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"Sorry, Kimmie. The Supreme One always delegates."

Deep in Mordor, at the top of the Evil Tower of Ominousness, the Evil Overlord awaits. He has his Legion of Doom, the Artifact of Doom, and any other Doomy Dooms of Doom you can think of. His power is vast and he is poised to strike and destroy all we hold dear at any moment.

Any moment now.

Aaaaaany moment...

No? Okay, never mind. Looks like we have a case of Orcus on His Throne. A villain with great power and the potential to wipe out the Forces of Good turns out to be an awfully retiring sort. Sure, they're out there somewhere being evil, probably oppressing someone else, but they don't actually seem to do much; they just sit about resting on their laurels or at most maintaining an active training regimen, waiting for the heroes to come and overthrow them. One wonders how they ever mustered the ambition to climb to their position of power in the first place.

Named for a line in the Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons Manual of the Planes, where it mentioned that Orcus, the lord of the undead, might once more be on his throne, one bony hand clutching his terrible rod. The original justification for this was based on the way D&D works; by not having Orcus (or any other given major villain) actively doing anything, but prepared to strike out against the forces of good, the dungeon masters who were buying the source books and playing the game could have the villains do whatever they wanted or needed them to do for their custom-built campaigns.

Relatedly, this is a very common trope in Video Games, where the villain waits passively in their throne room while the hero is leveling up, killing increasing tiers of their minions, Storming the Castle, occupying each base and methodically foiling their plans. If the Big Bad is coming, why not just wait and prepare yourself? But if the Big Bad is sitting by their Lava Pit of Doom, for whatever reason, just waiting for the Hero to arrive, then of course the Hero has to make their way all the way there.

In the villain's defense, maintaining order in one's domain can be a really time-consuming task, what with all those Rebel Scum, stupid henchmen, backstabbing lieutenants, and the other daily tasks an Evil Overlord has to face. And any tactician will endorse the benefits of a fortified position surrounded by your most powerful servants. Then again, what kind of Evil Overlord doesn't take the time to smell the roses, pillage a village, and give a hero a good Final Boss Preview every once in a while? They deserve a little "me" time, too!

The Big Bad might also be spending all their time offscreen searching for a Plot Coupon (Lost Superweapon, Artifact of Doom, etc.) that would render conventional means of conquest unnecessary. Why waste time and effort commanding the Legion of Doom when you could conquer/corrupt/destroy the kingdom/world/galaxy with the push of a button? Still, it's easier to send their minions out to do this instead, which is probably another reason they never have to leave the castle. In the case of a Non-Action Big Bad, the villain acts like this because personally, they don't have power, or at least not the sort that would be useful in direct combat, and they primarily work through their subordinates. It could also be that the hero is already doing something the villain wants, so why interrupt the enemy when they're making a mistake?

Villainous counterpart to Take Your Time. Compare Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering. Contrast Royals Who Actually Do Something and Frontline General. The opposite of this is Risking the King. Not to be confused with — though principally very similar to — Greater-Scope Villain. See also The Pawns Go First for when the Big Bad chooses to let their minions fight a particular battle for a while before intervening, or Villain No Longer Idle for when Orcus gets off his throne. Similar to Offstage Villainy, where we only know the villain is evil because the author says so; with Orcus on His Throne, we only know the villain is dangerous because the author says so. May lead to It's Personal with the Dragon, since if the Big Bad is spending all his time offscreen seemingly doing nothing, then his enforcers who are doing the work may become the target of the hero's ire. Can be justified if it's a Dark Lord on Life Support. Lazy Dragon is sister trope unique to literal dragons. Can also overlap with Unknown Rival if the villain simply isn't aware of the heroes for some reason.

For narrative purposes, an author may deliberately write his archvillain in this way. A Big Bad that is defeated by the heroes in every episode will lose its dramatic effectiveness.

This is not to be confused with Sealed Evil in a Can, where an abomination, demon king, or other powerful villain is not interfering because it has been sealed away (or "mostly" sealed away).

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Examples:

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  • Justified in Akazukin Chacha. The reason Big Bad Daimaoh is always inside his castle is because the Sealed Good in a Can set a spirit barrier around it that damages him if he tries to leave, thus only Sorges and other minions can go out. In fact, when the heroes invade the castle in order to stop him once and for all, he crushes them easily, even Seravy. It’s only due to him forgetting to destroy Seravy's doll Elizabeth that Chacha is able to transform and defeat him.
  • Bleach:
    • Sosuke Aizen, despite being the Big Bad for much of the series, seems content to wait on the sidelines looking pretty until he's forced to intervene himself. Upon which he cuts down one of his last remaining Espada himself for failing to defeat even a single Captain before taking the good guys out left and right. It's made clear he just wanted to use his army to force the Gotei 13 onto the battlefield and lessen the amount of people he'd have to personally deal with himself.
    • Of course, then the Vandenreich arrive and their leader averts this at first—he sends in the elite fighters first, and *then* the mooks, and on top of that, personally leads the assault on the good guys, a few chapters after he first showed up. They end up drastically decimating the Gotei 13 and killing their leader, with at most 6 casualties on their own side. However, Yhwach proceeds to play it straight with the second assault, waiting within his palace while letting the Sternritter and foot soldiers fight to the death, and then taking off for the Royal Realm with his elite guard while letting the rest deal with Gotei 13 and wiping them out himself to power up said elites against the Zero Squad.
    • Baraggan was like this in his backstory, too. He'd consolidated his power in Hueco Mundo so effectively that he had nothing left to do there but sit on his throne, and he was considering dividing his army in two and making them fight just to relieve his boredom. Why he didn't try attacking the Shinigami, the eternal enemies of the Hollows, isn't addressed, though it's implied from his conversation with Aizen and company when they first arrived on his doorstep was that he either didn't care or know that there were worlds beyond Hueco Mundo, or that there was any way to reach them (Soul Society) or if it would even be worth the effort of conquering (Human World).
  • Chainsaw Man: The Gun Devil was first formed 14 years ago, killed millions of people across the globe, and hasn't been seen since. Instead, it has gathered followers to pursue Chainsaw and carry out well-organized attacks while remaining hidden. Subverted when it turns out the Gun Devil is merely a mindless superweapon that was defeated and divided into pieces years ago, and Makima is the one who's really manipulating everything.
  • Justified in Code Geass. The Emperor Charles has since left the conquering to his elder children Schneizel and Cornelia because he's busy preparing to "kill the gods".
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, despite being the most powerful demon in the series, the progenitor of them all and possessing great intellect, Muzan Kibutsuji would rather have his minions go out and accomplish his goals for him, preferring to hide out as one of his human aliases. This is thanks to the Noodle Incident involving Yoriichi Tsugikuni, the Sun Breathing user, who came very close to ending his life, leaving Muzan to develop a massive paranoia of any demon slayer with similar abilities ever coming close to him again. He only took an active role in the story during the climactic Infinity Castle Arc. This only emphasizes how much of a Dirty Coward he is.
  • Digimon:
    • Almost every Big Bad in Digimon Adventure has this problem. Devimon separates the kids and instead of killing them himself, he lets his Black Gear-possessed minions do it, while he broods on Infinity Mountain. Vamdemon is perfectly content to let DemiDevimon try to cause strife amongst the Chosen Children instead of attacking them himself (initially), and each Dark Master waits until their comrade has been defeated and the Chosen Children reach their territory, especially Piemon, who doesn't even bother to send henchmen to the other kids entering his territory and only focuses on the kids who are at the top of the Spiral Mountain. In the case of Vamdemon, once he's in the real world, he can only freely act when it's dark and he spends the nights sucking energy from humans and prepares the next stage for his plan where he doesn't need to worry about the sun, which is also part of the reason why he didn't attack the kids in the Digital World until his introduction.
      • Devimon's case is unusual in that he actually did try to get rid of the kids personally by setting up a manor in order to just murder them in their sleep. When sheer bad luck caused them to wake up, he tried to simply dash them to pieces by floating the beds they were in and preparing to slam them into the ground. However that was thwarted by Leomon interfering and as a result the kids were separated. After that, Devimon seemed to prefer to let the Black Gear-possessed Digimon pursue them while he prepared for his own destined final battle with them.
    • Etemon tried to avert it by attacking the kids when they arrived on the Server continent however they landed far away from where Etemon thought they land. So Etemon had to travel to where they were.
    • Digimon Fusion has Bagramon, leader of the Bagra army. He doesn't do much for 50 episodes except sit in a chair, looking menacing. In the last 2 episodes he finally takes matters in his own hands, literally.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball: In the Great Demon King Piccolo Saga, King Piccolo typically sits on his throne in Emperor Pilaf's airship while his "children" do the fighting for him. He finally steps in personally after the deaths of Cymbal and Tambourine, and beats Goku so thoroughly that Goku is presumed dead afterwards. Justified in his case, since he was still vulnerable to the Mafuba, and he wanted to eliminate everyone who might know it before taking to the field himself.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Partially for Freeza. Despite being (by a huge margin) the most powerful villain in the series at that point, Freeza mostly just stays in his spaceship while his mooks do everything, and calls in Elite Mooks when they fail. However, he did personally fly to the Namekian villages with Zarbon and Dodoria to get the Dragon Balls (albeit in his hoverchair), and also killed three Namekians himself when trying to force one of them to give him the "password" to activate the dragon Porunga (although that scene was filler). It should probably be pointed out that as Emperor, he really shouldn't need to get his own hands dirty. His brother Cooler, on the other hand, is much more hands-on. He dispatched his Quirky Miniboss Squad to hunt down the heroes... but also quietly observed the search so he could step in if it looked like they were outmatched. That's how he got the drop on Piccolo.
    • An interesting variation occurs in Dragon Ball Super, where Jiren, Universe 11's ace in the Tournament of Power, spends most of the time just sitting around or meditating, despite being powerful enough to easily wipe out all of the other teams if he actually felt like it. The few times he actually does fight, he defeats his opponents with little effort. Somewhat justified in that conserving one's energy is a plot point. Of course, once everyone else on his team has been defeated, he is finally forced to fight the heroes.
  • Excel♡Saga has Il Palazzo, who sits on his throne playing dating sims and guitar while Excel and Hyatt do all the actual work. This, despite having (in at least the anime) psychokinetic powers that let him tear through an squadron of Ropponmatsus without the slightest effort, as well as at least some level of Super-Strength and Super-Speed. Among other things, he is unscathed by a half-dozen or so Ropponomatsus latching onto him and self-destructing, catches a mini-missile launched at his face with one hand before throwing it aside like a piece of junk, and zips across the floor too fast to follow and Neck Lifts the original Ropponomatsus... then proceeds to behead them by squeezing his fists shut. In the manga he has various technology-based powers, most notably teleportation, but it takes him over ten volumes to discover most of them due to his amnesia. He is eventually either cured or overtaken by a secondary personality (it's unclear to say the least) and gets off his throne to personally lead the conquest of (the economy of) Fukuoka.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Jellal is quite happy to send out minions to attack the Tower of Heaven's intruders, rather than fight himself. This is mostly due to the fact that as far as he's concerned, the only one worth his effort is Erza, and he knows exactly how she's going to act and what strings he needs to pull to deal with her, plus he's waiting for the Magic Council to be tricked into firing Etherion into the tower to prepare the final stage of his plan.
    • Laxus sits in Kardia Cathedral while everyone fights his team and tries to avoid a set of magical traps. There's a reason for that though: Laxus may hate Fairy Tail's reputation enough to try and take over the guild, but he's not truly a bad person, and won't admit to himself that he doesn't have the guts to deliberately kill someone.
    • Averted by Brain, who while willing to send his subordinates out to deal with issues is perfectly willing to step in himself, and Zero is an unwilling example since he can only come out when all of the Oracion Seis is defeated, at which point he gleefully starts tearing through the heroes himself.
    • Hades of Grimoire Heart, after going out to take down Makarov, is perfectly content to just relax in his ship while the Seven Kin of Purgatory and Bluenote fight, and doesn't bother fighting the heroes until they literally board his ship for payback.
    • Mard Geer of Tartaros is perfectly content to chill on his throne as Fairy Tail lays siege to Cube and even defeat some of the Nine Demon Gates, though that's justified because he can turn Cube into an Eldritch Abomination that assimilates all intruders anytime he wants, so he doesn't need to move to deal with them. It takes Lucy summoning the Celestial Spirit King and him wrecking Cube before Mard Geer can finally be bothered to take to the fight himself.
    • Acnologia is the most powerful being in the world, as Zeref himself implies that he could easily destroy or take over the world if he wanted to, but he always seems content to just sit around and do nothing. Zeref believes that this is due to the fact that Acnologia is a bored Blood Knight who just wants a worthy opponent to go all out on, and until that happens, he seems content to just sit and wait.
  • Food Wars!: While not exactly evil, Erina Nakiri was antagonistic towards protagonist Soma Yukihira due to starting off on the wrong foot, and she judges him as a mediocre chef who doesn't deserve to be in a school of prestige like Tootsuki. At the start of the series, she relies on conniving and throwing well-known students loyal to her at Soma to try and get him expelled, even though she probably could have simply challenged him to a Shokugeki and won herself. Following their subsequent Character Development and Heel–Face Turn, she lampshades this trope during her battle with Momo Akanegakubo, saying that she wasn't going to be the kind of queen who sits pretty on her throne after shedding her previously close-minded culinary ideology.
  • Father, the Big Bad from Fullmetal Alchemist, is the perfect example. The only thing he does until the day of the eclipse at the end of the series is sitting down in his throne underneath Central City, letting the Homunculi carry on his plan. Justified by the reveal that all of those tubes attached to him while he's sitting on that throne are to maintain a constant pump of Philosopher's Stone just beneath the surface of Amestris, which is what allows him to manipulate their form of alchemy. It's also likely that remaining in Central allows him to keep a direct hand on controlling the government, since Pride (who is his main go-between) is not capable of leaving the city.
  • Pasdar, the Big Bad of the first half of GaoGaiGar would sit on his throne, if he had a lower body. Instead he justifies this trope by being a giant grotesquely horrifying mechanical head that's growing out of the ceiling. When he eventually grows a body, it requires a huge amount of energy to do, so much so that he has to assimilate most of Tokyo to do it.
  • The Emperor of Darkness, the Big Bad of Great Mazinger, the sequel of Mazinger Z. He spent the whole series sitting on his throne in the underground as his generals led the war against the surface and never left the Underworld, not even when all generals of his army were killed off. The only thing he did in the entire series was bring Dr. Hell, Big Bad of the former series, back to life to lead his army, which did not work exactly well. He not even was Killed Off for Real in that series, but in a manga chapter of UFO Robo Grendizer (the version penned by Gosaku Ota), the last part of the Mazinger trilogy.
  • Alucard did this while waiting for Luke Valentine to show up in Hellsing. After he (Luke) shows up, Alucard comments that he got bored waiting.
  • Averted in I, the Female Robot. The leader of survivors from the second robot war against humanity has waited a few decades and is trying again. When the heroine Qiqinote  twice defeats his minions' plans he teleports to her location personally to kill her. While effortlessly dodging her attacks, he monologues this:
    "I've read a few stories written by humans. There's quite a few where early on the boss finds out about the existence of the hero or main character. But, the main character was weak, so he didn't think of him as a threat. The boss sends his underlings to finish him off instead. These underlings give the main character the experience he needs. Finally the main character becomes strong enough to defeat the boss with ease. What a comical boss. I don't want it to turn out that way for me. [dodges Qiqi's just accessed trump card: a satellite laser beam attack] Now it's my turn. Hello Qiqi, and good-bye."
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: DIO sends his minions to try and kill the Joestars and their friends rather than seeking them out and killing them himself. Justified, because he's a vampire who can't survive in direct sunlight, there are a bunch of countries between him and his enemies for most of the story, and he needs time to integrate his head to his old nemesis Jonathan Joestar's body in order to get back into fighting shape.
    • Diamond is Unbreakable Kira Yoshikage, after stealing Kawajiri Kosaku's face and identity, decides to just stay in hiding rather than go after Josuke and co. It isn't until he fails to hold back his Serial Killer impulses and gets found out by Kawajiri's son that he's forced to get proactive again. Justified, since he's trying to stay low, still in the process of getting used to his new identity, and he has not come up with a strategy how to deal with his enemies who have escaped his previous assassination attempt and soundly defeated him, as he knows he cannot repeat the stunt of taking another man's identity again. It's the aforementioned spontaneous impulse that ultimately leads to his downfall.
    • Golden Wind: Diavolo sends his elite guard to eliminate Team Bucciarati. While he does kill Abbacchio and Risotto Nero beforehand, he doesn't actually confront the heroes with actual combat abilities until all of his assassins have been killed. This is because he is The Paranoiac and insanely obsessed with keeping his identity a secret; just the idea that one of his opponents might escape having seen his face is enough for him to not even bother.
    • JoJolion: Toru only decides to act when the protagonists are looking for the Head Doctor, the presumed mastermind of the Locacaca Organization, and by this point, the remaining Rock Humans have already been dealt with.
  • Kill la Kill: Ragyo Kiryuin, despite being the uncontested strongest character, delegates the running of Honnouji Academy to her daughter. She doesn't even actually meet Ryuko until episode 17. Justified since Satsuki does a pretty good job leading the academy, so there's no need for Ragyo to intervene, not to mention she has a globe-spanning business empire of her own to run. However, in spite of her lack of interference with Satsuki's leadership, she takes the reins once Satsuki (who created the Honnouji Academy to oppose her mother) betrays her. Ragyo starts her rule utterly demolishing her traitorous daughter in combat and finally taking centre stage as the main threat by enacting her plan to feed humanity to the Life Fibers, and the viewers don't get told how strong she is until she gets impaled through her chest by Satsuki and proceeds to defeat any enemy around like nothing happened.
  • Zagato of Magic Knight Rayearth stays at the water dungeon for the entire story and sends out his minions one by one, only confronting the Magic Knights when they come to him. In the anime adaptation, he does intervene a couple of times, but one of them is via remote magic. Of course, this is partly because he is mainly concerned with protecting the Princess from them, and does not really want to oppose them.
  • Monster Rancher Zig-Zags this with Moo. Early on, it's implied that he spends most of his time drifting around in his Ominous Floating Castle, letting his minions conquer the world in his name. When one of his messengers tells him about the Searchers having the Magic Stone, however, he goes after them personally in order to claim the pendant for himself... along with Holly. Though they manage to rescue her, swipe back the Magic Stone and escape, he doesn't bother chasing after them, as he's more concerned with tracking down his original body. Once that's taken care of, he immediately goes after the Searchers again with intent to kill.
  • Usually subverted in One Piece. A quite large percentage of the villains are introduced sitting on comfortable furniture, often surrounded by their Quirky Miniboss Squad, and may continue to do that for the next few chapters, but as soon as they realize that the Straw Hats or other heroes are a serious threat, they will step up to fight them. Played straight with Gecko Moria, whose shtick is laziness, and a couple of other villains who simply are so arrogant that they think even their weakest henchmen can defeat any opponent.
    • During his Birdcage game, Doflamingo, fitting his role as The Chessmaster, sits in a chair atop his palace while he has his henchmen, a string clone, and even his oppressed subjects do the dirty work against the Straw Hats. He only starts fighting once Luffy and Law directly reach him.
    • Big Mom's family and crew prides themselves on allowing her to fulfill this trope due to the large number of characters she has at her disposal. Even when one of her dragons is defeated, she can typically just send another one (or an army of them) to beat the victor while the most she does is change the weather.
    • Kaido prefers to stay in his lair on Onigashima and drink rather than patrol the rest of Wano Country. This is good news to those who oppose him, as almost every instance of him getting off his throne to confront an enemy results in a Curb-Stomp Battle and usually death. However, a strict condition to keeping Kaido on his throne is for one not to harm Orochi or his subordinates.
    • And somewhat justified with Imu, the true head of the World Government. Since his spot and very existence go against everything the World Government is supposed to stand for, meaning the slightest leak on the matter could easily collapse civilization as a whole, he needs to be kept under a veritable mountain of wraps. As a result, he doesn't get to do much but give orders to the Five Elders, pick out important targets for genocide, ripping up photographs of individuals he doesn't like, and spending the rest of his time tending to his butterfly garden. As later arcs reveal, however, he doesn't need to leave his throne room for either he or a weapon of his to completely delete an island from the oceans.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, The Don Giovanni acted as a Greater-Scope Villain and rarely took center stage unlike the other evil team leaders, which works out in his favor as he's the only one of them that manages to escape justice. Over the course of the entire series he only directly opposes Ash twice and battles him once.
  • The Pretty Cure franchise has many Big Bads that are all dangerous and could destroy the world, but they depend more on their minions.
    • Justified with Jaaku King in Futari wa Pretty Cure and Moebius in Fresh Pretty Cure!, as they are completely depended on their minions. Jaaku King's objective is to collect the seven tiny Mac Guffins, but due to his Kaiju-size and being bound to the Dotsuko Zone, it's impossible for him to collect them personally. In Max Heart, he as Baldez is actively working to resurrect himself for the second time (or third, if you count the one time Baldez resurrected himself). Moebius is unable to leave Labyrinth due to the fact that he's really a giant supercomputer and the body we saw most of the time was just a robot he controlled.
    • Akudaikahn from Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star wants to destroy the seven fountains and he orders his minions to find them. He doesn't do anything until the heroines arrive to face him. When it turns out that Gohyan, his right hand man, was the real Big Bad, it becomes apparent that Gohyan could have fought the Cures at any point, but simply chose not to until the end.
    • Desparaia and the Director from Yes! Pretty Cure 5 and GOGO. They do almost nothing until all of their minions were killed or left them or disappeared. And in Desparaia's case, she doesn't do that much when she stands up from her throne except pull a High-Heel–Face Turn. The Director even has a floating chair to sit in wherever he arrives.
    • In HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, we are believed that Sabaaku is the main antagonist, who seems to be quite powerful himself, but he never really goes out and lets his minions do the work. Then we learn that he and the other Desert Apostles are working for Dune, who is far, far away from Earth and is spending his time traveling to Earth. Once he reaches the Earth, things go south really quickly for the Precures, as he defeats every single one of them easily and manages to wither the Treen of Hearts soon after.
    • Subverted with Mephisto from Suite Pretty Cure ♪. He doesn't do anything to find the music notes until he is tired of his minions' failures, so he has to take action himself. And he succeeds. Averted with Noise. Who spends the majority of the series being sealed away, but he still manages to brainwash his minions. Once the seal is broken, Noise goes all the way to collect the notes himself and once he has completed his task, he doesn't waste time to perform his Evil Plan.
    • Averted with Pierrot in Smile PreCure! and King Jikochuu in Doki Doki! PreCure, who are both sealed away for most of the series. And that still doesn't stop King Jikochuu to give commands, cast lightning from the sky and brainwash his daughter, even when she's far away in a different world.
    • Queen Mirage from HappinessCharge Pretty Cure! makes it very clear that she's too lazy to go after the Precures, which can be partly justified since there are Precures everywhere around the world. But even then, she doesn't bother to go after the strongest ones which her core minions are struggling with the whole time. While it's made apparent that she's brainwashed by Deep Mirror, who seems to try to not let her wander around too far away, so he can keep her under his influence, once it's revealed that he's Red, we soon learn that he could travel to other worlds anytime he wants. But for some reason, he operates almost entirely from the Red Planet for some reason. He only goes to Earth once, just to brainwash another character to become his minion that can fight for him.
  • Quite literally the Phoenix King from Ranma ½, as he is expected to do nothing but sit on his throne and shed light and heat so his subjects enjoy a comfortable life. Saffron, the latest incarnation, can vaporize mountains with heat beams whenever he feels like it, and yet he suffered an incomplete maturation that deprived him of control. One wonders why his previous, perfect, embodiments didn't go out and raze the world unopposed.
  • Ronin Warriors has Talpa, a frighteningly powerful demon emperor, who spends most of the time sitting back in his castle, giving orders to his Dark Warlords. The number of times he actually confronts a hero in battle can be counted on one hand. Justified in that he needs the armors of both the Warlords and the Ronin to physically manifest in the mortal world.
  • Sailor Moon: Happened every season of the 90s anime due to it being Strictly Formula and wanting to avoid Overtook the Manga. Only applies to the Big Bads; the Quirky Miniboss Squad members were often more interested in killing each other or completely unconcerned with the Evil Plan.
    • Queen Beryl was infamous for doing nothing but sitting on her throne. She only bothered to confront Sailor Moon herself when the heroine infiltrated her base. On top of that, she was weaker than the MOTWs! Justified in the manga; Beryl let The Pawns Go First because she didn't care about them and before the Sailor Guardians showed up, their job was to collect energy for Metaria and locate the Silver Crystal while Beryl manned the base (and even then she didn't just sit on her ass all the time and didn't fondle anything). Subverted later: Beryl was the one who confronted the heroines at their base.
    • Wiseman was just using the Black Moon Clan anyway, but still comes off like this in the anime, though not as bad as Beryl. In particular, he initially presented himself and Death Phantom as two different beings only for it to be revealed in the last episode that they were the same. Also something of an Adaptation Induced Plothole: in the manga, Death Phantom was a notorious criminal on Earth that Neo-Queen Serenity banished to Nemesis, so he had a reason to keep his distance from the heroes at first and manipulate like-minded people into doing his dirty work, lest he be recognized and risk his entire attempt at revenge falling apart.
    • Mistress 9 and Professor Tomoe of Infinity/S. Justified in both the anime and manga. Tomoe's a Non-Action Guy who's also completely crazy in S (though him being in charge of Kaolinite and the Witches 5 isn't justified), Mistress 9 has yet to truly awaken for most of the season (or at all in the manga; it's feared she'll never awaken there). By extension, there is Pharaoh 90, their master who was trapped in another dimension (though he was a surprise villain in the anime).
    • Justified in the anime for Queen Nehelenia as she would like nothing more than to go down there and slap the Sailor Guardians into oblivion all on her own. But she's trapped in the mirror dimension until the last few episodes of the season, so all she can do is deliver orders to her underlings on Earth.
    • The final arc/season of the series and not letting The Pawns Go First would've ruined Galaxia's entire plan. She was also toying with Sailor Moon the entire time and was explicitly waiting for her to confront her at her base, especially in the manga. Though her reasons for wanting to kill all the Sailor Guardians in the galaxy differs widely between anime and manga.
  • In Saint Seiya, the Pope Gemini Saga spend most of his time waiting for Bronze Saints to come in the throne room on top of the Sanctuary.
  • The Former Crimson King from Samurai Deeper Kyo spends nearly the entire manga doing this until he finally gets up and fights in the last 10 chapters or so.
  • Shinzo has Lanancuras, who technically has a good reason to sit on his throne: it's his prison. Except he never tried breaking out until AFTER the barrier maiden had discovered the power to keep him there, which is three hundred years (five hundred in the dub). And he does absolutely nothing during that time. This is the result of a second-season Retcon that revealed him as The Man Behind the Man of the original Big Bad.
  • So I'm a Spider, So What?:
    • Demon King Ariel is the strongest mortal being yet she doesn't personally participate in the war which she personally started with the humans. Several of her subordinates are frustrated with her for this behavior, not knowing that it is justified due to factors they don't know. Namely, Ariel dying will cause a massive drain on the planet's already critical MA supplies. Worse, the human Hero has a hidden bonus which allows them to kill the Demon King even if significantly weaker and a confrontation would be inevitable.
    • Shiraori, Ariel's subordinate, is subject to similar criticism after she annihilates the human Hero and his party with a single attack but only the Hero had already killed the demon general Blow. While allowing Blow to die was due to her personal beliefs, Shiraori's main reason for inaction is that she's a goddess and secretly storing up energy for a final battle with another god. Her seeming lack of action while out of combat is the result of controlling a massive array of clones that are directing the flow of the war and attempting to subvert the global Skill System.
  • Head, the temporary leader of Kiraboshi in Star Driver, began to show such tendencies relatively early, going as far as even taking a break from his "duties" halfway into the series. Better yet, as soon as Kiraboshi breaks the second maiden seal, reaches Third Phase and his faction seizes complete control over the organisation, he begins to actively stall their progress by withholding information. Of course, it's all part of his plan, since he needs Keito to convince Sugata to join Kiraboshi and waits for his old lover Shingo to wake up from his long coma to give him the mark that is a vital part of his grand scheme. After a while, a few members do get suspicious of him, but he never even once looses control over everything.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
  • Two Transformers examples: Deathsaurus in Transformers Victory and Gigatron in Transformers Car Robots. In both cases, Leozack and Black Convoy were much more active... though in both cases it was also clear their bosses were keeping an eye on them in case they turned out to become The Starscream.
    • Deathsaurus would, however, occasionally take to the field when there was a good chance to engage Star Saber in battle. On one occasion, Star Saber (in his smaller Saber form) was surprised to encounter Deathsaurus in a tunnel under a city, until Deathsaurus revealed that he was there because while he couldn't transform out of his (slightly) more compact dragon mode, Saber couldn't combine with his V-Star into his full Star Saber form either. And the cramped tunnels did so benefit Deathsaurus' Breastar attack animals...
  • Knives from the Trigun anime has the ability to destroy cities and a rabid hatred of humanity (he looks human but isn't, he's actually a plant), yet he sits in an oasis in the middle of nowhere for the entire series. Averted in the later parts of the manga, however.
  • Great Demon King Chestra in Violinist of Hameln follows this trope in letter, but not in spirit. He stays on his throne until his crippled body regenerates both legs, yet this does not prevent him from bringing his magic to bear against armies that challenge his minions as soon as he appears in the story.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The Yu-Gi-Oh! anime made Yami Marik into one. In the manga, the Battle City Semifinals took place almost immediately after the Quarterfinals, so this trope doesn't exist there. However, in the anime, a Filler arc begins after the Quarterfinals when a new villain hijacks KaibaCorp's blimp. This leaves Yami Marik alone on the ship with only Ishizu (who gave her Millennium Necklace to Yugi), an unconscious Odion, and many of Kaiba's employees. Yami Marik had tried to kill Odion (or banish him to the Shadow Realm in the English dub) to prevent him from waking up and containing him again on two separate occasions before, and was thwarted by Roland announcing his duel with Mai, as well as Yami Bakura's Millennium Ring. On his third attempt, shortly before this happens, Yami Marik sees Odion is no longer in bed. With Yugi (the only other Millennium Item holder) and Kaiba (the one giving the duel orders) currently at bay with Noah in his Virtal World, now would be the perfect time to go scour the ship for Odion, right? Nope. Without Yugi and friends, Yami Marik just... waited. He actually got bored of waiting and left the ship to look for Yugi and the others, wasting precious time he could have been using to look for Odion.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
      • Subverted, then played straight with Takuma Saiou, the Big Bad of Season Two. Early in the season he defeats and corrupts Manjoume into joining his Cultof Personality, then later tries to do the same to Kenzan when he learns he can’t be controlled, then duels Prince Ojin to gain access to a weapon of mass destruction that allows him to destroy the world, but afterwards, he literally spends days doing nothing but contemplating whether he should destroy the world or not, where he has a split personality crisis where his good side makes him give away the keys to the satellite to the heroes.
      • Minor example was Yuri Edogawa (called simply "Czar" in the dub) of North Academy who did nothing but sit in a rocking chair and watch when Manjoume went through the school's "hazing ritual" where he had to defeat 50 duelists in a row; after he finally does get off his behind, Manjoume defeats him easily, and calls him out for pretty much doing nothing. (Edogawa tried to justify this by saying that watching him duel 49 times let him memorize Manjoume's entire deck, but he still missed the two cards Manjoume used to defeat him.)

    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes, the Commander of Planet Gray gives Big M. and Little M. their orders through their television (or other device) from the comfort of his chair and is never seen getting off of the chair to do much else.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: During The Korvac Saga, the titular villain does not take an active role during the story outside of killing the Collector; he mostly stays at his luxury house and uses his omnipotent powers to avoid detection.
  • Fables: Mr. Dark originally comes to Earth to wreak revenge on the Fables who he thinks have abused his power. But after he discovers they have fled their New York place of residence, he decides to build his domain there and wait for the Fables to come looking for him. However, this trope is subverted in issue #100. After Frau Totenkinder has learned how to Box him, she comes to New York to face Mr. Dark and almost defeats him — but not quite. This near-defeat makes Mr. Dark finally abandon his throne and come after the Fables, who are forced to flee Earth altogether.
  • Green Lantern: During the Sinestro Corps War, Superboy-Prime sits on the Moon watching Earth for much of the conflict. When he finally gets involved, he does whatever he wants including punking his own teammates. The only reason Sinestro picked Superboy-Prime as a teammate, plus two other Omnicidal Maniacs, at all, was that he knew they'd eventually try to kill each other but not before advancing their own plans by hurting their mutual enemies.
  • Hellboy: Subverted. The Osiris Club is a fraternal order that is supposedly "waiting for the right moment" to seize control of the Oghru Jahad and rule the world... but they've done nothing of importance for so long that most of the other players in the occult underworld consider them a Brotherhood of Funny Hats. They were literally waiting for the right moment - the minute the Apocalypse begins, they reveal they actually have a working ritual to bind the Oghru Jahad. The only thing stopping them from conquering the planet is that they didn't plan far enough ahead to stop the heroes from undermining said ritual.
  • Judge Dredd: Judge Death in The Fall of Deadworld storyline. Whenever he shows up elsewhere, he's always The Brute since he likes to "dispense justice" personally, but in Fall he has an army to command and doesn't leave his HQ.
  • Loki: The Big Bad of Loki: Agent of Asgard, Old!Loki, has Story-Breaker Power, and the benefits of foreknowledge, but no real inclination to use it for anything more than trolling. For a long time, they were quite content to kick back in their cell. The explanation for this is that Old Loki is a time traveller and when they actually mess with the present they could very well derail it into something else or even better.
  • New Gods: Darkseid from The DCU, despite being a major Big Bad who ruled an entire planet with an iron fist, had access to incredibly advanced technology, and possessed divine powers that could smite just about anything in the universe, didn't get around to committing much actual villainy (outside of the original New Gods series anyway). Justified by his obsession with the "Anti-life Equation", a formula that removes the free will of anyone that hears it. In Final Crisis, when he finally has a chance to use the Equation, he immediately enslaves the population of Earth, has his son Orion killed, launches a campaign to subdue the Earth's remaining heroes, and nearly conquers the Multiverse.
  • Raptors: Don Miguel Y Certa, the master of the vampire order, doesn't really play an active role in the day-to-day politics of vampirekind and lets the Council of Vampires bother with such things, instead contenting himself with feasting on the food his servants bring him. In total, he makes about three appearances in the entire comic.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Kingpin is a street-level version of this trope. He can and has fought the likes of Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Captain America but prefers to keep the illusion that he is a legitimate businessman (or at least a fat mob boss) and has his mooks do much of the fighting. When it comes time to throw down, however, it turns out that all that weight is pure muscle and despite his size, he is a skilled and even agile martial artist.
    • In The Clone Saga, Norman Osborn was introduced very late in the game. He doesn't even enter the picture until all of his subordinates have been snuffed out, apart from the Scriers (who later came to his rescue after he was captured by Spider-Man). He explains that he'd been living sumptuously in Europe and rubbing elbows with the Scriers, spending years gradually usurping the organization and converting it into a tool for personal revenge.
    • The Goblin King/Norman Osborn in the Superior Spider-Man (2013) saga is this, acting behind the scenes and building up his army but not actively attacking Spidey in any meaningful way. It isn't until the final arc, "Goblin Nation", that he finally does something. And he does it in a big way.
  • Supergirl: Empress Gandelo spends most of The Killers of Krypton storyline doing nothing but sending her minions after Supergirl and complaining when they are unable to kill her as they were instructed to.
  • The Transformers Megaseries: Nova Prime and the other Dead Universe inhabitants need to eventually kill Optimus Prime for their evil plan to work. However, Nova hangs back and works behind the scenes through agents in Real Space instead of using his immense power to easily do so. This is because Dead Universe inhabitants can only survive for brief periods outside of it, so he doesn't want to risk ruining the plan to take out a single enemy. Except that's just what Nova tells his henchmen to avoid looking weak. In reality, he could easily kill Optimus and be back within the time limit, but he's scared that if he faces the guy directly then the Dead Universe will see Optimus as a better physical avatar and abandon Nova in favor of possessing Prime's body. When the two finally fight by necessity that's exactly what almost happens.
  • Ultimate Marvel: During the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy, Yahn Rgg sends killbots and soldiers to attack, but he does not do much of anything by himself. By the time the heroes get to him, he has locked himself into an escape pod, ready to start the self-destruct behind him.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse. It's sometimes been pointed out that with his massive power, Apocalypse should've been able to take over the world personally long before the modern era (since his powers emerged back in Ancient Egypt). However, he's generally been content with observing and provoking conflict behind the scenes (when he isn't in hibernation). This can be justified by his Social Darwinist worldview.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Bridge, Bagan requires vast amounts of energy to leave his realm, though he can influence the outside world in minor ways. In the meantime, his minions gather sources of energy for him to absorb so that he can finally get involved personally.
  • Deku: The Golden Saiyan Hero of Hope: All For One prefers to let others carry out his dirty work for him while remaining hidden in the shadows. After gaining control of the Quirk Enhancer, however, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Ami muses at one point that she hopes she's not expected to sit on her throne all day, as she'd never get anything done.
  • Having successfully taken over Cybertron in Transformers: MHA, Megatron's currently seen most of the time sitting on his throne while commanding his Decepticon troops as well as keeping track of each of their progress.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover Samantha Shepard, post-Heroic BSoD, acts like this. She sits brooding in her base, neither pursuing her former teammates nor her former objective of killing Reapers. Until said ex-teammates come knocking, anyway. Even then, she throws Mooks at them and is somewhat of an Anticlimax Boss.
  • L.O.V.E vs. H.A.T.E: While Twilight normally gets directly involved in the adventures, Queen Chrysalis prefers to rely upon other villains to take care of things for her.
  • Father Phillips from Megami no Hanabira spends most of his time chilling in the park, giving propaganda-filled sermons to the refugees, while his underlings get themselves killed like sheep fighting the demons. Justified, at least initially, as he's an feeble, arthritic, 90-year-old man who needs a cane to walk around...but then it turns out he's an Evil Sorcerer who can Flash Step around, and he's packing Archangel Michael, who could exterminate any demon effortlessly. Metatron condemns him as a coward for this.
  • Titan from My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic, befitting of his Generic Doomsday Villain status. The villains of the sequels are no better, hiding out in their lairs and sending one Monster of the Week after the other to try and defeat the heroes, leading to massive Adaptational Wimp for many competent villains such as Queen Chrysalis.
  • Justified in The Night Unfurls. During the centuries-old war before the events of the main plot, Olga, the Dark Queen, did not start off like this — she used to take the field personally and fight Celestine head on. The two stopped doing that since their magics were destroying the lands, and her goal is not "world destruction". The most Olga did was to smote Garan into a Mordor via Black Magic in order to deter enemy armies. Meanwhile, her fortress is well fortified, and she could send raiding parties down the south. There's also how a presumably long time was used to raise Chloe, her surrogate daughter and would-be vassal.
  • No Chance for Fate: Queen Beryl normally remains in her throne room, while her generals are more involved in their various schemes. However, Beryl decides to personally oversee capturing the Silver Crystal, and also leads the charge into Elysion.
  • A Wand for Skitter: It's Lampshaded a few times that Voldemort seems to have some kind of aversion to facing Taylor directly himself.
  • The Wheel and the Butterfly Saga: Discord operated this way while he was in control of Equestria, causing chaos from a distance while waiting for ponies to come to his castle and challenge him.
  • Averted in Forget The Rails, I Can't Find The Train!: Once 'Aizen' becomes a threat to Yhwach's plan, he immediately tries to kill him personally.
  • Frost demons in Hermit have this as their Hat. Cooler is mocked for being willing to get his hands dirty and conquer planets himself, despite it being far more effective.
  • Future Tense: For most of the story, Hayate sends her minions after Seikou. When they finally meet, she proceeds to demonstrate just why a new rank was minted just for her.
  • In A Prize for Three Empires, both Deathbird and Ronan the Accuser stand back and order their minions to hunt down Carol Danvers instead of looking for her and fighting her personally.
  • Requiem in Mega Man Dissonance acts like the usual Mega Man antagonist, staying out of harm's way (only initially interacting with Mega Man via an hologram) and letting his followers fight instead. However, he explicitly enjoys seeing Mega Man "running around aimlessly" and trying to defeat his forces, while his fellow Element 5 aren't so idle.
  • Done realistically in Mega Man Recut. The Steel Crescent Syndicate could just hunt down and obliterate Dr. Wily and the Robot Masters if they really wanted to... but that would attract attention from the police and waste resources. Wily is such an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain that he's not a big enough threat to justify the time and energy it would take to destroy him, so the Syndicate opts to just stand aside and let Mega Man and the RPD fight him for them. That's how most of the Syndicate feels anyway. Centum doesn't really agree, but secretly has a vested interest in keeping Wily alive; he's hoping to get his hands on Proto Man.
  • Justified in Truth and Consequences; Hawkmoth recognizes how dangerous it would be for him to face Ladybug and Chat Noir directly, so he prefers to remain safely hidden in his lair, sending out akumatizing butterflies to do his dirty work for him.
  • The Immortal Game:
    • Titan spends most of his time until the Final Battle in the Dark Heart of Everfree, where he is apparently unraveling the enchantments placed by Celestia and Luna on Equestria so he can impose his brand of order once again. Subverted somewhat in that he is actually fought multiple times, mostly through avatars of himself, but not always.
    • Prince Empyrean walls himself in his palace and not seeming to actually do anything much. It's justified in his case, since he is a Spoiled Brat who, despite wielding the power of Celestia, has none of her skill and experience and is way too scared at the thought of endangering himself.
  • Baron Zeppeli from Tealove's Steamy Adventure. He does directly menace Tealove and Minty in his introductory scene. After this, however, he's content to just sit in his zeppelin, watch Tealove's progress through his crystal ball, and boast that everything is proceeding exactly according to plan. He completely disappears from the story without doing anything more, or even explaining what his plan is.
  • A heroic and justified example in the Triptych Continuum. Celestia and Princess Luna very rarely take care of problems themselves, despite being probably the most powerful beings in Equestria, because they are the only two beings (except the imprisioned Discord) who can interface with SUN and MOON. If they both die, the world dies with them.
  • What Lies Beyond the Walls: Log-a-Log spends most of his time inside his personal hut gaining weight, persuading various factions to go out and kill each other instead. After coming across Krassak, he decides to get off his throne.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Throughout Acts III and IV, Hokuto relies on his mooks, Co-Dragons Jovian and Jacqueline, and/or his Unwitting Pawns (i.e. Kuyou) to fight Tsukune's gang for him or carry out Hostage Situations while he either does something to advance his plans along or simply pulls a Villain: Exit, Stage Left; this happens to the extent that Tsukune and co. explicitly call him a Dirty Coward on multiple occasions. He finally fights on his own when Tsukune corners him at Alucard's grave... and even with his Restraining Bolt, he thoroughly spanks Tsukune. When he decides to go One-Winged Angel, he actually manages to kill Tsukune, only for a Superhuman Transfusion from all four Shuzen sisters to revive him as a pureblooded vampire, which directly leads to Hokuto's undoing.
  • Lord Maledict from Sonic X: Dark Chaos is this until Episode 63, when he is so aggravated by Tsali's failures that he shows up personally to challenge Sonic and his friends — and promptly wipes the floor with them. It explicitly justified, as he's both The Chessmaster and trying to run a gigantic universal empire at the same time.
  • Justified in Hellsister Trilogy. Although Darkseid is powerful enough to take any hero out, he keeps sending wave after wave of minions to slow the heroes down as he learns the Anti-Life Equation, which would allow him to win without lifting a finger.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, Lex Luthor stays out of the way for most of the story while his minions fight the heroes for him.
  • Subverted in Shadowchasers: Ascension; Jalie confronts the heroes far earlier than they expected, and mops the floor with two of them, the third almost on the brink of a nervous breakdown before a divine force decides to intervene (given the likely consequences of Jalie's goal). It's even lampshaded:
    Jeb: Jalie Squarefoot!
    Jalie: You expected someone different?
    Ophelia: Well, kind of... We kind of expected to have to fight a whole slew of your henchmen before running into you...
    Jalie: [tired sigh] If I was the stereotypical bad guy, I might do things that way... But such people never become gods... They only become servants of gods, like those two moronic Doom-dreamers.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort sits out most of the climactic battle. This is partially justified: Harry has been systematically destroying his Horcruxes and Voldemort is understandably worried that Harry might succeed in killing him if given the opportunity. It still counts because he lets minions pound away at Hogwarts' protective shield to no effect, only to singlehandedly bring it down in a fit of rage. He could have conceivably destroyed the entire castle if he had been so inclined.
  • In Jupiter Ascending, Balem spends a lot of time sending minions to do his dirty work, but not once do we see him leave the Jupiter refinery.
  • In Kill Bill, evil supervillain assassin kung-fu samurai guy Bill sits in his plush Central-American villa, waiting for The Bride to work her way through his subordinates and seek him out for a personal duel. His only real action was to warn (and possibly bail out) his brother.
  • Mickey in Killing Them Softly does not spend one single iota of effort to pursue the thieves he was specifically ordered to Boston to kill. Unusually, his doing so is not actually a plot hole; it's a very deliberate illustration of just how far organized crime has fallen.
  • Kull the Conqueror: Akivasha spends most of the film doing nothing but staring at the great fire in her temple while General Taligaro actually does the dirty work of pursuing Kull.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thanos shows up in the stinger to The Avengers to reveal that he was the unseen backer of Loki's attempt to take over earth, and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) shows that he is also behind Ronan the Accuser and is seeking the Infinity Stones. Despite being The Dreaded, at least to those who know of him, he has yet to take any direct action. For bonus trope points, in most scenes featuring him in the above films, he's actually sitting on a throne.
    • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, he finally gets off his ass in the Stinger to get the Infinity Stones by himself, setting up the events of Avengers: Infinity War, where he FINALLY gets his hands dirty.
      Thanos: Fine. I'll do it myself!
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, we see for ourselves the results of Thanos finally subverting this trope, and they are nothing less than spectacular. He curbstomps Hulk in his first active appearance, kills half of Xandar, Heimdall, Loki and Gamora in the first half of the movie, arrives for the finale mercilessly defeating everything the heroes throw at him, and collects all the Infinity Stones and succeeds in his plan to murder half the universe. He's so ludicrously effective when he gets off his butt it really makes you wonder why he didn't get to work a dozen or so movies earlier. A popular fan-theory suggests that Odin and/or Asgard were the only things powerful enough to directly stand in his way, and they were both gone.
    • Avengers: Endgame subverts this trope when it reveals Thanos was never really just relaxing while letting his lackeys fight. He's been personally leading his army in a crusade across the galaxy the entire time. He relied on agents such as Gamora and Ronan to pursue the rest of his plans while he was occupied.
  • The Scorpion King:
    • Despite being the best warrior of his empire, Memnon sits out in his palace and sends his lackeys to kill Mathayus and bring the sorceress back. Mathayus actually overestimated him, since he kidnapped the sorceress expecting that Memnon would come after him personally.
    • Sargon in the prequel is probably even worse since he has magical powers but never actually goes anything to stop the heroes in their quest to find a magical sword that can kill him.
  • Star Wars:
  • Troy: The Big Bad Agamemnon is the king of Greece but is never shown getting involved in battle himself, relying on the talents of warriors like Achilles to fight for him. Achilles lampshades in at the start of the film:
    Achilles: Imagine a king who fights his own battles. Wouldn't that be a sight?

    Literature 
  • Guthrum from The Ballad of the White Horse, as a result of his Fatal Flaw being Despair. He's sufficiently tired and certain of victory that he doesn't bother even raising his eyes to the battle until his army's already routed.
  • Justified in The Beginning After the End. Agrona, the Big Bad, spends all of his time in his domain of Alacrya conducting his research and plans to win the Divine Conflict and conquer Epheotus, all while sending his minions to do his dirty work, be it invading Dicathen or investigating the Relictombs. The reason for this state is because of the treaty that defines the conflict, as any direct involvement by an Asura, Agrona and the Vritra Clan included, would lead to Mutually Assured Destruction. Following The Reveal that Kezess and the Indrath Clan are just as bad as their enemies, the same can be said of Kezess himself. All of Kezess's appearances occur in his domain within Epheotus wherein he, just like Agrona, is merely discussing his own plans to win the Divine Conflict with either the other Asuras or Arthur.
  • Justified in The Belgariad. Torak, the Big Bad of the Belgariad, was critically wounded in the backstory, and literally cannot rise until the appointed time. Averted in the sequel series the Malloreon though; Zandramas keeps busy, continually attempting to sabotage the Child of Light's efforts. The heroic B-team even unknowingly runs into her at one point, whereupon they watch her eat one of her rivals for Big Bad status alive.
  • In the Bridge Of D Arnath quartet, this is true for two of the Lords of Zhev'na. Notole and Parven almost never leave their fortress; the former can usually be found conducting research in her library or building powerful artifacts, and the latter in his war room telepathically coordinating Zhev'na's armies. Averted by the third Lord, Ziddari, who is prone to getting out and about gathering intelligence and undermining the Lords' enemies; he's actually nicknamed "the Exile" because he spends so much of his time away from Zhev'na in various guises.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Blackout: Due to his large number of vampire enforcers, it has been a long time since Moses "Reet" Weldon needed to do his own fighting and dirty work (his right-hand man hasn't even seen his Game Face in a decade). Consequently, he is out-of-shape and highly outmatched during his battle against Spike.
  • Justified in The Candy Shop War. Magicians cannot leave their lairs without instantly reverting to their true ages, so they have to work through minions and apprentices.
  • Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain. Arawn, despite being the "Death Lord", works primarily through proxies like The Horned King, Morgant, Magg, Achren, and Pryderi and leaves Annuvin just once to steal Dyrnwyn. It's justified, and even borders on Reconstruction, in that Arawn can be killed if he leaves Annuvin and takes a mortal shape, and would rather not risk his own life when he has a horde of deathless Cauldron Born to go out and do the dirty work. Further, while he is willing and able to fight if he needs to, Arawn is more of a trickster who gets what he wants through manipulation and guile and his actual offensive power isn't really anything special, which gets proven in the finale when he takes to the field personally for the first time when his hand is forced… and promptly dies in battle. He puts up an okay fight before going down, but you can really tell just why exactly he was delegating to minions up until now.
  • Lord Foul the Despiser from the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant almost never leaves his lair (though where exactly said lair is varies depending on the current sub-series); Word of God notes that he does his best work through proxies. Basically, Foul's not the kind of guy who just kills you, he manipulates events long-term so you end up killing yourself for him. His chief minions, the three Ravers, on the other hand, are disturbingly good at showing up exactly when they're least convenient.
  • High Lord Kalarus, a major villain in the middle three books of Codex Alera, develops a bad case of this is book four, Captain's Fury, despite having been a highly active and proactive villain in the previous two volumes. Completely justified. He survived the fight he got into with Bernard and Amara at the end of the previous volume, in which they dropped him out of a high-speed mid-air chase directly into a dense forest, and it’s strongly implied he was no longer in good enough physical shape to be getting out and about under his own power.
  • The Crimson King in The Dark Tower. Until Roland and his gunslingers destroy Algul Siento, Randall Flagg is either fleeing the gunslinger or trying to frustrate his plans, but the King does nothing. Then when the King does get off his throne, it's only to run to the titular Dark Tower, where he is then trapped and can only attempt to frustrate Roland's attempted entry.
  • In the Discworld novel Sourcery we learn that Unseen University was more or less created to invoke the trope because "the plural of wizard is war". The university exists to give wizards something to do other than trying to kill each other, or at least structure the killing to reduce collateral damage. Wizards are forbidden to marry (and are implied to be bound to chastity) because the eighth son of an eighth son is a wizard, but the eighth son of the eighth son of an eighth son is a Sourcerer with access to magic as far beyond wizards as wizards are beyond, say, CMOT Dibbler. Sourcerers eventually fall into Orcus-on-his-throne-itude because reality pretty much reshapes itself around their whims so they don't have to do anything, and those that aren't killed by their peers wind up just getting bored and going ... elsewhere.
  • Otha of The Elenium is a literal and justified example — he's The Caligula who lives for excess and has been around for millennia (and was never terribly bright on top of that). The end result is that while he's the most powerful sorcerer who's ever lived and The Emperor of half the continent, he's physically too fat to even stand up and has to rely on minions if he wants to accomplish anything. Of course, the real main villains of that series are the God of Evil who Otha worships and the Magnificent Bastard who acts as The Dragon anyway.
  • Empire of the East:
    • At first it's more a case of "Orcus Stuck In His Prison Cell", since the demon- Orcus himself!- was tricked into confinement millennia ago. Then once the Big Bad has finally decided to summon him (and discovered that Orcus, rather than just another demon you can force to serve you, is actually the Biggest Bad there is), Orcus takes an active role in the final battle of the story, attacking his enemy Ardneh.
    • The other Big Bad of the series, Emperor John Ominor, is quite happy to remain in his capital for the first two books and let his agents deal with La Résistance. This is quite sensible, however, since Ominor has an entire empire to manage, with rebellions and insurgencies going on in many places at once, with the rebellion in the West not being obviously more serious than any other until the third volume. Once the West has made clear that it is the primary threat to the empire, Ominor takes personal command of the armies fighting the West.
  • In Isaac Asimov's novel Foundation and Empire, it turns out the Galactic Empire has become this, thanks to psychohistory. A strong Emperor cannot allow strong subjects (who will certainly depose him instead). A weak Emperor will be deposed by strong subjects. And, a strong Emperor can't get involved on the galaxy's fringes (where the nascent Foundation is) since civil war will draw him back home.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort puts world conquest on the back burner for a year while he tries to get hold of the prophecy. Averted from the end of that book onwards, however: though of course most of the "grunt" work goes through his minions, Voldemort starts kicking ass after he is revealed to the wizarding world and doesn't stop (notably, tracking down and killing a few witches and wizards his Death Eaters might find troublesome, like Amelia Bones). The only times he gets "lazy" are when he's a powerless ghost and when there's a job he has a good reason to avoid doing. In the case of Order of the Phoenix, this is also justified: since Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge is running a smear campaign against Dumbledore and Harry as part of his Head-in-the-Sand Management, Voldemort decides it is within his best interest to allow Fudge to weaken his enemies.
  • In The Hunger Games, Thresh is probably the best example of this. He's the largest and strongest of all the tributes but spends most of the Games waiting in a wheat field and living off of the food that he finds there. But then his district partner Rue dies, which finally forces Thresh to go on the offensive and hunt down the remaining Career tributes.
  • Galbatorix from the Inheritance Cycle spends forty years preoccupied with his Eldunarya, which he has to break and control to use the full power of. His unwillingness to fight the Varden directly is lampshaded in the second book when La Résistance leader Nasuada reflects that "Galbatorix's pride" is the best defense that she has against him. It's commonly accepted that should he ever decide to ride out on his dragon to crush them there's nothing anyone could do about it. It's suggested in the third book that Galbatorix is inactive because of his obsession to find the name of the Ancient Language which would grant him near omnipotence. The fourth book reveals that this is correct. He gets defeated because of his failure to account for the possibility of Eragon having learned an even greater secret: the ability to use raw, untamed magic without language. Of course the book offers no real explanation why he continuously sends out armies and agents to battle the rebels rather than easily dealing with them himself and then returning to his work.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien does this with most of his villains in his Legendarium, but only towards the ends of their careers, in keeping with his theme of deliberate Villain Decay and The Dark Side Will Make You Forget, with smart people with real goals turning to evil but evil itself corrupting them and gradually turning them into cardboard cutouts. Together with this, they start out going out and kicking ass by themselves, but eventually become throne-bound.
    • Morgoth fights Tulkas personally at the dawn of time, and later personally destroys the Two Trees and steals the Silmarils. He also personally handles the corruption of the first Men. But after he's been beaten by Tulkas, then nearly killed by Ungoliant, he becomes something of a coward. The last time he appears in public is when he duels the elvenking Fingolfin, who leaves him severely wounded and unable to heal. In the War of Wrath, he flees into the deepest of his mines and begs for pardon rather than fighting the Valar.
    • Sauron is actually a subversion, if you look at his life story in chronological order. In the First Age he is a powerful, active Enemy, at least until he's defeated by Huan the elvish hound - after that he flees and hides for the rest of the First Age. In the Second Age, he takes an active role in forging the Rings of Power and personally corrupts the Numenoreans. However, he loses a lot of his power in the fall of Numenor, and after his defeat by the Last Alliance (and the loss of the One Ring that holds much of his power), he becomes an Evil Cripple, able to watch events and influence events with his will, but unable to actually do anything.
    • Although he's the weakest of the three Enemy warlords, Saruman manages to avert this, staying active until his death. Even just days before his fall from power, he's still leaving Isengard on occasion. After his armies and Isengard are destroyed, he leaves Orthanc, travels to the Shire, and tries to ruin it with his ruffians.
    • Smaug zig-zags around this as well. In his youth, he fought some great battles and won the prizes every dragon desires — a big pile of treasure and a secluded lair in which to sit upon it. Having succeeded in this goal, he mostly just lies around and sleeps, to the point where he hasn't even been seen in decades. That said, he flies to deliver some immediate retaliation when someone is stupid enough to provoke him.
    • Lampshaded in The Return of the King by Denethor, who comments that all great lords rule and fight by using others as their weapon. That is why he sends his sons to fight and die for him. He predicts that Sauron will only appear for the final battle when all else has been conquered.
  • Fulbert from Malevil sits in his fortified manor in La Roque. He tricked the villagers into letting him keep the food and weapons, there isn't much they can do but suffer his abuse and cruelty. For the most part, he is content to live a lazy life of post-Apocalypse "decadence" at the expense of others. He also takes no real action against Malevil itself, until the end when he convinces a rogue military commander who captured La Roque that the castle would make a better base of operations.
  • The Autarch from Masks of Aygrima is only seen outside his palace once (aside from the prologue) and never leaves the capital city.
  • The Lord Ruler from Mistborn seems to have a bad case of this, hanging around in his palace and not exerting himself even when his whole capital is going up in flames. Justified because he's a borderline Physical God so powerful the rebellion was never a threat to him at all. The Sequel Series show just how absurdly powerful Compounding a single metal is, and he has the ability to do so with ALL of the metals. He could easily put down an entire army of regular Allomancers himself, and has historically allowed his minions to fight among themselves or get killed in revolts for a while before acting, just to remind them why they needed him.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, most of the time, Jack Frost is content to dispatch his goblins to retrieve or protect the artifacts. It's only when they fail at the tasks repeatedly that he goes to do something himself. This is played for drama in the movie, where the fact that he does this while the snowman army does all the work makes them turn on him.
  • In Septimus Heap, DomDaniel spends his day sleeping on a throne on the Vengeance while Jenna and Boy 412 are stealthily going around on his ship.
  • Shannara: Uhl Belk from The Druid of Shannara literally cannot move from where he standsnote , but his son slowly pushes the boundaries of the domain every day.
  • Star Wars Legends: Supreme Overlord Shimrra from the New Jedi Order is like this, though it doesn't stop him from playing politics in his court and having an impact on the plot in that matter. Probably also justified in that Onimi can't let Shimrra get too far away from him for long without risking his Mind Control slipping.
  • Sunshine: While vampires grow Stronger with Age, they also grow more vulnerable to light in proportion to the total amount of evil they have committed over the course of their undead existence. As such, the ancient "master vampires" are astonishingly powerful but cannot tolerate even moonlight or starlight (some can't even speak words related to light) and must work through younger (and thus weaker) minion vampires whose karmic debt is still light enough to let them go out under moon and stars. It's noted that part of the reason the book's Big Bad is trying to get rid of Constance is that his Vegetarian Vampire ways allow him a very high level of mobility for a vampire of his age and power, and the masters are worried about his example catching on.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign: Very much averted; the Big Bad, The White Queen, is active in every single volume. The only reason the Queen doesn't immediately curb-stomp the main character Kyousuke is because she's in love with him, and considers it fun to let him win. In the afterword of the first volume, the author even notes that this is one of the main themes of the series.
  • The Vagrant (first book of The Vagrant Trilogy): Heroic version. After Gamma fell, the remaining members of the Seven retreated to the Shining City to mourn, leaving the infernals to rampage unchecked across the land. If they banded together and fought back, they could drive them off easily. Even mostly dead, Gamma manages to kill the Uncivil and the Usurper with the tiniest remnant of her power left behind in her corrupted Knight-Commander.
  • Zig-zagged in Michelle West's High Fantasy saga (sub-series The Sacred Hunt, The Sun Sword and The House War). The overall Myth Arc is kicked off in the first series with the reveal that Allasakar, local God of Evil and Big Bad is not on his throne in the Hells, raising the question "Where is he and what's he up to?" Turns out Allasakar and his demons are gearing up to invade the mortal world. Then played straight in the second series; Allasakar made it over, but the heroes of the first series managed to frustrate his plans somewhat and weaken his power. He spends most of this series hanging out in his new stronghold in the mortal world, bringing more demons over and playing chessmaster from the shadows without personally involving himself until he knows he's ready.
  • Worlds of Shadow: Shadow. For most of the series, Shadow's exact nature is not even known to the heroes and never leaves the palace. Though some monsters are sent out to stop the heroes, Shadow never just intervenes to crush them personally. It turns out that she is bored and doesn't view them as a threat, concentrating on conquering another universe, with her power on the world of Faerie basically absolute, so this is not surprising.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Mayor did precious little villainy, even counting what he delegated to his minions or Dragon; hell, the second Dragon came to him looking for work. Being a Non-Action Big Bad limits his options, and by the time the heroes even know he's a villain he's already unkillable and just needs to wait for the time of Ascension, but this doesn't explain why he did nothing about the Master or Angelus, given their plans would have severely wrecked his plans.
    • Glory was like this in the fifth season. She was powerful enough to kill Buffy easily, but she spent most of the season hanging around her penthouse and sending ineffective minions out to do her work for her. In her defense, she was established as not being mentally all that stable (she needed to eat people's sanity on a regular basis just to maintain any sort of coherent thought) and it's implied that Ben is the dominant of the two beings for most of the season, so Glory was unable to come out to play most of the time. Only by the last few episodes of the season is she able to come out for more than a few hours before her energy was depleted, and she spent that time being much more proactive.
    • The First Evil was like this in the seventh season. The entire season is spent warning, warning, warning that eventually an army of uber-vampires will arise to destroy the world, but it never actually happens. Finally, in the last episode... they still don't arise. Buffy and the potential slayers decide they're simply tired of waiting for them to attack and go attack them instead. In its case, being Made of Evil means it has no physical form, and must rely on its minions to actually do things.
  • Daredevil (2015): Wilson Fisk heavily insulates himself from his criminal dealings on the street, his underlings primarily speaking only to James Wesley. To the point that before he makes himself a public figure, it's impossible for Matt to find anything on him, and even harder is finding a witness who took a direct order from Fisk. And the only times Fisk personally dirties his own hands rather than have someone else do it for him are when he's really pissed off. In Season 3, Fisk is technically under FBI house arrest, so he spends the entire season confined to a Midtown penthouse under the guard of FBI agents who are secretly in his pocket. It's those agents, Dex especially, who do the brunt of his dirty work for him.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • While Tywin and his bannermen are out fighting the war in Seasons 2/3 and Tyrion and Cersei are scheming for power in King's Landing, King Joffrey Baratheon does nothing except abuse peasants and engage in emotional abuse of Sansa. Justified because:
      • He's certainly not a warrior, no matter how he may posture, is a terrible battlefield commander, and is too stupid to be a schemer like the rest of his family.
      • Leaving King's Landing would be political suicide, as it would be easy for another aspirant to the crown to take control of the region in his absence. As pointed out by Tywin, the only (other) reason Joffrey is considered more than a "claimant" to the Iron Throne is that he physically sits on it.
    • For all his talk about "I take what is mine", Balon hasn't actually left Pyke in his campaign to conquer the North. So far only his children have done any actual fighting and conquering.
  • Arthur Petrelli from Heroes gained practically godlike power in the first few episodes he appeared in. After that, he spent most of his time sitting in his base, drawing pretty pictures and sending out his incompetent minions occasionally. You'd think an unkillable guy with power over time and space could be a bit more proactive. Admittedly he thought he already had everything he needed for his master plan, and when he found out that he was lacking the last component of the formula for the Super Serum he wanted to make... he and the rest of the cast were Brought Down to Normal that same episode, so he couldn't use his powers to get it.
  • While Kamen Rider doesn't do this trope much due to how their villains are structured, they do fall for this trope occasionally, though these reasons are justified.
    • Kamen Rider Fourze has the Big Bad not do anything while his loyal Horoscopes do the work for him. Justified because he doesn't really care if they live or die, provided that their Switch is intact so that he can invoke the Dark Nebula. Though it's only when it gets close to the end after he mortally wounds his dragon when he realizes the latter's double life that he manages to kick the heroes' asses.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard subverts this trope. The Wiseman can actually just zap away the mana from Haruto on his throne (really, it's a stone bed thing but still), ensuring he won't be defeated easily. He still sits on his throne and lets his mooks do the work for him, but he does do stuff when he's the White Wizard.
    • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight: Despite having all the means to get things done in a short time and with little effort, Xaviax prefers to scheme and recruit people to fight for him rather than get his hands dirty. He runs out of proxies eventually and his love for power and theatrics finally come to bite him when toying with the protagonists gives them enough time to recover and prepare a counterattack.
  • Power Rangers in general has Big Bads who subscribe to this trope. Sometimes they have a reason for this; other times, however, they're content to sit around and berate their underlings' continual failures until the final five episodes or so. The villain division of labor being such that the Big Bad doesn't go out and punch things like a common Mook every single week (and thus lose street cred by being seen defeated over and over and over.) Rather, it's the Big Bad's job to run the operation, coming up with plans, while The Dragon is there when you need someone to keep the Rangers distracted while the Monster of the Week kicks puppies and the Putty Patrol isn't enough. A Non-Action Big Bad like Lord Zedd or Venjix who runs the operation competently, casts the occasional spell or builds the occasional weapon, and shows you now and again just why the minions are so loyal/terrified/both, but leaves the fisticuffs to the season's Goldar type isn't necessarily an unimpressive one. However, you've got a few villains whose stated badassery is never proven and they do nothing until the final episode, where their admittedly impressive combat powers still make them seem like "really strong monster of the week" rather than "Diabolical Mastermind and author of everyone's troubles." And that's how a red light on a pole can be the franchise's most competent villain and an incredibly powerful fighter like Xandred can be the franchise's least.
    • Lord Zedd from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is one of the most egregious examples of this; he's been shown to be capable of clobbering Tommy with little effort but spends most of his time sending ineffective minions after the rangers and yelling at everybody.
    • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive had Flurious, the smartest and most powerful of the four competing factions of enemies attacking the Rangers that season. After being a major threat in the first three episodes, he spends the next 27 lazing around in his arctic base, letting the other villains do all the work. It isn't until the finale that he swoops in and attempts to make a grab for victory.
    • Lothor from Power Rangers Ninja Storm is indeed very powerful, just not quite powerful enough to carry out his ultimate plan, so he deliberately plays up this trope and sending monsters and generals to their deaths just to fill up the abyss of evil so he can absorb that power once it overflows.
    • Justified in the case of Venjix of Power Rangers RPM, a computer virus inhabiting a hard-drive cylinder. Once he builds a robot body, he starts to have a more active role.
    • Master Xandred of Power Rangers Samurai. He has a good reason for staying in the lair (he'd dry out and die in minutes if he crossed over to the human world) and he gets more active later, but in the early episodes he didn't even do any scheming; he just spent most of his time saying "Yeah, do whatever; I need some medicine for this freakin' headache." The first time he enters the human world he dries up rather quickly forcing him to return to the Sanzu River, but he was able to get around this by absorbing Dayu becoming half-human and not dry up like last time. Still, aside from his two fight scenes (the Grand Finale basically being a really long fight scene), he's still not very active after leaving his lair.
    • Power Rangers in Space has the Ultimate Alliance of Evil, composed of every one of the series villains. All they ever seemed to do was throw parties for themselves. Even Astronoma, who took command of assaulting Earth, played this role, however, she did participate in battle against the Rangers more often than her predecessors. That being said, they shook it off with a vengeance in the series finale, where they launched a coordinated assault on the entire universe. They defeated the Rangers and all their allies very quickly, and required a Dying Moment of Awesome from Zordon to lose.
    • Dark Specter might be the worst example of this in the series. He's portrayed as the The Man Behind the Man for all of the Zordon-era villains (Rita, Zedd, The Machine Empire, Divatox, Astronema, etc.). Sadly, he never once fights the Power Rangers, and he never does anything other than give orders/make idle threats, and spends the entire season being unknowingly plotted against by his subordinates. In Part 1 of the Grand Finale, he's killed by The Starscream, though to his credit he at least takes him down too.
    • In a somewhat literal example, the Big Bad of Power Rangers Megaforce, Emperor Mavro, is confronted by the Red and Silver Rangers and considers them so beneath his attention that he actually sits down and claims that he can beat them without standing up. He then proceeds to deliver an almost effortless smackdown to the heroes without standing up.
  • This applies to almost half of all the Big Bads in Super Sentai, Power Rangers' parent show; they spend most of their screen time in the show in their throne, sitting like living furniture, and only get off their asses in the Grand Finale to fight the heroes in giant form.
    • One of the worst is Satan Egos from Battle Fever J. While he creates all of the monsters with his own power and gives orders to his minions, he remains still as a statue until the very last episode when he finally flies off of his throne and turns into a giant to fight Battle Fever, while still sitting down in the same position and never moving a muscle and only letting his powers do the fighting by generating a huge storm and several explosions around him. It is never explained why he is so immobile.
    • Star King Bazoo, the Big Bad of Dengeki Sentai Changeman, at least has a justification for staying on his throne: he's just buying time until his real form arrives and allows him to destroy Earth.
    • Great Professor Bias of Choujuu Sentai Liveman is another justified example. As his generals are all effectively his students, Bias lets them take turns handling the Evil Plan each episode and stays back in the Brain Base to grade them on their performances.
    • The Gorma Emperor of Gosei Sentai Dairanger is a lazy Manchild who spends almost all of his time playing with toys. He hardly does anything in the story besides one time he takes action to resurrect a single minion he particularly liked even though he probably could have revived far more. There is no real reason why he never bothers to fight the rangers himself since he is as powerful as all the rangers combined. It later turns out that the Gorma Emperor had died a long time ago and been replaced by a duplicate made of clay. The duplicate may have had its personality altered to make him easier to manipulate.
    • Daimaou of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger has a good reason for usually not fighting himself. While he is the most powerful villain in the show, by the time he is revived, the rangers are already strong enough that they are capable of defeating him, and they actually do beat him several times when he takes to the battlefield, and only survives due to being tough enough to only be wounded by attacks that would kill any other monster.
    • Dark Spectre's counterpart, Javious from Denji Sentai Megaranger, also competes for the title of most inactive Big Bad ever. Despite being powerful enough that he could easily wipe out his generals in an instant if he ever found out they betrayed him, he barely even gives commands and lets generals do whatever they want. He ends up being killed by his traitorous generals before the rangers ever even learn that he exists. After his death however, it is revealed that he had a reason for never fighting himself. It turns out that he actually was a Genius Loci, the consciousness the Neziregia dimension, and so it was not possible for him to leave.
    • Operation Overdrive's Flurious seems to be in keeping with GoGo Sentai Boukenger, in which Gajah (the villain Flurious essentially replaced) mostly winds up hanging back, only really doing anything of significance after one of the other factions has one of their plans fail, in at least one case using the flaming wreckage of the failed plan as the foundation for his own. This ends up proving to his benefit however as he ultimately outlasts all the other members of the Big Bad Ensemble and becomes the Final Boss.
    • You know what we said about Master Xandred above? His Samurai Sentai Shinkenger counterpart, Chimatsuri Dokoku, is the same, only he's not taking medicine — that's sake and he spends all his time drinking himself into a stupor instead of commanding his minions, without the excuse of constant pain from the previous generation's attempt at permanently sealing him.
    • Another lazy villain is Ginis of Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger. He spends most of the series drinking and sitting on his throne, which, very fittingly, is actually part of his body. He is content to watch his minions fight for him for most of the series because his main motivation is entertainment and he doesn't care if his minions win or lose. It turns out however that his power is greatly reduced outside of his ship and it is eventually revealed that he acts like this because he is deeply ashamed of his origin and is doing everything he can to make everyone see him as a superior life form.
    • Dogranio Yabun kickstarted the events of Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger by declaring his intention of retiring and letting whoever conquers the Earth be his successor. As such, him fighting or planning would defeat the purpose of the whole exercise. But after watching countless members of this criminal syndicate be defeated by the heroes, he began to have serious doubts about his original plan. After his right-hand man Destra falls in combat, Dogranio finally to take matters into his own hands. Sadly for him, those years of sitting on his ass and letting his Collection powers do all the work has left him aged and out of practice. Once all his Collection pieces are removed, his remaining might, while still nothing to sneeze at, isn't enough to stave off defeat from the Patrangers. To top it all, unlike all the main Super Sentai villains series, Dogranio was not killed by the heroes after his final defeat but he received A Fate Worse Than Death: he was imprisoned in an underground maximum-security cell for the rest of his, presumably very long, lifespan.
    • Boccowaus from Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger spends most of the series as just a face and an arm sticking out of the wall. While he apparently is powerful and feared, he doesn't take to the battlefield himself because he can only move around on tracks in his base. Mostly he just gives orders and pounds on the ground when he is mad. It isn't until he is completely fed up with his minions failing and finds out that the rangers are spying on him that he decides to power himself up into a form that can move freely. During his transformation into his battle form it is revealed that the giant wall wasn't his real body and his real form inside is tiny until he powers up.
  • In The Wire, drug lord Avon Barksdale plays with this trope. The justification is that if he never touches drugs, money, or guns, and he doesn't meet with his underlings in the field, he becomes difficult to prosecute. Until Jimmy McNulty stirs up a crusade against him, most police have never even heard of him, and they have a very difficult time digging up any intel or even a physical description. In contrast, Stringer Bell does and says plenty in the course of running the gang, though he is likewise very careful about it. A lampshade is hung on it in the scene where D'Angelo teaches his dealers the rules of chess; they liken Avon to the king and Stringer to the queen. After Avon returns from prison in Season 3, he wants to war with Marlo Stanfield and lead personally but gets resistance from his colleagues and Stringer, who aren't eager to risk the king.

    Multiple Media 
  • Makuta in several arcs of BIONICLE, though it has in-story and meta justification.
    • From a real life perspective, the writers had no concrete idea for what it or he was until the series' third year. Early concepts included Makuta being an idea rather than a person, the Spirit of Destruction. Later, concept creator Christian Faber, who had based Makuta on his personal illness, explained that he was a sort of Gate Guardian who challenged the Toa heroes indirectly, only letting them past his gate once they have become "ready" — symbolizing an infection that strengthened the immune system by first weakening it.
    • In both the 2001 comics and the cancelled The Legend of Mata Nui video game, Makuta is represented via his underlings, the Rahi beasts and the Shadow Toa, respectively. The novel Tale of the Toa and subsequent three books also portrayed Makuta as a disembodied voice who only took indirect action. The 2001 semi-canon Mata Nui Online Game was the first time he took on the Toa in person when they marched into his lair. This confrontation (later explained as merely a test to see if the Toa were ready) solidified Makuta as a true character with a physical form. This lead to his role in the film Mask of Light, where he finally meets Takanuva, the Toa destined to open the gate leading to the abandoned city of Metru Nui, and thus the rest of the Matoran Universe.
    • In-universe, Makuta wasn't merely guarding the gate, he was biding his time and preoccupied with an off-screen war between the Brotherhood of Makuta and the Dark Hunters. Makuta knew the Matoran would have to return to Metru Nui eventually, he just had to wait 1,000 years for it as part of his Evil Plan, as he had unleashed a virus that took nearly that long to achieve its full effect. Had he wanted to wipe out the Toa or enslave the Matoran, he could have done so within minutes — as proven by his clashes with Icarax and Karzahni, both of whom he beat with ease to keep them from hindering his Plan.
    • Makuta's reliance on minions is a plot point in the 2004 Metru Nui prequel arc. Here, he is in a weakened form, masquerading as Metru Nui's leader Turaga Dume. Once he regains his power (by merging with his minions), he doesn't try to hold back.

    Music 

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Egyptian Mythology: Ra of all people. He pretty much sits on his solar barge while every other god does their work against Apep and other demons, and has his enemies slaughtered before his throne.

    Pinball 

    Roleplay 
  • Even though he is the main antagonist in Destroy the Godmodder, the titular Godmodder doesn't actually do stuff that often. Usually he either summons entities or blocks attacks. Averted in 2, where the Godmodder's DPS was often enough to wipe out the entire Anti-Godmodder entity list if the players didn't support them or summon new ones.

    Tabletop Games 
  • CthulhuTech:
    • Hastur. Sure, the Rapine Storm does all of his dirty work, but if a Great Old One — even a weakened one — actually entered the Mêlée à Trois himself, it would be over very quickly. It's implied that he's actually unable to leave his domain on the Plateau of Leng, but he's an Eldritch Abomination, so it's hard to say for certain.
    • Nyarlathotep assumed a human form and runs a MegaCorp which secretly helps almost every cult in the setting. He could probably drive a small country mad all by himself, but for some reason he lets his secret network of cultists do all the heavy lifting.
  • Disney Villains Victorious: With the entire world conquered by evil, Chernabog is content to watch the world burn from Bald Mountain and ignores any foolish enough to wander into his desolate lands to be preyed upon by mad beasts and evil spirits. Unless it's Walpurgisnacht, the only thing that will draw his attention is if a new generation of heroes proves itself skilled enough in fighting back the darkness for the Black God to intervene and snuff out their light.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Happens an awful lot when the writers need to fit in fair challenges for lower-level players that are still suitably epic, need to leave options open for DMs to use the character, or both. Though to be fair, they usually offer some sort of justification or Hand Wave, such as the entity being kept busy by other matters, stuck in a can somewhere, or being on a different plane of existence entirely.
    • Orcus, of course, through most of his history. It's actually a Justified in multiple ways: He's usually stuck in the Abyss and needs to be summoned to the Prime Material, and he's mostly busy either coming up with new ways to kill things and make them extra-awful undead or with the constant Evil vs. Evil war between different Demon Lords and the Devils, so most cults to him are either independently started by necromancers or delegated to his minions and Orcus himself will only care about them if they promise major success. Back in First and Second Edition however he was a real terror; first he died, then he came back from the dead, terrorized the planes, killed a bunch of gods nobody cares about, and died again. He hasn't been the same since his second resurrection. In 4th Edition, Orcus is fully statted out for combat in the Monster Manual. Clearly he's gotten a bit more active if he needs epic-level heroes to face him. What's more, he's not only the most powerful monster in that book, but he got himself put on the cover. Here are his latest stats if DMs want to avert the trope and kill all their players.
    • Asmodeus' was badly wounded during his fall from heaven, so his avatar can't go far from the hells for long periods of time, and he is enough of a Magnificent Bastard that he doesn't have to leave hell to be the dangerous creature in the multiverse. 4e offers another justification for Asmodeus; Hell is his prison and he can't leave. It's worth noting that he wasn't imprisoned there to protect the mortal world from him, but to protect the other gods from him. He became a god through deicide, and the other gods are scared shitless of him (and potential copycats).
    • Orcus' arch-rival Demogorgon tends to do the same thing. His excuse is that he considers the wars with devils and other demons a necessary annoyance, and his true interest is researching the nature of the Abyss. For the record? Demogorgon is said canonically to be more powerful than Orcus, and at least in some versions, was the demonic equivalent of Asmodeus himself.
    • Many, many Darklords in the Ravenloft setting. The most extreme example is Soth, who spent decades literally just sitting on his throne because he didn't care anymore. It has been theorized that the Dark Powers let him escape Ravenloft because he ceased to be of any interest, in contrast to Darklords like Strahd, Drakov, or Azalin whose existence is a constant cycle of Yank the Dog's Chain. Ironically, the original Ravenloft module completely defied this trope — the vampire lord Strahd has spies looking out for you when you invade his castle, and if he knows where you are and you linger too long in one area, he will attack you and try to kill you rather than wait for you to find him, and on top of that the game randomises where the final battle with him is supposed to take place so rather than finding him on his throne, you have no idea when and where you will run into him. He'll also have multiple social interactions with the party long before then, safe in the knowledge they're no real threat to him.
    • Eberron: Used as a consistent part of the setting. Every major power, good or evil, has some reason not to just send out their strongest people out conquering. The big limiting factor is the Draconic Prophecy, a constantly changing series of Either/Or Prophecies. The demons of the Lords of Dust are all completely immortal and many of them could fight armies by themselves, but they only want to release the Overlords—and the only way to do that is through very specific manipulation of the Prophecy. They can't just start a war to release the Rage of War, they need to start a war in Aundair using a disinherited prince of a dead nation who murders his aunt. That has to be set up very carefully through agents, and stopping it likewise requires mortal agents. This was an intentional design choice, as the point of the setting is "Eberron needs heroes."
    • Forgotten Realms has Larloch, a lich archmage of unsurpassed power who's spent 2000 years accumulating magical artifacts and undead servants, including dozens of lesser liches. He prefers to spend his time doing research in the depths of Warlock's Crypt, only occasionally acting to secure interesting magic items or information... or to unleash sixty liches on a nearby town to see what happens.
  • Exalted: The Deathlords once unleashed the Great Contagion, a plague that wiped out 90% of all life in Creation. Then they did nothing but plot for millennia. Somewhat justified, in that their Neverborn masters really hate failure and have dolled out some nasty punishments already; if one of them's going to come up with a fiendish plan to destroy Creation, they're going to make damn sure it works first. Additionally, they all want to be the one to destroy the world themselves, which means they spend a lot of time keeping an eye on each other to make sure no one else gets the glory. (Some treatments, such as Eye and Seven Despairs, or the Lover have been presented as being more interested in the distractions and satisfactions of existence, and have strayed from the path of seeking Oblivion as anything other than lip service.) This, more than any other reason, is likely why the Neverborn have deliberately set about having the Death Lords unknowingly train their own replacements (that being the Abyssal Exalted).
  • Godforsaken: Crumellia Encomium, the immortal necromancer who rules over the deathly lands of Flevame, is a surprisingly passive figure, as she has no particular interest in expansion — she is perfectly content to stay in her palace and experiment with magic, does not particularly desire new lands or more subjects (she can always make more servants if she so wishes), and doesn't really care about the living people who dwell on her land. She would be no real threat except for one thing: she profoundly hates the adventurers who come from Bontherre to steal her treasures, loot her castles and destroy her creations, against whom she sends out waves of minions and assassins even though she herself rarely leaves her court.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Oloro, Ageless Ascetic sits in his chair, in the Command Zone, gaining you life, all game long. Most decks that play Oloro consider casting him very low on their priorities list, especially as it leaves his signature life gain ability more vulnerable to being taken out of play.
    • Nicol Bolas does a lot of prep work but during the War of the Spark itself is so confident in his plan and contemptuous of his opposition that he spends the entire invasion sitting on his throne, occasionally giving an order to a minion, mostly ignoring his enemies and never focusing his immense magical might upon them. Ironically the one time he acts directly before the end, intervening to save Liliana Vess (presumably simply to spare himself the bother of commanding his Eternals personally) it ends up backfiring as Liliana betrays him and uses the Dreadhorde's God-Eternals to strip him of his power. It's especially glaring because in his previous appearance in Hour of Devastation, he had personally handed the Gatewatch a humiliatingly one-sided beatdown even though he was clearly Just Toying with Them purely for the joy of it.
  • In Nomine:
    • God comes across like this. His hand will appear in small ways through Divine Intervention, but He's not taking the field personally till Armageddon — he's only communicated with angels at all twice since the Fall.
    • Lucifer, meanwhile, plays with the trope. He is quite active both in Infernal Interventions and in maintaining Hell's hierarchy, but he doesn't personally involve himself in the fight against Heaven — he spends more time judging his inferiors' success instead. Nonetheless, he can pop up whenever he wants — even if he just happens to wander by and open a stuck door for demons (though this should only happen in a more comedic campaign). He also sometimes speaks to angels and is rarely openly hostile toward them (though that doesn't mean that that angel isn't now in very serious trouble).
    • The Superiors from both sides to varying degrees. Yves, Archangel of Destiny, Kronos, Demon Prince of Fate, or Malphas, Demon Prince of Factions, prefer to work through others.
  • Pathfinder:
    • This tends to happen to liches. Powerful evil spellcasters who have achieved immortality, and thus have all the time in the world to discover even more powerful magic, along with the additional powers their undead state grants? They should be ruling the world, right? While it's true that many start out with Evil Overlord ambitions, as the centuries pass the concerns of the mortal world matter less and less to them. Lacking the need to eat and sleep, they spend all their time on their research, until even that bores them, and a creeping lethargy sets in. Eventually they may cease to function entirely and become barely sapient (though incredibly powerful) demiliches.
    • In the description of Wormsmaw in Undead Unleashed, the legendary undead warlord Erum-Hel is found sitting on his throne in the depths of his fortress, waiting for the intruders to come to him and ignoring their progress through his lair until they do.
    • Kevoth-Kul, the Black Sovereign of Numeria, is a justified example of this trope. He's a powerful and dangerous barbarian king who conquered the throne of Starfall by force, but these days he never leaves his palace because the real power in Starfall, the Technic League, keep him drugged and distracted so they can run the show. The game's second edition reveals that after the Technic League's destruction in Iron Gods, he becomes a much more proactive and effective ruler.
  • Justified for the Dethroned of Princess: The Hopeful. Despite being the most powerful of the Darkness's servants, Dethroned are so consumed by their own despair and self-loathing that, left to themselves, they simply remain in the Dark World, endlessly reliving the events that stripped them of their Belief. And since any lesser creature of Darkness who gets too close to a Dethroned risks being subsumed into the Dethroned's self-flagellation, Darkspawn rarely seek to awaken a Dethroned save in extreme circumstances.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Of the daemon Primarchs only a handful have left their daemonworlds and attacked the Imperium on a regular basis. Mostly because they don't actually give a crap about the Imperium anymore; they have godlike powers and rule entire worlds that are shaped according to their whims, so they have very little reason to leave their homes and go kick some mortals around. Angron, the most active, is a bit different as he exists to kill things, and mortals are more fun to kill than demons (as demons can't truly die). And it takes an enormous amount of energy to actually summon them to the physical world... and every time poor Magnus the Red ventures out, the Space Wolves stab him in the eye. This goes double Lorgar and Fulgrim. Every other daemon-primarch assaulted the Imperium at least once. Lorgar has spent the last ten thousand years meditating on the nature of Chaos, while the Word Bearers are ruled by his lieutenants. Fulgrim left his legion shortly after Horus Heresy and even the Emperor's Children can't find him. The Emperor's Children no longer have any kind of unified command structure after that incident with World Eaters, Kharn and a flamethrower.
    • Thanks to Twin Switch antics, it's ambiguous as to whether Alpharius is alive, whether his twin brother Omegon is alive, or whether they're both alive. Whatever the answer is, they haven't been heard of in ten thousand years.
    • The Emperor is effectively sustained by life support on his throne and has been for ten millennia. He's less of a villain, but this is WH40K we're talking about.
    • The Chaos Gods, when they aren't stuck in their literally eternal Enemy Civil War, rely on their daemons and mortal followers to cause havoc in the Materium. In their case, they're just so powerful that they physically can't manifest in or influence the Materium in any way. Their ultimate goal is to permanently merge the Materium and Immaterium, which would give them free rein over everything.
    • Fanon interpretations strike Khorne particularly hard with this trope, referring to him as a particularly lazy slob who won't simply stand up and start spilling some blood himself. This is partly due to the "SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE" part of the infamous warcry, which leads to interpreting him as really loving that throne too much to leave it, and because every other god seems to be doing something in their wait: Tzeentch keeps weaving plan after plan, Slaanesh spends time murderfucking Eldar souls for eternity, and Nurgle continually brews new plagues, and even if he were fully idle at least his domain justifies it. Khorne, whose domain would expect more activity than any of the other three, does nothing of the sort, and apparently all he does is watch his servants fight everyone forever, with only the occasional gift to a powerful warrior. Thus, as impressive as his servants are, the God himself ends up coming off as less of an unstoppable force of violence and more of a "paraplegic sociopath".
    • Asdrubael Vect, ruler of the Dark Eldar, is an in-game example. His model is a floating open-topped tank, which he's had a throne installed on, and while there are rules for him leaving the vehicle he's very expensive, so doesn't get to go out in person much. In the lore, he's The Chessmaster and Evil Overlord, so it's justified that he doesn't get stuck in all that often.

    Video Games 
  • Played straight almost to the degree of exaggeration in Anvil of Dawn. No matter how long you take adventuring and tearing his entire army asunder, the Warlord doesn't lift a finger. No reinforcements to areas you haven't yet gone to, no personal appearances, nothing. He only appears at the very final area, and even then he won't do more than attempt to convince you with a lame "I'm invincible" spielnote , which if you do the obvious and don't give in to, he won't even try to fight you. We are talking about a warrior that can One-Hit Kill the player regardless of level or equipment here, as shown if you do give in to his bullshit.
  • Battle for Wesnoth:
    • The Big Bad of Heir to the Throne, Queen Asheviere sends orcs, then her daughter Li'sar, and then human soldiers after Konrad's group and only fights by herself at the end of the campaign.
    • In Eastern Invasion, Mal Ravanal appears in the very first scenario, only to comment about how weak Gweddry's group is and immediately leaves the battlefield and lets his minions fight by themselves. Despite being too powerful for Gweddry's group to defeat in the early part of the campaign, Mal Ravanal only fight the group if Gweddry fruitlessly tries to attack his domain and at the end of the campaign when Dacyn has find a way to permanently put him down.
    • The heroes of The Rise of Wesnoth already encounters Lich Lord Jevyan midway through the campaign in "A Final Spring", but he opts to just let his orcish and undead minions to fight for him and does the same thing (plus shrouding the battlefield) when meeting Haldric's group again several scenarios later, only personally fighting Haldric's party at the end of the campaign.
  • The DomZ in Beyond Good & Evil are content to sit back and let La Résistance go about their goal of instigating a popular uprising, with the DomZ Priest not even making an appearance until just before the penultimate boss. In their case this is exactly what they wanted, as it was a Batman Gambit to trap all their foes at once.
  • Kagan in BloodRayne 2 plays this straight almost to the complete description. In earlier years he was a Nazi commander who got his hands dirty in field work until a booby-trapped MacGuffin blew up in his face (not quite a defeat, nor facing a superior enemy). In the game he's occasionally shown in cutscenes, surveying his domain and getting surly with the help, but is only encountered near his throne.
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night:
    • Gebel and Gremory seem content to remain in the throne room no matter how much time Miriam spends acquiring shards and becoming more powerful. It turns out Gremory is terrified of Zangetsu and going out of her way to avoid him, and can't let Gebel out of her sight lest her mind control slip because the first thing he'd do is go and find Miriam who could easily bring him around.
    • Later, it turns out Dominque didn't need to lift a finger - Miriam was running around doing all the heavy lifting for her.
  • The Brief and Meaningless Adventure of Hero Man: Downplayed. Lord Doldrum is content to sit on his throne for the most part, but will destroy the world if Hero Man stays at the inn too much or retires from adventuring.
  • Bug: When Bug encounters Queen Cadavra at the Final Boss battle, she's looking at herself in the mirror under a web. The only other time she does any action in the game is in the intro where she kidnaps Bug's family.
  • Castlevania:
    • Dracula seems to be waiting in his throne room in most games. He'd have a much better chance if he were to attack the intruding Belmont the instant they enter the Castle, with his Bosses helping out. It's not like Belmonts use stealth. Given a possible explanation hilariously in this parody video, where Dracula doesn't have any time to get out of his throne room after he wakes.
    • Dracula was also like this in the Lords of Shadow series. According to lore found in game, the massive armynote  seen at the beginning of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 had apparently been besieging his castle for months, but Dracula never bothered to join the battle until they finally breached his throne room. This is because, unlike the Dracula from the classic Castlevania games, This Dracula is a Tragic Hero/Fallen Hero who had long since given up on the world. Being nigh unkillable, he didn't give a rat's ass what the Brotherhood of Light was up to, and the only reason he entered the fray at the end was to humor them.
    • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin:
      • Justified by Brauner, as sealing himself in a painting behind a protective barrier allows him to create more "masterpieces" with which to exact his revenge and ensures that no meddling vampire hunters or reapers can reach him. In fact, his downfall is a direct result of his daughters getting impatient and deciding to take the fight to the heroes.
      • Similarly, without Dracula around Death was content to lurk in the Clock Tower not doing much of anything until the heroes showed up and antagonized him. And even then he only takes action when he sees an coincidental opportunity to use.
  • Chrono Trigger:
    • Despite being the primary threat, Eldritch Abomination Lavos never directly attempts to stop the heroes from defeating it. The game treats it as more of a cosmic force of nature, as well as an infection on the planet and the flow of time, than a sentient villain. It only directly assaults the heroes when they appear in front of it and try to destroy its core, even vaporizing Crono, but seems to otherwise consider the group of time travelers beneath its notice.
    • Queen Zeal. Once the Ocean Palace has risen and been reconstructed as the Black Omen in the year 12,000 BC, she has a direct line to Lavos which grants her and the Omen an eternal existence. Even if you visit in 2300 AD, centuries after Lavos brought about the end of the world, she has never actually done anything with her vast powers, and it's evident she never will. Random NPCs in previous eras will just comment on how pretty and shiny that malevolent floating castle with the ominous name looks in the morning sun.
  • In Chrono Cross, FATE has already succeeded in opening the seal to the Frozen Flame using Serge's body, and she can control the mind of every single inhabitant of El Nido via the Records of Fate. What reason could she possibly have to let Serge and his small army infiltrate Chronopolis, other than brag to them in person about erasing Prometheus? And for an almighty, otherdimensional creature of Gaia's Vengeance that has vowed immediate annihilation upon humanity, the Dragon God seems pretty content just chilling atop Terra Tower, keeping an eye on the Frozen Flame, and waiting for the heroes to arrive.
  • A similar thing happens in Cuphead, when the Devil mostly stays at his casino while the heroes do his dirty work. (King Dice even warns him that Cuphead and Mugman are getting pretty strong, but the Devil refuses to listen). The first phase of his boss fight has him mainly seated on his throne.
  • Dark Souls III:
    • Justified by the Lords of Cinder, since each of them is actively fleeing and hiding from their duty to preside over a successor to the Linking of the Flame, and the task of the player is to hunt them down and return them. They all also have personal attachments that bind them to the places where they can be found, and are possibly mindless anyway. It's most apparent in the case of Prince Lothric, who is implied to have never yet become a proper Lord, and whose disinterest in his duty has him prefer to stay locked at the top of his tower and watch the end of the world from afar. Ironically, each of them is supposed to be sitting on a throne that they have abandoned (although one is found sitting on a different throne of his own.
    • Pontiff Sulyvahn. You can encounter his minions as early as the High Wall of Lothric via Vordt, and yet at no point does he confront you himself while you're out there taking his forces apart bit by bit. He's content to just sit in his cathedral and wait for you to show up.
  • Draak, the Big Bad of the PC adventure game Darkstone, is like this. It's somewhat justified in his case, as he's so corrupt he doesn't have a chance of collecting the MacGuffin pieces the player character is seeking. All he can really do is send out his hordes of evil and hope that they sufficiently screw things up for the Pure of Heart. In one of the randomly-generated quests, he actually does put in an appearance (in human form, as opposed to his usual dragon body), but all he does is make some snarky comments and threats before wandering off and letting a minion fight for him.
  • In Dead Cells, the King spends the entirety of his time sitting on his throne. He doesn't even get up when you confront him and fight his bodyguard. However, there's a reason for this. He's in a vegetative state because he's missing his mind. Which currently inhabits the very character you're controlling!
  • Devil May Cry:
    • DmC: Devil May Cry: Mundus. Justified, as his Immortality Inducer is in his throne room. Most of the game is spent trying to get him mad enough to forget this.
    • Urizen embodies this trope for the 1st half of the Devil May Cry 5, lounging on his throne and not even bothering to get up to thrash the main characters. That's because conquering the Earth is basically a byproduct of his plan to achieve ultimate power, which only requires he wait for the giant demonic tree he's in to absorb enough blood and grow a fruit. Once the fruit finishes, he teleports directly there and promptly consumes it. We don't get to see what his management policies would have been after that, because Dante defeats him and V remerges with him to bring back Vergil.
  • Defied in Demon's Crest, in which as soon as you clear the first level, you have the option to storm Phalanx's castle and catch him off guard. If you keep putting it off, on the other hand, he'll have more time to prepare himself and his traps, in addition to figuring out how his crest works.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Subverted in in Dragon Age: Origins by Witherfang, who is found in the inner sanctum of its own turf, but couldn't be called 'evil' even while she was bound by a curse.
    • Mother in Awakening never leaves her heavily secured chambers; even while her most crucial agents are dying in the field, all she can do is throw tantrums. This chamber is naturally where the Final Battle takes place. Justified for her at least as she doesn't appear to be physically capable of leaving said lair.
    • Also subverted by the Arishok in Dragon Age II, who just looks like he's been lounging in the same spot with the rest of his qunari for years, but was rather searching for the relic Isabela stole from them and keeping as much as he can in line with the Qun while trying not to let the chaos, weakness, corruption and strife of Kirkwall get to him. When he gets off that chair, a Duel Boss ensues.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Justified in the original trilogy. It's implied that the villain of Dragon Quest, the Dragonlord, has all but won and probably isn't aware that someone is seeking out the armor and sword that can help kill him, so he has no reason to leave his base at Charlock Castle. Townspeople can't venture out of their towns for fear of his legions of monsters, the king is powerless to stop him because he has the princess, and there's no one able to challenge him. The Hero is literally the last hope, and at the start of the adventure, has trouble fighting Slimes. Why worry about his chances?
    • Likewise in Dragon Quest III, Zoma has already won and there are no threats left to go out and eliminate - the Goddess Rubiss is petrified and left to moulder in the corner of a lethal dungeon, the townsfolk have had their spirits obliterated to the point they can't even think of rebelling, and he personally destroyed the one weapon note  that can actually hurt him. Until Erdrick and his companions show up with the Sphere of Light, he has no reason to think he's in any danger. Baramos from the same game might be a straightforward example (despite being the primary threat to the world, he doesn't seem to do much before you arrive at his castle), although it turns out that he himself had been delegated by Zoma.
    • Dragon Quest V: Subverted with Nimzo, as mentioned in his bestiary entry from Dragon Quest IX: "Some thought he could only command from afar, but he has more than enough mental and physical ability to rule the world."
    • Averted by Nelgel the Netherlord in Dragon Quest X, where he breaks Sage Horro's bridge when the latter tries to make a bridge to the Heart of Hell, and even after the Hero has the means to reunite with their whole body, he attempts to stop them from riding Galapagod's true form Pegasus to the Room of Revival.
    • Averted by Mordegon in Dragon Quest XI, where he takes active measures to ensure that the Luminary won't be able to stop his plans. However, much like the Dragonlord and Zoma before him, once he gets what he wants he mostly remains at his fortress while letting his forces wreak havoc. That said, when there's a situation that truly threatens his status, he'll take action to stop it from happening, such as when Erdwin's Lantern, the container holding Calasmos's powers is falling.
  • Elden Ring:
    • Played Straight by Mohg, who mostly spends his time hidden in his capital while the Bloody Fingers go out invading people for him; he hasn't done anything personally since kidnapping Miquella. That said, the 'lay low and bide time' strategy seems to be working out for him, as he's one of the few demigods whose power base hasn't been nearly destroyed by the Shattering.
    • Played with by Morgott, who does have a genuine reason he can't fight you himself (he rules Leyendell and has to stay there, and you can't reach it without killing two Shardbearers), he does send a projection of himself out into the world to kill Tarnished before they can gather Great Runes, that being Margit the Fell Omen.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Alduin, the draconic Beast of the Apocalypse, Subverts it... At first. He's supposed to be doing this, waiting until it's the appropriate time for him to perform his divinely mandated duty of destroying the world so that it can be remade anew. Unfortunately, Alduin found that he preferred to rule the world and be worshipped as a god instead. After three ancient heroes of mankind cast him out of the stream of time using the power of an Elder Scroll, he returned to kick off the events of Skyrim. He initially destroys the village of Helgen looking for the only being in Skyrim who could defeat and permanently destroy him (i.e. you) and can be found throughout the game resurrecting other dragons at burial mounds. At least until you defeat him at the Throat of the World, using a unique Shout that you could've only learned by witnessing his first defeat at the hands of those ancient heroes, at which point he runs off back to Sovngarde to lick his wounds until you follow him there for a rematch.
    • Umaril the Unfeathered, the Ayleid sorcerer-king who ruled the Ayleid Empire at the time of the Alessian Revolt, favored doing this. He practiced a "ruin-from-afar" strategy, having his minions do his dirty work. Umaril did nothing even as Alessia's forces captured most of Cyrodiil. He didn't get involved himself until her forces came to the White-Gold Tower itself, where he was defeated (but not killed) by Alessia's divine champion, Pelinal Whitestrake. In Oblivion's Knights of the Nine expansion, Umaril returns and serves as the expansion's Big Bad. Again, he does not get personally involved until the very end.
  • Played with in Evil Genius. While the player (as the titular Card-Carrying Villain) can send his minions out into the world to commit various acts of camp villainy, most of your time is spent maintaining the evil base. And once they obtain enough loot to keep their minion's loyalty up, the player's avatar will probably spend all their time skulking in their sanctum out of the way of wandering assassins. There's also how every enemy agent will be gunning for your Player Character, so the best bet is to put him deep in the belly of the lair. At most, you can have him execute a random minion for a quick stats boost of all those nearby.
  • In Evil Genius 2, while the titular Evil Geniuses primarily keeps to their base they've also been given more abilities to actively boost their minions' productivity and are capable of defending themselves (particularly Red Ivan), with their offensive capabilities upgraded once they start building their specific Doomsday Device. Still, since their deaths mean that you lose it's best not to keep them in combat.
  • Far Cry:
    • Far Cry 3: Hoyt Volker lets his lackeys do most of the work in regards to dealing with Jason and is mostly off running his criminal empire.
    • In Far Cry 4, Pagan Min is content in letting Ajay run amok within his country while he occasionally calls him up to taunt him. The few times he does come face-to-face he's even quite friendly towards him and the worst he does is have him thrown in a cell up in the Himalayas. Of course, he has a reason: Ajay is the son of his former lover, who he sees as a son himself that he was prepared to give Kyrat to. In fact, if Ajay actually sits still during the beginning as he's asked to, Pagan fulfills his promise of taking Ajay to place his mother's ashes while outright telling him all major plot details.
  • Ilya from Fate/stay night. Her Berserker is the strongest of the servants currently participating in the Holy Grail War and she's an extremely powerful magus on top of it — but besides her first appearance in which she almost effortlessly subdues both Shirou and Rin combined, she never takes another offensive action afterwards, in any of the three routes, despite how that she could probably flatten all the other participants except for Kotomine and Gilgamesh. This is probably because she is the vessel for the Holy Grail, which takes over her body when it activates, so she has no reason to even try.
  • In the first two FEAR games, Alma was an active threat, either directly hindering the player or killing his allies, or even directly attacking him at certain points. In the third game, however, she is pregnant with her third child and can't do much more than randomly appear in the form of ghostly apparitions. On the other hand, her influence is still very strongly felt, considering she's a Reality Warper whose mere presence has driven most of the people in the city insane, and her birth contractions are powerful enough to knock down skyscrapers.
  • Final Fantasy
    • Final Fantasy VI: Kefka is largely inactive after becoming a god, ruining the world and wiping out many cities. NPCs imply that he spent the year Celes was in a coma randomly firing the Light of Judgment at anyone who irritated him, just because he could. Then the Returners stormed his tower and he decided pissing on the ashes of the world wasn't fun anymore. There's also the theory that he was so bored for that year he actively waited for the heroes to band back together and fight them one last time because really, when you become an all-powered God of Magic who rules a dead world, what else is there to do but smack down anyone who opposes your rule?
    • Final Fantasy XIV: Zenos Galvus, former Crown Prince of the Garlean Empire, is frequently presented in this light. Although he does have a couple of fights with the Warrior of Light, the vast majority of his cutscenes show him either actually sitting on a chair or the Imperial throne, or standing in a room, talking to someone. Though his power is indisputable, he goes through long stretches of story without visibly doing anything with it.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy: Chaos does remarkably little for being the God of Discord and the Big Bad of, possibly, the entire series. Sure, he nukes Cosmos that one time, but aside from that one moment, he spends the game doing an impressive Slouch of Villainy on his throne until someone finally shows up to fight him. It's mostly because the endless repeating cycles of his war with Cosmos have burned him out to the point that he just doesn't care any more. He is slowly driven to self-destruction, to wipe out both sides of the conflict permanently. In the end, Chaos and his army are defeated from the inside out, through entropy. Which is perfectly in his nature.
  • Played straight for a large majority of bosses in Fire Emblem. They basically just sit there as you wipe out their minions. Although sitting on thrones gives them a large boost in their stats — they can dodge better, tank better, and thrones even heal them — this makes defeating them much easier due to their very limited range (in fact, some such enemies don't even have a ranged attack, so by doing nothing but sitting on the thrones you can easily pick them off from a distance).
    • Shadow Dragon justifies it in the case of the Big Bad Medeus: his resurrection is not yet fully complete, and as a result he is physically incapable of leaving his castle.
    • In Path of Radiance Ashnard never actively interacts with the heroes before the final battle. You later find out he has a very good reason for this: he's The Social Darwinist Blood Knight who wants to see if the heroes are worth his time before fighting them himself.
    • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, Grima is an example from a story perspective. Grima ultimately does very little to contribute to the conflict besides being resurrected by Validar, with his subordinates Validar and Aversa doing most of the work. This is not only because Grima is a Sealed Evil in a Can but because the Grima who time-traveled from the Bad Future after Lucina and the future children was heavily weakened by both the journey and then attempting to possess the Avatar/Robin right from the start, which gave the latter amnesia. He doesn't have the raw power even years in-universe later to make big moves aside from ensuring things don't go Off the Rails before his present-self's revival, and ultimately only steps up for real when Robin refuses to become Grima's vessel and does it himself, reviving his present self and restoring his lost power.
    • Sometimes the games subverts¿ this. Every once in a while, there will be a boss that'll sit there until one of your units comes into attacking range. Hope you didn't send your healer first. Lloyd is an especially nasty one in Blazing Blade. Not only does he attack if you get too close, it's a Fog of War map, so you might be too close and not know it. And if you send a knight to absorb the hit, he'll take magic damage from his lightbrand, probably kicking the bucket in the process. Thankfully, this is only on Hector mode. The trope is played straight in Eliwood's story.
    • Subverted for Walhart, the second time you fight him. Everything is set up such that he appears to be your conventional Throne Boss. Being a Climax Boss, having 1-2 range, Contractual Boss Immunity to effective damage, starting on the throne and having pretty good bulk. However, he can and WILL get off his throne and attack your units, which, given his high stats, can be very fatal for your units.
  • The title character of Five Nights at Freddy's, Freddy Fazbear, is the least active of the murderous animatronic characters, content to stand on stage... until night four. Freddy wasn't being lazy, he was analyzing your strategy. And that's when he joins the fray.
  • Every final end boss of the Ghouls 'n Ghosts series, especially Lucifer, who doesn't even get off his throne when actually fighting.
  • Guilty Gear X2: Overture: Zepp's current leader just sends Potemkin to do some errands most of the time. Justified in that this is Potemkin we're talking about: He can handle it.
  • Half-Life:
    • In Half-Life the Nihilanth doesn't do anything against Gordon directly until he's literally right in front of it. In its case, directing an interdimensional invasion and personally keeping open the rift its forces are using with its mind means it's far too busy to bother with one person, regardless of how many of its soldiers he kills.
    • In Half-Life 2 Breen is an odd case, as while he does just sit in his office until Gordon arrives being a Non-Action Big Bad means he can't really do much else, and he's much more proactive than most examples; it's repeatedly made clear that until Nova Prospekt all the Combine soldiers Gordon fights are either targeting him personally or targeting La Résistance outposts in an attempt to find him. The Combine Advisors play this completely straight, as they don't even wake up until their home is about to get blown up. They get off their thrones (or stasis pods, in this case) by the time of Episode Two, and they waste no time in getting down to business.
  • Halo:
    • In Halo 4's Spartan Ops co-op campaign, Covenant remnant leader Jul 'Mdama is actively commanding his forces, but he never engages in direct combat himself, despite the fact that as a Elite, he likely earned his rank through his personal asskicking abilities. He's finally forced into the fray in Halo 5: Guardians, but it ends poorly for him, due to having the bad luck of going against Jameson Locke, one of the UNSC's very best Spartan-IVs. You do get to fight in him in multiplayer though, if you play a regular Warzone match on the map "Attack on Sanctum".
    • Of the three Prophet Hierarchs leading the Covenant, the Prophet of Regret is the only one to leave their capital city to personally oversee the war effort (from the comfort of a nigh-invincible fleet of warships, but still). In-Universe he is acknowledged as an unusually active and Hot-Blooded Prophet, a possible side-effect of working directly alongside Sangheili. He does engage in combat once during Halo 2, with the Master Chief, which leads to his death, though he goes down blazing. Notably, he doesn't actually leave his throne even during a fight; Prophets are physically frail thanks to near-deadly levels of inbreeding and a ridiculously sedentary lifestyle, and besides, the Hierarchs' chairs are outfitted with all sorts of devastating weaponry and cool gadgets.
  • In Heroes Must Die Lord Murder leaves his base twice. It's justified both times as the first time he was the only one strong enough to fight Promise and the second time his minions had failed him twice before.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic:
    • The Demon Sovereign in V. Justified in that he's been imprisoned in the last war and needs his Demon Lords to do the job. His primary goal in this game and Dark Messiah is to free himself from the metaphorical Throne and in two of the endings of the latter he succeeds. Other villains in the game also tend to do this after reaching their primary goals.
    • Markal, after taking over the Griffin Empire. Justified by being caught up in the war with demons trying to capture Isabel. And he does launch a massive invasion of the Sylvan Elves' homeland lead by his newly vampirized Dragon Nicholai.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising:
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • The Lord of the Dead in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow. His throne has become part of him, so he can't move around any more. He's further bound to his throne by shackles and chains.
  • Happens in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, where Raziel goes through dungeons to kill his brothers. Although a couple are trapped and can't move most seem to know he's coming and can't be bothered to seek him out. Kain on the other hand avoids him only to manipulate. Dumah takes it the most literally, partly because he's the only one left with enough humanity to actually be able to sit, and partly because he's nailed down to it when you find him. Zephon is fused with the wall and literally cannot move from his "throne room". Rahab can only move underwater and is extremely vulnerable to sunlight, while Raziel cannot enter the waters, and mostly roams well-enough lit areas, for Rahab to be uncomfortable tracking him down. As for Melchiah... it is possible he hadn't known for long enough, since Raziel had showed up quite recently.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda Ganon doesn't seem very concerned on actually gathering the Triforce pieces, even though the dungeons in which those pieces are located are full of monsters (who are supposedly his minions).
    • Zig-Zagged in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. For the first half of the game and before, Agahnim is actively seeking out the descendants of the Seven Sages and banishing them to the Dark World so as to undo a seal keeping Ganon imprisoned there. But once he does, he just sits atop Ganon's Tower doing nothing until Link confronts him and defeats him, revealing him to be Ganon in disguise.
    • Ganondorf in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Sure, Hyrule Castle Town is deserted apart from ReDeads and the castle is transformed into his evil lair, but the rest is relatively safe from him. He has his minions spreading terror, Zora's Fountain has been frozen solid, but he's just sitting in the castle waiting for Zelda to show up. You'd think he'd go after Link when he starts gathering the Plot Coupons, but no, he doesn't. He makes just one appearance after you take down Phantom Ganon, but that's just to get rid of him in a You Have Failed Me moment and taunt Link about how "the real me won't be so easy" before returning to the castle. Perhaps justified for once, in that he's letting Link run around freely in the hopes of drawing Zelda out of hiding, so he can obtain both their respective pieces of the Triforce.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Ganondorf sits around in his Forsaken Fortress, only actively doing something twice in the game (the destruction of Great Fish Isle and the kidnapping of Zelda).
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, once Ganon takes the throne in Hyrule Castle upon Princess Zelda's temporary sacrifice, he just seals himself inside the castle and does nothing. Same with Zant after the fourth dungeon (where he appears to revive the boss).
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games General Onox shows up in the beginning, captures Din, sinks the Temple of Seasons, then retreats to his Fortress of Doom. It never occurs to him to finish off Link before he gets the Plot Coupons and invades the Fortress. Compare this to Veran in the other game, who is actively trying to build the Black Tower and interacts frequently with Link. note 
    • Zig-Zagged in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Ghirahim is actively seeking out Zelda over the course of the game, multiple times showing up to hinder you or fight you himself. But once he steps out and the true Big Bad shows up, he just warps off to a different plane and waits for Link to come to him before he goes out to take over Hyrule.
    • This is subverted in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You learn early on that Calamity Ganon is being sealed in Hyrule Castle to keep it from destroying what's left of Hyrule. However, you also gradually learn that the Malice, the gooey and ashy substance that revives monsters and corrupted the Guardians and Divine Beasts a century ago, pretty much is part of Ganon's essence; sealing Calamity Ganon in Hyrule Castle only keeps most of the Malice in one location where it can't hurt people.
    • Played straight and subverted in Hyrule Warriors. Cia is content to hang back for the most part, letting her armies do the work. The subversion comes in when she's defeated: Ganondorf breaks free and personally hunts down the heroes, crushing each of them in turn and claiming the complete Triforce. And during this period of hands-on villany, you play as him. He only gets lazy after he's already won, giving the heroes only the barest of opportunities to turn it around.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: While Ganondorf is extremely active in the game's backstory, in the present day he's content to let his minions do all the heavy lifting, allowing you to Take Your Time exploring the Quicksand Box that is Hyrule. He does have the excuse of having just broken out of a 10,000 year long seal and wanting to recover his power, but it's still made abundantly clear that he didn't really need to do so; had he attacked immediately after breaking out of his can, he would have been able to conquer Hyrule easily. Instead he spends most of the game sitting around and waiting for Link to come to him.
  • In Lords of Midnight, based on The Lord of the Rings, the Big Bad Doomdark patiently waiting in his fortress HQ for the good guys to arrive and fight him.
  • In both Lightning Warrior Raidy games, every boss and mid-boss is far too busy raping and fornicating with their prisoners to go stop the protagonist rampaging through the dungeon. On the other hand, the floor design is made so that Raidy has to come to them anyway, so it all works out.
  • The Illusive Man in the Mass Effect universe does most of his villainy/Well Intentioned Extremism from his chair, but it's acceptable, since he's a leader, not a soldier. Plus, if you had an office as awesome as his, you'd never want to leave either. In the book Mass Effect: Retribution, the Illusive Man does personally supervise a project... which promptly gets ambushed by a whole army of turians. His escape confirms our hypothesis about his combat skills, as, though he can fight, he's hardly end boss material.
  • Mega Man:
    • Every villain strategy, starting with Dr. Wily, has been "wait for Mega Man to fight his way to each Robot Master who themselves are waiting for him in a airlocked room, beat them, go through one more level and possibly fight all the copies of the Robot Masters in a row before fighting the main villain of that game". The implication, of course, is that Wily is controlling his various Robot Masters to take over the world. When Mega Man inevitably defeats them, he barricades himself in his massive, well-defended fortress, hoping it will be enough to keep the Blue Bomber away. Through the magic of video game protagonist determinism, it never is.
    • Justified in Mega Man ZX
      • In the first game, Serpent is spending all his time excavating Area M in order to obtain Model W, with Vent/Aile scrambling to get together the six passwords stored in the Biometals to open the path themselves (four of which Serpent already has and split in two between his eight Pseudoroids, and the other two he wrenched from the heroes near the beginning of the game). By the time they get into Area M and reach Model W, Serpent is already bringing Model W up. At that point, however, Serpent spends the rest of his time just waiting in Slither Inc. for Vent/Aile to storm the place with all their restored Biometals. But it turns out Serpent needed Vent/Aile to come so he could goad them into giving in to their hatred for him and use it to finish waking Model W up.
      • After he's revealed to be the main villain at one-third mark, Master Albert in Advent spends his time waiting in his undersea volcano base while minions retrieve the Model W cores scattered around the world, with the heroes even getting a chance to destroy a few to try and slow him down and get together the keys needed to track him down. Not only does it turn out he has hundreds of cores stocked up, meaning the lost Model Ws were inconsequential as far as he's concerned, like Serpent he was waiting for the proper key to wake the cores up, courtesy of his treasonous Co-Dragons Prometheus and Pandora, who kill his dummy body thinking they finally got their revenge for the crap they put them through for centuries. Instead, their negative emotions get drained and the Model Ws merge into the Ouroboros, but at that point Albert is content to wait again for Grey/Ashe to storm it with their allies, this time for the chance to stroke his own ego about how his "spare ultimate Mega Man" proved to be a success (Grey) and how his "dear descendant" surpassed all his expectations (Ashe) before declaring his intent to destroy them with his godly power.
  • Action RPG Metal Walker reveals the final boss, and the source of the island's problems, is a supercomputer, justifying why the Metal Masters are sent out in its stead. Supercomputers can't walk.
  • Metroid
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War attempts to justify what Sauron was doing in-between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with it's final act, in which Talion's goal is to wage war as long as possible to distract the Dark Lord long enough for the events to take placee.
  • Might and Magic:
    • VI: King Xenofex of the Kreegan manage to achieve a state in the narrative very much like this by not being inactive. Specifically, he is active enough that by the time the game starts and the players start being enough of a nuisance that it could draw his attention, he has moved to what was the most critical project in most use of his direct leadership — the Kingdom of Eofol, over on a different continent, too far to be able to do more against your characters than give commands to subordinates. The other Kreegan leader is this for an entirely different reason — the Kreegan Queen spends most of her time giving birth to Kreegans, and as such is both not all that mobile and more useful safely ensconced in the main Kreegan hive than out in the field.
    • VIII: Escaton spends the entire game sitting on his throne waiting for the Elementals to reach the Ravenshore Crystal (which would cause The End of the World as We Know It). Justified by him not keeping an eye on the mortal realm and not wanting to complete his plan. It is also implied that not sitting on the throne, or at least remaining in the Plane between Planes could weaken the spell calling the Elementals towards the Ravenshore Crystal. Since he doesn't actually have any agents in the other planes (the Elementals are being influenced towards a specific course of action), that means he can't really do anything until you get to him.
  • In the first Mortal Kombat (1992) game, Shang Tsung is a literal example; he doesn't get off his throne, which he watches much of the tournament from, until the player defeats Goro. Big Bad Shao Kahn in much the same way in subsequent games, only getting involved in the Final Battle, and not doing much except watching until then, and he seems to have quite a few places to do so (there are several arenas where he's in the background). Ironically, Mortal Kombat 9, where Raiden's altering of the timeline changed the events, Shang Tsung is a lot more active in the Story Mode where the first tournament is concerned. Goro, on the other hand, has his own throne in the arena named after him, and doesn't do much except watch the other people fight. (Of course, you could probably rationalize that he's sizing everyone up via observation, seeing as he's the one who fights the winner.)
  • The Ruinbringers from NEO: The World Ends with You are a three-man team consisting of Susukichi, Tsugumi, and their unseen leader. In Week 1, Susukichi collects his team's reward for winning the week on behalf of his leader, with Kubo making a remark that he failed to show up "again". At the end of Week 2, it's revealed that the Ruinbringers' leader is none other than Shiba, and the reason he never seems to participate in the Reapers' Game is because he's too busy running it.
  • In NieR, after the Shadowlord kidnaps Yonah, he proceeds to do nothing for five years, while Nier continues massacring Shades and his guardians, becuase the Shadowlord has exactly what he wants and doesn't care about anything else. And in this case, the Shadowlord had already been waiting 1300 years for Project Gestalt to restore Yonah to him, before finally losing patience and trying to speed things along. Which ultimately led to Project Gestalt failing, all the Shades and Replicants dying, and the extinction of humanity, so maybe in this case "Orcus" should have stayed on his throne.
  • Deconstructed in Planescape: Torment. The Big Bad spends the entire game attacking you through pawns and intermediaries and killing off anyone who's been in contact with you, but will never face you personally until you crash into its lair and confront it yourself. People you talk with (such as Coaxmetal) explicitly describe this as the Big Bad's Fatal Flaw, and in the end you even figure out why — the Big Bad is afraid of you, and wants to avoid you at all costs because of what you two meeting will entail for you both.
  • Subverted in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, where Kyurem goes to deal with the hero personally after his followers fail to do the job.
  • Bane in Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. He actually appears outside of his citadel a few, but despite the fact that the player has already ruined most of his progress, he's pretty lazy at that point.
  • Quest for Glory:
    • Baba Yaga, the main antagonist of Quest for Glory I spends the entire game, and even the backstory, cooped up inside her chicken-legged hut. She never performed any villainy to provoke the Baron into trying to get rid of her, and relayed her curse on the Baron and his family through the commander of the troops sent to drive her out of the valley. She herself never acts against the Hero, either. The first time the Hero encounters her, she turns him into her personal errand boy... and that's it.
    • The Brigand Leader spends her entire time in the back office of the brigands' fortified lair in the south of the valley, preferring to act via minions such as the Warlock. It's not until the Hero actually makes his way through the fortress for the final confrontation that it's revealed that the Brigand Leader is actually a Brainwashed and Crazy Elsa von Spielburg.
    • In Quest for Glory II, Big Bad Ad Avis is The Man Behind the Man, ruling Raseir in secret through the Emir, with most of his dirty work being done through either the Emir, his own minions such as Khaveen, or the Elementals he sends to attack Shapeir. It's not until the Hero arrives in Raseir (after the Hero tips off his presence by saving one of said pawns being punished for displeasing him) that Ad Avis takes an active hand in the events of the game. Somewhat justified in that the next step of his plans can only happen on a certain date, so he's waiting for that date to arrive.
    • The Demon Wizard in Quest for Glory III hides out in the Lost City in Tarna, and directs events either through subordinates, or via possession, and doesn't confront the Hero until he attacks the gate between realms.
    • In Quest for Glory IV the Dark One, Avoozl, has no choice but to sit around and wait for things to happen, seeing as he's trapped partially summoned and imprisoned in the Cave of the Dark One. Big Bad (sorta) Katrina spends most of her time in Castle Borgov, periodically venturing out only to manipulate the Hero into retrieving the rituals necessary to free the Dark One. Katrina only directly interferes after the Hero rescues Tanya, and during the End Game.
    • Quest for Glory V. All of the events are being orchestrated by Minos, who spends most of his time relaxing on his private island while supporting Elsa's bid for the throne of Silmaria, and using Bruno to first assassinate the previous King, then take out the other competitors and Rakeesh, and finally begin the process of breaking the pillars to release the Dragon of Doom. He shows up periodically in council, but otherwise, the Hero only encounters him when he goes to rescue Elsa (at which point Minos commits suicide to bring his plans to fruition and unleash the Dragon).
  • Radiant Historia: Queen Protea does absolutely nothing of note, lounging in luxury while her city falls to pieces and a rebellion brews right under her nose. This is an intentional move by her retainers, Dias and Selvan; as long as they ostensibly do anything she says and keep up her illusion of power, they can persue their own agendas freely.
  • Rayman 2: The Great Escape: Admiral Razorbeard spends almost the entire game sitting in a chair on the Space Pirates' flag ship the Buccaneer while his second-in-command gives him occasional updates on Rayman foiling his men around the world. It's not until Rayman boards the Buccaneer that Razorbeard confronts him directly by piloting a Humongous Mecha for the final boss fight.
  • Nicely Subverted in Realm of the Mad God. Oryx spends most of the game bragging about the power of his boss minions from afar. When you kill all of said bosses, however, he summons you to fight your way through his castle, after which you fight him in a showdown.
  • Series Big Bad Albert Wesker took a powder during the events of Resident Evil 4, sitting back in a dark control room and commanding both Ada Wong and Jack Krauser to do his dirty work. Odd for him as he normally averts this, preferring to get his hands dirty and either lead his goons himself or go on solo missions to get the job done personally.4 The remake has Wesker being slightly more active in that he's present in the village and occasionally helps Ada, but leaves most of the work to her.
  • Ristar has Greedy the Tyrant, who you don't see until the final battle, and even then he sits on his throne and sends minions at you at first.
  • In Rodea the Sky Soldier, Gearado's dragon manages to open a rift in space/time linking Garuda to Gearado's empire at the hight of the empire's power. Gearado, instead of taking advantage of this, waits for Rodea and Ion to come through time and make their way to his throne room, all the while taunting Rodea to do Something unpredictable.
  • The various evil villains in RuneScape don't seem to do very much between quests, and the bosses like the King Black Dragon pretty much just sit around and wait for the players to try and kill them. Extra credit goes to the vampyre Lord Drakan of Morytania, whose Throne-bound behavior is so extreme that it inspires his own sister to arm La Résistance with her own race's Kryptonite Factor and have an interesting conflict rather than put up with it anymore. To be fair, no one has seen him for centuries and we only have Vanescula's word for it, who it is strongly implied is not giving the player the whole story.
    • Then came the "The Lord of Vampyrium" quest where he gets off his throne and engages the resistance directly resulting in their numbers dropping rapidly. He remains a major threat throughout the quest until he's slain by the main character and Vanescula. There's also hints of why Drakan wasn't seen for so long. He'd become obsessed by The Stone of Jas and was hunting/researching it for use in his plans.
  • The Syndicate in Saints Row: The Third. They take a proactive role in the story exactly twice: once in the beginning, when they give the Saints a reason to come after them, and once at the beginning of Act II, when they blow something up and frame the Saints for it. Otherwise, they spend the entire story sitting on their butts, waiting for the Saints to show up and start trouble, and never striking back or trying to reclaim what they lost.
  • King Kenji of Infernal Tokyo sits alone in the Reactor Chamber of the JGSDF's Camp Ichigaya in Shin Megami Tensei IV. It's a Justified Trope — he's so depressed and bloodthirsty he willingly has himself locked down there so his bloodlust won't kick in, letting the citizens above carry on their business. Flynn and his friends coming in finally puts Kenji back in good spirits, seeing the trio as Worthy Opponents.
  • Done as a Visual Pun for Belphengor in Shin Megami Tensei: he takes the form of a horned demon sitting on a toilet. It's appropriate since he's associated with the sin of sloth.
  • Le Paradox from Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, who sends all his goons to steal the Cooper canes from various points in history rather than getting off his ass and doing it himself. Sly viciously castigates him for this in the climax, asking how he can call himself history’s greatest thief if his henchmen are the ones doing all the real work.
  • Rather uniquely for a Platform Game villain, Dr. Eggman from Sonic the Hedgehog averted this for the most part. In the 16-bit games on the Sega Genesis, he shows up with a new machine to combat Sonic at the end of every level, bringing out his best in the Final Boss. However, there are a few exceptions:
    • In three of the 8-bit games on the Sega Master System and Game Gear, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic Chaos, and Sonic Triple Trouble, the Master Badniks, advanced versions of regular badniks serve as games' bosses, with Eggman serving as the games' final boss. Subverted with Sonic 2, as while Eggman does show up in Under Ground Zone Act 3 for the purpose of saving Sonic from falling into the lava pit, Sonic does not directly fight him in that stage. Instead, he dodges the cannonballs he throws at him and eventually Eggman himself when he flies down at him so that Eggman can inadvertently damage the Antlion Mecha, the stage's boss, after which, Eggman is not seen again until Crystal Egg Zone, where he serves as the game's True Final Boss.
    • In Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, the members of the Super Special Sonic Search and Smash Squad from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog serve as the game's opponents. Robotnik serves as the game's thirteenth and final opponent when his badniks fail to subdue the player.
    • In Sonic Spinball, Eggman only shows up as the game's final boss in the fourth and final level, "The Showdown", with the previous three bosses being Scorpius, the Roboiler, and the Roboticization Machine.
    • During the shift to 3D (and by extension, a greater focus on plot), he's still actively out in the field getting things done. He does eventually play this trope straight starting with Sonic Colors however; he seems perfectly content with just letting Sonic go about his business and only directly confronts him near the climax.
  • Star Control:
    • Played with in Star Control II, with both the Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah. There really isn't much reason to enter their spheres of control (other than small incursions for several quests), so for the majority of the game there will be zero contact with either of them. And although they are directly responsible for the entire premise of the game and pretty much everything about its setting, they do not directly influence any of the action during much of the game itself. On the other hand, this is mainly because the Kzer-Za and Kohr-Ah are busy fighting each other. Once that fight is over, however, the Kohr-Ah will suddenly become extremely active, triggering the Race Against the Clock to Game Over.
    • The Scryve Empire in Star Control Origins certainly takes its sweet time getting around to attacking Earth. This is partially justified in that for much of the game they don't actually know where Earth is (the scout ship that initially found it got blown up before it could report back), but they do manage to find it around the halfway mark. Several aliens point out that the Scryve have become decadent and lazy by the time of the game, so their slowness and general incompetence is attributed to this; it's implied that if humanity had encountered the Scryve at the height of their power, they would never have had a chance.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Knights of the Old Republic: Darth Malak clearly prefers to send agents after you rather than pursue you himself. Granted, he is in the midst of managing a massive interstellar war against the Galactic Republic, so it's not as though he has nothing else to do. Also, you do confront him once in person before the end of the game, but that's somewhat inadvertent: you have already been captured by Admiral Karath and are in the midst of escaping when he arrives; he does not seek you out. Nevertheless, considering that he knows that you and Bastila are by far the biggest threats to him and his ultimate victory, and that he knows, or should know, exactly where you are going on your quest, it is more than a little strange that he does not bother coming after you personally when he knows that you are still relatively weak. There is another interpretation, however: the player character is revealed to be an amnesiac Darth Revan, Malak's old master. In spite of all his Sith bravado, Malak never could beat Revan in a straight-up fight (it's the reason he was the apprentice of the duo) so on some level he may have been trying to avoid a confrontation. "Once bitten, twice shy" as the old saying goes.
    • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Darth Nihilus. You hear from everyone that this guy's dangerous, eats planets, is hunger personified, etc. He comes out of hiding once and is a 30-second Boss Battle once you catch up to him. He has a very good reason for avoiding younote , but he doesn't know that.
    • While most of the major enemies from Star Wars: The Old Republic are active to the point that you spend most of the time either running from them or fighting them in the field where they're leading on the front lines, Darth Baras from the Sith Warrior storyline plays it dead straight. He never leaves his sanctum and works entirely through agents; for the first half of the plot the Warrior is acting as The Brute for him and has a rivalry with The Dragon.
    • Darth Jadus in the Imperial Agent storyline Star Wars: The Old Republic becomes this after Act 1 as he retreats to the edge of the galaxy to plot his coup in secret, although he takes a slightly larger role if you took him up on his We Can Rule Together offer.
    • Emperor Vitiate, the Big Bad of Star Wars: The Old Republic and the Greater-Scope Villain of the Old Republic Saga as a whole became this. After spearheading the Sith's fifth attempt to take over the galaxy and crippling the Republic in a devastating attack, due to Darth Revan acting as a Barrier Maiden he signs a treaty with the Republic instead of destroying them outright and becomes a recluse to the point of being a Shadow Dictator. The Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne expansions reveal that he bailed on the Sith Empire to create a different one following an entirely new religion with him as a God-Emperor, and the Dark Council had been doing all the work running the Sith Empire for him under the impression he was eventually coming back.
  • The Order from Strife is utterly apathetic to the point of absurdity. When your mercenary hero isn't runing around the town with an arsenal of obviously illegal weaponry, he's sneaking into the Order's facilities to wreak havoc and murder guards en masse — and yet the Order never bothers to as much as send a bunch of assassins after him, and the mooks encountered around town still treat you like any other citizen. The Order's high-ups basically just sit on their asses and wait patiently until the hero arrives to kill them. The only point in the game where they actually take action is if you accidentally destroy the "power tap" The Front uses to hide themselves from The Order's scanners — a bunch of mooks will then pop up at the doorstep of the Front's secret base, supposedly a "scanning crew" (who nevertheless are unable to detect a bustling base which is just behind a secret door in a next room).
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Bowser's tendency to wait around doing nothing while Mario comes for him is lampshaded in the Paper Mario games, where his minions are shown to do things like host game shows and go on field trips to while away the boring hours of sitting around being evil.
    • In Super Mario Bros. 3, the initial goal is to save the kings of the game's seven worlds by defeating the Koopalings that stole their magic wands. Princess Peach is (presumably) at home, sending letters to Mario (or Luigi) after completing each world. However, Bowser does go out of his way to kidnap Peach at some point before the seventh king is saved, which results in the player travelling to Dark Land to rescue her from Bowser's Castle.note 
    • Besides dropping a boulder on Olivia to block your path and make Bobby blow himself up, Olly doesn't visibly do much in Paper Mario: The Origami King. It's only when you reach the endgame that you realize why he's holed up in his castle while his minions do all the work: he's been folding 1000 Origami Cranes to get his wish, which is a Final Solution to his Toad "problem". Even then, he'll stop folding after nine-hundred and ninety nine cranes, because he wants to fold Mario as his 1,000th.
    • Justified in Super Mario Sunshine, where Bowser is on vacation and his son is the one causing all the trouble. When Mario finally catches up to him, he's lounging in a giant hot tub.
    • In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Junior shows up to taunt you at the end of each level and occasionally attacks in his airship. Meanwhile, Bowser doesn't appear in the game at all until the very last stage.
    • Smithy, Big Bad of Super Mario RPG, is never seen until the confrontation at the end of the game. That said, since it's implied that he personally forges every member of his mechanical Evil Army by hand, it could be argued that he's a little busy.
    • King Boo doesn't do much to attack Luigi in the Luigi's Mansion series. He does set up an initial trap in the first and third games, but merely waits for Luigi to come and face him after that.
  • Laodecia does little to drive the plot in Shin Super Robot Wars. Lu Cain and his grunts drive the plot in the Earth Route, with Master Asia and the Devil Gundam interfering here and there. Char Aznable drives the Space Route plot until he is defeated. When Laodecia steps up to fight the Londo Bell in the Space Route, it turns out the Zyflud has the most HP of any of the bosses on that route and can put a hurting on the SRX.
  • System Shock: Being an AI, SHODAN might not have the option of hunting you down and murdering you personally, but that doesn't stop her screwing with your head with taunts and threats as she sends her minions to destroy you. She does mess with doors and other remote-controllable equipment when she can, though.
  • Widdershin from Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology does appear in front of the Descender early on, but remains passive most of the game. His lackeys are in charge of various Gilgulim nodes across the world of Terresia, while Widdershin waits around and lets Gilgulim devour the world. It isn't until the final dungeon appears on the world that he personally shows more incentive, though his only active role is still being the final boss to defeat.
  • Jaqueline Natla from Tomb Raider: Anniversary is a glaring example of this. Not only can he fly and hurl flames from her fingers, but she by her own admission (which she later proves) cannot die. Does she blast through the ruins herself country-frying the random rabid wolves and crocodiles and just take the Scion herself? No! Does she hire a bunch of goons and Lara Croft to get the Scion for her? Yes! Does this bite her in her Atlantean arse in phenominal ways? Oh boy yes!
  • Subverted in the older computer RPG Ultima VII, where the Big Bad plays mind games with the player before the player generates his character and enters the gameworld. Within the gameworld, you're never quite certain either, as the Big Bad (named the "Guardian") continues to try to Mind Fuck the player — sometimes by helping the player with hints, sometimes by misleading the player with those same hints. The player's ultimate goal in VII is to prevent the Guardian from entering the gameworld and Ending The World As We Know It — this is not revealed to the player until near the end of the game.
  • Undertale: Following the deaths of his son and his adopted human child, King Asgore proclaimed that he would gather the human SOULs necessary to shatter the barrier keeping his kingdom of monsters trapped underground, and wage war on the human world, but he isn't really all too proactive about actually doing that. This is because Asgore is actually a really nice guy, who made that proclamation in the heat of the moment while consumed with grief. He doesn't actually want to wage war on the humans, but he can't just revoke his statement. So he stalls for time by waiting for humans to fall into the Underground, when he could just as easily absorb the SOUL of his human child, cross the barrier, kill six other humans (or just wait for some to die of natural causes and then borrow their souls for a while), break the barrier, and have the whole thing resolved in a matter of hours. His wife Toriel leaves him because not only is she disgusted by the fact that Asgore would be willing to advocate waging war on humanity in the first place, but because she realizes his subjects will continue to suffer underground, clinging to false hopes of seeing the surface, because he lacks the conviction to actually go through with what he promised.
  • Double subverted in Vampire Night when Auguste was about to stand up and face Albert and Michel, only to be stopped by his lover Diane.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: LaCroix — the ranking vampire in Los Angeles, the (reluctant) Player Character's boss, and half of the Big Bad Duumvirate — prefers to hole up in his personal office tower and let his minions do the legwork. Lampshaded when his Vampire Hunter Arch-Enemy tries to set a trap for him, only for the PC to show up instead and ask why on earth the man expected LaCroix to handle the situation himself.
  • War Groove averts this. The story kicks off when Valder gets off the throne to lead an invasion, and the first order of business for the heroes is to run away. The tropes is actually extensively played with. Valder would have been perfectly happy ruling Felheim within its own borders - he knows how devastating the Fell Gauntlet he wields can be, better him than someone else on the warpath. His Dragon with an Agenda didn't agree with this, and got the ball rolling on the eventual war so he'd have to ship out eventually. When he gets the full story Valder is outraged, apologizes for his actions, and makes it clear he would have issued a full retreat on the spot if they didn't suddenly have bigger problems he could help with.
  • The vast majority of villains that aren't Sealed Evil in a Can are like this in the Wario Land series, with Captain Syrup in the first game being seen to do absolutely nothing other than sitting in the throne room before the final battle (although averted in the second, where she's a Recurring Boss). The Black Jewel in Wario World just lays dormant in a treasure chest until the final battle, and The Shake King in Wario Land: Shake It!, after taking over the world, putting his face on everything and capturing the princess, just sits on his throne waiting for Wario to enter in complete darkness. Although in that case, the time out penalty is Wario being warped to his boss arena, so it may not be completely unjustified.
  • Wolfenstein:
  • In World of Warcraft, nearly every villain is found within their lair, or in some cases prison. From Onyxia in her lair, to the Lich King on his Frozen Throne, Illidan in his Black Temple. Justified with the Lich King, who, although this is debated and flip-flopped endlessly, is struggling with the two souls inside his own head, and one of them is actively holding him back. Though he also reveals that even though he could have crushed the party the second they entered Northrend, he intentionally let them survive and carve their way to his thone room, where he would one-shot the raid party and raise them as his newest undead minions once they actually got to him since they obviously proved themselves to be strong. This is later retconned with Illidan. While to the players it appeared he was doing nothing in the Black Temple, he was actually leading an army of Demon Hunters in raids on Legion stronghold worlds. His defeat was in part due to the players attacking while he was still recovering from their latest raid on the demons.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • The Director of Project Freelancer and the man behind all the atrocities said operation committed, never directly confronts the heroes, even when they storm his hideout, he just lets his army of robot Agent Texas doppelgangers deal with them. Justified, as he is revealed to have become a washed-up shell of his former self by the time the series gets to him, who's ready to kill himself by the time Agent Carolina and Church finale confront him face to face.
    • The Chairman spends almost all three seasons of the Chorus arc sitting in his heavily guarded flagship, far away from the real action and leaves all the dirty work to his Co-Dragons Locus and Felix and their army of Space Pirates. Subverted in the finale of season thirteen, after The Blood Gulch Crew exposes his corruption to The Federation and he has nothing left to lose, The Chairman personally flies his ship to Chorus with an army of Humongous Mecha and the remainder of his infantry, in an attempt to take the BGC and as many of the people on Chorus with him as possible.
  • Overly Sarcastic Productions: Red touches on this trope in her Minions trope talk, noting that having an evil overlord who delegates dealing with the heroes to his minions can be a good thing, as a boss with priorities other than defeating heroes challenges the default assumption that heroes are the center of the universe.
  • RWBY: Salem prefers to work from the shadows and let subordinates act in her stead, as it enables her to turn humanity against itself and leave them pointing fingers at each other instead of her. She directs her forces remotely from the remnants of the Domain of Darkness. After she learns in Volume 6 that her subordinates failed to obtain the Relic of Knowledge, which is being carried to Atlas by a newly reincarnated Ozpin, Salem decides to personally take action, crafting an aerial Grimm army and leading the attack on Atlas. In Volume 8, she is temporarily taken out by a Fantastic Nuke from Oscar, in a one-shot explosion from Ozpin's cane, just long enough for the kingdom's people to be evacuated to Vacuo.
  • Fire-Human, from the Water-Human series, spends the entire series sitting on his throne and playing Nintendo DS games. When The Hero is captured and delivered to his fortress, he just sends the captors away because he's too busy playing, and never realizes whom they brought.

    Webcomics 
  • In Adventurers!!, Khrima is frequently shown waiting like this. Sometimes he gets impatient when Karn's out Level Grinding instead of advancing the plot, and wishes he'd brought a Game Boy or something. He's occasionally shown researching lasers or playing Scrabble or something. Subverting this forms the basis of a short arc: Khrima says he's tired of waiting for the heroes to do stuff, and along with one of his lieutenants, decides to go steal a mini-Cosmic Keystone to use as a water cooler.
  • Emperor Kreedor from Dubious Company. Throughout the story he has personally done NOTHING to carry out his evil plans, instead relying on his elite squad of goons to carry out his goals. In the meantime, the only things Kreedor can be counted on to do are issue orders, yell at his minions, and call out every so often for whatever bit of pampering he wants to undergo next. Even gaining immense, world-threatening godlike powers has done nothing to convince him to actually get off his throne and actually do something.
  • El Goonish Shive has Lord Tedd, an evil alternate-dimensional version of one of the main characters who hasn't made any significant actions since his introduction (although it is later learned that he did create the Goo Monster that the first story arc was centered around).
  • Homestuck:
    • The Black Queen doesn't really do much except sit on her throne and make Jack Noir wear silly outfits. Subverted later on, as Jack completely shakes the game up as soon as he kills her and takes her power and has shown no signs of stopping. It is implied that the Royalty in Sburb are limited in what they can do till certain conditions are met as it is part of a "game". Jack in the B1 universe and DD and the Condesce in the B2 universe demonstrate just how broken the game can be if the royals start acting Genre Savvy.
    • Subverted with Lord English, who doesn't enter the story until fairly late in the comic, but not because he's just sitting around. He has to prepare everything so that he can even enter the universe in the first place and has been manipulating nearly everyone since the very beginning to do so. When he finally does make his presence known he more than makes up for sitting around. It also turns out that he's been part of the story from the very start observing everyone through the eyes of his Soul Jar, Lil' Cal.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Despite being both prophesised to be defeated by The Successor, powerful enough to destroy said Successor with a thought early on and aware that Allison has Zoss' Master Key, none of the Seven Black Emperors bother to try and personally hunt down Allison and pre-emptively stop her. This is justified by the fact that only two of the Seven Black Emperors know that Allison is the Successor, the other five believing instead that it is Zaid (who is their prisoner) and the two who know the truth having personal reasons to keep that truth hidden. Finally, the Seven are in a state of cold war and restrained by the Pact of the Seven-Part World: None of them can move openly against the others, lest the other six join forces to destroy the offender. Killing Allison and claiming her Master Key would destroy that balance and lead to open war, which on top of every one of them having plans involving the others and Allison ultimately keeps her safe even after the Seven begin becoming aware of her existence.
    • This gets subverted near the end of Seeker of Thrones when Mottom, still angry at Allison after the events of Wielder of Names, starts actively hunting her. Unfortunately for Mottom she decides to do this by storming into the place she thinks Allison will be, which is the throne room of fellow Demiurge Mammon. This intrusion ends up starting a small-scale war between Mottom and Mammon and Allison is able to escape in the confusion.
    • At the end of King of Swords, it gets subverted again when Jagganoth decides he's had enough preparation for his Omnicide and Allison has already de-railed the timeline enough that he feels it worth the risk to kick-start Armageddon and make a play for the Master Key. Consequently Jagganoth attacks Allison and the other members of the Seven, leading to the events of Breaker of Infinities.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • When Xykon is first introduced he appears to be this, sitting down in his lair waiting for the heroes to arrive (and watching them on his crystal ball, with picture-in-picture for when the party gets split up). However, after his defeat, he becomes a much more proactive villain. But then he goes back to warming the seat on his throne (in a manner of speaking; he's a bone-cold lich) after conquering Azure City. He explicitly states that even crafting magical items takes up only 8 hours of his day, and, for lack of anything else to do, he has taken to offbeat torture of his prisoner, forcing gladiatorial sport on his slaves, and has developed a liking for Zombie Gladiators. Xykon states in Start of Darkness that, with the immortality of lichdom, time is on his side, and he can afford to dilly-dally as much as he wants.
    • Later subverted when it's revealed that Redcloak manipulated Xykon to spend more time in the city they'd conquered since Redcloak was trying to turn it into a new goblin city-state and needed time to get it to where it could handle Redcloak being gone. Xykon eventually gets sick of waiting after his favorite prisoner to torture is broken out and forces Redcloak to get ready to leave to get going on the rest of their quest for the gates.
    • Subverted again when they arrive at the desert gate. Xykon is furious to see that the heroes beat them there and the gate is destroyed and decides to just kill the whole party then and there. However, The Monster in the Darkness recognizes the party as friends of his friend O'Chul and tricks Xykon into letting them live and hurrying on to the next gate instead.
    • Nale sees his father Tarquin as an example of this and resents him for it. He doesn't understand why his father is content to spend his dwindling days in the lap of luxury when he has the resources and skill to conquer the world and rule it forever. Although from Tarquin's point of view, it's entirely reasonable, as he's a very active Chessmaster who is actually constantly expanding and reinforcing his empire through an elaborate continent-wide campaign of manipulation.
  • Played for Laughs in the The Perry Bible Fellowship comic "Zuthulus [sic] Resurrection".
  • In Sluggy Freelance the Dimension of Pain demons were a recurring threat for several years, had their own B-Side Comics for a while, and became major antagonists during the "That Which Redeems" storyline. Yet the Demon King, the guy who's in charge of the dimension and bosses Horribus around barely appears, and actually seems barely interested in or even aware of the demons' actions. That is until Torg interrupts him on the toilet.
  • Justified in Swords: The demon king fell into depression after being stabbed with the Boredsword, which is still embedded in his chest.
  • In Tower of God, Jahad, the King of the Tower, is gradually revealed to be more and more of an evil ruler, but in the meantime, all he himself does is hibernate or something. You have to look in the background material to know even this, and that there are people called the Three Lords who rule in his stead. Until he becomes aware of the protagonist's existence, and the heroes are suddenly faced with a whole army division sent just to get them.
  • The Witch's Throne: The Witch, even though she has enough powers to destroy all living things, waits atop her throne to fight the four warriors from the prophecy.
  • The Wotch. Melleck Xaos pretty much subscribes to this philosophy. When he does bother doing anything, it's usually to banter with his minions or create some new Fallen. The few times he does get involved in a fight he usually stomps a mudhole in his enemies. Furthermore, it's revealed early in the story that one of Xaos' few limitations is that he can't escape the dimension he rules due to a powerful curse. He spends most of his time either sending his minions to "test" the Wotch or hunting down the artifacts that will allow him to circumvent his imprisonment.

    Web Original 
  • In the Metamor Keep storyverse, Nasoj was responsible for the shared universe's premise (a cursed castle and its transformed inhabitants) but afterwards is quite content to just bide his time instead of making another attempt to destroy the keep and conquer the midlands. However, zig-zagged in that there is one arc dedicated to him assaulting the keep.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: For the majority of the series, The Core spends its time hidden beneath Newtopia castle, manipulating things from the shadows while Andrias carries out its will. However, this is justified, since it is connected to many cables that are integrated with the inner chambers of the castle. This ends up working in its favor, as nobody outside of the castle even knows it exists.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Fire Lord Ozai filled out this trope to a tee for two and a half seasons. "You must defeat the Fire Lord before he takes over the world" was the mantra. In the last season, he makes up for it, however. Word of God comments that he was designed this way from the start, saying the first villain they designed for the show was Ozai and that they imagined him "leading from the comfort of his own throne" up until the end.
  • Barbie in a Mermaid Tale 2 has Eris in the finale—though it's justified in that she has to stay on the throne or she won't gain the power to spin merillia.
  • The Bots Master: Corrupt Corporate Executive Leon Lewis Paradim, despite being the Big Bad, has his Co-Dragons Dr. Hiss and Lady Frenzy deal with the heroes rather than doing things himself, to the point where he appears in fewer episodes than they do.
  • In Castlevania (2017), Dracula spends a year gathering forces for the extermination of humanity. But when it comes time to actually execute the war, he seems surprisingly disinterested and just delegates everything to his generals. Even some of those generals begin to question his inaction, seeing him as having become a senile old man who's no longer fit to lead.
  • Darkseid in the DC Animated Universe is a bit more active than his comics counterpart, but he's still pretty passive for an evil alien tyrant. This is justified in that after his first attack on Earth it was under the protection of New Genesis. The final episode of Justice League Unlimited has Darkseid coming back from the dead and so angry that he's decided being passive is for wimps. He immediately decides to invade Earth, and when an aide reminds him that New Genesis will retaliate, Darkseid tells him that's where he's going next after he's done turning Earth into rubble.
  • Zordrak of The Dreamstone is a gargantuan Eldritch Abomination who could probably trample the Land Of Dreams under his foot, let alone with any of his dark spells (such as the power to place his spirit into another being). For some reason however his duties rarely exceed sitting on his throne and chewing out his far less fearsome mooks, the Urpneys, who he instead charges with the duty of stealing the title MacGuffin the large majority of the time. There was at least one case when his throne was equipped with a jet engine; he Curb Stomped the good guys, they Summoned a Bigger Fish — an entire living planet — the two engaged in a Beam-O-War, which Zordak was winning... then the good guys pulled the plug on that engine.
  • Fangbone!: Despite his status as the setting's most powerful and dangerous Evil Sorcerer, Big Bad Venomous Drool pretty much never leaves his fortress and prefers to just send monsters after Fangbone and Bill to get his magic toe back from them. This is more justified than others however as Drool's magical power is severely diminished due to his missing toe, so he actually poses far less of a threat to the heroes than he normally would. Additionally, the finale reveals his powers are linked to Skullbania itself, so if comes to Earth, he becomes completely powerless.
  • The Queen of the Crowns in Galaxy Rangers rarely leaves her well-appointed palaces, instead making use of Slaverlords, paid mercenaries, and Mooks to do much of the heavy lifting. Justified by the fact that she does have an Empire to run and that her palaces have the necessary equipment to mash her enemies down for Life Energy. Why waste time going to them when you can trick your enemies into coming to you?
  • Van Kleiss of Generator Rex, though with good reason: his powers only work if he is in contact with his native soil of Abysus. Most of his plans involve him trying to avert this somehow, with varying degrees of success. As long as his powers are active (or he has some plan in the background that will get his powers active), he's perfectly willing to leave home to fight the good guys directly. After Van Kleiss got a new powerset that doesn't tie him to Abysuss, he became quite the Mobile Menace, helped out by how one of his minions has impressive teleportation powers.
  • The Sorceress from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe has formidable magic that could help He-Man in his fight against Skeletor. However, she is unable to leave Castle Greyskull without transforming into a hawk.
  • Inspector Gadget's foe Dr. Claw is the embodiment of this. The closest Gadget ever got to a face-to-face confrontation was the opening sequence of the show (and even then, it was a booby trap left by the villain). Other than that, Claw didn't seem to leave his dark control room or his fancy limousine for even a minute, where he directed the actions of his minions remotely, keeping the good guys — and the viewers — from even seeing his face.
  • In Kim Possible, Shego does this during her stint as The Supreme One during A Sitch in Time.
  • Mr. Selatcia of Metalocalypse is notorious for always ordering his secret tribunal to wait and observe Dethklok without interfering... despite how the tribunal's stated purpose is to get rid of Dethklok. Eventually this annoys two of his underlings so much that they begin secretly attempting to murder the band. When Selatica finds out, he is VERY unhappy. Selatica's plans require Dethklok to be alive, and the real reason he's leading the tribunal is to prevent them from carrying out their mission.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Hawk Moth, despite being the Big Bad, never confronts the heroes directly and just stays hidden in his secret lair. This is because his Miraculous is the Butterfly Brooch, which is used to grant powers to others while also making them his brainwashed servants. Therefore he just finds civilians who are suffering to turn them into supervillains in a deal to get revenge. Since Hawk Moth can keep creating minions over and over again at no cost to himself, there's no real need for him to personally risk himself in the field. Also, he has a Secret Identity as rich businessman and fashion designer Gabriel Agreste and needs to protect his secret and never do risky moves. Furthermore, one episode implies that he simply lacks the stamina to actually face the heroes in one-on-one combat, though that turns out to be untrue later on. He usually never left home in his civilian identity as well, but changed his mind and went back to appearing in public without his villain costume.
      • In the second episode of Season 2, through Loophole Abuse he uses his power on himself, to give him another set of powers and costume, goes to cause mayhem, and gets defeated by the heroes with no problem. They were close to finding out his secret identity, so he creates a Second Super-Identity to hide suspicion by pretending he is another victim of Hawk Moth.
      • In the Season 2 finale, Hawk Moth finally leaves his hideout and appears in public, because he managed to boost his own power to make an army of supervillains made from his previous victims, and is an advantage, which was his ultimate plan, even when the whole army is defeated, it's shown that he can fight against the heroes on his own.
      • In Season 3, finally he leaves his hideout in the Hawk Moth costume and without a plan because he needed to save his right-hand woman Mayura from getting defeated and captured by the heroes after she recklessly tried to confront them without talking to him. Not only does he genuinely care for her, but if he didn't save her, he would lose a Miraculous, and Mayura being unmasked would risk his own identity since without costumes, she is his secretary.
      • In Season 5, he briefly goes out on his own again due to having Took a Level in Badass after he gains most of the Miraculous and becomes Monarch. It ends up costing him dearly twice, once when the strain of wielding multiple Miraculous at once allows the heroes to defeat him and reclaim the Rabbit Miraculous, and again when Marinette leads him into a trap which leads to him getting wounded by Cat Noir's Cataclysm. After such disastrous losses, he decides that Ladybug is too clever to be given another chance to corner him, and goes back to the regular supervillain empowering.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's premiere for its third season portrays King Sombra in this way during the flashback to his oppressive rule over the Crystal Empire. This case is more justified than most considering his 0% Approval Rating; all of his subjects are kept enslaved by him and his Black Magic, with no army of mooks to shoulder the grunt work for him.
    • This is averted in one of the potential Bad Futures shown in the season five finale, where he personally leads an army of Slave Mooks in a long and brutal war with Equestria. Averted again in the season nine opening two-parter, where the resurrected King Sombra, lacking any army of his own, marches on the Crystal Empire and Equestria himself and starts tearing through everything while brainwashing ponies left and right to serve as his minions.
    • When Grogar shows up in the final season he does nothing but bark orders at his Legion of Doom from their headquarters. Justified as Grogar is actually Discord in disguise pulling a False Flag Operation to trick the villains into attacking Equestria to give Twilight Sparkle a confidence boost.
  • Emperor Belos from The Owl House rarely leaves his palace, partially due to suffering from a rare affliction that he's trying to cure. At least until "Hollow Mind" revealed that the actual reason is that he is a Witch Hunter with a genocidal hatred for witches, thereby indicating that he stays in his castle to have as little interaction with the witches and demons of the Boiling Isles as possible.
  • In Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, Betrayus is this. Losing his body and being reduced to Sealed Evil in a Can seems to have made him really lazy. Despite having powerful Playing with Fire abilities, he just sits on his throne watching his minions on TV. He says it's his job to do so! The fact that he's terrified of the thought of Pac eating him and spitting out his eyeballs helps.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • Jack's sword is the only thing that can kill or even hurt Aku, so he mostly hides in his lair and sends minions out to do his dirty work, and he only ever attacks Jack personally if Aku has some advantage he's sure will let him win. By the time of season five, Aku hasn't even been seen outside of his lair in years. He destroyed all the time portals, so there's no reason to confront Jack and risk being killed by his sword (he didn't know that Jack lost the sword during their last confrontation).
      • Even before Jack came back on the scene Aku was having minions created to do work for him, minions just as mortal as he is not. One of them speculates that the work was too slow when he did it on his own. Given the scope of Aku's powers and the total Lack of Empathy he has for his minions, it's also possible he just gets bored of doing all the killing himself.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • Hordak, who delegates his minions to go conquer the world for him while he rests on his throne... partly because he's spending most of his time building new minions, but mostly because he's Secretly Dying, and needs to stay within easy reach of his laboratory if he's to keep himself alive, and also because he’s working on portal technology that will let him return to the side of his master, Horde Prime. He’s a busy man. He does strap a BFG to his arm and begin leading from the front in Season 4, some time after his armor gets an upgrade to its life support, but this happens mostly off-screen.
    • In season 5, Horde Prime is an interesting subversion. While he really does spend the whole season on the throne of his space station, sending clones, robots, and mind-controlled Etherians to do all his dirty work, his ability to perform a Villain Override on any of his minions allows him to personally menace the heroes anyways. Justified in that he himself seems to have no powers or abilities suitable for combat; he's already in the most useful place he can be.
  • Steven Universe has Yellow Diamond, Blue Diamond, and White Diamond. Yellow and Blue are too caught up mourning the assassination of Pink to lead, and White never leaves her throne room/ship, instead having White Pearl act as her voice in all matters.
  • On Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, Skeleton King spends the entire first season never leaving his throne aboard his fortress/ship, the Citadel of Bone. Justified, as we find out he's linked to the place and literally can't leave. After its destruction at the start of Season 2, however, it's averted, as he's now free to move about and be more active.
  • General Mudula fills this role in Sym-Bionic Titan, sending monsters and mooks after the protagonists but not bothering to go after them personally. However, it's quite justified since he's too busy managing his new empire and crushing rebellions to be bothered to chase after three measly enemies, regardless of how important they are.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): For all his faults, Shredder does not have this problem. Krang, on the other hand, does. While a couple of episodes show he's more than capable of fighting physically, he rarely leaves the control room of the Technodrome, letting Shredder and the "gruesome twosome" do the dirty work.
  • Mumm-Ra, in the original ThunderCats (1985), rarely leaves his citadel, except when powered up into Mumm-Ra the Everliving, and even then he can't bear to spend much time away from it. Justified when it turns out that the "Ancient Spirits of Evil" are either bound by unbreakable arcane laws or else major-league jerkasses; they will grant the power that Mumm-Ra uses to become Mumm-Ra the Everliving to anyone who stands in the mystical chamber and invokes them in the proper manner. As proven when Snarf does so and becomes "Snarf-Ra the Everliving". Also, Mumm-Ra cannot survive outside of his coffin for more than 24 hours.
  • Transformers:
    • In The Transformers episode "Triple Takeover", Blitzwing makes a football stadium his new headquarters and has the Constructicons build a giant highway maze around it. He then gets the Autobots' attention by firing into the city. He then waits in the stadium for the Autobots to come to him, occasionally sending the Constructicons into the maze to deal with them. By the time they finally reach him, they're exhausted and injured, and he casually tramples them and makes a throne from their bodies.
    • During the second season of Transformers: Animated, Megatron could have left the underground base of operations he'd set up any time he wanted, and there was no one on Earth who could stand in his way. But Earth didn't interest him, nor did going out of his way to kick around a lowly Autobot repair crew. In fact, Megatron stayed in not because he was taking it easy, but because he had a project in the works that he intended to use to bypass Cybertron's defenses, and it kept him too busy to go out.
  • Villainous: Since he's retired from active villainy, Black Hat is content to just run his business, selling goods and services to other villains or sending his agents to personally provide aid where necessary. Also, because the show follows the exploits of his crew, it's just as likely this trope is in effect to keep Black Hat from resolving every conflict himself, which he can very well do given his immense power.
  • Emperor Zarkon in Voltron: Legendary Defender doesn't bother personally chasing down Team Voltron despite being immensely powerful even without his army backing him up. Justified, as he's managing an empire and doesn't really have time to run off after a single group of enemies. Further he's not exactly worried about being unable to find the heroes, as he used to be the Black Lion's paladin and still has some connection to it, allowing him to figure out where the team is anytime he wants. Further he would actually prefer it if the team did get past his minions and reach him since that would give him a chance to reclaim control of the Black Lion; while he wouldn't be able to form Voltron, neither would the heroes which, combined with the Black Lion's power, would be a pretty good consolation prize.
  • Lord Darkar in Winx Club is initially active, nearly killing Aisha and freeing the Trix, but he then spends the rest of the time scheming in his castle and operating through minions.
  • Prince Phobos of W.I.T.C.H.. This becomes a plot point in the second season finale. The Guardians are trying to lure him to a place that will rob his powers if he enters, but he throws a wrench in that plan by simply being too lazy—or as Raythar puts it, "doesn't want to muss his hair"—to leave his throne room until his forces are victorious.
  • Zak Storm: Big Bad Skullivar never leaves his base rather letting his forces, mainly his second-in-command Golden Bones, do his dirty work. Justifyed as he is the guardian of one of the Waypoints which needs to be claimed to leave The Bermuda Triangle, a process that would also result in his demise. Thus, he has to guard it at all times.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Orcus On Her Throne

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Sarevok

Once the original Big Bad of Baldur's Gate who sought to bring the eponymous city to ruin in the name of Bhaal only to be defeated by Gorion's Ward, Sarevok Anchev continues to serve the god of murder as the custodian of Bhaal's court of murder while letting Orin, his granddaughter as well as Bhaal's Chosen, carry out his god's unholy will.

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