An antagonist can be classed on three orthogonal parameters:
- How much danger they, or their plans, pose.
- How effective they are.
- How much the audience is supposed to hate them.
This is a method of quantifying the second one.
Note that this does not cover any degree of sympathy; rather, it covers how probable their success is. To expand on this scale's orthogonality to the other two: it is entirely possible for a Complete Monster to fall at 'credible' or even 'low' on this scale (for example, a monster who is merely chief henchman to, say, Ming the Merciless); and it is possible to have a villain who bats at the level of Superman, but is so dumb that most of his threat comes from the fact that his plans will inevitably fail in a spectacular way.
Further, please do not add in Villainous organizations, groups, or nations to the Examples section at High or Infinite levels, and be particularly aware of Fan Myopia.
None:The villain succeeded in his evil scheme, but it wasn't destroying the world at all, it was... to step on a flower?!? Or alternatively, there's no villain at all.
- No Antagonist
- Harmless Villain
- Minion with an F in Evil
- Crazy Cat Lady
- The most agreeable examples of The Extremist Was Right
- Examples: The League of Super Evil, Swiper from Dora the Explorer, Professor Chaos of South Park, President Priest and Bunny, the Amoeba Boys (except in the one episode where their threat is Inadvertent).
Low:The villain can be safely allowed to foil their own scheme.
- Cases where the hero Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain
- Villainous Harlequin
- Goldfish Poop Gang
- Most Cartoonish Supervillainy
- Examples: Most Looney Tunes villains, Dr. Drakken from Kim Possible, Zim(most of the time), Sheldon J. Plankton, Waluigi, The Ice King, The Dark Hand, many villains written by Dean Koontz, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, the Diamond Dogs, Mashmyre Cello (in the first half of the series), Dr. Eggman (from Sonic Adventure to Sonic Unleashed), The Pack, The Pilaf Gang, The Dark Kingdom qualifies due to Queen Beryl's poor management, though most of its villains are Credible threats in their own right, Most Scooby-Doo villains(though it depends on the episode) the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog incarnation of Robotnik, Sleet and Dingo, Team Rocket (Sans Best Wishes).
Credible:Rarely succeeds, but only because heroes take action.
- Series-wide Most Disney villains, Most Shin Megami Tensei villains (assuming if they aren't in the Infinite category), The Master from Doctor Who, The Galactic Empire, Darth Maul, Kylo Ren and The First Order from Star Wars, The Decepticons (occasionally highly effective), Slashers like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, The typical villains from Power Rangers / Super Sentai, Voldemort and the Death Eaters, as a whole.
- Anime and Manga: The Death Busters and Dead Moon Circus, The Principality of Zeon under the Zabis, The Titans, Patrick Zala & Muruta Azrael, Lord Djibril, Megicula and Lucifero, The Homunculi, Nobuyuki Sugo, Laughing Coffin (except Vassago, XaXa and Johnny Black), Tsunenaga Tamaki and the Undertakers.
- Comic Books: Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon
- Film: The Skeksis post-Age of Resistance
- Literature: Most Goosebumps antagonists, Most Redwall Villains, Sauron during the late Third Age.
- Live-Action TV: Schlemi/Fifi, Brizon and most minor villains, Most Super Sentai villains, Dr. Brenner and the Russians, Adar, The Peacekeepers and the Scarrans.
- Tabletop Games: Abaddon the Despoiler
- Video Games: Twilight's Hammer, Odio, The Enclave, Dr. Eggman (pre-Sonic Adventure and post-Sonic Unleashed), The Covenant, DJ Octavio, Bowser (pre-Super Mario Sunshine), King K. Rool, Dracula/Mathias Cronqvist post-Lament of Innocence, Kaos.
- Western Animation: Zim (on a good day), The Fire Nation (whenever Azula isn't available as a strategic consultant), Tarrlok and Varrick, Demona, Lady Caine, Varian, and Cassandra, Sarah and Ben Ravencroft, The Phantom Virus and Bill,Hordak and Shadow Weaver, Lord Hater, The Bishop, Carmilla and the Styrian Council.
Inadvertent:May succeed without realizing it, so heroes must be especially cautious.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters
- Humans Are Morons
- Humans Are Cthulhu
- Non-Malicious Monster
- Obliviously Evil
- Then Let Me Be Evil
- Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
- Hero with an F in Good
- Nature Is Not Nice
- Examples: The crew of the Red Dwarf, the Red King in Through the Looking Glass, the replicants of Blade Runner, Ming Lee, Everfree Forest creatures, most Witches, humans in Neon Genesis Evangelion (except Gendo and members of SEELE).
High:Almost always succeeds when not thwarted by a hero and have a decent number of victories under their belt even against the heroes; expect them to get a secondary goal completed even when they lose.
- The Dreaded
- From Nobody to Nightmare (when evil)
- Corrupt Corporate Executive
- The Men in Black (when evil)
- Genre Savvy (when evil)
- Greater-Scope Villain
- Hero Killer
- Hope Crusher
- Knight of Cerebus
- Magnificent Bastard
- The Chessmaster (when evil)
- Manipulative Bastard (when evil)
- No-Nonsense Nemesis (when evil)
- Not-So-Harmless Villain
- Not the First Victim
- Master Forger
- Omnicidal Maniac
- Outside-Context Problem
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show
- Who's Laughing Now?
- Anime and Manga: Rau Le Creuset, Naraku, Kirinmaru, Kyubey and Walpurgisnacht, Gendo Ikari, Hellywood (although King Hamdo himself is incompetent), Patry, Zagred, Zenon Zogratis and Lucius Zogratis, Freeza, Cell, and Majin Buu, Haman and Paptimus Scirocco, Khan, The Black Moon Clan, Sailor Galaxia and Chaos, Katsuhiko Jinnai, Richard Wong, Shogo Makishima, Kirito Kamui & the Sybil System, Most Digimon of the week in Digimon Ghost Game are either here or in the credible territory, Goku Black, Zamasu, Yhwach and the Vandenreich, Akihiko Kayaba, Vassago Cassals, Death Gun, Quinella & Gabriel Miller, Hagire Rinichiro and The Wretched Egg, Dr. Jail Scaglietti and Quattro, Phil Maxwell, Kurumi Tokisaki and Sir Isaac Ray Peram Westcott, The Master of Synapse.
- Comic Books: Thanos, Dr. Eggman in the IDW comics, The Batman Who Laughs note
- Film: Ra's al Ghul, the Joker, Bane and Talia al Ghul,Freddy Kruegernote ,The Indominus Rex, Bowser, Tai Lung, Lord Shen, Kai, King Ghidorah, The Thing, the Scorpio Killer, Mick, Major Pa Tee Tint, Hugo and Victor Martinez, Lee Woo-Jin.
- Literature: Morgoth (pre-War of Wrath) and Sauron (pre-Third Age), Littlefinger, Barty Crouch Jr.
- Live-Action TV: Lionel Luthor and Brainiac, His Divine Shadow, Mantrid, Prince and Vlad, Azazel, Lucifer and Crowley, Scorpius, Shocker, Vecna/Henry Creel, Gus Fring, Lalo Salamanca, Sauron, Arvin Sloane and Julian Sark, Ryan O'Reilly, Simon Adebisi, Enrique Morales and Chris Keller.
- Tabletop Games: Nicol Bolas, Yawgmoth and the New Phyrexian Praetors, the Chaos Gods
- Video Games: Ganondorf, Raul Menendez, Hazama, Yuuki Terumi, Relius Clover, and Izanami, Mathias Cronqvist, Kefka Palazzo, Loptr and Singularity, Bowser (post-Super Mario Sunshine) note , King Boo, Fawful, Princess Shroob, Elder Princess Shroob, Shadow Queen, Count Bleck, Dimentio, King Olly, Cursa, Master Xehanort, The Gravemind, Commander Tartar, Galeem and Dharkon, Albert Wesker note , Ayin, Carmen and Angela (walks a line between this or infinite), major Pokémon villains note .
- Western Animation: The Lich, Nightmare Moon, Discord, Queen Chrysalis, King Sombra, Lord Tirek, Starlight Glimmer, and Cozy Glow, David Xanatos, The Light, Princess Azula, Amon, Vaatu, Unalaq, The Red Lotus quartet and Kuvira, XANA, Canaletto, Shego, Katz, King Rameses, the Queen of the Black Puddle, Robot Randy, The Great Fusilli, and many other villains who menace Courage and the Bagges,The Werecats of Moonscar Island,Professor Pericles and the Nibiru Entity, the Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) and Sonic Underground versions of Dr. Robotnik, Zhan Tiri, Obake, Catra, Double Trouble and Horde Prime, Toffee, Bill Cipher, Emperor Belos, Vilgax, Maltruant and Aggregor, Lord Dominator, The Chamberlain and The Hunter Skeksis, Dracula, Isaac and Death, Shredder, Cobra Commander, Skeleton King, Tammy, Evil Morty and Rick Prime.
- Webcomics: The Othernote
- Web Original: Cinder Fall, the Meta, Locus and Felix
- Multiple: Most major Digimon villains, Palpatine, Darth Vader, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Dio Brando, Kars, Yoshikage Kira, Diavolo, Enrico Pucci, Funny Valentine, President Snow, Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer, Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, Ra's al Ghul,Damien Dhark and Adrian Chase, Junko Enoshima, The Daleks.
Infinite:The villain will always win, and the heroes will always lose, even if the heroes should by all rights win. This may be due to the villain being truly all powerful, or the heroes being utterly incapable of confronting them in the first place, let alone stopping them. At best, the heroes could delay or annoy the villain, but the villain will triumph in the end regardless and the heroes can only evade or escape the villain once its goals are met. On the rare occasion that you can kill them, it's still part of their plan or you're just too late. Note that this is not just The Bad Guy Wins, rather it must be Inherent in the System that the villains win and the heroes lose. If the villain triumphs by chance or ill luck on the hero’s part, they are probably High or even Inadvertent.
- Invincible Villain (Unless they have a Karma Houdini Warranty)
- Eldritch Abomination (Except in stories where you can punch them out)
- Cosmic Horror Story (Unless it becomes Lovecraft Lite)
- God Is Evil (Unless there's some sort of good Anti-God that can meaningfully oppose Him. Iron chariots work, too)
- You Can't Fight Fate (Except when Fate is on the hero's side, or the prophecy has a different, unexpected meaning)
- Rage Against the Heavens (Except when you can punch them out like Cthulhu)
- Downer Ending (Unless it is setting up a time travel sequel, or the protagonist is a villain.)
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog (Unless it is setting up a time travel sequel, or there is a Villain Protagonist)
- Karma Houdini (Unless a Karma Houdini Warranty is voided)
- Villain Sue (Unless the setting has a benevolent God-Mode Sue to oppose them)
- Diabolus ex Machina (Unless it is just allowing the villain to continue until the Series Finale)
- As Long as There Is Evil (Unless Hope Springs Eternal)
- Examples: Many horror stories where the protagonists die or suffer a Fate Worse than Death like Final Destination, the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Battle Royale, O'Brien (and Big Brother if he is a real person in-universe), Judge Holden, Anton Chigurh, Archie and Brother Leon or any Robert Cormier antagonist, Anthony Fremont note , Sutter Cane, God in Devilman, Satou Matsuzaka, Kriemhild Gretchen, The Godhand and the Idea of Evil, John "Jigsaw" Kramer, John Doe, the Ancient Ones, Paul and Peter, the Head, Bondrewd and Irumyuui, Hao Asakura, Johan Liebert, almost every Junji Ito monster, Monika (from the perspective of every character except the player), Rustal Elion, The Midnight Library in general, the villains in Pinocchio except the Fox and the Cat in the original booknote , the evil mirror in Oculus, Adam Smasher, IT and especially the Black Thingnote , AM, Fenrir, Jörmungandr, and especially Surtr, Whiro.