Designated Villain

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days."

William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act I, Sc. i.

A Big Bad is a common driving force behind conflict in stories, so it makes natural sense to write one in. But villainy requires villainous a villain who doesn't really perform those is a bit hard to swallow.

If one is written in anyway, the result is a character who is treated as a bad guy by the plot, despite never actually doing anything as to justify the amount of hate that they receive from the good guys. Any astute arguments and observations by this character are to be dismissed by the audience, because they are Obviously Evil, just as the Designated Hero is regarded as 'good' despite having no significant virtues.

In fact, this may only prove a character a Jerkass, especially in regards to the protagonist. This isn't a case of a deliberately over-the-top villain, it's a personification of being an ass for its own sake. That being said, there are cases where just being a jerk can qualify one for being the antagonist by itself.

Alternately, it might be a character that could fall under Hero Antagonist... except, since they're an antagonist, they can't possibly be on the side of good. Keep in mind that antagonists and villains are very different things.

Compare and contrast Designated Hero, Poke the Poodle, Villain Ball Magnet, and Villainy-Free Villain. Compare with Plot Irrelevant Villain, who does have legitimate acts of villainy but those are mostly irrelevant for plot purposes. Also see What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?. Not to be confused with Designated Evil.

Not to be confused with Offstage Villainy, which is where the bad guy did bad things... but not on screen.

Please note that Tropes Are Not Bad, as this can sometimes be done on purpose to add more shades of grey to a story, or to show that the heroes are not completely perfect.

Examples of Designated Villain include:

Media in General

  • In most movies about saving the old theater, school, ball field, etc, the villain is someone who wants to tear down this location to put their own business there, a completely legal and understandable (if somewhat tragic for the protagonists) way to make a living. Often they're corrupt or try to achieve their goal of obtaining the property through dishonest or illegal means, but sometimes the movie has no other way to paint them as an outright villain than to make them kind of a jerk.
  • Similarly, landlords (or bankers, etc.) get this treatment simply for demanding that protagonists pay them the money they're rightfully owed or vacate the premises. If the "creditor" figure is not outright portrayed as a jerk or involved in some underhanded scheme, they still get painted as "fabulously wealthy landowner being merciless and unforgiving to characters' hardships."

Anime and Manga

  • About halfway through the anime Fafner in The Azure Dead Aggressor, it seems that the writers realized that they made their Designated Hero Hidden Elf Village too unlikable, and the alternative, the U.N. backed "Human Army", too sympathetic in trying to survive against the Cosmic Horror threat. Sweeping changes were made in personalities to ensure that the audience knew who was right and who was wrong.
  • Dinosaur Ryuzaki (Rex Raptor) from Yu-Gi-Oh is more of a "villain by proxy", as his best friend is the downright rotten Insector Haga (Weevil Underwood). He is shown helping Jonouchi on occasion, and is more just a jerk than an actual villain, but ends up selling his soul for power in the Doma arc anyway.
  • King Gurumes, the villain of the first Dragon Ball movie. He ruled his land with tyranny because he became addicted to blood rubies. So Goku and his friends try to stop the evil king from gathering the dragon balls and making his "terrible wish" of wishing himself free of the blood ruby hunger...which would solve the problem itself!
  • Donan Cassim in Fang of the Sun Dougram. Sure, the reason why he's so determined to keep the colony planet a part of the Earth Federation is that he wants to use the manpower and technology to develop two nearby mineral-rich planets and save an exhausted Earth, but he's still evil. At some point, the authors realized that he's a little too sympathetic and installed his aide as the Big Bad instead.
  • Naruto is this in a scene in the third movie. After Hikaru wants Naruto to be his slave, he justifiably says no. In response, Hikaru hits Naruto with a toy arrow. That is when Naruto finally decides to lightly punch him. However, Sakura hears Hikaru's crying and not only punches Naruto, but ties him up and starves him until he apologizes.
  • Luc displays an odd case of this in the Suikoden III Manga, where he goes to considerable effort to hide the fact that he's trying to save the world (through mass genocide, but still). When the hero finds this out, he even rants about not needing sympathy for his actions. He was a Jerkass even when he was a good guy.
  • Clair Leonelli in Heat Guy J. First, he starts off as a puppy-kicker with Joker Immunity, then inexplicably disappears for a while. Then, when he comes back still holding the Villain Ball, another Designated Villain grabs the Villain Ball, and Clair goes into an Angst Coma. When he comes out of the coma, he has a Heel Face Turn and is now an Anti-Hero, and the real Big Bad (whom we, until a few episodes ago, thought was Clair) reveals himself. In the manga, he belongs in the first category above; all he does is Kick the Dog for the sake of kicking the dog.
  • Star Driver has a bit of this. Yes, the Glittering Crux Brigade kidnapped the maiden to allow them to summon giants to Earth for some reason that probably involves fighting, since we never see anything else happen, but when they aren't wearing their masks, they're pretty nice guys. Even the leader of Adult Bank, President, who is a schoolgirl wife who kisses men other than her husband through the glass because her husband is never around - Openly! Like, in class! - only has a massive boat to live in, not because she's uber rich and spoiled, but because she's pretty sure that volcanoes will explode when they succeed, and wants to evacuate everyone off the island, so no one dies. After asking why else she would possibly have such a thing, both of her subordinates - who give her drinks and massages whenever she wants - simply stare at her, bewildered.
  • The Computer Club President from Haruhi Suzumiya could be considered this. Yes, he cheated in the RTS game, but it was only to get back the computer that Haruhi essentially stole via some rather cruel blackmail.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles (the anime), Faldio's "villainhood" is very poorly executed. He saves everyone's lives with his desperate gamble in activating Alicia, but gets only grief and reproach from everyone, even himself - though nobody ever suggests a possible alternative to his course of action. That Alicia survives to live happily ever after, whereas Faldio has an ignominious death off-scene, compounds the problem. Many fans of the game hate his prominence in the anime *anyway*, so they're likely not to care.
  • This is ultimately what Lelouch's Zero Requiem aims for in Code Geass. With Lelouch deliberately making himself the focal point of the world's hatred, and with his death, usher in the better world his sister always hoped for.
  • The official Touhou Project manga Forbidden Scrollery has the very infamous case of the Fortune Teller, a man from the Human Village who turned himself into a youkai and was presumably killed by Reimu for this reason alone, as it is apparently considered the greatest sin a human can commit. Apart from that, he didn't do anything reprehensible, his only crime was being a pro-human advocate in a world that caters to the needs of the youkai (who generally treat humans as their playthings and their food), and even when taking Deliberate Values Dissonance into account, human magic users voluntarily turning into magicians (also a type of youkai) were never considered a problem, so condemning him for virtually the same thing seems very arbitrary.

Comic Books

Fan Works

  • My Immortal:
    • Anyone who opposed Ebony.
    • Dumbledore is apparently a very mean and cruel teacher who tortures Ebony for being gothic. He was rightfully angered to see her having sex in the middle of the forest. He laughed at Draco being kidnapped by Voldemort, but you have to admit, it was pretty hilarious.
    • Britney. She's this and a Butt Monkey. Preps in general are treated as monsters, despite not even doing anything mean.
  • Generally common in Harry Potter fics that try to portray Dumbledore as a cruel, manipulative man (as opposed to the benevolent manipulative man he is in canon). Often times, the author cannot be bothered to figure out what Dumbledore's big plan is, resulting in him coming across as manipulating the main characters purely for the sake of manipulating them. Or at least trying to, since, invariably, despite Harry having no clue of Dumbledore's malevolent intentions for however far into the series the fic takes place, he is suddenly painfully transparent and Harry or our new Mary Sue can avoid his manipulations with ease.
  • For Your Eyes Only: Sakura largely the result of Die for Our Ship. She's labeled as a "slut", even though she does nothing more than brush off Naruto. And when she gets killed by Sasuke, no one mourns her death.
    • Sakura gets this alot to the point people makes her parents evil just because.
  • Naruto fan fics in general seem to make all of the Uchiha Clan evil and jerkasses, simply because the readers dislike Sasuke. So they think Itachi was right to kill every single baby, non-ninja, or elderly member of the entire clan. Simply because one member is a bit of a Jerkass, his entire genetic family tree must be like this and deserves to be wiped out to make space for the recently powered-up Naruto.
    • The situation is a bit more complex than this because in canon, every adult member of the Uchiha Clan other than Itachi—most especially including the elders[1] -- actually was a traitor to the village and plotting murder and revolution. (Furthermore, are there non-ninja Uchihas? They are a bloodline clan, after all. Everybody with the right genes would be expected to use them in ninja service). You're entirely correct about 'what, so Sasuke was the only child then?'
  • Most of the antagonists in Christian Humber Reloaded. If you're not familiar with the source material, they hardly seem evil compared to Vash, since apart from marshaling their forces to attack the good guys, their canon misdeeds are rarely described in detail. This especially goes for one group of "snobs" that Vash attacks, killing thousands and doing trillions of dollars worth of damage in the course of doing so. And while there is no apparent reason for this, they are apparently meant to be seen as evil enough to deserve it.
  • How I Became Yours.:
    • Poor, poor Mai in the infamous fic. True, she does one legitimately villainous thing: killing Katara's baby through poisoned fruit, as opposed to Designated Heroes Katara and Zuko who really have nothing to back up their "hero" status. However, she is right when she hides Katara's letters and eventually confronts Zuko about them, and is truly sad when Zuko tells her that he never loved her. Then Katara kills her. With bloodbending. In the middle of the day.
    • Oh, and the healthy glow [dead link] was removed from her skin, just in case we needed help deciphering who is evil in this comic.
  • Orochimaru and Madara in Naruto Veangance Revelaitons don't come off nearly as badly as Ronan does. Even though Madara has quite a few Kick the Dog moments (using slave labor to harvest rice and eating the people whose work isn't good), at least he hasn't had people put to death for liking modern music. Edfred in particular stands out, since he is supposed to be seen as a jerk for not liking Ronan for assaulting him, but the fanbase likes him for actually standing up to Ronan.
  • Final Stand of Death has Marilyn Manson as this, given his track record.

Films -- Animated

  • The hyenas in The Lion King are clearly not on the side of the protagonists and not exactly the nicest of people. But...that's largely the fault of the heroes themselves. Given a chance to actually have something to eat, the hyenas are completely loyal until they are betrayed. Before Scar, they were essentially banished to a barren wasteland. The only thing against them is that according to Nala due to some Offscreen Villainy because let the Hyenas take over the land it's a barren wasteland like there territory was.
    • Well, there's the bit where they're introduced threatening Simba, and Mufasa spares their lives despite this after trouncing them a bit. They then eagerly sing and dance while looking forward to another chance to kill both Simba and Mufasa, so, y'know, the hyenas really are pretty evil.
  • Percy in Pocahontas is designated as a villain simply by being the pet of Ratcliffe. Although Ratcliffe is a racist, genocidal maniac, Percy is actually a pretty decent dog. While aloof, he certainly isn't arrogant, and he doesn't attack anyone without any provocation. He just seems content with staying in the ship and enjoying his well-off, carefree life. Then, Meeko bursts in and steals his food for no reason other than to be a Troll. And then it all goes downhill from there.
  • Vincent the bear in Over the Hedge. On screen, the only thing he does is make RJ replace the food that he lost because he was stealing it. He makes a monologue about a bunch of Offscreen Villainy, but without that, he's really just trying to survive.
  • Megamind is this in-universe - everybody were always seeing him as nothing but trouble and his attempts to blend in and get friends backfired. His main motivation of being a villain is that everybody thinks of him as one already, so why not play along? He later learns he doesn't have to be what people want him to.
  • In Asterix and the Vikings, the villain has only one Kick the Dog moment (against the wangsty and relatively unsympathetic Justforkix) but otherwise isn't particularly evil or villainous, his grand scheme simply being to outwit a bunch of dumb vikings. He's clearly more civilized and competent than his intended victims, who, true to viking tradition, attack a town in the opening scene and keep the skulls of their victims all over the place.

Films -- Live-Action

  • The Wizard (film):
    • It has two villains: one is a true villain type - a jerk kid (Lucas) who goes against the heroes in the big video game contest; the other is a guy (Putnam) who tracks down runaway kids for a living, but everyone accuses him of somehow exploiting the kids. Given that he has an attitude and uses tactics more befitting of a child abductor than a professional private detective, there could be some off-screen truth to it.
    • He also actively tries to prevent Sam (the two boys' father) from finding them first just so he can collect the reward. At one point, he slashes the man's tires. Certainly doesn't justify all of Sam's interactions with him (such as trying to run him over later), but Putnam was hardly just some well-meaning authority figure caught up in a misunderstanding. The guy could actually be considered an in-universe Designated Hero.
  • Somewhat lampshaded in Tin Cup where it's stated that no decent person could hate children, dogs, or the elderly, so the love interest's Jerkass boyfriend, Don Johnson, chews out a child, an old man, and a dog in a single line of dialogue.
  • Sgt. Doberman from the 1970s love letter to anarchy, Over the Edge. His shooting of a teenager in the film is considered a Moral Event Horizon - and subsequently, his murder by anonymous teenagers is presented as a good thing - ignoring that the stupid kid was pointing a gun at him and screaming "Die, pig!!"[2] Doberman didn't know the gun wasn't loaded, but the movie plainly doesn't care about that plot point and drops it rather quickly. 70s audiences no doubt were horrified, but modern audiences might instead feel relieved that the Sergeant took this moron out before he could get the chance to breed.
  • Twister:
    • Jonas and his "evil, tornado-chaser crew". Jonas used to be a "pure" tornado chaser, then he got corporate sponsors and a fleet of black SUVs. He also has a duplicate of the main characters' "Dorothy" system, which he rightly claims credit for building. Bill (a guy who had given up tornado chasing to get a job as a TV weatherman) even assaults Jonas while he's talking to reporters, and gets angry when Jonas snidely asks how his new gig is going. This motivates Bill to abandon his fiancee and team up with his ex-wife and her crew. Bill also looks down on Jonas because he relies on technology and not instinct in order to predict tornadoes. So, if you can't sense the weather like Bill, you're a fraud, because, apparently, the whole point of tornado chasing isn't scientific research... And at the end, Jonas gets killed by a tornado. Um...yay?
    • This is made even worse because Bill and Jonas have the exact same goal - using the Dorothy system to gain valuable scientific data that could lead to better tornado warning systems that could save lives. Not only that, Jonas does not once use evil means to achieve these ends. There's no difference between Bill and Jonas ... except that Jonas is a a big fat meanie to Bill.
  • High School Dean Edward R. Rooney in Ferris Buellers Day Off is presented as a villain, even though it is his job to enforce school rules. The film makes him rather crazy about his job, resorting to breaking and entering, to make him the villain.
    • It also makes it clear that his problem with Ferris is more a personal one than a professional one, and rather than trying to get Ferris back into school for his own good, declares gleefully that he intends to "put one hell of a dent in [Ferris's] future".
      • Ferris has committed frequent and serious enough offenses to legitimately be a candidate for expulsion, so we cannot fairly fault the principal for intending to expel him. As for his obvious personal satisfaction at the thought of busting Ferris -- while it is a definite character flaw on the principal's part that he is getting this personally involved in the issue for reasons of personal spite, it still does not automatically make him wrong about the justness of Ferris' attempted expulsion. Indeed, the dissonance between 'is not likeable to the audience' and 'is not ethically wrong on the issue' is what this trope is about.
  • The disaster film Meteor had an American general be portrayed in a bad light for objecting to Russians getting access to a top secret American command center during the height of the Cold War. Straw Man Has a Point.
  • Mrs Tingle in Teaching Mrs. Tingle is really the only sensible and likable character. Most of the movie involves the jerkass protagonist and her friends trying to torture and murder her because she accused the protagonist of cheating when she had every reason to believe that the protagonist had, in fact, been cheating. The movie also heavily implies that Trudy, the protagonist's competitor for the stipendium, deserves to be killed merely for being studious.
  • Dr. Jarret in Man's Best Friend is an interesting case of this. He is performing unethical & illegal research on animals (bad) and he created the genetically engineered killer dog that causes all the trouble in the movie (also bad, but keep reading). His purpose was to build the ultimate guard dog after his wife and child were killed; he figured it would be a good product to sell. He also kept Max on a strict regiment of drugs designed to keep him from going berserk and insane. When the Designated Hero steals Max from the laboratory, the police and others don't seem too interested in taking Dr. Jarret seriously, despite the fact that he has explained that his dog is a ticking time-bomb that's ready to explode in a shower of mayhem...He made the monster, but he kept it under control, and it was only due to the acts of others that it escaped and was able to kill people. And we're supposed to believe that he's bad.
  • The human villains in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (the movie, not the book of the same name but a completely different plot) have this trait specifically so that their arguments can be dismissed. While they were shown to be quite ruthless when dealing with the dinosaurs, the Designated Heroes were directly or indirectly responsible for every human death in the movie. The 'villains' keep going out of their way to save the protagonists' lives, while the 'heroes' continue to heckle and sabotage them. While a Tyrannosaurus is rampaging through the hunter group, the leader suddenly finds out that one of the heroes stole the bullets from his gun. They're even partly responsible for the Tyrannosaurus rampage in San Diego. The villains wouldn't have even considered bringing it to the mainland until the heroes released all of the herbivores they had captured already, forcing them to take the T-Rex to cover their losses, which were all caused by the heroes.
The film also falls headfirst into Straw Man Has a Point. The antagonists are supposed to be evil because they claim that the dinosaurs were property of the local Mega Corp, when that's exactly what they are; they wouldn't even exist if they hadn't been deliberately created, which also nicely shatters the protagonists' argument that they should be left alone to live naturally, nature having nothing to do with it. A clear example of the "villains" being more like jerks than actually evil people.
A Deleted Scene would have thrown the Designated Villain trope out the window and thrown the movie into Grey and Gray Morality, showing the Great White Hunter character (who never does anything immoral in the rest of the movie besides wanting to hunt a T-Rex) defend a waitress from sexual harassment by beating the ever-loving crap out of the drunk idiots harassing her. Thus, Designated Villain happens by 'accident' by film-makers who had hoped to avoid it. The audience probably would have rooted for the Great White Hunter - much of them already did.
  • In the "Kick the Can" segment of the Twilight Zone film, the apparent villain is a man whose only concern is for the welfare of a bunch of octogenarians who shouldn't be engaging in physically strenuous activity. How's he supposed to know that it's really magic at work that will keep them safe?
  • The villain of the 1996 made-for-TV horror movie The Beast is Schuyler Graves. He's the bad guy because: 1) He's richer than the hero, and 2) He has a less manly first name.
  • Parodied in Mystery Team with Old Man McGinty.
  • The Hannah Montana movie's villain was a land-developer who wanted to pave an empty field to build a mall. Todd in the Shadows pointed out that a mall would actually have greatly boosted the economy of the town, attracted more people (such as tourists or prospective home-buyers—which would have also improved economy) and that the guy wants to pave an empty field that has no real use. Yet we're supposed to think that the guy is scum just because he's a land developer in a kid's movie.
  • Alpha Bitch Tess and the rival camp, Camp Star, in Camp Rock 2.
  • The Machines in The Matrix become this in the fluff. It turns out that their "genocide" of humanity was an act of self defense after humanity randomly decided to become bent on destroying them, unprovoked, purely out of prejudice. And this was after humans had used them as routinely abused slave labor for years.
  • Christmas with the Kranks places the Kranks at the same level as Ebenezer Scrooge simply because their only flaw in the movie is that they do not want to celebrate the commercialism of Christmas for one year.
  • In Patch Adams, anyone who expects Adams to conform is an antagonist. Adams's nonconformity includes practicing medicine without a license, stealing from a hospital, and ignoring background history.[3] is bad, it causes people to die. No one specifically calls him out on those three, but they call him out on other things which are also good reasons for Adams to conform.
    • Adams' roommate (played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is particularly bad for this. The audience is expected to hate him because he's a stick in the mud and insufferably smug, but it's clear he tries earnestly to get good grades and we can understand why he might feel jealous of Patch (who gets the highest grades in the class without studying at all). He accuses Patch of cheating on his tests, and since we never see him study (whenever he's with the other med students, he just goofs off while they try to work), it does seem suspect for Adams to have such high grades. We can also understand why having a roommate as annoying as Patch might make one a little snippy, especially when the guy disrupts your tests by cracking jokes.
  • Another example involving Robin Williams' movies, Second Lieutenant Steven Hauk in Good Morning Vietnam is considered a bad guy because... he has bad taste in music? He may prefer to adhere to strict Army guidelines in terms of humor and music programming, viewing Cronauer as an unorthodox upstart, but then, that is what he's supposed to do. Indeed, when Cronauer's style proves popular, he does nothing to stop it until Cronauer truly breaks the rules.
    • Sergeant Major Phillip Dickerson, too. Maybe he could be considered slightly worse than Hauk seeing as he's abusive to subordinates in general, but even when he has the authority to throw Cronauer in the brig for aiding a terrorist, he shows leniency by offering an honorable discharge and a warning.


  • Author Peter David, in his Star Trek: New Frontier novels, uses Jellico (now promoted to Admiral) as a recurring character. For most of the series, he remains a Designated Villain to the pseudo-Military Maverick main character, Captain Mackenzie Calhoun. Then, after a Time Skip, he's informed that Calhoun is missing and presumed dead. The reader is clearly supposed to expect Jellico to not be particularly upset by this...until it's revealed that some time during the Time Skip, the two had resolved their differences and were now close friends.
  • Jill in The Girl Who Owned a City. Her arguments in favor of voting and collectivism seem rather reasonable, but are dismissed in favor of the Mary Sue objectivist main character.
  • For those who wonder what Clifford Simak was up to before writing Skirmish, seek out an old work known as The Goblin Reservation. Offstage Villainy is taken to the greatest extreme ever seen, with a single remark about rumors of atrocities combined with a hideous appearance being enough to condemn the entire species of the Wheelers as Exclusively Evil. To top it off, we find out towards the end that the Wheelers were a former slave race who Turned Against Their Masters, but said masters are never shown in anything other than a positive light.
  • Before The Worm Ouroboros decided to ditch its framing device, the viewpoint character is guided around by a talking marlet, who identifies many of the main characters and pours a ton of adjectival condemnation on the villains. This is before they've done anything. Lessingham dryly concludes that "A fiery politician is my marlet", and resolves to make up his own mind on things. He and the marlet are never referred to again. As it turns out, the villains aren't much different from the heroes and certainly don't deserve titles like "the children of night everlasting". This is an odd example because the author seems to quite like them.
  • Deliberately invoked in Typewriter in the Sky, L. Ron Hubbard's Deconstruction of swashbucklers. The protagonist of the story is the antagonist of the story-within-a-story, but does his best to subvert the author's wishes. Even the editor can't tell who's supposed to be the good guy, so he forces a bit of rewriting and, among other things, has the newly revisioned baddie attempt I Have You Now, My Pretty on the heroine.
  • Twilight:
    • Technically, she's not a villain, but Leah is considered to be a bitter, shrewish harpy who is usually ignored and dumped on. Turns out, the reason she's bitter is because her fiance was essentially brainwashed into loving her cousin and everyone blames her for being upset over this all while she has to listen to her former fiance's thoughts on his True Love for her cousin. Edward threatens to kick her over a river because she yells at Bella for stringing Jacob (who she sees as a friend later) along. Add in the fact that she is one of the few characters who actively tries to better herself and move on after losing a significant other (and her father dies after seeing her shape-shift), it's kind of hard to see why readers are supposed to dislike her.
    • This happens a lot in the Twilight series, in no small part thanks to Meyer's tendency to tell, rather than show what's going on in the narrative. For example, at one point in the first novel, Edward calls Mike Newton "vile"'s been shown as being nothing but nice? Bella's internal monologue and opinion of other people is often entirely at odds with what is going on around her, and every male except for Edward and Jacob is baselessly demonized at some point.
    • Particularly jarring is Bella's view on her father. In every other series, this might be brushed aside because she'd be considered an Unreliable Narrator or it would be normal teenager behaviour, but in this case, we are supposed to see Charlie as the mean old guy who grounds Bella and just doesn't understand how much she needs Edward. This is after Bella starting to distance him immediately after she started dating Edward, ran away from home because she 'broke up' with him, was stalked by him across states, was severely injured in very suspicious fashions, after which she immediately decided to get back to Edward's side, was abandoned by Edward in the woods, became catatonic and suicidal, ran away from home AGAIN, to a different country, because Edward threatened suicide on her.
    • Even people Bella allegedly gets along with act as Designated Villains if they're not vampires. Jessica, one of the first friends Bella made, is regularly considered to be a False Friend in Bella's mental commentary; Jessica, who was nothing but nice to Bella when they first met, instantly and repeatedly forgave Bella blowing her off again and again for the first supernatural pretty boy to waltz by, and generally appears to like Bella except during her blatantly insane phase in New Moon, despite Bella's ceaselessly condescending view of her. It never once occurs to Bella that any distance that develops between her and Jessica is due to Bella being a complete parasite that only acts friendly to Jessica when she wants something from her; Bella's first flirtations with deliberately endangering herself to hallucinate about Edward's voice also put Jessica in danger, and Bella is resentful and offended when Jessica starts keeping her distance for the rest of the book!
    • In fact, nearly all of the human characters are demonised in this book. It is an over-arching theme of the books that humanity is flawed and weak, and must be cast off. Supernatural creatures, no matter how antagonistic they may be, are always described in positive terms, and Meyer elevates the vampires to God-like statuses, describing members of the Cullen family as 'young god' and 'avenging angel'. Bella decides that she wants to become a vampire nine days after knowing about their existence, and instantly drops all of her human ties. She not only condescends to her friends, but she jeers about her parents behind their backs. All interaction she has with them are for specific, selfish interests, like getting herself out of trouble, or seducing someone for information. Thanks to the bland narrative, Bella actually displays more signs of sociopathy than the stalking, abusive, genocidal Edward.
    • Well, Rosaline is demonized despite being a Cullen....but that's because she's the only Cullen who dares to not love Bella, thus making her the Black Sheep.
  • Mr Rochester's wife, Bertha Mason, could be Jane Eyre's only real Designated Villain, because she is the main reason why Jane and Mr Rochester cannot be together. However, she was insane and her erratic behaviour came from what spread in her family and Mr Rochester locked her up for ten years in the third story room with no one to see but a maid. One cannot help but pity her.
  • Similar to the Leah example, Kayla in The House of Night makes a whopping two appearances and is promptly branded a man-stealing jealous bitch by Zoey as a result. Kayla's crime, really, is hooking up with Heath after Zoey tells her several times, in no uncertain terms, that she's broken up with him. In Betrayed, Zoey acts like Kayla was being horribly spiteful and irrational in going to the police after witnessing Zoey drinking Heath's blood, and then having Zoey threaten to do the same to her. To really hammer this point in, Zoey's friends (who never even met Kayla before) begin referring to her as "skank-bitch Kayla" after learning that she went to the police.
  • Although it's probably not very nice to pick at a story written by a 12-year old, critics of Swordbird by Nancy Yi Fan have complained that the main villain isn't really evil, just annoying.
  • In the Fairy Tale "The Wonderful Musician", the wolf, fox, and hare don't actually do anything to harm the protagonist until he tricks and humiliates them because he wanted a human companion, not an animal. Then they come after him.
  • Done deliberately in Rosso Malpelo, a novel written by Giovanni Verga. In fact, the child miner protagonist is portrayed by the narrator (who embodies the Sicilian mentality of the nineteenth century) as a malicious and bad bully...due to his red hair. However, it is made pretty clear that Malpelo is just a poor Jerkass Woobie, brutalized by the cruel society where he lives, who sometimes even borders on a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, especially when he interacts with his ill friend, Ranocchio. (And no, this is not a case of Villainy-Free Villain: all the other characters, with the exception of his father and Ranocchio, are far bigger jerks than him, if not outright evil).
  • Michael Crichton's Timeline features a Jerkass corporate executive Robert Doniger whose quantum teleportation experiments kickstart the plot. He supports all possible safeguards for his technology, all accidents and disasters are caused by people refusing to follow his orders, and he does everything in his power to help the protagonists. As thanks for this, they murder him at the end by sending him back in time to die of the Black Plague. For being a jerk.
  • Even if Claudia weren't a member of The Baby Sitters Club, the title of Claudia and Mean Janine tells us which sister we're supposed to be rooting for in The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry. However, Janine never does anything particularly "mean" in the book. Instead, she makes attempt after attempt to connect with her sister, while Claudia repeatedly shoots her down, internally snarking about Janine's activities, friends, and her clothes. Claudia's complaints that Janine isn't helping take care of their grandmother also ring hollow since (a) no one ever asks Janine to help, and (b) when Janine tried to volunteer to help, Claudia insisted she could take care of everything and there was no reason for anyone else to disrupt their lives.
  • Most of the 'monsters' in mythology are never actually shown to do anything evil, and a lot of them are treated horribly anyway. Medusa and the children of Loki especially come to mind.
    • Through only Jörmungandr was treated that way. Odin tried to drown him for... well being a snake. Hel was put in charge of Hel and given control over nine realms. Sure, she was separated from her family and was not allowed to live among the other gods but she was given a important job. Fenrir was taken to Asgard and only chained up after he grew enormous and wreaked havoc.
    • Likewise, depending on which versions of a fairy tale you read, the evil stepsister/rival to the heroine doesn't do anything evil in general, besides being pushed to replace the heroine by her mother. In some stories, the stepmother even forces her own daughter(s) to mutilate themselves, inflicting worse pain on them than the heroine goes through! And yet most of those tales end with the rival being humiliated or brutally murdered.
  • Karen Traviss seems determined to do this to Dr. Catherine Halsey in her Halo novels Halo: Glasslands and Halo: The Thursday War (prequels to Halo 4), putting the blame for the SPARTAN-II program's shadier aspects squarely on Halsey's shoulders. Almost everyone suddenly starts seeing Halsey as a monster who shouldn't be allowed to live. The specific act that earns the hate is the flash-cloning of the kidnapped children in order to convince the parents that the kids aren't really missing. The clones fall ill and die a few months later. The head of ONI, Admiral Margaret Parangosky, personally blames Halsey for this. The kicker is, nothing happens in ONI without Parangosky's say-so, so there's no way she could not have known about the flash-cloning, especially since it hardly could have been accomplished by Halsey alone. Nobody seems to consider that making parents think their kids are dead may be more merciful than living with the constant fear of any parent whose child was kidnapped. Alternatively, the SPARTAN-III program (using orphans from glassed planets) is seen as the better alternative, as the orphans agreed to take part in it. However, the SPARTAN-III program is meant to produce a mix of Super Soldiers and Cannon Fodder. Besides, all those orphans are teenagers and, thus, cannot be mature enough to make the decision to agree. Another argument is that the SPARTAN-II program was started many years before the war with the Covenant, so there's no justification for it. However, the Insurgents who plagued UNSC for years did so using terrorist tactics, such as suicide-bombing (in Halo: Contact Harvest, Sergeant Johnson's entire squad is wiped out trying to stop an Insurgent woman, who ends up blowing up several city blocks with her bomb-purse). Basically, while Halsey's actions may be seen as deplorable, they can also be seen as justified and in no way placed on her shoulders alone. Worse, the author shows no sympathy for Halsey, even when it's revealed that she cries herself to sleep every night with the name of her dead daughter (Miranda Keyes) on her lips.
    • Traviss just barely skirts the line on this with the Jedi and the Republic in her Star Wars Expanded Universe material. Granted, she does have a point about an army of cloned, 10-year-old cannon fodder being led by 13-year old commanders, with both Jedi and Clone Troopers trained as emotionally detached killers with no messy "attachments" from infancy, and a Republic that sees no problem with this being very dodgy with ethics at best and no better than what they're fighting at worst.
  • In The Inheritance Cycle, for the first two books at least, King Galbatorix can come across as this. During his centuries-long reign, we never actually see or hear about him doing anything truly evil. The worst he does is imposes hard taxes on his people (acceptable as his Empire is in a state of war) and sends an army against the rebels attacking his reign. Despite this, every good person in the books seems to see him as a tyrant.
  • Bishop Patricius in The Mists of Avalon. Granted, he was very lawful and by-the-book. And he was the head of Christianity, which was the new "invading" religion, as compared to the Druidism that the Lady of the Lake and the Merlin were the heads of. But did he really deserve such a horrendous portrayal?
  • The Bible has numerous examples of misunderstood people whose actions make them out to be villains. Potiphar, for example, may have had Joseph jailed on trumped-up charges, but he's portrayed as a faithful husband to his not-so-faithful wife nonetheless, and he apparently wasn't thinking very clearly.
  • Marietta Edgecomb and Cho Chang in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. While we can all agree that Marietta attempting to rat out Dumbledore's Army wasn't a wise move, we're supposed to believe that she deserved to be deformed for it. This is especially jarring since it was heavily implied that she did it out of fear that her mother would lose her job at the Ministry of Magic. Cho is this because she actually dared to speak against Hermione for setting up the jinx. We're supposed to think that Harry's breakup with her was justified, but Cho had every right to call Hermione out for something a Death Eater would do.

Live-Action TV

  • Helena Peabody in series 2 of The L Word. Viewers are supposed to dislike her because she chose to give money to help poverty-stricken families rather than Bette's art gallery, and because she winds Bette up even though she only did this after Bette was very rude to her (telling her that she was unwelcome when she came to Alice and Dana's party just because she didn't like her dating her ex). Tina has sex with Bette while she's supposed to be Helena's girlfriend and this is depicted as an okay thing to do, but after this, Helena starts dating other women while going out with Tina and is made out to be a villain for it. The main characters stand her up after she goes to a lot of trouble to organize a meal for all of them, and this is depicted as acceptable behavior. Granted, Helena could be bossy and a little stuck up, but no more so than Bette, and she never got any credit for her many acts of charity and generosity.
  • The Odyssey episode of Wishbone dealt with the main characters wanting to save a park from being bulldozed by a developer who wanted to build a slushee bar. The developer was labeled a greedy bastard for daring to pave the way for progress. He was not a good, honest person because the sign announcing the bulldozing wasn't in plain sight. (When really, there are numerous explanations as to why that sign could have been on the ground.) At the end of the day, the tree was saved, the developer had been humiliated in court. Many of the villains in the original work were like this, though it's doubtful that played into the original considerations.
  • In the new Battlestar Galactica, Tom Zarek. His stated positions (which are in opposition to those of the show's "heroes") tend to be credible enough to get significant audience sympathy, but his actions, especially in season 4.5, are intended to show that he is clearly a Bad Guy, though the increasingly irrational behavior of the main characters makes him look more like the Only Sane Man.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Bates, Kavanaugh, and Ellis tend to end up in this role. They usually have legitimate concerns or complaints, but because these are against the main cast of characters (Bates seeing Teyla as a security risk, Kavanaugh complaining to Weir about Weir degrading him in public, Ellis wanting McKay to cut the exposition and get to the point), the characters are presented as reactionary jerkasses. There is also a trend of portraying Kavanaugh, in his few appearances, as a coward, even though, every time, he is up against a situation in which his fear is perfectly understandable.
  • In The Office:
    • Charles was brought in to act as a buffer between Michael Scott and upper management, which was a valid action given that Michael really should have been fired for lying about a risky sales scheme he engaged in (or kidnapping a pizza-boy, or any number of others). When Michael quit, Charles took his place and took a hard line with the office, cutting a number of activities to save money and asking the employees to actually sit down and do their work.
    • This can also be the case for the conflict between Andy and Dwight: both were trying to get each other fired, but we're supposed to side with Dwight.
    • The UK version of The Office features this trope in regards to Neil Godwin (Brent's boss) who, according to Word of God, we are not supposed to like. His crimes are neatly summed up in The Other Wiki as "He is dismissive towards David's dog and shared a joke with Chris Finch at the expense of David's Christmas party date, Carol." That Christmas Party doesn't happen until the very last episode.
  • iCarly:
    • Nevel starts out this way by trying to steal a kiss from Carly (which is apparently pretty bad if you’re not into Gonk nerds). Then, he unbecame this trope when he decided that revenge was in order.
    • Even then, he comes across as more of a Jerkass than a true villain
    • "i Meet Fred": Because Freddie didn't like Fred's videos, Lucas Cruikshank decides to stop making them. This causes everyone in school to ostracize him, he gets kicked out of every club he was in, and his own relatives start to hate him. But then in turns out that it was all a publicity stunt by Cruikshank. Even after it turns out he was lying, he still makes Freddie apologize and say his videos are funny. While he apologizes, he still refuses to say he likes his videos. This leads to Sam beating Freddie and knock him out of a treehouse. Dear, Dan Schneider: If you want us to root for your protagonists, try making them likable first.
  • In the early Babylon 5 episode "Survivors", Leanna Kemmer is the Designated Villain for most of the episode...because, after a witness names Garibaldi as a saboteur, and plans for a bomb are found in his quarters along with a whole lot of alien money, Ms. Kemmer (who is in charge of security for an impending visit by the President of Earth) wants to lock him up. Yes, she has a personal grudge against him, but anyone in her position would want to lock Garibaldi up and would be right in doing so. Seriously, Garibaldi, Ivanova, and Sinclair should all have been court-martialled for their efforts to obstruct her.
  • The Twilight Zone:
    • In the episode "Sounds and Silences" centered around a Large Ham owner of a model ship making company. His meets a cruel fate in the end because he commits the sin of...making too much noise.
    • In a particularly famous episode, "Time Enough at Last", Burgess Meredith plays a bookworm type who spends the whole episode being abused by every person he meets, and only wants to be alone with his books. Then a nuke wipes out the entire city while he's safe in a bank vault, and he's finally free to read his books in peace...until his reading glasses break. Unfair Cruel Twist Ending? No, Word of God says that this was his just punishment for his misanthropy. That said, Meredith's character (while perhaps preferring books to people) comes off as very sympathetic in a world where people act like such jerks.
      • Sterling's case is further hurt by one scene in which as a cruel joke, the bookworm's wife asks him to read poetry from one of his books to her; he eagerly obliges, only to find that she has drawn lines over the text on every page. Is it any wonder he prefers books to people?
  • Legend of the Seeker:
    • In the episode "Broken", Cara is on trial for the atrocities she committed as a Mord'Sith. To her defense, it is revealed that Mord'Sith are actually abducted as young girls, then horribly tortured and brainwashed until they become heartless killing machines. They were unwilling victims of the D'Haran more than anything else. Cara is ultimately forgiven for this reason. However, during the trial, they arrest another Mord'Sith hiding in the assistance: Cara's mentor, the one who abducted and trained her. They then proceed to condemn this woman to what is described as the most painful death in existence. Everybody seems oblivious that, as a Mord'Sith, this woman endured the same fate as Cara, and so is every bit as much of a victim... (It could be argued that Cara was forgiven because she was a victim and repented, while the other Mord'Sith did not repent and would have gone on killing. This does not make the Mord'Sith any less of a Designated Villain, but the death of Cara's mentor is at least somewhat justified.)
    • Cara also helped overthrow the evil overlord who was in charge of the brainwashing. So, it could be argued that she had broken her brainwashing and was already helping people without anyone forcing her to. Cara was also happy for them to kill her.
  • Possibly used in Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, where people like Sandra and Coach could hardly be considered villains (lampshaded when Jeff asks if anyone thinks they were put on the wrong team); and Rob, who (shockingly) played the game more heroically than most of the Heroes. The episode where he gets voted off is even titled "I guess I'm not really a good villain". Also subverted with Parvarti and Russel, who said "what did I do that was so bad?" and ended up being the primary antagonists season after season.
  • Diana Marshall (played by Jane Badler of V) was heavily publicized as a villain prior to her introduction on Neighbours, on the basis of her ruthlessness in her quest to bring down Paul and Rosemary. But given that Paul was responsible for embezzling thousands of dollars from his business and Rosemary's willingness to let her nephew get away with it, it's not hard to see Diana as justified in her actions and to want her to win.
  • Smallville:
    • Lex Luthor is an infamous example of this, performing many selfless (and debatably noble) acts throughout the first few seasons (including risking his life to save Clark's class from a hostage taker and saving his semi-abusive father from a tornado), only to be persistently described as having negative motivations all along when very few have actually been observed in him during his screentime...In later seasons, he regularly commits murders and performs unethical experiments, having crossed the line into actual villain.
    • More Egregious is the way Clark himself was depicted vis-a-vis Lana. While Clark was certainly never depicted as a villain in canon, the show did seem intent on convincing viewers that Clark being uncomfortable with revealing his secret to Lana somehow makes him a horrible, nasty Jerkass who needs to learn how to "be open about [his] emotions". Worst of all, whenever Lana did something manipulative or bitchy towards Clark, the show would try to portray her as being justified simply because Clark was uncomfortable with revealing his secret to her, and the showrunners would try to portray this as being an appropriate punishment for Clark's so-called crime.
  • A particularly controversial character in the Star Trek: The Next Generation fandom is Captain Edward Jellico. Commanding the Enterprise D when Captain Picard was off on an espionage mission, he apparently was supposed to come off as a martinet, as evidenced by his changing everything for no good reason other than because he could, disregarding perfectly valid advice, and generally acting like a jerk. However, when the chips were down, he proved an outstanding commanding officer who singlehandedly stopped a war, recovered the captured Picard (who, caught red-handed as a spy, had no expectation of being returned), and refrained from tossing Riker out the nearest airlock which the character badly deserved it for his childish petulance during the two-part episode.
  • Heartland had a rather idiotic example in their Christmas movie. We're supposed to cheer for the heroes who, among other things, rallied a town against the old man who's trying to stop them from rescuing a bunch of horses trapped by a landslide, while they mount a rescue effort. Except, the old man owns the horses in question, so he is entitled to tell them to piss off, and he does have the right to shoot the sick horses to put them out of their misery! At the end, they are even wondering if they should let him have them after he has his change of heart?! To sum up those points, a bunch of strangers come into town, get themselves involved in his business, get everyone against him, deny his basic right to do what he wants with his property, and actually consider rustling them for themselves. They were going for a Broken Aesop, right?
  • Glee:
    • It had a rather frustrating example during their Gay Aesop episode. Long story short, Finn and his mom move in to live with Kurt and his dad. Kurt happens to be Flamboyant Gay and has an unrequited crush on Finn, and he organized all of this to happen, including sharing rooms with Finn, in hopes of turning him gay so they can be boyfriends. Eventually, after suffering mockery from classmates and having to deal with his prejudice, he lashes out at Kurt using a gay slur. The rest of the episode is Finn having to learn how to respect others' differences. The problem, however, was that the entire altercation was based off the fact that Kurt had been blatantly trying to seduce him in hopes of turning him gay, Finn even let him down gently (explaining that he was flattered, Kurt was great and a good friend, but he's just not into guys and Finn was uncomfortable with that and all the other changes going on), yet only Finn is treated as being in the wrong.
    • In a later episode, Kurt is called on this by both Finn and Kurt's dad, who originally called out Finn about it before finding out what really happened.
    • And slightly later than that, the ""Previously On..."" voice calls Kurt out on it.
  • Merlin:
    • Mordred, who, in this version, is played by a child. We're supposed to view Mordred as a Creepy Child because the show plays ominous music over extreme close-ups of his large blue eyes, but all that's played out on screen is a kid who's been hunted, persecuted, and had everyone he's ever loved killed by the people who are generally considered "the good team". He uses his magical powers to kill a group of knights advancing on him with swords drawn, clearly preparing to kill him - this was apparently meant to prove to the audience that he's evil incarnate, even though the good guys make self-defensive kills all the time.
    • Morgana definitely counts. What she has done is no worse than what Merlin has done to his own kind, including her. Yet he is viewed as the hero and she the villain. Like Mordred, at first she is only a villain because Merlin believed the dragon when he said she was. All she did was fall victim to Morgause's plans, but was called evil for it. She did bad things of her own will in series 3, but probably wouldn't have if she hadn't been declared evil in the first place.
    • Morgause as well. What exactly has this woman done besides try to expose Uther's lies to Arthur and then win back what she thinks rightfully belongs to her half-sister? In one episode, she puts the entire castle to sleep in order to assassinate Uther and claim Morgana without any innocent lives being lost - the writers must have realized that this put her in too' good a light, and later stated that the sleeping spell would have eventually proved fatal for everyone were it not broken in time.
  • Morgan from Camelot starts out this way. Sure, the second thing she does is kill her father—but that seems to be over a legitimate grudge, and the first thing she does is try to forgive him for it; it's only when he hits her in the face and tells her "I have no daughter" that she moves into murder mode. After that, she spends several episodes trying to claim her throne from what, so far as she can see, is a pretender plucked out of thin air by a manipulative sorcerer. And her methods for winning the throne? Well, after an alliance with the local warlord (a matter of necessity in the absence of an army of her own) falls through, she sets to work bringing justice to the kingdom, trying to demonstrate to the people that she's a better choice for ruler than Merlin's puppet.
  • Sheriff Don Lamb on Veronica Mars can come across like this. While certainly a deeply unpleasant man who has done some shocking things (dismissing Veronica's rape in the pilot may as well have been stabbing a puppy), he is not the Complete Monster type the writers are clearly trying to show him as. The fact that people seem far more comfortable putting their trust in a teenage girl and rarely, if ever, actually report crimes kind of makes the argument for incompetence difficult. He never really asked for the job but came into it when Keith was forced to resign for chasing a lead (which later turned out to be wrong anyway) and that he is likely just trying to keep his job (seeing Keith fired was probably a sobering lesson in the virtues of not upsetting the apple cart). This, combined with his backstory of parental abuse, as well as the fact that he seems to at least somewhat liked and a good boss to his men, can make one far more sympathetic to Him than the writers had probably intended.
  • Former Vice President John Hoynes on The West Wing . The writers obviously want us to view him as a sleazy backstabber desperately clinging his way back to the top. Instead he comes across as a broken man venting his anger at years of disrespect and mistreatment at the hands of the President and White House staff. The fact that Hoynes was almost a lock for the nomination before Bartlett came along (only at the pestering of Leo and others) and swept the primaries goes without mention as does the work Hoynes put in to help the house get bills passed (using methods far less devious than those Josh had employed). He even resigned as Vice President to spare the office and his family any more bad publicity. Not exactly the devious Smug Snake he's constantly painted as.
    • His successor, "Bingo Bob" Russell, fares no better and for even less cause. At least Hoynes caused a sex scandal (that is, he did something wrong) which could justify the main cast's hatred of him (if they'd known about it before it was exposed). Russell didn't even have that much. He was a choice forced on the West Wing by other Democrats because he had a reputation as a lightweight, and it was hoped wouldn't be much competition to Democrats wanting to run for President in the next election. Russell is aware of his bad reputation and is determined to rise above it, but the rest of the cast doesn't care. While trying to write the speech announcing his Vice Presidency, Toby rants a mock speech on how much they all genuinely despise him that accidentally winds up on the teleprompter. Russell sees it, but is remarkably good-humored about it. Russell does manage to rise above expectations and be an effective Vice President, and (to the dismay of those Democrats who selected him) is able to become the Front Runner for most of the campaign to be the Presidential Nominee...and the rest of the cast still hates his guts. The worst thing we ever see him do is give a speech in the Iowa caucus praising ethanol, even though he and everyone else in-universe "knows" ethanol is crap. But you know Josh's candidate for President, Santos, the man who, according to Josh, is "twice the man Russell is on his best days, ten times, and Russell doesn't have very many best days," that Santos? He did the exact same damn thing. Really, it seemed like the office of Vice President on this show was the place to put the guy who was on the same side as the main cast whom the main cast could despise, even if the reason why they despised him was always left a little vague.
  • The treatment of Internal Affairs (aka "The Rat Squad") in Law and Order, especially Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, often veers into this, presenting the officers of the division as little more than self-important, vindictive assholes targeting the main characters purely out of spite, despite their usually deserving far more censure than they inevitably end up getting. The audience is often expected to dislike them for investigating cops for crimes we the audience know they didn't commit, even though they have sufficient evidence to look into it (in spite of the fact that the detectives often investigate the lives of innocent people all the time- it's just part of the job). And the fact that the police on the show have a tendency to do not-entirely-legal things doesn't help.
  • In Little House On the Prairie, Harriet Oleson, her daughter Nellie, and sometimes son Willie are all designated villains. The stories are so predictable that if you watch them, if you want to know what the wrong thing to do is, watch Harriet. She's always wrong.

Professional Wrestling

  • CM Punk
    • He has made a career out of this, but the most notable incident was his bitter feud with Jeff Hardy. The ostensibly villainous Punk told fans that the beloved Hardy was not a hero, but a morally-bankrupt drug addict who did not care about them in the least, and was booed for this. Things then crossed over into Real Life when Hardy left the company and was immediately arrested for drug trafficking.
    • His feud with Randy Orton may be worse. To put it in Punk's perspective, Orton is putting members of your stable on the shelf with the same move with which he stripped you of the biggest accolade in the sport. So you want revenge on him for this, but you're treated like the villain, and the Complete Monster who said he wants to break your neck and paralyze you is treated as a hero.
  • This also occurred in the classic feud between "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan. The former accused the later of stealing his spotlight and copping a feel of his wife; both of these things were clearly seen to be true by millions watching at home, but the glory-hounding, marriage-wrecking Hogan still wound up as the hero of the story.
  • Happened in a feud between Jillian Hall (a heel) and the Bella Twins (faces). Brie Bella used the twin switch to beat Jillian in a match. Jillian had wrestled the match cleanly and yet was apparently supposed to deserve it somehow. Next week, Nikki Bella did the same thing. The feud was the Bellas one-upping Jillian every time, despite being the ones that started it.
  • Ron Killings:
  • In TNA, The Beautiful People had a match where, on their way to the ring, they reunited with founding member Angelina Love. At the end of their match, Angelina joins them in the ring to celebrate, only for her to attack them (Leaving BFF Velvet Sky in tears). Why did she turn on them? Because she was replaced with Lacey Von Erich (done because she was having issues with her Visa that kept her from returning to the states). Yet the Beautiful People are seen as the bad guys for wanting revenge against a cheap attack by someone who they thought was their friend.
  • Muhammad Hassan was definitely this. He was reviled and hated in Kayfabe for the despicable crime of not wanting to be subjected to prejudice based on his Arabian heritage.

Tabletop Games

  • Vampire: The Requiem:
    • The Ventrue are the de facto Designated Villains, although that isn't fair, as all vampires are villainous despite their best efforts. The Daeva, who have the explicit weakness of inevitable moral decline have far more reasons to actually be the Designated Villains, only the fluff of the manuals and supplements just don't write them that way. The Daeva are sympathetic, as being evil is not really their fault, they're just morally decadent. The Ventrue, however, are always portrayed, every last vampire jack of them, as conniving, cackling, sadistic, and evil sons of bitches who are evil because that's what the Ventrue are and do.
    • As far as fluff goes, the Nosferatu and Gangrel tend to get Designated Hero slots, but if an NPC in a supplement is marked "Ventrue Invictus", you can guarantee that the character is going to be portrayed in a villainous light.
    • Mekhet, however, are the Designated Morally Ambivalent. They might as well be Vulcans for all the White Wolf writing staff cares.
    • Could be somewhat of a Justified Trope in regards to the Ventrue. It isn't so much that they are any more evil than other clans, but they make much more interesting villains than most other clans. With the Exclusively Evil aspect to the clans, most clans really can only be a villain through being a Complete Monster. The Ventrue can be Complete Monsters, but they can easily be antagonistic without it.
  • Similarly, the Technocracy from Mage: The Ascension are largely Designated Villains, by Old World of Darkness standards, given that there are expansion books to play technocrats and the core books note that the rivalry is somewhat one-sided, with the technocracy not so much hunting you down as reacting with vague surprise that you're still around when you bust into their laboratory.
    • Also, its sometimes difficult to convince people who live in the modern world with all of its conveniences and life-saving technologies -- i.e., the people who actually buy and play this game -- that the faction who are, in-setting, responsible for the existence of said modern world are supposed to be the bad guys and should never have existed.
  • Vlad von Calerstien in Warhammer Fantasy borders into this, depending how you look at him. While his successors were defiantly evil, the most he did was try and take over The Empire, which its Elector Counts are trying to do all the time, and if his enemies surrendered to him, he let them live. Though all the undead he kept around would take some getting used to.


  • In the play Alcestis, King Admetus is the villain. He wins the favor of Apollo so that when it's time for him to die, another may take his place. The only person willing though was his wife Alcestis so that her children will know him and not be fatherless. Since she is the one dying for a noble cause, he is the de facto villain.
  • Shylock from The Merchant of Venice. As such, he's one of the most popular Ensemble Darkhorses in history from roughly the 19th century on. He's been driven to what he's done by the persecution he endures as a Jew, including from the protagonist. Values Dissonance means anti-semitism was actually common in Shakespeare's day.
  • Dick Deadeye in Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore is roundly hated and vilified by all his shipmates, mainly for being ugly, intelligent, and outspokenly opinionated. His opinions are, however, the only sane ones in the show. This doesn't make him any more liked at any time. On the other hand, when he deliberately betrays the hero and heroine in Act II, nobody expects anything else from him and he suffers no punishment either.
  • A Double Subversion happens in Fools. Count Yousekevitch is set up to be the villain by the other characters and is presented in a ridiculous "bad guy" outfit. His only real crime is trying to marry a pretty girl. Later, he even lampshades this. He then seemingly has a Pet the Dog moment...only to turn it into a Kick the Dog and prove himself to be just as bad as everyone else said.
  • Ellen in Miss Saigon is often perceived as this by fans of the show, as she is seen as the obstacle to Kim and Chris reuniting.
  • The Bad Baronets of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore are obligated by a family curse to commit one evil deed each day, or else die in agony. The reigning Baronet, Sir Despard Murgatroyd, is a Punch Clock Villain, who gets his daily crime over early in the day and does good afterwards. After the hero is unmasked as Despard's elder brother, Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, he emerges from his Face Heel Turn as a Harmless Villain, who commits misdemeanors so small that the ghosts of his ancestors rise up to torment him until he agrees to prove that he can do something more nefarious.
  • A Doll's House:
    • Magnificently subverted in Ibsen's story with Nils Krogstad, who is repeatedly demonized as an unpleasant and weak dog kicker, but is, upon closer inspection, just trying to secure his job so he can feed his children, and is eventually talked into a total Heel Face Turn. The real villain turns out to be Knight in Shining Armor Torvald Helmer.
    • Of course, Torvald's crimes include wanting to have a stable home, not wanting the family name slandered (it's ~1890), and wanting his wife to ease off the cookies. He'd be perfectly fine if he hadn't been such an Ungrateful Bastard to Krogstad in the first place...
  • The Giantess in Into the Woods. Her only real crime is not being human. She treated Jack kindly and protected him from her husband, and, in return, he robs her and kills her husband. If she was a human, Jack (who admits that he did it) would have been hauled off to jail, if not the chopping block. All the deaths in the second half are either accidents (because she can't see without her glasses) or caused by humans. There is even a scene in the second act deconstructing this, and discussing why she deserves to live less than Jack does. Eventually, none of them can tell who is supposed to be the hero anymore.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: subverted by Colonel De Guiche In-Universe. The audience of the play identify him as the villain because he wants to bully Roxane into being The Mistress, but the Gascon Cadets who serve under him never call him out on this: they think he is the villain merely because he doesn’t want to be an Idiot Hero, has villainous motivations, and prefers to thrive by his connections in the Deadly Decadent Court...and he dresses like The Dandy. In summation, De Guiche is the villain because he is No True Gascon. Observe that not one of the cadets even complain when De Guiche informs them of the Last Stand.

Video Games

  • Age of Wonders. We're told that the Elves, Halflings, and Dwarves are good, and the Orcs, Goblins, and Dark Elves are evil. While the good races are described briefly as having peaceful, wholesome habits and the evil races are supposed to be violent and aggressive, we don't really see any of this in action. In gameplay, the difference doesn't show up at all: both sides are equally warlike, and have the option of fighting or buying off neutral races. Furthermore, a central gameplay mechanic is the ability to repopulate captured cities with a population of a friendly race; it's plain cultural imperialism at best and the good and evil races do this with equal impunity.
  • Arc Rise Fantasia gives us Eesa. There doesn't seem to be any real reason why she shouldn't help bring about L'Arc's Law to save the world since she makes it clear that she only wants to choose the Laws that are best for everyone, yet she's still the final boss. Umwat?
  • Dissidia Duodecim reveals through Chaos backstory that he really isn't evil at all—he's just doing what Garland, Cid, Cosmos and Shinryu have told him to do, and as such this is an Invoked Trope. It just happens he looks like a monstrous demon, and most of the warriors he calls to serve him are villainous.
  • Touhou runs on this:
    • The massive, borderline psychotic cast very eager to pulverize (non-lethally, granted) each other for the most flimsy of reasons. While there are those that don't invoke this, nearly all of the Excuse Plots are based on one of the two Designated Heroes being annoyed and endeavoring to beat up the person responsible, regardless of what they're actually doing. Undefined Fantastic Object is the worst by an enormous margin: the antagonists were merely attempting to release their friend from her millennium of imprisonment, who is herself almost saintly, but no, they're Youkai and therefore must be stopped.
    • Undefined Fantastic Object offers a rare encounter: in one route, at least, Marisa and Byakuren seem to hit it off on the subject of magic use, end-up sidelined by a painfully short theological disconnect ("'youkai' protected from humans" versus "humans protected from 'youkai'"), and it's the last boss who demands the fight. Marisa might have been rude (as always) but Byakuren didn't even try hard.
    • Alternatively, given events in Silent Sinner In Blue, where Reimu and Marisa assist Yukari in her invasion of the Moon for no apparent reason and were soundly beaten, it's possible that Reimu and Marisa were meant to be villain protagonists for the duration of UFO in the same vein previous bosses became player characters.
    • It's Invoked Trope in Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, where Tenshi designated herself as the villain because she was bored.
  • Yggdra Union:
    • Played with, where the heroes assume that Gulcasa and his army must be evil because they conquered Fantasinia and killed King Ordene. They eventually realize—while invading Gulcasa's country—that they are wrong, but continue their invasion (and in doing so, wipe out a third of Bronquia's able-bodied population in this campaign alone) because they think it's too late to turn back. The Royal Army spends the rest of this part of the game slaughtering civilian militias and the remnants of the Imperial Army, who insist that protagonist, Yggdra, will have to go through them if she wants to kill Gulcasa. There's also some vague nonsense about Bronquia trying to bring about The End of the World as We Know It by resurrecting an ancient demon, but from the way Gulcasa and his last few generals talk about this planned resurrection, it was actually supposed to be their very last resort in case Fantasinia retaliated by invading them. Welp.
    • Following this, we also have Nessiah, who is actually quite finished causing trouble throughout the world by the time you find him, and whose current major offense is that he's being a vindictive little shit.[4] At this point of the game, all he wants to do is leave the world of Ancardia and finally get revenge on Asgard for the wrongs done to him--and Asgard is run by the Bigger Bad of the series and Nessiah's people are subject to horrific levels of Fantastic Racism even when they're not marching out of step. If he succeeded, the world would be a much better place; if he died trying, well, it wouldn't be any skin off the Royal Army's nose; either way he wouldn't be your problem any longer. Instead, the Royal Army insists that he must be killed in order to prevent any possible negative consequences for the world of Ancardia.
  • Daleth from Shin Megami Tensei II is a literal example. He was created by the Center to be the anti-Messiah so the main character can defeat him and grow more popular.
    • And ironically, he's one of the few named characters, aside from the protagonist and Hiroko, to have a happy ending. He even gets a pretty girl who loves him dearly. Beth, Gimmel and potentially Zayin, all intended to be heroes, end up dead.
  • We're never really told why The Government in Mirror's Edge is evil. Okay, sure, they arrested Faith's sister, but the evidence against her is pretty incriminating. And sure, they have cameras everywhere and they control most communications channels, but this is no worse than what someone living in Europe has to deal with. And yeah, they keep everything clean, which is...absolutely despicable?
    • They arrested Faith's sister after framing her in the first place. Also, they killed people who protested that the city was becoming totalitarian, including the protagonist's mother.
  • Most of the Portrait Ghosts in Luigi's Mansion don't even attack, and seem fairly content with just hanging around the mansion.
  • While this is debatable, in BlazBlue, the NOL is straddling this line. For the most part, the organization is filled with lots and lots of Punch Clock Villains, who were doing their jobs for their paycheck, and they truly believed in their goal in creating a peaceful world free of conflicts. However, because Ragna mainly opposes them and they employ several Complete Monster like Hazama and Relius, combined with the fact that they are mainly composed of rich people and make up some dictatorship rule (even if it's for preventing total chaos), it becomes easy to paint them as a tyrannical group of villains or a merciless Empire type organization.
  • Cao Cao and the Wei forces in Dynasty Warriors, in keeping with his characterization from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The game runs on this. No matter who you play as, the other 2 kingdoms (and minor forces) tend to be painted as the bad guys (which makes sense, since they're trying to unite china under their rule too), so it's a conflict of interest. Except Dong Zhuo and, to a lesser extent, Lu Bu.
  • Played with in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. During the search for Amelia, you run into Rodger, and then run into a bandit leader. He was willing to ignore you and go about his way, but the party members kept saying he looked 'evil'. The only reason you fight him is because they wouldn't stop saying that and the bandit snapped.
  • The Dark Ones in Metro 2033. Whether or not you choose to treat them as villains is central to the plot.
  • Simply going by what the players see, the UED in Starcraft: Brood War turn into this. They don't come off as particularly evil when you're playing as them in the Terran campaign, and many players were glad that you force Mengsk off his throne playing as them. Yet in the Zerg campaign you find Jim Raynor, who loathes Mengsk with passion, and the Protoss, who the UED barely have any contact with, helping Kerrigan try push them out when she ultimately proves to be the worse of two evils.
  • In X3: Albion Prelude, the Terrans are evil for demanding justice for a terrorist committing an act of genocide purely out of racism.
  • Hawke can become this to Inquisitor Cassandra Pentagon in Dragon Age II. No matter how nobly Hawke acts throughout the game, Cassandra will still be certain that he is the culprit she is looking for. The game being a deconstruction of the Big Bad, she is told multiple times that there is no one at heart to blame. Although Anders might count, given the events of Act III

Web Comics

Cole: It's not because of a girl, or because you always succeed where I seem to fail. It's just that, well, you're a better person than I am, or ever will be.
Max: Stop it.
Cole: It's true. I'm petty, selfish, jealous, and small. You're none of those things, Max. You never have been. You're a big reminder of just how flawed I am, and how very little I've grown. Sometimes that's hard to be around. But I'd like to try, Max. I'd really like to try.

"Wunnybun is the house for bad guys. Reward them amiably? Treat them with respect? They may become good. And then our paperwork would be all screwed up."

  • If the heroes of Sonichu are the definitions of Designated Hero, then many of the villains are easily in the Designated Villain spot. Due to a massive case of Life Embellish, the author paints various characters this way. The worst case of this is the entirety of issue 10 which has the main characters murder people who amount to nothing more than simple Internet Trolls.

Web Original

  • Whateley Universe:
    • In the corner, the Goodkind family. The richest family on earth, they run Goodkind International, Goodkind Research, the Goodkind Trust, etc. They uniformly take the position that they don't hate mutants, they merely understand that mutants represent a terrible threat to baseline humans. Since the Whateley Academy is a high school for mutants, run by mutants, this makes the Goodkinds the bad guys. Only problem? It's clear that many mutants are a terrible threat to baseline humans. The Goodkinds do provide a lot of money for Humanity First! which is full of bigots, but they also subsidize the MCO and direct the Knights of Purity. Still, when all the main characters are mutants, anti-mutant = bad.
    • They claim that they don't hate mutants, but when you see CEO Bruce Goodkind in private, it's clear that he does. And funding bigots is the least of their crimes against mutants. They also ship children (including their own son) off to be tortured by a Mad Scientist who also horrifically tortures mutants, for example. However, other, less influential, Goodkinds are actually considered good, or at least neutral, characters. The MCO aren't particularly good guys either, thanks to rampant dog-kicking; the Knights of Purity are an enigma - it's not clear where they stand with two major characters having an argument about this...
    • Ayla—nee Trevor, son of the selfsame Bruce—Goodkind, a.k.a. Phase, is a mutant, a member of Team Kimba, and one of the main protagonists. This is relevant because the stories written from his perspective seem to make it fairly clear that the Goodkinds do believe in using their considerable wealth and power responsibly and aren't necessarily bad people at long as you're a baseline human, anyway (it doesn't help the mutant cause that Ayla's own mother is clinically mutophobic thanks to a particularly monstrous Super Villain eating her sister alive in front of her when she was six).
    • As for the Knights of Purity, they're demonised by Chaka for going after Jolt, an emergent mutant, when Jolt could have easily killed someone (electricity powers). Chaka also points out that they have huge casualty rates, but the KoP go after mutants, usually super villains, and so it's not surprising- they contain mutant threats, and sometimes that can't be done without casualties- sometimes they're the only option or the closest one there.
  • Spoofed (to a degree) with Blue Laser in the Cheat Commandos shorts at Homestar Runner.
    • Blue Laser is frequently staked out and attacked by the Commandos (Gunhaver in particular) no matter what they're doing, including shopping or having Thanksgiving dinner. Gunhaver makes a point of exaggerating the "evil" potential of every action Blue Laser takes. Occasionally, Blue Laser does do evil or pseudo-evil things, but more often than not, they're only opposed to the Commandos because the Commandos are the heroes and Blue Laser are the villains.
    • Sometimes, it turns out that whatever innocuous thing Blue Laser was doing actually was meant to help them crush the Cheat Commandos. Like the time the Cheat Commandos busted in on their grocery shopping; they were out shopping because a computer analysis had determined that the moldy grout in the shower was the reason they hadn't yet crushed the Cheat Commandos. Blue Laser is that kind of villain.
  • The appropriate Cracked list for this page: "Nine famous movie villains who were right all along".
    • Although several of their picks entirely make sense, the part where the #1 guy on their list is Sauron makes you have less than total faith in their accuracy.

Western Animation

  • American Dad!: He borders a Villain Protagonist at times, but a lot of other cases those he opposes are enabled to act even worse. "Bollocks To Stan", "Stan Time" and "The Kidney Stays In The Picture" are perhaps the most ludicrous cases where he is "the bad guy" to his family's immoral actions, despite his approach, while still flawed, being at least somewhat justified. "The People vs Martin Sugar" out and out Lampshades Roger as a Designated Hero to Stan.
    • Perhaps the best example of this would have to be "Less Money, Mo Problems". In short, after Jeff uses up all of the things that Stan paid for, Stan, Jeff, and Haley get in an argument, wherein a bet is made that if Stan and Francine can live on minimum wage for a month, then Jeff and Haley will leave, however if they cannot, then Jeff and Haley get to stay with Stan and Fran indefinitely. The bet proper ends after two days, when they are flat broke, and Francine calls it quits and goes home. The episode drags on for another 15 minutes, with the typical blundering by Stan, until he is forced to break into his own house, looking like a bum, and is almost stabbed by Jeff, who, BTW, is eating a sandwich that Stan basically paid for. Even if you consider that Stan was a complete idiot in the latter half of the episode, he was 100% right at the beginning: his wife (who consents to being a non-working housewife) and Steve are entitled to use the stuff he works for, being a housewife and minor. Jeff and Haley are adults, and quite honestly, he's doing them a big solid by allowing them to stay there in the first place. That said, the idea that Stan could be wrong simply because he asks Jeff to not use inordinate amounts of supplies that Jeff is not working for, or paying for in any could only happen in a Mac Farlane cartoon.
      • In addition no one mentioned the fact that Hayley and Jeff stole the families life saving and pissed it all away so he is basically working paycheck to paycheck now. Plus eating all of his food wasn’t the only thing Jeff was doing; he comes in 3 in the morning blasting the TV keeping Stan up, so not only is he struggling to pay the bills he’s dead tired. Most of Mac Farlane's points are made by over-exaggerating the stupidity of the opposing side and/or attributing things to them that they don't actually believe: that is to say, they're poorly made. It has already been firmly established that Stan knows very well how hard it is to survive on minimal wage. His father abandoned him and his mother as a child and his mother blatantly told him it was his fault and forced him to do all the things she should have done. Paying the bills, doing the taxes, fixing the house, etc. In A.T. the Abusive Terrestrial they even showed that when Hayley was a baby Stan and Francine collected cans for extra money. Stan knows how hard it is in fact it is his most defining characteristic. The stress of taking care of his mother caused him to grind his teeth and develop horrible acne, which in turn caused to be ridiculed at school. This is why he so obsess with appearance, popularity, perfection, and his aggressive personality. He’s such a devote republican because his dad told him some bulls**t lie about a spy. His mother was so narcissistically focused on herself that she never even bothered to teach him about sex. He learned about it from some random stranger which is why he is so repressed. Unlike Peter, Stan had a very good Freudian Excuse and to try and make a point the writers ruined it.
        • Finally, Hayley is the last person to be speaking on the hardship of minimum wage. Neither she nor Jeff have ever worked a day in their lives, Stan has always paid for every facet of her life. And once again she stole his life saving and spent it in a month.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door,:
    • Secret groups of children are locked in war with teenagers and adults. Yet aging inevitably happens, so to prevent former KND agents who have aged past 13 from knowing KND secrets, they are supposed to willingly subject themselves to Laser-Guided Amnesia, thus becoming clueless and hopefully harmless. Anyone who does not to do this turns evil at that very second, a type of evil that includes insults and fighting dirty. There are undercover exceptions but this is usually the rule. In the KND 'verse, puberty makes you evil. This is explicitly the case. While not all adults are evil, all their enemies are adults, and kids are mostly good. (There are exceptions on both sides.) The kid's parents are good, but perhaps that's because none of them were agents (that we know), and thus not subject to The Dark Side tempting them.
    • Numbah 86's father is Mr. Boss. Unusual because he loves his own child, but is one of the greatest and oldest enemies of the present KND and is the leader of some of the lesser villains.
    • Some villains don't even display malice toward the KND after their introductory episodes. The holding of events like villain barbecues and award ceremonies seems to indicate that fighting the KND is a hobby as well as a crusade.
    • However, Numbah 1's dad was once the greatest KND agent who had his memory erased and has shown no signs of being evil (though he does seem rather dippy). There's also the fact that Chad's parents only were villains on the show because Chad was a member of KND (they thought that he had "such a low number" and wanted to pick off the other agents so that he could be Numbah 1).
    • Chad's turn to evil was also in part due to his own ego and selfishness. As the best KND agent and oldest (he's being decommissioned after all) he felt he put too much time and effort into his accomplishments to let the organization just kick him out to the point that he was betraying anyone he could. He eventually starts directing his anger away from the cruelty of he decommission rule toward the whole organization itself. That said, they do say that aging in their world is some sort of super universal disease that can make people crazy...
      • While a Jerkass, it turns out he was a double agent secretly working against the teenagers and adults.
    • Done intentionally in earlier episodes, where the KND were more self-righteous rebels who played themselves as heroes against any sort of enforced rule or annoyance an authority figure put against them (eg. the adult swim in a public pool, a delivery of tuneless pianos, ice cream reserved for a private meeting). The majority of these cases played the KND more as Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists and usually ended in comedic failure.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Plankton in recent episodes, in which he's become much more of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, and Mr. Krabs is more of a Jerkass Designated Hero. The only reason he doesn't become a completely undeserving target of the show's increasing Comedic Sociopathy is the few stray episodes where he actually acts like a villain, and the role he takes in the movie.
    • Squidward comes across this way too. All he really wants is for SpongeBob and Patrick to allow him some peaceful and quiet time to himself. But apparently wanting some downtime and respite from his loud and obnoxious Designated Hero neighbor makes Squidward a Jerkass...somehow. Honestly, many viewers end up sympathizing with Squidward's desire to have some time to himself to relax, away from SpongeBob's loudness and intrusiveness.
    • Mrs. Puff too. Before she attempted to murder Spongebob, all she wanted to do was to not have to deal with Spongebob's bad driving, and because of that, it makes her a jerk who deserves the abuse she gets, simply because she dislikes Spongebob, when really, fans sympathize with her because Spongebob is un-teachable and Mrs. Puff shouldn't have to put up with him.
  • Heather on Total Drama Island is the legitimate villain of season 1, but after that, she becomes mostly ineffective because everybody knows how manipulative she is. As a result, she goes through seasons 2 and 3 being snarky and rude at times, but never doing anything wrong...and yet, the other characters still constantly act as if she is still evil. Probably the best/worst example is when Leshawna knocked Heather's tooth out when Heather tried to explain that the new villain, Alejandro, was manipulating her; even when Leshawna finds out that this is true, she still openly brags about attacking Heather and never seems to consider that it was completely unjustified. Particularly Egregious, because Courtney was the Designated Villain of season 2 and nobody treats her badly about it at all. This might just be because the writers want us to forget season 2 as much as possible...
  • Doctor Doom in Season 5 of Spider-Man: The Animated Series. He's created a utopia in what is otherwise a wasteland and helped out one of the heroes by improving his powers. True, he has ultimate power over the place, but there are no signs that he has abused it. To be fair, he later obtains power he can't handle, but it's not like the heroes knew that would happen.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy:
  • There's a few cases on The Fairly OddParents when characters are designated villains as the result of a wish (Jorgen in "Action Packed", the popular kids in "Scary Godparents", as well as Timmy himself in "Nega Timmy") or the circumstances, as Tootie in "Dread and Breakfast".
  • Tom from Tom and Jerry is usually attacked by Jerry unprovoked. Jerry is portrayed as the hero. No matter what happens, Jerry is viewed as being right and Tom is always punished. The worst examples are when Tom is, in an episode set in the past, executed when he was just doing his job. Tom's job in this short was simply defending his home's supplies and nothing malicious. To be fair, the shorts had plenty of other instances where Tom would pick on Jerry for fun.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Wile E. Coyote
      • He is just trying to get a bite to eat; in some cartoons, he's so desperate for food that he is seen eating shoes, cans, and flies, and he is almost always depicted as the villain despite the Roadrunner not being very heroic. Sometimes, the Roadrunner can be quite mean to him, like causing him to hit his head on the cliff walls, scaring him into jumping off the cliff, and he once got him to eat a stuffed toy of himself which was filled with metal, causing him to get caught in a magnet. The Coyote is trying to kill and eat the Roadrunner, putting him in danger every day of his life.
      • Indeed, one of the rules the writers always followed was that the audience should always sympathize with the coyote. If not for his motivations, then for the poor idiot's inability to go one day without hurting himself. For what it's worth, they generally never show the coyote starving even if he is hungry enough to chase after the roadrunner. The implication being that the coyote brings it on himself by choosing not to give up and chase something slower.
    • Sylvester:
      • A better case in "Canned Feud" where he's not trying to hurt the mouse; he just wants the can opener that the mouse is spitefully keeping from him so he can eat cat food. Naturally, he fails.
      • Also, when Sylvester is pitted against Speedy Gonzales. Usually, like Tom and Jerry, he's just defending a food stockpile.
      • The large majority of times Sylvester, similar to Tom, is treated in universe as a monster and a bully for going after "innocent" little animals, with many middle parties fending him off and punishing him harshly. This only happens when said animal isn't an invading pest, at which point, the very same people often lashing out at the cat for not doing his job. Adding to that how Sylvester has fewer vindictive moments than Tom and is almost always motivated by food or duties, and the guy comes off as highly sympathetic, but he's arguably one of Looney Tunes' most consistent Butt Monkeys because, well, Cats Are Mean.
      • This is thankfully averted in Sylvester's most famous rivalry with Tweety Pie. Like Sylvester, Tweety is a house pet who's not meant to be eaten, so when Sylvester chases him we know he's doing something wrong.
  • The Giant in the Futurama episode "Benderama", whose only "crime" was getting mad that everyone was being ridiculously douchey to him. Though he likely wasn't meant to be seen as antagonistic as much as everyone else was meant to be the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. Worse off, Bender, who had been a real douche to him, eventually has his clones absorb and kill him.
  • A great many cartoons feature a slow-witted, loyal dog trying to defend some valuable property from a thief. We're supposed to take the thief's side. Probably the most obvious example is Chilly Willy, though Underdog‍'‍s Klondike Kat also qualifies.
  • A possible deconstruction of this trope: in the pilot episode of Justice League, an American Senator has a proposal to rid the world of nuclear weapons by having Superman work round-the-clock to dismantle the nukes of every country on Earth (it's implied that all the countries agreed to this). While he's outlining the proposal, an angry American General stands up and declares that he shouldn't do it because "Those weapons are our only defense against aggression!" (In this continuity, the Earth had just barely escaped an alien invasion by Darkseid...and a Brainwashed and Crazy Superman as well...only a few years earlier) The American general is accused of warmongering and shamed into silence and the nuclear disarmament begins. Then, after all the nukes in the world are disarmed, it turns out that the Senator was actually an evil alien in disguise and the disarmament plan he proposed was intended to keep the nations of Earth from destroying the alien ships that were about to invade. Oops. Guess you should have listened to the warmongering American General in the first place, eh?[5] This is clearly satirizing the plot of Superman IV.
  • In the 2011 ThunderCats episode "The Duelist and the Drifter," Master Swordsman the Duelist appears guilty of nothing more than challenging swordsmen to duels for their swords and winning, but is set up as a villain to Kid Hero Lion-O, who foolishly takes up his challenge unaware of his rep. While the Duelist does eventually prove to be less-than-honorable—he insists that Lion-O Duel to the Death and attempts to kill him after Lion-O wins—there's no evidence of wrongdoing before that, apart from goading Lion-O by implying his dead father was a coward, and some unadvertised deck-stacking through the use of two blades to Lion-O's one. After all, he introduced himself as "the Duelist". It's not his fault that Lion-O failed to pick up on the homonymic pun.
    • He is, however, stated to be prideful and obsessed with winning. It's implied he may have pulled similar tricks before.
  • The Urpneys of The Dreamstone, who are essentially Slave Mooks to the far more malicious Zordrak, ordered into stealing the titular stone with threat of Cool and Unusual Punishment or death if they fail. The heroes are generally apathetic to this situation and have no problem punishing them equally anytime they invade the Land Of Dreams (even using somewhat greyer solutions such as Heel Face Brainwashing or placing them in certain death situations, on a few occasions). Add to that their highly affable demeanor and camaraderie, and the Urpneys really linger as genuine antagonists.
  • Played with in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with Iron Will, who runs a legitimate business in assertiveness training. However, Fluttershy takes his lessons too far and pretty much became a bitch. While her friends choose to blame Iron Will, Fluttershy instead takes responsibility for her actions. While Iron Will still sort of acts as the antagonist in the final scene, he's never really shown as in the wrong, just rude. And simply accepts that Fluttershy doesn't want to pay.
  • The Simpsons: Mr. Burns shows some shades of this in "The Old Man and the Lisa". While attaching millions of six-pack holders together into a net which he used to catch tons of sea life, in order to make animal slurry is bad action, Mr. Burns wasn't evil in that episode as said by Lisa. Mr. Burns didn't know that he was doing something that is considered wrong and genuinely believed that was a step in recycling. He didn't even think it was an "ends justify the means" situation, but rather, he wholeheartedly thought that the means were an act of good. Even if it is an evil act, that didn't make Burns himself evil in that situation. It made him misguided at worst and he came as Anti-Villain Knight Templar kind of character, but instead we are supposed to think that he was a Complete Monster and we should have sided with Lisa, who told him that he was even more evil when he tried to be good. And Lisa later tore up the check Mr. Burns gave to her, which he gave to honor the agreement of giving Lisa ten percent of the winnings they made together, yet we should see as bribe. Mr. Burns in that episode was a saint, unlike episodes like "Curse of Flying Hellfish" and the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" two-parter, where he was really evil.
  • Happens all the time in Rugrats, often deliberately due to the skewed naive perspective of the babies:
    • Didi hires a dog groomer for Spike and the babies just assume for no reason she is really a "dog broomer" who kidnaps dogs and cause all sorts of mayhem for her ("What else could a dog broomer be?"). True Spike didn't want to get groomed but that would make Didi the villain here, not the groomer.
    • A teenager hired to work in the Java Lava is a bit moody and surly but the babies assume she is Angelica's doll grown huge and try to shrink her by pulling out her belly button ring. And they mess up the coffee shop and when the girl tells everyone that they did it they almost fire her for "blaming it on the pups," but she quits in agitation and disgust before they can.
    • Angelica herself in the episode "Silent Angelica". Drew and Charlotte promise to buy her toys if she stays quiet and watches the babies. Angelica actually tries her best to stay quiet but the babies take advantage of this and run wild around the house. Angelica finally snaps after they've caused so much mayhem, but then Drew and Charlotte punish her for it when she had done nothing wrong at all.
    • Some of the babies' theories on "villains" run so much on Insane Troll Logic that it's lucky some of them aren't even real. For example they hear the story of the Sand Man, and worry about the off chance that he may accidentally bury them with too much sand while putting them to sleep. They ultimately come to the conclusion they must kill the Sandman. Naturally there is no Sandman for them to murder, though they spend most of the episode mistakenly beating up Chuckie's dad in the process.
  • Wacky Races has Dick Dastardly as the designated villain because of his cheating, but, in this race, cheating is often the only way for any of the racers to win. Sure, Dick's schemes involve taking out the other racers, but the rest of them do the same thing (though the majority of the other racers' attempts involve jumping a few places ahead or lifting another racer up and driving under them, while Dick Dastardly's plans are more deadly). Dastardly's one victory was reversed after finding out he extended his vehicle when crossing the finishing line. He is disqualified and booed vigorously, despite the fact other episodes featured another racer using the same tactic and winning legitimately.
  • Ranger Smith to Yogi Bear. He was treated as an antagonist to Yogi even though Ranger Smith is trying to stop Yogi from stealing people's lunches. In real life, wild animals getting hold of human food is a very serious thing- it can lead animals to associate humans with food, meaning that they have to be killed or relocated to areas where humans are not very plentiful, otherwise the animals might get aggressive and start attacking people.
    • Reasoned in one episode, where Ranger Smith finally gets sick of Yogi's antics and delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech on all the felonies he's caused. Yogi defends himself by pointing out the forest belonged to the animals first, then humans such as himself took over and tried to enforce rules onto them. Yogi steals food, but Smith stole his entire habitat.
  • Played for Laughs with The Beekeeper from Johnny Test. Unlike the other villains, who want to take over or destroy the world, The Beekeeper just wants to get kids to eat healthier. The characters even lampshade that this wouldn't be a bad thing if he wasn't so crazy about it.
    • Luckily, by "Johnny Holiday", The Beekeeper is no longer an antagonist, as both he and the Tests team up to create a holiday in which free candy (or rather, honey bars) are given out. Thus, after this episode, The Beekeeper hasn't been seen since.
    • Played straight in, among other episodes, "Johnny Test in 3D" - the hotel manager is the bad guy simply for trying to enforce the no-pets policy.
    • Sunblock Mom is an antagonist in "Sunshine Malibu Johnny" for trying to get Johnny to put on sunscreen.
  • Played for Laughs with Melvin in Duck Dodgers. The episode where he appeared suggested people should hate him for opening a rival restaurant next to I.M. Neighborly's and taking Neighborly's customers away by offering them free sodas. It also suggested that it was okay for Dodgers and Neighborly to sabotage Melvin's in a way that, in real life, would get them arrested for not only damaging private property but also endangering the lives of everyone inside. Dodgers treated it like a space battle.
  1. And remember, the Narutoverse is a world where simply being 90+ years old still doesn't stop you from being a combatant death machine on legs, if you're a ninja. Just ask Sarutobi.
  2. In case you're confused, pointing anything that even LOOKS like a gun at a cop is granting him permission to blow your head off. And that isn't some new policy of theirs; it's always been that way.
  3. If you're wondering why that last one
  4. He and Gulcasa, who you have just killed at this point, were very close. Nessiah congratulates you on your victory by making a People Puppet of your recently deceased friend, Kylier, and forcing you to fight her. (Incidentally, Kylier herself actually says outright that she doesn't hold it against him.)
  5. The funniest part of that episode is that when the invasion began, the Senator (who hadn't yet been revealed as an alien) appeared on television and announced that "no one could have predicted this would happen". Well, no one except for, um, the American General who said those nukes were, quote, "our only defense against aggression".