Big Bad Evil Guy

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Sauron, pretty much the archetypal "Dark Lord" common to fantasy and an inspiration to countless BBEGs. We love you big S! :D

The Big Bad Evil Guy, typically shortened simply to Big Bad or BBEG, is roleplaying gamer slang for the primary antagonist of an adventure or campaign. He is the one who is ultimately responsible for whatever shit his associates or minions do, and defeating him usually means the successful conclusion of a campaign (or at least a part of it). To ensure that this is sufficiently dramatic, DMs often make the BBEG a powerful character, making this final encounter something of a boss fight. The BBEGs seem to know this is coming, so they will usually construct a suitably impressive lair for the suitably dramatic confrontation to take place in.

Many of these fantasy villains often like to address themselves as 'The Dark Lord' or add 'Dark Lord' before their name, just in case you goblin-fondling peasants weren't paying attention to who they are.

Hilariously though, the sheer incompetence of some of these big bads is at times a beauty to behold, as their over-arrogant natures, the stupidity of their minions, or luck and/or skill on the part of their opposition means their plans fall apart dramatically. For example Harry Potter, despite being a teen and knowing as much magic as a mouse for most of the series, time and time again foiled Voldemort's plans. Despite having control of one of the key factions in 40k, Abaddon has failed to get anything done in 10,000 years (the fact that Abbadon hasn't been killed or overthrown yet is Games Workshop won't let the story go in that direction). And yet how do they get by with so much failure when they would have roasted their henchmen alive if they had done the same? Simple; if you dare to mention it to their face about their joy-to-watch failures, YOU will be the one roasting alive!

Note the title of "Big Bad Evil GUY", as this character is most often male (note the BBEG's in the list below). It is uncommon for the BBEG to be female, a "Big Bad Evil Gal" if you will. Having the main antagonist be female is actually rarer than having a main antagonist who is genderless. The reasons for this are... contentious, and not well explored. Some could say it's sexist against women by assuming that female villains will never be as effective as male villains, or it could be sexist against men by assuming that men are more evil than women, a combination or something else. Conversely, a female Big Bad is more likely to be shown mercy, or have it offered to her, than her male counterpart, and if the hero is male, it's far less likely that he will directly kill a Big Bad Evil Gal.

In most video games the BBEG is usually the final villain which you and maybe a couple of hanger-ons have to defeat to win the game. Whether it will be a hard fight or not depends how merciless the game designers are feeling.

Paladins are automatically required to attempt to offer the BBEG mercy, even if they have happily slaughtered hundreds of relatively less evil minions without mercy on their way to the BBEG's lair.

Requirements to become a BBEG

1. Kill a lot of innocents (unimaginative, but kind of a must-do on the list; a tradition).

2. Make big grandiose plans that also include big holes in them, just enough for someone to mess up if needs be.

3. Surround yourself with minions and right-hand men. Your evil meter goes higher the more bodies you can pile up there.

4. Have a characteristic to define you from the masses, like a menacing eye (Sauron), the ability to shoot lightning from your hands (Sidious) or an embarrassing track record of failure no-one can mistake (Abaddon).

5. Perfect evil laugh and twisted sense of humour.

6. Have a super bad-ass evil lair / hair.

7. Don't melt into goodness at the sight of baskets of kittens or puppies.

8. Pretend you don't have any possible mental problems even if they are there.

9. Beat up anyone that even looks like competition.

10. Be a dick to everyone, even your own side (tough love).

11. IMPORTANT: Do something memorable. It is not enough to just do all of the above, you need to really do something unique to stand out from your peers. Sidious masterminded the complete destruction of the Jedi and the rise of the Sith to masters of the Galaxy. Sauron helped fuck up his world and make a lasting legacy of evil by creating so many evil races. Asdrubael Vect established the single most unpleasant city realm in the galaxy and allowed the Dark Eldar to flourish as a people. What will YOU do to get your enemies quaking in jealously and respect?

12. You must wear pitch black armor that covers EVERY. PARTS. OF. YOUR. BODY. Your face must not be shown, not even once, because that makes you a mysterious badass. Bonus point if your armor is possessed or has some evil origin.

13. Developing a bizarre taste of carrying human remains on you like some king of fashionista. Examples include wearing a human skin cape or skulls hanging on you. Everyone must see it.

The Big Bad Evil Guy Hall of Infamy

An honour bestowed only to the most truly deserving head honchos of villainkind, not just any hireling with ideas above their station can get here!

  • Sauron (Lord of the Rings): The dude who originally created the term "Dark Lord" in modern high fantasy and was willing to get stuck into the action himself too. Pretty much an undead fallen angel who wants to bring order by tyrannically ruling Middle-Earth. Once, the men of Númenor, one of the most powerful nations ever to rise in Middle Earth decided to kick his ass, and proceeded to lay siege to his fortress and capture him. After his capture he managed to corrupt the whole nation, made them worship his old boss (Morgoth, see below) and got them to invade the lands of the Immortals. As a result, Eru himself (the God of Middle Earth) was forced to intervene: he sank Númenor into the sea, and transformed the once flat planet into a globe, removing the Undying Lands from the plane altogether. This still wasn't sufficient to kill Sauron, who managed to come back - albeit without a body - to fuck shit up. His one weakness, the destruction of his ring, still required an incredible amount of good luck and perseverance to pull off, as arguably one of his most sinister powers was using the ring to control whoever possessed it; this fact alone was what kept him alive long after his body was destroyed, as nobody was willing to finish the job by destroying the ring until a crazed halfling stole it and fell into a volcano. For all his celebrity, for many years he was just a thrall of next entry.
  • Melkor (The Silmarillion): If Sauron was a fallen angel, Melkor was Satan himself. More famous as Morgoth ("The Dark Enemy"), the most powerful of the Valar (think of them as the most powerful angelic beings) and second only to Eru in therms of sheer power. His calls to fame are many, among them: destroying the planet's only light sources not once, but twice, torturing Elves badly enough to turn them into Orcs, creating Dragons, resisting a centuries-long siege, winning a battle that made the Battle of the Somme look like a picnic and ruling nearly the whole of Middle-Earth with an iron fist. He was only defeated when the whole host of the Valar assaulted his fortress and captured him (this happened twice), in a battle so violent the whole Beleriand sank beneath the oceans - a land about the same size of Middle-Earth. He still was not killed, but was thrown off the fucking planet, and is prophesied to return in an apocalyptic final battle. Fun fact: do you remember Sauron's One Ring, his creation, in which he put much of this power and how it was impossible to kill him without destroying the Ring? Well, it's canon that Morgoth's Ring is the whole Middle Earth. Think about the implications. To be fair half of the silmarilion is him getting weaker and weaker, developing fear, losing the ability to exit his flesh and finally limping
  • Darth Sidious (Star Wars): Creepy old freak who single-mindedly engineered the complete destruction of the Jedi Order and turned the galaxy on its head so he could rule it as a tyrant (and maintain the massive military industrial complex necessary to combat the Yuuzahn Vong upon their inevitable arrival into galaxy... much like another famous Emperor. Unfortunately not everything transpired according to his design). His favourite trick was using his force lightning to make toast (always too overdone).
  • The Timeless One (Halo): AKA The Flood and The Gravemind, came from a race of nigh-omniscient eldritch abominations called the Precursors that came before the Universe was born. Single-handedly destroyed an interstellar Culture-level civilization, the Forerunners, for insane sobbing cynical vengeful shits and giggles after it led a genocide against the Precursors, their peaceful creators now gone insane with the god equivalent of PTSD, all because the Precursors thought humans were less stuck up than the Forerunners, and is now coming back in the form of a horrifying fusion of The Thing, Tyranids and X-Parasite; so that he can force every single living thing in the Universe to "join" him in a very fucked up version of Communism via OM NOM NOMING their bodies and souls in eternal torment and pain. This Flood also acts as a computer virus in later stages, and The Gravemind's ultimate plan is to wipe the universe clean and start over, having gone way past over-the-top friendly fire several hundred thousand years late vengeance, when everyone responsible is already dead. Also proclaimed as the greatest Troll to come out of Sci-Fi since the introduction of Tzeentch and Eldrad, considering how he manages to slowly and painfully rip apart the 10 million year old culture and beliefs of the Forerunners by forcing them to do things that are both hypocritical and outright contradictory of their pacifistic religion as well as tormenting and mind-raping the Forerunner's greatest heroes into deranged psychopaths. The most perfectionist of the lot and getting the most shit done.
  • Dracula (Castlevania): Was the big bad in the majority of the Castlevania games (but subverted for the two recent games). How bad is he? Well... when even Death considers him as "Boss", then it should tell you the power differences here in pure EVIL.
  • Voldemort (Harry Potter): The big bad evil wizard of the HP setting Voldemort spent most of the series as an evil spirit before coming back in a body made from a mixture in a cauldron (as you do). He runs on a platform of genocide against muggles and anyone with muggle blood (even though he has muggle blood himself, but hey, this the BBEG list and hypocrisy is evil), so basically he's Wizard Hitler. He failed to kill the Boy Who Lived as a baby, then failed again against him as a teenager and was hoisted by his own petards against him as an adult. And he failed twice to take over the wizarding world, making one wonder about his track record.
  • Jadis, the White Witch (The Chronicles of Narnia): This frigid bitch likes to freeze everything and will turn you to stone at the drop of a hat if you displease her. She's so evil, in fact, that she managed to keep Santa Claus out for 1,000 years so that nobody could celebrate Christmas (We remind you, this is a children's story, so this is a big fucking deal). She had eternal life after eating a cursed apple and froze Narnia into a state of perpetual winter to be her perfect place, but was challenged by a gang of motley kids and killed by the lion Aslan (revealed to be literally Jesus Himself taking the form of a large lion; so she was pretty badass if it took God Himself to take her out). Since then her ghost has been hiding on Earth under the guise of Sarah Palin (you thought the love of cold weather and evil politics was just coincidence did you??). In the past, on her original homeworld of Chart, she discovered a spell called the Deplorable Word that would slay all life with the sole exception of its speaker, and used it to kill every living thing on her own world, so she could be Queen. Fuck Yeah
  • Nothing to see here, move along. -Your friendly neighborhood inquisitior. HERESY! *BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM*
  • Dio Brando (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure): This is one of those rare cases where we get to see most of the Big Bad's rise to power, from a normal but sociopathic aristocratic brat to a hundred-year-old vampire able to stop time itself. Like most things in JJBA, Dio is famous for his bombastic personality and his ability to kick ass in a fight. And his minions, all quite powerful in their own unique ways, simply serve as appetizers for the sheer mindfuckery he's capable of whenever he activates his Stand, The World ZA WARUDO! Even after he's killed, enough of his minions survived to stir up trouble, including plots to try and reset the universe to revive him.
  • Yawgmoth, the Ineffable (Magic: The Gathering): This is the formerly ordinary human that turned Phyrexia from a backwater plane to the nightmarish world that we all knew and loved via turning the people of his homeland (who exiled him for being evil before he was evil, after which he did a whole bunch of disease based genocide on other people first, which is how evil he became) into nightmare zombie robots from hell (badass). After his apotheosis, the Father of Machines was able to take on Oldwalkers and have a good chance of coming out on top. As such, he was too powerful to print, and some of the most powerful cards bear his name (Yawgmoth's Will and Yawgmoth's Bargain are both banned in legacy). Even 20 years after he was murdered he remains the single strongest entity in Magic history.

Games Workshops

  • Nagash (Warhammer Fantasy Battles): Former Tomb King (via usurping the throne) from back when they were living humans, the inventor of necromancy, the one who caused undead factions to exist in the game and the greatest threat to the Warhammer world outside of the Chaos Gods, he even plans to supplant them. And he would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for those meddling rats and Nurgle.
  • Malekith (Warhammer Fantasy Battles): The Witch King and Lord of the Druchii, Malekith is (or was) one of the less pompous of the Big Bads of Fantasy - On his throne in the center of his evil and cold domain of Naggaroth, Malekith could see the entirety of the world, no matter where it was, but his eyes were fixed at one point - Ulthuan and the throne of the Phoenix King, which he will always strive towards. After 6,000 years of civil war, started after his mother Morathi fucked up his coronation, the End Times reveals something incredible and unheard of among Big Bads - He was the good guy! Or, the gods had chosen him like he said they had and they decided to let him retake their test. Which he passed. After retaking Ulthuan and killing Tyrion, who was possessed by the Widowmaker, Malekith was chosen as the Phoenix/Eternity King. Now the leader of all elfkind, he is the only one who can assure the survival of the entirety of the elven race...
  • Archaon (Warhammer Fantasy Battles): Elected bro for life of the Chaos Gods and doer of getting shit done and given the current state of AoS arguably the most successful BBEG ever. Formerly a pious man until the machinations of Chaos made him go off the rails. Failbaddon lives in constant terror of Archaon getting fed up and coming to kick him out of existence.
  • Asdrubael Vect (Warhammer 40k): More dangerous than Failbaddon could ever be even in his dreams, Vect passes the time causing countless millions to be tortured, just for his bored amusement. Master of dick moves and getting others to get others to do his dirty work. The only reason he hasn't conquered the galaxy is Games Workshop's refusal to let the plot of 40K go in that direction because endlessly dicking with the galaxy is infinitely more fun and sustainable than conquering it. It's implied that the reason Vect was removed from the codex as a playable character is because GW was that scared of Vect changing the status quo. Last seen letting the oldcron Nightbringer out of his box so he could talk about killing stuff with someone who could match his tally.
  • Matt Ward (Games Workshop): Dark Lord of Fluff Rape and Codex Destruction, his plan to unleash his hordes of Ultramarine servants to take over the galaxy in a wave of blue and to subject the Grey Knights to eternal ass rape. He's also managed to defeat the C'tan and take control of the Necrons to aid his blue-clad minions. Few, if any, are as diabolical as this man! In fact, he was so much of an evil mastermind that none of his plans were ever really challenged, and so he quit his goddamn job. As in, literally. The Throne of Defilement of Fluff and Crunch sat vacant years, but then there was a surge of horror as an article made rounds on social media: Ward is back.