When an author has a corpse-shaped hole in the story, and decides to fill it with a character the audience won't mourn.
You watch enough mystery shows or read enough mystery stories, and you notice a certain trend: Frequently, the homicide victim is an asshole.
For example, the victim will have been someone who enjoyed crushing people for the fun of it, or who ripped off at least a dozen people, and possibly more, or who was a criminal himself, etc.
The frequent impression left is that "the victimhad it coming".
There are at least five possible reasons for having an Asshole Victim:
It's not as depressing; given that, for these shows to work, Tonight Someone Dies is a given, an Asshole Victim brings up less of the "Tonight, someone will be killed for your entertainment" Fridge Logic.
It's one of the few ways to have a Sympathetic Murderer. Writers may make the victim an asshole in this case either just to have a sympathetic murderer; or, if the show is a Courtroom Drama, to make it harder to convict the killer as the jury sympathizes.
In a mystery show, it maximizes the possible suspects, as just about everyone involved would have a potential motive to kill this guy. Usually the line, "Well, I certainly hated X, but I didn't kill him" will be used repeatedly, and perhaps the extreme variation "Yeah, I wanted to kill X, but somebody beat me to it." In a few really extreme cases, suspects may even add "I'd kill X now if I could, but it's a moot point." In rare cases, a suspect admits that "I wished X was dead" before the victim actually died, and now therefore feels indirectly responsible for it.
If a character is The Atoner, having him hurt only Asshole Victims in the past is a way to make him more sympathetic to the audience while still making it clear that he did something immoral that he needs to make up for.
The Villain needs a Fallguy. Murdering a known Asshole, and then lying low for a while, will make the Asshole look responsible for any crimes that have stopped since his death.
Also shows up in Horror and Suspense films, for much the same reasons (Everyone Is a Suspect frequently gets replaced by a Clear My Name). However, it will generally not apply to victims of The Scourge of God, except sometimes when said scourge is a Poetic Serial Killer. Criminals in Colliding Criminal Conspiracies generally are this.
Every detective show has a variation of this exchange at least once or twice in its running: The detective asks, "Do you know of anyone you might've wanted X dead?" The other person snorts and replies, "Who didn't want X dead?" or "Half the city wanted X dead, and the other half didn't know him." or "People would've lined up for a chance to kill X." A common variation once the detectives have a suspect: "Sure I wanted X dead - but I didn't kill him!" or "I'm glad X is dead, but I didn't do it!"
Nearly every soap opera on the air has employed this trope for one of their "whodunit" murder mysteries.
At a minimum, they will have kicked the dog and may be well beyond the Moral Event Horizon, especially in less subtle productions. Pay Evil unto Evil is when the perpetrator gets away with it because the Asshole Victim deserved it. Indeed, this trope is very common in Criminal Procedurals with Villain Protagonists, who are rooted for because the guys they go after are usually even worse than them; as well as in many Revenge stories, in which they have usually done some very grievous wrong to our Anti-Hero and usually engage in other nastiness on the side, ensuring that no one sheds any tears when they get their comeuppance.
Sometimes the memorial services for these victims will be... interesting to watch. Occasionally the writers will get some comedy out of Never Speak Ill of the Dead, if everyone knows the victim was a jerk but no one wants to say so.
A similar concept unites this trope to the Final Girl. She survives because she's the only one without sin or character flaws. She doesn't drink, do drugs, have sex outside of wedlock. She's nice and polite. Everyone else in the movie has such a flaw, making it okay for the monster to kill them.
For dog kickers who kick an asshole (not necessarily fatally), it's Kick the Son of a Bitch. Can also be an invoked Take That, Scrappy! moment. See also Disposable Fiancé, which is similar in several respects. When the victim was as asshole for things they did in the process of trying to survive, it's Death by Pragmatism. Alas, Poor Villain is the direct opposite of this trope. A less lethal version is Very Punchable Man, a character who's there to be a jerk so that someone else can look good when they defend themselves.
In accordance with the "Just-world hypothesis," people may perceive any victim as an Asshole Victim just to keep their belief that people get what they deserve intact. Then again, whilst the vast majority of homicide victims are not assholes, it presumably follows that assholes are more likely to be murdered than non-assholes, because antagonizing people capable of murder is a good way to get...well, murdered! Of course, that isn't to say they deserved it.
Naturally, this trope can lead to the Unfortunate Implication that it's okay to kill someone just because you do not like them. For this reason, amongothers, No Real Life Examples, Please!
Not to be confused with people whose posteriors get violated. Sometimes overlaps with Death by Racism.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
Occurs often in Death Note, although the victim is often only inferred to have been an asshole by virtue of having been in prison. In fact, that's part of the point - Light Yagami claims that he researches these people to make sure that they really 'deserve' to die before he offs them and that he spares the criminal if the person they committed the crime against was an asshole victim. How reliably he does this is questionable at best.
In Chapter 2, L mentions that his first suspected victim, Kurou Otoharada's crime was the least serious (not including Shibutaku, who L has no reason to know about, since he isn't aware that the Death Note can kill by means other than heart attacks). Otoharada is the guy who was holding a group of pre-schoolers at gunpoint at the moment Light killed him.
On the other hand, he kills several law enforcement officers pursuing him, and also intends to kill people who don't contribute to society enough (although it's unclear what criteria he uses or what his standards are).
This trope is played absolutely straight at least once, without any debate in universe. When Teru Mikami offs Hitoshi Demegawa, even the Kira Task Force didn't hold it against Kira, even mentioning that if anyone deserved getting killed off by Kira, it was him.
Kyosuke Higuchi. He's the only one who has no motive or attempt at justification whatsoever, he's just a mass murderer. When he was arrested, Light kills him off to regain control of the note book, making him the only Death Note user whose death has no aspect of Alas, Poor Villain whatsoever.
In the pilot, Taro Kagami picks up the Death Note, and while writing in it, accidentally kills some of the bullies who had tormented him.
Takua Shibuimaru in the anime and especially in the film. Averted in the manga, however. His death seemed a little too harsh. All he was just doing was flirting with a woman, but doesn't do any outright criminal activity towards her.
Played with in another episode: the victim hadn't just done something wrong previously, he was currently stalking the victim (and getting away with it by being rich) and she suspected he was going to kill her. And she was right—the contents of his bag made it clear that, right before he died, he was planning to kidnap and torture her to death. However, since she didn't see this evidence, instead basing her actions on an assumption, it still didn't qualify as self-defense.
Professor Kakuzawa also counts as well, since he tried to rape Lucy while she was unconscious after she was tranquilized while in her Nyu persona, which ended up causing her actual personality to take over. Even after revealing that he let her out of the lab in the first episode and that he himself is a Diclonious, Kakuzawa is still decapitated by Lucy.
Lucy: Waiting for that? Because it's all you deserve.
Dr. Heinemann from Monster, as well of many of Johan's other victims.
In the earliest mangas, Yami was far darker (sometimes to the point of sadistic) than the more benign spirit he'd eventually become, and would inflict brutal "penalty games" on anyone who threatened Yugi or his friends. However, while most of them didn't actually die, all of them clearly deserved the punishments he inflicted upon them.
In the anime too it isn't clear whether or not he actually killed Panik or Fake Kaiba during the Duelist Kindom arc, but regardless of what he did to them, both were horrible men who had it coming.
Divine, from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds. Clearly, he was the biggest asshole in the entire franchise who was not either an Eldritch Abomination or Made of Evil, so it was hard to mourn either when he was believed to have been killed in his duel with the Dark Signer Carly, or when he was Killed Off for Real by Earthbound God Ccarayhua later.
Frankly, from Scar's point of view, this is his entire modus operandi. He only kills State Alchemists, who were instrumental in the ethnic slaughter of his people. If a State Alchemist hadn't participated in that war, like Edward, a State Alchemist's role as a 'living weapon' means it's only a matter of time until they're ordered to do something equally heinous (and Edward is). Far as Scar is concerned, every State Alchemist has it coming.
This is a staple for the mysteries in The Kindaichi Case Files. None of the murderers ever kill randomly out of pure insanity or for money. Instead, it inevitably turns out that the murderer was getting revenge for the loss/harming of a lover, family member, friends, or someone very dear who the murder victim royally screwed over in the worst possible way. ** A rare exception: in one case, two victims who were thought to be assholes turn out to be okay people.
Almost all of the people sent to Hell by those seeking revenge in Hell Girl were getting what they deserved. Apparently.
Taken Up to Eleven with the second victim, an old woman. When we first see her, she's mocking and ridiculing the lead character's mother for daring to not have a husband. (It's implied very shortly after that she was previously married and her husband died, or at least ran out on her) Next, we see her berating a neighbor for roof tiles falling into her yard during an earthquake — then further insulting them for daring to suggest they could clean up the tiles to make it up to her. Next, when she first sees a Bio Meat, she mistakes it for a pig, and calls Animal Control... and when they turn out to be taking too long, she decides to try to stab it to death with a broom handle for no reason. She gets picked off shortly thereafter, but she's still not done being an asshole, as she had decided to attack it in front of a little girl, who gets so traumatized by witnessing what happens to the woman that all she can do when the Animal Control officers finally arrive is repeat the Madness Mantra "Little piggy dragged off the big lady..."
BioMeat even includes Troper Namers, listed in the credits as "Asshole Victims" in the fifth volume. This is a group of the main characters' fellow middle school students who are saved from being eaten when Bio Meats swarm the school by the quick thinking and leadership skills of one main character, and then given an avenue of escape and communication with the outside world by the inventiveness of another, though said escape route has to be used sparingly and carefully lest the Bio Meats use it to invade the safe room. Just as the last of the main characters leaves through the escape route to bring back help, the "Asshole Victims:"
Cut the only rope that allows them to enter and leave the safe room, for no other reason than to amuse themselves by watching the last of the main characters plummet loudly to the ground and alert the nearby Bio Meats to his presence.
Sneeringly (and loudly) voice disappointment when the last main character escapes being eaten due to a previously unnoticed weakness in the Bio Meats.
Make a "You're Not The Boss Of Me" speech as the escaped main characters are yelling for them to close the entrance to the safe room because all the insults the "Asshole Victims" have been yelling have alerted the Bio Meats, which are now rushing toward the entrance.
Continue ignoring the Bio Meats even as they're climbing into the no-longer-safe room, just to yell a few more accusations at the main characters of being responsible for their deaths by creating the escape route that they misused.
Bellamy. After he mocked Luffy's dreams and stole an old man's gold, you frankly could not feel any sympathy for him when Doflamingo made Bellamy's own first mate off him. Or so it seemed.
Or when Doflamingo passes off ownership of the "human shop" to Disco after Luffy punches out a Celestial Dragon, or when Doflamingo later apparently kills Moria on orders of the World Government for not being strong enough to continue as one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea.
Spandam repeatedly kicked a down and broken Robin who was handcuffed and mentally tortured just for laughs. When she breaks his spine in half you feel as if he is getting off easy. If anything he is the poster boy of this trope.
He blamed his group of assassins that he led for everything that happened to the navy in the arc, and then those assassins are implied to be coming after him.
Admiral Akainu ordering a ship of refugees destroyed just because a scholar might be on it is unforgivably evil. However, the civilians of Ohara often acted as All of the Other Reindeer to Robin because of her Devil Fruit powers, making them considerably less sympathetic than Clover, Olivia and the rest of the scholars.
Shinji was already defeated, so it wasn't entirely justified when he was minced (off-screen) by Berserker. He did, however, just try to kill off a school's worth of people, and laughed when one of them managed to beg for help. If you've read Heaven's Feel, you know that there really isn't anything he doesn't deserve. And in Heaven's feel, it kind of bites him in the ass.
Any time Gilgamesh is shown in pain or not getting his way is satisfying, considering his haughty, stuck up, "I'm grand ruler of everything" attitude.
It's also made worse by the fact that Kayneth had just chosen to throw away his pride and give up on the Grail War to save the life of the woman he loves... the same woman who tortured him for his command spells while he was helpless and was planning to run off with his servant. His devotion to her is almost enough to make him sympathetic, and he's often considered something of a memetic woobie for it.
Makoto of School Days. He's murdered by the girl he impregnated and abandoned, and she might count, depending on your interpretation, when her killing Makoto causes his girlfriend to break completely and kill her.
Paragus qualifies as an Asshole Victim in the ending of movie 8 when his son Broly offs him when the latter attempted to escape from the planet. First off, after planting a Slave Crown on Broly's head to control his actions, he ended up using Broly to destroy far more planets than Broly was willing to destroy (and considering the fact that Broly was so Mind Raped from his near-death experiences as a baby as well as driven insane from Goku's crying to the point that he becomes Ax-Crazy enough to try blowing up planets as a kid, that's saying a lot), namely to lure Vegeta, the son of the guy who nearly had Broly and himself executed (and in a way contributing to Broly's insanity) over to be killed by a comet, and then enslaved an alien race that fell victim to Broly and Paragus's actions, and later attempts to abandon Broly to the planet (which, btw, was in the direct trajectory path of said comet).
In one of its sequels, Bio-Broly, Maloja, the shaman and village idiot, has people sacrificed once a year to appease a monster attacking them. When Goten and Trunks kill the monster he is kicked out so he attempts revenge by bringing Broly's blood to Jaguar, thus resulting in an equally powerful clone of Broly. Jaguar and his cousin Men-Men are saved from the resulting destruction, but Maloja isn't as lucky when the acidic culture fluid enters his room and he speaks his last incantation.
The genocide of the Saiyans of Planet Vegeta. In the long run, Frieza may have done the universe a favor rectifying his Gone Horribly Right use of the Saiyans.
In the anime, Van Zant, a Trigger Happylunatic, and his pal Smitty certainly qualify. They kill numerous people for no reason other than that the world is being destroyed, so they might as well, only for one of them to decide to try and kill Fat Buu because he wants to kill more people. They shoot Hercule and Bee and anger Fat Buu into creating another entity who becomes the new antagonist. The very first thing Evil Buu/Super Buu does is obliterate Van Zant with a Wave Motion Gun technique, while Smitty gets quite possibly the most brutal death in the series, which involves Super Buu shooting down his throat and causing him to swell up until he literally explodes.
Speaking of Buu, any character on Earth you can think of not specified to have died already or to be somewhere else is killed either by his Human Extinction Attack or by blowing up the earth. Goten and Trunks' first opponents in the junior division, Master Shu, Emperor Pilaf, Vodka the gangster, the Red Shark Gang, Mr. Musuka the circus man who kidnapped Chobi. Mercenary Tao Pai Pai and Captain Ginyu. Granted most of them may not have been considered "evil" enough to remain dead when Dende wishes everyone back except the evil ones.
Giran from the original series, who was murdered by Tambourine after terrorizing an animal village and stealing food. He was eventually revived by the Dragon Balls, which implied he had some redeeming qualities despite being a total jerkass.
To his credit, he did get kinder after he lost to Goku at the tournament and showed Goku respect. He even helped Nam with his village's water problem and he seems to care for his own people.
Those two misogynists on the train in episode 8 of Madoka Magica, who believe that women should be abused as a means of being kept in line. Even as she's becoming a witch, Sayaka is fighting for justice. Though whether she killed them or not is a massive Flip Flop of God.
Chaka from Black Lagoon. His death was horrible, but he was a complete and utter bastard who deserved every second.
Tarukane and Butajiri from YuYu Hakusho. Both of them are killed by Toguro; the former for no longer being useful to Sakyo or the Black Book Club, and the latter for trying to rig the tournament through bribery, which comes off as an Even Evil Has Standards moment for Sakyo. The rest of the Black Book Club also counts, as their deaths mean the Dark Tournament will never be held again.
In the Ace Attorney manga, Robin Wolfe. He essentially drove Eddie Johnson to suicide by restraining him in a chair in a room full of spiders, presumably knowing that he was arachnophobic. This was presumably because Eddie was disrespectful at work, but it may have been motivated merely because he didn't approve of Eddie dating his daughter Lira. Afterward, he laughed about it while telling his wife what he had done, and claimed that Eddie was "weak" for committing suicide. As a result, his wife and daughter hate him, and he also hates his reclusive spider fanatic brother Bobby, thinking of him as an eyesore, keeping him restrained and denying his existence while guests are visiting. As a result, Brock comes off as a Sympathetic Murderer. Lira still calls Brock out on it, though; no matter how much she may have hated Robin, he was still her father, and she still grieves for him.
The first people we see Gaara kill are a team of older genin from Amegakure whose leader is an arrogant bastard who tries his best to kill Gaara unprovoked. It's kind of satisfying seeing his Oh Crap moment. The next two victims are his teammates who were begging for mercy at the time, and immediately afterwards we see him right on the edge of killing team 8 as well, so it's immediately clear that Gaara is not a nice person.
Immediately before his fight, two Grass ninja come in and try to intimidate him into throwing the fight. They also end up dead, and their deaths sate Gaara's bloodlust for the moment, resulting in him not killing Naruto and Shikamaru.
Gaara's dad, the Fourth Kazekage, who had his wife die so he could try to harness Shukaku then shunned and tried to (unsuccessfully) kill his son Gaara. You know Orochimaru doesn't have any kindness in his heart, but it's not like you lament that he killed the Kazekage.
Michio Yuki from MW has killed off the people who were part of the cover-up of the titular chemical warfare including his boss at the bank he worked at.
Akura-Ou from Kamisama Kiss killed some robbers waylaying Nanami. It is implied he did it because she had canned peaches he liked and not to rescue her.
Derrick Arden of Kuroshitsuji's Academy arc turns out to be this, though through the whole time that he's being searched for as a missing person everyone seems to think he's the bee's knees. It's when his killers admit to the crime that they also admit to having found him beating up younger students and forcing them to do all his work for him, causing everyone to think he was extremely talented.
Zekkyou Gakkyuu often has this, making the frequent Downer Endings easier to swallow; a particularly interesting example is the story "The Girl Under The Bed." The protagonist, after learning that her friends don't like her as much as she thought they did, decides to play a cruel and frightening prank on them instead of ignoring it or finding better friends. In the end, however, the titular character (a spirit who kills people if she deems them bad enough) comes for her instead, since what she did was worse than anything the others did.
The Comedian, although that had nothing to do with the (primary) motivation behind his murder. By the end, some readers feel some sympathy for him. But he's still an asshole.
Moloch, though he hadn't been an asshole in years.
Gerald Grice. The plot needed to show Rorschach violently murdering someone, to establish the full onset of his insanity. Grice being a murderer himself makes the story a very solid Black and Grey Morality type.
As bad as Doctor Doom is, King Vladimir Vassily Gonereo Tristian Mangegi Fortunov, the former ruler of Latveria, whom Doom deposed and killed, was a far worse tyrant by most accounts. The same goes for anybody who successfully overthrows him; every time it happens and he later seizes back his power, the citizens are always glad to have him back.
The Punisher usually goes after some rather nasty people. The people he kills tend to be even worse. At least one (if not two) exception was the Punisher being unwillingly wacked out of his skull on drugs.
Most people who get beat up by The Hulk usually have it coming.
Most of Johnny's victims are this. Or are implied to be people like this. Or hung out with people like this. Or stood too close to people like this (i.e., around two kilometers). Come to think of it, Johnny doesn't really discriminate once he's gotten going, but it takes a soon-to-be Asshole Victim to trigger his homicidal rampages... Mostly. Most of the people he takes back to his Torture Cellar (who will be dead pretty soon) are prime examples however. Or at least implied to be.
Jimmy, Johnny's creepy fanboy/admirer, murders several innocent people for no reason other than being like his "hero", Johnny. But without a doubt his worst crime is raping and killing an innocent girl, just because she looks like another who dissed him in school. He's the title character with no sympathetic qualities. When the reader witnesses his brutal murder at Johnny's hands, not a single tear is shed.
Tommy Monaghan, the titular protagonist of Hitman, only takes contracts out on those he considers to be "bad" people.
In the backstory of Kingdom Come, Magog kills the Joker while he's in police custody. This is The Joker, and he was arrested because he went on a rampage in the Daily Planet offices and killed 75 people — including Lois Lane. When Superman protests, the public sides with Magog for this very reason.
Speaking of the Joker, he kills Sheila Haywood, Jason Todd's mother in A Death in the Family. She'd lost her medical license for performing back-alley abortions (one of which killed a patient) and was embezzling from her aid agency. She turned over her son to the Joker to save herself (instead of using her gun), who decided to kill both of them anyway.
In the first Deadshot miniseries, Deadshot—at the time a Boxed Crookworking for the government—went on an unsanctioned spree of torture, maiming, and murder. However, since every one of his victims was complicit in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Deadshot's young son, neither his boss nor the readers cared all that much.
Anyone the Secret Six killed in their eponymous series for the exact same reason as the Punisher example above.
As he's moved to being a more heroic and less serious character, Deadpool often ends up with these kind of targets when he's working as an assassin.
Much like for the Punisher, the people Spawn kills usually are douches, making it easier for the fans to cheer as he dismantle them gruesomely.
When X-23 kills Zander Rice, she puts away the claws and beats him for ten minutes in a truly brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Of course, Rice tortured and both physically and emotionally abused Laura all her life to that point,note Forcibly activating her Healing Factor at age seven with fatal dosages of radiation, removing her claws one at a time for coating in adamantium without anasthesia, torturing her into responding to an olfactory trigger that sends her into a berserker rage whenever she smells it and using it to force her to murder the only two people at the Facility who cared about her, intentionally leaving her behind to be killed on a mission out of spite, and placing her in the "care" of the sadistic Kimura, among other things. And he only did this because Wolverine killed his father and Laura was created using his genetic material. so it makes the scene far more satisfying to read than watching someone get pounded into an unrecognizable pulp would normally be.
Esben and the Witch has Sir Red, who tries repeatedly to get Esben's brothers executed by lying that they told him they could fetch a wonderful or magical item (a dove with feathers of gold, a boar with bristles of silver and gold, a lamp that shines brightly enough to light seven kingdoms, a coverlet that is the most beautiful in the world, and if touched, sounds loudly enough to be heard in eight kingdoms). Sir Red is Hanged in the in end, "for his wickedness... and so he got the end he deserved." The brothers are assholes, but not victims; The witch's daughters are guilty of nothing more than being her daughters, and the thirteenth one in fact helps Esben, and gets baked for her efforts.
Wicked stepmothers and stepsisters generally tend to be this, unless the heroine is kind enough to have them pardoned.
In the Babylon 5 fanfic The Dilgar War has warmaster Len'char, whose actions and political meddling make Jha'dur (whose body count of innocent is so high she's called Deathwalker) make sympathetic, especially as Jha'dur did what she did to save her people and just couldn't see a pacifistic solution while Len'char put such survival at serious risk. When Jha'dur finally crossed the Moral Event Horizon, her promise to not kill him no matter how much he begged for it is quite satisfying.
Turnabout Storm has Ace Swift, the murder victim. He was an athlete that had rumors about him saying that he reached his victories by less-than-honest methods, which turn out to be true. He blackmailed every opponent that had a chance of beating him into dropping out of the race or hand victory to him so he could keep his victory streak untouched, and was willing to go as far as threatening the families of his competition to this end.
In the end he's even more an asshole victim than anyone thought, as his attempt to kill his partner in crime is the direct cause of his (accidental) death.
Queen Of All Oni: The first human character to die in the story is Lung — since he was a Smug Snake and spent his chapter torturing Jade in an attempt to break her to his will, no one was complaining when Right chased him through his own fortress and brutally killed him mere inches from his escape boat. One reviewer applauded it and called it justice.
Nor was anyone complaining when Jade killed Kaito, or later, Ikazuki — both being Oni who loyally served Tarakudo, and who betrayed Jade and treated her like crap (respectively).
A Growing Affection: Danzo doesn't play a huge role, but when he does, he tries to subvert Tsunade or otherwise acts like a jerk. He gets framed as Gouki's mole and ends up dying saving Tsunade from the real mole.
Prison Island Break: Silver was sent to prison for killing someone who will later rape and kill a bus full of children.
In the Discworld fanfic Murder Most 'Orrible, just about every murder victim is a complete asshole. Investigator Joan Sanderson-Reeves thoroughly sympathises, having as an Assassin terminated the assholery of eighteen wastes of oxygen. But she still has to bring an unlicenced assassin in before the Watch do, so that the Guild can make her an offer....
Hivefled has Lereal and Dualscar. Both undeniably douchebags (Lereal was a fundie whackjob whose over-optimistic faith was responsible for the deaths of two hundred children and Dualscar was a slave-taking privateer who tried to get his ex murdered), but it's still pretty hard to argue that they deserved what happened to them (both effectively got raped to death).
Symbiosis has Damian and his friends. Damian was bragging that he abandoned his Charmander to die. When Ash catches him and Misty and Brock nearly gets Damian arrested, Damian planned to kill Ash to teach them a lesson. Fortunately, Pikachu decided his new move on him..
In Wheel of Fortune, one of the fanfics in the Horseshoes and Hand Grenades world, Mei Shirakawa's parents get eaten by and maimed by Renenutet for being evil parents to Mei. Ros and Guil also get similar treatment for only thinking about lining their pockets and pretending to be Mei's friends.
Captain Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum) in Home From The Hill gets a rather lethal taste of Laser-Guided Karma when, after years of womanizing, he is killed by the father of a local girl whom the father, in light of Wade's reputation, believes that Wade fathered. Turns out it was actually Wade's son Theron who knocked the girl up - so ironically Wade himself gets killed for something he didn't actually do.
The asylum attendant licks Sarah's face while she's helpless. That way we don't feel bad that her escape plan includes bashing his face in. He's even worse in the extended cut, where he and another guard also assault Sarah before forcing her medication down her throat, which makes the scene where Sarah dispatches him with extreme prejudice - while his fellow guard gets beaten up by the T-101 (Arnold's Terminator) even better.
Todd and Janelle, John Connor's foster parents, are portrayed as uncaring and unpleasant, respectively. When T-1000!Janelle speaks in a friendly manner to John on the phone, he says "She's never this nice". The T-1000 kills both of them.
All of Travis Bickle's victims in Taxi Driver. Despite being something of a psychopath, he is sympathetic compared to them.
It's not a murder-mystery, but Steve in the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) more than qualifies. When he finally gets zombified and then shot in the head you're likely to cheer. Also somewhat applies CJ, who's a bit of a jerk at first but does start to lighten up towards the end, and gets to die in a Heroic Sacrifice when he blows himself up to destroy a bunch of zombies so that everyone else can get away.
In Shaun of the Dead, David is torn apart and eaten by zombies after saying "I think we can all agree, that was the right thing to do," after Shaun had to kill his own mother. He'd also been an asshole most of the movie, and at one point, even tried to shoot Shaun.
Apparently this trope was taken into consideration when doing that scene. Originally they had him apologize for his behavior before suffering his fate, but they decided to edit that out to keep him a strict asshole in the eyes of the audience. It worked, since when his scene came up, the audience cheered.
Like most of the movie, this is probably in reference to Night of the Living Dead and in particular the dynamic between Ben and Harry; like Harry, David is right about a lot of the things that they should be doing, but that doesn't stop him from being an asshole.
Sorority Row probably has a record for the number of deliberately unsympathetic victims; out of all the people killed maybe one or two qualify for Jerk with a Heart of Gold status. The killer actually lampshades how horrible the murdered characters all were.
In Scanners II The New Order, the main character kills a pair of store-robbing thugs who already killed two clerks and were either about to do the same to his girlfriend, or kidnap her/hold her hostage.
The black comedy Drowning Mona. Bette Milder played Mona, a woman so universally despised that when she was killed, no one cared about her death (beyond wondering who had finally done the deed) and only her son and husband showed up at her funeral (and they weren't too broken up about it). This made the jobs of the investigators much more difficult, because practically EVERYONE in town had a reason for wanting to kill Mona, making everyone a suspect.
The mission director in Gattaca was ... not universally liked, making the movie an example of reason number three.
In the film Black Cloud, the main character assaults his girlfriend's former boyfriend Eddie after he insults her. Eddie got the girl pregnant and apparently made no effort to make any contact with her or his son for close to four years. Not exactly the nicest person.
Gosford Park. Though the victim as we see him is portrayed relatively sympathetically, seeming to be a fairly nice old duffer with a horrible harpy of a wife (she tears chunks out of him at dinner in front of all their friends), his past is not so clear and when he is murdered it turns out everyone had a motive. Though in fact all the people with real, personal motives are ignored as they are only the servants.
Happens in Hellraiser Hellseeker, where it's revealed Kirsty killed her sleazy husband Trevor, who had planned on murdering her for her money; Trevor's best friend, who was in on the plan; and three women Trevor actually videotaped himself cheating on Kirsty with (the women were all also in relationships).
In Se7en, John Doe thinks he's doing this, though less than half of the victims really qualify as assholes. The "sloth" victim is the only one besides John Doe himself who's established as a genuinely bad person. All the others are unpleasant at worst.
Men in Black. Just before he is killed by the Bug, Edgar is revealed to be a spousal emotional abuser (and possibly a physical abuser too).
Edgar: I go out, I work my butt off for a living, all I want is to come home to a nice clean house with a nice fat steak on the table, but instead I get this. It looks like poison. Don't you take that away, I'm eating that, damn it! It IS poison, isn't it? I swear to God I would not be surprised if it was, the way you skulk around here like a dog that's been hit too much or ain't been hit enough, I can't make up my mind. You're useless, Beatrice. The only thing that pulls its weight around here is my goddamn truck!
(Spaceship crashes into the truck; Edgar proceeds to walk out to investigate)
(Edgar walks to the crash site)
Beatrice: What the heck is it, Edgar?
(Edgar turns around quickly)
Edgar: Get your big butt back in that house!
Men In Black 2: after Serleena assumes human form in the sequel, she is attacked by a man with a knife and swallows him whole, then proceeds to spit him out and steal his clothes when she realizes that she gained an immense gut as a result of eating him.
And again in Men In Black 3. Seems to be a recurring pattern. The villains would first kill someone who honestly deserved it, then follow through with someone who DOESN'T. This villain did it faster than the others.
Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) uses this justification in True Lies. Given that he's under the influence of Truth Serum at the time, he must really believe it. And given that he fights terrorists and trigger-happy enemy agents, it sure seems like it could be true:
Helen Tasker: Have you ever killed anyone?
Harry: Yeah, but they were all bad.
Dr. David Drumlin deserved to get it in the neck for EVERYTHING he does to screw over Ellie Arroway in Contact.
This is the premise of The Boondock Saints. They kill gangsters who couldn't be touched by the police.
Eye For An Eye is about a mother who hears her daughter raped and murdered by a grocery deliverer while talking to her on the cell phone, who gets off on a technicality, and decides to kill him.
Hood of Horror the whole film revolves around making people pay for their crimes against man by grotesque brutal death and then hell.
Creepshow, being the troperiffic delight that it is, has lots of fun with this. We've got Nathan (emotionally abusive, murderous father), Bedelia (his insane, drunk-driving, parricidal daughter), Richard (psychotic, murderous Leslie Nielsen), Billie (emotionally abusive, nagging Adrienne Barbeau), and Upson Pratt (Corrupt Corporate Executive). In the final scene of the Framing Story, the boy who was reading the comic is torturing his abusive, hypocritical dad with a voodoo doll. The EC horror comics it's influenced by are just chock-full of Asshole Victims and Karmic Deaths.
Smug Snake Peter Ludlow has the bright idea to travel to the island they bred the dinosaurs on and go on a safari so they can bring them back to the mainland and proceeds to have absolutely no common sense while doing it. This little decision manages to part a significant part in ALL the deaths in the movie, including his own.
Actually, the safari was going quite well until the Designated Heroes came in to play Spanner in the Works; their actions played a far more significant part in the movie's deaths than Ludlow's did. However, Ludlow is still a Smug Snake who let desperation override common sense (bringing the T-rex to the mainland after the main characters release all of the considerably less dangerous herbivores he had intended in capturing) means he still qualifies for this trope.
To quote "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Jurassic Park": "A huge tyrannosaurus ate our lawyer/well, I suppose that proves/they're really not all bad".
Nedry, who drives the whole plot, is about as unappealing a character as he could possibly be without doing intentional murder. And Wayne Knight plays all his slovenly abrasiveness with Newman-esque glee.
Honestly, Terror Train's whole cast should count. Even the final girl.
Most of the victims in Madhouse — a proto-slasher movie set in a BBC studio — don't really deserve to die. However, it's hard to feel sorry for the actress who plays Vincent Price's assistant, or for his insane stalker, or for her completely insane parents.
Scotty, in The Evil Dead. As well as the two rednecks in Evil Dead 2.
In 2008's The Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner is harassed by some greasy co-workers because he stopped them from sexually harassing a female co-worker. When he's on the run from Blonsky and General Ross he's cornered by them and beaten up a bit. What ensues may be the most satisfying moment in a Marvel movie: he Hulks out and throws them through walls to their death.
The downright homicidal bullies in Let the Right One In, both in the original and the remake. Their ultimatum at the end was this: Owen had to hold his breath for 3 minutes, and be rewarded with a cut across the cheek. Fail, and he loses an eye. You'll be glad when Eli arrives to kill them all.
Anyone else seeing a pattern with bullies and this trope?
The death of Mrs. Carmody in The Mist is probably the only joyous moment in the entire film, being as she very nearly got the protagonist's little boy killed. Also everyone in the supermarket could possibly count, if they also eventually succumb to the mist creatures. Which you hope they do.
Harlan, from Thelma & Louise, tries to rape Thelma but is thwarted by Louise. This doesn't get him killed right away as Louise tells him to be more considerate of women "in the future." What gets him killed is his insistence at being a Jerk Ass...
Harlan: Bitch! I shoulda gone ahead and fucked her!
Louise: What did you say?
Harlan: I said suck my cock!
Followed later by the police investigation:
Policeman: Who do you think did it?
Cocktail waitress: Has anyone asked his wife? She's the one I hope did it.
In Serenity, The Operative's first kill in the movie was Dr. Mathias, the head scientist of the Academy, whose horribleexperiments were responsible for River being driven insane.
Judging by the trailer, it would seem that the upcoming parody Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil takes the slasher movie approach to this trope to it's logical extreme; the 'psycho degenerate hillbillies' are actually a pair of well-meaning but not incredibly bright guys who, through various misunderstandings, are taken to be that way by a bunch of prejudiced, elitist college kids. Very gory hilarity ensues as the kids, much to the confusion and bewilderment of the two, end up accidentally killing themselves while trying to attack the 'evil killers'.
Both used and deconstructed in the film Heathers — most of the victims are (or seem to be) Asshole Victims but then through the heroine's eyes we see how their deaths affect their loved ones, and see her realize that being an asshole isn't worth killing someone over.
In V for Vendetta, every named antagonist qualifies as this, with the sole exception of Dr. Delia Surridge. She's a remorseful Death Seeker who seems to anticipate that Death Equals Redemption. If her journals can be believed, she hated (or convinced herself to hate) the people she experimented on. V managed to form a connection with her, which brought her to confront her actions and apologize to her only living victim. It's no coincidence, then, that out of all the named antagonists, Dr. Surridge is the only one granted a quiet, painless death.
"Is it too late to apologize?"
"I'm so sorry."
The 2006 remake of The Wicker Man featured a hysterically funny unintentional example. "Oh no! NOT THE BEES!"
Played for Laughs in a scene in horror movie parody Scary Movie. One of the teenagers being stalked by the masked killer is watching a movie in a crowded theater; she's being loud and obnoxious, ruining the movie for everyone else. The masked killer is then shown to be sitting in the seat next to her... but before he gets the chance, one of the other movigoers steals his knife and stabs her. He then just sits and drinks his soda while all the other audience members continue to stab her to death. When she stumbles in front of the screen and finally falls dead, they applaud.
The Cult members in Silent Hill. Very hard to feel sorry for them after you learn they tried to kill Alessa years before by burning her alive, leaving her horribly disfigured and unable to get out of her hospital bed. Also they had just killed Cybil this way.
The female lead character in Catherine Breillat's Romance blows up her boyfriend in a rigged gas explosion at the end. The murder is about the only happy event in the film...
The murder victim in the movie Bully, which is based on a real homicide of a teen who bullied and abused his best friend, his best friend's girlfriend and all of his associates.
Budd, during a moment of contemplation states that all the members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are this.
"That woman deserves her revenge, and we deserve to die. Then again, so does she."
A somewhat failed example of this trope happened in the Vault Of Horror movie. A woman was driven to killing her husband by his OCD need to keep the house neat. However, the actor never really went over the top, and came across more as lecturing than yelling and screaming, to the point where you felt more like they needed to sit down and have a long talk, rather than him deserving to die.
None of the humans in Predators are particularly nice, but Stans, a condemned murderer, takes the cake for being the most unsympathetic. Even so, he gets a pretty badass sendoff.
Dale, Nick, and Mark in AVPR aren't very nice either. Dale, as the leader of the trio, gets the most vicious of the three, the alien's blood burning his face.
Every single character in the horror movie Marcus (2006) except Brooke(who's not an asshole) and Marcus(who's not a victim).
In Dogma, Loki visits a boardroom of Corrupt Corporate Executives, lists their individual sins (idolatry, adultery, statutory rape, intolerance, etc.), then kills them.
He did spare the only one who didn't have any sins. Although she did forget to say GOD BLESS YOU!!
This was the reason that nobody found any sympathy for the documentary crew in Cannibal Holocaust. One of their crimes involved burning down a village for no reason other than to shoot a scene. One critic actually noted "The film crew more than deserved their deaths."
The first victim of Bubba Ho Tep is an old woman who steals another nursing home resident's packages from home and swipes the glasses off a woman in an iron lung... while said woman is awake. On the commentary, Don Coscarelli discusses this trope.
Everyone who is killed in The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane. Except Gordon.
A recent updated version of the Oliver Twist story called Twist featured the character of Dodger finally snapping, and shooting Bill. By that point in the movie, Bill had either seriously injured or murdered about three-quarters of the cast. In short, he really had it coming.
In Bride of Chucky, the fourth Childs Play film, most of Chucky and Tiffany's victims fit this trope. Needle Nose Norton gets paid extra money to follow Jesse and Jade (since Jade's uncle, Warren Kincaid, who is chief of police, hates Jesse and wants to keep him and Jade apart) under the pretense of suspecting them of drunk driving. Warren plants marijuana in Jesse's van to frame him for drug possession. And the couple who rob Jesse and Jade are killed by Tiffany with mirror shards.
One might apply this Trope to Freddy Krueger himself, seeing as he was a child murderer who was killed by a lynch mob. That only made it worse.
Tremors 3 has Agent Frank Statler, Agent Charlie Rusk, and Dr. Andrew Merliss, who prevent the citizens of Perfection from hunting the Graboids so that one can be captured alive for study. They're also willing to seize the property in the valley and kick out the townsfolk under "Imminent Domain" to set up a preserve. None of the three survive the film.
Lockjaw's protagonists may have stepped over the boundary. The incident that triggers the plot is them running over someone. The major difference between these teens and the teens from I Know What You Did Last Summer? They never noticed they hit anyone and when pointed out that they did, they believe they hit an animal and moved on.
Invoked in Shoot 'em Up, in which the hero deliberately singles out which car to steal because he'd seen its able-bodied driver park in a handicapped spot. No, he doesn't kill the guy, but he explicitly calls him a prick, establishing a similar justification for targeting his vehicle.
In Psycho Beach Party Rhonda spends her days being incredibly rude and insulting everybody so watching her die was rather satisfying.
Mitchell Laurio in X2. He's a thug who's shown to enjoy beating up an old man stripped of any powers that would allow him to fight back, so no one minds too much when Mystique sets him up for a death allowing Magneto to escape.
In X-Men: First Class there's Sebastian Shaw when he's killed by Magneto near the end. Considering in his first scene alone we saw him killing Magneto's mother right in front of his eyes, it's highly doubtful anybody in the audience really feels any sympathy for him.
We do feel sorry for Charles, who was telepathically with Shaw and felt all the pain of his death.
Harry Prebblie in The Blue Gardenia tries to rape Norah, and is promptly killed just not by her.
Most of the characters in Alien³ are convicted murderers and rapists. Some even try to rape Ripley at one point, and Golic is straight-up Ax-Crazy. It therefore becomes hard to root for a lot of them when the Alien kills them.
Dr. Mason Wren in Alien: Resurrection. He cloned Ripley in the first place and brought the Aliens back, he tries to kill Call, and leaves the others for dead so he can hijack their ship and still deliver the Aliens to Earth. His death is particularely karmic.
Dr. Gediman (also in Resurrection), due to his creepy obsession with the Xenomorphs and his life-threatening idiocy.
Very deliberately invoked in the 2008 nature horror film, Grizzly Park. The 8 characters forced into community service in Grizzly Park as rehabilitation for their misdemeanors are deliberately set up to be as obnoxious, apathetic and unsympathetic as possible, each appearing to get a Karmic Death from the bear trying to kill them. In the end it's revealed the bear belonged to the park ranger who trained it to kill any members of the group. The ranger lets the last survivor live, believing she has made a Heel Realization and learned from her previous mistakes. Nope, he later overhears her (unaware that the ranger was part of the plot) calling her friend telling her she had manipulated him and planned to kill him later - prompting her to be mauled by the bear towards the end of the movie.
Discussed in Kill List. Jay is very insistent that all the people on the titular list are bad people that deserve their deaths. But while we see ample evidence of this for the librarian, we have to take his word for it on the others, raising the possibility that it's just him trying to rationalise the killings.
The Silence of the Lambs. Dr. Chilton, who was in charge of the facility where Hannibal Lecter was originally imprisoned. He sleazily hits on Clarice Starling and doesn't take it well when she declines him. Hannibal says that Chilton has harassed in the past and we have no reason to disbelieve him. He reveals the FBI's attempt to trick Hannibal into cooperating - not because he's offended by their dishonesty, but because he wants to cut his own deal and get publicity. At the end of the movie Lecter is seen trailing Chilton and it's made clear that he's going to kill him and eat him ("I'm having an old friend for dinner.").
In addition to being an Asshole Victim himself, Tony's killed several of these guys in his day, such as Emilio Rebenga, an ex-Castro official who tortured a few guys to death while he was working for Fidel; and Mel Bernstein, the corrupt narcotics cop that tries to shake him down and kill him on behalf of Frank Lopez.
Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs. A Psycho for Hire who kills the clerks in the diamond store, tortures Marvin Nash and attempts to set him on fire. Apparently, the audience didn't feel any sympathy for him when he gets killed by Mr. Orange, who is the real undercover cop.
And at the end of the movie, Joe Cabot and his son, Nice Guy Eddie, get killed by Mr. White in a Mexican Standoff. Then afterwards, Mr. White himself gets killed by the police after killing Mr. Orange when he finds out that the latter is a cop.
Miles Kennefik, who was killed by Frank Costello, according to Captain George Ellerby from The Departed. He said that they are not going to solve the case of the "missing scumbag".
Horrible Bosses has this as the reason the three protagonists are attempting to murder their respective employers. Two of the bosses are dealt with in other ways and survive thus being subversions, but Colin Farrel's character does get killed (albeit not in the way the trio were considering killing him), which makes him an example of this trope.
In Pink Flamingos, Connie and Raymond Marble definitely fit the bill. Granted, Divineis extremely evil herself, but considering that Connie and Raymond were running a black-market baby ring, and then using the money earned to sell drugs to school children, it's hard to feel sorry for them when they eventually suffer a very humiliating death by Divine's hand.
Kirby in Bait 3 D. He's the robber responsible for killing the women at the start, and tries to use another of the survivors as bait. Doyle attacks Kirby in turn and uses him as bait instead.
Nute Gunray and the other Separatists in Revenge of the Sith, who are all killed by Anakin Skywalker, who thereby regains a little sympathy after having lost it in his raid on the Jedi temple.
The CIA agent from the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, whose plane is crashed by Bane... "with no survivors!"
A non-lethal example in Man of Steel. After a bully sexually harasses a waitress in a bar and (tries to) gets violent when asked politely to leave, Clark takes out his truck. The damage is scary, but it's hard to feel sorry for the guy.
Hannibal Chau in Pacific Rim has one of the other characters sent to a public shelter in the hopes that he'll get eaten by a kaiju. Later he gets eaten alive by a baby kaiju. Subverted in that he survives and cuts his way out in The Stinger.
Carlyle and Delacourt in Elysium. The former was picked by Max for exactly that reason.
Victor Kershaw in Pain and Gain, which is part of the reason why cops don't believe his story at first (he was so unpleasant that not one person reported him missing). Ed even says that he is a "very difficult victim to like".
Subverted, with the later victims who are certainly sleazy, but are nowhere near the jerk levels Kershaw is.
It also subverted in that as the movie proceeds, Kershaw ends upfar more sympathetic than Lugo.
Toyed with in Isaac Asimov's The Naked Sun, where the murder victim qualifies under reasons two and three. . . because he was the perfect embodiment of the planet's social code ("a good Solarian"); that is, an antisocial asshole. As the detective brought in from Earth just to solve the case has to explain to his audience at the Summation Gathering, everyone had a motive to murder the man who reminded them all of their imperfections.
Another story by Asimov features a famous researcher who dies in a lab explosion. Foul play is suspected. The problem is, it turns out this "researcher" never did anything except steal the ideas and results of others, so not only did everyone have a motive, everyone was openly discussing the best way to kill him.
An interesting variant occurs in a 1980s science fiction short story "Press Enter" about a hacker who'd been secretly running the world from his computer; although nobody that knew him had any reason to hate him enough to kill him while he was still alive, his posthumous release of all the embarrassing information he'd gathered on the people around him over the years had one police officer remarking that all the townspeople sure wished they could kill him now.
Scottish police detective Hamish Macbeth, in the mystery novels by M.C. Beaton, often finds himself investigating crimes in which the victim is someone who many people were glad to see go away. It's even right there in the titles — Death of a Snob, Death of an Outsider, Death of a Poison Pen, etc.
Ratchett in Murder on the Orient Express is worth mentioning in particular, being doubly an Asshole Victim. He's portrayed as a total jackass from the minute he steps on board, so we don't feel too guilty when he's splattered across a Pullman carriage for our entertainment. As we learn more about him after the murder, it becomes even clearer just how deserving he was of his fate. Poirot eventually lets his murderers go.
A nice twist on the "everyone had a motive" reason for an asshole villain, given that it turns out that everyone did it.
And Then There Were None has ten Asshole Victims who each committed a crime, though some of them are portrayed with a degree of sympathy. The murders were committed in order of "guilt", from least to most.
Anthony Marston, the first to die, was a reckless driver who ran over a couple of children, and was only upset about the incident because it resulted in the loss of his driver's license. He was completely self-centered, and showed no remorse or sympathy for his victims. The killer felt that the reckless driver was simply born sociopathic and self-absorbed, and couldn't help not feeling guilty.
Many of the other characters, on the other hand, do indeed regret their misdeeds. Interestingly, some of the later killings use the exact opposite logic. For example, the surgeon was drunk, so the deaths he caused under the influence weren't intentional or premeditated, and thus considered not as worthy of retribution as say, the nanny who let the child in her charge drown so that her lover would receive the lion's share of an inheritance.
Mrs. Boynton in Appointment with Death. After she spends the first part of the book psychologically torturing her family, one could be forgiven for cheering when a public-spirited individual does away with the old crone. Except that the actual killer was more private-spirited in their reasons—they were afraid Boynton would expose their criminal past.
Mr. Shaitana in Cards On the Table, who has a collection of successful murderers — the ones he knows got away with it — and invites them to a party calculated to make them squirm. Christie plays with this one, as Poirot immediately points out that this is not a safe hobby. Much of the book is spent trying to find out what murders the suspects previously committed.
As a further sign of Shaitana's arrogance, very late in the book, it is revealed that one of the so-called "murderers" was actually innocent of his original crime, and thus did not deserve to be put through Shaitana's mind game in the first place.
Simeon Lee in Hercule Poirot's Christmas is an selfish old millionaire, who plays sadistic mind games with his family. Here, however, the murder was actually personal revenge.
The sadistic Lord Edgware in Lord Edgware Dies. However, as in Appointment with Death, the murder was committed for selfish motives.
Colonel Protheroe of The Murder at the Vicarage is the most despised man in the village; even the local vicar says that killing him would be a service to the community. However, yet again, the murder turns out to have been committed for purely selfish motives.
Subversion in Five Little Pigs: several characters sided with Caroline Crale when she was convicted of murdering her husband Amyas, a painter having an affair with his model. However, Poirot realises that Amyas was never going to leave Caroline and only kept Elsa around to finish the painting. Elsa killed him and framed Caroline when she learned that he had always intended to stay with his wife.
Joyce Reynolds in Halloween Party manages to be a prepubescent version of this trope, being regarded by most of the adults and children around her as a lying Attention Whore and not incredibly well liked as a result. The fact that she's still a child means that it is not okay when someone bumps her off. Her brother Leopold is also one of these.
Some of the deceased in Death Comes as the End fall into this category, especially Nofret and Ipy.
Some readers might find the victim, Linnet, from Death on the Nile to be one of these. In the beginning of the book, she seems like quite a nice person until we find out that she's having a village knocked down and the people moved because they're blocking her view (though she is having new houses built for them at least). Then we find out that she stole her best friend's fiancee. She doesn't look quite so good after that.
Though somewhat subverted when we learn that the best friend and the fiance were both in on it. The movie, however, plays it straighter by giving almost other passenger a motive, even if Linnet hasn't brought all of them on herself.
Masterfully averted in Towards Zero, where the victim is a rather strict and old-fashioned, but very good-natured and kind old lady, liked all around. Her killing is very much intended as a Moral Event Horizon, though Christie was kind enough to make her terminally ill and actually wanting to die to alleviate reader's guilt. Bonus points for the police discussing the trope and aversion.
Interestingly subverted in Evil Under the Sun. While the victim is disruptive in the community and has personality issues, the worst of her actions are being carefully staged by the killer and his accomplice. Poirot has already realised that her addiction to sex/romance/drama makes her vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation, not liable to perform it on others - she's not intelligent enough.
The most evil being Charles Augustus Milverton, who got rich by blackmailing people (only to ruin them anyway, for the fun of it). Holmes let the murderer go, having previously expressed extreme hatred for Milverton.
Holmes: My sympathies in this case are with the criminal, not the victim.
The title character in "Black Peter" is a good example. When he's skeweredwith one of his own harpoons, nearly every one of his neighbors is glad. His own daughter explicitly tells Holmes and Watson that she's happy dear ol' dad is dead and she blesses the hand that struck him down.
Sir Eustace Brackenstall, the victim in "The Adventure of Abbey Grange." Brackenstall was a violent drunkard who did everything from repeatedly stab his wife Lady Brackenstall with a hatpin to douse her dog in oil and light it on fire. He eventually had his skull caved in by a sailor who'd fallen in love with Lady Brackenstall before she married her husband and had come to defend her from her husband's abuse. Holmes tracks down the sailor, and once he learns what really happened lets the sailor go.
The two victims in "A Study in Scarlet" (1887) definitely qualify, being murderers themselves as well as rapists, misogynists, hedonists, and religious extremists who, in turn, abandoned said religion (Mormonism) the second it became inconvenient for them. In this case the reader is definitely expected to side with the murderer.
Although the murderer in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" was by no means a particularly upstanding gentleman, this trope applies to the victim McCarthy, who was a blackmailer and a Manipulative Bastard who treated his own son like a pawn.
In "The Illustrious Client", a woman named Kitty Winter threw vitriol (concentrated sulphuric acid) on Adelbert Gruner (who could be charitably described as a serial murder and rapist). The court gave her the lowest possible sentence.
About half the victims in Ben Elton's Past Mortem were unpleasant school bullies as children, and many of them retained their assholery later in life. Then there were the ones who were bullies to a degree but didn't deserve anywhere near what happened to them.
The biggest asshole in To Kill a Mockingbird is Bob Ewell. After an innocent black man is killed escaping from prison after being framed for the rape of Ewell's daughter and despite his victory over the black man's defense attorney Atticus Finch, Ewell swears revenge on Finch for exposing what a scumbag he was at the trial. At the end, he tries to murder Atticus' two children, only to get killed himself in the ensuing struggle by the reclusive Boo Radley. Even though it is obvious he died at Boo's hands, the sheriff argues with Atticus about the prudence and morals of letting this be publically known; ironically, he's certain nearly everyone's sympathies would be with Boo, but thinks it would be cruel to go breaking his solitude by holding him up to everyone's praise and gratitude when Boo Radley really does just want to be left alone. Atticus eventually accepts the sheriff's story that Ewell killed himself by falling on his own knife.
The extent of Ewell's assholishness is lampshaded in the novel, where it's noted that not only does he hold a grudge against everyone involved in the case, he was too much of a Dirty Coward to face those people directly. Besides Atticus, he tries to break into the home of the judge, in the middle of the night, and stalks the black man's widow as she goes to work, until her boss threatens to have him arrested for it.
Frank Bennett, wife beater and rapist, disappears in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and no one really cares, not even the officer who investigates the cases and later becomes the judge who hears the case against Idgie and Big George.
Death by Water is made of this trope - nearly all of the victims of the jewel thefts aboard the S.S. Hinemoa have left victims in their wake (excepting the first woman), generally in financial trouble: the singer abandoned her young daughter to grow up in a slum, the vindictive Mr. West sacked a young man for hanging around Mrs. West, and so on.
Mr. Singer kills Jack Mason's man, Thomas. We find out later that Thomas was on the Titanic as a steward- and many of the stewards blocked the passages on the ship so the First Class passengers could escape, while condemning everyone else to die.
Flying Too High: The elder Mr. McNaughton sexually abused his wife and daughter.
Murder in Montparnasse: Hector Chambers is the target of a ransom demand for his missing daughter - he's bad-tempered and sexist, and pulls a gun on Miss Fisher several times when she figures out something without being told (he assumes she's in on it).
Rene abused every woman he was with, killed two innocent men and generally defined 'bastard'.
Dead Man's Chest: Bridget, a housemaid, kills Mrs. McNaster, her employer's mother-in-law- who works her companion to the bone and abuses her as much as she can. No one's upset.
Murder on the Ballarat Train: Mrs. Henderson was a terrible nag who constantly belittled her daughter. The murderer never expected the daughter to grieve for her mother, or to hire a private investigator to solve the murder.
Nearly everyone in Stephen King's Carrie save Sue Snell (who survives). The famous scene where Carrie kills everyone at the prom is supposed to be deliberately horrifying in the book and film, but the effect is nullified somewhat when you are cheering her on.
Carrie's date started out this way, but by the time the prom rolled around, he had actually grown to like her. Pity she never found that out...
King's Sherlock Holmes pastiche, "The Doctor's Case" (in Nightmares & Dreamscapes), features such a victim, physically abusive to his wife and psychologically abusive to her and their three sons (all adults). Just to cap it off, the victim plans to leave his wife and sons penniless when he dies (death of natural causes is mere months away and he knows it) by leaving his fortune to a cat shelter. Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade collectively agree the deceased had it coming and drop the investigation.
Several of Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael mysteries start with the murder of someone we hate, and end with the heroes having to catch the killer before it's too late for someone we like.
In The Leper of St. Giles, a brutish and cruel nobleman is killed the day before he was to marry a much younger and not-entirely-willing lady. Curiously, but in typically compassionate Ellis Peters form, the mystery is solved with the help of someone who was the victim's friend and who saw him as a good man.
In Dead Man's Ransom, Gilbert Prestcote is severely wounded in battle and then murdered in his bed while recovering. In previous books he was set up as a hardline sheriff who was often too quick to judge, resulting in many races against time for Cadfael and Hugh Beringar to save an innocent person from punishment or keep a criminal from getting away.
While he judged quickly, he wasn't cruel and would always recant if shown evidence he was wrong. He wasn't a Jerkass, just not as good a detective as Cadfael or Hugh.
In The Raven in the Foregate, Father Ailnoth's death is mourned by nobody, after the residents and reader spend a few chapters being appalled by his cruelty. In the end it turns out that his death was not murder, but an accident which the sole witness considered to be divine judgment.
Drogo Bosiet in The Hermit of Eyton Forest is a huge brutish man chasing down an escaped villein and beating his groom on the journey. He winds up dead.
Then Renaud Bourchier, alias Cuthred, a fucking traitor to his liege who killed Drogo for knowing too much. Noone sheds any tears over him when a more loyal knight bumps him off.
In Kate Ross' second Julian Kestrel mystery, Whom the Gods Love, the victim is gradually revealed to have been this.
Principal Chapman from Animorphs is a weird example - in the main series he's a Papa Wolf who's made the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter and is regularly used as a Butt Monkey in later books. There's no indication in the main plot Chapman has any kind of karmic comeuppance coming. But in the Chronicles prequel books Chapman appears as a dangerous quisling who tries to offer the Yeerks Earth in exchange for his safety. This portrayal of Chapman is a stark contrast to all his other appearances, with the dissonance being so stark some fans have gone so far as to posit that the Chapman of the Chronicles books is a different character with the same name.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire starts with the local Muggles' viewpoint of the murder of the Riddle family, for whom no one wastes any breath feeling sorry. That said, they didn't sympathize with the man suspected of the murder either, even though he was never charged.
Played with in the case of Barty Crouch. He's introduced as a stuffy man who sacked his House Elf while ignoring her sobbing pleas and tossed his neglected son into Azkaban. He becomes less of an asshole when we realize that he had good damned reason to have his son locked up and the last time we see Crouch alive, he's insane, terrified, and trying his hardest to warn Dumbledore about the planned return of Voldemort.
He was also more sympathetic in the movie adaptation where we see his son as a depraved, all-grown-up lunatic before he locked him up rather than a scared, innocent young boy.
In Deathly Hallows, after Peter Pettigrew momentarily hesitated in his attempt to kill Harry, he was strangled to death by the artificial silver hand Voldemort had given him. No one in the fandom wept.
The entire series is devoted to building up how evil Voldemort is, to the point where it is immensely satisfying when he finally dies.
Loxias was such a monster that everyone—including his own mother—confessed to killing him. His murder was never solved.
The victim in the first Lord Darcy story is a drunken lech who is killed by his own sister as he attempts to rape her.
Roughly half the victims in Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey novels qualify. Most of the others are old and ill enough to have had a life expectancy measured in at most months even before they were murdered.
Sir Reuben, the victim of the first book, Whose Body? seems to be a subversion. Generally, if a businessman is killed in a Golden Age mystery novel, he is a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and if the character is Jewish, as Sir Reuben is, this is certainly going to be true. While Sayers goes with the conventional wisdom/racism by having him be a fairly ruthless businessman, against type, he is beloved by his family and liked or at least respected by his servants and business associates.
Strong Poison: Phillip Boyes. In the immortal words of Lord Peter, "If only that young man were alive today, how dearly I should like to kick his bottom for him."
Yeah. Boyes got a woman to live with him out of wedlock by claiming to be above marriage, then proposed to her, and was an emotionally abusive jerk to her during their entire relationship. Anyone would want to kick his ass. That she was Peter's true love was only icing on the cake.
The Five Red Herrings had Sandy Campbell, a foul-tempered alcoholic who seriously hurt someone at the golf course, threatened people's lives, and physically attacked his neighbor.
If anything, Geoffrey Deacon in The Nine Tailors is BEYOND an Asshole Victim, so foul and evil that he is by most readings the real villain of the book. Made even more unusual for a mystery novel by the fact that Lord Peter and seven local residents killed him by accident.
Rex Stout worked with this a lot in the Nero Wolfe mysteries; victims are usually at least fairly unpleasant people.
Death of a Dude (1969): The victim had seduced a local girl, fathered a child out of wedlock, and wouldn't take any responsibility for the baby's welfare; her father, an old friend of Archie's, was arrested for murder just before the opening of the story.
A Family Affair (1975): The first victim is attempting blackmail.
In the Best Families (1950): The final victim is a major organized crime figure.
The short story "Murder is Corny" (1961): The victim was a stalker and a blackmailer.
The novella "Black Orchids" (1941): The victim was blackmailing one character and trying the Scarpia Ultimatum on another.
The short story "Death of a Demon" takes this to a whole new level; not only is the titular victim a blackmailer, but he's also a sadist.
In the short story "Die Like a Dog" the victim was and had the bad sense to go and taunt his victim's estranged husband about this.
Too Many Cooks opens, before the victim has even died, with a man ranting not only about how much he wants to kill the soon-to-be victim Philip Laszio, but also how every other person we are about to meet in the book has a motive to kill Laszio too. You almost expect Everybody Did It in this one.
Patricia Wentworth played with this in her Maud Silver books.
Latter End (1947): Lois Latter (The Vamp) had married now-Henpecked Husband James Latter for his money, and exploited all the other women in the household, in some cases just for spite. She actually died because one of the other women suspected her of tampering with James' drink, and switched the cups.
Spotlight (1947), also known as Wicked Uncle: The victim was a blackmailer; the U.S. title is due to his being the uncle of the female protagonist, who'd made his wife, her guardian, miserable throughout their marriage.
Miss Silver Comes to Stay (1949): James Lessiter, upon finally claiming his mother's estate, begins settling all his debts (somewhat subverted in that at least two of the people with financial motives to kill him had been robbing the estate and aren't particularly sympathetic characters).
The Gazebo (1956): The victim was My Beloved Smother; her daughter's fiance was suspected of having finally snapped.
This is the reason why R.L. Stine's The Snowman doesn't work: the readers are supposed to dislike him because he's a cold blooded killer, but his victim is a physically and emotionally abusive jerk. The victim in question has beaten his wife and niece, emotionally berated his wife so much as to break her spirit, he's stealing money from his niece's inheritance while barely leaving the rest of his family enough money to eat, and he has zero redeeming qualities. Snowman's actions after the murder indicate a lot of insanity on his part, but readers agree he was pretty justified in killing who he killed. Given how confused he was afterward about why the victim's family wouldn't be happy, and how he seems to think he's done the right thing, readers actually ended up liking him rather than being horrified by him.
While the uncle was unsympathetic, Snowman tricked the niece into giving him money. He told her something along the lines of his father being in the hospital undergoing an expensive operation and that he needs all the money he can get. She did not find out until much later that he lives alone and apparently has no parents (Gosh, did he murder them?). Then, when he reveals that he killed her uncle, and she displayed horror, he said that he still had the money she gave him and that if she went to the police, he would just tell them that she paid him to kill her uncle. This may dilute your sympathy for Snowman.
In the book Hannibal by Thomas Harris, several of his victims are completely unsympathetic and deserve their eventual fate. The rich guy who is funding a private effort to capture and kill him is a child molester, even raped his own sister. The cop who found him tried to sell him to the rich guy for millions of dollars instead of telling the FBI. The doctor who toyed with him and discredited Clarice Starling when he was in prison was a blowhard and a jerk, and Paul Krendler (the guy who got his brain eaten) was a Dept of Justice director who derailed Starling's career for not sleeping with him and colludes with the rich guy to capture Lecter. Each eventually died gruesomely.
Lampshaded by Lecter's prison caretaker, who explains that Lecter preferentially kills rude people, sparing those who demonstrate graciousness.
After Dr. Lecter became a lucrative commodity thanks to the film adaptations, the creators suddenly made Lecter exclusively a Jerkass killer: in Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs almost none of Lecter's victims is an explicit asshole; only after Hannibal they were ALL retconned to be this trope.
Most of the murder victims we actually get any introduction to in Burning Water, by Mercedes Lackey.
The gang of school bullies who make the fatal mistake of trying their usual shenanigans on Lavan, later known as "Lavan Firestorm" for very good reasons in Brightly Burning.
Usually not seen in Discworld, where posthumous dialogue between victims and Death tends to paint all but the worst villains in a sympathetic light. Used straight with Homicidal Lord Winder from Night Watch, though: a paranoid former Patrician so universally despised that, when an undisguised assassin walked up to him in the midst of a grand ball, the majority of guests either allowed it to happen, or actively distracted Winder's few supporters. Partially averted, because the target's paranoia was so great that the assassin (a young Vetinari) didn't actually have to strike him down; rather, the stress of the confrontation caused the deranged Lord Winder to suffer a fatal heart attack.
Knowing Vetinari, that may well have been the intended method of assassination.
Robert A. Heinlein's Friday. Lieutenant Dickey is described as someone who had repeatedly tried to sleep with Janet despite being repeatedly told no, as "slimy", and as having "a size-twelve ego in a size-four soul". About a minute later, the title character kills him as he's trying to arrest one of her friends at gunpoint.
The In Death series by J.D. Robb does this at least once with the author's usual subtlety (zero). A victim that starts out as a nasty, small-minded prima donna just gets worse with every single thing we find out. The victim would likely have been facing a life sentence if found out by the law before the murderer, and that's mainly because the relevant jurisdiction wouldn't have the death penalty available. It's a good book to read for anyone wondering why a court system might employ justifiable homicide as a separate claim from self-defense. (Though there was a halfway decent "defense of another" argument as well.)
Another book in the same series threw this type of victim into a killing spree of otherwise sympathetic victims. One of the cops seemed to be really trying to feel bad, and failing.
There are a lot of these. Eve starts out essentially forcing herself to sympathize with them and feel for them. Witness in Death has her openly admit that she couldn't feel sorry for the victim, nor truly condemn his murderer. Her previous attitude is lighter to absent later on, when confronted with such victims.
Roger Malcolm in Fire in a Canebrake. The true story of a lynching. Blame the writer, as the book attempts to present Malcolm's lynching as the tragedy it actually was, while painting Malcolm as a monster.
In Holes, Kissin' Kate Barlow's first victim was the corrupt sheriff, who allowed the burning of her school and the murder of Sam. He brutally refused to help Kate when she begged for help, even trying to blackmail a kiss from Kate to save Sam from being hanged but admit that he would still drive Sam away from town afterwards.
Granted, the implication was that his behavior was caused by him being drunk, but it still at the very least really irresponsible of a guy to get drunk on a night when the town's gone insane and undoubtedly needs law enforcement.
Really, Simon's entire career consists of liberating a succession of asshole victims from (always) their money and (periodically) their lives.
In the short story "Invitation to a Poisoning", Nechtan confesses to adultery, theft, perjury, election fraud, armed robbery and attempted rape to the respective victims of the crimes and then promptly drops dead of cyanide poisoning. Having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, he committed suicide in a manner calculated to involve his enemies in an inconvenient murder investigation.
Jack Ritchie's short story "For All the Rude People". The protagonist gets fed up with deliberate rudeness and emotional cruelty in society and starts murdering anyone who's rude in his presence.
Offscreen in the Darkest Powers trilogy, Derek Souza broke a kid's back merely by throwing him at a wall, rendering him paraplegic. Later on, it turns out that Derek had only thrown the kid because he and two others were threatening his younger brother Simon Bae with knives, and Derek's werewolf instincts cause his protective streak to go into overdrive. Later, he goes on to kill another werewolf who was about to rape and kill Chloe, the girl he's in love with, though he regrets it bitterly afterwards. As it turns out, all of the people Derek physically hurts (on purpose, anyway) have done something or another to justify the beatdown.
In Lonely Werewolf Girl part of Kalix's Back Story is she killed her father, when readers briefly meet him in a trip to the afterlife it's pretty clear he got off easy with just death.
Atlas Shrugged has a train's worth of people brutally killed in an accident based on poor management choices, but not before the author makes sure to tell us all about what terrible people they all were.
The Black Fleet Crisis trilogy in the Star Wars Expanded Universe presents us with not one but two Asshole Victims who take turns victimizing each other. The Empire violently oppressed the Yevetha, a bloodthirsty Always Chaotic Evil race of aliens who believe all other species are disgustingly inferior. The Yevetha violently rebelled against them, seized the Empire's ships in a bloody coup, and enslaved the surviving Imperial soldiers. The Imperial slaves later violently rose up against their Yevethan masters and stole the ships back, robbing the Yevetha of the core of their fleet and ensuring the New Republic's victory against the Yevetha. Later the brutal Yevethan dictator, Nil Spaar, is stuffed in an escape pod by the Imperials and dumped into hyperspace.
The New Jedi Order series follows this up by dropping a bridge on the Yevetha offscreen at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong. The Yevetha were rearming and preparing to restart the war, so their prospective victims asked the extragalactic invaders to protect them in exchange for their surrender without a fight. The Yuuzhan Vong smashed the Yevetha fleet and glassed their homeworld.
You are meant to cheer for Tonya's father in A Time to Kill when he kills her rapists. By the end of the trial almost everyone in the town is happy that he gets acquitted. Well, everyone but the Ku Klux Klan.
It isn't certain that the KKK is an exception. An early scene in the book has the victims' families asking the KKK for help, and the KKK members are thinking, "We shouldn't let a black man get away with killing white people, but frankly these guys had it coming."
In the sequel Moon Over Soho the woman, who is now known as "The Pale Lady" racks up another three victims. All of whom were sexual deviants of one kind or another (including a corrupt ex-police officer with a taste for realCatgirls).
Robert Bloch's short story "Sweets to the Sweet" features an abusive father who regularly beats his daughter, blames her for her mother's Death by Childbirth, and calls her a witch. His brother isn't much better, making excuses for his behavior and not caring about the girl's suffering. So the girl studies witchcraft and makes a Voodoo Doll, then when the brother catches on and is about to take it away, lies "Why, it's only candy!" and bites off its head.
Ali, (actually Courtney) in Pretty Little Liars is pretty conniving and bitchy to her friends, and ends up going missing and being found dead in her backyard. On the other hand, a reader may be able to find a little more sympathy as she was only 14 at the time of her death.
A number of the Dark Spirit's victims in A Snowball in Hell are just terrible people, such as Darren "The Daddy" McDade who is very racist and ideologically bankrupt, and a group of land mine manufacturing execs who are... well, land mine manufacturing execs. That doesn't mean that any of them deserve their ultimate fates.
CC de Poitiers, the victim in Louise Penny's second Three Pines mystery A Fatal Grace, is self-obsessed, emotionally and verbally abusive to her husband and daughter, and universally loathed (even by the man she's having an affair with). Possible motives are not hard to come by.
The first to victims of arson in the second book of the Knight and Rogue Series are a brothel and the home of the resident Hanging Judge, who manages to be far less sympathetic than the brothel by showing more concern for his clothes than any of his clients' legal papers, and by promptly accusing Michael of the fire, demanding he be hung on the spot no less.
When Fisk and Michael meet, Fisk is on trial for conning a whole slew of asshole victims.
Subverted in the first book. While Michael and Fisk spend a good amount of time speculating about how the victim may have had it coming, it turns out he was neither an asshole, nor was he murdered.
Stella Rodes, the seemingly angelic victim in John le Carré's second novel, A Murder of Quality. It turns out that she runs the gamut from taunting people to outright blackmailing them (which is what finally gets her killed).
In Septimus Heap, no one feels particularly sad when Jillie Djinn dies. She was very nasty to Beetle and largely to blame for Merrin's actions through her employing of him in the Manuscriptorium.
Tyrion Lannister killing his father Tywin at the end of A Storm of Swords. He kinda had it coming. Also Joffrey.
Any Frey who winds up dead in the story, especially after theRedWedding.
Used in several Cthulhu Mythos stories, mostly authors other than Lovecraft. The victim in question tends to be selfish jerks, and some are psychopaths. However, since their fates tend to be really, really nasty, the reader may feel bad for with them.
The "Insects from Shaggai" also qualify as their homeworld was destroyed by another abomination. But considering how evil and debased they were, the species deserved their fate.
Endgame has Zorro, who bullies the protagonist mercilessly for months, and pays the price when he snaps and shoots up his high school.
In the ''IKS Gorkon'' novels from the current Star Trek Novel Verse, there's the Elabrej. The Klingons are in Elabrej space on a mission of general conquest; Klingon Captain Klag and his crew are nonetheless the protagonists of the series. The Elabrej government is oppressive and they're close to societal collapse anyway, with their general Crapsack World status making it easier to get behind the Klingon attempts to stomp all over them.
In the Halo novel Halo: The Cole Protocol Bonifacio was a member of the security council of the space station Rubble, he later betrayed Rubble by selling the coordinates of Earth to the Jackals, who'll give it to the Covenant. When Rubble gets attacked by the Covenant he escapes in an escape pod and tries to call a Covenant ship for help, but he doesn't know about the Covenants policy of "Kill All Humans" and was vaporized by the vessel.
In the Across the Universe series, there's Luther. In the first book, he tries to rape Amy, while pretending that he's doing it under the effect of a drug in the water supply (he actually belongs to a small part of the population that is not given the mind-numbing drugs). In the second book, not only does he continue to stalk and try to again rape Amy, but it's revealed that he raped Victorina, just because he was angry that he couldn't rape Amy. Later in the second book, Amy manages to tell Elder all of this. She later finds Luther's body, with the heavy implication that Elder murdered him. Amy swings between being frightened of the idea that Elder killed someone and thinking that Luther seriously deserved it, before throwing the body out of an airlock.
In Lolita, it's hard to feel bad for Quilty when Humbert kills him for "saving" Lo. Where Humbert was a pedophile and rapist, Quilty was a pedophile, rapist, alcoholic, smoker, and drug abuser, who kicked Dolly out of his home because she refused to take part in the sexual acts of he and his friends engaged in. There isn't much to sympathise with.
In Twilight, Edward Cullen spent his early vampire years feeding off human murderers, rapists, and other serious criminals before restricting himself to animal blood. This is heinous enough to make him think he's a monster and give him something to angst about but not horrible enough to scare off his love interest Bella or his fangirls.
Used a couple times in The Dresden Files. First, in Fool Moon, a vicious mob hitman nicknamed "Spike" is killed by a werewolf. Even his employer, John Marcone, who otherwise cares for his employees (to one degree or another), doesn't even mention Spike over the course of the book. Later, in Turn Coat, Aleron LaFortier, a member of the Wizard's Senior Council, is murdered, and we're not shown anyone mourning for him either. Although, LaFortier was shown in an earlier book to want to throw Harry to the vampires, so this might be a case of Protagonist-Centered Morality. Also, the books are from Harry's point of view, and he's less concerned with those mourning for LaFortier, and more with who killed him.
Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series is fond of this trope. Pretty much all of the victims in The Fifth Woman, for example, were themselves horrible criminals who had been Karma Houdinis up to that point. Sidetracked is also full of these, from the ex-justice minister with a dark secret to the murderer's father who was abusive to his family.
Almost invoked in The Hunger Games in the case of the Career tributes. The other districts, and Katniss, hate them for being better fed, formally trained, and gleefully murderous. So she doesn't really care (at first) when they die, especially Marvel, who killed Rue, and Clove, who would have killed her if she wasn't Evil Gloating.
In Jeffrey Archer's Sons of Fortune Nate is put on trial for killing Ralph Paton, his rival for the Republican nomination for the governor of Connecticut. A poll showed Nate's polling numbers went up, 72% didn't want him to withdraw from the race, and 7% said they would happily have killed the man for the asking.
In ''A Macabre Myth of a Moth-Man, Dr. Wu is introduced as the scientist who spent a full year Playing with Syringes to change Moth from an ordinary guy into a mutant moth creature. As the book and its sequel go on, it's also revealed that he had been performing his experiments on war criminals and people he bought off the Chinese black market since the 1950s at least and definitely took pleasure in what he did to Oz and Moth. No one at all was sorry when he was shot not long before the events of the book happen. Played with in the case of Leone Trent and Reisenburgh, who both are established as extremely unpleasant people (the owner of the company that hired Wu and condoned his experiments and a Fat Bastard who was just as tied up in the corporation backstabbing business as the rest), but Moth feels sorry for both of their deaths, believing that no one deserves to go the way they did.
The Babylon 5 licensed novels often play with this:
In Voices, Bester is nearly killed in a terrorist attack. Any sympathy he might have gained (which would probably have been very little, given that he IS Bester) quickly evaporates when he becomes convinced that Talia Winters was responsible based on a thin coincidence (the attack was supposedly carried out by Martian separatists, and Talia's uncle is a Martian separatist.) At the end, the real culprit, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who had hoped to oust Bester and privatize the Psi Corps, is killed by actual Martian separatists, who were pissed off about all the negative attention that the terrorist attack had drawn to their cause.
In Blood Oath, Ivanova and Garibaldi are forced to protect G'Kar from mercenaries hired by the pissed-off daughter of a dead rival whose life he had ruined in order to get ahead in his career.
In Clark's Law, Earth President Clark order Sheridan to execute an alien for murdering a human on the station. Sheridan's already hesitant to do it, because the alien has suffered severe brain damage as a result of the accident and can't even remember committing the murder. It doesn't help that the human victim was a sex tourist who had a long history of taking advantage of poverty-dwelling aliens in order to indulge his many appalling kinks. He was also doing this while married with two kids. His wife is, needless to say, less than thrilled about the whole mess and ultimately ends up sympathizing with the alien.
Crime and Punishment's Rodion Rasholnikov kills a greedy moneylender who emotionally (and possibly physically) abuses her mentally disabled sister because he can get the experience of doing something completely immoral whilst actually benefitting the community.
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.
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 just about 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.
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.
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 fully 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.
Xander: (to Snyder in a dream sequence) You know, I never got the chance to tell you how glad I was you were eaten by a snake.
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.
Chuck: Emmett Byrne 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.
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.
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 woman who trained dogs for underground dog fighting rings.
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. She's not particularly treated as a Sympathetic Murderer by the narrative, given that she's still a grown woman who shot a teenager essentially on a hunch.
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 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 (that we know of) 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.
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.
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 Serial Killer 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.
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.
Game Ofthrones: 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.
Gilligans 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.
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, 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.
An infuriatingly Genre SavvyAmoral Attorney and child pornographer who had just used his knowledge of the legal system to Karma Houdini his way out in court a second time. Murdered by his first victim all grown up; when it's discovered he was in progress of raping another girl when he was shot and the woman would thus likely get off on defense of a third party, the detectives are totally okay with this.
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.
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 not only 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 [spoiler] 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. [/spoiler]
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 we 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.
I think the inference may have been that the wife - the real serial killer - fed the toe to her husband.
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 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.
Once Upon a Time: Splits its dead between people you feel sorry for and people who probably had it coming. Interestingly, most of the dead that could qualify for this are women, like Anita, Milah, and Jack.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
"I Remember Larry" by Weird Al has the eponymous Larry do all sorts of horrible things to his neighbor, who eventually snaps.
Mercedes Lackey's filk "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night." The Countess, a talentless would-be musician, dies in a locked tower to which her husband has the only other key. But she was such an unpleasant person that:
And one fact most astounding to them quickly came to light— That every moment of the Count was vouched for on that night. The castle folk by ones and twos came forward on their own To swear the Count had never once that night been all alone. So though the Tower had been locked tight, with two keys to the door, One his, one hers; the Count of guilt was plain absolved for sure.
"38 Years Old" by The Tragically Hip is about a man imprisoned for murdering his sister's rapist.
"Terror Starts at Home" by Beneath the Sky is another example of this. A man rapes his own daughter and she responds by cutting his penis off. The music video shows it in graphic detail.
"Testicular Manslaughter" by Cattle Decapitation and "Blunt Force Castration" by Cannibal Corpse are also about a rapist being castrated.
Alt-Rapper Jesse Dangerously's song "Outfox'd (When Pacifists Attack)" is about one getting what's coming to him
Insane Clown Posse has the song "To Catch a Predator", which has Violent J hunting and torturing pedophiles. In the last verse, he chases one onto the lawn and drags him back inside in full view of his neighbors and mailman. Nobody says anything because they know what the guy was.
Variant in Black Jack Justice: The Stopped Clock, where the wrongly accused killer is the asshole.
While many characters in Survival of the Fittestclearly don't deserve getting killed, there are also many who are enough of a Jerkass to the point where it's hard to sympathize with them. Some of these border on Karmic Death, such as Anthony Burbank (who was repeatedly stabbed in the groin by the same cousin who he had bullied) and Philip Ward (beaten to death by Jimmy Brennan, a character he had previously beaten up in a hockey game in pre-game). A notable aversion, though, would be Monty Pondsworth of v4 pre-game. Although he was the most prominent Jerkass in pre-game, he did not make an appearance on the island, much to the disappointment of many handlers.
Ouranos and Kronos lose any sympathy points when they are brutally overthrown due to their treatment of their kids. The Olympians often punished mortals for being complete assholes, but were not limited to this.
Hercules was known for his rages involving lots of death. What sets him apart from some other Greek heroes is the victim usually loses some sympathy by cheating Hercules or being a complete asshole. Herc usually accepted punishment when he was in the wrong.
In one story, the gods make a bet a giant to build a wall for Valhalla under a certain time limit, and put Freya, the goddess of love, up for stakes. When they realize that his very strong horse is helping him enough that he's likely to win, they... don't actually do anything. But then the giant decides that he should get the sun and the moon as winnings too, and that prompts the gods to tamper with the contest, and they slay the giant after he loses the bet.
Amnon and Absalom both fall under this heading. The former raped his half-brother Absalom's (half?) sister Tamar. Since his father David evidently felt his own philandering had undercut any authority he had to punish Amnon for this, Absalom eventually took matters into his own hands and had his men assassinate Amnon during a banquet. Drunk on his success, Absalom later rebelled against David, whose Token Evil Teammate Joab managed to catch Absalom at a vulnerable moment and kill him. As the final link in this chain of treachery and murder, David's heir Solomon, in accord with David's instructions on his deathbed, later put Joab to death at his earliest legal opportunity.
Many later kings qualified, including (but by no means limited to): Nadab, Elah, Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah, and Pekah of Israel; Joash and Amon of Judah; Sennacherib of Assyria; and Co-Regent Belshazzar of Bablyon.
Jehoram of Judah, whom God struck down with some kind of intestinal plague (possibly cholera). As noted in Chronicles, his death was "...to no one's regret..."
The earlier books feature entire cities' worth of Asshole Victims, most notably Sodom, Gomorrah, and Amalek. In the case of the first two, Abraham couldn't find even ten people among their populations who weren't complete scum, and as for the Amalekites, they were a culture of bandits who followed behind the Israelites during the whole "forty years wandering the desert" thing and picked off the children and elderly for the lulz. Naturally, this makes it okay to cheer for God when He (or His armies) reduces their entire civilizations to skidmarks on the pavement (err, desert). Assigning tropes like Always Chaotic Evil and Guilt-Free Extermination War to real (maybe) human cultures has come under scrutiny by modern Biblical scholars.
Karl Baumer in Margin for Error is a Nazi of the least likable sort. When Adolf Hitler is making a speech, he turns up the volume on the radio so loud that nobody hears the gunshot that kills him.
Played with in "The Cell Block Tango" in Chicago; all the ladies but The Hunyak swear up and down that they didn't do it but if they did, their victims were such bastards that they utterly deserved it. Whether they are to be believed is open to question. (All The Hunyak says is that she didn't do it.)
In Little Shop of Horrors, Audrey II's first live victim is the emotionally abusive father figure Mr. Mushnik, who's not much less of a jerk. At any rate, the plant uses the line "A lot of folks deserve to die" during the "Feed Me" number.
Subverted in Nobilis: one example of play in the second edition rulebook involved an attack on the concept of Treachery that relied on warping reality so that a nice person who had been murdered by her boyfriend retroactivelybecame an Asshole Victim. This would, apparently, have undermined Treachery by mixing in justice where it wasn't supposed to be, undermining reality itself. (Excrucians are frequently nice people, but one must never take that to mean they're goodpeople.)
Promotional material for Grand Theft Auto V turns the countless cops you'll no doubt gun down into this by implying that the police officers of Los Santos are cartoonishly corrupt, in one case arresting a man for "aggressive filming" and then shooting his dog.
In Assassins Creed II, at least one gets an Alas, Poor Villain moment: Dante Moro, the brain-damaged bodyguard of Marco Barbarigo. He tries to give Ezio some help with his last words (telling him where the Templars are next). Additionally, after his death you receive a letter from his former wife that he was tricked into annulling his marriage too, stating that she still loves him and hopes for the day that he'll recover and remember her. And, as your informant Shaun tells you, Dante's boss coveted his wife, and so tried to Murder the Hypotenuse. He survived but with severe brain damage, reverting him to a child-like state. This led his boss to manipulating Dante into divorcing his wife and becoming his Dragon. The poor guy was probably the only named victim in any of the AC games you could feel any real sympathy for. Which just adds to potential justification for killing said boss.
In the first Assassin's Creed, there's one mission where you are sent to kill a guy who has been set up as a Complete Monster and Torture Technician, who has been kidnapping beggars from various cities, ostensibly to torture them to death for fun. But when you actually track him down, it becomes obvious (to the player, at least) that he's actually NOT evil at all, he's actually a brilliant doctor who is extremely ahead of his time, and he's having mentally ill street-people brought to him because he's trying to cure them with primitive techniques and equipment. but everyone else in the setting is so uneducated and ignorant, including Altair, that they cant understand it and assume he must be lying about wanting to help.
In the Bonfire of the Vanities it is also subverted, some of Savonarola's Lieutenants are pretty forced to do his bidding through the Apple and had no choice in the matter and regret what they have done to Florence in the name of attempting to seek enlightenment or just forced to serve him through the apple.
Finally subverted in Assassin's Creed: Revelations, when after assassinating him on a count of treason, Tarik Barleti reveals that he was executing his own scheme against the Templars, having sold them defunct firearms in an attempt to lure the them out of hiding. Worse yet, Tarik doesn't even blame Ezio for his death, instead blaming his own hubris. Instead of his traditional "Requiscat in pace," Ezio's final words to him are, "I am sorry."
Subverted in Dragon Quest VIII. The Big Bad has been killing people, and you've been following him in the hopes of putting a stop to it. The previous victims have all been high-profile, usually the most important people in their respective towns. Enter Dominico, who clearly is the most important man in Arcadia and seems certain to be the next target. Dominico is also a complete douchebag to everybody in general, but to his servant David in particular, heaping humiliation after humiliation on the doggedly loyal young man, even forcing him to taste for poison in his dog's food. You already know nobody's going to regret this guy's death. Except, it's the eminently likable David who turns out to be the target, rather than Dominico, who isn't quite as important as he thought he was.
The first victim of the supernatural serial killer in Phantasmagoria 2 - A Puzzle of Flesh is the bullying asshole of a coworker at the protagonist's work place, causing Curtis a lot of concern as to whether or not he may have killed him during a psychotic black-out. Then the people he likes start dying, and the otherworldly antagonist gets a lot less subtle.
Ironically, this winds getting such a massive case of Alas, Poor Scrappy it winds getting subverted, especially because his replacement is such a shameless, spiteful whore that even the teenage guys who hated the first person hate the successor MORE because she manages to outdo the Asshole Victim she replaced in being a Jerk Ass, and this is so bad it overpowers any of her Ms. Fanservice tendencies. And, considering how ass ugly (in temperament and appearance) who she replaced was, that is quite a feat.
In Knights of the Old Republic, the player character gets the chance to solve a murder. Turns out the victim was having an affair with one suspect's wife, and had been in a fight over business with the other suspect.
Later in the game, the PC gets to do play detective/lawyer again, but this time the trope is completely inverted: though the victim is a Dark Jedi — and as such, no girl scout — her murderer is even worse. And infuriatingly vital for the Republic's war effort.
The game does not force you into saving the murderer, however.
Almost everyone of Agent 47's targets in the Hitman series is some kind of big-time criminal. Sex traffickers, mobsters, terrorists, and corrupt politicians are just some of 47's victims. However in cutscenes, 47 has murdered a presumably innocent postman to protect his identity, and Requiem in Blood Money has him kill a priest and reporter to protect his identity. In terms of targets, stand out "innocents" are the failed private investigator in that biker level and possibly others like Joseph Clarence (who is probably not a bad person, just an utter failure.) Completely innocent targets are still in the minority by a great margin.
Joseph Clarence ran an amusement park with terrible safety regulations that killed 30 people. He isn't in the league of a sex trafficker or terrorist, but he has blood on his hands.
Condemned: Criminal Origins, All the victims of Serial Killer X/Leland were all serial killers themselves. He would kill them the way they killed their victims. Needless to say all the murders were fairly brutal.
Playing with this trope: in Oblivion on the Dark Brotherhood quests, about halfway through the questline your anonymous orders stop being 'kill this person, no reason given', and start painting a detailed picture of the asshole you are about to murder. They are all lies, but the victims really did kind of have it coming - you have been unknowingly bumping off the leaders of the Dark Brotherhood itself.
First few are still assholes. You've got a pirate, a rapist, a guy who had the Brotherhood kill his own mother to save his skin (unfortunately he lives if you finish it "right"), a warlord, that mouthy dark elf from the tutorial, and a mooching drug addict. The only person on the list of slaughter victims who wasn't a jerkass of one stripe or the other was Baenlin.
In Skyrim: the first target for the Dark Brotherhood assassin's guild is an orphanage matron by the name of Grelod the Kind, who is anything but what her name implies, and is quite the cruel Child Hater. When you first enter the orphanage, you find her threatening to give the kids of the orphanage an extra beating if they don't step up their chores, telling them they're her slaves until they come of age and she can kick them out, and that if they think of escaping like Aretino (the orphan who called the hit on her) she'll make them suffer for it. She then ends off by making the children force themselves to say that they love her. If you forgo silence and just decide to kill her in view of the orphans, they cheer.
And then the initiation ritual has you kill a barbarian with a hidden Blood Knight streak, a feisty and crass woman who has murdered people with her foul words and temper and a Khajit (Thief, murderer and rapist) who expects this to be his death. With a broader definition of "asshole", you can also kill the Dark Brotherhood assassin who brought you there.
Another Brotherhood target, Clan Shatter-shield, is also rather unsympathetic, though this is only seen in quests outside of the Dark Brotherhood questline. They turn out to be a family of Corrupt Corporate Executives who treat their foreign workers like garbage and sic pirates on their competitors.
Nearly all of the people the Thieves Guild sends you after are this. Examples including an oppressive, penny pinching beekeeper, a slave driving meadery owner, an Argonian con artist, and the man who betrayed and murdered the original guildmaster. Though in the case of the Con Artist, he just agrees to work with Guild and becomes a fence for you.
In Mass Effect 2, Thane's loyalty quest goes to great lengths to show that the target of Kolyat's assassination attempt is corrupt. Even in the outcomes where he winds up dead, everyone cares more about what's going to happen to Kolyat; you can even talk the C-Sec officer into not pressing charges for attempted murder. Thane's role as The Atoner involves specifically targeting these. In fact, you meet him during what was to be his last job, a Corrupt Corporate ExecutiveBad Boss.
In Mass Effect 3, the Batarian Hegemony is a xenophobic, insular, isolationist society that practices slavery, regularly condones acts of terrorism against the Council races, and is gearing up for war with the Alliance. It also happens that the Reapers invade the galaxy through batarian space, and the Hegemony folds like a house of cards. Unfortunately, this all hurts the many decent batarians who had no control over their government.
Also in Mass Effect 3, Henry Lawson, Miranda Lawson's father, had already been described by Miranda as a narcissistic abusive father who wanted to control every aspect of Miranda and her sister, Oriana's, lives (even making Miranda unable to conceive children). Then it turns out he's even worse, as he sets up a facility masquerading as a refugee camp for displaced families and those with family members fighting in the Reaper War to come and stay. Unfortunately, everyone who goes there is either indoctrinated into a Cerberus agent, converted into husks to study the Reapers, or murdered and experimented on, with him overseeing the deaths of thousands or millions of people. While normally a morally ambiguous act, when Miranda biotically throws him out of a window to his death after he lets go his hostage (and other daughter, Oriana), it's safe to say no tears were shed.
Killing both Mr. Burke and Allistair Tenpenny from Fallout 3 yield good karma from killing them, and there are other such friendly NPC's who have crossed the Moral Event Horizon enough to get this.
Ragou and Cumore in Tales of Vesperia take this trope Up to Eleven. In the first act of the game, Ragou is found to have been feeding some of the already-abused citizens of the town he governs to monsters for entertainment, claiming that the party doesn't understand the high class of taste it takes to find it amusing. Watching him walk away the first time he is caught is one of the most difficult parts of the game to sit through. In the second act, Cumore has been forcing citizens of the desert town he has jurisdiction over to search for an ancient and powerful phoenix-like creature. They are dropped in the middle of said desert to search for said monster. Assuming they found the monster (no one does), it is more than capable of instantly killing anything, including similar god-like creatures. When both are finally brought to justice, the legal system of Terca Lumireis lets both of them go with either a minor reduction in rank or no punishment at all. Both assholes meet their end — Ragou is slashed across his back and dumped into a river; Cumore is backed into what is essentially a pit of quicksand — at the hands of disgruntled Imperial soldier turned vigilante Yuri Lowell... whose reward is to get ragged on it by his borderline Lawful Stupid friend and ex-comrade Flynn Scifo.
While the player commits many atrocities in the Death Knight starting quests in World of Warcraft, often against civilians, the primary opponents are the Scarlet Crusade, which tortures and kills perceived enemies, and whose leadership leaves many of the civilians to die in order to flee and attack the Scourge in Northrend. The Lich King's forces may still be worse, but the Scarlet Crusade is also considered an enemy by the other groups fighting the Lich King because of their extremist positions.
By "perceived enemies," they mean "anybody who might be corrupted by the Scourge." And by "anybody who might be corrupted by the Scourge," they mean "anybody who isn't part of the Scarlet Crusade."
Also in Warcraft III, you probably still cheer when Garithos is killed by Varimathras and devoured by ghouls.
In Mount Hyjal, your character infiltrates the Twilight's Hammer to conduct sabotage. To prove your loyalty, you have are ordered to execute some of the failed applicants who are held in detention. Luckily for you, the Twilight's Hammer functions on Klingon Promotion and every single prisoner is more than happy to attack you and offer your blood as a sacrifice to the Old Gods.
In Freespace, we learn through an Apocalyptic Log that the Shivans killed off a species of Precursors (the Ancients) 8,000 years prior to the game. This log, written by the Ancients, paints them as victims of horrific destruction at the hands of the Shivans. It also, however, chronicles the rise of their empire, during which they met other advanced life, "And we subdued it, or we crushed it." In other words, the Ancients traveled around the galaxy enslaving and annihilating other species to expand their own powerbase. It's kinda hard to see the Shivans as the bad guys during that conflict.
The fan project Ancient-Shivan War, which covers this area of Freespace's history, portrays the Ancients as a very stuck-up warrior culture who consider all other forms of life automatically inferior and who glory in the genocide of a less advanced species early in the game. Fans are somewhat mollified by knowing exactly what's goingto happen to the Ancients in later installments.
Then there's Benny the guy who shot the courier and buried him/her. He dies either in two ways. One you hunt him down for Mr. House. Or he is captured by Caesar and you get to choose how to kill him.
The Great Khans tribe qualifies as well. On the one hand, a rather severe foul-up on the NCR's part led to a massacre that saw the Khans getting absolutely devastated; years later they still haven't recovered. On the other hand, the Khans were openly hostile to the NCR long before the event in question, and not terribly nice even amongst each other. Their leader outright brags about how they laid ruin to defenseless NCR settlements, and a former Khan that later defected to the NCR will angrily comment that the group got exactly what was coming to them.
In Heavy Rain, at one point the story hits this point. Ethan is forced to go kill a man in order to find a clue to his son. The victim is a drug dealer who chases Ethan around the apartment with a shotgun until they reach the daughters room and the victim runs out of ammo. To make the choice a slightly difficult one however, at the last minute he reveals he has two daughters and begs Ethan not to shoot, however he has already chased Ethan around like a jerk and revealed his occupation. To be fair, even if the guy catches Ethan, he lets him go without attacking him anymore, and considering Ethan pulls a gun first, that certainly bumps him up on the nice list.
The same happens to the owner of the Blue Lagoon who turns out to be a pervert and a rapist, but is shot by the Origami Killer.
Lt. Blake has become this in two ways: the "Uploaded" ending where it is implied he'll suffer the effects of the ARI. Or than being suspended for Ethan's death.
The comment under Table Top Games for "dungeons" applies to numerous video games as well. For example, in The Elder Scrolls series, if you see a small cavern complex, you can rest assured that at least nine times in ten it will be full of Necromancers of Conjurers or the undead or other perfectly acceptable targets you may ruthlessly cut down without a single ding to the Karma Meter. You can then with no guilt grab everything in the place and haul it back to the nearest marketplace. The remaining one time in ten you will speak with the inhabitants. Half the time, you will put them all to the sword because someone told you to, then take their stuff and sell it.
In Fire Emblem: the Binding Blade, it's related that Big Bad Zephiel's descent into villainy began when he strangled to death his father Desmond, who had had at least two hits put out on his son prior.
In Dishonored everybody on Corvo's hit list is part of this troupe. The tagline of "Revenge Solves Everything" should have been the first clue.
In The Walking Dead game, had a town called Crawford where everyone in it were turned into Walkers. The town itself is run like the Khmer Rouge, where they kill people they deem a burden to them, children, the elderly, and sick. Some of the survivors considered that the people in it got what they deserved.
Pretty much all of Anaksha's targets in her games qualify for this trope, the horrible things they do to people qualifying them for death by her sniper rifle.
In the Goblin quest series in RuneScape, the first thing Bandos does after he commandeers Zanik's body is make her execute Sigmund. We're supposed to take this as a sign that Zanik is Not Herself, but given that Sigmund had attempted genocide of the Goblin race, which Zanik is a member of and Bandos is the patron of, three times at that point, few players were sad to see him go.
Final Fantasy IX: Lampshaded by Vivi, who states (in narration) "I hated Brahne. I wanted this to happen to her." However, it's subverted second later, when he laments "But then I saw Garnet cry...".
In Homeworld you capture one of the frigates responsible for the destruction of your civilization. The captain is interrogated for information on why this happened, which he reveals. It is clinically noted that "the subject did not survive interrogation".
In Suikoden, any time you have elves in the game, you will have on average two who aren't complete unrepentant assholes. In the first game, their general dickery bites them on the ass in a big way - the elven home tree is a gigantic target for the Burning Mirror at Kwanda Rosman's fortress, which has a straight shot at it. One of Rosman's lieutenants, Valeria, goes to the elves to try to warn them. She speaks to them for all of fifteen seconds before they begin hurling speciesist insults at her, then throw her in the dungeon. When you return from the (similarly dickish) dwarven lands with a weapon that can neutralize the Burning Mirror, you can see the elven tree on fire in the distance. The characters in the scene are shocked and horrified, but most players can't help but smile a little inside (doubly so because all of the not-asshole elves survive).
The Ace Attorney games like this trope. At least one victim in each game was pretty explicitly Not A Nice Person—many of them are criminals themselves.
In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (the first game):
The victim in the third case turned out to have been intentionally trying to frame your client, Will Powers, one of the nicest characters in the series, out of jealousy, by drugging him and stealing his costume. The real killer acted in self-defense, though they wouldn't have needed to if they hadn't been blackmailing him in the first place.
The fourth case's victim was a defense attorney who sought to get not guilty verdicts even if it meant harm to his clients, and was killed by one of said clients who had been genuinely innocent but had his entire life destroyed as a result of the false insanity plea.
In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All (the second game):
The second case's victim, Turner Grey, was a real Dr. Jerk killed by a former employee who alleged he had drugged her, causing her to crash her car and kill her little sister. (Whether he actually did drug her is somewhat unclear, but being one of the few victims met before their demise, his jerkass persona is well-evident.)
Juan Corrida of the fourth case initially seems like a nice guy, but it becomes increasingly evident that the feud between himself and Matt Engarde was an ugly reflection on both of them, and often wound up with other people in the crosshairs: most notably, when Juan found out his fiancee Celeste had once been an item with Matt, he called off their wedding and Celeste committed suicide. Her protege, Adrian Andrews, blamed them both for her mentor's death.
In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations:
The first case's victim, Doug Swallow, is a subversion: Although he's Dahlia's ex and Phoenix refers to him as a "stuck-up British wannabe", in truth he was trying to give Phoenix a very important warning about his girlfriend.
In the fourth case, the victim is Valerie Hawthorne, a police officer who helped engineer a fake murder/kidnapping that ended with her and her sister in possession of a small fortune stolen from their father, and their co-conspirator sentenced to death for a crime that had not been committed. The twist is that she was killed because had she finally decided to come clean about everything, and the murderer stood to lose everything from her attack of conscience. Sad case all around.
In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney:
The first case's victim, Shadi Smith, is a bit of a complicated case, as his real identity (and the motive of his murderer) isn't clear until the very end. However, even before that it's made known that he was trying to rig a game of cards against the defendant, and when the plan failed he clocked his co-conspirator over the head with a bottle of grape juice.
The victim of the second case, Pal Meraktis, not only dealt with the criminal underworld and covered up a botched operation on Wocky, but he tried to kill Alita Tiala. He failed quite miserably, and she shot him instead.
The third case initially appears to play this straight; Oliver Deacon/Colin Devorae is thought to have been an escaped felon who betrayed his accomplices in Lance Amano's kidnapping for the money, but it turns out that Lance threatened his daughter's safety to force him to falsely kidnap him, and that his previous "crimes" were Taking the Heat for Ernest Amano.
One of the victims of the fifth case, Manny Coachen, was a man who was heavily involved in an international smuggling ring and counterfeiting operation that almost destroyed another country's economy, and had gotten away with at least one murder in his lifetime.
The victim in the second case is actually the culprit from the first case—and if later revelations make his death sort of tragic in retrospect, he was still a guy that murdered his innocent co-worker out of envy and ambition.
In the third case, the victim was an infamously greedy sculptor apparently Only in It for the Money, who forced his own son to kidnap the son of his former partner so that he could have an easier time betraying and blackmailing him. The blackmailee opted to kill him instead. In the same case the killer himself also became a victim, albeit nonfatally, and he was a guy who only valued his son as a taste-tester and left him behind in an Orphanage of Fear when he fled the country after the murder.
Then, in the final case, the victim (who had been met way back in the first case) turns out to have been much more assholish than had been initially suspected—he was in fact a former body double for the head of state who had arranged the man's assassination, taken his place, fabricated his own kidnapping to defraud the country of millions and killed or tried to kill anyone who could have exposed his real identity. By comparison the game's actual Big Bad, who arranged his murder, comes off as downright sympathetic, and possibly would have been seen as justified if he hadn't tried to pin the murder on a thirteen-year-old boy.
Shinji Matou in Fate/stay night, Heaven's Feel route. Considering that this is the guy who has been raping his sister Sakura for years, treats his Servant Rider like a dog even when she remains unflinchingly loyal to him, and tried to rape Rin when she was tied up and unable to resist, no one is exactly shedding any tears for him when he's stabbed through the chest by the very sister he was again attempting to rape, even if this proves to be her Start of Darkness.
And if you wanted his anime counterpart dead too, don't worry. That happens too.
The victim in the Murder MysteryVisual NovelJisei was working with her company to steal information from a rival corporation, but decided to doublecross her employer in favor of a third party that offered her more money.
Rina Mamiya from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is this in one arc. She tries to kill Rena, so Rena kills her. Even if she was a Jerk AssGold Digger, it's horrifying when Rena kills her in the manga. She's crying, begging, bleeding, in pain... In any other media, her death is very quick though.
Onryu Sonozaki in the Cotton Drifting and Eye Opening chapters by Shion. Subverted in later arcs.
Sayaka in Danganronpa is this trope, as she invited Leon to her room as an attempt to murder him, which backfired.
In the Web Serial NovelWorm, the first people that the Slaughterhouse Nine (Superpowered Psychopaths) attack in the city are The Merchants, a gang of violent, drug dealing assholes.
In thisEdmund Finney's Quest to Find the Meaning of Life strip, a cannibal uses this trope to identify with vegetarians.
Something Positive has the completely evil Avagadro Pompey, who actually did die of natural causes, although nobody believes Kharisma when she said that, although she really was trying to kill him, all her murder attempts failed.
Drowtales has several examples, one being Miir'kin Vel'Vlozress, who by all counts was a pretty big jerk, even attempting to murder the protagonist in cold blood, but the way he goes out is still pretty gruesome. Then there's Rikshakar, who gets killed by a demon in a Curb-Stomp Battle, but this was just after he'd tried to rape a little girl and force her to shapeshift into a more mature form after kidnapping her.
There's also Nihi'liir Vel'Sharen, whose arm gets possessed and has to be amputated, but only because she got impatient with Faen, slapped her and quickly found out just how dangerous empaths can be. It then happens to her again and this time it proves to be fatal, as Ariel manages to sneak up on her when disguised and decapitates her from behind, which is a pretty dishonorable death but was exactly what she deserved since she grew up into even more of a sadistic bully and was in charge of a slave army created by the Conscription of commoners who otherwise wouldn't have gotten involved in the war at all.
In Kevin & Kell, many of the prey species (and occasionally, predators) that get themselves eaten are often established as jerks, and often die as a result of their transgressions. For example, one Jerry Springer parody character tries to get Kell to eat Kevin by bringing up his online affair, but when it turns out the "affair" was actually with Kell, and he persists in trying to provoke her, she eats him.
Many of the clientele in Suicide for Hire fall into this category, particularly Ty Montlet and the guy from the mall.
Dominic Deegan has Jerk Jock Brett Taggarty and Smug Snake Serk Brakkis who met a grisly gory death at the powerful magic of Celesto Morgan. And with good reason, too: Brett was a drunken misogynist, a bully, assaulted a nurse and the titular hero's younger brother, Gregory. Serk Brakkis, on the other hand, tried to force the people living in the devastated town of Barthis to sell their property to him to make a stadium for the deceased Taggarty, owns five dummy companies and the Slaughterball team Taggarty was in, the local newspaper for smear campaigns against Gregory and Donovan, as well as plotted the murders of several people including Dominic AND Celesto. And all while playing by Screw the Rules, I Have Money!.
In FreakAngels, Luke is caught raping a woman he's placed under Mind Control, a firefight breaks out, and he's finally shot and killed. Repeatedly. It doesn't stick.
In Spacetrawler the Eebs, the oppressed Slave Race that the protagonists are trying to free, used to be one of the most dangerous and violent species in the galaxy; the only reason they didn't terrorize other planets was because they were too lazy.
Mr. Gonyer, the insurance agent from the LJ sample chapter of Fishbones, who won't give coverage to a family man for his wife's breast cancer treatment because it's "too experimental."
Schlock Mercenary has Colonel DeHaans, a Torture Technician who really loves his work, particularly the thought of brainwashing his victims into thinking that he's a nice old man. When he tries this on someone who can bypass the memory hack a few days later, it gets him assassinated and eaten.
Clyde's mother on South Park, Betsy Donovan in "Reverse Cowgirl", to the point she's still one beyond the grave; she has her Single-Issue Wonk button pressed multiple times by her son, Clyde, whenever he leaves the toilet seat up. She eventually falls into the toilet and gets stuck from the pressure, to which she then dies when the change in pressure rips her insides out. Betsy then comes back from the dead as a ghost and belittles her son for leaving the seat up, saying it's his fault that she died.
Although he survived, the shooting of Mr. Burns on The Simpsons qualifies — they took an episode generating an improbable circumstance in which every character in the show had a motive to kill him. Then it turned out it was the baby — who he was stealing candy from at the time.
Darkwing Duck has Doctors Gary and Larson killed by Bushroot, who covers them with plants. The few time we got to see them before this, they were portrayed as a duo of Jerk Ass who bullied Burshroot before he got his powers, mocked his interest in plants, criticized his work for focusing on improving quality instead of lucrative value and sabotaged his work for the sole sake of making him look miserable. O, and they mocked him when he started mutating under the effect of his experiment. No one is going to blame Bushroot for killing them.
Batman: The Animated Series has an example in the episode "Heart of Ice", the origin episode of Mr. Freeze. On the outside, CEO Ferris Boyle of GothCorp seems like a pretty decent fellow, even gaining an award for being the "Humanitarian of the Year". But this couldn't be further from the truth. Not only did Boyle nearly kill Nora Fries by stopping her husband from freezing her until a cure could be found for her terminal illness, but he ruins Victor's life forever by kicking him into a table full of chemicals, freezing him and forcing him to live in a subzero environment to survive. Even Batman is horrified by Boyle's callousness and leaves him frozen from the waist down, while saying in disgust "Good night, Humanitarian."
In Aladdin, the first thief Jafar employs to retrieve the magic lamp from the cave of wonders is Gazeem. Gazeem tells Jafar he had to slit a few throats to retrieve a magic artifact. After delaying payment, Jafar tells Gazeem he will "get what's coming to him" in the cave of wonders. The cave of wonders allows Gazeem to enter, but swallows him up as soon as he does. Jafar observes that Gazeem was less than worthy.
Jokey Smurf, the resident Jerk Ass prankster, accidentally became this in The Smurfs episode "The Kaplowey Scroll" when he made Grouchy angry enough to say the word "kaplowey" which made Jokey disappear. Fortunately, Papa Smurf reversed that.
He doesn't die, but Nelson Nash of Batman Beyond is a pretty good example. In one episode, he gets attacked by a classmate with Psychic Powers, leading to the following exchange between Bruce and Terry:
Bruce: "And is there anyone who held a grudge against this Nelson Nash kid?"
Terry: "Starts with me and goes around the block - twice."
Mutro Botha of the League of Assassins also survived - technically - but what Curare did to him left him in a vegetative state that he was unlikely to recover from. And he clearly fit the Trope, more than likely being nearly as prolific a murderer as Curare was; not only is it doubtful any viewers felt sorry for him, Terry clearly didn't. He told Max the "live by the sword die by the sword" analogy.
In Ben 10: Alien Force, Kevin averts Save the Villain by leaving his nemesis Ragnarok fall in the Sun. Considering the guy was an Omnicidal Maniac who killed his father from cold blood and attempted to destroy Earth's sun for the sake of selling its energy, it's hard to blame Kevin for this act.
And again in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Kevin, after turning psychotic again, goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against several people, including Prison Director Morgg. While he fails to kill him, he still scares the crap of him, and most fans wouldn't have minded if he had succeeded, seeing as Morgg was corrupt, hated and killed one of the prisoners for acting like The Mentor to other prisoners, and later developed an alien drug traffic in the prison's underground using his prisoners as labour slaves. Some fans even actually blamed Ben for saving this guy.
In American Dad!, when Stan gets arrested for leaving his home when he was under house arrest, Roger came to him for help when his friend at work betrayed him. Stan solution was to frame him for all the bad stuff Stan did when he was in his house, the guy was not only a Smug Snake, but also a collector of Nazi memorabilia, which made the Jewish cop arrest him.
Another one where the victims don't die, but in the Adventure Time episode "You Made Me" a group of criminal candy citizens are sent to live with Lemongrab in exchange for amnesty and are shown to be a nasty, unrepentant lot, although that isn't why Lemongrab decides to torture them.
Not to mention Ash, Marcelline's ex-boyfriend who tricked Finn and Jake on removing her memory of her breaking up with him, treats her like a servant, and sold her most precious possession (which he was fully aware of). So you can't help but feel joy when Marcelline, Finn and Jake beat the tar out of him.
Starscream in 80's animated film Transformers: The Movie. He'd always been The StarscreamTrope Namer to Megatron. When Megatron was kicked by Optimus and fell on the floor, Starscream mocked and kicked him. Later on he left his leader to die in outer space. Unicron saves Megs and turns him into Galvatron. The first thing Galvatron does when he arrives to Cybertron? He kills Starscream. Probably the only time when the audience praised a Galvatron's action.
Jeff Fecalman, Quagmire's sister's extremely abusive boyfriend from the Family Guy episode "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q."
For some, Diane Simmons from "And Then There Were Fewer" as well.
Justin Hammer in Iron Man: Armored Adventures; the guy is a Psychotic Manchild, leads at the same time a weapon-selling company and a criminal empire, genuinely attempted to kill Iron Man (he actually feels deception when at one point he destroys the armor and see no blood splattering everywhere) and is an especially Bad Boss. His other Kick the Dog moments include trying to bring back to life Living Laser, who had gone through Redemption Equals Death, for the sake of turning him into a weapon he could mass-produce, causing Obadiah Stane to end up in a coma and manipulating Iron Man 2099 to ensure a future where millions of people would die but where he would be president. Comes episode Hammer Falls, that makes him go through an especially spectacular Villainous Breakdown before his final defeat, he acts even worst by starting to develop a Zombie gaz, which he is willing to use to cause a Zombie Apocalypse on Manhattan rather than lose his society. You really don't feel sorry for him when Mr Fix gaz him with his own invention