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The Bad Guy Wins / Western Animation

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Everyone else is the proletariat, and baby, I'm the bourgeoisie!note 

  • The Kim Possible movie A Sitch in Time explores this possibility with a Bad Future if Shego were ever to seize control of the world.
  • In the I Am Weasel episode "I.R.'s First Bike", we see that for Christmas, Santa didn't bring I.R. a banana like he wanted but rather a bicycle. And some human boy in Louisville who wanted a bike only got a banana for Christmas, making him break down into tears. Cue Santa watching this through a surveillance system back home in the North Pole laughing his ass off and evilly gloating how he trolled that kid real hard. One of his reindeer is disgusted by this and complains Santa's lost his mind.
  • Sort of hard to believe if you haven't seen many of the shorts, but Tom and Jerry actually has a few episodes in which Tom wins. One example is the short "Southbound Duckling", which ends with Tom covering himself and the vulnerable mouse and duck, implied to do... something to them.
    • "The Bodyguard" also ends with Spike back in the Dog Pound and Tom allowed to chase Jerry all he wants. Around a dozen instances exist with Tom getting the last laugh, even if the majority of other examples were more karmic, with Tom being non provocative or Jerry taking his retribution to far too gratuitous levels to be considered "the good guy" anymore.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Elmer beat Bugs in a few other cartoons and is happy about it. "Hare Brush" has Elmer (who has gone crazy and thinks he's a rabbit) trick Bugs into switching places with him at a hospital. Bugs is then hypnotized into thinking he is "Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire" and decides to go hunting for rabbits. Elmer is in a rabbit suit doing to Bugs what Bugs usually does to him. At the end Bugs is arrested because the police think he's Elmer, and Elmer owes a ton of back taxes. After Bugs is carried away Elmer triumphantly dances off into the sunset. It's heavily implied that Elmer was only Obfuscating Insanity.
      Elmer: I may be a scwewy wabbit, but I'm not going to Alcatwaz!
    • The last cartoon in which Elmer beat Bugs is when Elmer controls Bugs in Rabbit Rampage in a way resembling how Bugs controlled Daffy in Duck Amuck.
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    • Inverted in three cartoons Bugs, where he's the bad guy, raced a turtle called Cecil who came out on top every time. He is the Only person to go up against Bugs and always win! Until the episode "Customer Service" in the second season of The Looney Tunes Show, where Bugs finally one-ups him by using every trick he's got.
    • Another Bugs Bunny cartoon ended with his tail getting cut off, although he didn't seem to be particularly upset about it.
    • If Failure Hero Daffy Duck ever donned a hero gimmick and was without his Hyper-Competent Sidekick Porky to pick up the pieces, it's likely to happen as well. Particular examples include "My Little Duckaroo", which ends with western convict Nasty Canasta brutally beating him off screen and "Golden Yeggs" where he is captured by Rocky the gangster and forced to lay endless golden eggs. Curiously both instances were before said villains were paired against Bugs, with them having a much more sinister presence compared to their later appearances.
      • Special mention goes to the full version of "Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24th and a Half Century", in which Marvin the Martian is finally able to activate his explosive space modulator. With the bumbling Dodgers distracted elsewhere and Earth's destruction imminent, Marvin is left to inform the viewers "It's only a cartoon". This was oddly cut from the shortened theatrical version.
      • Also special mention for the manager of the Broken Arms Hotel in "Porky Pig's Feat". One of the few characters to outsmart Porky, Daffy, and Bugs.
    • Played with in the Road Runner cartoon Soup or Sonic. In the end, the Coyote finally managed to catch the Road Runner. Unfortunately for him, he is shrunk to the size of a mouse, barely able to reach the ankle of the Road Runner. Obviously, this makes his catch entirely pointless. The episode ends with the Coyote holding up signs that say "Okay, wise guys, you always wanted me to catch him. Now what do I do?"
  • In Yogi's Space Race, Phantom Phink and Sludge won most of the races (sometimes in their disguises). They're promptly dismayed when the prizes turn out to be rubbish.
  • Likewise, the Really Rottens won at least twice on Laff-A-Lympics. In at least one of the instances, they weren't happy about it, because they wanted to win by cheating, instead of winning legitimately.
  • Dick Dastardly wins a race or two in 1990's Fender Bender 500. The prizes weren't anything to speak of, rendering the victories a bit muddled.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has Well-Intentioned Extremist Bishop win in the episode "Aliens Among Us". He's managed to get the president to respect him and declare the turtles as aliens.
  • Transformers: Beast Wars. occasionally ended some conflicts in victory for the Predacons, and the Maximals lucky to get out alive. This was especially true in the Season Finales. Season 1 with Megatron sabotaging a makeshift spacecraft, thereby turning Optimus Primal's risky ploy into a suicide mission. Season 2 ends with Megatron shooting the original Optimus Prime in the face, causing time and space to warp so that the Decepticons won in the original series. This gets a hasty fix at the beginning of season 3, but there is probably nothing more bone-chilling than the Big Bad pointing at the camera and telling the heroes "YOU NO LONGER EXIST!", especially when the show could have easily been canceled afterward. Only the third finale, which also ended the series, ended with a Maximal victory.
    • It was short lived. The sequel series Beast Machines sees the Maximals being graceless winners by chaining Megatron to the outside of their spaceship in the finale of Beast Wars biting them in the ass immediately. He gets free, gets through the time warp they were taking to return home first, and because of the Timey-Wimey Ball, he had all the time in Cybertron he needed to take over the planet with a virus from season 1 of Beast Wars, doing what no other Megatron could do in successfully winning it all alone.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Despite Dr. Doofenshmirtz's ineptitude as a villain, there were a few times he actually won against Perry:
    • In "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer", he created a tractor beam to successfully move the Earth to an early autumn, which allowed him and his fellow villains of L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N. to take over the Tri-State Area by force. Is just because Rodney and L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N. moved the Earth into perpetual winter that Doof makes a Heel–Face Turn after realizing what the consequences would be if the Earth would be moved further away.
    • In the Series Finale, he used a series of time loops to predict Perry's moves and defeat him in order to create and successfully run for a new political position to cement his role as ruler of the Tri-State Area. He even signed a law forbidding Perry to thwart him until his term is over, leaving Perry depressed. Of course, he eventually reaches an epiphany, realizing that despite his success, he has found no happiness.
  • The Powerpuff Girls actually have the villains winning instead of the girls in these episodes:
    • Subverted in the 10th anniversary episode. Mojo Jojo finally succeeds in taking over the world... and proceeds to be an extremely benevolent ruler who turns the planet into a peaceful utopia where everyone gets free puppies, leaving the Powerpuff Girls in shock. However, he quickly realizes that Victory Is Boring, especially when you're sitting in your desk all day doing nothing because there are no more problems in the world left to solve, so he goes back to being a supervillain.
    • The time-travel episode featuring HIM.
      • Also, HIM once challenged the girls to solve a series of riddles they had to solve on time or Professor Utonium would have to "pay". They were a few seconds too late, which forced Professor Utonium to pay for... the pancakes he ate at HIM's diner. The narrator, who usually ended each episode by saying the day had been saved and told who saved it, was at a loss for words this time.
    • And there's the Series Faux Nale "See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey", in which the girls are defeated in the beginning of the episode.
  • This actually happened a few times on Codename: Kids Next Door, in episodes such as "Operation: P.R.E.S.I.D.E.N.T.", "Operation: S.L.U.M.B.E.R.", "Operation F.O.U.N.T.A.I.N", "Operation: S.I.X." as well as The Movie, {{Operation Z.E.R.O}}.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: In "The Frogs of War: Part 2", Attea finally takes her father's throne in the end.
  • Batman: The Animated Series
    • In the Riddler's first appearance in "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?", Batman and Robin stop the Riddler from murdering Daniel Mockridge, the Corrupt Corporate Executive who cheated him, but one could argue that the Riddler still won anyway; the episode ends by showing us that Mockridge now lives in paranoid fear of the Riddler's return. While the Dynamic Duo kept the Riddler from taking Mockridge's life or his money, the Riddler managed to take something nearly as valuable: Mockridge's peace of mind.
    • In "Appointment in Crime Alley," Daggett escapes arrest for blowing up several city blocks.
  • Batman Beyond had at least two occasions of bad guys winning: in "Ascension", Paxton Powers tricked his father out of the way so he could take over Wayne-Powers Enterprises and; in "Inqueling", Inque's daughter steals her money albeit it's left unclear if Inque ever tried to extract a payback.
  • In The Batman episode “Minutes,” the villain, Francis Grey, developed the ability to rewind time during the extremely unfair seventeen-year prison sentence that ruined his life. Since it only sends him back about 20 seconds or so undoing prison is out of the question, so he instead resolves to kill everyone at Gotham’s New Years celebration. Which he does, successfully. Including Batman and Batgirl. Fortunately for Gotham, Gray’s grief at his son being among the casualties gives him the strength to pull a Cosmic Retcon and rewind to before his Start of Darkness, where he reforms.
  • As shown in the picture in the main page, a Bond-style super villain takes over the East Coast at the end of The Simpsons episode "You Only Move Twice". The only "loss" for the "good guys" is that the Simpsons family had to move back to Springfield because no one was happy in the "perfect" neighborhood they had set up in. To rub salt in the wound, Homer was given his life's dream: ownership of a football team... Sadly, that football team was shown to be the worst in the league at the time.
  • The Boondocks episode "The Itis" ended with Ed Wuncler Sr. obtaining Meadowlark Park once Robert Freeman's now-closed soul food restaurant he dreamed of for so long lowered the park's property values to make it easier for Wuncler to purchase despite him being more than rich enough to purchase it to begin with.
  • South Park
    • The "Stanley's Cup" episode ended with the pee-wee hockey team Stan is coaching being savagely and utterly destroyed in their game against the Detroit Red Wings. The episode ends with the Red Wings excitedly celebrating (the Coach's father even tells his son he loves him in a parody of cliche sports movie endings) while the boy's friend Nelson dies from leukemia and "no hope".
    • Zigzagged in The Movie, Sheila actually succeeds in killing Terrence and Phillip allowing Satan to rule the world, but everything is undone by the end.
    • The ending of "Scott Tenorman Must Die".
    • "The Return of Chef", which sees the Super Adventure Club successfully corrupt Chef into becoming a child molester.
    • "Casa Bonita" involves Cartman succeeding in getting invited to Kyle's birthday dinner. When they arrive at Casa Bonita, Kyle's mother gets a call on her cell phone, hearing that Cartman is responsible for Butters' disappearance. Cartman rushes inside and hurriedly does everything he wanted in a span of less than a minute before the authorities arrive.
    Officer: Well, kid, you made an entire town panic, you lost all your friends and now you're going to Juvenile Hall for a week! Huh, was it worth it?
    Cartman: Totally.
    • In the Black Friday Trilogy, Bill Gates and Niles Lawson (the reporter).
  • The Classic Disney Short Chicken Little (not to be confused with their movie of the same name) ends with Foxy Loxy eating Chicken Little and all of the chicken of the farm, and collecting their bones. The Narrator laments "Hey, wait a minute, this isn't right. That's not the way it ends in my book!", and then Foxy, while playing with the now dead Chicken Little's Yo-Yo, taunts him "Oh yeah? Don't believe everything you read, brother!" Considering that this was a Wartime Cartoon acting as a parable to Adolf Hitler's tactics, the message is clear.
  • One of the interesting aspects of Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers was the sheer number of times that the Rangers' "victory" was merely getting away with their skins. The pilot was especially brutal. Zach's kids get away, but only because of Eliza's Heroic Sacrifice. Zach is gravely wounded, the bad guys get away clean, and the Queen's raid on Kirwin has netted her several dozen humans.
  • A few Private Snafu shorts end with Private Snafu being killed. At least one ends with him put in a Nazi prisoner of war camp under watch of a gloating German soldier. But since this is a Wartime Cartoon with the intent of showing American soldiers how NOT to act, it's justifiable.
  • A great deal of Archer episodes end like this, due to the incompetence of ISIS. Almost always Played for Laughs. Examples include "Killing Utne" and "Movie Star". One of the rare dramatic examples is "Crossing Over", where Barry successfully kills Jakov and stops Archer from finding out if he's his father.
  • ReBoot:
    • Season 2 ends with Megabyte sending Bob into the Web and beginning his real attack on the city.
    • Later in Season 4 Megabyte also takes over the Principal Office and the series ends with a Bolivian Army Ending.
    • In the Season 1 episode "The Medusa Bug" Hexadecimal completely wins. However, once Bob explains to her what that particular victory entails (the entirety of Mainframe being Taken for Granite), she quickly reverses it, as a system where nothing will ever change anymore is anathema to the self-styled Queen of Chaos.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers has the notorious "Whoo Gives a Hoot", which is the only time this happens. The Planeteers attempt to stop Looten Plunder with a court injunction against clear-cutting an old growth forest. Despite their success in finding what they need to stop the cutting, Looten's clumsy, stupid minions actually managed to succeed in stealing the evidence, leaving Plunder free to continue. The Planeteers and judge eventually discover Looten's deception, only to discover that Looten had already cut down all the trees. What makes it worse is that the episode ends on that note. In other words, Looten gets away with not only destroying a protected wildlife area, but he also manages to get away with defrauding the government. Not only that, he laughs in their faces about it and dares them to try and stop him again.
  • Several episodes of Xiaolin Showdown end in the bad guys winning, such as Wuya getting all the Shen Gong Wu, getting all of them the very next episode too, villains being released into the world, teammates turning to the dark side, etc.
  • The first season of Titan Maximum ends with Gibbs succeeding in bringing down the solar shield around Mercury, with the team able to do nothing but stand there looking shocked.
  • Total Drama World Tour ends with either Heather or Alejandro winning, depending on where you live. While Heather is treated as the Designated Hero, she really is just as sneaky as Alejandro, especially since she helped him get Cody eliminated in that same episode. Then again, they only win the competition itself—both endings have the prize money destroyed and Al severely injured.
  • Hey Arnold!: At the end of "New Bully on the Block", Arnold and his friends lose Gerald Field to the two bullies Wolfgang and Ludwig after being continuously beaten up throughout the episode. The last shot of the episode shows the kids forcibly hanging from the goalposts en masse after dark, while Wolfgang and Ludwig laugh nearby—giving one the uncomfortable impression that the kids are being held hostage against their will. No wonder most fans don't like the episode.
  • Futurama likes this trope, and it has had allusions to evil ruling for stretches of time in the future past.
    • But a current continuity example has bitter, demented Nixon (yes, that Nixon) winning the presidential election at the last minute and storming into the White House in his giant robot body causing carnage and destruction to the tune of Hail to the Chief.
    • "Attack of the Killer App" ends with Mom getting her army of between one and two million zombies. The heroes don't even realise what's going on. The end.
    • "Less Than Hero" works the same way: the good guys are forced to steal the Quantum Gemerald for the Zookeeper to free Leela's parents, and since they're Brought Down to Normal, they can't go after him. Like the above example, they don't even really seem to care much. Bender and Fry even walk off talking about bluffing their way through some super-villainy of their own (while the public still thinks they possess powers).
    • Another notable episode is "Decision 3012" where the gang help an opposing candidate beat Nixon in the presidential elections Said candidate was a time traveler from a bad future where Nixon's rule resulted in robots uprising and destroying humanity so he had came back in the hope of becoming Earth's president to avert it. By winning however his future and thus his existence was erased, allowing Nixon to win unopposed. And the real gut punch was that Bender, who was against the new candidate, knew all along that this would happen.
    • "A Fishful of Dollars" has Mom's henchmen successfully stealing all of the money from Fry's bank account, ending his streak of newfound wealth. Subsequently, Fry defiantly eats the ridiculously valuable can of anchovies that he could have used to regain some fraction of his fortune...which turns out to have been exactly what Mom wanted, since it leaves her with an intact monopoly on the world's supply of robot oil.
  • An episode of Godzilla: The Series featured Corrupt Corporate Executive Cameron Winter breaking three criminals out of jail and giving each one of them a Humongous Mecha so they could hunt down Godzilla. When the three hunters were captured, Winter got off by accusing them of stealing their mechas and the Government even hired him to make them mechas of their own.
  • The first episode of Hurricanes had the Garkos Gorgons sabotaging the Hispanola Hurricanes by having several of their players injured before their upcoming game. In order to have a full team, Amanda Carey, the Hurricanes' owner, disguised herself as a male so she could play at the game. The Hurricanes won 3-2 but her conscience led her to confess, which led to the Gorgons being granted official victory.
  • In the Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? episode "Cube Wars" the Yogman Twins cheat to win a competition and get away with it.
  • American Dad! had an episode involving an evil hot tub (voiced by Cee-Lo Green) which ends with said hot tub killing Principal Lewis, Francine and Stan. To make it even more blunt, Cee-Lo himself (in live-action) appears and tells the viewer that Stan is dead and that the show is over. What makes it even more shocking is how abrupt it is, and how it subverts the usual ending (the conflict is usually resolved by the end of most episodes).
    • This episode was intended to be the season finale, as they weren't sure if they'd get brought back for another. When it was revealed American Dad! would get another season, it became the premiere instead.
    • This can also occur with some of the Smiths, depending just how far down the morality slope you consider them. Roger in particular commits all sorts of heinous or outright murderous deeds, and usually comes out clean, if not outright better than he was at the start.
    • Roger deserves special mention for the episodes "Ricky Spanish" and "Love, American Dad Style".
  • Bat-Mite (who generally isn't a bad guy, but made a Face–Heel Turn in one episode) from Batman: The Brave and the Bold comes to believe that the show has jumped the shark, and tries to get it cancelled so it can be replaced by a Darker and Edgier Batman cartoon. Since this happened during the series finale, he succeeds. While Bat-Mite does suffer for this by getting erased from existence (he's too silly a character to work in a dark and realistic cartoon, so he unintentionally dooms himself by destroying the show that actually suits him) he takes his fate surprisingly well. This even applies out of universe: Brave and the Bold is being replaced by a Darker and Edgier Batman cartoon, at least by comparison.
    • Subverted earlier in the episode "Joker: The Vile and the Villainous!" where Joker, wanting to help his mentor, the Weeper (who'd come close to destroying Fawcett City thirty years earlier, but was bested by Bulletman) regain his villainous touch. In this case, it was The Joker who was portrayed as heroic while Batman, who wanted to thwart them both, was seen as the villain.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, the Vulture ultimately gets what he wanted for the entire series: his youth permanently restored.
  • The season 2 opener of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is both Downer Ending and this trope combined, Daphne doesn't come back to the team, Hot Dog Water replaces her, Fred's plan to capture Crybaby Clown fails, and the entire town of Crystal Cove is covered in flames, kind of a way to start the season on the wrong foot.
  • Code Lyoko, similarly to Beast Wars, had several cases of the Lyoko-Warriors failing at their current goals and XANA actually emerging victorious:
    • Subverted in Season 1. It ends with XANA causing Aelita's materialisation to partially fail by keeping her dependant from the Supercomputer, thus preventing the heroes from defeating him once and for all, but XANA now has a much harder time getting to Aelita by Season 2, as she is on Earth, and not making a lot of progress in it's quest for world domination, ending things on a standstill.
    • Seasons 2 ends with him actually succeeding in his goal to leave the Supercomputer and reach the Internet, a plan he had been working on since the beginning of the season, with the Lyoko-Warriors being only saved from permanent failure by a Deus ex Machina from Franz Hopper.
    • Season 3 ends with XANA actually succeeding in destroying Lyoko (though Jeremy rebuilt it in the next season).
    • Even though, XANA finally kicks the bucket in Season 4 (excluding Code Lyoko: Evolution), it goes out with glory by fulfilling it's main objective in this season : killing Franz Hopper.
  • The second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender ended in a horrible defeat for the good guys. Azula kills Aang before he can go into the Avatar State, then proceeds to conquer Ba Sing Se with her recently face heel-turned brother Zuko, and forced our heroes into hiding. Aang only manages to survive thanks to a Chekhov's Gun from the first episode of the season, but has lost the ability to access his Super Mode. The later episode "Day of the Black Sun" also ended with the Fire nation capturing the adults, forcing team Avatar to escape. Unlike the former episode, there is one good thing that came from this. Zuko pulled off a Heel–Face Turn and leaves the Fire Nation.
    • A one-episode villain in season 3, Hama, wants to teach Katara bloodbending (the art of water-bending the fluid inside another human being), regardless of whether or not she actually wants to learn. In the end, Katara is forced to use the technique, and Hama, despite being arrested, cackles madly at her success while Katara breaks into tears.
    • In the first book of The Legend of Korra, Amon has a extremely progressive lead on the heroes in the first few episodes. Korra confronts him in the fourth episode, but it doesn't end well. She's only spared because he wishes to save her for later. In the sixth episode, titled "And the Winner Is...", he stages a successful attack on the Pro-Bending finals after arranging for security to be at its maximum — just as planned — and he doesn't let up from there...
    • In Episode 10, Amon and his followers conquer Republic City by quickly and decisively neutralizing the leading politicians and police force leaving the city without leadership and defenseless. Tenzin gets away, but he's still forced to flee to keep his family safe. Lin also gets de-bended after refusing to tell Amon where Korra is.
    • Yakone's plan for revenge on Republic City and the Avatar was to raise his sons as bloodbending Tykebombs. His eldest son Noatak betrayed him and he died thinking his revenge would never be fulfilled, but in the end his plan actually worked. Tarrlok, his youngest, went on to, for all practical purposes, take over Republic City and, while not intentionally, helped tear it apart socially and physically along with his brother, who was now known as Amon.
    • In the plot of Book 2, Unalaq's plan succeeds which relied on having Korra open the portals allowing Vaatu to be free by Harmonic Convergence. Then Vaatu went on to get his revenge by ripping Raava out of Korra and killing the spirit.
    • Despite Book 3 ending on the bad guys either being captured or killed, Korra is crippled and confined to a wheel chair with her will being broken and the Earth Kingdom has collapsed, which was (sorta) the objective of the Bad Guys for the entire season.note 
    • In the final book, every time Kuvira appears she wins in a landslide, especially pronounced when she defeated an Avatar State Korra by sheer luck. It wouldn't be until the series finale that she finally gets taken down a peg.
  • Samurai Jack: Episode VI: "Jack and the Warrior Woman." After finally finding a surefire way to get back to his own time, Jack is aided by a mysterious female ally in reaching it. But it turns out that she's actually Aku in disguise the entire time who was using a cover so Jack would lead him to this. Aku destroys Jack's escape, reveals himself, laughs in his face about it, and takes off before the samurai can attack him.
    • For that matter, the first episode. The whole series takes place in a distant future (from Jack's POV) where Aku has already taken over the world after defeating Jack in the past (by throwing him into the future). Jack's quest is to find a means to return to the past and undo this victory.
    • The 50-year Time Skip between the fourth and fifth seasons counts as well. Aku seemingly destroyed every possible way for Jack to return to the past, and thought he could just wait for Jack to die of old age. But since time travel turned Jack into The Ageless, Aku just sits in his tower, depressed. That is, until Episode C; Aku comes out of his tower on the rumor that Jack lost his sword, and while that's shown to be false he also discovers that Ashi is his biological daughter. He gleefully corrupts Ashi into a demonic Daughter of Aku, forcing Jack to fight her while he looks on. Jack can't go through with it, and the last shot of the episode is Aku holding Jack's sword in triumph while the samurai sits slumped over in defeat.
  • The second season finale of Transformers: Prime: The Decepticons create a fortress on Earth, from which they launch a full-scale assault on the Autobot base. Wheeljack is shot down by Starscream, while the other Autobots and humans flee through the GroundBridge, just before the Nemesis obliterates the entire mountain... with Optimus still inside.
  • Portia, Gwen, Penny, Mary Gibbons and Anton St. Germain in some episodes of The Mighty B!.
  • Proffessor Pamplemoose in Sidekick.
  • Several episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars end with this trope. Some of these episodes include Cloak of Darkness, Gungan Attack, Hostage Crisis, Heroes on Both Sides, Slaves of the Republic, and the Netflix-exclusive episode, Orders.
    • Its predecessor, Star Wars: Clone Wars, ends some of its brief episodes with the apparent victory of the Seperatist villains: Chapter 4 ends with with Durge raising his lance in victory, Chapter 20, with General Grievous single-handedly taking out an outpost full of Jedi before finally descending on Ki-Adi-Mundi, and the whole second season ends with Grievous having just killed two Jedi and kidnapped the Chancellor... although these are respectively revisited in later installments with Obi-Wan taking back the battlefield, Mundi holding off Grievous long enough for at least some of his friends to survive, and Anakin and Obi-Wan staging a successful rescue mission.
      • ...and this is all in light of the fact that per Revenge of the Sith, the whole saga of the Clone Wars ended up serving Palpatine anyway, which was the whole point.
  • The Light of Young Justice winds up winning most skirmishes with the team, even/especially the ones that look like a clear-cut victory for the good guys. Then comes the series finale, where half the Light is captured, but the rest wind up in a better position than they started in, including the Big Bad Vandal Savage who has a War World, an alliance with Darkseid, and has accomplished every goal he wanted.
  • Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Putrid T. Gangreene and his Killer Tomatoes gain total world domination! (Well, at least for a few episodes of the series. And somehow the Prof. doesn't seem to be happy with the new situation either.)
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius had a few episodes that ended this way, although a mass majority of them make them justified:
  • In "Dreamscaperers", the penultimate episode of season one of Gravity Falls, Gideon ends up successfully stealing the deed to the Mystery Shack, and the episode ends. Fortunately, things turn around by the season finale.
    • "Dipper and Mabel vs The Future" ends with Bill Cipher gaining physical form and bringing about the end of the world. The end credits are then played with people audibly screaming in terror in the background. It takes three more episodes of apocalyptic chaos for the heroes to put things right.
  • Cyber Six has a variation. It ends with both Von Richter and Cyber Six killed in a massive explosion. Then right as the episode ends we learn Jose survived and now there's no one to stop him.
  • The mid-season finale of Grojband, "Six Strings of Evil", has Corey breaking free from the control of a demonic guitar intent on destroying Peaceville by bursting a dam and destroying the instrument, only for the Dam gets destroyed and all of Peaceville getting flooded (although thanks to the Reset Button, everything is back to normal in the following episode).
    • The episode "Girl Fest" has Laney delivering a blow to her former role model Candy Jams in the form of a song as an attempt to call her out as a a fraud. Unfortunately for her, it fails and people still give Candy their full support.
    • Kate and Allie also suffer no consequences for kidnapping Grojband and keeping them hostage in "Group Hug",unless you count Mina angrily tackling them for also kidnapping Trina.
    • Of course, Trina also wins in a few episodes... only for Karma to bite her in the butt in many an episode. The biggest instance however is in "Hear Us, Rock!", with Corey even outright admitting to Trina that she's won after she manages to steal Grojband's instruments, thus preventing them from using The Power of Rock to save Earth at least until Mina pulls a Heel–Face Turn and gives Grojband their instruments back.
  • In Wat's Pig, the invaders win both battles and successfully take over the kingdom, mainly due to the king's Dirty Cowardice.
  • The third season premiere of Justice League Unlimited has a minor version where a villainous initiation of sorts to steal the Spear of Longinus is successful... only for the Big Bad who ordered it to explain that he thought it would look good on his wall and he's fairly sure it's a harmless piece of wood. He just wanted to test his abilities.
  • The Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Broodwich" ends with Shake being given free brain surgery for passing the temptation of the Broodwich. He is forced to ingest the sun-dried tomatoes that he picked off and is sent to the hellish dimension where he gets chopped with an axe.
  • The 1945 Looney Tunes short Fresh Airedale is all about a conniving, greedy, and selfish dog named Shep who plays up to his Designated Hero status as a dog and manipulates his owner and frames a cat for his crimes. He even helps a burglar rob his owners house, but the cat stops him, only for Shep to swoop in and steal the credit in the end, but what seals it is when Shep learns of a national dog champion in the paper, an airedale terrier, and sets out to murder him so Shep can be the number one dog, once again, the cat stops him and he falls into a nearby lake. The terrier rescues Shep, but is too exhausted and collapses, Shep takes advantage of the situation and makes it look like he rescued the terrier. The cartoon ends with "Good Old Shep" being hailed as a hero once again, while the cat (the true hero of the story) is left with mud on his face.
  • We Bare Bears:
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil has several instances of Toffee winning:
    • In the season one finale, Toffee's attempt to kidnap Marco succeeds, Star is unable to rescue him, and is forced to give in to Toffee's demand and use the Whispering Spell to destroy her wand. This results in a massive explosion that destroys the castle, which seems to startle him for a second — but then he makes an evil grin suggesting that this was an acceptable outcome, possibly even exactly what he was expecting all along. While Toffee seems to have been killed in the blast, the fact that he can regenerate limbs brings up the possibility that he wasn't destroyed for good. Turns out he was dead, but his spirit was sealed into the broken half of Star's wand, and couldn't return until Ludo retrieved him.
    • In the season two finale, Toffee possesses Ludo's body and merges Ludo's half of the wand with himself. He then curbstomps the entire Magic Commission and steals their magic, seemingly resulting in Lekmet's death. Queen Moon barely manages to escape with her incapacitated friends and Lekmet's remains. The season ends with Toffee undoubtedly victorious. And coming for Star..
    • It can be argued that Toffee wins at the end of the series. While Toffee himself is long dead by the series finale, Star comes to the realization that he had a point in his crusade against magic, since it causes more harm than good, and she successfully destroys magic with the help of her family. Toffee's Famous Last Words suggest this is what he had in mind from the beginning.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode Night Light ends with The Moth succeeding in stealing the Lighthouse (Along with Spongebob's home).
  • Swiper from Dora the Explorer does succeed in swiping Dora's stuff in some episodes. Unfortunatly, he always hides it and taunts Dora, saying "You'll never find it now!". And then she does find it. In one episode, he was so determined they wouldn't regain the thing he stole that he actually told them where he put it!
  • Comes up very often in Rick and Morty, because Rick is a rare combination of a Villain Protagonist and an Invincible Hero. Best shown in "Vindicators 3", where he kills the planet-eating villain of the episode in a matter of hours while being too drunk to remember doing it and engineers a series of Saw-style death games to put the titular superhero league through. By the end of the episode, all except one of the Vindicators have been killed either from his death-traps or by infighting, he has proven to Morty that the Vindicators are horrible people, and he gets away with all of it.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes has a few episodes where Lord Boxman, or sometimes another villain, gets the upper hand:
    • In "We're Captured", Boxman manages to get even with Rad, Enid, and K.O. for trying to sabotage his dinner with an important client, and he and Professor Venomous send them flying over the horizon with an enormous cream-pie cannon.
    • In "Stop Attacking the Plaza!", Boxman successfully wins over his investors by keeping his promise to avoid attacking Lakewood Plaza Turbo for twenty-four hours.
    • In "Villain's Night Out", Boxman is successful in his ploy to crash another villain's party and sabotage it.
    • In "Plaza Film Festival", the Boxmore robots win the film festival, and with it the highly unstable plutonium trophy they plan to use to blow up the Plaza. Though they end up dropping the trophy and blow up both the plaza and themselves.
    • Professor Venomous himself gets a case of this in "The K.O. Trap". He has Darrell steal the doors off the Bodega to lure the Bodega heroes to Boxmore into his trap, where he knocks them out, locks each of them in separate rooms with goo clones of the other two, and kills the clones in gruesome ways just to mentally break the heroes. He then tricks K.O. with a second set of clones to torment him further. When the heroes corner him and try to fight him, he springs another trap that launches them from the building back to the Bodega. In the end, he successfully emotionally tortured them, and they never got the doors to the Bodega back.
  • Spawn, has Al Simmons realize too late that he was a pawn of Malebogia from the start. The real reason the lord of hell allowed Spawn to see his white Wanda again in the flesh, was not in exchange for being his general in his army of hell, but to give into temptation and have sex with his ex wife, impregnating her with a demon seed who will grow to become the Antichrist and the real general of his army. Al does this by making himself appear in the image of Wanda's current husband, Terry.
  • Castlevania (2017): Season 3 ends in this way. While not entirely without victories for the heroes, it's still a pretty low note. Isaac kills the Wizard and takes control of a city, Lenore tricks Hector into becoming a slave, and Carmilla's plans of conquering Eastern Europe look closer than ever to coming true.

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