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Viler New Villain

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A Likable Villain can be fun, either because they have a good goal, are pleasant or otherwise relatable. But sometimes you want a more straight villain, someone to be hated for their evil. Maybe the likable villain used to fill that role, but since they Took a Level in Kindness that role needs filling. Perhaps there needs to be a worse villain for the nicer villain to have a plausible Enemy Mine situation with the hero, or have a Heel–Face Turn to oppose them. The darker shade of black contrasts the nicer by lacking their nobler intentions, standards, attachments and geniality. If the likable villain isn't a Knight of Cerebus, this villain might be. That, and/or they function as a Hate Sink, though sometimes they can take the role of being enjoyed for their heinousness in a way the nicer villain can not. Usually they're an even eviller counterpart or Foil to the honorable villain to make the point clear. Expect them to provoke Even Evil Has Standards from the other villains.

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Not the same as Eviler Than Thou, which is when one villain demonstrates their superiority over another villain, usually to prove they're more of a threat. Here, the new villain is shown to be more evil to another villain without any sort of rivalry involved. If there is a rivalry involved, then it will likely lead to Make Way for the New Villains, with the old one suffering from The Worf Effect to establish the danger of the new threat.

The "Oblivion" in Evil Versus Oblivion often fill this role, but that doesn't mean they have to eviler than the "Evil". A Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds is easily more sympathetic than a bumbling Card-Carrying Villain, but they're also likely to be more threatening in terms of strength and conviction, making them worse by default. The polar opposite of A Lighter Shade of Black, where a villain is better than another, and, like that trope, it's often used to determine who should be rooted for or against in Evil vs. Evil situations.

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May lead to an Enemy Mine situations (where the previous villain has to team-up The Hero to finish this menace and come back to the previous status quo) or a Hero, Rival, Baddie Team-Up (where The Rival is also summed to the team to defeat this menace), both alliances made temporarily and teeth-clenched. When there's a truly heroic figure to compare, it's The Good, the Bad, and the Evil. Related to Sorting Algorithm of Evil, and particularly Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness - the new villain has to be less sympathetic on that scale than the older one.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Akame ga Kill!: The Jaegars serve The Empire, but even the worst of them have a strict moral code, don't indiscriminately kill citizens of the Empire unless they believe they're part of La Résistance. Later on the Wild Hunt is introduced as secondary enforcers of the Empire, who serve to make the Jaegars look good by comparison by being hired psychopaths who will kill and rape innocent citizens out of sadism, and have no care for each other's well-being compared to the genuine sense of camaraderie the Jaegars have for each other. They're so vile Night Raid and the Jaegars team up against them.
  • Dragon Ball commonly uses this trope in regards to introducing new villains.
    • Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Arc: General Blue (already this trope compared to Colonel Silver and General White) was a formidable opponent who very nearly got to kill Krillin and proved to be the first personally severe obstacle to overcome. He's ursurped by Tao Pai-Pai, who kills him with his tongue and then proceeds to kill Bora and then Goku (briefly). From a larger perspective, the Red Ribbon Army as a whole serve as a dramatic and hate-able military force than the bumbling Pilaf Gang.
    • Dragon Ball Piccolo Daimao Arc: Piccolo Daimao is easily the biggest jump, as he's much more formidible and callous than the Red Ribbon Army or Tao Pai-Pai, being the embodiment of evil. This jump is strongly contrasted as he spends the first half of this arc paired with the goofy Pilaf Gang. Daimao was notably the first villain to actually achieve his plan (restore his youth and take over the world), and in short order at that.
    • Dragon Ball Z Namek Arc: Frieza serves as this role to previous Arc Villain Vegeta. While Vegeta is just as interested in conquering the galaxy as Frieza, he has a warrior's pride and is willing to work with the heroes against a common threat. Frieza is even larger scale villain than Vegeta was, and is shown to be far more sadistic and cutthroat. And while Vegeta has Villainous Valor, Frieza is ultimately a coward that tries to kill Goku behind his back even after Goku saved his life.
    • Dragon Ball Z Android Arc: Cell ends up being the final antagonist in the Android arc after Android 17 and 18. Like them, he's a killer android, but while they are delinquents who only plan to kill Goku, Cell is a homicidal android that drains the life of thousands of people with glee, and after becoming perfect wants to kill everyone so he can watch their faces contort in terror. While the twins end up having a Heel–Face Turn, Cell rejects any desire to stop his villainy and dies evil through and through.
    • Dragon Ball Z Majin Buu Arc: The Majin Buu introduced at the start of the arc is a villain that causes random destruction and turns people into candy, however there is a large amount of levity to his actions because of his comical personality, and only does bad things because he doesn't know they're evil. After he has a Heel–Face Turn, a new Arc Villain is introduced in his Superpowered Evil Side Super Buu, who's intentionally cruel and sadistic. He, in turn, is replaced by Kid Buu, who's animalistic and a completely insane force of evil in contrast to "Fat Buu".
  • Takemaru from InuYasha the Movie: Swords of an Honorable Ruler was far from being a good person. He was a cruel samurai and murderer. However, he had only a hatred for Inuyasha, Sesshomaru and their father. The demonic sword So'unga, on the other hand, wanted to destroy the world and flood it with undead.
  • Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? was the first opponent rather some assholes (and later also asshole victims) who have maltreated Liliruca. The sequel Sword Oratoria, on the other hand, had a bad adventurer and contract killer working for a malicious plant monster.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic has as the first opponents a cruel but completely incompetent conqueror, and later also a robber gang and a corrupt and incompetent king. But the opponents who then attack the heroes belong to an organization of black magicians who want to bring the world into chaos and call themselves Al-Thamen.
  • Overlord (2012): Ainz is stuck babysitting a bunch of murderous psychopaths (essentially a bunch of Original Characters created by people in full edgelord phase) united only in their unwavering faith and devotion in Ainz as their Physical God and their hatred of humans. Because Ainz still thinks like a human, he's unaware of their more troublesome quirks like Demiurge running a vast vivisection operation on beastmen or Lupusregina interpreting Ainz' orders to guard a human as "don't kill him yourself", even as he's trying to run a kingdom where different races can live in peace.
  • The first parasites from Parasyte just want to eat humans, and actually have no sadistic pleasure in killing them. They even compare the eating of humans with the consumption of pigs and cows. But then Gotou, a particularly powerful parasite, is the new enemy. And he's crazy about killing as many humans as possible.
  • Pokémon: Cassidy and Butch serve as this and Eviler Than Thou rivals to Jessie, James and Meowth. Both are Pokemon thieves working for Team Rocket, but Jessie and James are shown to care for their own Pokemon, work with or even sympathize with the heroes and have other likable traits. Cassidy and Butch by contrast lack any Affably Evil traits and don't show any care for their Pokemon.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Downplayed with Roose and Ramsay Bolton in A Song of Ice and Fire. Roose Bolton is a sociopathic lord that starts as the Token Evil Teammate for House Stark, before betraying them in the Red Wedding. While bad, he tries to promote order. His bastard son Ramsay is a wild sadist who openly tortures and kills people, much to his father's frustration. However, Roose is almost sadistic as his son beneath his Mask of Sanity and opposes Ramsay's naked cruelty because it's bad PR rather than any morality. However he does have one distinct standard above Ramsay, that being even he wouldn't kill his own kin despite how Stupid Evil his bastard is, while Ramsay is heavily implied to have murdered his legitimate half-brother to become Roose's heir.
  • Conan the Barbarian: Conan will frequently go from administering well-deserved violence unto a reprehensible example of humanity at the start of a story to punching out Cthulhu by the end.
    • The Phoenix on the Sword: The conspirators attempting to assassinate King Conan and usurp his throne are not nice people, but Evil Sorcerer Thoth-Amon and the demon he summons with his Serpent Ring of Set are so nasty a long-dead adversary of Set is forced to give Conan mystical assistance from beyond the grave (the titular Phoenix) to stop them.
    • Xuthal of the Dusk: Thalis is the primary antagonist for much of the story, intending to sacrifice Conan's Girl of the Week to Thog so she can have Conan all to herself. She's eaten (or something) by Thog, leaving Conan to lay the smackdown upon the "god."
    • The Vale of Lost Women: Conan leads his tribe of warriors to slaughter the tribe they'd come to parley with (who Conan knew full well would betray them the first chance they got) to rescue the fair maiden the other tribe had captured. In a panic, said fair maiden flees into the titular Vale, home to a "Demon of the Outer Dark," which Conan sends packing with his trusty sword.
  • Morganville Vampires features the vampire Amelie and her father Bishop. Amelie as leader of the Morganville vampires can be ruthless and perfectly willing to kill people if it means that vampires are able to survive as she feels its for the good of her people. That said she does everything with the best of intentions and is also genuinely friendly and even views the series heroine Claire Danvers as a surrogate daughter of sorts. In contrast her father, Bishop who is introduced later in the series is a ruthless sociopath who would bring about the extinction of all other vampires but him if it meant he got to rule and is far more prone to violence and bloodshed. Every ounce of politeness or apparently kind thought that comes from Bishop is fake.
  • Valentine Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments was a racist who had despised the humans and downwoldlers, and wanted a world in which there are only shadowhunters. After he was defeated, and Sebastian Morgenstern became the next big bad, it turned out that he was much more evil and wanted to turn the whole world into a hotbed of demons.
    • Fairies are generally considered beautiful, but also vicious. First, only the fairies from Seelie Court are shown, and many of them are really prone to be evil. But the sequel The Dark Artifices shows the Unseelie Court. And the fairies there are even more cruel.
  • Luke from Percy Jackson and the Olympians is an anti-villain who has at least a legitimate reason to rebel against the gods, even if that does not excuse many of his actions. But the sequel The Heroes of Olympus shows Gaia, who is a very powerful and very evil goddess and wants to destroy the world.
    • Even minor villains like Octavian are far more vicious than Luke was.
  • These Words Are True and Faithful: Ernie, the Villain Protagonist, has standards but sometimes grants himself a dispensation because he lets his heart (or other body parts) rule him. His affair with Danny, who turns out to be an amoral leech, causes him to reconsider what he's done.
  • ZODIAC: Aquarius is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who genuinely believed in what he was doing, and didn't even want to do it at first. Which amounts for a lot more when you compare him to Blaze and Aryll.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This happened several times in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • Spike started as Big Bad of the second season. But by the standards of vampires, he was not very evil. Although he was a real opponent for Buffy, and killed some humans, Angelus was worse. He showed from the outset a very cruel and sadistic behavior. And he wanted to free a demon that would turn the whole world into hell.
    • Faith in the third season kills Mr. Trick, the Dragon of the Big Bad. And then she became his new dragon. Among her acts were the attempted rape of Xander, the (indirect) rape of Riley, the kidnapping of Willow, the brutal torture of Wesley, a murder attempt on Angel, and at least four murders (three humans and a benevolent demon, the first of which was really an accident).
    • Maggie Walsh in the fourth season was just a scientist with evil motives. And she created a monster named Adam, which consisted of the body parts of humans, demons and machines. Adam killed her and became the next Big Bad of the season. However, since he pursued roughly the same plan as Maggie Walsh, it is more a case of creating a more dangerous villain rather than a more vicious villain.
    • In the sixth season, the new opponents are a trio of supervillains. The three are not very effective as villains, and at least one of them is more of a nuisance than really evil. But after Warren kills Tara, Willow falls into evil magic and trying to destroy the world.
    • In Angel, this is discussed as the heroes fight a powerful demon they call The Beast. They want to get Angelus to give them informations on how to fight this demon. But some of the heroes are against it, arguing that Angelus could be far more dangerous than this demon.
  • The three Weird Sisters from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are really assholes. But even during the first season shows that Father Blackwood is much more malicious. And at the end of the plot, they even have to fight the devil.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tywin Lannister and Gregor "the Mountain" Clegane. The former is a Magnificent Bastard obsessed with keeping his family in power, the latter is a rape-happy Psycho for Hire who kills whoever Tywin tells him to (and then some). When Cersei eventually takes the throne and uses the Mountain (now a Technically Living Zombie) as her bodyguard, she still has a use for his brute strength, but this fails her in the final season when the Mountain disregards her orders and kills his creator in order to fight his brother Sandor.
    • The Night King serves as this in contrast to the rest of the various lords squabbling for power. While many of these lords and nobles are bad people, they're still human beings with relatable or reasonable reasons for what they do. The Night King, by contrast, is a literally inhuman force of nature than only wants to wipe out every living thing, and has zero interest in any of the politics or personal relationships of the rest of Westeros.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY goes through an escalating series of these:
    • First we have Roman Torchwick, dapper, amusing, and deadly in a fight, but ultimately just a petty crook.
    • Roman soon gets the White Fang working for him, a group of Faunus terrorists lashing out at humanity for generations of prejudice and oppression.
    • And all this is the plan of Cinder Fall , a mysterious and powerful young woman running a ploy to steal the immense mystical power of the Fall Maiden. She succeeds, and uses her new power to kill Ozpin and Pyrrha. The death of Penny and utter destruction of Beacon is just collateral damage on her way to her objective.
    • And then Cinder is revealed to be working for Salem, she who controls the Grimm and may or may not functionally be a goddess of evil.
    • Zig-Zagged with Adam Taurus, implied early on to be the current leader of the White Fang and responsible for their shift from peaceful protest to terrorism. We soon learn he's only the leader of a splinter faction. . . but the bulk of the White Fang agrees with him, and while the actual leader is a Reasonable Authority Figure in comparison to Adam, he shortly and violently removes her from power and brings the White Fang fully under his control.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has this in play alongside the Sorting Algorithm of Evil. The first recurring antagonist Prince Zuko is an Anti-Villain with a a discernible Freudian Excuse, standards and redeeming qualities. Admiral Zhao, the next recurring villain and an antagonist to Zuko and the Gaang at separate intervals throughout Season 1, is more competent and more willing to cross the Moral Event Horizon. After Zhao is killed in the first season finale, Zuko's sister Princess Azula, who is more competent than Zhao and lacks any of Zuko's redeeming qualities, becomes the main villain and deals the team a crushing blow at the end of Season 2. Season 3 introduces Fire Lord Ozai in a full appearance (he had mainly appeared via flashback beforehand), who is perfectly happy to burn the world to ash to conquer it.
    • The sequel The Legend of Korra also plays this trope. The Red Lotus is made up of terrorists and assassins, but their actions bring Kuvira to power in the fourth season.
  • The first recurring antagonist for Bugs Bunny is Elmer Fudd, going back to 1941's Elmers Pet Rabbit (or 1940's Elmer's Candid Camera, if you regard this rascally rabbit as Bugs Bunny). Elmer, however, seemed too gullible and undeserving of the Karmic Trickster's abuse, so Isadore "Friz" Freleng created six-gun bandit Yosemite Sam in 1945 to trouble Bugs; a deliberate Jerkass who'd deserve to be bested by Bugs. Of course, Sam fared no better than Elmer, so 1948 saw the debut of Marvin the Martian, who is very calm and soft-spoken by contrast, but wants to cause an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, and then 1953 ushered in the Tasmanian Devil, a Chaotic Neutral whirling dervish with a ravenous appetite.
  • Played for Laughs in Ren & Stimpy: Stimpy ends up causing Ren to undergo a Literal Split Personality between his evil side and indifferent side. The Evil Ren ends up splitting himself to create an army, resulting in the creation of Hideously Evil Ren. This even more evil Ren ends up dodging normal Evil Ren's punches and keeps punching him, before going off to live in Unholy Matrimony together.
  • In Winx Club season 4, the wizards of the Black Circle seem to have changed their ways, only for the Earth fairies to become the new enemies. After they get redempted, it turns out the wizards just pretended to be nice and pick up their villainous ways becoming the very first characters to permanently kill a main character/
    • One might argue that up until seasons 5, the villains got worse and viler along the go, ending with Trittanus, who was completely unredemptable.
  • When the girls in W.I.T.C.H. defeat Phobos, it turns out there was another, arguably worse villain that had been planning out her come-back since the start of the series.
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