on the Meta still remains in Recreation and Revelation.
    • In Seasons 11 and 12, General Doyle takes this role on the account of being the leader of the Federation Army. However, he can be hardly be considered a fighter, and he has no control over Locus. Locus is working under the orders of the Big Bad, Control, and Doyle's role is subverted when it's revealed that Locus and Felix are manipulating the Civil War on the planet Chorus under Control's orders.
    • Played with later on in season 15 with the Blues and Reds, the Evil(?) Counterparts of the Reds and Blues. While they didn't cause the main events of the series, they would be used as models for every subsequent simulation outpost, which plays a big hand in the events that would follow over the years. This also means that they were indirectly responsible for the formation of the Blood Gulch Crew.
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon saw some weird ROM glitches in each of the first two runs of Season 2, but it was only in the third runnote  that the events were tied together and their cause also retroactively blamed for something in the fifth run of Season 1. The exact identity of this guiding force, however, remained unnamed until the beginning of Season 3, when it finally intervened with a protagonist directly. Complicating matters further was that the timeline, muddled as it may be, seemed to place the start of Season 3 chronologically before most of Season 2, so OLDEN not being defeated was a Foregone Conclusion. Evan becoming a servant of OLDEN, whether willingly or forcibly, though...that was still a twist.
  • Unwanted Houseguest: The Shadow Demon was apparently summoned by one of these. The phone line is cut before Doctor Wolfula can reveal who or what it is.
  • We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
    • Cipher serves as one for the entire RP in general, often acting through proxies instead of fighting the J-Team directly, having a hand in the backstories of several characters, and even created 'M which antagonized the J-Team during the Unova arc. For Orre they end up becoming the Big Bad of the arc.
    • OLD MAN's nemesis, the Magikarp Salesman, a powerful demon who doesn't really concern himself with the J-Team's antics at all.
    • The Seven Jerk Dragons serve as this for the PMD-R arc. While they don't make a direct appearance, their actions are directly responsible for the state of PMD-B when J-Team members visit it.
  • WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.: At first, Val was just a creepy face who only appeared for a split second in various anomalies. As the series progresses however, it soon becomes obvious that there is more to her than meets the eye, with it finally culminating in "Abstract Idents (2003)", where she reveals herself to be the entity responsible for the broadcast anomalies.
  • Why So Serious?, the promotional ARG for The Dark Knight, has the Joker serve as this. While he's responsible for several petty crimes, he spends most of the ARG building his own power base and setting up the plans he enacts in the film proper while Gotham is distracted by the ongoing mob war.
  • Worm:
    • Empire 88 are an offshoot of a more established German organisation called Gesellschaft, who sometimes send cape assistance over but are never confronted directly by Taylor.
    • Cauldron is this for a large part of the story. Long before they directly come into the picture, they indirectly aid and abet a lot of the antagonists.
    • The Simurgh is a greater scope villain for much of Arcs 17-30, since her actions of providing the Travellers with Cauldron vials in Madison eventually results in the reveal of the Triumvirate's association with Cauldron and significantly weakens the Protectorate. Moreover, the Simurgh's screams reminds Tattletale of her brother's death and Taylor of Dinah's note, thus resulting in the Rise of Khepri and the eventual defeat of Scion.
  • The SCP Foundation's lack of canon means that it lacks a true Big Bad, but there are several characters that are implied to be behind some of the worst SCPs but are beyond the Foundation's reach.
    • MEKHANE and Yaldabaoth, gods of technology, reason, logic and sapience and flesh, instinct, nature and savagery respectively. Some of the most powerful and dangerous objects in the Foundation are creations of either them or their cults. Often subverted, however, as both are frequently portrayed in a more positive light; MEKHANE gave humans sapience, and is interested in keeping them alive. He even "broke" himself to protect us, thus why he is referred to as the "Broken God". His artifacts are only dangerous when misused by people who don't know what they're doing. Yaldabaoth, on the other hand, is truly mindless and doesn't understand that it is threatening humanity. It merely exists and eats, like a wild animal. Its cultists, Sarkicism, is far more dangerous.
    • The Scarlet King plays the trope entirely straight. Depending on your preferred canon, he's either a member of The Old Gods who believe that existence is suffering and wants to end it all, or a personification of the chaos and destruction caused by the conflict between modernism and pre-modernism. Either way, several extremely dangerous SCP's are associated with him.
    • The evil psychosphere entity that plagues humanity, as revealed in the now-erased timeline of SCP 5000, also plays this trope straight. It was able to ensure it’s existence and grand plan by manipulating Pietro Wilson into resetting the timeline before it was discovered by the Foundation. Despite only having one prominent role, the entity is considered one of the overarching antagonists of the entire SCP mythos, due to still being at large with the Foundation none the wiser. It is also heavily implied to be the reason why 682 is violently appalled by mankind, making the entity indirectly responsible for ALL of 682’s atrocities.

Alternative Title(s): Bigger Bad


The Emperor

Darth Vader is but a lackey of the Emperor, the true ruler of the Galactic Empire.

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Main / GreaterScopeVillain

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