Designated Hero / Live-Action Films

  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 films:
    • The Puma Man. Given the fact that the "hero" is trying to come into his new superhero persona, he's still incredibly feeble, whiny, and ineffectual at genuine superheroics. Meanwhile, his wise Aztec sidekick/mentor Vadinho has to hand-hold Puma Man through his heroics, and is shown more than once to do an equal or superior job at whomping bad guy ass without superpowers. Towards the end of the movie on MST3K, Crow thinks it's time to admit that Vadinho is the real hero. And frankly, the movie wouldn't have suffered if Tony weren't in it at all and it was about Vadinho in the first place. The movie may be having a go at the idea of a badass superhero in how useless Tony is (it attempts to make some jokes about how silly his superheroism is), but it may have been lost in the translation.
    • In the episode Beginning of the End, Mike and the Bots make a running gag at getting increasingly angry at how Peter Graves's scientist character is treated as a Science Hero, when in fact, it was his nuclear energy experiments that created the mass-murdering giant grasshopper menace in the first place.
      Peter Graves: In a way I feel responsible.
      Mike: In a way?!
    • Mitchell. The title character is an alcoholic slob of a cop who behaves like a complete Jerkass most of the time. Sure, he's a little more on the ball than his colleagues (only he suspects that Deaney may not have acted in self defense), but other than that he's a damn lousy cop. When a criminal tries to bribe him by sending him a prostitute, he actually sleeps with her. And then arrests her for possessing marijuana. Nice. Joel even says the line, "Our hero, ladies and gentlemen", when we first see Mitchell.
    • Joe Don's character in Final Justice is a Jerkass Cowboy Cop who ignores every rule in the book - including violating the sovereignty of foreign nations and threatening blameless individuals for information - in order to hunt down criminals. The word "hunt" is used literally - Geronimo doesn't give a damn about arresting the crooks, instead challenging them to Old West-style gunfights. Oh yeah, and in the end, he kills the main villain by challenging him to a gunfight...and then shooting on "two". Our hero, a big stinky cheater.
      Servo: Yes, our 'hero': a murderous oaf who threatens women with coat hangers.
    • Escape 2000, while maybe not a perfect example, does have somewhat of a Designated Hero. While Trash is somewhat more justified in his fight against the GC Corporation since they killed his parents, the man he gets to help kidnap the company President, Strike, not so much. He's only involved because once the GC is gone the gangs will be back in control to the dilapidated Bronx. Which means he'll get to go back to being "head of all the big robberies". Neither hero is helped much either by the fact that, even though they're the bad guys, the GC corporation overall wants to build schools and hospitals after they've paved over the now crime infested Bronx. So by rooting for Trash and Strike the audience is hoping they succeed in keeping the Bronx as a criminal's paradise... yay?
    • In the episode Wild Rebels, Joel & The Bots point out the only remotely heroic thing the protagonist does is flash his lights at some cops, which actually only gets the cops killed.
      "So, Rod, that's thirteen dead cops, a half dozen dead innocent civillians, and a couple of dead bikers. Good work!"
    • Used as a defense against critics claiming the subject of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, This Island Earth, was "too good" to mock. When Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo) was asked about this during filming, he "threw his head back and laughed uproariously," explaining that Cal, the movie's protagonist, goes on a mind-bending journey across the universe but remains utterly unchanged in any way, and his most heroic action in the entire picture is to shout, "Run, Ruth, Run!" when she's being attacked by the mutant.
    • Probably the worst one of the bunch is Adam Chance from Agent for H.A.R.M.. Adam does nothing for the first 45 minutes. He spends most of the movie hanging around the beach house, trying to act cool, and failing every single time. What he does do is kill people, and is very nonchalant about it. In fact, he fails the mission entirely: He doesn't find the antidote to SPORE, can't save the man he's assigned to protect, and misses an obvious mole until after the mole kills two people. Mike and the Bots were all over him about this, with them believing that the only thing he does is to call the Archery Convention in Vienna, which reveals who the mole is... and then Adam reveals he knew all along. Loser!
    • The main character of The Wild World of Batwoman performs something like two unambiguously heroic deeds in the entire movie. Admittedly, that's not a bad ratio given that she only does five things in the entire movie and two of those are stupid, but two good deeds in more than an hour of film does not a superhero make.
    • Young "Tee" in Quest of the Delta Knights is built up to be a brilliant strategist and sage - yet his supposed wisdom and powers leads to him constantly getting himself or his allies captured or hurt, getting his mentor killed in a pointless escape attempt, and oh yeah, blowing up the lost storehouse that his entire order, including his mentor, fought and died to have him open to save the world. He claims he had to do it to prevent it from being used for evil, but in reality, he accomplished nothing except wasting a lot of people's lives. Even blowing up the storehouse was irrelevant, since the villain blew it up himself at the same time completely by accident.
    • Griffin from Red Zone Cuba is one of the best (worst?) examples of this trope in all of media. He was intended to come across as a mix of an Anti-Villain and an Unscrupulous Hero, a Tragic, mostly decent man, who, despite being a criminal, would have been a very nice person were it not for his anger issues. Unfortunately, he just comes off as a straight up villain. All sympathy is lost for him when, in a scene mercifully omitted from the MST3K version, he rapes a blind girl after throwing her father down a well. Over the course of the film, he kills many people, steals from a friend of his after whipping him with a belt, and beats up and strangles his friends. To cement his status as one of the most defining examples of this trope, Griffin is so far the only Designated Hero to be listed as a Complete Monster.
    • Paul from Cry Wilderness, who gets this reaction for being Too Dumb to Live (even for a kid protagonist), chronic disregard for the directions given to him by the adult figures around him, and just in general being useless and causing or getting himself in trouble as he joins his father, his Native American friend, and an Egomaniac Hunter Big Bad in a hunt for an escaped animal. Paul himself winds up being directly responsible for the danger that he was warned that his father was going to get in (Paul's father gets trapped in a cave-in at an abandoned mine looking for Paul), meaning that Paul ultimately could have just stayed at school.
    • David Shelby from Avalanche. On top of getting to build his ski resort in some fairly unscrupulous ways, the reason that the eponymous event is so devastating is because Shelby blatantly and stubbornly disregarded all warnings given to him that an avalanche was possible. Even when it really hits him that he is responsible for the many injuries and deaths that have happened around him due to the avalanche (including that of his own mother), he barely seems fazed by it at all. And then there's how possessive he is toward his ex-wife Caroline. The implication that the movie ends with that he and Caroline may get back together down the line is just flat-out unbelievable.
    • Alex the chimpanzee and, by extent, all of the heroes in Carnival Magic. Alex's antics are supposed to be funny, but sometimes they're just downright dangerous. Midway through the film for example, Alex is carelessly left alone, and he takes a car for a joyride down the road (with its hapless sleeping occupant inside), wreaking havoc all the way. Alex experiences no repercussions for stealing a car, making the sheriff crash his car, and destroying a fruit stand, nor do the heroes experience any for letting this happen.
    • Captain Ryder of Space Mutiny is first introduced abandoning the important scientist he was supposed to be escorting to die in order to save his own ass, then viciously insulting said scientist's apprentice when she calls him out on it. From there, he proceeds to kick off the main conflict by slaughtering a group of mutineers, who are only mutinying because they're somehow the only people who recognize that spending the rest of their lives on a derelict ship because of some asinine law is a bad idea, when they only wanted to parlay. From there, he proceeds to slaughter hundreds of "mutineers" whose only crime were wanting to go home, and then proceeds graphically burn a disabled man alive.
  • Jumper is an interesting case, as the director deliberately wanted to spread out the standard super hero origin story over several films... meaning that throughout the first film the main character is almost universally self-centered and, at times, needlessly cruel. Only at the end of the film does he do something truly altruistic; anything he'd done before that point that helped others was just a side-effect of him saving himself.
  • The movie Cheaters was based on the true story about a group of students and their teacher who cheated their way through the United States Academic Decathlon. The cheaters were portrayed as heroes who had no choice except to cheat while the one student who did the right thing in outing them was portrayed as a disgruntled, rat-faced snitch. In addition, the movie also tried to play up the biased assumption that they had cheated because they came from a less than stellar school, regardless of the fact that 1.) They had cheated and 2.) A sudden, unexplained spike in scores would naturally raise a few eyebrows.
  • Yor from Yor: The Hunter from the Future is undoubtedly the protagonist, but he wipes out several mini-civilizations, including one he was trying to save.
  • Nomi Malone from Showgirls really didn't even try to be heroic. The Hooker with a Heart of Gold trope is attempted to be played with her job as a stripper/topless dancer, despite the fact that many of her actions in the movie come off as mildly amoral and a bit of a Sympathetic Sue. She gives what is apparently a lap-dance, but is just actual sex while he kept his pants on. She screwed her boss Zack Carey to get higher in the consideration to be Cristal Conners's (the lead dancer) understudy. Then she pushes Cristal down the stairs, which one character mentions resulted in injuries that would keep her out for up to a year. Sure Cristal was a bitch, but Nomi just stooped to the level of the bitchy dancer who purposely injured another dancer because she yelled at her kids. Her best friend Molly Abrams is disgusted at Nomi for having done this... for a whole four minutes before she goes back to fangirling over Andrew Carver, who for some reason gang-rapes her. By the end, everybody forgives Nomi and treats her as some angelic force- the girl she pushed down the stairs, her boss, everybody. There's also the fact that her punishment of Andrew, to kick him in the face a few times, really did nothing to prevent him from raping again. Nomi leaves town at the end after threatening Andrew's life. Nomi was a Vegas star, did she think her disappearance would go unnoticed? What's stopping Andrew from attacking Molly again? Nothing.
  • Poppy, the protagonist of Wild Child starts the film by ruining and destroying all of her father's girlfriend's possessions. He calls her out on it but it is treated more as an over the top prank than, you know, criminal behavior. When she is sent Off to Boarding School, she is obnoxious and rude to everyone until her roommates find out her mother died and decide to help her get expelled out of sympathy. Then Harriet the head girl sends Poppy's roommates an email revealing that she told Ruby from back home that they were all losers and another to the headmistress's son, Freddie, telling him Poppy was using him to get expelled. While playing with her lighter, Poppy accidentally starts a fire but puts it out only to find the whole dorm on fire and Drippy trapped and in need of saving. She is almost expelled until The Reveal that Harriet actually framed Poppy for starting the fire. Harriet is expelled AS SHE SHOULD BE but no one bothers to mention that Poppy's lighter could easily have set the school on fire... or that she did say all of those things about her new friends... or that she did use Freddie (and he forgives her suspiciously quickly). The headmistress is automatically fond of her because she looks like her mother. Poppy undergoes Character Development but it is more along the lines of 'know who your friends are and how great boarding school is' than 'don't be an Ungrateful Bastard.'
  • The Wizard of Oz:
    • There is sometimes a criticism about Glinda the Good Witch. When the Wicked Witch of the West shows up to claim her now dead sister's magic shoes, she gives them to Dorothy, who was just some random girl who showed up instead of, say, hiding them from her, and this is to assume that WWotW wanted them for some sinister, magic purpose. After she essentially forced a random teenage girl into a tug-of-war between two witches for seemingly no reason, she sent Dorothy to talk to the wizard. When she gets there, the wizard tells them that they need to take the witch's broom before he'll do anything for them. As it was pointed out, they'd need to kill her to do this. After they kill the witch and come back with her broom, the wizard's method of getting Dorothy back to Kansas fails (sort of) and she's left with no way to get home. This is until Glinda shows up and tells Dorothy that at any point she could have just used the slippers to wish herself back. When she's rightfully asked why she didn't tell Dorothy this, Glinda attempts to handwave the issue by saying she wouldn't have believed her. Except, yes, she would have. Dorothy is in a dangerous world with witches and the way out is on her feet. Considering how acid-trippy the place was, would there be anything you wouldn't believe at that point?
    • There is even a Cracked article detailing how she is the best villain in film history, as well as a Mad TV skit in which Dorothy has a far more realistic reaction—utter outrage—to Glinda's actions.
      • Note that this only applies to the movie. The book's Glinda doesn't appear until the very end, and the Witch of the North has no idea what the slippers actually do. Movie-Glinda was a Composite Character of the two.
  • Lady Isabel, the female lead and love interest in Ironclad, is a medieval noblewoman trapped in a loveless political marriage, which does make her somewhat sympathetic. However, the film almost at once undercuts this by establishing that her much older husband finds the marriage at least as emotionally taxing as she does and he isn't interested in having sex with her (which she moans about, despite disliking him), meaning her supposedly intolerable position amounts to living in a comfortable castle with servants. When the Chaste Hero shows up she constantly hits on him, uncaring that he is going through a crisis of faith and acting petulant when he (initially) rejects her. She comes across as a selfish Jerkass who is only interested in the hero at all because she finds him hot and wants to have sex.
  • The titular character of Ferris Bueller's Day Off has cut school at least nine times before, covering his tracks by hacking into the school computer to change the records. He gets away with all sorts of things by blatantly exploiting the good will of everyone around him, including his parents, by weaving a complex web of whatever lies will serve him currently at the moment, and by psychologically bullying his friend Cameron. The original script includes scenes Ferris does more immoral things, such as stealing his father's money, but also has more dialogue clarifying Ferris's charitable intentions toward others, such as Cameron.
  • Bud (Pauly Shore) and Doyle (Stephen Baldwin) from Bio-Dome. They are portrayed as the heroes despite that they spend the majority of the movie acting obnoxious, destroying the experiments in the Bio-Dome, and sexually harassing the female scientists.
  • In Money Train, the two main characters John (Wesley Snipes) and Charlie (Woody Harrelson) are not heroes at all, and yet they are played out to be the morally good guys. They risk the lives of innocent people, rob the eponymous money train (to pay off the debts of Charlie's gambling problem), and assault an officer (the "villain"). They both get away with it absolutely scot-free and the villain is arrested for risking the lives of innocents — while this is an accurate charge, the situation would never have arisen had the main duo not tried to rob the train and stop the brakes from working simply so they wouldn't get caught. In any case, the robbery came at the expense of the New York City taxpayers! If the film had been done differently, the villains could have so easily been the main characters, and the officer in charge of protecting the train could easily be made the hero.
  • The designated heroes of The Pink Panther (1963) were so unsympathetic that many people don't realize they're supposed to be the heroes. The hero is supposed to be David Niven as Gentleman Thief The Phantom, who foils the bumbling police, steals the diamond, gets the girl, and gets away with it all. There's a reason Peter Sellers' Clouseau took the role of hero later on - viewers thought he was much funnier and more likable.
  • The 2002 film Chicago subverts this trope by using the musical format to humorously portray Roxie Hart as heroic. In reality, she cheats on her husband, murders her lover (he was a liar), temporarily convinces her husband to cop to the murder, fakes a pregnancy, then cons herself off death row. The movie is never anything less than up front about all of this, making it perfectly clear that any suggestions that Roxie is in any way heroic exist purely as a result of her self-obsession and self-centred delusions.
  • Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) in Safe House. Everything he seems to do (from turning off the surveillance cameras to allow for a waterboarding session to letting Tobin run away several hundred times to allowing himself to be constantly one-upped by other characters) makes everything worse for himself and his job. Even Tobin (the film's decoy antagonist) manages to be more heroic than our actual hero by actually doing something relevant. And don't get started on the ending where Matt becomes the mastermind of WikiLeaks. To be fair, Weston is not only clearly shown to be way out of his league (and he knows it), its later shown that the Big Bad of the movie is his boss, so he was an Unwitting Pawn all along. The biggest problem is that Tobin Frost is a Designated Villain- he's The Dreaded, and clearly a very ruthless man, but we get very little explanation as to what villainous things he's supposed to have done, his Offstage Villainy being limited to some vague mention of selling secrets. He's treated like a serious killer or terrorist, but the only people we see him kill are torturers and traitors.
  • Erik, the father in Hanna, is portrayed as a good guy, but several times, he kills innocent government employees. At times, they aren't even a threat to him, like the guy who is going to answer the door in one scene.
  • The parents of the twins in both the original and the remake version of The Parent Trap. The parents divorced when their daughters were infants, and decided it would be easier for both of them if each retained custody of one child. They then moved to separate parts of the world and never bothered to tell either child that "oh, by the way, you're an identical twin" - just to make it easier on themselves. They never have to see one another again. But years later, when their daughters meet by a freak coincidence, the twins decide to switch places with one another so each can meet the parent they have never known. The whole time, the mom and the dad both make it clear they don't want to speak about their divorced spouse. The girls continue the charade for as long as possible, trying to push their parents back together and eventually succeed. But at no point do the parents get called out for never telling their child the existence of a twin.
  • All of the protagonists of Itty Bitty Titty Committee could be considered this to a certain extent if you don't share their radical feminist viewpoint, but Sadie and Shulie stand out especially. Our first scene with Sadie has her framing main character Anna for an act of vandalism she herself committed, to keep Anna from calling the police, which is is portrayed as being charming. Throughout the movie Sadie is portrayed as a serial philanderer, emotionally manipulative, self-obsessed, and self-righteous, yet Anna ending up with her (with little to no change aside from breaking up with the girlfriend she was previously cheating on) is viewed as a good thing. Shulie is merely a Jerkass sarcastic misandrist Straw Feminist, but her radical opinions are never countered or challenged.
  • Neil Shaw in the The Art of War films, to more and more of an extent as the series goes on. In the first film he's a competent enough agent, though kind of a Jerkass. In the second film he makes numerous basic errors of logic and judgement, and at the end he casually murders his love interest just in the name of getting the villain to frame himself. The third film takes it Up to Eleven, as he unknowingly takes the bad guy or rather bad girl into his confidence, then ends up killing at least a dozen or so South Korean intelligence agents, before unwittingly facilitating the assassination of South Korea's U.N. representative and nearly getting the Secretary-General of the U.N. herself killed. After all that you'd think the Secretary-General would be only too happy to hand Shaw over to the South Korean authorities and let them hang him out to dry, but she instead ends the film by telling Shaw that he's the only person the U.N. can trust with their lives.
  • Jeff from the Christian propaganda film Rock: It's Your Decision. He's supposed to be a good Christian youth standing against the evils of rock and roll, but he comes across as a bigoted Jerkass who will verbally attack anyone who doesn't have the exact same beliefs he does, won't tolerate even an instrumental rock song being played in his general vicinity, and cannot even be bothered to do the slightest bit of research on the songs he thinks are so evil. He tries to control his friends, is an asshole to his mom, and is just generally very hypocritical and unlikable.
  • Gavin, the atheist protagonist of The Ledge, was intended to be shown as a courageous, rational, tolerant and moral person who refuses to fall for any superstitious beliefs. However, the main conflict of the movie is about a Love Triangle between him, the antagonist Joe (a fundamentalist Christian), and Shana (the latter's wife), and it is clear that the affair did not arise spontaneously, but was actively pursued by Gavin. It would be one thing if Shana was legitimately unhappy, but she and Joe are shown to be perfectly happy together, and moreover, Gavin straight out admits and is shown to be emotionally manipulating her to make her fall for him. And the justification Gavin uses for trying to seduce Shana and convince her to leave her husband comes off as Disproportionate Retribution on his end, since all Joe did was express pity towards Gavin for his "empty life without God," as well as that Gavin believes Shana is too good for her deeply religious husband, and thus appoints himself as her "savior" from an oppressive life. He ends up ruining her life more than anything else by the end.
  • Heather from Texas Chainsaw 3D, she actively tries to help save Leatherface and aid him in killing the police even though she knows that he is a cannibalistic serial killer who murdered many people, including her friends. She actively aids a chainsaw wielding maniac, and the audience is supposed to believe that she's in the right. To be fair, those police were trying to murder her for no reason other than being related to Leatherface so it may have been her only option or a Lesser of Two Evils case.
  • Superman comes across this way in a number of films. In Superman II, Superman gives up powers that will save millions of lives to be with someone who is Too Dumb to Live, and after being re-powered and rendering Zod helpless he sadistically crushes his hand before casually executing him by throwing him to his death in an icy crevasse, then uses his regained powers to injure a human in an act of petty revenge (granted the guy was a Jerkass), and then gives Lois Laser-Guided Amnesia for his own convenience. Superman Returns follows on from Superman II, where Superman promised that he would never abandon humanity again. He then left Earth for five years without telling any one where he was going, or that he was even leaving. He also leaves Lois pregnant from the tryst that he erased from her memory. And because he wasn't around to testify at Lex Luthor's trial, Luthor was acquitted.
  • The main character of Paparazzi and his killing spree against the paparazzi would be far less sympathetic if paparazzi weren't Acceptable Professional Targets (and if the paparazzi in the movie weren't practically cackling supervillains who take perverse joy in ruining people's lives.) One murder even had to happen off-screen, because the director found that test audiences found the main character less sympathetic when it happened on-screen.
  • Now You See Me gives us the Four Horsemen, a team of con-artist magicians who act Just Like Robin Hood, robbing the rich and giving to the poor... because they were ordered to by a shadowy mastermind — the Fifth Horseman — who promises them a place in a secret society of real magicians called the Eye if they do what he says. But they are morally ambiguous from the outset, and the main character is arguably the FBI agent Dylan who is chasing them. The real example of this trope is Dylan himself, who is in fact the Fifth Horseman, because — while its implied he really does work for the Eye and his offer is serious — it's established that the victims of the Horsemen were people/organizations he held responsible for his father's death, so it was all really a revenge scheme. What pushes this beyond Anti-Hero and into "villain in any other story" territory is that many of the tricks of the Horsemen involved theft, assault, kidnapping and extremely reckless behavior that could have gotten innocent people hurt or killed, such as the pre-arranged car chase throughout New York, as well as the framing and apparent abduction of Thaddeus Bradley, strongly implied to now be a prisoner of the Eye for the rest of his life, despite being little more than a Jerkass.
  • Dave: The film treats Dave, Ellen and Duane as heroes despite - or because of - the fact that by not denouncing the secret substitution of Dave Kovic for the incapacitated president of the USA, however unpleasant he was, they subvert democracy and the US Constitution, effectively depriving the American people of the government they voted for.
  • Captain Turner in Hornets' Nest. Ostensibly the good guy because he's an American soldier fighting against the Nazis and getting a couple of Pet the Dog moments, he's a shockingly amoral person who doesn't think twice about arming children and training them to kill and holding a civilian German doctor hostage and raping her. He does, eventually, have a powerful Heel Realization at the end, but this is only after the damage has been done.
  • Michael Douglas' character, Oren Little, in the 2014 movie And So It Goes is a sexist, racist, nasty jerk who is never shown being nice to people.... but because he is the lead in a romantic comedy the audience is meant to find him endearing and even though he softens up by the end of the movie, he is never called out on his previously awful behavior.
  • In Patch Adams, "based" on the actual experiences of real life doctor Hunter Adams, who was unhappy about how he was portrayed, "Patch" is first seen putting words into the mouth of Beanie, a catatonic schizophrenic, making fun of him. In real life, catatonic schizophrenics are fully aware of what is going on when they are catatonic, and are often annoyed when people do this to them. In addition, Patch annoys his classmates even when they are taking tests. When one of his professors gives him the job of helping prepare for visiting gynecologists, he ruins the visit by placing giant inflatable legs in front of the college door so it looks like a giant vagina. Finally, he does extremely illegal things like practicing medicine without a license, and stealing drugs from a hospital.
  • Jackie DiNorscio in Find Me Guilty. Though based on actual events and people, the movie, rather than show an honest portrayal of the gangster trial the film is based on, goes out if its way to present Jackie (and by extension, his fellow gangsters) as victims of oppression because the government obviously hates everyone whose name ends in a vowel (something that actual gangsters fervently believe). Despite clearly being a remorseless sociopath who expertly manipulates the jury into making the gangsters look innocent, he never actually offers up any evidence that they are innocent other than....they sometimes tip people whom they see everyday. He's racist, insensitive, misogynistic, loves indulging in Logical Fallacies while crying foul whenever far better evidence is used against him, and despite the other gangsters wanting nothing to do with him, he still somehow manages to get them all to come around. His rival, D.A. Sean Kierney, is completely accurate in his assessment of why Jackie and his associates are horrible people, and the movie completely glosses over this with borderline straw arguments. In the end, Jackie pulls a Karma Houdini, and we're expected to cheer on the fact that the gangsters were acquitted, despite them all clearly being assholes who deserve no sympathy. What makes it worse is that this trope could've been avoided completely if the film had just bothered being objective in its views rather than glamorize it to such absurd amounts.
  • The British teen movie Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. The main character, Georgia is whiny 90% of the time, critical, spoilt, selfish, insulting and insensitive, and goes out of her way to steal another girl's (a bitchy girl, yes, but still) boyfriend, treating her friends badly when they stand up to her, and using loads of boys along the way, and yet we are for some unknown reason, supposed to support her. Fair play, by the end of the story, she has became slightly more palatable, but still...
  • A Trip to the Moon might be the oldest case of this, to the point that many film historians argue it was a deliberate satire of imperialism. Over the course of the film, the protagonists interfere with the planet's ecosystem, attack the intelligent native aliens first, murder their king, and eventually return home with one of them on a leash to be placed in a zoo.
  • The main characters of Kelly's Heroes are a group of opportunistic soldiers who leap at the chance to plunder a French bank filled with Nazi gold. While they aren't particularly evil, they also exhibit nothing resembling classic heroic behavior, either.
  • The main character of The Spanish Prisoner is only really the "hero" by virtue of being the victim of a con. He's a bit stuffy and humorless, and really doesn't have any likable qualities.
  • Adam Sandler's character in That's My Boy who tries to be a good father to his estranged son. However he was never really a good father to him since he raised him as a teenager, and his mother is in jail, and the only reason why he is even connecting with him is he is offered money by a TV producer which he needs to pay to the IRS or face jail time. He is also an immature drunk Manchild with few redeeming qualities. The only reason why he is even the hero is because his son's bride to be and brother are just as bad as he is.
  • John Gage of Indecent Proposal, whose behavior really comes off as incredibly creepy and sleazy when you think about it, almost to the point of Fridge Horror. When Diana turns down his offer to buy her an expensive dress, the dress is promptly delivered to her hotel room—aside from ignoring her refusal, how the hell did he even find out where she was staying in order to send it to her? Then, when he makes the infamous proposal, he asks David about sleeping with Diana, as if Diana's feelings on the matter are unimportant and that she'll be obligated to do whatever her husband decrees. He also pulls a very underhanded stunt to get Diana into bed with him, under the pretense of letting her go—offering to release her from the deal if she wins a coin toss, with a rigged coin that guarantees him victory. He practically stalks her by showing up at both of her jobs, then seems to be seeking vengeance on her for rejecting him by buying the property she and David had their eyes on. After all this, when he finally does have her for himself, he dumps her by claiming that she was just one of many women he pursued like this, which would be an incredibly cruel mind game were it not for Diana being savvy enough to realize what he's trying to do—and we're supposed to feel sorry for him for having to give up the woman he loves. This is all presented in a romantic light, and what's worse, it's coming from the same guy who only a few years earlier, directed Fatal Attraction, where a woman pursuing an uninterested, married man was portrayed as a psycho.
  • Everyone in The Room is extremely unlikeable, but special mention goes to Mark. Mark has an affair with his best friend's fiancée, then insists that he's a blameless victim because she was just too clever and manipulative to resist, despite the fact that she and her boyfriend clearly don't have a brain cell between them. The Only Sane Man Peter sides with him on this, and while everyone in their friend group who finds out about the affair treats Lisa like she's the Antichrist, nobody ever calls Mark out for his part. Mark also makes some blatantly misogynistic comments, and judging by things people who worked on the film have said about the director, it's likely we're meant to agree. Mark randomly tries to murder his friend at one point, but the friend instantly forgets about it and it's never brought up again. While this might not be intended, one scene seems to suggest that he beat a previous girlfriend of his who cheated on him so badly that she had to be hospitalized-Johnny, who is portrayed as being the greatest guy ever, laughs after hearing this (though it could just be that he doesn't believe Mark and is laughing at how ridiculous he finds the story).
  • In King Kong (1976), Jack Prescott cheers when soldiers trying to kill Kong are blown up. We are supposed to side with him because the authorities of New York went back on their word to try and take Kong alive. At the end of the day, Kong is still a very dangerous animal that has already killed numerous people. The soldiers were trying to stop him and got killed for it, and Jack cheers at this.
  • Crystal from Dear Santa to the Nth degree. She's a spoiled fashionista who mooches off her parents rather than do something like get a job of her own or find a man. On the day that her mother announces that Crystal is going to be cut off from them, she finds a "Dear Santa" letter from a little girl who wishes for her father to find a woman to make him smile like her mother used to. Crystal uses this opportunity to stalk this single family that she just heard of and unknowingly volunteers at the father's soup kitchen. Once she learns that he has a supportive girlfriend who's been with him since his wife's death, she does everything she can to ruin the relationship so that she can have a chance with him. It doesn't really help that the girlfriend, Jillian, is treated as the Designated Villain simply because she's dating the father and she's known him for years while Crystal has known him for a few weeks.
  • The movie Fracture (2007), has Ryan Gosling, playing a self-entitled, Smug Snake, and Jerk Ass, prosecutor trying to expose and bring down a Manipulative Bastard in Anthony Hopkins, who killed his wife after he caught her cheating on him.
  • The movie Snow Falling on Cedars has Hatsue. She is a young, Japanese girl who falls in love with Ishmael, an American boy. Both have to keep their relationship secret, however, because both the Americans and the Japanese have racist resentments against each other. As the two grow older, Ishmael asks her to marry him, but she always refuses. When the relationship of the two comes out, Hatsue immediately "subdues" to her family and leaves Ishmael. And that is precisely at the time when he was badly injured in war and lost an arm. A few years later they meet again. Hatsue has married a Japanese man whom her family has chosen for her, and he is being prosecuted innocently for murder. When Ishmael sees her again for the first time, Hatsue immediately tells him to leave. Later in the film, Ishmael tries to find evidence for the innocence of Hatsue's husband, and he also meets her again. Although he tells her several times that he loves her, Hatsue always rejects him. In a scene he touches her, and she winds out of his touch as if he were a stranger who wants to do something bad to her. You can see in this scene that this has hurt his feelings. Finally he asks her at least for a last hug, but this also denies him. She knows very well how much he loves her, and how much she hurts him by treating him like that. After all, he helps her husband not have to go to jail, and finally Hatsue embraces him one last time, and thanks him for helping her. Nevertheless Hatsue does not see it as wrong to see that she has treated Ishmael so badly all the time. It would not have been morally reprehensible to Ishmael if he had hated Hatsue and not helped her husband.
  • Janis in Mean Girls. She is just as manipulative as Regina (if not more so), taunts her by revealing her manipulations in front of the entire school (throwing Cady under the bus in the process), and gets cheered for it. This, combined with her Hollywood Homely appearance, has only fueled some fans' theories that Janis is herself a former Alpha Bitch.


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