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Make Way for the New Villains

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A villainous pose can't hold a candle to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.

"This town deserves a better class of criminal. And I'm gonna give it to them."
The Joker, The Dark Knight

A subtrope of Evil Versus Evil, this is for when a previous villain, whether a significant or minor one, is made significantly less of a threat (or in some cases outright killed) with the help of the next villain. The previous villain is put aside, to make way for the new villains.

This often implies that the new villain is more competent, more evil, or for whatever other reason more threatening, but not necessarily. Cases where the new villain is less threatening instead can qualify as this trope, too. May be the result of Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work.

Compare Always a Bigger Fish, which sometimes overlaps with this but not always, Sorting Algorithm of Evil and Bait-and-Switch Boss. Also The Worf Effect, depending on how they take them out. In video games, this is often the True Final Boss. If the earlier baddie was a Laughably Evil Harmless Villain, this may also be a case of Shoo Out the Clowns.

Contrast Hijacked by Ganon. See also Viler New Villain and Greater-Scope Villain.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyubey is, for lack of a better term, unstoppable. Killing him is utterly useless, trying to out-gambit him is nigh-impossible, and while Madoka's sacrifice denies him victory on his terms, he ultimately still gets exactly what he wants. Come Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion, Akuma Homura reduces him to a quivering, traumatized mess by forcing him to hold all the curses of the world. However how much of a villain Homura is, is up for debate.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • After General Blue returns having failed to kill Goku, he is given a chance if he can defeat Tao Pai Pai. After his psychic paralysis fails to have effect on himnote , Tao Pai Pai proceeds to kill him with a single strike to the head. Using his tongue.
    • In the anime, the Red Ribbon Army's introduction has them fight against the previous Arc Villain Emperor Pilaf once he manages to steal one of the Dragon Balls. Once they catch up to him, they proceed to very easily defeat him by destroying his ship and then wordlessly asking him to hand over the Dragon Ball, setting up how the organization is going to be a much bigger threat to Goku than Pilaf could ever hope to be.
    • Thanks to a strange case of Executive Meddling, the Cell Saga nixed each of its initial Arc Villains this way. Android 20/Dr. Gero is killed by Androids 17 and 18, who become the new main villains... only for Cell to appear soon after, reducing 17 and 18's role to Living MacGuffins he absorbs to power up.
    • At the beginning of the Cell Saga, Frieza is killed by Future Trunks with ease, who came to warn the Dragon Team about the upcoming threat of the Androids, and Trunks himself can't measure up to the pair of Androids he's fighting in his timeline, which highlights how powerful the new villains are compared to Frieza.
    • Actually happened once per arc. At the beginning in the series, Nappa was the biggest Hero Killer in the series, but after being defeated by Goku, Vegeta kills him, not to mention Vegeta himself is eventually killed by Freeza. Majin Buu also has a Heel–Face Turn only to be defeated by his Evil Counterpart, who becomes the new villain.
  • This is how Phibrizo reveals his identity in Slayers, by killing current villain Gaav right out of the blue, and after he was already giving Lina and the others an increasingly tough time.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has Yami Marik do this during Battle City, taking over his normal half and then eliminating Yami Bakura who's working with a remnant of regular Marik's personality to take him down.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS has a few examples:
    • Blood Shepherd acts as a major antagonist alongside Bohman during the second season. Big Bad Lightning's first duel has him Worf Blood Shepherd and later Spectre, though Spectre and the other Knights were working with the heroes by that point.
    • In the third season, the now-human appearing Ai does this first to Queen and then to the Knights of Hanoi, leaving only Revolver and new character Pandor.

    Comic Books 
  • Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld: After Keith Giffen took over the second series, he did a storyline where Carnelian is killed off to make way for the return of the first series' Big Bad Dark Opal. This lasts for one page in that issue and two pages in the following issue before Dark Opal himself is dispatched to make way for the new villains, The Child and Flaw.
  • Batman: Traditional in retellings of Batman's early years is a period where the primary threat in Gotham is the mafia or organized crime in general, only for the old guard of gangsters to be supplanted as the traditional supervillains roll in and take over, usually involving the major gangster villains being outplayed and killed off by the new villains - such as Carmine Falcone being killed by Two-Face before a throng of supervillains in The Long Halloween. This also makes it into adaptations (such as The Dark Knight, which supplies the page quote), and even in present-day storylines whenever there is a new big gangster villain unless that character is also a supervillain it's inevitable that they will eventually be killed off to prop up the next, bigger supervillain threat.
  • Captain America: Toyed with when the Red Skull was assassinated by the Winter Soldier during Ed Brubaker's first issue, leading many readers to think the writer was playing this trope straight. Instead, it was revealed that Red Skull had survived inside the body of the Winter Soldier's employer, setting up one of the series' longest running Plot Threads.
  • Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham: Catwoman is chasing the Joker when she finds that he's already been murdered by the real Big Bad: Batman himself.
  • Fantastic Four: When the Marquis of Death appeared, he set Doctor Doom on fire and tossed him into prehistory. Unsurprisingly, he came back.
  • Les Légendaires: The series did this in the Anathos Cycle by having both Darkhell and the Guardian being obliterated by Anathos to show how bad the new villain was (though this had already been established by having him effortlessly delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the good guys).
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: In the buildup to The Great Darkness Saga (which Keith Giffen also worked on — he seems to love this trope), previous Big Bads Mordru and the Time Trapper are found beaten and helpless to show how bad Darkseid is.
  • Spider-Man: When trying to establish Kaine as a credible threat during The Clone Saga, the writers had him kill off longtime foe Doctor Octopus. It didn't take.
    • Inverted in Spider Man Hobgoblin Lives, the comic made to settle once and for all the true identity of the original Hobgoblin. Since another character had taken up the mantle in the intervening years, the story had the older villain murder the newer one. In this case the problem was the difference between the two villains. The "original", Roderick Kingsley, was one of the most dangerous and mysterious foes Spider-Man faced in the 1980s. The replacement, Jason Macendale, was initially depicted as a credible replacement. But over the years, Jason was depicted as mentally unstable, willing to go to insane lengths to increase his powers, and still surprisingly easy to defeat. Writers and readers had started treating him as a joke. Not a good sign for your status as a high-profile villain.
    • In 2003, Mac Gargan replaced Eddie Brock as the new and much more monstrous Venom, and as a result Carnage was killed off in early 2005 since the writers had no more need for him for the time being. After Flash Thompson took over as the more heroic Venom, Carnage quickly returned.
  • Ultimate Marvel: Kingpin has been the Big Bad of Ultimate Spider-Man, up until the relauch of the Ultimate Marvel line after Ultimatum. In the new arc there is a new villain, Mysterio, and the first thing he did when he showed up was shoot the Kingpin out of a window.
  • X-Men:
    • For a brief period in the early '90s, the main villains were the Upstarts, a group of bratty rich mutants who competed with each other to kill other mutants in a "contest" sponsored by an omniscient mutant called the Gamesmaster; among the casualties numbered the Reavers, the Hellions, Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Selene, and even Magneto himself. This plotline was not well received, all the dead villains but the Hellions came back, and most of the Upstarts ended up meeting ignominious ends themselves. In this case, the problem was that the storyline replaced popular characters who had years of character development with relatively generic villains. Most of the Upstarts did not have distinctive personalities.
    • One of Onslaught's first actions was to beat Juggernaut to a pulp and hurl him all the way to New Jersey. Mostly to get back at Juggernaut for the crap he did to Professor X all their lives as Onslaught turned out to be Xavier's dark side run amok. At the time the issue was written the writers had no idea who or what Onslaught was, they just wanted to demonstrate he was a threat.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): After the ending of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), Alan Jonah and his paramilitary (the villains who set the film's Kaiju war into motion) are eventually all either Driven to Suicide by the remaining Ghidorah head's Psychic Powers or are instead assimilated by Ghidorah into the Many, establishing Ghidorah as the sole and undisputed Big Bad of the fic.
  • one day at a time (Nyame): This was invoked by Ricky Sionis (Black Mask II) in the previous timeline. When he arrived in Gotham, one of the first things he did was murder the Penguin, the last active surviving member of the original Batman's Rogues Gallery, to establish his credibility.
  • Shadows over Meridian: One of the first things Jade does after embracing her Face–Heel Turn is to eliminate Nerissa for having manipulated everyone as the hidden Big Bad and to ensure she won't interfere with Jade's own plans.
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: By the end of Season 1, the Imperium of Man has replaced the Separatists as the main villainous faction of the Clone Wars after they intervene during a major battle between the Republic and CIS, Curb Stomp both sides, and then conquer the very planets which they had been fighting over. To further hammer this in, the Imperium then launches a genocidal crusade into Separatist space which sees the Confederacy's capital world destroyed and most of the Separatist leadership killed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A non-lethal example is in Batman Begins, when vicious crime boss Carmine Falcone is trying to blackmail corrupt psychiatrist Jonathan Crane... who in turn sprays fear toxin in Falcone's face then and there, forcing Falcone into an intense panic attack and leaving him insane for the rest of the movie
  • In Gamera vs. Guiron, the titular Guiron is introduced by cutting a space Gyaos to pieces.
  • James Bond: While Spectre and Blofeld are The Man Behind the Man or the outright Big Bad for every Daniel Craig Bond film up to Spectre and are a callback to their classic counterpart in the novels and older movies, No Time to Die's Lyutsifer Safin is a younger and more dangerous villain who doesn't work for them at all and is actually opposed to them. Safin ends up killing all of Spectre's leadership with the nanobots-based virus Heracles. All of them. Fare thee well, Mr. Blofeld.
  • In Jurassic Park III, the Spinosaurus kills a T. rex for no reason other than to announce how much more powerful and mean she is than the last big evil dinosaur.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan offhandedly kills the Other, Thanos' representative from The Avengers, for annoying him during his meeting with Thanos.
    • In Thor: Ragnarok, Hela is introduced when she demands that Thor and Loki kneel before her, which flabbergasts Loki, a previous villain who was big on this demand, in particular. Then he immediately tries to flee back to Asgard, only for Hela to knock both him and Thor through another spacegate.
    • Loki suffers this again in Avengers: Infinity War, when Thanos casually breaks his neck ten minutes into the movie for trying to stab Thanos. Ironically, this was a situation where Loki was acting with good intentions.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • The antagonists of Godzilla (2014) are two MUTOs, which are able to bring Godzilla to his knees. When Ghidorah is unleashed in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, its power compels numerous Titans to obey it as their Alpha, including another MUTO.
    • An enormous Skullcrawler serves as the Big Bad of Kong: Skull Island, so powerful that it killed both of Kong’s parents and comes very close to killing Kong as well. In Godzilla vs. Kong, an equally massive Skullcrawler is released in the APEX facility, but it gets overpowered in seconds and sliced in half by Mechagodzilla.
  • In Star Wars:
    • Anakin killing Gunray and his minions in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith could be seen as an inversion of this. It was a prequel after all, so it was more like Make Way for the Old Villains... but in the story's timeline he is the newer villain.
    • The same movie also features the Battle Droids being deactivated to make room for the Stormtroopers.
    • Later deliberately invoked by Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi. By murdering Snoke, he essentially gives himself a Klingon Promotion by revenging himself on the villain who had previously been holding him back. It's seen as a good thing at first, but things take a darker turn when it's revealed that Kylo Ren just wanted to make his own rules as opposed to doing a true Heel–Face Turn, making it this.

  • Calvin killing William Henry Harrison in The Tales of Alvin Maker.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, Volrath, The Heavy of the Weatherlight saga is missing and presumed dead after a climactic showdown near the end of the first half of the story. When he reappears midway through the second half, in sufficiently badass and grandiose fashion, it's only to be killed in a one on one duel to the death by Crovax, who becomes the new Ascendent Evincar.
  • Happens in the Warrior Cats novel The Darkest Hour, the final book of the original series. Tigerstar, the main villain of the series, obtains the assistance of an insane cat called Scourge, and his followers "BloodClan", in the prologue. Scourge isn't mentioned again until the supposed Final Battle, where Tigerstar calls him for aid. However, after the protagonist Firestar tells Scourge about Tigerstar's treachery, Scourge realizes that Tigerstar is a terrible boss to have. Stating "Nothing will control me", Scourge rips Tigerstar apart, killing him nine times in one blow. Scourge goes on to become the villain of the book.
  • In The Book of the Dun Cow, Starter Villain Ebenezer Rat dies in a fight with the Basilisks, who serve the novel's major villain, Cockatrice.
  • In the New Jedi Order series, two of the alien species nearly wiped out by the Yuuzhan Vong are the Yevetha and the Ssi-ruuk, two races with similar, though less vicious, MOs to the Vong, and which had served as villains in previous books.
  • Luca Brasi is introduced in The Godfather, both the film and the novel, as this terrifying killer and enforcer for the Corleones, more force of nature than man. He is killed by Virgil Sollozzo and Bruno Tattaglia without very much difficulty as the opening gambit of their war with the Corleones. When the Corleones receive a fish wrapped in Brasi's bulletproof vest, they know they are in trouble. Unusually for this trope, while he is definitely a villain, he is not antagonistic but on the protagonists' side.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Aaron Stone, the mutants first order of business is swiftly killing the Omega Defiance for making them into what they are.
  • Babylon 5: The Shadows make their entrance by blowing the Raiders' mothership into tiny little bits.
  • Nukus in Big Bad Beetle Borgs was careful to get rid of Vexor and his minions before taking over as the main antagonist.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Anointed One (a little kid vampire who was held over from season one) is shoved into a cage and hoisted into sunlight early in season two by Spike.
    • Spike gets similar treatment in this a quarter into season four where he returns ready to cause trouble for Buffy, only to be tasered and captured by members of the Initiative. He escapes from them in the next episode, but has a chip planted in his head to make sure he can't harm the heroes again, which wound up sending him directly into a certain other trope (to the point it used to be named after him).
    • A few episodes later, Initiative professor Maggie Walsh was impaled on a spike and skewered by Adam, the monster she created.
    • In the season 8 comics, Twilight killed the Master and Ethan Rayne by proxy.
  • In Diablero, as season 1 wraps up, the Corrupt Church rolls in to clean up the evidence and kidnap Wences.
  • In Doctor Who:
    • The old Daleks allow themselves to be killed by the new Paradigm ones in "Victory of the Daleks", agreeing that they're impure and should be destroyed. This doesn't actually stick, however, due to the redesign meeting near-universal scorn: the RTD-era models have remained the standard ever since.
    • The Daleks were also subject to this in the Eighth Doctor Adventures, as an early book sees a Dalek envoy brutally killed by Krotons. Yes, Krotons. Make way for the sixties monsters only remembered as a joke...
    • At one point it was thought that rights issues would have prevented the Daleks being used in the 2005 series — in which case, it would have been revealed that they'd been wiped out by the Toclafane.
  • This is done to Captain Crais by Scorpius at the end of the first season of Farscape. In fact, it's done in three different ways: first, he manages to convince Crais's own bodyguards into obeying his orders and putting their boss in the Aurora Chair; secondly, he takes over Crais's command carrier and has him stripped of rank and office; finally, just to drive home the fact that Scorpius is well and truly in control, Crais tries to kill him and ends up having his ass kicked for his troubles.
  • Gotham: Season 2 builds up Theo Galavan, an original character, as the arc villain, only for him to take a back seat to Hugo Strange about halfway through. Season 3 plays villain hot potato, with the major baddie shifting from Mad Hatter to a revived Jerome Valeska to the Court of Owls, and then their apparent leader becomes a pawn for Ra's al Ghul.
  • Heroes loved to do this. Arthur announced his presence by killing Adam, and shortly afterward killing Maury. Arthur, in turn, was killed off by Sylar, who had previously disposed of Bob. Then Danko was killed by Edgar on behalf of Samuel. And that's not even counting all the minor villains killed by Sylar.
  • The last two episodes of Inazuman see the Phantom Army getting crushed by the Despar Army, who take over as the main villains of the Sequel Series.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider 555 has an almost invoked example. Kyoji Murakami is the main antagonist for most of the series, but when the Arch Orphnoch is awakened, he willingly allows it to devour him.
    • Kamen Rider Ghost has a non-lethal example. Alain is the main antagonist for the first half of the series, until his older brother Adel kills their father and blames it on Alain, forcing him out of Gamma society and solidifying himself as the main villain from that point forward.
    • Kamen Rider Build has a chain of these. Tajimi is the Big Bad until she's captured by Masakuni Mido and his army. Mido is later killed off by Juzaburo Namba, who takes center stage from that moment forward until he's supplanted and killed by Evolt.
  • The final season of Merlin (2008) implies, then outright states, that Morgana (the established Big Bad) spent quite some time cruelly imprisoned by a brutal warlord who is an obvious Expy of historical Dracula. It's clear that her cause and sanity is significantly worse off as a result, and the show goes out of its way to establish him as a Knight of Cerebus who is much more dangerous, clever and brutal than she ever was only to kill him off in the first episode that he actually appears in.
  • The third Season Finale of Mr. Robot puts paid to most of the extant antagonists below Whiterose. Elliot and Mr. Robot reconcile. Price makes at least a partial Heel–Face Turn, on the heels of Tyrell Wellick. Santiago is executed for his repeated screw-ups. Grant commits suicide out of deference to Whiterose. And Irving won't be talked out of retiring. It's clear the final season is going to have a new slate of villains, and the post-credits scene gives one hint who they'll be with the return of Fernando Vera.
  • Mutant X: In the final episode of season 1, new Big Bad Gabriel Ashlocke imprisons original Big Bad Mason Eckhart and takes over his mutant-hunting facility for his own ends.
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000, Pearl suffocating a baby-fied Forrester to death, and turning out to be more dangerous.
  • Once Upon a Time's villains in Season 2, Greg and Tamara, are promptly rendered useless with the introduction of Peter Pan in Season 3. They were working for him, but had been duped about his whole plan. They betray him and are promptly killed for it.
  • The Outpost:
    • When Season 2 introduces The Three, the leaders of the Prime Order, they quickly exert their authority by punishing Ambassador Dred (the Big Bad of Season 1) for his failures and taking over as the central antagonists.
    • Come Season 3, and the Three are quickly ousted from power by Yavalla and the United, who steal their kingdom out from under them.
    • In Season 4, Two and Three briefly retake power after convincing Falista to become the new One, only to quickly submit themselves to the command of their reawakened "gods", the Masters. Three is soon after killed by Tobin, while Two and Falista are killed by the Masters when they're not needed anymore.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: At the beginning of season two, Lord Zedd, Rita's superior, appears to relieve her of command after one failure too many. Her minions quickly jump ship as he sticks her in another dumpster and launches her into space. She comes back, of course...
    • Power Rangers Zeo: Rita and Zedd are, in turn, ousted from the moon by the arrival of the Machine Empire. They get their revenge at the end of the season, but then (apart from a cameo in the Turbo movie) disappear until Space.
  • Happens in Stargate SG-1 when the Replicators start picking off the Goa'uld, who, up until that point, had been formidable enemies.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager story "Scorpion", Species 8472 is introduced by destroying an armada of Borg Cubes.
  • Season 3 of Sleepy Hollow literally opens with this, as in its first scene, new Big Bad Pandora confronts the Horseman, defeats him with a wave of her hand, and locks him in her box to be used as a power source.
  • Supernatural:
    • In the season six finale, God!Castiel blows up the Archangel Raphael with the snap of his fingers.
    • Two episodes later, God!Castiel is momentarily taken over by Leviathans and unintentionally slaughters a room of innocent people, causing him to have a Heel Realization and voluntarily de-power himself. He is then ripped apart from the inside by the Leviathans.
  • Teen Wolf loves to do this:
    • In season 1 alone, the hunter Chris Argent gets handed an Eviler than Thou by his sister Kate, who comes to town in episode 4. Also, after the series strongly implied that Derek was evil, it is quickly revealed that there is a more monstrous werewolf controlling both Scott and Derek, called the alpha.
    • Incidentally, both big season one villains (the alpha and Kate) eventually have their plans taken Up to Eleven with Kate's done in season 2 by her father Gerard, who is clearly the head honcho of the Argent hunters.
    • In season 3, after being defeated, the darach is killed by none other than Peter Hale, who always seems to show up to step on people's heads when the time is most convenient. Peter actually intended to make use of this trope back in season 2 by killing the kanima in alpha form, hoping that he himself would become a kanima alpha. However, his plan was thwarted, so he promptly applied his plan to the next season's villain—the darach.
    • The second half of season three subverts this trope, revealing that the very threatening Oni are not working for the big bad, but are supposed to have been Good All Along, although even that itself is fuzzy, since the Oni are True Neutral.
    • When season 4's scary big bag is revealed to be From Nobody to Nightmare, Peter takes over YET AGAIN, becoming the final big bad of that season. Can someone explain how he STILL ended up getting a Redemption Quest?
  • Resurrection: Ertuğrul: The third season builds up Hanli Bazaar owner Master Simon as that season's Big Bad. Shortly after Simon is killed off by Ural Bey, Tekfur Vasilius is introduced and serves as the biggest threat for the next two thirds of the arc.
  • Ultraman Taro: The first episode establishes that the kaiju in this show will be a bigger threat than the Choju from Ultraman Ace, as shown when Astromons, the first new kaiju, easily defeats Oil Drinker, the last of the Choju, devouring the creature whole.
  • War of the Worlds (1988): The series underwent a major re-tool for its second and last season; one scene has the new batch of alien villains casually executing one of the leaders of the previous faction.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Generation Next lived up to their name by taking out Special K, The Christopher Street Connection and The Ring Crew Express before going on to have a successful match in their Ring of Honor debut.
  • Mercedes Martinez willingly stayed out of Valkyrie's way after it interrupted her match with Amazing Kong in its debut. They caught up to her after about eleven shows.
  • One of the first things Lord Siniestro did in The World Wrestling league was take Legio away from El Profe. Not long after this his direction lead to them traumatizing and hospitalizing El Niche of Los Rabiosos, though Rabiosos had become faces by default at that point. Around the same time "La Verdadera Revolución" made their debut as part of an ambush on Hiram Tua, who held the Mega Television Title Belt for the dominant Power Stable Gentlemen's Club.
  • CHIKARA, Zig-zagged. Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes quickly surpassed Team F.I.S.T.note , The UnStablenote  and The Order of the Neo-Solar Templenote . By June 2012, the BDK were down to Tim Donst and Jakob Hammermeier, and they abandoned the name since GEKIDO had surpassed them.
  • For AEW's first year, the Inner Circle was the main villainous stable in built around inaugural AEW Champion Chris Jericho. Since then, several more have been formed and surpassed them including The Pinnacle after MJF tried to turn Santana, Ortiz and Jake Hager against Chris Jericho and failed. MJF then revealed his group, beating the Circle bloody.

    Video Games 
  • In Super Robot Wars Z2: Rebirth Chapter, Uther does this to Gaioh.
  • RuneScape's "Ritual of the Mahjarrat" quest officially, and properly, introduces the Dragonkin by having them gang up on a recently renewed and overpowered Lucien by kicking him to the curb and impaling him with his own staff.
  • In Dino Crisis 2, the Giganotosaurus is introduced by curbstomping the Tyrannosaurus that has been stalking Dylan and Regina throughout the game.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Shinra is rendered a secondary threat after Sephiroth is introduced. They still remain a threat throughout the game and their presence is still strongly felt as more revelations show that they are basically responsible for the worlds' current situation (including indirectly making Sephiroth the danger that he is in the first place) but once Sephiroth is revealed he becomes the more immediate problem.
  • Final Fantasy Brave Exvius does this excellently, in a way that you never see it coming. Rain and the party have defeated Veritas of the Dark for the final time and succeeded in preventing him from shattering the last crystal. The Darklord's identity is finally revealed and it seems like the story is finally complete... when the crystal is suddenly shattered. Just then, the Eight Sages of Hess appear, who up until this point have been seen as a secondary threat, and it is revealed that they were the ones who shattered the last crystal. One of them then proceeds to kill the Darklord.
  • The Reclaimer Saga from the Halo series seems to do this every game:
    • In Halo 4 the Prometheans are established as a more powerful military threat than the Covenant remnants, though they soon join forces under the Didact.
    • In Halo 5: Guardians this happens to the Covenant again, where the Prometheans turn on them due to being commanded by a revived Cortana and the Covenant themselves are wiped out by the end of the game, which ends with Cortana and the Created poised to unleash an imperial peace upon the galaxy.
    • Halo Infinite reveals that prior to the game Cortana's attempts to do this to the Banished by destroying the Brutes' home planet of Doisac for defiance resulted in them dishing out a Curb-Stomp Battle to the Created and the UNSC, thereby becoming the main villains of that game and resulting in the Prometheans being Put on a Bus bar a few new weapons and the Sentinels returning under Banished control. Infinite also ends with Atriox, leader of the Banished previously thought dead to have found the Endless, a race said to be worse that the Flood so time will tell if this trope comes into play by the next game.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series has this happen a couple of times. The first was Maleficent from the first game being ousted (but not killed) by Organization XIII in Kingdom Hearts II. Then played with in Birth By Sleep where we find out that she was slightly manipulated by Xehanort (of whom the leader of Org. XIII, Xemnas, is his Nobody) who told her about the Princesses of Heart. Then in Dream Drop Distance the trope happens again with both Xemnas and "Ansem" Seeker of Darkness (the Heartless of the aforementioned Xehanort and other Big Bad of the first game) being Demoted to Dragon to Xehanort. And even in the first game, Maleficent herself was manipulated by Xehanort's Heartless. Chances are that in these games it's ether this trope or Hijacked by Ganon with Xehanort. Then in Kingdom Hearts III, after Xehanort is finally defeated once and for all, a new villain reveals that the old master was a mere pawn in his own plans, that villain being Luxu from Kingdom Hearts χ. Or as he's revealed himself to be, Xigbar.
  • StarCraft has multiple instances of this trope:
    • The Confederacy, who were the main villains for most of the Terran campaign in the original game, are eventually obliterated when their political opponent Arcturus Mengsk unleashes the Zerg Swarm on their home planet. This event mark the beginning of Mengsk's Moral Event Horizon, setting up his transition from pragmatic Rebel Leader to The Emperor and the franchise's human Big Bad.
    • Mengsk himself suffers this in Brood War, where the UED establish themselves as a threat by turning him into their punching bag for most of their campaign and eventually overthrowing him. He does eventually manage to get back in power however, and is still around by the second game, while the UED is obliterated at the end of Brood War.
    • Subverted in hindsight in the second game, where Amon's agents scheme to help the heroes take down Kerrigan, since despite being the biggest villain at this point she is the only one who can potentially ruin his plans. They do manage to considerably weaken her, but rather than be killed, she does a Heel–Face Turn, and eventually becomes considerably more powerful than she ever was as a villain.
  • This would become a recurring thing in the Mario RPGs, though not all of them:
    • Super Mario RPG begins with the classic showdown between Mario and Bowser - and then Bowser's castle gets hijacked by the Smithy gang, and everyone within is sent flying. Bowser teams up with Mario for the first time in video game history to take down Smithy and reclaim his castle.
    • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga has Bowser upstaged by Cackletta at every turn. Even after Mario and Luigi kill off Cackletta, her spirit still persists and possesses Bowser, turning him into Bowletta (at least until the Mario Bros. can defeat Cackletta's essence).
    • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has Bowser spend most of the game chasing Mario as Mario deals with the threat of the resurrection of the Shadow Queen. Bowser finally catches up to Mario in the Palace of Shadow, where he's treated as a nuisance to fight before the real threats appear.
    • Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time puts Bowser in a minor role, and he gets to join up with his young self for a fairly tough boss battle, but he is clearly out of his league when compared to the Shroobs, who are executing a full-on Alien Invasion with technology no one in the Mushroom Kingdom has ever imagined.
    • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story zigzags this trope. While Fawful and the Dark Star are depicted as much more competent than Bowser and upstage him early on, Bowser won't take this lying down and fights through their forces until he reaches them directly, unknowingly fighting concurrently with the Mario Bros. in an Enemy Mine situation. In this game, Bowser is both the Butt-Monkey and the Determinator: No matter how many humiliating setbacks he gets, he just keeps going. Bowser is also the first one to take on the Dark Star, as it's enveloped in an evil aura that causes the Mario Bros. great pain to even stand near, but Bowser is evil enough that it doesn't bother him much. Hence, Bowser is the one to soften the Dark Star enough for the Mario Bros. to even be able to fight it.
    • Super Paper Mario opens with Count Bleck forcibly taking Bowser into another dimension, then mind-controlling Peach into marrying the Koopa King, causing an interdimensional rip that will destroy all universes if left unchecked. (It Makes Sense in Context.) Though Mario initially thinks Peach going missing is Bowser's work, he realizes what happened when the two meet in The Bitlands, and the two join forces (among others) to take Count Bleck down. Count Bleck would then be usurped by an even more recent villain, Dimentio, who waits until Mario defeats Bleck, then takes the power of the Dark Prognosticus for himself and fuses with Luigi to become Super Dimentio.
    • Paper Mario: Color Splash has what appears to be Bowser terrorizing the land as usual, but this is actually Bowser as controlled by the Black Paint, an Eldritch Abomination contained within the fountain in Port Prisma. This one is a notable case in that Bowser isn't even doing anything malicious or villainous when the Black Paint takes over—he was selfishly using the fountain's paint for his own purposes, but he didn't have any plans beyond that at the time.
  • In the first route of Hentai RPG Sengoku Rance, shit hits the fan after all the gourds break. The Legions of Hell proceed to destroy every unconquered house in a dozen or so turns. You then have to capture international territories at the far end of the map before you can have a go at the True Final Boss. At that point, all you can do is reload your save and hope the Random Number God rolls in your favor.
  • Super Street Fighter II cuts to the chase with the now well-known scene of your final fight with M Bison being interrupted with the death of Bison, at the hands of Akuma.
  • Street Fighter V reveals that The Illuminati, the antagonist organization of Street Fighter III, was involved in the events that led to the final end of Shadoloo.
  • The retooled Shin Mazinger plot in Super Robot Wars V zig-zags this. At first it seems like Hades and the Myceane will be the villains as in previous games. But then Mazinger ZERO shows up and quickly wipes the floor with Hades and replaces him as the main threat of the series. However, after Kouji and ZERO are reclaimed a few stages later, the Myceane return to being the Shin Mazinger Bad Guys, with Hades himself eventually returning as the Emperor of Darkness to be the Main Antagonist of the Shin Mazinger plot.
  • Star Fox: Assault starts with Andrew Oikonny, Andross's nephew, trying to take over the Lylat system with the remnant of Andross's forces. It doesn't last long though, as he gets shot down by the Aparoids still in the first level.
  • Red Faction starts off with the titular rebellious miners fighting Ultor's security guards. After killing Capek, Ultor sends in mercenaries, who quickly replace the security guards as the primary enemy.
  • Saints Row: The Third introduces STAG halfway through the game, who arrive to occupy Steelport and turn out to be harder to deal with than the Syndicate.
  • Half-Life's expansion pack, Half-Life: Opposing Force, has both the Black Operations and the Race X aliens do this. The Black Operations(despite appearing a few times in the main game) are another clean-up crew sent in to silence everyone(including the first clean-up crew, the HECU) and destroy Black Mesa, while the Race X are another group of aliens who are invading Earth to harvest its minerals, and they also have a bone to pick with the already-invading Xen aliens.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode, season 2 specifically, has this. Within the first episode, you meet Stella who claims to be your rival, and then The Admin in episode 5 can destroy Champion City with a simple clap, resulting with Stella to become a Jerkass Woobie.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic Adventure was the catalyst of this trend; Chaos, who Eggman had planned to exploit to destroy Station Square and build Robotnikland, ends up becoming the real threat of the game.
    • In Sonic Adventure 2, Gerald Robotnik, despite being dead, ends up becoming the major threat, with his Eclipse Cannon being rigged to destroy the Earth via Colony Drop if it got the Chaos Emeralds put into it.
    • In Sonic Battle, Emerl, the robot you were training the whole game, becomes the game's final boss after Eggman drives him berserk with the Final Egg Blaster.
    • In Sonic Advance 3, if you collect all the Emeralds and beat Altar Emerald's boss, Gemerl (a robot that was built from the remains of Emerl) turns against Eggman, steals the Emeralds from you and transforms into a new form, forcing Super Sonic and Eggman to team up in order to defeat it.
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Mephiles the Dark, who was originally Solaris until he was split between himself and Iblis, kills Sonic, which makes Princess Elise cry, which unleashes Iblis and allows Mephiles to merge with it back into Solaris, which nearly leads to the space time continuum getting destroyed. Eggman is an ant compared to the threat he poses in this game.
    • In Sonic Unleashed, the only reason Eggman is a threat beyond his robots is because of the destructive power the Dark Gaiaspawn possess, and Eggman's goal of building Eggmanland does not intersect with the Dark Gaiaspawn's enmity to all life; the moment it does, Dark Gaia swats Eggman away like the gnat he is in comparison, and immediately proves its reputation as well-warranted.
  • In the DLC of BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, Mother does this unintentionally- when she uses her powers to enact a Gendercide of men, she winds up vaporizing Boxxyfan, the Big Bad for much of the series, as well, just before he is able to put the final phase of his plan into motion.
  • Skylanders: After Kaos releases the Doom Raiders from Cloudcracker Prison in Trap Team, he expects them to be willing to work alongside him based on that alone. Instead, the Doom Raiders continue on with their own plans with no influence from Kaos, but do keep him around as they are still grateful towards him for releasing them. When Kaos lets his ego run amok too much and challenges the leader of the group, the Golden Queen, she ends up triumphing over him easily and kicks him out. This makes Kaos go and team up with the Skylanders to get revenge on them. But after all the Doom Raiders have been captured, Kaos takes control of their ultimate weapon and takes over as the Final Boss.

  • Inverted in Weak Hero with the Cheongang, a gang from across the river that are introduced after most of the Yeongdeungpo Union are taken down by the protagonists. Though set up as a formidable threat, most of them end up getting their asses handed to them by the Union, and it becomes clear that their main purpose is to establish that the Union are still badasses in their own right even after losing to the heroes.

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  • While it's not revealed until the Grand Finale, this is ultimately why Ronaldo Rump and the Catatonians replace Lawrence Limburger as the Big Bad of Biker Mice from Mars in the 2006 sequel. The Catatonians help the Biker Mice get rid of Limburger and the Plutarkians, only to betray them later on while Rump steals Limburger's riches. It even happens again when Limburger attempts to get revenge on all three parties, only to end up accidentally helping Rump and the Catatonians, and is promptly disposed of soon after.
  • In Family Guy, the "evil monkey" gets a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Dylan, Brian's son. While the monkey later turns out to be a nice guy, up until that point he had been a villain, albeit minor. And, in that episode, the point was to show that Dylan was going to be harder to deal with than the monkey.
  • In the second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Princess Azula's first episode has her telling Zuko and Iroh of their fugitive status and almost managing to capture them.
  • Dragons: Riders of Berk: A recurring trend with the show's villains is that they tend to get dethroned when a new threat to the riders appears, and the previous villain usually ends up making a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Alvin the Treacherous is the Big Bad for one and a half seasons, commanding a gang of outcast Vikings. He ends up defeated and presumed killed by Dagur the Deranged, a rival Viking chief with an actual army, who forcibly recruits Alvin's men into working for him.
    • Dagur ends up playing second fiddle to Ryker, a high-ranking member of the dragon trade. Whereas Dagur always went for brute force, Ryker is the first villain with actual knowledge of dragon weaknesses and anti-dragon weaponry. That's not to say he isn't capable of throwing down, as Dagur finds the hard way whenever Ryker loses his patience with him.
    • Ryker's younger brother Viggo turns out to be his boss, and also the first villain with intelligence to rival Hiccup. Hiccup could run tactical rings around every previous villain, but Viggo quickly proves he knows how Hiccup thinks before he does.
    • Viggo's near-death results in his army being taken over by Krogan, who returns the villains the direct approach of brute force. Unlike the rest, he's capable of overwhelming force, using a captured Death Song to lure in Singetails that he and his men ride to combat the riders more effectively. Several cues allow the audience to notice that Krogan works directly for Drago Bludvist, the Big Bad of the second movie. In his minute-long cameo in this show, Drago has Krogan executed for failing him while the latter desperately begs for his life.
    • The final villain of the show is Trader Johann, who spent years masquerading as a sniveling, cowardly merchant, yet had everyone from the riders to all previous villains fooled by his act. He knows their tactics, their secrets, and weaponry that he supplied from years of pretending to be a neutral party, until the gloves finally come off and he sends everyone running.
  • Young Justice (2010) begins its second season with a species called the Kroloteans secretly infiltrating Earth, before they're finished off by an unknown "Competitor" after three episodes. Played with because these new foes are actually allies of the Light, the previously-established Big Bad of the series.
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien played straight and inverted this trope at the same time in its finale: when Dagon arrives on Earth, he ends up, after a brief fight with Ben, killing previous villain Sir George... and is almost immediately then killed and absorbed by Vilgax, Ben's long date Arch-Enemy, who assumes the role of True Final Boss for the remaining of this finale.
  • Subverted in season 4 of Teen Titans, where season 1 and 2 Big Bad Slade, after being Demoted to Dragon for the whole season following a Deal with the Devil, is apparently double-crossed and disposed of by his boss Trigon. Turns out Slade saw it coming and made sure he would be able to escape, allowing him to make an Enemy Mine with the heroes and to get what he wanted from all of this. By the end of the season, Slade is alive and free to scheme again, while Trigon has been obliterated by his daughter.
  • Danny Phantom's The Ultimate Enemy played with this trope. Upon being separated from Danny Fenton, the ghost Danny turned malevolent and stripped Vlad of his ghost half, followed by merging with it to become Dark Danny. He then goes on to torment Danny's Rogues Gallery.
  • In Wander over Yonder, Lord Hater, the Big Bad of the entirety of Season 1, had been an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, for the most part. At least, for the main characters Wander and Sylvia whom he never managed to seriously threaten, despite his fervent wishes of torturing and killing them. However, until that point he had been introduced as a serious threat for the rest of the galaxy, taking over planet after planet trying to prove his greatness. Cue Lord Dominator's appearance in Season 2. Dominator's first action in the series proper is using a giant ship to slice Hater's ship in two with a gigantic drill. From that moment on, Lord Dominator takes the role as the show's Big Bad, dethroning Hater as the Greatest in the Galaxy by overdoing him in every possible way:
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Weirdmageddon Part 1", Bill Cipher disfigures Preston Northwest when he tries to join Bill's forces, and then disintegrates the Time Baby when he shows up to stop Bill with a small army of Time Agents. This cements his status as the most evil and powerful character in the series.
  • Ninjago: While it plays out a little differently, there's Lord Garmadon destroying the Great Devourer at the end of season one. Played with in that Garmadon was not only the villain of pilot movie, but a sub-arc of the season was dedicated to identifying the Green Ninja who would be destined to battle him, so it was very clear from the beginning that Garmadon was going to be the next focal villain regardless of who exactly defeated the Devourer. He also defeated the Devourer as part of an Enemy Mine with the ninja, and as a means of taking vengeance on it for turning him into a villain in the first place. But nevertheless, Lord Garmadon did not act as a villain in the series proper until after defeating the Devourer (save a brief Let's You and Him Fight scene with Wu), and the very next episode has him becoming proactive and antagonistic.
  • The last several episodes of the final season of Jem made way for The Stingers, an already popular band in Europe and yet another rival band to the Holograms versus the perpetual second place band, The Misfits. Whereas the latter band had devolved into a liability/nuisance whose antics of their band members and their manager, Eric Raymond, had seriously undermined their credibility, the newer band was more intelligent and business savvy (so much that Eric tried to manage them while leaving his old band more or less high and dry), already well-off and had far more sociopathic tendencies (especially their bassist, Rapture, who displayed this early on by humiliating Pizzazz with a "love potion" to lure in Riot and which made her physically ill all to her and her bandmates' amusement). They soon overtook many of the Misfits qualities to the point they ended up Demoted to Extra.
  • In the Season 2 finale of The Owl House, The Collector is released in the last five minutes of the episode and reduces Emperor Belos (the series Big Bad up until that point) to a splatter on the wall with a Finger Poke of Doom. While Belos is able to just barely survive due to being little more than a humanoid Blob Monster by this point, it's clear that the Collector has replaced him as the primary threat. This is ultimately subverted over the course of the final season, as the Collector is more amoral than truly malicious due to being an immortal child that doesn't understand the fact that death is permanent for mortals. Luz is ultimately able to coax them into a Heel–Face Turn before the final episode is even half over, with Belos regaining his role as the true Big Bad.
  • Total Drama All-Stars: Alejandro, the Big Bad of World Tour, is the first character to discover that Mal has taken over Mike. He then begins his usual campaign of feigning an alliance only to blackmail or backstab Mal at a critical moment. When the moment arrives, Mal responds by using his Super-Strength to crush Alejandro's wrist and makes him beg for mercy, then resumes pretending to be Mike when attention is drawn to them. Alejandro's last desperate ploy is to try and win immunity in the challenge while warning the others about Mal, but his reputation means no one wants to listen to him, and the superpowers granted to Mal by Mike's other personalities allow him to make Alejandro look like a chump during the obstacle course.
    • Total Drama has always been fond of this trope. In Action Justin started out as Big Bad until Courtney was brought in to replace him half way through the season, shortly after that she had Justin eliminated in a particularly humiliating way. Next season Justin's Superior Successor Alejandro returns the favor by taking advantage of her bruised ego after Duncan cheats on her and convincing her to cheat to help him win, resulting in her elimination, and showing a great deal of smugness about it. Come All-Stars and Mal spends the three penultimate episodes of the season getting the Big Bad's of the three previous seasons eliminated in some of the cruelest ways yet.
  • The Simpsons' two-parter "A Serious Flanders" is a Darker and Edgier non-canon episode that parodies the violent conventions of "prestige" TV and, like the Treehouse of Horror installments, applies Anyone Can Die to the world of the series. As such, its Big Bad Kostas Becker spends quite a bit of the episodes' runtime killing his way through the series' comedic Rogues Gallery, including the Rich Texan, Fat Tony and his goons, and finally Mr. Burns himself.


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A toast to the Warmaster!

Malos Vrykan has had enough of being Abbadon's mere servant.

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