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Playing With / Villain Decay

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Basic Trope: Villain gets progressively less menacing

  • Straight: A villain starts out as a strong and genuine threat to the heroes, but later becomes more and more incompetent.
  • Exaggerated:
    • The villain is quickly and more easily punched into space every time he steps into frame.
    • The villain starts out a sadistic, genocidal monster who destroys cities and and innocent lives For the Evulz, then in his very next appearance, he becomes a humorous, Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who hilariously fails at everything Evil Plan he tries. (Usually involving covering people's houses with toilet paper.)
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    • The villain nearly kills the hero the first time they fight but in the second meeting, the villain is killed immediately.
  • Downplayed:
    • The villain starts out being the main issue of the show, even episodes that didn't focus on him personally ended up being part of the plot to destroy him or part of his plans. In later episodes, he's no longer the only villain and preparation to defeat him takes a lot less effort.
    • The villain started off being an unstoppable monstrosity of an opponent, demolishing the hero with ease. After the hero trains and sets up strategies to counter his foe, the villain downgrades from "unstoppable" to "beatable, but still a genuine threat" and holds that position for the rest of the series, winning some and losing some.
  • Justified:
    • The heroes get stronger and figure out more of the villain's weaknesses, giving them a better advantage.
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    • The villain won last time but in but doing so ended up inflicting critical injuries to him and draining most of his resources, with any followers he may have had now dead, defecting, doing a Mook–Face Turn or simply in jail. He's going to go down a lot easier this time around because he has less.
    • The villain was going after the heroes instead of training and no longer learns new skills.
    • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards; the villain is a warrior and the heroes are wizards.
    • The first time the villain fought the heroes, he had a weapon that greatly increased his power but lost it after a time, resulting in an easier battle for the heroes the next time.
    • The villain has a Morality Pet.
    • The villain was an Invincible Villain, and was weakened so that it actually could be beaten, even if you have to break your arm to do it.
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    • The villain realizes their goal would have unintended personal consequences so opts for a smaller, less deadly goal.
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted: He seems to be going through decay, but it's part of his plan to lure the hero into a false sense of security.
  • Double Subverted: ...Which falls flat on it's face, causing the villain to seem genuinely pathetic.
  • Parodied:
    • The villain declares he's had it with the heroes always kicking his butt and gives up world domination for selling used cars.
    • Because there's No Fourth Wall, the heroes (or the producers) tell him to improve his game or risk being Demoted to Extra.
    • During the final showdown, a split-screen effect shows the first battle on one side (the past) and the current one (real time in-universe). A voiceover from one of the heroes points out the ways in which the two confrontations differed.
  • Zig Zagged: The villain goes from being a legitimate threat to a weakling on several occasions.
  • Averted: He keeps his menacing stature throughout the series, despite failures.
  • Enforced:
    • The writers plan on making switch sides or other circumstances that may change his villainous personality.
    • The writers don't know what to do with the villain to keep him relevant after he's been defeated so many times, but don't just want to get rid of him.
  • Lampshaded: The heroes recall that the villain used to be such a threat, but turned into a joke as soon as they beat him the first time.
  • Invoked: The heroes wait awhile to rebattle a powerful enemy.
  • Exploited:The Big Bad purposely decreases the power of his minions to give the heroes a false sense of security before facing him.
  • Defied: The villain assiduously endeavors to remain as powerful as ever which includes learning from his mistakes and remembering to level grind.
  • Discussed: "Apparently, the guy who almost crashed an asteroid into NORAD is no longer a challenge for us."
  • Conversed: "Lord Facestomp shows up in the sequel, but only as a cameo."
  • Implied: The villain's actual defeat and death occur offscreen, and The Captain is barely seen to be sweating at all before he hoists his severed head.
  • Deconstructed: As his defeats get easier and the cost of his failures pile up, the villain either reinvents himself or gives up because at this point he's wasting his time.
  • Reconstructed: He's an abstract sort of villain that comes back again and again despite defeats, but The Order of heroes dedicated to fighting him gets better at stopping him every time.

Look upon my Villain Decay, ye mighty, and despair!

Example of: