Created By: JusticeReaper on July 30, 2012 Last Edited By: JusticeReaper on August 9, 2012

Bland Heroes, Cool Villains

The villains of a work are more interesting and memorable than the heroes.

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Do We Have This One?? Needs More Examples. Needs a Better Description.

This is a Subjective Trope (or, Your Mileage May Vary).

Simply put, the villains of any given work are far more interesting, more memorable, individually unique, and may oftentimes look better and have better lines and scenes; whereas the heroes are pretty dull, and oftentimes you can't tell one hero apart from another aside from them not sharing the same name.

This often happens in Western Animation, particularly many works from The80s and The90s, but other media aren't exempted.

The reasons for this? In many instances, time is spent on actually giving the villains their own individual quirks and tics, while not as much time is spent on the heroes' back-stories to make them even slightly memorable. Sometimes, this may happen because a villain is portrayed as sympathetic or well-meaning in his goals, whereas heroes are more cut-and-dry than that.

Expect works with Black and White Morality to have this (though it's not a definite rule).


  • C.O.P.S. suffers from this, with the villains being more diverse, more colorful, and having thematic names that stand out more than their heroic titular counterparts.
  • SilverHawks also has this, as while the members of Mon*Star's mob are colorful and have definite personalities that get delved into whenever they're shown in an episode, the Silverhawks themselves are...well, not too developed at first beyond being described as aces in their respective fields. The heroes become a bit more diverse and deep personality-wise in later episodes with the introduction of the newer Silverhawks to join forces with the original Five-Man Band.

Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • July 30, 2012
    We do have this. It's Evil Is Cool
  • July 31, 2012
    I'm not so sure...I'm thinking of this as a contrast: the bad guys are cool, the heroes are boring. It's not JUST about the bad guys being cool.
  • July 31, 2012
    So The Same But More. Either way the bad guy is still cooler than the good guys.
  • July 31, 2012
    The problem with this YKTTW is that it is based on "coolness" and is defined as subjective. "Coolness" is not a trope, it's a side effect of an action story being well-written.

    However, do we have a trope about stories where the antagonists are the central characters, while the protagonists are an in-universe pair of eyes the audience observes them with? Character Development is an objective trope, and you can easily tell whether the protagonist or the antagonist has more of it.
  • August 1, 2012
    Wacky Races maybe? Or maybe a case of Villain Protagonist.
  • August 1, 2012
    Between Evil Is Cool and The Villain Makes The Plot, seems already covered

    Eitherway, I disagree with the Cops examples. 20 years later I can't remember the villains, but I remember Bulletproof, the robot dog, the dude with the handcuff launcher, etc...
  • August 2, 2012
    What I'm trying to put across, for clarification to everyone: It's not a matter of the antagonists being the main characters, as would be the case with Villain Protagonist; nor is it simply being that Evil Is Cool. It's an attempt on my part to show both the good guys and the bad guys side by side, but the bad guys are more memorable because they're cool, because they're unique, because they have individual personalities; whereas with the heroes you can't really tell them apart aside from their names and genders and possibly nationalities.

    In the COPS example, for instance, Bulletproof, Mainframe and Mace are the only really interesting guys among the protagonists, and even then you could replace one of the latter two with any of the other good guys and it wouldn't affect the episode's plot much, unless it's specifically tailored as a Day In The Limelight Episode. By contrast, with the crooks, Buttons McBoomBoom is far different from Rock Crusher, Berserko or Turbo Two-Tone by virtue of choice of weapons, choice of fashion, and overall personality, and you can watch them take turns as focus villains even when it's not their Day In The Limelight and they don't cease to be interesting.

    And this has nothing to do with Character Development, either (although actual development of individual characters could subvert what I have in mind here).
  • August 2, 2012
    Still no. I'm pretty sure we're discouraged to make more Audience Reactions or subjective tropes that are just bashing or gushing. I don't think we need bashing and gushing on the same page.
  • August 2, 2012
    "In the COPS example, for instance, Bulletproof, Mainframe and Mace are the only really interesting guys among the protagonists"

    That's just an opinion, not an objective thing that informs a work.
  • August 2, 2012
    I think this is just the intersection of Evil Is Cool and Good Is Boring.
  • August 3, 2012
    Okay, another example that's not listed above: the 80's GI Joe series. Looking at the Joes, don't they count as an in-universe The Same But More, in that all of them are basically carbon copies of each other? Whereas the Cobras are unique in their own individual way (the Baroness is not a Destro, for example, nor is Destro himself a Storm Shadow).
  • August 9, 2012
    Seems to be especially true with R.A. Salvatore's works. All the heroes are bland goody-two-shoes, while the villians, particularly Artemis Entreri, have real emotional trauma and internal conflicts.
  • August 9, 2012
    It does sound a lot like Evil Is Cool or Good Is Boring, not to mention a rather subjective trope. If it qualifies however I will donate a few examples.