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Usually more physical than their boss, and commonly the most trusted member of the bunch. Good for leading Goons, and sometimes the most 'classy' looking.
The Commander is the Big Bad's top enforcer. Some Commanderss are ferocious fighters who leave the heavy thinking to the boss. Others are smart, detail-oriented administrators who oversee the day-to-day running of the evil organization. Either way, defeating the Big Bad almost always requires the hero to overcome the Commander first. A common but by no means universal theme is to have the Commander pose a physical challenge to the hero, while the Big Bad poses a mental or moral challenge.
Sometimes So we have a Big Bad, and he has the Commander. The plot unfolds as our heroes do what heroes do. Laughs are had, tears are shed, and finally they reach the end of their quest.
Somehow along the way, though, they missed the Commander. Then the Commander turns up. He's not The Power Behind the Throne, he just wasn't around when the Big Bad went down. Sometimes there's a reason for it, but sometimes... he's just absent.
The Commander will occasionally reform when confronted by the heroes. If he does so, chances are very good that he will end up killing the Big Bad when the heroes cannot bring themselves to do so; often by joining the villain in death as a final act of redemption.
Sometimes they are The Heavy of the story.
They Come in the following forms:
• Big Bad Duumvirate
You might ask your self what's worse than one Big Bad? Two Big Bads, possibly more, working in intentional collusion with each other. Sometimes they will work together just fine; being all respectful and well, but more often than not there will be rivalries between them, and they will tend to break out into a literal example of a Civil War. Sometimes they are friend other times they are in a romantic relationship what is clear is that both work togeather to complete whatever they want they want to achieve. They are not working attacking one another but instead they are working (sometimes witha silight rivarly) side by side.
• Co Commander
Mr. Big Bad has two or more minions who report directly to him or her, and are regarded as equally dangerous among the other characters. They will usually have distinctive personalities, roles, or skill-sets, or may perform the same job but in different regions, but just like a single Commander would be, they are answerable only to Mr. Big Bad and are significant threats in their own right. However, they don't necessarily have a team dynamic- in fact, they may not interact directly at all. If they do, they'll likely be rivals.
Simply having multiple named Evil Minions does not qualify for this trope. This is a case of several characters being powerful, important, and/or feared enough to claim the role of second-in-command or primary executor of Mr. Big Bad's will at one time. A character who does not serve in these capacities, or regularly takes orders from someone not the Big Bad, does not qualify as a Dragon, even if they're an important villain. Compare and contrast Big Bad Duumvirate, where two characters jointly hold the role of primary villain, rather than just primary minion
• Commander Ascendant
The heroes have defeated the Big Bad, and as they step out of the ashes and rubble, they congratulate themselves on a job well done. Now that the day is saved, they can relax and have a nice evening at home, knowing that the world is once again a safer place.
But wait! The Commander rises from the rubble, filled with determination and a thirst for vengeance. He was loyal to his former master, who may have even been an Evil Mentor. He might even turn out to be worse than his predecessor in terms of how threatning he is and how evil he is.
He may fused some of his bosses remains into his own body following the latter's death, and this act seems to have given him access to his bosses abilities. Which, displaying an absurd level of intelligence, he immediately used to revive and place under his control dozens of extremely powerful deceased enemies(including most of the previous Big Bads, hosts of an Cosmic Abomination, at least 3 Standard Evil Organization Squads, a number of Kages, any dead Main Characters.) making him one of the most powerful people on the planet.
The Commander-in-Chief serves as the de-facto Big Bad of the story. Though he's nominally subordinate to the "real" Big Bad, he's just so much smarter, stronger or skillful (and almost always scarier) that it's clear who's really the bigger menace. He tends to have almost no respect for Mr. Big Bad due to their comparative lack of vision, courage or common sense. Mr. Big Bad, for his part, either seriously or fatally overestimates The Commander's loyalty, or is just too afraid of him to be able to do much. In a nutshell, the Commander-in-Chief is the main villainous driving force behind the plot, even if he or she did not initiate it.
The defining feature of a Commander-in-Chief is that Mr. Big Bad's plans completely fall apart without them; essentially, the main story ends with the Commander's defeat. The Hero turns out to be way too much for Mr. Big Bad to handle, and The Commander is really the only significant threat in his arsenal. Typically, he and The Hero come from the same place, the same (usually violent) world and not the kind of environment in which Mr. Big Bad normally operates. The Commander and The Hero may have heard of each other by reputation, brewing a rivalry between the two. Alternatively, The Hero might have been after The Commander to begin with, such as for revenge for a past misdeed. In either case while Mr. Big Bad might stake all his fortune and dreams in the outcome of the fight, The Commander and The Hero see Mr. Big Bad as nothing more than an annoyance who should stay out of the way. Often Mr. Big Bad's only hope of survival is that these two destroy each other.
Because of their disrespect, there are few straight Commanders amongst Commander-in-Chief: They are either have a different agenda, a more dangerous Treacherous Subordinate, or just a more inevitable ascendant to throne (and don't be surprised if they are fought after Mr. Big Bad's Demise). The Comander with an agenda type will probably be using Mr. Big Bad for his own ends, working as a mercenary to fund his own projects that usually turn out to be much more threatening (or interesting) than Mr. Big Bad's goal.
If one of the other kinds, then they will probably be complaining about how Mr. Big Bad runs things — typically, they think that Mr. Big Bad either lacks ambition, or is just an idiot. These ones are often junior partners in Mr. Big Bad's business: After years of hard (but fun) living as a dangerous felon, he has found himself steady employment with Mr. Big Bad and hopes to take over the business some day or retire on the fortune made from his latest Master Plan. This is when he starts to complain about his unambitious or just plain incompetent way of running things, though Mr. Big Bad might retort that his way is from experience and The Commander's ways will ultimately lead to ruin. Occasionally, their warnings turn out to be right.
The most important thing is that Mr. Big Bad is just not a significant factor if this Commander is gone. This Big Bad must be much more manageable and less dangerous than their underling, or less likely to make a splash. The Commander-in-Chief is either the main villain or the star of the show in his own right, and the actual Big Bad ends up relegated to supporting villain status. The Commander can became the real Big Bad, while the theoretical Big Bad, would be moved to the position of the Evil Genius.
• Commander with an Agenda
A Commander with an Agenda is a character serving as The Commander to the Big Bad, but having different goals from him. For example, if this character encounters the heroes immediately after the death or defeat of his boss, he won't try to complete his master's Evil Plan, but will instead go on to pursue his own plans.
Most commonly, he and the Big Bad have a mutually profitable alliance, and the Big Bad just happens to be the more powerful of the two. If he's also influencing the Big Bad's plans, then he's at the same time the man in front of the man and The Powe Behind the Throne. Commander-in-Chief is when The Commander is actually the more dangerous of the pair, by a significant margin. It is not unknown for him to have taken on service for his own purposes and fooled the Big Bad into thinking he's subordinate.
• My Master, Right Or Wrong
This is when a leader is cruel and, perhaps, incompetent, and the underling obeys him out of adherence to some ideal, while hating every minute of it.
This is mostly used in vaguely medieval settings. In feudalistic structures, more than in others, someone might feel a deep but forced obligation to a certain leader. The underling usually is a minor noble of a warrior caste, a knight or Samurai or such.
To make certain that the public understands that this character is not following out of Blind Obedience or sadism and in fact disagrees, he will get a lot of symphetic moments, appeal to his liege to re-think a decision, beg for the lives of others, angst visibly when he's alone, and try to twist his orders a little if possible. He often doesn't even consider the heroes his enemy and is an honorable opponent. Also, he might be seen as suffering as much under his lord as the next subject, for sympathy points.
They tend to be people who have sworn an oath to unreliable leaders and refuse to break their word. Such characters are prone to Reform because all they need is to broaden their ethic horizon a bit.
• Treacherous Subordinate
In some stories Mr. Big Bad casts a shadow over everyone: They might be afraid of him, they might be his minions, or they might be the heroes trying to defeat him.
A certain type of character falls outside this pattern: a villain too ambitious or individualistic or just too stubborn to accept the supremacy of Mr. Big Bad. Instead, this villain actually has dreams about overthrowing the guy everyone else fears and taking his place, therefore becoming the most dangerous person. He is loyal to no one and only cares about his own needs. Sometimes he is a grudging servant of the Big Bad(If he is The Commander is the most Likely one), sometimes he is entirely outside the established power structure. Either way, if Mr. Big Bad ever stumbles or shows weakness, this Treacherous Subordinate will be there, ready to kick him out of Power or even slay him. Depending on the nature of the character, he may be an over-optimistic fool or someone who might actually be able to pull it off. If the character is powerful enough, our heroes might be forced to try and stop him from toppling the original villain who is responsible for everything. It can be hard to justify why Mr. Big Bad keeps them around, but it may most commonly be so Mr. Big Bad has a reason to always keep his guard up because the reasons vary depending on the story (thus can rest assured that he will become very alert). In some stories he manages to become the main villian, while in others he fails completely.