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"With the clock under my control, I'll be able to wrong all the rights in the universe. Every villain who's ever stumbled will get a do-over. Every protagonist's triumph will be reversed! Until finally, a new present is created! In which the heroes always lose!"
—Dr. Nefarious, Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time
One major source of Villain Decay comes from the fact that, no matter how dangerous the Big Bad is presented as, the risk of them winning becomes an Informed Ability since Status Quo Is God means they don't win, and whatever horrible plot they hatched and rant about doesn't even scratch at The Masquerade. This is why audiences are genuinely shocked when The Bad Guy Wins, it's one of the most powerful Downer Endings possible. Some stories try to avoid the former by using a limited form of the latter in the form of the heroes visiting a Bad Future, and returning to the present with the motivation to Set Right What May Go Wrong. But not all stories allow for Time Travel, so an intermediate and more challenging route is to have the Villain win part way and have the setting become a Villain World.
The Evil Overlord will have their Evil Plan go off without a hitch either because The Hero and her friends were put out of action, or despite their best efforts. His armies are everywhere, every country and the UN gives him absolute power, and he uses it to institute his vision of the world. Usually the world becomes a Dystopia, sometimes a Utopia with a "minor" flaw like Utopia Justifies the Means or removing The Evils of Free Will. Expect him to rename cities after himself. May also result in a Crapsack World (though one dominated by a specific entity as opposed to just generally crummy). Or he may bring about The End of the World as We Know It and create Hell on Earth. Either way, the heroes have failed to stop him, he's changed the face of the world and they must now fight to save what's left before the Evil Overlord grows too powerful.
Thankfully, since the Genre Shift happens with enough time for the heroes to regroup they usually do succeed at taking him down. Depending upon the grade of Phlebotinum available, this can end with either an outright reset, or a more realistic scenario where the heroes' help is implied to get the world back on its feet eventually.
Occasionally this will be the result of a Dream Sequence or a It's a Wonderful Plot. This setting is the habitat of La Résistance. Very likely to be a Crapsack World. See also Vichy Earth, Easily-Conquered World and Evil Only Has to Win Once.
Anime and Manga
- Genesis Climber Mospeada, and the third part of Robotech, which was based on MOSPEADA.
- In Guyver, Kronos takes over the world, polices it, and implements its advanced technology for the use of society. Being Dangerously Genre Savvy, they don't force things but give people the choice to be transformed into Zoanoids, giving tax cuts to participants and emphasising the benefits like immunity to disease and the ability to gain Super Strength in emergencies, while neglecting to mention that you become subject to Mind Control by their leaders.
- Death Note - The second half, after Light has killed half the cast (including the main hero), is set a couple of years in the future where Kira has started to establish himself as God of the New World, to the point where Japan even has a reality show dedicated to offering him victims. His reign of terror is such that crime rates and wars have dropped astronomically, and he is preparing to kill people he deems weak or lazy in the not too distant future.
- 20th Century Boys with Friend. Both of them. Friend basically turns Japan into North Korea and the rest of the world into Somalia, complete with that giant "beehive" hotel, only bigger and finished.
- This happens in Parallel Trouble Adventure Dual when the protagonist and his powerful Mecha are forcibly transported back to the first dimension. With him out of the way, Ayuko was able to crush her opposition. By the time Kazuki returns, the UN has accepted Ayuko as rightful ruler of the world and the good guys are fugitives.
- The Monster Rancher anime starts out as this, with Moo having nearly conquered the planet and the heroes fighting a distinctly uphill battle.
Collectible Card Games
- In Magic: The Gathering's New Phyrexia set, the Phyrexians have succeeded in taking over the plane formerly known as Mirrodin, and reduced the native Mirrans to La Résistance.
- The Age of Apocalypse.
- The Days of Future Past storyline has the world dominated by the robotic Sentinels.
- Both Magneto and Doctor Doom, too many times to count. Examples are listed below:
- House of M, which it turns out was not part of Magneto's plans at all.
- Planet Doom, which the good doctor quickly got bored with.
- The first book in The Chaos Engine is actually about Doom making a Cosmic Cube and taking over the world (ruling it as a super-efficient Police State); the second has him losing it to Magneto (who rules it as a paradise where humans and mutants live in harmony- though cube was defective and he originally wished for something considerably darker); and in the third he loses it to the Red Skull (who places Earth at the centre of a Nazi-themed intergalactic Evil Empire).
- Something similar happened to the last scenario in Captain America (comics) #14-16. In a vision Captain America is given a glimpse of America controlled by the Red Skull under the Cosmic Cube's power: heroes crucified, capital building in flames, the Washington Monument replaced by a Skull statue, and Nazis ride dinosaurs through the streets.
- In the Emperor Doom graphic novel, Dr Doom uses the powers of the Purple Man to take over the Marvel Universe - all except for Wonder Man (who does not breathe and is thus immune from the Purple Man's pheromones). In the end, Doom more or less allows the heroes to win due to the tedium of micro-managing the entire planet.
- The Ultra-Humanite once got a hold of the genie Thunderbolt and then, controlling the world from a Brain In a Jar, seizes telepathic control of every hero on Earth. His main body is a youthful Johnny Thunder, who is protected by- of course- albino gorilla bodyguards.
- A more comical arc of The Defenders has a childish and inept Dormammu steal the power of Eternity and remake the planet. Turns out though his sister Umar really stole the power and only let him think he was in charge...while she was busy raping The Hulk.
- In the comic version of Wanted, the villains have taken over the world - and changed it into what is pretty much our world...
- In Silver Surfer# 54-55, we see Thanos conquer the universe with the Infinity Gauntlet, place Death in Go-Go Enslavement, kill the superheroes along with Mephisto and then forces Silver Surfer to be his scribe to write his Bible as Thanos is the new God. It turns out to be All Just a Dream.
- This is part of the premise of The End League. Years ago, Rousseau was conclusively proven wrong when, it turned out that the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries of a Mass Super-Empowering Event preferred to use their powers for personal gain. One day they ganged up and slaughtered almost all superheroes. The world has been ruled by supervillains ever since.
- The Wolverine story "Old Man Logan" takes place in a Bad Future where America's been divvied up amongst the supervillains. The part Logan lives in is run by Hulk and his inbred Cannibal Clan, while other regions are ruled by Kingpin, Dr. Doom, and Red Skull.
- The "Emperor Joker" storyline which features the eponymous madmen getting the cosmic powers of Mr. Mxyzptlk and remaking the world in his own demented image where Superman is a dangerous criminal hunted down every day by Bizarro and bald super-tycoon Lois Lane.
- The Donald Duck comic "The Duck That Never Was" shows a version of Duckburg where Magica De Spell succeeded in getting Scrooge's number one dime, crushing Scrooge's spirit enough that Flintheart Glomgold was able to take over his industries...all because Donald wished himself out of existence.
- Mark Waid seems to like dabbling in this trope. Played straight in his short-lived book Empire, where a Dr. Doom Expy takes over the world. Played with in both Kingdom Come and Irredeemable, where the world is shown under the influence of rogue superheroes, instead of the nominal villains.
- Earth-3, a world where the Justice League is actually the Crime Syndicate of Amerika, a worldwide dictatorship they killed most of the heroes. Superman is Ultraman, Batman is Owlman, etc. It is heavily explored in Trinity, where it's shown that even the non-supervillains are dicks, as they live in a world where brutal rape and murder are socially acceptable.
- The major premise of Sonic the Comic. In issue #8 Sonic was thrown months into the future, giving Robotnik enough time to Take Over the World. The comic then became about Sonic leading resistance against him, ending in victory in issue #100.
- Similar to the cartoon it was based on, the Archie Sonic comics starts off with Robotnik ruling the world and the Freedom Fighters aiming to overthrow him. They eventually succeed, but an alternate version of Robotnik shows up and retakes the planet, forcing them to start over again. Also has an example with Sonic's Mirror Universe counterpart, who after gaining power from the Master Emerald and renaming himself Scourge, took over his version of Mobius. A recent story arc with Silver in the Sonic Universe spinoff series also had an alternate Bad Future where Knuckles, during a point where he gained a near omnipotent Physical God super form, had a series of events that led to him turning evil, and eventually insane, taking up the mantle of an old foe of his named Enerjak. Despite gaining a 0% Approval Rating due to his descent into madness, he was so powerful none cast had any chance at stopping him, and the Freedom Fighters that Silver found in the timeline were only around because Enerjak simple let them live because he was bored.
- A controversial example, good or bad depending on the individual. In the Meta-Crossover Fandom Wars, The My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic faction wins after being forced into a corner and using their superweapon, which sucked Earth through the My Little Pony Rift, causing all sentient life to restart from the beginning of their lives as ponies and all of Earth's man-made constructs, save for a few, to be destroyed. Captain Pio, the one who made the final decision to use their weapon, is mentioned in the epilogue to normally think about whether what he did was right. He can never think of a reason that it wasn't.
- The Pony POV Series chapter "Epilogue" depicts a Bad Future ruled by Discord where he won and is completely unopposed, with the Brainwashed and Crazy Twilight as his Dragon and others having gone to the extremes of their brainwashing. Let's put it this way, the dead rising from the grave to devour their loved ones is the least disturbing thing under Discord's reign.
- The Star Wars universe gets turned into this during Revenge of the Sith, and it takes three whole movies and over 20 years to even begin to set it right.
- By the climax of The Matrix Revolutions, the Matrix is wholly populated by Agent Smith's copies.
- Megamind incorporates a parody of the trope.
- It's a Wonderful Life has Potterville. Ok, so it's not the whole universe but the film's so self-contained it might as well be.
- Meet the Robinsons has one ruled by Doris as a result of the Bowler Hat Guy tampering with Cornelius/Lewis' machine.
- Back to The Future II has this happen when Biff gets hold of the sports almanac, and 1985 Hill Valley becomes "Hell Valley" (on the ruined Welcome To Hill Valley sign) with the clock tower turned into Biff's Pleasure Paradise casino hotel.
- In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Voldemort and the Death Eaters successfully mount a coup over the Ministry of Magic, turning the wizarding world into a Voldemort-run dystopia which closely resembles Nazi Germany.
- "When The Last Elf Is Dead" by Harry Turtledove does this to classical Tolkiensque fantasy.
- The Silmarillion by Tolkien does this to Beleriand.
- The Belt Of Deltora series kicks off with the villain taking over Deltora, but failing to eradicate the royal family. A couple decades later, a young boy is sent on a quest to defeat him.
- Mistborn uses this- the trilogy's backstory is essentially every High Fantasy plot you've ever heard, except that the Evil Overlord won and has spent the last millenium ruling with an iron fist. And then plenty of complications get introduced from there...
- In Nineteen Eighty-Four, an unseen force controls the world. Unlike other examples however, this is never explicitly reversed, though there is some debate as to whether the use of past tense of the appendix, "The Principles of Newspeak," indicates the eventual downfall of the system.
Live Action TV
- In an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called "The Wish", Cordelia tells a wish-granting demon named Anya that she wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, resulting in a villain world where Angel is imprisoned, Xander and Willow are both vampires, the Master is free, the Bronze is an evil lair for vampires, almost everyone rightly hides in fear in their houses every night, and the vampires are opening a slaughterhouse-factory where machines drain humans of all their blood.
- In Doctor Who, the Master succeeded in taking over the world and decimating the human population in "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords", until the Doctor was able to roll back time for about a year.
- Power Rangers RPM, in a rather shocking twist, begins in a Villain World. Venjix has already taken over the world except for mankind's last hold out. The series revolves around protecting the city and trying to find a way to defeat Venjix.
- In Star Trek, the "main" universe where most episodes take place isn't this trope, but there's a Mirror Universe that is. In the mirror universe, the Terran Empire oppresses many planets while its members fight each other for control of the empire.
- Storybrooke in Once Upon a Time. It's a small town in Maine that the Evil Queen cursed all the inhabitants of the fairy-tale world to be trapped in. The people of Storybrooke don't know who they or each other are, but that makes it worse for some of them when the Queen starts messing up their lives and they have no idea why.
- The Dungeons & Dragons setting Midnight is summarized as "Middle Earth', only Sauron won."
- Arguably, all of the Old World of Darkness settings. It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Final Fantasy
- Final Fantasy I was revealed to be such a world by the very end, with the revelation that the crappy state of things are caused by the villain having already won 2000 years ago and continuing to rule eternally through a time loop that resets back every time his future-past self is killed and revived in the past. Or something.
- In Final Fantasy VI, the second half of the game takes place in the "World of Ruin", which is made up of the few surviving civilians and towns scattered around after Kefka gains ultimate arcane power.
- Final Fantasy VII is set in a Crapsack World where the only known government is the evil Mega Corp Shinra, who drains energy from the Earth uses as an energy source, seems to control all forms of mass media, and seems to be the only source of law enforcement. They lose control by the end of the game as most of their executives are dead and their headquarters is destroyed.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, many generations after Squall's time, Sorceress Ultimecia will have conquered the world and annihilated all opposition. Whether the world recovered after she was defeated within the Time Compression, and her final death 13 years before the game's setting, is unknown.
The future world might not be as bad as it is suggested, i.e. the precently fallen corpses of SeeD troops very close to her castle and some clear interior damage to the castle itself that resembles airstrike/artillery fire. We also don't really see anything of the world beyond Ultimecia's castle itself, so how bad the future world really is remains unclear. It doesn't help that it is outright stated that most living people will disappear during Time Compression, leaving only Ultimecia and Squall's team to fight it out in the compressed reality.
- Final Fantasy X's world Spira is gradually revealed to be this. Apart from the problems with the Eldritch Abomination Sin rampaging across the world, there's also the fact the church that effectively rules the planet is shown be a Corrupt Church and the bulk of its leaders are remorseless sociopaths. Undead Sociopaths.
- The beginning of Iji.
- City Of Heroes: Going Rogue - Praetorian Earth, ruled over by the supervillain "Tyrant", is the 'flawed utopia' version of these.
- By the end of Starcraft: Brood War, the Koprulu sector has become this, with the Terran Dominion as the dominant power. In Starcraft II, Zeratul has a vision of an even worse future in which the Terrans and Protoss are hunted to extinction by the Dark Voice and its Hybrids.
- Although it never comes to pass, creating a villain universe is Dr. Nefarious' ultimate goal in Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time.
- In Overlord this is your primary goal, with you as the villain on top, of course. The games' Karma Meter mainly exists for the epilogue to showcase what kind of Villain World you've built.
- The Bad Future from Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky may probably count, where because all of time and space completely stopped, the entire world became consumed by darkness and is now ruled by Primal Dialga, along with his Dragon, Dusknoir and an entire army of Sableyes.
- However, it later turns out that Primal Dialga isn't even the dictator ruling the Bad Future at all! The real dictator of the darkened world actually appears to be Darkrai.
- Mother 3. Dear lord, Mother 3.
- The ending of MadWorld seems to suggest this is the case. The Death Watch games are held usually to shift the world in a new direction, with each major power sending in a different fighter. Thing is, it's also a spectacle sport of gore that really gets played up like modern day Roman Gladiator games turned up to 11. Most everyone involved is a sick monster.
- In The Fairly OddParents "Abra-Catastrophe" movie, Crocker becomes leader of the world halfway through.
- In the movie Shrek Forever After, when Shrek signs a magical contract with Rumplestiltskin, Rumple takes over the entire fairy tale kingdom, putting everyone under his iron fist.
- In Xiaolin Showdown's first season finale, Wuya manages to take over the world, if only for two episodes. As does Chase Young by the end of the second season. There's even a Bad Future where Jack Spicer takes over the world.
- Sonic Sat AM starts with Robotnik having already conquered most of the world. Sonic and friends make up the ragtag rebellion trying to take down Robotnik's uncontrolled industrial pollution and saving a population that's been massively Reforged Into Minions with his machines.
- An abandoned concept for Aladdin has Jafar wishing to not just to be Sultan but to have always been Sultan, resulting in a Crapsack Villain World version of Agrabah. While some allegedly amazing artwork resulted from this, it was ultimately rejected for being "too sci-fi".
- Arguably, Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Fire Nation is very close to finishing their conquest of the world at the start of the series.
- This is the premise of Samurai Jack, a hero who has been sent forward in time by Big Bad Aku, and who tries to find a way back in time to stop the world from becoming what Aku has made it into.
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "Speed Demon" which features the girls time-traveling into a future-Townsville controlled by Him. What Do You Mean It's for Kids??
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 series had "Shredderville" where the team travels to a dimension where they had never existed, and Shredder rules as the (overworked and extremely regretful) emperor of New York. An episode of the 2003 series showed a Bad Future that Shredder ruled, though he was much happier about this fact in this version. Because the 2003 Shredder is a Complete Monster, whereas the 1987 Shredder is a Harmless Villain.
- Also Shredderville was All Just a Dream.
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers had a few of episodes that showed imaginary sequences of one of the villains winning to drive home the consequences of inaction: "Two Futures", which showed the domination of Dr. Blight and Hogg Greedly (due to Wheeler wishing he had never become a Planeteer when it seems he's about to die), "Summit to Save Earth" (where Zarm succeeds in taking over for ten years before the Reset Button is hit), and "Utopia" shows a surreal gang-dominated future ruled by Verminous Skumm.
- The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes cartoon had the tomatoes succeed in world domination at the start of the second season, with the rest of the show dedicated to the heroes now in La Résistance.
- Tiny Toon Adventures had the It's a Wonderful Plot episode that showed without Buster in Acme Acres, Montana Max now rules the town and University with an iron fist.
- Rugrats showed that in a world without Chuckie, Angelica dominates the ruined town as a Villainous Glutton.
- The writers for ReBoot really loved this.
- Done in the two-parter "Identity Crisis" though that ends up being All Just a Dream.
- Done properly somewhere during the "game hopping" arc of season 3, with the heroes returning to find Mainframe under Megabyte's rule, mostly destroyed and on the verge of collapse. A Deus Ex Machina fixes it.
- Done again at the beginning of season 4 where Daemon rules most of the net and Mainframe is its last hope until it too falls. It Gets Better again.
- Possibly done at the very end of season 4 but it ends on a cliffhanger so no one will know for sure.
- The premise of Beast Machines is this, as the Maximals awaken to find themselves on Cybertron under Megatron's control.
- Kim Possible; "A Sitch in Time" has Kim's arch enemy Shego conquer the world with the help of the Tempus Simia.
- Rainbow Brite's Rainbow Land started out as this until Rainbow herself defeated the Evil One.
- In The Emperors New School, a disguised Yzma gets Kuzco to wish he wasn't emperor. The result was... Yzmopolis, her metropolis.
- On Teen Titans the Big Bad of Season 4, Trigon, destroyed the world within ten seconds of arriving on Earth; all water is transformed into lava, all buildings are reduced to blasted ruins, and the Teen Titans are the only people left alive. Needless to say, reversing all that takes quite a bit of doing.
- Phineas and Ferb's Dr. Doofenshmirtz has gotten two of these. The first one comes in "Quantum Boogaloo" in which we see a Bad Future where he has managed to take over. The second comes in The Movie where his "Other-Dimensionator" takes us to an alternate version of Danville in which his alternate self is in charge.
- Admittedly, there is some debate in the fandom about how much of the Bad Future was his fault—society was already falling apart, which allowed Doof to take over.
- The finale of Mighty Max reveals this to be Skullmaster's ultimate plan—using the Cap for a special ceremony that will rewrite history so that he will be the eternal ruler of the world in both the past and future.
- In the first two episodes of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic season two, Discord manages to do this. He effortlessly crushes the mane cast with his mind games and proceeds to use his Reality Warper abilities to turn Equestria into a World Gone Mad/World of Chaos under his rule. To put it in perspective, the fact it's raining chocolate milk is the least crazy thing about it and everypony is Driven to Madness. It's undone via World-Healing Wave when he's beaten.
- Order of the Stick: After the hobgoblins conquer Azure City, they turn it into a mini-Villain World, complete with enslaved humans and adoring banners of their Supreme Leader, Redcloak.
- Homestuck: B2 Earth. Betty Crocker, who is really an alien (ex-) tyrant from another universe serving a time travelling Eldritch Abomination has a much greater grip on this world, to the point of having a multi-global empire and using Paranoia Fuel subliminal messages reminiscent of They Live!. It's eventually revealed that two of the main characters have been living hundreds of years in the future, when she rules openly, and that her reign of terror caused the deaths of billions and the eventual near-extinction of humanity.
- Sluggy Freelance features the Dimension of Pain which is a dimension completely overrun by demons the only relatively good people left are a few spider people called Arachnaseuses who feed off the psychic peace of their ... 'guests'.