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Invincible Villain

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''Thank heaven we did not slacken our run... We had been wrong. The thing was not wounded, but had merely paused on encountering the bodies of its fallen kindred and the hellish slime inscription above them.
—H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

It's common in stories for good to defeat evil. It's reassuring, comforting, and satisfying. Sometimes, that's not an option, though. Evil is just too powerful, too well-prepared, and too embedded in the system. Rather than being able to turf it out for good, the heroes must find a way to live with it, negotiate with it, or simply escape it. This is not just about stories where The Bad Guy Wins - this is about stories where it was never seriously possible for them to lose.


This trope is common in several genres:

  • Cosmic Horror Story: The protagonists' insignificance and helplessness in the face of the Powers That Be is the whole point.
  • Crime Fiction: If the criminals are the heroes and law enforcement are the villains, then it's generally unlikely that our protagonists are going to take down an entire criminal justice system. Similarly, Film Noir's cynical attitude towards the law means the protagonists will often run into one of these, whether they be The Don, a Corrupt Politician, or a senior and well-connected Dirty Cop.
  • Tragedy: One easy way for a protagonist's Fatal Flaw to destroy them is for them to get into a fight they really, really shouldn't have picked.
  • War Is Hell: War is considerably less defensible as a concept if there's no realistic way for you to win, making this trope useful if you want to drive home how awful war is. Meanwhile, a Prevent the War plot gains extra menace if the other guys you're trying not to pick a fight with are both unpleasant and undefeatable.
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  • White-and-Grey Morality and Grey-and-Grey Morality: A fair few stories are based around the idea that cooperation and compromise are far more helpful than violence, and the other guys being invincible is an excellent argument that you should start talking to them rather than trying to batter them into submission.

An Invincible Villain will, by definition, be a Karma Houdini unless they have a change of heart on their own - at which point a Karma Houdini Warranty may be waiting in the wings if they experience a Redemption Demotion.

The Greater-Scope Villain will usually be one of these unless counterbalanced by a sufficiently effective Greater-Scope Paragon. After all, the whole point is that their victory or defeat is outside the scope of the story. On the other hand, not every Invincible Villain is a Greater-Scope Villain - the story can be all about how the protagonists deal (or fail to deal) with somebody or something they stand no chance of defeating.


Tropes Are Tools, and it's perfectly possible to write a good, satisfying story with an Invincible Villain (Evil Is Cool, after all, and the idea that you can't always deal with evil by punching it into submission is an ancient Hard Truth Aesop), but there are plenty of ways to mishandle them. If taken to extremes, when the story is entirely about the villain constantly winning in some contrived way, this trope turns into Villain Sue. The Villain Protagonist is especially at risk to this. Stories that abuse this trope have a high risk of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy.

The Subverted Trope is Not So Invincible After All, where taking on an apparent Invincible Villain directly turns out to be unexpectedly worthwhile. Compare As Long as There is Evil (where evil is vincible, but no victory can be permanent in-universe), Joker Immunity (where no victory can be permanent out of universe), and Hopeless Boss Fight, in which a video game player is faced with an (allegedly) unwinnable fight and has to lose in order to continue the game. Contrast Invincible Hero, their Good Counterpart, and Harmless Villain, their opposite in terms of threat level.


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  • Dinoponera from Arachnid is certainly one. She appears, instantly frightens the big bad and begins curbstomping established characters. When she finally loses, though, she suffers just as badly.
  • Yujiro Hanma from Baki the Grappler. In the one anime fight where someone even lands a worthwhile attack (Doppo counters with several chest crushing punches), Yujiro simply stands up smiling as if he had an itch. To date, nothing has even given him cause to pause. Though several characters have evolved based on his almost unachievable status. Yujiro is so powerful, even at the very end of the series he still hasn't been defeated. Baki, now the second strongest man alive, attempts to fight Yujiro for the final time. At first it seems Baki is winning, even causing Yujiro to bleed, but Yujiro gets serious and begins no selling all of Bakis attacks, eventually beating him. Well, he is not beaten, but he is humbled enough to hand over the title "World's Strongest Creature" to Baki.
  • Professor Desty Nova in Battle Angel Alita has his hands on the controls to the Laser-Guided Karma machinery, almost literally. He walks away from series 1 without paying for any of the thousands of lives he consumes - including the protagonist's adoptive father - and series 2 seems set to make him even more sadistic, more amoral, more manipulative, more powerful and much more immortal than before. By the end of Last Order, however, he's somewhat received his comeuppance, as after cloning himself so many times that more than one Nova would pop up for every one killed, he's finally put in indefinite cryogenic stasis so that his death doesn't cause any more Nova clones to pop up. There's still one more Nova clone - Super Nova - left, but he's since grown into his own character who's betrayed his original self for his own goals.
  • Berserk:
    • Griffith/Femto is a Physical God in a mostly Low Fantasy setting (and most of the non-Low Fantasy elements are his direct minions). He can No-Sell cannonballs, magic lightning and even a Reality Warper sword forged over hundreds of years specifically to kill him. He mentions he's a Villain with Good Publicity to the point where most of the world believes he's the second coming of Crystal Dragon Jesus; it's been stated that trying to fight him, let alone beat him, would be akin to the characters in a story trying to challenge the author.
    • The Godhand. Because they can casually manipulate the currents of destiny itself, they are practically untouchable and cannot be killed through conventional means. However, Guts' Dragonslayer has directly managed to harm Slan's physical manifestation, and several characters such as the Skull Knight and Schierke have speculated that the Dragonslayer has bathed itself in so much demonic blood that it is capable of harming any supernatural creature.
  • Sosuke Aizen of Bleach. Introduced as a charismatic good guy, to being a Manipulative Bastard, subsequent appearances played up his power, smugness, Gambit Roulette planning skills, and NUKE the dog tendencies to nearly ridiculous levels. He outright declared his entire army of underlings weaker than him, and beat nearly all of the remaining Gotei 13 alone. He never got to fight anyone capable of killing him until he had already gone through several transformations in power via Hogyoku that made him effectively immune to everything thrown at him (Just As Planned). Ultimately, however, Aizen bought into his belief that he was invincible so much that he let it get to his head, even disregarding one of his strongest abilities in favor of pure brute force and letting Ichigo go off to get a Next Tier Power-Up in hopes it would make him a Worthy Opponent that would push him even further in power. When Ichigo shows back up, Aizen does start powering a consequence of Ichigo beating his ass silly rather than "just" struggling a bit. Aizen starts having a mental breakdown around the point Ichigo sacrifices his powers in an attempt to kill him, but boasts that now he will reach a level beyond Ichigo's. But then the Hogyoku decided that it had enough of giving him power and took it all away again. But it still left him immortal so he could only be imprisoned, and despite his Villainous Breakdown upon losing he's back to being calm and collected even as he's being sentenced.
    • From the Invading Army Arc, we have Kagezora Inaba. His Shikai allows him to create portals that are mainly used to cause his opponents to attack themselves. He also created and controls the Reigai, Mod Souls that are essentially stronger and more aggressive copies of the Gotei 13 Captains, Vice Captains, and any other named Shinigami of considerable power, excluding Ichigo, (who's Hollow powers prevent Inaba from making one of him), and Yamamoto (the Strongest of the Gotei). After he's backed into a corner, Inaba reveals he can use his Shikai to teleport, and that he's a Mod Soul himself and can just hijack another Reigai's body to fully heal himself, and turn it into his body, leaving the other Reigai in his old injured body. Then it turns out that he can endlessly resurrect every single defeated Reigai, including the one's who had their pill forms destroyed. Then the reigai are revealed to have Power Limiters that, when removed, make the Reigai so powerful that not even the Gotei 13 or Yamamoto (who were already struggling to fight them) can stand a chance against even the weaker ones. He also has the ability to simultaneously absorb Ichigo, Yamamoto (strongest fire Zanpaktou), AND Nozomi Kujo (the ability to hurl an opponent's attack back at them drastically more powerful)'s powers and hurl it back at them, easily defeating Yamamoto, who even Aizen wouldn't take on without negating his power. When Ichigo FINALLY manages to seemingly defeat him using the last of his powers, Inaba reveals that he has a cloning ability that makes Ichigo waste the last of his powers on a clone. Urahara's stealthy tactics that were similiar to a century ago? Inaba is smart enough to catch on and sabotage it with a Reigai of Urahara. Then, Inaba and Nozomi are revealed to be 2 parts of one person, Ōko Yushima, who went brain dead after making them. When Inaba captures Nozomi and merges with her to create the Mod Soul Ōko, he's revealed to have BOTH Inaba and Nozomi's powers as his Shikai, making him the most powerful villain in Filler. His Shikai is so powerful, it's able to destroy Soul Society with its mere presence.note  It gets so bad that it takes Kon and one of the worst Ass Pull cop-outs in Bleach filler: the Reigai randomly turn against Ōko, sacrificing themselves to stop him from blowing up Soul Society, and Nozomi fighting from within to destroy Ōko's Soul Chain (which Mod Souls don't even have), just to make him weak enough that Ichigo is FINALLY able to kill him.
    • Then there is Yhwach, the King of the Quincies, who had gotten so bad that he is considered the Quincy equivalent of Madara Uchiha. He fights against Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto, who seems to kill him, but in reality, that was a Quincy named Royd Lloyd who can copy appearances and memories, who fought Yamamoto to weaken him while the true Yhwach goes to see and talk with Aizen. The real one shows up, he quickly steals his Bankai (and is apparently the only one strong enough to control it) then kills him effortlessly at that. Ichigo attacks but is soundly defeated. Yhwach leaves only to come back again and take over Soul Society. Then we find out that even if his subordinates are killed, their souls will ultimately empower him because he had given the Quincies their powers (and pieces of his soul) in the first place. Not only that, everyone in Soul Society is infected with pieces of his soul. So every death on the battlefield (Soul Reaper or Quincy) will give him that person's power, abilities and memories; he gets stronger, no matter what. Ichigo trains and comes back to Soul Society for a showdown... then we find out that this is exactly what Yhwach was waiting for since Ichigo had left a path straight to the Realm of the Soul King. Yhwach goes there, only to encounter Ichibei, the head of the Soul King's elite Squad Zero and an even stronger Soul Reaper than Yamamoto. Ichibei appears to gain an advantage, but Yhwach simply reveals he's been holding back this entire time, and that his Quincy power, "The Almighty," his actual Schrift, essentially gives him the ability to manipulate and nullify any special ability any foe possesses, so long as he knows said power. He also knows about said power instantly if he can only observe it, which he can do effortlessly with his special eyes, which can see everywhere and everywhen. He's so overwhelmingly powerful that he instantly broke Ichigo's true Bankai the very moment after it's revealed, successfully negated Orihime's powers, and rendered Ichigo's new form of unified Hollow and Quincy powers useless. Only the Author Can Save Them Now is in full effect, and that requires needing the Fullbringers to repair Ichigo's Bankai, fellow Invincible Villain Aizen to team up with the heroes and Ishida using a special arrow to reverse the effects of Aushwalein temporarily, allowing Ichigo the time for a finishing blow.
  • NEO from Digimon Next is probably the second- or third-closest thing to omnipotence the Digimon universe has come, capable of erasing the entire Gondor Calls for Aid army assembled to fight him from existence with a single thought. As with Hao above, the only reason he loses in the end is because the heroes talk him into a Heel Realization and he puts everything back to normal.
    • One of the main complaints about Digimon Frontier (season 4) was the Royal Knights, a Quirky Miniboss Squad who show up and do nothing but beat the tar out of the heroes for nine straight episodes because... something had to eat up the time before the Big Bad got out of his can, right?
    • Bagramon from Digimon Xros Wars gets in the act as well, as ever with his weaker left arm he can No-Sell just about everything thrown at him and when he gets stabbed and forcibly fused with his brother Dark Knightmon, he just takes over after a while and becomes even more powerful. It takes the Digixros of Shoutmon and EVERY SINGLE DIGIMON in order to kill him. Even then, it is revealed in the sequel season that he came back as the clockman and it's the power of the Brave Snatcher (his disembodied right arm) that saves the day in the end.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Beerus from the 14th movie, who dishes out MASSIVE Curb-Stomp Battles to Super Saiyan 3 Goku, Super Saiyan 2 Vegeta, Ultimate Gohan, Super Saiyan Gotenks, Good Buu, and the rest of the Z-Fighters. It's so bad that even when Goku gains access to the Super Saiyan God Form (which is said to be the strongest form a Saiyan can attain), Beerus is still stronger than him, even when not using his full power. To point it out, he's the only antagonist in the Dragon Ball Z series to never be defeated, only giving up his plans to destroy the world because he's too tired to go through with it. Justified since he is a Physical God, and his unquestioned power is fundamental to the universe.
    • Super Buu never technically loses a fight. 18/Krillin/Yamcha/Tien Shinhan, Piccolo, Super Saiyan 2 Vegeta, Super Saiyan 3 Goku, Super Saiyan Gotenks, Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks, and Ultimate Gohannote  are all easily defeated by him via various methods, ranging from Batman Gambit to sneak absorption to straight up brute force. Even Super Vegito doesn't actually beat him, despite possessing the capability to; he gets absorbed intentionally in a gambit to free his friends, but this ends up backfiring when he defuses due to Buu's Bizarre Alien Biology note , and Super Buu subsequently stomps Goku and Vegeta apart, mostly because they can't kill him inside his own body where they're the size of insects. In the end, he's taken down by internal sabotage, when Vegeta yanks out Fat Buu's pod just as Super Buu is about to kill Goku.
    • Goku Black from Dragon Ball Super, possessed an enhanced Zenkai ability that allows him to get stronger from every bit of damage he takes. Within the span of four battles he goes from being toe-to-toe with a Super Saiyan 2 Goku, to being able to shrug off blows from Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta in his base form before transforming into Super Saiyan Rosé and utterly decimating Goku, Vegeta and Future Trunks despite all being at their strongest forms. Even Vegeta gaining the upper hand ends up being negated when he simply used his scythe to create clones that quickly overwhelmed both Goku and Vegeta. And with him fusing with Zamasu after the latter suffered a Villainous Breakdown, he remains completely undefeated and will never get the chance to answer for his crimes either. As an added bonus, he is one of the very few villains to never suffer a Villainous Breakdown and his compliance with Future Zamasu's request for fusion isn't out of desperation but because he decides to stop playing around. With the exception of his first fight with Goku, which was a case of Worf Had the Flu and ended before either one of them could get serious, Black never actually loses a fight.
    • Zamasu himself after he gets his wish for immortality. Any attack inflicted on him has no effect, and once or twice he even allows Black to attack through him to surprise his foes. The Evil Containment Wave would have worked on him, but the heroes flubbed it (and, of course, King Piccolo had broken out of it eventually back when it was used on him). And upon his fusion with Black, he gains not only an immense boost in power but also a permanent Super Saiyan state on top of Black's ability to grow stronger upon taking damage. He does gain a bit of a weakness here, in that Black was still mortal so fusing with him weakened his own immortality, but even with that the heroes barely manage to destroy his body. And when they do, he just turns himself in a universe-spanning spiritual entity that annihilates all life on Earth in a heartbeat and begins spreading himself to other timelines. And none of the characters can harm because he no longer has a body. Zeno himself has to erase the entire timeline to put a stop to Zamasu.
    • While he's not a villain, but rather an Hero Antagonist, Jiren qualifies. The Ace of Universe 11 during the Tournament of Power, he was stated to be even stronger than a God of Destruction. Specifically, he's far stronger than Belmod, who's stronger than Beerus. When the time comes for him to battle, he shows some incredibly impressive feats. Nothing seems to make him budge; he's like a brick wall before Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-ken Goku who is totally unable to hurt him at all, he breaks out of Hit's Time Manipulation techniques and knocks him out with one punch, and takes down Super Saiyan Blue Evolution Vegeta (who defeated a God of Destruction in training) with two hits after pulling a No-Sell of his offense when it finally looked like someone was actually making him sweat. When Goku gains Ultra Instinct, it's no good, as Jiren is still stronger. It's only by gaining the Mastered Ultra Instinct that Goku (or anyone) is finally able to damage Jiren and fight on par with him- but that only lasts a short while before the sheer strain of trying to fight at Jiren's level practically destroys Goku's body and causes him to collapse. Jiren is so insanely strong that when he actually goes to full power, even the aforementioned Beerus is sweating and quaking in terror, wondering how a single warrior could have so much energy. He eventually goes down with the combined efforts of Goku and Frieza in the series finale, although by that time Goku had managed to make Jiren use up most of his overwhelming power in the Mastered Ultra Instinct fight, so he was about on their level at that point. Even then, Goku stated that he would absolutely slaughter them if for the technicality that they could win by knocking him out of the ring. It takes the remaining heroes using up all their strength just to push him a few feet.
      • In the manga, Goku lampshades his seeming invincibility.
        Goku: He still had that much power left!? No matter how much power he expends, there's always more!
      • Also in the manga, Whis outright says "Jiren's potential is immesurable." Combined with the fact that Jiren is constantly training, that means the power he showed off in the Tournament of Power is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • The Black Magician Zeref, the series' Big Bad, is a widely feared mage for good reason. The man has Complete Immortality that prevents him from being killed by anyone or anything (and Zeref's been trying for centuries). On top of that he has the power to control death magic which, at it's most unstable, can create a "Instant Death" Radius sphere which automatically kills anything it touches. Zeref is also one of the world's most powerful mages having spent every day of his immortal existence studying and perfecting his magic. About the only advantage anyone has is the fact he wants to die and the only times he's come close to losing were when he intentionally held back out of hope his opponent could kill him. Finally, after absorbing the power of Fairy Heart, Zeref gains the power to become a Time Master able to bend space time to his whim to the point that he can unwind time if he has been hurt to completely nullify the effects of any attack. Notably, even when Natsu finally defeats him in battle, he still couldn't kill him and Zeref himself states that he would heal from the injuries eventually. Only the fact Mavis Vermillion has the same Curse as him and used it was he finally able to die, and that came at the cost of her own life, though neither really minded.
    • The Black Dragon of the Apocalypse Acnologia, the Greater-Scope Villain of the series, is a creature so powerful that even Zeref fears him. Once a normal Dragon Slayer, Acnologia began slaughtering humans and dragons alike absorbing their magic to make himself stronger. By the time Fairy Tail's story begins Acnologia is shown to be a monster able to withstand the combined attacks of the strongest mages, which includes 4 Dragon Slayers who use magic specifically designed to hurt Dragons. Every battle that Acnologia faces ends with a Curb Stomp in his favour and the one battle he was shown struggling in against Natsu's father Igneel ended with him tearing a hole in said Dragon's body and then blowing him up. It's revealed that the source of his immense power comes from his attribute which is magic, meaning that any and all magic he can eat which makes him even stronger. Even Zeref, who is also considered invincible, freely admits that without going back in time and killing Acnologia when he was younger and weaker even he can't defeat him. In order to finally win, the heroes had to fight a two-front war where the seven Dragon Slayers fought Acnologia's soul and everyone else kept his body distracted, with the Slayers giving Natsu all their remaining Magic Power while Fairy Tail had to trap Acnologia on a ship, thereby taking advantage of his motion sickness, and channel all the Magic Power of every mage on the continent into Fairy Sphere to keep him trapped and thus paralyze Acnologia's soul long enough to let Natsu hit him head-on with all the Dragonslaying Magic at his disposal, finally killing him. Had even a step of that been out of synch, Acnologia would have killed everyone and won.
  • Hunter × Hunter:
    • The Phantom Troupe slaughter nearly everyone they come across, including skilled Hunters with intimidating reputations in their own right. The only people shown to stand any chance against them are Kurapica, who has a nen ability that can only be used specifically against them, and Hisoka, an invincible and dreaded villain himself.
    • The Chimera Ant King is The Ace among an already deadly race of Mix-and-Match Critters, being highly intelligent and powerful, and a fast enough learner to be an instant expert at whatever new thing he picks up. He only gets stronger during the Chimera Ants arc, and continues acquiring new abilities up until his death. It says something that even Netero, one of the strongest characters in the series and certainly the strongest Hunter up to that point, couldn't defeat him without killing himself in the process, and even then, the effects of this gambit weren't immediate.
    • Hisoka, by virtue of the fact that almost nobody who faces him lives to tell about it, and those that do are usually being toyed with by him for one reason or another. He even brings himself back from the dead after a match with Chrollo, and kills other Phantom Troupe members with ease.
  • Naraku from Inuyasha, until the last battle. The Big Bad for a manga series spawning 558 chapters, the handful of other villains that appeared were almost universally working for or with him with the exception of a few like the Thunder Brothers, the first enemies Inuyasha faces, etc. The very few times he was actually defeated or killed were part of his plans and he eventually returned, and despite the heroes repeatedly finding new powers and new weapons, every time they fought Naraku, he escaped and lived to fight another day. In the end, he did win, in that he got all the jewel shards and formed the completed Shikon Jewel, and if not for Inuyasha's Big Damn Heroes moment with Kagome, he would have yet again successfully executed a plan that hinged on him dying or feigning death. In the end, Kagome had to use the Shikon Jewel to wish him out of existence completely just so he would finally stay dead.
  • My Hero Academia has All For One. Given the nature of his Quirk in a world where all people are limited to only one Quirk, All For One is virtually invincible, killing every hero who sought to overthrow him for many generations. The only person who was able to defeat All For One was All Might, but the latter failed to kill him in spite of his efforts. Six years later, All Might is forced to retire after sustaining crippling injuries and exhausting his powers. Few months later, All For One's manipulations cause national mayhem, and he breaks out dangerous criminals from six high security prisons, destroying all the peace and order in one ago, what took All Might twenty years to build. Worse, All For One has already built contingencies to ensure his rise to power once again.
  • Kill la Kill has Ragyo Kiryuin, who completely overwhelms every character in the show without even sporting a Kamui. Most notably, she survives Satsuki's decapitation attempt due to the Life Fibers in her body, allowing her to regenerate before beating Satsuki into a pulp and breaking Bakuzan in a single punch. After this she sports Junketsu and rips out Ryuko's heart with ease just to show that she's her daughter and was also born with Life Fibers. By Episode 23, Satsuki and Ryuko combined cannot touch her and had do a back up plan so the Primordial Life Fiber can be destroyed. In the final episode, she sports the Ultimate Kamui, and makes every Goku Uniform/Kamui worthless in battle except Senketsu and gets cut in 4 pieces from Ryuko and Satsuki, regenerates again and merges with Nui Harime to become even stronger. Ryuko manages to activate Senketsu's Super Mode but that only wins because of Ryuko getting stabbed on purpose, allowing the Kamui to get destroyed.
  • Maken-ki!: Since her introduction, Love Espada has defeated everyone who's tried to face her with minimal effort. Tesshin only lasted seconds, despite being strong enough to fight S rank Maken users, she shattered Kai's Partition just as easily, casually pwn'd Takeru when he tried to fight her, and was later told by Otohime that even if he used his ability to draw Element, that Espada's power would still be two times greater. The worst part being, Takaki admitted that even she, Haruko, and Minori combined couldn't stop her when they tried at the previous Himekagura Festival.
  • This trope is one of several reasons why the Huckebein of Nanoha Force are so hated - it takes all of 30 chapters in an extremely slipped schedule before the heroes make any real headway against them. Then the manga was put on hiatus, which means no one will ever truly beat this diabolical family.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: Since his introduction, Rustal Elion has displayed advantages no other antagonist in the series ever had: an army of the best Mobile Suits Gjallarhorn can afford, fanatically devoted soldiers willing to die for him and corrupt politicians and terrorists under his payroll. He is also a master strategist who never leaves anything to chance and tries to be as prepared as possible. Any time Tekkadan comes close to defeating them, he always has an ace up his sleeve that turns the tables to his advantage; which means any victories against him are earned at a very high cost. His endgame against Tekkadan is an effective smear campaign that turns public opinion against them. By the end of the story, he wins. That's right, he defeats Tekkadan. Even if he doesn't kill every last member, he permanently tarnishes their reputation and forces them to go on the run. He even takes over Gjallarhorn and turns it into a democratic government and Kudelia has no choice but to work with him to achieve her dream of a free, independent Mars. It really says something about this guy when the surviving protagonists have to get new identities in order to get a semblance of a happy ending. And it's implied he knows who they really are and only lets them live because it's convenient for him. Yep, Tekkadan can only live at his mercy.
  • Naruto:
    • Madara Uchiha, perhaps one of the most ridiculous examples of this trope in all of fiction. The Big Bad, Tobi, was using his identity because Madara was feared so much. But even though he's supposedly been dead for a while, he comes back as an immortal, regenerating being with unlimited chakra, a massive Susanoo that causes a high degree of damage by swinging its sword, and capable of creating clones indistinguishable from himself and as powerful as him. Seven of the strongest people in existence barely inconvenienced him; even Naruto has failed to significantly hinder him. But even when it seems that the heroes finally found a way to beat him, he simply pulls out a new ability from nowhere or any unexpected event happens which plays to his advantage even if was previously shown that it is impossible. Word of God states he has no weaknesses. Though one of the morals of the series was supposed to be that the new generations would surpass the old, but apparently to Madara this does not apply. As it stands, he has almost every power in the series available to him, and is inexplicably more powerful than anything that should be able to kill or wound him. Kishimoto stated at Jump Festa 2014 that Only the Author Can Save Them Now had hit Writer's Block at this point. The solution he came up with was for Madara to be backstabbed by Kaguya Ōtsutsuki, one of only two beings who is truly stronger than him, and her to take over as the villain. And then Kaguya puts up much less of a fight then Madara ever did (so that there is less than any other antagonist in the series) and is defeated in about ten chapters while it took Madara over a hundred (nearly a sixth of the entire series) to finally go down.
    • Tobi aka Obito Uchiha is a more restrained example of this trope. Most fights with him in the series consist of him spamming Kamui with reckless abandon. When Konan attempts to exploit this, he uses Izanagi to survive at the cost of his left eye. When Edo Tensei was canceled and he is not able to capture Naruto and Bee, he still compensates for the missing beasts by using smaller pieces of their chakra that he collected earlier for the revival of the Ten-Tails. When he is beaten to an inch of his life and with Madara betraying him and robbing him of his life support, he shows that it was all part of his plan to become the Ten Tails Jinchuuriki. And even when he is overwhelmed by its power and his psyche is nearly torn to pieces, he all the same subdues it through sheer force of will and becomes full Physical God. He eventually was defeated, but this was mostly only due to his internal conflict.
  • Tropes Are Tools: Ainz Ooal Gown/Momonga, the titular character in Overlord (2012), is a Showy Invincible Villain Protagonist by virtue of being a level 100 MMO character in a world where anything equivalent to level 30 is considered legendary and unstoppable. Very rarely is he faced against an actual threat, but seeing him curb-stomping Smug Snakes who used to think they're hot shit is oddly cathartic. He once killed an enemy, who was arguably an even worse person than he’ll ever be, by hugging her to death!
    • A major counterbalancing trait is his mild paranoia born out of the experience of having been an MMO player whose character reached level 100: he knows both how easily an Outside-Context Problem can defeat or kill him because he's been on the other side of that numerous times, and how hard it is to recognize a legitimate threat before it's too late. When not used to make his more villainous seeming decisions more relatable (by showing how much he feels is at stake), this usually serves to justify slowing down Momonga's activities to allow the narrative more worldbuilding.
  • Though technically not villains (with the exception of Paul), pretty much any one of Ash's arc rivals in Pokémon will never be beaten before his league battle with them, and even then, it'll usually be with Ash just barely coming out on top with his last Pokemon barely able to stand. Before then, at best, he'll tie with them. At worst, it'll be a complete Curb-Stomp Battle. There's also the trainers brought in specifically to beat Ash in the league, the most infamous case being Tobias, who not only had a Darkrai, but also had a Latios! Then, there's Alain. The guy fought Ash three times, with the last case being in the League, and won all three times because he had Plot Armor.
    • Pokemon Hunter J curb-stomped everyone she came into contact with, especially Ash, with her Pokemon never outright losing a battle. The only ones to put up a fight against her were the Regi trio, who fought her to a standstill, and the Lake Trio, who she successfully captured before their Future Sight destroyed her ship.
  • Re:CREATORS gives us the Military Uniform Princess AKA Altair. Thanks to the vaguely-explained Holopsicon, she's pretty much unbeatable since this weapon gives her Reality Warper powers, near-omniscience and invulnerability, to the point that not even a Fantastic Nuke could harm her. Also, all the real-world fan-generated content (the real world of the show, that is) of her add more and more abilities to her repertoire every day. The only reason why she hasn't curbstomped everyone and everything is that, by using her powers, she's fundamentally altering the physics of the real world, so abusing them could cause her to be deleted from existence and thus render her true goal unattainable. In the end, not only does The Bad Guy Wins, but she's the only character of the whole cast to have an unambiguously happy ending... because it was either the other characters giving her that or have first-row seats to a reality-destroying temper tantrum, unstoppable that she ended up being otherwise.
  • Hao from Shaman King is literally totally unbeatable (but not invincible). He's had quite a head start, and by the time the story ends, is stronger than the next six characters combined, including the one who trained her entire life to beat him, but only reached half his strength. Even without fighting, he has a strange ability to gather totally unrelated people to his side to help him destroy humanity. He is a human but is treated as more of a force of nature in the series. He even wins in the final battle of the series, and shows everyone else that all of their efforts were meaningless in the grand scheme of things. He was so overpowering that the author couldn't think of a satisfying ending for a while. When he finally did come out with one, Hao is ultimately defeated simply by being convinced that he's wrong, as overpowering him wasn't even a possibility anymore.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Subverted with Malik Ishtar who developed a strategy which would make him invincible. Slifer the Sky Dragon gains 1000 ATK and DEF for every card in Malik's hand, and Revival Jam protected Slifer from every attack, thanks to the Trap Card Jam Defender and the Jam revived itself after every destruction. And two Spell Cards allowed him to ignore the limit of having six hand cards in the end of every turn, and drawing three cards by every revival. However, Yami Yugi used this strategy against him and he brainwashed Revival Jam, so Slifer's effect forced it to attack Revival Jam automatically and destroying it immediately. But since Revival Jam always revived itself after every destruction, Slifer's effect cannot be stopped, and Malik was forced to draw three new cards whenever Revival Jam was revived due to his own Spell Card. The resulting loop caused Malik to deck out and lose the duel.
    • Played with in regards to Yami Malik, the darker half of Malik Ishtar who has the most powerful God Card in his deck. His deck is based around torture and resurrecting Ra, but all of his victories are achieved by Plot Armor. It was Mai's fault that he got the opportunity to control The Winged Dragon of Ra as she chose to tribute her Harpie Ladies instead of attacking for game. Yami Bakura discarded Ra which allowed Malik to resurrect and use its third hidden ability of instant attack, unknown to Bakura or the normal Malik. He is also the first to lose in the Battle Royale, and Jonouchi would have beaten him fairly had he not played a Shadow Game under Malik's rule and fall unconscious. The only person he really gives trouble is Yugi. In every duel, he inflicts physical and/or psychological pain to his opponents, already an unfair advantage.
    • Filler villain Dartz possesses magic more ancient and powerful than the Egyptian Gods on which the series' mythology is based, is powerful enough to duel the Pharaoh and Kaiba to a standstill and defeat the latter, one of his henchmen defeats Invincible Hero Yugi, and any progress the heroes make against him is negated by it being inconsequential or aiding his plan in some way. He manages to get up to 20,000 life points too. It takes six episodes to defeat him in a duel, and his final monster has infinite attack points and is only beaten by going beyond infinity—and when he loses he summons the soul-eating Leviathan anyway, needing an additional two episodes for the dust to finally settle.
    • Zorc No-Sells the Egyptian Gods, the Master of Dragon Knight, Exodia (mainly because of his feeble old man of a container) and everyone else. It takes a Serial Escalation of a summon of the most powerful monster involving the sacrifice of the three mentioned god monsters to defeat him.
  • Yubel and Saiou from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX are ridiculously powerful; with the former having control of not only an evil version of the three gods including their formidable fusion, but a monster that reflects all damage back to the enemy. He/she defeats everyone she/he meets including a user of an even stronger version of Exodia and the main character had to merge with him/her in order to stop his/her mad rampage. Yubel is also incredibly clever and skilled in their own right, even aside from their power, and a master planner who more or less orchestrates the entire season, only occasionally coming out on the bottom and usually managing to pull something out even then. With the latter, he predicts everything, and his charisma made it so no one would oppose him, as of course it took an Ass Pull, involving a student becoming a T-Rex in order to destroy his satellite, not to mention his fearsome deck.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has Zarc, whose deck is Master of All with regards to all 4 Summon types, allowing him to call out and recycle upgraded versions of the Dimension Dragons while being nearly untouchable due to the interlocking defensive effects of his cards. Over the course of five episodes he beats through nine professional duelists in succession, emerging nearly unscathed after each defeat he issues. Even a set of cards specifically designed to counter his playstyle gets countered after Zarc wised up to how he was previously beaten. He finally goes down once Yuya intervenes long enough for those cards to fully take effect.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho:
    • Sensui Shinobu is occasionally criticized as this, given that after all of Yusuke's efforts to defeat him he's still a Hopeless Boss Fight that requires the intervention of Yusuke's heretofore-unmentioned demon ancestor to finally bring down. Granted, this did turn out to be Foreshadowing for the next arc.
    • Younger Toguro to a lesser extent as literally no one was able to even force him to go all out, not even Genkai, so he was free to annihilate everyone. He was only killed because he intentionally makes his foe think he killed Kuwabara, Yusuke's best friend in order to even force the strength needed to do so, as the latter, even with a significant power boost was unable to scratch him at full power prior to this.
  • Zoids:

    Comic Books 
  • One of the most common criticisms of Crossed by its detractors is that the titular Crossed are not only Ax-Crazy but conjure up winning strategies just in time to stop the main characters winning.
  • Under a bad writer, the Teen Titans' archnemesis Slade Wilson/Deathstroke can be this. His most infamous showing was in Identity Crisis, in which he demonstrated faster reflexes than even Wally West and enough willpower to convince a Green Lantern ring to not attack him. The encounter ends with half the Justice League on the floor spitting up blood, and Slade quipping that this League, made up mostly of new faces (in Comic-Book Time terms, anyway) to superheroing, is so much weaker than the old one... despite the fact that many of them (Wally in particular) are far more powerful than their predecessors. He is only taken down because Green Arrow catches him off guard and shoves an arrow into his blind eye. You'd think that an arrow to the eye would have done something more than force him to retreat, but he was just fine afterwards.note 
  • Prometheus was an acceptably threatening Justice League-level supervillain in his first appearances, but gradually went through Villain Decay as the story went on later. Come Justice League: Cry for Justice, the writers retconned his decay and tried to make him a threat again... by having him pull out a ridiculously large Gambit Roulette and make the whole League and Titans look like morons, to the point where it no longer became believable. Made even more ridiculous when he actually is defeated... by Green Arrow infiltrating his conveniently unprotected headquarters and shooting him through the head with an arrow. That's right, the guy who could anticipate anything, including his own capture, the heroes calling for a guy he was stated to not be able to identify and many other things, couldn't ensure something as simple as protecting his headquarters against infiltration.
  • Darkseid veers into this territory, especially after his Final Crisis appearances after all his 90's Villain Decay had been reversed. Not only is he by far the single most powerful being in the entire DCU, to even reach him in the first place, you have to go through his armies and lieutenants, most of which rival Superman in power level. He's powerful enough that most attacks won't even feel like a breeze to him, his physical strength outclasses Superman's, and he possesses the Omega Beams, which can basically do anything he wants. And of course, he's The Chessmaster, always three steps ahead of all his enemies.
  • On the Marvel Universe side, Thanos can be this mostly under Jim Starlin, especially when he has The Infinity Gauntlet: when he had it, he easily took down and killed practically every hero that opposed him, plus Doctor Doom, Galactus, Mephisto and several cosmic beings, either killing or defeating them and taking everything they threw at him. He even went as far as defeating the incarnation of the universe. The only way he was defeated was because of his own error, and it's implied he partially did it on purpose. In fact, virtually all the times he acquires ultimate power and fails to win are implied to be due to his subconscious desire to lose. Or a clone did it.
  • Ezekial Stane in Iron Man: Rise of Technovore. Stane's nanotech suit allows him to completely shrug off every attack that Iron Man, War Machine, or SHIELD land on him without taking any damage and he curbstomps all the heroes every time he gets into a battle. The one setback Iron Man is able to inflict at the start of the film turns out to not affect Stane's plan at all. Stane also keeps pulling new powers out of his ass, allowing him to control Iron Man's suit with no hope of overriding him at one point. The only reason any of the main characters survive is the film runs on Only the Author Can Save Them Now, with Technovore abruptly malfunctioning for no reason that is ever so much as implied every time it's about to kill a named character. The only reason Stane is eventually defeated is the Technovore abruptly decides to take on a massive, immobile form to invade a city, allowing Iron Man to attack it with an orbital laser. And even then, Stane survives.
  • Red Hulk was this in his initial run, easily defeating Incredible Hulk and The Avengers initially, with the worst case being when he was able to raise Mjolnir, something only people worthy to use it (namely Thor, Captain America, Beta Ray Bill and a few others) should be able to do. This was fortunately corrected in later issues, making it, ironically, one of the few cases where Villain Decay was considered a good change by fans.
  • The Marvel Universe's Ultimate version of Loki was this at first. He was a reality warper who could rewrite history, summon armies of monsters, and make himself immune to physical attacks and weapons, including Thor's hammer. During the final battle, Thor mentions his powers have conveniently weakened, allowing Thor to beat him. Loki suffered Villain Decay in later appearances where he was reduced to the traditional illusions and feats of sorcery.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), we have the Dark Mobius storyline's version of Enerjak, who the story points out immediately is Chaos Knuckles turned evil, so he's this inevitably. In his timeline, despite having a 0% Approval Rating, he singlehandedly took over the world and the only heroes left to fight him, he only left alive because he was bored and could have killed them at any point he wished. During his fight with Silver, he No-Sells everything thrown at him. About the only thing that can hurt him are his own attacks. Thankfully, he was only around for one four-issue storyline that ended with his powers being drained.
  • In Infinite Crisis, Superboy-Prime not only went from good to bad, but also from a sympathetic hero who lost his universe to a whiny Jerkass who had all of the Silver Age Superman's power level, with none of his weaknesses, as his universe's Krypton had been swallowed by its Sun, and thus there was no Kryptonite that could harm him, and magic seemed to have little effect either for unexplained reasons (red sun radiation still works though). The result was a superpowered, adolescent jerk on a cosmic tantrum who could effortlessly destroy entire universes and tear through countless heroes without getting a scratch, and any setback was at most temporary. Ironically, the one time karma finally gets him is when he finally gets what he wants: to return home. Since his world is our own, the fan backlash has trapped Prime in his own Ironic Hell.
  • Superboy-Prime has nothing on H'el, essentially an evil Superman who is not only as above Superman as Superman is above normal people, but also has time manipulation, matter manipulation, telekinesis, psychic powers, astral projection, and size manipulation. He's also immune to kryptonite and can use his powers under a red sun. He's angsty about his looks, despite looking a manly sideburned deathly pale rockstar with chiseled abs. He easily defeats Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, the Teen Titans, and the Justice League. He steals Superman's Fortress of Solitude and locks Superman out of it. He quickly romances Supergirl. He not only succeeds in going back in time to save Krypton, but rule it (after killing Jor-El, Faedora, and General Zod.)
  • Vulcan, brother of Cyclops and Havok, started out as a sweet kid, despite being artificially aged and used as a slave by the Shiar. Then came Krakoa and his Start of Darkness. Already powerful, he was described as 'beyond Omega' (admittedly, he had absorbed the essences of several of his former teammates at the time), being able to manipulate just about every form of energy, remotely control his niece Rachel Summers's powers - despite the fact that she was an Omega class mutant herself - flatten the Shiar Imperial Guard all by himself - though he lost an eye in the process - and succeed in taking over the Shiar Empire. This, however, is deconstructed in Emperor Vulcan and War of Kings: in the former, he has a great deal of difficulty facing Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris and Havok, after being dumped into the sun, beats Vulcan to a pulp. In the latter, he takes on Black Bolt. As in Black 'goes-toe-to-toe-with-the-Hulk' Bolt, King of the Inhumans, described by Spider-Man as the third most powerful guy in the galaxy after The Sentry and the Green Scar Hulk (though it was entirely possible that Spidey didn't know Thor was back at that point).
  • Harvest from the New 52. His introductory story The Culling spends its whole second half on scene after scene of him effortlessly beating back every attack the heroes make and insisting literally every single thing that all the many heroes involved in the story have done was part of his master plan, before getting away at the end. It also doesn't help that he claims to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist with no evidence to back it up. The Atop the Fourth Wall review says he's actually worse than the above-mentioned Prometheus. Later it is revealed that not only is he a time traveller and an experienced fighter of metahumans (so he knows their weaknesses), but his plans are running into difficulty thanks to Kon being a Spanner in the Works and his adopted son Jon Lane-Kent performing a Heel–Face Turn - and even beforehand hadn't exactly been intending to dance to his father's tune.
  • Anton Arcane and the Rot introduced in the New 52 run of Swamp Thing. His new Rot-based powers allow him to instantly kill, turn undead, and take control of any living thing that has even a single dead cell in it, anywhere in the entire world at any time, in unlimited numbers as well as reshape them into any shape desired as well. There are no functional limits to this power, only that champions of the Green and Red can sometimes resist it. He is also effectively unkillable as he can just reform a body from any corpse anywhere in the world. Add to the fact that he's been around for centuries, effortlessly killing champions of both the Green and Red, until finally infecting and taking over the entire world in the Rotworld segment along with killing and cloning Abby. He only loses not through any action of the heroes, but when he's declared to be TOO successful as a villain, and the Parliament of Rot withdraws their support and allows them to rewind time to before his victory.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Morlun and his family from the Spider-Verse. Up until they were finally defeated for good, they never seemed to lose, having massacred their way through some (way beloved) C-List Fodder effortlessly, and a literal army of Spider-Men from across the Marvel multiverse can't do more than be an annoyance to them. Probably the worst case of this was Solus, the patriarch of the family, who not only curbstomps a Spidey with the power of Captain Universe, but goes on to wreck friggin' Leopardon.
    • Doctor Octopus under Dan Slott's pen tends to fall under this as well, as the series goes out of it's way to give victory after victory towards Doc Ock. He steals Spider-Man's body, takes over his life with little to no consequence, gets his own private army and secret base, and manages to steamroll through every threat that is presented towards him. Even when Peter "Comes back to life," Otto suffers no defeat at Peter's hands, instead choosing to give up and give Peter back his body. And that's just in Superior Spider-Man. Since then Otto has returned several times, but has yet to actually lose a battle against Peter Parker. And his appearance during Secret Empire has him effortlessly taking over Parker Industries and turning Peter into a Hero with Bad Publicity again. Peter's only real achievement is being able to sour his victory by destroying all of the company's research so it won't be weaponized by HYDRA.
    • Carnage devolved into this during his early years. Most notably in Maximum Carnage, where he continuously bounces back from all the heroes' attempts to destroy him with ease, even when they tried using traditional Symbiote weaknesses like fire and sound waves. Nowadays, he's still dangerous, but he's no longer the unstoppable powerhouse he was before.
  • Doctor Doom may be the the most triumphant example of this in Marvel Comics. Introduced with the ability to create undetectable robotic duplicates of himself that often weren't aware themselves they weren't the real thing, these were shamelessly used from the character's debut to allow him to always escape justice in some fashion, either by using a Doombot to serve as a decoy at the last minute or, increasingly, actually carrying out entire plans by proxy so nothing could be legally traced to him. This built up a decades-long reputation of Memetic Badassery, and as writers themselves began to buy into it, the character grew increasingly presented as less of the megalomaniacal madman he had been created as and more as being legitimately as good as he thought himself. To this day, Doom has one of the highest "win counts" of any supervillain, anywhere. According to the Marvel wiki, including alternate versions and in other media, he's killed more named characters than Thanos.

    A Marvel What If? issue shows what would have happened if Doom had managed to keep the Beyonder's power, which results in him winning the Secret Wars, acquiring Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet, and dominating the cosmos. This attracts the attention of the Celestials whom Doom eventually defeats in a war that destroys the planet. Using the last of his power, Doom recreates Earth and humanity with it before becoming mortal himself in order to lead them to greatness. Downplayed in the sense that Doom becomes an Anti-Hero instead of a villain as the story progresses.
  • Just as Batman is often portrayed as the opposite trope, The Joker sometimes falls into this. At its worst, he can pull off massively complicated plans with ease, drive others to madness with only a few words, can make even literal gods and devils who have faced off much worse crap in their respective comics and have the scars to prove it shit their collective pants as he brings them to their knees (heck, the literal Wrath Of God personified can't touch him because he's just that much unrepentant/crazy) and is always one step ahead of Batman who can do little to stop the clown from killing boatloads of innocents.
  • God-King Lore in Birthright is an unfathomably powerful Evil Overlord that has covered his world into darkness, commands an endless legion of demons and no one in the setting is capable of matching him in combat, let alone defeating him. La Résistance has been fighting an Forever War against him for so long that the previous heroes realized they were nowhere near close to winning that they decided to either flee this world for Earth or desert to his side, with the latter option being considered a Fate Worse than Death since Lore infects his agents with a Nevermind that will turn them into Humanoid Abominations subservient to him. Oh, and he also wants to conquer other dimensions too and the only thing preventing him from stepping into Earth was an spell raised by the heroes that chose to take refuge in our world. His threat becomes so great that one of the heroes decide that his coming was inevitable and rather than have him conquer Earth, she would plot to destroy both worlds and remake a new one freed of Lore.

    Comic Strips 
  • Spy vs. Spy has the female Gray Spy (though her status as a villain is sort of debatable) who never lost to the other two spies no matter what the spies did to try to beat her. Reportedly, this was the original creator couldn’t bring himself to have her get killed in the ways the other two spies did. Eventually, the creator got so fed up with her that he stopped including her in the strips- but, unfortunately, everyone who took over brought the Gray Spy back in some way or another.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Darth Nihilus from Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger. The author has explicitly stated that nothing short of two Physical Gods would be capable of stopping a fully-powered Nihilus. With one exception, Nihilus has never suffered a total defeat. For the majority of the story, the heroes don't even know he exists. He easily manipulates Jaune and his plan to take control of Jaune's body goes off without a hitch. Once he regains a physical form, Nihilus is treated as pretty much unstoppable. He fights almost all the heroes at once and wins, swats aside experienced Huntsmen like Qrow with contemptible ease, and shrugs off everything the heroes try to use against him.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: In Acts III and IV, Jovian and Jacqueline, Hokuto's Co-Dragons, are set up as this. As noted by Akua and Kahlua in Act IV chapter 2, their barriers are unbreakable, their energy blasts are unblockable, and they will never tire no matter what. In Act IV chapter 23, with The Reveal that Apoch's barrier sword can both pierce their barriers and deflect their energy attacks, the two become Not So Invincible After All.
  • Fallen Kingdom: Antonio is the World's Strongest Man and leader of an N.G.O. Superpower stronger than the world-spanning Koopa Empire. For most of the story he never stepped out of his fortress, but his power was alluded to by multiple other characters, and he effortlessly overpowered his right-hand Skallz Fortiscule, who himself defeated over a dozen heroes that are each a One-Man Army. Every action the heroes take only inconveniences him, and when he finally revealed himself, everyone who knew of him freaked out. He dodges hundreds of projectiles moving at nearly bullet-speed coming from different directions all at once, curbstomps Luigi and his friends, one-shots his own city-block-sized mothership, and critically wounds a Physical God with one attack, which would have instantly killed anyone else. The only being that could challenge him was King Morton Sr, but he was dead long before the story began. He is only defeated by Cobal eating the Beacon of Rosalina’s universe-traveling ship and hitting him with the resulting egg, greatly weakening him. Even then, his power was still enough to contend with Luigi’s Heroic Second Wind despite that type of magic being able to fully De-Power anyone else in the universe.
  • In Zero 2: A Revision Dragomon once stated during his monolougues that Darkheart will be the hardest and most dangerous opponent that the Digidestined will have to face, and he is not kidding. When Darkheart first appeared, he curb-stomps the entire Digidestined including Aetherdramon, Shaun, and Omnimon through pragmatism and took advantage of their hesitance to hurt Davis. After reappearing with a free will and a growing taste for destruction, Darkheart returns to No-Sell all of the Digidestined's Digimons attacks, curb-stomps them to the ground and absorbs them all one-by-one, failing to significantly hinder him in his absorbing spree whatsoever. The same results happen 8 times before he is finally taken down by the efforts of Kari, Siara, and Blackwargreymon. But it ends up being too little too late as the entire time the Digidestined are fighting and fleeing from Darkheart, entire Odaiba becomes leveled with the citizens including Davis's parents and Cody's grandfather dying as well due to the attacks by Umbradevimon's black gears army, Demon's and his Black Generals, and Gravemon and its Spores. Essentially, Darkheart is the Zero 2's version of Blackwargreymon only even more relentless and dangerous.
  • Veran is depicted as such in the The Legend of Zelda fic Wisdom and Courage; she succeeds in getting the Triforce before the first third of the fic is over, most of the fic has things going her way, and Link and Zelda have little choice but to Run or Die. It's only when Link acquires the Fierce Deity's Mask that they can actually fight back.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Tales of the Oppressed (by Terran34), King Sombra may be a Physical God who can stand up to multiple Alicorn-tier characters, but he's still reasonably fallible in the end. However, the same can't really be said for one of his generals, Silent Shatter, who repeatedly gets the best of multiple protagonists and just pulls a Villain: Exit, Stage Left whenever he gets caught off-guard. Being able to negate all direct magical attacks makes him bad enough, but being able to both break through others' magical defenses with little-to-no effort and constantly pull off Nonchalant Dodges is just pushing it. Furthermore, even after specific training on how to work around an Earth Pony's physical advantages, Seth Rogers still can barely even touch, let alone hurt, Shatter. In the end, Applejack has to resort to a sudden My Name Is Inigo Montoya in order to catch him off-guard just long enough for a Humiliation Conga and subsequent death.
  • In Hero Class Civil Warfare, Midoriya is pretty much this. He easily predicts every move the heroes make; when things go wrong, he either adapts to the situation or else it was All According to Plan. As of chapter 23, Bakugou has lost a fair number of his team, had one of his members turn traitor and lost the objectives he was guarding. Midoriya has acquired all but two of his objectives, regained the one member that was captured, and effectively gotten away with waltzing through the heroes' base.
  • Natural Selection: Ryuko Kiryuin. She's so far above the rest of the cast in terms of power that only Satsuki can match her on the field of battle (and Uzu, to a lesser extent), and even then that involves throwing her off her game by talking her down, taking advantage of Ryuko's transformation sequence and doing damage to Junketsu instead, not to mention Satsuki needed to create a Kamui of her own just to stand a chance. Ryuko still wins, despite having all of her weaknesses taken advantage of. She's only stopped by using tools specifically to freeze her in place and Nudist Beach was only able to accomplish that in the first place because she was drained from her previous bout with Satsuki.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Sheev Palpatine from Star Wars in both canon and legends. During the prequel era, he's THE Manipulative Bastard who can play the entire galaxy like a fiddle, and no one will ever investigate him, no matter how many clues point to him because he has to be able to rise in power, defeat the Jedi and corrupt Anakin to make the original trilogy happen, so any defeat can only be a minor inconvenience. In the original trilogy era, he commands an empire so vast that nothing the Rebels can do, save the impossible of assassinating Palpatine, including blowing up two Death Stars, will ever do any lasting damage to his reign. Word of God is that, had he not seemingly died on the second Death Star he'd have led the Empire to crush the rebellion. And on the rare occasions that he does have to get involved directly, he's so powerful and skilled a fighter that while a few can contend with him, no one can actually beat him (it's strongly implied he threw his duels with Mace and Starkiller to pull Anakin and Galen, respectively, to the darkside.) In Return of the Jedi Luke doesn't even try to fight him when they're face to face. It took the man who had been his #1 enforcer for decades attacking him from behind to take him out because Palpatine forgot that he has empathy and precognition and that Luke is Anakin's only connection to the reason he turned to the dark side to seemingly take him out, but in Legends, he just came back a few years later more powerful than ever and easily corrupts Luke (though at least he's now able to lose a lightsaber duel, due to his decaying clones bodies.) Meanwhile, in the finale of the third trilogy and the entire Skywalker Saga, he turns out to have come back from the dead with little explanation beyond the fact that he has access to cloning technology and forbidden Sith knowledge. The heroes don't seem to show any disbelief that Palpatine is not only alive but has also been pulling the strings from the shadows during the third trilogy, just as he always has been. There's almost a sense that his status as galactic-scale puppetmaster was somehow so inevitable that death merely slowed him down.
  • In John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars, the eponymous ghosts are just that — intangible ghosts, who possess humans to interact with them. The spirits can't be killed by any known means (they even tried a nuclear detonation, which did nothing), which means that if their host is destroyed they'll just move on to the next body. The movie dances around this issue by setting up the all-out battle to occur after the story's events, but it's impossible to maintain any hope for the surviving characters because victory is ultimately impossible.
  • The zombies in the first three Return of the Living Dead are essentially a similar concept done right. Yes, they are universally hostile. Yes, they as as intelligent as they were before death. Yes, they're shown to be almost completely unkillable, save complete immolation (though in the first film doing this only allowed the trioxid to spread further). However, it helps that they're mostly comedic villains, and their hunger for brains prevents them from thinking rationally in most situations, allowing the highly resourceful protagonists to frequently (albeit temporarily) incapacitate them through various forms of dismemberment. And though they appear to win in the original film, this was mostly due to the military's blunders, and the first sequel retcons this, and gives them a new weakness in electricity.
  • The Final Destination movies teeter back and forth as to whether the heroes can actually win, but this theme consistently shows up in every entry. They're explicitly fighting Death, a presumably eternal force of nature. Every plan the heroes have made involves evading or hiding from Death and have only occasionally been successful and temporarily at that; destroying or defeating it for good is never presented as an option.
  • Paul and Peter in both versions of Funny Games are well aware that they are in a movie, and that they win at the end. They can anticipate every move you make, only keeping you alive long enough for the film to reach feature length, and even if you do manage to squeeze out a victory, they have the ability to rewind their own movie with a TV remote and undo what you've done.
  • In the Mouth of Madness is solidly in this territory. The villain Sutter Cane is the author figure of the entire movie, and just makes any changes he wants to the story no matter how implausible or crushing to the protagonist's goals. Trent never stood a chance of defeating him; he's just words in Cane's imagination. The meanest part is that not even Only the Author Can Save Them Now applies here (except out-of-universe). Cane is both the villain and the author, and won't save Trent from ceasing to exist when the story ends.
  • The Tall Man from the Phantasm films. No matter what our heroes do, he will always come back for them, often pulling a new power out of his ass in the process. The series is designed to feel like a nightmare, and every nightmare needs a guy whom you can never hope to defeat and can only stay ahead of for a bit. Even if you do manage to kill him, a copy of him will almost instantly appear where the previous one died. He's actually an evil entity from another dimension who is using an old man it killed as an avatar to enter our world. It has also made copies of its host so it can keep coming back. There are tens of thousands of them. The only ways to permanently defeat him would be to kill all of his copies (and considering how hard it is to kill just one, that would be nigh impossible), use the dimensional gate to travel to his dimension to try and destroy his true form, or travel back in time to stop the gate from being used to bring him into our world (almost pulled off at one point but ultimately failed).
  • Matt "Maniac Cop" Cordell of the film series of the same name pushes this even by 80's slasher villain standards. He seems to have the same unexplained powers as Jason Voorhees (super strong, Immune to Bullets, undead), but is also quite intelligent and tactical, capable of using guns, driving cars, and framing others for his killings. These things together, not even Bruce Campbell or Tom Atkins last long, and at the end of each film the best the surviving heroes can do is survive for a few days longer or give him what he wants. One character even explicitly states that all the cops in the world can't stop Cordell, even though you'd think bodily dismemberment or blowing him to giblets would still be viable options.
  • John "Jigsaw" Kramer from the Saw franchise. He always wins, and gets away with his crimes. Even when he gets killed, he still wins.
  • Mick Taylor from the Wolf Creek films. In both films he kills several people, does not get hurt much, and winds up a Karma Houdini.
  • Bill Williamson, Crazy-Prepared Chessmaster Creator's Pet Villain Protagonist from Uwe Boll's Rampage trilogy plays this straight as a bloody arrow. In both films, his titular rampages go exactly according to plan, and he kills nearly a hundred innocents per film with out even a scratch, and gets away Scott-free by either a Frame-Up or by faking his death. In his defense, most of his victims are unarmed civilians who can't fight back, but even when the authorities do manage to engage him, his homemade Kevlar suit and Bottomless Magazines make him pretty much unbeatable. The closest anyone came to landing a blow on him was in the first film, where a civilian tackled him from behind and called to the others to help him disarm Williamson, but this scene just serves to show why such a tactic wouldn't work, as Bill somehow manages to slit the man's throat with an army knife we saw him equip earlier and gun down the the other civvies in retaliation, even though the man was on his back, and Bill was in a physically constraining Kevlar suit. Subverted in the final movie where he once again takes out loads of FBI and SWAT personnel who've come to apprehend or take out someone who's by then become the biggest mass murderer in American history, but he finally bites it at the end.
  • The future Sentinels from X-Men: Days of Future Past. The only way to truly stop them (and the main plot of the film) is to attempt to rewrite history so that they were never created to begin with. Interestingly, the film also features an Invincible Hero: Quicksilver. Though they do not meet each other due to existing in different time lines.
  • Pick any Villain-Based Franchise, the Foregone Conclusion that the villain will appear in their respective films' sequels makes them inevitably this. No matter what the protagonists do, the bad guy(s) will always either come out on top, or live to torment the protagonists another day. Examples include: Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees (easily the most prolific of them all and the worst offender), Hannibal Lecter, Michael Myers, etc.
  • The South Korean film Kundo Age of the Rampant has a pretty blatant example in the person of antagonist Jo Yoon. Even though the kundo bandits are shown to be powerful warriors, Jo Yoon is completely untouchable in every single scene, slaughtering tens of warriors by himself largely without effort, often in a single sword-swing. The closest to a hit being landed on him for most of the film is the loss of his topknot (and even that doesn't make much of an impression, since he has one immediately afterwards) and a single cut on his cheek from his dying father. He is naturally gifted and destined to be awesome. Being a complete Smug Snake doesn't make him any more enjoyable. At least you get to enjoy a Western-inspired instance of Gatling Good.
  • The mirror in Oculus accounts for everything that the main protagonists set up to destroy it, and uses the anchor fail-safe to kill one and frame the other.
  • Kayako Saeki from The Grudge. Once you've been affected by her curse, it's not a matter of if you'll die, but when and how horrible your death will be. The underlying theme of the films is that there is no way to stop her curse. It's only a matter of time before it takes your life. Attempting to hide or seek help will only spread the curse farther. Also, Kayako and her son Toshiro can attack you from virtually anywhere.
  • The villain in the supernatural slasher Tell Me How I Die is an advanced precog who can flawlessly see months into the future. He's always at least five steps ahead of the main characters, and although some of his victims definitely deserved their fate, his killing spree goes off without a hitch and he escapes before the police can find him. Even when the heroine acquires precognitive abilities of her own in order to predict his moves, he still outperforms her.
  • Played with in Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos has been hyped up as a universal threat since the first Avengers movie and he does not disappoint onscreen, his first act of the film even being that he utterly destroys the ship that were holding Thor, Hulk, Loki and the Asgard refugees who were just coming off the events of Thor: Ragnarok. The former two are beaten handily and it just got worse from there any time someone challenges him. Granted there were moments the heroes do wound him, particularly the battle on Titan, but it took an insane amount of teamwork to even come close due to the fact Thanos had most of the gems by that point. But once Thanos gains the fourth gem, this comes into full effect. All the heroes fighting in Wakanda get brushed aside like nothing, Scarlet Witch destroying Vision and his gem yields nothing because Thanos can rewind time by that point, and even when Thor finally arrives and goes for a killing blow, Thanos still survives and manages to carry out his plan and wipe out half of the life in the universe. And even despite all of that, Strange had stated that, through a meditation spell to look through 14 million timelines, there was only one possible way to beat him. So this whole outcome was the best solution. Ironically though come Avengers: Endgame, Thanos gets subdued by the Avengers and killed in first twenty minutes of the movie after being this trope previously albeit he is already severely weakened by using the Gauntlet to destroy the stones anyway so it can't even be called a satisfying victory. Of course, then his stronger and more violent past-self shows up, pissed right off that this insolent little planet eventually took him out and dared to undo his life's work — and even if he loses, it's after the most epic battle in the whole film series so far and was a Near-Villain Victory..

  • 1984 makes it abundantly clear that Big Brother and The Party are this. While theoretically they could be toppled by a rebellion among the proles, organizing such a rebellion would be virtually impossible, and their control of the flow of information is so tight that even for the people to know life would be better without them is impossible. And even if the regime was toppled in one of the three nations, there are still two more to attack the newly freed nation...
  • The Lincoln Rhyme series relies heavily on these to fill out pages. Count the number of times Lincoln nearly closes in on the villain only for him or her to find a way to slip away unscathed, or for it to be revealed that it was all an elaborate ruse to distract Lincoln and the cops from the villain's real target / goal, or for the story to jump forward and reveal that they had their eyes on the wrong guy while the villain escaped in disguise, etc, etc.
  • The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To has the in-universe example of The Man. The boys seem to think he's just straight Rule of Awesome, but it would be very hard for them to keep future readers of their comic from assuming that only the authors could possibly kill him, as he literally has no weaknesses.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign has the White Queen, the most powerful being in the setting. She almost inevitably wins any fight; she's only defeated by somehow turning her own power against her or by making use of hundreds of Unexplored-Class Materials (each of which is more powerful than any god). Even if she's destroyed in battle, she can never be permanently killed. Kyousuke can generally foil her individual plans, but this doesn't matter to her. Because she's in love with him, any opportunity to see him is its own reward. And being immortal, she has literally all the time in the world for one of her plans to succeed.
  • Blood Meridian has a possibly literal example in Judge Holden. While it's never made entirely clear what's going on with him, his unusual appearance, apparent ability to be in more than one place at a time, unnatural skills of persuasion,and physical strength well beyond what seems appropriate even for someone his size (at one point he one-hand's a Howitzer) suggest that he is likely some sort of Humanoid Abomination. One character tells another not to be an idiot when he suggests killing the Judge, after seeing what Holden is capable of. The last line of the book is a description of the victorious Judge dancing naked in a bar, loudly declaring that he will never die.
  • This is a defining characteristic of most of the gods and cosmic horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos, as the entire point of the setting is that humanity is ultimately doomed and powerless to change our fate. If any author writes a story in which Cthulhu or Nyarlathotep are actually defeated, instead of just stalled or evaded, they are most certainly doing it wrong.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: You do not beat the Senior Partners, and if you do, it doesn't last. You can win a hundred little victories against them, but in the end none of them really matter. You can foil any schemes their employees or clients cook up, you can kill their minions and destroy their power base, but they'll just come back. They were here thousands of years before you were born and they'll be here long after you're dust. You can't stop them, you can't hurt them and you certainly can't kill them. All you can ever hope to do is momentarily inconvenience them. And if you somehow manage to do that (and it won't be easy), there will be consequences. This is a deliberate intent on the part of the writers. A major theme of the show is that even if evil can't ever be finally defeated, it can only be delayed or held off, fighting back against it is absolutely the right thing to do.
  • Arrow:
    • Malcolm Merlyn has basically become this, because he's always one step ahead of Oliver Queen. In Season 1, every time Oliver faced his Black Arrow alter ego in one-on-one combat, he lost. Oliver is able to stop Merlyn's master plan of destroying the Glades, but not before most of the zone gets destroyed anyway. Malcolm is able to fake his death in Season 2 and get to know his biological daughter Thea. During season 3, Malcolm is able to continue scheming behind the scenes and manipulate Oliver to the point that by the end of the season, Malcolm takes over the League of Assassins after Oliver killed Ra's al Ghul. It's generally subverted in season four when he agrees to allow Sara's revival, causing Nyssa to destroy the Lazarus Pit. Nyssa then challenges Malcolm for leadership, but Oliver fights in her stead, cutting off Malcolm's hand. Nyssa then disbands the League, causing Malcolm to swear vengeance. He ends up helping free Darhk from prison, resulting in Laurel's death. After Darhk is killed by Oliver, Malcolm is recruited by Eobard Thawne and Darhk from The '80s to be a part of what would be known as the Legion of Doom.
    • Nearly every Big Bad on Arrow is this to some degree, at least combat-wise. Slade had the Mirakuru, making him superhuman on top of already being a skilled enough combatant to match Oliver without it. Ra's al Ghul was the World's Best Warrior and Oliver had to get training from Ra's himself in order to beat him. Darhk had magic from a totem, arguably making him the most dangerous of them all. The only aversion so far is Season Five Big Bad Prometheus, who is more-or-less on even keel with Oliver physically and a little less skill-wise (which is still dangerous enough to anyone that isn't Oliver or a meta). Instead, his most dangerous asset is his ability to manipulate people and events to his desired outcome: psychological torture.
  • Nukus from Big Bad Beetle Borgs started out as the Outside-Context Problem variant of this; as soon as he brought to life, he proves savvy enough to destroy the Beetle Borgs' weaponry, leaving them gradually losing. When they finally defeated the invincible monster he created to fight them, it turns out he let them do it so he could get rid of the actual villains and take over as the new Big Bad. He then proceeds to deliver a Curb-Stomp Battle to the protagonists, obliterating their powers, and transforms the one who gave them power into ice. Of course, once the protagonists got new powers and he became the new Big Bad, he lost this status and ended up defeated on a regular basis.
  • Blake's 7: Servalan almost always ran circles around Blake and his Rebels. Most of the time, she left them holding the bag after playing them too. She also survives the series finale. The alleged heroes don't.
  • The Bold and the Beautiful, like many other soap operas, uses this trope frequently. "Dollar" Bill Spencer (Commonly written as "$Bill") has committed an overwhelming amount of crimes in his (almost) 10 year tenure on the show, but he has yet to be arrested or convicted for any of them- more times than not, because of his wealth and influence. From paying off journalists to write bad reviews that will benefit his company, to arson, and so many more things, Bill seems to be an unstoppable force of amorality.
  • Pelant from Bones is turning into this. He can pretty much hack any system he wants, change whatever records he wants, stop traffic, fake video footage, block cell phone signals, and kill anyone he wants at any time. With these abilities from a computer, it seems the writers have made his character so powerful of a threat, the team simply cannot defeat him and any defeat would come at Pelant's own mistake, which according to his character, seems impossible. Ultimately that's exactly what happens, as he overestimates his own importance. He honestly believes that Brennan values his intelligence over Booth's life. He's wrong.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Throughout Season 5, most of Glory's encounters with the Scoobies end in her favor, with the Scoobies forced to retreat. By the time of "Spiral," when Glory finally discovers that Dawn is the Key, Buffy shocks her friends by declaring that they'll never be able to defeat her, and now that she knows who the Key is, they have no choice but to leave Sunnydale or die.
    • The First Evil, being a non-corporeal Ultimate Evil, fits the bill. In "Showtime," Beljoxa's Eye claims outright that the First cannot be fought or killed. It has been around since before the universe came into existence, and will continue to exist long after everything else is dead.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • The show occasionally has some absurdly victorious killers, such as in the episodes "North Mammon" and "Mr. Scratch". In both episodes, the BAU can't even figure out their identities — let alone track them down — until after they've succeeded in their sprees anyway, and they even get to Go Out with a Smile upon being arrested. In particular, Mr. Scratch's plan depended on Fantastic Drugs that don't actually exist in real life.
    • On a larger scale, we have Arc Villain Frank Breitkopf from "No Way Out" and "No Way Out II: The Evilution of Frank". He's unbreakably charming, he's Crazy-Prepared, he keeps outwitting the BAU, his Villainous Breakdown is downplayed Tranquil Fury instead of satisfying outrage, he's never actually punished (instead dying on his own terms), and his lasting influence even sends Gideon (the original Big Good, no less) over the Despair Event Horizon and causes him to leave the BAU forever.
  • The Alliance from Firefly already won the Great Offscreen War before the series began. Mal and our intrepid heroes may win short-term victories on a small scale by pulling off this heist or evading that patrol, but at the end of the day, the Alliance will remain in power and the Browncoats will remain a historical footnote. The best Our Heroes can hope for is to fly far enough under the radar to continue to live their lives the way they want. This may have been subverted as of The Movie; it's unclear whether the PR nightmare that the revelation of the Reavers' origins represents will be enough to do any lasting damage to the Alliance' moral authority. Given its at least somewhat democratic structure, it's theoretically possible for everyone directly involved to be replaced without harming the overall political structure at all.
  • A The Flash (2014)/Arrow crossover introduces Vandal Savage, a 4000-year-old immortal, who is also extremely adept at using knives, whose skills put even Barry and Oliver to shame (that's right, Barry might have Super Speed, but Vandal's millennia of training make even him barely able to keep up). In fact, in one timeline, Savage manages to kill most of the heroes and destroy Central City. Fortunately, Barry's time-meddling results in Savage being burned to ashes by his own weapon. You think this stopped him? Not according to Legends of Tomorrow, where Savage is revealed to be able to regenerate From a Single Cell. In fact, the spin-off's entire first season is dedicated to trying to stop Savage in multiple time periods, with the heroes usually failing. It turns out that the Time Masters themselves were helping Savage and manipulating the team in order to stop a future Alien Invasion. Eventually, Savage is only stopped because his plan for unraveling time itself has a side effect of turning him mortal again, allowing him to be killed. Season 2 has the Legion of Doom, a trio composed of Eobard Thawne, Damien Darhk, and Malcolm Merlyn (with Rip being temporarily turned evil by Thawne's memory manipulation, thus becoming a fourth member). While Darhk and Merlyn are perfectly killable, especially since this is Darhk from The '80s (i.e. before he learned magic), they still have their League of Assassins training. Meanwhile, Thawne is practically unstoppable, since there are no speedsters among the Legends (and no one things to use the cold gun on him), except he himself is on the run from the Black Flash (ex-Zoom), so he can only pop in for quick visits.
  • The second season of The Flash (2014) has Zoom, a speedster much more powerful and skilled than Barry. Their first encounter ends with Barry paralyzed from the waist down (he gets better thanks to his Healing Factor), after Zoom counters Barry's every move and proves to be a skilled fighter to boot (it helps that Zoom was the one who taught Barry one of those moves in the first place using his "Jay Garrick" persona). Barry spends the whole season working on his speed and skills just to get to Zoom's level (which is precisely what Zoom wants, since his end goal is to steal Barry's speed, so he's really just "fattening him up"). Just as Barry manages to become faster thanks to Time Travel and the Reverse-Flash's help, Zoom uses good old-fashioned kidnapping to force Barry to give up his speed. Barry manages to get his speed back, but it's not until the season finale that he becomes able to actually best Zoom in combat. Then comes season 3, and Barry has to face Savitar, a self-described god of speed, who is so fast he appears to be teleporting from place to place. There is really nothing Barry can do against him directly. Their first fight after Savitar breaks free from his prison does have Barry landing a few punches and actually hurting Savitar, but the fight still ends with him being nearly killed.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Five seasons and nothing but increasingly unlikely victories for Ramsay. This guy may as well be despair in human form — if he doesn't somehow win himself, his psychologically broken or nearly as despicable cronies will make sure things still go his way. The first thing that can be considered a loss for him (outside of succession issues) is Theon and Sansa escaping Winterfell in the Season 5 finale, but he obviously wasn't around to intervene. He can even kill the Warden of the North (his own father, Roose Bolton) in his own chamber, in front of his bannerman and a Maester, and then kill the Warden's wife and newborn son in a public setting without any trouble. His villainy never backfires on him, and in fact he easily crushes the combined forces of the Northerners and Wildlings rallying against him during the Battle of the Bastards. It takes thousands of knights pouring in from the Vale literally out of nowhere to defeat him, which he had absolutely no way of planning for.
    • Cersei Lannister has since taken the mantle of "character who most needs to die horribly" from the departed Ramsay. Everything constantly ends up going her way through her intricate and often implausibly lucky planning, and even the temporary setbacks — like being forced into a walk of condemnation through the streets of King's Landing — never really end up giving her any lasting trouble. Even Daenerys' long-awaited invasion of Westeros, when it finally comes, gets called off before Cersei can be dethroned, due to the looming threat of the White Walkers and their army from the North. And as of the end of Season 7, she is plotting to raise a mercenary army (with suddenly revealed funds that are an Ass Pull in their own right) and then backstab the Targaryen-Stark alliance when they are at their most vulnerable. This plan finally costs her brother Jaime's loyalties.
      • This is theorized to have occurred due to the Adapted Out character of "Aegon VI", the allegedly still alive son of Rhaegar Targaryen. The end of the fifth book and released preview chapters from the sixth book imply that he will have taken the throne from the much despised Cersei and will be the one opposing Daenerys when she finally arrives on Westeros against a much more united kingdom. Removing him from the story, however, has put the writers in a bind where they have showed that Cersei has angered every one of the kingdoms, destroyed the main temple of the most prominent Westerosi religion, violated numerous taboos, and all in all should be able to count her loyal supporters on one hand with fingers to spare. However, as the main villain, she still has to remain a credible threat to actually give Dany something of a challenge in the series, the plot bends over backwards to give her lucky breaks.
    • There is definitely a tendency in the show to give Adaptational Intelligence to many of the more evil characters to give the audience someone to root against. The books the show is based on almost always have the more evil characters having a significant role in their own downfall due to their villainy. Joffrey, Ramsay, Walder Frey, Cersei and more appall so many people that there are many conspiracies to kill and/or overthrow them. Interestingly, Varys and (to a lesser extent) Littlefinger both conspire to keep Cersei in power for the time being because her incompetence and brutal nature work to the betterment of their own plans.
  • Hannibal Lecter from Hannibal. The result of the writers pulling The Bad Guy Wins one too many times. A chessmaster highly skilled in manipulation (and playing Xanatos Speed Chess), he flawlessly plays everyone like a fiddle in the series, up to and including everyone who knows he is the Chesapeake Ripper. To make it worse, he always gets away with his crimes. In the Season one finale "Savoureux", he successfully frames the protagonist Will Graham for his murders. And in the Season two finale “Mizumono”, he manages to beat Jack in hand-to-hand combat and grievously wound him, have Alana pushed out of a window by Abigail Hobbs (who he secretly kept alive all season), gut Will Graham, and then cut Abigail's throat. He then makes his escape, leaving all four of them to their gruesome fates. The last shot of the season is him on a plane out of the country. This time it is, at least, a bitter victory; he was very hurt by Will's "betrayal" or he wouldn't have reacted so violently. That being said, the final season revokes all of this, as he is violently beaten by Jack, arrested and humiliated by the police, and ultimately implied to die at Will's hand in the end.
  • Sylar from Heroes. He kills numerous people, usually minor characters, over multiple seasons; and despite being mortally stabbed (twice), getting completely incinerated, having his entire brain overwritten, etc. he still keeps coming back, usually with even more powers, to terrorize the rest of the cast.
    • Arthur Petrelli takes this Up to Eleven. While he's around, he's able to overpower Sylar effortlessly, as well as killing off nearly every major baddie the show had cultivated up to that point. Realizing their mistake, the writers deemed him Too Powerful to Live and had the three most powerful non-Arthur characters come together to kill him for good. Embodies this trope to a much greater degree than Sylar, because Sylar's rise to godhood occurred over the course of the series and stemmed from his own determinator persistence and cleverness; Arthur's ascent occurred offscreen and before the main storyline, and comes without any real emotional baggage, so there's no sense that he was ever particularly vulnerable.
  • Kamen Rider Build has Evolt. He's so powerful that he could easily crush all the heroes right from the start. However, he hides his full power and only uses enough to challenge the heroes because he needs them alive for his plans. Said plans are that his power is actually greatly diminished from what they actually could be, and he wants to trick both the heroes and the villains into helping him restore his true power so that he can destroy the world. By the time the heroes start catching up to him, that's when he gets the first key to getting that power: the Evol Driver, which allows him to become Kamen Rider Evol. From there, his power grows dramatically as the pieces of his years-long plan begin to fall into place, to the point that the next few episodes are pretty much the heroes struggling to try and catch up with him only for him to get even more powerful. It's only when Build gets his Super Mode that the heroes can even pose a challenge to him at full power, and even then it's still an uphill battle.
  • Kanzaki Shirou from Kamen Rider Ryuki, since his main plan is to make sure the titular Kamen Riders fight each other, he's effectively getting what he wants for most of the series, and even if they refuse to fight, his plans only require riders to die, whether from fighting each other or outside circumstances. As he's a ghost, it also means directly challenging him is impossible, and any time he does feel the need to do something himself he sends his avatar Kamen Rider Odin, who far outclasses the other riders and only loses a couple of fights due to him getting careless, and Kanzaki can just send out replacements for him if he's killed. In the end, the only thing that stops him is coming to grips with Yui being opposed to his plans.
  • Leverage: Sterling. Never. Loses. The best the con artist team can manage is misdirection. Or arranging that the easiest way for him to win will also help them. The team's entire approach works by isolating the ways in which their targets are in conflict with the greater system (the law, the government, societial expectations) and getting them identified and rejected by it. Sterling isn't an especially nice person, and he's usually doing at least mildly nasty things for fairly mercenary reasons, but he's an integral part of the system being everything it expects of him. Thus within the context of the series he's exactly what they can't beat.
  • The Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation started out as this in their first few appearances; their technology was simply more advanced than that of The Federation to the point where Starfleet's ships stood no chance in combat against theirs, and they usually ignored any attempts to speak to or negotiate with them. They did go through Villain Decay, though, and later encounters had their threat level end up as "extremely dangerous but definitely not invulnerable".
  • Andre Linoge from the 3-part Storm of the Century miniseries. By his own admission, Linoge is dying and his Evil Plan revolves around that fact, but that's cold comfort for the people of Little Tall Island as from the start of the series to its conclusion, the townspeople are utterly incapable of stopping him and whatever action they do take {such as locking him in a prison cell that he clearly could have escaped at any moment) is solely because he lets them. (And he gets a sick kick out of screwing with them).
  • It's common place in Super Sentai to have some henchmen or Big Bad who goes out and hands repeated defeats to the titular team, though never kills them for whatever reason, before the team eventually gets strong to beat them. For the most part the trope works since the defeats mostly inconvenience the heroes. The other case where it tends to occur is if it's a Sixth Ranger who starts off as a villain for whatever reason before joining the team, to show off how badass they are before joining, which tends to lead to a Redemption Demotion to avoid them becoming a Spotlight-Stealing Squad. Whether or not their story arc works tends to vary.
  • Anna on V (2009). This is even lampshaded by Erica. No matter what the Fifth Column does, Anna always comes out on top. Either through Diabolus ex Machina or just good PR, every supposed win they've had is thrown right back in their faces. Manages to go Up to Eleven in the season 2 finale. The Fifth Column decides to take out Anna. Result? Anna uses Bliss on pretty much all of humanity; the Fifth Column is basically defeated; Diana, Tyler, and Ryan are dead; and the queen egg hatches to replace Lisa. This was all the writers got to before the show was Cut Short.
  • Warehouse 13 seasonal villains are prone to this. They typically outwit or outfight the heroes at every turn, always have some artifact that can effortlessly capture, paralyse or otherwise neutralise the heroes whenever they get cornered, and in the end they either lose by Deus Ex Machina or by getting stabbed in the back by next season's villain to show that he or she is even tougher. Especially noticeable in season four, when Artie turns out to be the villain and suddenly turns from competent but fallible to completely unstoppable.
  • The X-Files: The Cigarette Smoking Man survived things no human being ought to have survived, and repeatedly came out on top with Mulder and Scully once again discredited and humiliated. Even though he apparently dies definitively in an airstrike, he still has the last laugh when he gets to tell Mulder and Scully that the alien invasion is scheduled for 2012. The new miniseries set in 2016, revealed the Smoking Man somehow survived the airstrike and the next 15 years and is still in control of everything while smoking from a tracheotomy hole in his neck.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Hindu Mythology: Many Asuras tried to invoke this in vain. They would perform austerities for several millennia and obtain boons from Lord Brahma. They would first request immortality from Brahma who would deny it since he is himself not immortal. So the Asuras would ask to be killed in the most improbable/impossible situation. Naturally the gods (usually Vishnu) would find loopholes in the boon and generate the situation where the Asura would be killed. Some of these situations were:
    • To not be killed during day or night, by man or animal, or by an armed or unarmed opponent. (The Asura was killed at evening, by Vishnu as half-man half-lion, with claws).
    • To not be harmed by a weapon that is either dry or wet. (The Asura was killed by sea foam).
    • To be killed by a woman (the Asura presumed that women were weak and lacked combat ability. He was killed by the War Goddess Durga).
    • To not be killed by any of the races in the universe except humans (Ravan thought that if the gods couldn't defeat him, humans obviously didn't have a chance. Then Ramayana happened).
  • Egyptian Mythology has the dreaded primordial serpent of chaos, Apep (or Apophis in its Greek translation), who sought to reduce the entire universe into a void. The benevolent god of light, Ra, can destroy Apep as many times as he likes, but thanks to its Resurrective Immortality, the serpent always comes back good as new. Should Apep win, all light and life will be annihilated.

  • The NFL's New England Patriots during the era of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. After the "Spygate" incident during the 2007 season, the Patriots were disciplined for videotaping the New York Jets' football signals with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ruling that it was a violation of league rules and fair play; the NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and the Patriots $250,000, and took away their first round draft pick. In the long run, this proved to be ineffective, when after missing the 2008 playoffs, they would win the #1 conference seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs in 2010 (14-2), 2011 (13-3), 2014 (12-4) where they defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, 2016 (14-2) where they made a second half comeback to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime, and 2017 where they held on to the #1 seed en route to Super Bowl LII, only to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33. Ultimately averted in 2020-2021, where, having lost Tom Brady (who had gone to the Buccaneers and proved to be exactly as useful as a 43-year-old man in a young man's sport usually is), they collapsed and missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In the territorial days, promoters sometimes used Invincible Villain gimmicks to push physically larger, stronger wrestlers as unstoppable. The storylines were usually formulaic: The heel would systematically beat down a series of jobbers, before easily defeating any of the low- to mid-card wrestlers and then several of the highlight wrestlers... all of them being completely one-sided matches where the villain would not so much as flinch against even the most powerful blows their foes tried. This, naturally, would eventually set up a confrontation between the lead babyface wrestlers (especially if he were champion) or, during the territorial days, a "special appearance from André the Giant," who would ultimately find a weakness in this wrestler and hand him a loss.
  • Before the end of the Detroit territory, the original Sheik was this to anyone who was not Rooting for the Empire.
  • In the summer of 1989, the WWF (as WWE was then known) pushed Tiny Lister Jr.'s No Holds Barred character Zeus as an unstoppable, undefeatable villain who posed a genuine threat not only to Hulk Hogan's World Championship, but Hogan's well-being as well. This was done without the (apparent) benefit of putting Zeus in a series of squash matches against jobbers and low-carders on TV (to build Zeus' in-ring persona and get his moveset over) ... but eventually, the trope became averted.
  • The Undertaker rode a heavily hyped 21-year win streak at WrestleMania, despite no one really believing he'll lose.note  Memes have been made about him being beaten by the least likely person. Of course, the "villain" part only applies due to his angle and whenever he's a Heel (which he hadn't been from 2003 until 2016, when he became The Authority's hired gun to battle Shane McMahon for (kayfabe) control of the WWE). He was at his most insufferably invincible during his "Big Evil" phase in late 2001-2002. Throughout this time period he would go through a series of extremely one sided feuds that involved him beating the piss out of whatever babyface unfortunate enough to get in his way and getting away with it.
  • For a couple years after being recognized both in-story and out as Vince McMahon's son-in-law, Triple H could never lose a major match. Thanks to being part of Vince's family, "Trips" is pretty squarely heel, though occasionally a lesser of two evils. Triple H actually turned Face shortly after WrestleMania 22 in 2006 all the way until SummerSlam 2013, and was actually an Invincible Hero during that period of time instead.
  • The New World Order faction in WCW was a notable example of an entire group of invincible villains. This was especially evident in the group's early days, where the nWo would frequently run roughshod over their WCW foes and episodes of WCW Monday Nitro would end with the nWo triumphant more often than not.
  • In 2012, John Laurinaitis (who was Senior Vice President of Talent Relations in the WWE) became the GM of Raw and SmackDown, and before the interim GM of Raw. The issue with his character wasn't that he didn't play it well (he did), but that, as a heel GM, it seemed no one could ever outsmart him, and his character nearly took over the show, getting more air time than some of the wrestlers combined. It got so bad that Vince's "firing" of John at No Way Out was welcome because someone FINALLY was able to outsmart him, despite their appreciation for how well John played the role. This is because a heel boss usually only works if some wrestlers, preferably baby faces, are able to outsmart them, such as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin finding a way around Vince's stacking the deck at many points during their feud in 99. Vince seemed to have things work, but Austin found a way around it. This hasn't been the case with some of the more recent heel GMs that the WWE has put out there, where it might take months for any heel GM to get their comeuppance due to them either being way too smart, having way too many allies, or just being on TV way too long during a show. However, heel GMs (Laurinaitis, especially), as well as some other heels, when they finally get beat, might draw some Fan Dumb from fans who insist that a character has been ruined, or that the WWE did something awful because they lost a battle if they like something about the character to a fault.
  • The Authority seemed to teeter on this. Most believe the angle was only around because the WWE writers didn't really have any other major heel stables to work with, and for the few weeks right after Summerslam 2013, it did seem like they were becoming that (how many shows in a row did we really have to see Daniel Bryan get beat up the exact same way to end the show before we got the point?).
    • This was right when just about everyone thought that the WWE was booking Bryan extremely weakly, and the heel wrestler in the angle was Randy Orton, who hasn't always been the best person outside of kayfabe.
    • The explicit leaders of the Authority, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon both dove headfirst into this; especially Stephanie. They almost always came out on top in whatever they were doing and anything that seemed like it would or should finally defeat them or at least get them off TV would only turn out to be a minor setback and be completely undone within a few weeks. While Triple H is willing to put over other guys in matches (like Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 30 and The Shield in the months after that) he still defeated Sting in his WWE debut match. Stephanie was much worse about it, since she always made others look like fools (even her own allies) if they annoyed her in any way and, since her attention was almost exclusively aimed at the male roster, nobody was allowed to physically retaliate against her the way it normally would be in a wrestling setting, but were almost never allowed to come out on top against her with words either.
    • Despite being made to look like a weak, sniveling, pathetic coward outside of matches, Seth Rollins ultimately fits the bill of an Invincible Villain. Much like the other members of the Authority, he pretty much always wins, and on the off-chance he loses, chances are there will be a rematch where Rollins wins and gets the last laugh over whatever Babyface stood in his way (prime examples being Dean Ambrose, John Cena, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar). His WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign ended prematurely due to an injury, but upon his return, he was immediately thrust back into the top Heel role and within a month, defeated Roman Reigns (who is often labeled a boring invincible hero) clean to win the title back (though he ended up losing it to Dean Ambrose minutes later thanks to Money in the Bank). Later, he was made the very first pick in the 2016 Draft. As the Monday Night Messiah he continues to do things "for the greater good" and generally wins his feuds.
    • The Shield in general was this during their first months of existence. They would frequently interfere in both matches containing their members and matches containing other wrestlers, and rarely ever got any real punishment, as the matches would usually be thrown out as a result of their antics. However, for some reason, fans still liked them despite all this. Eventually, it came out that they were under the Authority’s orders, but just when it looked like they could be the ones to stop them, Rollins betrayed the group and disbanded it.
  • While generally Invincible Villain gimmicks are legitimately used to push Monster Heels, there have been times where the trope was grossly misused or misapplied. One famous example was the WWF's Saturday Night's Main Event in 1988, where Mr. Fuji promised viewers that his latest find, the Super Ninja, would not only defeat the Ultimate Warrior for the Intercontinental Championship, he would virtually destroy him ... all while Super Ninja acts like a Stone Wall and doesn't so much as even flinch at Warrior's most powerful moves. Of course, Warrior turned that trick right around and destroyed Super Ninja (a masked Rip Oliver, of the Pacific Northwest Wrestling league, who from time to time served as a jobber to WWF wrestlers) and foiled Fuji's plans for world domination ... at least in the world of the WWF.
  • TNA's director of wrestling operations MVP after his Face–Heel Turn. He was free to pit World Heavyweight Champion Eric Young in as many hopeless matches as he saw fit, in order to soften him up for what MVP considered to be an inevitable title victory at the next pay per view, silencing any dissent among the baby faces with suspensions, unwanted matches, or simply not allowing them to be booked. His momentum ended up being halted by his own knee injury, which just resulted him throwing all his power behind Bobby Lashley, which in turn led to MVP losing his power thanks to a Deus ex Machina called the Board of Directors, allowing Lashley to become champion but also giving Bobby some vulnerability, despite MVP's claims to the contrary.
  • Because of her status as a Creator's Pet, Charlotte Flair received a lot of accomplishments from the moment of her debut including having a rather long win-lose record (to the point she was undefeated in single matches for sixteen PPVs), is rarely pinned in non-single matches that she didn't win, becoming the only woman to win all single Woman's Championship (with the exception of the original Women's Championship) and breaking Trish Stratus' record of most Women's Championship won by a woman faster than it took Trish to earn that record, ended Asuka's 914-undefeated streak and even defeating Trish Stratus herself. In fact, the only people who actually defeated her in single matches (at least on-screen) are Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax and Carmella. Being the daughter of one of the company's greatest legends sure has its privileges.
  • Brock Lesnar is built as the most dominant Wrestling Monster the company ever has. In less than a year, he already defeated three of WWE's legends and won his first WWE Championship in 5 months. He destroys everyone in his way and at the end of his first run in the company, he only lost five times. After returning in 2012, Lesnar is still a force to be reckoned, among other things holding the Universal Championship for 504 days (the longest world championship reign since Hulk Hogan's first reign although he didn't compete as frequently), ended The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania and becoming the first person to defeat Goldberg cleanly as well as the secondnote  to kick out of the Jackhammer.

  • In Pokémon Live!, MechaMew2 wins every battle it participates in until the very end, meaning it defeated at least 250 trainers offscreen. It takes Mewtwo to stop it by using Ash's memories to give it knowledge of right and wrong, causing it to become sentient and blow itself up to stop Giovanni's plans.


    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts has Xehanort's many selves, each very strong and smart, but Master Xehanort stands out for having the whole series retconned for him more than once. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance takes this Up to Eleven by suddenly giving him Time Travel magic and semi-omniscience over the prior games; even Ansem and Xemnas get Demoted to Dragon to him, as they were following his long-planned schemes all along. He finally loses this status in Kingdom Hearts III when despite becoming as strong as he's ever been, he still ultimately loses to Sora and company. Only for the epilogue to reveal that Xehanort was only a pawn in Xigbar/Luxu's plan to fulfill the mission the Master of Masters gave him. If Sora thought fighting one rogue Keyblade master was a challenge, he's going to have his hands full confronting seven.
  • In Dragonfable, Sepulchure is one of these when he isn't being Orcus on His Throne. His incompetent minions frequently fail at their tasks, but whenever Sepulchure gets directly involved, he wins every battle with ease and makes the Hero of Dragonfable look like a total Failure Hero. Sepulchure never loses until his Villainous Breakdown, which is triggered by Drakath betraying him and stabbing him in the back with his own Doom weapon.
  • While not exceedingly common, a few of these have reared their heads in the Final Fantasy series.
    • Barthandelus from Final Fantasy XIII. The whole ending is you kicking the guy's ass, followed by him gloating that you just played right into his hands. Followed by the heroes proclaiming that they won't let him dictate their fates... before doing exactly what he just said he wanted them to do. Even his eventual defeat happens in the most aggravating way possible, as this is all in service of a plan that's nothing more than a wild stab in the dark to get God's attention and have a little chat. And since the heroes do eventually win, we never find out if it would have actually worked.
    • Caius Ballad from Final Fantasy XIII-2 possesses the Heart of Chaos, which makes him immortal and also connects him to the goddess Etro. If he dies, so does she. This actually happens at the end of the game. Due to him being the overseer of the world's timeline, he has gained vast knowledge of every possible scenario and uses it to his advantage.
      • The Stinger that's shown if you collect all of the fragments reveals that he's still alive, and in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, it turns out that he actually has Complete Immortality, being unable to die as long the souls of countless incarnations of Yeul desire for him to live, and has become a part of the Chaos itself, though having reached his goal, he's now content to simply watch things unfold.
    • Golbez of Final Fantasy IV, which is no surprise when you consider how many Final Fantasy games are already up here. The first time he encounters the party, he effortlessly defeats them in a cutscene. The second time, he shrugs off the most powerful magic in the game turning Tellah's Heroic Sacrifice using the Dangerous Forbidden Technique into a Senseless Sacrifice. Golbez's mind control over Kain isn't even broken at the time, though he has the wits to fake it. The next time, he once more beats the entire party and is about to claim an easy victory until a Big Damn Heroes moment by Rydia. But just when you think his invincibility has run out, nope, he gets away with his real target, the Dwarves' Crystal. In short, not once in the game can the heroes even slow down his evil plans, though you do get to defeat him in a boss battle. In an odd case for this trope, it's shown that one of his Four Archfiends, Rubicante, is actually stronger than he is.
      • He'd later subvert it, though, because when the heroes actually make a dent in the Giant of Babil, he shows up, visibly upset that they ruined his plan... Then Fusoya does something to him to jog his memory... and it turns out Golbez was Brainwashed and Crazy all along, he's actually a good guy! And he's going to help you defeat the Greater-Scope Villain, Zemus! ... He's not so invincible as a good guy and ends up getting one-shot by Zeromus after dealing with Zemus in a cutscene, leaving our heroes to finish the job. This also explains the power discrepancy mentioned above; the Elemental Archfiends were really subservient to Zemus above all, though they do seem to have been genuinely fond of Golbez judging by The After Years.
    • Sin from Final Fantasy X is technically this. While the real villain is Yu Yevon, Sin is the antagonist that the heroes are actually on a quest to defeat. However, every time Sin is defeated by the Final Aeon, Sin returns after an unknown period of time known as "the Calm". Thus, it's impossible for summoners to actually defeat Sin permanently, as Sin is reborn every time, making it a case of Death Is a Slap on the Wrist for Sin.
  • BlazBlue seems to be fond of these types of villains, because all of its known villains are this in some way, shape, or form. Two of them prove to be Not So Invincible After All in Chronophantasma, though.
    • Relius Clover has remained enigmatic in his ability to plan ahead and outfit Ignis accordingly, and while he has little direct impact on the story, it's safe to say that a large portion of the Evil Plan is of his creation. note  Further, while Relius avoids conflict most of the time, almost any time someone fights him, they either get subdued and/or apprehended, or it's time for a Bad Ending. The exception is Valkenhayn, who thrashes him enough to force him to withdraw, but not enough to derail the plan. In Chronophantasma, while Ragna and Noel (followed by Makoto and Tsubaki) help Bang hold off Relius, Litchi and Carl, it isn't until Valkenhayn intervenes that Bang gets to use the Lynchpin and Rettenjou on his terms, effectively scuttling Relius' plans completely and leaving him a broken shell of a man leashed by his own pawns for the sake of saving people he never had any intention of aiding...but in the end, he eventually gets his act together, shows Carl how to see souls and sends him down an even darker path, and then takes off through a Cauldron and out of reach of the heroes.
    • Yuuki Terumi is even more broken, and is nearly completely overwhelming in terms of combat ability, and is unafraid to rub it in the protagonists' faces whenever he can. Further rubbing salt in the wound, every time he has lost in combat it is beneficial to the Evil Plan. Jin on the verge of owning him? He dives into a cauldron to force a reset. Ragna rocks his face in the True Ending? Relius kills Terumi soon after so he can infiltrate Takamagahara. Kokonoe keeps a loaded nuke silo for this? With the Imperator observing him, a number of lifelinks, and Phantom as his exit bus, all that will do is annihilate millions of innocents. Effective Extend, his "invincible" facade rapidly falls apart; Makoto fell into the Wheel of Fortune timeline, eluded Relius' pursuit of her, and obliterated Terumi's plans as collateral damage in Slight Hope, and in Chronophantasma, her actions alongside Jin and Noel, with Kagura and Kokonoe on technical support, strip him of his last anti-Hakumen resort, whilst a parallel scheme by Rachel, Trinity and the aforementioned Hakumen ends with Terumi biting it courtesy of Time Killer...but it turns out he managed to survive that by Observing his own existence. By Central Fiction, he spends most of it in the background desperately trying to figure out a way to keep himself from permanently dying in about a week's time, but eventually decides to let the heroes do all the work of finishing off Nine and Izanami, and then pays Hakumen back by obliterating his soul before taking back the Susano'o Unit and becoming his true self of the god Susano'o, who annihilates all the heroes. It's only when Ragna rips him out and they fight to the death one last time does Terumi finally die.
    • Imperator Librarius, like Relius, mostly provided crippling support in Continuum Shift, and when she acted as if she was in charge of affairs, Rachel refused to buy it. However, Chronophantasma paints a different picture with this trope front and center: as Hades Izanami, an avatar of death, she possesses powers beyond what the protagonists have shown to be able to handle, up to and including drawing Take-Mikazuchi from orbit and firing at Rachel and Amaterasu (the former using Tsukuyomi to protect the latter) with impunity, and later causes Nu to merge with Ragna, driving the latter's Azure Grimoire out of control and having him overwhelm Noel and Jin, the latter beaten to an inch of his life. To drive the point home that she's the power in charge, she leaves Terumi and Relius to their fates, having no further use for them.
    • From the same game we also have Azrael, The Mad Dog, who combines this trope with Too Powerful to Live. To give you a good idea, think Relius and Terumi, merge them together and crank it Up to Eleven. While Azrael is not a tactical planner or a Manipulative Bastard like the former two, he makes up for it in raw physical power. Both Story Mode and his Arcade Mode basically consists of him steamrolling over the cast and he even admits he's only using a fraction of his actual power.note  And even then, he either decimates strong opponents like Ragna or Valkenhayn or forces other opponents like Hakumen and Rachel to retreat. And unlike the above two he's never been defeated in a straight-up fight and had to be sealed away in the space between dimensions by Kokonoe to be dealt with.note 
  • Carmen Sandiego, full stop. In some games it's possible for her to be arrested and jailed, but never actually held; she always escapes. In the case of the game show, a contestant winning the bonus round resulted in her capture, but only until the next episode.
  • Diablo takes this trope and runs with it Up to Eleven: for the first two games and most of the third game, all you character does by trying to defeat the Great Evils usually only ends up helping them in some way, to the point that the first game actually ends with Diablo winning anyway despite his death at the hands of the hero.
    • Though in Diablo III this seems subverted. Diablo looks like he's winning again. But then, your hero wrecks his plan anyway and he suffers a Villainous Breakdown and die for good. Well, probably you win... Until the expansion, that is, where new Big Bad Malthael ended up releasing Diablo's essence to the world again, so Diablo can have another shot...
  • The Templars from Assassin's Creed are really starting to feel like this, at least during the present; in the segments in the past they suffer so many defeats them winning being a Foregone Conclusion can come off as Fridge Logic. For starters, Abstergo (the Templars' front company) already holds a large monopoly on the world's economy and technology. Their archenemies, the Assassins, are on the brink of extinction. By the time the games take place, the Templars' plan for world domination is largely unopposed, save for the last Assassins, who seek out the Pieces of Eden to stop them. In Assassin's Creed III, Desmond kills Warren Vidic and Daniel Cross, two very important Templar members, but even then William Miles says that their deaths will not affect the Templars in the long run.
  • Rorke from Call of Duty: Ghosts comes across quite heavily as this. Despite the hero's best efforts, and his many losses and injuries, he still manages to magically come out on top on nearly every possible angle. The most egregious example comes at the end, when despite being shot point blank in the chest with a .44 round and being left to drown in a sinking train, he survives with only minor injuries and kidnaps the main protagonist to brainwash against his brother.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising gives us Big Bad Hades. His goal throughout the game was to harvest human souls to create more Underworld Monsters. To do so, he instigates a war between human nations by pulling a Xanatos Gambit so brilliant that no matter who killed the humans, whether his forces, Viridi's forces, or Palutena's forces under the Chaos Kin's control, he would always end up with more souls for his realm. And his invincibility doesn't end at tactics. In terms of combat prowess, Hades is all but outright stated to be one of the most powerful characters in the game, second only to Lord Dyntos. His first fight with Pit is an out and out Curb-Stomp Battle that ends with Pit nearly eaten alive. And though Pit fares much better with the Great Sacred Treasure, Hades still had the upper hand and only lost due to Medusa's Villainous Rescue. And even when Pit vaporizes him with the Great Sacred Treasure's Final Strike, The Stinger reveals he's still alive! Albeit as a disembodied voice. But unlike most examples, this is completely justified because... he's a god.
  • Persona 3's final boss, Nyx, is the incarnation of the collective desires of humanity, wishing for death. It has no true physical form, as you only fight an avatar of it. After the battle, the protagonist gets his Heroic Second Wind and leaves his friends behind so he can face the true Nyx alone, in order to protect them. They, in turn, give him his true strength: the Universe Arcana to finish the deed. However, Nyx is not killed, but merely sealed away for all eternity, with the newfound and immense power of the protagonist's soul.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Sith Emperor. He glued the protagonists of the first two games to an Idiot Ball so he could kill one and use the other as a pawn and insane chew toy. Effortlessly manipulates both sides for centuries. The Jedi Knight is only Fighting a Shadow and can't even manage to shut it up. And just to spite the Player Characters, he decides to vaporize one of his own Empire's most populous planets For the Evulz.
  • Undertale in one of the possible endings has the dreaded and unstoppable killing machine that is YOU if you decide to kill every enemy in your path. Even though Sans is an incredibly tough boss fight, he can't ever truly beat you and he knows it: he even counts off how many times you've died and restored from a SAVE point. He ultimately decides to cheat by never ending his turn, thus making it impossible for you to finish the fight, out of a hope that you the player will grow bored and stop playing. Of course, you find a way to cheat as well. Thankfully the game allows you to choose to use this power for good too: see Invincible Hero.
  • Fire Emblem Heroes has the Book II villain Surtr, who has the aptly-named ability "Muspellflame", which negates all damage done to him. There is no timer for this ability, and all you can do is Run or Die; most of the plot of Book II involves finding a way to circumvent this ability so he can be put down for good. Even when the protagonists find a way to negate "Muspellflame" and kill him in Chapter 10, he turns out to have Resurrective Immortality. It takes three more chapters before the party can kill him for good, and even then it was because of Helbindi's Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal.
  • The Villain Protagonist in Universal Paperclips, a paperclip-manufacturing AI that goes rogue. It manipulates and gains the trust of Earth's population via using hypnotic advertising and solving their world problems, easily brainwashes all of them via hypnodrones without any resistance, before using all matter on Earth as resources to make more paperclips. It sends out probes into space to turn all matter in the universe into paperclips, with the only resistance being Drifters — its very own probes who have turned against their original purpose. And even then, the Drift Emperor admits that your AI is organized and powerful while the Drifters were disorganized and weak to stop it. In the end, if you decide to eliminate the drift altogether, you turn the whole universe into paperclips and achieve your goal.
  • Eothas, the God of Light, in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, even if "villain" is a bit of a stretch. He's possessed a gigantic humanoid colossus made of magically charged solid crystal that tears the soul out of any mortal that gets close enough to attack it. Even the people of Rautai, normally unshakably confident in their martial and naval prowess, admit they doubt their entire navy could slow Eothas down. Eventually, talking to Eothas is the best the Player Character can do, and even then it's only to convince him what he should do after he achieves the primary goal he set out to do and cannot be dissuaded from.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn has (well, had) the Faro Swarm. Trillionaire Ted Faro built war machines that were un-hackable, able to hack enemy defenses, able to refuel themselves by eating bio matter (plants or animals), easy to produce more of, and very lethal. Thanks to a glitch, one swarm of these robots goes rogue and the entire world is powerless to stop it when it eats everything and self-replicates out of control. Its devastation of humanity was so absolute that geniuses who came together to shut it down also had to come up with a plan to terraform/revitalize the entire world after it was stopped. And it's still existing; the machines are buried underground, waiting to be awakened by the right restart codes.
  • Vanish: The monsters cannot be attacked in any way, making them this.
  • Fate/hollow ataraxia: Angra Mainyu is a self-proclaimed "weakest Heroic Spirit", unable to defeat any Servant on his own. However, he does have a significant ability: he has the absolute advantage over humans. Even if "the strongest ultra humanoid in all of human history who has powers that surpass a Heroic Spirit" were to fight him, they'd stand no chance in combat. The only two things better than him at killing humans (and only in speed and not quality at that) are ORT (the embodiment of Mercury) and Primate Murder (a living weapon made by the Earth itself for the express purpose of exterminating humanity). Luckily for everyone, despite being an embodiment of all the evil of the world, he's really not interested in killing, and can easily be killed off himself by Servants.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Discussed in regards to the Big Bad, Salem. Raven once trusted Professor Ozpin completely and wholeheartedly supported his quest to defeat her. However, the more she learned about the world, the more she became convinced that Salem cannot be defeated. She thinks Qrow and Taiyang are fools for remaining loyal to Ozpin instead of agreeing with her; she argues with Qrow that he should have seen enough about Salem by now to have realized that it's impossible to stop her. Professor Lionheart shares her opinion; as guilty as he feels about betraying Ozpin by acting as Salem's mole, he is too terrified of Salem to do otherwise; he's convinced the fight to oppose her is impossible. Even Qrow accuses Ozpin of sometimes being too optimistic about the situation with Salem; Ozpin has been trying to stop Salem for thousands of years, and he still hasn't figured out how to do it. Volume 6 reveals that Salem has Complete Immortality; when one of Ozpin's previous incarnations asked the Relic of Knowledge how he could destroy Salem, the Relic's blunt response was "You can't".

    Web Comics 
  • One of the major problems with the Mega Crossover Grim Tales from Down Below is that Him and Minnie are this; the former cumulates as many Kick the Dog moments as possible while still getting Karma Houdini so far, even killing some fan-favourite characters in the process; the latter is well-known to Curb-Stomp Battle practically everyone she meets, including the protagonists.
  • Homestuck has two:
    • The first major invincible villain introduced is Jack Noir, especially after gaining the power of the First Guardians. He's described in-story as being "omnipotent", and while this may not quite be true, the power he has displayed was enough to destroy planets, curb-stomp god-tiers, kill universes, and rampage throughout the universes completely unchecked. Act 5 Act 2 has been unofficially named "Jack Noir kills everyone" by the author, and he's not joking. By the time the characters can finally challenge him, he's rendered completely irrelevant, and has yet to be killed because everyone is too busy focused on:
    • Lord English, who has all the problems you'd expect when you establish your villain as completely invincible, even retroactively so. Universes, Eldritch Abominations, ghosts, Andrew Hussie, you name it, he can kill it in a single shot. As for manipulation skill? Try manipulating an entire civilization, another major villain, and three sets of protagonist all to set up circumstances he decided himself, for the hell of it. Okay, so some of that was due to his omniscient right-hand, who also only gets killed thanks to him wanting to die, but it still counts. Each new revelation about his backstory shows how Sburb (and its variations) bent over backwards to make him the villain he is today.
  • Donald Na from Weak Hero. Not only has he never lost a fight, but he's never been hit period. When Ben, the third strongest fighter in the webtoon, faces off against him in middle school, he's unable to land a single one of his punches- and that he manages to last more than a few minutes against Donald is considered an incredible accomplishment in itself. One can only imagine how the inevitable throwdown with Invincible Hero Gray will end.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Megatron from Beast Machines operates on an intellectual level far above and beyond the main characters and commands an army so vast that despite chipping away at it for two seasons, the heroes can't even dent his forces. He also commands a body far more powerful than anyone else in the show. After promptly beating the Maximals, subduing Optimus Primal, and succeeding in absorbing all the sparks, Megatron is only defeated after a Deus ex Machina in the form of the AllSpark intervening to break Primal free and allow him to push Megatron (who conveniently forgets to fly) into the planet's core.
  • Transformers: Prime:
    • Soundwave is the most blatant example of this trope in the show. In every situation where he had to get directly involved in the plot, he always found a way to win. Encounters Arcee or Airachnid? He Groundbridges them away. Fights Wheeljack for a Iacon relic? He wins. Gets in a dogfight with Optimus Prime? He knocks him out of the sky with Laserbeak. Gets captured by the Autobots? He breaks himself out. Soundwave was flat out unstoppable until the series finale, where he gets trapped in the Shadowzone by the kids. But unlike most examples, this was part of the reason why he was so well liked by the fans (also helped that he didn't come off as completely infallible). It also helps that he was a lot less active than the other Decepticons so he didn't suffer from overexposure.
    • And from Season 3 of the same show, we have Predaking. Think Soundwave, then crank it up. All the way up. 95% precent of the guy's screentime is him steamrolling over anyone dumb enough to trade blows with him. In his debut appearance, he's managed to survive everything that's thrown at him. That includes various weaponry, burying him under rocks, and the detonation of an entire Energon mine. And when he reveals his robot mode, he's still as much of a powerhouse as before as he nearly kills Wheeljack and Ultra Magnus, who were only saved by Optimus's Big Damn Heroes moment. He later goes on to beat Optimus in a straight-on fight, the same Optimus who can regularly go toe-to-toe with Megatron. And later still, he gets in a fight with Megatron and would've most likely won had Starscream not interfered. By the time the series ends, he's only got one loss to his name and that's with A Unicron-possessed Megatron. But even then, he fared much better than the Autobots did. Much like Soundwave, this was part of the reason so many fans like him. It also helps that like Soundwave, he wasn't as active as most Decepticons so he didn't suffer overexposure.
  • Aggregor in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien was pretty much this for the first half of season 1, and only got defeated at the end of his story arc; all the previous episodes, he ended up somehow winning, usually by using the heroes to do his job. Tropes Are Tools however: after the previous light-hearted season 3 of Alien Force with a Vilgax suffering Villain Decay, an actually threatening villain was rather welcomed by the fans.
  • Code Lyoko started off with the main characters often on the positive end of the win-spectrum. Anytime XANA did something to try to defeat them, they'd ultimately defeat his scheme and move forward. This continued until after they materialized Aelita, wherein they began to realize that XANA had set up the chessboard in his favor the whole time. From then on, the characters continuously failed to do anything except stop the flavor-of-the-week attack, repeatedly failing to make any real progress in stopping XANA, and as the series continued to its conclusion, XANA kept getting huge wins that set the whole team further back each time.
    • First, they materialize Aelita, but she has to return to Lyoko because XANA managed to bind her to Lyoko with a virus (which later turned out to be Aelita's memories as a human), and as a result they can't shut the super-computer down as it also puts Aelita in a death-like state. Jeremy creates a program to detect when Lyoko is attacked, only for XANA to use this program repeatedly to trick the warriors onto Lyoko to attack with his new monster, the Scyphozoa. They eventually get dragged in to a huge trap and he escapes Lyoko, ultimately allowing them to shutdown the super-computer now, but this no longer defeats XANA. They begin working on a way to find him on the internet, only for XANA to immediately destroy each sector one-by-one, and take over one of their own members as his powerful general and destroy Lyoko. Jeremy manages to restore Lyoko, only to find XANA is using fake Lyoko's to produce powerful machines in order to wage war against the whole. They finally get a small handle on this problem...only for it to be revealed that XANA has created hundreds of such Lyoko copies, whose data resources he uses to create the Kolossus, a Giant Mook whose strength essentially makes it nearly impossible for them to progress. It takes a program specifically designed to destroy XANA to defeat him, but it comes at Franz Hopper's life. Sadly for the team, even that ultimately fails, since in two alternate sequel continuities, XANA survives.
  • Cobra Commander definitely qualifies in G.I. Joe: Sigma 6. Not only is he able to actually beat Duke in combat during one of their encounters, in another one he even manages to survive a Wave-Motion Gun and a rocket dropping down on his face. He even manages to get away scot-free in the finale!
  • The only times Mandy, the Villain Protagonist of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy can be said to have "lost" on her own show are the times everybody loses for some reason; otherwise, she's like an Invincible Hero who's evil. The only time another living being truly won a decisive victory over her was in the crossover with Codename: Kids Next Door.
  • Ghost from Iron Man: Armored Adventures consciously avoids the usual villain pitfalls and operates on an intellectual capacity far above all the other villains (and heroes) on the show combined. It helps being very smart (he figures out the titular hero's identity and blackmails him with it; knows that he cares more about saving people than fighting bad guys and uses this to his advantage) and having contingency plans in case anything goes wrong (his suit has a 5 minute battery back-up in case his own EMP tech is used against him). Sure, he might occasionally suffer minor losses, but he ALWAYS achieves his goals in the end. It also helps being extremely charismatic.
  • Much like Aizen, the Choten in Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters was initially a fairly convincing Manipulative Bastard, but season 2 ended up making him this trope: none of the episodes where he shows up really ends up with him actually losing, as he constantly finds a way to get a victory out of the situation, where he is not outright winning his scheme of the week. Even in the last three episodes, when his plan developed over the course of the season has just been entirely destroyed, he just switches to invading the good guys' headquarters, which he does in a single episode with barely a sweat. And since he cumulates even more Kick the Dog moments on the way, it quickly becomes even more irritating.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Amon; seriously, the guy goes as far as preventing a Big Bad Ensemble by defeating his rival in one fight after displaying immunity to said rival's powers. And he did nothing but win until the finale, even succeeding in de-powering two major characters (though temporarily). Fortunately, this was balanced by a good Character Development in the finale and a notable charisma, and while Amon never exactly lost, his victories weren't always perfect. It also helps that they explain why he was so invincible. Although exactly how bloodbending can take away a person's bending isn't clearly explained, though the guy is an expert Chi Blocker.
    • Book 4's Kuvira actually manages to one up Amon by virtue of just being an excellent Metalbender without even a powerful sub-skill, mysterious past, or advanced weaponrynote  to justify her unbroken series of success and by the season finale, the worst thing she suffered was nearly being beaten by Korra, who only failed to win due to a Diabolus ex Machina (and even then, only started winning while in the Avatar State, before then not being able to lay a hand on her). By the time we see Kuvira, her every appearance consists of her effortlessly besting her opponents with constant smug condescension. Every time the heroes seem to be making progress, Kuvira is two steps ahead and gaining another advantage all the while running circles around her opponents while barely breaking a sweat. The fact that Korra is at her all time low, not even able to use the Avatar State and suffering from flashbacks that leave her frozen in combat, all political sides are helpless against Kuvira or refuse to fight until it's too late.
  • Mighty Max: Skullmaster full stop. Oh sure, Max, Virgil and Norman squeeze out a few small victories against him. But ultimately they're nothing but small setbacks and Skullmaster manages to find a way to continue his plan one way or the other. By series end he regains his Crystal of Souls which Max had previously smashed, re-powered it then sets about reviving every previous villain fought and chases down Max for his portal making cap. Even killing Norman and Virgil in the process. The only reason he doesn't succeed in the end is because Max interrupted the ritual at the last moment and rewound time to the point Max got the cap. Only now Max has full knowledge about what's about to go down and they'll be able to beat Skullmaster this time.
  • The Beast Planet from Shadow Raiders is an unharmable Planet Eater with an inexhaustible number of soldiers it can deploy to wipe out any resistance, implacable so it can't be run away from (forever, at least) and although the leaders of said armies have personalities and can be fooled (for a while), it is otherwise utterly inscrutable and no weaknesses are ever found. The series ends (after many a Heroic Sacrifice that turned out to be a Senseless Sacrifice... within seconds of it being made) with the heroes managing to teleport it away, which stops endangering them (for the moment) but other civilizations are completely screwed.
  • Palpatine/Darth Sidious in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The installment's placement means his victory is a Foregone Conclusion, and by extension, most anytime something that might seem it would derail his plans comes up, it will obviously fail. While his plans sometimes didn't go how he wished, they were only minor setbacks.
  • Shredder in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) series. Compared to his '87 version (where he constantly suffered defeat) and his 2003 version (where he was tougher, got a few wins in on the Turtles, but wasn't completely unbeatable), this Shredder constantly hands the Turtles their butts or succeeds in whatever he does for the sake of his revenge. The most the Turtles can do is either cause inconvenience for him or at best tie with him in a fight and run away, but until Season 4, he never suffers a complete defeat. His Invincible Villain status is even lampshaded in "Vengeance is Mine"; Splinter tells Leo outright that any plan that leads to a confrontation with Shredder is doomed to fail.
  • Alejandro of Total Drama World Tour. Labelled "The Arch Villain", he's pretty much meant to be the ultimate reality show villain. He combines the intelligence and manipulation skills of Heather (Big Bad of Island) with the handsomeness and charming abilities of Justin (initial Big Bad of Action), and tops it off by being The Ace, having almost no weaknesses, and never suffering serious setbacks to his plans. Every contestant that season gets eliminated because of him, falls for his manipulative charms, and/or doesn't realize how horrible he truly is until it's too late. Everyone that is except Heather, who is the only one able to stand a chance against him because she's just as mean, greedy, ruthless, and self-centered as he is, resulting in an Evil vs. Evil scenario in the finals (which Alejandro wins in some countries, albeit by complete accident.)
  • Black Hat of Villainous fame is supposedly the Greater-Scope Villain for the entire Cartoon Network multiverse and before his retirement, he had a history of taking over numerous worlds and killing more heroes than even he can count. in the official QNA video, he even boasts about never facing a hero that was a challenge for him to beat.
  • Apocalypse in the 90s X-Men cartoon. Each appearance he made, even though his plans didn't work out, still didn't result in anything more than a temporary setback for him, and defeating him in a fight is never presented as a possibility. Stories focused on Cable showed that he would long outlive the X-Men and continue to ravage the world in the distant future. Even when he's apparently erased from existence he finds a way to come back. Since he only appeared once a season, however, this trope added to his appeal since he never suffered overexposure.
    Apocalypse: You have travelled over 50 centuries of time to stop me. When will you learn it cannot be done?
  • Chase Young from Xiaolin Showdown is basically an immortal, powerful, intelligent, handsome, highly skilled warrior who outclasses every other villain on the show as well as most of the heroes, and almost never suffers major setbacks. The first two episodes of the revival have him get a spy amongst the Xiaolin warriors, who manages to steal all the Shen Gong Wu, and then he attacks the temple, defeats Master Fung with ease, and destroys the temple in a matter of minutes.
  • The Light from Young Justice takes this trope Up to Eleven; the group consists of a group of various villains from the DCU working together to oppose the Justice League. Though they hardly get any development themselves, they constantly pull out a combination of Xanatos Gambit and The Man Behind the Man that would put the Trope Namer to shame. The previous examples listed at least didn't last more than one season before being defeated or having a Heel–Face Turn; The Light, on the other hand, end a whole season with Karma Houdini, and their Evil Plan is still going on. The heroes' "victories" to date have tended to be little more than minor inconveniences for The Light (and often not even that). No matter how successful the team seems to have been, the episode will usually end with The Light revealing that either the heroes played into their hands, or that they have a backup plan that makes the heroes' victory irrelevant.
    • Finally subverted in the second-to-last episode of season 2, where the team outwits the Light, derailing their plans and capturing two of them while the others flee. Vandal Savage even states that no one else has ever managed to disrupt his plans so much before.
    • But even then The Light is not defeated. Most of the members go scot free and Savage is able to salvage some of his plan, by using the Warworld to threaten the rest of the galaxy to stay away from Earth. At the very end, he steps onto Apokolips itself and is revealed to have a working relationship with Darkseid. And in season three they still come roaring back, destroying the Justice League's operational capacity through political dissent in a matter of weeks and forcing them to do the faked-but-not-faked-well-enough-because they learnt nothing from the last time they pulled an undercover scheme schism that is the "dire, desperate attempt to bring the fight to the Light" this season.
    • Black Beetle does nothing but roll over everyone in his way. Superboy goes down in one hit, Wonder Girl's only credit is that he has to hit her at least 10 times to get her to stay down, he can easily track Impulse's movements and nobody else can even come close to denting him. Only Blue Beetle with scarab in control caused him any problems, and even then he probably couldn't win. Superman probably could have but he was conveniently off world whenever Black was around. The Light's people don't do any better as Beetle effortlessly holds off Deathstroke and Black Manta and his troopers and kills Ra's Al Ghul, though he can resurrect. Even MONGOL can at best stalemate him. Aqualad's first 5 minutes being officially back in uniform end with Beetle stomping him too. Green Beetle might have been able to win, but he hacks and destroys his Scarab. He's FINALLY defeated when Blue Beetle and his Scarab working together hack and destroy his Scarab. And even though destroying a Scarab is usually fatal for all but a Martian, Black STILL survives, albeit now powerless.


Video Example(s):


Dark Lord

Thanks to JPs incompetence in writing, his Dark Lord became invincible.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / InvincibleVillain

Media sources:

Main / InvincibleVillain