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A sub-genre of Pyrrhic Villainy where The Bad Guy Wins yet the win is short-lived as something bad happens which renders everything he's done up to that point useless.

Examples of Meaningless Villain Victory include:

Comic books

  • Watchmen (comics). Veidt's ends the Cold War by faking an alien invasion (that kills millions of people). Everyone who learn his plan discover too late to stop him. On the other hand, it's not clear if the false peace would last, and Rorschach's journal could reveal the conspiracy to the public.

Animated films

  • The movie of the eponymous Megamind begins with him finally killing Metro Man. He then realizes that Victory Is Boring and decides to create a new hero to fight.
  • Cars ends with Chick Hicks winning the Piston Cup but only after everyone saw him cause a fellow racer to crash.
  • Kung Fu Panda, Tai Lung does get the Dragon Scroll but finds out that it's blank. Or rather, it has a mirrored surface to show the reader that the true power lies in yourself.

Live action films

  • The Maltese Falcon ends with the bad guys getting their hands on the titular gilded statue that's supposed to be painted to look like lead. Except it was lead. The bad guys don't believe this and suppose that what they gave us a fake and vow to continue looking for the bird.
  • The Indiana Jones films always has this. The villain always gets the MacGuffin, only for it to be revealed as an Artifact of Death that kills them.
  • In The Godfather part 2, Michael destroys his enemies but finds out that his wife Kaye had their unborn baby aborted so she won't give birth to another of his sons. With their marriage in tatters, they divorce shortly after and Michael is left alone.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, Barbosa becomes human again like he wanted but Jack Sparrow kills him shortly after.


  • A season 2 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has her meeting an old friend who joined a vampire cult because he was dying of a terminal disease. He gets what he wants and becomes a vampire but she kills him as he rises from the grave.
  • Game of Thrones
    • Season 6 ends like this for House Frey. Lord Walder celebrates the downfall of Houses Tully and Stark, not knowing that Sansa Stark and Jon Snow have retaken the North. Arya Stark then kills him and all the men in the family.
    • House Lannister is the master of this trope. Every time it wins, something else happens which undermines their victory and leaves them weaker than before. Not that this bothers Lord Tywin or Queen Cersei.
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