Created By: DrakeClawfang on March 2, 2013 Last Edited By: DrakeClawfang on March 5, 2013

Villain Playing Hero

As far as the villain is concerned, he's the hero of the tale and the heroes are the villains

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Trope
"Everyone is the hero of his own life story"

This villain isn't your Card-Carrying Villain or Classic Villain, but he's not simply Necessarily Evil or a Well-Intentioned Extremist either. In the eyes of this villain, they are The Hero. The actions they perform and the goal they seek are the right path, the characters that stand in their way are the true villains that need to be put down, and they will be recognized as a hero when they emerge victorious. They may or may not have merit in this way of thinking, but it's what they think.

What separates this type of character from a straight Hero Antagonist is that this type of villain is not merely opposed to the heroes but has altruistic goals, they are still objectively evil. They do things that are clearly wicked and ammoral and pursue goals of the same quality, but the villain just doesn't see themselves as evil. They may be misguided, their personal sense of morality may be skewed, or they may be slightly insane, but they really think they are doing the right thing when they are doing evil.

Subtrope of Anti-Villain and cousin to the Hero Antagonist, where the villain really is a good guy that merely opposes the heroes. Compare Well-Intentioned Extremist, Knight Templar and Necessarily Evil, when the villain does evil in the name of good. See also Unintentionally Sympathetic and Rooting for the Empire, which may occur if viewers agree with the villain and want to see them win instead of the heroes.


Examples

Film

  • Tai Lung of Kung Fu Panda wants the Dragon Scroll he believes is rightfully his, and that Shifu betrayed him after building up his dreams and letting Oogway reject him.

Video Games

  • In Final Fantasy VIII, Seifer grew up watching films about Sorceresses who tried to bring peace to the land and were protected by Sorceress Knights, and it was his dream to be such a Knight. He seizes the chance when this occurs in the game, becoming Sorceress Edea's bodyguard and deciding Squall and SeeD are enemy mercenaries he has to protect her from.
  • The Knights Templar in the Assassin's Creed series. Best summed up by the "Reason You Suck" Speech Warren Vidic delivers to Assassin Desond Miles in Assassin's Creed III:
    Vidic: We want to help the world, Desmond. To save it from itself! But you keep getting in the way. All our hard work, ruined! You're a fanatic! All your kind. Maintaining the erroneous belief that we are evil. That the work we do is wrong. We enrich lives here! We save and transform them! But you... you just keep taking... and taking what isn't yours.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • March 2, 2013
    DracMonster
    Title is too close to Hero Of Another Story, would probably cause confusion and Trope Decay. Thinks Theyre The Good Guy maybe.

    This needs to be limited to antagonists who are villains by an objective standard (in other words, do genuinely bad things such as hurt innocents, not just oppose the protagonist.) Every antagonist that loses believes they're the one being oppressed here, and The Rival or Worthy Opponent would be perfectly justified in thinking this, since they WOULD be the hero if the story were told from a different perspective (and of course a Hero Antagonist is explicitly endorsed as this by the work.)

    Also, if the protagonist is an anti-hero doing some bad stuff, it may be the same situation, where its questionable who "deserves" to be rooted for. Grey And Grey Morality works will need to be scrutinized carefully.
  • March 2, 2013
    dubey
    In Pokemon Team Rocket, as an organisation, believe that what they're doing is right and true, and that they're the ones defending the world.
  • March 2, 2013
    Astaroth
    Vidic: We want to help the world, Desmond. To save it from itself! But you keep getting in the way. All our hard work, ruined! You're a fanatic! All your kind. Maintaining the erroneous belief that we are evil. That the work we do is wrong. We enrich lives here! We save and transform them! But you... you just keep taking... and taking what isn't yours
  • Live Action TV
    • A variation in the [[Series/Mash M*A*S*H]] episode, "The Novocaine Mutiny", in which Frank Burns's version of the testimony at Hawkeye's trial paints himself as the hero surgeon during a heavy deluge of casualties.
  • March 2, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    Thanks for the feedback Drac, reworked description and renamed Trope.

    Added Assassins Creed example. Not sure about Team Rocket, aside from Jesse and James the organization has never acted like they think they're heroes, they're practically Card Carrying Villains. Also not sure about the MASH example, I've never seen it so based on that description I can't judge if it's valid.
  • March 2, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    Villain Playing Hero makes me think of something like Joker dressing up as Batman for fun...

    This is specifically a Super Trope to Well Intentioned Extremist, isn't it?
  • March 2, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    It's very similar. The WIE, as I use it and see it used anyway, is about a villain doing evil things to accomplish a good goal. This is when the villain is doing evil things towards an evil goal, and that the deeds and goal are unambiguously evil, but the villain thinks for some reason they are the hero and their actions are heroic. It's about the contrast between the villain's heroic image of himself and the reality that they are evil - Seifer from FF 8 was the inspiration for this YKTTW, if you've played the game.
  • March 3, 2013
    DracMonster
    Its actually closer to Obliviously Evil (It probably should go in the bullet points on that page's description) with shades of Its All About Me. Its a case of the villain being willfully blind. A Well Intentioned Extremist isnt necessarily this trope, if they know they've done unforgiveable things but have the attitude of "I have to be the bad guy here for a higher cause".

    I think it can include when the villain is working towards an objectively noble goal, but using means that are clearly not justifiable. In general, a villain needs some kind of good buried in his schemes somewhere to justify calling himself the good guy.

    This would make a good page quote:
    "But... I... I... I'm the good one," Lily murmured, her face pale with shock. "Tm the good one. I can't lose. I'm the godmother. You're the wicked witch . . ."
    "Good? Good? Feeding people to stories? Twisting people's lives? That's good, is it?" said Granny. "You mean you didn't even have fun? If I'd been as bad as you, I've have been a whole lot worse. Better at it than you've ever dreamed of."
  • March 3, 2013
    Psi001
    • In the original Japanese dub of Sonic X, Dr Eggman once labelled himself as the true protagonist of the show. He falls for a plan by Sonic when he refuses to accept he is the hero.
  • March 3, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    Hm, I didn't know about Obliviously Evil before...yeah, I'm thinking there isn't much need for this then, that one with WIE and Hero Antagonist cover all bases I think.
  • March 4, 2013
    dubey
    No, i believe this is a bit different to each of those. Obliviously evil is when they're oblivious to the evil they cause... this is about the villain believing that they are the hero of the story, and with it the plot armour/side romance/all the good things that come with the job. The others would defs be comparable tropes though.
  • March 4, 2013
    MrBluesky
    The Most Triumphant Example, in recent memory, of what this entry is going for is probably Borderlands 2's Handsome Jack, who fits very nicely into Obliviously Evil. I think there's too much overlap.
  • March 4, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Indeed. Obliviously Evil sounds a bit too similar. I think you might want to explain the difference, since this trope would mean the character sees the heroes as the bad guys.

    In Death Note Light Yagami goes throughout the entire series believing that he deserves to be the god of the world. He flat out declares L as evil, and considers everyone that isn't a Kira supporter evil.
  • March 4, 2013
    DracMonster
    This would be a Sub Trope of Obliviously Evil, but can stand on its own. The antagonist may think he's just minding his own business and doesn't understand why the heroes are trying to stop him -- that would be Obliviously Evil, but not this.
  • March 4, 2013
    MrBluesky
    If this does go, page quote nomination:

    "This is what I don't get about you bad guys. You know the hero's gonna win, but you never just die quickly. This one guy in New Haven, right? City's burning, people dying, blah blah blah. This guy rushes me with a spoon. A fricking spoon. And I'm just laughing. So I scoop out his eyeballs with it, and his kids are all, 'Ahhh!' and... You had to be there."
    --Handsome Jack, Borderlands2

    Page title, "Delusions of Heroism"?
  • March 5, 2013
    TomWalpertac2
    Borderlands2: Handsome Jack.
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