Hero Antagonist

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A Hero Antagonist is a character who is an antagonist (that is, they oppose The Protagonist), yet is still technically a hero. They oppose the main character and may not even have Sympathetic POV, but their objectives are things like saving the world, saving large groups of people, heck, saving anybody's life if they have the chance. A tweaking of the narrative could easily make them a sympathetic protagonist.

Usually this character's main concern is that The Protagonist, either intentionally or not, may bring up a scenario that would spell doom for the world or, depending on the scale of the narrative, a single person. How they come to this conclusion varies. They may be misinformed as to the nature of their enemy. They could also be completely correct in their assertions simply because the main character is a Villain Protagonist. In any of these events, the Hero Antagonist is able to keep their good alignment while still being the narrative's opposition.

Can be related to Rousseau Was Right depending on the type of Hero Antagonist in question, and often overlaps with Villainous Valor. Sometimes related to My Country, Right or Wrong. Inspector Javert is often a Sub-Trope, as is his mentally healthier cousin, Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist. Similar to yet at the same time the opposite of Anti-Villain. May overlap with a Type IV Anti-Villain. If the protagonist is a Well-Intentioned Extremist, his antagonist will often be a Knight in Sour Armor. Settings with White and Gray Morality or Good Versus Good will favor these.

Compare the Knight Templar, whose devotion to 'good' ideals has become unreasoning fanaticism. Often (though not always, depending on how the morality is played in the work) will oppose his/her inverse, the Villain Protagonist and is the opposite of the Hero Protagonist. Contrast Designated Hero, for when he's really not a nice guy.

Examples of Hero Antagonist include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Death Note
    • The Japanese police.
    • Matsuda. He's your classic Idiot Hero—impulsive, well-meaning, slightly self-centered everyman who's ultimately devoted to his True Companions. He spends the whole series opposing a serial killer, since he is a cop. He just so happens to be working against Villain Protagonist Light. If you rewrote the entire series to be from Matsuda and L's perspective instead of Light and Misa's, with only short ventures into their perspectives as L and Matsuda were given, the whole series would still mostly work, especially since Matsuda's behavior usually makes an interesting and vital contribution to the story, like stumbling on Yotsuba and shooting Light.
    • Soichiro until towards the end, and he is described by the author as the only one-hundred-percent good character. However neither of them are Light's direct antagonist as such, while L and Near are.
  • Officer Kirihara of Darker than Black. She is good and hunting the protagonist for crimes he actually committed but also being misled by her evil superiors
  • Afro Samurai: Due to Afro's Anti-Hero bordering Villain Protagonist status, and Shichigoro in Resurrection fit here.
  • Col. Sergei Smirnov, a.k.a. the "Wild Bear of Russia", is, far and away, the most sympathetic out of all of Celestial Being's antagonists in the first season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00. A Reasonable Authority Figure who believes in upholding the law, flawed as it may be, against an organization of terrorists (albeit, well intentioned ones), and helped give the first season its Grey and Gray Morality.
  • One Piece:
    • A few of the Marine Officers the main characters have to face are genuinely good guys who actually want to protect that public and don't view civilians and their own soldiers as being completely expendable. Notable examples are Smoker, Tashigi, T-Bone, Coby, Garp, and Aokiji.
    • One filler arc included the presence of a rational, normal Marine captain, who had no strange abilities or quirks, but was led by some crazy, immensely fat admiral and his equally stupid lieutenant, who where on par with all the early, lighter One Piece villians.
    • Commander Jonathan of the G8 filler arc also provides an example. While he pursues the Straw Hats after they literally drop into the middle of his fortress, he offers mercy to the crewmembers that don't yet have bounties, refuses to treat his men as expendable, and has nothing but disdain for the visiting commanding officer that wants the Straw Hats captured no matter the cost.
    • Also Magellan, the chief warden of Impel Down. His motives are basically to stop the prison break (which was initiated by Luffy) and keep order in the prison. Considering that most of the people in Impel Down deserve to be there (and would terrorize citizens if they escaped), you could make a very convincing argument that Luffy is more of a villain during the Impel Down arc are than Magellan. After all, Luffy is putting his desire to save his brother over the well-being of the rest of the world.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, there are the soldiers who storm and arrest the members of Section 9 - they're very much aware of what they're doing, so they're not Inspector Javert, but they are approved by the city and they limit the use of lethal force. Heck, the Laughing Man (SAC), Hideo Kuze (2nd GIG), the Puppeteer (Solid State Society) and the Puppetmaster (1995 Movie) also qualify to some extend or for limited periods of time.
  • Chao Lingshen in Mahou Sensei Negima. The only reason the main character opposes her in the end is, basically, to avoid the Cool and Unusual Punishment he would incur from the authorities if he didn't. And because she absolutely refuses to explain her actions, despite the fact that he'd agree with her if she did. Of course, it turns out winning was actually her Plan B. Plan A was for Negi to defeat her, proving he could handle the rest without her help.
    • Cosmo Entelechia as well, though somewhat more dickish about it than necessary. Ultimate plan? Save over a billion lives. Opposed by? First an idiot hero who doesn't know what he's really doing and twenty years later a child. To be fair to the idiot hero, Nagi, a lot of what they were doing just doesn't make sense when considering their ultimate goal.
  • The Wolkenritter in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. So here we have a group of "villains" whose malicious goal for filling up the Artifact of Doom was so they can save an innocent Ill Girl from certain death, and they were doing it in a way so they wouldn't kill or severely maim anyone. Problem was, due to reasons beyond their control, it wouldn't have worked without Nanoha's help. Either the Book of Darkness would have killed the girl and reincarnated elsewhere, or Admiral Graham would have frozen them both forever.
  • Inspector Zenigata from Lupin III.
  • Inspector Runge from Monster starts out as one, though he turns to more of a standard villain for a while as his search more Tenma becomes more of a personal obsession than anything to do with justice, causing him to ignore the increasing evidence that Johan does exist. However, he eventually comes to his senses and becomes a hero again.
    • Also Eva Heinemann, whose Rich Bitch front and vengeful personality, as well as her contention that "not everyone is equal," belies her desire for a more fulfilling life. When given a choice between helping Roberto end Tenma's life or helping Tenma escape and survive, she chooses the latter, and, later in the series, her character development allows her the opportunity to work beyond her grudge, do the right thing and become a better person.
  • Zechs Merquise from Gundam Wing; after achieving his initial goal of revenge for the destruction of his homeland and the murder of his parents, sets about trying to realize their goal of a peaceful world - the exact same goal his sister Relena, the show's female lead, is going for. The major difference is that Zechs is a Well-Intentioned Extremist more than willing to hold the Villain Ball in order to scare the planet towards peace - and his personal pride keeps drawing him into battles with protagonist Heero.
  • Bleach: The entire Seireitei (sans Aizen and company) in the Soul Society arc, if you look at it from their point of view—they're giving out lawful punishment to a criminal, and Ichigo and friends are the equivalent of an armed mob raiding the police station to break her out.
  • The court in Seirei no Moribito. They only want to destroy the water demon that will cause a drought in the land, and none of them are very happy about the fact that the host has to die to do it. It's not really their fault that they don't know the true nature of the possession. They learn otherwise, which ends up aligning them with the heroes instead.
  • Ryuhou from S-Cry-ed is actually less evil and more concerned with the welfare of most people than the Jerk with a Heart of Gold protagonist, Kazuma. About half of HOLY qualifies as this, because they either don't know how evil the organization is or believe that it's necessary to bring peace.
    • Since Ryuhou and Kazuma get about equal screen time, Ryuhou is a joint protagonist—several episodes focus on his perspective. He evolves into a protagonist in the episodes following his second battle with Kazuma, but up until then he's just painted as a semi-peaceful well-meaning villain.
  • Hellsing:
    • Alexander Anderson and the Vatican in general. Anderson's a Sociopathic Hero, sure, but it's about the best you can get in Hellsing anyway.
    • Vatican Section XIII, the Iscariot Organization to which Anderson belongs, goes well off the deep end in the manga by waging another crusade on both Millenium and all of England, swinging them into literal Knight Templar territory. This actually highlights Anderson's own moral compass because he assists in killing his Complete Monster boss for his crimes.
    • Granted, even that fails to make them worse than the protagonists.
  • Team Unicorn and Team Ragnarok of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's.
  • Kira Yamato qualifies as one in Gundam SEED Destiny, against the Anti-Hero Shinn Asuka, until the supposed role switch after the destruction of Freedom Gundam.
  • The Allied Forces in Axis Powers Hetalia could be seen this way. The Axis has the sympathetic POV.
  • Angel, a.k.a. Tachibana Kanade, in Angel Beats!.
  • Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne has Miyako, her best friend and pursuer, and Chiaki/Sinbad, who tries to stop her from helping the Devil because he is working for God all along.
  • In the first arc after the Time Skip in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Rossiu ends up sentencing Simon to death and abandoning a large proportion of the Earth's population to probable death in order to protect the peace and then the world. They also become kind of a prick. Though torn by guilt, no one condemns them, except the less rational good guys and many fans - though in the latter case it's mostly due to the character's becoming kind of a prick.
  • By the end of Shakugan no Shana, Yuji Sakai with Snake of the Festival are this trope. They get to save the world and make the Flame Haze the bad guys without them knowing it.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Finch from V for Vendetta in the sense of My Country, Right or Wrong.
  • Argent the Wolf of Grendel, who's opposed to the Villain Protagonist Grendel (particularly Hunter Rose, but later on Christine Spar) as an Anti-Hero Werewolf who is compelled to take down what the series equates to the Devil.
  • The U.S. military is usually portrayed this way in The Hulk, as they usually genuinely believe that the Hulk is a dangerous monster that they need to stop. Stan Lee commented in an interview that portraying them that way allowed him to get around the Comics Code insistence that authority figures always be portrayed positively. Lately this has changed, there has been a trend to portray General Ross, who usually commands the anti-Hulk military forces, as a General Ripper.
  • Lex Luthor: Man of Steel frames Superman as this for Lex Luthor. Played with, however, in that while it's Lex Luthor's moment in the sun and Superman is correspondingly depicted in a cold, inhuman and alien fashion, it's still made abundantly clear that he's a better man than Lex Luthor will ever be.
  • The New York Police Department to Rorschach in Watchmen.
  • Susie Derkins from Calvin and Hobbes, but mostly because Calvin makes her the antagonist.
  • Superman in The Dark Knight Returns qualifies, as he genuinely tries to do the right thing, but he's a bit too willing to bow to authority for Batman's liking.
  • Batman in the Wonder Woman story "The Hiketeia".
  • While Enemy Ace Hans von Hammer is a sympathetic character, most American readers would also regard his British, French, and American adversaries as "the good guys."
  • The DC Comics supervillain Kobra starred in his own series and his worst enemy was his own twin brother, since they had a psychic bond that prevented Kobra from killing him without dying himself.
  • Eclipso is another DC Villain Protagonist whose nemesis was his own heroic Enemy Without.
  • In Empowered, most of Emp's jerkass teammates qualify, particularly Sister Spooky (although she becomes more sympathetic and less hostile towards Emp in the later volumes).
  • An early installment of Tintin has Nestor the butler as this. He's working for someone he doesn't know is evil, and for much of the plot he actively sabotages Tintin and the Captain.


Fan Works[edit | hide]


Film - Animated[edit | hide]

  • A horse fills this role in Tangled. More specifically, Maximus, the Guard Captain's Steed, who happens to be a hell of a lot smarter than his rider.
  • MetroMan from Megamind.
  • Clopin actually becomes one near the end of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Yes, everyone's favorite Gypsy king and master of ceremonies, who is often cheerful and friendly, and suddenly become a cruel judge presiding over a Joker Jury in the Court of Miracles!
  • Copper for the second half of The Fox and The Hound.


Film - Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • US Marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) in the role that made him famous: The Fugitive. His quest is to capture the hero, who is an (innocent) fugitive from justice.

Sam Gerard: It's all over, Richard.
Richard Kimble: I didn't kill my wife!
Sam Gerard: I don't care!

  • Colin Farrel's FBI Agent brought in to investigate Pre-Crime in Minority Report.
  • Jack Valentine of the movie Lord of War. He's a good, idealistic Interpol agent opposed to the amoral arms-dealer Villain Protagonist.
  • Prendergast in Falling Down. Unlike Bill Foster, who is on his violent rampage against the petty frustrations of modern society, Det. Prendergast tracks him down while constructively dealing with his own annoyances with empathy and maturity.
  • Carl Hanratty in Catch Me If You Can.
  • Most of the colonial officers and men (such as Commodore Norrington) that oppose Jack Sparrow throughout the Pirates of the Caribbean films, since they are technically trying to bring a wanted criminal to justice. Cutler Beckett is a total bastard though.
  • Iceman from Top Gun. He's a git, but he's on our side.
    • He even has a point regarding Maverick being too dangerous. Really, all he wants is what's best for the navy.
  • Harvey Keitel in Thelma and Louise.
  • O'Malley and basically all the cops in Dog Day Afternoon.
  • Antoine Richis, in Perfume, played by Alan Rickman. Richis is an intelligent nobleman and loving father who tries to protect the city and his beautiful daughter from the protagonist, a serial killer who preys on virginal girls.
  • Brad Pitt's team in Inglourious Basterds are presented in this way, as for most of the movie, we are either following around their enemy Col. Landa or an entirely different plot. We still root for the Basterds, though - Landa is about the only character who can pull off Magnificent Bastard and Complete Monster at the same time.
  • Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis in Public Enemies spends the whole movie trying to stop Villain Protagonist John Dillinger. Based on Real Life. Interestingly, the film undercuts Purvis' competence and implies that Charles Winstead was the agent really responsible for taking Dillinger down.
  • The human cops from The Matrix, as far as they know.
  • The (genuinely good) cops in The Player.
  • The Medjai function this way, at least at first, in The Mummy 1999. While they attack the protagonists, it's only to stop them from awakening Imhotep.
  • Ditto for Kazim in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He doesn't know Indy's intentions and just wants to protect the grail from falling into the wrong hands, and when the misunderstanding is cleared up, he helps out.
  • Tobias Ragg from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He distrusted Sweeney Todd and killed him at the end of the movie. Unfortunately, he Failed a Spot Check and trusted Mrs. Lovett completely.
    • Lucy also qualifies, but she suspects Mrs. Lovett and tries to warn Todd.
  • Jack Welles from Takers. While the bank robbers were the Villain Protagonists, he's a cop trying to stop them.
  • FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley fulfills this role in The Town. While he was very much a Jerkass and not quite as personally sympathetic as the Villain Protagonists, he was ultimately an FBI agent trying to shut down a ruthless and rather dangerous gang of bank robbers.
  • The Negotiator. Kevin Spacey plays a negotiator who tries to negotiate another (rogue) negotiator (protagonist Samuel L Jackson) out of doing something dumb after he holds up some hostages because he was framed for murdering his partner. As far as Spacey is concerned, Jackson is armed, has hostages and is therefore the villain.
  • Dr. Cawley in Shutter Island.
  • The stoner guards in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. Between their total incompetence at guarding the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame and the D's total incompetence at robbing it, the two groups are a close match.
  • The teacher devoted to exposing the protagonist as the eponymous Bad Teacher.
  • It may be hard to notice because he's an alcoholic Jerkass but Osbourne Cox of Burn After Reading is consistently the one being wronged and hurt by the protagonists, without him ever having hurt any of them.
  • A comedic/incompetent version is Marshal Willenholly from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Holly Short in the first Artemis Fowl.
  • Morgan from The Dresden Files, who watches Harry like a hawk, convinced that he's either a traitor to the White Council or just into Black Magic. At the same time, he's a warrior who will do anything to stop evil and protect the innocent. Eventually, he gets over his distrust of Harry; he still thinks Harry's a loose cannon, sure (and he's not exactly wrong, either), but he sees that Harry's trying to do good. Then, he dies.
  • Hanocheck in Karen Miller's Godspeaker Trilogy.
  • Kariya Matou in Fate/Zero. His reason for entering the Grail War and deciding to endure horrible torture and surely die no more than two weeks after the Grail War ends to make up for his lack of training? Because he's the Unlucky Childhood Friend of Tokiomi Tohsaka's wife and he wants to save her daughter, because he knows pretty well what kind of magecraft the Makiri family perfected. Oh, and since he failed, just look what happened to Sakura in Heaven's Feel Route. Granted, his ending and last couple of actions aren't exactly very heroic, but yea, the motive was good.
  • Duke Michael in The Prisoner of Zenda. Unquestionably a better person and ruler than the legitimate king, and almost as good as the main character.
  • The Discworld story The Last Hero has this as a major plot point. Cohen and the Silver Horde are traditional fantasy heroes, but they are convinced their plan is bad once an honest man with a simple sword stands alone against them to stop it. This is mainly because they know they're traditional fantasy heroes.
    • Also a plot point in Witches Abroad, in which wicked witch Granny Weatherwax is the one aiming to stop a fairy godmother trying to force storybook endings onto people. During their encounter, said godmother insists that she's the Good One.
    • Played with in The Truth, in which the protagonist William de Worde (mind you, not a Villain Protagonist) finds his work as a journalist significalty complicated by one Sir Samuel Vimes, Commander of the City Watch. Most readers will know Vimes to be a thoroughly decent, if perpetually grumpy, person and, as such, can understand where he's coming from.
  • Claude Lebel, the man assigned to catch the eponymous assassin of The Day of the Jackal.
    • After Lebel is introduced, the plot stops following the Jackal exclusively, and is as much Lebel's story as it is the Jackal's, so Lebel goes back and forth between being a Hero Antagonist, and a straight Hero. The Jackal goes back and forth between being a straight Villain and a Villain Protagonist.
  • Ged, the protagonist from A Wizard of Earthsea, serves as the Hero Antagonist to Tenar in the follow up book, The Tombs of Atuan. Tenar spends the entire book as a priestess to a cabal of evil spirits posing as gods, and when Ged clues her into that fact, she Heel Face Turns and sides with him—much to the chagrin of her old bosses.
  • Macduff, from Macbeth. Naturally, the title character is also the Villain Protagonist.
  • Thot Keer from Star Trek: Typhon Pact, Zero Sum Game. A Breen shipyard manager, his work crews are developing a prototype starship using stolen Federation technology, and the protagonist's mission is to destroy both prototype and shipyard. Keer is certainly not a villain, though; he is merely a patriot who takes pride in his work, and displays great bravery and (for want of a better term) humanity throughout the novel.
  • The entire Jedi Order plays this role in the Darth Bane trillogy as the books focus on the perspective of the titular Sith Lord and his apprentice Zannah.
  • Roy Merritt in Daemon. Though we eventually know better, Sobol is a dangerous maniac who employs a menagerie of vicious sociopaths.
  • Porfiry Petrovich, the brilliant and implacable policeman investigating Raskolnikov, in Crime and Punishment.
  • Overlapping with, and the Trope Namer for, The Javert is Inspector Javert from Les Misérables. While we know Jean Valjean has reformed by the end, he still broke parole, resisted arrest and escaped from prison.
  • FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley and the other FBI agents in Prince of Thieves.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Gerard, from The Fugitive. (In fact, pretty much every Inspector Javert other than Javert himself qualifies.)
  • Sergeant Doakes in Dexter. Somehow, he's the only one in a precinct full of cops and forensic specialists to get a creepy vibe off serial killer protagonist Dexter. This doesn't end well for him.
    • Special Agent Frank Lundy in the second season of the same. He probably would have caught Dexter if it weren't for Doakes' suspicious and secretive behavior making him more conspicuous than Dexter.
  • Jack Walters, Joanne Meltzer, and later, Jeffery Sykes on Profit.
  • Major Beck in Jericho.
  • Most of the less-developed alliance officers in Firefly qualify as this.
    • Word of God (see the commentary track for Serenity) is that the Alliance as an organization is not evil, it's just plagued with idiot optimism and thinks it can make people better.
    • ... granted, everything we ever see them do ranges from evil to indifferent (but hostile). Maybe this counts as Offscreen Heroism?
  • In the second season of Dollhouse, Senator Daniel Perrin is definitely this as he tries to expose the corrupt Rossum corporation, the Dollhouse's main benefactor. Until it turns out that he's a Doll imprinted to investigate the Dollhouse so that he can "discover" convincing evidence that it doesn't exist and exonerate Rossum.
  • Many of the antagonists in Merlin are just working to bring down King Uther, who is undoubtably a tyrant.
    • Arthur occasionally lapses into this. While he's undoubtedly The Hero, he has been raised from birth to be distrustful of magic and will not hestitate to arrest anyone caught using it, even though the penalty is death. What seperates him from Uther is that he does this not out of maliciousness, but because it is his Father's law and he's honour bound to obey it.
  • Agent Hank Schrader of Breaking Bad. Something of an interesting case in that he doesn't know the Villain Protagonist he's chasing is his own brother-in-law.
  • Being a show about an outlaw biker gang and heavy on Grey and Gray Morality, Sons of Anarchy falls into this trope almost as often as it features its opposite, with examples ranging from the idealistic Deputy Hale to the cynical but loyal Lieutenant Roosevelt.
  • In the Angel episode "Sanctuary" Buffy becomes this. She wants to kill Faith, doesn't matter if Angel is in the way, she wants to kill him. The former lovers even come to blows because of it, and part on bad terms.
  • Lee Jin Pyo in The City Hunter: His entire black ops team was murdered by their own government, who first denied their existence and then branded them as traitors. As he's a "dead man," he can't work/live in his native Korea. He just wants to expose their corruption and get revenge on the ones who ordered his team's execution.
  • On Leverage, Sterling is this, as an insurance investigator and later Interpol agent up against a team of thieves. It doesn't help him that he is a Magnificent Bastard who is able to always win and seems Affably Evil.

Mythology[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Feudalism: Hector. There are a number of scholars who believe that The Iliad is the Tragedy of Hector, not Achilles. They cite as evidence the facts that the Trojans are portrayed far more sympathetically than the Greeks, Achilles finding redemption instead of punishment at the end, and the fact that the narrative ends with Hector's funeral.
    • Dante went so far as to place Hector in Limbo (the nicest place a pre-Christian could end up) in The Divine Comedy, and he became part of the Nine Worthies, nine personifications of Chivalrous behaviour, during the Medieval ages (mind you, the other pagan "Worthies" were Julius Caesar and Alexander, whose "chivalry" should probably be taken with a grain of salt). History certainly treated Hector better than it did most of the invading Greeks, due to the perception of him as a noble man trying to defend his home over his brother's folly and the Greeks' warmongering.
      • Dante was of the belief that the Trojans were the ancestors of the Roman founders and the Judeo-Claudian dynasty—who in turn were the ancestors of Italians, particularly the Florentines. This colors his attitude somewhat, such as placing Ulysses and Diomedes deep in Hell for the Trojan Horse gambit.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Agent Edgar Ross from Red Dead Redemption. At the core, he wants to bring law, order, and civilization as well as round up all those who seek to destroy it. Were he not the antagonist, we would likely think he's onto something, perhaps even root for him in secret.
  • In Deus Ex, after you defect from UNATCO, any cop or U.S. or UNATCO soldier that truly believes he is fighting for the greater good and is not flat out sadistic or part of the conspiracy, fit this trope.
  • Ash Crimson from The King of Fighters series. His actions make him a villain, but in the end, it's for the sake of stopping an even greater evil, who happens to be the final boss of KOF XIII.
  • Hakumen from BlazBlue, one of the Six Legendary Heroes who saved the world from the attack of The Black beast. He wants to prevent a rebirth of The Black Beast by killing Ragna. He is not open to alternative solutions.
    • In the end of the sequel, the mantle of Hero Antagonist goes to Litchi Faye-Ling. She's still the same kind-hearted woman, but opposes Ragna because Ragna's opposition (NOL) took captive of her love interest, and a Complete Monster Troll convinced her thoroughly that they have a mean to restore said interest. To top it all off, she's dying because she was exposed to the same thing he was (dying is a better case, the worst case is, she turns into the same monster that her love interest becomes and consumes everything in her path, including the innocents she grew to love), and anyone who could help her refuses to. She's reluctant to fight for that evil organization, but she really didn't have a better option.
  • Jowy Atreides, from Suikoden II. A long time friend of the main hero, Riou, he is destined to come into conflict due to picking up opposing runes (Jowy picks up the Black Sword Rune and Riou the Bright Shield Rune). Jowy ends up betraying and murdering (although not willingly) the mayor of Muse, Anabelle. He ends up becoming king of Highland. He ends up as a Hero Antagonist because he helps bring down Complete Monster, Luca Blight, as well as using his strength to keep the Beast Rune at bay. He ends up having the same goals as Riou, to end the war and to unify the land. The problem is that he and his friend, Riou, lead opposing forces. His love of the orphan Pilika truly drives Jowy in his goals for peace.
  • Thorndyke from Soul Nomad. Also, everyone but the complete monsters in the Demon Path.
  • Meta Knight from the Kirby series.
    • Also, King Dedede in Kirby's Adventure.
  • Harpuia from Mega Man Zero. He even prefers to be destroyed than to be possessed by a manifestation of evil in the second game.
    • By extension, Harpuia's fellow Guardians, Leviathan, Fefnir and Phantom, as well as all of the Bosses prior to Zero 3, fit this trope. They were only following orders for the sake of protecting humanity.
  • Arguably, Henry Townshend in Silent Hill 4. While he is the character the player controls, the storyline focuses far more on Walter.
  • Knuckles in certain Sonic the Hedgehog games, in particular those where he is tricked by Dr Eggman into stopping Sonic. He eventually realises he has been duped, and usually reverts to a side protagonist for the remainder of the story.
  • In Golden Sun, Felix, though this is not revealed until Golden Sun: The Lost Age, where a Perspective Flip occurs and Felix becomes the protagonist and Isaac becomes the Hero Antagonist.
  • Yuan from Tales of Symphonia, an Anti-Hero example.
  • Velvet from Odin Sphere, against both Ragnival and Ringford. Given Gwendolyn and Mercedes are guilty of most of the incidents of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero in the story (Velvet causes very little herself), she's rather justified.
  • Gordon Freeman and Cpl Adrian Shepherd are the protagonists of different Half Life games, working to opposing ends. Shep wants to catch Freeman, for starters, and Freeman has nuked a number of soldiers.
  • White Knight Leo from Lunar 2.
  • Subverted in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. Mao is a Villain Protagonist (Noble Demon type), and Super Hero Aurum is originally portrayed as some legendary super hero. The subversion occurs around Chapter 8, when the player discovers that Aurum is nothing but a big phony who's so foul that even demons scorn him (especially his transformation).
  • In one Rikti War Zone/Vanguard arc of City of Heroes, rival organization Longbow becomes full-on Hero Antagonists. Not to mention sister game City of Villains, where Longbow is just one such group.
  • The Queen Fay and the Elves of the Everlight Sanctuary in Overlord II, even though the Elves are, for the most part, whiny hippies concerned mostly with protecting cute and furry creatures. Eventually, while sacrificing her energy to help the Overlord defeat The Empire, she is corrupted by his magic and becomes a Fallen Hero who decides that Evil Feels Good.
  • Ky Kiske from Guilty Gear (not so much in Guilty Gear 2: Overture).
  • With the exception of Leon, the Imperial Army of Yggdra Union are actually honest and sometimes heroic characters who are simply fighting for their own beliefs.
  • In both Dungeon Keeper games, aside from when you fight other Keepers, your opponents are mainly stock fantasy heroes.
  • Persona 4 has a subversion with Taro Namatame, who started kidnapping people after the death of Saki Konishi due to being tricked into believing that TV World was a shelter from the true killer, not knowing that all the characters were saved due to the efforts of the Main Character and his friends. The player can either punish him by tossing him into the TV and letting him get slaughtered by Shadows, or hear him out, where they will learn his side of the story, and he, in turn, will understand what he's done and willingly accepting the consequences.
  • The Metal Gear series is so full of lies and deceptions (and lots of RetCons very well disguised as such) that you can never really tell who is on which side, or even which sides there are. The prime example would be The Boss in MGS3 whose heroic identity is only revealed after being killed by the protagonist.
  • In Touhou Project 12: Undefined Fantastic Object, the ancient mage the antagonists were trying to unseal turns out to be a Buddhist monk seeking to bring peace and harmony to Youkai. And she still fights you as the final boss.
    • Technically, the entire plot of Touhou 10: Mountain of Faith counts. Sanae didn't know the Hakurei Shrine was key to Gensokyo's survival; she saw competition for the faith her gods needed to survive, from a Shrine Maiden who wasn't even protecting humanity from the youkai. So she tried to shut down the Hakurei Shrine, and got her ass (and her gods') kicked by Reimu (or Marisa).
  • Aldaris from StarCraft, as explained here.
  • Some parts of the campaign in Warcraft III and its expansion have the player control a villainous army, making the enemy army a Hero Antagonist (except the Blackrock orcs, who are pretty evil themselves).
  • Araman from Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. From his point of view, unless the protagonist can be stopped somehow, the world will end.
    • Okku is this as well, for pretty much the same reason. However, if you decide to spare him after the final fight against him, he'll decide to help you.
  • The police in any illegal street racing game, such as Need for Speed.
  • Pac-Man. No really. Think about it...those ghosts aren't the villains hunting down Pacman for sport. They're PROTECTING THEIR FOOD SUPPLY!
  • In Street Fighter Alpha 3, if you play as Vega/M. Bison, then Ryu becomes this in the final battle.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Captain Gantu may technically count as this.
    • Not to mention Master Eraqus. The characters weren't the only ones shedding Manly Tears when that happened.
  • In Sin and Punishment 2: The Star Successor, The Nebulox are fighting against Isa and Kachi to help the humans of Earth-5. Also, from their perspective, Kachi is a major danger to their entire civilization - she was originally sent to Inner Space to recon Earth-4 for attack, but lost her memory.
  • Carmelita Fox of Sly Cooper. This epileptic-accented cop can be a pain in the ass, but she still means well, and at times will even join up with the gang to face the various Big Bads of the series.
  • Axel Almer in Super Robot Wars Original Generation gets shades of this in the enhanced remake, becoming a Noble Demon whose greatest concern is to defeat a psychopathic monstrous man (Beowulf) responsible for numerous atrocities in his (Axel's) home world. This is even moreso in The Anime of the Game, where said psychopathic monstrous man's first scene involve crossing the Moral Event Horizon. Then, in the opening credits, Axel fights off the main character (Kyosuke), under justification that he won't let another Beowulf be created from Kyosuke. By the time of the Gaiden Game, he drops the 'Antagonist' part while keeping the same goal (growing an 'Anti' in the front instead due to not being officially in the protagonist team).
  • Ash from Atelier Iris 3 simply wants to use the Escalario to stop Uroborus from awakening. To do this, he tries to kill Edge and Nell, and kidnap Iris, the only person able to use the Escalario.
  • Saladin, the captain of the guard at the Castle of the Crown in King's Quest VI, is perhaps the noblest of all the characters in the game. He has an antagonistic role only because he has been deceived by Alhazred and has a strong sense of duty regarding his job, and he does eventually wise up.
  • N in Pokémon Black and White considers himself to be a hero, and is the most sympathetic of the five evil team leaders met so far, but is still portrayed as the bad guy...until after your final battle against him, when it's revealed that his father Ghetsis was behind it all and N was simply a well-intentioned Tyke Bomb.
  • Alakazam and his team in Red/Blue Rescue Team. When the protagonist and teamate end up being tossed into exile, Alakazam and his team are the leaders of the hunt for the protagonist's head.
    • And Palkia from the sequel, who thinks that the hero is threatening to destroy the universe. However, it turns out that he was tricked: Darkrai was the one threatening to destroy everything, and he actually made it look like it was the hero's fault.
  • In the first Max Payne, Lt. Jim Bravura and the rest of the NYPD. In the 2nd game, Bravura becomes Da Chief.
  • Double Switch: Lyle the Handyman is definitely this.
  • The freeware indie game Akuji the Demon has the final boss being the hero who defeated and banished you into the dungeon.
  • Wiegraf is one of these during the prologue of Final Fantasy Tactics and remains so to a lesser extent, later in the story. He starts out as a Holy Knight fighting against the aristocracy for very justifiable reasons. His only really even vaguely selfish or villainous actions are his attempts to take revenge on Ramza for killing his sister, but Wiegraf also doesn't know that Ramza tried to avoid killing her. Wiegraf later becomes a Fallen Hero, however, as revenge drives him off the slippery slope.
  • Battle for Wesnoth features campaigns like Descent to Darkness where many antagonists are heroes trying to defeat the necromancers.
  • Both the NCR and Mr House in Fallout: New Vegas if you support Caesar's Legion. The Brotherhood of Steel can become one in Fallout 3 if you destroy the Citadel. Of course, since this is a series where you can nuke entire cities for kicks, pretty much any decent individual in the wasteland can become one if they get on the wrong side of the player.
    • Fallout 3 also has the Regulators who will hunt down the player if s/he has Evil Karma.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Berk, who appears at first as Gwynn's weird and annoying new boyfriend, but then, in the chapter "K'Z'K", tries to assassinate several main characters -- because he's been sent from the future to stop them from causing The End of the World as We Know It by summoning the demon K'Z'K.
    • Pretty much all the holiday figures in "Holiday Wars" Sluggy Freelance, thanks to Bun-bun being a sociopathic Villain Protagonist bent on world domination.
  • Miko Miyazaki of The Order of the Stick. A Lawful Good paladin that takes 'lawful' to ridiculous levels, she becomes convinced that the Order of the Stick are evil and tries to destroy them. She is so sure of herself and her own importance that she winds up causing a lot of damage, all the while thinking she was doing good. (Also, many characters and readers found her just plain annoying). That being said, her initial reason for pursuing the Order was that they were responsible (albeit unintentionally) for weakening the fabric of reality, and she came across a lot of evidence to suggest they were evil and dangerous (Roy and Elan landed on the Flumphs, Nale and Thog, their evil lookalikes, abused a dwarf, Belkar unnecessarily killed 3 barbarians as part of his initiation, and the weasel got chucked into the gaping mouths of a troll...ogre...large green brute thingie)
    • It certainly doesn't help matters that Belkar really is (chaotic) evil.
    • She eventually manages to work her delusion around to the point that she commits an unquestionably evil act (killing a man who, while by no means pure as the driven snow, really was acting for the greater good and certainly was innocent of the crime for which he was killed), falls, and still manages to convince herself that she's the gods' favored warrior and that this is some kind of test she has to overcome. Not that this means much to Miko now, seeing as she's dead and all. She remains erroneously and stubbornly convinced of the justness of her actions, and only has vague realizations when the ghost of the founder of her order explained to her in detail how she screwed up during her final moments.
    • A minor character example would be YokYok, a Captain Ersatz of Inigo Montoya who serves as an inversion of the Evil Counterpart trope for Heroic Comedic Sociopath Belkar Bitterleaf, stating that he joined the Linear Guild in order to find the one who killed his father.
    • In Start of Darkness, the members of the Order of the Scribble, most notably Durokan and Lirian, serve this to Xykon and Redcloak.
  • Othar Tryggvasen (Gentleman Adventurer!) of Girl Genius. A very interesting example, in that his stated goal of killing all the world's Sparks, ending finally with him committing suicide, appears to place him squarely in the realm of being a Villain with Good Publicity. It is only when one looks at how nearly every Spark he has ever encountered has acted, killing dozens to thousands of innocent people, either deliberately or as an accidental consequence of their mad inventions, to the point of having already severely depopulated the entire continent of Europe (as documented in his twitter account on the Girl Genius website), that it becomes clear that he may be a legitimate hero whose actions are fully justified. Indeed, the heroine of the story, whom he previously tried to kill when she was completely innocent has since killed hundreds of innocent people after being possessed by the spirit of another spark, and in one possible future timeline, his failure to complete his self-appointed mission results in the apparent eradication of human life in Western Europe, apparently within a few years of the main storyline.
    • Note that Othar clearly could have killed DuMedd (himself a spark) had he wanted to, but never did anything (harmful) to him or even brought up his "kill-all-sparks" agenda upon learning he was not only a fan of Othar himself but also Agatha's cousin. His goals may not be so extreme as he claimed when he was in The Madness Place.
      • On the other hand, his twitter has him killing a college student and her father (Because she was a spark and he said that the worst thing that could happen to a parent is their child to die before he did), derailing a train and becoming a Cop Killer.
    • Klaus Wulfenbach is an even straighter example. He's almost the Only Sane Man in Europe, which means that he's got to play whack-a-mole with every crazed Spark or creation that gets loose. And given Agatha's family history, he's got every reason to want to keep her locked down until she can be proven safe. Of course, as Agatha is the protagonist, she isn't about to tamely sit down and let him hold her.
      • It's even worse in that he is half-rightly convinced that Agatha could be the Biggest Bad of all time—the spark that destroyed most of Europe while he was removed from the picture decades ago and who may have the secrets of time travel on top of a host of other horrifying technologies. If he's right, he has to destroy her to save the world. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the full picture, and the pieces he knows look really bad for Agatha.
  • The Robot Masters in the 6th Megaman storyline in Bob and George were Hero Antagonists trying to stop a rampaging Brainwashed and Crazy Villain Protagonist Mega Man.
  • The main characters in Niels are murdering, scheming, criminal mobsters. The antagonists are two good cops and a pervy secret agent trying to take them down.
  • One of the main antagonists of True Villains is a Paladin, fighting for God.
  • What's New with Phil and Dixie presents: The happy crew of weatherbright!

Everybody has an "Evil Twin", right? Well, these guys see our Weatherlight crew as their evil twins and act accordingly. They're not villains, per se, but everybody hates them.

  • Last Res0rt features Jason Spades, a hero on his home planet of Fenirel who happens to want to viciously kill Daisy to the exclusion of everything else, even if 'everything else' is something like getting the rest of the crew (including himself!) off an enemy ship alive.
  • Schlock Mercenary had Major Murtaugh from Sanctum Adroit, By-The-Book Rent-a-Cop contracted to protect the local boss who made himself a trouble to Toughs for once not seeking any. Of course, actually she got between two groups within U.N.S. intelligence, one of which was setting her up as a scapegoat for covert research they sponsored. She ended up arresting their "partner" herself and even managed to avoid any losses to her company, though this got her kicked out of her team for entering a secret deal that involved keeping all the scandalous circumstances under wraps. Later she joined Tagon's Toughs at the initiative of Kaff's father, likely looking for personal goals, as well as an unattached competent officer.

Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Dib from Invader Zim, an eleven-year-old paranormal investigator trying to prevent the alien Zim from taking over the world. However, Invader Zim has numerous Villain Episodes where Dib is the main character, making him the protagonist (and usually casting Zim as the antagonist) a good portion of the time.
    • Dib is really closer to the Deuteragonist. He and Zim team up almost as often as they fight, and a fair number of episodes are about Dib dealing with other stuff while Zim makes only a cursory appearance.
  • Kevin from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy is usually this to the Eds, though sometimes he really overdoes it.
  • Batman in Batman the Brave And The Bold episode "Joker: The Vile and the Villainous!" Even sporting lines like “You’re a fool if you think you can stop my master plan!” Said plan? A device that tracks crimes as they happen summoning the police or himself to the scene.
  • Borderline case with The Dreamstone. There isn't very much antagonistic about the Land Of Dreams, at all. It is perhaps for that reason however, that the heroes are kept somewhat flat compared to the villains and tend to get the shorter straw in Sympathetic POV in most episodes. The odd episode attempts to make them the more sympathable side however.
  • Candace in Phineas and Ferb, although "Anti-Hero Antagonist" might fit better.
  • The Road Runner of Looney Tunes fame is one of the most iconic Hero Antagonist of Western Animation; the shorts granted little character to the bird outside his fast speed and his trademark "Beep Beep", and all sympathetic spotlight was deliberately kept on its predator, Wile E. Coyote.
    • Other Looney Tunes protagonists such as Bugs and Speedy occasionally leaned into this trope as well, many of their respective shorts focusing more on the blundering of their foes.
  • The Yankee Doodle Pigeon of Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines was implied to be of heroic alliance, delivering important messages to squadrons. However, his role rarely exceeded outside blowing his patriotic trumpet and giving bewildered glances to the Vulture Squadron's blundering attempts to "Stop That Pigeon".
  • Ranger Smith from Yogi Bear. All he's trying to do is keep Yogi and Boo Boo from stealing food from the campers at Jellystone Park. A few cartoons show that he even cares for them and gets upset if he thinks they're in trouble.
  • Xander Crews from Frisky Dingo, also known as the superhero Awesome X. He's also one of the biggest dicks in a show made almost entirely of dicks, sometimes even more than Killface himself (who kills one of his PR reps in the first episode and then uses the guy's remains as a ventriloquist dummy in front of his twin brother.)