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Orcus on His Throne

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"I'll deal with that hero after I've read TV Tropes."
"Sorry, Kimmie. The Supreme One always delegates."
Future-Shego, Kim Possible, "A Sitch in Time"

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 in 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 every day. 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/country/world/galaxy/universe 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.

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 archvillian 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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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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".
  • 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.
    • Digimon Xros Wars 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: In the Great Demon King Piccolo Saga, Great Demon 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 (althought that scene was filler).
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • DIO, in Part 3 sends assassins to try and kill Jotaro Kujo and company rather than seeking them out and killing them himself for much of the story arc. Justified, because for one, he's a vampire who can't survive in direct sunlight, and for another, he spends the time integrating his head to his old nemesis Jonathan Joestar's body and can't fight, himself, without the 100-year-old body falling apart on him before he completes its integration.
      • Perhaps not such a Justified Trope, because this was true of Dio even in Part 1. While he did fight Jonathan and Baron Zeppeli at one point before the final battle, he didn’t finish the battle, instead having his Elite Mooks do the work while he turned a village into zombie minions.
    • Kira Yoshikage in Part 4, after stealing Kosaku Kawajiri'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 Kosaku's son that he's forced to get proactive again.
    • Diavolo in Part 5. While he does kill Abbacchio and Risotto Nero beforehand, he doesn’t actually confront the heroes with actual combat abilities until all of his most dangerous minions have been killed. Justified because of his insane paranoia about his identity; just the idea that one of his opponents might escape having seen his face is enough for him to not even bother.
  • 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. 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 [[spoiler:she gets impaled through her chest by Satsuki and proceeds to defeat any enemy around like nothing happened]].
    • Satsuki would also fit, but since she actually intervenes when she sees the need, it's a case of The Pawns Go First.
  • 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.
  • 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 Gekko 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 Im, 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 Gorosei, 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 .
  • 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 revive 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 Earth, things go south really quick 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 it, he doesn't waste time to perform his Evil Plan.
    • Averted with Pierrot in Smile Pretty Cure! and King Jikochuu in Doki Doki Pretty Cure 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.
  • 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 and, as Unicorn of War put it, fondling her orb. 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 is Kill 'Em All 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. You could almost tell that Leozack and Black Convoy, respectively, were the real Decepticon leader of each series.
  • 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! GX.
    • Takuma Saiou, the Big Bad of Season Two. Barely any of his interactions with the main cast serve any purpose throughout the first half of the season. Halfway, he gets a weapon of mass destruction that allows him to destroy the world, and he literally spends days doing nothing but contemplating whether he should destroy the world or not and he pretty much falls out of focus, until some weird split personality crisis makes him give away the keys to the satellite to the heroes. (Ironically, his record as a duelist onscreen was better than any previous main antagonist, with four wins, one loss. Two losses if you count Season Four.)
    • 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 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 and sectioned). He explains that he'd been living sumptuously in Europe and rubbing elbows with the Scriers. He gradually usurped the organization and converted it into a tool for personal revenge.
  • 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 heroes, and nearly conquers the Multiverse.
  • In 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.
  • The Kingpin is a street-level version of this trope. He can and has fought the likes of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Big Bad of Loki: Agent of Asgard, Old!Loki, who 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Maniac, 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.
  • Empress Gandelo spents 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 Goblin King in the Superior Spider-Man saga is this, acting behind the scenes and building up his army but not actively attack 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.
  • In Simon Furman's 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 than 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 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 a escape pod, ready to start the self-destruct behind him.

    Fan Works 
  • 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 Badass Decay for many competent villains such as Queen Chrysalis.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Doomdreamers.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, Lex Luthor stays out of the way for most of the story while his minions fight the heroes for him.
  • 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.


    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort sits out most of the climatic 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, who 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 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.
  • 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?

  • 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 Belgariad and subverted in the sequel series, the Malloreon. Torak, the Big Bad of the Belgariad, was critically wounded in the backstory, and literally cannot rise until the appointed time. In the Malloreon, Zandramas keeps very 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.
  • 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 in that Arawn can be killed when 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. Arawn is also portrayed as more of a trickster or Old Scratch figure who prefers to get what he wants through manipulation and guile rather than overt shows of force. It's also unclear just how great Arawn's personal power is; it may be quite sensible for him to work through proxies and agents.
  • 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 midair 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 a 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 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 his villains in The Lord of the Rings, but only towards the ends of their careers — he had a 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 (e.g. Morgoth fights Tulkas personally at the dawn of time, Sauron comes out to fight Huan in The Silmarillion) but eventually becoming throne-bound. Might have to do with how Morgoth got utterly owned by Tulkas, and Sauron got humiliated by a Glorified Super Dog. Often after one too many of such direct interaction had a painful outcome (e.g. Morgoth after his duel with the elven king Fingolfin, though killing him, was left permanently wounded, Sauron after his defeat/half-death and loss of the Ring in the War of the Last Alliance). As the rhyme says,
    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
    In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.
    • 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 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 awhile 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.
  • 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, Joffrey 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 because 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 preffers 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 threatics finally come to bite him when toying with the protagonists gives them enough time to recover and prepare a counter attack.
  • 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.
    • 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, rather than his two fight scenes (the Grand Finale basically being a really long fight scene)
    • 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 Ultimate Evil and 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 a living furniture, and only get off their asses in the Grand Finale to fight the heroes in giant form.
  • Basically, both franchises have 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.
    • Operation Overdrive's Flurious seems to be in keeping with 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. And then he turns out to be the Big Bad after showing up sporadically.
    • You know 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 on 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.
  • In The Wire, drug lord Avon Barksdale has this trope forced on him by his colleagues. 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 very 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. Ironically, however, when an arrest finally comes at the end of season one, Avon is charged while Stringer (to his own surprise) is left free for the moment. After Avon returns from prison, the roles are somewhat reversed. Stringer wants to run the gang like a business and keep a low profile, but Avon insists there are good reasons to war with Marlo Stanfield and leads personally. It directly causes him to return to prison.


    Myths & 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.


  • 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 Mega-Corp 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.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Orcus, of course, through most of his history. Justified, in that not only is he in an Evil vs. Evil war with various other Demon Lords, but also with the Fallen Devils as well. 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.
    • 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 do leave hell to be the dangerous creature in 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 any more. 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.
    • 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).
  • 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 reveals that 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 sentient (though incredibly powerful) demiliches.
    • 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 reign 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.
  • 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.
  • BlazBlue:
    • Rachel spends most of her time teleporting around, "observing" (she's canonically one of the most powerful beings in the game, and is referred to as Princess by her subordinates). However, her "observations" can sometimes help people, and she actually does fight the big bad (though there is implications that she shouldn't be doing so). Later games provide a reason for this: Observer is actually the title of her nature of being, she's expected to sit back and simply watch the time loops.
    • Averted with most of the major villains. Relius is way too willing to get his hands dirty, and Hazama/Terumi perfectly willing to shrug it off when his plans don't go quite right and wait for the next time loop to try again — as long as someone suffered for the effort, he's happy. Consequently they spend a lot of time running rings around the good guys.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Justified by Brauner in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, 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.
  • 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. 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 the boss fight with him 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!
  • 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.
  • 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 I, 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. 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 IX: Subverted with Nimzo. "Some thought he could only command from afar, but he has more than enough mental and physical ability to rule the world."
    • 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 and stop it from happening, such as when the container holding Calasmos's powers is falling.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kefka in Final Fantasy VI. After becoming a god, ruining the world and wiping out many cities, he doesn't exactly do much afterwards, at least nothing the player is made aware of. It is implied by talking to NPCs though that Kefka 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?
  • In 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 resurrect Validar, with his subordinates Validar and Aversa doing most of the work.
    • Sometimes the game 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 Sword. 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, and I mean absolutely 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:
  • Xemnas in Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, he spends the entire game sitting on his throne and making vague proclamations as to the aims of the organization. This a a particularly fun example, because Days has you playing as one of the minions that Xemnas does his dirty work through. It works for Xemnas, since his entire aim is to absorb a Kingdom Hearts strengthened by the hearts released by Heartless destroyed by Keyblades. There's nothing he can personally do to aid that goal, so sending his minions to die in battle also helps—less to share.
    • He's still an Orcus on his Throne in Kingdom Hearts II. After losing Roxas, he now waits around letting Sora kill the Heartless without really doing anything other than laughing at him at the beginning of the game, taunting Mickey a little halfway through the game, giving an order to Saix briefly, and then whining about how his plan was ruined toward the end of the game. Fitting that most of his final boss fight is also him literally sitting on a throne.
    • Played straight with Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts III where he lets his other selves perform their own operations on other worlds and seemingly never appear in person until the heroes have assembled the 7 Guardians of Light and facing him in the Keyblade Graveyard. Even during the battle, Xehanort is seemingly content to watch as the Guardians picked his other selves one by one, only clashing with the others once he successfuly forged the X-Blade.
  • 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.
    • 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 bigBad 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.
  • 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.
  • Every Mega Man 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.
  • 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. 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 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.)
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 classic 2D games, he shows up with a new machine to combat Sonic at the end of every level, bringing out his best in the Final Boss. During the shift to 3D (and by extentsion, 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.
  • 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.
    • 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-Nemesis 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.

    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.
  • RWBY: This is how Salem prefers to act. Despite being literally impossible to kill, she stays in the shadows manipulating events so that when everything goes haywire, her enemies don't realize she was behind everything and can only blame each other. When she needs to act more directly, she has human minions and endless armies of Grimm. Her exact reasons for not revealing herself are not made clear, but both she and Ozpin prefer the status quo where her existence is kept secret. In the volume 6 finale, she begins personally crafting some new Grimm shock troopers, and in the volume 7 finale (after Ironwood revealed her existence to Atlas) she arrived at the head of an army, flying on the back of a massive Grimm whale.
  • 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.

    Web Comics 
  • 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 is this both literally and Up to Eleven. 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.

  • 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 stated 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 citystate 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 though 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 gradully 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 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 
  • 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.
    • Averted with all the major villains of the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra; Amon of Season 1 and Zaheer of Season 3 were both terrorists who get stuck in frequently, Unalaq from Season 2 makes several trips to the Spirit World to try and free his ally Vaatu and personally goes to destroy Republic City as the Dark Avatar, and Kuvira from Season 4 is a Frontline General who boasts that she is willing to take on any challenge that her soldiers would face on the battlefield.
  • 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.
  • Darkseid in the DCAU 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.
  • Hawk Moth of Miraculous Ladybug, despite being the Big Bad, never confronts the heroes directly and just stays hidden on his secret lair. This is because his Miraculous is the Moth 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. 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.
    • 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, 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, because they were close to finding out his secret identity, so he creates a Second Super-Identity to hide suspiction 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 on 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, she was reckless and left the hideout without talking to him, not only he genuinely cares for her, but if he didn't show up, he would lose a Miraculous, and Mayura would be unmasked and raise suspiction since without costumes, she is his secretary.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Steven Universe has Blue and White Diamond. Blue is 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 Thunder Cats, 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.
  • In the 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.
  • Lord 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.
    • Averted with his son Lotor.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Orcus On Her Throne


Dark Lord

JP "recommends" having the Dark Lord not leave their fortress and only send progressively stronger minions out.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / OrcusOnHisThrone

Media sources:

Main / OrcusOnHisThrone