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A series linked by a recurring villain. The heroes and the locations may change or be dropped, but the central link remains the villain. The villain is frequently the Big Bad of the franchise and most or all of its installments, though this doesn't have to be the case to qualify for the trope.
Not the same as a series with a Villain Protagonist. Each installment may introduce a whole new set of heroes, but they may still be the protagonists.
Very popular with Slasher Movies, probably because the heroes can die off in the end without ruining the series. Often though, the villain will appear to die at the end, to allow closure to the series if another one is not made. The End - or Is It? ending optional.
- Magic: The Gathering has, for the last three years, had Nicol Bolas behind practically everything: The reunion of Alara, the rise of the Eldrazi, and he even dispatched his agent Tezzeret to aid the Phyrexians in overtaking Mirrodin.
- And before that, the first ten years of the game (well, once a storyline developed) featured the Phyrexians, the wars they created, and the aftermath of their invasion (to the point that the ultimate Big Bad of the Odyssey/Onslaught story actually traveled to the ruins of Phyrexia and met what remained of Yawgmoth the Machine-God). Then again several years later for the Time Spiral block. Then yet again as secondary villains for the Mirrodin Besieged block. They have about fifteen years worth of storyline, while their most constant adversaries (the crew of the Weatherlight) lasted only four.
- The Tomb of Dracula comic, of course.
- While Darkhell doesn't appears in all episodes of Les Legendaires, he is still present in a lot of them, and the plot is almost always related to him: the other villains are usually connected to him (Skroa), attempt to use devices created by him (Ceyderom) or have a fight with him (Anathos). Even now that he finally died, new Big Bad Abyss has been created by him and considers himself as his heir.
- The Predator and Alien vs. Predator movies. (the Alien franchise counts, but not the movie series due to Ripley)
- The Friday the 13 th series featuring Jason Voorhees. The first movie did not feature Jason as the killer, but his crazy mom instead.
- The A Nightmare on Elm Street series featuring Freddy Krueger.
- The Halloween series featuring Michael Myers.
- Averted by the third movie, which was hated by critics and fans alike.
- The Child's Play series featuring Chucky.
- The titular Living Dead are the only common link in the Romero/Russo Zombie Apocalypse movies.
- Godzilla, on the occasions that he's a villain.
- Dracula, with a host of books and movies based off the bloodsucking fiend.
- The Phantasm series featuring the Tall Man.
- Though the heroes return as well . . . sort of
- The Maniac Cop trilogy featuring Matt Cordell.
- The Psycho Cop duology with Joe Vickers.
- The Leprechaun series with the titular character.
- The Hellraiser films eventually became one with Pinhead.
- The sequels of original Prom Night tried to become one with Mary-Lou Maloney. She was dropped from the fourth movie.
- The Ring, especially in Japan.
- The Stepfather films with Jerry Blake.
- Shocker featuring Horace Pinker was an attempt to create one, but low sales ended these plans.
- The Warlock trilogy featuring the titular character.
- The Saw Franchise. It's the same villain for the first several, then his apprentices take his place.
- The lesser-known Sleepaway Camp series.
- Disney Villains.
- Also, most animated Disney films that failed at the box office will inevitably become this. For example, when The Black Cauldron failed, the Horned King became the only character from the film to ever appear in the merchandise.
- Although One Hundred and One Dalmatians did fine at the box office, this has definitely happened with Cruella de Vil. Since the original release of the animated film, she's become a Breakout Character. When the live-action films came along, Cruella de Vil was treated as the starring role, with Glenn Close's name written in big letters on all the posters, and she basically became the central character. There's also a Broadway musical, and again Cruella (played by Rachel York) was treated as the starring role.
- The Night of the Demons films with Angela.
- The Doctor Mabuse series is one of The Oldest Ones in the Book, starting before talkies.
- The Night of the Living Dummy series from the Goosebumps books.
- Hannibal Lecter, who became more and more the protagonist as new books came out, though he suffered from Badass Decay.
- Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu series -- sure, Fu's nemesis Nayland Smith was in all of them, but who got title billing?
- Fantomas, from the series of French pulp novels writen by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre (and later by Allain alone after Souvestre's death) starting in 1911.
- A lot of the Old Republic era of the Star Wars Expanded Universe is linked by the Sith. In recent years, practically every villain in every era has been a Sith.
- Diablo is based upon its title demon lord.
- Castlevania games are linked by its main villain Dracula. This even extends to the Sorrow Games, which are set in the future after Drac's Final Death. Who is the player character? His reincarnation!
- With the exception of the fourth game (though they still influence the plot to a degree), Resident Evil centers around the Umbrella Corporation and its successors.
- The Overlord series. It's in the title. Even then, the Overlords range from degrees of evilness, with the canon ones being more benevolent tyrants, though there's always incredible Kick the Dog acts in the game.
- The heroes asking the question cycles depending on the series, but they're always asking the question "Where in |the World/America/Time/Hell/etc.| is Carmen Sandiego?"
- Possibly Silent Hill, if a place can be a villain.
- Though just Villain Named Franchise (all games star Samus, after all): both Metroid (a really dangerous alien species) and Metroid Prime (though it gets a new name and a new look in the second installment). Perhaps you could say that from their point of view, Samus is the villain.
- This goes under Antagonist Title.
- In one way or another, the main stories of the Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting series seem to revolve around Geese Howard. By the time King of Fighters 2002 UM comes around, he's also present in that as a secret boss, out-bossing a considerable cast of SNK bosses. Also, in Capcom Vs SNK, Geese is ratio 6 when fought as a boss, since you fight him twice as ratio 3, when the highest a character goes in the game, Gouki as a secret character, is ratio 4.
- Command and Conquer Tiberium revolves around Kane.
- Super Robot Wars is so named because the villains in the games start these, with the good guys having to end them.
- Every Kingdom Hearts game in the Xehanort Saga (essentially, every game released between Kingdom Hearts 1-3) is linked by the same mysterious evil figure who just won't stay dead.
- The MOTHER/Earthbound series is a special case. None of the heroes ever return, but the Big Bad from the first one reappears in the next one, in which a Dragon for him is introduced. The third one then features only The Dragon from the second one, since the original Big Bad was killed in the second game. A couple of characters (how many exactly depends on the player) from the second game appear, though, and Ness, the hero from it, is referenced a lot.
- Doctor Wily of Mega Man is one of these. His declaring world domination pushes Rock to undergo the change to Mega Man. Wily is also nfluencing events long after his life thanks to his hand in the creation of the Maverick Virus.
- The When They Cry series centers around its villains, many of them as the result of progressing insanity. Also an example of a Villain Protagonist, not that the characters themselves realize it until its too late.
- The Slender Man Mythos. Many authors, many situations, 1(?) Humanoid Abomination.
- Heck, Creepypastas in general.
- Each season of Code Lyoko has a plot that focuses almost entirely on XANA's schemes, attacks and evolution. Which is kinda ironical considering he is never actually seen or heard in person.