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Villain Ball

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Visual Pun aside, possessing a ball to do crimes isn't a well-rounded idea.
Superman: It turns out Luthor had this chunk of Kryptonite that would have totally ruined me if he would've just whipped it out.
Batman: Really?
Superman: Yeah, but for some reason he told me his evil plan first and then tried to trick me into finding the Kryptonite myself. What's up with that?
Batman: Villains are stupid.

"Evil sows the seeds of its own destruction", says the fortune cookie. Regardless of how savvy they might otherwise be, villains tend to inherently draw heroic attention to themselves that leads to their demise, or at least the demise of their Evil Plan. Even if their success is seemingly assured, they can't seem to help but do something evil that serves no purpose other than giving The Hero the extra motivation and opportunity to wreck everything, and he will.

Basically, they're saddled with carrying their own version of the Idiot Ball: the Villain Ball.

Sure signs that the Villain Ball is in play:

  • The villain adds needless complications to their plan for the sake of tormenting others. They may claim this is all for the sake of averting attention, but it tends to have the opposite effect.
  • The villain insists on taking care of something personally when there's no reason an expendable mook couldn't do it, possibly due to the belief that he's Surrounded by Idiots.
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  • The villain decide to dispatch the hero via a grisly and complicated Death Trap over more pragmatic solutions, ignoring that methods with more complex working parts are more likely to fail as opposed to simple solutions. A common result of this is Within Arm's Reach, where a character in one of these traps or fights manages to just so happen to grab something that allows them to fight back — even though they're usually doing so in full view of said villain.
  • The villain takes one of the hero's Love Interests hostage in exchange for the MacGuffin and immediately goes back on the deal, ignoring that a vengeful hero is likely a greater threat than a merely pissed-off one.

It seems they just can't help themselves, they are compelled to stop in their tracks to threaten innocent puppies just to prove that they are a Card-Carrying Villain. Inevitably, it's their own inherent Fatal Flaws that lead to their downfall, sometimes by Humiliation Conga. This may even lead to an apropos Karmic Death or Cool and Unusual Punishment.


When a previously composed and unflappable villain picks up the Villain Ball and runs with it as soon as his plans start going awry (which, naturally, only hastens his downfall), it's a Villainous Breakdown. When a villain's career is one long string of grabbing Villain Balls and facing all too predictable consequences, you're probably looking at Stupid Evil.

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    Common Villain Ball Carriers 

    Related Plots 

    Can lead to 

Sub-Trope of Evil Will Fail. See also Contractual Genre Blindness, often a choice when the villain has Complexity Addiction. For those who habitually pick it up and run with it, see Stupid Evil. Contrast Flaw Exploitation, Genre Savvy, No-Nonsense Nemesis, and Pragmatic Villainy.


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  • FEMA has a series of fire safety PSA's, titled "Fire Is Not Your Friend", starring the Anthropomorphic Personification of Fire, who apparently just wants to watch the world burn. These PSA's open with ordinary people doing something unsafe that could easily burn their house down. At that point, Fire shows up to gloat about the inferno they're about to unleash, and then the people fix the problem and save themselves from fiery death. Fire has yet to figure out that his own premature gloating is the only thing that keeps saving his would-be victims.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Light in Death Note does this a high amount of times:
    • He kills Lind L. Tailor on national television purely out of spite because Tailor insulted him, telling him outright that what he was doing was evil, allowing the real L to significantly narrow down where he could be.
    • He kills the FBI agent Raye Penber, not knowing that the agent already came to believe that Light was innocent.
    • He admits he is Kira to Naomi Misora, when he's written down her name in the notebook in front of her, in broad daylight on a city street, purely to see the look on her face before she dies. Had Aizawa been paying slightly more attention before he walked out of earshot, or had he not been using an umbrella due to the providencial rain, Light would've been caught.
    • The final time leads to his downfall: when he believes that the SPK task force are about to die because Mikami has written their names in his notebook, he gloats that he's won... except, unfortunately for him, they don't.
  • Naruto:
    • Sasuke Uchiha during the Five Kage Summit Arc. Instead of, you know, acting like a shinobi and keeping himself hidden, he decides to meet the investigating Samurai head on. And kills most of them brutally. When the Raikage and his bodyguards C and Darui arrive, he doesn't try to hide. Again, meeting three powerful ninjas head on alone. He gets soaked and electrocuted by Darui for his troubles. Any other ninja would start trying to cut their losses. Not Sasuke. He gets himself caught in C's blinding genjutsu, but even though he can see through it A and Darui nearly blitz him and Suigetsu and Jugo have to save him. Rise, rinse, repeat for the rest of the arc. The biggest ball he grabbed was when Karin was taken hostage by Danzo. Instead of going for a headshot, he decides to shoot through Karin to kill Danzo, because having been taken hostage somehow translates in Sasuke-logic to having outlived her usefulness.
    • Pain, during his climactic fight against Naruto. When he has Naruto at his mercy, he proceeds to blow up Konoha and then almost kill Hinata right in front of him instead of just taking him to the Akatsuki. This causes Naruto to snap and give in to the Kyuubi, and his six-tailed and eight-tailed forms proceed to kick Pain's ass.
    • Orochimaru had a tendency to do things that were counterproductive towards his goals for no real reason other than that he likes being a dick. The best example is probably when he killed the Kazekage... after the Kazekage had agreed to help him attack Konoha. So Orochimaru killed off a powerful ally, pretty much just because he could. Later, during his fight with the Third Hokage, he deliberately dragged the fight out purely because he wanted to make him psychologically suffer before killing him; this allowed the Third to cast a jutsu that cost Orochimaru the use of his arms.
    • Madara Uchiha catches it when trying to get his second eye back. In the moment when Madara wants to return his Rinnegan from Black Zetsu, Obito does not allow to do so. Instead of, well you know, try to take his eye immediately because any man at a time could to understand that Obito not his friend, since Obito himself had said him that he had never considered his as ally and also betrayed him when become the Ten-Tails Jinchuuriki. Also Madara has forced Obito to resurrect him through jutsu which kills the user at using and any sensible person was understandable that Obito will be displeased this. Madara is not one of these people. He trying to convince him to give Rinnegan voluntarily and then he surprised that Obito went against him. And later when Obito and Naruto teleported in other dimension, he spent all his time fighting with Guy rather than trying to retrieve his eye and prevent Obito from resurrecting Naruto,.
    • Black Zetsu during the revival of Kaguya. After activating the Infinite Tsukuyomi, he backstabs Madara and uses him as fodder for Kaguya's resurrection, but also showed that he knows about the seals on Naruto and Sasuke's hands that will seal Kaguya if they touch her together. So why he just not wait until Madara, will win them and already after this using him for Kaguya's resurrection. After all, the Madara better chance to beat them because he much more experienced in combat than Kaguya and he does not need to worry about these seals unlike Kaguya. But apparently he just wanted to gloat.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Given Yugi's Duel Monsters track record, just shooting him sure would be an easier way of killing him than challenging him to a duel every time! They would also accomplish any other goals like destroying/ taking over the world much faster if they didn't let it all rest on a one-on-one duel with him, a tradition Saiou/Sartorius finally breaks in GX.
    • The series do what they can in terms of justifying it; most of the MacGuffin collections can only change hands in a duel and so forth. Then there was that time one of the "Player Killers" in the Duelist Kingdom arc decided to protest his defeat by Yugi... using a pair of flamethrowers. It didn't work. Yami's Mind Crush on the other hand worked just fine.
      • This is how Saiou breaks the tradition. He pretends to be playing along with this, and then while the hero is bound in the fight, he sets off The Plan. Because all he needs to do is press a button, he can do it during the match. Judai/Jaden and his duel spirits can't leave the match. Of course, he started to break it when Judai first challenged him to the duel and Saiou's reaction was, paraphrased, "No. I've got what I need. I don't need to duel you." The only reason he did duel Judai was because Neos manifested to keep Saiou from getting the keys to the SORA satellite. *THEN* he used the duel in order to weaken Neos, which allowed him to steal the satellite keys and give them to his nearest brainwashed flunky, who could and did run off to get the satellite going while Judai was tied up in the duel. Saiou (or more precisely, the Light of Ruin/Destruction) didn't count on Kenzan/Hassleberry and Mizuchi/Serena, Saiou's own sister, teaming up to put a halt to things.
    • Naturally, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has a field day with this issue.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, all Jean has to do to defeat Yusei after a long and extensive duel is end his turn since Yusei has no cards left in his deck and would automatically lose once his turn began, however he gets caught up in the thrill of the duel and attacks Yusei who defends with a card in his hand and depletes Jean's life points.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Incumbent Tamaki and Masaharu are contesting the class election. This divides the class into two. Masaharu can't stand it and decides to concede the election to Tamaki. In response she says, "How can a candidate back out? We need to have a righteous contest, right? I'd rather you do that." Her (main) reasoning comes across as even more idiotic: "My pride won't allow a win without a fight", rather than "No one will vote for someone who wants us to clean the room 3 times a day note ". It's supposedly awesome that Tamaki's attempt to whitewash Masaharu in the election ends up backfiring, but then he announces his intention to have a neighborhood cleanup, and that has everyone freaking.
  • Dragon Ball Z had Cell intentionally hold the villain ball during his fight with Gohan. After cryptic words from Goku, describing Gohan's hidden potential, Cell goes through extreme measures to draw it out for the sake of having a challenge. This included creating clones of himself to beat the living hell out of Gohan's True Companions and finally killing Android 16 in front of him. Considering how much of a Martial Pacifist Gohan had become now since his year-in-a-day in the Room of Spirit and Time, this could be considered a Deconstruction of this trope because of everything Cell had to do to finally push him past his Rage Breaking Point. Unfortunately for Cell, he got exactly what he wanted.
    • Garlic Jr. holds one of these in the movie Dead Zone. He obtains the Dragon Balls and successfully uses them to wish for immortality, allowing him to utterly dominate the heroes in combat since they can't kill him. Instead of just killing them like this, Garlic Jr. opens a portal to the Dead Zone, hoping to suck the heroes in. Of course, the heroes instead knock him into the portal, trapping him forever. At least until an anime filler arc where he escapes...and makes the exact same mistake again, this time removing any hope of return. Of course Garlic Jr. is completely off his rocker, which "might" have been contributing factor.
    • This is essentially how Frieza was defeated. After surviving the Spirit Bomb, Frieza, instead of just killing the exhausted Goku right then and there, shoots Piccolo and leaves him near-death, blows up Krillin, and then explicitly threatens Gohan's life, all right in front of Goku himself. He ends up pissing Goku off enough to make him go Super Saiyan for the first time, leading directly to Frieza's undoing.
      • In the anime, he does try to shoot Goku immediately, only for Piccolo to push Goku out of the way, after which Frieza lets his sadism (his Fatal Flaw) get the better of him.
    • Frieza picks it up again after becoming Mecha-Frieza and going to Earth with his father, King Cold. While Cold originally planned for them to just blow up the planet from space and be done with it, Frieza insists on landing and personally killing everyone to make Goku suffer. Within minutes of landing, they're met with Future Trunks, who slaughters them both effortlessly.
    • And once again Frieza grabs it in the Resurrection 'F' movie and its corresponding Dragon Ball Super arc. When he is restored to life, he spends two months in training until he achieves a form that has power comparable to Goku's. Rather than continue to train in order to master this form and its power, and build up his empire to its former glory, Frieza impatiently rushes to Earth in order to get his revenge. As a result, his soldiers are decimated and, after going toe to toe with Goku for a while, his new form burns itself out of energy and leaves Frieza vulnerable to another humiliating defeat. Thankfully, when he's revived again at the end of the Tournament of Power arc, he decides to put down the ball and goes off to rebuild his empire.
    • Freiza holds this ball even when it comes to his ignorant attitude towards training and obtaining more power. Due to his condescension towards the Saiyan race, as well as his own arrogance and ego, he believes he never needs to train very hard or put any effort into a fight to overcome his enemies in battle. He just assumes his natural ability and superiority will pull through. In more recent times, this is starting to bite him in the ass. As of the end of Super, he is at best on par with Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta when in his golden form (the result of the one occasion where he actually decided to train for a short period of time, which resulted in a phenomenal power boost). Because he doesn't train anywhere near as hard as Goku or Vegeta, he is unable to defeat them, therefore preventing him from regaining his dominion over the universe. If he actually decided to train half as hard as someone like Vegeta does, he likely could easily overwhelm his enemies. Instead, he has found himself on the receiving end of serious beatings from the likes of Toppo, Jiren and Broly thanks to his inability to put his arrogance aside and realise he needs to train harder to become stronger.
    • Both King Piccolo and the current Piccolo flew to the sky and wanted to kill Goku with a dramatic attack. Both times, Goku got the time to prepare the final blow or to escape. Then he won. In the case of King Piccolo, he succeeded in breaking Goku's legs and left arm... but forgot to take out his right arm as well, leading to his demise.
    • Cooler, after being reasonably smart in his first outing, grabbed a colossal one and never let go in his second. In his quest to drain worlds of life, he inexplicably decides to conquer New Namek, a planet with no real resources and only a few dozen people living on it under the protection of the protagonists, and doesn't even make use of its Dragon Balls. He has a giant mechanical space thing that lets him produce hundreds of Meta-Coolers that are individually stronger than the strongest protagonists. With that in mind, he spends most of the runtime instead utilizing much weaker robots so that the other characters can have something to fight, and initially sends in just one Meta-Cooler that Goku and Vegeta manage to take down. After his Meta-Coolers have thrashed the protagonists, he decides to take them to right in front of his vulnerable core, and tries to drain their power despite the fact that they're weaker than he is (and somehow, they still manage to overload him).
    • In Dragon Ball GT, Naturon Shenron has Goku on the ropes for most of their fight after assimilating Pan. By the end, he decides to rub his seeming victory in Goku's face by showing him Pan while he's apparently beaten before killing him; as it turns out, Goku was just pulling off a Wounded Gazelle Gambit and saves Pan before blowing Naturon away.
  • The antagonists of Ookami Kakushi have a tendency to incapacitate their victims in a manner that would guarantee death within minutes, then leave them alive long enough to warn someone else of their plans. Ironically, it's what one, Sakaki, does to the other, Kasai. Afterwards, it is now Sakaki's turn to carry the Villain Ball around like a child carries a lollipop. From the aforementioned leaving his victim alive long enough to warn someone of his plan, to leaving the control station unguarded right after doing what he came to do, to his sudden inability to shoot anyone while also gaining the ability to rant and rave and just stand there...
  • The Devil Is a Part-Timer!: After seemingly killing a powerless Maou, Lucifer decides to get flashy before he kills Emi by blowing up a bridge and terrifying countless innocent people; said fear recharges Maou's powers and enables him to squash Lucifer like a bug. Especially idiotic since, as a Fallen Angel and a demon himself, Lucifer knew that the fear generated by the people on Earth is the source of both his and Maou's powers.
  • Byaku at the end of the Kekkaishi anime. Yoshimori had willingly come to the Kokoboro and was demanding they bring him Kaguro. Byaku had never shown any particular loyalty to his lieutenants thus far, and had particular reason not to be attached to Kaguro. But instead of trying to make a deal with Yoshimori, he orders Shion to try to break Yoshimori's spirit and weaken his powers.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED For all the dog-kicking Muruta Azrael did up to that point, he was completely in the right when he pointed out to Natarle that ZAFT's G.E.N.E.S.I.S. superweapon was a threat to Earth and had to be destroyed ASAP. So instead of using the Enemy Mine moment to make peace with his embattled ship captain, he instead decides to launch the Alliance's nuclear missiles at the PLANT colonies, which would have done absolutely nothing about G.E.N.E.S.I.S.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny Lord Djibril just had to send the Destroy Gundam to attack Europe to make an example of anyone who dares to defy Blue Cosmos. Durandal later exposes Blue Cosmos attack and the rest of their crimes to the world, which made the nations of the Earth to turn against and turning the war to Durandal's favor.
  • Code Geass's Lelouch tends to juggle a lot of balls. As a result, every once in a while, he grabs his villain ball and behaves in an excessively evil manner.
    • In the last arc of the series, Lelouch makes himself look a like a villain and kidnaps the heads of the UFN. In truth, this is to use himself as a human shield, while everyone tries to fight him. The real point is to convince the actual villain, Schneizel, to grab his own villain ball, help out the people trying to kill Lelouch, and fire his super-weapons at the battlefield. What this does is open a big hole in his invincible, space-worthy, battlefortress. If he didn't do that, he would have been able to move into orbit, well outside of the reach of anyone else, able to bombard the world at will, which was his goal all along. He changes it just to get a shot against Lelouch, which, as you can guess, resulted in Lelouch's forces developing a countermeasure, boarding the battlecruiser, taking control of it, and capturing Schneizel.
  • InuYasha:
    • When he has Inuyasha on the ropes thanks to his impenetrable Deflector Shield, Taigokumaru proceeds to gloat to Shiori, the one powering said shield, about how he killed her father, which gives Shiori the incentive she needs to expel him from the barrier and leave him open to Inuyasha's attacks.
    • Hakudoshi picks up the ball when he decides to brag to Inuyasha and co. about how he intends to betray Naraku... right in front of Naraku himself. As a result, Naraku disables his barrier and recalls the Saimyosho, giving Miroku free rein to suck Hakudoshi into the Wind Tunnel.
    • Naraku himself is prone to this despite being a Manipulative Bastard. During Sango's introduction, he dupes her into thinking that Inuyasha had attacked her village and slaughtered everyone in order to get her to fight him to the death. It almost worked... but then Inuyasha subdues her and tracks down Naraku, who, when questioned, freely admits that he was the one who destroyed her village.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Tamao Ichinose initially has the upper hand against Inner Moka, because mermaids are stronger in water and water happens to be a vampire's weakness. However, she is easily tricked into jumping out of the water after Inner Moka and losing her advantage; thus, Moka K.O.'s her with a single kick to the face.
  • Blood-C: The Last Dark: Kuto boasts to Saya that she can't kill humans and thus can't touch him... and then turns himself into an Elder Bairn, giving Saya the perfect opportunity to tear him apart.
  • Pokémon: Team Rocket, always. Nine times out of ten, it will be that they almost got away with the Pokémon/item/food, but then decided to grab Pikachu as well, which always triggers Ash's interference and their defeat.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi main antagonist Fate captured Asuna while Negi was distracted and replaced her with a perfect copy. Negi's group didn't even notice, nor did any of his allies, even Jack Rakan. At this point, Fate had everything he needed to accomplish his goal of destroying the Magic World and taking all of its inhabitants to an inescapable dream world but apparently "winning" isn't enough, so he attacked the Governor's Ball where Negi was currently embroiled with an apparent new enemy, Kurt Godel. Though he does successfully eliminate Jack Rakan and a couple minor allies he completely reveals his hand in the process, including blowing the secret that Asuna was captured long ago and used to power a series of potent artifacts. If his group hadn't felt the need to pick a pointless fight, they would have won before anyone even noticed them.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • The ONLY reason Vidaldus doesn't ultimately win is because he'd rather use his powers to watch a Cat Fight between Lucy and Juvia rather than hypnotizing them both.
    • Invoked by Azuma, who's so eager to face off against Erza Scarlet that he not only refuses to drain her magic power when he uses his magic to usurp control of the Sirius Tree and drain the rest of Fairy Tail's power to let his guild Grimoire Heart win, but swears to give it all back if she can beat him in combat just so he can force her to come at him with everything she's got. Luckily for the heroes and unluckily for his team, Azuma holds to that deal when he loses, which leads to Grimoire Heart's defeat.
  • In My Hero Academia, Smug Snake Seiji Shishikura spends much of his encounter with Bakugo, Kirishima, and Kaminari waxing poetic on his agreement with the more stringent rules of the Provisional Hero Licensing Exam. In fact, he agrees so much that he would much rather take his time as a participant in the first portion of the exam separating the wheat from the chaff rather than actually passing the test, which he could easily do as he'd already incapacitated several rival students beforehand. Between this and his arrogance making him underestimate his opponents from U.A., Shishikura is taken out within a chapter.
  • Sword Art Online: When he has Kirito pinned down in ALO, rather than just finish him off and be done with it, Sugou/Oberon decides to indulge his sadism by slowly decreasing the Pain Absorber to "give him something to look forward to", and then make him watch while he sexually assaults Asuna. This buys Kayaba's Virtual Ghost time to save Kirito and grant him admin privileges, leading to the Pain Absorber being used against Sugou himself and Sugou being chopped up and left with permanent injuries IRL. Though Sugou had no way of foreseeing Kayaba's intervention, deciding to torment Kirito before killing him was still a stupid move.
  • Gleipnir: Hikawa needs a special coin under Clair's possession in order to regain her human form, but decides the best way to get the coin is to steal it and kill Shuichi and Clair should they resist. Unfortunately, she badly underestimates the protagonists and ends up getting killed in the ensuing fight. She didn't even need to steal the coin, she could have just asked the protagonists about it, since they are on the same boat and they could have searched for more coins together. It's just that her desperation to regain her humanity got the better of her and she went into attack mode. The story needed a Starter Villain for the protagonists to defeat and poor Hikawa got drafted.
  • In the Kirby: Right Back at Ya! episode "Mumbies Madness", Dedede’s latest monster, the titular Mumbies, is easily winning its fight with Kirby. However, Dedede then decides to throw a bomb wrapped up like Mumbies at Kirby to finish him off himself. Naturally, Kirby inhales the bomb and transforms, allowing him to turn the tide and defeat Mumbies. Naturally, Escargoon calls Dedede out on this stupid move.

    Comic Books 
  • In Action Comics #555 and Supergirl Vol. 2 issue #20 two-part story, Parasite and a clone of his put in motion a convoluted plan to kill off Superman and Supergirl simultaneously, which failed because they didn't think of searching their costumes before locking them in a Death Trap. And because the clone felt the need to gloat prior to sealing Supergirl in.
  • Sonic the Comic: During the "Robotnik Reigns Supreme" arc, Robotnik has drained enough power from the Chaos Emeralds to become a Reality Warper, and has used his powers to alter history so that Sonic never existed and Robotnik himself is the uncontested ruler of Mobius. Near the end, he's gotten Sonic Brought Down to Normal and pitted against an evil version of Knuckles, only for Sonic to exploit his ego and manipulate him into giving Sonic back his Super Speed and restoring Knuckles' memories of the original timeline, pointing out that even with Sonic powerless, Robotnik never would have brought forth an evil Knuckles unless he was still scared of losing. As soon as he does so, Sonic and Knuckles use the Grey Emerald to siphon the Chaos Energy out of Robotnik and turn the world back to normal.
  • Batman '66: Lampshaded by King Tut when he leaves Batman and Robin Buried Alive and they explain how they escaped.
    King Tut: Why don't I ever simply stay and watch you die? I'm just too decent!
  • In the Wonder Woman Vol 1 storyline Judgment In Infinity, the Adjudicator makes one stupid mistake after another during the final segment. He brings the eleven heroines into his ship because he wants to keep some "specimens", fires small eye beams at Wonder Woman when she breaks out of her cage instead of shooting a big unblockable blast or teleporting her into some airless world, and then he is cajoled into starting to monologue when he is about to obliterate Diana and her companions, which results in his undoing.

    Fan Works 
  • Mortality Smith is prone to this in the Deliver Us From Evil Series. Murders his step-nephew out of greed, captures Holmes, tortures him to death and gloats over him. Watson seriously doesn't take too well to this. It ends badly for the knucklehead. You'd think he'd be smart enough not to capture the guy and vice versa. Nope. He does so, which leads to him being killed in cold blood.
    • Also, the captured criminal. You'd think he'd be smart enough to REVEAL Holmes's whereabouts instead of not doing so and begging for remorse after playing a part in it.
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen of All Oni, after Jade becomes evil once more, she juggles the Villain Ball by sometimes gloating and overestimating her own abilities, but she ALSO attempts to learn from both her own mistakes and the mistakes of previous Big Bads, like not going for a plot to Take Over the World, remembering how Shendu and siblings got sealed away, and having a special prison constructed to contain the good guys if they are captured.
  • When Villain Win pokes fun at Queen Chrysalis's holding of the villain ball (See the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic entry under Western Animation below). In this comic it was actually her intention to carry the Villain Ball and make mistakes which lead to her defeat: Her entire scam consists of showing up, almost conquering a nation, letting her subjects feed in the meantime, and then being "defeated and chased off" to save her the headache of actually running said nation. Lather, rinse, repeat. Only this time, she's a little too successful...
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • In Act I chapter 13, Ghaldin has Moka restrained and is about to finish her off, only for Astreal to take advantage of his distraction to destroy the bracelet he had used to control her and her sister Apoch. The minute he realizes this, Ghaldin tosses Moka aside and goes to kill Apoch and Astreal in a rage... giving Moka the perfect opportunity to punch a hole clean through his torso and kill him.
    • In Act I chapter 30, Rarosun and Surason have Dark and Rason tricked into thinking that they molested the other's respective girlfriends, and have Mizore and Kurumu restrained and are making them watch the fight. However, the two get tired of waiting and decide to morph into Mizore and Kurumu and give the boys the final push to kill each other; instead, Dark and Rason see through their disguises, promptly kill the Kiyo brothers, and subsequently realize they were duped. In short, Rarosun and Surason screwed themselves over through their own impatience and sadism.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos mostly averts this trope - with the major exception of Episode 67. Beelzebub wanted to study Tails' Shroud infection one day, so he goes about it by kidnapping, torturing, and raping Chris and Cosmo... and then gloating about it to Tails when he comes to rescue them. Somewhat justified in this case, since Beelzebub is an utterly sadistic pedophile and narcissistic Mad Scientist rolled up into one.
    • Tsali grabs it in Episode 73. Rather than just blowing up the Blue Typhoon and killing everyone the easy way, he decides to rampage through the ship and meticulously slaughter Sonic and friends one by one. Trinity actually points this out to him... and Tsali retorts that just blowing them up is "way too simple for them." This ends up distracting him at several key moments, letting Tails and Cosmo get away.
      • He also temporarily grabbed it when he took on Super Sonic, Super Shadow, and Super Eric at once because he thought he could win. He was wrong.
  • Shown in the DeviantArt page here, a really stupid villain tries to use a stretch rack on Elastigirl; doesn't seem to be working...
  • Downplayed and justified in The RWBY Loops. While Cinder starts off the Tale of Two Sisters with remarkable competency, as time goes on her actions grow more and more cliche, as acknowledged by the other characters. It turns out her good half was subconsciously sabotaging her efforts.
  • In Loved and Lost, an extended retelling of "A Canterlot Wedding" (see the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic entry under Western Animation below), Prince Jewelius successfully steals Equestria's throne by double-crossing the Changelings at the last minute, helping Twilight stop them herself, and tricking the public into blaming all the other heroes for the invasion. He then makes himself Equestria's "Holy King Jewelius I", banishes the disgraced heroes (who all now consider themselves to be failures) from Equestria, and manipulates Twilight into becoming his student and future queen as well as losing all trust in her friends, brother and mentor for abandoning her at the wedding rehearsal. Not settling for all these successes, Jewelius lures the banished heroes back to Canterlot for a false chance of redemption so that he can capture them, gloat about his success and evil actions in their faces, and personally guarantee that his aunt Celestia and cousin Cadance will die. After the heroes and the Changelings have all escaped from his dungeons, he focuses on hunting down the heroes and refuses to prepare against the renewed threat of the Changelings even though Chrysalis desires his blood and everyone in Canterlot is more concerned about the Changelings than about the heroes. This leads to Twilight (and Canterlot's citizens) realizing how evil and selfish Jewelius is, reconciling with her loved ones and bringing to them the Elements of Harmony which are used in the final battle to stop Jewelius' army from destroying Ponyville. Finally, once Jewelius is cornered by the heroes, Chrysalisnote  appears and orders her Changelings to kill Jewelius for his betrayal.
  • Sheltered (a Shelter/RWBY fic) features a spectacular fuck-up on the part of Jacques Schnee, Weiss' father, who in his greed attempts to force Rin to sign away all overship rights to her ship, including the intellectual property rights, hoping to secure exclusive access to advanced alien technology. Beforehand, Rin had little reason to think the Schnee patriarch would attempt to exploit her - had he played the long game and entered a partnership with her, he would have still secured an extremely lucrative source of profit, but instead he decides to attempt to basically claim everything from her, and it backfires hard. He initially attempts this when Weiss is away for an extended period of time, hoping Rin would skip over the legalization of the documents she's been sent, only for her to properly study them in detail. He then attempts to directly pressure Rin by using a combination of gaslighting her via fake audio from Weiss, cutting off any communication with the world outside of the Schnee estate to prevent her from trying to contact Weiss beyond that, and locking her in her room. Unfortunately for him, this causes Rin to become desperate enough to remotely order her ship to come to her to get her out of there, and she also first uses her semblance in the process. Jacques' blunter is so spectacular in scope that in order to avoid getting metaphorically crucified by General Ironwood and Weiss, he stages things to make it look like Rin was kidnapped in a White Fang attack (and the resulting security revamp likely having its own consequences later down the line), but he also hires mercenaries in an attempt to re-secure Rin after she lands in Menagerie, which goes poorly thanks to Ghira Belladonna and his forces, and it also scares her off again, causing her to become paranoid enough to try to slip under the radar, suspecting that Weiss and Ironwood were potentially in on this scheme and had betrayed her trust (even later, when Rin is informed that Weiss is attending Beacon, she is too hesitant to contact her directly out of fear that she was under her father's thumb and might report back to him). Rin eventually ends up living with Taiyang Xiao Long and his daughters Yang and Ruby, who manage to secure her trust, and this ends up causing the technology that Jacques' craves to end up being used by a competing company. In his greed and impatience, Jacques scares off the golden goose, and ends up having to scramble to cover up his blunder, which would make things even worse for him if anyone from Atlas found out the truth. In the words of one forum poster...
    CrowbarKnight: "Hmmm, you know I figured Jacques was a bit of a gambler, albeit more of the card counter or D’Arby variety then anything else, but I didn’t know he was into playing political Russian Roulette."
    • Now that the fic is finished, the epilogue details how this all finally ends: Jacques is arrested for treason (with Winter taking him in after listening in on him plotting to capture Rin while also unintentionally confessing his guilt), amongst several other crimes he committed in his desperation to secure control over Rin.
  • BURN THE WITCH features a Lila Rossi who is so used to getting away with all her machinations that she has no clue how to respond when she finally gets caught. Unable to acknowledge even the notion that her actions can have terrible consequences for her, and furious at the notion of Marinette and Ladybug being the only ones willing to try and protect her from Witch Hunter and the ever-growing angry mob, she repeatedly attempts to spitefully sabotage both her classmate and the heroine. In the process, she winds up self-sabotaging herself several times, as her attempts backfire and wind up costing her one potential safe haven after another.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, everything would have worked out fine for Jafar if he'd simply tossed Aladdin a few coins and sent him on his way rather than double-crossing him after Aladdin retrieved the lamp. Also, in the end Jafar was already the most powerful sorcerer on Earth, more than strong enough to defeat Aladdin. Instead he had to be the most powerful creature and wished to be a genie, with all that entails. Years of planning and hardwork for Jafar end up being for nothing with someone else getting his greatest dreams all because he wanted to screw the kid over.
    • For that matter, his entire scheme of arresting Aladdin and disguising himself was flawed. Aladdin's entire world revolved around basically keeping fed with dreams of one day being rich. Jafar could have just as easily gone to him in person promising him amnesty and a solid payoff for his efforts, which he even more easily could have actually given the kid: a single pardon and a bag of gold would have meant nothing to him even as the vizier, let alone the new sultan.
    • He does it again in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar when he praises Iago for successfully serving as The Mole for his plans to get back at Aladdin. Iago already felt guilty, but this was the final straw for him, and he ends up helping the others to stop Jafar once and for all.
  • At the end of The Lion King (1994), when Simba, still blaming himself for his father's death, is dangling from the edge of a cliff, Scar can't resist doing some Evil Gloating and says "I killed Mufasa." Big mistake.
  • Lord Shen of Kung Fu Panda 2 is generally pretty good about averting this, but he firmly grabs onto it during the climax. Victory is pretty much his at this point and all he has to do is finish off Po. He tries to blow him up with his cannon and when that doesn't work he... keeps doing it anyway until his entire fleet is destroyed. Things might have worked out better for him if he just had his wolves Zerg Rush the guy instead.
  • In Hey Arnold! The Movie, Scheck finds a document that would prove Arnold's neighborhood is a historical landmark and therefore can't be torn down and he keeps it hidden in a filing cabinet instead of destroying it. The idea of destroying it doesn't occur to him until after he catches Arnold and Gerald with it, which leads to him being caught on a security camera burning the document.
  • In Frozen, Prince Hans tells Anna all about his plan to marry her and find a way to get rid of Elsa in order to get the throne and become king. Then he leaves Anna to freeze to death, as opposed to either A) staying in the room until she dies, or B) immediately murdering her— which would have probably avoided Anna's Taking the Bullet. Granted, the latter option was probably one Hans couldn't use because a bloody corpse would've discredited his claims that Anna died in his arms, though he could have smothered her if that posed a problem.
    Anna: You won't get away with this!
    Prince Hans: Oh, I already have.
  • Disney villains in general love tossing this Ball around, as pointed out here.
  • Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase has this happen to a staggering degree with both the Big Bad (the Phantom Virus) and the Greater-Scope Villain (Bill):
    • The Phantom Virus, despite being able to bend technology to his will and shoot lightning from his hands, barely actually uses his powers, instead letting his minions do the dirty work even when he could easily just kill Mystery Inc. himself. He only becomes a legitimate threat at the climax of the movie, when he stops relying on minions and (surprise) actually uses his powers.
    • Bill, the creator of the Phantom Virus, ends up getting smacked with the ball twice. During the end of the film, he attempts to flee the crime scene despite Mystery Inc. only having vague hints that he may have been involved with the Phantom Virus' creation and hardly enough evidence to convict him with the crime. His other grabbing of the ball (as pointed out by Caddicarus) is more reliant on Fridge Logic, but still applies: since he made the Phantom Virus, he must have had to spend hours programming it, and thus is to blame for all of the Virus' design flaws, including failing to just kill Mystery Inc., constantly making stupid mistakes, and making tons of baseball references, which is what made Mystery Inc. suspect Bill was behind the Virus' creation.
  • Maleficent's fatal mistake in Sleeping Beauty was letting Prince Phillip live when she captured him. Had she killed him, her plans would have gone without a hitch. Instead, she wanted to perform a Cruel Mercy by locking him in her dungeon for a hundred years and then release him (assuming he was actually able to live that long) to fulfill his destiny to awaken Aurora. By doing this, it gave Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather a chance to break into the dungeon and free him the moment she left him alone, and ultimately save the day.
  • Charles F. Muntz from Up murders people because he thinks they're going to steal the bird he discovered. Even if they did, it would prove the skeleton he brought back to America years ago was real and not a hoax.
  • Rex Dangervest from The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part starts his plan to turn his past self, Emmett into Rex by travelling back in time to save him from the accident that made him Rex then spends the rest of the movie failing to corrupt him.
  • Madame Medusa from The Rescuers would have successfully made of with The Devil's Eye diamond if she hadn't decided to store it inside Penny's teddy bear for no apparent reason other than to be mean.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: Rather than kill his victims outright, Freddy prefers to draw out their torment for his own amusement, overconfident in their inability to effectively fight back. This has given many of his victims a chance to escape or find the means to defeat him, and Jason stole one of his kills because of this. Of course, seeing how he always finds a way to come back, and over the course of the franchise has successfully murdered all the teenagers in Springfield, his lack-a-daisical approach can be justified.
  • In Child's Play Chucky has the perfect disguise (the form of a doll) yet goes around killing random people in the most obvious ways to the point that people actually start to believe he's behind all of it (which is true). Apparently, he doesn't understand that he should just transfer his soul as quickly as possible.
  • The Dark Crystal: One of the Skeksis stabs Kira after she throws the Shard to Jen, even though holding her hostage is the one thing that might've stopped him from using it. Instead, they're reduced to pleading with him to stop when Kira's blood is fresh on their hands and he's got nothing left to lose; yeah, like that's going to work.
  • Multiple Star Wars examples:
    • The only reason Han Solo could shoot first in A New Hope was because Greedo took the time to gloat instead of shooting when he had the chance.
    • While it is mostly relegated to Expanded Universe media, it is pointed out that blowing up Alderaan pissed people off greatly rather than instilling fear into them, driving them to support the Rebellion (that said Rebels blew up the Death Star and thus showcased that there was still hope helped, too). This is not the first time the Tarkin Doctrine backfired, but it sure was the greatest (and for poor Wilhuff, it was the last).
    • Rogue One also showcased a very good example with Tarkin ordering the destruction of Scarif (the place where all of the Empire's research was stored) when the Imperial security forces on the ground had already killed almost all of the raiding Rebels and Vader's task force was already seconds behind the Death Star to wipe out the forces in space, just for the hell of it (and killing Krennic, maybe). If not for this, then the Imperials would have figured out what the stolen plans were without being forced to chase after Princess Leia, causing the entire original trilogy to happen. The novelization even adds an additional moment of irony with Krennic figuring out the weakness in the battle station a split second before being vaporized by the Death Star's beam.
    • In Revenge of the Sith, this is exactly what happens to Anakin after being warned by Obi Wan that he can't win because of the higher ground, and (though he leaves this unsaid) through his own experience, knows (how) not to waste this advantage, like Darth Maul did.
    • Also in Revenge, Palpatine almost got hit by one of the senate platforms during his battle with Yoda because he was busy laughing maniacally.
    • In Return of the Jedi, after Luke refuses to turn to the Dark Side, Palpatine tries to kill him slowly and painfully with Force Lightning (rather than, say, quickly with a lightsaber or something), right in front of Darth Vader, who has a tendency to go nuts when you target his loved ones. While Vader and Sidious agreed beforehand to kill Luke if he refused to join them, Vader has been slowly turning away from the Dark Side due to the love for his recently discovered son and Palpatine is too deluded to see it and as a result, Vader fully rejects the Dark Side and throws Sidious to his death.
  • Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan escaped exile, stole a starship, and marooned its crew in his place. As his right hand man points out, they can do anything they want. But Khan is determined to have his revenge on Kirk, an agenda which of course leads to his own death. Khan himself is aware of this, and lampshades it with his frequent Moby-Dick quotes.
  • Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis, after successfully convincing Picard that he an his people want peace with Federation, then uses Mind Rape on Troi, which has nothing to do with his plan and alerts Picard and the Enterprise crew he is up to no good.
  • The sheriff in First Blood could have avoided a lot of death and bloodshed had he simply let the wandering Vietnam veteran get something to eat, but instead chose to throw his weight around and treat the guy like a criminal. Not a smart thing to do to John Rambo... Justified, Rambo never mentions that he's a returned Nam vet, so the sheriff literally doesn't know what he's dealing with. Plus, Rambo doesn't exactly look like an upstanding citizen. It may be more a case of Wrong Genre Savvy than anything else. It goes differently in the original book - the sheriff lets Rambo buy some food to go, and then gives him a ride out of town. He doesn't actually arrest him until Rambo turns up in town again after having been asked to leave (and escorted out) on multiple occasions.
  • In Dream House, Jack Patterson clutches the villain ball during the climax. First, he shoots his accomplice Boyce without making sure that he was dead . Second, he ties up Ann instead of killing her. Not only does Peter Ward rescue Ann, Boyce pours a flammable liquid onto Jack's escape path, resulting in Jack getting burned.
  • Willy Bank and Terry Benedict in Ocean's Thirteen. The former's outright betrayal of Reuben leading to Ocean and co. seeking justice is the impetus for the plot; knowing full well their reputation as capable of beating the odds. The latter in his insistence to betray them and get several diamonds.
  • It does not always happen to the Big Bad in many James Bond films:
    • In Thunderball, Count Lippe, alias "sub-operator G", was handed the ball and attacked an unsuspecting off-duty Bond, tipping him off about what was happening in the fitness center. As a result, he was properly dealt with by his boss.
      • The novel version, at least, has Count Lippe trying to kill Bond because he (mistakenly) believed that Bond had penetrated his cover and was there to take him out. However, like the movie version, he fails and is "properly dealt with" for his failure. Ironically, Bond never figures out that Lippe was working for SPECTRE at all, although Felix Leiter eventually puts the pieces together.
    • In another Bond film, Octopussy, Bond finds himself trapped in a Knife Outline by Grishka, the remaining half of a pair of knife-throwing twins, whose brother Mishka had been killed by Bond earlier. Grishka has one knife remaining, so what does he do? He tells Bond "And this is for my brother!", and charges towards Bond! Bond manages to take one of the knives out of the outline and throws it at Grishka, adding "And that's for 009!" note .
    • In From Russia with Love Grant could have easily shot Bond at any point, killed Tatiana, made it look like a murder-suicide and carried out the plan without a problem. Instead he chose to gloat and be greedy, letting Bond trick him. Even if he hadn't, his initial plan of shooting Bond until Bond kissed his feet would have probably put the plans in serious danger. This is what you get when you hire a semi-intelligent sadistic psychopath to be your primary assassin, KGB.
    • In general, the James Bond villains are bad enough to name a whole separate trope — for instance, instead of simply killing Bond, they beat him up and leave him in a somewhat easily escapable cell, leave him in the middle of an alligator farm, and shoot a mook that failed them instead.
  • The plot of each of The Transporter films basically doesn't kick-off until someone higher in the criminal food-chain than the Protagonist grabs the Villain Ball and doesn't let go until they've done something horribly cliche'd.
  • In The Untouchables, Mafia hitman Frank Nitti murders Jimmy Malone by writing his apartment address on a matchbook. Unfortunately for him, he forgets to dispose of it after his hit. When he bumps into Eliot Ness, he offers the matchbook to light his cigarette with. Ness sees the address, and putting two and two together, chases Nitti and pushes him off a roof onto a car.
    • Nitti also can't leave well enough alone! Ness pulls him up to the roof after considering shooting him when he's hanging by a rope but then Nitti starts gloating about killing Malone, saying that he "died screaming like a stuck pig" which is what finally makes Ness throw him off the roof.
  • In George of the Jungle 2, Beatrice and Lyle's plan probably would have worked if they thought of hypnotizing Junior too.
  • In Drillbit Taylor, Filkins finally got caught only because he attempted to murder the protagonists with a samurai sword right in front of the police.
  • In the film adaptation of James and the Giant Peach, James' aunts attempt to take him back by pretending to be kind guardians, but it doesn't take them long to drop the act and attempt to kill James with axes right in front of a large crowd, including at least one cop. Though the cop really doesn't do much in response to this.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Judge Doom had a perfect chance to stab incapacitated Eddie with his Sword Cane, but he just had to go for the slower and more gruesome road roller option, which gave Eddie time to escape. The Reveal regarding Doom should tell you exactly why he went for the more Looney Tunes-esque manner of taking him out as opposed to the quick way.
  • In Hancock, every character who refers to the title superhero as an "asshole":
    • When Hancock voluntarily admits himself to prison, he's surrounded by most of the inmates he helped bring in. All of these people know firsthand what he's capable of, and yet two of them persist in impeding him when he threatens to shove an inmate's head up the ass of another. Why were the other inmates surprised, anyway?
    • The French boy, Michel (who continually bullies Ray's son), has already seen Hancock demonstrate his powers on several occasions when he lands in front of Ray's home. When Michel keeps calling Hancock an asshole, he gets thrown miles up into the sky for his trouble. (In his defense, Michel probably thought that Hancock Would Not Hurt A Child.)
    • The bank robber who attempts to threaten Hancock with a dead man's switch detonator connected to C4 placed on all the hostages. He plainly sees Hancock taking off the metal shade off a lamp and turning it into a makeshift sawblade while he's calling the guy sent to stop him an asshole. Is it any wonder that he got his hand lopped off after ignoring repeated warnings?
      • Even worse considering that he's just witnessed Hancock take out his fellow bankrobbers one at a time, by flying in and grabbing them at high-speed before exiting out of the opposite window!
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Weaponized In-Universe by Iron Man in The Avengers (2012), when he points out that Loki's entire plan of making personal enemies of every single force on Earth that could stop him is this in order to buy enough time for his new suit of armor to be ready for deployment.
      Tony Stark: You're missing the point. There's no throne. There is no version of this where you come out on top. Maybe your army comes, and maybe it's too much for us, but it's all on you. Because if we can't protect the Earth, you can be damn well sure we'll avenge it.
    • At the climax of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ultron kidnaps Black Widow for literally no reason except that he wanted someone to gloat to. This gives her the opportunity to transmit the location of his humanity-destroying device to the other Avengers, allowing them to show up and stop him. He also has a chance to escape Sokovia in a stolen Quinjet, but is caught by the Hulk after stupidly deciding to circle back for one last futile attack on the Avengers.
  • Blackjack and his band of outlaws in Purgatory. They ride into a weird little town whose pacifistic, religious inhabitants give them food and drink including alcohol, stable their horses, put them up in the hotel, and doctor their wounds all without payment. Said inhabitants really don't want trouble, to the point of not doing anything when the outlaws steal ammunition. The outlaws could just take the hospitality and go, stealing stuff on the way out. Was it really necessary to keep trying to kill people, wreck stuff, and rape the women, to the point where the townsfolk, who are actually dead famous outlaws, finally decide it's enough?
  • Terl in Battlefield Earth. Teaching your slaves everything to know about your civilization in an instant can only end badly, especially if you're supposedly doing it to help conquer their planet. Introducing your pet human to inspiring documents from the American Revolution will only make things worse. Holding your pet human's girlfriend hostage just makes things personal. Abusing your henchman only serves to set up the Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal in the final act. And not launching an all-out crackdown when the man-animals rebel and attack with air support... not a good idea Terl doesn't even notice an exploding collar Jonny straps to his arm in a melee, and proceeds to amputate his own limb when he triumphantly hits the detonator. His (non)reaction shot is priceless. He appears to read the Bizarro Universe inversion of the Evil Overlord List, telling him exactly what to do wrong.
  • In The Running Man, Killian convinces Richards to go on the show by offering to spare his rebel friends. When Richards agrees, Killian backstabs him and sends them into the arena anyway. However, without the rebels Ben Richards could never have found the hidden base and escaped the arena, and without Richards the rebels would have been immediately killed. All of them together were able to ultimately bring down the show and (it is implied) the entire government.
  • Every decision Zod makes in Man of Steel. He threatens to kill everyone unless Clark Kent reveals himself instead of just coming peacefully and telling him that they need a blood sample to revive their people. He kidnaps Lois Lane just to annoy Superman which leads to his escape and he insists on terraforming Earth instead of travelling to another planet that is unoccupied or at least lacking a Superman.
  • In Conan the Barbarian (2011), Conan hangs helplessly from a bridge while the heroine Tamara is transforming into an evil sorceress. All Khalar Zym has to do, is keep his distance from Conan for about 30 seconds to win everything, and be unstoppable forever. So why exactly does he walk along the bridge, and get in Conan's face?
  • The protagonists of Pain and Gain are fucking morons. If you were to make a drinking game out of every mistake they make, you'd die of alcohol poisoning by the end of the movie. Even worse, this is one of those 'based on a true story' films that is actually fairly accurate most of the time. The real life criminals really WERE that stupid, something the film itself has to stop at least TWICE to explain, yes, THEY REALLY DID DO THAT.
  • The entire plot of Beverly Hills Cop depends on the fact that Victor Maitland is an idiot. If he had just played dumb and told Axel that he had no idea who would want to kill Michael Tandino, that, yes, he uses bearer bonds in his business all the time, which is completely normal in the art world, and no, he has no idea why Michael would have brought bearer bonds with him to Detroit, that would have been the end of the movie, as Axel at that point had no real basis of suspicion against him. Instead, he calls in a group of thugs to his office to have Axel thrown out, as in literally thrown through a plate glass window, at which point Axel is certain that Maitland is behind it all. Then there's the fact that when Maitland catches Axel and Jenny in one of his warehouses, having discovered a crate of cocaine, instead of having them both killed then and there, when he has them completely at his mercy, he kidnaps Jenny, taking her back to his house, while leaving Axel there not to be killed, at least not right away, but first to be beaten up by two thugs. That of course leaves enough time for Billy to rescue Axel, and for Axel, Billy, and Sgt. Taggart to rescue Jenny. If Maitland had had a triple-digit IQ, the movie would have been much shorter.
  • In The Omen (1976) and Damien: Omen II, the first two movies of The Omen series, Damien seems unstoppable and unbeatable. Then comes Omen III: The Final Conflict, where his plan to prevent the Second Coming ends in an Epic Fail and he's finally taken down because he takes the completely wrong approach, assuming Christ will return to the world the same way he did the first time. Simply reading the Book of Revelations could have tipped him off to the rather huge flaw in his plan. The interesting thing, is that Damien found out he was The Anti-Christ by reading the Book of Revelations.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014):
    • Sacks and his mentor the Shredder pass it between them, possibly due to one raising the other, with Bad Boss tendencies (most notably killing a loyal mook to explain a nefarious plan to the turtles moments before they planned to exsanguinate the lot) or just stopping mid fight perhaps out of pride.
    • Let's discuss the evil plan: use a chemical weapon on New York so you can sell them the cure you haven't tested yet with a 15 year old chemical disbursement system that comes directly from your headquarters in the biggest and most modern metropolis in the world. So you can make money. No trials, no production set up, and no one thought that everyone would notice that your skyscraper was at the heart of all of it.
  • In Home Alone, Marv delights in going that extra mile to Kick the Dog for a field goal after running a touchdown by plugging all the drains and turning on all the faucets in the homes they rob, leaving the already ransacked houses flooded. Even Harry calls him out for how dickish and pointless it is, but Marv just insists he does it because they're "The Wet Bandits". Of course when they get arrested in the end, their calling card served to provide the police a list of every single home they robbed and kept them from otherwise being able to reasonably deny robbing any home other than Kevin's where they were caught red-handed.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York has the Wet Bandits, Harry and Marv, planning to rob Duncan's Toy Chest at midnight on Christmas Eve. When they find Kevin, they pick it up by attempting to kidnap him and grasp it even further by telling him their exact plans. Needless to say, this comes back to bite them when Kevin foils their robbery that night. Granted, Kevin is just a kid, but you'd think they'd know better after what happened in the last movie. What makes this worse is that Kevin had absolutely no way of knowing they were in New York nor did they stand to gain anything from bothering him other than revenge.
  • Nearly every ghostly/demonic antagonist in series like Insidious, Sinister, and Paranormal Activity. The monsters in these movies are invisible, ghostly/incorporeal, and many of the protagonists don't even believe they exist at the beginning, meaning they literally could not have more of an element of surprise for whatever goal they're aiming for. Instead of simply taking care of business right away, without anyone even noticing they're there, the ghosts/demons always opt to spend quite a long time simply moving and breaking things in the targets' homes, making noises, and drawing attention to themselves.
  • RoboCop (2014): Despite being skilled at shifting anything into his or the company's favor earlier in the movie chief executive officer of Omnicorp Sellars catches this and runs home with it.
    • Sellars could have simply kept Murphy at bay with the Restraining Bolt that stopped important assets from being attacked and stuck to the story that Murphy was going rogue. Murphy's family may have even believed it at this point after seeing him storm the roof and attempt to attack Sellars. Instead Sellars picks up a pistol and brags about how Murphy is just a machine and how he could kill his family, which gives Murphy the resolve he needs to break programming and shoot him.
  • Under Siege, of all films, manages to avert this trope. Both Krill and Strannix manage to keep their wits about them. The only things that could possibly qualify are when Krill decides to chuck Ryback in the meat locker for no reason (though Krill has been established as enough of an asshole that it has already torpedoed his career, so it's petty and cruel but not out of character) and Strannix only sending two men to deal with Ryback when they take the ship (not being able to figure out that Ryback is played by Steven Seagal). After that, they do everything exactly right, including ordering their men out in large groups, maintaining radio contact and picking their fights. It pays off for them too, Ryback (unusually for a Steven Seagal-flick) spends most of it on the back foot.
  • Zorg from The Fifth Element helps bring on the end of the universe, intending for his Mega-Corp to make money cleaning up the damage despite the fact that he and anyone who could pay him would be destroyed with it.
  • The cheeseball starring vehicle for musician Billy Ray Cyrus Radical Jack has a pretty silly one at the end. Billy Ray has already crashed the illegal arms deal and killed the bad guys when, what do you know, the real villain turns out to be the guy who recruited him to stop the arms deal, and he was using Billy Ray to wipe out his competition. What makes this so stupid is that our be-mulleted hero never suspected a thing about the guy, never stumbled across any evidence of his criminal dealings, and no indication was ever given that the other weapon smugglers knew of his involvement, either. The baddie could have "apprehended" the last wounded villain, quietly disposed of him, and gotten away scot-free, but he apparently couldn't resist pointlessly giving himself away by gloating in Billy Ray's face.
  • In Serenity, the Operative killing all of Mal's contacts, and especially Shepherd Book, is what galvanizes Mal into taking action and finding out the secret the Alliance is trying to hide.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse would have been over in a few hours (at most) if Apocalypse had just used his Story Breaker Powers to do things himself. Instead, he spends much of the film gathering followers, causing destruction, and generally giving the heroes every opportunity to fight back. Given he sees himself as a god, theatrics and arrogance can probably be blamed for this.

  • In A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tyrion Lannister tells Tywin that if he uses a certain word, he will shoot him. Of course the word is uttered. Given Tywin's utter contempt for his son it is quite likely he used the word on purpose, never thinking Tyrion would actually shoot him especially while on the privy and is quite in character. In A Dance with Dragons, Janos Slynt insults Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, in front of the entire Night's Watch, and flat-out refuses to obey his orders. So Snow chops off his head. It's even more satisfying to the readers because Snow doesn't know how Slynt's betrayal contributed to his father's death. It's probably one of the most satisfying Karmic Deaths in the entire series.
    • When Cersei becomes Queen Regent, her paranoia and general unpleasantness as a person has her alienating even those who would have been happy to be her allies. She ticks off her family members (even Jaime), frames Margaery Tyrell for adultery, refuses to pay the Iron Bank, and kills the High Septon of the faith. Eventually she is imprisoned by the new High Septon, and she has left the realm in ruins, and everything the Lannisters have schemed for years slowly crumbles.
  • Alt-history novelist Robbie Taylor came up with a wonderful subversion of this idea: at the moment of defeat, the Antichrist accepts Jesus as his personal savior and therefore qualifies for admission to Heaven.
  • Lampshaded in Much Fall of Blood. The Evil Sorcerer plans to trap and sacrifice the heroes in a location where magic doesn't work. Of course, this means the Evil Sorcerer has no access to magic either, and the heroes are better in a physical melee.
  • The leader of the Psychlos from the Battlefield Earth novel and film does a lot of things that make the viewer/reader shout, "What an Idiot!" In an especially stupid move, the leader teaches the hero, Jonny "Goodboy" Tyler, everything about Psychlos in a matter of seconds, in an attempt to get him to assist their enslavement of Earth. Naturally, it comes back to bite him in the ass at the end in a big way.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Lord Voldemort, amusingly enough, suffered from being more evil than needed and less evil than he could've been at the same time. If he'd just killed Lily Potter without offering her a chance to step aside or if he'd deigned to toss her aside when she refused, instead of killing her, he would've won. But in doing things that exact way he provided the conditions for her Heroic Sacrifice, which eventually led to his doom. It's really something when holding the Villain Ball is an acknowledged character flaw in the books. Most of his catastrophic failings are attributed to himself going for the most showy and dramatic thing he can think of and having it backfire. Had Voldemort just made a random rock into a horcrux and tossed it into a random lake it would have been completely hidden; instead he specifically goes for famous objects as Rule of Cool. He also keeps insisting on having duels with Harry when his henchmen could do the job without worrying about wand backfire and then he insists on using the Killing Curse several times on the one person who's most famous in part for surviving it.
    • Dolores Umbridge also holds the Villain Ball. In the fifth book, her answer to everything is to pass a decree, this actually gives students and teachers more ways to rebel. She goes as far as to ban the Quibbler, which had an interview with Harry, and having any student caught reading it expelled. As Hermione points out to Harry, banning it is a sure way to ensure ''everyone'' reads it! And then there's the whole bit about calling a horde of pissed-off centaurs "filthy half-breeds" for no good reason other than to show how racist she is. The results of that little stunt are never shown, other than her traumatized state at the end.
  • In the Everworld series, Senna Wales was a Magnificent Bastard up until the series was to be cancelled. At this point in the story, she had become allies with a whole pantheon, killed or weakened several gods, arranged the downfall of an entire nation, removed the one species that was a serious threat to her from Everworld, built a small army for her personal use, was still successfully blackmailing and manipulating the other main characters despite them wising up to what she was doing, outmaneuvered Merlin twice and laid a trap for him, become so powerful that no man could bring himself to lay a hand on her, had plans laid down to build her position that went entire years in advance, and needed only one more object in order to complete her master plan and become the absolute, godlike Dimension Lord of Everworld. How can this high-threat, universe-threatening witch be defeated in a quick, cheap manner? Give her the Villain Ball of course!
  • K. A. Applegate likes saddling her truly formidable villains with this: Senna is an Expy of Animorphs's David, who is also manhandled into carrying the Villain Ball to facilitate a quick defeat. At the point in the story he starts to carry it David has defeated four of the six Animorphs in a single night (almost killing two of them), acquired an Animorph for impersonation, made the team's resident Blood Knight afraid for her life, and strongarmed the Animorphs into a position where they have no choice but to give him the Morphing Cube. So how does the team effectively defeat David in the span of a few short chapters? Why, the Villain Ball, dear boy.
    • Visser Three, first by being a total dick to the Taxxons and denying them access to the morphing cube when he got it, and by refusing to promote Tom's Yeerk.
    • In the first book Visser Three chose to kill Elfangor rather than take over his body, which was younger and had much more up to date military knowledge than Visser Three's current body.
    • And Chapman, who inadvertently caused his own infestation thirty years in advance by revealing the existence of humans to the Yeerks.
  • Lestat passes off the Villain Ball between books in The Vampire Chronicles; he retcons into Yet Another Good Vampire when he takes on the mantle of narrator.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Jonathan's father Lawrence strange was a sure-handed holder. The narration mentions that he let petty maliciousness overcome his long term benefit, and suffered a Karmic Death when he opened a window on a cold night to further torment a fevered servant who had annoyed him - forgetting that he was much less healthy than the other man. He was found to have frozen to death during the night.
  • Graham Coates in Anansi Boys gleefully picks up the Villain Ball and runs with it starting in his own backstory. He's been embezzling money from his clients for years, and he fires most of his employees after a year or so, both to avoid having to pay too much in raises and to make sure that none of them have time to cotton on to what he's doing. This bites him in the ass when someone finds him out-he rearranges accounts to make it look like Fat Charlie, his most senior employee by a full year, was the one doing it, but the person he's trying to convince knows that it's been happening for much longer than Fat Charlie's two-year tenure. This ultimately leads to a murder, some attempted murders, and also slicing his own femoral artery with a poorly-chosen place to hold a knife. Of course, he may or may not have been possessed along the way.
  • Legends of Dune: Erasmus spreads dissent among the human slave population to win a bet with Omnius that even the most loyal humans are inherently untrustworthy. While all of this would've probably resulted in an easily-crushed revolt, he then goes ahead and kills a helpless child right in front of his mother and thousands of riled slaves. Cue the Butlerian Jihad - a century-long conflict that results in the destruction of all Synchronized Worlds. To top it off, he then raises a human child to be a human with the mind of a machine, who later betrays his "father" and joins the humans to found the Mentat school, giving humans living computers.
    • Omnius isn't much better. His attempts to finish off the hrethgir (free human) once and for all leaves him open to attack by determined humans, leaving him with one world out of hundreds in a matter of weeks.
  • In the Dale Brown book Plan of Attack, Russian president Gryzlov would have avoided death if he had not used nukes against the ABF-taken Russian airbase and prompted an Even Evil Has Standards Redemption Equals Death moment. In Edge of Battle Comandante Veracruz would not have been stopped either if he did not double-cross Zakharov and cause him to carry out Enemy Mine.
  • In The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Cruella de Vil owned more than 80 dalmatian puppies. Owned, as in had legally bought and paid for. There were no police, human owners, or frantic canine parents looking for these puppies. One would think that would have been plenty to start her dalmatian fur farm. If not, she could have waited until there was another litter for sale and just bought more puppies. Instead, she kidnapped the Dearly puppies (paying far more to the dog thieves than she had for any litter), thereby bringing the police, human reward-seekers, and Pongo and Missus down on her head, permanently putting a stop to her plans.
  • Everything the Capitol does in The Hunger Games seems to be based on how evil it is than whether or not it would be beneficial. Shooting an old man in a crowd just for singing a song, reducing District 12 into utter poverty to the point the protagonist wanted to rebel, rounding up a chunk of the victors of the games (people the public cherish and revere as heroes) into another game with the intent to kill, eliminating any good will between Katniss by brutally killing Cinna in front of her, eliminating the good will of pretty much any major character by brutally firebombing District 12 and killing civilians on TV. Combined with the Hunger Games itself, it makes you wonder how the nation lasted for 75 years without any form of outward rebellion which the districts are too happy to do in the span of a few months.
    • Aside from the central extravagance of the hunger games (and even that is in some ways an inspired form of repression in that it forces people to become complicit in it through starvation, quite stalinesque actually) the tactics the capital uses to repress the districts are actually a fairly realistic representation of the terror methods that Real Life regimes use, and just like in Real Life but unlike in most stories: They work, to a point. In 75 years of power the capital had almost certainly weathered minor uprisings that it had been able to quell through force, control of information, and playing districts off against each other. What tips the scale in the period of the plot is: military support from district 13, inter-district organizational and information support from district 13 and rebels in the capital, and a unifying symbol for all the districts in the form of Katniss and Peeta that had already been helpfully broadcast through the capital's own propaganda machine.
  • In Harry Turtledove's World War series, US President Earl Warren grabs it hard when he orders a nuclear missile launched at the Race's colonization fleet, at literally no possible gain for himself (it only kills enough of the Race to seriously piss them off) and everything to lose if he's found out. May not count in that the ship is the one containing almost all administrative personnel, regardless of how people may feel about bureaucracy the Race thrived on it. The Colonization attempt being disorganized may have lead to the Race being forced to learn to adapt however and it is unsaid whether the American intelligence apparatus could have known which ship to target (though it is likely).
  • Drake from Gone seems to be aware that hurting Diana would be pushing a Berserk Button of the Big Bad, Caine, and, while he openly hates her, he saves most of his taunting of her for when Caine isn't around, even though she often provokes him. But then in Hunger, he picks her up with his whip-hand and bashes her head open against a rock because she yelled at him, all in front of Caine. This does not go over well. Of course, he's not exactly mentally stable, so...
  • The series Relativity has two villains that fit this trope:
    • Carnie Kid: In his first appearance, it can be gathered from the way the heroes talk about him that they don't consider him much of a threat.
    • Valdas Rasmas: He manages to capture all the heroes, but he doesn't kill them or even remove their masks, he brags about how brilliant the plan was. He even has a giant digital display showing how much time they all have to live.
  • In Adam Troy Castro's Sinister Six Trilogy, The Gentleman had a rather malicious plan to screw over the entire world by crashing the world economy, setting off an EMP over New York and simultaneously releasing a catalyst that would bleach all ink including bank notes and contracts and he might've gotten away with it if the plan didn't call for betraying Doctor Octopus and the Chameleon for no good reason.
  • Saruman's plan in The Lord of the Rings makes no real sense. He wants to get the One Ring. How does he do this? He reveals his treachery to Gandalf when Gandalf comes to him for help, and then, after Gandalf escapes, he raises an army and invades Rohan. This despite the fact that by that point he had already subverted King Theoden to the point where had effective control of the kingdom anyway. Not only does his invasion fail, it leads pretty directly to Rohan's intervention on the side of Gondor against Mordor, with which Saruman was allied. Meanwhile, Saruman never gets anywhere near the Ring. If he had just pretended to still be Gandalf's friend and still loyal to the Istari and the White Council, he could easily have traveled to Rivendell with Gandalf, attended the Council meeting there, insinuated himself into the Fellowship, and then persuaded them that the easiest way over the Misty Mountains would be through the Gap of Rohan, and as long as they were passing through the Gap of Rohan, they might as well stop at Isengard for the night. Such a plan would have left him any number of opportunities to get the Ring. There was no reason to tip his hand to Gandalf so soon, or to invade Rohan when he did. It's no wonder Gandalf asked him (in the movie at least) why he exchanged wisdom for madness.
    • Some of this is justified by Saruman's inability to understand Good. Since he's an untrustworthy manipulator trying to secure power for himself, he tends to assume the rest of the White Council (especially Gandalf) are the same. Which effectively means he doesn't trust them enough to effectively betray them. And the fact that he's trying to out-play Sauron at the Dark Lord game means he starts acting like a Dark Lord well before he's got the power or position to back it up.
    • Sauron gets one by leaving the Cracks of Doom completely unguarded. While the heroes are successfully bluffing him into thinking Aragorn has the ring, you'd think the one spot in his territory where it's even possible to harm him would have some security. Of course, you'd think that, but Sauron wouldn't - like Saruman, he doesn't understand Good, and doesn't understand how or why anyone would willingly destroy the Ring, especially if they were strong enough to get all the way inside his territory.
      • Justified in this case though. Sauron's mental wards were strong enough for the possible ring destroyer to change their mind and keep the Ring for themselves. This nearly won the battle both times for Sauron, so much that the literal intervention of the Top God was the only thing able to stop his plans.
  • The Warden's goal in Holes is to acquire the buried treasure of Kissin' Kate Barlow by forcing the inmates at her juvenile correction facility to dig holes every day, in the hopes that one will eventually dig it up, so she can confiscate it. But since her family has owned Camp Green Lake for generations, she could have just hired a group of contractors to dig for her, and she'd get the treasure no matter what. Instead, because the one inmate who finds what she is looking for just happens to be a descendant of the person Barlow robbed, and shares his name, he is able to claim it as his own, the Warden never even sees it, and she gets arrested for mistreating children.
  • Shades of Magic: The Caligula Athos Dane opts to take control of a defiant teen's body via Restraining Bolt out of sheer sadism, rather than make him into a minion via Death of Personality. In the climax, the teen exploits the wording of his orders to let Delilah enter the throne room and kill Athos' co-ruler sister at a critical moment.
  • In Carpe Jugulum, the Old Count grasped this with both hands willingly, making sure his castle was always littered with his weaknesses, such as garlic, easily-opened curtains, mirrors, ornaments easily bendable into religious symbols and so on. His (correct) reasoning was that if he was able to be temporarily dispatched easily enough, no one would be motivated to render him Deader Than Dead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the "Centipede" organisation is looking to experiment on a pyrokinetic in order to improve their Extremis formula so that their future soldiers won't explode. They start by kidnapping him which ends up getting S.H.I.E.L.D.'s attention. Then they do convince him to work with them, but when they find out it's his platelets that makes him fireproof, they render him unconscious and take them by force leading to his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. This is more jarring as they had already paid a hacker a million dollars for a list of superhumans. Couldn't they just have told Chan the truth about the experiments and paid him for the trouble?
  • Best Friends Whenever: It's pretty obvious that Janet Smythe wants to get her hands on Shelby and Cyd, yet she should know better than to leave their arms free allowing them to jump. She did design the future lab, but it's poorly made.
  • In Beverly Hills, 90210 Jeremy catches Annie breaking into his house to steal a necklace he bought after she had had to pawn it (the necklace is a key part of the contested inheritance Jeremy's grandmother left to Annie in her will and she needs it to prove she deserves the money). Rather than simply call the cops and have Annie arrested there and then (he hadn't broken any laws while she definitely had) Jeremy locks her in his bedroom and indulges in Evil Gloating about how he hated his grandmother allowing Annie to record him on her Blackberry and send the message to her lawyers.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Beauty and the Beasts", Pete Clarner is beating up Buffy and has her at his mercy when a feral Angel shows up and attacks him. After a brief fight, Pete tosses Angel aside, but doesn't make sure he's actually down before turning back to Buffy; Angel takes advantage of his distraction to throttle Pete with the chains binding his wrists and snap his neck.
    • In "The Freshman", Sunday has the better of Buffy for most of the episode, even managing to sprain her arm. When she seemingly has Buffy at her mercy, she deliberately breaks Buffy's Class Protector Award under the belief that it would demoralize her further. Instead, Sunday only pisses Buffy off enough to get her to pull off a Heroic Second Wind and dust her.
      Buffy: When you look back at this, in the three seconds it takes to turn to dust, I think you'll find the mistake was touching my stuff.
    • In every one of his appearances, Ethan Rayne shows up in Sunnydale and stirs up some trouble, and decides to stay and admire the result of his actions for kicks, which always gives Buffy and the Scoobies enough time to track him down, beat him up, and put a stop to it. In his last TV appearance, "A New Man", he even lampshades it:
      Ethan: I've gotta learn to just do the damage and leave town. It's the "stay-and-gloat" that gets me every time.
  • Burn Notice:
    • Brennen is generally quite cunning, except that he can never quite figure out that leaving Michael unattended for any length of time is a bad idea.
    • Larry however seemed to have learned from this; in one episode he said he wasn't letting Michael out of his sight because he knew Mike would do something to sabotage his plan.
  • Peter Fleming (AKA Chess) hires a duo of assassins to kill The Cape. They fail but find out his Secret Identity. When one of them meets with Fleming, he is about to give him a flash-drive with their research, when Fleming loses his temper and fires them. Being a professional, the assassin is no longer obligated to help Fleming, so he gives the flash-drive to the Cape. All Fleming had to do was wait 2 seconds, and he would've had the Cape by the balls.
  • In Caprica, Diego is ordered by the Holy Mother to kill Lacey and Make It Look Like an Accident. Instead of killing her in a clean and deniable way as ordered, he can't resist the impulse to play a sadistic power game, and tries to force her lover Odin to kill her as a Deadly Graduation. This inevitably gets Diego killed instead, and Lacey is so upset that she sets a horde of killer robots on the entire Soldiers of the One leadership. Nice one, Diego.
  • The Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future episode "The Mirror in Darkness" has Dread using a fake Power to trick survivors into unwitting digitization. The first time we see him, it's convincing to us. But the second time, we know the plot, and the real Power is waiting for him. The fake then suddenly yells his head off, and generally acts like a dick, before the real Power shows up.
  • Chuck: After his Face–Heel Turn in "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Daniel Shaw has Chuck at gunpoint when he's about to kill Chuck's partner/girlfriend Sarah, but decides to spare him and doesn't even disarm him, seemingly working on the same assumption as everyone else (both in-and-out-of-universe) that Chuck isn't able to shoot to kill. However, about a week earlier Shaw has issued a kill order on a traitor with Chuck as the trigger man. Knowing Chuck's squeamishness about killing, Shaw has Sarah relay the order, deducing that the only way Chuck would comply is if he thinks he's doing it for her. In the end it's Chuck's friend Casey who kills the traitor, but everyone else thinks Chuck did it, meaning Shaw has no reason to think he was wrong. So as far Shaw knows, he's not only threatening the only thing Chuck would kill for but already has, and yet he's somehow as surprised as everyone else when Chuck, out of other options, actually three-taps him in the chest.
  • Pick a Doctor Who villain. Any Doctor Who villain. Special mention must go to the Master, however, who even originally had a Beard of Evil and is explicitly more interested in messing with the Doctor than actually ruling the world. Michelle Gomez's incarnation described the two of them trying to kill each other to be "sort of our texting."
    The Doctor: You'd delay an execution to pull the wings off a fly.
  • Game of Thrones: While many events were beyond their control, there were more than a few times that the Lannisters and friends screwed themselves over. (MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD) Highlights include:
    • Lord Tywin Lannister's and Queen Regent Cersei Lannister's spiteful and, often, rather petty abuse they give to their very competent relative (son and brother, respectively) Tyrion Lannister for the crimes of "murder" and being a supposed Depraved Dwarf, the latter of which is slightly true, but nonetheless exaggerated by the pair (the effect of Tyrion constantly being ostracized and mocked while his often stunning successes are downplayed and dismissed leads to him striking out against the ungrateful bastards. This directly leads to the family's downfall.
    • Tywin revealing to Tyrion, for no other reason than to be an asshole, that Tyrion's first wife is actually a former whore who Tywin then gives to his men to be raped/paid for sex while Tyrion watches (leading to Tyrion's eventual cynicism and bitterness, his aforementioned outcast status, and to some very long-term bad blood).
    • Tywin giving Tyrion a Kangaroo Court trial after Cersei accuses him of killing Joffrey because he was at the scene of the crime, which was a blatantly obvious Frame-Up job by some unknown third party (leading to Tyrion's breakdown and setting him up for execution).
    • And finally, Tywin's actions when Tyrion goes to confront him after being set free by his brother, Ser Jaime Lannister, and his friend, Lord "Master of Whisperers" Varys: Upon stumbling across Tyrion's ex-girlfriend Shae (another prostitute), in his father's bed she freaks out and attacks him with a knife which forces him to kill her. Tywin (while taking a shit on the toilet) decides to mock Tyrion (after the aforementioned ex's death) even as Tyrion is pointing a crossbow at his chest. Yeah...
    • Season 7 finale spoilers: Littlefinger. Oh, Littlefinger. Throughout the series, he pulls strings from the shadows, manipulating a great many people for, essentially, his depraved "love" for Catelyn Stark, and later her daughter Sansa. This ultimately earns him Sansa's distrust, but in Season 6 she is forced to rely upon him for aid, to which he responds by saving the day. As a result, he is once again welcome in her presence, even if she can never fully trust him again, and he ends up becoming her main advisor for a brief time. Unfortunately, Chronic Backstabbing Disorder strikes and he attempts to manipulate her and the rest of her family in such a manner as to have her sister killed/imprisoned and her brother removed from power, to be replaced by Sansa. Sansa saw through it. Had he done nothing but continue to support the Starks' forces, or even acted to mend the rifts between the three siblings, he would have regained more of the trust he'd lost - but by trying to break the family, he united them against him, and lost dearly.
  • Gossip Girl: Bart Bass is shocked that his evil plan to have a plane with his son Chuck explode failed. So he ends up in a roof-top argument that eventually ends with Bart falling off the roof. Instead of just faking Chuck dying from an overdose of the many many drugs that he takes or just getting a minion to shoot him.
  • iCarly: Missy in "iReunite With Missy". Missy tries to regain her old "best friend" position off Sam, by treating her nicely around people, but indirectly attacking her in ways that force Sam away from Carly. Sam herself is unsure if Missy is trying to hurt her, or if she's jealous of Missy. The evil plot is ruined when Missy gives Sam a Motive Rant for no reason. This pushes Sam to ask Freddie for help. Carly has no clue until she overhears Missy gloating about the cruise Freddie gave up to get rid of her.
  • Fletcher "The Ice-Pick" Nix from Justified is sent by Arnett to rob Delmar Coates, a very wealthy man. Instead of wearing a mask, which he doesn't like to as he's "too pretty", he forces him to play a rigged dueling game and kills the pizza guy he sent to ref the game. Worse still his MO is known by the police, making both murders entirely pointless. When Nix is prevented from meeting up with Arnett, Nix kidnaps protagonist Raylan Givens' ex-wife Winona, and makes Raylan play his game, despite that fact that he has reason to go after Raylan but he has heard of Raylan's reputation and can't resist testing himself against him, rather than flee with the several hundred thousand dollars worth of watches he now has on his person.
  • After achieving his Black Hole form, Evolto, the true Big Bad of Kamen Rider Build, decides not to go forward with his original plan of destroying the Earth because he's decided that humans are too interesting and wants to spend more time tormenting them. Subverted later when it's revealed that Evolto was just buying time for the Black Pandora Panel to be completed so he could absorb it to become even more powerful and gain the power to destroy planets faster. And then it's double subverted in the Final Battle when a Black Pandora Panel-empowered Evolto opts to drag out the destruction of Earth so he can enjoy the heroes' despair as their planet is destroyed for a bit longer. This ends up buying the Kamen Riders enough time to force the Panel out of Evolto and avert his destruction of Earth.
  • In Lois & Clark: Kal-El became the ruler of New Krypton to prevent Lord Nor from doing so. Lord Nor charged Kal-El with treason and a Kangaroo Court held under Kryptonian Law sentenced him to death. Right after Kal-El is led off, a Kryptonian bursts in and tells Nor that Metropolis refuses to surrender. Nor responds by vaporizing him with heat vision and ordering his men to destroy Metropolis. All of that is done in front of the chief prosecutor, leading him to a a massive Heroic BSoD. Then, another person comes to the prosecutor and points out the Trial by Combat law is still technically in the books...
  • This crowning jewel from Merlin. Morgana and Morgause's plan in "The Eye of the Phoenix" is to give Arthur a bracelet that will suck out his life force. What's so stupid about this? Nothing, only that it needs Morgana to light an effigy of Arthur, which she chooses to do in her unlocked bedroom at the exact hour of the night her maid Guinevere would come in to tidy up. When said maid finds her, she acts very suspiciously, and the next day, tries to make up for it by giving her the night off and making her more suspicious, thus leading to Gwen hiding in her room and discovering her in the act.
  • Murdoch Mysteries season 9 opener "Nolo Contendre" has former-Chief Constable Giles and George Crabtree remarking on why people are in prison, and it boils down to this concept. When George first cites prisoners act in a form of "rashness" that resulted in their crimes, Giles asks, "Or is it the inability to imagine the series of events that led them to their present circumstance and correctly assess its probability? Stupidity, Crabtree. Thought-stunting, bat-blind stupidity is the sine qua non of incarceration." Crabtree understands and then notes since both of them are prisoners too, they too suffered the same stupidity. Giles can only agree with the comment.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Heroic Neutral Emma was perfectly willing to leave her son Henry with his adoptive mother Regina (The Evil Queen), but Regina shows off her Genre Blindness, her inability to simply keep her mouth shut, and this trope to convince Emma to stay. Emma ends up The Chosen One that can break the curse that gave Regina her power in the first place.
    • Regina holds the ball several times during the first season. She believes Rumplestiltskin won't remember the deal he made with her to enact the curse, despite the fact that he created the curse so could easily make a loophole. She also attempts to frame Mary Margaret with his help, after he suggests something "tragic" should happen to Kathryn Nolan, and uses those Exact Words to simply have her disappear for a while than reappear at the last minute, and all the evidence leads to her. She holds it again in the penultimate episode and season finale, when she attempts to put Emma under the sleeping curse and gloats about how she won. However, this backfires when Henry eats the turnover meant for Emma, and the chain of events results in the curse being broken. Bear in mind that at the point Regina gave Emma the poisoned turnover, Emma had just finished telling Regina that she was planning to leave town because she'd come to the conclusion that her presence and the constant fighting between her and Regina was doing Henry more harm than good. All Regina has to do is let Emma go, and she wins. Say it with me.
  • Sherlock:
    • The gangster. Seriously, dude? Tying a war-veteran to a chair and making an attempt on Sherlock's life? It REALLY gets John pissed, and he calmly, coldly KILLS the gangster.
    • The Golem from "The Great Game". Grabs Sherlock in a headlock in an attempt to strangle him or snap his neck, which leads to one good-looking (and extremely pissed-off) war veteran to threaten death on the guy.
    • Both of the Big Bads of the first two series are otherwise very clever, and (seemingly) nearly beat Sherlock, but each makes a stupid and critical mistake that directly leads to his death:
      • Moriarty (Big Bad of Series 1 & 2): It appears that Sherlock will have to kill himself to save his friends from assassination, since Moriarty states that this is the only way to call off the snipers. However, in his Evil Gloating, he gets carried away and adds "I'm certainly not going to do it." Sherlock then realizes that Moriarty himself can call off the snipers, and convinces him that he'll do whatever it takes to make him stop the executions. This leads to Moriarty killing himself to prevent Sherlock from doing so. Even though we find out later that Sherlock had a plan to fake his own death, Moriarty's mistake was what lead to his death.
      • Magnussen (Big Bad of Series 3): In the "His Last Vow" episode, he reveals to Sherlock and John that his Blackmail files are in fact not hard copies; they exist solely in his head. While this is a smart idea in that it prevents them from being hacked or stolen, he makes the mistake of rubbing this fact in their faces—and then really overdoes it by revealing that John is Sherlock's pressure point and flicking John's face repeatedly to exercise his power and control, which seriously pisses them both off. This is after he hired people to kidnap John and throw him in a bonfire (from which Sherlock saved him). As a result, Sherlock realizes that he can solve the problem by simply killing Magnussenwhich he promptly does.
      • Moriarty could be considered a form of Pyrrhic Victory as his suicide does actually force Sherlock to do what he wants even if Sherlock gets out of it and allows him to die on his own terms while knowing there's Eurus's plan on the back burner to boot. Magnussen, though, is a grade-A example of the writers staple-gunning the Villain Ball to a character's hand, as up to that point he's actually been winning by wits and the only way out for Sherlock is for him to abruptly switch alignments to Chaotic Stupid and giving away the fatal information.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Ba'al can't seem to make up his mind if he wants to have the Villain Ball or not. Half the time he's charging around like an idiot coming up with ridiculously complex and stupid plans to DESTROY THE UNIVERSE or somesuch nonsense, and then the other half of the time he's acting as the CEO for a major company and fully intends to just live on Earth peacefully. It then gets even more ridiculous when SG-1 force him to take action and the entire thing dissolves into a massive I-don't-know-what-the-fuck-is-happening with the end result revealing Baal actually really likes the Tau'ri and would probably quite happily be a fairly good ally, if we'd just stop shooting him. Then when the SGC realises this and attempts to join forces with Ba'al, he backstabs them. Scary thing is, compared to the other System Lords, Ba'al is the smart one.
      • The Goa'uld as a whole carry individual Villain Balls. It's a side-effect of the sarcophagus technology they use to achieve immortality, which compromises their capacity for rational thought. The existence of the Tok'Ra proves that without the sarcophagus, they still have arrogance in spades, but they're not evil as a whole.
    • In general, Goa'uld communication orbs double as villain balls. Since only the bad guys use them, they are an easy way to make distinctions. Once a spy in Tok'Ra was uncovered because Jack O'Neil had seen him with such an orb.
    • In Stargate Continuum, Baal plans to alter the timeline and use his foreknowledge in order to conquer the rival System Lords and the rest of the galaxy. This plan works out wonderfully, but instead of conquering Earth like his underlings want, he decides to pull out a cell phone he brought with him from the other timeline and call the US President to arrange for lunch. His underlings don't take too kindly to him wearing a villain ball and kill him to deal with the humans the ol' fashioned way.
    • Suppose you've formed a cult using a brainwashing chemical, but any electrical shock will free someone and render them permanently immune. Do you A) Take reasonable steps to keep your cultists from unnecessary exposure to electricity, or B) Arm all your minions with electricity-shooting alien stun weapons, so that any idiot who shoots themselves in the foot will be free and armed with an easy way to free everyone else. If you chose B), congratulations, you must be Seth!
  • Star Trek: Enterprise;
    • The Xindi Council spend most of the third season juggling this. The most obvious example however was their decision to prematurely deploy a prototype superweapon to attack Earth, instead of waiting just another year to get their full-scale Planet Destroyer ready, which becomes even more ridiculous since we later learn that they've been building this thing for decades already! Instead, their foolishness and impatience gives Humanity enough time to learn of the Xindi's existence, track down their weapon and avert the disaster. Oops.
    • Where the prime universe Jonathan Archer is willing to learn and experiences significant character development as he leads Enterprise in making contact with other races, his Mirror Universe counterpart is an arrogant individual who is often motivated to gain the respect he feels he is 'entitled' to while constantly aware that he only inspires his followers out of fear. A particular example is when he stages a mutiny against his captain and then tries to ask the man for the identity of the spy the admiralty placed on Enterprise; as the captain points out to Archer, the admiralty would hardly tell him who the spy was in such circumstances.
  • In Stranger Things, Agent Connie Frazier murders Benny Hammond just because he met Eleven, even though he believed her cover story and was cooperating with her. While the intent was probably to prevent knowledge of Eleven's existence from spreading, it actually had the opposite effect, as the investigation into Benny's death is what led to Hopper finding out about her. For bonus points, later in the series when Hopper is threatening to expose Hawkins' Lab, it's mentioned that they can't just kill him too because a second death this soon would be too suspicious. Shame they wasted the first one, huh?
  • Every villain on Supernatural has underestimated the Winchester brothers, and every single one of them has ended up dead or otherwise incapacitated. Crowley is the only one so far who is smart enough not to succumb to hubris and takes them seriously as a threat.
    Crowley: "Don't worry about them?" What, like Lucifer didn't worry? Or Michael, or Lilith, or Alastair, or Azazel didn't worry? Am I the only game piece on the board who DOESN'T underestimate those denim-wrapped nightmares?!
    • Of course, Crowley isn't totally immune to this. In Season 6, he decides to play Rules Lawyer with Bobby's contract, using the fine print to avoid giving him back his soul. Of course this gets the Winchesters on his case, with them going as far as learning his human identity, which gives them a way to perma-kill him. To make matters worse: 1) Crowley usually advises against swindling people during deals specifically to make himself seem more trustworthy, and 2) he pulled this all off at a time when he most wanted to be operating in secret and his silent partner, Castiel, has to bail his ass out.
  • In the third season of The Walking Dead, the Governor has already grabbed hold of the villain ball after Glenn and Maggie are captured by Merle, he's fully prepared to prepared to go into the prison and wipe out Rick's group because...? However, then Rick and co. break into Woodbury and rescue them with Michonne's help, who then goes off on her own, kills the Governor's zombified daughter and stabs out his eye, meaning It's Personal and he grabs the ball so hard.

    Print Media 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech. When the Draconis Combine were conquering the Federated Suns territory, they reach the planet Kentares, the New Coordinator ordered the killing of the planets population in an act of vengeance for assassinating his father the previous Coordinator. When ComStar broadcast this to the rest of the Inner Sphere, this demoralized the Draconians, and enraged the Federated Suns to lead a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the Combine, effectively retaking every world conquered by the Combine. Plus, there is the fact even from a Pragmatic Villain point of view, with the small size of the BattleTech armies, diversion of a sufficient force (a good portion of which eventually said Screw This, I'm Outta Here! rather than continue the genocide) was quite unwise on its own.
  • Just about every thwarted invasion of Orks/Chaos/Dark Eldar in Warhammer 40,000 is due to this. Orks will destroy and loot highly advanced weaponry for parts so they can make their primitive shootas and vehicles (admittedly, they wouldn't know how to use them anyway), Chaos armies tend to fall apart due to second-in-command betrayal/costly sacrifices/religious differences resolved by chainaxe to the face, and Dark Eldar will happily take out their own leaders to take their place (while Klingon Promotion very strongly applies to the other two, the Dark Eldar turn it into a lifestyle). The Eldar's long-term plans rely heavily on misdirection and getting other armies to fight for them, but even when they're facing a common enemy like Necrons or Chaos they don't tell their allies/pawns everything they should know, and suffer for it.
    • There are documented cases of Chaos warlords deploying their elite Terminators to take a building, then running out of patience well before the Terminators have gotten anywhere and calling in an orbital strike.
    • Dark Eldar try to avert this as hard as possible, since raids in real-space are difficult enough without backstabbing and their civilization is entirely dependent on the success of those raids. SOP is to keep the backstabbing on hold until they get back home. It helps that Dark Eldar raids are relatively small scale, meaning their success won't affect the status quo of the setting.

  • The Wicked Witch of the West passes off the Villain Ball in Wicked to The Wizard. Of course he's always been a Nazi! And Dorothy was his unwitting dupe! At least until HE gets to narrate and pass the Ball...
  • In Medieval Times, The Herald of the North picks this up near the climax of the show, when he issues an ultimatum to the King of Spain - either he kidnaps the King's princess, or he engages in a Duel to the Death against a knight of the King's choosing - after the offering from his own Lord Ulrich is rejected. The King of Spain chooses the latter option, which leads to the Herald losing the fight and being thrown in prison for the rest of his life, unable to inform Ulrich that the proposal had been rejected. Had the Herald not bothered with the ultimatum and merely returned to Ulrich with the news, the latter would have been able to retaliate against the King of Spain on a much larger scale.

  • It is BIONICLE's Grand Finale, and the Big Bad Makuta Teridax is standing right above Mata Nui, in the Humongous Mecha body that he stole from him. Mata Nui's weaker robot body is falling apart, malfunctioning, and barely has any power left. Makuta's body is, on the other hand, fully powered and quite capable of finishing off the only being who could ever hope to stand in his way. Even if he just stood there, Mata Nui would have fallen apart eventually. Instead, he of course has to make a show, so he uses his gravity power to fold the planet into itself, just to make sure Mata Nui would witness the end of his allies. Seemingly having forgotten about those two moons orbiting at head-level, and that using this power requires him to lift up his arms, giving Mata Nui the opening he needed to attack and force him to use said gravity powers on the moons themselves, which cause them to smash into the planet (thereby repairing the planet as was Mata Nui's duty) and allows Mata Nui in Teridax's moment of shock and hesitation to smash his foe's head into some of the falling moon debris, killing him.
    • This trope is actually lampshaded by Makuta Antroz, earlier in the story, when one of his fellows recommends ignoring "a handful of Toa."
    ""A handful of Toa? A handful of Toa stole the Mask of Light from Destral itself. Another prevented the conquest of Metru Nui, kept the Mask of Time from us, and even dared to imprison a Makuta! Still another — this very group — defeated Rahi, Rahkshi, and Bohrok swarms, and invaded Makuta Teridax's very lair. One thing I've learned is that you underestimate Toa — any Toa — at your own peril."

    Video Games 
  • Von Bolt's plan to get rid of Hawke and Lash in Advance Wars: Dual Strike was a clear-cut case of this. Granted the former wasn't much of a loss and was getting suspicious, but the latter's was gleefully in it For the Evulz and more than happy to serve Black Hole, one of the best COs in the game, and was responsible for designing almost all of their technology. In fact, had the Bolt Guard not gone out of their way to treat Hawke and Lash as garbage and didn't try to get rid of them, they'd have never defected to the Allies: without Hawke and Lash's crucial intel on the location of Black Hole's crystal installations the Allies wouldn't have found them in time and the Bolt Guard would have won the war.
  • In Assassin's Creed III, Warren Vidic, the Big Bad of the modern era, kidnapped Desmond's father. He then demands that Desmond trade the Apple of Eden for his father's life... while seemingly forgetting that said Apple grants its user Mind Control powers. In other words, he just personally invited his Arch-Enemy, who is understandably quite pissed off, to his headquarters, and even told him to bring a nigh-omnipotent weapon with him to rescue his father. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • In Castlevania 64, Dracula spends most of the game disguised as a kid named Malus. This is not known to the player or the game's characters, though there is this bizarre moment where you come across Malus and suddenly appears evil, but your character ignores that the next time they see him, depending on the ending. In the bad ending, Dracula will actually have a clever plan for a change and not reveal himself, though both endings give some hit that Malus is really him, his eyes turn red, and in Carrie's he gets her to promise to marry him, and mutters that now they have a binding contract. Either way, he had a good plan going. Stay disguised and kill the hero when he least suspects it in one, or in the other apparently using some curse to force her to one day marry you. In the good ending, however, he throws that out the window and just reveals himself and reveals in his supposed invincibility, forgetting that he's been defeated, oh I've lost count how many times in the past, leading to his temporary death (Dracula has more extra lives then you do). In the good ending he does have a moment of cleverness after being defeated the first time. He reverts to his child form and tries to pretend to be an ordinary kid who was possessed. Right when your character reaches out to him, Vincent the vampire hunter (who only survives in the good ending) saves you by exposing the ruse with holy water. Cue Final Boss fight.
  • Death end re;Quest:
    • Nearly the entire plot of the first game stems from Aphesis being so unapologetically evil that they wouldn't give a second thought to gunning down the best friend of the AI that they were building. Were they able to control themselves just this once, their plans for world conquest might have continued unimpeded. Instead, Iris is pissed beyond belief, which leads to Aphesis's attempt to kill her that results in the destruction of her body but more glitches and more Ludens that lock Aphesis out of cancelled MMO "World's Odyssey". The Ludens then create a copy of said best friend, Shina Ninomiya, which leads to a mysterious e-mail being sent to Arata Mizunashi which sets the game into motion.
    • Ripuka, who is completely Ax-Crazy unlike the other Ludens, interrupts a battle with the heroes in the final chapter to scream at the God of Death for pretending to be a neutral party. Arata, who thought that "he" was the supposed God of Death, realizes that this confirms his suspicions that his world is just like World's Odyssey and then turns to you, the player for help, which gives the party the strength to finally fight on Ripuka's level. Unless she actually does agree with the other Ludens and this is some gambit to help the heroes, Ripuka's actions are pointless and directly lead to her downfall.
    • Death end;re Quest 2 has Julietta put all of the pieces in place for their evil plan to take the demon god Marbas' power for herself and use it to destroy the world. The final phase of the plan is to sacrifice someone from Marbas' blood lineage, with protagonist Mai Toyama's sister Sanae being kidnapped for that purpose, and take the god's power in their place. Neither the Fallen Ending nor the True Ending have the Big Bad take the completely logical step of killing both Toyama sisters, which results in Marbas possessing Mai and granting her the power to effortlessly murder the members of Julietta's cult. This goes double for the Fallen Ending, where Julietta takes the time to rub the death of Mai's closest friends in her face but doesn't finish Mai off.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Wake-Up Call Boss Barrett tells you the exact address of his co-conspirators (right down to the specific apartment) for no reason before he attempts to kill the both of you. This was, in fact, Jensen's only lead to Shanghai to continue the plot, otherwise the villains' plan would have gone off without a hitch.
  • Dragon Quest III: Inverted. Upon discovering that there was a legendary sword tailor-made for beings like him, Zoma poured on the suffering of the populace of the "dark world" for three years to bide and grow in strength, until he was mighty enough to destroy the thing with his bare hands. This, incidentally, happened well before the Hero appeared.
  • In Eternal Sonata, your party is forced to surrender party member Polka to Card-Carrying Villain Count Waltz. Waltz successfully convinces Polka that if she surrenders peacefully then no harm will come to the party or her, and he will call off his army. Polka (in turn) successfully convinces the rest of the party to allow her to go with Waltz and sacrifice her freedom for the greater good. Waltz's plan would have worked perfectly... if he hadn't decided to punctuate his victory by slapping Polka in clear view of everyone, proving he was a lying prick and prompting Polka (and the rest of the party) to attack.
  • Fate/stay night example: Gilgamesh. If you just stopped playing around with the heroes and just Babylowned them to death then you wouldn't keep dying. This happens in both the Fate and the Unlimited Blade Works routes: in Fate, he gives Shirou the time he needed to project Avalon by using a charge attack when he can bladespam anyone to death in an instant. In UBW, he insists on dueling Shirou one-on-one sans armor while in Shirou's Reality Marble rather than just equipping his Nigh-Invulnerable armor or using Ea right off the bat. This results in a very literal disarmament and being shoved into a space-time rift. Then again, if he didn't have the constant Pride Villain Ball he would be completely unstoppable.
    • Not completely. He could still potentially be taken out by a particularly well-executed ambush. Like the one Sakura pulls in Heaven's Feel. Though you could argue that not immediately going out and unleashing his full power at the very beginning of the war is already holding the Villain Ball, since he could probably easily win in an hour or less if he were smart enough to try that.
    • It's grown to such a point that fans are starting to joke that one of Gilgamesh's Noble Phantasms in the Gate Of Babylon is either a Villain Ball or an Idiot Ball. That, or he has a hidden Passive Phantasm.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Heidegger and Scarlett fall into this near the end, when Professor Hojo purposely overloads the Sister Ray, which would result in Midgar City's destruction. Instead of letting the heroes defeat Hojo, the two instead confront them with a giant robot, which ends with the two getting killed once the robot blew up.
  • Nergal in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade has ridiculous dark magic prowess, the ability to teleport anywhere seemingly at will, and for large chunks of the story, he has everything he needs to complete his evil plan. At several points, he had the heroes dead to rights, and at nearly any stage, he could have simply warped over to the good guys, killed them all, and taken what he needed, but he instead splurges most of his resources on generating armies of mooks that he doesn't actually really need, and when he does confront the good guys, he rarely does much more than posture maliciously. His experiments have apparently taken a mental toll on him, but it's never implied that he's meant to be stupid.
  • While the child killer in the Five Nights at Freddy's series manages to get away with his crimes, come the third game, he clutches the ball hard when he returns to the long-dead pizzeria and dismantles the animatronics for no clear reason. This frees his victims, and he hides in the Spring Bonnie suit he originally used. The very deadly springlock suit that can kill a person if the springlocks get even a tiny bit wet. In a room with a leaky ceiling. And since he was an employee of the company at the time, he should know how dangerous the suit is. Suffice to say, it doesn't end well for him.
  • God of War: Chains of Olympus: Persephone had just gotten Kratos to cast aside his blades and renounce his powers as the Ghost of Sparta so that he can be with his daughter in the Elysian Fields. All she needs to do in order to win is leave him alone for a few hours so that her plan can be completed while he's playing with Calliope. Instead, she makes a point of telling him that she's the villain of the game (something he didn't have the slightest inkling of until she explained her plan), and that thanks to his actions the world will soon be destroyed, and that the Elysian Plains and all the spirits living there will be destroyed with it. This motivates Kratos to reclaim his powers and save the world.
  • The Empress in A Hat in Time, who otherwise is an intelligent and cunning individual, suddenly clutches the Villain Ball like it's her beloved kitten and refuses to let go during Rush Hour. Firstly, she leaves the door to her massive treasure room wide open, which allows Hat Kid to wander in and help herself to the time pieces. Then when she catches Hat Kid red-handed stealing from her, rather than use the One-Hit KO attack she retaliates with if you smack her in an earlier chapter, she puts a one million dollar bounty on your head and lets her underlings take care of you. Then, when you're more than able to evade her underlings, rather than just charge in and claw you to ribbons she uses a rocket launcher from a distance which you're able to use to blast open your escape routes. Then, even though you dupe her into this numerous times, she never realizes she should put down the rocket launcher and just charge in and claw you to ribbons since you'd have nowhere to go. By the time she finally realizes she should just come after you in person it works without a hitch and she gets you trapped in an elevator alone with her, but by then it's too late as the cops show up and she's forced to leave you unharmed to save face.
  • In Hyrule Warriors, Big Bad Ganondorf Obtains the complete Triforce after defeating the Hyrulean Forces. Instead eliminating his enemies in one fell swoop, he disappears from the battlefield leaving his generals Zant & Ghirahim to lead his army and decides to use its power to summon more monsters to serve him. However the Hyrulean Forces manage to defeat Zant and Ghirahim in Gerudo Desert after summoning their allies from across time. They then return to Hyrule Castle which Ganondorf had transformed into Ganon's Tower and defeat Ganondorf who uses the Triforce to transform into Ganon, only to be defeated by the combined might of the Hyrulean Forces and their allies.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Hades, the Big Bad of the game, puts Mimicuties in Pit's path when they are temporarily teamed up. It actually is much better than most examples because it's entirely in character for him.
  • From The King of Fighters XIII: Sure Saiki, one of your strongest minions who has nothing but loyalty for you offers to fight in your stead, which would really help if you needed to duck into the door to the past in a hurry... and your response is to kill him for no reason other than that he spoke up to you. Yeah, that's REALLY going to help. Especially when you follow it via taking over the body of your own descendant despite knowing clearly that he is NOT to be trusted.
  • The Gurlukovich Mercenaries from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty decide to defend several key points of the tanker ship they've seized with infrared sensors tied into Semtex explosives. Say that out loud. They are defending key points of the tanker they themselves are on and need to keep afloat because they've yet to take the cargo they're after with a security system that will sink the ship along with its cargo, all their own men, and their bosses if tripped.
  • In the Mortal Kombat series, Shao Kahn will often leave himself open to attacks by taunting his opponent.
  • Invoked in Mother 3, when King Porky Minch decides to drop the party into a passage leading to the final needle, noting that it would be boring if he didn't give them a chance to stop his plans. It makes sense when considering he still has the mind of a child despite his advanced age; he's acting exactly how a villain "should" act from his perspective.
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge, if Oogie had not left Jack a Trail of Bread Crumbs to follow and skipped to cutting Halloween off from the Hinterlands and killing Santa he would have succeeded. Heck, if he didn't make his presence so well known to Jack he might have been able to lull him into a false sense of victory and captured him (he even already had a cell for him), making room for himself as the Seven Holidays King in the absence of all the other leaders.
  • Matt Engarde in the final case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All would have been able to get away scot-free if he didn't betray the assassin he hires simply because he doesn't trust other people and believes that not even assassins are above blackmail. Said action allows Wright to trap him in a Morton's Fork situation.
  • Pokémon:
    • Lampshaded by a Team Plasma grunt in Pokémon Black and White, in N's Castle. He states that the reason why other villain teams (Rocket and Galactic being mentioned in particular) failed was because they made themselves and their plans public. Plasma on the other hand had been secretly building and preparing for their ultimate plan while masquerading as PETA-esque Pokémon liberators.
    • Lysandre has his turn with the ball in Pokémon X and Y by announcing his plans to the protagonists for no particular reason. If he had just kept his mouth shut, he would have succeeded.
    • Both Pokémon Sun and Moon and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon feature one so blatant that Hau of all people is the one to call it out. Faba holds the key to go deeper into Aether Paradise, and tricks Hau and Gladion into going somewhere else to buy himself more time. When they go back, they find Faba has backed himself up with some grunts. Hau asks if he holds the key, which Faba confirms... and Hau then points out that if he had just hid somewhere instead of getting backup, that would have slowed them down a lot more.
    • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers, Darkrai could've easily ensured the success of his initial plan if he had taken more action against the hero, rather then deciding to lay low after his initial attack that ends up causing their transformation into a Pokémon.
    • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, Kyurem has an even bigger case of this when he decides to show mercy to the hero for the sake of their partner, despite them being the only remaining obstacle to his plans and being in the position to finish them off. Assuming that a threat of further violence would dissuade the two from opposing him further when the entire world is going to be destroyed if they don't take any action obviously didn't work out in the end...
  • In the Reincarnation series of Flash games, damned souls are given a second shot at life if they manage to escape from Hell, and devils can't bring them back until they give proof that they deserve to go to hell a second time. They gladly go back to a life of crime or worse without even being tempted into it, pretty much earning them a quick trip back to Hell.
  • Despite his alleged intelligence, Albert Wesker runs all the way for a touchdown with the Villain Ball in the original Resident Evil. He could have just shot Jill/Chris without a word, but he simply had to brag about his plan, about how he blackmailed Barry, and show off the Tyrant. Three strikes and he's out: shot by Barry and impaled by the Tyrant. Later on the games ended up retconning it that being killed was part of his plan all along, as it was needed to activate the experimental virus he was injected with. Because clearly that was the only way he could possibly die.
  • "James Marcus" from Resident Evil 0 with regards to attacking Billy and Rebecca. His plan had nothing to do with them, they were unaware of his plan and were only looking for a means to escape, and he doesn't have the same excuse as the mindless monsters that attack anything without reason. Unfortunately he claims to be "very territorial" and repeatedly goes after them, and of course it ends quite badly for him.
  • Osmund Saddler's evil plan in Resident Evil 4 would have stood a much better chance of succeeding if he hadn't decided to monologue about it in front of Leon Kennedy and inject him with the parasite while he was conscious. Then there's the fact that he keeps around a machine that can kill the parasite without harming the host, without any previous experience at using it or the need of a password or other lock-out mechanism. Saddler is often considered the smartest Resident Evil villain, which should tell you something.
    • Even dumber, Saddler's plan was to infect the president's daughter (Ashley) and send her back to the president without anyone knowing she was infected so she'd kill the president and, due to sheer luck, he managed to infect Leon as well. His plan had succeeded the second Leon freed her with the added bonus that the president would soon have an infected bodyguard as well as daughter. However instead of kicking back with a beer and watching them "escape" he confronts them, blabs his whole plan, and then DOES EVERYTHING IN HIS POWER TO PREVENT THEIR ESCAPE culminating in capturing and locking up Ashley on the island that houses the parasite-removal machine mentioned above. His only "justification" for this (using that term loosely by the way) is he intended to hold her for ransom to make some money, and needless to say he's more responsible for his plan falling to pieces than Leon's sheer bad-assery (consider also that if Saddler's plan succeeded, he would've had access the entire U.S. Treasury).
  • In Resident Evil 5, Wesker could have spent the extra five minutes it would have taken to kill Chris and Sheva but no, he instead sends the Brainwashed and Crazy Jill who is still managing to fight his control while he wanders off to do evil. It's not like they could break the brainwashing, she could blab all the details needed to foil his plan, and ultimately come to their rescue in the end. Except spoiler: that's totally what happens.
  • Return of the Obra Dinn has Second Mate Edward Nichols. Sure, he kills an innocent guy for stopping the theft and has a Formosan guard take the fall and get wrongfully executed for it and kills another topman for trying to rescue the Formosan royalty and reclaiming their treasure. When returning to the Obra Dinn after a kidnapping plan that goes awry because of the mermaids, he disposes of the bodies of his fellow mutineers. He then leaves his dead captives on the lifeboats, along with the stolen treasure, in front of his assassin who doesn't understand English. Let's just say that things ended horribly for Nichols, because he deserved it.
  • In Saints Row IV, Big Bad Zinyak destroys the Earth. The narrator proceeds to point out that, had he stayed his hand, pragmatism would have driven the Saints to choose to lie low... but his dastardly deed only made them determined to defeat him instead.
  • Shadow Hearts Covenant has its first main villain, Grigori Rasputin, the leader of Sapeintes Gladio, turn out to be quite a firm holder of the ball. Despite having been photographed by Princess Anastasia issuing orders to his soldier Victor to be the one to kill Tsar Alexander, and out in the open in Petrograd, he only sends one monster after her which gets wasted by Yuri's party. While he loosens the grip a bit by making it look like the party and Anastasia were attempting to kill her brother Prince Alexei, he still uses his man Victor to be the one to carry the hit on the Tsar that Yuri saves him from. That's when Anastasia comes in and presents the evidence of Rasputin's treachery.
  • In Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, everything about Cyrille Le Paradox's Evil Plan to Time Travel for Fun and Profit is this. Sly even points out how stupid it was; Le Paradox already had a big power base and was a Villain with Good Publicity, but he decided to target Sly's ancestors specifically to satisfy his bloated ego, which not only triggered the Cooper Gang's interference in the first place, but also led Carmelita to discover his secret treasure smuggling ring. In short, Le Paradox lost everything he had because he couldn't resist showing off.
  • In many Sonic the Hedgehog games, Dr. Eggman has (on numerous occasions) either unleashed or sought to unleash a creature of extreme power (three gods and one prototype of the ultimate lifeform for starters). For a while, his plans go great, and he usually is a step or two ahead of his nemesis, Sonic. However, just when his plans are at their highest, everything goes horribly wrong. The monster reaches its highest potential, and then Eggman realizes that he made a huge mistake and ends up having to work with Sonic to get rid of his own mess. The villain ball part comes when you realize something: Given his past experiences, why in the hell would he continue this pattern just to be embarrassed and defeated? Also, he constantly blabs about his schemes to the one guy who always defeats him, even going so far as to have a worldwide broadcast about his plan when Sonic and his gang didn't have an idea of it before then. The only thing you can't accuse Eggman of is not trying to kill Sonic with his godlike creatures, because that is just something he naturally fails at, but is in no control of whatsoever.
    • Until Sonic Colors, where he nails it, and actually does a very good job at controlling the creatures of the hour and using them for evil purposes - until Sonic comes along, obviously.
    • The games after Colours tend to zig-zag this. By Sonic Generations, he was able to harness a powerful entity called the Time Eater, though at the point he found it the Time Eater was just a mass of...stuff in space, and required TWO Eggmen to control it. He actually does a good job of controlling the Deadly Six in Sonic Lost World, only losing control over them because of Sonic's near-suicidal lack of impulse control. Nevertheless by manipulating Sonic and friends, he manages to stay one step ahead. He actually would have won...were it not for Zomnom's sandwich.
    • And in Sonic Boom, his counterpart goes right back into the old ways with style, losing control of Lyric in Rise of Lyric and generally falling out of the plot thereafter. He then loses control of what becomes the Big Bad of Fire and Ice, and there's also all the times he loses control of his machines in the show...pretty much the only robots who DON'T betray him are his weaker mook robots and Orbot and Cubot (who STILL often go behind his back at times).
  • In StarCraft, Arcturus Mengsk decides to not send Kerrigan the requested dropship when the Zerg overrun Tarsonis for apparently no reason at all. She's been his most important lieutenant who had never shown any sign of not being completely loyal to him, and there seems to be no reason at all why saving her would have been impossible. The result of this is that Kerrigan gets captured alive and turned into a general and eventually supreme commander of the Zerg and Raynor deserting him, both becoming his most dangerous enemies. Up until that point, there has been no indication that he would have wanted to get rid of her or that she even contemplated turning against him. All it does is create two powerful armies that want to kill him. Justified by the sequel and the novel I, Mengsk. It was revenge: Kerrigan was the Ghost that assassinated Mengsk's family (and for added insult, stuck his head on a pike), so the moment She Outlived Her Usefulness as a soldier, he left her for dead. Not helping matters was that she couldn't remember because Ghosts are frequently mind-wiped. Revenge Before Reason bites him in the ass, as Mengsk unhinges himself over the years after getting his ass handed to him by Kerrigan, and wages an unnecessary, unwinnable war against her because he is incapable of imagining that she and Raynor might want to be left alone.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Bowser, archfoe of Mario, just can't stop kidnapping Princess Peach, even when doing so is actually a hindrance to his plan. This is most blatant in Super Mario Galaxy, where Bowser's plan is to steal all the power stars in space, then use them to power a huge machine at the center of the universe that will give him control of every galaxy there is. When the game opens, he seems to be pretty far into his plans, and Mario has no idea they're even happening. The only reason Mario finds out is because Bowser decides to kidnap Peach right in front of Mario, setting the plumber on his trail with just enough time to stop his schemes. Bowser also does this in Super Mario Bros. 3 where his plan is actually pretty clever: have his kids turn the seven kings of the Mushroom Worlds into animals, forcing Mario and Luigi to travel far and wide to help them. While they're distracted, Bowser kidnaps Peach. This one worked like a charm — until Bowser sends Mario a taunting letter telling him exactly where to find the Princess.
    • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team - main villain Antasma kidnaps Peach and plans to steal her power. But then instead he teams up with Bowser. Unlike most examples Antasma's plan is to get out of the Dream World and find the Dream Stone, and he needs power to do this, irrespective of source. When Bowser suggests kidnapping Peach, Antasma simply says that they can come back for her later. Bowser agrees, marking this the second time ever Bowser hasn't attempted to kidnap the Princess as part of the main plot. The other time was in Bowser's Inside Story, where his attempt at kidnapping Peach isn't even mentioned in the game until right at the end.
  • Tomb Raider:
    • Natla hires Lara to find a piece of the ancient Scion hidden in Qualupec's Tomb, and then sends Larson to kill her and take it from her. Why she didn't just wait for Lara to bring it back as per their agreement is anyone's guess, since she could have just as easily sent goons to try and kill Lara if Lara decided to hedge on their agreement. This backfires spectacularly as not only does Lara take out Larson but also decides she's going to go after the other two Scion pieces just for the thrill of it, leading her to foil Natla's entire plan.
    • At two separate points in the game both Pierre and Larson actually beat Lara to a piece of the Scion. Do they take the damned thing and piece out? No, they stand their ground, gloat, and try and kill Lara purely out of spite, which ends about as well as you'd expect for them: the woman who's had no problem gunning down Atlantean monsters by the dozen surprisingly has no problem gunning down armed gunmen one on one. At least in Larson's defense he claims he "still has a pain in his brain" from the last time they met, implying he might be suffering brain damage from being shot and roundhouse kicked to the head, but you'd expect Pierre, a world class treasure hunter on Lara's level, to know better and not be so petty, especially since he had no beef whatsoever with Lara and especially since Lara spent the last three levels or so outgunning him every single time they tangled.
  • The artifact Illidan stole in Warcraft although named "The Eye of Sargeras" was in fact a Villain Ball of titanic proportions. See for yourself: he wants to use the said ball to destroy the Frozen Throne - the seat of the Lich King and thus eliminate the Undead army that threatens the world. Unfortunately, the side effects of the ball's operation include severe earth tremors hence Illidan's brother Malfurion jumps to conclusion that Illidan is up to destroying the world and sets forth to stop him. Does Illidan bother to clarify the situation and explain his plan which would without doubt be backed by Malfurion? He does, but only AFTER Malfurion destroys the Eye. That is a prime example of what happens when a Villain Ball collides with a Hero Ball.
    • Not really. While Illidan can be blamed for not explaining what he was doing, the reason Malfurion was trying to stop him is because the Eye was tearing the world apart. Not much point in stopping the bad guy if you break the world in the process, huh?
    • On the other hand Illidan was doing it for Kil'Jaeden had he succeeded, we can quite imagine what he might have rewarded Illidan had he finished the deed.
  • At the end of Wario Land 3, if Rudy just let Wario go with the treasure he collected as he promised after being freed, he would have had free reign to Take Over the World. Instead, Rudy tries to kill Wario because he no longer needs him, forcing Wario to kill him.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Arthas in Wrath of the Lich King. So hard. Any dumb thing that the evil guy can do just to prove his credentials, he does. Like telling the most important part of his army (who, by a strange coincidence, are one of about three parts of his army who have free will) that they were BAIT for a guy who was supposed to mow them down in seconds, but didn't even show up for said fight until they already lost. Did we mention he laughed at them, too? Oh, and he delivered the weapon that can beat him to said guy in this ploy. OH, and it turns out that after betraying and alienating his officer corps, he's having a tough time finding commanders. Whoops! And that's just one example.
      • There's also his tendency of finding his few surviving commanders in mortal danger and deciding that if they can't survive the battle then too bad. You'd think after losing every single known lieutenant he has he'd stop throwing their lives away.
      • Well, he is the Lich King. It's not like when they die he can't just bring them back anyway. But really, why waste the time? Kill the snots that are screwing with you and just be done with it already.
      • Subverted when it turns out this was an Evil Plan on his part — he actually wanted to find a group of heroes capable of standing up to him, at which point he could kill them and reanimate them as his Co-Dragons of a new, more powerful army (because, hey, they're undead. Just kill a few dozen people and you're on your way). He nearly won too, were it not for unforeseeable circumstance.
      • ...Which was a Villain Ball in itself. Besides the fact that the process of obtaining these few heroes he wanted so bad had involved the destruction of loads of infrastructure and loss of huge strategic gains, at the same time we learn Arthas was building us up to be his champions, we also learn that if the Lich King dies, the mindless Scourge will be left uncontrolled and wipe out all life on Azeroth in a Zombie Apocalypse... Which means the Scourge, as it was, was already powerful enough to defeat the Alliance and the Horde. Why Arthas felt he needed the heroes when he already possessed an unstoppable army is anyone's guess. To repeat: even a mindless horde would be more effective than the Scourge are under Arthas's leadership. All hail Arthas, The Millstone King! Sort of a plot point in his case, what little vestige of his humanity was left was subtly influencing Arthas into plotting his own demise. In the end, the only man who could stop Arthas was Arthas himself.
    • Deathwing was even worse in Cataclysm. In the Dragon Soul raid, after Thrall shoots him with the titular object, Deathwing flies back to the Maelstrom and tries to cause another Cataclysm. He apparently could have done this at any time, yet inexplicably waited until his enemies had killed all of his lieutenants, united the other Dragon Aspects, retrieved one of the few weapons powerful enough to kill him, and attacked him with it a couple times to try. At least Arthas had the somewhat flimsy excuse of wanting to make the player characters his champions, with Deathwing the writers didn't even try to justify it.
      • To be fair, he is pretty much batshit insane by that time.
    • Everything about Garrosh; his personality, his goals, his methods, his actions... It's all a result of and contributing to the biggest Villain Ball in World of Warcraft history, which will lead to his becoming the end boss of the Mists of Pandaria expansion. While killing the Horde warchief is obviously an endgame goal for the Alliance, everything he's doing in using the Horde as his personal war machine to dominate the world is turning more and more of the Horde against him as well. Hell, the expansion wasn't even released yet and some of the leaders were already conspiring against him, alongside the playerbase.
    • Nearly EVERY end raid boss that was based in some sort of lore apparently selected the ball crafting profession and specced "villain ball". Only a few bosses don't seem that out of place.
      • Edwin Van Cleef actually had a good enough plan that he got away with the major part of it and would have succeeded at the rest had the Player Characters not been handed the solution to the mystery on a silver platter, and only confronted the players when they pretty much trapped him in a cave with only one viable exit. So... yeah, basically just the one guy.
    • Sylvanas Windrunner always had a spotty record but she entered Legion decidedly carrying this ball. Reasoning that a war with the Alliance was inevitable, she decided to initiate it on her terms. Over the course of a month she slaughtered civilians, put Darnassus and its civilians to the torch, and turned the Undercity into an uninhabitable wasteland in a failed attempt to assassinate the Alliance leadership. All of this has only succeeded in further unifying the Alliance against the Horde while leaving many of her own allies disillusioned with her reign.

  • In Sluggy Freelance, Hereti Corp should have realized that, when they turned Aylee into a man-eating monster bent on world domination, it was probably a bad idea to leave Riff, one of her friends with a penchant for Saving The World, not only alive, but on their payroll. That's got conflict of interests written all over it.
    • Hereti Corps carries the Villain Ball less idiotically now that Dr. Schlock has taken over. But in that instance at least, Riff was 'one of her friends' who wanted kill her, so if anything, they should've been alert to the possibility of attacks from him.
  • In Bob and George, Bob seemed like your perfectly reasonable villain, driven to extremes by the world he was forced into. Then he decided to go kidnap the world's creator... who let himself be captured for the sake of a minor bet with the REAL Big Bad. Bob never did get beat down, though... or so it seems.
  • Fans!: The Order of the Dragon first appear as a group of near omnipotent individuals with supernatural powers and represent the greatest threat AEGIS has encountered so far. Members include Robert, a cunning illusionist and conman, or Keith, Rikk's former nemesis. And you can rest assured that the others are no better. The fact that their plan involved literally KILLING the alphabet and eliminating all written forms of communication doesn't help.
  • In the comic Pearls of Mer. The more senior agent of the Nebulous Evil Organisation tells the new comer to sit back and watch Arra the mermaid until they get word from High Ups. So what does the guy do? He runs out, tries to kidnap her and ends up shooting her human boyfriend. Things did end well from her wrath.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Babidi forcing Dabura to give his energy to Buu's cocoon before he has defeated Future Gohan.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the episode "The Deserter", if Zhao hadn't gotten so angry at Aang's taunting, he wouldn't have burnt his entire fleet down to cinders. And then, he kills the moon spirit in the season finale. Note that if he had just kept it in the bag he caught it in and ran to safety, the Fire Nation would have conquered the Northern Water Tribe and probably won the war. Instead he got himself killed by Koizilla.
  • A recurring theme with villains in The Legend of Korra is that, despite their admittedly noble goals (Amon wants equality, Unalaq wanted to bring back the spirits, Zaheer wanted the people to be free, and Kuvira is trying to bring order to the Earth Kingdom), they are not above committing pointless and petty acts of cruelty, which leads to Korra ruining their plans and even got their goals accomplished (except for Zaheer, in which he mournfully admitted that his actions in Book Three only caused chaos after he killed the Earth Queen that lead to Kuvira's rise to power and descent to villainy).
  • This Trope seems to be lampshaded in The Powerpuff Girls episode "Monkey See, Doggy Two". As the name of the episode suggests, Mojo Jojo is not only trying the same "turn humanity into dogs with an ancient Egyptian artifact" plan that he tried (which failed) in his first appearance (episode-wise) but he spends half the episode explaining to the Girls the steps he's taken to correct the flaws that made it fail the first time. They patiently listen, and then simply beat the crud out of him, causing the plan to fail even worse than it did before. note 
  • In the Grand Finale of Transformers: Beast Wars, Megatron decides to use the Fusion Cannon on the entirely helpless proto-humans when he should have attacked the Maximals first, who could actually do something to stop him. To make it even worse all of the proto-humans survived somehow and he only succeeded in killing Quickstrike and Inferno, his own minions.
  • Kim Possible:
    • By being the Genre Blind Harmless Villain he is, Dr. Drakken is by no means immune to this trope. In one episode he created the awesome plan of disrupting the Kimmunicator so that he could pretend to be the Techno Wizard Wade in order trick Kim into stealing the Phlebotinum from Professor Dementor. Twice. Which got Kim's suspicions up and let to his defeat. When he has Shego, who is more than capable of stealing the Phlebotinum by herself...
    • Then there is Señor Senior Senior, who literally read the book on how to carry the Villain Ball, because he's obscenely rich and only commits villainous acts out of boredom. It's more fun for him to do it like a Bond villain. To him, the Villain Ball tropes are part of "the rules" of being a proper supervillain, and violating them would be like cheating in a sporting event: it would remove any sense of accomplishment from the victory.
  • The supervillains (or "antagonists" as they prefer) in The Venture Bros. that work for the Guild of Calamitous Intent carry the ball as part of the Guild's strict regulations for "Controlled Costumed Aggression", in effect literal Contractual Genre Blindness. Low level troublemakers use tranq guns, whereas hand guns and the like are reserved for more threatening opponents. Likewise, "protagonists" need to carry the Idiot Ball because, to borrow a quote:
    Brock Samson: Hey, no disrespect Jonas, but it isn't so easy. These guys like their system; it's what they do. You take that away, and you are dealing with a bunch of pissed off nutbags with rayguns and giant, I don't know, a giant octopus/tank with laser eyes.
    • The Monarch deserves special mention here, as it becomes increasingly obvious as the show goes on that he carries the Villain Ball on purpose because he gets off on arching Dr. Venture. When the guy goes after other people, or has an actual goal in mind other than just being Venture's bad guy, he suddenly becomes scarily competent and capable of killing off his enemies with utter ease.
  • Slade in Teen Titans would be a full-time Magnificent Bastard if he'd just learn not to give in to his sadistic impulses unnecessarily. As it is, this has gotten in the way of his plans by providing an out for one minion and turning another against him (which got him lava fried). Of course, this does mean that for a Smug Snake, he's still very effective and creepy, but he could be so much more...
  • The Archmage of Gargoyles grasps the Villain Ball hard due to his hatred of Goliath. He makes two big mistakes: he doesn't wait until sunrise when the gargoyles are all helpless before starting the attack, and he opts to torture Goliath for amusement rather than simply killing him instantly with his incredible power. This leads directly to his defeat and rather nasty death. In fact, Word of God explicitly notes this as his undoing- for all his power, at heart he's a walking (though effective) cliche and cannot escape genre conventions.
  • Winx Club:
    • The 4K dub provides an example of a Dub-Induced Villain Ball in the S1 finale, which has Icy telling the other Trix, "Give me your share of the Dragonfire, I need it to take care of this uppity pixie (Bloom). Don't worry, you won't need more than your regular powers to take on those four poseurs (the other Winx)." She doesn't tell them this in the original, but the result is the same anyway.
    • The Trix's other two seasons each have a major non-Dub-Induced Villain Ball: S2 sees them burying the Winx and the Specialists' plane under snow and an icy deathtrap... and then simply leaving, so they're not there to shoot them down again when they escape. S3 has Icy de-powering Bloom in a one-on-one (the other fairies are away in a crystal labyrinth, while the other Trix are taking on the Specialists) and not making her history immediately, allowing the other Winx to return in time to take the Trix out.
  • Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb is one of the worst examples, as illustrated in the episode "Candace Gets Busted" where a building is blocking his view of the theater. He remarks that he could just move his chair, but decides to build a machine to zap the building out of the way.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) episode "Game Guy" is basically one giant Villain Ball for Robotnik. He captures a Freedom Fighter squad and offers the leader their release if he captures Sonic. He succeeds, however not only does Robotnik forgo Snively's idea of just killing Sonic in favor of a complex death trap, he reveals his double cross to Ari midway through, in addition to gloating long enough for Sally and Dulcy to plot a rescue, allowing Ari to rescue Sonic in time.
  • Sometimes tossed around in the Super Mario Bros. cartoons. In "Reptiles in the Rose Garden", for example, Kootie Pie would have gotten away with taking over the United States had she explicitly not told Mario that she and Koopa were doing so.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", the Flim-Flam Brothers could have agreed to a 50/50 share of the cider profit with Sweet Apple Acres, but no, they had to be greedy as all hell, wanting to put Sweet Apple Acres out of business and be the sole supplier of apple cider in Ponyville. They even go as far as stealing the Apple family's apples to make their own cider.
      • Zigzagged in "Leap of Faith", their second appearance. When Applejack finds out the con they're running, they're at first smart enough to convince her to go along with it as it's making Granny Smith happy and not hurting anyone else. But rather than take this easy opportunity to leave everyone happy, they then insist on promoting their phony tonic under Applejack's approval, leading her to expose them.
    • In the two-episode story "A Canterlot Wedding", Twilight Sparkle is the only one who suspects the character of Princess Cadance, who's marrying Twilight's brother, though she doesn't guess that it's actually Queen Chrysalis who had taken Cadance's place. At the end of the first part, Chrysalis manages to convince everyone, including Twilight herself, that Twilight is being a horrible person and only accusing her because she's possessive of her brother. That would have neutralised the only threat to her plans, but it's just not evil enough, so she has to go and imprison her in the same place where the real Cadance was, apparently trying to make Twilight kill her — only to lead to her eventual defeat after Twilight doesn't and they flee together to stop the wedding. It's also a bit more complicated than that, with a bit of a Bug War in there and whatnot, but the way the good guys win in the end would not have been possible if the real Cadance had not been freed. Or with Twilight moping alone somewhere after being told not to even attend the wedding.
    • "The Times They Are A Changeling" reveals the changelings are species-wide villain ball holders. Thorax, a changeling who prefers to be friends with ponies, reveals that the changeling Mooks are free-thinking creatures capable of emotions and are fully capable of simply feeding on "ambient" love between others, and even on the love they could have for each other with literally no ill effects. They could keep peacefully to themselves or be the pony's greatest allies if they weren't naturally aggressive and didn't have such an evil tyrant teaching them from birth to invade and conquer instead. "To Where And Back Again" reveals this to be true. The Changelings could easily feed on love for each other instead of stealing love from others. Not only is stealing love totally inadequate, it never gets them fed at all. It only benefitted their very abusive leader.
    • In "School Raze", once Cozy Glow was foiled, had she turned back on the innocent little filly act she was otherwise so good at and made up a Freudian Excuse or cried to Twilight Sparkle about not understanding friendship, she would have been treated the same as Starlight Glimmer and been thrown a second chance so fast her freckles would have been blown off leaving her free to go back to villainy the second Twilight's guard was down. Instead she'd rather rant and rave about her villainy and gets tossed in Tartarus. She's actually smart enough to keep her mouth shut the second time she's foiled, but unfortunately this time Queen Chrysalis isn't and Celestia doesn't care either way at this point.
    • In the Season 9 premiere, King Sombra would've gotten away with it too, had he joined forces with the rest of the villains, instead of attempting to invade Equestria on his own.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Clock King", the Clock King uses a Time Bomb to suck all the air out of a Gas Chamber, when he could have used an instant Time Bomb to kill Batman immediately, and pulls Bond Villain Stupidity by explaining to Batman how to foil his trap.
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Spliced", Cuvier's big evil plan to keep splicing from getting outlawed is to... send spliced people to kill the D.A. leading the move to outlaw it. How that would, in any way, accomplish anything other than prove every criticism against splicing to be valid and turn the public more against it than ever, not to mention send the police commissioner (said D.A's husband) on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge hell-bent on avenging her murdered husband, is anyone's guess. He even rants at his goons for "ruining" his plans when the police raid his lab and begin hunting him after the assassination attempt fails... as if the police wouldn't have done that if the assassination had succeeded either. Even if his plan was to intimidate the police and public into not coming after him again, trying to intimidate the people of the most crime-ridden supervillain-riddled city in America by being a supervillain who commits a crime is a hilariously boner move.
  • Invoked in The Batman episode “Gotham’s Ultimate Criminal Mastermind with the Digitally Advanced Villain Emulator (D.A.V.E.), who is a robot with the combined memories and abilities (both physical and mental) of Batman’s entire rogues gallery. This makes him an unbeatable opponent who can commit crimes like stealing all of Gotham’s money with casual ease, but it turns out he also has all of their Villain Ball traits which ultimately leads to his defeat.
  • Underdog's Arch-Enemy Simon Bar Sinister (who, ironically, usually avoided this) got a bad case of it in one episode, when his plan to Take Over the World involved using a device called the Big Dipper to steal the Earth's water; it could drain the water from lakes, rivers, and even oceans, storing each in a small jar, which he planned to use to starve the world into submission. The first part worked, but when Underdog showed up to challenge him, he threatened to smash Lake Michigan on the ground if the hero didn't keep his distance. Underdog called his bluff, so the evil scientist threw it in the air, forcing him to catch it. So Simon threw Lake Superior too. Then he got carried away, and thought seeing Underdog scramble to catch them was fun, so he threw more and more of them. Unfortunately for him, Underdog didn't fail to catch even one, and eventually, Simon had thrown them all. By the time the villain realized he had no more "hostages", it was too late, and the hero was able to clock him.
  • Justified with the season 2 Big Bad of Wakfu Qilby the Traitor. He spends most of the season enacting an overly complicated scheme that actually brings his enemies together when he could have easily accomplished his goals and killed them all from the very beginning. Yugo eventually figures out why: Qilby is terrified of being alone. He never really wanted to kill Yugo or the Dragons because he was still secretly hoping he could convince them to see things his way so they could be friends again. He angrily tries to deny it to no avail.
  • Very early in Redwall Cluny sends his henchman Shadow over the wall of the titular abbey to steal their tapestry of Martin the Warrior. Shadow succeeds but is wounded, and Cluny refuses to help him since he "has no bedroom for bunglers". Apparently in Cluny's book, a loyal follower who can silently climb walls like Spider-Man isn't worth nursing back to health when your enemies have a fortress to hide in.
  • Daffy Duck often falls into this in the shorts where he faces off against Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. In the opening of many shorts, he successfully tricks Elmer into thinking it's rabbit season when it's really duck season, so he'll go after Bugs instead. Even though he's already escaped Elmer, he constantly leaves his hiding place to lecture Elmer when he fails to actually recognize Bugs as a rabbit, or when Bugs points out that it's actually duck season. It's not enough that Daffy's escaped having his own head blown off; Bugs has to get blasted in his place, and Daffy has to see it happen with his own eyes. Needless to say, this constantly blows up in Daffy's face, in more ways than one.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • Multiple episodes of feature some variation of a plot where Aku forces a person or a group of people into deceiving Jack and luring him into a trap to save their own lives or get some desired MacGuffin from him. Inevitably, this plot will succeed, but Aku always fails to uphold his end of the bargain. Which, of course, leads to the dog biting back and helping Jack escape. Had Aku ever just swallowed his pride and not screwed somebody over in exchange for the death of his most hated and dangerous enemy -or just waited to do it until Jack had been dealt with- he would have won. At least one episode suggested that Aku, being a living personification of evil, is literally incapable of not kicking the dog even when it would be beneficial for him not to do so.
    • When Aku finally manages to capture Jack in the series finale, he decides to broadcast his execution to the entire world to make an example out of him. Then he wastes so much time debating (onscreen) about what the most painful way to kill Jack would be, that all of the people Jack has helped over the years have time to fly to his castle and launch an assault to rescue Jack. Aku being Nigh-Invulnerable, they aren't able to do much more than annoy him, but it does provide Jack the distraction he needs to escape.
  • In an episode of Mega Babies, the babies accidentally uncover an evil plot by a restaurateur to sell recycled food to unsuspecting customers. When he realises the babies simply don't care and are more interested in a bouncing ball, he announces he'll destroy their ball because he can, which prompts them to attack and defeat him.
  • In the first Rose Petal Place special, Nastina plans to use a catapult to bury Rose Petal and her friends under rocks... but doesn't wait until they've left her castle first, and the rocks destroy it.
  • In the episode "Panda's Sneeze" from We Bare Bears, Nom Nom and Panda take part in a competition to see which one of them is cuter, which the former convinces the latter to lose on purpose. He would have gotten exactly what he wanted out of Panda, who didn't want to be famous for his cute sneeze, if he hadn't started sabotaging him.
  • One episode of Donkey Kong Country has Kongo Bongo hold an election to decide the next leader, and consequently, who will have legal access to the Crystal Coconut. Naturally, King K. Rool enters, and actually manages to get most of the citizens on his side. Shortly before the end of the election though, he suddenly decides to try and steal the Crystal Coconut anyway, and is caught doing so, causing him to lose all support in the election, and allowing Donkey Kong to win.
  • Played for Laughs in Wacky Races with Dick Dastardly and Muttley. They have by far the best car, the Mean Machine, which is not only the fastest of all of them but can also fly, and Dick could easily win races fair and square. He's well aware of this, but won't because, as the villain, he refuses to win unless it's by foul play. He'll get ahead fairly and stop to lay traps, and one episode even has him stop just short of the finish line and let the other racers pass because he got there without cheating (mainly because Muttley wanted his autograph, so Dick stopped to oblige). Because of this, he's never won a single race and had the honor of being the Trope Namer for Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat.
  • In the Popeye cartoons, whenever Bluto manages to win Olive over, he will often ruin it by getting too grabby.
  • Played for Laughs in one episode of Dilbert where the Nebulous Evil Organisation the titular character works for runs an outright ludicrous world-controlling conspiracy that keeps employees in line by convincing them that job is the only place in the world where engineers can find work and going as far as to manipulate the media and even kill people to maintain the Masquerade. Naturally they never put together that simply treating the employees better, paying them more, and giving them benefits would be infinitely easier and cheaper to do and would be more effective as it would also make the employees happy and more loyal.
  • Justice League:
    • Felix Faust in "The Balance", who has possessed the near-invincible body of The Annihilator which no longer has the Weaksauce Weakness of needing to feed on the aggression of its opponents, proves much more than a match for Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl combined. However, he decides just killing them simply isn't evil enough and so he sends them to the deepest pit of Tartarus instead. Where Hades is, who's certainly powerful enough to take on Faust. Who can now be freed by Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl. Who is certainly willing to team up with them to strike back. Who can teleport all three of them back to face Faust. Literally five minutes later Faust has been defeated and now gets to spend all of eternity being tormented by Hades: he may be a brilliant sorcerer, but he is not a clever man.
    • Cadmus's plan to destroy the Watchtower is so ludicrously supervillainy with so many extra mustache-twirling steps it's amazing anyone involved with it thought it would work. They fire a full salvo of massive missiles at the Watchtower which are effectively dropships that are filled with clones of the Ultimen controlled by Galatea, who intends to use the Ultimen as cover while she rigs the Watchtower reactor to explode and kill everyone on board. Why they didn't just fire missiles of the exploding or nuclear variety, which would have blown the Watchtower to high hell a heck of a lot faster and without the possibility of the Leaguers on board being able to defeat the invading Ultimen or stop the reactor from exploding, is anyone's guess. Why Don't You Just Shoot 'Em doesn't even begin to cover their level of villainous idiocy.


Video Example(s):


Shane holds Brent hostage

Shane thinks its a good idea that make an unstable conduit unconcerned with killing work for him by holding her only loved one hostage after she willingly did his dirty work.

How well does it match the trope?

4.33 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / VillainBall

Media sources:

Main / VillainBall