The Villainous Red Ring of Death occurs when a villain has pushed themself too hard and abruptly starts to break down physically. That one of these is coming may or may not be clear in advance, but when it starts, it will hit all at once.
Causes vary. It could simply be the villain wearing themself out after a good case of Villainous Resolve. It could be the consequence of using the Dangerous Forbidden Technique, Deadly Upgrade, Phlebotinum Overdose, removing their Power Limiter. Some works directly support this via Cast from Hit Points. It might be represented with burning Tron Lines, Tainted Veins, Volcanic Veins or turning red.
Can be a sign of Villainous Valour, if they're intentionally overtaxing themselves to accomplish something they've set their mind on.
Compare/Contrast Pent-Up Power Peril (when you have a power that builds up in your body and not using it will cause peril).
Not to be confused with Rings of Death.
Since this is an ending (and sometimes a Death Trope) spoilers are unmarked. You've been warned.
- Frieza from Dragon Ball has a real problem with this. He's a prodigy from a species that is naturally very strong, to the point where he declared himself "Emperor of the Universe" because nothing could stand against him. This means that he has never fought a prolonged battle since he could effortlessly overpower his opponents, and his stamina sucks as a result. So in his first prolonged battle against Super Saiyan Goku, after Frieza pulls out all the stops and powers up to his maximum, it quickly proves unsustainable and starts weakening him in turn. After he is killed and resurrected, Frieza starts training for the first time in his life to get his revenge and learns to control and maximize his natural power to avert this. However, the moment he unlocks a new Super Mode, he goes straight after Goku, once again intending to flat-out overpower his opponent with his new trump card. It ends exactly the same way; Frieza's stamina peters out, and Frieza dies once more.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, this will happen to any pilot using a Gundam with a ZERO System. As shown with Trant Clark, the low-ranking Romefeller operative who wanted to use the Wing Zero Gundam, anyone trying to use the insanely complicated data feed system will fry the brain of anyone with less than perfect focus. Trant's fight with Duo Maxwell and the Deathscythe Hell ends with the ZERO System ultimately tearing his mind to pieces, resulting in his death.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, the Bio-CPU trio of Orga Sabnak, Shani Andras, and Clotho Buer are incredibly skilled pilots of the Calamity, Forbidden, and Raider Gundams who are conditioned to be the perfect pilots to handle their machines due to the complicated GUNDAM format that unmodified Naturals have problem operating. But they are required by their boss, Muruta Azrael, to take a Psycho Serum that increases their combat efficiency and ensure their loyalty to him. Unfortunately for Orga, Shani and Clotho, the effects of withdrawal start to occur in 2 hours, and if not checked, the effects will be fatal. This works as a Restraining Bolt for the trio as well, so Azrael can ensure they stay loyal to him. After Shani and Orga are killed by Yzak Joule and Athrun Zala, and Azrael is killed inside his ship, Clotho experiences this and a Villainous Breakdown as he goes out laughing like a madman. And even if Yzak hadn't put him out of his misery, Clotho likely would've died from the withdrawal and wasted away regardless.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury: A pilot interfacing with a Mobile Suit using the GUND Format will risk this due to the immense data storms, causing a great deal of health problems. The worst case scenario is that a pilot is killed from interfacing with the Gundam. This is what happens to Enhanced Person Number Four when he pilots Gundam Pharact (though he survives the fight, but the GUND Format wasn't what was responsible for his death), and Sophie Pulone is killed this way, overextending herself with her Lfrith Ur while fighting Suletta and Gundam Aerial.
- My Hero Academia
- During the Paranormal Liberation War Arc, Shigaraki's body suddenly tears open along his chest because his body augmentation process wasn't completed before his capsule was forcibly destroyed and all the damage he's taken fighting the pro heroes along with the strain of using All For One catches up to him in spite of his Healing Factor.
- My Hero Academia: Heroes: Rising: The heroes realize that they can cause the villain Nine to have one if they fight him long enough and force him to use enough of his powers in a short period of time.
- Naruto: Both Kimimaro and Itachi pushed themselves beyond belief by fighting for extended periods of time and on several occasions while terminally ill. As a result, they both abruptly died in the middle of a fight. Kimimaro's case is egregious since his death is very anticlimatic — the stakes were high as his opponents were in a tough spot (Gaara exhausted his ample supply of chakra and Rock Lee was recovering from a crippling injury). Itachi's death, on the other hand, is much more emotional and the suddenness is exploited to mirror Sasuke's confusion and lack of sense of achievement after completing his long-awaited revenge.
- In One Piece, villain Hody Jones uses steroids to increase his power, but these were made from a substance designed to age whoever takes it, and he overdosed to the point that when the effect passed he ended as a frail old man. His officers suffer the exact same fate.
- Kaido loses to Luffy partially because of this - after fighting and taking damage since the Onigashima raid started, in chapter 986, he spends the entire battle fighting people or going after people, with no time for breaks. Even so, he isn't truly defeated until Chapter 1050.
- Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Arc Big Bad Social Darwinist Shishio Makoto can only exert himself for so long before the massive burns he suffered threaten to kill him. He over-exerts himself in the battle against Kenshin and spontaneously combusts, sparing Kenshin the difficult decision of whether or not to break his Thou Shalt Not Kill vow.
- In YuYu Hakusho, this is what does in Younger Toguro, the Big Bad of the Tournament Arc. Toguro had always been desperate to face an opponent that made him use his full power, so when Yusuke fires off a massive Kamehame Hadoken, Toguro decides to take it head-on as a challenge to himself instead of dodging. At first, he says he's finally using everything, then declares he needs even more power to deal with the blast. When it's over at first Toguro seems fine, but then his body starts rapidly deteriorating him and he collapses. He thanks Yusuke for giving him the match he wanted before he dies.
- Spider-Man: In The Amazing Spider-Man (1963)'' #300, when Spider-Man first encounters Venom, he realizes that Venom is producing his webbing organically, and since Venom used a large amount of webbing to capture him earlier, the way to defeat him is to get him to use up even more webbing to deplete himself. In the end, Venom expends enough of himself that he is unable to maintain his form and is defeated.
- The Mad Scientist has captured Barbarella in the 1968 Zeerust film, and attempts to destroy her with his Excessive Machine. The device is meant to cause an overload of orgasms on its victim, but Barbarella is Too Kinky to Torture, so the villain exhausts himself working the controls until his machine is kaput.
- The Mad Scientist behind KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park built android duplicates of the title touring group in order to instill discontent in their fanbase and make pariahs of them in the media. Once this villain's phonies are defeated and his scheme sundered, the band discovers the man has aged decades in mere hours, slumped inert in his chair.
- In Monty Python's Life of Brian, an early scene takes place in the local Coliseum. A weedy, unarmed and nearly naked runt of a man is matched against a heavily armoured villainous giant of a gladiator. The runt decides his best hope of survival is to run away. The giant runs after him and chases him round laps of the stadium. This continues for some time - until the giant, by now sweating and staggering with the exertion, pulls up short, grunts, claps a hand to his chest and dies of a cardiac arrest. The weed duly performs a victory dance and takes the cheers of the crowd.
- In Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner, anyone who does not consume human flesh on a regular basis eventually melts down because their demons turn to their own bodies for nutrition. As a result, many people die from hunger, involving the villains.
- Harley Q is the first to succumb to his hunger, turning into a Nigh-Invulnerable Blob Monster and later an Eldritch Abomination.
- Mick the Slug suffers a beating so severe by the heroes that no amount of food manages to cure him. He melts down right when he manages to bring Sera to the gates of Nirvana.
- Varin Omega dies due to over-abuse of his invisibility powers. The heroes note that he melted down at an unnaturally fast pace.
- In the second season of Luke Cage (2016), Bushmaster has been warned all throughout the season that his use of nightshade as part of the Hollywood Voodoo that grants him temporary superpowers will inevitably cause him serious health problems and the benefits he gets from nightshade will be less potent the more he takes it. Despite this, when he runs out of other ways to get to Mariah, he takes a super concentrated dose that briefly makes him practically unstoppable... and after the effects wear off both his body and long-term health are completely wrecked. His last scene in the season is him needing help to simply walk a few feet from one car to another, possibly unable to even speak as he's assisted into the vehicle. It's a far cry from the man who spent most of the season virtually bullet proof, showing his very agile and lethal Capoeira skills, and posing a challenge even to Luke himself.
- Ecliptor in Power Rangers in Space powers himself up using the database and energy of the Astro Megaship, gaining a red mode that allows him to trash the Mega Winger, Astro and Delta Megazords easily, even destroying one of them in a single blow. However, when he's about to win, his power ends up overloading and he shrinks back to normal size, and he's so weakened and exhausted that the Rangers are able to defeat him (albeit not destroy him) with ease.
- Best Friend: Though it overlaps with Heroic RRoD because she's the Villain Protagonist, The Supermodel who has been swallowing women alive so she can steal their attractive features, starts to gradually feel the strain from overusing her powers. At first it's just her returning to her default form and being tired. But at the end, after devouring one girl too many her shapeshifted form reverts back on her in the middle of a fashion show as she barfs up her last victim's dress and chokes to death on it.
- Azure Striker Gunvolt 2:
- Once her health hits the two-thirds mark, Gibril triggers her Limit Break Iron Maiden, which unique to her makes her defense sky-rocket to the point most attacks only do Scratch Damage while she starts rapidly jumping around and leaving behind blood pools that explode into massive metal spiked towers. However, her health is steadily decreasing throughout the move because she's expending her own blood to both form the pools and enhance her body's natural performance beyond its limits. By the end of the move, assuming you survived or didn't manage to kill her sooner, she'll just stand still for a few seconds panting and quietly cursing before dying on her own.
- In Gunvolt's scenario, during the Boss Rush, the Mirror copy of Tenjian will upon losing all his health cast his true Limit Break Seven Slashes. It's incredibly hard to dodge and if it connects, Tenjian will insta-kill Gunvolt (and considering Joule is scripted to activate Anthem when he does, this is very likely the canonical scenario), but regardless if it does or not the copy dies afterwards. According to expanded materials, Seven Slashes is Tenjian's ultimate technique, but it's so powerful using it is all but certain to kill him too hence why he uses the weaker Frigid Blossom usually.
- In the Ispins dungeon of Dungeon Fighter Online, one of the four bosses you encounter is Neiser, the Black Dragon, a Dragonoid who fights with shadow magic. If the players deal enough damage to push him into his third phase, he will power up immensely and forgo gimmicks in favor of brutal, hard-hitting and wide ranged attacks. The offset is that he is now constantly draining his own HP to do so, meaning he will kill himself if you wait long enough. Punching him to get him down quicker is still much faster than waiting for his health to run out naturally, however.
- Final Fantasy Legend II: Apollo battles your party with the assembled MAGI, which gives him incredible power and defense. However, he didn't know there were 78 MAGI pieces instead of 77. Because his set of MAGI is incomplete, his power is unstable, and he ends up melting and exploding after some rounds of combat.
- Happens to Hypno over the course of Friday Night Funkin' Lullaby. When Girlfriend shows signs of resisting his hypnosis after "Safety Lullaby", he channels all his psychic energy into his pendulum, causing him to deteriorate into little more than a floating head attached to his body by sinewy threads of gore. By his final song, "Lost Cause", he's little more than a mountain of organs with a Hypno head on the top.
- In The King of Fighters, Rugal Bernstein tries to use 100% of the Orochi power bestowed upon him by Goenitz, despite the latter's explicit warning not to do so. Because Rugal is not of the Orochi bloodline, he can't handle the full extent of the power and dies.
- Power Stone: The Big Bad Valgas, upon defeat, tries to power himself up with the big Power Stone. However, he ends up being heavily mutated and losing his mind due to the sheer power, turning him into a mindless monster and a big, slow target.
- Several villains in Sonic the Hedgehog have had a moment of this.
- Mecha Sonic induces this in Sonic 3 & Knuckles by utilizing the power of the Master Emerald to achieve a Super Form of his own. As the fight drags on, Mecha Sonic requires more and more trips to the Master Emerald to recharge and after a certain point, he's barely able to hover around without his power failing on him for brief moments. In the end, the stress of using the Master Emerald along with the beating he takes during his moments of weakness are such that he doesn't just blow apart like the rest of Eggman's machines, he explodes with enough force to destroy what's left of the Sky Sanctuary.
- This is one of Metal Sonic's major weaknesses when in battle. He can send his body into overdrive in order to fight, which gain a massive boost, but doing so will leave him a smoldering wreck for a few moments after he calms down, more than enough time for Sonic to beat him into scrap.
- Dark Gaia in Sonic Unleashed undergoes this in the opening. Due to Eggman breaking his seal before he was able to naturally mature, he's unable to support his own weight upon emerging from the planet and immediately falls apart and scatters his essence across the globe to become lesser Dark Gaia minions and infect people's hearts with darkness once the night falls.
- Street Fighter: Big Bad M. Bison frequently suffers from this. His Psycho Power grants him massive strength, easily makings one of the strongest characters in the entire series. The downside is that his physical body can barely handle a fraction of his full power. Whenever he taps into his Super Mode he rapidly burns out his current body, forcing him to jump to a new one. One of him main goals is to find or create a body that will allow him to use Psycho Power in its entirety.
- Xenoblade Chronicles 3: The primary villains, the Moebius, are able to combine two of their monstrous One-Winged Angel forms into an even more powerful fused monster... but if they stay like that for too long or use too much power, they start glowing red hot from the internal heat produced. If they don't disengage at this point, they trigger an Annihilation Event, in which a Sphere of Destruction forms around them and completely erases everything within it, including themselves.
- Girl Genius: Violetta exploits this trope via Phlebotinum Overdose on Zola by hitting her with a blow dart filled with more Movit#11. The normal dose Zola took beforehand is considered suicidal. Zola survives by sprinting across the castle to burn off enough to stay alive until she can escape and receive medical attention.
- The Gravity Falls episode "Sock Opera" has Dipper's body getting possessed by Bill Cipher. However, Bill is unused to the limitations of a corporeal body, namely pain and fatigue. A combination of Dipper having not slept the previous night, Bill having gleefully tortured the body to torment Dipper, and a battle between him and Mabel ultimately leaves him too exhausted to even move, and he's forced to evacuate Dipper's body.