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Villainous Legacy

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Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish... what you started.

"The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."
Antony, Julius Caesar

This trope is when even though the villain of a work is no longer around, the plot continues to be driven by things they did while alive. This can be done by their organization being taken over by someone else, their descendants being evil themselves, someone continues their plans without them, and so forth. If it's an ongoing series where one way or another every villain can be traced back to the first one despite his defeat, it's this trope.

This trope is not, however, when the original villain is no longer in the spotlight but still manipulating things behind the scenes as The Man Behind the Man or The Man Behind the Monsters. For a true Villainous Legacy, they must have actually been defeated and are no longer the main threat. This trope can still apply if the villain is still around, as long as they are no longer the primary antagonist of the current story.


Compare Predecessor Villain, Hijacked by Ganon, As Long as There is Evil, and My Death Is Just the Beginning, each of which can overlap with this trope. Contrast Eternal Hero, which is the heroic version. See also Someone to Remember Him By, Leaking Can of Evil, Evil Tainted the Place, The Remnant, Avenging the Villain, which can be assorted ways this trope is invoked. Also contrast Greater-Scope Villain and Villain of Another Story, which are active forces of evil who are just not concerned with the current plot.

NOTE: Because this trope focuses on a villain being behind other events in a series (and often dead themselves), expect unmarked spoilers.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has main villain Dio Brando; even after his death, his shadow looms over the Joestar/Kujo Clan, causing them and the world much trouble. Even he, however, is a result of a much more ancient evil from Mesoamerica. Though Dio dies in part 3 of JoJo, the initial enemies of Part 4 are a direct result of his actions, Part 5's protagonist is his son, and Part 6's Big Bad is a devout follower trying to continue Dio's master plan.
  • Digimon Data Squad: Even after Kurata is defeated, his genocide of Digimon makes King Drasil believe all humans are evil, and thus he attempts to destroy the human world to protect the digimon world.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • King Piccolo expels an egg from his mouth mere seconds before his demise. This egg eventually hatches and gives life to Piccolo Jr., who consciously seeks to conquer the world and avenge his father's death. Fortunately, he makes a Heel–Face Turn in Dragon Ball Z, where he becomes an important ally.
    • In Dragon Ball Z, long after Goku destroyed the Red Ribbon Army, its (initially unmentioned) lead scientist Dr. Gero continues his work to defeat Goku, to the point where he still uses the Army's insignia on his androids. Gero himself has a legacy even after his death; after the destruction of his laboratory, a supercomputer in his lab's basement (which survived the destruction) continues to work on his final creation, the biomechanical android Cell. In Future Trunks's timeline, two of his creations go on to rule the world with fear and power for well over a decade.
  • One Piece
    • Arlong is defeated fairly early in the series, and the audience only learns about his motivations much later in the series. Years later (two in-universe, eleven outside), a pirate crew/insurrectionist movement in Fishman Island arises following Arlong's example, and taking it to a grander scale.
    • Played with in regards to Mother Carmel, a slave trader who died long before the series began. While her true nature was never revealed to the public, she nonetheless continues to blight the world through another, far more dangerous villain: Charlotte Linlin, aka Big Mom. It's an interesting example because Linlin is also completely unaware of Carmel's true nature — rather, she idolized her for the kind facade that she put on, and the false dream she espoused to maintain it. After Carmel "disappeared", Big Mom took that dream and made it as her own, only to have it twisted by her insanity, selfishness, and cruelty, all of which were enabled by Carmel so she could exploit her destructive behavior as a talking point for a potential sale. The end result is a pirate Emperor who terrorizes the seas for the sake of ideals that were never real in the first place.
    • Roughly thirty-eight years prior to the main story's beginning, there was Rocks D. Xebec, who gathered together one of the most powerful pirate crews ever known, including many members who would themselves become world-renowned many years after his death, such as Big Mom, Kaido, Whitebeard, Shiki, Captain John, among others. Even the event where he was finally defeated would help propel his opponents, Garp and Roger, to infamy, granting the former his title of "Hero of the Marines". It's been implied that Blackbeard, one of the main candidates for overall series Big Bad, views himself as Rocks' successor the way that Luffy is Roger's.
  • The damage that Rau Le Creuset and his unwitting pawns, Patrick Zala and Muruta Azrael did in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED has yet to be undone by Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. Grudges from the war they started continue to drive new conflict, Azrael's successor Djibril has taken over his terror organization, Zala faction loyalists continue to launch terrorist strikes against ZAFT and the EA alike, and Gilbert Durandal, the new Big Bad, plots to unite the world under himself so that no one can ever do what Le Creuset did again.
  • Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine had the death of Count Almeida happen before the series began, but their influence is felt by one of the experimental subjects continuing his work under his name long after his death.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam's Big Bad, Gihren Zabi, might have died at the end, but the state that he and his family built continues to antagonize the world for years afterwards, with both Haman Khan's Axis-Zeon and Char Aznable's Neo-Zeon laying claim to the name and legacy of the Principality of Zeon.
  • The Big Bad of The Garden of Sinners, Araya Souren, is killed by Shiki in the fifth chapter/movie. The remaining two chapters are driven by lesser villains, who never got a chance to play their intended parts in his Evil Plan before it was foiled, and so they went independent.
  • This is zigzagged in Naruto. For a while it appears that a still-living Madara Uchiha is behind most of the plot, though it's a bit odd that he always wears a mask. Then, during the War Arc, Madara gets revived as a zombie, proving that the man behind the mask is simply pulling a Dead Person Impersonation, thus playing this trope straight. But it's then revealed that the real Madara actually passed down his plans/ideals to the masked man (revealed to be an Evil Former Friend of one of the protagonists) and planned for his successor to eventually revive him (though said successor didn't intend to do so) and left a few failsafes to make sure he was revived (though they didn't work as planned). So ultimately this trope is zigzagged in the sense that Madara WAS dead for most of the series, but was still manipulating things in an indirect way. But even the real Madara himself was a pawn of the true mastermind and though said mastermind was defeated by Naruto, her people are trying to continue where she left off and cause trouble for Boruto and his friends....
  • Fairy Tail has Zeref the Black Wizard. It's been 400 years since his death, and people are still fighting against demons and other evil artifacts he made back then. And it turns out he's still alive, and intends to wage war on humanity. At this point in the series, he finally takes up the role of the overall Big Bad.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! R Dark Bakura never appears, but killing Pegasus in the Duelist Kingdom arc is what fuels the motivation of the Big Bad, Yako Tenma, to resurrect Pegasus, since Yako was his adopted son.
  • A subversion occurs in Sword Art Online with Akihiko Kayaba; while his actions do result in over four thousand innocent people dying in The Most Dangerous Video Game and his influence is felt long after his death, the impacts are largely beneficial afterwards.
    • A virtual remnant of himself is what allows Kirito to turn the tables on Oberon at the climax of Fairy Dance.
    • The World Seed he created with data gathered from the Aincrad server is ultimately what allows VRMMOs to continue to exist after SAO and the first ALO server are shut down, thus setting up the events of all the following arcs.
    • At the end of Mother's Rosario, it's revealed that he was the original designer of the Medicuboid system that made it possible for Yuuki Konno to have a high quality of life in VR while her health rapidly deteriorated due to AIDS.
  • Happens in My Hero Academia:
    • Once All For One, the resident Chessmaster, gets defeated by All Might, his pupil and recurring bad guy Tomura Shigaraki properly becomes the series' Big Bad.
    • Similarly, "Hero Killer" Stain is defeated in battle and captured fairly early on, but his rhetoric proves to be very popular among villains, and membership in the Villain League rises noticeably in the wake of his rampage.
    • The villain Destro was captured and subsequently committed suicide, but people still respond to the ideals detailed in his autobiography and his child is trying to continue the Meta Liberation Army he founded in his name.
  • In the anime adaptation of YuYu Hakusho, Sakyo's plan to open up a tunnel between the demon and the human worlds during the Dark Tournament arc is explicitly stated as the inspiration for Sensui's plan to do the same thing in the Chapter Black arc. The only difference is that Sakyo intended to do so with money while Sensui believed he could build his tunnel with the power of a psychic.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: Norman Osborn had this role for decades after he "died". Initially, he was limited to the Spider-Man characters. He had killed Spider-Man's girlfriend and created a supervillain legacy that not only included his own son, but several goblin-based villains that plagued Spidey for years. Of course, since Death Is Cheap, Osborn is back these days.
  • In X-Men, after Stryfe is defeated, it turns out that he has left behind a virus that spreads through humans and kills those with the x-gene, devastating mutantkind for years. Appropriately, it is referred to as the Legacy virus, as before his death Stryfe was constantly ranting about legacies.
  • In DC One Million, there are future versions of practically every member of Batman's Rogues Gallery on the prison at Pluto; the android version of Robin explains to "our" Batman (who switches places with the future one) that a few were simply inspired by the originals, while others came about through cloning, DNA splicing, and other scientific methods. (One of them, Catwoman's future counterpart, gets her own issue in the series.)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • Mammoth Mogul. Thousands of years ago, he founded the Order of Ixis, which eventually led to the creation of Ixis Naugus, whose actions, which may include starting the Great War, in turn led to Dr. Robotnik's rise to power, whose death ultimately led to nearly every villain in the book today, with Naugus responsible for the ones that aren't Mogul. Naugus and Robotnik are still quite active (and are top two villains of the series), whereas Mogul has semi-retired from active villainy, running a casino and deciding to use his immortality to outlive the heroes and make his move then. Too bad he didn't take into account The Genesis Waves.
    • The Knuckles spin off comics has Menniker who founded the Dark Legion, which led to the threat of his descendants continuing his work in the present day. This makes him responsible for Moritor Rex, Kragok, Lien-Da actions.
  • Pathfinder: Worldscape:
    • The titular demi-plane was created by Nex the Archmage of Golarion, who used the souls of those trapped in it as fuel to become a god. He died before achieving his goal, but his creation was left behind displacing warriors from three separate worlds and its many, many different versions of it. Its revealed that the Hyborian sorcerer Kulan Gath wants to finish Nex's work.
    • The Cult of Issus is the state religion of the Worldscape, thanks to the White Martians' influence, even though Issus was not truly a goddess herself, and has been long dead after John Carter exposed her fraud.
  • Two examples from the Shang-Chi comics:
    • Shang-Chi's father Zheng Zu built a secret society that spans the world, and his family and followers are still feuding over it long after his death (before the Soft Reboot, this was also true of Shang-Chi's original father, Fu Manchu - with the added complication that some antagonists wanted to find his Elixir Vitae and become Long-Lived).
    • In the original Master of Kung Fu series, the assassin and Wicked Toymaker Mordillo dies in his first appearance. But his creations and his Robot Buddy endure and threaten Shang-Chi and his allies for a very long time.
  • In The Transformers (IDW), Shockwave has caused an incredible amount of troubles in the present day by performing callous, large-scale experiments and departing without bothering to clean up. In fact, thanks to a Stable Time Loop, literally the entire setting came about because of his deranged experiment to understand how civilizations work.
  • Wonder Woman: Earth One: Hercules is a large part of why Themysciran society is dangerously misandrist in this universe, though he was killed long ago by Hippolyta for his attack and rape of her people.
  • In The Flash:
    • Flash's Evil Counterpart Eobard Thawne/Professor Zoom was killed by Barry, but his legacy lived on in Impulse's evil counterpart Thaddeus Thawne/Inertia, while Hunter Zolomon was at least inspired to take a similar identity, even apart from the many times Eobard himself has returned due to time travel.
    • The other Thawne legacy was Cobalt Blue. Malcom Thawne was consumed by his own power in his first encounter with Barry, but his Power Gem was wielded by many others over the next thousand years, imbuing them all with a hatred of the Flash legacy and Barry in particular, as seen in the "Chain Lightning" storyline.
  • Early on Superman storyline Reign of Doomsday, Lex Luthor suffers an uncertain doom which takes him off the board possibly permanently (since his universe was destroyed shortly afterwards); but his evolved creation, Doomslayer, nearly succeeds in killing the Supers and destroying Earth.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Magneto died in Ultimatum, but Quicksilver and Mystique tried to follow his steps after that.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Although Alan Jonah is killed roughly 2/3 through the story, the Many which he created remains a threat for the rest of the story. Plus, the author thinks that it was from Jonah's mind specifically that the Big Bad Ghidorah learned through the Many about Paradise Lost and formed a particular part of its Evil Plan for Monster X.
  • Ages of Shadow: Even though Jade is defeated and permanently sealed at the end of the Third Age portion of the story, the Interlude is all about her minion Zaben using what's left of the resources she left behind to carry out several Evil Plans.
  • Queen Chrysalis in Cadence in A Minor. She never actually appears in person, but raping a brainwashed Shining Armor while taking the place of his bride is the root cause of most of the fic's conflict.
  • From Empathy and its sequel Unity (Finmonster):
    • Gallaxhar's actions in Monsters vs. Aliens ultimately set the stage for the events of Empathy, as the technology his invasion left behind caused a technological and economic boom that led to San Fransokyo being the beacon of technological advancement that it is when the story begins. Said technology would also unwittingly lead to the portal disaster that caused Abigail to be captured by the Gorg, causing Callaghan's Start of Darkness.
    • Tighten/Titan's actions reverberate throughout Unity. Metro Man's abandonment of Metro City led to his creation, and his refusal to stop Titan's rampage is the crux of his estrangement with Mr. Incredible. Said rampage is also implied to have killed Margo's parents, making him at least partially responsible for the events of Despicable Me. Most of all, Megamind's strong dedication to his Heel–Face Turn is motivated by his desire to atone for Titan's creation.
  • How on Earth?: The entire Uno family is a long line of these. While Grandfather is responsible for Father turning out the way he did, the one responsible for Grandfather turning out the way he did was his own grandmother. According to Monty Uno, Grandfather's eldest son, there are tons of stories about the abusive parenting styles of his ancestors; Nigel is horrified to realize that Grandfather's terrible treatment of him thus far in the story is relatively benign in comparison.
  • A Thing of Vikings: According to the epigraph in the last chapter of Book Three, Mac Bethad left one behind that paved the way for future conflicts that will probably start in the yet to be posted Book Four.
  • Darth Traya plays this role in Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger. Despite being dead for thousands of years, the impact of her actions continue to be felt throughout the main story. Her former apprentice Darth Nihilus wouldn't be anywhere near the threat he is today without her guidance. She is the one who originally recruited Nihilus into the Sith and taught him how to drain entire planets with his power as part of her effort to destroy the Force. Nihilus's spirit eventually passes down her philosophies to Jaune, who starts espousing them to his friends after falling to the Dark Side.
  • In the Rango fanfic Old West, which is set one year after the ending of the movie, the Big Bad role is filled by Dufayel, a businessman fox who invested the Evil Plan of the late Mayor Tortoise John. He reveals that when a large gold deposit beneath the town of Dirt was discovered, he was offered it by the mayor who focused on his own plans. The current plot is driven by Dufayel attempting to drive anyone from the area so that he can claim that gold. To make things worse, he owns all the business assets of his late business partner, including Dirt that is now known as Mud. When asked about his motives, Dufayel claims that he wants to modernize the West in a similar way to Tortoise John, only by using gold instead of water as a tool in it. He's actually threatened by bankruptcy due to him investing nearly all his money on Tortoise John's project.
  • one day at a time:
    • Even after Jason permanently killed Ra's al Ghul in the previous timeline, he still continued to haunt the Bat-Family. The ensuing Civil War in the wake of his death for control over the League of Assassins culminated in the near-destruction of his entire house, with only Talia surviving when it was all over. Jason specifically points out Damian and Mara as victims as Ra's, implicitly noting that neither of them had to die and the only reason both of them did is because Mara couldn't let go of her childhood grudge against Damian — which only developed because Ra's deliberately raised them as rivals instead of family. This is later deconstructed; Ra's' legacy had such a negative effect on all the people who survived him, including his family and allies, that they all eventually came to reject it.
    • The Joker. Jason's entire life and the lives of his family were shaped by the Joker, one way or the other. By killing Joker III, he unwittingly enabled the rise of Joker IV, who murdered Bruce and most of Bruce's original Rogues Gallery, eventually forcing Dick and later Jason himself to become Batman. Joker IV later killed Joker V's husband during one of his rampages, leading to her murdering him in turn and forcibly replacing him as the next Joker. Through that, she caused Jason to accept Carrie Kelley as his first Robin and later created an entirely new Rogues Gallery for him to fight, ensuring that he could never retire as Batman. Finally, her death led to the rise of Joker VI, whose actions eventually led to Jason becoming interested in making Terry his successor.
    • Black Mask. While he never appears in the story proper and was presumably killed in the Arkham Massacre in the original timeline, his influence was still felt throughout Gotham. His son took up his name and tried to revitalize Gotham's organized crime, starting by murdering the Penguin, the last of Gotham's original rogues. More noticeably, said son murdered Selina Kyle after she refused to work for him, leading to her daughter with Bruce, Helena, falling into Jason's custody. Helena would promptly become the sixth Robin and the second Huntress, with a major chip on her shoulder regarding organized crime.
    • Future Tim, whose appearance is what prompted Tim to preemptively ban himself from ever becoming Batman, ensuring that Jason couldn't foist the mantle onto him after Dick died.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has 20 Gyarados Bill, whose legacy comes up everywhere in the universe from why trainers can only have six Pokemon to Sabrina's mindset and Gurkinn's philosophies.
  • Ace Swift, the Asshole Victim of Turnabout Storm. His immoral actions indirectly caused the conflict in the story, but it never met in person since he's dead.
  • In the Medaka Box fanfic World as Myth, Ihiko Shishime seems to be this, as his existence is heavily implied to be the reason for the Big Bad's plans.
  • The War of Megazords Vs. Gundams has Patrick Zala and Mykan Yuki. They fueled each other's hatred towards Naturals and Coordinators receptively and are what sparked their respective wars.
  • Victorious fanfic series The Wolf in me: While Livia dies at the end of the first story, she continues to affect the heroes' lives. A vampire she imprisoned attacks Jade and Tori’s kids in one story. Her daughter is the villain for the rest of the series, trying to get revenge for her death. Margo's revealed to have been previously working for her. The only story she doesn’t have any impact in is “Double Trouble”, and even then, she's mentioned by Jade.

    Films — Animated 
  • King Runeard from Frozen II is already dead long before the events of the first movie but it's because of his attempts at oppressing the spirits of Nolthuldra and their people that the Enchanted Forest got sealed away, necessitating Anna and Elsa heading out to break the curse.
  • The Lion King: Scar's sinister influence is still felt years after his death, since the primary villains in the sequel and TV show are his sympathizers wanting revenge. In The Lion Guard, Kion often fears that he'll end up becoming like Scar.
  • Sunset Shimmer abandoned her evil ways at the end of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, but her bringing Equestrian magic to the human world had led to the conflicts of every movie since.
  • Though Lord Farquaad was defeated and killed off at the end of the first Shrek movie, he indirectly set off the villains of the next three sequels by convincing Shrek to defeat the dragon of the tower where Fiona was held prisoner: the Fairy Godmother wanted her son Prince Charming to rescue Fiona and opposed the big guy in Shrek 2; Prince Charming took matters into his own hands to try to kill Shrek in Shrek the Third; and Shrek's rescue prevented Rumpelstiltskin from taking over Far Far Away as its monarch, provoking him to take revenge on Shrek in Shrek Forever After.
  • Treasure Planet has Captain Nathaniel Flint, based on the original Captain Flint from Treasure Island. While he is long dead by the main story, it is his treasure that drives the plot not to mention he set the planet to explode when the treasure was found.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien: Assuming Prometheus is in continuity with the rest of the franchise, the Engineer race serves as this, having created the Xenomorphs to begin with.
  • Daryll Lee Callum is this in Copycat. Peter Foley, the actual copycat of the title, is a fan of serial killer Callum who is committing his killings in an attempt to impress the imprisoned Callum.
  • In The Dark Knight Trilogy, Ra's al Ghul, The Leader of the League of Shadows, is killed after he tries to annihilate Gotham and all its citizens to rid the world of its corruption. In The Dark Knight Rises his influence continues to be felt since the League was not actually destroyed, and Ra's student Bane sets out to fulfill his dead master's plans along with Ra's daughter Talia al Ghul, but wants Gotham to suffer first.
  • Friday the 13th:
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: Smaug is dead after the film's opening, but his attack on Lake-town leaves the town completely destroyed, and drives the survivors to seek refuge in the City of Dale. The Dragon Sickness Smaug's presence left on Erebor's treasure partly fuels Thorin's descent into madness even after Smaug has died, which in turn debatably influences the progression of the Battle of the Five Armies.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: The Indominus rex's death at the jaws of the ''Mosasaurus'' in the previous film is confirmed in the opening of Fallen Kingdom, where her skeleton is discovered at the bottom of the Mosasaurus enclosure by a submersible. The bioweapon program that created her, however, deemed her enough of a success to move on to the next stage — the Indoraptor — and they collect one of the Indominus' ribs to create it.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In spite of the Red Skull no longer being around, HYDRA have continued to be a major threat to the world as whole- his second-in-command simply rebuilt the organization within S.H.I.E.L.D. and it's never entirely disappeared since- Every time its leaders are killed or imprisoned, a new one takes their place, as per their motto.
    • Loki is the reason the Avengers, the team of Earth's mightiest heroes, was initially created. His actions in Thor and The Avengers helped motivate S.H.I.E.L.D. to go to more extreme measures to protect humanity in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He also set the stage for the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron by bringing the Chitauri scepter containing the Mind Stone to Earth, where it was eventually used to create Ultron and Vision.
    • Outside of the Avengers, Loki's actions had lasting effects on the people of New York, with Adrian Toomes in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Hammer Industries in Luke Cage creating weapons out of those left behind in the battle, and his attack on New York allowing people such as Wilson Fisk in Daredevil to take advantage of the situation and rise in power.
    • Zemo's villainous actions in Captain America: Civil War are a result of Ultron's attack on Sokovia killing his wife, son, and father. As a result, Ultron posthumously achieved his goal of breaking the Avengers apart, albeit in a roundabout way.
      • Also, Crossbones' suicide bombing was the straw that broke the camel's back in regards of the Avengers being Destructive Saviours and caused the Sokovia Accords to be implemented. The gauntlets he used to fight Captain America in Lagos were salvaged by Adrian Toomes' clean-up company/criminal group in Spider-Man: Homecoming and subsequently retrofitted with air-blast tech, becoming the primary weapons of Jackson Brice and Herman Schultz, aka The Shocker.
    • After being the Big Bad of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos gets quickly ambushed and killed by the surviving Avengers by the beginning of Avengers: Endgame. However, because he destroyed the Infinity Stones before meeting his end, the Avengers have no way of being able to undo the snap that turned half the universe to dust, leaving them to pick up the shattered pieces for five years until Ant-Man discovered a method to Time Travel to the past in order to retrieve the Infinity Stones and reverse the snap. This in turn attracts the attention of Past Thanos who decides to Time Travel into the future in order to continue what his future self started.
    • Mysterio may have been killed at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, but in one of his recordings, he manages to not only expose Spider-Man as Peter Parker to the entire world, but also framed him as his murderer using Manipulative Editing, thus ruining his reputation. Peter, fed up with how the world treats him and his loved ones as a result of the fallout, goes to Strange to erase his public identity... causing the catastrophic multiversal events of Spider-Man: No Way Home that ultimate led to Peter being alone and forgotten from the rest of the world.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • The MUTO pair which rampaged across the Pacific in Godzilla (2014) are directly responsible for The Unmasqued World in all MonsterVerse instalments set afterwards. In the Godzilla Aftershock graphic novel, set shortly after the events of the 2014 film, Monarch's research on the MUTO pair's communication and nesting habits contributes majorly to them forming an understanding of the MUTO Prime which Godzilla is pursuing around the world.
    • After King Ghidorah is defeated and his Apocalypse How stopped in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), what actions he managed to commit beforehand overall had some surprisingly positive effects. The end credits indicate any lasting environmental damage from his global Titan-rampage is being cleaned up by the Titans; but humanity's global cities have suffered untold devastation. Ironically, Ghidorah's actions have aided the planet in the long run due to the Titans he awakened having a positive environmental effect after his death. While Ghidorah failed to make Earth his own hostile world or kill all life on it, he did succeed in making Earth a world of monsters. On the downside,Godzilla vs. Kong reveals that Ghidorah's surviving severed head is being used by Apex Cybernetics to create Mechagodzilla, and Ghidorah's influence is directly responsible for the mech going rogue.
      • Both Ghidorah and Camazotz respectively have a negative Villainous Legacy involvement in the destruction of Skull Island before the main time frame of Godzilla vs. Kong. The Kingdom Kong graphic novel reveals that Ghidorah left a Perpetual Superstorm over the Pacific Ocean which didn't dissipate, and two years after Ghidorah's downfall, this superstorm is drawn by Camazotz' influence away from its original position and into Skull Island's storm barrier, enveloping the island itself in a perpetual storm. Although Kong defeats Camazotz, the alterations Camazotz caused to Skull Island's climate using Ghidorah's storm are permanent. As a result, in Godzilla vs. Kong, the Iwi minus Jia have been wiped out and Skull Island's ecosystem is invariaby dying, forcing Monarch to find a new home for Kong.
  • Pan's Labyrinth: Captain Vidal, surrounded by rebels realizes that he would soon be killed. He hands his son over to Mercedes and calmly requests that the child will be told of his exploits. Mercedes cuts him off and says, "No. He won't even know your name." It is the only time in the film he seems genuinely sad about something.
  • In the Saw series, Jigsaw is killed in Saw III, but the series is continued by his apprentices and the plans he's left for them to follow. In the aforementioned movie, he's genuinely disappointed that one of them (Amanda Young) turned out to be a Misanthrope Supreme who didn't even bother with his philosophy, and built part of the plot around the consequences for her lack of mercy.
    • Spiral shows that, years after the presumed downfall of all of his apprentices, Jigsaw managed to inspire even more successors without having personally trained them, as the movie's titular copycat killer adapts his techniques to fulfill his own mission and agenda.
  • Ghostface has been played by 7 different people throughout all four films of the Scream series. The original one was killed off in the third movie (and was The Man Behind the Man for the first movie), but his actions have inspired copycats in both the second and fourth movies.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy: Norman Osborn, posthumously. Although he dies at the end of the first film, his death haunts Harry throughout the rest of the trilogy and motivates him to take revenge on Spider-Man. By the third movie, Harry becomes the New Goblin.
  • Star Trek: Despite dying at the end of the second film, Khan's thirst for revenge and his detonation of the Genesis Device directly influences the next two movies, and the last two as well if Kirk's demotion from admiral to captain is included.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Order of the Sith Lords, from the end of the New Sith Wars to the Galactic Civil War a thousand years later, practiced what's known as the Rule of Two which meant that at any given point in the history of the Republic, the order was comprised of two, and only two, Sith warriors: a master and an apprentice. The apprentice becomes the master once their former master has died (often killed by them, no less) and they have an apprentice of their own to continue the cycle. Of course, many Sith Lords have disobeyed this practice. Darth Sidious, for instance, established his "Rule of One" where he'll secretly harbor many apprentices all at once to do his bidding while he was the sole person in power, and many apprentices (including Sidious' last one, Vader) secretly kept apprentices of their own.
    • The Force Awakens takes place 32 years after Return of the Jedi, but we see the First Order carrying an almost cult-like devotion to both Emperor Palpatine and his Galactic Empire. Kylo Ren, in particular, literally worships his grandfather Darth Vader's image, as he keeps his cremated helmet on display in his quarters and vows to "finish what [he] started", specifically the extermination of the Jedi Knights, namely his uncle and former master Luke Skywalker. What makes this example especially sad is that Vader's last action was to perform a Heel–Face Turn and embrace Redemption Equals Death.

  • The Empirium Trilogy: The impact Rielle's death had on Avitas can be felt even 1,000 years later. Eliana and many others blame her for the rise of the angels and rendering all elementals powerless.
  • In the long-ago Back Story of the The Sharing Knife books, the ancestors of the Lakewalkers managed to kill their villainous sorcerer-king that threatened to destroy the world. However, it split into fragments and spread over most of a continent, each piece able to grow into a malice. The Lakewalkers in the books are still clearing those out, several hundred years later.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • There is an entire subgenre of books dealing with the immediate aftermath of Return of the Jedi (The Thrawn Trilogy, the Jedi Academy Trilogy, the X-Wing Series, etc.) — just because the Emperor is dead doesn't mean there's nobody who is interested in continuing the Empire. Also, the Sith as a whole based much of their tradition (including the Rule of Two) on Darth Bane, the one who revived it in its more well-known incarnation after infighting among them led to near-extinction at the Jedi's hands.
    • All the villains of the Hand of Thrawn duology have motivations that revolve around Thrawn, who has been dead for over a decade.
  • The Silmarillion: Even after the Big Bad Melkor/Morgoth was thrust by the Valar through the Door of Night beyond the Walls of the World into the Timeless Void, he was the ultimate cause of much of the evil in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He is said to have created the orcs by cruelly torturing and corrupting captured elves, Sauron (the Big Bad of The Lord of the Rings) was one of the Maiar that Melkor corrupted and turned to the path of evil, and the Balrogs were other Maiar that Melkor corrupted. This was specifically stated in The Silmarillion.
    ...the lies that Melkor, the mighty and accursed, Morgoth Bauglir, the Power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; and ever and anon it sprouts anew, and will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days.
  • Tolkien's buddy C. S. Lewis gave us a potential example in The Chronicles of Narnia, speculating in The Silver Chair that that book's villain might be somehow connected to the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. However, since the villain of The Silver Chair remains a Diabolus ex Nihilo outside of that one vague hint, we ultimately don't know the nature of the possible connection between the two baddies.
  • A Tale of Two Cities gives us the first Marquis de Saint-Evremonde. By the time the story begins, he's already dead, but it's revealed in a flashback that he was the linchpin for everything bad that happened when he raped Madame Defarge's sister, causing the good Madame to swear revenge and mark the Marquis' entire family and anyone who would help them for death. Unfortunately, this includes the completely innocent main characters.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has the Neglectful Precursors of the current Lords and Ladies. Martin goes out of his way to show that one VERY big reason that Westeros is such a Crapsack World - almost on par with the Realpolitik - is that no one ever forgets their grudges even when the people responsible are long dead. Oaths broken, wars fought, people killed - the actions of the past shape the ways the nobility interacts in the present and will continue doing so well into the future. Tyrion sadly lampshades how each generation puppets the generation that comes after from beyond the grave.
  • In The Heroes of Olympus, Lamia wove the spell that allows monsters to detect demigods, three thousand years ago. That one act has shaped everything that happened since.
  • The Cosmere:
  • Harry Potter:
    • Voldemort's ancestor Salazar Slytherin, one of the original four founders of Hogwarts in the Middle Ages, is primarily responsible for his House's present-day obsession with magical purebloods and its tendency to produce Evil Sorcerers. More directly, the giant Basilisk underneath Hogwarts that is revived by Voldemort centuries later used to be Slytherin's personal pet.
    • Long before the series' main time frame, Marvolo Gaunt's deplorable treatment of his children (particularly his daughter Merope) not only led her to marry the elder Tom Riddle, but also the literal birth of Lord Voldemort himself (Marvolo's grandson) and therefore many of the conflicts in the Harry Potter series.
  • In the Erast Fandorin series, the Azazel conspiracy that Fandorin busts in the very first book has by far the most impact on the later installments: e.g. the villain of book two turns out to be a student of Azazel's leader, while the one of book four is a former Azazel hitman who killed Fandorin's first wife, among other people.
  • Graceling Realm: King Leck of Monsea was one of the titular Gracelings, graced with the power to convince anyone of anything. Being a complete and utter sadist, he naturally abused this ability to the fullest. (For just one example, he was noted to be particularly fond of telling his advisors that they wanted to rape and vivisect random women For Science!. He'd then take notes, shove the bodies into a corner, and tell everyone that they enjoyed the stench and vermin). While he's killed near the end of the first book, the sequel is almost entirely concerned with trying to get a kingdom whose populace has had their minds broken and twisted out of all recognition back to something resembling stability. Worse, it's gradually revealed throughout the book that portions of his commands and conspiracies still remain in effect, resulting in otherwise honest government officials manipulating and subverting their queen's authority due to the random interaction of beliefs Leck implanted in them years ago.
  • Foundation's Edge plays with this trope. There isn't a legacy, but the commonly believed presence of one, and the mysterious absence of another serve as early plot points: Golan Trevize of the First Foundation deduces the continued existence of the Second Foundation based on the Seldon Plan not only remaining accurate but seemingly becoming more accurate as time passed since the Second Foundation was believed destroyed, meaning that despite common belief the Plan's accuracy can't just be the legacy of the Second Foundation, they still have to be out there manipulating things in favour of the plan (he's absolutely right). Meanwhile, Stor Gendibal of the Second Foundation notices that the Plan is too accurate — there should still be disruptions as a legacy of the Mule's reign the Second Foundation has to work against, but instead things are more in line with the Plan than what is statistically likely. From this, he deduces that there is some other organisation of Mentalics out there, a group of "anti-Mules" that for unknown reasons are also working to strengthen the Plan, at least for now. He's absolutely right, and was led to this conclusion by said group as part of their plan.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The whole of HYDRA is one, in a sense: Red Skull may most likely be long gone, but the organization is still very much alive and continuing to cause trouble, until S.H.I.E.L.D. (partnering with Gideon Malick and later Graviton) deals enough damage that it appears to finally be fatal, though Mitchell Carson is still out there.
      • Daniel Whitehall is the Big Bad for the first half of season 2, but is abruptly shot and killed by Coulson in the midseason finale. Nevertheless, the ramifications of his actions are felt for the rest of the season, as his abduction and experimentation on Jiaying form the basis for her distrust of regular humans and eventually leads to her succeeding him as Big Bad when the full scope of her insanity is revealed and she kicks off a war between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans. To a lesser extent, there's also Kara Palamas, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who was captured by HYDRA, and who Whitehall brainwashed. After his death she falls in with Grant Ward, who takes her on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the people who (she feels) have wronged her.
      • Izel is killed in the season 6 finale, but Chronyca-2 was one of many casualties of her Shrike army when she was still alive, and the loss of their planet spurs the Chronicoms to take up the mantle of Big Bad in the following season.
    • Daredevil (2015): Shades claims that her main motivation for making moves on Harlem is to accomplish the conquest of the area that her father attempted and failed to complete back in the day due to the opposition of Mama Mabel.
    • Luke Cage (2016): Though long dead by the modern day (and even the flashbacks) Buggy is the man who started the Stokes descent into crime.
  • Primeval: Even after Helen Cutter's death, it turns out over the course of the final two seasons that she was the one who convinced Philip Burton to create the New Dawn project that almost destroyed the world in Matt's future.
  • Supernatural:
    • Even when Lucifer is not onscreen, the repercussions of his actions are frequently making life hard for the Winchesters. His influence ends up driving Sam mad in Season 7. He passed the Mark of Cain onto Cain himself — who subsequently passed it onto Dean, which ends in him being turned into a murderous Knight of Hell in Season 10. And after his actual death, his influence corrupts his vessel Nick, leading him to murder his family's killers and then try to bring Lucifer himself back.
    • The Dr. Gaines Leviathan dies early on in the season, but his food additive, with some refinements, is retained for use as part of the Leviathan's endgame.
    • The alternate Michael from Apocalypse World has a surprisingly positive one. His Motive Rant to Castiel and Sam when he's their prisoner resonates, and when God returns he's visibly thrown when Sam asks him if any of it was true. Once God seems a little too eager for Dean to kill Jack, this leads Sam to put the pieces together and realise that God is the Greater-Scope Villain who's been making their lives a misery from the start. When the main universe's Michael finally returns, Castiel shows him his memories in an effort to convince him that God is actually evil - and it's his memories of this Michael's actions (and realisation he wasn't even the only Michael) that finally cause him to turn on his Father.
  • The War of the Worlds (2019): The Martians die off just like in the source material, but unlike in the source material, their Alien Kudzu still spreads and Hostile Terraforms the Earth after their deaths, leaving an apocalyptic wasteland where the surviving humans are struggling to survive.
  • When The Shadows left the galaxy on Babylon 5, they left behind some technology, and at least one planet-killer ship—and their old Henchmen Race race the Drakh, who searched for and obtained some of these items for use in their own designs for conquest.
  • Breaking Bad: In Season 5, After Gus Fring dies, his killer Walter White inherits his drug empire and expands it to the entire nation and as far as Czech Republic and Germany in Season 5 mid finale. In Walt's own words however, he confessed that his past failures had made him so jaded that he wasn't able to leave a legacy that he kept on his meth business as 'atonement' for his earlier rashness. When Walt eventually falls in 'Ozymandias' , Walt's former ally and Hank's killer Jack Welker and Todd Alquist became the new meth kingpins, under the general public's misinformation that Heisenberg is still cooking all the blue meth. They achieved infamy and wealth to the level Walt himself was unable to achieve, only for Walt to come, kill them all, and destroy the blue meth empire once and for all. Also in a positive manner, Walt succeeds in the main reason he turned to meth in the first place, by ensuring that his family will get 10 million dollars as charity, more than 13 times the money he set to achieve for them.
  • Game of Thrones: Aerys Targaryen's actions continue to be felt by the people of Westeros twenty years after his death, and in entirely bad ways. Jaime still struggles to get out of the shadow of the name Kingslayer, Joffrey is compared to him a few times for his cruelty and borderline insanity, in Season 6 Cersei uses his wildfire caches to destroy the Sept of Baelor, along with a good chunk of her enemies, and in Season 7 Daenerys has to struggle with being his daughter who is known for using dragonfire to kill her enemies, which causes a lot of the Westerosi to fear she's just Mad Aerys 2.0. They were right to fear as such, and Daenerys surpasses her father in that regard.
  • Justified: Mags Bennett may have been dead since Season 2, but the three million dollars she left to Loretta McCready, and her deal with Black Pike have continued to effect events in Bennett township and Harlan County ever since, with both her son Dickie and surrogate daughter Loretta trying to step into her shoes. One could make a similar case for Bo Crowder and Arlo Givens, whose legacies live on in the form of their sons Boyd and Raylan.
  • Whenever Doctor Who allows Davros to stay dead, he is this to the Daleks, his creations that continue to menace the universe long after his control over them is gone.
  • In Gotham, this is how the character Jerome fits into the Joker legacy without upsetting the idea of The Joker being a Create Your Own Villain: he is initially set up as the in-universe version of Joker, but upon his death it is revealed that he has instead gained a massive following that has begun to manifest itself in an As Long as There is Evil sort of way. Then it turns out that his twin brother Jeremiah is the real future Joker when the latter is corrupted with an insanity gas after Jerome's death, turning his skin bleach white and causing Jeremiah to vow that he will be a superior successor to his brother's legacy.
  • The Tribe: Zoot, the leader of the Locos in season 1, continues to effect events long after his death. These include the Chosen, a fanatical cult who revere Zoot as a god, and a straight-up resurrection of his old tribe in the form of the Zootists with a Zoot impersonator. Though it seems his legacy will finally be laid to rest when the impersonator drops the act on a live broadcast and admits that the city has lived long enough in Zoot's shadow.
  • The Flash (2014): Both Eobard Thawne and Hunter Zolomon leave a lasting impact on the show long after their defeats. Thawne is so integral to the timeline that even after Eddie Thawne kills himself to prevent his existence, a time remnant of his younger self remains to ensure his timeline plays out to completion, one that Barry will inevitably encounter numerous times in the future, as a taunting reminder of what the man did to him. Not to mention, the singularity created by Eddie's death was responsible for the events of Season 2, as it alerted Zoom to Earth-1's, and therefore Barry's, existence. Meanwhile, Hunter Zolomon is directly responsible for the events of Season 3, as his decision to murder Henry Allen drives Barry into creating Flashpoint. Flashpoint then creates Savitar, a rogue time remnant of Future Barry, who is every bit as evil as Thawne and Zolomon (though, admittedly, significantly more tragic than both combined). Meaning, Zolomon actually was successful in corrupting Barry, if only indirectly. Essentially, Season 3 is not only an arc of Barry trying to move on from his self-hatred, but also from the damage his two greatest enemies have done to his life.
    • This trope is a major plot point late in Season 5: it's eventually revealed that Orlin Dwyer's actions as Cicada eventually inspire his niece Grace to grow up to become the second Cicada and continue his anti-metahuman campaign.
  • Taken: In "Charlie and Lisa", Eric Crawford shows his daughter Mary the artifact found at the Roswell crashsite that his father Owen left him and invites her to join him at the UFO project so that she can continue the family legacy.
  • NCIS: Ari Haswari. The first villain of Season Seventeen is one of his old partners in Hamas. By the time she appeared, Ari has been dead In-Universe for over fourteen years. She's not even the first villain that's been connected to Ari over the years either; the Big Bad of the first half of Season Twelve was his half-brother via his mother. All of this on top of his sister Ziva's lingering trauma over killing Ari confirms that he's the one villain that will never leave the series.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In Ring of Honor, the Lovely Lacey was part of Special K, a bunch of rich stoners who tried to drug members of the ROH roster to increase their membership. When that group broke into two, one half became "Lacey's Angels" but she eventually dumped the Special Ks for The Forgotten (BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs). The end of Lacey Angel's lead into Jacobs starting The Age Of The Fall, a movement to 'save society'. Jacobs was also a founder of S.C.U.M (Suffering, Chaos, Ugliness, Mayhem), though leadership ended up defaulting to Steve Corino. Corino and Jacobs would eventually present Matt Hardy as S.C.U.M's centerpiece. After that group's end Jacobs would go on to form Decade (Three wrestlers who had been "loyal" to ROH for a decade attacking everyone who wasn't, even if they hadn't been around long enough) while Hardy would be a key player in The Kingdom (providing Maria Kanellis and Mike Bennett with 'the title of love'). Thus, you can trace a successive line of factions that have terrorized the promotion since its very inception — the strange part is that it's not one of the major factions, such as Christopher Daniels' The Prophecy or CM Punk's Second City Saints, but rather a bunch of drugged out Spot Monkeys that started all this. The only notable members of the stable to ever have a direct, lasting impact on the promotion were Lacey and later on, Jay Lethal.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The passage of an Elder Evil is not a trivial thing. Even if the Evil is defeated, destroyed, or sent back into its can before it can destroy the world, its activity will likely have caused millions or billions of deaths and left society scarred and shaken. Even if the being is prevented from actually coming or awakening, its Signs of the End Times are often apocalyptic in their own right and can have terrible effects of society, geography and ecology alike. Dealing with and attempting to heal the fallout of an Elder Evil's rise and fall can be enough to take up an entire post-campaign in its own right.
    • Forgotten Realms: Kezef the Chaos Hound hasn't visited Faerûn in a very long time, but the last time he walked its surface he left behind several acid-filled footprints. Those prints, named the Death Shallows, remain there to the present day, disgorging a steady stream of oozes, paralementals and other foul beings into the world.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Orks have a biological version of this: their corpses release spores that eventually mature into more orks, ensuring that a non-Hive/Forge planet that's been attacked once will pretty much always face them from then on.
    • A more true to form version of this comes from the Horus Heresy. Nearly all of the troubles the Imperium has with Chaos are a direct result of Horus' rebellion. Not to mention the fact the Imperium that came out from the heresy is not the same one that went into it. Horus may not have conquered the Imperium, but he certainly made it the galaxy wide hellhole it is today.
    • Thanks to Evil Versus Evil, the God-Emperor of Mankind probably also qualifies, considering he created and initially led the xenocidal, expansionist Imperium.
    • Everything wrong with the galaxy can ultimately be traced back to the Necrontyr and the C'tan (Barring the Tyranids). They are the reason Chaos even exists, since it was the war they started that turned the Immaterium into a nightmarish hell dimension.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle: Nagash was defeated millennia ago, but his legacy (necromancy, vampires, Nehekhara's nature as The Necrocracy) lasts to the present. Of course, given it's Nagash, he doesn't really stay gone.
  • Pathfinder has Kazavon in the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign, where defeating even a small part of his legacy is an epic adventure for a group of 17th level characters. A monstrous Blue Dragon and Psycho for Hire who once served as Zon-Kuthon's Champion, Kazavon was killed long before the story began. His evil persists however, in the form of seven Artifacts Of Doom made out of his bones, which are so contaminated by the pure evil of his soul that they corrupt all they touch, exacerbating the evil that is already there in the human soul. Queen Illeosa, Big Bad of the setting, is wearing the Crown of Fangs carved out of his teeth; with her defeat the story is over, but the possibility of someone else picking up the Crown (or one of the other six items) remains a very real threat.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: Gehenna - most commonly in "The Crucible Of God."
    • As the epilogue makes clear, the Curse of Cain might be gone and vampires might be extinct, but they certainly managed to leave a lasting impact on the world before they died off: billions of people have been killed, society has been knocked back to Industrial Revolution-levels, and the Antediluvians have often left horrific remnants in their wake. All this will likely take decades to recover from, and the now-human player characters will have to deal with the lasting scars of Gehenna if they'd like to continue the game post-apocalypse.
    • Malkav's reign drove hundreds - if not thousands - of people to insanity, from the hordes of the randomly chaotic "bacchantes" endlessly rampaging across the wastes in pursuit of prey, to the unfeeling human predators known as "isolates." Worse still, Malkav's Chosen also possess the power to spread their madness to the ordinary humans they capture.
    • The ghoul monsters created by Absimiliard still haunt the wilderness, and though some of them retreat to hibernation while they wait for their prey to replenish, others remain awake and active enough to breed.
    • The Tzimisce Antediluvian not only warped countless thousands of plants, animals and humans alike over the course of its attempt at an Assimilation Plot, but the power of Vicissitude lives on in many of them. Quite apart from the obvious danger of a human being possessing both a functioning intellect and the full range of Tzimisce powers, many of them also possess a uniquely Tzimisce derangement: sadism, obsessive territoriality, or the desire to drink blood. Maybe becoming mortal again wasn't such a good thing after all...
    • The players themselves could be this, at DM's discretion. If they didn't turn into humans at the end, they suddenly realize that the effect of Withering had passed, and they are getting more powerful each night, regardless of their generation limit. In several millennia, the players turn into Antediluvians of a new age.

    Video Games 
  • Case 02: Paranormal Evil: Nya, the recently deceased Big Bad of Loser Reborn, had a hand in summoning Gla'aki to the real world. This makes them one of the main causes of the zombie apocalypse, though it's unknown how exactly they're connected to Gla'aki's cult.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword reveals that the machinations of Ganon are the legacy of Demise, the Demon King who cursed Link and Zelda to be plagued by an incarnation of his hatred forever, manifested in Ganondorf (and perhaps others).
  • Ultima: Mondain is the Big Bad of the first game. The second and third games have the villains as his lover and apprentice Minax, and their creation Exodus. The fourth game requires the player to retrieve Mondain's skull, and the fifth game has the villains as manifestations of the shards of his Artifact of Doom the player destroyed in the first game. In the sixth game, the Gargoyles summoned Mondain's spirit to embody their virtue of Control, along with Minax and Exodus. Finally, the Guardian, the villain of all subsequent games from VI, was initially planned to be revealed as the combined form of the Shadowlords after they were cast into the Void, but this was axed.
  • In Final Fantasy VII and its expanded universe, all major villains trace themselves back to Jenova, an Eldritch Abomination who tried to destroy the planet 2000 years ago. Jenova was found by Shinra, and the lab experiments produced by tinkering with her cells serve as the villains of the series, along with a few of the scientists who did said tinkering.
  • Non-character example in Fallout. The Big Bad of the first game, The Master, was using the Forced Evolutionary Virus to mutate humans. The villains of the second game excavated the ruins of his lair to retrieve the FEV for their own uses, and the villains of the third synthesized their own version for their plan as well.
  • Gerald Robotnik from Sonic Adventure 2. The main conflict of the story is against Eggman, but it was Gerald's actions 50 years in the past that caused many of the problems in the game.
  • In the Mega Man video game franchise, this comes up a lot, as Mega Man (Classic)'s Dr. Wily rivals the Trope Namer as a master of Hijacked by Ganon.
    • In the Mega Man X series, it is discovered that The Virus that turns Reploids into Mavericks originated from Zero, and both were Wily's final creations before he died long before the X series. The Big Bad of the X series, Sigma, merges with the Maverick Virus and transforms it into the Sigma Virus.
    • In the Mega Man Zero series that comes after the X series, Dr. Weil (no connection to Dr. Wily according to Word of God) creates Omega as a Dark Messiah to subjugate and/or exterminate all Reploids. Omega's consciousness inhabits Zero's original body since Zero's mind was extracted after the X series in order to better study his body's status as the Maverick Virus's carrier. The Mother Elf, who becomes the Dark Elf, another major antagonist, was created by Ciel's ancestor from these studies as an antibody, which was used to eliminate the Maverick and Sigma Viruses (and putting a permanent end to Sigma), but Sigma's actions in the Maverick Wars are what inspired Weil's decision to use Omega, claiming that Reploids should be rendered totally subservient to humans and uncontent with "letting Reploids off easy".
    • In the Mega Man ZX series, all the Biometals are created from studying the original Biometal Model W, created from the ruins of the Ragnarok satellite that Weil fused with at the end of Zero 4 (and is still technically alive within).
  • Orochi in Ōkami makes sure the yet-to-be-lifted evil curses cast by him wouldn't fade away after his defeat by Amaterasu and Susano. In addition, as his soul flies away to the north of Kamui to reactivate the Ark of Yamato to summon Yami, the Lord of Darkness, he releases several monsters originating from that place so they can terrorize all of Nippon, starting with Kamui itself.
  • In Fable, Jack of Blades inspires followers in the form of the Cult of Blades years after his death.
  • In God of War, although Ares is long dead by the third game, his original goal to make Kratos his pawn to destroy Olympus and kill his family is fulfilled successfully.
  • Dark Souls:
    • Manus, Father of the Abyss, is long dead by the time of Dark Souls II. His remains eventually became the Abyss, a dark realm haunted by malevolent spirits, and the fragments of his soul embodying his emotions were reincarnated as his Children of Dark. One of those Children Queen Nashandra, embodiment of Manus' desires, is directly responsible for Drangleic's downfall. Even in death Manus spreads Dark.
    • Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight, is the single most impactful individual on the world of the series, seeing how it was he who committed the "First Sin", when he refused to let the first Age of Fire be succeeded by an Age of Dark, breaking the very foundations of the metaphysical world order to preserve the First Flame. The result was the repeated cycles of the First Fire fading and being rekindled, which precipitate both sequels, and ultimately, the turning of the entire world into ashes, as seen in the final DLC of the third installment.
  • Shuji Ikutsuki was a major antagonist in Persona 3 who was defeated and died. However, Sho Minazuki, his "son" (actually an orphan he experimented on) attempts to continue his legacy in Persona 4: Arena Ultimax. As much as he tries to deny it, all of Sho's villainous actions stem from Ikutsuki in some way.
  • While not quite "villains", the Touhou Project Story Arc consisting of games 10 through 13 is generally referred to as the "Moriya arc", because the events of each game are caused by a character who debuted in the previous game, despite not appearing in the game in question, starting with the Moriya Shrine members. Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism was caused by Kanako giving Utsuho the tremendous power that gave her ideas of megalomania. Touhou Seirensen ~ Undefined Fantastic Object was caused by a geyser that Utsuho created launching the Palanquin Ship into the sky. And Touhou Shinreibyou ~ Ten Desires was caused by Byakuren landing the Palanquin Ship on Miko's mausoleum, giving her the boost she needed to resurrect.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: Billy Grey's betrayal hit the Lost hard. Even after his death, most of the chapter refused to believe Billy was planning to betray all of them, causing a major split in the gang. This led to massive hindrance to Johnny's plans to expand, making him settle in Blaine County, San Andreas, where he partners with a certain Trevor Philips, and to say things doesn't end well for them is a massive Understatement.
  • Metal Gear:
  • In Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, the Big Bad is a mechanical owl named Clockwerk. But in the second game Clockwerk is now destroyed, shut down, and separated into several pieces, but still a very dangerous potential threat if he were to be rebuilt. The Cooper Gang intend to try to steal and destroy his remains, but are beaten to the punch by an illegal spice distribution ring called the Klaww Gang. Most of the Klaww Gang's leaders are just using pieces of Clockwerk for their own small-time schemes, until it becomes clear that Arpeggio intends to fully rebuild Clockwerk to take Clockwerk's body for himself so that he can be immortal. Then his protege Neyla backstabs him (which he really should have seen coming since she did that to everyone else) and takes Clockwerk's body for herself.
  • Ace Attorney: Blaise Debeste is this to the entire franchise, being the one who gave Manfred von Karma the first penalty in his perfect 40-year career. The penalty was for using a falsified autopsy report as evidence, but Blaise was the one who had the report falsified in the first place. This in turn lead to the DL-6 Incident, a tragic event that was both directly and indirectly responsible for the backstories of several major characters.
  • In Danganronpa, Junko Enoshima died at the end of the first game, but since the setting is a Villain World she created, there's no shortage of Brainwashed and Crazy psychopaths looking to continue her work. Even when she's not the mastermind, she's still the mastermind.
  • In Pokémon Gold and Silver (and their Expansion Packs, remakes, etc.) Giovanni, the Big Bad of the original Pokémon Red and Blue games, is AWOL in this entry but his organization is still committing crimes and experiments in his name. The Big Bad of these games is the Dragon Ascendant, who went nameless in the original Gold and Silver editions but was named Archer in the remakes.
  • Portal and Portal 2 have Cave Johnson, the deranged, corrupt and non-wheelchair-friendly CEO of Aperture Science. Although long dead by the time of the games, he's responsible for the company's horrific (and counterproductive) policies, as well indirectly responsible for creating GLaDOS and putting her in charge of the facility.
  • The Grotesqueries Queen, Final Boss of Drakengard Ending E, becomes this in Nier, since it was because of her that the Gestalts and Replicants were created to allow humanity to outlast the White Chlorination Syndrome caused by the Queen's remains. The Queen is also responsible for humanity's subsequent extinction once the Gestalt project failed, necessitating the formation of YoRHa to cover the news so as to not let the androids lose hope, eventually causing the events of NieR: Automata.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has Ashnard, the Big Bad of Path of Radiance, who turns out to have been the cause of a major problem for Daein during the sequel. Of couse, he doesn't actively play a role due to being dead by then.
  • As of Contra: Shattered Soldier, it turns out that the Triumvirate is truly responsible for everything that has happened in the Contra series, when they had stole the Relic of Moirai and provoked the Alien Wars in the first place.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series: Joseph Stalin built the Soviet Union into an unstoppable military machine, and while he dies at the end of the first game, his successors continue his legacy of world conquest. This is especially pronounced in the case of the psychic Diabolical Mastermind Yuri, who reveals that he used to be a student and personal friend of Stalin.
  • Assassin's Creed: Syndicate: Despite having been dead for a hundred years, Reginald Birch - former Grandmaster of the Templar Order - and the purge he inflicted on the Assassins of Britain has been so successful the Assassins still don't have a foothold on London, save one guy who was Reassigned to Antarctica. It's also what allows the Templars of the 1860s to have the stranglehold they do have on the city.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: Even though the Injustice-verse version of the Joker was killed by a grieving Superman early in the game and only appears as a Fear Toxin-induced hallucination suffered by Harley Quinn in Injustice 2, his twisted legacy of causing Supes' Face–Heel Turn by tricking him into killing his wife Lois and nuking Metropolis has affected heroes and villains alike. As such, he's also indirectly responsible for creating a wedge between Superman and Batman, the deaths of people who died fighting Superman and his allies, and the general collapse of everything good in the Injustice-verse. The game and its sequel also play up Joker's role as The Corrupter to Harley to make her Heel–Face Turn more plausible and enable more Character Development to her story, as even she regrets associating with him. While most are too happy to be rid of him, Batman opines that Joker's legacy still haunts everyone to this day.
  • The House of the Dead: OVERKILL has Clement Darling discover the "mutant compound" responsible for the Zombie Apocalypse. While they die at the end, The Stinger reveals he had "powerful friends" who had access to the compound, enabling all future outbreaks in the House of the Dead series.
  • Resident Evil: Albert Wesker is the overarching Big Bad for most of the series, until he's Killed Off for Real at the very end of 5. Even then, his influence leaves a shadow throughout the rest of the franchise. Alex Wesker makes use of the Uroboros virus he created in Revelations 2, his illegitimate son Jake Muller is one of the protagonists of 6, and a file in 7 reveals that his organization, the H.C.F., had a role in the creation of Eveline and the Mold.
    • Mother Miranda in Resident Evil Village is a greater version of this, as her interaction with Oswell Spencer in the 60's is the trigger for all the tragedy in the Resident Evil games, including those above of Wesker.
  • Gorden Amherst created the Dollar Flu/Green Poison to bring about the downfall of civilization in The Division. By the time the Agent, finds him, he’s been Dead All Along, killed by his own virus. Nonetheless, he got what he wanted from the chaos caused by the outbreak, and a rogue agent named Aaron Keener steals his research and equipment to start a new plague that he intends to use to seize power.
  • Most of the conflicts that occur in Ace Combat can be traced back to Belka. Many scientists and engineers from the country went to various places around the planet to become arms dealers and weapons manufacturers to breed conflict and start wars to avenge their homeland.
  • The Secret World: farmer-turned-Evil Sorcerer Archibald Henderson died in 1906, but the aftereffects of his atrocities continue to plague Solomon Island as of 2012. For one thing, the animated scarecrows he built to protect his property are back to killing people; for another, the farmhand he transformed into a pumpkin monster is still haunting the island as a supernaturally-empowered serial killer. Worst of all, the experiments he performed to harness the hidden power of the island eventually paved the way for Nathaniel Winter's attempt to do the same via Atlantic Island Park, leading to the creation of the Bogeyman.
  • Many of the obstacles the Vault Hunters face in the Borderlands series are the results of three Mega-Corp companies leaving their impact on Pandora: Dahl for creating the bandits by leaving prisoners and personnel staff to their fates after an unknown Vault incident as well as abandoning The Lost Legion on Pandora's moon after the Crackening. Atlas via the Crimson Lance for driving out what was left of Dahl's forces out of Pandora while forcing civilians and townsfolk to be in fiefdoms and killing any bandits and opposing Vault Hunters that interfered in the hunt for the Vault. With Knoxx's death, Atlas too left Pandora with the remnants of the Lance ironically becoming the bandits they themselves once hunted. Luckily Roland recruited the rest into the newly founded Crimson Raiders.
  • Danette may be long gonespoilers  by the time of the first Geneforge, but their invention, the Geneforge would come to be the catalyst for much of the conflict in the series to follow.
  • In Metroid, the main antagonists of the series, the Space Pirates, suffer their final defeat in Super Metroid when the last of their forces, including their top leaders Ridley and Mother Brain, are destroyed with the planet Zebes after they have spent decades terrorizing and raiding remote colonies on the galactic frontier and starting at least one major war against the Federation. However, their technology and methods live on when corrupt Federation Army forces recreate Mother Brain as an AI and clone Ridley and Zebesian special forces soldiers as well as Metroids in Metroid: Other M and Metroid Fusion. In Metroid Dread, it also turns out that Raven Beak's plan for galactic conquest is nigh-identical to Mother Brain's methods by cloning and deploying Metroids as weapons of mass destruction, seeming to imply that she may have been influenced by him.

    Visual Novel 
  • Dayshift at Freddy's draws several parallels between the series' main protagonist Jack Kennedy and the thought deceased big bad, Henry Miller. They wear the same mascot costume, they both eventually open their own restaurants, they both team up with Dave Miller, and even look somewhat similar. Of course, whether or not Jack is evil depends on the player's choices, but in paths where he is evil he straight-up says that he's "trying to follow Henry," and the word "legacy" is even treated as an arc word when it comes to Henry.

  • Akuma's Comics: One of the first major villains in the comic was the Sprite Eater, a being who travels to sprite comics and devour them. After being defeated he has left behind a son, the Undertaker. While he eventually evolves past the desire for revenge and moves onto improving and empowering himself, he remains a continuous thorn on the side of the heroes.

    Web Original 
  • We Are All Pokémon Trainers: The Seven Jerk Dragons transformation of most of the human population of the PMD-B timeline is directly responsible for the state of that universe when the J-Team visits it. Specifically, Bahahkun's descendant Maleficent had designs on starting a whole new dragon war, which were cut short when she died.
  • Red vs. Blue Season 10 flashbacks show that the A.I. Sigma qualifies for the Recollection Trilogy as a whole; he's the Big Bad of Reconstruction, but he is killed after those events, and his influence on the Meta still remains in Recreation and Revelation.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Fire Lord Sozin in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Avatar Roku's former friend turned evil, he used Roku's death as the chance to start the hundred year war, which resulted in the extinction of the airbenders, save for Aang.
    • The Legend of Korra: Yakone was a crime boss who used bloodbending to commit his crimes until Avatar Aang took his bending away. He escaped to the Northern Water tribe, where he fathered two sons, Noatok and Tarrlok. When both sons were revealed to be waterbenders, he put through rigorous training to master his bloondbending to destroy the Avatar. His actions caused Noatok to hate bending and become Amon, while Tarrlok became a corrupt politician who wanted to outdo his father. Both became enemies of Aang's successor Korra, by which point Yakone was dead.
  • Batman Beyond: The Joker might be dead, but his legacy (and the mysterious manner of his death) has resulted in roving gangs of criminals in various types of clown costumes and makeup all calling themselves "Jokerz" terrorising Gotham. Not that Old Bruce thought much of them.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: Maltruant's plans for conquest in the final episode cement him as one for the entire Ben 10 franchise, as his arriving on Earth in the past, with Ben, Rook and Skurd following him, are why pre-series Vilgax becomes interested in a device that grants the wearer shapeshiting abilities.
  • Castlevania (2017):
    • The Bishop gets killed quickly by one of Dracula's minions. However, it is clear that his murder of Lisa Tepes still influences the story, even after he died.
    • Dracula is killed at the end of Season 2. For the next two seasons, every other antagonist is either taking advantage of the resulting Evil Power Vacuum or trying to resurrect him.
  • Gravity Falls: Nathaniel Northwest's refusal to keep his word to the people of Gravity Falls resulted in the Lumberjack's ghost haunting his descendants. His influence even spread for generations into the modern day Northwest family, as they're a bunch of greedy, egotistical Abusive Parents that made Pacifica the way she has been up to this point.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Shendu's seven Demon Sorcerer siblings appear only in Season 2 and remain imprisoned afterwards. However, in Season 5, it is revealed that the symbols used by the Eight Immortals to banish them were corrupted with some of each demon's chi left stored in the symbols. In Relics of Demons Past, the chis are activated by an alignment of stars, and Drago sets out to claim them in order to become powerful enough to conquer the Earth. It's embellished by how each demon chi causes its new host to look more and more like the demon which that chi originated from if it isn't removed quickly.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Nightmare Moon is restored to Princess Luna at the start of the series. Nearly every episode focusing on Luna has her deal with the bad reputation and guilt over her actions.
    • Played with in the Season 3 opener. King Sombra is still very much around, but too busy being held back by a barrier to do anything directly. So instead, most of his actual, onscreen threat is merely a Race Against the Clock to bypass all the curses and traps he left behind during his original reign before the barrier eventually collapses. Yet he still manages a Near-Villain Victory — he was just that Crazy-Prepared back then.
    • The Season 4 opener has one of (the since reformed) Discord's old plans finally activate after a long delay.
    • "Castle Sweet Castle" is all about Twilight Sparkle dealing with her old home being destroyed by Lord Tirek, who's been re-imprisoned in Tartarus by this point.
  • While humans in Adventure Time are long extinct (except for Finn), their "Mushroom War" not only led to the return of magic, but also one of their bombs unleashed the Lich, who proceeded to spread monsters across the planet and kill almost everything. The Alternate Universe shows that even without the Lich, humanity's actions indirectly lead to an apocalypse.
  • The Smurfs enemy Gargamel seems to have come from a long family line of unscrupulous characters. In the final season of the cartoon series, where the Smurfs are constantly traveling through time, different incarnations of the villain would appear, such as showing him as an Indian fakir, a Russian peasant, or a Spanish bullfighter. In one of the earlier episodes of said season, Papa Smurf theorizes that all these similar-looking men must be ancestors of the evil wizard of their present time.


Video Example(s):


Pucci meets DIO

Enrico Pucci recalls the time he met DIO, the starter big bad of JJBA. His legacy and influence persists throught the rest of the series.

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