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Starter Villain Stays

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D: Sorry pals, 'fraid I can't let you do that.
Noah: You?!
D: 'Sup? Been a while, eh?

The Starter Villain fills an important narrative role in being the first opponent The Hero faces, giving him a foe to be heroic for the first time. However, afterwards they're unlikely to be relevant beyond inspiring the hero. By the time The Dragon or Big Bad shows up, they're lucky to be a foot note. But not all starter villains are doomed to be left in the dust, and some are determined to avoid that fate.

This is a Starter Villain who continues to be an important member of the Rogues Gallery long after their initial role as the first villain The Hero faces is done. Usually this is because It's Personal between the two, and if not they consider their defeat to be personal. Rarely the Arc Villain or other major baddie is revealed to have been the Starter Villain, suddenly making them significantly more important. Or maybe they weren't meant to be all that important in the first place, but their popularity leads them to becoming a significant character. In many cases, they essentially become a Goldfish Poop Gang.

Sub-Trope of Starter Villain. If a Starter Villain doesn't become significant, but they have a clear impact on the story, they fall under Small Role, Big Impact. The Token Motivational Nemesis may end up becoming this if they try hard enough.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Go! Princess Pretty Cure: Initially starting out as a starter villain, Close is later revealed to have actually survived the Pretty Cures' Finishing Move, and later becomes the final opponent after Dyspear falls.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood: Being adopted into the Joestar family, Dio Brando is the first character to be antagonistic to Jonathan Joestar, initially wanting to take the Joestar inheritance and fortune for himself. Come the Stone Mask and he evolves into the vampiric Big Bad of the series, and later returns as a straight-forward Big Bad in Stardust Crusaders. Though the first villain to appear, Dio's influence as a villain spans most of the entire franchise in the original continuity.
    • While most of the first villains of the series usually don't return after their first encounter, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: JoJolion averts this with Ojiro & Fun Fun Fun, returning a whopping 70+ chapters after his introduction.
  • Evangeline A. K. McDowell is the first villain of Negima! Magister Negi Magi, yet even after her defeat she still remains a relatively important character in the series. Justified as she is still a member of Negi's class, and with Negi defeating her and making her promise to not skip class anymore, she has little say in the matter. It also becomes clear as the series goes on that Evangeline isn't quite as villainous as she'd have you believe.
  • In One Piece, Buggy the Clown was the first Devil Fruit using enemy that Luffy faced off against, and the first real challenge that he and Zoro faced. While Luffy is able to beat him, Buggy would swear vengeance and he and his crew would chase the Straw Hat Pirates into the Grand Line. Buggy would return in the Impel Down arc and allies with Luffy in exchange for a map leading to Captain John's treasure, and after the timeskip he would be named a Warlord of the Sea and one of the Four Emperors of the Sea thanks to being Mistaken for Badass.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Not counting the flock of angry Spearow who were more dangerous wild animals than villains, the first antagonists Ash Ketchum faces are Team Rocket members Jessie, James and Meowth. Initially only seeing him as an obstacle to their criminal caper, after being defeated for what's implied to be the first time in a while they become very invested in Ash because of the power that his Pikachu showcased against them as they believe stealing it would be good for the organization's cause. This leads them to become regular foes for Ash and his friends and by far the villains he encounters the most often, sometimes even having Friendly Enemy and Enemy Mine situations.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Absurdly Powerful Student Council of Ohtori Academy begin as Utnea's first antagonists and stay major characters up to the finale. Their character arcs continue through the remaining two seasons, becoming opponents indirectly through the Black Rose Duelists before returning for a final round. While additional antagonists enter the picture, the Student Council never leaves the picture. There's a good reason for this - End of the World was using them to "feed" Utena on opponents until her own Soul Sword was ready to harvest; either she won until she became a "Prince", or she lost and that Council Member would pick up where she'd left off. Even if they weren't viable Prince candidates, they still made decent fodder.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Played with in the original anime: Seto Kaiba is the first villain that Yugi faces in the anime, though not in the original manga. Having been the world's greatest duelist before being defeated by Yugi, Kaiba becomes obsessed with beating Yugi in a duel from that point on. However, he later stops being a villain and becomes an Anti-Hero rival, albeit one still significant all the way to the end of the original series.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Darkness is the first Seven Stars Assassin to challenge Judai and, unlike the previous rivals of the week who can't be considered villains, he is played completely straight as a threat, since those whom he defeats lose their souls. Darkness returns three seasons later as the Big Bad of Season 4, where he is revealed to be the mastermind behind the disappearance of the supporting cast. Due to Season 4 being the final season of GX, this also makes him the Final Boss of the series.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel 2099:
    • The first villain in The Punisher 2099 is Kron Stone, who leads a small group of serial killers targeting families. After killing the new Punisher's family, and prompting him to take up the title in the first place, the Punisher quickly hunts him down and leaves him for dead in the sewer. Problem is, for Kron that proved to be a stroke of luck, as there he discovered and bonded with the Venom Symbiote. He came back stronger that ever, now with superpowers and becoming a massive problem not only for Spider-Man 2099, but the entire 2099 universe.
    • In fact, Kron is this trope for Spider-Man as well, albeit retroactively. The two went to the same school together, and Kron attempted to murder him even back then. The following events shaped both their lives, and his return so many years later was a big shock to Spider-Man.
  • Spider-Man: The Chameleon was the first supervillain to fight Spidey and he went to become a regular member of his rouge gallery.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Cassandra Palmer: Jonathan is an Evil Sorcerer who is introduced in the first novel as wanting to kidnap the title character for the evil Black Circle. Despite at first seemingly being low on the totem pole of the Black Circle, Jonathan went on to be the Arch-Enemy of Dhampyr Dorina Basabara and has returned from the dead multiple times over the series. Its eventually reveled that Jonathan is not in fact a lackey of the Black Circle but is instead one of their leaders and is one of the oldest and most powerful magic users in the world.
  • A hobgoblin named Toede is the first named villain encountered in the Dragonlance game modules. Originally just a minor Fewmaster, he becomes a recurring antagonist and eventually rises to the rank of Highlord commanding an entire Dragonarmy.
  • Guild Hunter: Uram is a psychotic archangel and the Evil Former Friend of Archangel Raphael. Uram as a savage Serial Killer serves as the first foe of the series and the fight with him leads to Raphael uniting with his mate Elena. Despite his death at the end of the first book, Uram is able to return several books later in Archangel's Viper where he inserts a piece of himself in one of his victims to torment her and others.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Percy's first major fight at the start of book one, the minotaur, returns in a later book - unfortunately for the monster, Villain Forgot to Level Grind and Percy dispatches it with much more ease the second time around.
  • Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner: Harley Q is the very first person the Embryon has to fight after awakening their Atma, and nobody really pays him any mind afterwards because they made more than sure that he's dead. Unfortunately, that didn't cut it because he comes back as an Eldritch Abomination and devours the entire Junkyard.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charmed (1998): Jeremy Burns was a warlock who seduced and killed witches to take their powers and was the first foe that the Charmed Ones vanquish. Jeremy returned briefly in the season two premiere being summoned by Abraxas for another fight and also came back in the comic book continuation as one of the souls of several defeated Charmed One's foes that was possessing one of their friends.
  • Cobra Kai: Kyler's main purpose in the first season is to bully Miguel and inspire him to learn karate from Johnny to defend himself, leading to Johnny reopening the Cobra Kai dojo. After Miguel beats him and his gang in a fight at school halfway through the season, he more or less disappears from the narrative, save for a few cameos where he sees Miguel and decides to avoid him so he doesn't get his ass kicked again. Meanwhile, the series shifts to a Good vs. Good conflict between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do, with Kreese as the Big Bad manipulating both sides. Kyler returns in Season 3 and is Demoted to Dragon, joining Cobra Kai after Kreese steals the dojo from Johnny and using his new karate training to seek revenge on Miguel for his earlier beating.
  • From the Ultra Series:
    • Verokron from Ultraman Ace is the first of many chojus (super-kaiju) to debut in the show, appearing right in the first episode and whose rampage in Fukuoka city necessitates Ultraman Ace to merge himself with his hosts, Seiji Hokuto and Yuhko Minami, for the first time and going into battle. After being destroyed, Verokron would re-appear in episode 48 as Reconstructed Verokron to continue haunting Ultraman Ace's host Seiji, before launching another attack, this time in Tokyo.
    • Alien Magma from Ultraman Leo is the first of many alien invaders to attack in the series, bringing with him his two pet monsters, Red and Black Gillas, and is the villain responsible for destroying Leo's home planet resulting in Leo fleeing to Earth. Magma ends up fleeing after his monster servants, Red and Black Gillas, are defeated by Leo, but returns halfway through the series... apparently suffering some severe Villain Decay in-between. His re-appearance have him harassing children while trying (unsuccessfully) to woo a female alien named Rolan, before getting killed unceremoniously by Ultraman Leo.
    • The Big Bad of Ultraman: Towards the Future, Gudis the alien-virus cell monster, is introduced battling Ultraman Great and upon being defeated, disperses itself into outer space and heading to Earth. Ultraman Great, after merging with astronaut Jack Shindo, made their way back to Earth to defeat numerous monsters summoned by Gudis until halfway through the series, where the original Gudis returns in a much more powerful form to battle Ultraman Great.
    • Golza who debuts in the pilot episode Ultraman Tiga, being one of two monsters alongside Melba prophesized to prevent Tiga's awakening. At the end of the episode, Golza escapes as Tiga destroys Melba, and went into hiding underground until 17 episodes later, having hibernated in the core of an active volcano for months, turning it into the nearly-unstoppable juggernaut of a monster called Fire Golza.
    • Darambia from Ultraman Dyna is the first monster summoned by the Grandsphire on Mars to combat the awakened Ultraman Dyna on the Mars base, and puts up a tough fight before it's destroyed. In the second-to-last episode, Darambia is resurrected by the Grandsphire into a more powerful form called Neo Darambia, and puts up a considerably harder fight when Dyna arrives to battle.
    • Ultraman Max, much like Tiga before it, starts off with the attack from two kaijus, Grangon and Lagoras, both which Max managed to destroy after showing up in front of humans for the first time. However, both kaijus return halfway in the series with Grangon being killed offscreen by Lagoras so that it can absorb the Lava Monster's fire powers and return as the more powerful Lagoras Evo to challenge Max.
    • Ultraman Mebius starts it's pilot with Dinozaur, the first kaiju to show up on Earth for the first time in 40 years In-Universe, where it single-handedly kills most of the first GUYS defense team and destroys most of the city until Mebius, a rookie of a warrior, destroys it. In a much later episode, an entire herd of Dinozaur attempts to descend on Earth, but this time GUYS is well-equipped with laser turrets and anti-meteorite technology to destroy most of the incoming Dinozaurs save for one, which further mutates into the two-headed Dinozaur Reverse to battle Ultraman Mebius.
    • Grigio Bone from Ultraman R/B appears in the first episode, and is responsible for the Ultramen siblings, Rosso and Blu, being cast upon Earth in the first place. After it's defeat, Grigrio Bone returns numerous episodes later as Grigrio King, having been through a massive Art Evolution including a massive cannon in it's back. Even after Grigrio King's defeat, it comes back again as Grigrio Regina, even stronger than the previous two incarnations.
    • The kaiju Demaarga, who serves as the Starter Villain in the pilot of Ultraman X, where it gets defeated by the episode's conclusion... only to return halfway through the show, having been resurrected by the Guar siblings, a family of alien invaders, who upgraded Demaarga into Tsurugi Demaarga, a creature powerful enough to defeat X on their first rematch, necessiting X to obtain a new weapon called the "X-lugger" to eventually destroy Tsurugi Demaarga. Even after the show have ended, Demaarga continues returning to the franchise, including in X"s Big Damn Movie: Ultraman X The Movie: Here Comes! Our Ultraman!.
    • The Fusion monster Golba debuts in the pilot episode of Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga, where it gets blown to pieces on Mars by the episode's conclusion. Around twenty episodes later, it comes back as Golba II, and Took a Level in Badass (much like Golza above) in its inevitable rematch.

    Mythology and Religion 

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney: Usually, the first-case villain never appears after their case is over, which is generally a given since they're sent to prison afterwards, but there are two exceptions.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations: Dahlia Hawthorne does this in Mia's cases, since they're played out of chronological order. The first case, the one where she gets caught, is actually the second time she met Mia in court. The first time was Mia's first case (played as case 4), which ended in a mistrial and Dahlia walking free. She also returns in case 5 as part of Morgan's plan to have her kill Maya as a channeled spirit, but she isn't the killer, as Godot got to her first.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: Kristoph Gavin manages to become the culprit of case 4 despite already being imprisoned for the events of case 1 because he actually set up the murder (by giving the victim a poisoned postage stamp and instructing him to use it to send Kristoph a letter) 7 years earlier, as part of covering up his involvement in Phoenix getting disbarred. However, the victim happened to delay using the stamp until after Kristoph had already been convicted of a separate murder.
  • Advance Wars: Unlike Olaf and Flak from the first two games, whose presence gets greatly diminished after the first chunk of their campaigns, Jugger is fought more consistently throughout the entire campaign of Dual Strike alongside his Bolt Guard peers, all the way up until the allied nations face off against Von Bolt himself.
  • Cosmic Star Heroine: Groff Brokston, leader of the terrorist group who appears as the Starter Villain in the game's Batman Cold Open, returns later in the game as a powerful adversary, piloting a Humongous Mecha to destroy the city. After his mech is defeated in the Sequential Boss battle, he reveals himself and, right before Alyssa L'Salle kills him, he ends up summoning his pet and turning it into a Kaiju to posthumously finish what he started.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Cosmos in the Lostbelt: Kadoc Zemlupus is the very first member of what was formerly Chaldea's Team A, now dubbed Crypters, that the protagonist must defeat in Part 2. He even lampshades it, noting that it only makes sense for them to go after him first, as it was his Servant Anastasia that destroyed Chaldea and served as the only hook their remnants had to figure out what was going on. However, even after the player defeated him in the first chapter, and took down his Lostbelt, he still plays a role in the story. He's rescued by one of the Big Bad's Apostles and starts to go through his own arc, culminating in him pulling a Heel–Face Turn and then joining as an ally of Novum Chaldea in Lostbelt Chapter 6.5. and beyond.
  • Final Fantasy
  • Friday Night Funkin': The Girlfriend's father is the first opponent the Boyfriend faces, meant to give a general introduction to the setup of the game after the tutorial. However, because he is Girlfriend's evil Overprotective Dad and a Sore Loser, he frequently attempts to interfere with their relationship and/or straight-up kill Boyfriend; the events of Weeks 3 and 6 are directly caused by him, and he fights Boyfriend again in Week 5 alongside Girlfriend's mother.
  • Kirby: King Dedede was the first major antagonist that Kirby faced. Despite this, Dedede has frequently returned to do battle with Kirby in one form or another, even as the penguin king has slowly evolved towards heroic behavior or even an ally throughout each game.
  • NeoQuest: The very first boss of the game is a sludge monster known as Xantan the Foul. If playing on Insane difficulty, he is revealed to be the True Final Boss having returned as Xantan Reborn.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Pokémon Black and White: The first antagonistic character you fight against is N, very early in the game. It's later revealed at the Nimbasa Ferris Wheel that he's the king of Team Plasma, the villainous team of the game. As such he serves a dual role as one of your rivals and the main villain, though he isn't all that evil and it turns out that Ghetsis is the true evil behind N's actions.
  • Sly 2: Band Of Thieves: The first member of the Klaww Gang the Cooper Gang fight is Dimitri, a jive-talking lizard who runs a nightclub which serves as a front for a counterfeit money operation. Dimitri proved so popular with fans that he reappeared and had a greater role in the next two Sly Cooper games in the series, even undergoing a Heel–Face Turn.
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth: At the start of the game, Clyde is a low level warrior in the forces of the Kingdom Of Kupa Keep, who serves as the first enemy the new kid defeats in the tutorial fight, and is banished from the kingdom when he fails to protect the Stick of Truth during an attack by the elves. At the end of the second act, he acquires the Stick along with a drum of green goop that he uses to raise an army of Nazi zombies, becoming a major antagonist who forces the elves and humans into an Enemy Mine alliance to bring him down.
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Tales of Vesperia: Zagi is an assassin of the Leviathan's Claw guild who is Yuri's first and recurring antagonist. For the first two encounters, he's just a Psycho for Hire, initially sent to kill Flynn for unknown reasons and to help Ragou and Barbos smuggle Blastia cores, but by the third encounter, his obsession with Yuri becomes more personal, interrupting him during inopportune times and vowing to kill him no matter what. It isn't until the fourth encounter when Zagi caused the Heracles to nearly blow up Zaphias that Yuri begins to take Zagi more seriously as a threat, and by the fifth and final encounter, Zagi intercepts Yuri in Tarqaron just for one last bout, being completely deranged by that point and serving as the last major obstacle before the Final Boss: Duke.
  • In Triangle Strategy, Travis and Trish, a father and daughter bandit team, are the bosses of the game's first battle, who flee after realizing they're up against one of Glenbrook's high houses. After dropping out of the plot for a while, they return as the ones to find the body Benedict passes off as Roland and deliver it to Gustadolph, and one of the two later serves as the boss of Chapter XV's Liberty route.
  • Undertale: Flowey is the very first person you encounter in the Underground, and while he establishes himself as a murderous asshole, he basically vanishes after the first area (he is stalking you though). Which makes The Reveal that he's the real Big Bad all the more shocking, as the game had been building up Asgore as the final obstacle.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • In the first game there's Metal Face, the first Faced Mechon Shulk faces off in his adventure, and the one with the most impact due to being responsible for Fiora's death and the destruction of Colony 9, making Shulk go out on his adventure. He later reappears after Shulk takes down Xord, as well as at Prison Island. At Valak Mountain, it's revealed that he's actually Mumkhar, Dunban's war friend from 1 year before the game started, who just wanted the power of the Monado for himself.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Moebius D appears in the first chapter of the game, and is the first of the Consuls Noah has to fight, as well as what causes the Keves and Agnus groups to stop fighting each other. His appearance is also what sends all the Consuls out against Noah and the group due to his Bat Signal, and he manages to kill Mwamba, Hackt, Vandham and one of Eunie's past lives. He later reappears as a boss in Chapter 4 and Chapter 6 (the second to last chapter of the game).

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Played with the Ice King in that he's the first villain of the initial pilot, and while the first official episode has a threat, it's zombies, while Ice King serves as the first actual villain in the series proper still in "Prisoners Of Love". While not much of a villain and ending up semi-reformed, the Ice King remains a key player due to his frenemy dynamic with protagonists Finn and Jake, tragic background and important role in the lore of the series.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The first villain that Aang faced in the series is Zuko, the banished Prince of the Fire Nation. Zuko is not much physically older than Aang and he comes across as a hot-headed Big Bad Wannabe who is outclassed by every other Fire Nation villain like Zhao and Azula. However, his legendary determination to capture the Avatar allows him to stay in the game for nearly the entire series, which ended with Zuko defecting to Aang's team upon realizing how cruel and corrupt the Fire Nation really was.
  • Gideon Gleeful, the starter villain of Gravity Falls, serves as an important obstacle in the first installment of the 3-part Grand Finale, since he holds the key to the prison where Big Bad Bill Cipher has placed Mabel, and Dipper and Wendy have to face him and a Mad Max-style gang of escaped criminals to gain access.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Catra starts out as a typical starter villain, being little more than an Elite Mook with some baggage regarding Adora. However, instead of disappearing as soon as Hordak shows up, she quickly rises through the ranks to become The Dragon and eventually a co-leader. The protagonists also treat Catra as the main threat they have to defeat. However, Horde Prime turns out to be the real Big Bad and Catra pulls a Heel–Face Turn, ironically shortly after Hordak does.
  • Static Shock: Hotstreak is the first "Bang Baby" villain whom Static faces and continues to serve as a major villain for the rest of the series. He ends up fusing with Ebon, another major villain, in the series finale, requiring Static and Gear to take both of them down.
  • Teen Titans (2003) introduces Cinderblock and Plasmus, two monsters working for Slade, both of them becoming recurring foes of the Titans and appearing several times across the series. Slade himself would repeatedly menace the Titans as the main antagonist of the first two seasons before his death in the second season's finale (and then coming Back from the Dead in the fourth). In-Universe however, this is averted for the actual Starter Villain, Trogar from the Origins Episode in the fifth season (chronologically set before the pilot), who doesn't make anymore appearances outside his debut.