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Hijacked by Ganon

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What? Were you expecting someone else?
Maybe that Zant guy?

Prologue: Hey! Did you know that in the last game there was this nutty computer that tried to kill everyone?
Yahtzee: No, I did not know that. Why did you bring it up?
Prologue: Errrrmmm, no reason. Here's a totally unrelated plot. Also try not to look at the box art.

An inverted form of The Man Behind the Man. Rather than a new evil being behind an old villain, an old villain is behind a new one.

This is common for iconic villains (such as many of the ones from Nintendo games) with Joker Immunity — no matter how many times the hero beats them, they keep coming back in the next game. Frequently, they even retry the same evil plot.

Another variant on this trope is when the new villain has no connection to the old one, but the old one manages to dethrone the new one and take over as the main villain.

This can be a subversion of Outside-Context Problem, in that the Outside-Context Problem (the original) is actually subordinate to a villain who is not outside context. Similarly, it could be that the original Outside-Context Villain is not actually the Big Bad, but instead the replacement. See also Greater-Scope Villain, where the greater evil is an Out of Focus entity that has only an indirect effect on the plot.


While still a valid trope in other media, in video games, it's on its way to becoming increasingly difficult to take seriously. Due to just how ubiquitous the twist is, it's often seen as an overused and trite way of attempting a shocking plot twist (with the trope-naming Zelda series and other game series like Mega Man and its follow-ups such as Mega Man X, which likewise used the trope ad-nauseum, being by far the most infamous abusers of this) that it's no longer considered even mildly surprising to use in contemporary games. Modern games tend to avoid the trope save in series where it's practically expected (such as the aforementioned Mega Man series) and tend to either play the villains straight, subvert the twist or play the cliche for laughs.

Nothing to do with Hijacked by Jesus.

A subtrope of Obvious Villain, Secret Villain. Might be the result of the new villains managing to Resurrect the Villain or the old villain being the Overarching Villain of their setting. Inverse of Make Way for the New Villains, and contrast Not Me This Time. See also Diabolus ex Nihilo, and The Man in Front of the Man, which is another inversion of the The Man Behind the Man trope.


Keep in mind that this is about plot twists, so EXPECT SPOILERS.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Batman Ninja: The climactic battle involves Gorilla Grodd revealing that he had turned all of the Batman villains that travelled with him to the past into Manchurian Agents that would subconsciously create individual parts of a Steampunk Humongous Mecha that they would then hand over to him so he would Take Over the World...a plan that worked perfectly okay, except that it turns out The Joker shook off the mind control very early and so he appears with a new part that allows him to take over the mecha, which he will use to raise apocalyptic levels of hell on Japan.
  • In Codename: Sailor V, some of this happens once Sailor Moon begins to run concurrently. Suddenly the Dark Agency was a branch of the Dark Kingdom all along.
  • Cyborg 009:
    • The majority of antagonists can be traced back to the Black Ghost organization. This is lampshaded in the Devilman crossover when Cyborg 002 correctly guesses that the High-Teen Number Cyborgs are assassins sent by Black Ghost.
    • In the 2001 anime, Skull, the leader of Black Ghost, seemingly dies halfway through the first season. In the "Yomi Kingdom" arc in the second season, it is believed that Van Vogt has become the new leader of Black Ghost. It is later revealed that Skull was still alive and leading the Black Ghost the entire time, and Van Vogt was only the second-in-command of Black Ghost.
  • Digimon Adventure 02 has Vamdemon/Myotismon who manipulated Oikawa into the apparent Big Bad of the series who in turn, manipulated Ken into the Digimon Emperor, the villain of the first half of the season. The video games and a little mention in Tamers give this even more of a Mind Screw. The Dark Spore which made Ken the Digimon Emperor came from an attack used by Milleniumon. But Milleniumon is a Jogress Shinkanote  of a dying Khimeramon and Mugendramon.note  Khimeramon was created by Ken while he was the Digimon Emperor, so Ken actually created his own hijacker while he was hijacked.
  • Played with in the Android Saga of Dragon Ball Z: Freeza and his father King Cold appear to the main villains at the very beginning, but they're instantly killed by Trunks who warns them of the real threat: the artificial humans created by Dr. Gero, a former member of the original series' villains The Red Ribbon Army, and whose cyborg Cell serves as the main villain. Gero, however, never made any appearance, nor was he ever mentioned in the original arc.
  • The manga based on the Galaxy Angel gameverse changed the entire plot of Moonlit Lovers so that Eonia, who was already dead in the game, could be behind it again.
  • Getter Robo has the Dinosaur Empire, which acted as the main antagonists of the original manga. In Go, the antagonist is initially the Mad Scientist Professor Lando, but it's then revealed that he's allied himself with the Dinosaur Empire, and in later chapters, the Empire pulls a coup, revealing that he was never truly in control of his army.
  • God Mars has President Gihron of Marmelo as the Big Bad of its second arc. He is advised by a mysterious voice that claims he is destined to rule the galaxy. The voice sounds a lot like Zuul, the Big Bad of the first arc. During the final confrontation with Giron, the voice reveals he is Zuul, who has returned to continue his war against the main character, killing Gihron in the process.
  • In the Danganronpa Spin-Off series Killer Killer, it's shown early on that Serial-Killer Killer Takumi became the way he is after witnessing a mass murder at his middle school, with the culprit supposedly still being on the loose. About halfway through it's revealed that the killer was none other than Mukuro Ikusaba, who's been long since dead by the time the manga began.
  • The Heaven's Lost Property manga introduces a new evil Angeloid called Siren...who gets killed in about 3 pages by earlier villain Chaos, who then absorbs her powers. Ow.
  • In The Kindaichi Case Files, if the murderer of the week sets up a more elaborate plot than usual, there's a good chance that he/she employed the "services" of Yoichi "The Puppeteer from Hell" Takato, Arch-Enemy of series protagonist Hajime Kindaichi. There are also a few Reverse Whodunnit cases where it's clear that Takato is the one pulling the strings, but Hajime still has to figure out the actual murderer.
  • An in-universe example in My Hero Academia. We're told for the majority of the series that Tomura Shigaraki has been groomed by All For One from a young age to take his place as The Symbol of Evil. This is supposedly because All For One's body is failing him after his battle with All Might left him half-dead with permanent injuries. Shigaraki has All For One (the superpower, not the man) surgically implanted into his body. This allows All For One to pull a Grand Theft Me on Shigaraki, as it turns out every quirk has the user's consciousness imprinted on it.
  • Naruto
    • Orochimaru does this during part one of the anime's interminable filler seasons — they even retcon Mizuki, from the first chapter, into having been operating under the orders of Orochimaru.
    • Zig-zagged with Akatsuki. First it was revealed that it was all the doing of Jiraiya's former student by name Nagato. But wait, it was actually Tobi, who calls himself Madara but actually he is Obito Uchiha and it was actually real Madara, who manipulated him to resurrect him so he could become god. But wait, later we learn that Obito never had any intention of reviving Madara and himself using him in order to become god. But then, rather abruptly, it's revealed that Black Zetsu is doing this to both of them. In fact, he's been manipulating everything connected to the Uchiha and Senju clans since before their founding as part of a ploy to resurrect Kaguya. This includes leading Madara and Obito around by the nose (including somehow tricking Madara into thinking he had created Zetsu), starting Akatsuki and having Kabuto discover Madara's body.
  • In Inuyasha it's almost inevitable that whoever the heroes are fighting next is really a pawn of Naraku. However, to their credit, the heroes are almost always aware of this, increasingly so as the series goes on. And then it turns out Naraku was being manipulated all along by the Shikon jewel — and the ancient dragon youkai inside of it.
  • The US dub of Pokémon Heroes made Annie and Oakley agents of Team Rocket when in the original they had no association with them.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica's Spin-Off Puella Magi Kazumi Magica. And everyone thought Kyubey's appearence was just a cameo...
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion, Kyubey also reveals himself as being responsible for the plot, after having spent the first part of the movie pretending to be a harmless mascot. Ironically, at the end of the movie, he himself is hijacked by Homura of all people!
  • Dr. Wily manages to pull one of these off in MegaMan NT Warrior. The 2 beast viruses, Grieger and Falzer, are the Big Bad for the majority of the series until it's revealed that a dead, and reduced to digital form, Dr. Wily programmed and released them on purpose to let 1 kill and absorb the other, thereby creating the ultimate body for him to download himself into.
  • A key plot element in Umineko: When They Cry, also inverted:
    • Most of End of the Golden Witch involves Battler trying to keep the role as protagonist and Bernkastel doing the hijacking.
    • In addition, one of the main villains, and the one who gave Beatrice her powers in the first place, Lambdadelta, is shown in a bonus scene to be the one who caused the events of the previous story; and the Big Bad of Higurashi, Miyo Takano, is heavily hinted to be a human incarnation/Alternate Self of Lambda. Ryukishi has denied this, but you never know with him.
  • In Zatch Bell!, Riou serves as the main villain for the Faudo arc — until Zeon and Dufaux invade the control room and absolutely crush him. And it happens right after Riou defeats Gash and murders Kiyomaro, too.
  • Assassination Classroom:
    • Akira Takaoka is revealed to be the mastermind in the Assassination Island arc, being the one responsible for infecting half of Class 3-E and demanding Nagisa to surrender Koro Sensei to him.
    • Shiro, who is the most frequently recurring villain in the series with the most attempts at killing Koro-sensei, is upgraded to full on Big Bad status with the reveal of his true identity of Yanagisawa, the mad scientist who turned Koro-sensei into a tentacle monster and is indirectly responsible for the moon being destroyed and the death of Aguri.
  • In Fairy Tail, the Alvarez Empire is built up as far stronger and far more evil than anything Fairy Tail has ever faced — such an insurmountable force that Makarov disbands the guild rather than face them. However, we later find out that the Emperor of the Alvarez Empire is Zeref, and he is the personal cultivator of this empire from scratch — not because he wants to conquer the world, but because he's hoping that it will put him in a position to bring down Acnologia, a true rotten-to-the-core villain.
  • Episode 8 of Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation reveals that many of the bad things happening are the result of (yet again) another Dark Falz, who is using Darkers to seek out Earthlings that possess high Photon affinity. By kidnapping these Earthlings, it hopes to use one as a vessel to manifest itself and invade Earth. Casra, Quna, and Aika have been working behind the scenes to thwart Dark Falz's plans, and now Itsuki needs to be in on it as well.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Sailor Galaxia is the Big Bad of the fifth and final arc, but the one who drove her actions was the Death Phantom, the Big Bad of the second arc.
    • Chaos. All the main antagonists, except Sailor Galaxia, were agents of his (albeit unknowningly). So basically Chaos is the main instigator of all the events of the manga.
  • The Phantom Bullet arc of Sword Art Online has the heroes fighting Death Gun, a virtual Serial Killer. It’s eventually revealed that the Death Gun avatar is controlled by ex-Laughing Coffin member XaXa, a.k.a. Shouichi Shinkawa.
  • Symphogear seems to like subverting this trope:
  • In Violence Jack, which takes place in the Devilman universe, it is eventually revealed that the Slum King is Demon Lord Zenon, who along with the whole world was recreated by Ryo Asuka aka Satan. They both become the dual Final Boss. Also inverted in that the titular protagonist turns out to be a reincarnated Akira Fudo.

    Comic Books 
  • Double subverted in Asterix and Cleopatra. The plot is kicked off by a bet between Cleopatra and series Big Bad, Julius Caesar, but for the majority of the story, the antagonists are new characters Artifis and his lackey Krukhut. However, after their schemes are foiled, Caesar sends his army to stop the Gauls from helping Cleopatra winning the bet, leading to the finale of the story being a big battle with Romans. In fact, the last appearance of Artifis and Krukhut is to interrupt the main characters (as they declare, by the names of various gods, that they will fight off Caesar) to ask, "By the way, can we go home?"
  • The Avengers:
    • Robotic villain Ultron has this as his trademark plot. In every single issue he EVER shows up in, he never appears to be the main antagonist the Avengers will be up against, rather evidence will point it to being someone else, before Ultron dramatically reveals himself. Even in his very first appearance as a villain, he wore a disguise and diverted suspicion to Jarvis of all people (successfully at that) before it was revealed it was he.
    • The Children's Crusade retroactively paints Doctor Doom as the one behind the Scarlet Witch going insane, leading to Avengers Disassembled and House of M.
  • Batman:
    • Batman: No Man's Land: The entire policy of excommunicating Gotham originally appeared to be a ploy by new face Nicholas Scratch to take control of the city, but by the end of the crossover, it turned out Lex Luthor co-opted Scratch's plan. He was then himself hijacked in the last month of the story by the Joker.
    • In Batman Eternal, fairly minor villain Cluemaster is revealed as the Big Bad of the story who united Batman's Rogues Gallery to take down Batman once and for all. However, just as the final battle is about to begin, Lincoln March (who had been serving as Cluemaster's financial backer) sneaks up behind Cluemaster, slits his throat, and hijacks the plot. Lincoln March not only wanted to be the one who killed Batman, but also felt that Cluemaster was missing the point of his own scheme (Cluemaster wanted to be known as a big name villain for his Magnum Opus Evil Plan, which kind of defeated the purpose of concealing his role so thoroughly) and so decided to invoke this trope.
    • In the first arc of James Tynion IV's Batman run, "His Dark Designs", the main villain is a new foe, the Designer. Having defeated his own archnemesis before Batman even got started, he came up with a plan to take over Gotham City by using other big-name villains to do his dirty work: Penguin would have every politician in Gotham executed and become Mayor himself, Riddler would take over the city's infrastructure, Catwoman would steal Bruce Wayne's fortune, Joker would kill Batman and Robin, and in the new Gotham, all of them would work for him. Unfortunately for him, the Joker had his own plan in mind, and killed him off-screen before puppeteering his corpse with nanites. As Riddler and Penguin went through with their parts of the scheme, Joker used Catwoman's to become a billionaire, take Bruce Wayne's assets, and kick off the next arc, "The Joker War". This also bled into the final storyline of Nightwing (Rebirth), in which the Court of Owls give Dick/Ric Grayson Fake Memories so he'll become a new Talon, but then the Joker suddenly turns up and uses the same method to turn Dick into his sidekick, Dicky-Boy. This continues over in the first major storyline after the DC Future State hiatus. In the aftermath of The Joker War and A-Day, Simon Saint begins pushing his super-armored protectorate, the Magistrate, to make Gotham a safe place free from costumed crime and vigilantes. He does this by working with other groups and one special villain, the Scarecrow. In a case of For Want of a Nail, where in Future State, Scarecrow willingly got himself arrested and was "reformed", as seen in the Harley Quinn portion of Future State, Scarecrow realizes that Gotham is in such a level of fear that there's no way he can just surrender and hijacks the plan, setting up "Fear State".
  • Blake and Mortimer: Subverted. Olrik turns up working with almost every villain the titular duo face, but he's more often The Dragon than The Man Behind the Man.
  • A flaw in the later seasons of the ElfQuest series is that the main villainess Winnowill turns out to be the one behind the machinations for every single plot. Shards? Yeah, that was her, shapeshifted. Wavedancers? Yup, her again. Forevergreen? Oh look, it was her insane minion. Hidden Years? Guess who made all those mutant monsters? It gets old. In the distant future, residual taint from her evil magics at Blue Mountain is the focus of a major subplot.
  • Fantastic Four: This happened in the 'Master of Doom' story arc. The Marquis of Death, who had appeared to have killed Dr. Doom and usurped his power early on in the story, was eventually deposed by his own protége, who happened to be...Dr. Doom, who had somehow survived the Marquis' earlier attempt to kill him.
  • The Flash
    • The very first time the Flash's Rogues have decided to team up, it's revealed that they were being manipulated by Gorilla Grodd.
    • Eobard Thawne a.k.a. Professor Zoom is a repeat offender, all in the sick game of messing with the Flash Family.
      • The Return of Barry Allen: Barry Allen seemingly goes rogue, but then Wally West finally discovers the truth and unmasks him as Eobard Thawne. This is actually Thawne before he even "met" Barry Allen, and the storyline is his Start of Darkness.
      • While Rogue War, as its title implies, focuses on the conflict between two factions of the Rogues, Hunter Zolomon (Zoom II) easily deals with all the Rogues in the end, and has even recruited Thawne for their own little Villain Teamup to break Wally.
      • During Finish Line, Thawne gloats that he used his new More Than Mind Control powers to subtly influence the various Flashes into committing questionable decisions throughout the The Flash (Rebirth) era. He also revealed he was responsible for the incident that killed Zolomon's father-in-law (which became his That One Case) and one of the catalysts to Hunter's Start of Darkness.
    • Also from Rebirth are the Renegades, futuristic Hero Antagonist versions of the Rogues who clashed with Barry Allen. Unbeknownst to even the Renegades, their director, a man previously known only as a "Judge", is later revealed to be a time-displaced Hunter Zolomon/Zoom II.
    • The first The Flash (Infinite Frontier) annual reveals that Wally was not responsible for the electrical storm that killed all the heroes at Sanctuary in Heroes in Crisis. The real culprit is Savitar trying to free himself from the Speed Force.
  • Green Lantern: In Green Lantern: Rebirth, the newly introduced Parallax Entity was directed by Sinestro.
  • In Grendel, Pope Innocent XLII, the Arc Villain of the 26th century, turns out to be Tujiro, the vampire serial killer from the 21st century arc.
  • The bizarre, surreal, and hilarious — as with everything else in the book — reveal of the Comte de Rochefort as the Man Behind the Man in Jason's The Last Musketeer.
  • Century: 1969, the penultimate volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, ends with the revelation that the Big Bad Oliver Haddo survived his confrontation with the League by escaping to the astral plane and possessing the body of a young Thomas M. Riddle, aka Voldemort (the most well-known literary villain of the 21st century). Sure enough, Century: 2009, the final installment, has the League facing off against Haddo inhabiting Voldemort's body.
  • In Mickey Mouse Comic Universe, the Phantom Blot sometimes does this, since he's a Diabolical Mastermind with a penchant for working from behind the scenes as either a Hidden Villain or a Man Behind the Man. In one story, Mickey offered his services as a detective to a movie producer who seemed to be bothered by aliens. It turned out the whole thing was really a conspiracy by his various employees against him for being such a Jerkass, but the Phantom Blot was the one running the show. (He wanted to stop the making of a movie based on true events in which he had lost to Mickey.) In another, old story, the Blot was in prison, but the antagonist was an Evil Genius who Mickey suspected right away, and correctly, to be one of the Blot's subordinates. In a third story, the old villain Black Pete was acting really strangely while going out robbing things even though he was supposedly demonstrably in prison. It turned out the Blot had hypnotised both Pete and the prison warden as a Red Herring as part of a bigger plan.
  • During the "Dead End Kids" arc, the Runaways end up in New York City in 1907. While there, they are told that the criminal underworld is supposedly run by Maneater (a sort of predecessor to the Kingpin) and the Sinners. Chase and Xavin later discover that the Sinners are actually answering to Dale and Stacey Yorkes, the parents of Chase's dead girlfriend, and enemies to the Runaways. They are understandably displeased when they find out that Gert's dead in the present day...The series also had an attempted Ultron hijack at the beginning of the second volume, but his attempt to frame Doctor Doom fails and he gets blown up by Darkhawk.
  • In the Sin City tale Hell And Back, Wallenquist was revealed as the Colonel's boss, with the Colonel's main assassin answering directly to him.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Norman Osborn's revival at the end of The Clone Saga definitely counts. We in the real world know he was brought in because the story had long since gotten out of hand, and the best way to resolve it neatly was to have one mastermind behind everything. Osborn, a notorious Chessmaster, was judged the only Spidey villain with the oomph to pull it off (even if they had to bring him back from the dead).
    • Spider-Man: Reign at first seems to feature two Original Generation villains alongside the Sinner Six, though it is revealed partway into the story that the mastermind of the plot is Venom.
  • Star Wars Legends:
  • Superman:
    • The Death of Superman did this with its final storyline Reign of the Supermen, the story starts out normally with the first two issues of each title attempting to endear us to the four Supermen. Then comes the halfway point of the third month when the Cyborg Superman decides to ventilate the Eradicator and allow Coast City to be destroyed by Mongul. Then, it turns out the Cyborg Superman is an evil and powered-up version of Hank Henshaw, a minor character from a couple of earlier pre-death issues, who was an expy of Reed Richards!
    • Throughout Strangers at the Heart's Core, Supergirl gets harassed by a bunch of random villains (Phantom Zoner Shyla Kor-Onn, Klax-Ar, Gravitron Man...) who are apparently operating independently. The final chapter reveals that all of them were being manipulated by Supergirl's first nemesis, Lesla-Lar.
      Lesla-Lar: I still sought your destruction by mentally influencing others...until I became trapped in a Superboy Robot!
      Supergirl: So it was you in all those battles...YOU!
    • It happens in The Earthwar Saga storyline in Superboy and the Legion Of Superheroes. The Legion fights the Resource Raiders, only to learn they're secretly the advance guard for an invasion by the alien Khunds. Who are being manipulated by the evil Dark Circle. Whose leader had been replaced by the even more evil sorcerer, Mordru.
    • In the storyline Our Worlds at War, Superman bonds with Strange Visitor in a last-ditch attempt to destroy Imperiex. The two succeed, at the cost of Strange Visitor's life; however, at that moment, Brainiac 13 steps in and takes Imperiex's power, having faked his own death and the destruction of Warworld to reach this moment.
  • Rastapopoulos makes a few surprise return appearances as the Big Bad in a few Tintin albums (although not as many as fans seem to think).
  • In Ultimate Marvel, Dr. Doom has pulled this twice to date: in the Ultimate Power miniseries and in The Ultimates vol. 3 ''. Which is weird, because he doesn't have nearly as much cred as his 616 counterpart, and except for those two instances, no one besides the Fantastic Four has dealt with him...but there you have it. The former kind of worked, the latter...not so much.
  • Wonder Woman: Taken Up to Eleven in Amazons Attack!. A brainwashed Queen Hippolyta has led the Amazons of Themyscira to wage war on the United States! BUT WAIT! It turns out that Queen Hippolyta's attack was actually all a Secret Test of Character by the goddess Athena! BUT WAIT! It turns out it was all a convoluted plot masterminded by Granny Goodness of the New Gods while disguised as Athena and keeping the other Greek gods imprisoned! BUT WAIT! The entire miniseries was actually a tie-in to Countdown to Final Crisis, where Granny Goodness is training hundreds of women to be female furies in connection to the Death of the New Gods! BUT WAIT! The Death Of The New Gods/Jimmy Olsen's superpowers plotline from Countdown was actually all part of Darkseid's evil plan involving the Anti-Life equation, and Granny Goodness was just working for him! WHAT.

    Fan Works 
  • In Part 2 of Clash of the Elements, the Dark Star appears to be doing this, but it is subverted a couple chapters later when Chaos Alex regains control of his body from him.
  • Dimensional Links:
    • The fic takes this Up to Eleven with its initial premise, with Demise (having very, very slowly managed to extract himself from the seal within the Master Sword) finally getting fed-up with the incompetence of the incarnations of his hatred and hijacking all of them. As the Links find out, this also gives him all of their powers, on top of the fact that he's a Physical God (they spend most of the 'fight' running for their lives and screaming, and they require a literal Deus ex Machina from the Goddesses to survive). Doing this also happens to rip open some rather large holes in reality, which expand to consume everything they touch, destroying reality - which suits Demise just fine. The fact that the Goddesses hijack them as a Portal Network for the collected Links, not so much.
    • 'Lorule Ganon' of Link Between Worlds pulling this on Yuga after the latter's attempted Grand Theft Me is something that Demise approves of. Of course, out of all that his hatred incarnations have come up with, it's the only thing that he approves of. When the Links encounter him, he gets a good line when 'Sketch', the local Link, asks if it's Yuga in charge.
    "I'm afraid Yuga isn't in right now, can I take a message?"
  • This trope is referenced in the Crossover Fate/Stay Hijacked by Ganon.
  • Twice in My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic, in fact. Towards the end of "Season 1", Nightmare Moon is built up as the final antagonist, when suddenly Titan reappears. He then returns in "The Movie", hijacking the role of main villain from Distraught.
  • Even in fan-films, Ganon is true to form. The Sage of Darkness has an original villain: Etregun, who is a descendant of Ganon. Guess what happens?
  • Double subverted in Perfection Is Overrated. Near the end of the fic, the Usurper, in a last bid at defeating the Himes and ruling the world, possesses the Obsidian Lord, who had initially seemed to be the final antagonist the Himes would face. When the Usurper's remaining minions are defeated and the Obsidian Lord is forced out of Reito's body, the Obsidian Lord breaks free of the Usurper's control, killing him, before having one last confrontation with the Himes.
  • Played with in Sonic Zombie. Silver's debut in Diaries 3 has him get hijacked by a new monster antagonist near the end. Then in Vengeance, he comes out of nowhere and interrupts Sonic and Knuckles's fight to steal both of their then-powers and become a One-Winged Angel. His monster form there is the main antagonist. Then in Shopping Mall, he turns out to be the true identity of Metal Sonic, but towards the end a transformed Bowser ends up taking the title of the final villain the heroes have to face. The series being made bad on purpose, this is all played for laughs.
  • Princess Jody, the Big Bad of Super Milestone Wars, becomes the True Final Boss in Super Milestone Wars 2.
  • Total Drama fan season Total Drama Luxury Tour briefly sets up Alejandro, who was the Big Bad of the season immediately before it, as the main antagonist for the first few chapters. Then he's voted off pretty early thanks to Noah, and for the majority of the story following that, Duncan is geared towards being the villain. And then Alejandro simply bribes his way back on the game, takes a serious level in jerkass, and takes over as the main villain, especially after Duncan himself is eliminated near the end.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage actually inverts this in regards to the Trope Namer — while Ganon is the main apparent threat in Season 2, it's only because Majora's followers engineer his awakening in Equestria instead of Hyrule so that A) he'll be out of their way, B) he'll serve as a distraction to Equestria's heroes, and C) they will deal with him and eliminate the competition for them. Also, it's repeatedly mentioned that Ganon is ultimately just a puppet of Demise's reincarnated hatred. During the Final Battle, Demise is resurrected out of Ganon, acting as the True Final Boss.
  • War and Peace in Mind: With Royal Pain locked up, the hero community turn to the Academy of Evil she already had in place as their main crisis target, along with its secretive Headmaster. When the heroes finally meet him, it turns out Royal Pain had made an Artificial Intelligence in her own likeness to run the school.
  • The Adventure Time fanfic The Citadel of Truth sets Astrum up as the Big Bad of the fic with The Lich being defeated and turned into one of the Shards Of Evil early in the plot. But once Astrum makes his Heel–Face Turn, all of a sudden The Lich turned out be alive and quite well as he proceeds to hijack the plot and becomes the Final Boss of the fan fiction.
  • In The Parselmouth of Gryffindor, most of Fourth Year has Barty Crouch Jr. as the antagonist, leading the Death Eaters by himself, but then the climactic battle happens without him when Voldemort's own Evil Plan comes to fruition and he summons all of the Death Eaters to him through the Dark Mark.
  • Ashes of the Past starts when Cyrus successfully manages to create his new universe sometime during the Unova series and destroys the universe in the process, forcing Arceus to send Ash Ketchum back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Ash eventually manages to stop Team Galactic in the new timeline, only for the original Team Galactic from the old timeline to appear through the portal their new timeline counterparts created and continue their plans.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction frequently ties new villains (chronologically or by release) to older ones from prior seasons or back to the Generation 1 incarnation of the franchise.
    • The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum has Tirek and his dark magic devices from Generation 1 be responsible for the mental corrupting of Queen Celestia.
    • The Bridge canonized versions of Generations 1 through 3 as Equestria's past, with the Grogar from Generation 1 the God Of Destruction responsible for directly mentoring most of the Friendship is Magic villains; with said villain's combined attack 1,000 years prior bring an elaborate scheme to restore their master.
  • This is very common in Friday Night Funkin' mods. Ever since Word of God and Week 6 revealed that Daddy Dearest is much more than just a Overprotective Dad, and has actually screwed over people in the past (even responsible for some of the weeks in the full game), it's become very common to be revealed in mods that the opponent has been in some way screwed over by Daddy Dearest, and it often involves him trying to get revenge. Just some include Whitty, Garcello, Tabi and A.G.O.T.I.. Jack from The Impostor Boyfriend Saga is a rather unique example, as he was hired by Daddy Dearest to kill Boyfriend (much like Pico) rather than having his life screwed over by him.
  • In Kill Them All Scion is set up as the main antagonist of the story, as in the original story. However Taylor's visits to Silent Hill end up allowing Samael to breach a path into Earth Bet where he attempts to corrupt and then consume Scion, using his death to start spreading across the multiverse.
  • J-WITCH Season 1: Just like in canon, Shendu's resurrection by Daolon Wong sees him easily supplant the wizard and every other villain in the story as the worst one around — he overpowers and kills Cedric, tossing Wong and Miranda out windows and far away from the castle, and blasting Phobos through his own throne.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, gangster Salvatore Valestra believes Batman has been murdering his past associates and fears he'll be next. To take out Batman, he turns to another former partner: the Joker, who murders Valestra himself and uses him as bait for Batman.
  • In her backstory, Emily from Corpse Bride was murdered by a Bluebeard who pretended he wanted to marry her but just wanted to steal her family's money. Lord Bittern, who in the present day wants to marry Victoria, is revealed to be the same guy up to his old tricks.
  • While it wasn't surprising, as Sephiroth was heavily featured in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children promotional materials, he didn't show up until the last 15 minutes of the movie to hijack it from the Remnants (bonus points for quite literally hijacking Kadaj's body in the process).
  • In Tintin and the Lake of Sharks (1972) based on an original story, Tintin and friends faces a criminal organization specializing in making art forgeries lead by the mysterious "Shark King". It turns out "Shark King" is Roberto Rastapopoulos, Tintin's most recurring villain.
  • Wreck-It Ralph repeatedly mentions a guy called Turbo who tried to relocate to another game and permanently broke both games. Sugar Rush's ruler King Candy later turns out to be Turbo who succeeded at his second attempt.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, HYDRA has actually been resurrected amongst SHIELD's ranks ever since the agency's own formation, the mastermind this time being the Red Skull's right-hand man in Captain America: The First Avenger, Arnim Zola. This also puts into light certain events in the Iron Man films, such as the deaths of Tony's parents and Senator Stern wanting to get his hands on Tony's tech. The former is actually a Make It Look Like an Accident engineered by HYDRA (since Howard Stark was one of SHIELD's founders), while Stern is in fact one of many HYDRA agents.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a sort of meta-example. The book is mostly a Random Events Plot, but here various vignettes are tied together by a mysterious green mist that brings out the characters' worst traits. Furthermore, Word of God says that the mist was created by the Lady of the Green Kirtle, the Big Bad of the next book, though its movie adaptation never got made.
  • In F9, it appears that Otto is the Big Bad, having hired Jakob to steal Project Aries for him. Then in the climax, it turns out that he released Cipher from her box, and she takes over Otto's spot as the main villain.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, despite being set in the same world as Harry Potter, features Gellert Grindelwald as the Greater-Scope Villain for the franchise. The first film, however, depicts him as being a Villain of Another Story, with his actions being present but only in Europe. Surprise — the villain isn't a follower, but Grindelwald himself. The sequel downright places him as the main antagonist.
  • In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Gozer, having been defeated in the first film, is the mastermind behind the Summerville crisis. There is a Red Herring with Ivan Shandor being the potential new Big Bad, but Gozer splits him apart (literally) to be the main villain alone.
  • In Godzilla vs. Kong, Godzilla is presented as the Big Bad, having done a Face–Heel Turn and is attacking random cities unprovoked. This necessitates Kong being sent after him as a means of stopping his rampage. However, the reason for said rampage ends up not being as random as it may seem. That reason being that Apex Industries is constructing their own kaiju, Mecha-Godzilla, and they're using the remains of King Ghidorah both for the robot itself and its neural interface; Godzilla's attacks on the company were his way of trying to prevent his Arch-Enemy from being reborn. Naturally, Ghidorah takes full control of his new mechanical body and re-assumes his role as the Big Bad, requiring an Enemy Mine from Kong and Godzilla to take him out once and for all.
  • The James Bond movie Spectre features the return of SPECTRE, the Nebulous Evil Organization from the early Bond films and later novels. The movie reveals that SPECTRE was the true power behind, or was at least strongly connected to, QUANTUM, the organization whose agents served as the villains of the first two Craig-era movies, Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace, as well as Raoul Silva from Skyfall. However, this trope only applies out-of-universe. The soft Continuity Reboot that occurred in Casino Royale means that this is the first time James Bond fights SPECTRE in this continuity.
  • In Murder at the Baskervilles, the filmmakers inserted Professor Moriarty into the events of the Sherlock Holmes short story "The Adventure of Silver Blaze" in order to beef up the running time. However, for Holmes fans, it seems ludicrous that Moriarty would be taking a personal hand in so trivial a crime as fixing a horse race.
  • Resident Evil: Retribution has the Red Queen, who was previously deactivated at the end of the first movie and was revived presumably between Resident Evil: Extinction and Resident Evil: Afterlife.
  • Star Wars:
    • Solo deals with Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando, and several other smuggler allies having to do a heist job for Dryden Vos, the public leader of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. The inner workings of Crimson Dawn are left vague for most of the story (largely because they're too much of The Dreaded for anyone with half a brain to dig into that), but a climactic scene reveals that the syndicate's true leader and the superior to Dryden Vos is none other than Darth Maul, the Sith Lord introduced in The Phantom Menace. His survival having been previously explained in The Clone Wars series.
    • The Rise of Skywalker has Palpatine (who's Back from the Dead) as Big Bad, with him revealing he's been behind Snoke and what happened to Ben Solo (now Kylo Ren) all along.
  • X-Men Film Series: Magneto pulls it twice in the films.
    • In X2: X-Men United, he works with the X-Men without much protest or animosity to save mutant-kind, but once he foils Stryker's plan, he reminds us that he is the Big Bad of the series and turns Stryker's Cerebro on normal humans.
    • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, he hijacks the Sentinels to try and kill both Bolivar Trask and Richard Nixon until Mystique stops him.
  • Zoolander 2 hints that Atoz, the new female fashion designer, is going to be the main villain. Later on, Mugatu becomes freed from prison and is revealed to be the one assassinating the world's most beautiful people in order to kill all fashion designers and models, with Atoz actually being Katinka from the last movie in disguise.

  • In Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, the apparent villain-of-the-day (or yesterday) Damon Kronski turns out to be the pawn of Opal Koboi.
  • In Ryk E. Spoor's trilogy The Balanced Sword, the ultimate mastermind behind all the Big Bad's actions is revealed to be the Wolf King, Virigar, the Big Bad of the Jason Wood stories.
  • In the first three books of The Black Company, Dominator is a well-known Greater-Scope Villain to Lady's Big Bad, so when he tries to hijack the plot in every book, it's this trope in-universe. Subverted later in the series with new Big Bad Longshadow. It's heavily hinted he's someone the protagonists have faced before, supported by one of his minions turning out to be a previous antagonist and his own habit of going around in a mask and cloak that completely conceals his appearance. When they finally capture him, however, he turns out to be a complete stranger whose history is entirely unconnected to the previous books.
  • Books of Bayern: In the fourth book, Selia shows up again after having supposedly been executed at the end of the first book...and as if that wasn't enough, the same character claims to have been indirectly responsible for the events of books 2 and 3 as well.
  • In The Crystal Prison, the second book in the Deptford Mice trilogy, Nicodemus, the spirit controlling Madam Akkikuyu, turns out to be Jupiter, the evil god from the previous book.
  • Substitute Ganon with Takhisis and you have the entire War of Souls trilogy in the Dragonlance series.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • The first novel, The Silver Eyes, ends with William Afton being killed, and the sequel shows new, deadly animatronics who seemingly have no relation to him. And then it turns out he created them.
    • The Fazbear Frights series originally acts like Afton was long dead by the time the events roll around, with "The Man in Room 1280" even showing how he died. And then it turns out he was a secret, third spirit that was hiding inside the Stitchwraith, the newest animatronic antagonist. He quickly creates a new, stronger animatronic and readies himself to kill Detective Larson. Although in his defence, it was already established a few stories ago that the Stitchwraith is actually the Big Good, rather than the Big Bad, and his return was foreshadowed a bit.
  • Played with a few times in Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, someone called "the Heir of Slytherin" murdered someone fifty years ago, and now the same thing is playing out again. It's eventually revealed that the Heir, Tom Riddle, was a young Voldemort, and a Soul Fragment has come back to do it again. What's interesting is that we eventually confirm that the "real" Voldemort didn't know anything about this, and was actually pissed off, since the Heir's defeat cost him one Soul Jar.
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the only book where Voldemort isn't involved at all, but it does center around one of his servants, Peter Pettigrew.
    • Other than Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the only book where Voldemort doesn't appear, though he is running things in the background. The actual main antagonist is, of all people, Draco Malfoy.
  • Honor Harrington: The genetic-slavers (and Designer Babies) of Mesa and Manpower Inc. have basically been puppeteering the Star Empire of Manticore and the Republic of Haven since near enough the beginning of the series. Their plans are almost Palpatine-esque in their intricacy.
  • James Bond: The original novel of You Only Live Twice. So James Bond needs to get his mojo back after Blofeld got away and murdered his wife out of spite last time. Well, through a complicated series of events, Japan tosses him a relatively easy one: Some loon named Doctor Shatterhand is running a poisonous garden and encouraging suicide. Investigating that should jump-start him out of his funk...dum-da-da-da! It's Blofeld again! And he's crazy!
  • Kitty Takes a Holiday is an interesting example in that "Ganon" is a non-personified antagonist. The opening chapters are about Kitty trying to keep Ben's new lycanthropy infection from driving him to suicide. After the initial crisis is resolved, the resultant Rescue Romance is a B-plot through the remainder of the book. Meanwhile, the A-plot eventually leads Kitty and Ben to The Man Behind the Man. It turns out that neither party can beat the other, so the good guys have to Know When to Fold 'Em. The stress of failure causes Ben to wolf out, and the climax of the novel is Kitty chasing Werewolf-Ben through the woods, trying to find him and calm him down.
  • At least from the perspective of the majority of the world, this is what Satan does to The Antichrist in the Left Behind series.
  • In-universe example — the main threat for most of the Malazan Book of the Fallen is the Crippled God, but in the last few books, his power is usurped by the Forkrul Assail, a Knight Templar race of Abusive Precursors, who intend to use it to scour the world of humanity, which they see as irrepairably corrupt. While the Forkrul Assail hadn't previously appeared as villains in the books themselves, they were a threat from the world's prehistory, so many of the characters, particularly the immortals, see it as this trope.
  • In the The Scarlet Pimpernel series novel Eldorado, for the first sixteen chapters it looks as if the only antagonist will be Citizen Héron, the head of the Committee of General Security. Then, just as Armand is suffering from a Heroic BSoD, the series villain Chauvelin politely taps him on the elbow and asks if he can be of service.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events plays with this:
    • About half the books introduce a new character that turns out to be Count Olaf in disguise; however, the Baudelaires see through it early on and spend the rest of the book trying to convince the bumbling adults in charge.
    • Also used for Olaf's many minions, at least one of whom always accompanies him in his schemes. Weirdly, the children never really are able to recognize them until the very end, despite the fact that the children are usually told that Olaf's minions just showed up in the area recently and they quickly notice suspicious characteristics about them. For example, the Foreman with the bad wig turns out to be the Bald Man With The Big Nose, the doctor with the "unusually solid hands" turns out to be the Hook-Handed Man, and Officer Lucinda with her "lipsticked smile" turns out to be Esme Squalor. It's not until the end of the book that the identities are revealed, which leads to the siblings inevitably trusting the newly-captured Olaf into the hands of the kind, innocent doctor or police officer that they just met.
    • In the last book, there is Ishamel, a man the siblings never heard about from anyone in the vast V.F.D. organization (where everyone seems to know everyone) and who was able to seemingly defeat both the Baudelaires and Olaf — and Kit Snicket. In the end, it also looked like he is the only one of the original people on the island to make it alive to the continent.
  • Duncton Quest: In the sequel to Duncton Wood, the moles of the Stone are faced with the threat of the Word, a cult of crusading murderous moles led by Henbane. However, it is revealed later that Rune, a main enemy from the first book, is actually it's leader and plans to eliminate all Stone believers, and that Henbane is actually his daughter leading his conquest. His legacy also survives onto his grandson Lucerne in the third book Duncton Found. And while Rune dies in Quest, his wickedness lives on through the actions of his followers of the Word and in his grandson's madness.
  • Tsar Gorokh's Detective Agency: Most cases eventually lead back to the Evil Overlord Koschei the Deathless. So much so that the detectives are genuinely surprised when that sometimes turns out to not be the case, like in The Plot of the Black Mass (villain is a demon) and Bride Elimination (villain is an Austrian diplomat). Apparently averted in Tsar Koschei's Black Sword, where Koshei is seemingly killed by the new Big Bad Zmey Gorynych, but then it turns out that Koschei was only Faking the Dead and was behind Zmey all along.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign: While each volume has its own set of antagonists, the White Queen will always be revealed to be behind it all. Justified: she's the strongest being in the setting, so any scheme worth the name will involve her in some capacity. Meanwhile, the Queen is completely obsessed with Kyousuke, so she goes along with any plan that will let her encounter him.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: In The Vor Game, the various plots and counterplots wind up being overshadowed by a Cetagandan plot to re-invade Barrayar.
  • Warrior Cats: Sol is probably the only villain in the entire series that isn't somehow connected to Tigerstar. And it's still unclear if he actually was or not.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun gives a humorous example. Dick is outraged when he discovers Mary has been getting love letters from a mysterious admirer, and discovers that it's actually his Arch-Enemy Liam, who seduced Mary and tried to destroy Earth once before and is back to give both another shot.
  • In the final season of 24, the Russians, who were behind the deaths of Omar Hassan and Renee Walker, were hijacked by Season 5's Big Bad, Charles Logan. Season 7 had teased Logan pulling this by constantly referencing him and having Tony go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, but unfortunately, it turns out that some random guy named Alan Wilson was Tony's target and the one behind multiple conspiracies.
    • Also, in The Game, Max, the man behind Season 2's events, is the Big Bad.
    • Subverted in season six; it seems like the Chinese are pulling this, but Phillip Bauer turns out to be the actual antagonist.
    • In the Live Another Day miniseries, Cheng Zhi returns and pulls this properly, taking over the Big Bad position from hacker Adrian Cross almost immediately after he appeared to step into it.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In a major bit of Arc Welding with the main Marvel Cinematic Universe, the first season's villain organization "Project Centipede" is revealed to be a branch of HYDRA.
  • Angel: Lindsey works alongside his lover, Eve, to play Angel and Spike against each other, with the hope of usurping Angel's position at the firm and (if we're aiming high) buying his way into the Circle of the Black Thorn.
  • In four out of eight seasons of Arrow, a seasonal Big Bad is revealed to have some connection to the League of Assassins.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • It turns out the source of various nasty events happening around and to Buffy's circle of friends, not to mention the forces of good around the world, are the work of The First, who appeared in Season 3 as a Monster of the Week and is now the final villain of the show.
    • In the Season Eight comics, it turns out Twilight is actually Angel
    • Dark Willow reappears in the Time of Your Life arc of Season 8.
  • Happens in the fifth season of Chuck. Clyde Decker is set up at the beginning of the season to be operating a conspiracy by a faction of the CIA intent on destroying Chuck Bartowski, his friends, and his family. Midway through the season it's revealed that Daniel Shaw, who underwent a Face–Heel Turn halfway through the third season and tried to take over the CIA before the team stopped him, has been pulling Decker's strings (via blackmail over Decker's corrupt past) all along. And then that gets hijacked by Quinn, who it's revealed was behind everyone Chuck had been dealing with out of spite because Chuck "stole" the Intersect from him (Quinn was selected to be the Intersect agent, but after Bryce stole it and sent it to Chuck, Quinn was sent into the field without it, captured, and tortured. Yes, there was a bit of Sanity Slippage involved).
  • In the denouement of Season 12's events on Criminal Minds, we learn of a twofold version of this. The main villain at large during this season is Scratch, a psychopath who uses drugs to induce hypnosuggestion in others so that they do his dirty work for him. Halfway through the season, Dr. Spencer Reid gets framed for murder and imprisoned after being drugged in the same way. However, someone is actually replicating Scratch's M.O. down to the letter to make it appear to be him. This someone turns out to be the daughter of a father the BAU was forced to kill for refusing to stand down, having come out of Witness Protection and flipped her lid; she, in turn, is being used by someone else who wants revenge on Spencer for lying to her about her own father just to get her arrested, and who has gone absolutely starkers from solitary confinement and taken so many levels of crazy that she decided to subject Spencer to the same type of torture in the prison environment.
  • The majority of new villains introduced on Days of Our Lives in the past 15 years have been revealed to be working for Stefano Di Mera.
  • One loses track of how many Doctor Who serials open with a seemingly original villain who turns out to be a pawn of the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, or the Master. Or sometimes more than one of them (and sometimes they hijack each other). The production team would later admit that they overdid it in the eighth series (which introduced the Master), making him the primary villain in all five serials.
    • "Frontier in Space" does it twice: the Ogrons are quickly revealed to be working for the Master (in Roger Delgado's last story before his death), who turns out in the final episode to have been working for the Daleks.
    • In the fourth-episode cliffhanger of "The Invasion of Time", the Vardans are defeated...and then it turns out that they were tools for the Sontarans, who turn up to take matters into their own hands.
    • Subverted in "The Ultimate Foe", in which it turns out that the Master was responsible for the events that led to Earth's devastation and the Doctor's trial...and then the Valeyard, a completely new villain, turns out to have taken advantage of the Master's actions to set himself up as the story's real Big Bad.
    • In Series 1, it turns out the Daleks were leading the Mighty Jagrafess into manipulating the Human Empire's population. Subsequently, they were behind the Gamestation's gathering of humans for their deadly game shows. Then the Cybermen hijacked Torchwood, the Master hijacked Harold Saxon (by being him), and the Cybermen, Daleks, Sontarans, and a few others hijacked the Pandorica. Yup, still going strong.
    • In Series 7, the Great Intelligence being behind everything would count as this. Turns out the villains in "The Snowmen" and "The Bells of Saint John" were just The Dragon to him.
    • In Series 8, it turns out that Missy is short for "Mistress" — she's the Master, come back yet again.
    • Another double example in "World Enough and Time", where the creepy patients are revealed to be early incarnations of the Cybermen — and it turns out the Master is responsible.
    • Done twice in Series 12 of the new show. Firstly, the villain of Spyfall is revealed to be the Master using the identity of MI6 agent O in Part 1. Then the Master turns up again to literally hijack Ashad's plot in "The Haunting of Villa Deodati/Acension of the Cybermen/The Timeless Children".
    • Spinoff Class had a huge example at the end of its first and only season — the Governors are an apocalyptic Path of Inspiration working for the Weeping Angels.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • In Season 5, the Big Bad is the metahuman Serial Killer Cicada. However, in the last episodes of the season, it's revealed that Eobard Thawne the Reverse-Flash has been faking his apparent atonement, and that the entire season was a Batman Gambit to manipulate Nora into altering the timeline enough that he could escape his execution in the future. When this succeeds with Cicada's defeat in the season finale, Thawne serves as the Final Boss of the season.
    • The Armageddon storyline in Season 8 sees alien psychic Despero travelling back in time to kill Barry Allen because Despero believes that Barry will cause a cataclysmic event in 2031 (the time period when Despero came from). However, once Barry travels to that future to see for himself, the man responsible is once again Eobard Thawne, who orchestrated a "Reverse-Flashpoint" where he replaced Barry Allen as the Flash in history and turned the entire world against him.
  • The second, third, and fourth volumes of Heroes were hijacked by Sylar, who, while not the mastermind of the first volume, was the unwitting means to Linderman's end, and much more deadly. The volumes set up their Big Bad as, in order, Adam Monroe, Arthur Petrelli, and Emile Danko, only for them to be dealt with a couple episodes before the end of the volume, generally unceremoniously. Sylar's MO is to pop out of nowhere at around that time and catch everyone with their pants down, brewing some mayhem for an episode or two until the heroes get him under least until the next volume begins.
    • This is made all the more predictable by each volume's insistence on having a major plot thread centering around Sylar regaining his powers, deciding he'd rather be evil, or remembering who he is.
    • Ultimately subverted in the final volume, where Samuel Sullivan is established as the Big Bad fairly early on and keeps that title right up until the finale. Not only does he easily defeat Sylar the one time they fight, but Sylar has a Heel–Face Turn that actually seems to stick this time.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Whenever the series pulls off a Massive Multiplayer Crossover, you can be sure that the series' original Nebulous Evil Organisation, Shocker, would have its name all over the plot.
    • In the Showa era, Shocker's Great Leader was either directly behind or revealed to be secretly puppeteering most of the evil organizations the Kamen Riders faced. It's easier to list the organizations he wasn't behind, that being Dogma and Jin Dogma in Kamen Rider Super-1note  and Gorgom in Kamen Rider BLACKnote . He's for the most part stopped hijacking the plot in the Heisei era, but whenever there's a gathering of villains, nine times out of ten it's him who's leading the charge.
    • It seems Kamen Rider Double, OOO, and Fourze are getting hijacked by Foundation X, as they were involved with the Transformation Trinkets of each season in some way.
  • Super Sentai
  • In Lost, the first antagonist encountered in the series is the Smoke Monster, which had been terrorizing the survivors since they first crashed on the Island, long before we even know about the Others. Early on, it was assumed that it was a raging beast, but later, we learned it was much more than that when it was discovered that it could assume the form of deceased characters. However, it only appeared in a few episodes and seemed to take a backseat to other antagonists such as Ben, the Others, Widmore, etc. After seasons of debating who the Big Bad would be, the season five finale introduced an unnamed man, The Man in Black, who is Jacob's enemy, vowing to kill him, and at the end of the episode, we learn he was manipulating everyone, especially Ben and Locke, the whole time in order to accomplish this. It is revealed in the season six premiere that this man was none other than the Smoke Monster, making him the Big Bad since the very first episode.
  • During the Monk season 6 finale, "Mr. Monk is on the Run", Monk is accused of murder and escapes captivity, hoping to prove his innocence. Monk soon figures out that Sheriff Rollins, the very officer that arrested him and has been in pursuit ever since, is the actual murderer, and further investigation leads Monk to discover a conspiracy masterminded by his nemesis Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck.
  • At the end of season 4A of Once Upon a Time, after The Snow Queen sacrifices herself to undo her curse in the penultimate episode, Rumpelstiltskin takes over as the main antagonist for the final episode and continues this role into the second half of the season with various other previously seen and new villains along the way.
  • Evox, the Big Bad of Power Rangers: Beast Morphers, is revealed to be an reincarnation of a previous series Big Bad, specifically Venjix, the Big Bad of Power Rangers RPM.
  • Resurrection: Ertuğrul has this happen in season 4. While he has no direct connection to most of the villains that showed up in the season beforehand, but Baiju Noyan’s (The antagonist of season 2) presence near the end comes as a surprise both to the viewers and to Ertugrul and his alps.
  • In the Robin of Sherwood episode "The Enchantment", the witch Lilith turns out to be the girlfriend of Simon de Belleme, the black magician who was the villain of the show's first episodes, and her true objective is to resurrect him.
  • The first series finale to Sherlock reveals a certain someone to have been behind every mystery (all three of them) up to that point, in some way or another. The same happens in episodes 1 and 3 of series 2. He wasn't behind any of the events of series 3 (likely due to his being dead), but he does reappear at the end of the series 3 finale, in such a way to make everyone doubt whether he actually died at all.
  • The Granada adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes mystery "The Red-Headed League" ultimately connects its mastermind with Holmes' nemesis Moriarty. No such connection exists in the original story. However, the real-life crime that inspired "The Red-Headed League" was masterminded by the man who inspired Moriarty.
  • In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, the three episode arc concerning Moriarty starts with an adaptation of "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton", who apparently was part of the gang, since Holmes caught the Professor with the help of some documents the bastard had.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In season 3, Sokar, the Goa'uld who the show had been building up as the new Big Bad since the previous season, was unceremoniously killed in a 2-parter and his forces were taken over by Apophis, who was revealed to still be alive.
    • In season 8, Ba'al takes control of Anubis's remaining forces after the destruction of Anubis's fleet during the invasion of Earth, and uses his superior Kull Warriors to successfully wage war on all the other Goa'uld combined. Anubis reappears on Earth, but gets stuck on a frozen planet in a dying host body. At the end of the first part of "Reckoning", Ba'al reveals to O'Neill that Anubis is back in command of the largest Goa'uld faction, and that he was serving him for a while now.
  • Star Trek:
  • The conclusion of Tin Man reveals that the Big Bad Princess Azkadellia is actually a descendent of Dorothy Gale and was possessed by the spirit of the original Wicked Witch as a child. D.G. (who's actually Azkadellia's sister) frees her from the Witch's influence in the last episode's final act, and she reverts to her original personality.
  • In one episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), a neo-Nazi campaign is hijacked by a mysterious phantom who delivers excellent advice on public speaking. It turns out that the phantom is none other than Adolf Hitler. When Hitler reveals his identity to the neo-Nazi leader, he stops giving advice and starts giving orders.
  • In the tokusatsu series Ultraman Nexus, there is a constant reference of "The Unknown Hand" being the mastermind behind everyone of the Space Beasts actions, as well as reoccurring baddie, Dark Mephisto. Once the final monster is destroyed, the unknown hand reveals himself to be an entire evil Ultra known as "Dark Zagi".
  • The miniseries of The X-Files seems to have the Cigarette Smoking Man returning Back from the Dead and as the Big Bad once again.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Throughout The Bible, everyone who commits an act of sin can be said to be tempted by Satan, directly or otherwise. However, the Book of James doesn't buy blaming Satan (or God, for that matter) as a Freudian Excuse:
    When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
  • In Norse Mythology, this gets combined with Hijacked by Jesus; after the Christianization of Norse Mythology, many stories had Loki written to be a more typical villain rather than the Fallen Guile Hero he previously was, leading to one notable example with Baldir's death. Everything in creation (even the flora) have to shed tears to bring the God Baldr back to life, but there is one Frost Giantess who refuses, and as a result, he can't. The Frost Giantess turns out to be Loki, who killed Baldr in the first place, in disguise, both points of which didn't come in until later versions.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In WCW, there was the infamous Sting vs. the Black Scorpion angle. In August 1990, after wrapping up another chapter in his on-again/off-again feud with Ric Flair, Sting started being harassed by a mysterious masked man who spoke with a heavily altered voice. The standard "masked wrestler" plotline quickly got out of control, incorporating bizarre promos, "messengers" that attacked Sting at house shows, and ringside stage illusions. After four months of this nonsense, the Black Scorpion was finally revealed to be...Ric Flair. Behind the scenes, this was an Author's Saving Throw — WCW constantly alluded to the Black Scorpion actually being the Ultimate Warrior in an attempt to get Warrior to jump ship from WWFnote  When it didn't work, they shoehorned Flair in instead.
  • In early 1993 WWE, manager Harvey Wippleman was not happy about how The Undertaker had defeated Wippleman's man Kamala in the Casket Match at Survivor Series 92, leading to Kamala's face turn and siding with Reverend Slick. On the January 16, 1993 (taped December 14, 1992) episode of WWF Superstars, Wippleman announced that the WWF would never be the same after he dropped "the big bomb." At the Royal Rumble, January 24, 1993, Wippleman revealed what "the big bomb" was: the 7'7" (billed as 8'0"), 400 lbs.+ Giant González (real name Jorge González, formerly WCW babyface El Gigante), who interfered in the match and eliminated the Undertaker! May he rest in peace.
  • Another WWE mystery: "Who ran over "Stone Cold" Steve Austin?" Well, the man driving the car was revealed to be Rikishi, whose lame Motive Rant killed any potential heat. Rikishi was so ill-fit for the Heel role that after one month the much better established Triple H was revealed to be The Man Behind the Man. In reality, the mastermind couldn't have been anyone BUT Triple H. Triple H assaults Austin backstage, runs off, lures Austin out into the parking lot, where Rikishi just randomly happens to be in a car in the parking lot ready to run him over. Despite Triple H's insistence right before Rikishi's reveal that he was planning to lead to Austin to a beatdown, the variables are just too unlikely for it to be anybody but Triple H.
  • In 1999, WWE featured a long and convoluted storyline about The Undertaker and his Ministry of Darkness attempting to seize control of WWE from Vince McMahon under the orders of a mysterious figure known only as "The Higher Power". This "Higher Power" turned out to be...Vince McMahon. The Ministry Of Darkness then merged with The Corporation to become the Corporate Ministry, and about five months of storyline were thrown out the window. To be fair, this wasn't the original plan - Mick Foley was originally planned as the higher power, but he turned down the angle because he felt he was too physically broken down to do the angle justice. Going with Vince was Plan B.
  • Molly Holly tried to hijack Victoria by giving her further training and direction, but it didn't work, as she really couldn't control Victoria at all. She later did gain the servitude of Gail Kim by threatening to beat Gail up until she got it.
  • In TNA, "Father" James Mitchell took the Gathering (CM Punk and Julio Dinero) away from Raven, who had originally brainwashed them.
  • In 2003 WWE, Sean O'Haire was starting a Corrupter/Devil's Advocate gimmick, where he would tell people to do unusual or outrageous things, topping it off with his Catchphrase, "I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know." On the February 6th SmackDown! he convinced Brian Kendrick to streak after A-Train Squashed Shannon Moore. On the March 13th show, he convinced Dawn Marie, a Heel herself, to "flash" the crowdnote  Then "Rowdy" Roddy Piper returned to WWE during the Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon match at WrestleMania XIX on March 30th as a heel, attacking both guys. O'Haire got turned into Piper's lackey as part of the whole ridiculous feud with Hogan/Stephanie McMahon/Zach Gowen vs. Vince/Piper/Sable/O'Haire/A-Train/The Big Show and maybe some other people. Even after Piper was fired in June, O'Haire never really got any kind of chance to revisit the gimmick and left in 2004.
  • Legendary manager "Playboy" Gary Hart sent Homicide and Low Ki to attack Terry Funk at MLW Reload on January 10, 2004. Homicide and Funk had issues going back at least one year but this was Hart's retribution for Funk losing the "I Quit" Match to Ric Flair at NWA Clash of the Champions IX on November 15, 1989.
  • Christian did this to WWECW upon his 2009 return. In fact, one could argue that he and Shelton Benjamin were the only reason anyone would watch the show by that point.
  • The Nexus was a group of scorned rookies out for revenge against the mainframe of the WWE...only for them to eventually become lackeys of the already well-established CM Punk, one of the original NXT mentors, after he disposed of their initial leader, Wade Barrett. Barrett would form the Corre in an attempt at revenge.
  • By 2012, the Canadian Ninjas had been campaigning on and off against Cheerleader Melissa for two years. After their attack on SHIMMER Volume 45, it was revealed they were after a bounty put on Melissa by Sweet Saraya, an opponent she hadn't faced in five years.
  • In Ohio Valley Wrestling, it was originally assumed Kevin Thorn had turned Shelly Martinez into the wrestling vampire Ariel but in the lead up to NWA Vendetta Pro's 2013 Immortal Fear event, it was revealed she was instead turned by and still loyal to the much longer established Billy Blade.
  • When Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling was revived in 2015, one of the first things the returning FMW Seikigun had to deal with was NOSAWA's new Monster-gun faction, which would quickly be converted into the W*ING Monster-gun by long established FMW figure W*ING Kanemura.
  • The Undisputed Era's interference in the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag-Team Classic forced O'Reilly and Cole to defend their tag team championships against the tournament's finalists (Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong, and the Authors of Pain) at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans in a match also meant to determine the Classic's winner. Despite Cole forced into double duty after going through a brutal Ladder match to win the NXT North American Championship, they won when Strong betrayed Dunne. This not only allowed the group to win a tournament which they did not participate in, but allowed Strong to technically become a champion by using the Freebird Rule, all by intentionally throwing a match.

  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who story "Seasons of Fear" it turns out that Sebastian Grayle's masters are the Nimon.
  • Parodied in an Easter Egg on the old Adventures in Odyssey website where, among other tomfoolery, arch-villain Dr. Blackgaard turns out to be the mastermind behind the Novacom Saga...with a possible reference to the fact that there were plans for Mayor Margaret Fey to be the ultimate villain. Somehow.
  • The Quintessential Phase of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy gave Vann Harl the first name "Zarniwoop" and made him a Vogon (one of the aliens that destroyed Earth in the beginning). In the books Vann Harl and Zarniwoop were two unrelated villains with no specified race.

    Tabletop Games 
  • After the release of Infernals in the second edition of Exalted, the Ebon Dragon seemed to have his hand in everything. He created the Unconquered Sun (Okay, that had been there since early first edition). He made contact with the Neverborn for the purposes of creating the Infernal AND Abyssal Exalted. He abducted the Scarlet Empress. He contacted the Viator of Nullspace and set him on his current quest to remake the Great Maker. Certain lines in Return of the Scarlet Empress — the storyline in which one has at least four other Yozis to worry about, along with their own forces and those with the Realm, and he still manages to arise as the clear dominant villain of the entire game — even strongly suggest he was behind the Great Curse.
  • Legend of the Five Rings Gold Edition story arc introduced Daigotsu, the mysterious new lord of the Shadowlands. Daigotsu was able to dispatch the venerable powerhouse characters Toturi and Kyoso no Oni with ease and brought with him never-before-seen monsters such as the Tsuno and Onisu. He even managed to level Rokugan's capital city of Otosan which point he released Fu Leng, the setting's de facto Big Bad from the realm of the dead and who then took on the role of the arc's Final Boss. Interestingly, Daigotsu played an indirect role in Fu Leng's defeat thanks to Hantei Naseru running a successful Batman Gambit on the latter regarding the former's loyalty.
  • Warhammer 40,000, especially with later storylines Chaos becomes the main threat not only for humanity and Eldar, but other races as well. The Chaos Gods and their minions tend to show up in the 3rd act of many campaigns and stories to add an additional level of danger. Humans in the setting refer to Chaos as the Primordial Annihilator or the Archenemy.
    • In the Sanctus Reach campaign supplements, the first books cover a war between the Imperium and Orks. The second book, however, ends with the Imperium fighting Daemons that accidentally got summoned by the Orks somehow.
    • With the Great Rift opening, Chaos has flooded most of the galaxy. Including engaging in encounters that didn't involve them at all. Such as Armageddon another Ork vs Imperium world being sieged by Khorne Daemons and the Blood Angels being saved from war with Tyranids because Daemons decided to intervene.
    • This extends to the 40k video games as well, many of which start with a Xenos threat, only for it to have been orchestrated by Chaos Space Marines and Daemons in order to weaken the Imperium for their own invasion.

  • Makuta from BIONICLE got into the habit of this. After the Bohrok arc, it was revealed that he released them in the first place to buy time to recover from his prior defeat. In Metru Nui, he was the mysterious mastermind behind everything. And then when a group of thugs called the Piraka went after a treasure called the Mask of Life, we eventually found that Makuta manipulated them into doing so. Most of the other arcs, though, stated up front that Makuta was at least in charge of the other villains even if he didn't appear personally (with two exceptions - he was unaffiliated with the Barraki, and even quietly supported the heroes against them for his own reasons; and in the first arc on Bara Magna he just plain wasn't involved).

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat:
    • Played as an Internal Reveal in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War: the masterminds behind the war between Osea and Yuktobania turn out to be the same rich Belkan nationalists who sponsored the Belkan War fifteen years earlier. However, this was the first time that the Belkan War was even mentioned in the AC canon at that point, and the prequel expanding on it, Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, wouldn't come out for another two years.
    • Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation: Downplayed here, while the main story never reveals it, the designer of the Aigaion Heavy Command Cruiser was a Belkan pilot who defected to Estovakia after the Belkan War, Lorenz Riedel a.k.a. Gault 7. You have to find this out by reading the supplementary info. The Aigaion was absolutely crucial to the Estovakian invasion of Emmeria; even if Riedel wasn't actually directing the war, it wouldn't have happened without his involvement.
    • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown: Where did Erusea get their super-advanced aerial drone fleet? From Belkans! And the head scientist of the Erusean Air & Space Administration behind the drones is the brains behind the technology, following a spiteful legacy spread by Belkan patriots to cause as much chaos and destruction across the world as they can in revenge for losing the Belkan War.
  • In the Batman: Arkham Series, The Joker is always the real Big Bad.
    • In Asylum, it's fairly straightforward; Joker engineered the prison break at the titular Asylum.
    • In City, while trailers did feature the ensemble, it seemed that Hugo Strange and TYGER would be much more the overarching threat, Strange ended up being a pawn of Ra's, who you already beat earlier in-game, and both of them died in the same cutscene. Their plan to launch "Protocol 10" is seldom referenced in the entire game, while Joker's plot to force Batman to find a cure for his TITAN poisoning gets the most screen time, up to the final confrontation of the game.
    • In Origins, trailers hyped up Black Mask, a relatively unknown villain to non-comic fans, as the Big Bad who hired eight assassins to kill Batman. It was really Joker pretending to be Black Mask the whole time. Joker is arrested and sent to Blackgate Prison at some point while some of his assassins and other villains are still roaming free, but he causes a prison riot and is the final opponent of the main storyline.
    • Unsurprisingly, Knight follows suit — Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight are the Big Bad Duumvirate, but the Joker's the Greater-Scope Villain. Even though Joker is dead — and the game starts with the heroes cremating him just to make sure — he still massively influences the plot; his death leads to the other rogues uniting against Batman, people are still infected with his tainted blood, and he created the Arkham Knight - aka Jason Todd. Oh, and he keeps appearing to Batman as a hallucination because Bats is one of the tainted. The end conflict is as much Batman fighting off Joker's influence as it is him resisting Scarecrow's fear toxin.
    • In fact, the only story campaign in the entire series that doesn't feature the Joker's influence at all is Origins' "Cold, Cold Heart" DLC.
  • Blaster Master Zero III: As the game continues, Jason is led to believe that the Mutant Core from the first game has made yet another comeback. There was a comeback, but it was not the Mutant Core, which stays gone. The actual comeback was done by Planade-G, whose core survived its defeat in the second game and went on to kidnap Eve, subjugating her to gain control of the mutant army.
  • BlazBlue has a pretty active Big Bad Ensemble, but ultimately Yuuki Terumi is the overall Big Bad with the largest influence on the plot. He takes center stage in the second game along with his partner-in-crime Relius Clover, but they're both ultimately pushed aside in the third for Hades: Izanami, the goddess of death in the third game and Terumi is rather unceremoniously killed off...except he wasn't. Come the fourth game, both Izanami and their Evil Genius Nine take center stage as the primary threats, with Relius hanging in the background to observe the events and Terumi hanging on by a thread to survive. After Izanami and Nine are defeated, Relius decides to pull a Villain: Exit, Stage Left, leaving Terumi, or rather his true form as Susano'o, as the sole Big Bad and the Final Boss of the series. It's even revealed that Terumi was indirectly responsible for the other villain's plots as well.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm has three examples:
    • The game is purportedly a standalone story, unrelated to its prequel except for a few small nods here and there. Then comes Chapter 7, a flashback Wham Episode dealing with the origins of the first game's Big Bad, Boxxyfan. And then it turns out that the Pale Wraith is his Virtual Ghost, and the sequel's entire plot was set up by him as a gambit to regain his original avatar. He succeeds in the first ending's Stinger, and goes on to fully reclaim his Big Bad status during the True Ending bonus episode. (Let's note that while this is a twist, it's not entirely out of left field — the game comes packaged with a summary of the prequel's plot, which implies that it's going to be relevant in some way.)
    • Legion is the primary villain of the backstory and Chapter 7, which takes place during said backstory, but seems to disappear from the plot afterwards, his only role being to give Anonymous inner conflict. Then Boxxyfan accidentally revives him and he promptly becomes the final Big Bad, usurping the role from Boxxyfan.
    • Originally Rcoastee, the other Big Bad of the first game, was going to appear in the bonus Easy Mode quest and turn out to be behind the dark happenings, but the quest got cut. However, he does appear in the Alwaysland 2 DLC Bonus Dungeon as a Superboss and attempts to delete Catie and her friends.
  • The Bubble Bobble spinoff Bust-A-Move, AKA Puzzle Bobble: In the VS CPU modes of installments 2 through 4, an enemy named Drunk (the green hooded beer-drinking enemy from Bubble Bobble) has been inside, respectively, a giant robot Mecha named Bubblen (one letter shy of Bub's long bubble dragon name), a giant fake bubble dragon named Debblun, and a spaceship face named Madam Luna.
  • The Arcade Game Captain America and the Avengers openly presents Red Skull as the Big Bad. The NES version isn't exactly based on it, but it's not hard to guess who the "Mystery Big Boss" is.
  • Dracula loves to do this in the Castlevania games. He's the final boss almost every time, whether he's been visibly in play from the start or not.
    • Symphony of the Night is a classic example; Richter Belmont seems to be the villain, until you find out he was possessed by Shaft from Rondo of Blood, who orchestrated this as another raising-Dracula ritual. You only get to know this if you explore the castle thoroughly, though, and equip the Holy Glasses you get by doing so. Then you can see what's possessing Richter, and kill it. If you don't free Richter from his curse, you get the Bad Ending by killing him. And you miss the Inverted Castle, which makes up another half of the game to get to Dracula.
    • Subverted in Aria of Sorrow with a Tomato in the Mirror — you can't expect to fight Dracula if you're playing him, right?
    • Its sequel Dawn of Sorrow deliberately allows you to play this trope straight: fail to equip a certain item before entering the endgame, and Dracula successfully takes over control of your player character, kills off the former main villain, and becomes the Big Bad of Julius Mode.
    • Portrait of Ruin has another vampire, Brauner, take control of the castle. After you beat him, Death kills him and Dracula is revived once again.
    • And in Harmony of Dissonance, which had, as a "novelty" that Dracula didn't appear...He kind of just appears anyway. As a wraith, but still.
    • Castlevania 64: You know that kid Malus? The one who claims he was kidnapped by Dracula's followers along with the other children? He is Dracula. That vampire you fought earlier in the game was a fake.
    • In both Curse of Darkness and Order of Ecclesia, Dracula yet again comes out of nowhere at endgame. This time, it's thanks to Grand Theft Me, although the former is a plan/Thanatos Gambit carried out by Death, while the latter is an unintended aftereffect of Albus absorbing one of the pieces of Dominus (i.e. Dracula's power), although Barlowe has a hand to play in Drac's revival as well.
    • More or less, the Castlevania series runs on this trope. If Dracula is not directly mentioned, heard from, or seen, or it is not specifically stated that his followers (most likely Death, although others have taken up the helm before) are attempting to resurrect him, then there's at least a 90% chance Dracula is still behind it all. In fact, as Lament of Innocence can attest to, Dracula was hijacking the plot before he even canonically became Dracula.
    • The entire plot of Castlevania: Judgment is preventing Dracula from being Hijacked by Galamoth (of Kid Dracula and SotN fame).
    • Lords of Shadow: Gabriel Belmont was the man who would become Dracula the entire time. Congratulations player! You just hijacked the Big Bad title from the Lords of Shadow and Satan.
  • After switching primary villains a dizzying number of times in the first place, the final boss of Chrono Cross ends up being Lavos (or, at least, a version of Lavos), just as in its predecessor.
  • In City of Heroes, it's all a Nemesis plot; he orchestrated the Rikti invasion and possibly the Council overthrow of the 5th Column. However, the events in Cimerora were started by a different group of villains: the Nictus, including Requiem and the 5th Column.
    • The Cimerora zone was only introduced after the appearance of Ouroboros whose chief, Mender Silos, has a Significant Anagram.
    • True veterans of the game know it's only a matter of the time until the writers make Nemesis responsible for all of the Nictus and Kheldian plots entirely as well. The game pokes fun at this. "It's all a Nemesis plot", "Not everything is a Nemesis plot", and "If it wasn't a Nemesis plot already, you can use the Mission Architect to make it one" are all tips on loading screens.
    • The Nemesis version is subverted in the Issue 19 med-porter arc: Your contact realizes the two enemy groups wouldn't work together on their own, and both groups have canonical ties to Nemesis, so he'd be the natural suspect even if he weren't behind everything else. However, it turns out to be Malta pulling the strings.
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the newly introduced faction, the Empire of the Rising Sun, is treated as an emerging threat, enough to catch both the Soviets and the Allies by surprise. It's so bad that in the Allied campaign (and the Imperial one, for that matter), the Allies and Soviets sign an uneasy alliance in order to fight off the Japanese army. However, in both the Soviet and Allied campaigns, the Empire is swiftly pacified in the seventh mission in a nine mission campaign. The remaining two missions involve the Allies and Soviets fighting each other as they did before, both in this game and previous entries.
  • Commander Keen does this with both major trilogies — it turns out the "Grand Intellect" manipulating the Vorticons is actually Mortimer McMire, Billy Blaze's rival from school. Then it turns out the ruler of the Shikadi, the "Gannalech", is just McMire again (the Shikadi heard "Grand Intellect" but couldn't pronounce it). Also, his babysitter Molly from Aliens Ate My Babysitter turns out to be Mortimer's sister.
  • In Danganronpa, Overarching Villain Monokuma/Junko Enoshima will turn out to be the real mastermind even in games which appear to have a different antagonist, which is impressive considering she died in the first game.
    • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the mastermind is her Virtual Ghost who hijacked the Neo World Program.
    • In Danganronpa Zero, Junko, who masterminded the Hope's Peak conspiracy, temporarily wiped her own memory to become the protagonist Ryoko Otonashi.
    • In Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, Junko A.I.s were controlling Shirokuma and Kurokuma, meaning she was manipulating both sides of the entire conflict and is responsible for the Warriors Of Hope becoming soldiers of Ultimate Despair. These are then recovered by Izuru Kamukura, leading to the events of 2.
    • Subverted in Danganronpa 3's Future Arc, where Junko has nothing to do with the Final Killing Game. Played straight in the Despair Arc where she literally hijacks the plot midway and it is shown how she plunged the world into despair.
    • Played with in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, in which the mastermind, upon being cornered, cosplays as a new descendent of Junko and pretends to "reveal" that Junko was behind it all along, going as far as to make several Take That!s to this trope's usage in Danganronpa, saying that no matter how predictable or repetitive it is, the mastermind always has to be Junko due to tradition. But in reality, this turns out to just be another lie from Tsumugi.
  • In Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising, Eliphas was revived by Abaddon to serve Araghast as his 2nd in command. But when the Blood Ravens finally defeat Araghast, he leaves him to die, and takes command of the Black Legion forces. In Retribution, it is revealed that the whole assault on the sub-sector Aurelia was orchestrated by the daemon, inadvertently released by Gabriel back in the end of the first game.
  • In Dawn of War III, what starts off as a war between the Imperium, Orks, and Eldar quickly devoles into a plot about Eldar reclaiming one of their relics to kill a Greater Daemon of Khorne, even though Daemons weren't present in the start of the game. In a post credits sequence it is revealed that the Necrons are also involved.
  • Who is and isn't a villain in Deus Ex: Invisible War is subject to some interpretation, but it's a major Wham to find out that ApostleCorp is led by JC Denton, the player character from the original Deus Ex.
  • The main antagonist of Devil May Cry 5 is a giant demon named "Urizen" who is trying to use a demonic tree to become stronger. However, newcomer V seems to have a vague connection to him and late in the game it's revealed that he and Urizen are two halves of the same being: the human and demon side of half-demon Vergil, series protagonist Dante's Evil Twin. With his body decaying since his last appearance, Vergil attempted to separate his humanity from his demon heritage but only managed to tear away his conscience from his lust for power. They eventually recombine and Vergil is restored in the climax.
  • Though it was obvious judging by the cover and the title, Diablo turns out to be the real final boss in Diablo III, despite being apparently dead in the second opus and the third one focusing essentially on demonlords Belial and Asmodean for all the first part of the game.
  • In Divinity: Original Sin II, Bishop Alexandar was built up to be the Big Bad. Then it turns out he was just a Disc-One Final Boss (twice) and the true Big Bad is Dallis the Hammer. But then, it turns out that Dallis was a Big Bad Duumvirate with none other than Rogue Protagonist Lucian. And within the Final Boss fight with Dallis and Lucian, Braccus Rex (an antagonist from the previous Original Sin game) emerges as the villain. Then he takes over and becomes the True Final Boss. Larian explained Braccus Rex's presence (and foreshadowed it) with him being Back from the Dead by necromancy.
  • King K. Rool (or, as he preferred to be called in this game, Baron K. Roolenstein) in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! hijacks the antagonist slot from evil robot KAOS...who was, in the end, just a puppet leader for the Kremlings, controlled by him and possessing zero free will.
  • Dragalia Lost has this happen in Chapter 12. Prince Euden and Leonidas had been at war with each other when the void dragons, who up to this point have been Bonus Bosses appear and commanded by Phares, the second Scion.
  • In The Exorcism of Annabelle Sunray, The Preacher, the new villain who runs The Church and is trying to keep Annabelle imprisoned, is revealed to be Jason Sunray, Annabelle's abusive father and the antagonist of the first three games.
  • Far Cry: New Dawn takes place after the nuclear bombing of Hope County at the end of Far Cry 5, and the main antagonists for most of the game are the Highwaymen gang, whilst Joseph Seed has retired from active villainy. By the end of the game, Joseph's Bastard Bastard son Ethan betrays New Eden to the Highwaymen, and the Captain fights Mickey and Lou there. After that, the next villain to defeat is Ethan, turned into a monster by the mystical apple that gave the Captain their power. After the Captain puts Ethan down, Joseph has a Villainous BSoD and asks the Captain to grant him a Mercy Kill to atone for all the atrocities he carried out in the name of God. The Captain can either kill Joseph or let him live as Cruel Mercy.
  • For most of Dirge of Cerberus, Vincent fights the Tsviets, but the true villain of the story is Hojo who was possessing Weiss.
  • In Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, Hardin is the main antagonist for most of the game, but later it turns out that all of his actions and loss of sanity were orchestrated by Gharnef, who in turn was revived by Medeus.
  • The Five Nights at Freddy's franchise: William Afton pulls this one in almost every single game.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist 2: Curse Of The Crimson Elixir, the game's Big Bad is a former state alchemist named Crowley who uses an army of alchemical Golems throughout the story which he controls through a Philosopher's Stone in a ruined nation. In the post-credits scenes, Envy, Lust, and Gluttony talk about the situation, revealing they manipulated Crowley toward finding the stone to bring back his dead lover, although unlike most of their meddling they underestimated Crowley and lost control of the situation. However, they (and as a result likely Dante) still served as the Greater-Scope Villain and the true instigator of the events.
  • Zig-zagged in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, since the recurring baddie is openly hanging out with the new baddies, in a Paper-Thin Disguise, for much of the game. However, all the characters believe him to have been dead since the last game, so it's a shock to them when his identity is revealed. He laughs. And this being Alex, we still don't even know what he's after, nor do we get to beat him down for it. In a sense, it's played straight. At first, it seems like you're going to stop the Psynergy Vortexes and get the roc feather, but the Vortex subplot is dropped after Konpa Cave until The Stinger, and the roc feather quest takes a backseat to stopping the Grave Eclipse.
  • In Ikaruga, the Stone-Like from Radiant Silvergun is once again the cause of game's troubles, this time having corrupted Horai into a power hungry dictator and granting her unimaginable powers, and is later confronted as the Final Boss after Tageri is destroyed.
  • Injustice 2: So after the first Injustice ended with them getting their collective rear ends kicked, arrested, humiliated, and now Brainiac and the Legion of Doom are trying to take over and/or kill everything and they are actually forced into an Enemy Mine situation with Batman and the other heroes, did you really think that Superman and the Regime would stop trying to Take Over the World and turn it into a tyrannical Police State where they could annihilate anything they considered a threat to peace (or just plain pissed them off) at will?
  • In Jak 3: Wastelander, it's revealed that Errol was turned into a cyborg and is working with the Dark Makers.
  • Implied in an ending illustration in The King of Fighters 2002 (which was a plotless Dream Match Game featuring several characters from different story arcs, some of them already dead). Rugal gets to be the final boss in that one, just like in the previous dream match (KOF '98), but the illustration curiously shows him sitting in a throne surrounded by boss characters from the NESTS Chronicles story arc, implying he may have been behind it all. Plausible, as his last canonical appearance in the series ('95) had a version of him with cybernetic implants, white hair, and a darker skin tone compared to his previous appearance in '94 — darker skin and white hair aren't uncommon features of clone characters in the NESTS saga, as isn't cyborg/robotic technology, so the Omega Rugal from '95 could have been a clone, and the real one might still be around. This is given possible support in the console versions of XIII, where Rugal can be seen hacking into the monitors of the SkyNoah, the Cool Airship of his children Adel and Rose, to keep an eye on them.
  • Kingdom Hearts, thanks to its confusing cosmology, has a rather weird example: the Big Bad of the entire series is Xehanort, but he appears in many different incarnations over the series, and these incarnations repeatedly pull this trope on the other villains. The one time he isn't behind things is coded. The rest of the time:
    • In the first game, Maleficent was presumed to be the Big Bad leading a cabal of Disney villains, until the original villain Ansem was revealed to be the true mastermind manipulating her.
    • Chain of Memories introduced Organization XIII, which served as the villains of that game and II. II revealed that "Ansem" was actually Xehanort's Heartless, and his Nobody, Xemnas, was the leader of Organization XIII, and he served as primary antagonist of both games and the 358/Days spin-off that takes place in the same time frame. note 
    • The prequel Birth by Sleep has the elderly Master Xehanort as the main villain, but in the ending he performs Grand Theft Me on Terra, taking over his body to become a new, younger Xehanort, which is the Xehanort that became Ansem and Xemnas.
    • Dream Drop Distance had Ansem and Xemnas return with a new villain, which turned out to be a younger Master Xehanort travelling through time, and all three of them were working on a plan to reform Organization XIII led by a resurrected Master Xehanort commanding them all.
    • Promotional materials for Kingdom Hearts III say that Master Xehanort is the main villain for the game, making it the first time Word of God doesn't try to hide his involvement. But even then, the events of Kingdom Hearts χ establish two new characters, the Master of Masters and his apprentice Luxu, and heavily implies they have a connection to Xehanort in some manner, so the trope is set to happen once again in some way. It's actually inverted, Luxu—better known in the present day as Braig/Xigbarwas manipulating Xehanort the whole time.
  • Kirby:
    • While not present in the main story, the Dededetour Mode of Kirby: Triple Deluxe reveals that Big Bad Queen Sectonia was corrupted into villainy by Dark Meta Knight, The Dragon in previous Kirby game Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, via the Dimension Mirror.
    • Kirby Star Allies shows the cloaked figure, Hyness, the clear Big Bad, botching a summoning ritual and causing dark hearts to spread across the universe. Throughout the game, the game appropriately builds up the encounter with him, revealing his arsenal, his minions, and his generals before a raid on The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. However, immediately after a short fight with him where he reveals his true face, he immediately sacrifices himself and his minions to revive his Dark Lord Void Termina, who, while mostly original in appearance, is very heavily implied to be connected to Dark Matter.
  • In Knightfall: Death and Taxes, it turns out that the Prince of Darkness from the original game is behind the Duke.
  • Done retroactively in the Legacy of Kain series. The first game, Blood Omen, has the Big Bad "Hash'ak'gik", while the villains of Blood Omen 2 (actually the fourth game in the series) are the Sarafan, but it's eventually revealed the Sarafan Lord who leads them is a Hylden, a race of beings from another dimension. The fifth game, Defiance, revealed that Hash'ak'gik and the Hylden Lord were the same being all along. He then partially hijacks Defiance as well, possessing Janos in the penultimate level and revealing that Raziel's game-long search for how to revive Janos is something he had set up.
  • The Legend of Zelda: In multiple games, the hot new Big Bad turns out to simply be a pawn of Ganon or to be trying to revive him.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past features an odd, ambiguous situation as main villain Agahnim is said, depending on the version, to be either a pawn of Ganon or purposely working for him, yet Ganon directly refers to the dark wizard as his own alter ego right before the final battle (which is supported by an image of Ganon's shadow popping out of Agahnim's body, turning into a bat, and then flying into the Pyramid of Power). If such a claim is indeed true, as further hinted by Agahnim's Leitmotif becoming Ganondorf's theme from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time onward, Ganon hijacked the game from himself.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, the Twinrova sisters, Kotake and Koume, are the real villains, directing the actions of General Onox and Veran in order to resurrect Ganon. Ganon is the Final Boss, but he does not directly have a hand in the plot, making him more of a Greater-Scope Villain.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is an odd mixture of this and The Man Behind the Man. Vaati is a recurring villain from the prequel game The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, and is further established in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap which was released after Adventures; but about halfway into the game we find out that Ganon is the true villain of the story, just using Vaati as a decoy. In this case, Ganon hijacks the game from the newer villain Vaati, but Vaati has already been established as a villain as an alternate to Ganon, so Ganon becomes The Man Behind the Man as well.
    • Zant from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, after being built up as "The Twilight King" for much of the game, becomes the victim of yet another twist hijack by Ganon. While the appearance of this trope was the cause of debate for years after release, it was already known prior to release that Ganondorf would appear, and the game itself foreshadows (before outright saying) that Ganondorf is the identity of the power-granting god whom Zant reveres.
    • Played with in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, as while Ganon doesn't appear in any degree due to the game's placement in the series' timeline (long before the first historical appearance of the Gerudo king in Ocarina of Time), the ending reveals that the spirit of Ganon, which keeps pursuing Zelda and Link's descendants, is the incarnation of the hatred of Demise. In short, every single hijacking Ganon does is also a hijacking by Demise.
    • Zig-zagged in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Yuga first appears to be the Big Bad, but then Ganon enters the picture, revived by Yuga. Just as you expect him to take the position of Big Bad, Yuga absorbs Ganon's power and merges with him before he can do anything, seemingly defying the trope at first. But then, Princess Hilda is later revealed to be The Woman Behind the Man all along, and you think Yuga's role as Big Bad is going to to stop then and there. Instead, he actually betrays Hilda, turns her into a painting, and absorbs her power, once again keeping his position. Hijacked by Yuganon, indeed. There's also the implication that Yuga is the Lorule counterpart of Ganondorf, meaning that Hilda got hijacked by two Ganons at once.
    • Zig-zagged but ultimately played straight in Hyrule Warriors. The apparent Big Bad at the start of the game is Cia, a corrupted witch and Anti-Villain. It's soon revealed that the driving force behind her corruption was none other than Ganondorf himself. However, his initial attempt to hijack the plot is thwarted when he tries to pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on Cia, only for her to turn the tables and banish him with the Triforce. For a while it looks like Cia's going to be the Big Bad after all, but Ganon takes advantage of her conflict with the heroes to restore his full power and promptly takes over again after they've dealt with her. In an amusing twist from the usual, the game lets you play as him as he performs the hijacking. The game has a bit of a Leaning on the Fourth Wall moment when Ganondorf first reveals himself, as he says Cia was his "favorite puppet yet."
    • Cadence of Hyrule:
    • Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity plays around with this trope, but ultimately plays it straight. Harbinger Ganon is a dormant version of Terrako from the new timeline that is corrupted by Malice brought when the Terrako of the main timeline jumped into the past to try and change it, becoming Ganon's vessel in the process. Meanwhile, Astor perfectly knows that he's working for Calamity Ganon, but he sees the Calamity as an extension of himself, lending it the power to destroy Hyrule and then rule the world. When Astor ends up being defeated in the battle in Hyrule Castle, Harbinger Ganon puts him in his place by quite literally hijacking Astor's body and then using it to form Calamity Ganon itself, due to Astor's repeated failures and having the gall to order Ganon around.
    • Even Ganon himself isn't immune to being hijacked. In Soulcalibur II, Link's character profile explains that he came to the Soul universe as a Guest Fighter because he discovered that a sorcerer he defeated, very strongly implied to be the Ocarina of Time incarnation of Ganondorf, was under the influence of the evil sword Soul Edge.
  • Little Big Adventure 2: Twinsen's Odyssey. Turns out the aliens are just dupes of good ol' Doctor Funfrock.
  • In a way, this is played with during the final boss fight of MadWorld. After getting to the final area, you're set to fight the previous champ, and it is never revealed who that is, so one would expect a powerful new face that may reveal something about Jack's past in the games. Then, get ready for this, IT'S THE BLACK BARON. Yes, the guy who died multiple times as a joke character to explain how mini-games work is the final boss and has no clue who Jack is. Oh, and they're surprisingly badass. While the main plot continues as expected, the final boss fight is with the least expected person...but one that has been previously established as a villain of sorts.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Although it was always pretty obvious, Shepard and co don't confirm the Collectors are working for the Reapers until halfway through the game. Though everyone shrugged and said "It's probably Reapers" in the first conversation about the Collectors. Note that Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 end up presenting the plot twist in the exact same way: by introducing a minor proxy faction as the major antagonist, only for them to turn out and only be a pawn to a greater game. The reveal that the Geth are tools for the Reapers is played up very close to the reveal that the Collectors are tools for the Reapers.
    • In a more direct reveal, the main antagonist of 2 is Harbinger who is framed as being the Collector General. Only at the end of the game is it revealed that from the very beginning Harbinger was a Reaper which was operating through the General.
  • Mass Effect 3 then follows suit by revealing half-way through that Cerberus and the Illusive Man have become (unwitting) tools for the Reapers as a result of their tinkering with Reaper tech between 2 and 3.
  • After defeating Lord Bane in Maximo vs. Army of Zin, Maximo learns that the title army was awakened by the ghost of King Achille, main villain of the first game.
  • This is the trademark tactic for Dr. Wily and Sigma in the Mega Man series.
    • Wily pretended to reform in Mega Man 3, and in all subsequent main series games except Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, and Mega Man 11, he turns out to be using the initial villain or some other phenomenon as a decoy. He also does it in Mega Man V for the Game Boy with the Stardroids, though in a bit of a twist, he is not the final boss of the game. Amusingly, the game doesn't even try to hide that he's the final boss of Mega Man 9 or Mega Man 10, as the achievement for beating each game is "Whomp Wily!"
    • A lot of fangames that have Wily as the Big Bad of the game, like Mega Man Unlimited and Mega Man Super Fighting Robot, also go this route, though the latter has Mega Man see this trope coming.
    • In the Mega Man X games, Sigma hijacks all the main villains from Mega Man X2 onward, to the point it's a twist that he isn't the Big Bad of Mega Man X8 (though the plotpoint of New Generation Reploids having Sigma's DNA in their Copy Chips as well as Lumine more or less carrying out Sigma's plans means he's instead a Greater-Scope Villain). This gets lampshaded in Mega Man X4 when Split Mushroom responds to a demand to reveal the mastermind behind the game's plot with the meme-tastic "Take a wild guess", after which his lifebar, carrying Sigma's logo, appears, unlike members of Repliforce. note  It's also subverted in Mega Man X6, where the Big Bad was not Sigma; it was Gate, and Gate resurrected Sigma to use him to destroy X, but Sigma Came Back Wrong (due to stretching himself too thin when he spread the Sigma Virus over the entire planet) and was obviously not the controlling force behind the plot. Even so, despite being the Reploid equivalent of a Revenant Zombie and only slowly regaining coherence as time passed, Sigma drops this line upon revealing himself and offing Gate in the process.
      Sigma: Oh please. I did not die. Nor did I need your help! Now get lost!
    • Mega Man X5 reveals that the Maverick Virus was originally carried by Zero before it was transferred to and bonded with Sigma, thus meaning Wily hijacked the entire X series, because he was the creator of Zero and the original "Zero Virus" that turned Sigma evil. X5 was originally intended to be the final game of the X series, and Word of God has stated that yes, Wily was still alive and was working with Sigma during the game.
    • Due to his hand in the creation of the Maverick Virus and Zero, Wily also indirectly set up the events of the Mega Man Zero series that acts as a continuation of the X series, so he could be considered to have hijacked that too, especially when Dr. Weil, the Big Bad of the Zero series, uses a robot (Zero's original body, specifically) that Wily built.
    • Dr. Weil himself pulls this off. The first two Zero games each have different villains, but ultimately Weil (who only first appears in the third game) is the Greater-Scope Villain for both. He even resurrects one of the previous main villains (Copy X) as a Puppet King and Disc-One Final Boss, if only to further his plans.
    • Finally, the Mega Man ZX series that continues the Zero series, the original Biometal W is a part of the Ragnarok space station from Zero 4 and has Weil's consciousness possessing it, driving other Reploids Maverick. It's also implied to have driven the major antagonists of the games into Brainwashed and Crazy territory by compelling them to carry out its will. Curiously, Master Albert, the Big Bad of ZX Advent and the person who orchestrated the "Game of Destiny" that drives both games, states that he is the one in control of Model W and not the other way around. With the ZX series Left Hanging following Albert's demise, it's unknown if he would've been able to back up his claims, though he does show a far greater understanding and application of Model W's powers compared to Serpent, the main villain of the first ZX.
    • In the Mega Man Battle Network games (which are an Alternate Universe from the rest of the series), Wily hijacks 2 when the main villain of that game reveals in the third he was working under orders from Wily. 4 and 5 do not have him, making it actually effective when he appears in 6 and reveals his Evil Plan. However, the villain of 4 and 5 is the organization Nebula, led by Wily's son.
    • Even X-series fangames get in on it. Mega Man X Mavericks continues the tradtion of Sigma being behind everything, so there's no point in spoilering it. That being said...
      • In the third game, Sigma is working with Dr. Weil. Sigma ends up getting taken out and Dr. Weil becomes the sole bad guy for the rest of the game. This trope kicks in when after the final battle, we find that Dr. Weil had been possessed...
      • In the fourth game, X is so sure that Sigma is behind Gate's plans that he already starts asking the bosses about it before reaching the fortress. He's right, of course, but Sigma was only brought back thanks to the Stardroids, who were under the leadership of the real bad guy responsible for everything: Dr. Wily.
  • A complicated quadruple example in the Metal Gear series. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Revolver Ocelot (already a villain from Metal Gear Solid) reveals himself to be a spy for The Patriots, but then gets possessed by the hand of Liquid Snake, the Big Bad of MGS1, and goes rogue. Then in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Liquid seizes control of the SOP system from The Patriots, becoming the Big Bad. Then Ocelot reveals that Liquid wasn't possessing him, and that he was working against The Patriots all along.
  • Inverted in the second Metal Slug game, where Morden is hijacked right at the end by the Martians introduced in that game. Similarly inverted in the fourth game, where the plot appears to be Morden's work but it ultimately turns out to be a robot copy created by a new Big Bad unrelated to any of the previous games, and in the sixth game, where the Martians' plot (working once again with Morden) is hijacked by a Martian-eating race of aliens, forcing an Enemy Mine between the heroes, the Rebel Army, and the Martians.
  • Metroid:
    • In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the Ing are the villains for most of the game, with the player occasionally running into the mysterious Dark Samus. As it turns out, the Ing were being used by Dark Samus, who turns out to be Metroid Prime, the final boss of the first game. She goes on to take the starring role as the Big Bad of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, making her the overarching villain of the Prime subseries.
    • In Metroid: Other M, the events aboard the Bottle Ship are the fault of MB, who is essentially a resurrected Mother Brain. The postgame is a more jarring and unexpected example. Remember Phantoon? A boss who only appeared in Super Metroid and was never heard from again? He takes control of the Bottle Ship in the postgame and, considering the creatures are still out to kill you, he may have helped MB cause the uprising from the background, making him the Greater-Scope Villain.
    • In Metroid II: Return of Samus, the Final Boss is the Metroid Queen. In the 3DS remake, Metroid: Samus Returns, Samus' nemesis Ridley is tacked on at the end, as a closer tie-in to the chronological followup, Super Metroid.
  • Monkey Island:
    • Subverted in Escape from Monkey Island, where after a lot of buildup for the anti-pirate business tycoon Ozzie Mandrill as the new villain, LeChuck appears...and it turns out he's working for Mandrill, who really is the new villain.
    • In Tales of Monkey Island, LeChuck is depowered and turned good at the start of Chapter One, and the Marquis De Singe is built up as the main villain, endlessly pursuing Guybrush so that he can use his unique strain of the Pox Of LeChuck to create the immortality-granting Jus De Vie. However, at the end of Chapter 4, The Marquis suffers Death by Irony, and LeChuck reveals that his "good" act was just that, an act, and kills Guybrush.
  • In the Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath expansion, it seems that Kronika is the main villain just like in the main campaign, as she needs to be defeated and her crown retrieved before the timeline can be properly restored. However, thanks to being a Manipulative Bastard and The Chessmaster, longtime villain Shang Tsung manages to outsmart everyone and become the Big Bad for the first time since the original arcade game: he demotes his old boss, Shao Kahn, to a Dragon without him realizing it, absorbs Kronika's soul, and uses the crown and hourglass to become the new Keeper of Time. It's only thanks to a massive Batman Gambit from Liu Kang that there's still a chance to stop him, and even that won't be enough if you trigger Tsung's story ending.
  • In Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2, the player spends most of the game fighting against Kagura, an evil ex-ANBU agent who wants revenge on Tsunade. It turns out that Kagura was seemingly manipulated into attacking the Hidden Leaf Village by her Dragon, Bando, who in turn was manipulated by Kabuto for unknown reasons (it's unclear whether he did it on his own, or for Orochimaru).
  • Ninja Gaiden II on the NES spends a lot of time building up Ashtar, the self-proclaimed "Emperor of Darkness," as the Big Bad. Your showdown with him occurs only halfway through the game though, and after you kill him, Jaquio, the villain of the previous game, returns from being Not Quite Dead to become the main villain.
  • Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus features the Magog Cartel as the primary villains, lead by the Big Bad Triumvirate of Vice President Aslik, General Dripik and Director Phleg. Partway through the game, however, it's revealed that Molluck, the Big Bad of Abe's Oddysee, was their boss. It's subverted by the fact that he was killed off at the end of Oddysee. Since so little time — probably a week at most — passes between the two games, and Exoddus shows that his ex-Dragons are still dealing with the fallout of his death, he was ultimately responsible for everything that takes place in both games, despite not having a direct hand in the sequel's events.
  • Zigzagged in Persona 5 Strikers. The remnants of the Antisocial Force, the main antagonists in Persona 5, are the one who hired Akira Konoe, making them responsible for most of the events of the game. The final boss of the game is the Demiurge, which technically makes it different from Yaldabaoth. However, the Demiurge and Yaldabaoth are the same entity in various ideologies, only with a different name.
  • Phantasy Star:
  • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon have an interesting variation on this: After completing the game's first half, defeating the Aether Foundation, Lusamine and the Elite Four, the exclusive new story involves Giovanni of Team Rocket literally hijacking the Aether Foundation's headquarters for his newly-established Team Rainbow Rocket...which has the leaders of other evil teams (taken from parallel dimensions) as high-ranked members.
  • In Project X Zone 2, the Final Boss, Byaku Shin, is actually a revived 99, who was originally the true Big Bad from Namco × Capcom.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • The Ratchet & Clank Future trilogy builds up a lot of backstory and introduces new villain Percival Tachyon. Tachyon is taken out in the first game, Tools of Destruction, and in the sequel, Quest for Booty, Slag from the last game gets an upgrade to become the new villain. All of that, however, is thrown right out the window when the end of the game reveals that the entire subplot regarding Clank and the Zoni (which turns out to be the real plot of the game) was actually set up by Dr. Nefarious, from Up Your Arsenal. This trope would then be inverted in All 4 One, however.
    • In Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, our heroes are offered a job by the CEO of MegaCorp, one of Gadgetron's competitors in the Bogon Galaxy. Their job is initially to recover a stolen prototype, and as the game unfolds, we learn that the CEO is not as kindly as he first appears, and that the prototype will spell doom for the entire universe if unleashed. After fighting their way into his headquarters and confronting him, it's revealed that the CEO was Captain Qwark, the bumbling Fake Ultimate Hero who served as one of the first game's antagonists, in disguise. Turns out he'd engineered the whole thing in order to save the galaxy from a menace he created in order to be taken seriously as a superhero. Ratchet ends up having to save the galaxy instead after he screws it up.
    • Ratchet & Clank (2016) does this in both game and movie form. A retelling of the first game, one of the many additions to the cast is none other than Dr. Nefarious, who originally hadn't shown up for another two games, and as noted above had become quite a bigger player in the series since. Three guesses what happens...
  • Averted in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The Umbrella Corporation doesn't have anything to do with this incident at all, and in fact their only presence is through a new company called Blue Umbrella, made up of former employees who joined forces with the B.S.A.A. in the intervening years between 6 and 7 to atone for the original company's various wrongs. While the H.C.F. (a task force under the control of Wesker after he split off from Umbrella) is mentioned in files as having collaborated on the project that led to the "birth" of Eveline, it's unknown if Wesker himself, who was Killed Off for Real in Resident Evil 5, had any direct involvement.
  • In RosenkreuzStilette Freudenstachel, Iris Zeppelin, who instigated the war between RKS and the Church in the first game, is revealed to be behind the Dark Magi and Spiritia's kidnapping, having been posing as the Pope via a homunculus. Probably not a huge surprise, considering what this game is a homage to.
  • Sly Cooper subverts this:
    • The second game centers around the robotic body parts of previous Big Bad Clockwerk, and Sly's attempts to destroy them and make sure he can never threaten anyone again. Clockwerk's body is reassembled in the final level...and it turns out that Arpeggio doesn't want to resurrect the old owl, just use his body to become immortal. Even when Clockwerk comes alive again, it's not his mind in the metal body, but Neyla's. Just to drive the point home, the final scene has Carmelita destroy a vital component that renders Clockwerk Deader Than Dead.
    • Clockwerk's appearances in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time also subvert this; they have nothing to do with the plot, simply serving as Easter Eggs to observant players.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic Rush Adventure, Eggman and Eggman Nega turn out to be the real threat behind Captain Whisker.
    • In Sonic Generations, Modern Eggman and Classic Eggman are controlling the Time Eater.
    • Double Subverted in Sonic Lost World. After losing control of the Deadly Six, he is forced to work with Sonic and Tails. Once the group is defeated, Eggman returns as the final boss.
  • In Steve Meretzky's Spellcasting 201 (an Interactive Fiction game published by Legend Entertainment), the villain of the game turns out to be the villain of the previous game, Spellcasting 101, (the evil stepfather of the protagonist) in disguise. The same trick is pulled in the sequel, Spellcasting 301, and it's done with an even more heavy-handed joke: it turns out that the father disguised himself as a ridiculously hot woman. Talk about having it in for your son...
  • In Spider-Man (PS4), for most of the game you're fighting against Mr. Negative, a relatively obscure Spider-Man villain (having been first introduced in Brand New Day), with the threats of Mayor Osborn merely looming over Peter's civilian life, until Peter's close friend, business partner, and Parental Substitute Otto Octavius starts losing his mind over his deteriorating physical health and getting increasingly aggressive in his anger at Osborn, until he finalizes his life's work: a set of powerful robotic limbs and a mind altering cyborg implant to control them. Immediately after, the Sinister Six are assembled.
  • Andross in Star Fox Adventures. You even have to beat him the same way as in 64.
  • Star Trek Online:
    • It's revealed that, ultimately, the real Big Bad was the Iconians, whom Star Trek: The Next Generation established as being long extinct. Not only are they not, they are behind most, if not all, of the big conflicts in the game leading up to their defeat. They are even responsible for the Hobus supernova that destroyed Romulus and kickstarted the Kelvin timeline.
    • The Dominion are responsible two foes touched upon in the television franchise and who make their grand appearance in the game: firstly the Hur'q who were once a peaceful civilisation turned mindless berserkers, because they were the Dominion's first failed experiment in creating drug-addicted super soldiers; the second enemy are the Fek'Ihri horde, who were the second botched attempt by the Founders to make a subservient soldier race out of the Klingons aeons ago.
  • Emperor Tenebrae/Vitiate/Valkorion in Star Wars: The Old Republic. As the leader of the True Sith Empire he serves as the Big Bad for the game and the Greater-Scope Villain of the Old Republic saga overall. However, after being defeated by the Hero of Tython (Jedi Knight class) he returns as the Greater-Scope Villain of the Shadow of Revan expansion before coming back to life for the Eternal Throne and Fallen Empire expansions to serve as the Big Bad for those. He's finally Killed Off for Real in the Onslaught expansion after four attempts within the same game.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Bowser tends to take centerfold whenever he's not the Big Bad of some games.
    • In Super Mario Sunshine, it turns out he's the father of Shadow Mario, a.k.a. Bowser Jr. But Bowser doesn't appear until the final level and acts as the final boss even though Bowser Jr. was the main recurring enemy for the entire game.
    • Bowser has been doing this since he was baby, taking over the main antagonist spot from Kamek in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. However, this doesn't prevent adult Bowser himself from making surprise appearances in some of the Yoshi's Island games as well. Yoshi's New Island has him bending space-time just to become the Final Boss of the game, meaning that he hijacks his own younger self.
    • Averted, but attempted in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, where Bowser is not the main antagonist. He and Kammy Koopa appear in several cutscenes seeking the Crystal Stars, but always arrive after Mario and company have left with the Stars. In the climax, Bowser drops in...literally...during the confrontation between Mario and Grodus (the essential main antagonist), and then the player has to fight Bowser and Kammy. But once the player defeats Bowser and Kammy, it turns out that Grodus took advantage of the distraction to grab Peach and take her to the next chamber. So in the end, Bowser doesn't hijack the plot. He never even finds out what's going on, and ends up being little more than comic relief in the otherwise serious endgame.note 
    Bowser: What's a finale without a Bowser appearance, huh? A cruddy finale, that's what!
    • In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Bowser isn't the Big Bad. Once the battle against The Shroobs is finished, Bowser becomes the Post-Final Boss after being given a power boost.
    • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, the supposed Big Bad, Antasma, forms an alliance with Bowser, but Bowser, under the impression that Antasma was planning to betray him (and uninterested in sharing victory with him anyway), betrays Antasma first.
    • Luigi's Mansion subverts this. The game implies about 3/4 of the way through that Bowser is going to hijack the plot. At the end of the game, the final boss, King Boo, flies into a Bowser portrait and sucks Luigi in, teleporting him to the roof of the mansion, where Luigi is pitted against what appears to be Bowser. However, "Bowser" is revealed to be nothing more than a hollow puppet being controlled by King Boo. Bowser himself has no part in it.
    • In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon plays with this trope as well. Luigi and Professor E. Gadd don't know who broke the Dark Moon, end up fighting off a bunch of Possessors, and only in the last mansion realize that recurring villain King Boo was behind everything. The player, on the other hand, knows this from the start.
    • In Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix, the first world sets Waluigi up as a main antagonist for the first time ever, then Wario and then Bowser jack the later parts of the plot.
    • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle zig-zags the trope. The game sets up Bowser Jr. as the main antagonist, only for both him and the player characters to find out that Bowser will be coming home early. By the time the player reaches Bowser's Castle, Bowser has been defeated and possessed by the Megabug that was a constant yet ignored presence throughout the entire game.
  • Super Robot Wars:
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Although Master Hand is the flagship Final Boss in the series, it subverts this trope in The Subspace Emissary. After Bowser, Wario, and the Ancient Minister have been causing most of the trouble, Ganondorf is revealed to be in charge of them behind the scenes. However, Ganondorf is himself taking orders from Master Hand, only to find that yet another villain was controlling Master Hand the whole time.
    • Used in Sephiroth's reveal trailer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It opens with the assembled fighters attempting to fight back against Galeem, the Big Bad from the game's story mode. However, just as it's about to launch a final attack, it suddenly gets sliced in half. The monster disintegrates, revealing Sephiroth to be its killer; he then assaults the fighters, going after Cloud in particular.
  • In System Shock 2, you initially believe that The Many is the Big Bad, having hijacked the Von Braun's crew with mind control. Then your Mission Control turns out to be SHODAN from the previous game. After you wipe out The Many, SHODAN becomes the villain, though the box art and intro might have given it away. This is partly because SS2 was meant to be a new standalone game, with the System Shock elements bolted on afterwards.
  • In Time Crisis: Project Titan, Ricardo Blanco is set up to be the Big Bad, being the one responsible for framing Richard Miller for assassinating the president of Caruba, Xavier Serrano, but after defeating Ricardo, Wild Dog comes in and kills Ricardo, making Wild Dog the true Big Bad of Project Titan.
  • TRON 2.0: Okay, so we have Thorne causing massive viral outbreak all over cyberspace, but he's only a patsy of F-con, who wants to use the Shiva laser to upload an army of human mercenaries to conquer the Program world. With F-con, Seth Crown appears to be the one in charge, but...wait, there's the F-con CEO above him! Emails you download during the course of the game hint that F-con's CEO is actually Edward Dillinger from the first TRON film! note 
  • Boss Cass, the Big Bad in Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 1 and 2, is presented as The Quisling (though, like Black Mage, this would imply he'd never been on "Team Evil") with the Quinkan in Ty 3. He's the one who invited them over for a nice cup of tea and a spot of global domination.
  • Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria is hijacked at the end by Lezard Valeth, who had been a party member for most of the game, thus giving the impression he was a different person entirely from the first game's incarnation. Turns out that the only reason he exists in that timeline is that he decided to use a time travel device to go back, so that he can steal the power of Silmeria and Odin and become powerful enough to do what he wanted to do in the first place — steal Lenneth Valkyrie's soul and force her to merge with him.
  • With no real buildup note , Carnage randomly appears as the final boss of Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety (sequel to Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage) for SNES/Sega Genesis.
  • In Virtua Cop 3, the leader of the terrorist organization is revealed to be none other than Joe Fang, who was thought to have been killed twice.
  • Virtue's Last Reward:
    • Nine individuals are placed in a Nonary Game, similar to the first game, except instead of the person Zero, they are now being watched over by an A.I. rabbit named Zero III. As it turns out, both Zero III and his creator, the future Sigma Klim, are working with the original Zero, Akane Kurashiki. The game attempts to persuade the player early on that this isn't the case, with characters commenting on how the first Zero already got what they wanted.
    • In addition, the other antagonist, Dio/Left, is revealed to be a member of the same cult that Ace/Gentaro Hongou, one of the villains of the original game, was from.
  • In Wasteland 2 the True Final Boss is the Base Cochise A.I., the Big Bad from the first game that Matthias was trying to resurrect and ended up getting controlled by.
  • Warcraft pulls this with the Burning Legion. The Legion is behind everything bad that happens in all three strategy games, one way or another. Similarly, the Legion is what ties together many of the plot threads in Classic World of Warcraft, though that game also sets up the threat of the Old Gods. Warcraft III subverts it, as the Lich King becomes un-hijacked and the Legion's attempt to re-hijack him fails.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The True Final Boss of the Burning Crusade expansion is Kil'jaeden the Deceiver, one of the arch-demon lords of the Burning Legion and the mover behind most of the events of the expansion. However, his appearance in the final content patch came as a surprise to almost everyone, since all of the promotion for BC was focused on the confrontation with Illidan. Even the mighty Kael'thas Sunstrider was seen as something of a throwaway boss — a stepping stone to Illidan — until it was revealed that he was acting as a Sycophantic Servant for Kil'jaeden.
    • The Warlords of Draenor expansion started with a time-travelling Garrosh convincing his father to reject the demonic influence of the Burning Legion. The players must travel to this alternate timeline and fight back against the orcs' new Iron Horde, which is stronger than ever due to them imprisoning the Legion's emissary Gul'dan and embracing superior technology instead of fel magic. However, the expansion somehow ends up with Gul'dan back on top and the players battling the demonic hordes yet again. This continued into the following expansion, Legion.
    • Legion reveals that the Old Gods are actually in cahoots with the Legion, so everything they have been doing including corrupting Deathwing-final boss of the Cataclysm expansion-was actually the Legion too. This leaves Mists of Pandaria and Wrath of the Lich King as the only two expansions where the end boss wasn't working for the Legion in some way. Both were actually failed attempts to prepare the world for a Legion invasion.
  • In Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel, the mastermind behind Jaques Le Sheets' scheme is Edgar Ektor.
  • The story of Dungeon Master 2: The Legend of Skullkeep appears to be completely unrelated to that of the original game, until the cinematic at the very end that reveals that Chaos, the villain from the original game, is really behind it all.

  • In Adventurers!, Khrima was the first villain, only to later be hijacked by Eternion. This is parodied, like everything else in Adventurers!, when Khrima and Eternion have an election campaign on who gets to be the Final Boss. Eternion got his boss fight, but Khrima afterward comes from out of nowhere with a Very Definitely Final Dungeon and the Final Boss fight.
  • The "Army Of One" storyline in Dr McNinja, where the antagonist(s) seem to be a bunch of sky pirates who have kidnapped a clone of Doc, but the whole thing is really a plot by Frans "I was pretty sure you were dead" Rayner, the main villain of the D.A.R.E. plotline from years ago.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, the "wraiths" attacking the other dimension in the "Aylee" arc are actually members of Aylee's species, who, not counting Aylee's evil clone, hadn't appeared since Aylee was introduced 10 years previously.
    • Not to mention several dangerous situations set up by demons who appear to be fragments of K'Z'K', the demonic Big Bad from several early arcs.
    • And then there's HeretiCorp, which at least usually has its logo on everything, except during its man-behind-the-man-who-was-actually-behind-the-first-man-anyway plots. Really, it's getting less "Is this _____ or a new enemy?" and more "Is this ____ or ____?"

    Web Original 
  • In Arby 'n' the Chief, Chaos Theosis, the main antagonists of Season 6, were actually working for Trent Donnovich, who was the main antagonist of Season 5.]
  • In Chaos Fighters II-Chemical Siege, after the true villain is revealed as Etphan Signis, when Enrei and Gareia finished him, it was revealed that Thanic Snader, the Big Bad of Cyberion Strike, did everything, including mind-controlling Etphan so that he can leave Etphan doing the dirty work.
  • In Ducktalez 7, The Beagle Boys were run by Julia Roberts, who was reconstructed by Eric Roberts after the sun nearly killed Julia in 3.
  • At the conclusion of Moonstuck, the "Nightmare Woona" who has caused most of the trouble is revealed to actually be Discord.
  • In There Will Be Brawl, we do end up getting a non-Zelda example for the Trope Namer, Ganondorf. Then we're given another example in-universe when he is hijacked by Kirby, who had been a problem to the kingdoms in the past.
  • Mocked in So This Is Basically Legend Of Zelda describes Ganondorf as having the evil power of plagiarism and shows him dangling the deed to the Twilight Realm above Zant's head.

    Western Animation 
  • More than one Adventure Time plot has turned out to have the Ice King behind it, occasionally nonsensically. This was likely parodied in the season 2 finale, where all he did for the first part was hang around annoying everyone and trying to be involved in the story, even though there was a bigger villain around.
  • The Adventure Time: Distant Lands episode "Together Again" introduces a new antagonist, New Death, who wants to destroy all the realms of the afterlife and stop the cycle of reincarnation. Only at the end does it turn out he was being manipulated by the Lich the whole time, who continues his pursuit of killing everyone in existence, even after death. It's a fitting sendoff because the episode is the Grand Finale of the entire series and Finn and Jake are facing off against the effective Big Bad of the story once again, even at the very end.
  • The season 3 finale of Archer, "Space Race", has Archer and the ISIS crew board a space station to stop a mutiny, only to get caught in the station commander's plan to colonize Mars. Once he commits suicide, it seems for the moment they only have to worry about getting back planetside- until Barry, Archer's cyborg rival who is hellbent on killing him (long story), just happens to show up (having known he'd be there thanks to Kreiger).
  • The Ba Sing Se arc of Avatar: The Last Airbender played up Long Feng as the storyline's Big Bad. But then Princess Azula came along and took center stage. Long Feng, on his part, actually saw this trope coming and attempted to betray her, but unfortunately for him, Azula managed to turn his own soldiers against him.
  • The Legend of Korra: It's revealed in "The Stakeout" that Zaheer and his gang are part of a group called the Red Lotus, which Unalaq (The Heavy in Book 2) was initially part of.
  • Season 3 of Ben 10 introduced in one episode a werewolf-like alien who was seemingly killed at the end of his episode, but was revealed to have built a machine as a Sequel Hook. A mummy-like alien is then introduced in a later episode. Both come back and are revealed to work for a new villain named Dr. Vicktor in the first part of the season finale...and then it turns out Dr. Vicktor himself was The Dragon to Ghostfreak/Zs'kayr, a villain who had been introduced in a previous season 2 episode.
  • Both seasons of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien used this trope:
  • In Gargoyles, for a large chunk midway through the series a group of three god-like beings called the Weird Sisters pop up from time to time, manipulating the main cast for their own ends. It turns out in the epic three-part episode "Avalon" that they were answering to the Archmage, a previous villain who was believed to be dead, and all their plotting had been to help him conquer the titular island (or at least that's what they told him they were doing...) It would probably be better to say they were Dragons With An Agenda. The trope still stands, however.
  • Hurricanes: In "Escape to Freedom", the Hurricanes were captured by a soccer-obsessed General of a Banana Republic and forced to play against his soccer team. It was revealed to the viewers but not to the Hurricanes (albeit it's implied the team's owner suspects) Stavros Garkos made an agreement to keep them from showing up for an upcoming game so Garkos' own team, the Garkos Gorgons, would win by default.
  • Season 3 of Jackie Chan Adventures has the Season's Big Bad, Daolon Wong, resurrecting Shendu in order to obtain the wayward Dragon Talisman power. The results are obvious.
  • In Justice League
    • It's revealed that Lex Luthor was being manipulated by Brainiac to build him a new body. Luthor had been infected by a copy of Brainiac's programming after Brainiac had exploded the last time he and Luthor had met.
    • More to the point, Luthor and Brainiac take over the Big Bad post from Cadmus by showing Luthor had manipulated Cadmus, gaining access to their technology so he could build a new AMAZO and upload his mind (or, rather, Brainiac's mind) into it. The writing staff admitted on the DVD commentary that they had no idea how to make the plot of season 2 untangle on its own due to the Grey-and-Gray Morality situation that had arisen, so they went with an "old reliable" and let a Black-and-White Morality villain take over so they could have a proper fight finale.
    • In the subsequent story arc, this happens twice. Gorilla Grodd's leadership of the Legion of Doom is usurped by Luthor, then Lex's plan to reassemble Brainiac is throttled when he accidentally brings back Darkseid instead.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes, Imperiex, season 2's Big Bad, teams up with Brainiac 5 (Who had been taken over by the programming of Brainiac 1.0). Just as Imperiex broadcasts their alliance to the Legion, Brainiac 5 impales and disintegrates Imperiex, then takes control of Imperiex's forces himself.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • Rick and Morty: "Vindicators 3: The Return of World Ender" has Rick and Morty joining the Vindicators, who are trying to prevent the return of World Ender. When they find World Ender on his home planet, it turns out he's already been killed; all of them immediately assume an even more powerful villain is responsible. That more powerful villain turns out to be Rick himself, who killed World Ender while blackout drunk, and also set up a number of Saw-style traps which end up killing all but one of the Vindicators.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: It doesn't matter who or what's causing trouble in Frostbite Falls or anywhere else in the world. In the end, either Boris is always going to be the one causing all the mayhem, or if he isn't the antagonist of the episode, they're going to bring him in to help them out. The exception is "The Ruby Yacht", where he does not get involved at all.
  • The story of Steven Universe relies heavily on the Matriarchal Diamonds who run the entirety of Gem society. Blue and Yellow Diamond serve as major antagonists for the vast majority of the series, however the series teases that there have been a total of four diamonds. With the fate of Pink Diamond known, and both Yellow and Blue Diamond finally pacified, the story immediately shifts to White Diamond. At this point, White Diamond becomes the de-facto focus of the story, and the fear that Yellow and Blue show when speaking of her actions makes it obvious that White is the one in absolute charge of Homeworld.
  • In the second season of W.I.T.C.H., the first season's Big Bad, Phobos, escapes in one episode and takes over a team of recurring vilains, the Knights of Vengeance, from Nerissa. Justified in that they were Remnants of his army and still loyal to him and that Nerissa didn't need them anymore anyway. He was quickly defeated by Eylon and Nerissa reclaimed her position of Big Bad by tricking Eylon into giving up her powers. After Nerissa later acquired the powers of the Heart of Dumbala, the girls grew desperate and decided to ally themselves with Phobos as only a member of the Meridian royal family was capable of forcibly taking the Heart of Meridian. This, of course, ended with him stealing Nerissa's powers, reclaiming his army and throne while setting his sights on multiversal conquest. At least until Cedric pulled a Starscream and stole his powers.
  • In the Captain N: The Game Master episode "Quest for the Potion of Power," Mother Brain uses the titular potion to revive Ganon so she can control him.note  Three guesses how that went.


Video Example(s):



Brendan calls the trope namer himself out for this, in the "So This is Basically The Legend of Zelda."

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Example of:

Main / HijackedByGanon

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