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Asshole Victim: Literature
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Toyed with in The Naked Sun, where the murder victim qualifies under reasons two and three. . . because he was the perfect embodiment of the planet's social code ("a good Solarian"); that is, an antisocial asshole. As the detective brought in from Earth just to solve the case has to explain to his audience at the Summation Gathering, everyone had a motive to murder the man who reminded them all of their imperfections.
    • Another story by Asimov features a famous researcher who dies in a lab explosion. Foul play is suspected. The problem is, it turns out this "researcher" never did anything except steal the ideas and results of others, so not only did everyone have a motive, everyone was openly discussing the best way to kill him.
  • Bob Sheldon in The Outsiders, who is knifed to death while trying to drown the main character in a fountain.
  • An interesting variant occurs in a 1980s science fiction short story "Press Enter" about a hacker who'd been secretly running the world from his computer; although nobody that knew him had any reason to hate him enough to kill him while he was still alive, his posthumous release of all the embarrassing information he'd gathered on the people around him over the years had one police officer remarking that all the townspeople sure wished they could kill him now.
  • Scottish police detective Hamish Macbeth, in the mystery novels by M.C. Beaton, often finds himself investigating crimes in which the victim is someone who many people were glad to see go away. It's even right there in the titlesDeath of a Snob, Death of an Outsider, Death of a Poison Pen, etc.
  • Agatha Christie liked to do this as well.
    • Ratchett in Murder on the Orient Express is worth mentioning in particular, being doubly an Asshole Victim. He's portrayed as a total jackass from the minute he steps on board, so don't feel too guilty when he's splattered across a Pullman carriage for the watcher's entertainment. As more is learned about him after the murder, it becomes even clearer just how deserving he was of his fate. Poirot eventually lets his murderers go. A nice twist on the "everyone had a motive" reason for an asshole villain, given that it turns out that everyone did it.
    • And Then There Were None has ten Asshole Victims who each committed a crime, though some of them are portrayed with a degree of sympathy. The murders were committed in order of "guilt", from least to most.
      • Anthony Marston, the first to die, was a reckless driver who ran over a couple of children, and was only upset about the incident because it resulted in the loss of his driver's license. He was completely self-centered, and showed no remorse or sympathy for his victims. The killer felt that the reckless driver was simply born sociopathic and self-absorbed, and couldn't help not feeling guilty.
      • Many of the other characters, on the other hand, do indeed regret their misdeeds. Interestingly, some of the later killings use the exact opposite logic. For example, the surgeon was drunk, so the deaths he caused under the influence weren't intentional or premeditated, and thus considered not as worthy of retribution as say, the nanny who let the child in her charge drown so that her lover would receive the lion's share of an inheritance.
    • Mrs. Boynton in Appointment with Death. After she spends the first part of the book psychologically torturing her family, one could be forgiven for cheering when a public-spirited individual does away with the old crone. Except that the actual killer was more private-spirited in their reasons—they were afraid Boynton would expose their criminal past.
    • Mr. Shaitana in Cards On the Table, who has a collection of successful murderers — the ones he knows got away with it — and invites them to a party calculated to make them squirm. Christie plays with this one, as Poirot immediately points out that this is not a safe hobby. Much of the book is spent trying to find out what murders the suspects previously committed.
      • As a further sign of Shaitana's arrogance, very late in the book, it is revealed that one of the so-called "murderers" was actually innocent of his original crime, and thus did not deserve to be put through Shaitana's mind game in the first place.
    • Simeon Lee in Hercule Poirot's Christmas is an selfish old millionaire, who plays sadistic mind games with his family. Here, however, the murder was actually personal revenge.
    • The sadistic Lord Edgware in Lord Edgware Dies. However, as in Appointment with Death, the murder was committed for selfish motives.
    • Colonel Protheroe of The Murder at the Vicarage is the most despised man in the village; even the local vicar says that killing him would be a service to the community. However, yet again, the murder turns out to have been committed for purely selfish motives.
    • Subversion in Five Little Pigs: several characters sided with Caroline Crale when she was convicted of murdering her husband Amyas, a painter having an affair with his model. However, Poirot realises that Amyas was never going to leave Caroline and only kept Elsa around to finish the painting. Elsa killed him and framed Caroline when she learned that he had always intended to stay with his wife.
    • Joyce Reynolds in Halloween Party manages to be a prepubescent version of this trope, being regarded by most of the adults and children around her as a lying Attention Whore and not incredibly well liked as a result. The fact that she's still a child means that it is not okay when someone bumps her off. Her brother Leopold is also one of these.
    • Some of the deceased in Death Comes as the End fall into this category, especially Nofret and Ipy.
    • Some readers might find the victim, Linnet, from Death on the Nile to be one of these. In the beginning of the book, she seems like quite a nice person until we find out that she's having a village knocked down and the people moved because they're blocking her view (though she is having new houses built for them at least). Then we find out that she stole her best friend's fiancee. She doesn't look quite so good after that. Then another twist when it's shown that the best friend and the fiance were both in on it.
    • The movie, however, plays it straighter by giving almost other passenger a motive, even if Linnet hasn't brought all of them on herself.
    • Averted in Towards Zero, where the victim is a rather strict and old-fashioned, but very good-natured and kind old lady, liked all around. Her killing is intended as a Moral Event Horizon, though Christie was kind enough to make her terminally ill and actually wanting to die to alleviate reader's guilt. Bonus points for the police discussing the trope and aversion.
    • Interestingly subverted in Evil Under the Sun. While the victim is disruptive in the community and has personality issues, the worst of her actions are being carefully staged by the killer and his accomplice. Poirot has already realised that her addiction to sex/romance/drama makes her vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation, not liable to perform it on others - she's not intelligent enough.
  • Sherlock Holmes dealt with a couple of these.
    • The most evil being Charles Augustus Milverton, who got rich by blackmailing people (only to ruin them anyway, for the fun of it). Holmes let the murderer go, having previously expressed extreme hatred for Milverton.
    Holmes: My sympathies in this case are with the criminal, not the victim.
    • Holmes seems to have a tendency to let murders of spousal abusers slide. In Victorian England, hitting women is not okay.
    • The title character in "Black Peter" is a good example. When he's skewered with one of his own harpoons, nearly every one of his neighbors is glad. His own daughter explicitly tells Holmes and Watson that she's happy dear ol' dad is dead and she blesses the hand that struck him down.
    • Sir Eustace Brackenstall, the victim in "The Adventure of Abbey Grange." Brackenstall was a violent drunkard who did everything from repeatedly stab his wife Lady Brackenstall with a hatpin to douse her dog in oil and light it on fire. He eventually had his skull caved in by a sailor who'd fallen in love with Lady Brackenstall before she married her husband and had come to defend her from her husband's abuse. Holmes tracks down the sailor, and once he learns what really happened lets the sailor go.
    • The two victims in "A Study in Scarlet" (1887) definitely qualify, being murderers themselves as well as rapists, misogynists, hedonists, and religious extremists who, in turn, abandoned said religion (Mormonism) the second it became inconvenient for them. In this case the reader is definitely expected to side with the murderer, especially when the second half of the book is devoted to retelling the background in which his girlfriend's father was killed by one of the victims and the other forced her to marry him, leading what was implied to be her suicide.
    • Although the murderer in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" was by no means a particularly upstanding gentleman, this trope applies to the victim McCarthy, who was a blackmailer and a Manipulative Bastard who treated his own son like a pawn.
    • In "The Illustrious Client", a woman named Kitty Winter threw vitriol (concentrated sulphuric acid) on Adelbert Gruner (who could be charitably described as a serial murder and rapist). The court gave her the lowest possible sentence.
  • About half the victims in Ben Elton's Past Mortem were unpleasant school bullies as children, and many of them retained their assholery later in life. Then there were the ones who were bullies to a degree but didn't deserve anywhere near what happened to them.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: The biggest asshole is Bob Ewell. After an innocent black man is killed escaping from prison after being framed for the rape of Ewell's daughter and despite his victory over the black man's defense attorney Atticus Finch, Ewell swears revenge on Finch for exposing what a scumbag he was at the trial. At the end, he tries to murder Atticus' two children, only to get killed himself in the ensuing struggle by the reclusive Boo Radley. Even though it is obvious he died at Boo's hands, the sheriff argues with Atticus about the prudence and morals of letting this be publically known; ironically, he's certain nearly everyone's sympathies would be with Boo, but thinks it would be cruel to go breaking his solitude by holding him up to everyone's praise and gratitude when Boo Radley really does just want to be left alone. Atticus eventually accepts the sheriff's story that Ewell killed himself by falling on his own knife. The extent of Ewell's assholishness is lampshaded in the novel, where it's noted that not only does he hold a grudge against everyone involved in the case, he was too much of a Dirty Coward to face those people directly. Besides Atticus, he tries to break into the home of the judge, in the middle of the night, and stalks the black man's widow as she goes to work, until her boss threatens to have him arrested for it.
  • Frank Bennett, wife beater and rapist, disappears in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and no one really cares, not even the officer who investigates the cases and later becomes the judge who hears the case against Idgie and Big George.
  • In Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher stories:
    • Death by Water: Nearly all of the victims of the jewel thefts aboard the S.S. Hinemoa have left victims in their wake (excepting the first woman), generally in financial trouble: the singer abandoned her young daughter to grow up in a slum, the vindictive Mr. West sacked a young man for hanging around Mrs. West, and so on.
      • Mr. Singer kills Jack Mason's man, Thomas. Later it's revealed Thomas was on the Titanic as a steward- and many of the stewards blocked the passages on the ship so the First Class passengers could escape, while condemning everyone else to die.
    • Flying Too High: The elder Mr. McNaughton sexually abused his wife and daughter.
    • Murder in Montparnasse: Hector Chambers is the target of a ransom demand for his missing daughter - he's bad-tempered and sexist, and pulls a gun on Miss Fisher several times when she figures out something without being told (he assumes she's in on it).
      • Rene abused every woman he was with, killed two innocent men and generally defined 'bastard'.
    • Dead Man's Chest: Bridget, a housemaid, kills Mrs. McNaster, her employer's mother-in-law- who works her companion to the bone and abuses her as much as she can. No one's upset.
    • Murder on the Ballarat Train: Mrs. Henderson was a terrible nag who constantly belittled her daughter. The murderer never expected the daughter to grieve for her mother, or to hire a private investigator to solve the murder.
  • In Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds, Li Kao needs to murder someone to carry out a plan, and he hopes to do it to someone who thoroughly deserves it. He finds one in the form of Fainting Maid who set up the deaths of her father's concubine and the soldier she loved solely because she couldn't accept that he preferred another girl over her. When her father learns about this, he's quite happy to leave her to drown in a well.
  • Nearly everyone in Stephen King's Carrie save Sue Snell (who survives). The famous scene where Carrie kills everyone at the prom is supposed to be deliberately horrifying in the book and film, but the effect is nullified somewhat when you are cheering her on. Carrie's date started out this way, but by the time the prom rolled around, he had actually grown to like her. Pity she never found that out...
    • In Bag of Bones, primary antagonist Max Devore dies suddenly, an apparent suicide. His most direct victims celebrate his death. The rest of his town knows what really killed him and wonders which of them is next. Nobody mourns for his death, however.
    • King's Sherlock Holmes pastiche, "The Doctor's Case" (in Nightmares & Dreamscapes), features such a victim, physically abusive to his wife and psychologically abusive to her and their three sons (all adults). Just to cap it off, the victim plans to leave his wife and sons penniless when he dies (death of natural causes is mere months away and he knows it) by leaving his fortune to a cat shelter. Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade collectively agree the deceased had it coming and drop the investigation.
  • Several of Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael mysteries start with the murder of someone hated, and end with the heroes having to catch the killer before it's too late for someone we like.
    • In The Leper of St. Giles, a brutish and cruel nobleman is killed the day before he was to marry a much younger and not-entirely-willing lady. Curiously, but in typically compassionate Ellis Peters form, the mystery is solved with the help of someone who was the victim's friend and who saw him as a good man.
    • In Dead Man's Ransom, Gilbert Prestcote is severely wounded in battle and then murdered in his bed while recovering. In previous books he was set up as a hardline sheriff who was often too quick to judge, resulting in many races against time for Cadfael and Hugh Beringar to save an innocent person from punishment or keep a criminal from getting away. While he judged quickly, he wasn't cruel and would always recant if shown evidence he was wrong. He wasn't a Jerkass, just not as good a detective as Cadfael or Hugh.
    • In The Raven in the Foregate, Father Ailnoth's death is mourned by nobody, after the residents and reader spend a few chapters being appalled by his cruelty. In the end it turns out that his death was not murder, but an accident which the sole witness considered to be divine judgment.
    • The Hermit of Eyton Forest:
      • Drogo Bosiet is a huge brutish man chasing down an escaped villein and beating his groom on the journey. He winds up dead.
      • Then Renaud Bourchier, alias Cuthred, a fucking traitor to his liege who killed Drogo for knowing too much. Noone sheds any tears over him when a more loyal knight bumps him off.
  • In Kate Ross' second Julian Kestrel mystery, Whom the Gods Love, the victim is gradually revealed to have been this.
  • Principal Chapman from Animorphs is a weird example - in the main series he's a Papa Wolf who's made the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter and is regularly used as a Butt Monkey in later books. There's no indication in the main plot Chapman has any kind of karmic comeuppance coming. But in the Chronicles prequel books Chapman appears as a dangerous quisling who tries to offer the Yeerks Earth in exchange for his safety. This portrayal of Chapman is a stark contrast to all his other appearances, with the dissonance being so stark some fans have gone so far as to posit that the Chapman of the Chronicles books is a different character with the same name.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire starts with the local Muggles' viewpoint of the murder of the Riddle family, for whom no one wastes any breath feeling sorry. That said, they didn't sympathize with the man suspected of the murder either, even though he was never charged.
    • Played with in the case of Barty Crouch. He's introduced as a stuffy man who sacked his House Elf while ignoring her sobbing pleas and tossed his neglected son into Azkaban. He becomes less of an asshole when the readers realize that he had good damned reason to have his son locked up, and the last time Crouch is seen alive, he's insane, terrified, and trying his hardest to warn Dumbledore about the planned return of Voldemort.
      • He was also more sympathetic in the movie adaptation where his son is seen as a depraved, all-grown-up lunatic before he locked him up, rather than a scared, innocent young boy.
    • In Deathly Hallows, after Peter Pettigrew momentarily hesitated in his attempt to kill Harry, he was strangled to death by the artificial silver hand Voldemort had given him. No one in the fandom wept.
    • The entire series is devoted to building up how evil Voldemort is, to the point where it is immensely satisfying when he finally dies.
    • Loxias was such a monster that everyone—including his own mother—confessed to killing him. His murder was never solved.
  • The victim in the first Lord Darcy story, "The Eyes Have It", is a drunken lech who is killed by his own sister as he attempts to rape her.
  • Roughly half the victims in Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey novels qualify. Most of the others are old and ill enough to have had a life expectancy measured in at most months even before they were murdered.
    • Sir Reuben, the victim of the first book, Whose Body? seems to be a subversion. Generally, if a businessman is killed in a Golden Age mystery novel, he is a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and if the character is Jewish, as Sir Reuben is, this is certainly going to be true. While Sayers goes with the conventional wisdom/racism by having him be a fairly ruthless businessman, against type he is beloved by his family and liked or at least respected by his servants and business associates.
    • Strong Poison: Phillip Boyes. In the immortal words of Lord Peter, "If only that young man were alive today, how dearly I should like to kick his bottom for him." Boyes got a woman to live with him out of wedlock by claiming to be above marriage, then proposed to her, and was an emotionally abusive jerk to her during their entire relationship. Anyone would want to kick his ass. That she was Peter's true love was only icing on the cake.
    • The Five Red Herrings had Sandy Campbell, a foul-tempered alcoholic who seriously hurt someone at the golf course, threatened people's lives, and physically attacked his neighbor.
    • If anything, Geoffrey Deacon in The Nine Tailors is beyond an Asshole Victim, so foul and evil that he is by most readings the real villain of the book. Made even more unusual for a mystery novel by the fact that Lord Peter and seven local residents killed him by accident.
    • Murder Must Advertise: Victor Dean was a blackmailer.
    • Busman's Honeymoon: Noakes was another blackmailer, as well as a grasping miser who'd stiff anyone he got the chance to. Both Harriet and Peter are tempted to withhold evidence because they have more sympathy for the suspects—even supposing them to have done it—than for the victim.
    • Mr. Plant, the titular victim of the short story "The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face", is horrible to his subordinates.
  • Mr. Wagstaffe from the Montague Egg short story "False Weight" had a wife (using a different name each time) in every town his rounds took him to.
  • The Brothers Karamazov: Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov.
  • Rex Stout worked with this a lot in the Nero Wolfe mysteries; victims are usually at least fairly unpleasant people.
    • Death of a Dude (1969): The victim had seduced a local girl, fathered a child out of wedlock, and wouldn't take any responsibility for the baby's welfare; her father, an old friend of Archie's, was arrested for murder just before the opening of the story.
    • A Family Affair (1975): The first victim is attempting blackmail.
    • In the Best Families (1950): The final victim is a major organized crime figure.
    • The short story "Murder is Corny" (1961): The victim was a stalker and a blackmailer.
    • The novella "Black Orchids" (1941): The victim was blackmailing one character and trying the Scarpia Ultimatum on another.
    • The short story "Death of a Demon" takes this to a whole new level; not only is the titular victim a blackmailer, but he's also a sadist.
    • In the short story "Die Like a Dog" the victim was a lecher and had the bad sense to go and taunt his victim's estranged husband about this.
    • Too Many Cooks opens, before the victim has even died, with a man ranting not only about how much he wants to kill the soon-to-be victim Philip Laszio, but also how every other person you are about to meet in the book has a motive to kill Laszio too. You almost expect Everybody Did It in this one.
  • Patricia Wentworth played with this in her Maud Silver books.
    • Latter End (1947): Lois Latter (The Vamp) had married now-Henpecked Husband James Latter for his money, and exploited all the other women in the household, in some cases just for spite. She actually died because one of the other women suspected her of tampering with James' drink, and switched the cups.
    • Spotlight (1947), also known as Wicked Uncle: The victim was a blackmailer; the U.S. title is due to his being the uncle of the female protagonist, who'd made his wife, her guardian, miserable throughout their marriage.
    • Miss Silver Comes to Stay (1949): James Lessiter, upon finally claiming his mother's estate, begins settling all his debts (somewhat subverted in that at least two of the people with financial motives to kill him had been robbing the estate and aren't particularly sympathetic characters).
    • The Gazebo (1956): The victim was My Beloved Smother; her daughter's fiance was suspected of having finally snapped.
  • This is the reason why R.L. Stine's The Snowman doesn't necessarily work: the readers are supposed to dislike him because he's a cold blooded killer, but his victim is a physically and emotionally abusive jerk. The victim in question has beaten his wife and niece, emotionally berated his wife so much as to break her spirit, he's stealing money from his niece's inheritance while barely leaving the rest of his family enough money to eat, and he has zero redeeming qualities. Snowman's actions after the murder indicate a lot of insanity on his part, but he was pretty justified in killing who he killed. Given how confused he was afterward about why the victim's family wouldn't be happy, and how he seems to think he's done the right thing, readers sometimes ended up liking him rather than being horrified by him. However, Snowman tricked the niece into giving him money. He told her something along the lines of his father being in the hospital undergoing an expensive operation and that he needs all the money he can get. She did not find out until much later that he lives alone and apparently has no parents Then, when he reveals that he killed her uncle, and she displayed horror, he said that he still had the money she gave him and that if she went to the police, he would just tell them that she paid him to kill her uncle.
  • Hannibal:
    • In the book by Thomas Harris, several of his victims are completely unsympathetic and deserve their eventual fate. The rich guy who is funding a private effort to capture and kill him is a child molester, even raped his own sister. The cop who found him tried to sell him to the rich guy for millions of dollars instead of telling the FBI. The doctor who toyed with him and discredited Clarice Starling when he was in prison was a blowhard and a jerk, and Paul Krendler (the guy who got his brain eaten) was a Dept of Justice director who derailed Starling's career for not sleeping with him and colludes with the rich guy to capture Lecter. Each eventually died gruesomely.
    • Lampshaded by Lecter's prison caretaker, who explains that Lecter preferentially kills rude people, sparing those who demonstrate graciousness.
    • After Dr. Lecter became a lucrative commodity thanks to the film adaptations, the creators suddenly made Lecter exclusively a Jerkass killer: in Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs almost none of Lecter's victims is an explicit asshole; only after Hannibal they were ALL retconned to be this trope.
  • Most of the murder victims who get any introduction to in Burning Water, by Mercedes Lackey.
  • The gang of school bullies who make the fatal mistake of trying their usual shenanigans on Lavan, later known as "Lavan Firestorm" for very good reasons in Brightly Burning.
  • Usually not seen in Discworld, where posthumous dialogue between victims and Death tends to paint all but the worst villains in a sympathetic light. Used straight with Homicidal Lord Winder from Night Watch, though: a paranoid former Patrician so universally despised that, when an undisguised assassin walked up to him in the midst of a grand ball, the majority of guests either allowed it to happen, or actively distracted Winder's few supporters. Downplayed, because the target's paranoia was so great that the assassin (a young Vetinari) didn't actually have to strike him down; rather, the stress of the confrontation caused the deranged Lord Winder to suffer a fatal heart attack. Although knowing Vetinari, that may well have been the intended method of assassination.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Friday. Lieutenant Dickey is described as someone who had repeatedly tried to sleep with Janet despite being repeatedly told no, as "slimy", and as having "a size-twelve ego in a size-four soul". About a minute later, the title character kills him as he's trying to arrest one of her friends at gunpoint.
  • The In Death series by J.D. Robb:
    • Done in one book with the author's usual subtlety (zero). A victim that starts out as a nasty, small-minded prima donna just gets worse with every single thing that's found out. The victim would likely have been facing a life sentence if found out by the law before the murder, and that's mainly because the relevant jurisdiction wouldn't have the death penalty available. It's a good book to read for anyone wondering why a court system might employ justifiable homicide as a separate claim from self-defense. (Though there was a halfway decent "defense of another" argument as well.)
    • Another book in the same series threw this type of victim into a killing spree of otherwise sympathetic victims. One of the cops seemed to be really trying to feel bad, and failing.
    • There are a lot of these. Eve starts out essentially forcing herself to sympathize with them and feel for them. Witness in Death has her openly admit that she couldn't feel sorry for the victim, nor truly condemn his murderer. Her previous attitude is lighter to absent later on, when confronted with such victims.
  • Roger Malcolm in Fire in a Canebrake. The true story of a lynching. Blame the writer, as the book attempts to present Malcolm's lynching as the tragedy it actually was, while painting Malcolm as a monster.
  • IHoles:
    • Kissin' Kate Barlow's first victim was the corrupt sheriff, who allowed the burning of her school and the murder of Sam. He brutally refused to help Kate when she begged for help, even trying to blackmail a kiss from Kate to save Sam from being hanged, but admit that he would still drive Sam away from town afterwards. Granted, the implication was that his behavior was caused by him being drunk, but it still at the very least really irresponsible of a guy to get drunk on a night when the town's gone insane and undoubtedly needs law enforcement.
    • The rest of the town is implied to count as well. Every one of them turns against Sam, and not long after, the lake dries up, suggesting that a number of people died of thirst or had to abandon their homes.
  • The Saint: In the short story "Nassau: The Arrow of God", Simon Templar investigates the murder of a man given to publicly announcing other people's sins for his own amusement. Templar "solves" the crime by determining that only one of the suspects has a prior felony (selling fraudulent stock) to conceal. Because nobody ever killed somebody for threatening to expose an extramarital affair or for claiming one's religion is fraudulent. Really, Simon's entire career consists of liberating a succession of asshole victims from (always) their money and (periodically) their lives.
  • In the short story "Invitation to a Poisoning", Nechtan confesses to adultery, theft, perjury, election fraud, armed robbery and attempted rape to the respective victims of the crimes and then promptly drops dead of cyanide poisoning. Having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, he committed suicide in a manner calculated to involve his enemies in an inconvenient murder investigation.
  • Jack Ritchie's short story "For All the Rude People". The protagonist gets fed up with deliberate rudeness and emotional cruelty in society and starts murdering anyone who's rude in his presence.
  • Offscreen in the Darkest Powers trilogy, Derek Souza broke a kid's back merely by throwing him at a wall, rendering him paraplegic. Later on, it turns out that Derek had only thrown the kid because he and two others were threatening his younger brother Simon Bae with knives, and Derek's werewolf instincts cause his protective streak to go into overdrive. Later, he goes on to kill another werewolf who was about to rape and kill Chloe, the girl he's in love with, though he regrets it bitterly afterwards. As it turns out, all of the people Derek physically hurts (on purpose, anyway) have done something or another to justify the beatdown.
  • In the Andrew Vachss Burke book Terminal, it turns out that Melissa Turnbridge, the girl whose death Burke is supposed to investigate, was a sexually abusive Fille Fatale. The perpetrators had only meant to Break the Haughty by raping her, not kill her outright.
  • In Lonely Werewolf Girl part of Kalix's Back Story is she killed her father; when readers briefly meet him in a trip to the afterlife it's pretty clear he got off easy with just death.
  • Atlas Shrugged has a train's worth of people brutally killed in an accident based on poor management choices, but not before the author makes sure to mention all about what terrible people they all were.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • The Black Fleet Crisis trilogy presents not one but two Asshole Victims who take turns victimizing each other. The Empire violently oppressed the Yevetha, a bloodthirsty Always Chaotic Evil race of aliens who believe all other species are disgustingly inferior. The Yevetha violently rebelled against them, seized the Empire's ships in a bloody coup, and enslaved the surviving Imperial soldiers. The Imperial slaves later violently rose up against their Yevethan masters and stole the ships back, robbing the Yevetha of the core of their fleet and ensuring the New Republic's victory against the Yevetha. Later the brutal Yevethan dictator, Nil Spaar, is stuffed in an escape pod by the Imperials and dumped into hyperspace.
    • The New Jedi Order series follows this up by dropping a bridge on the Yevetha offscreen at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong. The Yevetha were rearming and preparing to restart the war, so their prospective victims asked the extragalactic invaders to protect them in exchange for their surrender without a fight. The Yuuzhan Vong smashed the Yevetha fleet and glassed their homeworld.
  • In the Mrs. Murphy Mysteries at least one of the victims in each book will not be missed.
  • You are meant to cheer for Tonya's father in A Time to Kill when he kills her rapists. By the end of the trial almost everyone in the town is happy that he gets acquitted. Well, everyone but the Ku Klux Klan. It isn't certain that the KKK is an exception. An early scene in the book has the victims' families asking the KKK for help, and the KKK members are thinking, "We shouldn't let a black man get away with killing white people, but frankly these guys had it coming."
  • Ben Aaronovitch:
    • The unnamed rapist at the end of Rivers of London who discovered his intended victim had a bad case of Vagina Dentata.
    • In the sequel Moon Over Soho the woman, who is now known as "The Pale Lady" racks up another three victims. All of whom were sexual deviants of one kind or another (including a corrupt ex-police officer with a taste for real Catgirls).
  • Robert Bloch's short story "Sweets to the Sweet" features an abusive father who regularly beats his daughter, blames her for her mother's Death by Childbirth, and calls her a witch. His brother isn't much better, making excuses for his behavior and not caring about the girl's suffering. So the girl studies witchcraft and makes a Voodoo Doll, then when the brother catches on and is about to take it away, lies "Why, it's only candy!" and bites off its head.
  • Ali, (actually Courtney) in Pretty Little Liars is pretty conniving and bitchy to her friends, and ends up going missing and being found dead in her backyard. On the other hand, a reader may be able to find a little more sympathy as she was only 14 at the time of her death.
  • A number of the Dark Spirit's victims in A Snowball in Hell are just terrible people, such as Darren "The Daddy" McDade who is very racist and ideologically bankrupt, and a group of land mine manufacturing execs who are... well, land mine manufacturing execs. That doesn't mean that any of them deserve their ultimate fates.
  • CC de Poitiers, the victim in Louise Penny's second Three Pines mystery A Fatal Grace, is self-obsessed, emotionally and verbally abusive to her husband and daughter, and universally loathed (even by the man she's having an affair with). Possible motives are not hard to come by.
  • Knight and Rogue Series:
    • The first two victims of arson in the second book are a brothel and the home of the resident Hanging Judge, who manages to be far less sympathetic than the brothel by showing more concern for his clothes than any of his clients' legal papers, and by promptly accusing Michael of the fire, demanding he be hung on the spot no less.
    • When Fisk and Michael meet, Fisk is on trial for conning a whole slew of asshole victims.
    • Subverted in the first book. While Michael and Fisk spend a good amount of time speculating about how the victim may have had it coming, it turns out he was neither an asshole, nor was he murdered.
  • Stella Rodes, the seemingly angelic victim in John le Carré's second novel, A Murder of Quality. It turns out that she runs the gamut from taunting people to outright blackmailing them (which is what finally gets her killed).
  • In Septimus Heap, no one feels particularly sad when Jillie Djinn dies. She was very nasty to Beetle and largely to blame for Merrin's actions through her employing of him in the Manuscriptorium.
  • George R R Martin is fond of this trope, although the sheer number of both victims and assholes in A Song of Ice and Fire means it is somewhat inevitable:
    • In A Storm of Swords Craster is killed in a mutiny when the starving men of the Night's Watch believe he's hoarding food and not sharing enough with them. Whether or not that's true or a sufficient reason to kill him, readers aren't likely to care, given Craster's penchant for raping his daughters and killing his infant sons
    • After spending several books of being an asshat of a king, Joffrey is soon poisoned in the Purple Wedding needless to say not many people mourn him.
    • Tyrion Lannister killing his father Tywin at the end of A Storm of Swords. He kinda had it coming.
    • Any Frey who winds up dead in the story, especially after the Red Wedding.
    • In A Feast for Crows Sansa and Littlefinger frame the singer Marillion for a murder Littlefinger committed. It's hard for the reader to feel too bad since Marillion previously tried to rape Sansa..
  • Zigzagged in "Dead Giveaway" (1976) by J. Vernon Shea, a short story set in the Cthulhu Mythos where practically everyone in town turns out to be one of these. The victims included a nice old man who stands up against bullies and is later revealed to be a Nazi that fed razorblades to children in their Halloween candy because they wouldn't get off his lawn, a poor mentally ill lady that is the mockery of the town who is later revealed to have killed her little brother when she was young and was driven mad with guilt, and the neighborhood children... well, Kids Are Cruel and Teens Are Monsters. One character that seems to be a Jerk Ass from the offset, the "mean old lady," turns out to be just grieving for her dead son. She is the only one who survives.
  • Used in several Cthulhu Mythos stories, mostly authors other than Lovecraft. The victims in question tends to be selfish jerks, and some are psychopaths. However, since their fates tend to be really, really nasty, the reader may feel bad for with them.
    • The "Insects from Shaggai" also qualify as their homeworld was destroyed by another abomination. But considering how evil and debased they were, the species deserved their fate.
  • Endgame has Zorro, who bullies the protagonist mercilessly for months, and pays the price when he snaps and shoots up his high school.
  • In the IKS Gorkon novels from the current Star Trek Novel Verse, there's the Elabrej. The Klingons are in Elabrej space on a mission of general conquest; Klingon Captain Klag and his crew are nonetheless the protagonists of the series. The Elabrej government is oppressive and they're close to societal collapse anyway, with their general Crapsack World status making it easier to get behind the Klingon attempts to stomp all over them.
  • In the FranchiseHalo novel Halo: The Cole Protocol Bonifacio was a member of the security council of the space station Rubble; he later betrayed Rubble by selling the coordinates of Earth to the Jackals, who gave it to the Covenant. When Rubble gets attacked by the Covenant he scrams in an escape pod and tries to call a Covenant ship for help, but he doesn't know about the Covenants policy of "Kill All Humans" and was vaporized by the vessel.
  • In the Across the Universe series, there's Luther. In the first book, he tries to rape Amy, while pretending that he's doing it under the effect of a drug in the water supply (he actually belongs to a small part of the population that is not given the mind-numbing drugs). In the second book, not only does he continue to stalk and try to again rape Amy, but it's revealed that he raped Victorina, just because he was angry that he couldn't rape Amy. Later in the second book, Amy manages to tell Elder all of this. She later finds Luther's body, with the heavy implication that Elder murdered him. Amy swings between being frightened of the idea that Elder killed someone and thinking that Luther seriously deserved it, before throwing the body out of an airlock.
  • In Lolita, it's hard to feel bad for Quilty when Humbert kills him for "saving" Lo. Where Humbert was a pedophile and rapist, Quilty was a pedophile, rapist, alcoholic, smoker, and drug abuser, who kicked Dolly out of his home because she refused to take part in the sexual acts he and his friends engaged in. There isn't much to sympathise with.
  • In Twilight, Edward Cullen spent his early vampire years feeding off human murderers, rapists, and other serious criminals before restricting himself to animal blood. This is heinous enough to make him think he's a monster and give him something to angst about but not horrible enough to scare off his love interest Bella or his fangirls.
  • Used a couple times in The Dresden Files.
    • In Fool Moon, a vicious mob hitman nicknamed "Spike" is killed by a werewolf. Even his employer, John Marcone, who otherwise cares for his employees (to one degree or another), doesn't even mention Spike over the course of the book.
    • In Turn Coat, Aleron LaFortier, a member of the Wizard's Senior Council, is murdered, and you're not shown anyone mourning for him either. LaFortier was shown in an earlier book to want to throw Harry to the vampires, so this might be a case of Protagonist-Centered Morality. The books are also from Harry's point of view, and he's less concerned with those mourning for LaFortier, and more with who killed him.
  • Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series is fond of this trope.
    • All of the victims in The Fifth Woman, for example, were themselves horrible criminals who had been Karma Houdinis up to that point.
    • Sidetracked is also full of these, from the ex-justice minister with a dark secret to the murderer's father who was abusive to his family.
  • Almost invoked in The Hunger Games in the case of the Career tributes. The other districts, and Katniss, hate them for being better fed, formally trained, and gleefully murderous. So she doesn't really care (at first) when they die, especially Marvel, who killed Rue, and Clove, who would have killed her if she wasn't Evil Gloating.
  • In Jeffrey Archer's Sons of Fortune, Nate is put on trial for killing Ralph Paton, his rival for the Republican nomination for the governor of Connecticut. A poll showed Nate's polling numbers went up, 72% didn't want him to withdraw from the race, and 7% said they would happily have killed the man for the asking.
  • In ''A Macabre Myth of a Moth-Man, Dr. Wu is introduced as the scientist who spent a full year Playing with Syringes to change Moth from an ordinary guy into a mutant moth creature. As the book and its sequel go on, it's also revealed that he had been performing his experiments on war criminals and people he bought off the Chinese black market since the 1950s at least and definitely took pleasure in what he did to Oz and Moth. No one at all was sorry when he was shot not long before the events of the book happen. Played with in the case of Leone Trent and Reisenburgh, who both are established as extremely unpleasant people (the owner of the company that hired Wu and condoned his experiments and a Fat Bastard who was just as tied up in the corporation backstabbing business as the rest), but Moth feels sorry for both of their deaths, believing that no one deserves to go the way they did.
  • The Babylon 5 licensed novels often play with this:
    • In Voices, Bester is nearly killed in a terrorist attack. Any sympathy he might have gained (which would probably have been very little, given that he IS Bester) quickly evaporates when he becomes convinced that Talia Winters was responsible based on a thin coincidence (the attack was supposedly carried out by Martian separatists, and Talia's uncle is a Martian separatist.) At the end, the real culprit, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who had hoped to oust Bester and privatize the Psi Corps, is killed by actual Martian separatists, who were pissed off about all the negative attention that the terrorist attack had drawn to their cause.
    • In Blood Oath, Ivanova and Garibaldi are forced to protect G'Kar from mercenaries hired by the pissed-off daughter of a dead rival whose life he had ruined in order to get ahead in his career.
    • In Clark's Law, Earth President Clark orders Sheridan to execute an alien for murdering a human on the station. Sheridan's already hesitant to do it, because the alien has suffered severe brain damage as a result of the accident and can't even remember committing the murder. It doesn't help that the human victim was a sex tourist who had a long history of taking advantage of poverty-dwelling aliens in order to indulge his many appalling kinks. He was also doing this while married with two kids. His wife is, needless to say, less than thrilled about the whole mess and ultimately ends up sympathizing with the alien.
  • Crime and Punishment's Rodion Rasholnikov kills a greedy moneylender who emotionally (and possibly physically) abuses her mentally disabled sister because he can get the experience of doing something completely immoral whilst actually benefitting the community.
  • John Dies at the End has Billy Hitchcock, a bully and implied-rapist who was Driven to Suicide after one of his victims retaliated by stabbing out his eyes.
  • A number of David Gemmell books give POV to a minor villain for just long enough that the hero(es) feeding him a length of their preferred weapon seems welcome. The Swords of Night And Day, for example, has a few pages with a minor officer who's a douche to his subordinate and doesn't even bother to remember the names of his (admittedly inhuman) troops, joking around with a dying civilian, looting his house, and musing on how much fun it is to abuse his power to get sexual favours, before Skilgannon and Harad turn up and kill him.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns has Rasheed, a foul-tempered, smug, and heartless man who marries a 15-year old girl before promptly raping her and tricks a 14-year old girl into marrying him after the girl's family died by rockets. He abuses his wives on a frequent basis, such as forcing one of them to eat pebbles, locking one up in a shed for trying to run away, and strangling and beating them. He also shows little sympathy for his deceased son, probably because of drunken neglect. Eventually, one of the wives has put up with his abuse and retaliates by using a shovel to kill him. Considering that he follows the rules of the Taliban, you're inclined to cheer for his death instead of mourning him.
  • Kate Shugak:
    • Finn Grant, who is murdered in Restless in the Grave, is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who dabbles in blackmail and runs a black market arms dealership.
  • Bilquis in American Gods is one of the first victims of the war between the Old Gods and the New, overlapping with a certain other death trope. But the reader is unlikely to have much sympathy considering she murdered a man in cold blood in her very first scene.
FilmAsshole VictimLive-Action TV

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