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Starter Villain

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A Subtrope of Arc Villain, the Starter Villain ranks the lowest on the Sorting Algorithm of Evil (the heroes have to start off fighting someone). They are the first true threat to the heroes, not just some common Mook who's there to let them show how badass they are. Expect even the weakest member of the heroic team to eventually become more powerful than them (that is, if they survive). The Starter Villain is not always associated with the intended Big Bad of the whole series, usually having a whole story arc to themself. If the overall antagonist is The Empire (possibly in a setting with some degree of Grey-and-Gray Morality), the Starter Villain might be some petty bureaucrat who, in getting The Hero to oppose them; makes The Empire oppose them (and vice-versa) on principle.


As writers can't always have the Starter Villain fighting the whole team at once, they'll sometimes have Mooks who are nearly always doomed to die. The villain may have a sliver of a chance to survive, but none of their henchmen will make it.

If the series is not based on a pre-existing work, and the writers are making it up as they go along, a Starter Villain can end up turning into a Breakout Villain if the fans and/or the writers end up liking them enough.

See also: Wake-Up Call Boss. Sometimes, these may be the Disc-One Final Boss. It's not uncommon for Starter Villains to be Token Motivational Nemeses as well. If they're in a Video Game, they may be the Warm-Up Boss.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Heavy Object: A nameless Faith Organization Officer in Alaska.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Emperor Pilaf was the first real villain that Goku and gang faced (after pterodactyls, bear thieves, bandits, boss rabbits and cowardly shape-shifting pigs). In the manga he isn't even an Arc Villain as he shows up at the very end as the final obstacle, while in the anime he and his lackies makes various off-screen attempts to steal the Dragon Balls over the course of the arc. What makes him this trope over the others is that he sought after the Dragon Balls to take over the world, making him a legit threat despite being the Team Rocket.
    • In a similar fashion, Colonel Silver is this for the Red Ribbon Army arc in the manga, as he's defeated soon after he's introduced, but said defeat is what tips the army off to Goku being a threat. This is downplayed somewhat in the anime as Colonel Silver's part of the story is significantly expanded to be its own mini-arc, similar to Muscle Tower for General White and the Pirate adventure for General Blue, thus putting Colonel Silver more on par with them.
      • General Blue could be considered one as far as the series' life-or-death battles are concerned; all previous opponents Goku fought were either too weak to defeat him or strong enough to challenge him, but within the confines of the non-lethal World Tournament. General Blue, through his superhuman physical prowess and psychic powers, managed to hold his own against Goku and nearly kill him no less than three times, with Goku only surviving their first fight out of sheer dumb luck. Fittingly, Blue is offed by Mercenary Tao shortly thereafter, setting in motion the series never-ending Sorting Algorithm of Evil in which Goku faces increasingly powerful opponents.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Raditz for the Saiyan Arc, and by happenstance Z itself. When he first shows up he's the most dangerous threat the heroes had faced at that point, forcing an alliance between Goku and then-villain Piccolo. He dies after a handful of chapters/episodes, but not before revealing there are two more Saiyans on the way who make him look like a pushover. And that's before we learn about Frieza and all of his elite crew, who each are more powerful than the both of them combined.
      • Team Four Star made fun of this by measuring Power Levels in Raditzes. They take it even further by using "Raditzes" as currency. As in, "He owes me twenty Raditzes!" note 
    • Through the course of Executive Meddling, Androids 19 and 20 become this for the Android/Cell Arc. Originally, they were the Androids who terrorized Trunks' future, but editorial complaints meant that when they finally appeared, they were outdated models easily fought off by the Z-Fighters, while Androids 16, 17, and 18 and later Cell were the real threats of the arc. From another perspective, Mecha Frieza and King Cold could be considered this, as they only show up in the first few episodes to establish how badass Future Trunks is- and, by extension, how threatening the Androids he was talking about must be.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: Gouki, Kurama, and Hiei are a group of these. While Gouki plays this straight and Kurama was already planned to be a part of the main team, Hiei's status was ultimately supposed to fall victim to this trope, but his role was rewritten once he was discovered to be an Ensemble Dark Horse.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Seto Kaiba was Yugi's first opponent (unless you count the one-shots who appeared in the previous chapters, but he's definitely the starter villain of the Duel Monsters anime) and the first confrontation between them started the biggest rivalry in the history of the franchise.
    • Kaiba may have been Yugi's greatest rival, but Ushio, Yugi's first foe in the original manga and Toei anime, may have had an even bigger impact. He may have been little more than a thug (at least then), but after Yugi stood up to him for bullying Jonouchi and Honda, their opinion of Yugi changed for the better, resulting in Yugi gaining his True Companions. Completing the Millennium Puzzle is what allows Yugi (or rather, Yami Yugi) to defeat Ushio, kickstarting the rest of his adventures.
  • Sailor Moon: Jadeite, the only of four sub-villains who didn't have an obvious visual gimmick or theme, with his character's shtick instead being that he was, well, the Starter Villain. The live action adaptation, however, actually kept him around past the start, and thus tossed him "excessive toadying" as his theme (which was admittedly somewhat present in the anime too).
  • Devimon in Digimon Adventure. Toward the end of the show, his status is lampshaded, with Leomon pointing out that Devimon was nothing compared to the threats that the heroes have faced since. And considering how Devimon is a Champion level Digimon, and everyone faced after him was either Ultimate or Mega level, he's right.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Viral is the first named Beastman the heroes face after reaching the surface. He ends up being a recurring foe and eventual ally.
  • Fate/stay night: Rider, and to a lesser extent her summoner Shinji. In the second route, as part of getting the early stages of the first route over with quickly, Rider is even killed offscreen. This doesn't apply in Heavens Feel, where Rider survives to be a major heroic character.
    • Illyasviel and Berserker Hercules as well. It takes half of the first route to beat them, yet they are far from the main antagonists.
    • Fate/Zero: Likewise, Ryunousuke and Caster Bluebeard. Though they aren't defeated for good until about the halfway point.
  • Bleach:
    • Grand Fisher — The Hollow who ate Ichigo's mom and significantly more powerful than any of the other hollows Ichigo fights in the first arc. Unlike most starter villains, he actually isn't killed right away, and actually comes back later only for Isshin to completely destroy him.
    • An earlier example is the hollow that shows up at Ichigo's doorstep and nearly kills his family in the first chapter, since it forces Rukia to transfer her power to Ichigo, turning him into a substitute soul reaper so he can save them. But despite this, it's just a regular hollow and easily slaughtered by Ichigo.
    • A case could also be made for Renji and Byakuya, the first enemies to kick Ichigo's ass and also the first antagonists beyond garden variety hollows.
  • One Piece:
    • Alvida and Ax-Hand Morgan both apply, as they were said to be extremely strong villains, but are nothing compared to just a few guys down the road.
    • They were barely better than thugs, and taken down with no trouble at all. The true example is Buggy the Clown immediately afterwards, the first person introduced, other than Luffy himself, to have eaten a Devil Fruit, and the first to give him any run for his money. He's still only strong by East Blue standards.
    • After the Time Skip and thus Part Two of the series, we have Hody Jones. Sure, he's ages above Morgan and Alvida- they don't even come close to Hody - and he would have probably been a challenge before the timeskip, but after, he's absolutely no threat to Luffy at all and only manages to get in one hit even after going One-Winged Angel, whilst Luffy spends the whole span of their fight beating down on him, showing off his new moves. Even Zoro The Lancer manages to One-Shot Hody's pre One-Winged Angel form.
      • This is emphasized further by the fact that both of these fights take place largely underwater. Which should be a huge advantage for for a fishman like Hody and a huge disadvantage for a human, especially a Devil Fruit user like Luffy.
  • Rurouni Kenshin:
    • Udo Jine is the first villain in the series that Kenshin has trouble defeating, and is the first opponent that forces Kenshin to revert back to Hitokiri Battosai.
    • An earlier example is the Hiruma brothers. Hiruma Kihei tries to sell the land around the Kamiya Dojo, and has his brother Gohei impersonate the Hitokiri Battousai while claiming to use the Kamiya Kasshin Ryu style of swordsmanship to ruin the reputation of Kaoru's dojo. In the anime, Gohei is made into a composite of himself and his brother with a different motivation (vengeful former student of Kaoru's father), but the same means of carrying out his plans.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Father Cornello. As a religious leader controlling the city of Lior, he's the first major foe the Elric brothers face, but he's only a pawn of the Homonculi with a fake Philosopher's Stone.
    • Huskisson in the 2005 film Conqueror of Shambala.
    • Isaac McDougal, the Freezing Alchemist, in Brotherhood, an anime-only character. The brothers and the rest of the military are forced into action to stop him from freezing Central City with an alchemical ritual.
  • The Baron of Koka Castle from the Black Swordsman arc of Berserk is the first major bad guy Guts faces in the manga. His first encounter with demons period is with none other than Nosferatu Zodd, who has gone on to be a recurring rival and occasional ally of the Black Swordsman. Chronologically, however, the first major bad guy Guts faces is the warrior Bazuso, whose defeat is what alerts the Band of the Hawk to Guts's talent.
  • Shin from Fist of the North Star, who doubles as a Token Motivational Nemesis, is the first rival martial artist that Kenshiro faces in the story. Shin was the one who defeated Ken, stole his beloved Yuria away from him, and engraved the seven scars on Ken's chest as a reminder of the humiliation. In the first story arc of the manga, Ken must fight against Shin's four playing card-themed lieutenants, each progressively more skilled than the last, before challenging his old rival.
    • There’s also Zeed, a biker gang boss who displays just how ruthless the post-war world is. He is killed by Kenshiro at the end of the first chapter where it becomes apparent that he knows nothing about Hokuto Shinken.
  • Tsukihime:
    • Nrvnqsr Chaos in the Near Side routes. Once he is dispatched, Arcueid can concentrate on her main task of finding and defeating Roa.
    • Similarly, Yumizuka Satsuki in the Far Side routes, though an unusual example, since most of the plot is Psychological Horror - Sacchin is mainly there to ensure that we don't forget the series is Urban Fantasy, and aren't offended when the plot ends with stabbing.
  • Daimonji from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. Kenichi first got involved in martial arts in part to defend himself against bullies like him. Kenichi's defeat of him is what sets him on his path toward ever greater foes. When Daimonji later comes after him for revenge, Kenichi utterly trounces him, showing how far his training has progressed.
  • Bamboo Blade: Toyama and Iwasa, who were tormenting Dan in the first episode, prompting Tamaki to come to his defense and join the Kendo Club.
    • This is lampshaded at a later point, when the main group is well-established. Team captain Kirino Chiba has to come up with training regimens for the other members. Her realization that she forgot to make ones for them is quickly brushed off, since Toyama only came to practice to pick on the newbies and girls, and never showed up again after Tamaki taught him a lesson.
      • And subverted later still when Toyama gets into a fight in an arcade. The fact that he hadn't turned in a formal resignation meant that he was technically still a member, resulting in the entire team nearly being shut down over the incident.
  • Tekkaman Blade: Tekkaman Dagger, albeit he was a bit more resilient and annoying than average. He still was far weaker than the rest of villains.
  • Buso Renkin: Papillion is the first major villain, eventually succeeded by the LXE, the Alchemist Army, and finally Victor. Funnily enough, though, he manages to stay in the game as a major asset against all of these without ever explicitly making a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Bora the Prominence in Fairy Tail. A fire wizard who pretends to be the legendary Salamander (along with using magic charms) to lure women onto his ship, where he sells them as slaves. He's basically there to introduce Lucy to Natsu and inform her that Natsu is the real Salamander, and to get Natsu to offer Lucy a job with Fairy Tail.
  • While not a villain, Akune from Medaka Box is the first opponent who gives Zenkichi a challenge in a fight (specifically a judo match), and comes close to beating him. The more proper version, however, would have to be Unzen Myori as he was the first antagonist that actually forced the protagonist to use physical force.
  • Naruto:
    • The first opponent Naruto ever fights is Mizuki, one of his academy teachers who tried to use him to steal a scroll of forbidden jutsu. The Mizuki fight kickstarts major series elements- Naruto learns his signature Shadow Clone Jutsu and his performance convinces Iruka to let him graduate, but Mizuki is a low-level chuunin acting alone, and ultimately an obstacle easily overcome by an academy student.
    • A case might also be made for the antagonists from the "Land of Waves" arc: Zabuza and Haku are employed by Gato as a deadly fighting force and provide dangerous adversaries for the heroes at this point (Zabuza almost kills Kakashi in their first fight, while Naruto and Sasuke together are unable to defeat Haku until Naruto draws on the power of the Kyuubi, and even then they only survive because Haku was too nice to kill them); compared, however, to succeeding villains such as Orochimaru and the Akatsuki, they're small fry, being only around Jounin level skill and without any organization to support them.
    • Akatsuki members Deidara and Sasori serve this role in Shippuden. They're dangerous enough to capture Gaara and give the heroes a good fight, but still ultimately warm-ups compared to future villains.
  • Haruka Suzushiro and the rest of the Ori-Hime unit in the My-HiME manga, who are trying to get their rivals Mai, Natsuki and Yuuichi expelled.
  • Gundam:
    • Jamaican Danigan's entire role in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam's storyline is to chase Kamille and the Argama until Scirocco, Yazan, Haman and the rest of the actual main villains have arrived. Once that happens he's unceremoniously killed off by one of his own men. Kamille's rival, Jerid Messa subverts this, starting out as a bullying Jerk Jock, but graduating to Ace Pilot status and remaining a credible threat until the finale.
    • Michelo-Chariot from Mobile Fighter G Gundam, much like Jerid above, starts out as a loud mouthed gang leader who happens to be the representative of Neo Italy before he is effortlessly decimated in Domon's first fight. He reappears twenty-three episodes later now apart of Master Asia's crew along with Gentle Chapman, Neo Britain's representative. He's not a very good fighter and only manages to become a threat because he's infected with DG Cells and pilots a too-powerful-for-its-own-good Gundam.
  • Tatewaki Kuno in Ranma ½ starts as the first real rival for Ranma, but after his first true duel, he becomes almost completely ineffectual against him.
  • Phoenix Ikki from Saint Seiya is the first major villain the Bronze Saints have to deal with before the Pope and his Silver Saints start their full-force strike against them.
  • In Haruhi-chan, Ryoko claims to be the first and weakest member of the Radical Four, who answer to three even more powerful superiors, none of which are seen.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Fate Testarossa. In contrast to later opponents of Nanoha who are various kinds of living super-weapons made from the Lost Technology of Ancient Belka and beyond and are threats to The Federation, Fate's just a more skilled and experienced mage equal to Nanoha in strength in addition to being a failed clone. Of course, thanks to a Heel–Face Turn and becoming a co-lead afterwards, she managed to avoid the fate of most Starter Villains and gets to grow stronger together with Nanoha.
  • Descartes and Loose Ruth in the Trigun anime and Dr. Nebraska in the manga (he has to wait until the fifth episode of the anime).
  • Several examples in most Parts of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Battle Tendency:
      • Straizo is the first major antagonist Joseph fights and the one who tells him of Speedwagon's whereabouts. He's also the only non-Mook villain to be a normal vampire instead of a Pillar Man, with his only real trick being a hamon-proof scarf.
      • Santana is this for the Pillar Men, as he's the first to show up and entirely separate from the other three (who are in Europe while he's in Mexico), and also the youngest and least powerful, only giving Joseph trouble because Joseph was a complete novice with hamon at the time, while he needs a month of Training from Hell to match the others.
    • Stardust Crusaders: Noriaki Kakyoin serves as the first enemy Stand User to attack the Joestar group and the first indication that DIO is actively targeting them. However, as Kakyoin was simply Brainwashed and Crazy at the time, the following opponent, Gray Fly, is a much better example, being the first truly villainous Stand user the Crusaders encounter. He's also the one who turns a simple flight to Cairo into a journey spanning multiple countries.
    • Diamond Is Unbreakable: The escaped convict and Serial Killer Anjuro "Angelo" Katagiri; Jotaro is partly motivated to travel to Morioh after Joseph's Hermit Purple produces pictures of Angelo and his Stand, Aqua Necklace. He gets quickly defeated by Josuke, and the plot turns to the other Stand-wielding serial killers in Morioh (plus a few normal people who got mistaken for stand-wielding serial killers), which Joseph had known nothing about.
    • Golden Wind: Leaky-eye Luca, the first mobster from Passione Giorno encounters, and the only known Standless member. Giorno's defeat of him is what causes Giorno to gain the attention of Bruno, leading Giorno into joining Passione.
    • Stone Ocean: Johngalli A, the man responsible for Jolyne's incarceration. After Jolyne and Jotaro outsmart his Stand early on in the story, he is killed by Whitesnake.
    • Steel Ball Run: Mrs. Robinson is the first truly antagonistic opponent Johnny and Gyro encounter, and the one to show just what the other contestants of the race are willing to do to win. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't have a Stand and only lasts a couple chapters.
    • JoJolion: Ojiro Sasame is the first opponent Josuke encounters with the intention of killing him, and is also the one who gives Josuke his first clue to his past. Otherwise, he has little to do with the main storyline and his Stand is too Awesome, but Impractical to be of much use for the most part. He eventually comes back and demonstrates an upgrade to his Situational Sword of a stand, but winds up killed by Jobin. He does get to be a Spanner in the Works as a consolation prize, as he leads Norisuke to discovering what Jobin's been up to.
  • KanColle has the Anchorage Princess, who is introduced and defeated in the first episode.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Asimov Solensan is a rogue Syndicate member who Spike and Jet go after in the first episode. He's taken down in that same episode, but the Bebop crew don't get the bounty money because he winds up dead.
  • Psycho-Pass: Nobuo Ogura is a Salaryman who snaps after getting a bad Psycho-Pass and kidnaps a woman. He doesn't survive the first episode.
  • The first antagonist of Black Butler is Azzurro Vener, an enforcer of the Ferro family. His appearance is foreshadowed in the first chapter, he appears in the third, and is dead by the end of the fourth. This brief run exists only for two purposes — first, to expose Ciel's role as the royal watchdog of the criminal underworld, and second, to give Sebastian a chance to demonstrate that he is far more than the mere Badass Normal he was initially portrayed as.
  • After the low-stakes but very personal Token Motivational Nemesis, High School D×D has Riser Phenex, the first foe with a goal that affects everyone on Rias's team, and a squad of his own that can keep up with them in a fight. Since that goal is an Arranged Marriage with Rias and that squad is his Peerage, though, all of them survive - he might be the plot's first real challenge, but he's still just a garden-variety selfish asshole and everything he did was technically above-board. After falling from grace when he loses an Engagement Challenge to Issei, Riser undergoes some off-screen Character Development and becomes a huffy but sincere supporter in his future appearances.
  • Getter Robo: The anime has Saki, the first Mechasaurus Emperor Gore sends after the Getter team. He's decapitated in his sole appearance, despite being outfitted with anti-Getter energy defenses.
  • Eyeshield 21: Sena's first game with the Devil Bats is against the Koigahama Cupids, a mediocre American football team whose gimmick is being a bunch of pretty boys whose girlfriends come to all their games. The plot picks up when their next game is against the far more competent Ojou White Knights, and Sena sparks a rivalry with defensive lineman Seijuro Shin.
  • Cells at Work!: The first pathogenic threat encountered is a Pneumococcus bacterium who manages to escape the Neutrophils who wiped out his brethren and tries to infect the body.
  • Shakugan no Shana: While he's not the first Crimson Lord Shana has faced in her lifetime, plot-wise, Friagne the Hunter is the first villain to present a major threat to Misaki City and the first to be defeated by Shana in tandem with Yuji. Once he's dispatched, he along with Marianne are never heard from again. Only the ring and altar he leaves behind would prove significant to the plot later on.

    Comic Books 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage): The Shredder was a starter villain, getting himself killed rather humiliatingly at the end of the very first issue. A colony of intelligent worms would later assume the mantle of the Shredder, but even they only appeared in a few issues and played a fairly minor role in the comics' plot. However, due to his status as the first villain the Turtles fought and his It's Personal ties to their backstory, all subsequent versions (namely all three cartoon series and the first two movies) went and made him the long-running Big Bad.
    • Old Hob and his gang serve this role in the IDW TMNT series. A cat mutated in the same incident that created the protagonists, he serves as a personal menace to the Turtles for their early days, but was little more than an aggressive thug hired by a significantly more dangerous villain. At least, he was at first...
  • Scott Pilgrim: Matthew Patel is the first Evil Ex-Boyfriend of Ramona that Scott encounters. He's mostly the equivalent of a Warm-Up Boss, which he is in the video game. In the movie, he has the lowest point value of any opponent short of out-and-out mooks.
  • In Grant Morrison's New X-Men, John Sublime fits this, despite being the second Arc Villain rather than the first. He's the least-powerful (a non-powered Corrupt Corporate Executive), has the least far-reaching scheme (selling mutant organs on the black market) and is defeated in the shortest amount of time (three issues) of all the major villains in the series, and he and his henchmen pretty much exist for the main characters to demonstrate their powers on. As well, the first Arc Villain, Cassandra Nova, actually wins in that arc (though neither the readers nor the characters know it at the time) and has to be brought down in a later one. This, of course, makes is a particularly effective twist when the final arc reveals Sublime to have been the Big Bad behind everything, and possibly, with a bit of Alternate Character Interpretation, the Greater-Scope Villain behind everything bad that had ever happened in any X-Men comic ever.
  • Batman usually starts in adaptations and reboots by butting heads with the Gotham mob bosses or the corrupt police force which is (minus Jim Gordon) more than happy to blame all of the city's troubles on him. As Batman takes them down, maniacal super villains like The Joker then step up to the plate. The actual first villain Batman faced in his very first issue was crooked chemical baron Alfred Stryker, who fits this trope as he is non-powered, out of shape, and dead by the end of the issue. His first supervillain arrived a few issues later, in the form of Doctor Death.
  • In Captain America's first Golden Age appearance, he battled Heinz Kruger, the Nazi spy who had murdered the scientist who gave him his powers. In a later story in the same issue, he faced his first supervillain in the form of Allied traitor George Maxon, alias the Red Skull, who would, of course, be revealed in time to be merely a decoy for the REAL Skull, top-ranked Nazi Johann Schmidt.
  • Similarly, The Incredible Hulk's starter villain was The Gargoyle, the spy who arranged the sabotage of the gamma bomb test that turned Bruce Banner into the Hulk.
  • Iron Man's starter villain was the Vietnamese warlord Wong-Chu, who captured Tony and attempted to force him to develop weapons for him. It backfired.
  • Tintin has many, depending on the adventure. A few that come to mind are the fakir in the Indian portion of Cigars of the Pharaoh, Mitsuhirato in The Blue Lotus, Puschov in The Black Island, or Bab el-Ehr in Land of Black Gold and The Red Sea Sharks.
  • The Fantastic Four get one in the Mole Man, who they fight in the first issue before encountering their Big Bads Namor and Doctor Doom. Naturally, due to the nature of comic books, they proceeded to encounter Mole Man many times afterwards.
    • Subverted in the stand-alone Fantastic Four: Season One graphic novel, wherein Mole Man shows up as a threat- and is then promptly, almost immediately defused by Sue Storm's gentle reassurance that he doesn't have to live the way he does. After that point, he becomes the team's ally, eager to use his scientific genius in helpful ways and in a special darkened lab.
  • Daredevil starts off battling the Fixer, the gangster responsible for the death of his father. He doesn't survive the issue.
  • Superman's first foe was Bea Carroll, a murderess who framed one of her rivals. She's taken care of less than halfway through Supes's debut.
  • 100 Bullets: The first antagonists to appear are Officers Swirski and Morgan, a pair of Dirty Cops who wanted in on a Latino gang's heroin racket. When the gang leader refused, as he had been trying to go straight to support his son, the pair murdered him and his son too. Their luck runs out at the hands of Isabelle "Dizzy" Cordova, the dead man's vengeful widow, with a little help from Agent Graves and the titular hundred untraceable bullets; the two officers' ultimate role in the plot is to introduce this element and these two characters.
  • Spider-Man: The starter villain was Uncle Ben's killer, and The Reveal that he's the same robber who Spidey let off earlier ties into the moral of the story. His first supervillain threat is the Chameleon, a character who would go on to be a regular member of his rogues gallery.
    • His Ultimate counterpart starts off fighting the Enforcers and Electro, all of whom are working for Wilson Fisk.
  • Back in his solo days at Quality Comics, DC speedster Max Mercury (then called "Quicksilver")'s first one was von Lohfer, a Mad Scientist who mind controlled the local police department to destroy an industrialist who called him a fake in a Noodle Incident. Given his diminutive stature and Non-Action Guy status, Max made short work of him.
  • We first see The Invisible Terror battling De Pix, an international criminal out to get the formula that gives the Terror his powers. He's arrested at the end, and taken to serve a life sentence.
  • Kismet: Man of Fate: The first foe we see is Colonel Freydrich, a Nazi official so cruel he's called "the Headsman." He doesn't even survive halfway through the issue.
  • Pat Patriot: America's Joan of Arc: We first see Pat fighting an unnamed factory foreman who fired her for protesting harsh working conditions and is running a smuggling operation for the Nazis. He's taken down first issue and presumably never leaves prison.
  • K-Bar Kate: The first Big Bad Duumvirate are Shorne and Hinson, who are plotting to divert water away from the Slocum ranch to Shorne's.
  • Obscure DC hero Air Wave had as his first foe Snake Scalotti, a local crime boss whom the DA was having difficulty gathering evidence on. He's taken to prison at the end of the first issue and never seen again.
  • The Atom:
    • Al Pratt's was an unnamed crime boss who held his girlfriend as ransom against her rich father. He's clobbered and arrested at the end of his first appearance.
    • Ray Palmer had Carl Ballard, who captured a tiny, teleporting alien and forced him to rob banks, being arrested at the end of the issue.
  • The Wesley Dodds version of The Sandman had Boris Leland, a spy who stole plans for a device Wesley was planning to show at the New York World's Fair. He's taken to prison by the end of the first issue.
  • Golden Age DC hero the Gay Ghost's first foe was the unnamed leader of a group of footpads who tried to rob the Ghost in life. He manages to kill our hero, and is defeated by a minor character.
  • The first foe of Gunsmoke we see is Ringo Moody, a cattle rustler and gambler trying to force a rancher to give him his property. He's gunned down within eight pages of his introduction.
  • The first foe of the Yellowjacket we see is Jake Mallon, a jewel thief who chased a girl into Vince's house.
  • Typhon: The first foe we see is an unnamed ruler of an undersea kingdom who's fond of doing a Baleful Polymorph to anybody who opposes him. He's rendered into a Living Statue by the end of the issue.
  • The Wraith has Silky Weaver, the gang leader who killed the Kennedy brothers and is killed halfway through the first story.
  • The first foe of The Green Knight was an unnamed vampire whom Knight saved Lance from, and who's burned alive by issue's end.
  • The Steel Fist had Ludlow, the Nazi saboteur who mutilated Tim's hand and is arrested by issue's end.
  • The Blue Streak had Scarface, the criminal who killed Jim's brother and is taken out in the first issue.
  • The Wasp (Lev Gleason): The Wasp is first seen fighting B-8, a foreign spy trying to steal the military's plans for a stealth plane. He's arrested by issue's end.
  • The Eye Sees: We first encounter the Eye fighting Islam Herat, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who stole a giant Middle Eastern trade empire and is arrested by issue's end.
  • The Lone Warrior: Herr Kampf, a Nazi spy sent to sabotage the Army base Stan has been stationed in. He causes some damage, but is clearly subordinate to spymaster the Dictator's Shadow and is imprisoned by issue's end, never to be heard from again.
  • Mother Hubbard: An unnamed Nazi agent who's sent to torture the formula for a flame gun from its inventor. He's blown up at the end of the first issue.
  • The Crusader: Carl Meyer, a Nazi spy masquerading as a ghost to hide his experiments and secure ownership of his base of operations. He's arrested, presumed to be executed later, by the end of the issue.
  • Ace McCoy: Captain von Hartmann, the leader of a Nazi shipwrecking operation. He's a formidable threat, but is killed in a U-boat crash at the end of the first issue.
  • Ace Powers: Heat Devron, a gangster who robbed a payroll and was working on betraying his gang in order to take all the money for himself. He's arrested at the end of the issue, and never returns.
  • Ace of Space: The Slogons, a group of aliens who killed Ace's predecessor and are invading Earth co conquer it. Their fleet is destroyed and they are killed by the end of the first issue.
  • The Black Spider: Sol Risko, a crime boss who masterminded a scheme to have the evidence needed to convict him stolen from the DA. His scheme fails, and he's convicted by the end of the issue.
  • Captain Flash: The Iron Mask, a megalomaniac who played Criminal Mind Games with the scientists of Atom City under the threat of a hydrogen bomb destroying the city and is knocked out a several-story video at the end of the issue. He's an interesting case, as he's the villain of the second story, but he still qualifies as the first one has No Antagonist.
  • The Mad Hatter: Jim Murray, the secret crime boss of the whole city, who spends the first story pursuing a witness who knows his true identity and is arrested at the end of the issue.
  • The Masked Marvel: Reno, a ranch foreman and secret cattle rustler who framed one side of a family feud for another side's murder so he could use the distraction to make a killing. He's gunned down at the end of the issue.
  • Tomboy (Sterling): The Claw, an escaped crime boss who intends to bomb the docks and use the distraction to rob a museum. He's killed in a plane crash at the end of the issue.
  • Adam Strange: The Eternals, a race of aliens who attacked Rann for a rare mineral soon after Adam first teleported there, and are trapped in the Fourth Dimension at the end of the issue.
  • Animal Man: An unnamed alien who has similar powers to Buddy and used them to go on a rampage in a small town, only to plummet off a cliff at the end of the issue.
  • Aquaman: An unnamed Nazi commander who sent U-boats after civilians, and is killed via grenade at the end of the issue.
  • Buckskin: America's Defender of Liberty: Jarg Marsool, a Nazi spymaster who wants to destroy a plane factory and is blown up at the end of the issue.
  • Stardust the Super Wizard: The unnamed leaders of a Nazi spy ring who try to destroy the US government upon learning of Stardust coming to Earth. They're arrested at the end of the issue after being forced to look at the skeletons of their victims.
  • Aztek: Piper, AKA the real Curtis Falconer, who is forced to commit a robbery to save his daughter and is killed in an explosion at the end of the first issue, but not before tasking Aztek with protecting his daughter.
  • Black Lightning: Joey Toledo, an agent of the 100 who pushes drugs at the hogh school Jefferson Pierce works at. He lasts all of two issues before getting killed.
  • Blackhawk: Captain von Tepp, a Nazi officer terrorizing Poland, who killed Blackhawk's siblings and inspired him to take up a quest for vengeance before being gunned down at the end of his issue.
  • Blue Beetle: Dan Garrett had the White Face, a gang leader who kidnapped an heiress for ransom, but is made short work of and arrested in his debut.
  • Green Lantern:
    • Alan Scott had Albert Dekker, a corrupt businessman who destroyed a railroad after losing a contract and died of a heart attack when Scott showed up to seek vengeance.
    • Hal Jordan has a group of unnamed saboteurs attempting to destroy an experimental plane, who get arrested at issue's end.
  • Green Arrow: Ezra Samson, a Serial Killer targeting members of a historical society, and who dies in a car crash by first issue's end.

    Fan Works 
  • Megami no Hanabira: Kaiwan is the first genuine threat the girls encounter, killing a Flock member right in front of Sara and one more offscreen earlier in the story. He even manages to take down one of their demons for the first time, and they ultimately defeat him through treachery rather than sheer force.
  • Luminosity: James and Victoria are the first intentional threat to Bella's life, and are killed fairly quickly via Summon Bigger Fish on the biggest vampires around.
  • White Devil of the Moon: Jadetite, whose attack on Kyouya's wedding is the first battle between the heroes and the villains.
  • Pony POV Series: In the side story "Gaiden: 7 Dreams/Nightmares", Film Critique (aka the Pegasus Despot) is this to Patch. He's the first antagonist in her quest for the Rainbow of Light shards, but while he manages to trick her into a defeat in their first fight, he goes down easily the second time, and compared to Basil and Grogar, isn't much of a threat. It's implied that the next villain she fought would have been more of a Big Bad, but sadly, the Doctor negated that adventure.
  • Azula Trilogy: Heart of Fire sets up General Azun as the Big Bad, but by the end of the story it's clear that his visions aren't hallucinations, and he really is being manipulated by a spirit (Zhan Zheng, the Spirit of War, actually), who abandons him at the end of the story, and moves on to use other pawns for the rest of the trilogy.
  • Friendship Is Aura has the dragon Razorfang, the self-proclaimed King of the Everfree, who challenges — and is defeated by — Lucario early on. He doesn't provide nearly as much of a threat as Chrysalis or Lord Tartarus.
  • The Prayer Warriors has a few.
    • Grover, Clarisse's rational study group and Annabeth in "The Evil Gods Part 1". They're killed off in fairly short order to prove the Prayer Warriors' power, until Percy Jackson is set up as the initial Arc Villain.
    • Wawa the Titan in "The Titans Strike Back". He's the first of the five Titans to be killed off.
    • Horus for the "Attack of the Sphinx" story, as the first of the Egyptian Gods William faces.
  • In Perfection is Overrated, Hitomi is the first SUE the Himes fight against, although Mariko had been inadvertently killed by Miyu defeating Akane, and their memories had been wiped of her. The Himes fight against Hitomi unaware of her true nature or that there are others like her, which only becomes apparent after her defeat.
  • In The Captain of the Virtual Console, offshoots of the Thoughtless are fought in Chapter 2, and a fully-grown one in chapter 4.
  • Shadowchasers: The first Shadowkind seen in the original story is the ophidian Hebi-Na, and while her role in that fic isn't all too big, she plays a much bigger role in Shadowchasers: Power Primordial, where Ember starts to regard her as an Arch-Enemy. (However, she makes a Heel–Face Turn in a later work.)
  • Enter Ken Finlayson: Moloch the Death Raptor. He shows up half-way and is killed off in the second to last chapter in the first story in a series of fan fictions.
  • Transcendence: Rah'zesh, the leader of the Hatecrest Naga. He's the first real threat that Ichigo is forced to tangle with on Azeroth, but he isn't particularly impressive. He has no magical abilities or special weapons. He's just a larger than average naga. Compared to later threats, he's little more than an Elite Mook.
  • Fractured Fates: Though not exactly a villain in the traditional sense, Azami Kurobe still acts as this, being the first blackened student.
  • The World is Filled with Monsters: Blightweaver the Giant Spider. It's a terrifying, seemingly unstoppable threat when it appears, but it's dealt with early into the story and it later becomes evident that it's only a part of much, much vaster stirrings, and far from the most dangerous thing out there in the wild.
  • Urabumi is this to Izuku in inFAMOUS Hero Academia, as she's the first super-villain he faces in his journey to become a hero, having been hired by All For One's hooded associate.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • Grand Moff Tarkin for A New Hope is an interesting example. While he's the Big Bad of the film, in terms of the franchise as a whole, he's the first villain that the heroes face and defeat. Prequel works like Star Wars: The Clone Wars , Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One and other expanded material later increased his appearances and prominence and have retroactively turned him into one of the top threats of the entire franchise.
    • Jabba the Hutt for Return of the Jedi
    • The Prequel Trilogy (and thus the entire saga) has Viceroy Nute Gunray, who, in contrast to the galaxy-spanning ambitions of the Sith, is simply a cowardly Corrupt Corporate Executive blockading a single planet over a trade dispute. We know he's basically a puppet for the aforementioned Sith from fairly early on, though, and unlike a lot of Starter Villains actually sticks around for a while and continues being a valuable pawn until he finally outlives his usefulness.
    • Zam Wesell for Attack of the Clones. She kickstarts the plot of the film by bombing Senator Amidala's starship, but is captured by the heroes and silenced by Jango Fett in the film's opening minutes.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom kicks off with Indy battling Lao Che.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade begins with Dr. Jones spending decades trying to recover a jeweled cross belonging to Coronado from a mysterious antique collector.
  • James Bond:
    • In Dr. No, the titular Dr. Julius No is the first main villain of the film series. His defeat kicks off Bond's long standing rivalry with SPECTRE. However, it is Dr. No's henchman, Jones, who is the first antagonist Bond faces in the film, and by extension, the entire series up to Die Another Day.
    • In Thunderball, Bond has to kill SPECTRE agent Jacques Bouvar before even the opening credits roll.
    • And in Goldeneye he battles Soviet Colonel Arkady Ourumov.
    • Bond fights the Cigar Girl during the first scenes in The World Is Not Enough.
    • An unnamed character (who bears a suspicious resemblance to former Big Bad Ernst Stavro Blofeld) in the prologue of For Your Eyes Only, who tries to kill Bond.
    • Dryden is the starter villain in Casino Royale (2006). Bond spends the rest of the film climbing the villain food chain, going from a hired gun, to Dimitrios, then Le Chiffre, and finally confronting Mr. White.
    • Spectre opens with Bond assassinating terrorist-for-hire Marco Sciarra following an eventful chase through Mexico City that climaxes in a fight aboard a moving helicopter. Sciarra has a good deal more plot influence than the average starter villain, however, as a signet ring taken from his body and testimony from his abused Trophy Wife lead Bond to the realization that all his previous enemies - Le Chiffre, Mr. White, Dominic Greene, Raoul Silva, and the Quantum organization as a whole - had served the same master: Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
    • In something of change for Bond films, the Soviet hit team at the beginning of The Spy Who Loved Me actually has an impact on the main plot. The team leader of the team was the lover of Major Amasova, the Russian agent Bond works with during the film. She's not happy to find out James killed him.
  • The Janitor in Unbreakable is the first real threat David faces, and proves almost too tough to defeat, exploiting David's Kryptonite Factor. Killing him and saving a family is the first time he is hailed as a hero, and his mentor Elijah later points out that defeating him is just the first step in David's burgeoning career as a real life hero.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: The series has a knack for these:
  • Pulgasari has the Governor, the one who is directly oppressing the inhabitants of the village who form the bulk of the good characters. In fact, the very moment after he is killed is when the film first introduces the true Big Bad, the King.
  • Spider-Man:
  • The leopard from 2001: A Space Odyssey is an odd example, as it never encounters the main hero of the story. It does, however, act as this to humanity; while not evil, it's the main threat to the tribe of apes destined to become humans at the start of the film. Then the Monolith teaches the apes how to make tools, and their next confrontation goes a lot differently.
  • The Godfather:
    • Sollozzo in Part I. Michael killing him marks the beginning of his Protagonist Journey to Villain.
    • Don Fanucci plays a similar role to Don Vito in Part II, though their confrontation happened prior to the events of the first film.
  • Taken has the stalker that Bryan saves singer Sheerah from. He has a minute of screentime, but it's enough to demonstrate Bryan's all-around badassery before the real plot kicks off.
  • The nameless flamethrower-toting man rocking out to Van Halen who Riggs and Murtaugh confront in the prologue to Lethal Weapon 4.
  • Matthew Patel from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the first of the evil exes that Scott has to fight, and the only one whom Scott requires no special tricks to defeat.
  • ‘’Excalibur’’ has Uryens, who challenges King Arthur’s claim because he is a bastard. After being defeated in battle, he knights Arthur and accepts him as King.

  • Lone Wolf: Vonotar the Traitor is the first named enemy that the fledgling Kai Lord Lone Wolf faces. It's Personal since Vonotar provided the information to the Darklords that made the massacre of the Kai possible. He is name-dropped in the first book, encountered in the second book where his only purpose is to fail against the Sommerswerd, and thrown into a prison dimension at the end of the third book after Lone Wolf hunts him down and captures him. Vonotar is never heard from again as Lone Wolf focuses on the Darklords until Book 11 when Lone Wolf is thrown into the same prison dimension. While Vonotar is more formidable than he was in the past, he still turns out to be little more than a speedbump to the mighty hero Lone Wolf has become.

  • David Copperfield: Mr. Murdstone is the antagonist for the first few chapters before yielding to more serious baddies like Uriah Heep.
  • Dragonlance:
    • The thuggish, cowardly hobgoblin Lord Toede, a mid-ranking minion of the Dragon Overlords. Though never a serious threat, he proved popular enough to get his own spin-off novel.
    • Also applies to his master, Lord Verminaard who served as the Big Bad for the first book.
  • Codex Alera: Atsurak the leader of a Marat barbarian horde. The novice spy races against time and an ex-mentor to Bring News Back to the local Legion's garrison before Atsurak can invade a valley in a rural part of Alera. The Farm Boy gets used as a pawn by another barbarian, an enemy of Atsurak (who himself is being used as a pawn by Lord Aquitaine). Five books later, Atsurak is an afterthought, all the Marat are allies to the Alerans and actually the least important faction in that alliance (well, apart from the fact that one of them is the First Lord's lover) and it's not just the valley that's at stake but all intelligent life in the world. If not for the fact that some Chessmasters from the first book are still around, the first book could be considered separate from the rest of the series.
  • Matilda: Mr Wormwood serves as the antagonist for the first few chapters before the Trunchbull is introduced.
  • New Jedi Order: Somewhat similar to the above, the first book introduces Prefect Da'Gara and his Praetorite Vong forces, terrifying aliens from beyond the Rim bent on galactic conquest and possessing powers and weapons far beyond anything the galaxy has ever seen. They live precisely one book- it turns out the Praetorite Vong are only one (largely unimportant) political faction among the Yuuzhan Vong Empire and Da'Gara was just kickstarting the invasion to grab some glory for himself. His troops weren't even particularly well-trained by Vong standards, and the nightmarish Eldritch Abomination he had on a leash as his secret weapon was defective compared to others of its kind. Da'Gara's main purpose was to give the Galaxy a taste of its new threat before being killed off to make way for the real bad guys.
    • However, the same book also introduces Da'Gara's political ally Nom Anor, who not only survived, but would go on to continue making trouble for the Jedi and the New Republic all the way until the final book in the series. He outlives both the Big Bad and The Man Behind the Man (though not by long).
  • Chamdar, alias Asharak, from The Belgariad is an Evil Sorcerer and high-ranked priest in a Religion of Evil who killed The Hero's parents and follows him around for a while in the early part of the series making a general nuisance of himself but is killed spectacularly midway through the second of five books after goading The Hero into unlocking his powers. It is, however, eventually revealed that he was at least partially possessed by the Big Bad.
  • The Dresden Files: Evil Sorcerer Victor Sells is the first bad guy encountered in the series, and gives Harry a major challenge. However, compared to later villains he's small potatoes; he lacks actual training in the use of his magic like later evil wizards had, he was a normal human with no supernatural toughness (unlike the Denarians and most monsters), he had no real connection to the greater magical world, unlike the vampires and fae, and his being entirely self-taught and kinda Drunk on the Dark Side meant he made some serious rookie mistakes. Most of his threat came from siphoning power out of storms, which hampered his ability to act since he had to wait for them. From Harry's perspective his first villain was Evil Mentor Justin DuMorne, but Justin's been dead for years and the actual confrontation is never shown to the audience, Victor takes the role.
    • Unlike most Starter Villains, it turns out that Victor Sells was connected with the series' Big Bad (or at least, one of the Big Bads) the Black Council, or at least with the Red Court. Someone had to teach him that heart-exploding spell, after all....
  • Principal Chapman from Animorphs is the first named Human-Controller the kids encounter and the first five books focus on him rather closely. After that, though, he fades into the background as real threats such as Visser One and Tom make themselves known.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Draco Malfoy is one of the first wizards Harry meets (and the first one his own age), and his general unpleasantness shows how wizards can be be as big of jerks as muggles. Dealing with him is a large part of the early books, but even though he repeatedly tries to take a level in badass, he never manages to be anywhere nearly as powerful or evil as the true villains of the piece.
    • In a way, Quirrell in the first book. Despite being possessed by Voldemort himself, he is fairly easy to defeat with The Power of Love, and it's even implied that Dumbledore set up their confrontation as a test for Harry and a warmup for what lay ahead of him.
  • Ishamael in The Wheel of Time is a subversion. He's the main villain of the first three books, calling himself "Ba'alzamon" and presenting himself as the Dark One, only to be killed off at the end of book three. Several books later, a guy called Moridin who has several of the same quirks shows up, and is gradually revealed to indeed be Ishamael reincarnated. Turns out he's the local version of The Antichrist and Rand's opposite number; it's implied that they're destined to eternally be reborn and fight each other across history. Moridin is actually one of the last villains to go down.
  • The Sword of Truth: Darken Rahl.
  • Inheritance Cycle: Eragon: Durza, the shade Eragon faces at the end of said first book. Its downplayed in that he was actually an incredible challenge, leaving Eragon with a crippling injury. But later foes are more challenging politcally or personal, forcing Eragon to learn new skills.
  • Brokenstar in Warrior Cats. Although some of his underlings do make it...
  • Ebenezer Rat in The Book of the Dun Cow is vicious and not afraid to kill, but the later Eldritch Abominations that Chauntecleer faces make him look positively tame. Ebenezer himself is killed by one of them.
  • A Mage's Power: The Cecri the main novices fight on their first mission is their first challenge as a team. On the monster ranking scale, these are C class monsters. The novices are clumsy, sloppy and come close to death. Basilard uses it as a learning experience to demonstrate what skills they need to develop to survive real battles. By the middle of the book, the novices are killing C+ class monsters by themselves.
  • Ms. Dodds and the Minotaur in Percy Jackson and the Olympians are the first monsters Percy fights as his introduction into the world of mythology, both coming in before the introduction of the series' main villains, Kronos and Luke Castellan.
  • In The Balanced Sword trilogy, Kyri Vantage sets out to get justice for the murder of her parents, and ends up thwarting a much larger scheme of which that was only a part. The ringleader of the group who murdered her parents, and also personally murders her older brother when his own investigation gets too close, is the main villain of the first book, and is defeated as its climax.
  • Badrang the Tyrant, Big Bad of Martin the Warrior, is this for Martin's story as a whole, with the revolt against him serving as a warm up for Martin's eventual war with Tsarmina in Mossflower.
  • In Imaro, the first enemy the protagonist faces is the sorcerer N'tu-mwaa, who is notably less powerful and established than the brutal warlords and Eldritch Abominations Imaro goes on to fight. He is also only villain in the first book who isn't looking to destroy Imaro in particular - he's just looking to perform a ritual that requires the Human Sacrifice of an Illyassai warrior, and Imaro was the Illyassai warrior his henchmen happened to kidnap.
  • In the first book in the Griezelklas series by Tais Teng, the two vampire girls in the class want to make Meral the witch girl into another vampire and stalk her throughout the book. After their defeat, they're nothing more than an occasional nuisance for Meral throughout the rest of the series (or allies when circumstances force them to), as she faces off against bigger threats such as soul merchants working for the devil or Jerkass Gods.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: Season 1 featured the Raiders and the Home Guard as the primary recurring villains. The Raiders got almost completely wiped out as part of The Reveal of The Shadows, the show's primary villains. The Home Guard dropped off the radar and became irrelevant after President Clark came into power (since they had essentially won), and never turned up again.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The show had one-shot villains for the first episode of each season; an enemy who was reasonably threatening, but who was ultimately defeated by Buffy before the credits roll: Luke in season 1, Absalom in season 2, Ken in season 3, Sunday in season 4, Dracula in season 5, and Razor in season 6. The Season 7 opener is a somewhat confusing beast, with Buffy fighting a group of malevolent spirits who are indeed defeated by the end but the true mastermind who summoned never actually identified (although the episode's tag scene does set up new Big Bad the First so possibly it can be deduced that way).
    • Lothos, the main villain from the movie and The Origin, although the Buffyverse backstory establishes that he is a menace on the same level as season one big bad The Master.
  • Angel has Russell Winters in its pilot, who in turn is a client of the overall main villains of the series.
  • Farscape had Bialar Crais, a Peacekeeper captain whose brother accidentally died in the pilot episode when his ship ricocheted off Crichton's, which had accidentally gone through a wormhole and emerged in the middle of a space battle. Crais went into Captain Ahab mode and spent the rest of the first season chasing Crichton and his new friends. At the end of the season, Crais is replaced as by Scorpius, a Peacekeeper scientist intent on getting information about wormhole technology that had been implanted in Crichton's brain. Scorpius went on to be the show's Big Bad, while Crais underwent a Heel–Face Turn.
    • And then Scorpius is also replaced by an even bigger baddie in the form of Grayza and the Scarrans (led by the Scarran Emperor).
  • Firefly had an undercover Alliance agent as the villain of the pilot episode. Although he seems to be built up as a potentially recurring villain, the ending of the episode subverts multiple tropes when, during a Put Down Your Gun and Step Away / We Will Meet Again moment, Mal simply walks up and shoots him in the head. Word of God is that had the show continued past the first season, he would have turned out to have survived the shooting and would have come back (with a cybernetic eye!) to seek revenge on the crew. In fact, this is exactly what happens in "Those Left Behind," a comic book set between the series and the movie.
  • Fringe: David Robert Jones from the first season.
  • Game of Thrones: Viserys Targaryen, the elder brother of Daenerys, serves as the main antagonist of the first act in her storyline to progress from a timid teenage girl into The High Queen, as well as one of the main antagonists in the first half of Season 1. He is then killed by Khal Drogo and replaced with villains that serve greater threats in the TV show, such as Joffrey Baratheon and Littlefinger.
  • Kamen Rider has a number of them, more commonly in shows made after 2010. Nazca, Scorpio, Phoenix, Kamen Rider Bravo, Javert, Graphite, and Night Rogue all qualify, with each being beaten either to showcase the power of the main Rider's first Mid-Season Upgrade or before they've acquired any at all.
  • Leverage: Victor Dubenich who assembles the team to do a job for him, before betraying them and becoming The Mark of the pilot. He later returns to be the Big Bad of Season 4.
  • Merlin: Nimueh, the titular character's main adversary in the first season, before she's Killed Off for Real in that same season's finale.
  • Revolution:
    • Captain, later Major, Tom Neville of the Monroe Republic is the first militia threat the protagonists go up against ("Pilot"). Neville turns out to be subordinate to Big Bad General Sebastian "Bass" Monroe. Neville ends up leaving Monroe in "The Song Remains the Same", joins up with the Georgia Federation to fight Monroe ("Home"), and then takes Bass's place as the Big Bad in the first season finale ("The Dark Tower").
    • The real Big Bad appears to be a rump U.S. government operating out of Cuba, for which Randall was working when he launched nukes on Philadelphia and Atlanta. It's hinted that the heroes may end up teaming with Neville in an Enemy Mine situation to prevent everyone from being conquered.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: The Suliban, genetically augmented Gecko-Men, initially filled this role. A lukewarm reception had them soon replaced with the much more credible Xindi as the series' main enemy race.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • The parasites in the episode "Conspiracy" were intended to return, but weren't for budget reasons. They were "replaced" by the Borg as the Big Bad. The Borg proved to be "too powerful" to write many episodes about... indeed, after the events of Best of Both Worlds, the only Borg encountered are small splinter groups and individuals separated from the Collective. The writers eventually settled on the Romulans and Cardassians as the preferred bad guys.
    • More to the point, the Ferengi were initially conceived as TNG's Big Bad, getting a Name Drop in the pilot as a race with a terrifying reputation (complete with the suggestion that they eat the people they conquer). Then they showed up and turned out to fall far short of the hype. So they were abandoned as the archnemesis of the series, eventually resurfacing as occasional comic antagonists, and getting a more sympathetic portrayal on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The rumors referenced in the pilot were later retconned as having been planted by the Ferengi leader, who having heard about the Federation and its economic policies concluded they must be utterly insane and hoped to intimidate them.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine itself opened up with the Cardassians, Klingons, Romulans, and even some Bajorans (especially Kai Winn) switching off as the "bad" of the week, in keeping with the series' Grey-and-Gray Morality. Then the Dominion comes knocking...
  • Star Trek: Voyager, in an inversion to The Next Generation, started with a new race called the Kazon, who were essentially slightly modified Klingon expies, but eventually replaced them with the Borg... although the Borg eventually suffered from the Villain Decay that the Next Generation writers hoped to avoid. Again, several episodes focused on individual Borg separated from the Collective, for the same reasons as above.
  • Supernatural has Constance Welch, AKA the Woman in White, a spirit Sam and Dean encounter before they even begin their hunt for the Yellow Eyed Demon.
  • Breaking Bad has Tuco, the first real threat after Krazy-8's Warm-Up Boss, but still not quite on the same threat level as Gustavo "Gus" Fring.
  • Al Capone serves as this in the early-'60s series The Untouchables, as the pilot movie was about his arrest. The face of his organization in the series proper was his enforcer, Frank Nitti, and the organization was involved in only about a quarter of the episodes.
  • MacGyver: Carl Steubens is responsible for the explosion that drives the pilot's plot.
  • The Flash (2014) The first metahuman is some guy who eludes the police by making fog. He seems imposing at the time, but isn't even cool enough to get a codename, and once Flash gets going he has no trouble taking him down, after which he's gunned down by the police and is only ever mentioned again in relation to his brother Weather Wizard, a more serious and recurring villain.
  • Slab is the main villain of the pilot of Mr. Young, whom Adam "tames" at the end. The series doesn't really have a Big Bad, though the closest thing is Principal Tater.
  • The Ultra Series has been doing this since the very beginning. Gomess, the first monster fought by humans in Ultra Q, and Bemular, the first monster ever fought by an Ultra on-screen in the original Ultraman are the most obvious examples, but plenty of other franchise favourites such as Verokron (Ultraman Ace), Alien Magma (Ultraman Leo), Golza (Ultraman Tiga) and Demaaga (Ultraman X) have been introduced to the Ultra Series as this sort of antagonist.
  • The Wire does it in season 2 with Frank Sobotka. Major Valchek, who has a feud with Sobotka over a stained glass window, designates Sobotka as the primary target and wants a police detail to dig up dirt on him specifically. But as the case progresses, real criminals who are guilty of much worse crimes are discovered and Frank's importance in the investigation is diminished. This is even shown graphically: his picture ends trimmed down and put in a corner of the corkboard. In the end his criminal acts are so mild that even the FBI (who were specifically brought into the case by Valchek to bust Sobotka and his union) thinks he's just a small fish and want to go after bigger targets.
  • Witchblade: Tommy Gallo, a legendary mafia hitman, was the first true villain that Sara Pezzini faced, being responsible for both the murder of her partner Danny and as he later reveals, the murder of her father many years ago. He's caught and locked up at the end of the two-episode pilot, with Pezzini facing a number of other threats from thereon out. Due to a Reset Button as a result of time travel at the end of the season, Sara doesn't face down Gallo and basically ignores him since she has bigger enemies to deal with.
  • The Unusuals: Leon Wu, a juvenile drug dealer-turned-Cop Killer out of a misplaced sense of revenge. He's killed by the end of the first episode.
  • Doctor Who generally begins each Doctor's era with a minor threat or C-list member of the Rogues Gallery. The exceptions are the Second, Fifth and Eighth Doctors, who need to deal with the Daleks and the Master (twice) respectively, justified as the Fourth and Seventh Doctors regenerated because of the Master's efforts and the producers wanted the Second (as the first regeneration) to face a familiar threat to assure fans that the show hadn't changed.
    • Torchwood: The first spin-off of Doctor Who had its starter villain be Suzie, a member of the team who had a Face–Heel Turn and shot Jack in the head, before committing suicide after having ran out of ways to escape. Suzie is later resurrected, as it turns out that she had a backup plan in case she died.
    • The Sarah Jane Adventures: The second spin-off had The Bane appear as the starter villain in the pilot story. There's also The Slitheen for the first real episode of series 1.
  • 21 Jump Street: Tyrell "Waxer" Thompson, a drug dealer harassing a client to pay overdue fees. He never returns after his arrest, but his Dragon Reggie does.
  • Criminal Minds: Timothy "Tim" Vogel AKA the Seattle Strangler. A prison guard turned serial killer and rapist, he's the first criminal the BAU team had to deal with and ends up shot to death by Elle after he tried and failed to kill Gideon at the end of the episode.
  • The Adventures of Sinbad: Eblus, a Djinn prince who manipulates kingdoms into outlawing magic and descending into decadence so he can rule. He also assisted Turok, who doesn't qualify due to returning in the season 1 finale, in his scheme to kidnap a princess and take over a kingdom. He's killed with a spear to the face soon after the reveal of his true nature.
  • Resurrection Ertugrul: Master Simon, the owner of the Hanli Bazaar plays this role in season 3, being set up as a worthy opponent of the Kayi clan up until he dies about a third of the way in, allowing Vasilius to replace him for the remainder of said season.
    • Trader Simko in season 4 also counts as this, albeit not portrayed as a Big Bad in any way. He merely captures Ertugrul and numerous other people to become his slaves, only to be slain by Tekfur Ares after Ertugrul and several of the other hirelings escape.
  • In Stargirl, the first villain Courtney has to deal with is Brainwave, who is an incredibly powerful telepath and telekinetic, who participated in the destruction of the original JSA, but who gets taken down at the end of the second episode.

  • The Adventure Zone: Balance has The Black Spider, aka Magic Brian, a low-level wizard who initially seems to be an overarching villain, but who turns out to be a really small fry in the grand scheme of things.
  • The Magnus Archives has Jane Prentiss for Season 1, Jurgen Leitner for Season 2. Both are played up as significant threats to the Archives, but neither is of any real consequence in the larger picture, and both are quickly dispatched..

    Professional Wrestling 
  • ARSION gave Ayako Hamada one hell of a starter villain in head booker Aja Kong. In fact, the only reason she was likely the "starter villain" was because of the conflict of interest that came with being the head booker. Kong really started as Hamada's partner though, and it took Hamada a good two years before she could finally beat Kong, so you could call The Apache Sisters Mary and Faby, Rei Tamada and Hiromi Yagi a series of starter villains until Hamada was ready while Mariko Yoshida was for Arsion as a whole, being billed as the greatest female wrestler in Japan only to suffer The Worf Effect and set up Kong as the undisputed queen.
  • After The Natural Born Sinners broke up due to an injury, Steve Corino became the first major opponent for Homicide during his Ring of Honor singles run. Corino later returned and became the first threat to Homicide following his acquisition of the World Title from American Dragon. (starter villain twice over? Ouch!)
  • ECW had a heel stable called Da Baldiesnote  that often played this role. Da Baldies main purpose was to provide New Jack with bodies to hit with weapons, but they also often jobbed to face teams in tag matches to set up the faces for a showdown with a more important heel stable.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Any single enemy with a challenge rating of two or three. Anything less would need a group to present a serious threat to even a level one party (assuming four players).
    • The introductory adventure in the D&D Basic set in the 1980's (which would likely be a Player's first experience with the game) featured a villain named Bargle the Infamous. While he was rather tame as far as villains go overall, and he did not appear in any other published work, his crime in the adventure - murdering the beautiful female cleric Aleena - left quite an impression and had the potential to make him the Player Characters' hated enemy. (Depending on just how far the DM was willing to expand the character.)
  • The award-winning Rise of the Rune Lords adventure path series published by Paizo (and later updated to their own Pathfinder system) starts the first-level players out defending a village against goblins. Goblins have a challenge rating of ⅓ and can be taken out by pets and zero-level commoners. The players will reach level 20 (17 in the updated version) by the time they finish the adventure path.
  • Baron Blade plays this role in Sentinels of the Multiverse, serving as the initial impetus for Legacy to unite Bunker, Absolute Zero, Tachyon and the Wraith to form the Freedom Five...while still being low-difficulty. In the digital version, he's the villain in the tutorial. Akash'bhuta plays a similar role for the Prime Wardens.

  • In The Mario Opera, the infamous first Goomba is the first challenge Mario faces, and jumping on it changes the power dynamics almost instantly.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Garland from the original Final Fantasy I, who kidnaps Princess Sara and is the first boss in the series. Subverted as he turns into the Big Bad, Chaos, at the end.
    • Kefka from Final Fantasy VI is a notable aversion, in that he's definitely Starter Villain material for most of the game, only to evolve into the game's true Big Bad.
    • President Shinra from Final Fantasy VII, the main villain for the first five hours or so of the game before he's killed off by the real Big Bad, Sephiroth.
    • Final Fantasy VIII begins properly with the newly-appointed SeeDs given orders to assassinate the fascist president of a powerful nation, and his top adviser. Things quickly go south when said adviser turns out to be one of the strongest beings on the planet and both executes the president herself and marks the SeeDs for death.
    • The Three Black Waltzes from Final Fantasy IX.
    • Judge Ghis from Final Fantasy XII, the first noteworthy villain the party confronts directly.
  • Chrono Trigger has Yakra, who kidnaps Queen Leene in 600 AD and stashes her in the back of a cathedral full of mooks, only to promptly get slain by the party as the first boss. In an amusing inverse But for Me, It Was Tuesday bit, his descendants plot against the party and the kingdom for 400 years and nearly the entire game, long after the player even remembers that Yakra was a thing, only for one of them to surface in one of the endgame subquests as basically the same boss fight, which usually ends in under a minute thanks to the now end-of-game party.
  • Mass Effect series:
    • Fist from the first game. A notorious crime lord who's been bribed by Saren to kill Tali and suppress all evidence of Saren's crimes, he acts as the main antagonist for the first mission chain following the prologue (which revolves around proving Saren's guilt), with three of the five most prominent series squadmates (Tali, Garrus, and Wrex) being recruited in the process of taking him down. Overall, he's the first real villain Shepard's team successfully takes down. Tali lampshades his starter villain nature (compared to the world-ending threats the team faces on a weekly basis from then on) in the second game.
    Tali: Fist and his men seemed so dangerous. We've come a long way. Don't know if that's a good thing, but... it's definitely more interesting.
    • Initially, it seems like Saren is the Big Bad of the first game since his assault on Eden Prime is what kickstarts the plot of the game. Later on, Sovereign is revealed to be The Man Behind the Man, and Saren turns out to be just an indoctrinated servant.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Clayton is the first Disney villain you fight, and the first enemy who isn't just Made of Evil or a vicious animal (Sabor). In a game where the villains include gods and evil sorcerers, he's just a stuck-up guy with a gun who needs a Heartless ally to put up a good fight.
    • Shan Yu in Kingdom Hearts II is very likely to be the first Disney villain you fight. Although being a skilled and powerful swordsman puts him slightly above Clayton's level, he still ranks the lowest in comparison to the more supernatural Disney/original villains you fight in the other worlds.
    • For the series as a whole, Ansem, the Seeker of Darkness, the final boss of the first game. Following games gave more focus on the villainous group Organization XIII, and through Arc Welding gave way to Master Xehanort, with Ansem merely serving as the Enemy Within for Riku. However, as of 3D Ansem is back as one of Xehanort's Co-Dragons and just as dangerous as ever.
    • Hades serves as this in Kingdom Hearts III. While you never fight him in this game, he is behind the main conflict of the tutorial chapter, releasing the Titans to attack Olympus and capture the gods.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: Two of the origins have the player character face off with a Starter Villain. In the Dwarf Commoner origin, the character will have to take down the crime boss Beraht. In the City Elf origin, the PC will come up against Bann Vaughan in a "right of the lord" scenario. In an aversion, the latter may survive the story if the hero takes his bribe.
  • Lord Crump in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door takes on Mario almost as soon as the game begins. He tries to defeat Mario a few times later on, but he becomes increasingly outmatched even as Lord Crump himself continues to improve.
    • Hooktail from the same game could also count, being the Arc Villain of the first Chapter and the first serious threat, who is actually quite a challenge unless you have a specific badge.
    • Speaking of Mario, Bowser has a tendency to be the starter villain in RPGs.
    • In Mario games in general, the first villains you encounter are usually Goombas or Koopa Troopas who go down in one hit.
    • Donkey Kong could be considered one for the Mario series as a whole, being the antagonist of the very first game.
  • Most Fire Emblem games tend to have one, usually of the General class and also tends to be a Disc-One Final Boss or a Climax Boss as well. They may or may not be affiliated with one of the main antagonists, but they will typically be the most visible threat during the early game chapters, up to the point where you fight them.
    • Lundgren from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, Lyn's great uncle, is probably one of the best examples. His plot to take over Caelin has nothing to do with the overarching Black Fang plotline, but he's the final boss of Lyn's Story, the first ten chapters of the game, and a dangerous villain and schemer in his own right.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening has Gangrel, king of Plegia, and the main antagonist for the first act of the game. Seeking revenge against Ylisse for the war the previous Exalt waged against him, he stirs up trouble, and eventually declares war.
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden has Desaix, the general who usurped the throne of Zofia. He's the final enemy faced in Alm's first chapter, and is faced again in Alm's part of Chapter 3.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses has Kostas, a bandit leader who attacks the three house leaders in the prologue, resulting in Byleth coming to teach at the monastery. He's also the boss of the second chapter, which is the first real battle.
  • The Beast in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, who is your main antagonist for eight of the first ten missions (that is, roughly a third of the game) before succumbing to The Virus secretly planted in him by Caulder, the game's actual Big Bad.
    • Olaf in the first game that was released outside of Japan also counts, being the main threat of the tutorial missions and the first few missions of the story.
    • Flak in Black Hole Rising counts as one too, being the primary enemy of the tutorial missions and a couple of later missions in the story.
  • This is actually pretty commonplace in a couple Tales Series games; but it's most prevalent with Barbos in Tales of Vesperia, and Cedric/Celdic in Tales of Graces.
    • Botta, The Dragon of the Renegades, is the first major villain of Tales of Symphonia, attacking Colette right before she begins the trial to become The Chosen One. He's fought in direct combat a while later, and continues on being a minor villain for most of the game.
  • The Al-Samaad group in Alpha Protocol. Almost exclusively found in the first area, they're mostly poorly-trained and equipped.
  • Spider-Man (PS4) has The Kingpin. By the time the game starts, Spidey and Wilson Fisk have been bitter enemies for years, and the game's opening sequence revolves around the final brawl between the two before Fisk is finally put in irons. The game also focuses upon the power vacuum for crime left by Fisk's arrest.
  • Zeke Sanders and his anti-augmentation terrorist group, Purity First, in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Being ordinary, untrained street thugs with crappy weapons in a game where you end up mostly fighting transhuman spec-ops PMCs does that to you.
  • The Kuraselache (Shark) Leader in E.V.O.: Search for Eden. One or two major plot points haven't been introduced yet and he's the only boss in Era 1. You can run into sharks that are exactly the same as he is in Era 5. As a Degraded Boss, he's pretty easy.
  • Vlad Glebov in Grand Theft Auto IV talks a big talk and Roman is scared of him and his Albanian thugs, making it look like Roman's debt to Vlad will play a major part in the game (or at least the Broker/Dukes chapter) but it takes very little time for him to push Niko's buttons too much and get his brains blown out. Killing him and getting made to work for Mikhail Faustin is what REALLY sets the plot in motion, as it lets Dimitri find Niko for Ray Bulgarin.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout: Garl, the leader of the Khans raider group. His band has kidnapped the daughter of the leader of Shady Sands, the first town the player character encounters after leaving the Vault, bringing him into conflict with a good character almost immediately.
    • Fallout 2 has Metzger, the leader of the slavers in the Den. The first named human antagonist you come across (assuming you're a good character), but clearly small time compared to the families of New Reno, much less the actual main villains of the game.
    • Two candidates in Fallout: New Vegas. The first is Joe Cobb, the leader of a small Powder Ganger raider gang that the Courier can help repel in the very first quest of the very first town. The second is Benny, the man who shot The Courier in the beginning of the game, and is much more prominent. The first act of the game is all about tracking him down, getting revenge, and retrieving your stolen package, a platinum chip, to finish your delivery job. As it quickly turns out, this is when the real game starts.
    • Fallout 4 has Gristle, the leader of the raider gang in Concord who are the object of the game's first quest. He and his gang are quickly killed in a Curb-Stomp Battle by the main character. On a greater scale, there's also Kellogg, the man who killed your spouse and took your son; he lasts the whole first act. Like Benny, tracking him down is the first act of the game. After you deal with him, the Brotherhood of Steel arrive and the game really begins to escalate.
  • Captain Blackstar in the Qwark vid comics in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. The only villain in the comics who has nothing to do with Dr. Nefarious. And he's still The Unfought !
  • Banthus is the first major antagonist in Elsword. He's not a one-level wonder boss and his theft of the El Shard actually kicks the whole plot into motion. The heroes encounter him three times before he's finally dispatched and other, more dangerous recurring villains take his place.
  • Breath of Fire:
    • Argus from Breath of Fire II is the first antagonist that attacks Ryu and co. directly in Colossea and his maniac ramblings about offering sacrifices to his God foreshadows the main plot of the game.
    • Balio and Sunder in Breath of Fire III are the first real threat for Ryu and the gang, and do so for a good third of the Childhood Chapter.
    • General Rasso in Breath of Fire IV, though never fought directly, just keeps attacking the party for most of the first half of the game, his actions eventually releasing Ryu's true powers and sending the plot into its main course. For Fou-Lu's side of the history, it'd be Yohm, the only enemy that poses any danger to the weakened dragon god.
  • In Tenchu 2, neighbouring warlord Toda Yoshisaga sets the story into motion with his attempted invasion of Lord Gohda's Realm, but only last 3 chapters before being replaced by his own subordinate.
  • Brady Culture in the first episode of Sam & Max: Freelance Police. He's the antagonist of the first episode, but is almost completely unconnected to the bigger threat of the season.
  • Borderlands has Nine-Toes as the first major bandit that you deal with before you move on to other areas.
    • The sequel has Captain Flynt, a bandit leader stranded in the middle of nowhere as your first obstacle before the plot actually gets started.
    • The Pre-Sequel has Deadlift, a bandit you deal with in order to get to the Hub City.
    • Tales from the Borderlands has Bossanova, a bandit king who serves as the main antagonist of the first episode, before the main plot gets rolling.
  • Mirmulnir, the very first dragon you kill in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, serves as this for the main storyline of the game.
  • The Sly Cooper series has one in each game. Sir Raleigh in the first game, Dimitri in the second, Don Octavio in the third, and El Jefe in the fourth.
  • In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the U.S. Marines are tasked with overthrowing revolutionary Qurac dictator Khaled Al-Assad. After the Marines get nuked, Al-Assad is found to be harbored by his Russian backers by the SAS, and dies rather anti-climatically at the hands of the Player Character's commanding officer. The Dragon's cell phone then rings - it's Russian ultranationalist leader Imran Zakhaev.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei I has Ambassador Thorman and Gotou, the two major figures in the invasion of Japan. Your choice of who to side with marks the first major alignment decision and boss fight(s), and when it's all over, Thorman (actually Thor) nukes Japan.
    • Shin Megami Tensei II has Haneda, the coach of Red Bear, as the initial "villain", for lack of a better word. After Red Bear is killed, actual villains such as Hanada, Basilisk, King Frost, and Betelgeuse come into play, though the first few are small fries. The most notable, however, is the last one, Daleth, who manages to win over most of Millenium and kill the love interest off. It's with his initial defeat that the plot gets serious and, suitably enough, Daleth becomes a joke soon after.
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has Forneus, who terrorizes the Shinjuku Medical Center after the Conception and refuses to let anyone leave. After his defeat, the Vortex World is explorable.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV comes close to it with Navarre, who, unlike fellow Luxurors Isabeau and Jonathan, is a bigot who believes Luxurors are superior to Casualries such as Flynn and Walter. He takes the position fully when he attempts to either humiliate or kill Flynn and Walter, only for the incident to break him completely.
    • Digital Devil Saga has Harley, the leader of the Vanguards. Despite being the rival of the protagonists, the Atma powers turn him into practically a scared child terrified of the Embryon, and he is killed in the first dungeon. After his defeat, the main plot is fully revealed.
    • Persona:
      • Persona 4 has Yosuke's Shadow, who serves as a starter boss that helps the player learn about exploiting enemy weaknesses for tactical advantages, as well as revealing that Shadows do not just represent the aspects of one's personality that are repressed, but can become Personas when one accepts them as a part of who they are. There is also Shadow Yukiko, the first kidnapping victim the protagonists can save and the first boss that has a whole themed dungeon to themselves.
      • Persona 5 has the gym teacher, Kamoshida, take on this role. He's the lowest of the low when it comes to someone considering themselves above the law and has a personal connection to the first two friends the protagonist makes, fueling the desire to knock him down a peg. It later turns out that he's the only Palace ruler(apart from Futaba, who becomes a party member) who isn't connected to the conspiracy in any way.
  • Metal Face/Mumkhar serves as this for roughly the first half of Xenoblade Chronicles 1. While he's the responsible for the inciting incident of the game's plot (invading Colony 9 and fatally wounding Fiora), and he works for a greater villain, he really couldn't care less about the ultimate plan. He just wants to kill as much as possible.
  • In From the Depths, the Deepwater Guard pirates serve as the first enemy faction as you seek vengeance for their betrayal. The DWG are the game's weakest faction, using ships made largely of wood with a designed weakness to missiles, and have few top-tier units. Taking on the other factions results in a Difficulty Spike, such as the Onyx Watch's all-metal hulls.
  • Each season of Batman: The Telltale Series has a villain who plays an important part in the first episode and, even though they are taken out of action afterwards, have an impact on the rest of the season. The first season has Carmine Falcone, a mob boss who has some connection to Bruce Wayne's late father; and the second season has the Riddler, a villain from Gotham's past whose reappearance attracts not only a new group of villains, but the government as well.
  • Fruegel from The Legend of Dragoon is the one responsible for destroying the main protagonist's hometown and capturing his childhood friend, but is largely inconsequential in the grand scheme of the game's plot.
  • Nearsighted Jeego the hitman from Ghost Trick is the primary threat in the first chapter, as it focuses on preventing him from murdering Lynne. He gets killed off near the end of the chapter, immediately after which a different hitman takes his place, once that one is taken care of neither one is mentioned again, Not even in the end credits sequence, which shows every other character!
  • The Turanic Raiders in Homeworld, the first enemies you encounter. They're fairly easy to beat, and Fleet Intelligence even says that their craft are inferior to your own... which is impressive, considering your race has been (re-)introduced to space travel only half a century ago, while the Turanic Raiders have been, presumably, at this for far longer. They're quickly shoved aside before the true threat of the game - the Taiidan Empire (canonically).
    • In Homeworld: Cataclysm, your first enemies are the Taiidan Imperialists, before they get pushed away by a new (or very old) threat - the Beast.
  • The Persian King in God of War: Chains of Olympus. Kratos is sent by the gods to stop the Persian invasion of Attica led by their king, and he is dealt with at the very start of the game. That should have been the end since Kratos' mission was successful, but then the sun goes missing and the god of dreams Morpheus begins dominating the land...
  • William Bishop in Vampyr. Jonathan is under the impression that he is the vampire that turned him and is responsible for all the murders in the Docks, serving as the first vampire boss in the game. Turns out he was neither responsible for transforming Jonathan nor the only vampire around.
  • Dong Zhuo from the Dynasty Warriors series is frequently one of, if not the first, enemy to be defeated in any game, and his defeat kicks off the conflict of the Three Kingdoms. As later games expand to cover more of the timeline of events, Yellow Turban leader Zhang Jiao becomes the earliest antagonist.
  • Brejik in Knights of the Old Republic. He is the Arc Villain of Taris in the early game, where he captures Bastila and tried to set her up a a prize for the swoop race, making him the main obstacle for the player trying to rescue her in the first part of the game. He is killed off before the player even reaches The Point Of No Return for Taris, and in the grand scheme of things, he was a small fry compared to Darth Malak or even Davik Kang.
  • HK-50 in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. He is responsible for killing all the miners on Peragus and reprogramming all of the mining droids on the asteroid to turn hostile, and when he is confronted near the end of the level, he reveals his goal to capture the Exile and turn them over to Goto, and is promptly killed by the party. In fact, other models of HK-50 appear later in the game in groups as a Degraded Boss, culminating in T3-M4 defeating three models of the droid by himself.
  • Laambo in The Wonderful 101. Compared to the other GEATHJERK officers, he's not as taken seriously and has more silly moments than them. On the other hand, a later flashback reveals that he was responsible for mortally wounding Will Wedgewood's father before being taken out by the previous Wonder-Red, leading the former to become the next Wonder-Red.
  • Freedom Force has the Soviet spy Sukhov as the first major villain, before he is transformed into the supervillain Nuclear Winter.
  • The main characters of Desperados III fight against the DeVitt Company, a powerful corrupt railroad Company. Except in the first real mission after the tutorial, during which Cooper has to neutralize a bandit called Big Ann and her gang, who are attacking the train that Cooper is using to go to Flagstone.
  • In Tyranny, the Vendrien Guard are the starter Hero Antagonists to the Villain Protagonist Fatebinder. The Fatebinder needs to clear them out of the Spire or earn their loyalty to prevent the Edict of Execution from killing them any everyone else in the valley they occupy. Once they're dealt with, however, they don't show up much as antagonists, with the armies of whichever Archons the Fatebinder didn't side with (or both armies on certain paths) mostly their place as The Usual Adversaries. For their part, the Vendrien Guard are well aware how screwed they are, and are fighting in the hopes of inspiring others in the Tiers to rise up.
  • Mad Rat Dead: The Mob Rats serve as the bosses for the first two chapters: First as a Wolfpack Boss fight, and the second as a ghostly Advancing Boss of Doom.

    Visual Novels 
  • Most of the time in Ace Attorney, the games will outright show the player who the first killer is as a way of easing into the mechanics of the game, while making their contradictions easy to spot.
    • The first game's first culprit, Frank Sahwit, is more than happy to talk about things he should not know if he wasn't the killer, as well as blatantly obvious contradictions. To hammer this home, pressing someone in court is not an option that is suggested until the second case. Even the other first case villains aren't as obvious as this guy is. In addition, he turns out to be a mere burglar who killed the victim to hide his tracks, as opposed to the more personal and/or grandiose motivations of the later culprits.
    • Richard Wellington from Justice for All is just as bad. Just to make sure you really want to take him down, he's also dismissively insulting and an Upper-Class Twit.
    • Both times in the main series that the first killer isn't shown - Dahlia Hawthorne in the third game, Kristoph Gavin in the fourth - they turn out to be the game's Big Bad.
    • The prosecutor Winston Payne, and later his brother Gaspen, also fulfill this role as Smug Snakes who serve as the prosecutor of each game’s first case.
    • The trope is played with and subverted with a few later games in the series; even though it's minor, a few of the starter villains have a hand in the game's central conflict. Jacques Portsman's true motives aren't revealed until the end of the first Investigations game, where it's revealed he's part of The Conspiracy. Horace Knightley/Mannosuke Naito in Investigations 2 is the first case's killer, one of the few who isn’t known immediately, and the second case's Asshole Victim. In Dual Destinies, Ted Tonate killed Candice Arme but was not the one who blew up the courtroom- the Big Bad did that. In Spirit of Justice, Pees'lubn Andistan'dhin is not only Pat Rohl's real murderer, as well as the one who serves to show just how messed up the Khura'inese legal system is, but also the one that actually got the Founder's Orb to the government, a plot point that becomes important in the final case.
  • Danganronpa tends to play with this.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, Roman Torchwick was originally designed to be this. He first appeared as a simple lowly crook who gives Ruby Rose a hard time after she wipes the floor with his minions. Glynda Goodwitch would come in, drive him off and end up setting Ruby on her way to Beacon Academy. Fans, however, loved Roman and his role got expanded greatly so much so that he became The Heavy to Cinder's Big Bad. However, the trope applies to him after all. When he's served his purpose - in-universe and out - he's killed off, making him the first villain of the series to be permanently defeated.
  • The first real villain in Red vs. Blue is O'Malley the Card-Carrying Villain AI. He's Laughably Evil to a greater extent than most other villains, and his lack of resources mean that the Blood Gulch Crew can defeat him even before their collective level-ups in badass. Later seasons paint him as capable of posing a far greater threat than he did in Blood Gulch (possessing Caboose and Doc must have done a number on his mental faculties), but he never gets to show it outside of flashbacks as he's quickly collected by the Meta and subsequently killed off.

  • Invoked in Super Stupor, when Lady Diamondback tells Snowy Owl that she's not ready to face off against her and should go after lower-level criminals like drug dealers and crooked cops.
  • In Weak Hero, Jimmy Bae is the first antagonist to pose a serious threat to the heroes after the schoolyard bullies they'd been dealing with up until that point. He's also the first to have a personal connection to them, having faced off against two of them in the past. Despite that, he's only the lowest-ranking head of the Yeongdeungpo Union.
  • Girl Genius: While Agatha doesn't even start to accept that Dr. Beetle was a villain until after his death and he is killed before he can enact his plan involving her his title as the Tyrant of Beetleburg gives some things away and his attempt to kill her and subsequent death sets the entire plot in motion.
  • The Lysinda Vampires of Sluggy Freelance are the first major threat the gang faces, and kickstart the comic's slow slide into Cerebus Syndrome. While vampires do pop up now and again to menace the heroes, they're generally considered second string villains compared to the likes of later threats like K'Z'K or Hereti Corp.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation  
  • Batman: The Animated Series: The main villain of the two-part premiere episode of was Canon Foreigner Red Claw, a terrorist leader. The villain of the pilot "On Leather Wings" was Man-Bat, a lesser member of the Rogues Gallery.
  • Ben 10: Doctor Animo was the first proper villain Ben took on. He doesn't die, but in subsequent appearances, it's pretty clear that he's nowhere near as dangerous as other threats Ben has faced.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): Baxter Stockman and his mouser robots. This has the effect of immediately setting the tone of the series, as in the original cartoon Baxter was a goofier mad scientist best known for being mutated into a fly, whereas now he's a legitimate threat even at the bottom of the villain hierarchy.
  • Exo Squad: The Pirate Clans in the Five-Episode Pilot, before the Neosapien wars break out. They eventually become the reluctant allies of the fleet.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Admiral Zhao. While Zuko showed up first, he is initially ineffective against the Gaang, while Zhao is a consistent threat to both the Gaang and Zuko for the entire first season. He's still too confident in his abilities, and is ultimately replaced by the far worse Princess Azula.
    • Prince Zuko is an example by himself. He was the first villain in the series and was often a threat in early book one episodes, however he only met the Gaang a few times by the end of the season and acted as more of a mini-boss during the finale. After that he has his own problems to worry about.
  • Mr. Wink and Mr. Fibb in Codename: Kids Next Door, the first villains Sector V ever faced. They later appear in the series as hired thugs, but they spend most of their time minding their own business otherwise and only attack if provoked.
  • G.I. Joe: Renegades starts with the Joes tangling against Dr. Mindbender, a COBRA mad scientist with crazed mutants at his beck and call, but little in the way of power in the actual organization.
  • In the first episode of The Spectacular Spider Man, Spidey takes on The Vulture and the Enforcers who, while upgraded from their original comic gimmick of lasso-wielding guy (Montana), short martial artist (Fancy Dan), and strong guy (Ox), weren't exactly going to make it into the Sinister Six as was.
    • Furthermore, the show was made up of a series of short (3-4 episode) arcs which each had their own plot and villain, while also advancing ongoing storylines. The Big Bad of the first mini-arc was the Lizard (who as noted under comics often gets this treatment).
  • Both X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men start with the team infiltrating a Mutant Response Division base, as a prelude to taking on The Sentinels. X-Men: Evolution starts with Toad infiltrating the Xavier Academy.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! depicts the team coming together to face the decidedly C-List Graviton, a departure from both the comics and movie version, where they start with a battle against Loki. Graviton is an Adaptational Badass who proves to be an immense threat in the first episode... but definitely never again, as the Avengers go on to face multiple bad Asgardians, cosmic level threats, and coalitions of A-list villains.
  • Nightmare Moon from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, although (supposedly) powerful, really only tries to mess with the ponies and slow them down rather than directly attack them. She basically exists as a training wheel villain for the Mane Six to forge a friendship over while fighting her. The episode ends with her cured and turned back into Princess Luna.
    • King Sombra is this in season nine, since he was the only villain Grogar (Discord) brought back who had all the power and ego from before (since the other villains suffered Villain Decay prior to that point). He is defeated without too much trouble and sets the stage for the Legion of Doom to attack later in the season. After some scheming and planning, the trio of Tirek, Chrysalis and Cozy Glow, after betraying Grogar/Discord, attack the ponies and lay waste over Equestria in the penultimate story and final two-parter of the show with a very cunning plan that almost works. The heroes needed the biggest ensemble of supporting, minor and background characters to assist them in winning what Twilight herself claimed was the last battle ever.
  • SheZow has the Pushy Pirate Posse, the first threat Guy Hamdon had to contend with as SheZow.
  • The Lunch Lady in Danny Phantom. She is Danny's first major opponent, forcing him to reach the limits of his powers (which he still had barely any control over), and is the first to be sucked into the Fenton Thermos.
  • Kremenski in Archer was a mole for the KGB who was lethally shot by Archer at the end of the first episode before Nikolai Jakov, the show's first true Big Bad, even appeared.
  • Steven Universe: The first half of season one is spent fighting standard Monster of the Week fare, with the premiere episode having the team face-off against a giant centipede-like creature. The episode is the first time Steven got involved with Gem activity, though it was be another few episodes before he was actually taken on missions alongside them. As the show goes on, these monsters take a backseat to character drama, intergalactic threats, and the overall Myth Arc to the point where over thirty episodes can go by without a plot involving them to any degree.
    • The first actual villainous Gem (the Gem Monsters are essentially animals and Lapis Lazuli is an Anti-Villain) is Peridot, built up as a nearly robotic cold-hearted scientist who heralds Homeworld's potential return to Earth. And then she appears in the same episode as Jasper, and suddenly she's an overworked minion whose biggest talent is getting out of dodge when things go pear-shaped. She notably avoids the normal fate of starter villains by having a Heel–Face Turn and gaining a Redemption Promotion.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: The Black Knight, seemingly a suit of Animated Armor who kidnapped a historian, but in actuality, museum curator Mr. Rickles seeking to cover up his forgery scheme.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: The first threat Superman takes on is a group of terrorists hired by Lex Luthor to stage the theft of his latest invention, a robotic battle suit. What's especially noteworthy is that one of the terrorists, James Corben, would go on to become the supervillain Metallo.
  • In DuckTales (2017), the first actual antagonist in the pilot episode is a Ghost Pirate named Captain Peghook that the triplets accidentally release, who seeks Scrooge McDuck's head. Scrooge defeats the ghost within minutes by giving him the head of a statue of him.
  • Gravity Falls: In the premiere episode "Tourist Trapped", the first creatures Dipper and Mabel face off against are a group of gnomes looking for a queen.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Mod Frog Jamack is the main antagonist for the first part of season 1.
  • The Owl House: The pilot episode introduces Warden Wrath, the fearsome keeper of the Conformatorium who tries to go out with Eda.


Video Example(s):


Echidna Tribe

They're the reason Sonic has to abandon his home world and flee to Earth.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

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