Created By: 313Bluestreak on February 8, 2013 Last Edited By: 313Bluestreak on August 10, 2013

Mean Hero Nice Villain Foil

A contrast between an unpleasant hero and a friendly villain.

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So you have the main hero in the series who goes out to save the world and does other good things because it's the right thing to do, but you find out that he's kind of a jerk once you get to meet him. You also have the main villain who goes out to take over the world and does other evil things because, well, he can, but you find out that he's a pretty cool guy once you get to know him. Suppose if these two characters pair up together. This is the trope you're looking for.

When a not-nice hero and a not-mean villain are paired up, it's very interesting. Of course, what makes this possible is by the friendliness of the villain, which doesn't phase the hero a bit since he wants to bash his brains in and send him to jail, or at least kill him if sending him to jail isn't good enough. No matter what the hero does to him, the villain will not only continue doing evil, but continues in being pleasant to the hero. As for the hero, he will find a way to finally defeat the villain and peace will be restored.

If the two join forces for a common goal, the villain will expect the hero still being on odds with him after the deed is done. If the hero becomes friendly to the villain, or specifically finds that there's some redeeming qualties in him, that will either cause the villain to pull a Heel–Face Turn and officially becomes friends with the hero or at least still remain enemies while still being friendly with each other.

A one-sided form of Friendly Enemy where in this case, the villain considers the hero a friend but the hero considers him anything but. Compare Vitriolic Best Buds and Odd Friendship. See also Polite Villains, Rude Heroes which focuses on the characterization of heroes and villains. Mean Hero Nice Villain Foil focuses on their dynamic of a specific hero and villain. Often the result of pairing an Affably Evil character or Anti-Villain against an Unscrupulous Hero or Anti-Hero.


Comic Books
  • Iron Man can come across as arrogant, alcoholic, and a womanizer whereas the Mandarin is good-mannered man who upholds a strict honor code.

  • George Lucas and Richie Roberts from American Gangster. Lucas is an Affably Evil criminal who happens to be a family man with strong values whereas Richie seems to less qualify as a good cop (one example has him cheating on his wife). In the end of the film, though, they forged an Enemy Mine to convict the corrupted cops of selling heroin.
  • Kill Bill: The Bride happens to be a former assassin who happens to retain her label as the Sociopathic Hero looking for revenge against her ex-lover Bill, who happens to be friendly and likable, and even for a self-proclaimed "murderous bastard", he actually got The Bride to undergo an epiphany at the end of the duology.

Light Novels
  • This is the nature of the alliance between Lina Inverse and Xellos in The Slayers. Lina Inverse is a mean anti-heroine, and Xellos is a literal Noble Demon.

Live-Action TV
  • Luther: John Luther and Alice Morgan have this kind of relationship. Alice believes Luther to be her best friend which doesn't explain Luther choking her defenseless one time. Even in the second episode where they were drinking coffee, Luther states that this doesn't make them friends.
  • In Sherlock, Sherlock is a self-confessed sociopath who regularly offends his friends, and his nemesis Jim Moriarty is a charismatic Camp Straight.
  • Achieved purposedly and then accidentally in Starz's Camelot. Arthur doesn't want to save anyone. He wants to be free. And irresponsible. Also, he steals his brother's fiance. Morgan is a Magnificent Bastard who lashes out after years of abuse by her father and living in a misogynistic country as well managing to be polite and Nice to the Waiter.

Video Games
  • Max Payne and Vladamir Lem are a rather rare example due to the fact they were friends until the second game, much to Max's displeasure. While Max is an Anti-Hero cop who Pays Evil Unto Evil, Vladamir is the Big Bad who still kept his friendly charm towards Max.

Web Original

Western Animation
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