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Villain of Another Story

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The villainous version of Hero of Another Story, Villain of Another Story is when a villain is not a villain in the main narrative but is a villain elsewhere in the setting. That means a character that is not treated as a villain in the story can be legitimately considered a villain by other characters. The Villain of Another Story may have little to no impact on the main plot. If the other characters meet him and he still qualifies, he is very likely a Retired Monster.


This trope is common in Role-Playing Games, where sometimes an NPC might be a villain depending on what actions you take in the story. Sometimes, you can avoid fighting the villain, but he/she will be evil in other places in the setting.

A subversion would be that the supposed Villain of Another Story eventually gets dragged into the main story and dealt with by the heroes, as then they become a villain of the main story.

Compare Greater-Scope Villain, an evil, antagonistic force different than a villain or a Big Bad in the sense that it never confronts the hero directly, but is more powerful than the big bad and possibly more influential in the setting as a whole. Also compare Lone Wolf Boss, where a boss in the game isn't in league with the Big Bad and may or may not be a Villain of Another Story; Bit Part Bad Guys, for unaffiliated antagonists who are too minor to threaten the protagonists but nonetheless move the plot forward; and Token Motivational Nemesis, when the villain that causes the wrong that starts the hero down his path ends up being only a minor nuisance in the long term. When a villain has no impact on the story except in Filler, it's a Filler Villain. When a villain is needed to impact a story, but the big bad simply won't do, you want an Interim Villain. If "elsewhere in the setting" is the setting's past (i.e., a flashback or an older story), it's a Predecessor Villain. When the villain of the main story also commits villainous acts that are not part of the narrative (even though they can still be part of the plot), it's Offscreen Villainy. Certain stories with No Antagonist may also get to have this type as a background character if he is obviously up to no good but not towards any of the characters seen in the story. Contrast: Big Bad Duumvirate and Big Bad Ensemble.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Many pirates in One Piece could be considered this due to Protagonist-Centered Morality. Luffy consistently shows a willingness to befriend people who are more brutal than he and his crew have ever been, and without a clear track record of only brutalizing villains like the Straw Hats do. A few examples:
    • Trafalgar Law, right now he's an ally of the main characters and has an almost protagonistic role, but he was part of Doflamingo's crew, is said to be a ruthless pirate in his own right, and during the time skip took out the hearts of 100 pirates (thanks to his powers, this is non-lethal, but still a pretty evil move) as a tribute to become a Warlord of the Sea. This was all to get revenge on Doflamingo, who more than deserved it, but Law was clearly willing to harm people unconnected to the Doflamingo Family in pursuit of that vengeance.
    • Duval. He initially held a grudge against the Straw Hats because of a misunderstanding, but the Straw Hats fixed the problem (more or less) and now Duval is an ally. In his hometown he was an underground boss, and he still keeps his henchmen.
  • Shinichiro Josaki, the villain of the first piece of Digimon media, C'mon Digimon, makes a cameo appearance at the start of Digimon V-Tamer 01. Millenniummon is also causing trouble in the wider setting, but has nothing to do with his usual nemesis, Ryo Akimama, stumbling into the Digimon World Lord Demon is making war in.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, the main character Gon becomes friends with Killua, a kid that comes from a family of professional hitmen. While Killua is nice to Gon, at least at first he's way less moral. They even have to face people wanting to take revenge on him for the things that his family did.
  • The Van of the Red Dragon syndicate in Cowboy Bebop are the overlords of one of the worst crime syndicates in the solar system, but they never directly threaten the main characters and frankly seem apathetic to their existence for nearly the entire series. Only after Vicious makes his move to assassinate and oust them do they send agents after Spike in a belated effort to tie up loose ends.
  • The Decepticons who survived the conclusion of Transformers: Super-God Masterforce under the leadership of Overlord are these during the events of Transformers Victory. While the story follows Star Saber's battles with Deszaras in an area of space identified as Sector 1 (which includes Earth and its star system), Overlord and God Ginrai are having their own ferocious battles over in another sector of space (specifically Sector 2). While Overlord himself only makes cameos showing him in battle with Ginrai's forces, his repeated attacks actually have an effect in-story: Star Saber is occasionally forced to help out in Ginrai's Sector 2 simply because Ginrai is too busy fending off Overlord to properly handle problems that crop up.
  • It's lampshaded in chapter 55 of Kaguya-sama: Love is War that Shirogane sounds like the condescending, amoral tyrant to Miko's idealistic, determined underdog. In any other setting, that would be true, but unfortunately this one has no need of a rebel like Miko.
  • In Cat's Eye, Kaibara is just a wacky one-shot Anti-Villain who leaves once thwarted. In City Hunter he's revealed to be the boss of Union Teope, a drug cartel so powerful to have great influence on a number of South-American countries.

    Comic Books 
  • Annihilus and Lucifer during Marvel's Civil War. One's an alien man-bug leading an armada of spaceships with intent to wipe out all life in the Universe, the other is the Fallen Angel himself recently escaped from Hell and causing mischief with an army of resurrected dead. What's Marvel's main superhero plot line in the midst of these two threats? Paperwork over the death of six hundred people. Annihilus and Lucifer only get passing mentions in the "main" books. The Marvel Universe is very lucky they have some B- and C-list heroes who have A-list power.
  • This is the usual role of Henri Ducard in Batman stories. He knows Batman's secret identity, and even occasionally helps the hero for his own purposes, but it's also always clear that Ducard is an amoral Professional Killer involved in a variety of shady things in his native Europe. (unlike the films, Ducard is not an alias of Ra's al Ghul in the comics.)
  • Agent of the Empire: Ysanne Isard is the Big Bad of various other Star Wars arcs, but here is only a minor character who tips off Cross (albeit in an insulting fashion) that he's been used to kill an innocent man, which helps shape his feelings for the rest of the arc.

    Fan Works 
  • Bad Future Crusaders: Silver Spoon seems to be this. Most of the allegedly evil things she has done happened prior to the story or are only mentioned in passing.
  • Digimon Trinity: Lucemon briefly appears to try and steal the Hazard from Guilmon, before going off to carry out his canonical plot. Which, since the story focuses mostly on Tamers, happens entirely offscreen, with barely a mention or impact on the main story.
  • In the Coreline short story A Little Hospitality, Dr. Hunter is the most recurring human villain of The Littles and a sworn enemy of both them and their human colleague, Henry Bigg (nowadays known as the superhero "Stature"). By all means and purposes, this animosity is territory of the Extraordinary Avengers. Protagonist Roger Hackett was (following this logic) just a Badass Bystander.

    Film — Animated 
  • Lord Portley-Rind in The Boxtrolls. Let's make a list. He wastes taxpayer's money and time just sitting around eating rare cheese, completely ignores his daughter to focus more on his hat and cheese, spends charity money for a children's hospital on a large wheel of cheese that most likely only he and his other White Hats would have eaten, completely ignores Eggs' public confession, tries to get out of his deal with Snatcher, when it is revealed the Boxtrolls are alive he flat out rubs the fact into Snatcher's face that he will never get what he wants, and even when his daughter was caught by Snatcher and he had to trade his hat to save her he tries to negotiate with him for something else. If Snatcher wasn't such a monster Lord Portley-Rind could have easily been the villain of this story.
  • ParaNorman: The Judge and the Puritans who hanged the so called witch, are this coupled with Predecessor Villain as they had a Heel–Face Turn after their death. They were not in any way threatening Norman and just wished to rest in peace. The current citizens of Blithe Hollow on the other hand...
  • Zootopia: Mr. Big is an Affably Evil mafia boss who eventually gets on good terms with the main characters and helps them solve the crime case they are on, but he presumably continues his criminal business off-screen even after the end of the movie.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Kill Bill, both the Bride's Evil Mentor Pai Mei and Retired Monster Esteban Vihaio are very evil people by most standards, but they only exist in the film as part of Bill's sinister background. Both actually aid the Bride in going after Bill. To drive the trope home, the film's version of Pai Mei is directly modeled on Pai Mei's Historical Villain Upgrade appearances as the Big Bad of Executioners from Shaolin—that's where the story of the temple massacre comes from—and as a minor villain in Clan of the White Lotus, making him quite literally the villain of another story.
  • In the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough, Valentin Zhukovsky plays this role. He's a ruthless Russian gangster and former KGB agent who clashed with Bond in the past, but he ends up helping his old enemy against even worse threats in both films.
  • Lord of Illusions: Harry starts off the movie tracking down Tapert, a highly sleazy insurance fraudster. Then he follows Tapert into an occult shop where they witness a murder that makes Tapert run away while Harry switches his efforts into investigating that. To quote Harry:
    Harry: Tapert's got nothing to do with this. He just came to get his palm read.
  • Radio and television newscasts heard throughout the horror film Neighbor repeatedly mention an escaped serial killer named Shawn Gracy. At the very end, the unnamed Villain Protagonist, a serial killer herself, hears a bit-parter mention that Gracy was just captured.
  • The murderous hillbillies in the flashbacks of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil would have made this a more straight slasher movie had they been the antagonists, but their existence is only to show that their crimes still haunt the place and especially the villain who is clearly like father, like son
  • In a disturbingly similar way, a deranged maniac who is only shown in a padded cell in Phenomena caused the story's bloodshed by raping the woman who gave birth to the freaky killer.
  • Lucky Ned Pepper is this in all versions of True Grit. Infamous outlaw? Check. Leader of a gang? Check. History with Rooster Cogburn? Check. Is he the villain of the movie? Nope, it's his henchman Tom Chaney who got drunk and killed Mattie's father. He's actually pissed at Tom for dragging him into the events of True Grit to begin with. Though, it is ultimately subverted, when Rooster offers him and his gang the chance to leave Tom behind and ride away prior to the film's climactic shootout, and Ned declines. Lucky Ned didn't particularly want anything to do with plot of this film, but he does reluctantly assume the role of The Heavy after Chaney proves to be not quite up to the task.
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is filled to the brim with secondary characters of every sort, most of whom are pirates who don't have the luxury of doing any pirating and are trying to organise themselves to fight for their lives against the East Indian Trading Company who has managed to take over as the sole power at sea, not unlike Barbossa. Of note are the rest of the little-seen Pirate Lords (Amande the Corsaire, Mistress Ching, Capitaine Chevalle, Sri Sumbajee, Gentleman Jocard and Eduardo Villanueva) along with ex-lord Captain Teague who however does get to murder one pirate in his brief onscreen time. (Though, Ching, Villanueva and Ammand do become more relevant, as bosses in the game adaptation who try to off Jack). Tie-in literature elaborates on their backstories. Each one has their own story to tell, a story with themselves as the hero and their rival lords as villains, and they take turns depending on which empire they support as privateers.
  • Lone Wolf McQuade: McQuade briefly wrestles with Falcon, the crippled dwarf boss of an arms smuggling operation. He's not the main villain or the target of McQuade's revenge; that role belongs to Falcon's rival Rawley Wilkes (David Carradine's character), another Arms Dealer who both tried to murder McQuade's daughter after she was witness to a major arms deal and has a hold over McQuade's Love Interest Lola. Falcon shows up again after Wilkes has been disposed of, but McQuade steals his helicopter and leaves Falcon behind for the Mexican Federales.
  • Ulysses Klaue in Avengers: Age of Ultron. While he does play a small role in the movie (namely providing smuggled Vibranium to Ultron, it has been established that he has had some history in Wakanda. Of course, this appearance was to set up Klaue as a villain in Black Panther (2018).
  • Darth Vader plays this role in Rogue One. He's only got two scenes and never meets the protagonists, but it's very clear to the characters what kind of monster they're dealing with. When he shows up in person at the last minute (after the main story is over and all the leads from this story are dead) he turns a clear Rebel win into the barest Phyrric Victory in minutes, and it's only the Heroic Sacrifice of an unnamed soldier that keeps it from being a total defeat.
  • The Yakuza boss Hideaki Goto and his son Keiichi in The Raid 2: Berandal. They have a common enemy with the movie's hero, Rama, in the form of the local Bangun crime family, but Rama never teams up with them and it's pretty clear that these are not good guys.
  • The Rock: FBI director Womack takes a backseat to the Marine hostage-takers, but comes across as pretty villainous himself. He's been detaining Mason under shady circumstances for decades and is likely involved in some of the shady conspiracies detailed in the evidence Mason stole.
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: "Squeaky" Fromme isn't directly involved in Manson's conspiracy but went on to try and rally support for Manson after his arrest in real life and was later arrested for trying to murder President Gerald Ford.
  • The Pentagon Wars: The officers behind the testing of the various other DOD projects that are behind schedule all clearly have a lot of waste and problems going on that they steadfastly lie about to the Secretary of Defense, although whether any of that stoops to the same levels of negligence as General Partridge is unclear.

  • Hannibal Lecter of Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, a captured cannibal serial killer who, in both stories, is consulted on how to catch another cannibal serial killer. However, Red Dragon also subverts this since Lecter does become an active threat to Graham late in the book and film by giving Dolarhyde his home address and corresponding with him in secret.
  • Thoth-Amon serves this role in the original Conan the Barbarian stories. He is a powerful, evil wizard but he and Conan never directly clash, nor is Thoth-Amon specifically targeting Conan at any point. Most adaptations promote Thoth-Amon to Big Bad, though.
  • In The Hobbit, Gandalf talks about a Necromancer who lives south of Mirkwood. When Gandalf talks about the Necromancer having wronged the dwarves, Thorin suggests settling scores with the Necromancer, but Gandalf discourages him and says that Thorin and company wouldn't be able to defeat the Necromancer. About midway through the book Gandalf leaves the group and battles the Necromancer off screen while the story continues to follow the journey of Bilbo and the dwarves. The Lord of the Rings later retconned the Necromancer as being a disguise for Sauron, the Big Bad of the setting.
  • In the Redwall novel Mossflower, Martin the Warrior arrives at the mountain of Salamandastron just in time to bear witness to the final battle between Badger Lord Boar the Fighter and searat king Ripfang. Boar's comments beforehand indicate that this conflict has been building to a head for a long, long time, making Ripfang the Big Bad of Another Story.
  • Krios from Percy Jackson and the Olympians doesn't do much in that series despite being a powerful Titan. During his limited screentime he's also shown to be the butt of a few jokes, and Percy and co. never fight him. In The Heroes of Olympus, however, it's revealed that he'd been off being the primary antagonist to the Romans instead of the Greeks.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle, Emperor Agah'rahn is the corrupt and tyrannical ruler of the Tribus elves, who is fighting a world war on Arianus to conquer both the humans (led by King Stephen and Queen Anne) and rebels of his own people (led by his Defector from Decadence son, Prince Reesh'ahn). However, since the main narrative of the series operates on a rather more cosmic scale, he's really only important to the plot on the occasions his empire intersects with it; the Emperor himself only has one scene, and his final comeuppance is entirely off-page with no main characters directly involved. His aforementioned opponents are also Heroes of Another Story.
  • Pocket in the Sea: the heroes are all from the naval prison system and it is very deliberately pointed out in the text that some of them are innocent and some aren't. This means that some of the characters were the Villain of Another Story.
  • An unusual version in The Stand. The original (shorter) version of the novel featured Stu and the others finding a dead man they called The Wolf Man, dead from a wolf attack. Stu wonders what happened. This is the only hint of a sociopathic character called The Kid, who reappears in the extended version. The Kid picked up Trash and took him on a crazy, villainous ride.
  • Varamyr Sixskins, a wildling skinchanger in A Song of Ice and Fire is merely another Mook Lieutenant in the main narrative, but his backstory hints at him being a monstrous, dragon-like figure to the local populace;
    Before Mance, Varamyr Sixskins had been a lord of sorts. He lived alone in a hall of moss and mud and hewn logs that had once been Haggon’s, attended by his beasts. A dozen villages did him homage in bread and salt and cider, offering him fruit from their orchards and vegetables from their gardens. His meat he got himself. Whenever he desired a woman he sent his shadowcat to stalk her, and whatever girl he’d cast his eye upon would follow meekly to his bed. Some came weeping, aye, but still they came. Varamyr gave them his seed, took a hank of their hair to remember them by, and sent them back. From time to time, some village hero would come with spear in hand to slay the beastling and save a sister or a lover or a daughter. Those he killed, but he never harmed the women.
  • Elemental Blessings: Alette's father killed five of his own children (and the mother of the most recent victim for good measure) for such offenses as failing to secure a marriage alliance. His remaining children are terrified of his long reach and murderous temper, but he's uninvolved in the primary intrigue of the story.
  • A Frozen Heart, a retelling of Frozen, gives Prince Hans of the Southern Isles a much more detailed backstory. The the king of the Southern Isles is a textbook Evil Overlord. He's an emotionally abusive father who turned almost all of his sons into equally cruel and violent brutes who are loyal only to him, treats his wife with indifference and rules the Southern Isles with an iron fist. The majority of the book focuses on covering the same plot as the movie, though, so the king ends up being a minor character.
  • The Warlord Chronicles is a King Arthur story where the tale of Arthur's rise and fall is told by Derfel Cadarn, a soldier who started as a common spearman and eventually became one of Arthur's key lieutenants. During a small section early in the second book of the series, when Derfel accompanies Merlin on a quest to recover a Magic Cauldron, he encounters King Diwrnach, a chillingly psychotic Irish warlord who carved out a kingdom in England by killing Guinevere's father and taking over his lands. At the time Derfel and the small group of warriors with him only fight a small skirmish with Diwrnach and then escape, leaving Diwrnach alive and free to continue his bloodthirsty reign, complete with hobbies like killing and skinning children. Derfel mentions offhandedly that sometime later Arthur defeated and killed Diwrnach, but it happens offscreen, and while for the main character/narrator Diwrnach was a minor enemy, for Guinevere he was an Arch-Enemy for obvious reasons.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events has "The Great Unknown", a something that appears as a question mark and threatens everyone; protagonist and antagonist alike. Captain Widdershins states is "worse than Count Olaf himself." A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017) shows that it's a giant Sea Monster but answers no questions besides this.
  • Swan Song: : The white supremacist warlord faction Troop Hydra, which neither the AOE, nor the heroes ever seem to get around to fighting.
  • Troubled Blood: Luca Ricci was physically and emotionally abusive to his fiancee Gloria forty years ago, probably took part in murdering an innocent woman (implied to be suspected Dennis Creed victim Kara Wolfson) for snitching on him and has been a mobster for decades, but he isn't Margot Bamborough's killer and is never caught by Strike or the police.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Number Five mentioned an old enemy known as "El Diablo" and the time he built a robot, "El Diablo Robotico”.
  • Castle: Happens regularly (given the number of Red Herring mobsters they investigate). One notable example is Tommy Moretti in Heartbreak Hotel, who somewhat involved in the episodes plot, and kidnaps someone to get his stolen money returned, but didn't kill Siegel, and releases his hostage upon getting his money back, and then gives the detectives the final clue they need to solve the murder.
  • Justified has Memphis marijuana kingpin Rodney "Hot-Rod" Dunham, a recurring antagonist who occasionally clashes with Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. His final episode in Season 5 introduces his Friendly Enemy, DEA Agent Alex Miller, with whom he had a relationship very similar to the one between Raylan and Boyd, and reveals some of their shared past, making Miller and Hot-Rod the Hero and Villain of Another Story, respectively.
  • Law & Order:
    • In the episode "Bounty" the Victim of the Week was a bounty hunter who spent a year tracking a fugitive known as the "rich kid rapist". It was eventually revealed that the fugitive had nothing to do with the murder. The rich kid rapist was never seen and never mentioned again in any future episodes of the franchise.
    • In the episode "Genius" the Victim of the Week was a white supremacist who burned down a black church in Mississippi, killing two children, and traded child pornography. None of this was relevant to the plot since his killer didn't know about any of that.
  • Supernatural:
    • During Season 6, while Sam and Dean were fighting the mother of all monsters down on Earth, up in Heaven, Castiel was trying to prevent the Archangel Raphael from taking over and restarting the Apocalypse.
    • "Defending Your Life" has an unnamed serial killer whose crimes are ignored because Sam and Dean are busy fighting the god Osiris.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Barney Stinson is set up as this for his work at the Obviously Evil Goliath National Bank. Subverted at the end as it turns out at some point he became the Hero of Another Story instead, helping the Feds obtain information with which the bank could be criminally charged.
  • Resurrection Ertugrul: Aytolun in the second season displays some shades of this, primarily being restricted to serving as an enemy to Selcan and keeping her darkest secrets concealed from the rest of the cast. By the end of the season, this is subverted as a result of the protagonists finally beginning to understand the truth about Aytolun's relationship with Korkut Bey.
  • Many supervillains in The Thundermans who only are known by their names.
  • Power Rangers:
    • The first example was a villain named Lokar who first appeared in an episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Lokar was no mere Monster of the Week, he was an evil intergalactic wizard who ruled the Talos Dimension. Rather than being killed, he survived and went back to his home dimension. He returned in the Boom Studios comics as the Big Bad of the Tommy-focused series, "Soul of the Dragon".
    • The season 3 episode "Final Face-Off" had a Monster of the Week called the Face Stealer who could steal faces. Unlike, other monsters of the week, this creature was not created by Rita or Zedd but was a monster imprisoned in an urn long ago and whose legend was the subject of a school project the Rangers were working on.
    • Before the MMPR finale, there was a ten-episode arc centering on the Aquitian Rangers who temporarily took over as the Ranger team while the human Rangers were temporarily turned into children. It was made clear the Aquitian Rangers had their own adventures and came with their own villain named Hydro Hog.
    • The Black Knight from ''Power Rangers Time Force. Unlike the other monsters of that season, he was neither a mutant nor a robot. He is seen fighting a White Knight with whom he apparently has a long enmity with for control of the Battle Fire power source. The Black Knight is destroyed by the Red Ranger who uses the Battle Fire to create his own Battlizer.
  • The Sopranos: Tony's crew sometimes have to deal with similar mafia organizations, particularly the Lupertazzi family in New York. Sometimes allies and sometimes rivals, the Lupertazzis are indicated to be much larger and have a much wider reach than Tony does but their criminal empire never really comes into focus since they're not the main characters. Even within the Soprano family itself, most of the characters we see are upper management (bosses, underbosses, capos and consiglieres), while most of the soldiers are out doing their own thing and kicking money upstairs.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Morton Goldthwait in FoxTrot, the nerdy outcast of the high school Peter and Paige go to, is generally depicted as a sympathetic or at least neutral and pathetic figure. However, in the story arc following Jason at summer camp, Morton is a villain as his Jerkass camp counsellor.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • A common gag for wrestling promotions is to take a well known figure from somewhere else, and give him an easily noticeable but largely harmless role on their own shows, such as heel managers Jim Cornette, Bobby Heenan and Dave Prazak serving as commentators for LPWA, Women Of Wrestling and ROH / SHIMMER, CIMA's Dragon Gate minion Austin Aries serving as a referee in Wrestlicious, or Chris Hero serving as a jobber for TNA (with his own trading card).
  • Mayumi Ozaki, one of the three Big Bads of GAEA, largely became this in two of GAEA's successor promotions, Sendai Girls and Marvelous. Her Oz Academy, which sought to conquer GAEA, has since become its own promotion serving as an Evil Counterpart to the successors, but continued attacks from Oz Academy on them, or anyone else for that matter, are sparse as Ozaki is more concerned about ruling her own roost with an iron fist and continuing her earlier, unrelated antagonist role in JWP and its successors.

  • Thomas Crimp in Old Harry's Game was a demented murder-rapist when he was alive, but the fact that he's already died and gone to Hell by the time of the series means he's more of a Butt-Monkey than a real villain.

  • Fire Emblem On Forums: Yhe, Vlade and Bladr. An odd case that applies more to their cult than individually, which is responsible for
    • Sarius's poisoning
    • The ritual that Chris believed removed his soul
    • and Mia being exorcised into Ami
    • Despite this, they have no involvement in the main plotline, and the majority of the cult was massacred offscreen by Chris.

  • The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui:
    • Arturo Ui's rise takes place at the same time as, and is very obviously based off of, the rise of Adolf Hitler, and each scene ends with a news headline showing the point in Hitler's rise which the scene is supposed to mirror. However, Hitler has no direct involvement in the plot.
    • Al Capone is also mentioned in passing.
  • In The Tsars Bride, Malyuta Skuratov openly boasts about his killings and doesn't even pretend to be in any way moral. However, in this particular story, he is, if anything, one of the more sympathetic characters. He does nothing villainous onscreen, has no grudge against the opera's good guys and, in most productions, is quite nice towards his Morality Pet Lyubasha.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This trope crops up frequently in Magic: The Gathering, which has numerous villainous characters who only ever show up in flavor text or on a single card without making any notable appearances in the main storyline. Tibalt in Avacyn Restored and Vraska in Return to Ravnica are especially prominent examples, as villainous planeswalkers who never actually show up in the plot.

    Video Games 
  • In The Walking Dead, The Stranger is an Anti-Villain and only a villain at all because Lee's group were the villains of his story: their theft of his supplies caused his remaining family to leave him and subsequently die, and he came after revenge.
  • ARMA: In Take On Helicopters it's implied that the "coverup" ending of PMC was canonical, as Brian Frost has become head of operations for ION, so after a supply flight by Larkin Aviation on behalf of ION's parent corporation goes sour, the Larkin brothers pick up Frost and give him "a shaky ride" until he talks.
  • Heroes Must Die: Lucarzi Lamorra, the head of the gothic city mafia. Also Storm and the rest of Lord Murder's dark council are this. subverted with storm who joins the Warborn to take down Murder.
  • Culex from Super Mario RPG. His master ordered him to invade Mario's world, and he gladly would have but it was uninhabitable for him, so he instead serves as a Bonus Boss to fight Mario before he goes home. Which story does Culex hail from? We never find out. (Although the elemental crystals and distinctive theme music makes it clear he's meant to be a homage to the Final Fantasy games).
  • Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal goes all the way with this with Watcher's Keep, a Bonus Dungeon which can culminate in the player taking on Demogorgon, the Prince of Demons. A huge villain within the Forgotten Realms setting for sure, but ultimately he has nothing to do with the main plot of the game.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, Campanella the Fool spent the entirety of FC causing problems in Erebonia so that Cassius Bright would be stuck trying to resolve those so that he wouldn't be able to interfere with Ouroboros' plans in Liberl. As such, he doesn't appear onscreen until the sequel.
    • Trails of Cold Steel has Baron Bleublanc, a.k.a Phantom Thief B. He's unmasked in a series of mandatory quests and is a known Enforcer of Ouroboros who appeared in earlier games, but as Ouroboros don't get involved in this game's plot until the Sequel Hook, he doesn't directly confront the main characters. (Except in a Drama CD) In the sequel though, he's a major Recurring Boss.
    • Arianrhod is alluded to a few times in the first two Cold Steel games, but never directly appears. In The Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki, which takes place at the same time, she's a major antagonist and fought directly. Like Bleublanc, she gets involved in the Cold Steel series later on and is fought there in the third game.
  • Super Paper Mario: Lord Blumiere's father is this coupled with Predecessor Villain as his actions are responsible for his son's Start of Darkness, turning him into the Big Bad Count Bleck. He is the main antagonist of the post-Chapter flashback storyline, being one of the people responsible for the events, alongside Dimentio. He attempted to destroy the bond between his son and Timpani several times and later cursed the latter to wander dimensions until her death, becoming an Unwitting Instigator of Doom in the process.
  • Most villains in The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall are to some degree this (the only two that have to act as antagonists are Lord Woodborne and King Gothryd, and the second of those only does so for part of one quest towards the endgame), but the King of Worms is the most definite example, being both one of the strongest and one of the most clearly villainous forces in the setting... and having no quests where he acts as an antagonistnote  — his involvement with the main quest is you facilitating a Deal with the Devil someone else is making with him, you doing a task for him in exchange for information, and him being one of the persons you can hand over the Totem to in exchange for rewards (and the only reason he doesn't provide what he promises is a bug, this being Daggerfall).

  • All the villains who've reared their ugly heads so far in The Young Protectors are this.
  • The Order of the Stick: The dwarf and the shadowdancer that are trying to kill the King of Nowhere (but accidentally target Roy) are this. Their motives are never explained and they leave the narrative to pursue their goal with no further interaction with the Order.
    • This is a major annoyance to Elan's dad Tarquin. As a Genre Savvy villain ruling a massive evil empire he wants to be an Archnemesis Dad, but the Order is too busy preventing the end of the world to deal with him right now. He's also mentioned to be Elan's mentor Julio Scoundrel's "B-list villains".

    Web Original 
  • In Red vs. Blue, the Covenant count as this. The series is mentioned to take place after the war with the Covenant, and Project Freelancer is said to have been made to fight off the Covenant. But the Covenant never appear in the series, only mentioned, and they have virtually no role in the series, whether good or bad.
  • In Noob: La Quête Légendaire, Sparadrap's father Abraham, a Nun Too Holy mafia higher up covering as a priest. The spoilered out detail would make him a Laughably Evil villain or Anti-Villain in most settings. However, the story is mostly set in the fictional MMORPG that Sparadrap has been playing avidly and that Abraham just recently joined.
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, there's every member of the Evil League of Evil except for Bad Horse. The actual story is about the conflict between Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Doctor Horrible and Sociopathic Hero Captain Hammer. Bad Horse functions as a Greater-Scope Villain and prompts the situation to escalate by pushing Doctor Horrible into gradually more extreme acts of villainy. All the other members of the Evil League of Evil are just kind of... there. They show up onscreen in exactly one scene, for a few seconds, in which they do nothing and aren't even named. There's also Johnny Snow, Doctor Horrible's offscreen rival who apparently builds death rays and ice beams and keeps challenging Doctor Horrible to duels in a public park full of children.
    • The Evil League of Evil make an appearance in a prequel comic, where they try to poison the city's water supply while Captain Hammer is out of town. They are stopped by Johnny Snow, who uses an ice beam to freeze the water supply. The League members then call it a win and go home.

    Western Animation 
  • In Code Lyoko, Project Carthage was a government project used to block enemy communication. It is the reason why Franz Hopper made the super-computer, Lyoko, and XANA in the first place, so he could fight it. However, the Lyoko Warriors never fight it as Project Carthage never actually shows up in the series, and the Lyoko Warriors are focused on fighting the now-evil XANA. A reactivated Project Carthage ascends to the Big Bad position in the Evolution series, but official Word of God from the original series creators put Evolution firmly in the Canon Discontinuity camp.
  • The Simpsons:
  • Transformers Animated: Most of Team Chaar qualify. They only have cameos, from minor roles in the comics to the Transwarped opening fight, but their backstory establishes them as some of the most influential Decepticons. Strika was one of the Highest Commanding officer, and leads many of Megatron's spread out troops as well as the mission to get him back. Blackout was the most powerful Decepticon in the war, having destroyed several Omega Sentinels before being brought down in the Con's last stand. Oil Slick was responsible for the Cosmic Rust epidemic that killed soldiers on both sides and featured as the Big Bad in Ratchet's backstory "Bots of Science." Finally theres Cyclonus, who never speaks and nobody knows where he came from. The medic, Scalpel, theorizes that he may be from the Future and his existence foreshadows the emergence of Galvatron and the possible coming of Unicron.
    • Transformers: Cyberverse: At the end of the Quintesson Invasion arc, Windblade's psyche is split apart and winds being held by various powerful, villainous entities that have no connection to the Decepticons or the Quintessons.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Ahuizotl is a cunning, physically powerful villain who seeks to cause an eternal summer over a particular valley. In a world full of magical world-conquering villains like Nightmare Moon, King Sombra and Queen Chrysalis, he doesn't seem all that impressive, primarily because his power is mostly physical while the others tend to be reality warpers or powerful magic users or lead entire armies. However, he himself is aware of this, and is apparently having fights with Daring Do over powerful magical items while the Mane Cast and their villains are busy having their own fights for the fate of the world. Apparently, the fact he lacks high level magical powers of his own helps him get under Celestia and Luna's radar, explaining why the Princesses hadn't done anything against Ahuizotl themselves, though Daring Do passing off her adventures as fiction probably doesn't help draw attention to his machinations either...
    • Eventually subverted in the ninth season, however, where it is revealed that Ahuizotl is nothing more than a guardian of ancient artifacts. All his schemes in the past were simply desperate attempts to scare ponies like Daring Do and Doctor Cabelleron away. Naturally, the fandom is divided on whether or not this reveal was a good thing.
  • Fitting for a show with a frequent Villain Protagonist, The Venture Bros. originally had Sergeant Hatred as the Villain of Another Story. He started as a catch-all for any time the writers needed to reference a villain for the Monarch's henchmen to steal from, or someone else that the Venture twins had encountered in the past. He eventually joined the show as a regular. A similar situation occurred with Captain Sunshine, a supposed hero. He does appear later on.
  • Likewise, whenever Kim Possible mentioned her exploits thwarting a different villain to the one she was this episode, it would always be Professor Dementor, who was originally He Who Must Not Be Seen, but was developed into Always Someone Better for Dr Drakken.
  • In Darkwing Duck, Dr. Slug is Public Enemy #1, one step above known terrorist Negaduck, yet we've never really seen him.
  • Archer: Algernop Krieger is a Mad Scientist who tapes bum fights, frequently experiments on people without their consent, steals bodies for experiments, was eager in one episode to pump nerve gas into the ISIS ventilation system, insists he's not a serial killer, repeatedly sells ISIS weapons to gangs and criminals to fund his operations, sells important ISIS secrets to the KGB, tried to sell uranium to North Korea, is heavily implied to have raped his pet pig, and may or may not be a clone of Adolf Hitler. Despite all this, he's yet to have a single antagonistic role.
  • Futurama: "Attack of the Killer App" has Mom attempting to Take Over the World by creating an army of zombies. The actual plot of the episode is a falling-out between Fry and Leela.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: Courage may have encountered more than his fair share of monsters and villains, more than anyone's fair share of monsters and villains, but there are always hints that there are always more out there and an eternal bane for the unhappy world of Nowhere. Eustace's older brother Horst who did plenty of unpleasant stuff to animals, like hunting sapient deer and throwing sapient goats off a cliff, all thanks to being a Egomaniac Hunter, is a more mundane example, but he is dead by the time of the series and he may also qualify for Predecessor Villain given that his taunting and cruelty towards Eustace influenced him to be a horrible person himself and to prove that he was as good and successful a hunter as him. Also in one episode one nameless, unexplained tentacled monster appears dragging a secondary character named Floyd to his doom and Eustace is as blind and clueless as ever despite it happening in front of him in broad daylight, typical for most citizens' perception standards.
  • Rick and Morty:
    • Coach Feratu from "Big Trouble In Little Sanchez", Morty and Summer's vampire gym teacher whom Morty mentions killed a lunch lady prior to the episode. He never actually appears and is killed offscreen by Tiny Rick, Morty, and Summer five minutes into the episode. The Vampire Lord popping up in a Post Credits Scene to berate his henchman for picking an alias as stupid and on-the-nose as "Coach Feratu" and Rick casually pointing out that vampires are indeed a very real thing, also reveals vampires on the whole are this.
    • The foes of The Vindicators, themselves "Heroes" of Another Story, such as Doom-Nomitron and World Ender are busy with their own evil schemes and are being thwarted by characters who have nothing to do with the titular Rick and Morty, at least until a threat is so severe they are forced to reluctantly call for their help. Naturally, Rick goes on a drunken blackout, defeats Worldender off-screen, and becomes the new villain of the episode...
  • DuckTales (1987) has the episode Superdoo. The main story revolves around Doofus, who uses an alien crystal that gives him superpowers that he uses to adopt the name "Superdoo," save the day from several disasters, and also to gain merit badges. The subplot reveals that the crystal was stolen by two alien criminals who wanted to use it to take over the galaxy, and that the disasters were inadvertently caused by the aliens who wanted the crystal back.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has two prominent examples:
    • Tiamat is a five-headed dragon who presumably is doing evil things...elsewhere. She never actively sets out to conquer the Realm, destroy the kids or doing anything evil on screen. The current state of the world is Venger's doing and in fact, she is more of an enemy to him than the kids, as she represents the one obstacle of total domination of the Realm and he requires their magical weapons to defeat her.
    • An even bigger example than Tiamat is Venger's master, also known as the Nameless One, an highly powerful entity responsible for corrupting the Evil Overlord in the first place and granting him his magical powers. He appears for only one episode to threaten the Realm and requires everyone to stand together to drive him out. According to the Dungeon Master, the Nameless One has terrorized other worlds beyond the Realm and after being defeated (which is considered only a temporary setback), he will be off to torment them next.
  • Adventure Time: All the prisoners of the Citadel except Martin, are various powerful monsters imprisonsed for unspecified "cosmic crimes", but they all have been already defeated for the moment they appear, and the ones who scape are never seen again.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Principal Brown is implied to has a Dark and Troubled Past where he did something that caused the FBI to target him.
    • The people who want to kill Gary Hedges because 20 years earlier he testified against them.
  • Steven Universe: Lars is left behind on Homeworld at the end of "Lars' Head", and by the time Steven meets up with him again in "Lars of the Stars", he and the Off-Colors have become space pirates. They're in the middle of being pursued by Emerald, a high-ranking Homeworld Gem whom they've antagonized on several occasions, such as sneaking into a "cosmic jubilee" and stealing a powerful spaceship belonging to her for their own use.
  • Darkseid in Harley Quinn (2019); he is clearly the biggest villain out there and the cast is terrified of being in his presence, but he's a busy Galactic Conqueror who doesn't have time or interest in invading Earth, instead lending Harley and later Dr. Psycho some parademons to do the job for him (and when they fail, he leaves after swearing vengeance and redirects his forces to more important targets).


Video Example(s):


Black Manta

Black Manta is Aquaman's Arch-Enemy, but he's not whom Aquaman is after here.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / VillainOfAnotherStory

Media sources:

Main / VillainOfAnotherStory