Fictional heroes tend to be a diverse bunch, but most have one thing in common: a morally positive motivation. Even morally questionable heroes usually are at least partially motivated by a genuine concern for others, desire for justice, belief in playing by the rules, etc.
The Nominal Hero is the exception to this rule. While at least technically on the side of good, their motivations are neutral at best.
So why are they on the side of good? Usually, it's one of the following:
- Annoyance. For these characters, It's Personal. Maybe the villain was rude to them in the past, or maybe they think the villain’s costume is tacky. They aren't interested in fighting evil, they want to see their opponent defeated. Often overlaps with Enemy Mine.
- Boredom. These characters are basically fighting for good because they don't have anything better to do. They don't care if the heroes actually succeed, they just enjoy the adventure. A Heroic Comedic Sociopath or The Trickster might have this motivation.
- Mutual Interest. These characters have selfish reasons to hope the heroes succeed. Often, they are characters who would normally be villains, but their future plans are threatened by a mutual enemy. Often an Enemy Mine. A Magnificent Bastard might aid heroes to manipulate events in their favor as a standard tactic.
- Relationships. Not every Nominal Hero only cares about themselves. Some Nominal Heroes have a love interest or someone else they do care about. A Nominal Hero might do something heroic to impress or rescue that someone, even though they couldn't care less if other people die.
- Reward. These characters want something in return for their help, such as a share of the treasure, or simply something to look good on their resume. They aren't interested in whether anyone else benefits. The Miles Gloriosus is an example of a character type that might choose to join a band of heroes for this reason.
- Force. Some characters become heroes because they literally aren't allowed to be anything else. Maybe they're on an Explosive Leash or are a Cosmic Plaything, but when they fight for the side of good, it's only because it's their only option other than perhaps death.
- Other motivations. Not all Nominal Heroes need to have a good motivation, or one that makes any sense to others. They might be a Cloudcuckoolander or have Blue and Orange Morality.
This type of hero is rarely averse to working alone, with other heroes, or for the Big Bad, if they think it is in their interest. Being a Heel Face Revolving Door is no big deal, because from their point of view, they never really switched sides, just tactics. When working for a villain, it will usually be as a Dragon with an Agenda, Psycho for Hire, or The Starscream; this character will betray the villain the moment the villain's plans interfere with their own. On a team of otherwise conventional heroes, they'll often be in an Enemy Mine, Sociopathic Hero, or Token Evil Teammate role. Other heroes may only work with them because they could use all the help they can get, or specifically to keep an eye on the Hero in Name Only, so that they don't become a more serious threat.
In terms of sympathy, the character can range from a Complete Monster whose only admirable quality is that the villain they oppose is marginally worse than they are, to a Jerkass Woobie who might be very sympathetic indeed if they only cared about anything other than themselves. In either case, if heroes of this sort are the most prominent or the only people worth cheering for, the work may risk Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy.
Occasionally the writers deliberately use this type of character to induce mild Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy as a Deconstruction of more traditional hero types, or as a comedic element in a story that might otherwise become too serious.
Many other tropes about questionable heroes can overlap with Nominal Hero, but most are not true subtropes:
- An Accidental Hero, Reluctant Hero, or Unlikely Hero is at least as likely to turn out to be a Classical Anti-Hero at heart.
- The hero of a Black and Grey Morality or A Lighter Shade of Grey tale, Byronic Hero, Designated Hero, Fake Ultimate Hero, Hero with an F In Good, Nineties Anti-Hero, or The Trickster can also be a deeply flawed, yet nonetheless morally honorable person at heart.
- By definition, an Unscrupulous Hero is not a Nominal Hero, as an Unscrupulous Hero has a morally admirable motivation, depite the fact they commit villainous acts.
No real life examples, please; we generally frown on labeling real people as being villainous in nature.
- Byronic Hero lelouch from Code Geass.
- In Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta goes through a Nominal Hero phase as part of a several - arc Heel Face Turn, starting in the Namek arc as a Villain Protagonist seeking to overthrow his former master, and in the Cell and Buu arcs, defending earth, but only for his own selfish reasons.
- In Death Note, Mello is solely dedicated to being the one to stop Kira and is more than willing to become a mob boss, kidnap innocent girls, and in the manga, even threaten the President to sabotage his rival so said rival can't catch Kira.
- Guts of Berserk during his phase as the vengeance-obsessed Black Swordsman was very much this. An utterly ruthless warrior who cared about nothing except killing demons, and would not lift a finger to help innocents caught in the crossfire, considering them small fry without the strength to truly live, and in many cases, he could be seen as even more horrifying than the Apostles that he was driven to kill. Only after finding Casca again has he been able to move out of this territory, though he still has to deal with a particularly nasty Enemy Within that represents who he used to be.
- Mugen of Samurai Champloo is a Blood Knight who will frequently abandon his companions in the name of pursuing a good fight, and cares little for his promise to Fuu, instead trying to fulfill his promise to kill his rival, Jin. That said, he goes through a lot of Character Development by the end. Enough so that he honors his companions as true friends.
- Jin isn't much of a hero, either: though he operates by a pragmatic code, the first episode establishes him as something of a Reluctant Hero - if he happens to be at the right place at the right time, and something seems to be in it for him, he'll help out. His cold disdain for his companions is apparent, and he stays with Fuu for the same reasons as Mugen: he has nothing better to do and he wants to kill his rival. However, he also undergoes significant character development, explicitly naming Mugen and Fuu as his first true friends by the end.
- Desert Punk gives us more than one:
- Kanta has no real redeeming moral qualities and doesn't care about anything except money, boobs and staying alive. However, much of his work ends up being vaguely heroic because of the jobs he's assigned tend to be things like "Take out this gang terrorizing our town." By the end of the series he crosses the Moral Event Horizon and does a Face Heel Turn.
- Junko is equally amoral and only not a villain because her job is taking out people who tend to be worse and like Kanta, she ultimately pulls a Face Heel Turn.
- Rainspider is a heartless enforcer for loan sharks and implied deviant who has a tendency to abandon his teammates when battles are stacked against them. However, he's hilarious, and always follows his fleeing by a Big Damn Heroes moment at the right time. He's kind of more likable than Kanta, if no morally better.
- In the Anime version of Afro Samurai, the title character is something of a tragic example of this; he is not without some humanity in him, but ends up burying it in his all-consuming pursuit of vengeance and adherence to his brutal code of honor, to the point where it's not clear whether he;'s a Nominal Hero or a Villain Protagonist. Afro's goals are, effectively, identical to those that he fights, and a strong argument could be made that the audience only sympathizes with him because we saw his back story, and didn't see theirs.
- In Bleach:
- In Bastard!!, Noble Demon Dark Schneider has some Pet the Dog moments, but on the whole is an egocentric Jerkass and sadist who openly admits that as soon as he takes down the Big Bad of the series, he will subjugate the world through mass-murder and warfare. He also treats almost everyone rudely and gropes girls without any sense of shame.
- In Baccano!, the Rail Tracer (Claire Stenfield) of , saves a train and its passengers from being hijacked from two enemy factions, all the while winning the heart of a silent beauty. Nevermind that he's a trained mafia assassin who brutally murders dozens of people from both factions and tortures a little boy.
- Kyo of Samurai Deeper Kyo- pretty much see the description of Dark Schneider, except in Sengoku Japan and with no interest in world domination.
- Giuse of Gunslinger Girl. As he reveals to Henrietta, he's only nice to her until things go to hell and Henrietta is "reset to factory settings", leading Giuse to take a very steep dive over the Despair Event Horizon and treat her like he does practically everybody else following the realization that he could do nothing to help her. Later on, though, he thinks his behavior led Henrietta to frag him during the nuclear power plant strike.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has two; Hallelujah Haptism, the Super-Powered Evil Side of Reluctant Warrior Allelujah Haptism, and Nena Trinity in the second season by virtue of being against Ali Al-Saachez and Ribbons Almark, who are much, much worse than her.
- Gantz features a number of these. Several of the Osaka members are sadists who get off on hurting defenseless aliens who just happen to be their enemies. For the most part they could care less about their own team mates and even threaten to kill innocent people who simply irritate them. One is a serial rapist who rapes female aliens before murdering them in order to avoid being imprisoned for rape. Basically they are Complete Monster who just happen to be fighting for the good of mankind.
- Affably Evil Alucard from Hellsing
- Noble Demon Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho
- Genis-Vell, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, during his "space madness" phase. Genis was, at best, a Villain Protagonist with a severely warped sense of justice and rabid sense of entitlement. Rick Jones, to whom Genis was molecularly bonded, constantly opposed him and (rightly) questioned Genis's sanity. On one occasion, Genis bestowed powers upon a serial killer whom his friend Rick Jones had testified against in order to get the killer to stalk both Rick and his wife, Marlo. After putting Rick through absolute hell to the point where death seemed certain, Genis then executes the serial killer and explains to Rick that all of this was to teach Rick that he only lived on Genis's own whims, and that he was never to question him again.
- In Sin City, Miho's motives are unknown since she is mute, but she seems to have loyalty almost exclusively to Old Town. She has assisted Dwight in the past only because he once saved her life but that didn't stop her from essentially threatening to kill him if he interfered while she was torturing a corrupt cop in the middle of a street. Otherwise, the best you can say about her is that she doesn't target innocent people.
- From Watchmen, the Comedian: a laughing thrill-killing Blood Knight torturer, rapist, war criminal and all-around Psycho for Hire.
- In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hyde, Griffin, and Nemo are a pair of serial rapists and murderers, and a psychopathic pirate, respectively, who are offered an official pardon if they'll turn those qualities against the Empire's enemies. In the film version, Griffin is replaced by Loveable Rogue Rodney Skinner, and Hyde and Nemo get a makeover.
- Deadpool is an Ax Crazy Psycho for Hire Sociopathic Hero. He easily eclipses even the Punisher, as he frequently finds it funny to casually torture, dismember, and murder people.
- In Sam and Max Freelance Police, Max. considers it a compliment to be called a grade-A sociopath, and was even dubbed the most terrifyingly dangerous force in the universe by the villain in the video games. The only thing that really seems to keep him in line is his less sociopathic partner.
- Depending on the Writer, Lobo is sometimes portrayed as one, instead of a Satire, Parody, Pastiche of a Rule of Cool Badass unstoppable villain-full-stop. Considering that he is literally worse than Hitler, without any hyperbole involved, as he wiped out his own Pillars of Moral Character utopian species for kicks and giggles... when he was a teenager, this reveals a lot about media conventions in general.
- In Naruto Veangance Revelaitons, Ronan Beelzbub is a tyrannical king who fights against the forces of evil, especially when they kidnap one or more of his girlfriends, but it's often hard to see them as being worse than he is considering that he's also an abusive boyfriend, will persecute those who don't share his tastes and a jerk to ordinary people like shopkeepers.
- In Hulk, it's not entirely clear (until possibly the end) if the title character really knows and/or understands what he's doing.
- In the first Street Fighter film, Takuma "Terry" Tsurugi is a brutal and pitiless man. He sells a girl into slavery and kills her brother when they're not able to pay him for services rendered, and he's not above sacrificing innocents that he's not directly helping. He avoids Villain Protagonist territory by fighting against Yakuza, whom he despises, and working to protect the good guys, even though he does so for his own reasons. In the Video Game version, he's portrayed in a somewhat more positive light.
- In Braveheart, Steven the Irishman seems to have only joined the Scots because he'll be able to kill Englishmen, not to help the Scots get freedom.
- The Heisei incarnation of Godzilla saves the world, or at least Tokyo from other monsters, but it's not clear whether he has any motivations other than territorial instinct and devotion to his son, "Junior".
- The Expendables
- When ordered to rescue the President of the United States, Snake Plissken would gladly hijack his transportation and fly to Canada, but a bomb planted in his body makes him do otherwise.
- Sweeney Todd is another case where the only reason we even root for this guy is because he's fighting an even worse enemy (a Lawful Evil judge who transported him for life, raped his wife, sentences little boys to death, and harbors a creepy, creepy lust toward his adoptive daughter).
- Karsa Orlong from Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen is just about as anti as a hero can get. Being something of a Deconstruction of the Proud Warrior Race Guy, Karsa aims to improve the world... by slaughtering millions of people and smashing civilization back to barbarism.
- Yarol, the Venusian sidekick in C.L. Moore's Northwest Smith stories, is heavily implied to be this. The narration never specifies his enormities, but hints that his angelic beauty belies his absolutely evil nature.
- Senna Wales, the witch of Everworld. She is motivated by her completely selfish goal of overthrowing the powers of Everworld, seizing control over the foundations of reality, and then ruling over the universe as an absolute god. However, she is kept from being a Villain Protagonist because most of the real villains that she opposes (Huizilopocli, Hel, Ka Anor) are complete monsters, she helps the other protagonists more often than she goes against them, and she seems to genuinely think that Everworld and its people would be better off with her ruling them all.
- Even some of the Bindaf 3000 crew members in Stationery Voyagers have partially selfish motives. Pextel hopes that eventually, his acts will convince his mother to respect him again, and look past what he's become. Rhodney comes to believe he's wasting his life, and then gets bored with jumping ramps. A life of heroism and diplomacy? A cure for his own existential breakdown. Oceanoe joins because he has a score to settle with his treacherous older brother. Marlack wants to prove himself worthy of the ranch, and avenge his raped sister. Although they do act selflessly at times and do care about each other and about who gets hurt, their initial motives are understandably self-serving.
- Raistlin Majere is this in the original Dragonlance Chronicles triology. Really the only thing keeping him with the Heroes of the Lance is some lingering affection for some of them and the presence of his brother Caramon. Even during Chronicles Raistlin started drifting towards becoming the Token Evil Teammate and the Face Heel Turn was complete by the next triology Legends. Still he did earn his Redemption Equals Death and had a few Pet the Dog moments.
- Tony Soprano is a con artist, a thug, a womanizer, a thief, a murderer, an extortionist, and an adulterer - and yet somehow it's nearly impossible not to sympathize with him. The only things separating him from a Villain Protagonist are his genuine love for his family, kindness to his friends, and occasional pangs of guilt and moments of vulnerability. Oh, and the fact that his friends (and enemies) are even worse than he is.
- Dexter is at the far, dark end of this to the point where he could fairly be considered simply a likeable Villain Protagonist, being a Serial Killer who was disciplined at a young age to channel his sociopathy toward killing other evildoers.
- In Kamen Rider OOO, Ankh is only helping Eiji against the other Greeed because it's in his own best interests, and has no qualms about who is hurt so long as he gets what he wants. though he gradually transitions into a Knight in Sour Armor by the end.
- In the 2010 BBC modernization, Sherlock Holmes describes himself as a "High-Functioning Sociopath", and cautions Dr. Watson, "Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist, and if they did, I wouldn't be one of them," showing not only that his motivations are not those of a typical straight hero, but also that he has a very cynical worldview.
- In Father Ted, Father Jack Hackett is a violent, selfish, perverted alcoholic and flashbacks suggest he was once a bullying fire and brimstone preacher and a paedophile. The only thing keeping him from being a Villain Protagonist is that his alcoholism usually renders him too docile to harm anyone. And sometimes it does the exact opposite.
- Over the course of his development, Kerr Avon in Blake's 7 varies from Token Evil Teammate to a Jerk with a Heart of Gold but loses all sympathetic qualities towards the end of Series 4 when he tries to kill Vila in cold blood. He's still fighting the Lawful Evil Federation but he only cares about saving himself.
- His reasons for fighting the Federation also change as time passes: in Season 1 he claims to have nothing to do with Blake's revolution other than living on the same ship, in Season 2 he's playing along because he wants the ship, in Season 3 the Federation is a threat to his freedom and by Season 4 he genuinely hates them, though by this time he's sliding down the sanity slope and it's hard to tell what his true motivations are.
- Most of the other "good" main characters—except Blake, Cally, Dayna and perhaps Jenna and Gan—are being dragged along behind Blake's idealism. They fight because there's nowhere for them to run.
- Magna-Defender is like this in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. He may assist the rangers taking down a monster or two and want to take down Scorpious, but he's only does it for the revenge. This definitely becomes clearer when he tries to destroy Terra Venture because it might destroy Scorpious. Although he gets better, near the end.
- Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1997. Although events involving Bret Hart made him firmly a face in the fans' eyes, he retained all of the aspects that made him a heel, to the point where some fans thought he was just a Designated Hero. He beat up people who tried to help him, smashed Bret Hart's leg into oblivion with a chair and then hijacked an ambulance to beat him up some more and generally acted like a massive Jerkass to everyone.
- Similarly, Randy Orton still acted as a heel after his 2010 face turn, beating up anyone who gets in his way.
- Voiree Misallo from 8 Bit Gamers. Though firmly on the side of good after a religious experience and a genetic examination revealing her to be born with a semi-sociopathic defect, her motivation mostly has to do with wanting to avoid hell, keep her boyfriend, and remain friends with her True Companions.
- In Marathon, not only does Durandal make it quite clear that he is only fighting the Pfhor as a means of escaping the end of the universe, he is the one who brought the Pfhor to Tau Ceti in the original game, an action that resulted in the deaths of nearly everyone in the colony.
- In Hexen II, two of the heroes are the Assassin (who wants to prove she can kill the most powerful and best protected being on the planet) and the Necromancer (who has a problem with Eidolon being more feared than him).
- In God of War, Kratos, to the point that, particularly after the first game, many consider him an outright Villain Protagonist, even worse than the people (or gods) he's trying to kill.
- In which case the gods themselves become Nominal Hero antagonists. Their motivations for opposing Kratos are purely selfish, and they have little concern or empathy for humanity itself.
- In Drakengard, Caim is this in the first game. The only thing that made him "heroic" in the first place was the fact that he was fighting against an evil empire that was even worse. Once they're defeated, he defaults back to RIP AND TEAR.
- In Mass Effect 2:
- Zaeed Massani is a ruthless revenge obsessed merc on Commander Shepard's team. During his loyalty mission, he burns an entire refinery to the ground while callously disregarding the innocent lives trapped inside just to get revenge on another merc who screwed him over 20 years prior.
- Aria T'Loak is a crimelord who allows slavery, drug running and pretty much anything else as long as it doesn't undermine her power. She is however willing to aid Shepard to some extent, and seems none too fond of Ardat-Yakshi or the Collectors. Probably both for practical reasons and on principle.
- In the first three Fallout games, an evil player character could be seen as this, since you have the freedom to blow of civilian’s heads with absolutely zero provocation, enslave children and nuke entire cities. However, this is somewhat moderated by the main story pitting you against complete monsters who want to wipe out the vast majority of the remaining human race. With New Vegas Caesar’s Legion, the player has the option of becoming a full - blown Villain Protagonist, as they bring the region under the grip of a nation of Complete Monsters who endorse rape, slavery, child molestation and murder for public entertainment.
- Demitri Maximoff from Darkstalkers. He only confronts Planet Eater Pyron and Dark Messiah Jedah because they are a threat to his plans in conquering the Makai, and treats everyone who aren't his servants with great disdain.
- Augus in Asura's Wrath only joined the Eight Guardian Generals so he could have exciting battles.
- 4 of all the Seven Deities are implied to be this
- In the Metal Gear series, Meryl, Psycho Mantis, and Liquid claim that Solid Snake is a Sociopathic Hero who enjoys combat and killing, with the latter two telling him that he's far worse then they are. However, Psycho Mantis and Liquid are mass murdering psychopaths attempting to 'kill as many people as possible' and bring on a Darwinist 'warrior's paradise' respectively, which makes their attacks on him border on Hypocritical Humor and possibly Unreliable Narrator as well.
- Reaver from Fable II and III dances on the line between this and being a Complete Monster. He attempts to double cross the hero at least twice and only helps the hero because the Big Bad proceeds to double cross him when Reaver attempts to turn the hero over to him.
- In the first No More Heroes, Travis Touchdown. The only thing that makes him any kind of hero is that the rest of the assassins are sociopaths. Later, his motivation becomes more heroic.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, Maleficent, while still not "good" in any sense of the word, is allied with the heroes in a common goal.
- Grom Hellscream and Illidan of Warcraft: the first is an amoral Blood Knight and the other is a subject obsessed with demonic power.
- In the Super Mario Bros. series, Wario is willing to take on Evil Overlords and the like, but only if there's treasure at the end of the road. Otherwise, he couldn't care less.
- In Blood, Caleb spends the entirety of both his games killing everything that moves. The only reason he's the good guy is, excluding a few mimes and other innocents, everything that moves is part of the world-spanning Cabal.
- In Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, Cipher on the Mercenary path. As opposed to Soldier, on this path he's willing to take out anything not specifically on his side, be it enemy combatants, disabled enemy units, or even civilians on occasion.
- In BlazBlue, Kokonoe has a few soft spots here and there, but REALLY has no problems in nuking a whole city just so she can claim the frag of Terumi's head... never mind thousands and thousands of innocents who will die along the way.
- The King of Fighters' main character Iori Yagami (introduced in 1995 as the rival of Kyo Kusanagi) plays this role. A loner and a very angry and consumed character, he lives to see the defeat of Kyo and won't stop until that happens. He does do genuinely heroic things (even teaming up with Kyo when the situation warrants it) but only so that he can resume thirsting for Kyo's blood. He has no friends and has attacked his own team members in the past (be it willingly or unwillingly when his Orochi blood goes out of control).
- Star Wars The Old Republic Lord Scourge a Sith Lord who is a companion to the Jedi Knight class, he sides with the Jedi to stop the Sith Emperor from destroying the entire galaxy. In the back story he was responsible for Revans capture and the Exiles death because he saw that they would fail in defeating the Emperor.
- Marisa Kirisame from Touhou is mostly motivated by the prospect of magical artifacts to loot. Remilia Scarlet is more interested in maintaining her power than actually fixing Gensokyo's problems (and she's not the harmless kind of vampire).
- Sacrifice the player takes the role of Eldred who use to be a tyrant on his own world, then when his own people turn against him he summoned the demon Marduk to defeat them, then Marduk proceeded to destroy everything else. He is really regretful of having to kill a dragon, but is ok with slavery.
- The Daemoness in Sacred: Underworld. At the start of the game she gets stabbed in the back by her master, Anducar, and has a prophetic vision that working alongside the other heroes is her best chance of getting revenge.
- Several of the protaganists of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2. Vhaidra wants to hone her skills as a monk so she can take bloody revenge against the assassins who murdered her family, and Borador, as a result of a debt owed to the elves, wants to get his hands on as much coin as he can. Dorn is a borderline example, since his motivation comes across as equal parts 'make the realms a better place' and 'earn as much glory for myself and seduce as many women as I can.'
- Rance is the probably earliest example in videogames. Being a Sociopathic Hero rapist motivated by a Quest for Sex is only the tip of a very large iceberg.
- Dark Pit from Kid Icarus: Uprising. He isn't to concerned with the war between the gods. He just likes beating up monsters. After the time skip he gets more involved in order to make sure Pit remains alive, since he learns his existence depends on Pits.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Eugene Greenhilt swore a Blood Oath to defeat Xykon the Sorcerer because the latter killed his mentor, but he was the one who muttered "yeah, whatever," afterwards. He was a horrible father, an inattentive husband, and the small amount of interest he has in Xykon being defeated is only because that oath he swore is keeping him from resting. He's only barely inside heaven in the afterlife. Note that when his son Roy died and went to heaven, Roy was able to get much further inside heaven because unlike Eugene, he actually gave a damn and did everything he could to fulfill the family oath.
- Belkar Bitterleaf is an unapologetic Heroic Comedic Sociopath with no actual redeeming qualities. At one point, Roy claims that the only reason he keeps Belkar around is to keep him from using his abilities to become a full-blown Complete Monster. Belkar's Stupid Evil antics are entirely deliberate on his part, as he finds being his own personal Mook Horror Show is not only entertaining but also an effective way of gaining XP. Later, he shifts to a more subdued Token Evil Teammate role, and gains an actual Morality Pet of sorts, his Right-Hand-Cat, Mr. Scruffy.
- In Sluggy Freelance, any time Bun-Bun does something good in the series, Pete Abrams is always careful to give him a completely selfish reason (usually either that the good guys bribed him, or that the villain happened to piss him off). It's rare that he's implied to do anything solely because he cares about a member of the main cast.
- The Light Warriors in Eight Bit Theater, except Fighter, are Designated Heroes who only possess the distinction of being protagonists due to showing up at the recruiting station at the right time. Both in - story and by Word of God, they are far worse than any of the monsters they end up facing. The worst of the lot are Black Mage (a pure Villain Protagonist who wants to deliver the world to Chaos) and Thief (a Jerkass Miser Advisor who's only in it to screw over as many people as possible). Red Mage is an amoral Munchkin who's in it for the XP but will happily commit atrocities toward that end. Fighter, on the other hand, is an Idiot Hero who is only going along because he thinks they're actually on the side of good.
- Still, the epilogue has them being credited as the individuals who started the events that led to the world being saved. That is, by being responsible for the world-ending threat in the first place.
- In Ansem Retort, the only difference between Axel and the villains he fights is that the villains want to destroy all of humanity at once while Axel would prefer to do it one person at a time.
- In ItsJustSomeRandomGuy's YouTube I'm a Marvel And Im ADC sketches, this trope is played around with. Wolverine says to The Comedian, "You kinda remind of myself at your age ... except I've got ethics... and I'm not a sociopath... or a rapist... you know what, maybe you remind me of someone else."
- Captain Hammer of Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog 's only qualification as a hero is that the guy he's fighting is trying to get into a supervillain organization. He may look like The Cape (trope), but underneath his dashing, larger-than-life demeanor is a misogynistic, self-centered, bigoted glory hound who's far more interested in his image than in actually helping people. This makes him the antagonist of the story, set against the nerdy, Technical Pacifist, Shrinking Violet protagonist, Dr. Horrible.
- In Whateley Universe, the Scourge, which in the distant past has destroyed entire galactic civilizations in its efforts to defeat Mythos monsters. Sociopathic Hero Jobe Wilkins may fall in this trope as well.
- Spoony (The character, not Noah Antwiller) is a sleazy pervert and a confirmed rapist as both The Nostalgia Critic and The Nostalgia Chick found out the hard way. The Chick herself is a sociopath with no qualms when it comes to tormenting and manipulating her best friend.
- In South Park, "The Coon" is an imcompetant Kid Hero who, being Eric Cartman in disguise, cannot comprehend good from evil (he attacks a man romantically kissing his girlfriend for attempted rape), and the large amount of time is more interested in gaining a mystique and fame than actually doing something benevolent. When another genuinely competant Kid Hero, Mysterion (Kenny in disguise), steps in and overshadows him, he actually joins forces with a villain to put him out of action (albeit still perfectly convinced he is doing good and Mysterion is actually a dick). Amusingly, The Coon is a much more competent villain than he is a hero.
The Coon: It's not my fault you turned evil, Kenny!
- Futurama features a few:
- Bender is an extremely selfish kleptomaniac, and thus falls into nominal heroism at times. However, much of this can be excused by the fact that as a robot, he does not fully understand human needs and emotions. He also has quite a few Pet the Dog moments.
- Zapp Brannigan is a cowardly, vain, selfish, ignorant, womanizing Jerkass whose incompetence is of epic proportions, and whose battle plans often if not usually call for callously sacrificing thousands of lives in order to further his own career. Nonetheless, he is a key asset for DOOP.
- In Codename: Kids Next Door, "the Kid" (as he's called) from "Operation: D.O.G.F.I.G.H.T." is the "mutual interest" type, as he seems disinterested in the goals of the main cast, acting heroic simply because the villain seeks to stop production of chili dogs, his love for them something he shares with Numbuh 2. Not to mention that he tends to troll the team a lot in cameo appearances, often flirting with Numbuh 3 simply to make Numbuh 4 mad.