->''"Vlad was one of those old-time bad guys with honor and morals, which made him almost one of the good guys. None of us was a saint."''
-->-- '''VideoGame/MaxPayne'''

An Anti-Villain is the opposite of an AntiHero a villain with heroic goals, personality traits, and/or virtues. Their desired ends are mostly good, but their means of getting there are evil. Alternatively, their desired ends are ''evil'', but far more ethical or moral than most villains and they thus use fairly benign means to achieve it, and can be heroic on occasion. They could also be someone or something whose desired ends or means are not necessarily "evil" at all, but their actions simply conflict with that of whoever seems to be the protagonist.

They often reach a kind of critical mass that makes them more good than normal villains but not quite heroes, blurring the line between hero and villain the same way an AntiHero does, but by coming from the opposite direction. Also, they seldom perform a full HeelFaceTurn, or if they do, they continue to struggle with their villainous impulses.

Anti-Villain is an attempt to lighten up a villain as opposed to an AntiHero, which has a tendency to darken the hero. Side by side, it can become very hard to tell them apart. The only reason some would even be considered evil at all is because they're the DesignatedVillain. Despite this humanizing {{character|Development}}ization, they are rarely less dangerous. For instance, heroes wouldn't know what to expect if [[AffablyEvil their enemy shows caring]] and then [[ClearMyName attacks their reputation]], without giving them an excuse to [[ThouShaltNotKill rationalize]] killing them.

Most of them are probably well aware that what they're doing is "evil", unlike the blinded KnightTemplar, but strive to maintain a facade of [[SlaveToPR good PR]], often by engaging in PragmaticVillainy. They'll see it as a viable [[IDidWhatIHadToDo means]] to a (possibly) good end.

It may also be possible to turn a normal villain into an Anti-Villain over time by detailing their StartOfDarkness, giving them a CynicismCatalyst, a MoralityPet, [[PetTheDog kind episodes]], or otherwise [[RetCon retconning]] them into [[HeelFaceTurn submission.]] A FreudianExcuse may explain their actions, but almost never changes them into an Anti-Villain if there is nothing good about their present motivations.

See also the SlidingScaleOfAntiVillains.

Character types particularly prone to anti-villainy and classifying them as such (though many have their share of flat-out villains and heroes, too) include:
[[index]]
* AffablyEvil: A villain who is genuinely polite and friendly in spite of being evil.
* AmbiguouslyEvil: A mysterious character who is hard to classify good or evil based on their actions.
* ByronicHero
* CryForTheDevil
* DarkMagicalGirl
* DesignatedMonkey
* DesignatedVillain: The narrative says that he is villainous, but there are factors that contradict this.
* DrivenToMadness
* DrivenToVillainy: The villain becomes a villain because of traumatic experiences.
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes
* EvenEvilHasStandards
* EvilVirtues
* FallenHero
* FamilyValuesVillain
* ForcedIntoEvil: A character doesn't want to be a villain, but is one only because of being blackmailed or otherwise extorted.
* FriendlyEnemy
* GentlemanThief (when they're not the hero)
* HarmlessVillain
* HeelFaceTurn
* AHeroToHisHometown
* HeWhoFightsMonsters
* HiddenHeartOfGold
* IgnorantMinion: A {{Mook}} who is out of naivety or slow-wittedness unaware that their boss is evil.
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain
* InvadingRefugees: These invaders are attacking because they've been forced on the run.
* JerkassWoobie
* JustifiedCriminal
* KnightTemplar
* MinionWithAnFInEvil
* MyCountryRightOrWrong: Supports one's nation even if they don't personally agree with their villainous policy.
* MyMasterRightOrWrong: Serves a villain out of loyalty.
* MysteriousBacker
* NecessarilyEvil: An anti-villain who chooses to serve as the BigBad in order to prevent a catastrophe or prevent someone worse from taking the role.
* NobleDemon: A villain whose principles prevent them from embracing villainy wholeheartedly.
* NobleTopEnforcer: TheDragon is noticeably more virtuous than the BigBad they serve.
* NonMaliciousMonster: A creature that, while dangerous, cannot be called evil due to its animal-like sapience.
* NotEvilJustMisunderstood
* ObliviouslyEvil
* PokeThePoodle
* PunchClockVillain: Performs evil just to make livelihood.
* RegretfulTraitor: They betrayed you, yes, but it doesn't mean that they're not sorry about it.
* TheRival
* SympatheticMurderer
* TokenGoodTeammate
** TokenHeroicOrc
* TragicMonster
* TragicVillain
* TrappedInVillainy: Would like to quit villainy, but there is a [[YouHaveFailedMe threat of death]] over failures in evil or attempts to leave.
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans
* WellIntentionedExtremist: The villain does bad things in order to achieve an admirable goal.
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds
* WorthyOpponent: The villain honestly respects the hero's resolve.
[[/index]]

See also VillainProtagonist, HeroAntagonist, and MinionWithAnFInEvil, as well as NoPlaceForMeThere. Another way for the Anti-Villain to transcend conventional morality is to [[AboveGoodAndEvil completely, utterly set aside limitations]] and achieve a moral fluidity that prevents himself from crossing the MoralEventHorizon, becoming TheUnfettered. For a broad covering of what Anti-Villains can be, see the SlidingScaleOfAntiVillains. Compare SympathyForTheDevil and SatanIsGood. See also EvilVirtues.

Compare and contrast NominalHero, a character who is often essentially a villain working for the heroes because EvenEvilHasStandards. [[IReadThatAs Do not confuse Anti-Villains with members of the]] [[WesternAnimation/DespicableMe2 Anti-Villain League]].

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!!Examples:

[[index]]

* AntiVillain/AnimeAndManga
* AntiVillain/ComicBooks
* AntiVillain/FanWorks
* [[AntiVillain/AnimatedFilms Films Animation]]
* [[AntiVillain/LiveActionFilms Films Live-Action]]
* AntiVillain/{{Literature}}
* AntiVillain/LiveActionTV
* AntiVillain/{{Music}}
* AntiVillain/ProWrestling
* AntiVillain/TabletopGames
* AntiVillain/{{Theater}}
* AntiVillain/{{Toys}}
* AntiVillain/VideoGames
* AntiVillain/WebComics
* AntiVillain/WebOriginal
* AntiVillain/WesternAnimation
[[/index]]

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'': ''Revelation'' has [[spoiler: Agent Washington]] who is only after the Blood Gulch crew to take Epsilon back to the Chairman so he doesn't have to go to prison. Adding to this, the only reason he has to get Epsilon in the first place is because Caboose didn't turn Epsilon in like [[spoiler: Wash]] told him to.
* [=DemonKing=] from ''WebAnimation/{{TOME}}'' really just needs the money to go back to school, okay?
[[/folder]]
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