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Big Bad

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It was Voldemort, Harry thought, staring up at the canopy of his bed in the darkness, it all came back to Voldemort. He was the one who had torn those families apart, who had ruined all those lives.
~ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

A Big Bad is the most prominent, powerful, and dangerous villain in a story, and is often responsible for most of the conflict that drive the plot. If there is a hierarchy of villains, the Big Bad is at the very top of it, and may be in control of most or all of the heroes' other enemies. Sometimes, the Big Bad can work from behind the scenes. However, as long as the most prominent antagonists of a story work for someone who was present all along, or who is setting their course of action, then this someone is the Big Bad.

Emperor-Palpatine

Emperor Palpatine is a good example of a Big Bad.

In some cases, there may be a Bigger Bad, who is more powerful and/or evil than the Big Bad, but is much less involved in the plot and only appears briefly, maintaining the Big Bad as the most prominent and recurring villain in the story. Although sometimes Bigger Bads can act as the final boss of the story.

There are also the case of the Big Bad Duumvirate when two villains of equal importance form a team and share the role, and the Big Bad Ensemble when several villains of equal importance further their goals on their own, usually in a competion. If there is a Villain based Franchise about the Big Bad appearing the most then they are the Big Bad and Villain Protagonist.

IMPORTANT
A villain can only truly qualify as a Big Bad if the story has multiple antagonists and is of sufficient "scope". In other words, not all stories have a Big Bad, and villains cannot be labeled Big Bads when they are the only antagonist in the story.
Big Bads can ONLY be also labeled as Bigger Bads when they are involved in spin-offs in which one of their followers/another villain takes the role of Big Bad.
Big Bad Duumvirate and Big Bad Ensemble DO NOT count when these villain are not on equal footing in term of threat and prominence; or when one of these villains is the biggest threat for most of the story.

Examples

Video games

  • Chaos in Final Fantasy Dissidia and Final Fantasy Theatrhythm. He can also be considered as the Big Bad of the whole Final Fantasy multiverse, controlling all the respective primary antagonist of each game. The Bigger Bad is Shinryu, the one who caused the cycles of war.
    • Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII and it's sequels with Jenova and Hojo as the Bigger Bads.
    • Bhunivelze is the overall Bigger Bad of Final Fantasy XIII and its sequel and the Big Bad of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: His actions in the past that drives the entire series - particularly his creation of Lindzei, who would go on to destroy Pulse and make the Cocoon fal'cie.
  • Bowser in the Super Mario Bros. franchise.
  • King K. Rool (under various aliases) in the Donkey Kong series.
  • Diablo in the titular video game series.
  • Frank Fontaine in Bioshock.
  • Junko Enoshima/Monokuma in the Danganrompa franchise.
  • Ivo Robotnik in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. The Bigger Bad is debatedly Dark Gaia.
    • Eggman Nega in the Sonic Rush series sharing with his ancestor Robotnik and the Sonic Rivals series as the sole Big Bad.
    • Metal Sonic in Sonic Heroes and in Sonic Free Riders.
    • Black Doom in Shadow the Hedgehog and the Bigger Bad of Sonic Adventure 2.
    • Mephiles the Dark/Solaris in Sonic Next-Gen and Sonic Generations.
  • Ganondorf/Ganon in the Legend of Zelda franchise, with Demise as the Bigger Bad.
  • Dr. Wily in the Mega Man franchise. His actions sometimes transcend to other characters, often antagonists, in the spin-off series.
    • Sigma of the Mega Man X series with Lumine as the Bigger Bad.
    • Dr. Weil of the Mega Man Zero series. The Bigger Bad would be Omega, as Dr. Weil seemingly holds him in far higher regard then himself, calling Omega the God of Destruction.
    • Master Albert of the Mega Man ZX series. With Dr. Wile as the Bigger Bad.
    • Dr. Wily's Battle Network counterpart: Lord Wily in the Mega Man Battle Network series. 
  • Nefarious in the Ratchet & Clank series.
  • Count Vlad Tepes Dracula in the Castlevania franchise in the original series.
    • Satan in the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow reboot. Dracula in the reboot has become a Anti-Hero than a villain even though Dracula was the villain of the Mirror of Fate.
  • Albert Wesker in the Resident Evil franchise, with Ozwell Edward Spencer as the Bigger Bad.
  • Dragonlord the representative Big Bad of the whole Dragon Quest franchise, with Nokturnus acting as the Bigger Bad and leader of the series' villains in Dragon Quest Battle Road Victory.
  • Master Xehanort in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, whose many incarnations serves as the primary antagonist of the game they appear in.
  • King Dedede in the Kirby Series, with Dark Matter as the Bigger Bad.
  • Dr. Neo Cortex in Crash Bandicoot, with Uka Uka as the Bigger Bad.
  • Ripto in the Classic Spyro series.
    • Malefor of The Legend of Spyro.
    • Kaos in the Skylanders reboot.
  • Izanami in the BlazBlue series.
  • That Man in The Guilty Gears Series.
  • Jaquio in Ninja Gaiden.
  • Alma Wade and Genevieve Aristide form a Big Bad Duumvirate in F.E.A.R. with Harlan Wade/The Creep the Bigger Bad.
  • Hades in Kid Icarus, since he caused the events of the series.
  • The A.I. Director from Left for Dead given that he is the spawning of the zombies. Though The Tank is more of this to the survivors.
  • Queen Myrrah in the Gears of War games. The Lambent could be considered as the Bigger Bad.
  • Vladimir Makarov in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, with Imran Zakhaev and General Shepherd as the Bigger Bads.
  • Heihachi Mishima  and Kazuya Mishima/Devil being the Big Bad Ensemble of Tekken. however Heihachi's impact seems to degrece from Tekken 5 and Kazuya is more of a serious villain. The Bigger Bads being  Ogre and Azazel as demonic Final Bosses.
  • Since Soul Edge/Inferno and Soul Calibur/Elysium were proven equally evil, both form a Big Bad Ensemble in the Soul Calibur franchise. Algol, creator of both blades is the Bigger Bad.
  • The Prophet of Truth and the Gravemind in the first Halo trilogy, with the Gravemind also a Bigger Bad.
  • Clockwerk in the Sly Cooper franchise.
  • Zeus in God of War.
  • The God/The Demon/Samael in the Silent Hill Franchise.
  • Erol in Jak & Daxter franchise, with the Dark Leader as the Bigger Bad.
  • Mr. Dark in the Rayman games.
  • Gruntilda in the Banjo&Kazooie games.
  • Andross in Star Fox.
  • Wilfre from Drawn to Life.
  • Andrew Ryan in Bioshock.
  • The Enclave in the Fallout series.
  • Xylan AKA The Corruptor in the Spore-like video game Darkspore. The Bigger Bad would be considered to be Zrin.
  • Mundus, along with his Reboot counterpart in the Devil May Cry franchise. With Argosax the Chaos as a Bigger Bad.
  • Sargeras in the Warcraft universe's background mythology.
  • Ridley in the Metroid series. With Mother Brain as the former Big Bad, now the Bigger Bad.
  • Orochi in King of Fighters.
  • Geese Howard in the Fatal Fury series.
  • Sheltem in the classic Might and Magic games.
  • M. Bison in the Street Fighter series, with Akuma as the Bigger Bad.
    • Gill in the Street Fighter III Series.
    • Seth in the Street Fighter IV Series.
    • Garuda in the Street Fighter EX Series.
  • Shinnok and Onaga in Mortal Kombat. The Bigger Bad is One Being.
  • Shao Kahn is the original Big Bad in the series.
  • Natla in the Tomb Raider games.
  • The Combine in the Half Life series, especially the Advisors.
  • GLaDOS in P0RTAL. While Cave Johnson could be considered as the Bigger Bad due to his multiple personalities.
  • Although she only made one appearance Katherine Marlowe can be considered the Big Bad of the Uncharted franchise.
  • The Harbinger in Mass Effect with The Illusive Man in a Big Bad Ensemble, and The Catalyst and The Leviathans as the Bigger Bads.
  • Warren Vidic in the Assasin's Creed series, with Juno as the Bigger Bad.
  • Iris Sepperin in Rosenkreuzstilette.
  • Scolar Visari in The Killzone Series. However, Stahl seems to be shaping up to be this.
  • Master Hand in Super Smash Bros. Later on, he and Crazy Hand form a Big Bad Duumvirate. Tabuu is the Bigger Bad.
  • Giygas and Porky form a Big Bad Ensemble in Earthbound.
  • Lord Recluse of City of Heroes is not the only evil game-in-town and certainly not the most powerful; But his constant dedication to evil made him the guiding-hand of players that decided to play as villains which made him into the most consistent and competent big name threat and easily cemented him into the game's Big Bad status.
  • Jean Descole in the Professor Layton series, with the Voice of the Azran as the Bigger Bad.
    • In the manga spin-offs, Don Paolo, the primary antagonist fo the first trilogy, is the Big Bad, with Dimitri Allen as the Bigger Bad.
  • A Big Bad Ensemble of Manfred von Karma (with Bansai Ichiyanagi as the Bigger Bad) and Dahlia Hawthorne (with Morgan Fey as the Bigger Bad) in Ace Attorney.
  • Superman is the big bad from the Injustice series. The Bigger Bads are Darkseid and Trigon.       
  • Tau Volantis Moon   and others Brother moons are Big Bads from Dead Space series.

Novels

  • Sauron, Morgoth's former lieutenant, is the Big Bad of The Lord of the Rings franchise.
    • Morgoth in The Silmarillion, being also the Bigger Bad of the entire Middle Earth universe.
  • Professor Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories, especially in the latter adaptation.
  • The Cthulhu Mythos has the titular Cthulhu (the most famous of the many Eldrich Abominations of the series) and Nyarlathotep (the most reccuring and most active) forming a Big Bad Ensemble. Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth being the most powerful serve as possible Bigger Bads.
  • Randall Flagg in Stephen King's multiverse, with the Crimson King as the Bigger Bad.
    • The Crimson King himself becomes the Big Bad in King's central work The Dark Tower.
  • Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series.
  • Superior Saturday in the The Keys to the Kingdom series, especially in the sixth book. Lord Sunday could be considered the Bigger Bad.
  • Esplin 9466 in the original Animorphs, with Crayak as the Bigger Bad.
  • Opal Koboi in the Artemis Fowl series.
  • President Snow in the Hunger Games trilogy. Alma Coin could be considered the Bigger Bad.
  • The Authority in the His Dark Materials trilogy, with his treacherous lieutenant Metatron as the Bigger Bad.
  • Kronos in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books, with Gaea as a Bigger Bad.
  • Aro Volturi in the Twilight Saga.
  • Jadis the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia (emphasized in the film adaptations), whith the Calormene god Tash as a possible Bigger Bad.
  • Mevolent in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, wit the Faceless Ones as the Bigger Bads.
  • The Gaiaphage in the Gone series, though Caine begins as the Big Bad.
  • The Shadow Lord in Quest for Deltora.
  • The Nome King in the Wizard of Oz novels and a few adaptations; though it's the Wicked Witch of the West who is the most recognizable villain.
  • The Old Kingdom had Orannis the Destroyer .
  • Xayide in The Neverending Story.

Films

Television

Western Animation

Manga/Anime

  • The God Hand from Berserk are the ringleaders of the Apostles and four of the previous members are responsible for Griffith becoming Femto.
    • The Idea of Evil is the Bigger Bad to the God Hand's Big Bad.
  • Emperor Charles zi Britannia and his son, Prince Schneizel El Britannia form a Big Bad Ensemble in Code Geass.
  • Ivo Robotnik and later Dark Oak in Sonic X.
  • Frieza in the entire Dragon Ball series since he indirectly caused the events of the series, and the series was to originally ended on Namek after his defeat. His DNA was also used to create Cell. He is also the most recurring villain in the franchise and main villain of most video games. Beerus could be seen as a Bigger Bad, but he is not a true villain.
    • King Piccolo/Piccolo  would be considered the Big Bad for the classic Dragon Ball series, as he controlled one of the previous major villains and had the most Sagas associated with him.
    • Baby in Dragon Ball GT as his role in the series parallels Frieza's. Syn Shenron is the Bigger Bad.
  • Naraku in Inuyasha.
  • Dio Brando/Diego Brando , the first and foremost villain of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventures manga, who influences the entire plot, even when not in charge or after his definite demise. Kars is the Bigger Bad.
    • Funny Valentine in Part 7:Steel Ball Run.Diego "Dio" Brando was working for him.
  • Undertaker is shaping up to this in the Black Butler Manga.
  • Light Yagami in Death Note, unusually since he's the protagonist, with Ryuk and the Shingami King as the Bigger Bads.
  • Father in Fullmetal Alchemist.
    •  Dante plays the role in the first anime series.
  • Tobi and Madara Uchiha form a Big Bad Duumvirate in the Naruto franchise, Tobi enacting the plan that Madara devised. Kaguya Otsutsuki and her enforcer Zetsu serve as the Bigger Bads and final antagonists.
  • Most likely Marshall D. Teach in One Piece, although currently he is in an Ensemble with Akainu. Which one is the biggest evil of the two has yet to be revealed. The Bigger Bads are the Five Star Elders and Kaido.
  • Ragyo Kiryuin in Kill La Kill.
  • Asura can be considered as the Big Bad in Soul Eater, being the most prominent, powerful and dangerous villain of the series.
  • Rinichiro Hagire in Deadman Wonderland.
  • Zeref in Fairy Tail, with Acnologia as the Bigger Bad.
  • Sōsuke Aizen and later Yhwach, who also counts as a Bigger Bad, in the Bleach franchise.
  • Alucard in Rosario+Vampire.
  • The Major in the Hellsing manga and OVA series.
  • The Black King in Drifters with Easy as the Bigger Bad.
  • The Mage of the Beginning in Negima! Magister Negi Magi.
  • Ruby Eye Shabranigdo for the whole Slayers franchise.
  • Zorc Necrophades , mostly acting through his avatar Yami Bakura, in Yu Gi Oh!.
  • Creed Diskenth in Black Cat.
  • Vearn in Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai. Although equal in power and influence, Velther counts as the Bigger Bad.
  • The Millennium Earl in the D.Gray-man franchise however he is in a Big Bad Ensemble against Nea Walker the 14th who is trying to take over his host Allen the protagonist and the Apocryphos The "Third side of War" as well as a living innocence, so far he's losing ground to both of them.
  • Bernkastel and Lambdadelta form a Big Bad Ensemble in Umineko, restarting time in every game and playing Beatrice (who seemed at first to be the Big Bad). Featherine Augustus Aurora is the true Bigger Bad.
  • Miyo Takano in Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni and Kai. Though, Tokyo and Nomura would be the Bigger Bads.
  • Brian J. Mason throughout the entire Bubblegum Crisis series, with Quincy as the Bigger Bad in the first series and Galatea as the Bigger Bad in the 2040 series.
  • The closest thing Puella Magi Madoka Magica has to a Big Bad is Kyubey, who hides facts from the Magical Girls and does not care about mankind.
  • Roa/SHIKI in Tsukihime.
  • The Night of Wallachia, then White Len, in Melty Blood. It's taken over by the Dust of Osiris in Actress Again.
  • Kotomine and Gilgamesh in Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero.
  • In Heaven's Feel, the Big Bad is Zouken Matou, although both Kotomine and Dark Sakura could also be seen as this.
  • Souren Araya in Kara no Kyoukai. Notably, he was confronted about halfway through the series and never heard from again.
  • Myotismon in Digimon Adventure and its continuation Digimon Adventure 02. Apocalymon counts as the Bigger Bad in Digimon Adventure.
  • Moo in Monster Rancher.
  • The Swamp Witch in the Queen's Blade series.
  • The Beast Titan is shaping up to be this for Attack on Titan.
  • King Dedede in Kirby: Right Back At Ya! sends monsters after Kirby in nearly every episode. The evil entity whom he buys the monsters from, Nightmare, is the Bigger Bad.
  • The Pretty Cure series, as it spanned for various iterations, have a lot of these:
    • The Dark King of the Dusk Zone in Futari wa Pretty Cure and its sequel Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart.
  • Go Hojo in Initial D. He's using other teams throughout Kanto (from the Myogi NightKids to Sidewinder; excluding the Akagi RedSuns, Akina SpeedStars, Impact Blue, Kyoko Iwase of the Northern Saitama Alliance, or Shinji Inui; but also including the Imposter Project D and his own older brother Rin) to defeat Project D, Takumi Fujiwara, or Keisuke or Ryosuke Takahashi in a race, all of whom are defeated by the likes of Project D.
  • Director Kakuzawa in Elfen Lied, with the bullies, led by Tomoo as the Bigger Bad since they are the cause of Lucy's demise.

Comics

DC

Marvel

Other

European comics

Webcomics and web-films

Religion and mythology

  • The Devil in the Bible and the Christian Religion in general.
  • God in the Maltheism current.
  • Iblis in the Muslim religion.
  • Cronus in Greek/Roman mythology. The Bigger Bad would Gaia.
  • Loki was originally a Trickster God. But as time went on, he was eventually regarded as the Big Bad of Norse Mythology, responsible of the Apocalyptic battle of Ragnarok. The Bigger Bad would be Niohoggr.
  • Apep/Apophis in the original Egypian Mythology. As time went on, as more and more invaders came from the desert, the Desert God Set took his place as the Big Bad.
  • Izanami no Mikoto in Japanese Mythology with Amatsu-Mikabushi as the Bigger Bad.

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