24: Has quite a few over the course of the series. The best examples are probably Nina Meyers in the third season and Pavel Tokarev in the eighth one.
1000 Ways to Die: Features this quite frequently. In some cases, the real-life demise of someone who wasn't an asshole at all will be dressed up in a pseudonym and this trope, to make tragic misfortune seem like poetic justice.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Bakshi goes through a lot of hell throughout the second season, up to and including getting his ass brainwashed by Ward and Agent 33, but it's hard to feel sorry for him after he's shown himself to be not just a loyal disciple of Whitehall but also a willing one.
In 1992, Will Cortlandt was bludgeoned to death with a crowbar and had become such a pariah that there were no less than 15 suspects, including his own SISTER.
Later, in 2004, after Michael Cambias raped Bianca, he earned the hatred of everyone in Pine Valley, especially after he gets Off on a Technicality because Bianca destroyed the physical evidence. After he shows up dead shortly after, all of Bianca's loved ones and friends attend his funeral just to give eulogies on how much they hate him, with Tad Martin himself stealing his body from the morgue and burying it in the city dump. When it is revealed that Bianca herself confronted Michael and shot him dead in self-defense when he tried to rape her again, the judge, who was sympathetic to Bianca and believed her from the start, leaned hard on the prosecution not to press any charges on Bianca.
Angel: In the episode "Double or Nothing", Angel had to invoke this trope to enlist bystanders' help in taking down a hard-to-kill-for-good mob boss. "How many of you owe this guy money?"
Arrested Development: Played with. The narrator gives a Tonight Someone Dies monologue, and the scene immediately cuts to an old woman making a racist remark. He comments: "Okay, I'll just tell you right now. She's the one who dies." Later turns out to not be a straight example, as it's not a murder, but an accident.
In "Acts of Sacrifice" the Narns on Babylon 5 lynch a Centauri who earlier started a Bar Brawl with them. Everyone's worried that it's going to jeopardize the station's neutrality, but after G'Kar and Na'Toth force the murderer to confess to station security, Londo says that the victim was a dick anyway and requests that the killer's punishment be banishment from Babylon 5 and that his belongings be donated to the Centauri war fund.
"And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place": Being surrounded by an entire gang of Narns and being brutally beaten to death is a horrible way to go. The person it happens to, Lord Antono Refa, is a vicious Centauri who has committed horrific war crimes against the Narn, including the institution of Narn death camps and the bombing of their homeworld with asteroids, an act that was so despicable that even the Vorlons condemned it.
Bluestone 42's pilot episode had Colonel Randall Carter, a Type 2 Eaglelander who insulted the officers around him, bragged about his own service record, screamed insultingly at local civilians and ignored repeated instructions to replace his helmet while in a combat zone. He is promptly shot in the head by a Taliban sniper.
Probably happens with about the same 50/50 frequency as other crime shows. An example is a parody of The Office, where a hateful manager is dumped down an elevator. It turns out she had an aneurysm burst when one of the couple she busted for a forbidden affair — one of whom she was already blackmailing to sleep with her — threw a stapler at her head in frustration, and the two dumped her body in a panic.
In another episode, involving a rich jerkass killed at a rock-and-roll fantasy camp, Sweets lampshades this by actually admitting he likes the killer better than the victim.
Perhaps the biggest example of the show is The Gravedigger a.k.a. Heather Taffet, a serial killer who buried her victims alive then demanded a ransom. After finally getting caught and convicted, she gets her head blown off while on the way to try and appeal her conviction. The killer turns out to be Booth's former mentor, who was in turn hired by the father of two of the Gravedigger's victims.
Boston Legal: Used sometimes, such as when Catherine Piper kills Bernard, who gloats about his two murders making him feel godlike, or when a man who used his money to get him skilled lawyers who engineered a not guilty plea is killed by his victim's mother.
Breaking Bad: When Walt starts out on his journey downwards, his first murders are two drug dealers who attempted to kill him, (and one was a DEA informant). He physically assaults a high schooler in public, but only because he was picking on his son, and one episode has him destroying the fancy car of an asshole known only as "Ken Wins" by his narcissist license plate. Most of his victims tend to be people involved in the criminal underworld, at first.
During Season Six, Warren Mears crosses a Moral Event Horizon when he accidentally kills his own girlfriend and attempts to frame Buffy for it, to no avail. Eventually, he shoots Buffy and nearly kills her, but also kills fellow Scooby Tara Maclay with a stray bullet. Willow is driven insane with grief, tracks Warren down, tortures him, and finally skins him alive. Both Xander and Dawn fully support the murder of Warren, Xander remarking that he "got what was coming to him."
Buffy doesn't, but that's more because she didn't want Willow to commit murder (and Willow does feel like shit for months afterwards, following her killings of both Warren and Rack, a dealer in Dark-Magic drugs). Willow nearly subverted this by going after Jonathan and Andrew - Warren's lackies/partners, who didn't deserve it - but was thankfully stopped.
Castle: Happens a great deal in this show. One particularly notable example was in the first season episode "Ghosts". The victim, found drowned in a bathtub full of motor oil, turned out to have been involved in a terrorist bombing twenty years earlier which ended in the deaths of one of her co-conspirators and a man who'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time. While initially Castle and Beckett thought that the victim had repented at the last second and tried to stop the bombing, she turned out to be the one who pushed on to make the explosion happen. Her killer was the woman who was said to have died twenty years earlier in the bombing, and the victim had actually set up the bathtub with motor oil in the hopes of killing the woman she'd thought dead for two decades, all because of a book deal.
"Target" has Castle asking for a minute alone with one of the men who helped kidnap his daughter. *cue Scream Discretion Shot*
In "Let Sleeping Dogs Fry", electrical appliances start killing the men living in a certain upscale neighborhood. It turns out that the culprit is the ghost of a pool cleaner who was killed by the husbands who found that their wives had slept with him.
Chuck: Emmett Milbarge is the major Jerk Ass of the show. Yet, in the episode "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip" he manages to crank his own jerkassness Up to Eleven, which makes the scene where he is murdered in cold blood all the more satisfying.
City Homicide: The episode "Cut and Dried" has a convicted child molester murdered in prison, and few of the detectives are motivated to investigate too thoroughly. It's then subverted when it turns out he was genuinely repentant, was intending to give evidence against the pedophile ring he belonged to, and was in fact silenced by two of the prison guards.
Happens quite a bit. One really notable example happened in an episode aptly named "Problem Child", where the victim was... well, let's just say that you felt pretty sorry for the actual killer, and half wonder if they didn't actually do the world a favor.
Used in-character twice in "Tapped Out", where upon seeing the victim's TV show about teaching men to exploit women emotionally for sex (complete with eight real, not-acting women), Brenda wonders that there's only one bullet in the guy's head; later, she mentions that after the DA saw the show, he decided the case wasn't worth taking to trial and offered a plea bargain, explicitly because the victim was so reprehensible.
And again in "Heart Attack", where one all the victims avoided conviction for the gang-rape of a child. The killer even says that by killing them, harvesting their organs, and giving the organs to patients in desperate need of a transplant, the young men are finally contributing to society.
Most of the victims on this Game Show were straight-up ass-lacquers. Definitely helps for a show with a small, recurring cast of potential murderers.
Similarly, the cast of the movie Clue was either the blackmailer, his accomplices, or the blackmailed suspects (who all survive the movie), except FBI agent Mr. Green.
Usually attempts to make the audience empathize with the victim. Which means it can sometimes throw the audience when the emotional flashbacks detail the death of a child molester, or baby thief, or....
It's really about 50/50 with Cold Case. Since the emotional flashbacks show exactly why the victim was killed, it's often a toss-up as to whether the victim or the murderer is treated more sympathetically. On occasion, both are.
In "The Plan", an investigation into a murdered military academy swim coach reveals that he was a pedophile who had been molesting his students.
It's especially true in the episode "Blackout", in which everyone in the Closed Circle scene hated the victim.
In the episode "Offender", a father who lost his son 20 years ago goes on a killing spree against child molesters.
And in the episode "Justice", where the victim was a college BMOC: handsome, charming... and a serial date rapist. When the cops investigating your murder coach the person who killed you into claiming it was self-defense (when it really, really wasn't), you know you're an asshole.
Columbo: Most of the victims in the first two seasons, allowing Columbo to have a cozy time with the murderer.
Community had Cornelius Hawthorne who the show felt necessary to kill twice. He shows up in "Advanced Gay" and promptly starts antagonizing his son, Pierce, criticizing him for attempting to appeal to the gay community and associating with people of different races and religions. Near the end, Jeff launches into a speech about how Cornelius was a bad father which induces a fatal heart attack. (You know the guy is an asshole when his son's eulogy is a "Reason You Suck" Speech.) In "Digital Estate Planning", his antagonism of Pierce reaches beyond the grave when it's revealed that he's commissioned a video game which Pierce must play against his friends for his inheritance. Needless to say, the study group teams up to defeat virtual Cornelius.
The South Korean whodunnit game show Crime Scene frequently uses this trope, likely because the format requires there to be 6 suspects, and therefore 6 motives because the game would be too easy unless Everyone Is a Suspect.
The vicious street gang that the UnSub starts killing his way through in the episode "True Night", although the unsub's methods are so brutal that one of the police actually says that it's the first time he's felt sorry for the gang.
A recurring plot point when the team is profiling someone is for the first victim in a string to be responsible for the event that triggered a serial killer, leading to many of them being Asshole Victims.
Likewise, the Unsub in "A Real Rain" targets victims who were acquitted for crimes. Various members of the cops, reporters, courthouse workers and general public all express ambivalence or even support for his actions due to their own disillusionment with the system. The UnSub from "Reckoner" is a similar vigilante.
When the team mention to a witness that Tobias Hankel murdered his own father, the witness responds "good for him". That says it all about the victim, really.
In almost every instance of female UnSubs, the victims are specifically male assholes. This, however, is subverted in "The Thirteenth Step" and averted in "I Love You, Tommy Brown".
With the exception of the deputy sheriff and Mr. Stratman (who were killed out of necessity), every person targeted by Owen Savage in "Elephant's Memory".
Torture-happy cocaine baron Omar Morales in "Rite of Passage." Rare use of this without a Sympathetic Murderer, though, as his killer was a serial hate-murderer who only killed Morales to cover up his own crimes.
Crossing Jordan: One episode featured an asshole who had eaten fugu, leaving him paralyzed but still alive hearing all the reasons he was hated and promising to change in his mind. When it's found out and recovers, he promises to sue the main characters for malpractice, then walks out of the hospital and gets hit & killed by an ambulance.
Crownies: Has Ray Stone, an abusive husband who terrorized his wife Joanne and sister-in-law Heather-Marie, until he was beaten to death with a boltcutter. Erin's sympathies lie with Joanne Mervich, though she tries to avoid letting it get in the way of her job, even contributing to Rhys's closing arguments.
Subversion in one episode. The victim is an asshole to his four co-workers, all of whom were the only ones to have access to the room he died in. The audience is led to believe that a combination of two or more of the four are the ones who offed the jerkass (all of whom are pretty jerkassy themselves). Turns out it was the janitor cleaning the vents, who killed the man when his hammer fell out of the pocket and through the grate. He didn't know the guy and removed the hammer because he didn't want to go back to jail.
A clingy ex-wife who insisted on making life hell for her ex-husband and children. She tried to put a hit on herself to frame her ex-husband and when she couldn't do it, she tricked her own son into killing her for the same reason.
An egomaniac Paris Hilton-esque reality show star.
A convicted pedophile on parole. He was staying at his brother's house, and the stress of having him around plus the associated harassment by the neighbors caused said brother's pregnant wife to miscarry. The brother then catches the pedophile spying on a playground which turns out to be the last straw and kills him.
A millionaire serial litigator. Murdered by a chef whose life she had completely destroyed and was getting ready to do the same on his new workplace.
A horribly corrupt Deputy Mayor of NYC responsible for embezzling several million dollars out of various charities and refusing to raise policemen's salaries leading to a city-wide strike. Murdered by his 10 year old OCD son after he planned on sending him to a boarding school out of frustration for his condition.
A young man who was poisoned by a cheerleader who he had mocked when she was overweight. After suffering a completely undeserved Humiliation Conga, the girl managed to lose weight and carry out a Gambit Roulette to get her revenge.
A particularly vicious high school bully who had give at least one of his victims permanent physical damage. Murdered by the school guidance counselor, who had previously worked at a school where a copycat murder of Columbine took place and figured it was only a matter of time before someone shot up the school to deal with the bully.
On one episode a contestant on a cooking show is found killed and cooked, and then later another one is found poisoned. Turns out the female producer of the show offed them both because she discovered that they were the ones who raped and murdered her sister years before, and had lied about the truth to her face while pretending to comfort her.
On CSI: Miami, we had the example of an Alpha Bitch of such horrible caliber that she had driven a teenage boy into attempting suicide and had the boy's sister gang-raped to showcase that they were "losers", and none of the other students wanted to stop the bullying in fear of what she could do to them. The Papa Wolf and Mama Bear collective of every kid she bullied banded together to kidnap her, tie her to a touchdown pole and force her to hear to their children's confessions to the school psychiatrist, and then stoned her to death when she had the stupid idea of not only not show any regret, but also tell the parents that the kids deserved everything that she did to them because they were losers.
The title character retains the audience's sympathy by adhering to a strict code of ethics that includes only killing other killers. Sometimes, there are aversions or complications.
Dexter frames Paul Bennett, Rita's ex-husband, for illegal drug use while on parole. Paul was a domestic abuser that raped and beat Rita, and was trying to wedge his way back into her life, so he didn't gain much sympathy from anyone when he protested his innocence in prison.
Dexter takes pity on Jeremy Downs because he was driven to kill to get revenge on a boy who raped him. It was ultimately a mistake.
In season 3, Dexter does kill two people who are not known to be killers themselves: Oscar Prado, who was not yet a killer, but was trying to kill Freebo, a drug dealer. Also, "Cheerios Guy," a child molester, who made the mistake of triggering Dexter's Papa Wolf mode by stalking Astor.
Season 4 has him mistakenly kill Farrow. Dexter feels guilty about killing someone who wasn't a killer, but the guy was such a scumbag misogynist that he quickly gets over it.
In Season 5, Dexter kills Stan Liddy for no other reason than to avoid getting caught. However, Liddy was a corrupt former cop and conducting an illegal investigation, so it's easier for the audience to forgive. Also, Liddy had just tasered and abducted him. That was probably a factor.
At the beginning of that season there was also the random guy in the boathouse whose only crime shown was being generally an asshole and insulting Rita to Dexter's face while he was still trying to process her death.
Diagnosis: Murder: Subverted in one episode where the victim was a blackmailing, mean-spirited nurse with several personal enemies. Why is it a subversion? The only reason she was actually killed was because she walked in on another murder; the killer was one of the few people who didn't seem to hate her.
The British drama series Dickensian revolves around characters from the works of Charles Dickens living and interacting together in London. One of the subplots is about a detective trying to find out who murdered Jacob Marley. As best put by Ebeneezer Scrooge:
Scrooge: Your problem, Inspector, will not be discovering who hated Jacob Marley enough to kill him, but rather finding someone who didn't.
Davros' assistant, Nyder. It's hard to feel sorry for him when the Daleks kill him carrying out an order of Davros against their will.
Zimmerman, the first victim of the Tesselecta in "Let's Kill Hitler", is a Nazi confirmed to be guilty of what the Tesselecta's crew describe as 'Level 3 Hate Crimes'.
Anyone the Tesselecta go after would fall under this trope. Their entire work is centered around catching horrible people who escaped punishment officially, capturing them after they fell out of being remembered by history, and torturing them to death to suitably punish them for it.
Lance in "Runaway Bride", who had spent months manipulating Donna and planned to hand her over to a carnivorous alien. He ends up suffering the very fate he had planned for Donna, which she said "he deserved it".
Solomon in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship". Killing thousands of defenseless aliens just so he could steal their property made the Doctor very upset. Hurting his friends, killing a friendly triceratops, and enslaving one of his friends (and referring to her as "a precious thing") only sent him further across the line.
Subverted Trope in "Voyage Of the Damned" with Rickston Slade. During the whole disaster, he's constantly complaining, making fun of the good-natured couple, lower-class couple who won their tickets (and who both end up dying), and always trying to save himself at the expense of the group. Not only does he end up surviving, he declares at the end that prior to the disaster, he sold all his stock of the ship's company, and bought the stock of rival companies, gloating that he's now extremely rich due to the disaster. The Doctor can't do anything but look disgusted.
Elementary: Happens occasionally. One "suspect-maximizing" example is in the episode "Poison Pen", where the victim's wife's alibi is that at the time of his poisoning she was buying the same poison that the actual murderer, their son, used. Both had the same idea of framing their nanny, since she had killed her own father that way twenty years before.
In "You Do It to Yourself", Trent Annunzio is a sadistic wife beater, so his wife Jun starts seeing another man. When Trent learns he's terminally ill, he has himself murdered and frames Jun's lover for it so she can be deported as an act of posthumous revenge. Fortunately, Holmes and Watson discover the truth before it's too late.
The two part episode "The Illustrious Client"/"The One That Got Away" updates the canon story "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client", but keeps the basic plot: Kitty Winter finds the man who subjected her and several other women to sadistic sexual abuse, then killed them (she was the only one to escape alive). She then takes gruesome revenge by burning his face off with acid.
Emmerdale: When Cain Dingle was beaten up and stabbed, there were no shortage of suspects, seeing how he'd antagonised nearly have the village by that point with his general Jerkass scumbaggery.
ER: Dr. Robert Romano, the brash, insensitive Chief of Staff at County General Hospital, who was killed off in the Season 10 episode "Freefall" after being crushed to death in a helicopter crash on the hospital's landing pad. One person mourned his death afterward.
Narrowly averted in Season 4, when Dr. Carter has to treat a serial rapist shot in a standoff with police. He deliberately chooses the riskiest treatment possible, secretly hoping he'd die without it looking too suspicious, but the guy lives anyway.
Similarly, in the Season 7 finale, Dr. Greene allows a Spree Killer who had just directly threatened his family to die on the table.
And in the Season 13 premiere, Sam summarily executes her abusive ex-boyfriend; given that he'd kidnapped her and their son and raped her before she got free, it's ruled self-defense.
The Fades: Two of the earliest victims are a pair of young bullies who abused the protagonists. Having 12-year-olds eaten alive by vengeful spirits of the dead is horrible but being jerks did soften it somewhat.
Sam Hess was a bully who had picked on Lester when they were younger, had rolled him out onto the highway once in a barrel, bragged about having gotten a handjob from Lester's wife, called Lester Nygaard "Lester Niggered", cheats on his own wife and caused Lester to break his nose. He's killed by Lorne Malvo after Lester tells Malvo about him.
Lester's first wife, Pearl Nygaard, seemed to spend every single second of her screentime berating, insulting, condescending and emasculating her husband. Even when he threatens her with a hammer, she doesn't respect him enough to believe that he's 'man enough' to do anything. When he kills her with said hammer, though a case of Disproportionate Retribution, it's still something of a relief.
Barry saves Simon Stagg from a meta-human (later called the Multiplex) determined to kill him. However, the Multiplex reveals that Stagg had stolen his cloning research and fired him, preventing him from using his research to save his dying wife. After the Multiplex dies, Stagg sets his sights on exploiting Barry's abilities. Luckily, Wells has other ideas and stabs Stagg in his office]].
General Wade Eiling, who believes that the ends justify the means and is willing to exploit anyone to achieve his goals. He's also not shy about personally shooting anyone he no longer needs. After he finds out Barry's identity and tells Wells that he intends to find out what makes Barry tick, Wells dons his yellow suit and snatches Eiling from his own compound to deliver him to Gorilla Grodd, who has a score to settle with the general.
If the killer/hostage taker is at all sympathetic, it's because the victim was a gigantic asshole.
One episode deals with a basketball coach who verbally abused his players, even bullying other players to physically attack weaker players.
Another had an Smug Snake of an abusive husband who was getting away with it thanks to naive friends in the police force. When his wife's sister tried to stop the abuse he tried to kill her and walk away with self defense as an excuse.
And in other episode was a group of jerk jocks tormented a classmate, especially since he had a crush on the leader's much nicer girlfriend. They humiliated him in front of her and then recorded the event and posted it up on the Internet. He comes to school with a gun to get them. But not to kill them, just to humiliate them the way they humiliated him.
In the episode "Acceptable Risk", it toyed with this trope when a widow went after the people who dropped charges on a pharmaceutical company after they were bribed by the company into keeping quiet about the drug's potential dangers, which led to the widow's husband's death. She never really gets to Sympathetic Murderer status, as she's shown being extremely calculating and cruel to the people she kills, understanding that she has a limited amount of time before the police stop her, and she crosses the Moral Event Horizon when she tries to kill one of her target's innocent wife who was standing between her and her target. She comes across as much more terrifying than sympathetic.
Foyle's War: In one early episode, the victim was a Nazi sympathizer.
In the season 3 finale, Ary and The Hound happen on a group of soldiers in the woods around a campfire who are happily joking about The Red Wedding. Arya then decides to carve one soldier's throat out, while the Hound finished off the rest.
Becomes a plot point later on when King Joffrey Baratheon is poisoned. Anyone who knows anything about the show knows that Joffrey is easily the most cruel and rotten person there, and due to his penchant for ordering people to be killed, tortured and publically humiliated simply because he could do that with no repercussions, the suspect list is pretty much everyone in King's Landing: Jaime gives absolutely zero shits about Joffrey's death to the extent where he has sex with Cersei right next to his dead body, Tywin doesn't even pretend to feel bad for him and sums up his legacy with "he was not a good king or a wise king, if he was then perhaps he would still be alive", Tyrion is accused of killing him and while he pleads his innocence he also maintains that frankly the world is better off without him anyway, Margaery is more shaken up by how he died rather than the fact that he did, and even Cersei, the only person to mourn his death, is not above tossing around the idea that her son may have deserved what happened to him. His killers, Ollena Tyrell and Littlefinger admit to their confidants that they had Joffrey killed specifically because he was an asshole.
Ser Hugh dismissed Jory simply because he wasn't a knight. This was despite him being a squire up until recently. He dies painfully at the hands of Gregor Clegane shortly afterwards.
The obnoxious singer Marillion gets his tongue cut out after mocking the recently deceased king in the kingdom's capital, which Joffrey found out about.
Gilligan's Island: This was played with in one episode, where a newspaper article found in a crate that washed ashore suggested that one member of the crew may have been a murderer. The victim could have qualified as an Asshole Victim; he had cheated or conned each one of the castaways except Gilligan and the Skipper, and each one had a plausible motive to kill him. As it turned out however, his death had actually been an accident.
The Golden Girls had a local curmudgeon insist on a tree in the neighborhood being cut down for no readily apparent reason other than to antagonize everyone else. She repeatedly insults the others and attempts to get her way by blackmailing the city council. Finally, Rose lashes out at her with a very angry "Reason You Suck" Speech and tells her to "drop dead". The shock of this rant causes the curmudgeon to have a fatal heart attack. Subverted when someone shows up at the funeral and starts talking to the casket about how the woman was actually a decent human being and did her good deeds in secret. Then double subverted when it turns out the other person was at the wrong funeral. (When she finds out who the funeral was for, she kicks the casket.)
Grimm: Has a Spinnetod kill another Wesen who tried to rape her. An earlier episode has a drug dealer who tries to murder an innocent couple get killed by a Blutbad. Another episode has the first victim as an abusive boyfriend who tries to stop his girlfriend from leaving him; justified in this case since the murderer was going after jerkasses that reminded of his father, after already killing his father.
Heroes: It's hard to feel sorry for a girl who pretended to save someone to get attention, a gangster, and the company's leader when they get their heads split open by Sylar.
Usually the case with long-running murder mysteries in this show:
Josh West: an obvious JR Ewing-expy, the town's corrupt mayor, intent on destroying the town by building a freeway right through it. Had also taken bribes from an insane cult leader and was prepared to blackmail Barry over the circumstances of his wife's death.
Angie Russell: framed a teenager for sexual assault, lied to Rhys that he was the father of her son, destroying his marriage, locked Sally in a room without her OCD medication, and burned down Scott's boat shed.
Grant Bledcoe: at 14, had raped Charlie and fathered her daughter (who was raised by her parents as her sister). Still a sociopath 16 years later, when he was killed by Charlie's father.
Sam Tolhurst: Killed a man in his hospital bed to keep him from blackmailing her, then killed herself to frame her husband and his ex-wife for her murder.
Johnny Cooper: leader of a gang of violent surfers, who had tried to keep his brother Rocco from going straight, eventually having him murdered after he helped the police catch him. He allowed Rocco's foster brother to be convicted of his murder and terrorised him in prison. After escaping from prison a year later, he tried to kill Sally, who had taken in Rocco and supposedly turned him against his brother. And finally, not only did he blackmail Sam into hiding him, it was implied that he raped her offscreen.
Mark Edwards: One of the victims of the Summer Bay Stalker, an ex-boyfriend of Josie who she had a one-night stand with behind her boyfriend's back. After she broke it off and got engaged to Jesse, he blackmailed her, first over the affair, then over a self-defense killing she had committed sixteen years earlier. It was also revealed that he had slept with a fifteen-year-old, information that Josie unsuccessfully used to get him to back off.
Homicide: Life on the Street: This show once had them investigate two suicides caused by a particular nasty piece of work, who was going to reveal their extramarital affairs. This wasn't blackmail, as he was going to reveal regardless, and only giving them a few days warning, as his Moral Judgment. The SOB was killed by the photographer who he blackmailed into being his accomplice.
House: Gets in on this in season 6 when Chase murders a patient, due to him being a ruthless African dictator, who let slip that the first thing he was going to do when he got back to his country was order a full-out genocide of some ethnic minorities he thought were a threat to his regime. But it's played with: Chase is racked by guilt for quite some time and probably only did what he did in the end because he felt directly responsible for having saved his life earlier (having shouted a warning when an assassin was spotted). The scene where the assassin explains exactly what happened back home makes you realize that this dictator is waaaaaaaay past Asshole Victim.
This trope is also used in multiple incarnations of the franchise.
The enemies in Kamen Rider Faiz are called Orphenochs. They proclaim to be the next step in human evolution and most find it perfectly OK to kill regular humans. Yuka Osada, one of the protagonists, also kills normal humans, but only criminals. She also killed her bitch sister, and her asshole friends.
In Kamen Rider Kabuto a Worm shows up that targets criminals as its prey. So the good guys lure it to them by pretending to be thieves.
In Kamen Rider OOO, the Monsters of the week are called Yummies. They are creatures born from and act out human desire. One of them is born from the desire of a man who wishes to punish criminals. So the monster starts brutally beating them up.
In Kamen Rider Double, the Virus Dopant possesses an SUV and runs down several people. Eventually the heroes learn that it's a young woman who wants revenge on her fiancé for cheating on her, and he temporarily saved his own skin by diverting her wrath to the gang that put her in a coma with a hit-and-run. And then when Double defeats the Dopant, the fiancé cheers "Yeah, that's what you get, you bitch!" The very first thing Shotaro does after de-transforming is slug the smug SOB right across the face after delivering his Catch Phrasenote "Now, let's count up your crimes." in a particularly cold and angry tone of voice.
Many episodes. In one episode in particular, in which the killer was acquitted by the jury. Jack McCoy's philosophical reaction is that this sometimes happens "when your victim is sleazier than your perp." In this case, the victim was a Dragon Lady who let the killer's underage son run up $50K in sex line charges, and whom it also turns out was running a sex slave ring.
Another was set up to look like a type 3, since the victim was a neo-Nazi child molester. Turned out that the murderer was a brilliant but unbalanced writer who killed a stranger on impulse. The rest of the episode was about whether he should be executed, turning this into a type 2 (since it would be hard to sympathize if he'd killed a pregnant mother of three).
Still another had a sleazy paparazzo (who had just Karma Houdinied his way out of a Manslaughter charge) was shot to death outside of his favorite eatery. When the patrons realized who'd been shot... they burst into applause.
And another episode had a child molester who was murdered by a neighbor after the child molester was profiled on a show that profiled sex offenders.
When a notorious drug lord is murdered, Detective Briscoe is less than enthusiastic about finding out who killed the guy. Especially when the prime suspect becomes the father of a boy the victim had led into a life of drugs, and later into death by overdose. But later, a priest comes forward and confesses to killing the drug lord... because God told him to.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Played with in one episode: the victim was a registered sex offender (he'd committed statutory rape, but the DA's office had railroaded him and convicted him of flat-out rape), and as the episode continues, Logan gets increasingly angry over the fact that a man has been decapitated and mutilated, but because he was a sex offender, no-one seems to care.
One episode featured a psychiatrist who took advantage of a newborn boy's apparently extremely botched circumcision to manipulate his parents into having sex changed into a girl so he could run a long term experiment to prove the idiotic idea that "nurture, not nature, determines sexual identity," and is later revealed by the girl/boy's identical twin brother to have had the twins effectively dry hump each other to supposedly "reinforce their gender roles." And when the female psychologist on the detectives' team finally reveals the truth about her/his birth to Lindsay/Lucas, the bastard still refuses to accept his "theory" is wrong even as she/he is standing there screaming, "I NEVER ONCE FELT RIGHT!" even threatening have the other psychologist's career ended. The twin boys put together a plan where they go to a double feature, and one slips out during the second film and smashes his head in!
This was based on a true story ("Brenda" was the "girl" in question), though the therapist wasn't killed in real life.
In another, a doctor who had been written about in a magazine kills his pregnant lover in her third trimester and fills a syringe with someone else's blood to spoof the detectives' paternity test, but the blood turns out to belong to a child rapist with at least two victims. Before he can find a way out of that, the rapist himself finds and kills him. Then they have to find him.
An episode in Season Two entitled "Victims" was made entirely of this trope. Victims include a man who raped an young girl and slashed her face, leaving her for dead. Stabler is outraged at having to work their murders, feeling they had it coming.
The very first episode had a Serbian war criminal responsible for at least sixty-seven rapes being beaten, stabbed and having his penis severed by two vengeful women.
In the episode "Signature", they find the latest victim of a serial killer, as well as a dead man right next to her. The episode changes gears quickly when they find out that their male victim is the serial killer.
In "Angels", the victim is a child molester who had kidnapped two boys from Guatamala and beat them as well as molested them. Elliot even says killing the guy was a public service, but they still go after his killer.
In the episode "Chameleon", the first act of the episode is devoted to chasing down a serial rapist and killer - who is then slain by a different serial killer, who specifically targets these types of characters in order to elicit sympathy from the general public. She almost gets away with it, as it seems the jury is sympathetic, but the fact that she kills to get what she wants turns out to be her downfall...
A tween rapist is forcing his victim into getting an abortion (and may have been been close to taking matters into his own hands) when he's killed by a meek boy with a crush on her.
In the episode "Hate", a young man goes on a killing spree targeting Middle-Easterners who simply want to promote inter-faith unity between Muslims, Jews, and Christians because his father left his mother for an Arab woman. He then later kills a Muslim inmate when in central booking before his trial to make his insanity plea and the theory he is supposedly genetically-wired to hate looks convincing. Finally and thankfully, the bastard is stabbed to death by the Muslim inmate's friends. You just know not a single damn was given and no tears were shed.
In another episode, the victim of the week was an Alpha Bitch and her friends who are all hated in their school, and pick on a fat girl. The alpha was so nasty that her own friends turned on her. Later, another girl who decided to be the next Alpha Bitch placed a skewered pig on the fat girl's locker; unfortunately for her, the fat girl caught and killed her. It's not hard to sympathize with the fat girl.
There was one case where the detectives were tracking down a leader of a gang, the guy was crushed to death when he fell into a garbage truck. It was later revealed that he savagely beaten the victim of the week so no sympathy was ever made at all.
"Anchor" doesn't have this trope enforced until the end. A young man is acquitted after convincing the jury that a far right radio show host is responsible for the defendant killing "anchor babies" (a derogatory term for children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants, thus making the children American citizens). After the verdict is read, the defendant whispers something to his attorney and a smug look is on the defendant's face as the attorney looks concerned. Later, the attorney calls Fin to his office and tells him the defendant told him (the attorney), "Thanks. Now I can go kill more of those kids." Fin mentions they have to stop the defendant, but the attorney points behind his reception desk to the defendant, dead on the floor in a pool of blood, before the attorney hands his gun to Fin. You can assume nobody wept over the child killer.
Had Anthony Cooper, who ruined the lives of at least two main characters before he was killed by Sawyer.
Also, rather humorously, the obnoxious and bitchy red shirt Neil 'Frogurt' has a particularly satisfying death after 2 or so episodes of generally being an unhelpful dick.
You only see him for about ten seconds, but Kate's stepdad Wayne is clearly established as creepy, disgusting, and abusive. Richard's murder of the doctor also qualifies, although it may be more manslaughter.
Martin Keamy definitely qualifies. Both times he's killed.
The L Word: Jenny Schecter in the final season. Each teaser seems to end with yet another person having a reason to hate her.
The Mentalist: In the season 3 finale and season 4 premiere, Jane ended up killing the man believed to be Red John. It's later revealed that he wasn't actually Red John, but it ultimately didn't matter because the guy who was killed, as well as his wife, were a couple of kidnappers. Jane, defending himself, even managed to convince the jury to find him not guilty by reason of justifiable homicide.
Merlin: In addition to being a Red Shirt Army, it's really difficult to feel sorry for the Knights when they are in the middle of attacking sorcerers and get killed doing so. Sometimes they're attacking sorcerers that attacked them first, but other times they're attacking children or Druids that have never harmed anyone.
Including one character, played by Orlando Bloom, who was sleeping with at least three different women (one of whom was paying him for it) until he got pitchforked through the chest in the first five minutes. He was also a petty thief and a vandal with a serious attitude problem.
One episode has the title character investigate the deaths of a bunch of violent mobsters. It turns out that they died because they pulled guns on another criminal, making it difficult to determine to what extent their deaths count as acts of self-defense. The killer tries to excuse himself by pointing out that his victims were assholes.
Also, in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Red Headed Stranger", Sonny Cross, the murder victim, was a person who embezzled a lot of money (embezzling $400,000 from Willie Nelson, and it is implied that this is not the first time he has done so later on in the episode), and he also did time for drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter. In regards to the latter incident, he also received a very lenient punishment, spending only 18 months in prison. Also, the murderer was a blind woman (well, half-blind, she regained the sight of one of her eyes from slipping on the floor at a Supermarket) who was the sole survivor of her family, the family who was killed by Cross's drunk driving, and it was because of his manslaughter that she was even blind in the first place.
The majority of the bad guys in Monk, when finally exposed, turn out to be this, and you're generally cheering when they're carted off to jail.
Generally avoided in Motive which tends more to the revelation that the victim is nicer person than their first impression. But in the Motive web series, where the victim was a rookie cop partnered with the boss ten years ago when he was still a street cop, the revelation is how horrible the likable young man was and how hard he'd worked to drive the killer to kill him, ruining the lives of anyone she dated if she didn't break it off.
Murder, She Wrote: Almost to the level of Once an Episode. However, there are actually some exceptions scattered throughout the show's long run of some perfectly nice people getting killed, but one in particular stands out as a very deliberate subversion of this trope. It centers around this Smug SnakeCorrupt Corporate Executive where everything about him just seems to scream Asshole Victim... until you get to the halfway point and the murder victim is the exec's much nicer brother.
Many episodes of this show contain these certainly, however the episode "Smoked" has an interesting twist. Because of evidence found during the autopsy, the entire team, and the viewer, believes their victim is a serial killer who murdered dozens of women who look like his wife. Gibbs and Fornell believe the wife to have found out and killed the husband, and they are sympathetic during the interview. Then, in the last five minutes, due to some more forensic magic, it is determined that the husband was completely innocent and SHE is the serial killer.
NCIS also did this in the backstory with Gibbs' murder of Pedro Hernandez (in cold blood and premeditated), who had murdered Gibbs' wife and daughter earlier. At first this is only sporadically brought up in flashbacks (particularly during the Hiatus arc while Gibbs recovers from trauma and memory loss). It later comes back to haunt him in the "Rule 51" arc concluding season 7, where the idea of vengeance is also heavily deconstructed.
Another example is the episode "Caged", where a guard in a women's prison gets stabbed to death, and the team must find out who killed the guard. The guard is blackmailing an inmate's high school daughter for sex. It's implied that said inmate (who had less than one year left on her sentence, and wants to be a mother to her kids) stabbed the guard, but another inmate (on a 175 year sentence), who McGee was sent to get a confession from, confesses to the murder. The team agrees that they won't lose any sleep over that.
Two men are killed in very gruesome ways, by Ducky's girlfriend to attract his attention. She points out that they were unpleasant adulterers and deserved to die. Then this is Subverted as Ducky proceeds to point out that they didn't deserve to die any more than she deserves to be their judge jury and executioner.
Even though the murderer wasn't a sympathetic one, few were sorry when Eli David was shot. Said man was the one who twisted Ari (his own son) into a murderer and a terrorist, and treated Zira more like a tool for his own goals than like a daughter. One of his last actions was murdering a journalist to keep his own return to the Usa secret.
Even the birth of NCIS came about with one of these. The two-parter JAG episode "Ice Queen"/"Meltdown" that served as the NCIS pilot introduced Gibbs and DiNozzo investigating the death of Lt. Singer and her five month fetus, the token 'Evil Witch' on JAG.
The Onedin Line: Has a storyline in series one with a discussion of a disputed death of a shipmate, covered up by the original captain but which probably was murder, four years prior to the events of the series. When Annie calls it a brutal murder, James claims he was a brutal man - so that's all right then.... However, James was looking at it from a sailor's point of view. He knew how much power a tyrannical captain had, and that having one could be a Fate Worse Than Death.
Oz: Everyone qualifies for this, since they're in a maximum security prison. Especially nasty pieces of work were William Cudney, who killed the son of the doctor that gave His wife an abortion, and Malcoln Coyle, who killed a family including an infant for fun. Even inmates who committed murder were appalled by Their crimes.
Perry Mason: Most, but not all, of this show's episodes.
By virtue of the premise of Person of Interest, some of the people the machine identifies as potential victims are less than sympathetic, meaning Finch and Reese are tasked with averting this trope. Played straight in the case of Wayne Kruger, who they failed to save.
The show's serial villains have a habit of killing each other.
At various times the protagonists wonder if they should save a POI who's seems particularly evil. Sometimes it's a case of protecting innocent bystanders who may get killed if the situation is ignored (such as mob wars). Sometimes the situation is more complicated than on first appearance. After the first couple of seasons though, Team Machine simply accepts that It's What I Do.
Played for Laughs with a married couple who both hire hitmen against each other, neither knowing about the other. The team seriously considers letting the idiots kill each other, and only decide to save them because they have nothing better to do with their time. In the end, they kidnap them both and give them a romantic dinner, which Reese calls "marriage counseling." They spend most of the time yelling at each other over their choice in assassins. They eventually work through their differences, and it's noted that they'll get off with minimal jail time because not only can they afford high-priced lawyers, but they're invoking Spousal Privilege and refusing to testify against each other.
The journalists from season three who get a bunch of people (and themselves) eaten by a Giganotosaurus just to get a story.
Christine Johnson, the person who took over the ARC, tried to arrest the entire main cast, and had Lester forced out of the ARC, who is pushed into a Future Predator-full anomaly by Helen Cutter.
Henry Merchant from 5x03, who tries to get Emily institutionalized just for the sake of his reputation, and then shoots her, and then threatens to shoot Matt if she doesn't come back with him to the 1860s where she'd probably hang for murders that she didn't commit.
Primeval: New World has a few, but Blake the drug dealer from "Angry Birds," who held Evan and Dylan hostage and cared very little for his partner-in-crime, clearly stands out.
Prison Break: When Agent Blondie and Wyatt are both killed by Mahone. Blondie hit Mahone's son with a car (along with killing Veronica Donovan and Frank Tancredi, and attempting to kill Sara Tancredi), and Wyatt killed Mahone's son (along with James Whistler, Bruce Bennett, and Roland Glenn).
Psych has featured its share of these. One notable example is the fashion mogul couple from "Black And Tan: A Crime of Fashion". The husband is revealed to have stolen some of his recent designs from their assistant and is having an affair with one of their models. The wife is incredibly mean to everyone, including the aforementioned assistant. In an interesting twist, it turns out they killed each other. The husband poisoned his wife, but it took longer than it should have due to her bulimia. By the time it did kill her, she'd already killed him through electrocution.
Raines: A very real concern for the title character; as he hallucinates the victims, cases tend to be more strenuous for him if he doesn't like the person who died.
Reaper: Sam has to save his old Sadist Teacher from an escaped soul wanting to kill him in revenge, and it would have been better had they just let him get killed first. Fortunately he got his comeuppance in the end.
Revolution: Drexel in "Sex and Drugs". He is a sociopathic, politically incorrect, Ax Crazy drug lord. He put Charlie Matheson up to the task of killing his neighbour and Irish Cop Bill O'Halloran in exchange for Nora Clayton's life being saved. Once Charlie leaves, Drexel reveals that he lied and that Charlie would be killed once she killed off Bill. He did this to get back at Miles Matheson for having the bad manners to betray Sebastian Monroe and cause Drexel to be labelled with guilt by association. When Miles ran off to save Charlie from making a big mistake, Drexel retaliates by trying to force Aaron Pittman and Nora to shoot each other in a duel. Aaron responds by apparently shooting himself in the chest, but he is playing possum and successfully shoots and kills Drexel dead. Drexel's henchmen didn't really care about their boss's death at all, and nobody shed any tears over Drexel's death either.
The Sopranos' fifth episode, "College", has a rather famous invoked example. It was the first episode in the series' run that actually showed Tony Soprano committing a murder on-screen; before it, he had always left the dirty work to his underlings. Being an early episode, though, network executives at HBO still had their doubts about whether or not The Sopranos could sustain an audience in the long-term, and they argued that viewers would drop out in droves if they had to see the show's protagonist remorselessly killing an FBI informant without consequences. First, they tried to convince David Chase to write an alternate version with Tony letting the informant live, or just having Christopher kill him instead. When that didn't work, Chase compromised by agreeing to make the guy as unsympathetic as possible, writing in additional scenes where he's seen peddling drugs to local teenagers.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In the episode "Business As Usual", Quark briefly started working for Gaila, a freelance arms dealer. The money was good but Quark found himself perilously close to the Moral Event Horizon. Finally, when Gaila made a deal with the Regent, a tyrant who planned to kill 28 million of his own people to quell a rebellion, Quark decided to intervene, setting the Regent and Gaila against each other. The Regent had Gaila killed, and was later killed by his own police force. Neither Quark nor Sisko shed any tears:
Quark: The Regent's dead?!
Sisko: The Purification Squad caught up with him this morning.
Quark: I can live with that too. And I can think of 28 million other people who won't mind either.
Sisko: 28 million and one.
The Strain TV Series: Amoral Attorney Joan Luss and the (fake) goth rock star Gabriel Bolivar, both of whom are rude, ungrateful, and are trying to sue the CDC team for doing its job, were asking for what eventually happened to them. Luss' transformation into a vampire left her basically mindless and feral and she was easily put down by a professional vampire hunter. Bolivar was taken as the new host body of The Master. By all accounts, he no longer exists.
Supernatural: There are plenty of these, and when someone has to die to show the Monster of the Week means business, it's often an Asshole Victim. In fact, in "Tall Tales", the Monster of the Week is less feral and more sophisticated than the usual fare, and makes it a point to target these sort of people.
Tales from the Crypt: Like its namesake comics, this show featured tons of these. Plenty of undeserving victims too, to be sure, but the vast majority of characters who meet their gory end have it coming — especially if they're the protagonist.
Teen Wolf had this with the victims of the kanima. The first victim was Isaac's father, shown to be physically and emotionally abusive to the point where he would lock his son in a freezer and nearly blinded him. The mechanic was shown being a jerk and ripping Stiles off for car repairs shortly before his own death. The later victims aren't necessarily shown to be jerks on-screen, but it's clear that they've been serious jerks in the past.
To Catch The Uncatchable:
In this Hong Kong comedy detective show, a majority of the victims are often Jerk Ass and should had it coming to them. The female protagonist's previous boss had several affairs and tried to rape the protagonist as well. Turns out his jilted lover was the one to kill him. Another man was a cult leader who put drugs into his believers' drinks so they would follow his orders and would later force the drugs down a believer's throat for disobeying him and also going out with his son. His wife tried to stop him from killing the girl and accidentally pushed him too hard, causing him to fall off the building. There was a woman who was a model who chased after men, then dumped them after she had exploited them for all they are worth. She was pushed off the stairs by a fan of hers, after she insulted him for being worthless.
There's the episode with the little girl who Has Two Mommies and went to catholic school, who had a bully who relentlessly harassed her, who was practically encouraged by his parents and the school itself. The girl stabbed him in the spine with scissors and paralyzed him after he assaulted her and cut off a lock of her hair... remind me why the kid wasn't dealt with in court.
Torchwood: Mark Goodson from the episode "Small Worlds". We don't particularly mind that he's stalked and murdered, because the first time we see him he's trying to kidnap and rape a little girl.
Twin Peaks: This show is full of these but a special mention goes to MIKE and BOB. The two were a pair of serial killers but MIKE had a change of heart, repented and shot BOB dead. It didn't take.
Two and a Half Men: At the beginning of season nine, it is implied that Charlie may have been shoved in front of a train by a girlfriend who caught him cheating. His funeral is full of women talking about the STDs they got from him and a man who wants to collect $30,000 in what are implied to be drug-related debts.
The Unusuals: In the pilot, the late Detective Kowalski is revealed to have been a Corrupt Cop, an adulterer, a blackmailer and an all-around Jerk Ass for the purpose of making everyone a suspect. However, his widow is shown to love him and genuinely mourn him.
Mr. Tanner. Despite being universally disliked when Damon killed him it actually did make Stefan call him irredeemable, mostly because he still murdered the first guy he saw just to prove a point.
Definitely Giuseppe Salvatore. While he seemed to genuinely love Steffan and Damon, he showed a chilling willingness to shoot his own sons the moment he saw that they were trying to help Katherine escape. Even worse, when he catches the newly turned Steffan sneaking into the house, he reveals in a completely unrepentant manner that he is the one who fired the shots that killed them, because they disgraced the family. Steffan killing him and drinking his blood to complete the transformation into a vampire is an excellent example of Poetic Justice.
Stefan deliberately creates one in Season 4. He turns a confessed murderer so Jeremy can kill him to grow his hunter's mark.
Veronica Mars: The first season is spent by the titular character trying to find out who killed her best friend, Lilly Kane. Lilly isn't exactly an example of this trope, though over the course of the season it is discovered that she wasn't the nicest person either. She was, in fact, proven to have been cheating on her boyfriend with her boyfriend's father. The real embodiment of this trope is her killer, said boyfriend's father with whom she had a lengthy affair, Aaron Echolls. He is caught and imprisoned at the end of season one, and his trial takes place at the end of season two. He has false evidence planted to muddy up the investigation, throwing suspicion on Lilly's brother, and ending with him being acquitted. Consequently, no one sheds a tear or opens up much of an investigation when Duncan Kane has Aaron Echolls murdered in his hotel room following the trial.
A non-fatal variation: in season 2, Veronica is hired by Chip Diller, a Neptune College student, to prove he is not a serial rapist. It turns out that while he is a misogynist, he is not a rapist. The rapes continue into the following year (Veronica's freshman year at the same college), and Chip is anally violated with an Easter egg in retaliation for a rape that turns out to have been a fabrication.
Whodunnit: Most victims. In the most extreme case, every suspect tried to claim credit for killing the victim (a South American dictator) and the mystery was to work out who was telling the truth rather than who was lying.
In the very last episode of The Wire, Cheese, who has been a Jerk AssSmug Snake drug dealer and gangster since his debut, mistakenly admits in the middle of a self aggrandizing speech that he sold out his uncle Prop Joe to Marlo Stanfield, which resulted in his uncle's death. Within a couple of seconds of doing so, Slim Charles, (who had acted as the uncle's Number Two for the past two seasons) shoots Cheese in the head right in front of the various drug lords who were assembled for a meeting. Of the dozens there, only one protests... because it means they lost the money Cheese was going to kick in to a joint project. All the others stand around muttering things like "Motherfucker had it coming", and "That's what you get" before they leave his body to lie there in the street.