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I was scrolling through, and was debating whether or not a potential example counted or not: Jack Welker from Breaking Bad. While numerous characters, like Walt, see him and his gang of Neo-Nazis as the larger threat, he technically acts under Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, though he doesn't really respect her or her orders. I was just wondering, and figured I should ask before I add.
I would just like to ask anyone who posts new examples to be careful about confusing this trope with The Heavy.
The Heavy usually means that The Dragon is treated as the Big Bad because the actual Big Bad is not around or rarely referenced; that is, a Bigger Bad. Without them, the Evil Plan fails, but the Big Bad is still out there as a threat.
The Dragon-in-Chief is when The Dragon is the actual Big Bad for all intents and purposes- the actual Big Bad is a Big Bad Wannabe by comparison to his own henchman. This is also not the main villain's Hypercompetent Sidekick- rather, its more like when the Hypercompetent Sidekick is the main villain, whether his "boss" realizes it or not. It also doesn't mean a Dr Drakken-situation where his minion is vastly more competent, but he is still dangerous in his own right (if only because the minion is the Only Sane Man and without them the Evil Plan is now not just evil, but crazy).
The description of The Heavy says "Compare Dragon-in-Chief, which is when The Dragon fills this role specifically because he overshadows the Big Bad as a threat." That makes sense to me, but it implies this trope is basically a subtrope of the Heavy.
Also, a Big Bad can't be a Bigger Bad, it's ruled out by the definition of Bigger Bad... but everyone, even myself at first, seems to assume Bigger Bad also means what you imply here it means, and the difference depends on perspective anyway.
A Big Bad and a Bigger Bad can and frequently do overlap; Palpatine is the Bigger Bad of the Star Wars movies but is only the Big Bad in Episode III and IV, barely even showing up in V and not showing up at all in IV, but he drives the entire plot in every movie. In James Bond films the Big Bad of one movie is an agent of SPECTRE, the Bigger Bad of several movies, and so on.
You can also have cases where the Big Bad of one story is opposed to the Bigger Bad, or is an Unwitting Pawn rather than explicitly subservient, or betrays their master to go out on their own, or is only an ally, or is someone with their own agenda entirely...Big-Bad Ensemble usually goes here.
Regardless of any speculation of their relative firebending powers, Ozai and the fire nation would still be just as much a threat to the world even without Azula.
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