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Villainous Plan Inertia

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So the bad guy has been conked on the noggin, vaporized, or captured and is no longer bothering anyone. That's one more feather in the hero's cap, however, the bomb the villain planted is still counting down, that nuclear missile is still a minute away from reaching its target, and the can is still opening. Sometimes additional obstacles come in the form of his Dragon trying to thwart the heroes' attempt to undo the damage, either to avenge his boss or take up his mantle. Though just as often, the only obstacle is time or environmental danger.


Basically, defeating the villain by itself is insufficient to resolve the Conflict or end the threat facing our heroes. Unless they do something extra, the villain's plan will succeed long after he is no longer personally a threat. Particularly cunning villains may even intentionally incorporate their own defeat into their plan, or otherwise make their defeat meaningless in itself to hindering their plans from succeeding. However, just as often, it was unintentional. Whatever the reason, this means the good guys aren't off the clock just yet, assuming they even have time left to stop whatever bad thing survived the villain's demise. If they can't even do that, this retroactively makes the villain's defeat a Hope Spot. Especially mean instances may even result in an unexpected catastrophic defeat for the heroes.


May happen with a Post-Climax Confrontation and/or Post-Final Boss.

Subtrope of Your Princess Is in Another Castle! and Ontological Inertia.

See also Villainous Legacy and Evil Power Vacuum. Contrast No Ontological Inertia, Load-Bearing Boss, and Decapitated Army for when disposing of the villain does resolve the entire conflict.


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    Film — Animated 
  • The Princess and the Frog: Doctor Facilier gets dragged into Hell by the Friends On The Other Side, but Tiana still has to find Naveen and Charlotte to break the curse with less than 15 minutes to go She fails, but some Loophole Abuse fixes that later.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Avengers: After the Hulk smashes Loki into a pulp, the invasion forces he summoned are still continuing their atacks, and the nuclear bomb is still inbound. It's only after Stark commandeers the missile to target it at the alien ships by traveling through the portal that the threat is stopped.
  • The Dark Knight Rises: Bane and Talia are killed in Batman and Catwoman's attempt to get the improvised nuke they intend to destroy Gotham with. Only an apparent Heroic Sacrifice prevents them from winning from beyond the grave.
  • Face/Off: This is what forces Sean Archer to accept the completely insane plan to have his face exchanged with that of (at the moment he accepts) comatose terrorist Castor Troy and infiltrate the prison that Castor's brother Pollux is in so he can interrogate him: Castor had already placed and armed a Weapon of Mass Destruction in the middle of Los Angeles before being knocked out on the federal raid of the prologue and nobody else in Castor's organization either knows where it is or are willing to talk, and time is running out before it goes off.
  • In the James Bond films:
    • Tomorrow Never Dies: Killing Elliot Carver doesn't stop the countdown on the nuclear missile he has aimed at China.
    • Moonraker: Bond manages to kill Hugo Drax and escape his space station before it falls apart on him, but he and Dr. Holly Goodhead still have to chase down the three poison gas capsules it launched before they kill 100 million people...each.
    • The World Is Not Enough: Killing Elektra doesn't interrupt her plan to nuke Istanbul in the least, as Renard is perfectly happy to do so in her memory.
  • The Naked Gun 2½: The Big Bad is eaten by an escaped lion, leaving Frank and his girlfriend to attempt to disarm the bomb he planted on the building's roof earlier.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: The villain's death actually makes things harder for the heroes. Totenkopf, the architect of the Doomsday Device (and as a result, the only man who can call off the robots constructing it) dies of natural causes, before the movie even starts. So our heroes have to shut it off manually.
  • Subverted in Stargate Continuum. Ba'al is killed off by his ambitious Queen just while he and his massive army were poised to invade the Earth, who proves to be even worse than him when she orders the fleet to just Kill All Humans. However, Cameron Mitchell then travels back through time to stop Ba'al from ever completing his plan that put him in that position of power in the first place.
  • A variation in Watchmen - before the big boss fight, Ozymandias informs the heroes that even if they were to defeat him, his plan had already been set in motion and could not be stopped. He's right, of course, and the fight never happens as a result.

  • Lone Wolf sometimes has this problem too, though most of the game books easily resolve themselves once the final boss is defeated. In the Plague Lords of Ruel, you must still disrupt the vats of simmering plague-juice after defeating the leader of the Cener Druids. In the Masters of Darkness, despite defeating your nemesis Gnaag, you must still complete your mission, and quickly now that the alarm has been raised.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Series 4 finale of Doctor Who, destroying the Reality Bomb, Davros, and The Dalek Supreme doesn't take care of the thousands of other Dalek ships floating around out there. But The Doctor and Doctor-Donna blow them all up too, but wait, Earth is still a long, long way from home, so...time to tow it back to Sol.
  • In the Season 5 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when the Big Bad, Glory, who wants to go back to her home dimension but will destroy the Earth by doing so, dies before she gets the chance. This doesn't stop the process from being started though, and Buffy still has to save the world after Glory's defeated.
  • In The Orville episode "Identity", deactivating Kaylon Primary does nothing to stop their fleet from attempting to exterminate humanity.

  • In Tosca, Scarpia is killed in the end of the second act, but his body isn't discovered until much later, and his order about Cavaradossi's shooting is still carried out.

    Video Games 
  • Invoked in Dawn of War. Syndri is working on a ritual to free a daemon from an Artifact of Doom, while Lord Bale holds off the Imperial forces. Captain Angelos killing Bale is actually the final trigger to freeing the daemon. Syndri knew that Bale wouldn't willingly sacrifice himself, so Syndri intentionally started the ritual somewhere that the Imperials would find, so he could set up Bale to be killed during the ritual. As a bonus, Syndri gets to mock the Imperials for helping to free the daemon.
  • Dragon Quest VI: After defeating Murdaw, the fact that monsters are still running around is taken as a hint that there's more demon lords to defeat (four of them, in fact). Of course, from a Doylist perspective the monsters are only there to provide gold and experience.
  • Final Fantasy VII. Defeating Sephiroth does not make Meteor go away, and is only necessary to allow Holy to leave its Crater to counter it. Even then, Holy doesn't work until The Lifestream bursts out of the ground to its aid.
  • Half-Life 2 Episode 1 and Episode 2 deal with the aftermath of the defeat of Wallace Breen and the destruction of the Citadel.
  • In Mega Man X8, defeating Burn Rooster isn't the end of the mission - you have to Rise to the Challenge against the lava and reach the finish at the top.
  • Mega Man Zero series:
    • In the first game, it's telling that Phantom is fought at the very beginning of the level. Sure enough, he then reveals that he has planted time bombs in the facility and then goes away. Your next mission is defusing the bombs.
    • Mega Man Zero 4:
      • After the main 8 bosses are defeated, Ciel expresses relief that the villains' Operation Ragnarok (which aims to destroy Area Zero) has been stopped by Zero. Then the Big Bad Dr. Weil contacts them from afar and reveals that the 8 bosses were but a diversion to cover the real purpose of the operation: building a Kill Sat, Ragnarok, that he'd then use to destroy Area Zero.
      • Around the final stretch of the game, Dr. Weil is presumed dead, and Zero has also killed Weil's The Dragon, Craft, who took over Ragnarok. But then Ragnarok fires a "warning shot" and it's revealed that Weil is still alive inside the satellite, leading to the final levels in the game: to get into the satellite and stop Weil from crashing it down onto Area Zero.
  • In Mercenaries, the nuke General Song launched at Seoul is still in the air after you capture or kill him, requiring you to use his computer to deactivate it before it detonates. Unless you destroyed his computer in the fight.
  • Persona 5: Throughout the game, Shido is presented as the Big Bad, the head of The Conspiracy and the ultimate corrupt adult trying to control innocents for his own end. However, once his palace is complete and his heart is changed, causing him to repent his actions...nothing happens. Turns out that he had enough allies who immediately stepped in to keep everything under wraps, and the general public was still so under his thrall many refused to believe even the crimes he confessed to. The Phantom Thieves are forced to go to even greater lengths to make Shido accountable. And even then, after all that, Sae points out that they don't actually have any presentable evidence against Shido aside from his confession. Only when Joker turns himself in as the leader of the Phantom Thieves to give testimony can this storyline be resolved. And the game itself still ends ambivalent to whether the Phantom Thieves were able to cause any large-scale changes to Japan.
  • In the first Shining Force, killing Darksol doesn't stop his attempts to resurrect Dark Dragon. The ritual is far enough along to complete without him. In the Videogame Remake, this was changed; Darksol kills himself after being defeated, as his death was itself part of the ritual.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai allows Zuko to ascend to the throne and end the Hundred Years War, but it's only a start to the recovery process. The tie-in comics go into greater detail about how tensions between the three nations are still very much high.

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