The Rogues Gallery is the cast of colorful and numerous Recurring Characters that show up to torment the heroes week after week.
Having only a single antagonist can work, but as a series goes on it can become boring. On the other hand, audiences can never get attached to villains if they never come back again. The Rogues Gallery is a middle ground.
For certain special episodes, members of the Rogues Gallery may team up against the heroes, forming a Legion of Doom. Just as often they'll fight each other. If the hero helps one enemy or group of enemies against another in such a setup, it's Enemy Mine.
Sometimes, a one-shot stylish villain will be so popular with the audience that they join the ranks.
Super Hero series, borrowing from the comic books, almost always have a Rogues Gallery. Of course, villains can and do appear outside their traditional rogues galleries, fighting heroes they don't usually face. Some even become part of more than one Rogues Gallery, with the Marvel villain The Kingpin being a major enemy of both Daredevil and Spider-Man. When this occurs to such an extent that the villain becomes more identified with the new hero, they become a Rogues Gallery Transplant.
However large and varied the Rogues Gallery, it will usually contain at least one villain who is considered to be the hero's Arch-Enemy. There is also a good chance that it will contain an Evil Counterpart (who may or may not be the same person as the Arch-Enemy).
In order to allow the heroes to sometimes win against the rogues but still leave the villains available for re-use, the prison that they're put in will often be incredibly easy to escape from, or they'll feign having reformed so that they get allowed out, or they'll genuinely seek to reform and get allowed out, then revert to their old obsessions. Overall, members of the gallery tend to be protected by Joker Immunity.
It is also common for a hero's Rogues Gallery to have some kind of unifying theme that either reflects or contrasts with the personality, powers and/or origin of the hero himself. For example, most of Spider-Man's enemies gained their powers through scientific mishaps, and many use animal motifs in their names and costumes. Conversely, Batman's array of brightly-colored lunatics falls squarely into the "contrasts with" category, with a smattering of reflection given Batman's own borderline personality - but it's also composed mostly of Badass Normals like Bats himself. If all or most of the villains in the Rogues Gallery are linked in this way, then you have a Thematic Rogues Gallery.
While this trope is most prevalent in Super Hero stories, it's by no means restricted to them, as some of the examples below show. As long as the franchise has a group of recognizable, distinct antagonists who continually return to cause trouble for the hero, they count as a Rogues Gallery.
Compare Big Bad Ensemble, which is similar but refers to a number of major villains being active, and distinct, threats at a given time, and revolves around the threat they pose rather than the hero whose enemy they are. Contrast Monster of the Week, which is a parade of one-shot villains.
Individual members of a Rogues Gallery have a strong tendency towards The Gimmick, for subtly obvious reasons.
The name of the trope comes from the row of "Wanted" posters displayed in police stations.
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- Western Animation
- The Drunken Peasants have a selection of people whose videos they respond to. While the roster changes from time to time, but the most recurring ones right now are The Vigilant Christian Mario, Gazi Kodzo, Onision, Wild Bill and Tommy Sotomayor. Brett Keane was also featured on many episodes of DP, to the point of having an entire segment dedicated to him, but the Peasants eventually decided to stop giving him attention and to let his channel starve.
- The Thrilling Adventure Hour:
- "The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam", a parody of Silver Age comic stories, has a large number of Punny Named rogues for its two main superheroes, Captain Laserbeam and Phillip Fathom, Deep Sea Detective. Among them include the Numbler, Shape Ape, and the Die-Brarian for Captain Laserbeam. Phillip Fathom's foes tends to be more aquatic themed, such as Fishwife, Thug Boat, and Angler Management. Fathom, as a Batman expy, also has his equivalent to the Joker with Tom Foolery.
- Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars has a modest gallery of his own, consisting of the likes of Jupiter spy Jib Janeen, robot outlaw Techs, Los Banditos Mutantes, Kevin the Spider, and the MurderMen.
- While "The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock" features temporal anomalies as often as it does actual supervillains, the Colonel has still faced off with foes like the Greenwich Meanie, the Timekeeper, and a former confederate of his, Tetley Archibald Drake.
- "Beyond Belief" has a few recurring foes alongside the standard supernatural nasties Frank and Sadie Doyle confront, most prominent among them being archenemy Nightmares the Clown, but also including the Large Ham vampire Carlysle Ravencastle, Dark Husband to the Midnight and wannabe conman Bobo Brubaker.
- The Red Panda Adventures has a sizable Rogue's Gallery that frequently challenge the Terrific Twosome of Toronto. A few examples include Professor Zombie, a woman whose thugs are zombies she raised into undeath, Nazi scientist and occultist Friedrich von Schlitz, who is responsible for the setting's Stupid Jetpack Hitler technology, and self-proclaimed archnemesis the Mad Monkey serving as a Joker to the Red Panda's Batman.
- The trolls that regularly call in on True Capitalist Radio among other things composed of a guy who pretty much lives on a bathtub, stereotypical African-American welfare fraud who lives "the ghetto way", numerous trans- and homosexuals who want to have sex with Ghost, bronies as well as actual ponies from the show, African man who likes to read erotic Anne Frank fanfiction, guy who Ghost genuinely liked until finding out that he has a diaper fetish and wrote My Little Pony fan fics about it, guy who keeps drinking his own urine over and over again, former McDonalds mascot and current white supremacist rapper with a moon for a head, sick twisted version of Kermit the Frog who wants to have sex with Ghost and various other things and the list goes on and on.
- Many an All-American Face in Professional Wrestling has developed quite a rogues gallery if one or more of his championship reigns lasted more than a few months. Hulk Hogan, for example, probably had the most colorful adversaries throughout his career: The Iron Sheik, King Kong Bundy, "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, André the Giant, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Zeus, Sgt. Slaughter, and Ultimate Warrior to name a few. More recently, John Cena has had his share of nemeses, the most infamous being JBL, Edge, Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, and CM Punk.
- The Shadow, who started out as the star/host of a Radio Drama anthology series and later became the main character of several titular pulp magazines, usually faced a lot of one-shot villains who always got killed off at the end of the adventure where they were featured. However, he did manage to get a gallery of recurring enemies, especially once he branched out into comic books (including several mini-series across different publishers and even crossovers with the likes of Batman).
- The most notable recurring foe that the Shadow had in the pulps was Shiwan Khan, who made a total of four appearances there and also made a number of appearances in the comic books and was the main villain in the 1994 film. Others who made multiple appearances in the pulps were Voodoo Master (three), The Prince of Evil (three), The Wasp (two), "Diamond" Bert Farwell (two), Isaac Coffran (two), Steve Cronin (four, two times acting as The Dragon to Farwell and Coffran, respectively), and King Kauger (two, one as the story's unseen mastermind). The Shadow also fought the criminal organization known as the Hand (no, not that Hand), with him defeat one of the group's five "Fingers" across different stories, and another collective called the Silent Seven, a conspiracy of underworld criminals which sought to control a violent crime wave in New York City.
- Among the one-shot villains in the pulps, we have Gray Ghost, Blue-Face, Five-Face, Zemba, Gray Fist, Silver Skull, Red Envoy, Red Blot, Dr. Z, the Blur, and the Cobra, plus a host of others.
- Unique to the various comic books (standalone series and crossovers alike), we have Black Sparrow, Dr. Gerhard Zorn, The Stag, The Light, Black Dragon (a one-shot villain in the pulps), Devil Kyoti, The Talon, Monstradamus, Professor Solarus, and even Grendel and Shiwan Khan's granddaughter Batu Khan.
- Six Flags has a long-standing licensing agreement with Warner/DC, and has taken full advantage.
- On the Marvel side, Universal Studios still (for better or worse) has a stranglehold on the rights to most characters, at least in the US: possibly as a result, Doctor Doom's Fearfall is the first and, so far, only attraction to be centered around a Marvel villain.
- Usually Object Shows, if the plot called for it, has this one Big Bad trying to win the competition through illicit means. This is definitely not the case for The Daily Object Show, building up an impressive array of villains that only increase every season. Currently, there's two Evil Doppelgängers, a mind-manipulating Ancient Evil with his Clone Army, an Evil Former Friend and two Dark Chicks. All hell-bent on world domination, attacking the cast and/or enacting Revenge on the main protagonist.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has been building up towards a proper gallery for some time now, with members like King Radical, Dracula, Frans Rayner, Mongo the Uberninja, Donald Mc Bonald, and Dr. Mc Luchador.
- The annual villains of Bob and George are Yellow Demon, Bob, Mynd, MegaMan, Helmeted Author / Helmut / Fistandantilus / Raistlin, Evil Overlord Mike / Ninja Ned and Non-Alternate Mynd, X and Bob again. There's also Dr. Wily.
- Most of the contestants of Last Res0rt ARE the Rogues Gallery. Having a pack of condemned criminals tends to indicate they've all been put there for SOME reason...
- The Non-Adventures of Wonderella parodies this trope as all members of her Rogues Gallery have names ending in 'ella. She even told one would-be nemesis whose first alias did not end in 'ella that she couldn't be in her Rogue's Gallery until she got with the program. (They also function as a support group.)
- The Order of the Stick often brings villains back in new arcs, especially the Linear Guild, with its rotating cast of evil opposites (some of which return each time), and arguably Miko being brought back after her initial "go fetch the Order" arc to participate in the Battle of Azure City. Currently, the Order's rouge's gallery consists of the members of Xykon's Team Evil, the Linear Guild, the Thieves' Guild (technically), General Tarquin and his team excluding Malack, who was killed by Nale, the IFCC (though only V knows about them, and he/she doesn't know the extent of their threat), and Qarr the imp. Miko and Kubota both qualified, but not anymore, due to both being dead. Given that the current only member of the Linear Guild who hasn't jumped ship (Hilgya, Leeky Windstaff, Pompey) or killed (the various Kobolds, Nale, Zz'dtri, and presumably Thog) is Sabine, it can probably be safely assumed that they no longer pose a threat to the Order. Durkon probably also qualifies, due to his brief membership of the Linear Guild following his vampirization, and especially following his FaceHeel Turn when he revealed himself to be the High Priest of Hel.
- Sluggy Freelance - Hereti Corp, Oasis, K'Z'K, the Dimension of Pain demons, Dr. Crabtree, The Evil, and, depending on the storyline, Bun-Bun. Different members of the Rouges Gallery meeting each other has been pretty rare so far, though a potential meeting between Hereti Corp and K'Z'K's cult is supposedly enough to lead to the destruction of reality.
- TV Tropes has begun acquiring its own Rogues Gallery of sorts, including the Data Vampires, the hivemind behind Darth Wiki, that "Q" hacker, The Wiki Witch of the Web, trolls on the forums, Wiki Vandals, The Advertisement Server, (though it's more of a Token Evil Teammate) and our Sitcom Arch-Nemesis, The Other Wiki (although he doesn't really seem to think that TV Tropes is worth much).
- Interviewing Leather discusses these sorts of groups, from the so-called "C-list super villain" perspective. The Henchman's guild charges them a LOT more, due to the higher injury and death rates... And the work tends to be less profitable overall. They do get more publicity, though.
- How to Hero has an entry on this here.
- Channel Awesome has been developing a few throughout its shows, mainly thanks to the increasing amounts of plot present in them.
- Linkara's getting quite a list as he's the desperate-to-be-a-hero guy of the site.note He's fought Doctor Insano, Mechakara, Dr. Linksano, Neutro, Dolorem, Judas Liz, Lord Vyce, The King of Worms, Whatley, Mirror Universe Linkara, and the evil ghosts. And then there's The Entity.
- Spoony has been garnering his own group of villains to contend with. Dr. Insano harasses him as much as he does Linkara, and there's also Black Lantern Spoony, The Ultimate Warrior, The Gatecleaner, and Fucking Chuckles. All of whom seem to be forming an alliance of Lanterns working under The Guardian.
- The Nostalgia Critic himself has a small group of his own, made up of Ask That Guy, Doctor Insano (to a lesser extent than Spoony or Linkara), Teddy Ruxpin, Zack the Lego Maniac, Dr. Smith, Kevin Baugh, and Douchey McNitpick (the latter has also harassed other contributors). And Tommy Wiseau. And he also has a Sitcom Arch-Nemesis in the form of the The Angry Video Game Nerd, with whom he's a good friend in Real Life, but whose characters are always at loggerheads with each other.
- Other Channel Awesome villains include Spaceguy and the Alien Space Pants of Nash's What the Fuck Is Wrong with You?, Professor Celluloid, Luke Mochrie's Inner Serial Killer Ralph, half of the Phelous clones, Bizarro Joe, Corporate Commander, Dark Paw, a Satan/Devil/Demon allegory played by Y, Tommy Wiseau, Terl, the villains of The Reviewaverse Saga, and Dark Nella.
- The video crossover genre, Pooh's Adventures features tons of villains for Pooh and his friends to face, ranging from an alliance of Disney Villains, to Bowser's Family. There's even a group called the "Villain Leage". Its wiki has a full list of the villains.