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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.
~ Line in the novel, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Now that i'm here, let's get this party started! Welcome to MY Underworld, Pitty Pat! And you too, Pretty Palutena! So this little angel took down big, bad Medusa all by himself? What an accomplishment! Goodness, you should put this on your resume. But before you do, you should know that I whipped up that Medusa especially for you. Add a pinch of memories to a ton of souls. Put them in a blender and hit frappe! Her thirst for revenge was so great it seemed a shame to let it go to waste. Oh Pretty Palutena...you must have done a real number on her. But she's old news, and old news bores me. We must look to the future, and that future is me; the true leader of the Underworld! Next to me, little miss Medusa is going to look like a sweet, cuddly bunny! I mus bid you adieu.
~ Hades revealing himself to Pit and Palutena as the true master of the underworld and the one who revived Medusa
The following villains are considered "Big Bads," or the main/primary antagonist(s) of the story in which they appear; that is to say the most prominent, influential and powerful of all, the one at the center of the conflict, whose importance in the plot outshines all.

To put it simply, a "Big Bad" ONLY appears in long-running stories with numerous story arcs and antagonists. Villains of a single movie/book/game/whatever or villains of a story without enough antagonists DO NOT COUNT. The Big Bad stands at the top of the villain's hierarchy: being almost always the leader of all the villains, or at least a very strong influence. The "Big Bad" always has a much larger significance in the story than any other villain, including possible "Bigger Bads," being the direct or indirect cause of all the troubles for most of the story if not the story as a whole.

FOR THE SAKE OF CLARITY, THERE IS ONLY ONE BIG BAD PER STORY, EXCEPT FOR THE CASE LISTED BELOW AND ONLY THEM.

When two or more characters working together share the role, it is called a Big Bad Duumvirate. If they are many who oppose each other, it is called a Big Bad Ensemble.The Big Bads are also the Overarching Villain if they influence the story in some way as a major recurring villain.

  • As long as the central antagonist of a story works for/enforces someone who is directly involved in the plot, then this someone is the "Big Bad."
  • When the story is divided into distinct story arcs, it has several "Arc Villains" one after another, but when a villain appears in several story arcs and/or influences a story arc after his demise, then this villain is the one and only "Big Bad."
  • When there are many recurring villains working on their own, the Big Bad has to be the most recurring and the most important villain in the entire franchise.