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Systematic Villain Takedown

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The stakes have been raised — to drive one through each of their hearts.

This is when instead of heroes being taken down one by one, it's an established group of central or secondary villains.

For this trope to be in play, the party of villains must be previously established at the start of an arc or the story, and the plot must follow the heroes taking them down one by one (or in subgroups), either by hunting them down, finding them while looking for something else, finding them at random or being hunted down by them. Often, the existence of a party and their number is made clear, but each specific antagonist is introduced separately, though in rare occasions, all villains will be introduced simultaneously and afterwards fought one at time. There are also times where the existence of a group is mentioned, but neither is their number or the characters belonging to it.

This trope can be used in order to set the pace and goal for a Story Arc or Myth Arc. If the heroes have a group of six villains to defeat, the writer can set each villain fight separately, letting multiple character get focus, and also letting the reader have a ballpark of how far along in the arc the heroes are. Though there turning out to be a secret extra villain to be defeated or more villains being added on the fly is not an uncommon occurrence, especially if the Big Bad is not a part of the group, but rather their boss.

The villains don't necessarily have to be killed, just neutralized as a threat, be it by killing them, sealing them away, arresting them or simply putting them out of commission for the duration of the story.

Sub-Trope of Dwindling Party. Often overlaps with Quirky Mini Boss Squad. Can also relate to The Rest Shall Pass, if that trope is used multiple times in a single story arc. This could lead to an instance of a Villain No Longer Idle as the Big Bad is forced to take action due to his minions being dealt with. Compare Gotta Kill Them All. Contrast Mooks, who are typically given no characterization and fought en masse, as well as Straight for the Commander, where you only bother with fighting the biggest bad guy.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Akame ga Kill!: The antagonists throughout the manga are introduced and taken down this way. The Three Beasts are introduced and killed separately within their debut arc, while the Jaegers last longer, they're still taken out over the course of multiple arcs, though some survive the series and simply run away or give up on fighting the heroes. Only the Wild Hunt are killed off entirely, not that anyone will miss them.
  • Ayashimon: The manga early on defines that there are 4 groups at the helm of the setting, which Urara's newly founded group needs to take down or absorb into itself to become the head of Kabukichou again. Over the course of the manga's run, Urara and Maruo go after and challenge these. The Todoroki Alliance is absorbed into their group, The Kori Hotels are defeated and turned into allies, the B-Stars club is destroyed by conflict with the new Enma Syndicate, and the manga ends as the final fight between Maruo and Doppi of the final faction is about to start.
  • In Black Clover, the Third Eye are the strongest members of the Eye of the Midnight Sun who serve under Licht, and are sent against the Magic Knights. The Black Bulls defeat Vetto when he fights them in the Underwater Temple in an attempt to steal a magic stone. They defeat Fana when she invades the Forest of Witches. Mereoleona, leading the Royal Knights when they attack the Eye of the Midnight Sun's hideout, wipes the floor with Rhya. However, Licht uses the magic stones to resurrect them along with the rest of the elves, with the Magic Knights now having to defeat many newly reincarnated elves.
  • Bleach: The Espadas, a group of the 10 most powerful Arrancar in Aizen's army, are introduced in the Arrancar Arc, and would be the major threat of the manga aside from Aizen and his most direct underlings for said arc up to the Series Fauxnale. They're separately taken down over the course of these arcs, by multiple different major characters in the story, though some are also taken out by in-fighting, especially where Grimmjow and Nnoitra are involved, and occasionally, there's a fight between a character and a minor Arrancar that isn't an Espada.
  • Bo Bo Bo Bo Bo Bo Bo features this as the main structure. Bobobo and his companions travel around and take out the top generals of the Chrome Dome Empire before moving on to the Big Four and later Giga. Even when the plot shifts over to the Former Hair-Hunt Generals, Reverse Chrome Dome Empire and beyond, the story follows this structure.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba:
    • The Twelve Kizuki are the twelve most powerful members of the demon race and direct underlings of the demon progenitor Muzan. They are taken down over the course of entire Myth Arc, with Tanjiro needing to collect their blood in order to search for a cure for his sister's demon transformation, though a few of them are killed by Muzan himself deciding to dissolve the Lower Ranks. In the final arc, only three of the Upper Ranks remain, and Muzan brings two more to make up for him losing members. They're separately taken down for the arc.
    • The Spider Family in the Mount Natagumo Arc. The members are introduced early, with the revelation that among them, one is a Lower Rank. The members of the family get separately taken down by different characters over the course of the arc.
  • Digimon Adventure: The final arc of the story introduces the Dark Masters, a group of 4 extremely powerful Digimons that took over the Digiworld while the kids were away. They attack as a group and are able to wipe the floor with the Digi-Destined, so their plans shift to take them down one by one.
  • Digimon Tamers: The story this time introduces the 12 Devas, 12 Perfect Level Digimon motiffed after the Chinese Zodiac. During an arc on the middle of the series, 8 of them appear over the course of various episodes, being defeated one at a time. The final 4 however, slip away from this formula as the setting and their priorities change, with the Tamers and the Devas now on the Digiworld, separately hunting down for a lost Culumon.
  • Dragon Ball Z: The Frieza force greatly outnumbered the heroes at first, but over the course of the Namek Saga, their numbers keep dropping as they get taken out by either the Z-Fighters or Vegeta, first with many minions, followed by lieutenants Dodoria and Zarbon, and finally the Ginyu Force. Eventually, Frieza is the only one left and the Emperor finds he has to do the grunt work himself.
  • Fairy Tail: In one arc, Fairy Tail allies with two other guilds to defeat the Oracion Seis, a dark guild of only six powerful wizards. However, as they defeat each member, they weaken a seal present on the team leader Brain, with the defeat of all six leading to the release of the Guild Master, Zero.
  • Inuyasha: The band of seven get picked off one-by-one through various means, either by the heroes or some other circumstance. Out of the ones that are not killed by the heroes, Jakotsu kills Suikotsu after the later showed a desire to die, Renkotsu kills Jakotsu for his shikon jewel shard, Bankotsu kills Renkotsu for killing Jakotsu and plotting against the rest of the team, and Bankotsu is killed by Naraku after Bankotsu has been beaten by Inuyasha taking his jewel shards.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind has La Squadra Esecuzione, a team of seven assassins, originally nine, introduced after the Boss has two of their members killed for trying to find his identity. Bent on revenge, La Squadra tries to take out the Boss's daughter Trish while she is being escorted by Bucciarati's gang, leading to a series of one-by-one fights of La Squadra that ends with Team Bucciarati killing off the entire La Squadra team, except for their leader, Risotto Nero. Risotto is instead defeated by the Boss.
  • Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro: The New Bloodline is taken this way: DR survives his defeat and torture at the hands of Neuro but is executed by Zenjirou as per Sicks' orders for having failed his mission, Tierra is decapitated after his attempt of detonating the bomb inside his body is thwarted by Neuro, Vijaya kills himself to protect Sicks' secrets and so does Genuine, even after being brainwashed and Zenjirou seemingly dies when the burning building where he tried to drag all the heroes down with him to a fiery death collapsed but later is shown to have somehow survived the ordeal, finally accomplishing his ultimate of wish of outliving Sicks. Finally, Sicks is killed by Neuro when he turns Sicks's metal related powers against him.
  • Monster Rancher: The Big Bad Four serve as the elite of Moo's forces and the Searchers spend the first half of the series making their way through their territories before eventually taking them out one at a time.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • The League of Villains starts slowly taking this route, since instead of in a single arc, they lose members slowly every few arcs. In the introduction of the modern incarnation of the league, Muscular, Mustard and Moonfish are arrested, and after that in the Internship Arc, Magne is killed by Overhaul, and in the Paranormal Liberation War Arc, Hawks kills Twice.
    • For a Story Arc example, the 8 Bullets of the Shie Hassaikai. The 8 are members of a Yakuza group that are specifically described as being expendable, and their job is to delay the heroes' just enough for their boss to flee. Unlike most examples, instead of the 8 members being taken down one by one, they're actually dealt with in small groups since they seem to organize themselves in units. Tamaki takes out three that work as a unit called Garbage Trio, Fatgum and Kirishima work together to take down the Shield and Spear duo, Rappa and Tengai, Mirio takes out a duo of Deidoro and Nemoto. Rikiya is the only one to work alone. The other three members of the Shie Hassaikai, which are the leaders Mimic, Chronostasis and Overhaul are also taken down separately in order of their importance to the group.
  • Naruto has the Akatsuki taken down this way.
  • Ninja Scroll: The Eight Demons of Kimon, while never seen all together, serve as antagonists and are killed separately throughout the movie, either by the heroes or by their own allies until Jubei faces off against the Big Bad and leader of the Eight Demons.
  • One Piece: Usually when the Straw Hats have to take on a group of opponents, they'll slowly be fought one at a time before the climatic showdown between Luffy and the main Big Bad, though in later arcs not always by the main group but whatever allies join them. This happens with the following groups:
    • Orange Town arc: Buggy's Pirates
    • Arlong Park arc: Fishmen Pirates
    • Alabasta arc: Baroque Works
    • Skypiea arc: Eneru's Priests (also the first arc where someone outside the main group takes out one of them).
    • Enies Lobby arc: CP9
    • Thriller Bark arc: The Mysterious Four
    • Fishman Island arc: New Fishman Pirates
    • Punk Hazard arc: Caesar's group
    • Dressrosa arc: Doflamingo Family
    • Wano arc: The Beasts Pirates
  • In Outlaw Star, the Anten Seven are the Kay Pirate's seven deadliest assassins. They're introduced as a group about halfway through the series and then one shows up (and gets killed off) every few episodes. The final three members actually survive to the end of the series but they're each taken down individually- one by Aisha, one by Gene, and the final one killed when Hazanko goes One-Winged Angel and absorbs his own starship into himself to become an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • The first half of Futari wa Pretty Cure is styled like this as Cure Black and Cure White battle the Dark Five. They kill Pisard, Gekidrago, and Poisonny in battle, Kiriya sacrifices himself (though he comes back later to aid the cures in the season's final battle), and Illkubo is killed by the Dark King after it becomes clear he may destroy the Prism Stones. This does not happen to the Seeds of Darkness or the Shittenou, who fight the Cures through their arcs and do not get picked off, one by one.
    • Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star does this similarly as the Cures fight and defeat all five generals of Dark Fall one after another. Goyan revives them once they’re all dead, but five episodes later, they’ve been killed again.
    • HuGtto! Pretty Cure is also similar to these examples, with the executives of the Crisis Corporation being purified one after another. Ruru is the only one who heel-faces on her own volition, and even becomes a Cure.
  • The Promised Neverland: This happens during the Goldy Pond Arc. The villain team is composed by 5 demons, Leuvis, Bayon, Nous, Nouma and Luce, that turned the titular place, which should be a safe haven for human children, into their secret private hunting ground. Together with a resistance of children there, Emma and Ray lead a "divide and conquer" strategy against them, by taking them down one at a time (except Nous and Nouma that are always together, especially when Nouma is killed and Nous consumes her flesh, fusing with her) in different locations during one of those hunts.
  • Sailor Moon: The Shitennou are dealt with one by one over the course of the anime's first season, each one getting to be the focus for a while. Once all four are down, it's finally time for the heroes to take on Queen Beryl.
    • Generally, this applies to any given season of the show, as each member of a group gets to send monsters to fight the Sailor Senshi before going down. There are a few shake-ups in Super, where Kaolinite is revived after her initial death and three of the Witches 5 get killed in their first episodes, but it’s generally played straight.
  • Trigun: Midway through the story, The Dragon Legato gathers a group of 13 mercenary assassins, whose job is to bring pain and misery upon Vash while trying to kill him, calling them The Gung-Ho Guns. There are quite a few differences between the anime and manga on them (they each have a number, but they're inexplicably different in the adaptation, as well as some characters that only appear in the manga), but they become recurring villain through the story, with Vash and his group having to find a way to eliminate them as they come to find them, often in small groups. The manga also pushes this further by making each of them hold a piece of a MacGuffin that they're supposed to give Vash when defeated, making defeating them more integral to the plot.
  • The Big Five in Yu-Gi-Oh!'s "Noah's Saga" are one of these; they appear early in the arc and are taken down one by one as our heroes navigate the virtual world. They do pop up one last time in merged form before being squashed permanently.

    Fan Works 
  • My Little Mages: The Nightmare's Return: In "The Criminal's Offer": Due to multiple The Rest Shall Pass on the way to Nightmare Moon, her group is occupied by the heroes following Twilight Sparkle. Mass murderer Nightshade is occupied by Rainbow Dash, Necromancer Chrysalis by Paladin Applejack, the Diamond Dogs, Werewolves, by Druid Fluttershy, Mercenary Iron Will by Rarity, and the Assassin Grand Master by Pinkie Pie, leaving Twilight Sparkle to deal with Nightmare Moon alone.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War: The Children of Thanos are fought systematically through the film and all are killed off by the heroes through it. Ebony Maw gets sucked out into space by Iron Man, Proxima Midnight is sent flying into one of the spinning tanks by Wanda, Cull Obsidian is sent flying into and disintegrated by the Wakanda force field thanks to Bruce and Corvus Glaive dies by being impaled from behind on his own weapon via Vision.
  • Becky: In the movie, a party of four neo-nazis invades the titular character's vacation home. When they murder her father to get her to return a strange key to them, she goes mad with grief from the death of her mother and her father and sets off on a killing spree to take them down one by one in gruesome ways. She kills the first one by fighting him and stabbing him repeatedly with a ruler fashioned as a knife, the second one is thrown in a lake and then sliced with a boat's motor, the leader of the group gets his head cut in half with a lawnmower and the last one, that tried to repent, is killed by a single shot in the head.
  • Blade Runner: The protagonist, Deckard, is called for an important mission of finding and killing 4 Replicants that are running out of control in the city, and he hunts them down separately over the course of the movie.
  • In Hancock, after being released from prison, Hancock goes to a bank where a gang of heavily armed robbers have taken about a dozen hostages, and are keeping the police at bay with relentless firepower. Once Hancock rescues a pined down officer, he flies into the bank at super speed and flies out with the members of the gang one by one, until Red, their leader, is the only one left. Red orders Hancock to use his Super-Strength to burst into the vault, and carry the money, or he'll release the Dead Man's Switch, killing him and the hostages. Hancock opts to sever Red's hand and hand him over to the police. Later at the hospital, where Hancock is being treated due to being injured while being Brought Down to Normal, he manages to take down some of the vengeful escaped convicts one by one, but as it looks like Red is about to finish him off Ray, Hancock's agent, comes in and cuts off Red's other hand, saving Hancock.
  • Hannibal Rising revolves around the future Doctor Hannibal Lecter hunting down the ex-soldiers who killed and ate his sister Mischa, along the way developing his skills in planning, culture, and cannibalism. After finding the mens' dog tags, he hunts them down one by one, decapitating one with a horse-drawn pulley, drowning the next, shooting the third, eviscerating a fourth, and is implied to have collected the head of the last.
  • Kill Bill has The Bride hunt down the individual members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad in the quintessential Roaring Rampage of Revenge, methodically battling and killing them (and either killing or maiming anyone who gets in her way or that they put in her way) one by one in revenge for crashing her wedding and killing all the guests. She saves Bill, who masterminded the massacre, put the bullet in her head and stole her baby, for last.
  • In the first act of The Princess Bride, the Man in Black goes up against the Sicilian Crowd, a Terrible Trio of mercenaries who kidnap Princess Buttercup. He first duels with the Spaniard Inigo, then battles the giant Fezzik, before finally challenging the leader, Vizzini, to a battle of wits. While Inigo and Fezzik both survive their fights and later help the Man in Black, Vizzini is killed.
  • Promising Young Woman: Cassie takes systematic revenge on each of her dead best friend Nina's tormenters.
    • First, she sets Madison up to think she's been raped in order to Pay Evil unto Evil (although she does eventually tell Madison she wasn't raped and she wouldn't have let that happen) because Madison laughed at and bullied Nina after receiving the video of Nina being raped while intoxicated.
    • Then, she finds Dean Walker's daughter and essentially kidnaps her, later claiming to have sent Walker's naive daughter into a dorm with a bunch of drunk college guys after taking Al's side over Nina's. It was a lie but gives Walker a taste of her own medicine and seriously shakes her up.
    • Then she finds Jordan, the lawyer who tormented Nina when she tried to press charges against Al. We never find out what she had planned for him because she is shocked to discover that he's the only one who feels genuine guilt for what happened.
    • Then finally, Nina's rapist Al and Ryan, who watched it happen and never stopped it. She plans to carve Nina's name on Al's chest so he never forgets what he did. But when Al overpowers her, she reveals posthumously that she has actually already taken down Al and Ryan, by circulating the video of Nina's rape and leaving evidence behind providing that Al killed her.
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Over the years, a group of powerful witches was trapped in a relic. During the film, the villains release them one by one to fight against the protagonist.
  • Us: The Tethered are established early as the evil versions of each of the family members. At first, they attempt to separate the family and kill them one by one, but the family manages to regroup and turns this around by taking them out separately first over the course of the movie, with each Tethered being killed by their respective family members. Abraham is the first to go clubbed to death in a boat by Gabe. After running for their friends house, they kill their tethered one by one as well, and in fleeing there, with Zora driving, she runs over Umbra. On their way out of town, Jason tricks Pluto into setting himself in fire, leaving the final fight in the Tethered's home base between the Big Bad Red and Adelaide.
  • Willy's Wonderland: This film centers around eight animatronics who are now possessed by serial killers. The main goal of the film's protagonist, a character named only as "The Janitor", is to destroy all of them.

  • This turns out to be what Judge Wargrave was doing in And Then There Were None. Although strangers to each other, the group, who are all murderers, are collected on the island under false pretenses and gradually killed off.
  • Best Served Cold opens on the mercenary general Monzcarro Murcatto and her brother Benna being betrayed by Grand Duke Orso. Benna is killed and Monza survives at the cost of chronic pain, most of the function in her right hand, and miles of crisscrossing scars. The plot of the book is her hatching plans to kill the seven men who either participated in or were present for her attempted murder: Grand Duke Orso, his two sons, his banker, Generals Ganmark and Carpi, and his bodyguard. The story is a tour across Styria, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Renaissance Italy, including the warring city-states, as she tracks and kills all seven, culminating in Orso himself.
    • Meanwhile, Orso is doing the same. Styria is a confederation of city-states, and he is winning a war of unification to crown himself the first king of Styria in generations. The remaining city-states opposing him have organized into the League of Eight; it's more like the League of Six by the start of the novel, and its numbers dwindle as thr story goes on. In some cases, Monza and Orso's systematic takedowns collide, as illustrated by Monza luring Ganmark into an ambush with the Duke of Visserine as bait.
  • The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: Each book (except the first) ends with the death of one of the Soul-Eaters (though most of them aren't introduced until book 3). They only work together in the third book, and afterwards Torak defeats them independently.
  • The Demon Princes: the five titular crime lords are described in the beginning chapter in the first novel (with one even making an appearance in disguise) but only one is eliminated by the end of the first novel and each subsequent novel focuses on the hunt and elimination of a single Prince. It is also a recurring theme that the minions of each Prince are eliminated one by one over the course of each novel.
  • This is the case in the first half of The Wheel of Time series: The baddies are led by an elite group of 13 Forsaken, at least one of whom is killed or otherwise defeated in the climax of each book. However, at some point it's revealed that the Big Bad can simply revive his minions in new bodies, as long as they're not rendered Deader than Dead, so several previously killed Forsaken come back, and a few new villains get elevated to Forsaken status. Nevertheless, their overall numbers dwindle throughout the series, because the Big Bad encourages Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and would rather have a small number of hyper-competent minions than a larger number of unreliable ones.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Daredevil: Season 1 had Matt waging a one-man war against the Fisk criminal empire, taking down each faction one at a time. First he goes up against the Russians, then Nobu's faction. Leland ends up getting killed by Fisk himself in a You Have Failed Me moment, while Wesley gets killed by Karen in a a botched attempt to blackmail her. Aside from Fisk himself, Madame Gao is the only crime boss who ends up getting away, abandoning the sinking ship and relocating so that Danny Rand has to deal with her instead.
  • In Season 5 of Dexter, Dexter and Lumen decide to track down (and kill) the individual members of the five-man Barrel Girl Gang, who tortured and murdered twelve women, and raped and tortured Lumen and their first victim, Emily. Dexter kills the first, cleanup guy Boyd, by himself, and then he and Lumen team up to kill the others.
  • Super Sentai and Power Rangers sometimes introduces small groups of monsters whom the heroes then face one by one.
    • After the Psycho Rangers are introduced in Denji Sentai Megaranger and Power Rangers in Space, the good guys spend the following episodes taking down their evil counterparts one by one.
    • Seijuu Sentai Gingaman: The Space Pirates Barban start out with four generals serving the Big Bad, Captain Zahab. The generals take on the Gingaman one at a time, each one eventually using up all their forces and perishing in battle (with Zahab privately despairing at their loss).
    • Mahou Sentai Magiranger has three instances of this. The first are the Three Solitary Confinement Hades Beasts, which are the final Monsters of the Week of the first arc. The second are the Four Hades Beastmen Kings, who appear near the end of the second arc. And lastly there are the Ten Hades Gods of Infershia, who take up the majority of the final arc. Its adaptation Power Rangers Mystic Force only makes use of the last group, renaming them to the Ten Terrors.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): Season 2 introduces the Swedes, a trio of Swedish siblings and assassins that are sent to kill the Hargeeves siblings. Over the course of the season, they are neutralized as threats one at a time. The youngest is taken out first, by an explosive trap from Diego, prompting the other two to become much more aggressive in looking for revenge. They later try to off Allison and her husband Ray, but Allison fights back and rumors the older one into killing his own sibling. In the Season Finale, the older one kills The Handler after figuring out she was manipulating him and his siblings, and Five and him agree on a cease fire, which lets him leave and no longer be a threat to the family.

    Video Games 
  • Ape Escape
    • The second entry in the series provides a non-lethal example. Spectre creates a team known as the Freaky Monkey Five which serve as the bosses for the game. Each one gets captured by Jimmy after their boss fight (except Yellow, who escapes only to get captured after a later fight). After the five are captured, Spectre expresses intent on avenging them.
    • The third entry plays with this and subverts it by having the same thing happen only for Pink to escape instead of Yellow. After capturing Spectre, Pink reveals that she helps set him and the rest of the five free, resulting in the five and Spectre having to be captured again.
  • This has been a staple of the Assassin's Creed series from the very beginning. A large conspiracy is doing bad things, the titular assassin takes them down one at a time. Sometimes the conspiracy is revealed to be larger than originally thought, or the story is more complicated, or there's a whole other conspiracy to deal with, but the assassin still goes after them individually.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt: In the game, the protagonist's main mission, aside from protecting Joule, is to defeat the Sumeragi Swordsmen, a part of the Sumeragi group that is led by Nova and his direct underlings, the Sumeragi Seven, a group of Adepts who had their powers physically extracted into swords known as Glaives, with the intention of controlling and weaponizing Adepts. Each of the game's seven major missions is about finding and taking down the Sumeragi seven in each mission, with the final one going after Nova. It's revealed that one of the Seven could ressurect the other six, so there's a Boss Bonanza in the game's final missions, defeating those seven bosses again. Nova also turns out to not be the Final Boss of the game, with a True Final Boss after him in the true ending.
  • Battle Chef Brigade: In the second half of the game, focused on Thrash, he needs to take down the Scowl Heart Bandits' chefs to get back the Yoku Hearts. The group has three chefs he has to face, getting one heart back per battle, and the other three serve as judges. The battles happen over the course of three days, with each chef being taken down on one day.
  • Crackdown encourages this. There are many lieutenants supporting the leaders of each gang, and taking out each one damages part of the gang's supply lines and ability to organise themselves. This results in the resources available to said gang being drastically reduced as the player systematically hunts down key members so they can take out the leaders without too much trouble.
  • Dark Souls: In the opening of the game, the player learns of the four people with the Lord Souls, Gwyn, The Witch of Izalith, Gravelord Nito and the Furtive Pygmy. In the second half of the game, the player has to collect the Lord Souls from Nito and the witch, and kill Gwyn who is acting as the Final Boss. The Furtive Pygmy plays no role in this story, aside from the implication he is your ancestor.
  • Darksiders: The game starts with War having to defeat the Forces of Hell by taking down their generals, The Chosen. He strikes a deal with Samael to give him the hearts of four of them so he will open a portal to escape and to let War fight the last one, Straga. While their numbers is established early, War only learns about each of their natures when going to fight them. Wicked K, one of the Chosen, however, is an Optional Boss, and when fought, it won't be killed and just reward the played with more souls, being able to be fought again for more rewards.
  • Devil Survivor 2: The Septentriones, a group of bizarre alien lifeforms attacking and destroying Japan for unknown reasons. The heroes come across one of them in each of the seven days the game takes place over and defeat them separately. While the heroes come across the first one by accident, taking them down becomes the main plot of the game, and they have to hunt and plan to take on them, since some of them are basically indestructible by normal means or must be taken out in a certain way. It's revealed there's an eighth one towards the end of the game, The Anguished One.
  • Drakengard:
    • Drakengard 2: The game sets up the lieutenants of the Knights of the Seal as this in the beginning of the story. They're introduced as a party of four, with their fourth and final member mysteriously missing, but they're still taken down one by one by the heroes.
    • Drakengard 3 also introduces its Quirky Miniboss Squad, the Intoners, when Zero tries to take on them all at once and is soundly trashed. After recuperating, she goes after them again, taking care to confront and to eliminate them one at a time over the course of the game.
  • Figment: The story begins when Dusty, a retired guardian of the Mental World where the game takes place, is antagonized by the Fear-Of-Loss, an evil nightmare. While chasing the Fear-Of-Loss, Dusty learns that two other nightmares, the Plague and the Spider Queen, have taken residence in different regions of the mind. Dusty goes on a quest to kill all three of them, with the Fear-Of-Loss coming last, to restore peace to the mind.
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands: Your task is to dismantle the cartel by taking out the heads of various operations. Each mission either gets more info on the region's cartel leader or starts forcing him out into the open. Once the lower ranks of the cartel get dismantled, the upper ranks can be targeted.
  • Hi-Fi RUSH: While Vandelay Technologies isn't a criminal organization, the heads of it run it very similarly. Chai volunteers for a company project only for the company to try to "recall" him and has no choice but to join an underground resistance that's fixed on taking the company down. Chai must retrieve six keycards by defeating the top executives that run Production, R&D, Security, Marketing, Finances and the CEO himself, Kale Vandelay.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The Council of Villains serves this role in the first game, being a nefarious group consisting of Disney Villains (to be specific, Hades, Jafar, Ursula, Captain Hook, Oogie Boogie, and Maleficent), seeking control of the Heartless and access to the titular Kingdom Hearts. The protagonist Sora, along with Donald and Goofy systematically defeat each villain by traveling to their respective worlds and defeating them, either killing them, trapping them, or sending them running.
    • Organization XIII become this going forward from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, being a group of Nobodies (beings that remained after their hearts was stolen) wanting to take Kingdom Hearts for themselves through various means. However in-fighting in the group, along with battling Sora, Donald and Goofy, start dropping their numbers. They were thought taken care of at the end of Kingdom Hearts II, until it's revealed that Master Xehanort is using them to become vessels for him and become the 13 Seekers of Darkness. Those that didn't turn back into humans are revived via time travel and have to be taken out again when Kingdom Hearts III comes around, this time by the Warriors of Light (Sora, Donald, Goofy, Mickey, Kairi, Riku, Axel/Lea, Roxas, Xion, Terra, Ventus and Aqua) which they do in the climax of the game.
  • In Mercenaries, you are given the Deck of 52, which is a series of North Korean military officers and VIPs that you must systematically capture or kill over the course of the game. They consist of "number" cards, who are minor but important North Korean officers and officials, and "face" cards who are the targets of major story and faction missions. Each act of the game has an "ace" card as well, who is the Climax Boss for that particular part of the game. Number and face cards who are not completed before taking down the ace will be lost, encouraging you to work your way up the chain of badguys before taking down the ace.
  • This trope appears in basically every Metal Gear Solid Game from Part 1 to 4 and their respective groups of elite boss fight units. All of these Boss Battle villains are set up at the start of the game and go down one by one. Even the Spin-Off games follow this trope.
    • Metal Gear Solid has the FOXHOUND unit with the iconic villains Psycho Mantis, Sniper Wolf, Vulcan Raven, and Liquid Snake who all go down in this installment.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty has the terrorist group Dead Cell and the members Fatman, Fortune, and Solidus Snake who find their demise.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the Cobra Unit is introduced at the beginning. Snake kills The Pain, The Fear, The End, The Fury, and at the end The Boss (a.k.a. "The Joy"), proving that he truly is Big Boss.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots features the Beauty and the Beast Unit that are combinations of the bosses from the previous three installments. Laughing Octopus, Raging Raven, Crying Wolf, and Screaming Mantis go down one by one. And Vamp from Part 2 is also killed for good this time around.
    • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has Big Boss taking on the Peace Walker Project AI Weapons in place of the traditional empowered human units one-by-one, starting with the Shagohod-like PUPA, the agile railgun-wielding CHRYSALIS, the slow yet armed-to-the-teeth COCOON, and Peace Walker/AURELIA in the end.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has Raiden taking down each and every member of the Desparado Enforcement, LLC: Samuel "Jetstream" Rodriguez, IF Prototype LQ-84i Blade Wolf, who is the only member to survive and pull off a Heel–Face Turn, Sundowner, Mistral, and Monsoon, followed by Senator Steven Armstrong.
  • No Straight Roads: You're in a city ruled by a tyrannical music-industry Mega-Corp. Before you can confront the CEO, you'll need to gain fans by defeating the "5 Superstars" with The Power of Rock.
  • Pokémon: Although not villainous, each game focuses on two groups of characters the player needs to take down one at a time: the 8 Gym Leaders and the 4 Elite Four members (except in Generations VII and VIII; the former features Totem Pokémon to serve as equivalents to the gym leaders, while the latter got rid of the Elite Four challenge in exchange for a Boss Bonanza challenge against the Gym Leaders and rivals), before they can face the Champion. The 8 Gym Leaders are spread out across the region and the player must find and challenge them over the course of the game. The Elite 4 is the very final challenge and must be fought in quick succession (in a set order in generations I-IV, but in any order in V-VII) before facing the Champion.
  • In Resident Evil Village, Ethan Winters takes down each member of the House Lords one-by-one as boss battles in the following order: The vampiric Lady Dimitrescu, the ghostly Donna Beneviento, the piscine Salvatore Moreau, the Dr. Frankenstein-inspired Karl Heisenburg, and finally their leader, the Fallen Angel-like Mother Miranda. Even if the House Lords are horrific takes on classic monsters, nothing will stop Ethan from rescuing his daughter.
  • Shantae and the Seven Sirens: Shantae takes out the title villains one by one. In an unusual take on this trope, one ends up spared as she makes a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus has Sly and the gang hunt down the members of the Fiendish Five, an order of dastardly villains who are responsible for the murder of Sly's family and the splitting up of his family's guide to proper thievery, the titular "Thievius Raccoonus." Defeating each one gets that member captured by Carmelita Fox and INTERPOL, and reveals the location of the next member.
    • Sly 2: Band of Thieves also has a criminal group called The Klaww Gang who steal and use Clockwerk's parts for their own agendas with illegal spice trade being the connecting factor. That being said, the player is introduced to all of them in the first mission of the second level after the first member is defeated and arrested.
  • Sonic Adventure: In E-102 Gamma's story, Gamma becomes self-aware and learns that he is one of the evil Dr. Eggman's E-100 series, a team of elite robot minions which are powered by animals trapped inside them. Gamma becomes determined to save the animals, so he tracks down and destroys each of the other E-100 series robots one by one (except for E-100 Alpha/Zero, who Amy defeats in her own story.) The last one, E-101 Beta, has a Mutual Kill with Gamma, freeing the animals inside both of them.
  • The Wonderful 101 sees each GEATHJERK officer be fought in ascending order based on their rankings in boss battles. The sole exceptions to this rule are Fourth Officer Vijounne, who survives her initial encounter and is killed later, and Second Officer Heyourgah, who is killed by Prince Vorkken before he ever encounters the group.
  • The Warlords of Draenor expansion in World of Warcraft has shades of this; one of the opening cutscenes showed five warlords standing in a row side-by-side, overlooking the player. Four of them die at the players' hands over the course of the expansion, the final one doing a Heel–Face Turn.
  • XCOM 2's War of the Chosen expansion introduces the titular trio of post-human killing machines: the stealthy Assassin, sharpshooting Hunter, and megalomaniacal Warlock. The Chosen have been tasked by the alien regime with recapturing XCOM's Commander, and thus will not only occasionally appear during missions as Recurring Bosses who enjoy Resurrective Immortality, they'll also oppose XCOM on the strategic level, taking actions to hamper the human Resistance, or even training to improve themselves in response to XCOM's victories. If any of the Chosen gather enough intelligence on XCOM's activities, they'll eventually launch a brutal assault on the rebels' headquarters. The only way to stop the Chosen for good is to turn things around by building a rapport with the other Resistance factions battling them, tracking down each Chosen's headquarters, and killing them in their very lair. Since each Chosen is active in a certain portion of the world map, they'll usually be encountered and eliminated one after the other — and if you ignore them and start the final mission with them still alive, any surviving Chosen will subject you to a Boss Rush to make that level even more difficult.

  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The comic sets up this trope in the first arc by introducing the seven Demiurges who currently rule creation, and then making each of the three subsequent arcs devoted to Allison coming into conflict with one of them (Mottom in "Wielder of Names", Mammon in "Seeker of Thrones" and Solomon David in "King of Swords") in the process of trying to rescue Distressed Dude Zaid. It is then subverted; Allison's 'defeat' of Mottom and subsequently leaving Mammon alone leads to a minor Enemy Civil War, and ultimately induces Jagganoth to fast-track his plans of multiversal annihilation in "Breaker of Infinities". Judging by his comments, this trope is usually played straight by Zoss' other heir(s), which means Allison's actions has turned this timeline into an outlier.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: The Vamps in the "Stakes" arc are vampires released after Marceline has her vampire essence removed. Marceline has to defeat them one by one with help from Finn, Jake and Princess Bubblegum, with Marceline regaining one of her powers (flying, invisibility, shapeshifting and healing).
  • Harley Quinn (2019): In season 2, with the Justice League out of commission and Gotham in chaos, a group of villains composed of The Penguin, Bane, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze and Two-Face creates the Injustice League, sharing Gotham between themselves and freezing Harley when she poses a challenge to it. The first half of that season sees Harley going in a revenge quest by taking down each of them one by one. While she kills The Penguin, the others have varied fates, she takes The Riddler as prisoner, traps Bane in the bottom of a pit, Mr. Freeze sacrifices himself to heal his wife, and Two-Face is arrested by Gordon, with Harley having no part in his take down.
  • During Season 6 of The Venture Bros., the Monarch - posing as the Blue Morpho - eliminates Dr. Venture's arches in this way. (With the exception of Redusa, who is simply coerced into resigning her arching rights.) Zig-zagged in that the Monarch is very much not a hero, but rather a jealous supervillain who wants Rusty all to himself.