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The Bad Guy Wins / Anime & Manga

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  • The first season of Asura Cryin': although the heroes successfully foiled Kagakagari's evil schemes, the Big Bad took a Villain: Exit, Stage Left, and got away scot-free while leaving our heroes bereft of their most valuable asset.
  • In Attack on Titan, while Zeke and Eren are in the dimension of the Paths, they learn that the Attack Titan can see the past and future actions of its holders. This leads to Zeke hearing from his father's memory that Eren needs to be stopped because his dream will come true, as Eren used his presence in the paths to manipulate and force his father into killing most of the Reiss family, so that he will gain the Founding Titan's power and eventually give it to a younger Eren, creating a Stable Time Loop. Eren's plan succeeds, having gained the Attack Titan and the Founding Titan, as he wanted, and manages to obtain the true power of the Founding Titan, leading to him starting the Rumbling.
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  • The end of the Golden Age Arc in Berserk (which the 1997 anime adaptation covers) does not end well at all for anyone except the bad guys. Griffith goes evil in a big way and becomes the fifth member of the Godhand, Femto. He throws his former friends, the Band of the Hawk, to the wolves as they get eaten by monsters straight out of nightmares, and then, as his very first act upon becoming Femto, rapes Casca to insanity right in front of Guts, with Guts losing a hand and eye to demons and being powerless to do anything about any of the above. The manga continues on from that point, and the point where the anime ends is just before the Skull Knight shows up to pull Guts and Casca out of the fire before Griffith and the others can finish them off.
  • The one true constant in Black Lagoon, since everybody is a villain, and in Rock's case, becomes one (he still wants to help people, but technically he becomes a villain since he joins and cooperates with villains).
    • That said, the show's antagonists seldom win. Although the crew is villainous, they usually do the job they're hired to do without fail. The closest thing the show has gotten to this trope is the Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise arc, in which Rock fails at saving Yukio, Ginji stops trying to be a better person and is subsequently killed by Revy, while Balalaika sweeps the board and dismantles the Washimine Clan and successfully backstabs her erstwhile allies, while disillusioning Rock on top of it. Unusual in that the 'Big Bad' was still technically The Hero's employer...
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  • Near the end of Casshern Sins, Dio (probably the closest thing the series has to a proper villain) finally succeeds in defeating Invincible Hero Casshern. Fortunately, by the end of the series, this is all he cared about doing, so he just wanders off and waits for the Ruin to kill him afterwards.
  • The anime version of Chrono Crusade. The protagonists (Azmaria) all die and the villain survives and partially realizes his Evil Plan.
  • The ending of the first season of Code Geass, the finale ends with a Britannian victory, though a Pyrrhic one, and the deaths of several Black Knights, including main members, and the incarceration of the survivors, and with the main hero, as revealed in the Oddly Named Sequel, captured, having his memories erased.
    • By definition, this is going to be true of Code Geass' spin-off, Akito the Exiled. As Akito is part of the EU forces, which are canonically defeated and conquered by Britannia both offscreen, and quite early, in Code Geass R2. Not to mention the appearance of Suzaku.
  • Dai Mahou Touge. The main character, Punie Tanaka, is a Villain Protagonist who is sent to Earth from an alternate dimension as a test to check if she is adequate to be the heir to her parents' despotic and dystopian kingdom. During the course of the series, rebels and jealous sisters try to eliminate her. They all fail horribly, and Punie passes the test with flying colors.
  • Death Note:
    • Following the Yotsuba arc, anyway. L is killed along with Watari, having been successfully tricked into thinking of the Kira as someone other than Yagami Light. Yagami Light, now with all the nuisance out of the way, begins to rule the entire world with his iron fist - until the introduction of Mello and Near, the latter of who later successfully brings about the downfall of the evil Kira after a Time Skip in the final arc.
    • If the speculation and theories surrounding the unnamed Shinigami in Relight are taken to be true, then this is the case with Light, now that he's been reincarnated as a literal god. Reasonable doubt could be cast on this, though, as the reaper appears in the animated adaptation of the series, but not the original manga or films, where Cessation of Existence is definitely in play.
    • Near shares this trope to an extent. Sabotaging Light & stealing the Death Note.
  • Devilman. It ends with Hell coming to earth, humanity being annihilated, and the hero, his love interest, and her little brother all dying. However, even Satan doesn't get what he wants, as Akira is dead and God ends up destroying the world, killing him and all his devils.
  • The Alma Karma arc in DGrayman. Everything went exactly as the Earl planned. Allen was stabbed by Kanda's innocence which caused the fourteenth to awaken. The death of Alma Karma ruins the third exorcist program. The third exorcists were either killed by their former allies or taken by the earl to be used as mooks.
  • Doubt. Even after the survivors have escaped, The Wolf/Rei Hazama finds a way to get rid of them without lifting a finger. Specifically, she uses her mind control on Mitsuki and has her kill Yuu, then presumably leaves them to
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In the short term, Demon King Piccolo from Dragon Ball succeeded in everything he wanted. He got the dragon balls to give him eternal youth and killed the dragon so no one could ever use the dragon balls against him. He also killed a number of the strongest fighters in the world, and seized control of the entire world. Too bad his reign was short-lived because of Goku.
    • The Cell Arc of Dragon Ball Z - no, really. Even though Doctor Gero can only watch his triumph from Hell, he is the only villain in the entire Dragon Ball franchise to have got exactly what he wanted: the death of Son Goku at the hands of his creations.
      • Not to mention that Cell came from a timeline different than that of the present or Trunks' and in that timeline, he successfully eradicated the Saiyan race. Sure, he was eventually killed in the main one, but that timeline is doomed and will probably be destroyed by either Majin Buu or Zamasu. He only traveled back because he wanted to be Perfect, so he technically already won.
    • In a twist on the usual Z movie format, the 2013 Battle of Gods movie introduces a shiny new power-up for Goku...that still isn't enough to beat the villain. He's too spent to blow up Earth like he planned, so call that a win.
    • Dragon Ball Super adds another one: Zamasu and Goku Black, fused into Merged Zamasu, are technically defeated in the classic usage of the word, but then he becomes law itself and kills everyone in the Bad Future timeline save Future Trunks and Mai, Goku, Vegeta, Bulma, and the Supreme Kais. Even though Goku calls upon Future Zen'O who obliterates Zamasu (albeit at the cost of the entire timeline itself), Zamasu got what he wanted: the extinction of all mortals. It's only thanks to Whis' Loophole Abuse that Zamasu's genocide only extended to one timeline.
      • To a lesser extent, although Babidi failed to summon Majin Buu in Trunks' timeline, he did succeed in killing the Supreme Kai, something his present counterpart was never able to do. Doing this got rid of Beerus, thus making it easier for Zamasu and Goku Black to take over.
  • The anime of Elfen Lied ends with Lucy's fate ambiguous, Kurama blown up, and Big Bad Kakuzawa laughing manically after declaring his victory. The manga features a more traditional Bittersweet Ending, as Lucy dies but is reincarnated as two human girls, Nana and Kurama live together happily, Kouta and Yuka have children, Nozomi starts to get her voice back, and it is implied that Lucy's childhood friend actually survived being shot.
  • The Tower of Paradise arc of Fairy Tail. The true objective of Ultear was completely accomplished: the dissolution of the Magic Council, which also gave the Dark Guild Grimoire Heart the chance to acquire one of the keys to Zeref's seal. And only the readers know about any of this.
    • By the end of the series, Zeref wins as well, albeit in a way he didn't plan. While his attempt to change the past and erase the present fell through thanks to Fairy Tail, his two goals that the plan would have accomplished (Acnologia being defeated and his curse being broken) are achieved as a consequence regardless. He even gets to spend an eternity in the afterlife with the love of his life, Mavis, something he believed would be denied him even if his plan succeeded. The end text even lampshades it, by saying that at long last, he's finally happy. Granted, this is one victory that the fans would be satisfied in giving him given how it managed to occur.
  • Subverted in Fate/Zero, which ends with Gilgamesh and Kotomine riding off into the sunset after causing immense destruction to the city of Fuyuki... but that's because they have to survive, in order to menace the heroes in Fate/stay night.
  • In Gintama at the end of the Shogun Assassination Arc, the Tendoshu not only succeeded in swaying Nobunobu to sell out the Kihetai as the new Shogun and have the Harusame betray Kamui but they even succeeded in having Shigeshige assassinated even when the heroes and allies kept him safe and in hiding. More so that while Takasugi was the main antagonist of the arc, he ends up in a coma after a long battle against Gintoki and the ambush by the Tendoshu's enforcers the Naraku. This makes the Tendoshu as a whole show themselves why they are the Greater-Scope Villain of the series.
  • In the original timeline of Green Worldz, all of Akira's companions are killed by the female human hybrid's silkworm moth bugs. Akira himself was knocked unconscious and suffered a permanent scar on his forehead, losing the battle.
  • In Hellsing, the Major succeeds in defeating Alucard, even though Integra kills him in the end. The Major went into this whole thing wanting a great war, and he was happy that he got one before he died.
    • Millenium as a whole, really. The number of survivors in London total 2, Integra, and Heinkel. All they wanted was to die in glorious battle, and that's exactly what they got.
    • Subverted: Alucard comes back.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, every possible world except one ends in a victory for the leader of the conspiracy, Miyo Takano: Tomitake is killed, Rika is dissected, Hinamizawa is sterilized, the leader escapes, and no one ever discovers the truth about what happened. The only exceptions (besides the Happy Ending) are the Watanagashi and Meakashi chapters, but even those are an incredible Downer Ending. Hinamizawa is unsterilized, but only because Rika was killed by Shion; the infamy of Shion's murder-spree shrouds Hinamizawa and the few characters that did survive either move away or are missing in action.
  • The Hunter Election arc of Hunter × Hunter. While Pariston isn't really a villain, he's still an aggravating Troll who infuriates the other Zodiacs, who try to stop him from using his massive connections to easily dominate the chairman election. They ultimately fail, only for it to be revealed that Pariston's actions were to pay tribute to Netero, the previous chairman, and he quickly resigns the position to Cheadle, who had come in 2nd.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • Technically, every arc in Magical Girl Raising Project since the limited arc ends this way, with each of them having Pythie Frederica being one step closer of her ultimate goal of reforming the Land of Magic:
    • In limited itself: Pythie Frederica escaped prison, brainwashed Ripple turning her into her slave, indirectly destroyed B-City, and with Pukinˈs sword on her hand, now she can brainwash anyone on her way.
    • In JOKERS: Pythie Frederica formed an “alliance” with Pfle and Grim Heart (one of the 3 leaders of the Land of Magic) died.]
    • In ACES: Ripple killed Premium Sachiko and Pythie Frederica formed an alliance with The First Lapis Lazuline. Downplayed on this case, since she lost Ripple, but it was her decision that she didn’t need her anymore.
    • In QUEENS: Puk Puck (the most important out of the 3 leaders of the Land of Magic) died, Pythie Frederica herself sent Fal (the one that kept Snow White sane) to the space, but most importantly, she turned into the only one Ratsumukanahonomenokami (the last of the 3 leaders of the Land of Magic) trusts, leaving her closer than ever to her goal.
  • In Mermaid Saga During the Village of the Fighting Fish arc, the villain Isago achieved her goal by having manipulated the Sakagami pirates into finding a mermaid for her so she could eat the flesh for her unborn baby's development.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Rustal Elion, the main antagonist of season two, ends Tekkadan as an organization, wipes out McGillis' Revolutionary Fleet and succeeds in reforming Gjallarhorn into a democratic organization and further enhancing his personal reputation. Although Gjallarhorn is heavily reformed by the end of the series, there is little doubt that throughout the series they are the villains, and were fighting to remain the authority in the world. Tekkadan was simply trying to find a place to belong in the world, which put them in direct opposition to Gjallarhorn by necessity rather than any actual enmity at first. It's made clear that there are still elements of resentment on both sides by the series' end though, particularly in light of the look of anger and distrust that Eugene sends Julietta's way. This makes sense when you remember Julietta, a devoted, borderline fanatical follower of Rustal Elion, is the one who murdered Mikazuki on the battlefield. Julietta doesn't miss it, or its implications, either.
  • Part I of Naruto ends with Naruto failing to bring back Sasuke, with the latter joining Big Bad Orochimaru to be strong enough to kill Itachi in his mission for revenge.
    • Likewise, the Sasuke and Sai arc: the next attempt to bring him back and kill Orochimaru fails miserably, and the team sent after them only survives because Orochimaru agree with Kabuto that it was more advantageous for them. Not a complete Downer Ending though, as at least Sai's character arc had a happy resolution.
    • Despite Obito/Tobi not possessing Naruto and Bee, he and Madara still resurrect the Ten-Tails, thus technically, Obito had won the Fourth Shinobi World War despite the protagonist's best efforts.
    • And despite being powered up by the Sage himself, Madara, upon resurrection, becoming the Ten-Tails Jinchuriki, and finally retrieving his left Rinnegan casts Mugen Tsukuyomi. The entire world except for Team 7 is trapped in it.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion ends with SEELE successfully starting the Human Instrumentality Project/Third Impact. Although it's arguable if the end result is what they wanted. In any case, Shinji's decision to restore individuality seems to strongly indicate that it all was ultimately a Meaningless Villain Victory.
  • The Marineford arc of One Piece. Blackbeard kills Whitebeard and steals his powers, Luffy has sustained a massive amount of damage and sacrificed part of his lifespan in vain, and several villains from previous arcs have now been freed from prison (by Luffy himself, no less).
    • The earlier Skypeia arc is a partial example, as Eneru's master plan is to a) build a giant golden airship and fly to the moon and b) annihilate Skypeia on his way out. While Luffy gives him a vicious beating and saves Skypeia, Eneru is still able to flee on his airship to the moon anyhow. Seeing as Eneru was the Straw Hats' toughest opponent up to that point (to the point that the only way they could even lay a finger on him was for Luffy to just so happen to have the right Devil Fruit power for the job) and, Skypeia being an isolated Floating Continent, no one had any way to restrain him after he was beaten, this was probably for the best.
  • An episode in the Hoenn arc of the Pokémon had this with a Team Magma agent named Brodie, who is notorious for his many disguises. He disguises himself as a researcher at the Weather Institute named Millie (think Millibar) to steal data on Groudon, and succeeds. And his Ditto is formidable.
    • In the fourteenth movie's two versions, Pokemon the Movie: White - Victini and Zekrom and Pokemon the Movie: Black - Victini and Reshiram, Damon, despite his Heel–Face Turn, wins. At the end of the films, the Sword of the Vale has been moved, the People of the Vale have reunited to rebuild, and the credits hint that their once-ruined homeland can be restored.
    • While they still failed to steal Pikachu, early on in Sun & Moon Team Rocket actually managed to defeat Ash in a Double Battle with their Mimikyu and Mareanie. The only thing that stopped them from making off with his barely-conscious Pikachu while he had no usable Pokémon was the Bewear they befriended dragging them back to its cave.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica ends with the eponymous character finally making a contract with Kyubey, which he made his goal from the start. Madoka gets rid of the witch system, but Kyubey still gets what he always wanted, now at slower rate, but with no risk of accidentally creating a universe-destroying monster.
  • Robotech has three examples:
    • The Invid Regent's plan for the Robotech Masters is to conquer their homeworld Tirol and devastate it in retaliation for the Masters' destruction of the Invid's homeworld, this being more important to him than the Invid's main goal of finding and recovering the Flower of Life. At the very start of the planned Robotech: The Sentinels spin-off (of which the first three episodes were completed before the project was abandoned) we see his forces overrunning the planetary capital, the last place on Tirol that was still free of his control, and wreck the city, and he stays in control for an unknown period of time until the Robotech Expeditionary Force arrives and frees the planet.
    • In the meantime the Invid Regess completed the Invid's main goal, having learned that it had been seeded on Earth and overran the planet. Differently from the Regent, she's not defeated: she decides to leave when keeping control of Earth was not necessary anymore and remaining could have caused mutual destruction.
    • Brought upon by the reboot: the Anti-Unification League, whose goal was to conquer Earth through any means and had used terror tactics before being forced to lie low, is actually in control of Earth after the REF leaves and through the whole "Masters" saga thanks to Anatole Leonard, supreme commander of the Southern Cross and the man who actually calls the shot, being one of their members that escaped identification. Thankfully, by the time this happens their last leader is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who has more common sense than the civilian government and not the power-hungry ones of the old days.
  • Sailor Moon. If only the Sailor Guardians had arrived just a little bit earlier at the end of Episode 24...
  • Even though he gives up on his plan of creating a shaman-only world, Hao becomes the Shaman King at the end.
  • Silent Möbius: Though only a temporary Darkest Hour, episode 20 of the anime concludes with the total victory for the villain, Ganossa Maximillian. First, Ganossa forces Katsumi Liqueur to admit her love for Roy Device. Then, the morning after they get engaged and spend their first night together, he bloodily kills Roy while Katsumi is showering. When Katsumi discovers the dying Roy covered in blood, she goes insane with grief, unleashing a flood of power and vaporizing her apartment building. It ends with Ganossa standing in the ruins, bowing to the viewer.
  • Suitengu of Speed Grapher succeeds in his ultimate goal. He gathers all of the yen in Japan in a skyscraper, and burns it all, plunging Japan into an economic crisis, kills all the members of the Ropongi club, and his main rival goes blind from overuse of his powers. Suitengu dies, but he dies the winner. (Though at least Saiga manages to fulfill his own purpose: saving Kagura, who can finally have a happier life).
  • Episode 43 of Suite Pretty Cure ♪ ends with the girls sacrificing their G-clefs to save Aphrodite, which causes the villains to complete the Melody of Sorrow.
  • Inverted in Teppu, a Deconstruction of Shonen sports/martial arts manga told from the perspective of a girl named Natsuo, who is basically the Jerkass Rival character seen in so many of those series. The series ends with Natsuo being defeated by Yuzuko, a kindhearted young Genki Girl who fits the mold of the traditional Shonen Hero. So basically, it's The Hero Antagonist Wins.
  • Emperor Dornkirk/Isaac Newton gets everything he sets out to get in The Vision of Escaflowne. It takes him awhile but he does eventually activate the Atlantean machine that creates the Zone of Absolute Fortune where everyone's wishes are granted. It turns out badly and threatens to destroy Gaea just as it did Atlantis forcing Van to destroy it, but who didn't see that coming.
  • Despite the heroes' best efforts, and the fact that he was killed afterwards, The Professor in Tokyo ESP ultimately succeeded in turning 20% of Kanto into Espers.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, the original series concludes with Eto and Souta completely victorious. Anteiku has been destroyed, many prominent Investigators have either been maimed or killed, Kaneki has been defeated and possibly even killed by Arima, and Yoshimura has been captured by Eto and Aogiri Tree so they can use him to create new Half Human Hybrids. The survivors of Anteiku and CCG are all left emotionally broken, realizing that no one really won in the end, while Souta and The Clowns celebrate having the "last laugh".
    • Downplayed in the sequel. Eto and Souta/Furuta are defeated in battle, and their plans are foiled, but they still ultimately achieved their goal of ending the Forever War between humans and ghouls.
  • Toriko loves this one. For example:
    • In the Century Soup arc, Toriko loses his battle against Tommyrod, along with his hand, while another villain sneaks past him, knocks out Komatsu and steals the soup. Teppei swoops in and defeats the heavily-injured villain... and then a bigger and stronger villain comes in. At this point, only the conveniently-timed arrival of Setsuno prevents him from finishing off the heroes, but the soup is destroyed, and the only chance to restore him - lies on Komatsu, who manage to taste the last droplet. This makes things a little better, but doesn't change the fact that the villains manage to win and get exactly what they wanted.
    • The Cooking Festival practically ends in this - by the end only one out of Four Kings is able to fight, the main character is on the brink of death, many chefs (including Komatsu) are kidnapped by Gourmet Corp, all of the 0th biotope workers are simultaneously intercepted and destroyed (some of them get better), President Ichiryu is defeated by Midora and finished off by a blue nitro, and, on top of all that, the Big Bad bombards the world with Meteor Spice, killing and injuring billions and creating a world wide famine. The only thing, that makes the bad guys victory incomplete is the reveal of the even bigger bad, who manipulated them from start.
    • The NEO organization ends up on top in the Cooking Festival - they left both IGO and Gourmet corp in shambles, finished their spaceship and found a substitute for Komatsu, the one target that they don't get in the end. Basically everybody, except good guys won the Cooking Festival.
  • In Trigun, Legato Bluesummers' death IS his victory. His goal was to make Technical Pacifist Vash suffer and forcing Vash to kill him causes Vash to break down afterwards and it takes months for him to recover. Legato's boss wasn't nearly as successful.
  • In Wolf's Rain, after everything the wolves and Cheza went through, Paradise starts to form, but because Darcia's freaking eye is in the water, Paradise is tainted and it turns into the modern world filled with humans and hate and war all over again. May be mitigated by the last few moments when we see Kiba, reincarnated in the modern world, starting to run after smelling Cheza's scent, implying that the search for Paradise has just begun anew.
  • Near the end of Yatterman Night, it is revealed that the Lord Yatterman that rules the Yatter Kingdom is none other than Dokurobei, the Big Bad of the original Yatterman series who, after suffering countless losses, eventually decided to bring his A-game and successfully killed the original Gan and Ai, stealing their identities so that he can slander their name for all eternity.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, Sensui's known goal is to open the portal to the Demon World, allowing the demons to destroy humanity. However, his true goal is to go to the Demon World in order to find a demon stronger than himself to kill him, to atone for all the innocent demons he's killed in the past. He achieves his true goal because of Yusuke, revived as a demon and possessed by his ancestor, Raizen. In addition, in the end of the series, it turns out that the Demon World portal is kept open, and humans and demons are actually living in peace with each other, not violently. This is even lampshaded by Yusuke, who says that Sensui really did win in the end.
  • In the second season's finale of The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Ambrosius is holding Athanaos hostage and forces the gang to find the third City of Gold in exchange for his safety.


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