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No Antagonist

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Sometimes your inner demons are all the conflict you need…
"It's not an evil plan? I don't really know what to do when it isn't an evil plan."

The Big Bad is supposed to help drive the plot, right? They provide the biggest obstacle for the hero to overcome. They give the audience (as well as Moral Guardians) something to channel their hate towards with terribly evil actions such as genocide, commiting crimes for immortality, kidnapping (or even worse), world-conquering, and kicking of puppies, even they can scare the audience (and children) by being the horrid monster they are through screentime. Usually, this is the case... except, of course, when they don't happen to be present at all.

Since all fiction essentially narrows down to conflict between two or more opposing forces, it is typical to represent these forces in the story's Main Characters, with the story's focus character called The Protagonist —usually (but not always) being the "good guy" (from the perspective of the work, at least)—and another in opposition to the protagonist called The Antagonist, who is usually (but not always) the "bad guy" (again, from the perspective of the work).


Some stories, however, are cut from a different thread. Rather than representing the conflict as the "good guy" against the "bad guy", the central conflict is caused by other forces and does not feature characters in direct opposition to each other. Instead, the forces at work are more intangible and not bound to a set of characters.

This doesn't mean that there is no conflict or tension—otherwise there wouldn't be a story. It simply means that the central conflict of the work has no characters who are a defined source of friction. This could mean that the conflict comes from an internal struggle, such as with addiction, or it could mean that the conflict arises from some sort of natural/scientific disaster, or from simply trying to survive in a hostile environment. As long as there are no "bad guys", this trope applies. If villainous characters do appear in this kind of story at all, they will be a case of Villain of Another Story and/or Greater-Scope Villain; they will not hurt, in any way, any of the story's main characters, even if they do horrible things to other unseen people.


It's possible that one of the characters will be the Hate Sink: not actually a Big Bad, but someone who makes the characters' lives more difficult to give the audience an outlet for the bad-guy hating. For example, if Bob is seriously addicted to heroin and the work focuses around his battling of his addiction, then a drug dealer that constantly supplies Bob would not count as the antagonist, even though the dealer is certainly not nice, unless there is conflict generated between Bob and the dealer. In the case where it is not, the work would have No Antagonist. Therefore villains are technically allowed, but they can only cause harm indirectly.

In other words, if the central conflict is Bob vs his own drug addiction, it is this trope, but if it is Bob vs the drug dealer, then it is not.

The trope does, however, require an actual conflict taking place within the story—works with no real conflict, such as sandbox games, would not apply. Most Slice of Life works have No Antagonist, due to the conflict being life itself, but that doesn't apply to all such series, where the antagonist can easily be someone damaging the life of the protagonist (for instance, the local school bully). This trope is also common in Lit Fic, where it is usually broken down into the categories "character vs nature", or "character vs themselves".

Contrast Plot-Irrelevant Villain, where there is a villainous antagonist but is of little to no importance in the big game. If the story has neither an antagonist nor a conflict, the it most likely takes place in a Sugar Bowl.

Important: "No Antagonist" means Exactly What It Says on the Tin. If one or more sentient beings get in the way of the protagonists/main characters, however well-intentioned they are and however justified their actions, it is not an example.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 5 Centimeters per Second does not have any character deliberately trying to tear Takaki and Akari apart out of malice.
  • Blue Flag: In the end, the story had no single antagonistic force to oppose the protagonists. Most of the conflict is caused by Unrequited Love and the usual challenges of growing up and becoming a young adult. The closest thing the story has to antagonists are Mami (who never really does anything antagonistic outside of being mean to Masumi and Taichi before becoming their friend in the second half of the story) and Kensuke (who fights Touma when he hears that Touma is interested in men and regrets it soon after).
  • Hitoribocchi no OO Seikatsu is just a story about a girl with major social anxiety trying to befriend everyone in her class because her Only Friend broke of their friendship until she could do just that. Bocchi's only real obstacle towards this goal is her own social ineptitude.
  • Stellvia of the Universe has no antagonists whatsoever, as it is about united humanity trying to prevent a cosmic cataclysm that is about to hit Earth.
  • A lot of Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki, especially the Slice of Life, films are like this. Some of them have characters who at first seem to be antagonists, but are really not. Miyazki says that he chooses to not use villains in his children's films because he doesn't really want kids to learn that the world is black and white. In his adult films, the "villains" are usually of the Well-Intentioned Extremist variety for similar reasons.
    • My Neighbor Totoro: The story centers around the characters' exploration of the rural life they are thrust into and its magical title character. The chief dramatic tension comes when a five-year-old girl goes missing, not from any antagonist.
    • Kiki's Delivery Service, where the main conflict is Kiki's struggle to forge a satisfying life for herself in the big city.
    • Ponyo: The main conflict is the massive storm and flood, and while Fujimoto at first appears to be an antagonist, he's really just an Overprotective Dad.
    • There is no direct antagonist in The Wind Rises. The conflict comes from the inevitable arrival of World War II and Jiro’s wife having tuberculosis.
    • When Marnie Was There is a Coming-of-Age Story about a girl named Anna, and about the close friendship she builds with the titular Marnie. There is a focus on figuring out just who Marnie is and other events surrounding the film, but there are no real antagonistic characters.
  • Most Slice of Life anime/manga titles follow this trope, such as:
    • Lucky Star The only character who could even remotely qualify is Akira from "Lucky Channel", and even then she's more of a jerk than a full-on villain, and never actually opposes the main characters.
    • K-On! is about a group of girls making a Light Music Club in their high school. There's hardly anybody trying to disrupt their dynamics or anything.
    • Gakuen Babysitters: The story focus on two brothers (a teenage and a toddler) trying to adjust to a new life after being adopted by an old woman and their parent's deaths. While it's a story that's big on drama from it's mere premises, there's nobody working against the brothers, and they have befriended basically every single character introduced.
    • Azumanga Daioh The closest thing to an "antagonist" is a cat that likes to bite people. Yukari can be a borderline Sadist Teacher sometimes, but even she fails to qualify. Her car, on the other hand, is considered by some to be the true main antagonist, as one ride in it scarred Chiyo for life (though it had more to do with Yukari driving in a way that makes Trevor Phillips look sane).
    • And just to throw a boys' group in there, You and Me.
    • Crayon Shin-chan: It's just about a 5 year old boy who tends to ruin people's lives. It doesn't feature any antagonists unless you count the spin-off, movies, specials and some episodes that feature it.
    • And the infamous Yotsuba&!
  • Haibane Renmei fits this. The most common interpretation is that it's a story about a group of angels in purgatory.
  • Welcome to the N.H.K. is about an hikikomori and his friends trying to overcome their psychological problems.
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time has no opposing force besides Makoto's numerous errors, and most of the plot involves her and Chiaki trying to fix said errors.
  • Children Who Chase Lost Voices is an interesting case as there's a lot of danger and quite a bit of fighting but lacks any central antagonist, instead having several brief possible ones, none of which truly qualify. The most noticeable is the Arch Angels who show up in a black helicopter shooting freely, but they're quickly escaped and their squad leader immediately surrenders to fulfill his own ambitions. There's the various guardians and Izoka who are more hazards than antagonistic forces. There's the members of the tribe who show up to impede the protagonists but they very quickly leave and go home leaving the climax to be a conflict between two of our heroes which involves body snatching and stabbing, but the instigator of the trouble isn't shown as antagonistic at all and as soon as the conflict is resolved, the one he hurt most hugs him and they all leave together peacefully. The movie easily could have made these threats an antagonistic force but instead, all of its drama is derived from the character's personal problems like a standard No Antagonist work, although it still features a lot of real danger from tangible forces.
  • Being a Magical Girl Warrior series, you'd expect the heroes of Sailor Moon R to face an antagonist, or at least a Monster of the Week. In a filler episode notorious for being skipped by DiC Entertainment and uncollected in ADV Films's uncut DVDs, the conflict does not come from any antagonists or monsters, but from Chibiusa's refusal to eat fish, and the protagonists searching for Chibiusa on an uncharted island inhabited by a dinosaur that took her, which turns out to be friendly. The girls do transform into Sailor Senshi to fight off... an errupting volcano.
  • Suzy's Zoo: Daisuki! Witzy completely fits this. There is no conflicts in the world, and the little issues that pop up (forgot to bring along dessert for the picnic!) are trivial to solve. Then again, this is Kodomomuke fare for infants, so it's probably expected.
  • Toradora! is just about two people (Ryuuji and Taiga) having crushes on other people (Kushieda and Kitamura, respectively), which also happens to be the other's best friend, so they attempt to help each other hook up with their respective crushes. The whole conflict boils down to "the people crushing on other people start to love each other on a deeper level and trying to cope with their feelings", which isn't caused by a person. The only truly mean character is Kawashima, but she's more of an Alpha Bitch who doesn't do anything truly villainous and eventually warms up to the protagonists.
  • Isekai Cheat Survival Meshi is all about a modern Earth Ordinary Highschool Student finding himself suddenly reincarnated in an alien world, and the entire conflict involves finding water, shelter, and getting enough to eat each day. The closest thing the story has to an antagonist to date is a dragon coming against Yuu and the two girls, Clara and Katia, who wind up camping with him, and even then, the dragon acts like a mindless beast, simply attacking what it sees as intruders in its territory.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero's Journey focuses on Zero getting lost in Christmas Town, with Lock, Shock, and Barrel sent to find him. While the trio certainly cause more than their fair share of trouble, they're not malicious about it, and actually legitimately don't understand good and bad. On the elves' side, some of them aren't the nicest characters, but the comic takes place on Christmas Eve, which is the busiest time of the year for them. They're understandably upset that the tricksters' mayhem is getting in the way of preparations.
  • Tweeny Witches: The conflict in "The Magical Girls Squad Transformed into Fish!" from The Adventures is about the heads of Arusu, Sheila, and Eva being transformed into fish and their attempt to reverse it. They are trying to keep people from finding and laughing at them, but that's the extent of their antagonism.

    Comic Books 
  • Tales of the Jedi: The final arc, "Redemption". It takes place during peacetime and the conflict is around personal struggles left over from the wars.
  • Captain Mar-Vell: In the classic graphic novel The Death of Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell's mortal enemies the Skrulls did show up, but not as antagonists - they were there to mourn him, along with all the other heroes by his side. He died after losing a fight to the one foe he simply couldn't defeat - cancer.
  • Pierre Tombal: A Gag Series about a grave digger, with no real villains.
  • Gaston Lagaffe: A Gag Series about an employee in a publishing company, where there are tensions between Gaston and his co-workers and a police officier, but no real villains.
  • Final Night may be the only Crisis Crossover without an antagonist, and the focus is instead on attempting to survive a cosmic calamity. While the Sun-Eater is a threat, it is depicted more as a force of nature, or a hungry animal going after its normal food source, than an opponent.
  • Tintin:
    • "Red Rackham's Treasure" is more about Tintin and his friends looking for a treasure than them fighting villains. The closest thing to a villain is a shark that attacks Tintin while he's diving. There's also "descendants" of Red Rackham who turn up at the beginning, wanting a share of the treasure, but they are chased off by Haddock in the first few pages.
    • "Tintin In Tibet" has no villains, and in the end, even the supposedly monstruous Yeti is revealed to only be lonely and misunderstood.
    • "The Castafiore Emerald" has people showing off prejudices against gypsies, and a couple of underhanded papparazzi take pictures and write stories without permission. But if you compare it to the villains in other Tintin stories, it is really nothing. And as for the thief, who had stolen the emerald? (It was only a magpie).
  • The first arc of the Life Is Strange comic series has no villain, with the conflict coming from Max's uncontrolled jumps between timelines.

    Comic Strips 
  • Quick and Flupke: There's no real antagonist, unless you consider the policeman who just does his job, or Quick and Flupke, who are just playing pranks.

    Fairy Tales 
  • The Little Mermaid is about a mermaid who turns into a human because she's fallen in love with a prince; if they marry, she'll stay human forever and get an immortal soul, but if he marries someone else, she'll die the next morning and get no afterlife. (And she can't tell him this, since she paid the Sea-Witch with her tongue.) Unfortunately for her, the prince has a Perfectly Arranged Marriage set up with someone else. Unlike in the Disney version, neither the Sea-Witch nor the other woman are evil (though the former seems amoral), and since none of the human characters know the mermaid's problem, you can't really blame them for not helping her out.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bambi fanfic Creamed Cherries has no villain. The story (which is a Steamed Hams homage) is set into motion by some angry bees, but they aren't evil and are only acting in retaliation for Thumper trying to swat at them. Otherwise, the conflict is just a simple Slice of Life story about Bambi trying to keep his lunch date with Faline from going awry.
  • The Boredom of Yoto Yokodera has no villian, just a bunch of randomness.
  • Half Past Adventure:
    • Any given chapter is as likely to have an antagonist as not.
    • The closest thing to an antagonist in the first chapter is the Candy Corn Colonel, who enforces Princess Bubblegum's grudge against the Duke of Nuts, but that's only framed in opposition to Macy for one scene which he isn't there for.
    • The third chapter doesn't even have that, the main source of tension coming from Macy's insecurity about her place in her adopted family, which she projects onto the new ambassador.
    • The chapters Huntress Spirit and Natural Harmonies together form a sort of training montage for Macy, coming together into a single story about her becoming a huntress. There is no antagonist in either chapter.
  • Whenever Kalash93 writes romance, expect to see this. A non-romantic example of him doing this is the short piece, Songs Uncle Sings. It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Flash Fog, a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic, is a straight forward disaster story with the battle against the titular fog providing the story's conflict.
  • Seeking Sato, a The Legend of Korra fanfic, lacks any villains besides unpleasant businessmen Asami has to deal with.
  • While Stroll is kicked off by Octavia being kidnapped, the conflict of the story revolves around her attempting to return to Ponyville.
  • Many of JapaneseTeeth's MLP fanfics all tend to follow this formula, being more about the characters and with no antagonists in sight. Examples include:
    • A Delicate Balance is a shipping fanfic focusing on Twilight confessing her love to Applejack, followed by the two of them dealing with day to day relationship troubles. Misunderstandings do occur and at one point the couple have a really heated and intense arguement, but it's all character-driven and there's no antagonist to be seen.
    • Octaves is about Vinyl Scratch dealing with the pressures of Fame and Executive Meddling, with Octavia being the viewpoint character to her story. The closest the story has to an antagonist is Vinyl's boss who puts restrictions on how she can produce her music, but in addition to never actually appearing in the story he's also just doing his job and has no malicious intentions towards Vinyl.
    • Here Comes The Sun, a successor of sorts to FIM's Season 1 Finale listed below, is a Slice of Life comedy fic about the mane 6 trying to prepare for the Summer Sun festival and make sure nothing goes wrong. The conflict comes from various mistakes made by the cast as well as Twilight's paranoia. Trixie is present, but has reformed from her previous canonical appearance and is more of a nuisance who doesn't purposely cause trouble in the story.
  • There's no real antagonist in X-Men 1970, whose plot revolves around the original X-Men growing out of the team and going separate ways.
  • Kara of Rokyn's final story arc "Kal & Lyla" has no bad guy, as it's about the main character making a movie.
  • Us and Them: The sequel, Life Renewed, Love Renewed, has none of the epic elements of the first story, which dealt with the JENOVA crisis. The main thrust of the story here is Aeris' desire to return home and all the obstacles she has to overcome to get there.
  • The Darwin Chronicles revolves around comedic shenanigans, so there's no real villain or enemy to beat up.
  • A Very Kara Christmas is a story about a person experiencing Christmas for the first time. The closest thing to a villain are two meddlesome, nosy schoolgirls.

    Films — Animated 
  • Arthur Christmas: You might assume that Arthur's brother Steve would become the villain, but he doesn't have any real animosity for Arthur, and really just hates how his father has such unreasonably high expectations of him.
  • Astro Kid The movie is a Robinsonade set in space. All the conflict comes from protagonist Willy having to survive on an unknown planet, facing ploblems like hostile weather, finding enough food, dangerous terrain, and predatory animals that just follow their instincts.
  • Dumbo is a rare instance of a Disney movie that has no villains, per se (at best, the Ringmaster is an Anti-Villain). Instead, it's about an elephant who's trying to find acceptance within his own circus.
  • Finding Nemo has forces who cause conflict, but no true antagonists. The Inciting Incident is when the eponymous Nemo is kidnapped by a Sydney dentist on a SCUBA dive, for the purposes of giving him (Nemo) as a pet to his (the dentist's) niece. Said niece, Darla, is bad with fish, but characters acknowledge she is accidentally destructive as opposed to intentionally malicious. In contrast, Marlin, Nemo's Overprotective Dad, finds tons of Good Samaritans as he sets out to find Nemo; the worst he ever faces is Blue-and-Orange Morality-style indifference or predators who, for the most part, are Obliviously Evil, and it's balanced by sharks and pelicans who don't even consider eating him (despite being carnivores) when they could help him instead.
    • Its sequel, Finding Dory, likewise doesn't really feature any outright villains aside from a squid who antagonises them for one scene. The conflict comes primarily from Dory's inability to remember things.
  • In contrast to the first movie (albeit under Plot-Irrelevant Villain), Frozen II doesn't have a Big Bad (let alone villain) at all. The real villain who started the conflict, King Runeard is already dead by the time the story takes place. Instead the movie is all about the sisters finding a way to remove the curse trapping the Enchanted Forest brought upon the spirits that their grandfather angered with the climax of the story involving Anna provoking Earth Giant to destroy the dam to lift the curse and free the people trapped there.
  • Inside Out is about a young girl who suddenly moves across the country, and how her anthropomorphic Emotions try to deal with her subsequent mental breakdown, which is portrayed as a literal breakdown of her Islands of Personality. While there are obstructing and scary forces in her mind, ultimately they're not connected with the main conflict and are just doing their jobs. There was going to be an antagonist ('Gloom') at one point in development, but ultimately they decided that it would look too much like they were trivializing depression.
  • Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch doesn't have a real antagonist. The movie is about Stitch being defective and dying. While Mertle serves as a rival to Lilo who indirectly helps drive Lilo apart from Stitch for a bit, she's really not an antagonist, just her usual, ambiguously racist bully self.
  • Onward skirts the line on this one. The main plot is a Race Against the Clock for the brothers to revive their dad before sundown; some characters cause trouble along the way, but the closest thing to a "main villain" is the Curse, which guards the MacGuffin but is seemingly more of a natural force than a character.
  • The Peanuts Movie focuses on Charlie Brown trying to overcome his deficiencies and impress the Little Red-haired Girl; fate seems determined to screw him over, but if anything the other characters are actually nicer than in other versions. Technically the B-plot has the Red Baron vs. Snoopy, but that's just in the latter's novel.
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet sees Ralph and Vanellope causing some conflict with their own insecurities, short-sightedness, and trying to work through their dreams and issues. However, neither one is presented as the bad guy, even if some of their decisions are made out to be bad ones. The closest there are to any bad guys at all are either not outwardly antagonistic or just doing what they were designed to do, and in the case of the former, the Wreck-It Ralph virus was an accident on their part.
  • The Scooby-Doo prime time Made-for-TV Movie Scooby Goes Hollywood is notably the only Scooby-Doo show to not have Scooby and the gang going after monsters and other supernatural creatures, actually being disguised criminals or otherwise. The special depicts Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne, Velma, and Fred as Animated Actors and the conflict revolves around Scooby and Shaggy aspiring to become movie stars while Fred, Velma, and Daphne have to work around Scooby and Shaggy leaving their show.
  • Yellowbird deals with the protagonist's fight with his fears on a journey to gain confidence, without a single villain to defeat.
  • In Your Name, the narrative is driven by the characters' desires and goals, rather than any conflicts arising from any one individual or group's actions.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Benny & Joon. All the characters do what they do because they love Joon, and want to help her through her schizophrenia. It’s just sometimes, they do jerky things because they think it’s the best option, like Benny throwing Sam out because he’s worried that Joon will be taken advantage of in an adult relationship, or Sam taking Joon on the bus, not realizing that the stress would send her into a crisis.
  • The first My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Toula's dad Gus comes closest, but the worst thing he does is express some disappointment that Ian isn't Greek. Toula and her mother take only a short time to talk Gus into it by suggesting the whole thing was his idea, and he's fully on board come the wedding day, which sees him buy Toula and Ian a house. Albeit one right next to Gus' house, but still, a house. The conflict of the movie is more about the culture clash between American and Greek culture than it is between any two people.
  • The 1994 remake of Angels in the Outfield has no antagonists, although the man who calls the games on the radio for the Angels baseball team is a downright Jerkass, even insulting the owner on air (which gets him fired) and being the only one not celebrating when the Angels, after being assisted by real ones, take the last game of the season on their own to win the pennant.
  • Groundhog Day: A flawed man is trapped in a time loop, and goes through the same day all over again indefinitely, until he learns to become a better person. The film has no villain, since Phil is at worst a Jerkass Anti-Hero, and the time loop is simply an unexplained event.
  • Black Swan: ...Maybe. Nina certainly sees Lily as an antagonist who's trying to usurp the lead role in the ballet, but the film refuses to commit one way or the other.
  • Fairly common in any Disaster Movie that doesn't add an extra adversary (many times, a Villainy-Free Villain, Hate Sink, or Designated Villain) for the protagonists to face during the tragedy.
    • Armageddon: One whacking great rock to destroy, but it's not malign in its effect. The moment when the military decide to detonate the bomb early is almost the only antagonism not related to the "destroy the asteroid before it destroys us".
    • The Core: All the story's conflict revolves around the Earth's core going haywire, and no antagonists are involved. You could point a finger at the people behind the experimental earthquake-generator weapon that caused the problem in the first place, but they a) didn't do it on purpose and b) never appear onscreen.
    • Deep Impact: The main conflict is an asteroid about to hit the Earth and there are no antagonists to this end.
    • Poseidon: The bad events are caused by a rogue wave capsizing the boat, and there are no human antagonists.
    • The Towering Inferno. The conflict revolves around trying to save people from a burning skyscraper.
  • Into the Wild: The main theme of the story is the main character's escape from society and there are no antagonists.
  • Juno: A classic example shown in a coming-of-age drama.
  • Requiem for a Dream: The story is centered around several characters' drug addiction, so no antagonist is present.
  • Forrest Gump: With the possible exception of the Viet Cong, no antagonists. Forrest meets quite a few jerks, but none are ever harmful to him in any lasting way. A few of them even inadvertently help him in his life's journey to accidental greatness.
  • Teen Witch: The protagonist and eponymous witch, Louise Miller, has no opponents throughout the movie. The main conflict is that she has the ability to make anything she wants come to pass. So all she has to do is wish to be the most popular girl (which she does) and that gets the attention of the most popular boy.
  • Parenthood: Nope, no antagonists; the conflict stems from the various problems the Buckman family have to deal with. To name an example, Gil and Karen are worried about their eldest son and are uncertain if they could take care of another baby. To name another example, Susan and Nathan are in trouble because Susan wants another baby, but Nathan refuses because he's busy educating their 3-year-old daughter Patty to comedic extremes.
  • Up in the Air: Grey-and-Gray Morality story about George Clooney teaching Anna Kendrick how to lay people off, among other events.
  • My Dinner with Andre. Two main characters, one or two minor ones, and no conflict beyond argument. The whole thing is about two people sitting down and talking over dinner.
  • Apollo 13. Fighting to survive aboard a badly damaged spacecraft.
  • Lost Signal. Drugged teenagers wander around the forest during a blizzard.
  • The Starfighters was really an advertisement for a series of fighter planes shot as a movie. The movie has almost no conflict whatsoever. The closest the film has to an antagonist is the Congressman, whose son is a part of the Starfighter project against his wishes, but he never does anything other than call his son or the CO to try to talk them into reassigning him.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The Thompsons are obnoxious neighbors, but never actually do anything wrong, and once they realize the danger the kids are in, are equally committed to saving them. In the end, the families seem to have become friends. The scorpion is a genuine threat, but it isn't malicious, just an animal driven by instinct.
  • Zero Hour! and Airplane! deal with the passengers of the plane (pilot included) succumbing to a virus, as well as one of the few passengers on board who didn't catch the virus having to land the plane on his own, despite not having flown one for years as well as previously flying a different model.
  • Mary Poppins has no villain, unless you count Dawes Sr. who is at worst a grumpy old banker and fires George Banks for the chaos Michael unintentionally caused in the bank (although he has a rather sadistic-looking smile on his face as this happens). George is a bit neglectful and severe as a father, but not villainous.
  • Early in the Sylvester Stallone racing movie Driven, Til Schweiger's character initially comes across as the arrogant antagonist you'd expect in every sports movie, but quickly demonstrates that he's actually a good man and Worthy Opponent, voluntarily leaving a race and risking his life to save a fellow racer after a crash.
  • A fair few Romantic Comedies (and non-comedy romance films) have no antagonist and all the conflict is born out of the two leads either not getting along, a love triangle where nobody is villainous or a series of misunderstandings.
  • Top Hat: The story runs on Dale mistaking Jerry for her best friend's husband, her struggle to overcome her attraction to him, and his attempts to break through her sudden reluctance.
  • Follow the Fleet (1936): The obstacles mostly come from misunderstandings and the characters' own flaws.
  • In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the hero engages a Memory-Wiping Crew to remove the memories of his ex girlfriend. But as they proceed, the hero relives past memories and starts regretting his decision. The challenge is how he can make the process stop. The closest thing to a villain or antagonist is the technician who is trying to take advantage of the situation by using both of their files to make the female lead fall in love with him. It seems like it might be working, but she intuits something disingenuous and creepy in his recreated romantic moments, gifts, and lines, so she distances herself and then dumps him and moves on (with the hero again).
  • Crazy Stupid Love: Every character is sympathetic on some level. Surprisingly, that even includes David, the man who Emily had an affair with.
  • Gravity: Two astronauts fight for their lives after they're stranded in space. Space debris is the main opposing force, but it isn't a character.
  • All Is Lost: A sailor fights for his life after he's lost at sea.
  • Her is about a man who falls in love with an operating system. The man doesn't have a great relationship with his ex-wife, but she's not an antagonist.
  • Locke is about the main character managing the fall-out of a bad decision he'd made, which hit at the worst possible time. He fights with his bosses, but recognizes that what they're doing is reasonable, from their own perspective. Locke, himself, is really the only one who did anything clearly wrong, and fully accepts his own responsibility.
  • Rush: two Formula 1 drivers with opposing worldviews are pitted against each other - and both protagonists of the story. The closest thing qualifying as an antagonist is the weather.
  • The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure: the titular Oogieloves lost their balloons for their pillow's birthday party. There is no villain or anything of substance for that matter.
  • Uniquely for a Star Trek film, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home lacks a Big Bad. The mysterious probe is huge and causes massive environmental chaos, but can't quite be considered malevolent and may not even be sentient. There's some mildly antagonistic humans in the past (like the US Military guys who are suspicious about the Russian-accented Chekhov asking everyone he meets where to find the top-secret nuclear vessels) and a group of whalers who try to harpoon George and Gracie in the climax, but they're not developed as villains and clearly pose no real threat to the protagonists. A joke among fans is that the true villain of the movie is the obnoxious punk with the ghetto-blaster who Spock nerve-pinches on the bus.
  • In A Woman of Paris, the source of conflict is Marie's inability to choose between her rich Sugar Daddy and her poor former boyfriend. The sugar daddy really doesn't care and is perfectly willing to get another girlfriend if she wants to break up.
  • In The Straight Story, every character who appears in the film is a good person in some sense of the word. The closest we ever get is the fact that there are some people who try to talk Alvin out of the journey, and even then they're just concerned for his safety.
  • The rom-com/sci-fi movie About Time avoids the usual Love Triangle plot. Instead it has the protagonist battle his own life decisions via Reset Button.
  • In Father of the Bride titular father Stanley has to deal with his daughter Kay getting married and his feelings of empty nest syndrome and separation anxiety. But there isn't a bad guy.
  • Henry And June is character driven. Each individual is portrayed as complex, with their own flaws and strengths. While June is very unstable, she is a catalyst and not a villain; and the other characters do their own share of deceptive, self-serving things anyway.
  • The Seahawks general manager Tom Michaels in Draft Day is the character closest to an antagonist. However, he was just doing business. The real conflict in this movie is about making the right choices in a stressful time.
  • The Martian is about a stranded astronaut trying to survive the environment of Mars, while literally the entire planet Earth comes together to try to get him home. There are conflicts concerning the best way to save him, but we don't see anyone who isn't fully committed to the same goal.
  • The Santa Clause is about a Workaholic who accidentally becomes the new Santa Claus, and how this allows him to grow closer to his neglected son. His ex-wife and her new husband initially appear to be antagonists, trying to keep the two of them apart, but this is ultimately subverted, as a) they genuinely have the kid's interests at heart and b) when they realize the truth, they're happy to build a healthy co-parenting relationship. The sequels do have straight-up villains, however.
  • They Look Like People: Wyatt's paranoia over "monsters" impersonating people is all in his mind. The conflict is only in the two protagonists overcoming their flaws: delusions and crippling insecurity.
  • Larry Clark's 1995 indie film Kids is a mixed example. On the one hand, it mostly just follows the dissolute lives of teenage Free-Range Children roaming the streets of New York City. They concern themselves with hooking up, smoking weed, skateboarding, and being mostly aimless. The closest to a conflict-based antagonist the delinquents meet is an unnamed man in Central Park who asks for an "excuse me" from one skateboarder, and gets mob beaten by the other park punks. On the other hand, one of the subplots is a girl discovering that the boy who ditched her after taking her virginity (the only guy she's ever slept with) gave her HIV. She spends the movie trying to track him down (both to hold him accountable and to warn him that he's got the disease). His subplot is about how he loves unprotected sex with (very young) virgins. The Downer Ending has her never quite catch up to him, so there's no direct conflict/confrontation between them, but his friend does Date Rape her in a drugged and barely conscious state (possibly infecting himself in the process)
  • Although the Lizard makes his first big screen appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter's English teacher utters a line in the film that embodies the "No Antagonist" spirit and the spirit of every true Spider-Man conflict.
    Miss Ritter: "I had a professor once who liked to tell his students that there were only 10 different plots in all of fiction. Well, I'm here to tell you he was wrong. There is only one: 'Who am I?'"
  • Dumplin': Despite the beauty pageant setting, this trope is in play. The drama of the movie comes from Willow's insecurities, grieving her Parental Substitute aunt's death and her troubled relationship with her mother. Although there are a few nameless bullies, they never factor into the plot and the girls in the competition, even the one interested in Willow's Love Interest and the favorite to win, rarely interact with her and when they do are usually nice and cordial rather than Alpha Bitches.
  • The Dish is about the staff of the Parkes radio telescope and their role in receiving the Apollo 11 TV signal. The closest thing to an antagonist is the wind, which is blowing so hard that moving the dish to receive the signal would be dangerous.
  • Booksmart: Molly and Amy are trying to get to the Wild Teen Party, and no one is trying to stop them. The closest things to antagonists are classmates who are talk about Molly behind her back early on, but when they encounter those same classmates later they end up being thrilled to so see them coming to the party and finaly letting lose. They also encounter an actual serial killer (not knowing it at the time), but he's actually very reasonable (given the situation) and gives the girls pretty good advice.
  • Summer Lovers: Michael and Cathy (Daryl Hannah) are on a vacation in Greece. Michael becomes interested in Lina. They become a trio. It doesn't get much deeper than that.
  • Leave No Trace revolves around Will's pain and daughter Tom's growing differences with him, but all the film's major characters are well-meaning.
  • Something quite common to the films of Bill Forsyth
    • Local Hero The idea of a village that stands on an oil field and needs to be bought by a oil company might normally be used to portray the oil company as the Big Bad. However, here the oil company is shown doing simply what they need to do for their business, and the villagers are quite happy to sell up. The main conflict comes between the villagers and local eccentric Ben Knox who owns the local beach and refuses to sell, but no-one is portrayed in being in the wrong and joy of the film comes from the eccentric characters rather than any real conflict
    • Gregory's Girl Gregory falls in love with Dorothy. Susan is in love with Gregory. The whole affair is sorted out with very little trouble and heartache. Again, the joy of the film comes from the eccentric characters.
  • Cast Away has a man struggling to survive on a Deserted Island and return to civilization. After he makes it back, he then has to deal with the fact that life has moved on without him while he was away.
  • The Tree of Life is an impressionistic Coming-of-Age Story with spiritual overtones. There is a great deal of tension with the protagonist's father, but he is far from a villain. He is portrayed as flawed but sympathetic, and genuinely cares for his family. His flaws serve as more of an Aesop about the film's theme of nature vs grace.
  • The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain doesn't have any bad guys. The real problems are caused by the British government deciding that a mountain is at least 1,000 feet and sending two cartographers to Ffynon Garw in 1917, a time when the village is especially unready to have their "first mountain in Wales" downgrded to a mere hill. The worst two characters are the senior cartographer and the local schoolmaster, but they don't do anything to interfere with raising the height; they're simply indifferent to the community's feelings.
  • Four Sisters and a Wedding: The closest thing the film has to a villain is the rich, overbearing Bayags, but even they're more of parodies of standard Filipino rich villains, only really figure into Teddie's arc, and are still just looking out for their daughter. Much of the conflict is driven by the sisters' issues.


By Author:

  • Isaac Asimov
    • Dr Asimov's works often has no antagonist. Partly this is because he dislikes writing villains. He once said that he feels that no one see themselves as a villain, so he tried to write his stories to reflect that. He still has some sympathetic antagonists, such as The Mule. Mostly he seems to find impersonal problems like social collapse more interesting than problems caused by a character.
    • "The Bicentennial Man": This story is a Person vs Society conflict, with Andrew Martin's 200 year quest to become human being thwarted by humanity in general being apathetic at best to his dreams, and often actively resentful that he'd demand to be treated as an equal. Even the incident with the youths serves more to illustrate how society doesn't respect Andrew's rights than to build conflict.
    • "Breeds There a Man...?": The conflict is all internal; Dr Ralson is attempting suicide yet doesn't actually want to die. Although he claims these suicidal tendencies come from aliens, there isn't any strong evidence for his claim. The main conflict in the book comes from the other characters trying to help him recover so that he can complete his work on force fields.
    • "Flies": There is no enemy to face, there isn't even any sort of conflict resolved. While the flies bother Casey, it isn't malevolence (it is reverence). The three friends have drifted apart after twenty years of little-to-no contact.
    • "Lenny": The conflict in this story is between Lanning (Research Director) and Calvin (Robopsychologist). Lanning is dealing with two problems; the fact that the LNE model has violated the First Law by breaking someone's arm and that they aren't getting enough high-level job applications. Calvin is insistent that Lenny has not violated First Law, and rationalizes her work with the prototype in a way to help Lanning encourage high-level job applications by appealing to people's sense of danger. Once she's left, Bogart points out to Lanning that Calvin is trying to Mother Bear the prototype, having taught it to call her "Mommie".
    • "My Son, the Physicist": There is no enemy to face; the aliens are hypothetical at best and a Greater-Scope Villain at worst. The conflict is how to make communication between Earth and Pluto despite the radio lag of six/twelve hours.
    • "...That Thou Art Mindful of Him": The conflict of the story comes from the United States Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation fighting back against Earth's Ban on A.I.. All of the characters who appear in this story are working with US Robots and it is that nebulous society that they're fighting against.
  • Arthur C. Clarke quite often had stories like this, and never had a true villain; in any case where there was someone who seemed to be a villain, they'd turn out to be misunderstood more often than not. Averted by Hammer of God, which has religious fanatics trying to sabotage a project to save the Earth from an asteroid.
  • A lot of H. P. Lovecraft stories as well. It's easy to overlook or forget that very few of them actually have villains as opposed to horrific sights, beings, or facts with a Blue-and-Orange Morality to them if there is any moral dimension going on at all.
  • Kurt Vonnegut has stated that none of his novels have a villain.
    • Cat's Cradle has no antagonist in spite of the ending.
    • Slaughterhouse-Five doesn't have any antagonists in spite of being largely set in a Nazi prison camp.
  • Connie Willis novels often lack an antagonist:
    • To Say Nothing of the Dog is about solving a time-traveling mystery, and no one is working against them.
    • Doomsday Book is about a mystery involving plagues that are occurring concurrently in the Middle Ages and the future-present. No one is working against the protagonists to stop the plagues.

By Work:

  • The companion novels and the epilogue novel in the Addicted Series are character driven and don't have an antagonist or even an overarching plot.
  • In Breakfast at Tiffany's, everything that happens to Holly Golightly happens because she's Holly Golightly.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has no characters who are directly working against other characters. What it does have are the four bratty kids, who are so obnoxious and selfish that they serve as Hate Sinks. Even in adaptations that make the kids genuinely mean/cruel to others, they remain too self-absorbed to directly oppose them — protagonist Charlie Bucket least of all. As they journey through the titular factory-cum-wonderland, the brats manage to take themselves out of the running of a Secret Test by disregarding Willy Wonka's warnings in favor of going after things they want, not realizing how dangerous those things can be. Mr. Wonka has No Sympathy for the brats when they get their comeuppances and it is suspicious that he's showing off so many things that play right into their vices, but on the other hand he tries to get them back to normal where possible. (At worst, he's an Anti-Hero, which is how the 2013 stage musical portrays him.) The book is often criticized for lacking real drama and/or Charlie becoming a Useless Protagonist owing to this process-of-elimination structure, so adaptations tend to tweak the plot to make him more proactive in his fate.
  • Circleverse: Three of the books in the original Circle of Magic quartet have no villains. The kids fight some bullies in a couple scenes of Sandry's Book as well, but it's a side issue, not the main conflict. Instead, the kids face an earthquake, ill-managed wildfires, and a plague.
  • Individual stories of Diary of a Wimpy Kid are like this, despite the series itself having recurring antagonists:
    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: Greg's mother is shown as the instigator of conflict, but she acts more as a recurring obstacle.
    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul: The conflict comes from all the horrible luck that they have on their road trip. Beardo, the only "villainous" figure is... well, not. Most of the interactions Greg and his family have with him and his family are also tied into the bad luck, and his actions can be justified by his anger, even if he does take things too far at times.
  • Jane Austen's Emma. Emma herself drives the plot with her well-meaning though overbearing attempts to get her protégé Harriet properly married.
  • Enoch Arden: The main story is a love triangle where each of the people involved is sympathetic and well-meaning.
  • Father Brown: The short story "The Absence of Mr Glass" potentially sets up either the titular Mr Glass or the student James Mc Nabb who has a deeply hidden secret that he may be being blackmailed over as the antagonist of the story. It's revealed that neither is the antagonist, James Mc Nabb is just a stage magician and entertainer who has been practising in secret to protect his tricks, and Mr Glass doesn't actually exist (his fiancee just heard him practising juggling and saying "Missed a glass".
  • The Frontier Magic series has no sapient antagonist. Monsters do show up, but they're all just wild animals from the unexplored frontier.
  • Goosebumps usually has plenty of villains to make life harder for the kid heroes,but now and then the events of the book are not caused by any malevolent forces.
    • My Hairiest Adventure: The strange transformations of Larry and his friends are because the process keeping them human is wearing off. While evolving animals into humans is rather ethically questionable, the scientists behind the experiment are just regular people who haven't perfected their formula yet.
    • How I Learned To Fly: The plot is about the competition of two boys who gain flying powers to get a girl's affection, as well as the pressures of fame and power.
  • Little Women: The conflict of the Coming-of-Age Story comes from 4 sisters trying to navigate the ups and downs of life as they learn about the world, relationships, society, and their role in it.
  • In The Martian is about a stranded astronaut trying to survive the environment of Mars, while literally everyone on Earth comes together to try to get him home. There are conflicts concerning the best way to save him, but even on an interntional level everyone is working towards keeping him alive and bringing him home safely.
  • In the Miss Bindergarten series, and most children's books by Rosemary Wells.
  • While the books of the original The Mysterious Benedict Society series have a very obvious and real antagonist in Mr. Ledroptha Curtain, the prequel book, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, has an interesting twist. Mr. Collum, the orphanage director, seems like a very powerful antagonist to Nicholas. However, Mr. Collum is really just a troubled and stubborn man who doesn't understand children very well and lacks creativity. In the end, Mr. Collum turns out to be a very powerful ally once Nicholas comes to understand him and once he's able to get him on his side.
  • Ultimately, if the characters in Palimpsest are struggling with anything, it's their own psychology. The creatures they encounter in Palimpsest actually want them to come and make it as easy as possible.
  • The Secret Garden: No bad guys. Just two spoiled children bettering themselves through The Power of Friendship.
  • Seeker Bears, another Erin Hunter series has no main villain (and no villains after book two) and instead features the bear protagonists as they fight global warming.
  • There is no real antagonist in "De skandalösa" by Simona Ahrnstedt. Gabriel's father was abusive, but he is now dead. It is revealed that Peter Cronstedt is a jerk, but you can hardly call him a villain. The plot is more about the different couples getting to know each other (and having a lot of sex).
  • Tortall Universe: Tempests and Slaughter, the first book of The Numair Chronicles, only has a villain in the climax, with no real antagonist throughout the story overall. The series' status as an interquel with the Foregone Conclusion that will ensue means that this won't hold for the rest of the books, however.
  • Whatever conflict there is in the Vita Nuova is driven by the narrator's fears, passions, and weaknesses. He has only himself to blame when his lady refuses to speak to him, when he mistakes base attractions for love, and when he finds himself unable to handle the death of the most beautiful woman on Earth.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Warrior Cats: Power of Three: rather than having a main villain to be defeated, features the protagonists struggling with the meaning of a prophecy about them.
    • Hollyleaf's Story, Mistystar's Omen, and Leafpool's Wish are all devoid of villains.
  • When You Reach Me is about the usual goings-on of a sixth grader and her relationship with her mother as well as her friendships combined with the mystery of who was writing her the notes.
  • Wintergirls has no concrete, definitive antagonist, because Lia is her own worst enemy—her lingering guilt over not having prevented her ex-best friend Cassie's death, combined with her self-destructive anorexia, are destroying her from the inside out. Everyone around her is trying to help her recover, but she either pushes them away or lies to them so they'll think she's getting better. An imaginary version of Cassie appears in Lia's head as a Poisonous Friend and Spirit Advisor, encouraging her to eat less and less until she disappears, but even she is essentially a personification of Lia's guilt and self-loathing, so when Lia imagines Cassie talking to her, it's Lia talking to herself.
  • Zahrah in Zahrah the Windseeker goes off on quite the splendid adventure, but if she has an opponent it's a combination of the jungle and her people's ignorance.
  • Whereas Sky Jumpers had a gang of bandits invade Hope's town to steal their antibiotics, the sequel, Forbidden Flats, has no real villains in it. The conflict stems from Luke's determination to find the City Of Metal often causing more problems for them than they really need.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • "The Replacement" sees Xander freaking out to learn that due to a magical incident he now has an Enemy Without Evil Twin who is taking over his life and seeking out help from his friends to confront and kill the impostor...only it turns he wasn't split into Good and Evil, but Confident and Neurotic, with the "Evil" twin actually being his Confident side and the Xandar we follow being the Neurotic, which means the closest to an antagonist the episode has is Xandar himself since he nearly murdered his other half out of paranoia, though once the truth is explained to him both Xandars are happy to be reunited and no harm is ever truly done. There is an antagonistic demon who set these events in motion (accidentally, he meant to do this to the Slayer, not one of her sidekicks), but he's actually only a minor plot point in the episode.
    • "The Body" uses this in a heartbreaking manner when Buffy's mother Joyce dies of an aneurysm and, due to the usual happenings of the city, some members of the group desperately seek an alternate explanation for it happening. When they come up with no explanation, Xander says in a rant:
      "Things don't just happen! Not like this!"
    • Season 6 had "The Trio" as actual villains and antagonists, but they were actually pretty harmless (or at least ineffective) for most of the season (right up until they are not of course). The writers have outright stated that the actual "Big Bad" of the season was really just life itself; Buffy struggles more with adapting to the role as the legal guardian of her younger sister (and the threat of losing her to Protective Services if she falls short), earning money at a demeaning job in order to keep their house and pay the bills, coping with her own depression, etc than she does with disrupting any Evil Plan or fighting monsters.
  • A few Doctor Who examples:
    • The events of early Bottle Episode "The Edge of Destruction" are caused by nothing more than a spring inside a switch being out of place.
    • "Gridlock" has no sentient antagonist. The Macra at the bottom of the motorway have devolved into simple animals, and even the plague that wiped out the rest of New Earth's population has long since died out because it had no one left to infect.
    • In "Hide", the Doctor tries to rescue a time traveller trapped in a pocket dimension. It first appears that there is a monster in the episode, however it turns out he was simply another traveller trying to reunite with his mate.
    • This may or be not the case in "Listen", as it's deliberately left ambiguous whether the monster capable of "perfect hiding" actually exists. Either way, the conflict in the episode primarily stems from the Primal Fears in each character's — especially the Doctor's — head.
    • The closest things "In the Forest of the Night" has to real antagonists are non-sapient animals and a solar flare.
    • Technically speaking, there is no antagonist in "Hell Bent". Although Rassilon appears to be so, he is dismissed early on, and while the Doctor, due to being in the midst of Love Makes You Crazy and attempting the Tragic Dream of trying to undo the death of Clara Oswald, comes very close to becoming not only an antagonist but potentially a Woobie, Destroyer of Time, he never quite crosses the Moral Event Horizon. As such, "Hell Bent" has no clearly defined antagonist other than time itself.
    • Another Twelfth Doctor example: The big twist in "Twice Upon a Time", his Grand Finale, is that this trope is in play. The Testimony is benevolent and the First and Twelfth Doctors meeting when both are resisting regeneration creates a paradox that interrupts its work, causing the crisis. Upon learning what's really going on, the Doctor acknowledges the rarity of this trope in Who, as seen on the page quote.
    • Similarly, in The Sarah Jane Adventures, there's no antagonist in the main plot of "The Mad Woman in the Attic".
  • Most of Emergency!, due to Jack Webb's semi-documentary style and the Medical Drama nature of the show. Most of the struggles were against accidents, injuries and natural forces. Only a few eps had true antagonists.
  • Flashpoint: The first case Team One gets in "A Day In The Life" is a man trying to commit suicide. Though this is the only episode in which the trope appears, it's suggested they routinely get called out to cases like this, it's just that the series doesn't show those calls because they don't make for interesting television.
  • Zigzagged throughout The Good Place. Initially, the biggest threat to Eleanor's safety is herself, as her negative influence starts turning Neighborhood 12358w into a World of Chaos. This doesn't remain the case forever:
    • Episode 3 has Eleanor receive an apparently threatening note from someone who knows that she doesn't belong. After Eleanor fails to prove that her neighbor Tahani wrote the note, Chidi convinces her that the note is a physical manifestation of her own guilt, and that no one wrote it. At the end of the episode, the silent monk Jianyu reveals that he wrote it, not to threaten Eleanor, but to ask for her help, as he also doesn't belong.
    • After Eleanor confesses that she doesn't belong, the show cycles through a few antagonists. Michael temporarily becomes the antagonist as he has a role in deciding if Eleanor can stay, along with Trevor the demon, who is there to bring Eleanor to the Bad Place. Both of them cease to be antagonists after Michael has a change of heart and refuses to let Trevor take Eleanor. Finally, the Judge Shawn is summoned to decide on the case.
    • The show suddenly gains multiple antagonists in the Season Finale, after Michael reveals that his neighborhood is actually part of The Bad Place and almost every character we've met so far is a demon.
    • Season Three starts off with no antagonist excluding Judge Gen, who is so lazy that she is initially unaware that Michael is tampering with the human's lives on Earth. Trevor then reappears, sent by the Bad Place to ruin the experiment, but then he gets shoved into an endless pit by Judge Gen after only two episodes.
  • Many episodes of House fit the trope: the "antagonist" of the medical storyline is just some kind of disease or medical condition, whilst in the protagonist's life the "antagonists" are merely his own personal problems, such as drug addiction. At the wishes of the network, the show has had recurring human antagonists (such as Edward Vogler in Season 1 and Michael Tritter in Season 3), but their arcs were resolved rather abruptly, as the creators of the show were well aware that a villain did not really fit the show's dynamic.
  • JAG: In "Mishap", Harm’s former RIO, Lieutenant Elizabeth Skates, acts as LSO when a crash occurs aboard the aircraft carrier USS Patrick Henry. Skates gets court-martialed for alleged culpability in the incident, but it turns out she was not doing anything wrong; but rather that the entire crew was overworked and underfunded (lack of manpower, lack of spare parts etc.). Captain Ingles acts as the Hate Sink, by charging Skates in the first place and impeding Harm’s request for documents, he didn’t act maliciously or with any hidden motives.
  • MacGyver occasionally had episodes where Mac dealt with a natural disaster or an accident without any nefarious sabotage involved. The second season episode "Hellfire" revolved around trying to put out an oil well fire using aged explosives and faulty equipment, with most of the drama caused by Mac's friend's bad history and trying to preserve his marriage.
  • Mad Men. Characters' problems and worries are all caused by their own actions or by traumatic events of the 1960s (such as the Kennedy Assassination and the Cuban Missile Crisis). While a character may occasionally have a rival of some sort, it's never on such a level that the other character could be defined as a Big Bad. Occasionally, but not usually, the ad firm on which the show centers or a character has a rival or competitor that could be called a Villainy-Free Villain, mostly similar to the Opposing Sports Team trope, where a change of perspective would put viewers on the other side. Interestingly, despite usually having no villains, and never having a truly evil villain, the show remains on the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, because most characters still have a good helping of Jerkass.
  • Some episodes of Married... with Children had the characters' Get Rich Quick Schemes ruined by bad luck or a Spanner in the Works.
  • A few episodes of M*A*S*H could qualify, unless of course you believe that Kim Il-Sung and Douglas MacArthur are both serving sort of the unseen role of Greater-Scope Villain for waging the war in the first place:
    • "Dreams" from the 8th season, which is a anthology episode of the main characters' nightmares;
    • "Old Soldiers", which is largely a battle between Col. Potter and his mortality;
    • The main plot sequences of "Where There's a Will, There's a War" (many of the flashbacks don't qualify at all), as Hawkeye struggles with his own mortality by writing a will for the other members of the 4077th to read if he's killed at Battalion Aid.
  • Masters of Horror: There's no monster or bad guy in the episode "Sounds Like"; the conflict revolves entirely around the main character's acute sense of hearing becoming increasingly unbearable.
  • Often in Scrubs, the conflicts are with a disease or simply medical bureaucracy rather than with another character.
  • Pose doesn't really have a direct antagonist most of the time. Most of the conflict tends to arise from the characters tribulations being black, gay and/or trans in the '80s at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
  • Six Feet Under doesn't feature an antagonist after the Krohener arc. The business seems to be doing fine, the show becomes far more character oriented.
  • Many episodes throughout Star Trek involve the heroes encountering a Negative Space Wedgie that puts them in danger. The wedgie in question isn't malevolent, but it's no less dangerous. From Star Trek: The Next Generation, the seminal episode "The Inner Light" provides a particularly striking example: not only is the wedgie of the week not hostile, it's not even dangerous, with its only real goal being to Fling a Light into the Future.
  • In Transparent, the conflicts of the characters are usually caused by their own actions or by their disagreements with each other as a family. The closest thing to a real villain that the show has is probably transphobia.

  • Pink Floyd's The Wall is about Pink's inner struggle with the demons his life has brought down on him. While certain events and people did play a role in helping him build his "wall", there's no one you can point to and say that they're responsible for all of his issues... except himself.
    • Slightly averted in The Movie, where the Teacher is a complete Jerkass. Pink also condemns the army brass who let his father's regiment get wiped out, and "Kind Old King George [VI]," who didn't even bother to sign the condolence letter in his own hand.
  • Quadrophenia by The Who is about Jimmy's struggle to both fit in and figure out who he is (and who he should be). Although the Rocker-Mod riots are an important plot point, and Jimmy's relationship with the Mods underscores and enhances his conflict, it by no means causes it. This is quite a contrast to Tommy where the antagonist is seemingly everyone else.
  • Kids Praise: More albums than not have no actual villain—-often there are characters who need to learn a lesson or two, but no actively malicious characters. When they need an antagonist, Risky Rat fills in.


    Puppet Shows 
  • Gerbert has no antagonist and is more similar to a slice of life show, with simple conflicts a child may go through.
  • The Chica Show has no antagonist for obvious reasons.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Dear Evan Hansen: There is literally no bad guys in this play. Instead, it's Evan's inability to escape from his lie, and the Murphys' quick acceptance of these deceptions as comfort, combined with Heidi's repeated attempts to please Evan, create most of the problems.
  • Peer Gynt has no defined antagonist, unless you count the main character, who screws up splendidly and is his own worst enemy. Even the trolls, although sadistically cruel, spout some wisdom, and the Mountain King shows himself as fairly decent, even trying to get Peer back on track in the end. Even his daughter the green-clad woman states that Peer brought his problems on himself: "don`t blame me for this!"
  • Waiting for Godot is simply about two guys waiting for their friend to show up.
  • The conflict of Harvey is people's misguided attempts to "cure" Elwood of seeing the title rabbit. Since Elwood is pretty much the nicest man on the planet, not once does he object.
  • The closest thing Next to Normal has to an antagonist is Gabe - but Gabe is just a recurring hallucination that Diana's mind has created, and the real "antagonist" is Diana's mental illness.
  • Iolanta is about a blind girl finding love and gaining her sight, and the rest of the characters helping her.
  • Carmen has the Yandere Don Jose, who picks a fight with Carmen's new lover Escamillo, and then murders Carmen in the end as Escamillo wins a bullfight. You wouldn't call him good, or allied with Carmen, but it's reductive to the story to label him an antagonist in the manner of a Scarpia or Iago.
  • Tsukiuta's 6th play, Kurenai Enishi, takes a step up from the 2nd and 5th by not having a villain. Instead, the fantasy world that the characters find themselves trapped in is plagued by a curse, and to lift the curse, and return to the human world, the characters must balance the light and dark energies by getting the leaders of the Black and White Tengu villages - who happen to be brothers - to put aside their feud. They do fight zombies, but the zombies come from a curse, not from a malevolent character. This also applies to the third play, but as Magical Realism, it goes with the territory.
  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is more focused on fleshing out the six spellers and showing the progression of the competition, leaving very little in the way for an antagonist. The closest anyone comes to being a villain is one of Logainne's dads, who deliberately spills soda on the ground, intending to disable William’s technique and get him eliminated. Even then, this is treated as more of an obstacle and the problem ends up being rendered moot, since William ends up spelling just fine without his technique.
  • The Producers is about two Villain Protagonists trying to pull off a Zany Scheme to get rich with bad luck getting in their way.

    Theme Parks 


    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing. The conflict is simply "you're living on your own and have to pay for your house." The worst folks you have to deal with are the occasional mean neighbor or sly salesman.
  • The Harvest Moon franchise doesn't have any sort of overarching Big Bad or central figure causing any trouble. The conflict comes from managing your farm's time between growing crops, raising animals, meeting the townspeople, going to festivals, and falling in love. The only HM game that has a clear antagonist is DS/DS Cute, where the Witch Princess accidentally turned the Harvest Goddess to stone in the former and the Harvest King turning her to stone because of an insult directed at him in the latter. Every other game is just about a peaceful farming life in which your goals are set up by yourself, like maximizing your profits and getting married.
  • The Atari 2600 game Pressure Cooker. You're working at a fast food restaurant and the conflict is in keeping up with the flow of burgers before they all fall off the chute and not get the orders wrong. There aren't even any other visible characters besides yourself.
  • Welcome To Boon Hill is about walking through a cemetery and learning the stories of the people buried there. There's no zombies, ghosts, or any spooky stuff going on there.
  • Zoo Tycoon, being about building a zoo, doesn't really have an antagonist to confront, though at times you could make an argument for the guests.
  • Downplayed in Stardew Valley. Much like Harvest Moon, the central conflict is about maintaining a farm, but there is competition in the supermarket chain JojaMart. Even so, a player can completely ignore the conflict going on between JojaMart and the local mom-and-pop shop if they choose. The most antagonistic person in the setting is only promoting JojaMart because it's his job, and even he can rescue a player should they faint in the mines.
  • Unless you count the indeferrent plague and human frailty as a Big Bad, Pathologic plays this pretty straight.
  • Uru involves the player character exploring the history of the fallen D'ni culture, so unlike the rest of the Myst games, there is no opposition here.
  • Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar: The goal of the game is to become the eponymous Avatar. While a fair part of that quest involves the traditional Dungeon Crawler, there is no villain and most of the work involved in completing the quest involves simply acting virtuously.
  • Fez. The main conflict of the game is collecting cubes and saving reality from being torn apart.
  • Journey: You are a traveler in the desert walking towards the distant mountain. You meet fellow travelers who help you and dangerous creatures that hinder you locally, but there is no overarching opposing force that prevents you from going on.
  • Gone Home: Although it seems that you are exploring a haunted house, it turns out to be a love story and a Coming-Out Story about your sister and her girlfriend. While their story certainly features antagonists, the player character herself has none.
  • Sky Odyssey has no villains or bad guys to fight. Hostile Weather, mechanical breakdowns, and rough terrain challenge the player, but none are obviously characters.
  • Antichamber: There's something that can be interpreted as an antagonist (the black cube/ghost), but doesn't really do anything visibly bad.
  • While King's Quest I and II have random foes for Graham to defeat, there's no central antagonist behind the whole thing. The AGD Fan Remake of II fixes this somewhat by promoting the witch Hagatha to a more prominent role, giving her more involvement in Valanice's kidnapping, and introducing The Father as Hagatha's Man Behind The Man.
  • Kerbal Space Program: The only obstacles to your progress are your own design or piloting mistakes.
  • Much of the entries in the Atelier series don't have an antagonist, as the plot usually revolves around proving one's self or reaching goals.
  • The plot of The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince centers around the Wolf (as the titular Liar Princess) trying to fix her mistake by leading the blind prince to the Witch so the latter can heal the former's eyes. The only opposition are the hostile creatures of the forest, and the endgame revolves around the Princess and the Prince trying to quell the Witch's rage after they accidentally destroyed her collection. The closest thing the story has to actual villains would be the prince's parents, but they are offscreen, minor characters whose only actionnote  merely serves to motivate the Wolf more to set things right.
  • The Talos Principle: You only interact with two other characters, and while either or both of them may seem deceitful, neither of them want you to fail, nor will they take any steps to impede your progress. Apparently Subverted in the Tower Ascent ending, where Samsara will actively try to keep you from climbing the tower. Milton is just programmed to insert doubt in the simulation and encourage critical thinking, and Elohim is simply reluctant to be defied, knowing that will end the simulation and quite possibly kill him, but he never actually turns hostile and congratulates you should you succeed. Samsara does try to prevent you climbing the tower, though that one is functionally an antagonist to The Shepherd more than to the player, as the obstacles she throws up never render the puzzles unsolvable.
  • Jumper Three has no antagonists for Ogmo to deal with, just abandoned ruins full of the usual spikes, electricty currents, crumbling floors and native creatures that are eager to help Ogmo in finding a new home.
  • Dear Esther: The story concerns a single man's attempts to come to terms with a terrible event in his past. He is the only person on the island and even the event that drove him to solitude was just an tragic accident.
  • Nancy Drew Haunting at Castle Malloy is the only Nancy Drew game to fall into this trope and not have any culprit. As it turns out, the kidnapping that drives the plot was actually an accident and the "culprit" was trying to help the victim... and is a 70 year old feral woman flying around on a jetpack. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • This is officially the case for Uncommon Time according to the Developer's Room, but while it's definitely true for the final movement, which just involves the protagonists going on a Fetch Quest to succeed at the World Tuning, Teagan fits the role pretty well during the first half of the game. The Herald of Winter, Alto's subconscious hatred toward the world, could also count as an antagonist, as she's the reason why the first World Tuning fails, and in fact directly causes The End of the World as We Know It if she achieves dominance over Alto's will.
  • Completely possible in the main entries of The Sims, as you can create whatever kind of Sims you like and can craft whatever kind of "story" you want. Want a world where there's no bullies, jerks, villains, or romantic false leads? Knock yourself out; if you decide to go that route, then the biggest obstacle in your sim's day-to-day happiness will be themselves as you try to keep them from starting fires and starving to death. However, there are certain un-changeable NPC's (mostly in The Sims 2) that are programmed to occasionally be nuisances to your sims, such as the burglars, Mrs.Crumpplebottom, or the Unsavory Charlatan.
  • More often than not, a Super Monkey Ball game is simply about Aiai and the other monkeys feeling hungry and traveling to floating platforms to grab bananas, with no further plot. In the first two games, there weren't even any other characters besides Aiai and his friends.
  • Ignoring the Boss Rush modes, two modes from Kirby Super Star and its remake lack actual villains:
    • The Great Cave Offensive is basically Kirby falling into a hole and trying to escape with as much treasure as possible. While there are four major bosses, with Wham Bam Rock's defeat unlocking the ending, none of them have a plot role, and the mode ends with Kirby escaping.
    • Meta Knightmare Ultra in the remake is just a speedrun through the first five main modes as Meta Knight. Even when some sort of plot formulates towards the end, neither NPC involved (Nova and Galacta Knight) is antagonistic - the first simply grants a wish, and the second just exists for a unique final battle for the mode.
  • The Interactive Fiction story A Change in the Weather is about escaping from a dangerous situation with purely natural causes. There's nothing that can be pinpointed as an antagonist besides nature.
    • Similarly, So Far is about fixing an environmental problem. The main obstacle is the story's odd language; there may or may not even be any other characters.
  • Infocom's Infidel has a Villain Protagonist, but there's no hero matched against him — just a dangerous environment and his own stubborn determination to cross it.
  • The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+ reveals in its final ending that nothing in the game is real. Mom isn't trying to kill Isaac, nor is he actually fighting Satan, or himself, or any of the other bizarre bosses. The entire game is a Dying Dream by Isaac after his self-loathing causes him to commit suicide by suffocating himself in a chest.
  • Return to Mysterious Island is a survival story, so nothing living hinders Mina except for some territorial monkeys and security robots she accidentally activates while exploring. It's technically Nemo's fault that she's trapped on the island, but he genuinely never anticipated that his invention would backfire in the way that it did, and does his best to help her (even though he's dead).
  • Copy Kitty plays around with this trope. The entire game is a simulation meant to train Boki's Power Copying abilities by pitting her against a simulated version of a real in-game Construct army her kind are fighting against. Thus, while there is technically an antagonistic force and even a Big Bad, none of it is real, and the closest thing to a real force of opposition in-game is Savant, Boki uncle and the creator of the simulation, who doesn't mean Boki any harm in the long-run. All of this goes out the window in Boki's hard mode campaign, however, when it's revealed that the Cybers, the Greater Scope Villains and leaders of the out-of-simulation Constructs, are spying on Boki's training, and one of them finally decides to hijack the simulation and fight Boki themselves as the Final Boss. Savant's campaign, meanwhile, has even less of an antagonist, as he's simply bug-testing his own simulation and the Final Boss of both of Savant's campaigns are friendly duels between Savant and one of his allies.
  • WarioWare is noticeable for not having any antagonists for its characters to deal with (well, except for Kat and Ana in the first game and Mona in Touched, amongst others). Most of the time, they're just trying to do something relevant to their jobs/interests as you clear their games. In fact, the closest thing that the series has to an overarching antagonist is Wario himself, and even then it's mostly because he's taking advantage of his friends' efforts.
    • Gold however averts this trope for once by having Wario be the true Big Bad of the game. He's the one who stole the golden pot from Luxeville in the first place, prompting Lulu to chase him back to Diamond City as well as kickstart the entire plot involving the Wario Bowl, which was in fact a scam that he had set up to cheat the player out of their money as they went through the games, only to deny them their prize once they finally get to confront him. All this plus Wario getting Drunk on the Dark Side prompts the player to fight him for it.
  • There's no Big Bad in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The Damsel in Distress has been that way for centuries and the person who bewitched her died the moment he cast the spell. Link is given his quest by Impa simply because the Birth Mark Of Destiny appeared on his hand. While there are enemies in the game who want to kill Link to resurrect Ganon, they have nothing to do with the actual plot, and the dungeons link must conquer are actually guardians created by the forces of Good to protect the Triforce of Courage. Even at the end of the game, the final confrontation with Shadow Link is a test set up by the old man that guards the Triforce and wants Link to prove that he's overcome his evil side.
  • Some games from the Grow series have a conflict that isn't caused by a villain or by anyone at all:
    • Grow Tower where the objective is turn the sun on like a lamp.
    • Grow cannon where you must help a sleeping guy to wake up after he screwed himself by breaking his alarm clock.
    • Grow Nano vol.2 where you must help someone put a fallen baby bird back into it's nest.
    • Grow Nano vol.3 where you must heal a man who got sick by natural cause.
    • Grow Cinderella where like in the original tale, you must help Cinderalla prepare herself for the ball. Unlike the original tale, there is no indication that Cinderella's evil stepmother and stepsisters exists.
  • Calendula: Unusually for a horror game, the antagonist is simply a series of non-sentient glitches that are messing with the game menu and preventing you from playing the game. The story itself is also rather vague, but despite the scary apparitions that appear, none of them actively hurt the player, and ultimately the conflict is a baby trying to be born.
  • VVVVVV: The conflict is the crew being separated from each other after their ship crashed, and Captain Viridian having to rescue them all. The main source of death is obstacles, and while there are enemies to dodge, none of them seem to be sentient or have any relevance to the plot. The final challenge is an escape sequence rather than a boss fight.
  • Ikenfell: It's deconstructed. There is an antagonist, but their behavior and goals are purely benevolent. Despite the evidence that suggests that an Eldritch Abomination called the Dark Fold being the game's antagonist, it turns out that it's long gone. However, Headmistress Aeldra legitimately fears that it's still alive. Fueled by said fears and years of suppressed guilt and self-loathing, Aeldra causes more than a few problems out of paranoia. The season of magic changing is being held back by Aeldra, out of a refusal to let the past die and for magic to change. Safina found this out, and attempted to stop Aeldra from holding it back, because a refusal to let magic change would mean The End of the World as We Know It.

    Visual Novels 
  • Aster Asks!: The story has some conflict, but it's driven entirely by Aster's awkwardness and insecurity.
  • The Infinity series in general.
    • Never7 is mostly about the protagonist trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, but all of the deaths he tries to prevent were the results of accidents, and where the main cause of everything is what was supposed to be a harmless science experiment Gone Horribly Wrong AND Right at the same time.
    • Ever17 has no real antagonist. There are some bad people alluded to, mainly Leiblich Pharmaceutical, but the cast does not really come into conflict with them. The story is directly about trying to escape the the park before it is crushed by water pressure and indirectly about figuring out what is actually going on.
    • Kokoro's route in Remember11. Mayuzumi is a jerk and Hotori allegedly has a homicidal split personality, but ultimately any deaths are from natural causes, people freaking out in the bad endings, or caused by the twins, who, being infants, have no idea what they're doing. Satoru's route is a whole different story.
  • Utsuge games often tend to lack a villain.
    • Most of the paths in Katawa Shoujo lack an antagonist. Shizune's father acts as one in hers, though he's mostly an ineffectual jerk, Lilly's parents put her and Hisao's relationship in jeopardy by having her move to Scotland, and the art teacher does inadvertently cause Rin's breakdown, but otherwise the characters deal with regular teen problems.
    • In Private Nurse, Hiroki is his own worst enemy, as it's implied that his sickness is as much psychological as it is physiological.
    • Kana: Little Sister. Kana's sickness and impending death due to kidney failure is the only "force" opposing the protagonist of the game.
    • Crescendo (JP) has the conflict be the characters’ psychological issues and a possible splitting up at graduation.
    • A lot of Key/Visual Arts visual novels generally doesn't have an antagonist, as many of their works focuses on Character Development instead:
      • Most routes of Little Busters!. Haruka's has her family and Kud's sorta has the islanders at the end, but the conflict in Komari's is all about her brother's tragic death to disease, Mio's presents Midori as the villain but the conflict is actually getting Mio to feel good enough about herself to want to live, and Kurugaya's is about the dream world breaking down. More than that, the main plot of the game itself follows this: while Kyousuke appears to be the villain for a while, he's merely reacting to the real issue, which is the bus crash that almost killed everyone except Riki and Rin, and the weakness of the latter two and their lack of ability to move on or take care of themselves afterwards.
      • CLANNAD’s main conflict primarily focuses on how characters deal with their own troubled pasts and overcoming their own flaws to become better people. More specifically, Tomoya is a cold-person thanks to his abusive father and Nagisa has low self-confidence due to her illness, but when they both meet each other, Tomoya slowly becomes open towards his own feelings while Nagisa shows more confidence on herself. Tomoya even learning from his own mistakes and bad choices (such as neglecting his own daughter after Nagisa's death) he made during After Story route even allows him to push the Reset Button Ending that allows him to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. The closest Clannad has to an antagonist is a soccer team filled with Jerk Jocks, and that is mostly meant to set up Youhei's Character Development.
    • Both Narcissu and its prequel Narcissu 2nd have no antagonist, as their plots are about sick girls dying whilst musing about God and Christianity, fate, the fleeting nature of life, and the finality of death.
  • Dream Daddy: In all routes to date every dad, there isn't anyone that seems to be particularly getting in your way. The closest thing to an antagonist is Robert briefly warning you against dating Joseph in the latter's route, which is very brief and hardly a conflict.

  • The Bug Pond: Being a character driven slice-of-life webcomic, it has no central villain. The closest it ever gets is the occasional predator who's not given any motivation or real personality outside being a temporary menace.
  • Dissonance: Two researchers deal with a new life form which challenges what they thought they knew about evolution, and their own Angst. Even the life form - a catlike creature that can walk on two legs - is friendly and completely non hostile.
  • Dumbing of Age. Possibly to the frustration of fans, most of the conflict is derived from interpersonal relationships and inner demons. When an actual antagonist designed purely to be hated shows up, however...
  • Gunnerkrigg Court. The comic presents many opportunities for villains to cause mayhem, but they either never act out on it or are revealed to be misunderstood good guys. At least, until the coming of Walking Spoiler Loup...
  • Questionable Content is a Romantic Comedy at heart. There are no antagonistic characters present, with the conflicts mainly coming from relationship troubles. Except for Corpse Witch and her treatment of Bubbles.
  • Sunstone has no villain or other antagonist, with the main problems that Ally and Lisa face stemming from their own fears and failings and their inability/unwillingness to just spit it out.
  • Wapsi Square has a complex save-the-world plot without any antagonistic characters. Instead, the conflict comes from the difficulty in figuring out how to save the world, as well as difficulties in carrying the required plans out. Certain people can't be told certain elements of certain plans, but those people are still working towards saving the world. It's all very confusing.

    Web Original 
  • Unlike other Story Arcs on the site that have the reviewers fighting bad guys like Mechakara or Dark Nella, most of the drama that The Nostalgia Critic deals with comes from his own issues.
    • While the participants of the First Anniversary Brawl are divided into teams (critics vs gamers), none of them are shown as more heroic or villainous than the others. In fact, none of them have much motivation beyond "beat the other guys up as much as possible."
  • The Green Wanderer is entirely about an orc trying to figure out what to do with his life and seeking redemption after committing several sins in his past. He only runs into three villainous characters during his journey, all of whom only appear for one scene, and none of whom drive the plot forward, have any personal connection with the protagonist, or are even relevant to the overall plot.

    Western Animation 
  • Typical for animation works targeted at pre-schoolers or younger. This is because the age range is when children start to experience vivid dreams, and shows with antagonists more often than not cause nightmares to the target audience, which greatly annoys the parents (no one likes waking up to their kid crying at 3 in the morning and having to drag themselves out of bed to console the kid).
    • This is played straight in Blue's Clues. The closest thing to a villain would possibly be Green Puppy, but she's not really a villain since she's friends with Blue.
    • Caillou; again, due to the focus on Slice of Life.
    • Clifford the Big Red Dog; like Doug it's averted in The Movie, which resulted in a Broken Base.
    • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat, Due to the target audience being preschoolers it rarely had antagonists. The Magistrate and his wife don't really count as antagonists despite them occasionally making rules without reason though they always eventually realize the consequences of their actions and apologize to those they've has wronged. However, there still are recurring but minor antagonists which are the sleeve dogs and the bully alley cats. A few episodes have human antagonists, such as con-artists and a cat burglar that were after the Magistrate, but they're the exception rather than the rule.
    • Dragon Tales rarely had antagonists. The only recurring one is Cyrus, who only appears in three or so episodes and is in fact a Harmless Villain, though he did come close to his goals, only to either be stopped or tricked.
    • Sofia the First's Cedric the Sorcerer is the show's main villain—well, you couldn't call him a villain, per se. He's harmless, trying to get Sofia's Amulet of Avalor. Once the amulet temporarily causes him to be cured when doing bad deeds, his plans on using it are over and takes on a bit of a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Doc McStuffins has Percy the Wicked King, but he only appears in three or so episodes and is a Harmless Villain. The other episodes are straight No Antagonist.
    • Berenstain Bears averts this in the 80s series, but the 2000s revival plays it straight.
    • The Koala Brothers. The closest thing it has to antagonism is whenever one of the characters acts in an insensitive way.
    • Julius Jr.. Most of the episodes' conflict comes from standard Slice of Life issues.
    • Shimmer and Shine. Season 1 doesn't have any character trying to do anything bad on purpose. One of the new characters announced for season 2 is an antagonist.
    • Dora the Explorer. The closest thing there is to one is Swiper, but he’s only rarely responsible for an actual conflict and is usually just there to try to steal something from Dora. Plus, he’s a Harmless Villain who hides the items he steals instead of keeping them, and even helps Dora in later episodes in the series. One could also consider the Grumpy Old Troll a villain, but he’s more of a recurring obstacle. Some of the specials would avert this by including genuine villains.
    • Rescue Heroes. The Rescue Heroes only combat natural disasters and accidents. While someone may be to blame for said accidents, it's always made clear that it's an accident rather than being due to malice.
  • Most episodes of The Amazing World of Gumball have some kind of antagonist, but there are some exceptions:
    • Some episodes are just a series of sketches with no overall plot, placing them here.
    • "The Joy" deals with a virus outbreak that Richard accidentally caused. Miss Simian is an asshole, but she's the one that tries to stop it. Nobody's really complicit in the outbreak.
    • "The Origins" doesn't have an antagonist, and most of the plot is driven by the Wattersons' bad luck and stupidity.
  • Arthur plays this trope straight, preferring to focus on life issues.
    • Although D.W. does come pretty close to a main antagonist, since she often inconveniences the titular character with her annoying and sometimes downright cruel antics.
  • Bertha - While Mr. Duncan can be over-demanding at times, at the end of the day he's just doing his job as foreman.
  • Care Bears tends to drift in and out of this. The media that are villain-free are listed below:
    • Most of the books have no villains. Understandable since it is understood that the books are read to toddlers as a bedtime story, and the last thing parents want is the story being nightmare fuel.
    • The Care Bears' Big Wish Movie doesn't have villains.
    • Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot drifts in and out of this trope, but the final TV special plays this trope straight.
    • Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot also drifts in and out; the resident Villain, Beastly, doesn't appear in half of the episodes.
    • Care Bears & Cousins again drifts in and out of the trope, being a continuity of Welcome to Care-a-Lot. However, Season 1 is quite clear-cut: The even numbered episodes of the season lack villains.
    • Care Bears Unlockthe Magic, like with the others, also drifts in and out of this trope. The main villain, Bluster and his Bad Crowd, don't appear in most episodes.
  • Episodes of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers like Out to Launch and Prehysterical Pet lack villains (such as Fat Cat) committing crimes and plotting against the Rangers.
  • Clarence could fall under this trope, that is without Balance or Sandy...
  • Every episode save one of Danny Phantom feature the eponymous hero fighting some ghost or human and stopping some Evil Plan or attempt to Take Over the World (or at least cause serious damage). The one exception is the third episode "Parental Bonding," which has no villain intentionally causing any trouble, just a magical amulet (not an Artifact of Doom with an agenda but a completely neutral object) accidentally turning unwitting victims into a dragon the hero has to stop.
  • Fireman Sam as well, which deals only with fires started by either bad luck or carelessness. This is averted in the specials "Alien Alert" and "Set for Action!", but the antagonists in those are more or less Harmless Villains.
  • Franklin also plays this trope straight — like Arthur, to focus on life issues.
  • Gravity Falls as a whole doesn't qualify in the slightest, but there is the occasional Breather Episode where nothing menacing appears. Examples include "Double Dipper", "The Time Traveler's Pig", the "Truth Ache" segment from "Bottomless Pit!", "The Deep End", and "Carpet Diem."
  • While the 2 movies of The Magic Roundabout has Villains (Buxton and Zeebad), but the original series and the 2007 Reboot has none.
  • Despite its alleged creepiness a sizable number of episodes of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack have issues that are caused by the main characters (Flapjack's and K'nuckles) stupidity without a single enemy to trouble them. The other most common scenario is that K'nuckles himself is the villain.
  • Matchbox Hero City does not have a villain unless you want to count the ghosts as antagonists, but all they are doing is searching a quiet place to live.
  • My Little Pony:
    • While G1 had an antagonist almost every episode, and occasionally G4 has one, other series in the My Little Pony line (notably, Tales and G3) didn't.
    • Almost every Season Finale of Friendship is Magic has an antagonist driving the plot. The one exception is the Season 1 Finale "The Best Night Ever", where the conflict is the Mane 6 finding out that The Great Galloping Gala is disappointing and nothing like they hoped for, followed by their disastrous attempts to "Fix" it.
  • Pinky and the Brain usually avoided having any character knowingly and deliberately work against the Brain's world domination plots, probably because having a character play the traditional "hero" role against Brain's "villain" would run the risk of making the Brain seem too unsympathetic. The only real antagonist in the series is Brain's archnemesis Snowball, who's just like the Brain only worse (he only wants to stop Brain from conquering the world so that he can have it for himself).
  • PJ Masks: The season 3 episode "Super Muscles Show Off" stands out as the first, and so far only, episode in which none of the night time villains appear. Instead, the conflict comes from a contest of strength between Gekko and Armadylan, which quickly gets out of hand.
  • Most Postman Pat episodes are like this, with inclement weather, lost kites, special events (such as fetes and birthdays) and too-small suits of armour amongst others typically being the things that drive the plot, rather than a conflict between characters.
  • The Powerpuff Girls' Best Rainy Day Adventure Ever focused solely on the girls inventing their own adventures to keep them occupied on a rainy day.
  • Ready Jet Go! doesn't have an antagonist. The only characters close to being antagonists are Zerk and Mitchell, and even then, Zerk was only the antagonist for one episode ("Whole Lotta Shakin'") and has improved since then. Mitchell always tries to find out if Jet is an alien, but he's only a Jerkass at worst and is extremely sympathetic once you peel back the layers, and, like Zerk, eventually improves his behavior. The world of RJG! is unique in that, the characters aren't 100% heroic/polite or 100% evil/rude. Everyone has their own flaws and redeeming qualities, are capable of making mistakes, but eventually work to correct them. Also, jerks can be reformed with The Power of Friendship.
  • ReBoot: Subverted in episode "My Two Bobs". It was originally set up to lack a villain, as both Bobs were initially portrayed as "good" and the conflict was whether Dot would choose to be with Glitch-Bob or Normal-Bob. But this style of conflict was thrown out the window when Normal-Bob is revealed to be Megabyte.
  • Rescue Heroes has the conflict being between the Global Response Team and the natural disaster of the week.
  • While half the episodes of Rupert unambiguously portray people like thieves or tyrannical usurpers as villains who deserve to be stopped and punished, the other half have Rupert trying to mend a conflict between two opposing sides. These episodes don't portray either side as "the bad guy," and the goal is to conquer the animosity between both sides, not "defeat" one and "save" the other.
  • Many SpongeBob SquarePants episodes, especially the early ones, don't include villains. Examples include Tea at the Treedome, The Chaperone, and Krusty Love. The show's villains (married couple Plankton and Karen) weren't promoted to the main cast until the first movie, and they generally don't appear unless the plot centers around them. In fact, the Chum Bucket is almost always blatantly missing from outside the Krusty Krab unless it's a Plankton/Karen episode.
  • Star Wars Rebels: The only real antagonist in "Trials of the Darksaber" is Sabine's own demons that are preventing her from giving her all to her sword training.
  • While some individual episodes of Steven Universe: Future have antagonists, the main conflict of the series is Steven's mental trauma from the original Steven Universe and how those around him are taking their own life paths and no longer need his help.
  • Strawberry Shortcake:
    • The 1980's specials avert this trope by featuring the Peculiar Purple Pieman and later Sour Grapes as the antagonists.
    • The 2003 series plays this trope straight for the first four specials (Season 1), however Season 2 introduces a few one-off villains, and The Sweet Dreams Movie reintroduces the Purple Pieman and Sour Grapes, who recurringly appear in Seasons 3 and 4. It causes a Broken Base when antagonists do appear.
    • The 2009 reboot plays this trope straight. Although Sour Grapes is introduced in Season 4, it is not the same character as seen in the 2003 series and the original specials, as this Sour Grapes is a Berry Girl and comes more across as a jerk character rather than a proper villain.
  • Transformers: Rescue Bots: The series is aimed at preschoolers, meaning that the Decepticons are absent (and if Transformers: Prime, which the series takes place with concurrently, is anything to go by, it's for VERY good reason). The real conflicts are against natural disasters, malfunctioning machinery, and interpersonal issues between the Autobots and their human allies. Later averted when villains such as Mad Scientist Dr. Morocco and Corrupt Corporate Executive Madeliene Pynch showed up.
    • A few episodes have human antagonists, but they're the exception rather than the rule.
    • Its sequel series, Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy is similar, in that the conflicts mainly arise from circumstance and the protagonists' own flaws. A couple of Decepticons do make an appearance, but they've long since undergone Heel Face Turns by the time of the show, with one only a threat because he was panicked and injured.
  • Most works in the Winnie-the-Pooh franchise tend to lack any real antagonist or villain. Usually, the conflict instead comes from characters trying to solve simple problems and/or misunderstandings. However, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh averts this by making Heffalumps and Woozles Real After All. Played straight again with subsequent TV shows — The Book of Pooh and My Friends Tigger & Pooh both lack antagonists.
    • The feature film Winnie the Pooh (2011) has a notable Double Subversion of this trope; due to misreading a letter sent by Christopher Robin, the protagonists fool themselves into believing that they're being terrorized by an evil monster, and spend most of the story going on a fruitless quest to capture this monster. While The Stinger reveals that the creature is technically Real After All, he's not actually evil or mean at all in the slightest.
  • Word Party - much of the conflict in the story stems from the characters not knowing the word to something.
  • Code Lyoko has a few episodes where the villain of the series, X.A.N.A, is not the active driving problem and the issue is itself a glitch in the supercomputer causing something problematic. Depending on the exact situation X.A.N.A is either willing to work with the heroes to resolve the problem (Marabounta) or has no idea what is going on but reacts to the situation as it occurs (A Fine Mess).


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