An antagonist can be classed on three orthogonal parameters:

* [[SlidingScaleOfVillainThreat How much danger they, or their plans, pose.]]
* [[SlidingScaleOfVillainEffectiveness How effective they are.]]
* How much the audience is supposed to hate them.

This is a method of quantifying that third one.

Note that the below list is a very rough scale; any given character may fall higher or lower on this list depending on context, regardless of what tropes describe him. Many character types are very broad, so the positions below should represent an approximate average; some individual characters are subversions who turn out to be something significantly different from the stereotype of their type of villain.

See also NominalHero, for the bottom end of the Protagonist version of this list. See LikableVillain for a classification of reasons ''why'' not all villains are vile ones.

!Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness

The sliding scale is roughly as follows:
%% When adding items, remember: Higher always equals more sympathetic, and only Antagonists make this list.
%% Further, let's try to keep sexuality-related tropes out of this, as it's a frequent case and cause of Values Dissonance. This ban includes: Heteronormative Crusader, Pedophilia, Depraved Bisexual, Psycho Lesbian, etc., etc.

!!Most Sympathetic (the antagonist becomes virtually indistinguishable from the good guys)

* {{Hero Antagonist}}s: These fight for good goals with good intentions (usually), but are still antagonists.
** SympatheticInspectorAntagonist
** InspectorJavert
** TheRival
** InternalAffairs
** MyCountryRightOrWrong
** SmugSuper (hero version only) the least sympathetic you can get while still qualifying as a non-ironic good guy.

!!!Dividing line between [[NominalHero nominal]] {{heroes}} and {{villains}}

* {{Anti Villain}}s: Their actions are usually evil or at least morally questionable, but they're either fighting for an admirable goal, really ineffectual as villains, don't want to be evil, have a lot of redeeming values, or some specific reason outside their control for being evil. [[SlidingScaleOfAntiVillains A Type IV]] here would have the most affection associated with themselves, and can be mistaken as a HeroAntagonist, if they were not previously one already.
** FriendlyEnemy
** MoralPragmatist
** NecessarilyEvil
** NotEvilJustMisunderstood
** WellIntentionedExtremist
** NobleDemon
** NobleTopEnforcer
** The HeroWithAnFInGood needs to stay around here or above to remain plausible as a good guy.
** DesignatedVillain is the type of anti-villain that comes about due to writing a "villain" who is supposed to be evil but doesn't do much to show it and in extreme cases may even be the ''least'' evil if there's also a major DesignatedHero involved. Further CharacterDevelopment can make them more heinous, of course.
** Villains who believe UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans tend to fit here, since the world they are trying to create is usually good, but their means of achieving it are questionable or even downright evil.
** Characters undergoing a FaceMonsterTurn, being unable to control their actions.
** Characters for whom BeingEvilSucks.
** TrappedInVillainy: This is what happens when someone really doesn't want to hurt anyone or take part in any crimes but is forced to because his life and the lives of his loved ones are threatened. Some of the worst villains enforce such a situation.
** Those ForcedIntoEvil
** DrivenToVillainy
** TragicVillain
** HarmlessVillain: Even though they try to be vile, they just fail to turn the audience against them because of their ineffectualness. Even when they're genuinely evil in terms of personality they're more likely to just be dismissed instead.
*** MinionWithAnFInEvil
** WorthyOpponent
** SympatheticMurderer
** The DarkMagicalGirl is usually here.
** WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds
** ObliviouslyEvil
** BeingTorturedMakesYouEvil
** LoveMakesYouEvil
*** {{Yandere}} (the villainous variety)
** SerialKillerKiller. They'd be as low as the regular SerialKiller if not for their specific choice of prey.
** ThenLetMeBeEvil
** ReluctantPsycho
** PunchClockVillain usually goes about here, but can move up or down depending on how far they'll go for their paycheck and/or the nature of their boss. A PunchClockVillain who knowingly and cheerfully serves a truly evil master might well be seen as being utterly amoral even if they ''personally'' never KickTheDog.
*** HitmanWithAHeart
** AffablyEvil

!!Moderately Sympathetic (above this line and the majority of the audience will start to sympathize with the antagonist; below it and the majority will start to hate them)

* {{Wild Card}}s must remain above this point if he or she wants to remain plausible as a good guy (or at least a facsimile thereof) later on.
* HateSink usually falls here in terms of vileness, even without being a true antagonist.
* JerkWithAHeartOfJerk
* PutThemAllOutOfMyMisery usually settles about here.
* VillainyFreeVillain. Even when they're not really all that villainous, they tend to make up for it by being total pricks.
* If you're going to BaitTheDog, the reveal of the villain's actual alignment needs to be at this level or below to get the proper 'punch'.
* Ordinary Villainy: These do evil things for their own benefit (and their villainous allies/minions) or to advance an obviously evil goal. They'll readily KickTheDog without any real compunction. They are likely to also cross the MoralEventHorizon but it is not certain.
** Any villain who is ALighterShadeOfBlack compared to other villains will gain more audience sympathy than their opponents, but must be at least as low as this point to be believable as a shade of black on their own.
*** IneffectualSympatheticVillain
*** GoldfishPoopGang
*** The VillainousHarlequin rarely goes below this point.
** To qualify a villain for VileVillainSaccharineShow status, in order to induce the MoodWhiplash needed, they need to be at this evil or below.
** TheBully
*** AlphaBitch
*** JerkJock
** TheQuincyPunk
** DirtyCoward
** TheFightingNarcissist
** OpposingSportsTeam
** CorruptPolitician
** CorruptHick
** CorruptCorporateExecutive
** SmugSnake
** WickedWitch goes here if not subverted.
** Villains who believe DespotismJustifiesTheMeans usually fit here, since their goal of gaining power for its own sake is disgustingly self-serving, no matter what evil means they may use.
** ObviouslyEvil
** EvilSorcerer
** BarbarianTribe
** ClassicVillain is here or lower.
** [[{{Pirate}} Pirates]]
** DirtyCommunists
* {{Politically Incorrect Villain}}s hover around here because the audience hates EvilIsPetty villains. They can descend further if they take their racism/sexism to the next level.
** TheKlan
** ThoseWackyNazis
* GenericDoomsdayVillain

!!Least Sympathetic (the audience will completely side against the antagonist)

* Those are beyond the MoralEventHorizon by default. Some of them reach the CompleteMonster trope, but it is not a necessity to be (a complete one at least).
* Characters who [[EvilFeelsGood plain love being evil]]
* BadBoss: Someone who treats their subordinates like dirt just because they can, won't get any bonus in either the sympathy or the morality meter especially if they stoop to saying:
** YouHaveFailedMe: Intentions don't matter to them, you either give them what they want or are useless and therefore don't deserve to live.
** YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: Everyone is disposable and for them anyone living for anything beyond serving them is preposterous.
** CruellaToAnimals
** The ArtifactOfDoom and the EvilWeapon go here, provided they have a will of their own, although the audience will hate them less than human villains because it's hard to transfer hatred onto an object even when they're full characters.
** Any villain who commits a serious form of DisproportionateRetribution, which often it does
** FauxAffablyEvil: The whole point of the character is that he is polite, pleasant and even refined which contrasts with his atrocities.
** EvilOverlord - if played completely straight.
** MasterPoisoner
** [[FinalSolution Genocidal villains]].
*** AbsoluteXenophobe
*** EvilutionaryBiologist
*** TheSocialDarwinist
** Villains engaging in [[ImAHumanitarian canni]][[MonstrousCannibalism balism]].
*** ChildEater and EatsBabies.
** MonsterClown typically goes about here.
** TheCaligula
** PsychopathicManchild
** StrawNihilist (the villainous variety)
** TheSociopath
** TheHedonist (villainous version)
** AxCrazy
*** MadBomber
*** PsychoElectro
*** PyroManiac
** {{Sadist}}
** HopeCrusher
** PsychoForHire
** TortureTechnician
** {{Serial Killer}}s, as their motive often doesn't go beyond "butchers people for fun". Even when it does the MoralEventHorizon aspects of the act stills keep them from being above that.
*** {{Killer Cop}}s are considered even lower for betraying the trust that society places in them, unless they're {{Serial Killer Killer}}s and thus a subset of that type.
** {{Serial Rapist}}s, who need a hell of a FreudianExcuse to be even remotely sympathetic. After all RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil with no exceptions.
** Anybody who not only WouldHurtAChild, but explicitly targets them. Serial child killers and serial child rapists are among the vilest of this category.
** The MadDoctor when portrayed seriously generally falls here due to their [[EvilutionaryBiologist overwhelmingly]] [[{{Sadist}} sadistic]] [[TortureTechnician nature]].
*** Ditto for those who practice OrganTheft or any other form of HumanResources.
* GreaterScopeVillain (such as GodOfEvil) needs to be at or below this point to be taken credibly as a source of all evil (unless they're in a SugarBowl or such where 'all evil' means that they want [[PokeThePoodle to cancel Christmas]]), though because of their tendency of being an OrcusOnHisThrone even the reality-destroying Eldritch Abomination might come across ''less'' vile than the ordinary BigBad.

!!Permanently Unsympathetic (character becomes completely irredeemable)

* CompleteMonster -- By definition, the least sympathetic character possible. The most despicable of the bunch, and their only goal is to perpetuate their own evil interests. Note that not all characters who cross the MoralEventHorizon are necessarily Complete Monsters; they must have ''no'' redeeming values; any of the tropes on the "dividing line" can make them more sympathetic even if they can't be redeemed.
** Villains that commit wanton and heinous evil acts simply ForTheEvulz. Most will qualify for Complete Monsters.
** AlwaysChaoticEvil races are nearly always pure sadistic evil by definition. Most individual members could qualify as a Complete Monster (as groups can't be Complete Monsters, which requires consciousness), although subversions or deconstructions are becoming more common, which pushes those examples out of this territory.
** With few exceptions, any serious villain that believes DystopiaJustifiesTheMeans or ToCreateAPlaygroundForEvil.

%% When adding items, remember: Higher always equals more sympathetic, and only Antagonists make this list.

!Tropes that can't be readily classified on the scale

These tropes are orthogonal to this Scale, have too variable a position to be located specifically, or are position changing without having a particular position to call its own.


[[folder:Variable Position]]
* Due to GoodLawyersGoodClients, even if the AmoralAttorney is perfectly law-abiding and ethical they often end up being an accidental proxy for their client's vileness if they get justice for anyone on the Ordinary Villain scale or below. Outside of that though it's rare for an AmoralAttorney to personally do the deeds that would even skirt the MoralEventHorizon--they tend to bend the law, not break it.
* While a BabysitterFromHell's rap sheet leads off with "WouldHurtAChild," they can range from CompleteMonster all the way to the top of the AntiVillain section.
* If [[BettyAndVeronica Betty or Veronica]] is the protagonist, the other will often be the antagonist. Can go anywhere from TheRival to CompleteMonster, depending on how driven she is.
* BigBad is one of those tropes that can fall almost anywhere on the scale. Very, ''very'' rarely are they actually {{Hero Antagonist}}s though, so they usually vary from very sympathetic {{Anti Villain}}s to utterly depraved {{Complete Monster}}s.
* BigBadWannabe can vary a lot due to the various reasons that they fail to live up to their desired status as the main villain. If they're just not heinous enough they are probably {{Harmless Villain}}s, but if they're just not smart and/or effective enough as a threat they can also be StupidEvil.
* A CardCarryingVillain is often, ironically enough, portrayed as either a HarmlessVillain or CompleteMonster. The more sympathetic they are, the more it comes across as an InformedAttribute, however.
* A KnightOfCerebus almost never strays above NobleDemon in order to provide the sufficient seriousness needed for their MoodWhiplash--curiously, the only exception to this are {{Sadist Show}}s that embrace their BlackAndGreyMorality which will often have a HeroAntagonist available as one to highlight [[CrapsackWorld just how crapsack things are]].
* A KnightTemplar can either be [[AntiVillain higher]] or [[MoralEventHorizon lower]] on the scale, depending on how deluded or extreme they are. [[BlackAndGreyMorality In particularly]] [[EvilVersusEvil dark stories]], a MoralEventHorizon is very likely, but in more idealistic works, they may be AntiVillains.
* Entities that are MadeOfEvil can be anything from ordinary villains to {{Complete Monster}}s. It all depends on whether they are free to make their own moral choices, or if the setting explicitly makes it clear that they're bound by their nature to do evil (a trait common to many {{Anthropomorphic Personification}}s and some Gods in regards to their fields of responsibility).
* {{Mad Scientist}}s go from AntiVillain to CompleteMonster, otherwise they'd just be TheProfessor or the EccentricMentor.
* Given that the MagnificentBastard is more about style, Magnificent Bastards can fall anywhere above the MoralEventHorizon on this scale, although, again, since he's all about style, the Bastard in question is likely higher on the scale than he would otherwise be.
* {{Mook}}s can fit anywhere along this scale, but rarely make it all the way to the bottom, since they don't usually represent a serious threat. {{Elite Mook}}s excepted, of course, as are mooks seen committing atrocities like mass murder and genocide with a smile.
* {{Narcissist}}s can range anywhere from {{Jerkass woobie}}s to a [[TheSociopath remorseless]] {{Complete Monster}}s.
* An OmnicidalManiac can be as high as WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds, all the way down to {{Complete Monster}}dom.
* The ProfessionalKiller can range anywhere from a [[HitmanWithAHeart sympathetic]] PunchClockVillain to an [[PsychoForHire irredeem]][[ColdSniper able]] CompleteMonster.
* Depending on their level of intelligence and malice, a PsychopathicManchild can range from AmbiguousInnocence to a CompleteMonster.
* {{Satan}} is such an iconic character that the Prince of Darkness's portrayal varies so widely that he's even [[SatanIsGood become the hero in some stories]], while others depict him as [[CompleteMonster the worst villain of all time]], or anywhere in between.
* The SociopathicSoldier varies significantly because of all the Administrivia/{{Internal Subtrope}}s. The jingoistic asshole is usually an ordinary villain if they're not just products of their environment, the PsychoForHire types are mostly CompleteMonster candidates, the involuntary conscript is at the bottom of {{Anti Villain}}y, while the ShellshockedVeteran is more of a TragicVillain.
* The StrawCharacter can be anything from someone well-meaning but misguided, all the way to an out-and-out CompleteMonster.
* ThoseTwoBadGuys and the QuirkyMinibossSquad can be anything from {{Harmless Villain}}s to {{Complete Monster}}s.
* A TokenEvilTeammate, if they're the kind that cause trouble, hover around the middle of the scale. Too high up makes their evilness an InformedAttribute, too low can induce some serious MoralDissonance as to why the heroes put up with such a bastard.
* A VisionaryVillain can be of any degree of vileness, but always has a provocative goal and plans to achieve them.

[[folder:Permutation factors]]
!!Sympathy Effect

* AdaptationalVillainy, if particularely forced or excessive will reduce the vileness for people familiar with the source work, who tend to see it as character demonization. Ditto with HistoricalVillainUpgrade.
* AlasPoorVillain will yank a character upwards on the scale although it's unlikely to occur with more vile characters.
* Any antagonist with ArsonMurderAndAdmiration in his resume is probably on the Sillier side of the SlidingScaleOfSillinessVersusSeriousness, and thus probably pulled upward on the scale. Of course, BewareTheSillyOnes can apply in this case.
* Black And Black Morality (aka EvilVersusEvil) reduces the overall vileness of the worst villains because everyone in the story is disgustingly evil, but the audience may just [[DarknessInducedAudienceApathy become too apathetic at the bleakness of the setting instead]].
** Shows with BlackAndGreyMorality tend to reduce the vileness of {{Hero Antagonist}}s or {{Anti Villain}}s; it's just hard to get worked up over a villain's plan to [[RushmoreRefacement carve his face into the side of a mountain]] when the hero has to regularly resort to machine-gunning robbers in broad daylight.
** Likewise, shows with GreyAndWhiteMorality rarely have more than one or two instances (usually the BigBad) where the antagonists stray below WellIntentionedExtremist.
* A villain will usually be portrayed more sympathetically in an EnemyMine situation, especially in [[TheGoodTheBadAndTheEvil instances where they have to resolve their differences to fight a greater threat]] and perhaps even prompt a HeelFaceTurn.
* EvenEvilHasStandards can pull upwards on the scale, though anyone below the MoralEventHorizon will (usually) come across as a {{Hypocrite}} for attempting this. They slide halfway back down again if it's revealed as PragmaticVillainy instead.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes also pulls characters upwards. They can still cross the MoralEventHorizon, but if they display genuine love for someone, they are excluded from being a CompleteMonster by definition, who don't have any redeeming qualities at all.
* EvilIsSexy villains have the tendency to draw attention away from their crimes because the audience becomes fixated on their beauty rather than their evil. Even {{Complete Monster}}s will sometimes get the DracoInLeatherPants treatment because of this.
* The more EvilVirtues a villain has, the more the audience admires them in spite of their depravity. However, these virtues can actually lead to a more [[MagnificentBastard dangerous]] [[FauxAffablyEvil or depraved]] villain whereas one lacking can appear merely [[{{Jerkass}} unpleasant]] [[TheHedonist or too self-centered to accomplish anything.]]
* FamilyValuesVillain is something of a combination between the EvenEvilHasStandards and EvenEvilHasLovedOnes, with the same effect as those two. (Although {{hypocrisy}} can pull them right back down again.)
* A good FreudianExcuse may pull a villain upward on the scale, but [[CompleteMonster Complete Monsterdom]], by definition, means that no FreudianExcuse can absolve them.
* A LaughablyEvil villain can gain sympathy for at least humouring the audience, despite being close to the "bad" end of the scale.
* MustMakeAmends, VillainousBSOD, and MyGodWhatHaveIDone can pull a villain upwards on the scale, though obviously more evil villains tend to be more immune to these effects.
* OffstageVillainy can make even the most wantonly destructive villains more sympathetic than a villain who commits overall fewer but more visible atrocities. The audience will be compelled to hate them more simply due to the rules of perception.
* Beware of using [[TheWarOnStraw strawmen]] for blackening your villains; if the audience finds out, they'll often get pushed upwards further than you like, especially if they make an [[StrawmanHasAPoint especially good point]] or their belief system [[FelonyMisdemeanor isn't even that bad]].
* VillainDecay, if especially humiliating or prolonged, will slowly cause a villain to float up to HarmlessVillain if left unchecked.

!!Hatred Effect

* Do enough EvilGloating, and the audience will hate you even more than they otherwise would have for your sheer haughtiness. (Although it should be noted that a stylish enough Evil Gloat pulls towards {{Magnificent Bastard}}dom (which may well be up from where you are), and it is only unnecessary cruelty, or repetition of Gloating that pulls downwards.)
* Making a villain an EvilIsPetty bastard who holds trivial grudges is an easy way to make them more vile regardless of their other actions.
* EvilMakesYouUgly / EvilMakesYouMonstrous Due to perceptions of BeautyEqualsGoodness, villains whose appearance starts to resemble their inner evil by becoming more ugly or more monstrous (or are ugly to begin with, such as a FatBastard) will have the audience root against them more than if they were (still) beautiful. A villain who looks like a {{Bishonen}} is more likely to gain the sympathy of at least ''some'' audience members even if it's pure MisaimedFandom, while a decrepit, inhuman-looking villain has much less of a chance of this happening.
* Any instances of KarmaHoudini below the center line run a huge risk of accidentally transforming a 'normal' villain into someone even more despised.
* A VillainWithGoodPublicity will tend to be lower than they normally would be because of their tendency to [[KarmaHoudini get away with their crimes]].
* Have the villains demonstrate they have no compunction about their victims and certainly WouldHurtAChild and WouldHitAGirl, and they go down several notches.

!!Multiple / Both

* KickTheDog is a standard behavior for Ordinary Villainy and below, while those above it have an increasing chance to be seen with a PetTheDog moment. PokeThePoodle too much however, and the villain starts sliding up towards HarmlessVillain.
* Likewise, KickTheSonOfABitch will make an antagonist less hated by the audience, especially if the victim was [[TheScrappy particularily unlikable]]. However if their method of kicking is rather [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill excessive or]] [[DisproportionateRetribution cruel]] then they will be knocked down a few notches.
* Just the simple passage of time can push a villain [[FairForItsDay up the scale]] or [[ValuesDissonance screaming downwards]].
* FromNobodyToNightmare has various effects on sympathy. If the antagonist has [[FreudianExcuse an outright tragic]] [[StartOfDarkness reason for evil]] or UsedToBeASweetKid then they will be propelled up the scale. If the antagonist was an [[JerkWithAHeartOfJerk outright asshole]] before their StartOfDarkness, especially towards the protagonists then they will be more hated.
* A villain that is a GeneralFailure, PointyHairedBoss, and/or a StupidBoss makes weaksauce villains more vile and more blackhearted villains less so -- malicious stupidity reduces your sympathy but also reduces your threat, pushing you towards the middle.
* If an antagonist is also holding the title of TheScrappy, they can be pushed either upwards or downwards depending on what they're being hated for. Unfortunately even in the 'redeeming' case of this it won't reduce the audience's overall hatred towards them, just the perceived vileness component of that hatred.
* Anything related to sexuality (e.g., DepravedBisexual, HeteronormativeCrusader, or PsychoLesbian) is going to go all over the place, as sexuality is one of the big ValuesDissonance triggers, with one exception:
** VillainousIncest: This can go either way depending on the form that the incest takes. Almost always used to provide that extra shudder factor to an already depraved villain, it virtually guarantees a crossing of the MoralEventHorizon if it's abusive and/or includes rape (e.g. the villain in ''Film/{{Chinatown}}''). If both parties are willing and of more or less equal age and power, it can occasionally cross into EvenEvilHasLovedOnes (e.g. two primary characters in ''Series/GameOfThrones'').

[[folder:Orthogonal to the scale]]
* The VillainProtagonist technically does not fall on this scale, as he is, by definition, a Protagonist, rather than an Antagonist. Nevertheless, he can likewise fall anywhere from the start of AntiVillain all the way down to CompleteMonster. The latter, however, is more rare. Placing a villain in the role of protagonist can make for an interesting story, but writers generally shy away from portraying them as entirely irredeemable evil bastards by introducing some redeeming traits or a SympatheticPOV to balance out their evil acts. This way the audience is comfortable enough to continue to follow them instead of constantly squirming in their seats from the protagonist's boundless heinousness.
* Most {{Eldritch Abomination}}s cannot really be identified on this scale due to their BlueAndOrangeMorality, even though they are among the most scary entities used in fiction. Rarely genuinely malevolent, they are more often just indifferent towards humanity, and take no more of an interest in its destruction than one might think of stepping on an ant.
* Likewise the NonMaliciousMonster borders on being an antagonist, since however a normal animal has no understanding of its actions or their consequences it cannot be held neither morally accountable for them nor knowingly antagonistic.
* NoAntagonist is completely outside the scale, as the {{Conflict}} is caused by either natural events, society, or one's own flaws rather than other characters. Depending on the source, audience reaction can vary from apathy[[note]]What logic is there in being angry at a natural disaster, for example?[[/note]] to disgust at the cause of the protagonist's problems.
* The AssholeVictim (and its child trope, WhoMurderedTheAsshole) often, given that his place in the story is to become a corpse, usually doesn't directly qualify for the scale because the antagonistic role was towards someone else and not the protagonists. That being said, the AssholeVictim fills many of the functional requirements of an Antagonist, so many of the above tropes and permutation factors will apply to him.