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.
- Cases where the hero Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain
- Villainous Harlequin
- Goldfish Poop Gang
- 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 Dark Kingdom qualifies due to Queen Beryl's poor management, though most of its villains are Credible threats in their own right, the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog incarnation of Robotnik, Sleet and Dingo, Team Rocket (Pre-Best Wishes).
Credible: Rarely succeeds, but only because heroes take action.
- Examples: Most Disney villains, most Shin Megami Tensei villains (assuming if they aren't in the Infinite category) the Master from Doctor Who, Zim (on a good day), Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon, The Galactic Empire, Darth Maul, Kylo Ren and The First Order from Star Wars, The Decepticons (occasionally highly effective), Twilight's Hammer, Slashers like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, Most Goosebumps antagonists, The Fire Nation (whenever Azula isn't available as a strategic consultant), Tarrlok and Varrick, The Enclave, Sauron during the late Third Age, Dr. Eggman (pre-Sonic Adventure and post-Sonic Unleashed). Bowser (pre-Super Mario Sunshine) fits here, but is frequently highly effective against anybody other than the Super Mario Brothers, though he'd be more effective if he didn't kidnap Princess Peach. The typical villains from Power Rangers / Super Sentai also fall into this category, Most Redwall Villains, Schlemi/Fifi, Brizon and most minor villains, Demona, The Death Busters and Dead Moon Circus, The Principality of Zeon under the Zabis, The Titans, Patrick Zala & Muruta Azrael, Lord Djibril, The Homunculi, The Covenant, DJ Octavio, Lady Caine, Varian, and Cassandra, Hordak and Shadow Weaver, Lord Hater, Nobuyuki Sugo, Laughing Coffin (except Vassago, XaXa and Johnny Black), The Skeksis post-Age of Resistance, Voldemort and the Death Eaters, as a whole, Tsunenaga Tamaki and the Undertakers, 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, Everfree Forest creatures, most Witches.
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?
- Examples: The Daleks, David Xanatos, The Light, Gendo Ikari, Kefka Palazzo, Littlefinger, Hazama, Yuuki Terumi, Relius Clover, and Izanami, Palpatine, Darth Vader, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Princess Azula, Amon, Vaatu, Unalaq, The Red Lotus quartet and Kuvira, Freeza, Cell, and Majin Buu, The Black Moon Clan, Sailor Galaxia and Chaos, Katsuhiko Jinnai, Richard Wong, XANA, Canaletto, Shego, Ra's al Ghul, the Joker, Bane and Talia al Ghul, Bowser (The Galaxy games and pre-Super Mario Sunshine) whenever the Super Mario Brothers aren't around, note Ganondorf, Lionel Luthor and Brainiac, Rau Le Creuset, Haman Khan, Morgoth (pre-War of Wrath) and Sauron (pre-Third Age), Thanos, The Lich, Raul Menendez, Naraku, Kyubey and Walpurgisnacht, Nightmare Moon, Discord, Queen Chrysalis, King Sombra, Lord Tirek, Starlight Glimmer, and Cozy Glow, Dio Brando, Kars, Yoshikage Kira, Diavolo, Enrico Pucci, Funny Valentine, 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 Indominus Rex, President Snow, Shogo Makishima, Kirito Kamui & the Sybil System, His Divine Shadow, Mantrid, Prince and Vlad, King Ghidorah, Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer, Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, Ra's al Ghul,Damien Dhark and Adrian Chase,Azazel, Lucifer and Crowley, Master Xehanort, Goku Black, Zamasu, Tai Lung, Lord Shen, Kai, the Meta, Locus and Felix, Cinder Fall, The Gravemind, Commander Tartar, Galeem and Dharkon, Dr. Eggman in the IDW comics, the Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) and Sonic Underground versions of Dr. Robotnik, Albert Wesker note , Yhwach and the Vandenreich, Zhan Tiri, Obake,Catra, Double Trouble and Horde Prime, Toffee, Bill Cipher, Vilgax, Maltruant and Aggregor, Lord Dominator, Nicol Bolas, Junko Enoshima, Akihiko Kayaba, Vassago Cassals, Death Gun, Quinella & Gabriel Miller, The Chamberlain and The Hunter Skeksis, Ayin, Carmen and Angela (walks a line between this or infinite), Hagire Rinichiro and The Wretched Egg, Dracula, Isaac and Death.
- 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 (as well as any Robert Cormier antagonist), Anthony Fremont (in the short story "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby, and in the original episode "It's a Good Life" from The Twilight Zone (1959)), Sutter Cane, God in Devilman, Krimhild Gretchen, The Godhand and the Idea of Evil, John "Jigsaw" Kramer, John Doe, the evil mirror, the Ancient Ones, Paul and Peter, the Head, Hao Asakura, Johan Liebert.