Analysis / Designated Villain

  • In most movies about saving the old theater, school, ball field, etc., the villain is someone who wants to tear down this location to put their own business there, a completely legal and understandable (if somewhat tragic for the protagonists) way to make a living. Often they’re corrupt or try to achieve their goal of obtaining the property through dishonest or illegal means, but sometimes the movie has no other way to paint them as an outright villain than to make them kind of a jerk. (A production intended for kids especially would do this, because the creators think kids are insufficiently intelligent to understand corruption.)
  • Similarly, landlords (or bankers, etc.) get this treatment simply for demanding that protagonists pay them the money they’re rightfully owed or vacate the premises. If the ‘creditor’ figure is not outright portrayed as a jerk or involved in some underhanded scheme, they still get painted as ‘fabulously wealthy landowner being merciless and unforgiving to characters’ hardships.’
    • If they have a ‘no pets allowed’ policy, it’s usually because they hate animals instead of more legitimate reasons like the potential to spread disease.
  • The people who think the hero is crazy and needs to be locked up usually think so because the hero is, well … acting totally crazy. In real life, if somebody you know starts going on about voices, special powers, or other worlds, getting mental help for them is generally the right thing to do.
  • Any time a new boss/authority figure makes any type of budget cuts, it is almost guaranteed that he or she will be portrayed as a villain, and their rising to their position of authority will be portrayed as a Tyrant Takes the Helm moment. Never mind the fact that in Real Life budget cuts are often necessary, particularly in tough economic times. The idea that budget cuts may sometimes be justified is apparently an unpopular one with many writers, and all authority figures who suggest budget cuts will be portrayed as absurdly evil villains who actively hate the arts/their employees/teachers/children/the community and want to cut the budget For the Evulz rather than because of fiscal/economic realities.
    • If they are a school principal or superintendent, they will be depicted as a Dean Bitterman who needs to lighten up. If they are a political figure, they will inevitably be a Straw Character, and if they run a business, they will always be portrayed as being a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Apparently, fiscal responsibility is the Eighth Deadly Sin in the world of fiction. The fact that this attitude is often carried over into Real Life — resulting in anyone who suggests budget cuts being portrayed as evil, however fiscally sensible their proposals may be — is also rather frustrating.
      • There’s a seemingly easy Author's Saving Throw at play: if the authority figure wants to cut the budget on the backs of poor people, many viewers would see that as bad. Yet if they had been abusing the services that were cut, it might be necessary to teach them a lesson, albeit perhaps a controversial one for this audience. When such a thought leads to an assumption, sincerely held or feigned, that all economic problems are poor people’s fault, however, it is a problem.
  • In many particularly cheesy kid and teen movies, anyone who doesn’t immediately give the Designated Hero their way is portrayed as a jerkass. A typical example is a character who did nothing worse than compete with the protagonist for something, yet somehow deserves to be punished and humiliated, or a teacher who actually makes the protagonist work and is portrayed as a Sadist Teacher because of it.
    • This is especially bad when the ‘hero’ belittles, humiliates, and otherwise torments his/her enemy and is portrayed as justified, but when the enemy does the exact same thing, s/he is a jerkass. This often leads to Alternative Character Interpretation: if we only ever see a character’s behavior around someone who hates them, what’s to say they aren’t sweet to their friends and family? This can then make an already Unintentionally Unsympathetic protagonist worse, if they treat their loved ones poorly.
  • Sitcoms and Telenovelas with a Love Triangle (well, is there any without one?) usually arrange it as a designated couple and ‘the other’, who is an obstacle in the designated couple’s happiness. They are usually referred to as the heroes and villains of the work. However, ‘the other’ may be a villain or not depending on what s/he actually does to keep the relation or in other topics. Specially if the designated couple have just met and ‘the other’ has been in the relation from years ago (and more if there are kids in the scene), doing anything to protect the relation may be perfectly justified in most cases.
  • In a work that’s Very Loosely Based on a True Story, the opposing side will get an upgrade in villainy, while the side with the protagonists may be made to seem more heroic. Evidence in the story can still remain for a grayer view, though, sometimes either side may appear Not So Different, and anyone who researched the event will be shaking their heads as to why each side’s traits were exaggerated.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Analysis/DesignatedVillain