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Villain Exclusivity Clause

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"Y'know the thought occurred to me that we are rather Claw-centric. Have we ever thought of going after ISIS? Drug lords? The people who made the Madea movies?"
The Nostalgia Critic (as Inspector Gadget), Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas review

Some works use the villain as part of The Law of Conservation of Detail: he or she will fulfill almost exactly the same role in every single episode. A single antagonist, always having the same function in the plot.

Take care that:

  1. The example is not a case of Greater-Scope Villain, as the show goes Back to Status Quo at the end of every episode, so the villain's actions have no effect on the rest of the episodes.
  2. The example is not a case of Arc Villain, as the villain appears in all the works, not only during a specific arc.
  3. The villain may or may not be the Big Bad but, if he or she is, always has a more or less active role in the plot and is not The Chessmaster.
  4. The example is not a case of Villain Protagonist, the villain is clearly the antagonist. Albeit sometimes may overlap with Villain-Based Franchise.

Pretty much a Dead Horse Trope nowadays as most shows, even those aimed at children, tend to prefer a Story Arc thus having at the very least an Arc Villain. The original idea, especially in cartoons, was that children lack the attention span to handle complex arcs and plots throughout a season, thus every episode was more or less self-contained, with the exception of multiple-part episodes and the mandatory Clip Show. It is still used sometimes in shows for small children. But remember, Tropes Are Not Bad.

The opposite of a Rogues Gallery, when a hero faces a broad variety of villains throughout the series. The other extreme is a Monster of the Week format when a show has no recurring villain and instead the antagonist is Different in Every Episode. Compare with Once per Episode, Every Episode Ending and Strictly Formula.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon: The Series Team Rocket attempts to steal Pikachu or another Pokemon in every episode. Starting from Pokémon the Series: Black & White, they are absent in some episodes, though they still exist as the main antagonists.
  • Dr. Hell sends his monsters in an effort to Take Over the World in every episode of Mazinger Z and it's Mazinger's job to stop them. Curiously though, he never thinks of sending them all together at once.

    Comic Books 
  • Blake and Mortimer: Colonel Olrik appears in every stories, often working for another villain. Out of 31 volumes (and counting), there are only two exceptions: The Time Trap and The Oath of the Five Lords.

    Films — Animation 
  • In-Universe example; the function of Wreck-It Ralph in every game is to destroy things for The Hero to re-build them. At one point he gets tired of this, which leads to the rest of the plot.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • It's difficult to find any adaptation of Peter Pan that doesn't have Captain Hook as the main villain, but you'd expect this when they're directly adapting the novel. Where it gets interesting is the sequels — Peter Pan and the Only Children, Hook, Return To Never Land, Peter Pan in Scarlet — which all bring him back to be the main villain again, even though he died at the end of the novel. The prequel Pan is an odd case: the young Hook is Peter's friend, and remains so until the very end (maybe they were saving his fall from grace for a sequel), but on the other hand, the villain is a "Pirate King" who fills pretty much exactly the role in the plot that Captain Hook normally would.
  • Harry Potter: Draco Malfoy appears in every one of the seven books as The Bully. However, after his Face–Heel Turn, he's no longer a villain in the sequel play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien. Sauron appears in The Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, though in The Silmarillion he's The Dragon and in The Hobbit he's an offstage cameonote .

    Live-Action TV 
  • Robbie Rotten in LazyTown plays the same role in every episode: trying to have Stephanie and Sportacus expelled from the town and/or to diminish their influence.
  • Dr. Smith in Lost in Space is mixed with a case of Just Eat Gilligan. In every episode, Smith endangers the Robinson family, whether out of greed, cowardice, his obsession with returning to Earth, or another selfish reason.
  • El Ecoloco in Odisea Burbujas follows the Burbujos in every episode. trying to promote destruction and pollution or just causing havoc.
  • Colonel Klink in Hogan's Heroes as the commander of a German prison camp has the same role in every episode. Justified by the fact that the nature of the show meant that it always had the same setting.
  • Boss Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard: every episode features him trying to concoct a corrupt scheme and/or frame the Dukes.
  • Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad always features Sam and his team fighting viruses brought to life by a rogue AI named Kilokahn.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Addressed in Cartoon Action Hour, meant to mimic the feel of 80's action cartoons, most of which had one lead villain or villain group, and all the other regular villains were their underlings. Most premade settings for the game opt for this same dynamic with their villains.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • The bulk of Felix the Cat (Joe Oriolo) cartoons follow this premise with The Professor and Rock Bottom; due to the series zigzagging between having Negative Continuity and Broad Strokes. Almost every episode deals with the crooks trying to either steal Felix's Magic Bag of Tricks, committing crimes to enrich themselves, or just cause misery to Felix for the hell of it and failing miserably and comically every single time. The series does have a secondary antagonist in the form of Master Cylinder, who was the former pupil of Professor, but he only appears infrequently, and Professor always appears in each episode with him as well, even if he's not on Cylinder's side. There are very, very few episodes in the series that don't star one or the other as the villain, and the ones that don't either star a one-off villain or some other source of conflict for Felix.
  • Skeletor as the main villain in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), the Masters of the Universe film, The New Adventures of He-Man and the reboot He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002).
  • M.A.S.K. follows this premise, with two organizations M.A.S.K. and V.E.N.O.M; every episode deals with the former fighting the latter, and in all but a handful of cases the leader of V.E.N.O.M. Miles Mayhem appears.
  • Bionic Six fight Dr. Scarab and his gang in more or less in the same fashion in every episode.
  • C.O.P.S. has C.O.P.S. fighting the crimes of C.R.O.O.K.S. in a similar way and the Big Bad The Big Boss always will appear.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: Just try to think of an episode without COBRA attempting world domination (unlike the comics that used third parties like the Iron Grenadiers, the Headhunters and assorted one-shot dictators).
  • Dr. Gangreene uses a different tomato-related plan to Take Over the World in every episode of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!. Although this may sound silly, the writers had some very creative ideas and parodied famous movies including Creature from the Black Lagoon, Grease and Dracula.
  • Clandestino appears as antagonist in every single episode of The Bluffers.
  • Beastly and Shreeky in Care Bears (1980s), trying to end love in every episode.
  • Dr. Dredd and his gang of monsters in Drak Pack.
  • Every episode of The Dreamstone has an almost identical plot, with Zordrak sending his sympathetic mooks, the Urpneys, to steal the Dreamstone. Occasional episodes feature another antagonist, but the Urpneys will still be involved in some way.
  • Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner is based around this premise; as hilarious as the shorts are, they all have the Coyote trying to capture the Roadrunner, and failing.
  • Dr. Claw and his organization appear in all episodes (and related media, including the movies) of Inspector Gadget, always with Gadget's boss informing him of Claw's evil plans to be stopped.
  • Every episode of Jem features The Misfits causing some kind of property damage, endangering lives or ruining concerts.
  • Floyd and Jolene trying to eat the cubs in all Kissyfur episodes.
  • The Popeye shorts follow the same basic dynamic; Bluto would eventually harass and/or try to molest Olive Oil provoking Popeye's intervention. Sometimes Bluto would go under a different name or even have a different appearance like a clean-shaven lifeguard, but still be the same character with the same voice. This is mostly true of the Famous Studios shorts, the Fleischer shorts were far more dynamic and varied in terms of plot; many of which don’t feature Bluto or an expy of him at all.
  • Murky and Lurky in Rainbow Brite trying to steal colors.
  • Every crime in SilverHawks would feature the involvement of Mon*Star.
  • Overlord tries to Take Over the World in every episode of Spiral Zone.
  • The eponymous Star Kids have to deal with Momo’s food-related schemes in every episode of Star Street: The Adventures of the Star Kids.
  • Texas Pete and his minions are the villains in almost every episode of Superted.
  • Mumm-Ra is the bad guy in almost every episode of ThunderCats.
  • Parodied with Dr. Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb. Although he's a villain that appears in every single episode, he and the eponymous brothers don't even know each other, and the only connection between them is Perry the Platypus, the boys' pet who is secretly a super-spy thwarting Doof's plans.
  • Both the 1990s cel-animated version and the 2000 CGI version of Action Man put Dr. X in this position. Pretty much every episode either has Dr. X as the villain, or someone who works for him. His plot is always the same: kill a bunch of people, mutate the survivors into neo-humanity. He would also narrate his Darwinian goals Every. Single. Episode.
    • Rival Max Steel had a similar thing going with the evil organization DREAD, led by John Dread, being responsible for most of the villains Max faced; however, the final season saw DREAD dissolve, and some of the villains reappeared now on their own.
    • And in turn, the 2013 reboot has most of the villains being somehow affiliated with the evil alien Ultralinks, including this continuity's version of John Dread (renamed Miles Dredd). The only exception in the first two seasons was Toxzon. After the franchise became exclusive to Latin America once again, more independent villains were introduced.
  • Wild C.A.T.s had all villains working for Helspont, even some who were independent or even rivals in the comics. The only exceptions were Majestic (a hero in the comics) and the Orb, and even in episodes featuring them, Helspont appeared.
  • Stunt Dawgs: The Stunt Scabs are the antagonists of every episode and all cases of Enemy Mine are the result of some rifts among them that cause one of more of them to temporarily team up with the heroes. In spite of it, the next episode shows the Scabs as united as if the rift never happened.
  • Hurricanes: Stavros Garkos is the main villain of most episodes and no antagonist who doesn't work for him appears in more than one episode. Whatever Garkos does in each episode he appears doesn't affect other episodes.
  • Hawk Moth is the only actual villain in Miraculous Ladybug and all the Monsters of the Week are civilians who've been brainwashed by his akumas. No exceptions so far.
    • At the end of season two, Hawk Moth acquires a pair of subordinate villains in the form of Mayura and Lila, and adds Chloé to his allies at the end of season three. However, Hawk Moth remains the primary villain, with the others helping him on a case-by-case basis.
  • In Centurions, Cyborg Mad Scientist Doc Terror is the main villain in all but a handful of episodes. Either he initiated whatever Evil Plan the Centurions are currently fighting, or the person who did is working for him.
  • The Super Mario Bros. cartoons:
    • In The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, King Koopa was the main antagonist of every episode, with the exception of "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em", which featured an original villain by the name of Queen Rotunda.
    • In The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, although King Koopa did not appear in every episode, at least one Koopaling did.
    • In Super Mario World, there were actually a few episodes where neither King Koopa or any of the Koopalings appeared. However, the villains in those episodes were at least in cahoots with the Koopas. The exception here is "Party Line", where the threats are just wild dinosaurs and Caterpillarsnote .
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), Shredder is invariably the antagonist in each episode, sometimes with help from Krang; other times the two are working against each other. One episode had a series of mysterious occurrences befalling the turtles and at the end of the episode it was revealed that Shredder had been behind those too.