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[[quoteright:350:[[Franchise/{{Batman}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sympathetic-ineffectual-villain_batman-carpenter_5195.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Is there nothing sadder than a Franchise/{{Batman}} villain with PuppyDogEyes?]]

->''"I don't know whether we should pound him or buy him an ice cream cone."''
-->-- '''Michelangelo''', ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2012''

A potential villain who is consistently a failure or never gets the respect that he thinks he deserves, and may even be angry that the heroes don't take him seriously.

He may not necessarily be [[StupidCrooks entirely inept]] or have a [[PokeThePoodle laughably mild idea of what counts as villainy]]. VillainDecay is usually too simple an explanation. This is sometimes a relative situation, and the hero's RoguesGallery just happens to include people more showy, better financed, or just plain scarier than him. These guys are why people are found RootingForTheEmpire. The defining feature of such a villain is his gullibility: they are more often than not pitted against a [[TheTrickster Trickster]] who easily bamboozles them and leads them on their defeat, while it is obvious to the viewers that they should know better than listen to and believe their intended victim. Another way to showcase their stupidity is by making them foil their own plans and [[TooDumbToLive even die or get injured due to their own mistakes]].

This does not mean that he doesn't bear animosity; that's a PunchClockVillain. He's probably jumping at the opportunity to outdo his rivals and the hero. But there is something about his perseverance or attitude about the whole thing that is [[JerkassWoobie just short of sympathetic.]]

May also be a {{Determinator}} out of necessity or overlap with DracoInLeatherPants. If they get even ''more'' pathetic in regard to the hero, {{Unknown Rival}}ry looms. Just watch out, they may suddenly turn out to be a NotSoHarmlessVillain and succeed or come dangerously to succeeding with their goals in which case they will probably lose the sympathetic part and likely cross the MoralEventHorizon. After all, their appeal lies in how hopeless their attempts are.

VideoGame versions of this trope frequently overlap with the GoldfishPoopGang if they are just as pathetic in actual battle as they're treated by the story. They may maintain threat status if ConservationOfCompetence allows them to keep competent supporters.

The EvilCounterpart to FailureHero. Arguably a subtrope of BoisterousWeakling. Supertrope to TheFamilyForTheWholeFamily, which specifically requires the villain to be incompetent and their likely threat level sans said incompetence to be that of a KnightOfCerebus. A character who acts like a villain while genuinely not wanting to do anything truly evil is a HarmlessVillain. Contrast CompleteMonster, where we instead have an utterly nasty, dangerous, and unsympathetic villain.

!!Example subpages

* IneffectualSympatheticVillain/{{Anime And Manga}}
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain/{{Comic Books}}
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain/{{Film}}
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain/{{Literature}}
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain/LiveActionTV
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain/{{Video Games}}
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain/{{Web Animation}}
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain/{{Web Comics}}
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain/{{Web Original}}
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain/{{Western Animation}}



[[folder: Eastern Animation ]]
* The [[ThoseTwoBadGuys South Korean mice]] in the propaganda-tastic [[UsefulNotes/NorthKorea North Korean]] series ''Animation/SquirrelAndHedgehog.'' The pair, consisting of domineering {{Jerkass}} [[FourEyesZeroSoul Mulmangcho]] and his meeker, one-eared companion Yelipalip, migrate from faction to faction amongst the villains, and are consistently mistreated and abused. All of their efforts to prove their worth, do something evil, and make it higher up in the ranks of whichever group they're currently attached to inevitably fail, miserably and pitifully, usually thanks to the heroes. More than once, the two are actually arrested and imprisoned by their own bosses and almost executed because they got the blame for what the [[DressingAsTheEnemy undercover good guys]], Geumsagi and Juldarami, did. So far, they have always managed to somehow get out of such situations alive. Although they ''clearly'' want to be evil and respected (Mulmangcho more so than Yelipalip), they fail so often and so pitifully it's difficult not to feel bad for them.\\\
It should also be noted that this was originally an evil ''trio'' of Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains, but the third guy, Mulsajo, whose distinguishing characteristic was that he wore a pink shirt, was even more ineffectual than his comrades and was blown up with a grenade midway through one of the earlier story arcs, leaving just his two buddies to carry the mantle of constantly failing.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Most of the [[DesignatedVillain so-called "villains"]] of ''Fanfic/ThePrayerWarriors'' count, but [[Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians Grover]] stands out in "The Evil Gods Part 1". He typically can't do more than threaten or taunt the "[[DesignatedHero heroes]]", and while it's implied that he played a role in Chiron's off-screen death after converting and returning to Camp Half-Blood to convert the others, in the resulting fight with Percy, he gets defeated and beheaded fairly quickly.
* The Metarex of ''Fanfic/SonicXDarkChaos'' become this trope thanks to flanderization and VillainDecay. This is notably averted with Eggman, who has taken [[TookALevelInBadass several levels in badass]].
* In ''WebAnimation/GravityFallsDeepWoods'', Jeff (leader of the gnomes) becomes one after losing the gnomes' support. While he never was the biggest threat in ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'', he still was of the NotSoHarmlessVillain kind. Here, he becomes so ineffectual [[spoiler:that Pacifica is able to defeat him and his four buddies all by herself]]. The heroes actually spend the second part of ''Quest for the Northwest'' [[spoiler:helping him regain his lost leadership out of pity]].

* Dr. Einstein of ''Theatre/ArsenicAndOldLace''. At the very least, he's helped [[AxCrazy Jonathan]] escape from jail and evade the police. He probably has something to do with the latter's ability to be a contender in the play's BodyCountCompetition as well. However, he's clearly motivated by fear and spends a lot of time drunk. This may be the reason for [[spoiler: his [[KarmaHoudini escape at the end]]]].
* In ''Theatre/{{Ruddigore}}'', when the protagonist Robin becomes Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, he finds that he can't commit evil deeds if his life depended on it, which is exactly the predicament he's in.

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]
* Virgil, the Million Dollar Man A.K.A Wrestling/TedDibiase's dragon was presented this way during his Wrestling/{{WWE}} wrestling career. For years Ted Dibiase treated Virgil like a servant, yet Virgil would do whatever Heel action he was told. That is until a storyline was created where Virgil [[{{MistreatmentInducedBetrayal}} turned against]] Ted Dibiase and [[HeelFaceTurn became a Face]].
* Ariana was this in LLF during 2004, where she was so ineffectual that even when they were on the verge of winning a match she screwed so much up that her TagTeam partner Princesa Sugey snapped and assaulted her, then Polly Star, who was recovering from a prior match, decided join in. Ariana was so sympathetic that rather than try to win the match on of her {{tecnic|o}}a opponents tried to protect her and adding to whole thing was the referee ruling the disqualification in favor of the tecnicas, so they won anyway.
* Particularly worth mentioning is [[Wrestling/{{Nova}} Simon Dean]], the heel version of fitness freak Richard Simmons in WWE in [[TurnOfTheMillennium the mid-2000s]]. He ''never'' won a match against a non-jobber. (Of course, Dean wasn't really evil so much as he was very, ''very'' annoying, which is enough to make you a heel in WWE.)
* Wrestling/AJStyles during the [[Wrestling/KurtAngle Angle Alliance]] Wrestling/{{Christian C|age}}oalition feud in Wrestling/{{TNA}}, him essentially serving as the fall guy of both groups.
* Wrestling/MontelVontaviousPorter on Smackdown after he lost the United States Championship and continued to lose every match he had afterwards, to the point Theodore Long refused to pay him the bonuses that were in his contract and took away MVP's NFL style inflatable tunnel entrance. Fans began to cheer for him out of sympathy.
* Hydra in Wrestling/{{Chikara}}, mostly due to the fact he was only 130 lbs, making it really easy to sympathize with him against almost everyone he was matched up with.
* Wrestling/{{Layla}} El during the Wrestling/{{Laycool}} period. While they were both rotten people, Layla was also [[LaughablyEvil goofy]], small and tended to take the losing pin or submission hold when the team lost. And Layla also seemed to genuinely care about Michelle [=McCool=], who was growing increasingly tired of her.
* Jakob Hammermeier, to give Chikara another entry on this page, in that he has an abusive BadBoss in Tim Donst. When Donst is not around however, this trope is not in play either.
* Despite spending at least half of her career as part of the hostile occupying PowerStable Oedo tai and being as willing to commit fouls as most other members, Kris Wolf serves as such in World Wonder Ring STARDOM simply because she's so happy and energetic that she doesn't come off as being very malicious and she remains in good spirits facing many setbacks. Being pretty tiny helps too. Even the other goofy members such as Kyoko Kimura, for one contrast, tend to have worrying tempers, sadistic streaks, devious plots and ''success'' in their endeavors, which means they don't get showered in as many cheers or streamers.