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At Least I Admit It
"Better to be known as a sinner than a hypocrite."
Proverb

The hero has the villain cornered and calls him out on how his actions are evil etc., but the villain doesn't care if his actions are evil or not, because at least the villain isn't a hypocrite when it comes to his beliefs and/or philosophy. May be related to Villains Never Lie, and usually a sign of a Card-Carrying Villain. It sometimes can be a symptom of Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, at least when it indicates that the villain cannot understand why the hero is repelled by his/her behavior.

This trope can come in the form of the admission, "I may be X, but I'm your X".

The tactic is often used against other villains as well, particularly of the Villain with Good Publicity variety. It's not necessary for the villain to be accused; all they have to do is recognize their corrupt nature and calmly or proudly acknowledge it. Can be found in an evil version of the Knight in Sour Armor, but not necessarily so.

This may be the result of Honor Before Reason, Blue and Orange Morality, or a simple dislike for hypocrisy or high premium placed on honesty relative to other virtues and flaws. It may also be used to claim that The Hero is Not So Different and simply is in denial about it.

If presented positively, this can lead to a Family-Unfriendly Aesop depending on the nature of their transgressions - someone who admits to being a jerk at least is aware of their flaws rather than simply being oblivious about their bad behavior, but embracing being Axe Crazy isn't really a good thing.

Discovering The Hero is not a Hypocrite but believes all that stuff about "justice" and "honor" can be... a shock. However, in many cases the villain will claim that the hero's motivations are simply a convenient justification for violence or whatever other behavior the villain deems to be hypocritical.

See also The Mad Hatter, Noble Demon, and Not So Different. Also see I Take Offense to That Last One, where a character objects to one of several criticisms but does not deny the others, and I Can Live With That, where a character accepts an accusation without specifically admitting or denying it. Contrast Your Approval Fills Me with Shame.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime And Manga  

     Comic Books  

  • Captain America villain Crossbones has used this at least twice. The first time, while trying to deprogram Red Skull's daughter Synthianote , he goes on a rant about how the "American Way" is just a lie used to control the masses.
    Synthia: Oh, and fascism's better, then?
    Crossbones: Not better, maybe, but more honest, at least. It don't pretend to value human life while making that life a whole helluva lot worse off.
    Crossbones: Fine with me. I'll burn out more of these Jap zombies.
    Moonstone: That's right— you don't talk much so I forget you're a crazy racist.
    Crossbones: Everyone is. I'm just honest about it.
  • The reason Emma Frost always wears those Stripperific outfits is because she's an Attention Whore, and she will gladly admit it.
  • In Peanuts, Lucy not only admits to being a "fussbudget", she's proud of it. In one early strip, when a character said that her mother said she was "a natural born fussbudget", Lucy objected to the "natural born" part, shouting, "I worked hard to be what I am!"

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 

  • Col. Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men is considered an Anti-Villain by some precisely because he is willing to admit that, by any modern standard, he is basically a barbarian. Jessup lectures the defense attorney questioning him (it is actually the attorney's clients on trial here) because he is disgusted that a "civilized" man (i.e., a civilian) who has never had to resort to violence in his life would attempt to condemn him for his methods: "My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives!" However A) Jessup has been denying his involvement for the previous two hours of the movie, and B) the defense attorney is well aware that Colonel Jessup wants to brag about his barbarism to the world, and is more than willing to provoke him into it to get his clients off, even if it means being the target of a rant.
  • Mean Girls:
    '''God, at least me and Regina George know we're mean! You try to act like you're so innocent! ... So why are you still messing with Regina, Cady? I'll tell you why! Because you are a mean girl! You're a bitch!"
  • Tony Montana delivers a speech like this in a memorable scene from Scarface (1983).
    Tony Montana: What you lookin' at? You all a bunch of fuckin' assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be. You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin' fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So... what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!
  • Dick Tracy: Underworld figure Breathless Mahoney is hardly heroic, but you have to respect her complete lack of bullshit. Unlike her boss (and future rival) Big Boy Caprice, who wants the police and the media to believe that he is the champion of the very citizens he terrorizes, Breathless is not ashamed to admit that It's All About Her.
    Dick Tracy: Whose side are you on?
    Breathless Mahoney: The side I'm always on. Mine.
  • The Searchers: Indian-hating lunatic Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) is refreshingly open and unsubtle about his racism, even to the point of putting out the eyes of a Comanche corpse and outright stating that (according to Comanche religious beliefs) he has doomed the Indian's soul to everlasting purgatory to "wander about forever between the winds." In fact, Ethan's hatred extends even to white women raped by Indians, though at least he does restrain himself from killing his Indian-raped niece when he finds her, returning her to her immediate family instead. Most of the other white characters, meanwhile, either try to play the Noble Bigot role or are oblivious to the fact that they're racist at all. But at least one other character (privately) admits to harboring a vendetta against all Indians:
    Laurie Jorgenson: Martin, Ethan will put a bullet through her brain. I tell you, Martha would want it that way.
  • This exchange from The Mask of Zorro; The Dons are being given a tour of a gold mine, when 3-fingered Jack, a captured bandit who's being forced to work the mine, calls them out on the fact that the mine workers are treated like slaves:
    Captain Love: Ignore him gentlemen, he's a common thief.
    Jack: Oh, I'm as common as they come, but I ain't nuthin' compared to you! I steal gold, I steal money, but you... you steal people's lives!
  • Shows up in Romancing the Stone, when Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas find the plot-driving emerald and then Danny De Vito steals it at gunpoint and accuses Douglas of having similiar designs.
    'De Vito: But at least I'm honest. I'm not trying to romance it out from under her.
  • Patton dislikes Montgomery for not admitting he's a prima-donna. Patton drops this trope by name, though that's the only time we see him do so on-screen.

    Literature 

  • In Warbreaker, Lightsong hates the lazy, self-serving behavior of himself and the other Returned. He is portrayed sympathetically, the other Returned, not so much.
  • Guards! Guards! has a dragon who is appalled by humans, not because they kill (dragons kill all the time, and are expected to do so), but because of the ways humans try to justify it.
    We were dragons. We were supposed to be cruel, cunning, heartless and terrible. But this much I can tell you, you ape: We never burned and tortured and ripped one another apart and called it morality.
  • Inverted in The Diamond Age, when a character's illegal activities are exposed, a legal official reassures him that there is a difference between those who oppose the law and those who genuinely respect it, but are too weak to uphold it.
  • Superman: Last Son of Krypton.
    In solitary Luthor decided that his motivation was beyond even the love or hate or whatever it was he had for humanity. It was consuming desire for godhood, fired by the unreasonable conviction that such a thing was somehow possible. He began by being an honest man. He was a criminal and said so.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Rogues in the House," Murilo does this on Conan's behalf.
    This Cimmerian is the most honest man of the three of us, because he steals and murders openly.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the cynical, anti-villainous Sandor Clegane calls out the Brotherhood Without Banners for putting on airs about their own murderous actions and attempting to condemn him for crimes of his employer with which he had no connection:
    "A Knight's a sword with a horse. The rest, the vows and the sacred oils and The Lady's favours, they're silk ribbons tied 'round the sword. Maybe the Sword's prettier with ribbons hanging of it, but it'll kill you just as dead. Well, bugger your ribbons, and shove your swords up your arses. I'm the same as you. The only difference is, I don't lie about what I am. So, kill me, but don't call me a murderer while you stand there telling each other your shit don't stink. You hear me?"
  • One of the main themes of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The European ivory hunters in the Congo literally work the native Africans to death while distributing propaganda back in Europe claiming that they're really converting the natives to Christianity. Only Kurtz, a deranged renegade from civilization, is completely open about his barbarity: he forces the Africans to worship him as a god and executes them when they "misbehave," sticking their heads on pikes as a warning to others. The novella's protagonist, Charlie Marlow, is horrified by Kurtz, but he also cannot help respecting Kurtz's willingness to let the world see him for what he truly is. It's also implied that the other ivory hunters hate Kurtz not so much because he's more successful at bringing in ivory, but because they know that he is, in a sense, more morally pure than they.
  • Played for Laughs in the "Three Codependent Goats Gruff" story of James Finn Garner's Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. When we first meet the troll under the bridge, he declares that he happens to have the natural attributes of a troll and thus should not be denied his essential right to act as a troll (i.e., eat goats). The Goats Gruff realize they can't dispute this argument, so they each talk the troll into letting them go to discuss each imminent devouring with their siblings, claiming it would be "selfish" not to do so. (Eventually, when the biggest of the goats shows up, the troll is so frightened that he immediately apologizes for trying to eat the goats; this leads the goat in turn to apologize for trying to deprive the troll of his source of food. They each become so adamant about claiming the guilt for the incident that they eventually get into a fistfight.)
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, when the Wizard's true identity is revealed, and the heroes accuse him of being a humbug (which means a charlatan) he admits it, saying sadly, "Yes, that's exactly what I am, a humbug." (However, he protests when Dorothy calls him a bad man, insisting, "No, I'm a very good man, I'm just a very bad wizard.") The scene was pretty much the same in the movie version.

     Live Action TV  

  • This seems to be the crux of Omar's takedown of drug lawyer Maurice Levy in season two of The Wire: When told that he's a leech, stealing from those who steal the lifeblood of the city, Omar's only response is, "Just like you, man."
    Levy: Excuse me, what?
    Omar: I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. (shrugs) S'all in the game, though, right?
    Levy: (stares at the judge, who just shrugs)
  • Parodied on The Chris Rock Show with the "Mike Tyson for President" ads, which show Tyson admitting stuff like how he's a convicted rapist and "a semi-good husband".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • During Spike's one appearance in season three, Drusilla breaking up with him has left him a complete drunken wreck - but he still gets to snark at Buffy and Angel's attempts to pretend that they're Just Friends now. "I might be Love's Bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it."
    • Glory does this during a motive rant to Dawn:
    Glory: People. How do they function here like this in the world with all this bile running through them? Everyday, it's like whoo! You have no control. They're not even animals. There just these meat-baggy slaves to hormones and pheromones and their—their feelings. Hate 'em! I mean, really. Is this what the poets go on about? This? Call me crazy, but as hardcore drugs go, human emotion is just useless. People are puppets, everyone getting jerked around by what they're feelin'. Am I wrong? Really, I want to know. [...] So you're saying some people like this? Funny, 'cause I look around at this world you're so eager to a part of, and all I see are six billion lunatics looking for the fastest way out. Who's not crazy? Look around. Everyone's drinking, smoking, shooting up, shooting each other or just plain screwing their brains out 'cause they don't want 'em anymore. I'm crazy? Honey, I'm the original one-eyed chicklet in the kingdom of the blind. 'Cause at least I admit the world makes me nuts.
  • Davros inflicted this trope upon the Doctor in the Doctor Who episode "Journey's End". Yes, it is true that Davros created the daleks, ultimate xenophobes whose only instructions are to exterminate everything different. But can the Doctor be so high and mighty? He's killed too- committed genocide, in fact! And to bring the point home, he points out how he has changed his many companions into soldiers, all willing to kill in his name. Of course, the difference is that Davros acts only out of a desire for power - the Doctor and his companions always have good intentions at heart.
    • But then again, the Doctor comes out and also admits that he's done all sorts of morally questionable things for the sake of peace and order...then again, he was in the Time War, which ultimately fell into an Evil Versus Evil war. What the Doctor had to do to end the Time War may have been ghastly, but the alternative was Omniversal Annihilation.
    • In The Time Monster, the Master's reaction to the Doctor saying "You're mad, paranoid," is "Who isn't? The only difference is that I'm just a little more honest than the rest."
  • Bad to the Bone: Francesca Wells is a beautiful, blonde teenager whose sole goal in life is to screw (and screw over) as many wealthy men as possible, and she doesn't balk at resorting to murder to get what she wants, either. Through it all, her one virtue is that at least she is aware of her depraved and degraded nature and will own up to it on occasion.
    Man she's trying to seduce: We don't get many whores up here.
    Francesca: [bitterly] Well, you've got yourself one now.
  • In Burn Notice, the main character, Michael Westen, formerly had an older, more experienced partner named Larry who was sort of like a mentor figure to him. He and Larry conducted many black operations together for years, some of which, according to Larry, were the kind that only the darkest breed of soldier would have the heart to carry out. This partnership came to an end when Larry decided to fake his death because he was tired of working for the CIA and wanted to go freelance as a mercenary. Years later, Michael is issued a burn notice, effectively firing him from his job at the CIA, and Larry shows up offering him a chance to go freelance with him. The only thing is that Larry has become much crueler in his methods since last they met, and Michael says he would much rather try getting his job with the CIA back than deal with Larry's cruel tendencies. Larry, in all of his appearances, never gives up on trying to convert Michael to his side, saying that there is a dark side to Michael's nature that he saw during their years together, the only difference between them being that Michael is denying his evil nature while Larry has embraced his.
  • ER's resident Jerkass, Dr. Robert Romano. As much as everyone hated, you couldn't deny that he freely admitted to being an egomaniac whose sole concern was his own well-being. This is in stark contrast to Kerry Weaver, who hid this same behavior under a facade of friendly concern, only to backstab anyone foolish enough to trust her.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation Troi meets another half betazoid working as a negotiator and begins a passionate romance with him. Eventually, she realizes that he uses his own empathic abilities to gain an advantage at the bargaining table. When she calls him out on it, he first states that people always use similar tactics when negotiating and then that she does the exact same thing, only that when she does it very well might result in the deaths of large numbers of people. Disgusted and irritated by her attitude, he cuts short their date.

    Music 

  • "My Plague" by Slipknot features this in its lyrics:
    I'm just a bastard
    but at least I admit it
    At least I admit it!
  • FallingInReverse has the song "Caught Like a Fly":
    I'm no fucking saint
    but at least I'll fucking sing about it!!
    Oh the audacity!
  • Nick Cave's "The Curse of Milhaven":
    I'm a wicked young lady
    But I've been trying hard lately -
    Aw, FUCK IT! I Am a Monster! I admit it!
  • TISM's "We Are The Champignons" is entirely about admitting how terrible they are.
    It's about time that a rock band spoke
    Admitted that they were a joke
    We'll be the first in the neighbourhood
    To say without a doubt, we're no good!

     New Media  

  • Commonly seen on Fora is the argument "I don't claim to be tolerant" — when the forum member making that statement is, essentially, chastising the opponent for not tolerating their intolerance.
  • Spoony has a variation where after he made a joke about Dr. Insano becoming President Evil, he's talked to fans who said they would vote for him "Because he's honest".
  • In The Nostalgia Chick's review of Charlie's Angels she compares it to Barb Wire—both are exploitative to women but the latter tries to make up for it by having its protagonist act bitter and angry at the world. She admits she kind of prefers Charlie's Angels because at least it's honest about being stupid pseudo-soft-core porn.

     Professional Wrestling  

  • Eddie Guererro in WWE: "I lie, I cheat, I steal. But at least I'm honest about it."
    • Following Guerrero's Face-Heel Turn, this honesty took on even darker tones:
    Eddie (rapping on his theme song): I don't care if you don't like me...I can't be beat, comin' from the streets of the ghetto / At the end of the week, I get to keep your dinero / You're fast asleep when I sneak in your casa / Your life sucks cuz you're bankrupt and I'm laughin' / You can't trust me, ese, cuz I'M LATIN!
  • This was part of Kane's mindset in his recent "Embrace the Hate" angle with John Cena: he would preach to the audience that hatred was a normal part of the human psyche, but Kane was the only one not pretending that it wasn't there.
  • Randy Orton delivered one when he declared he was not an honorable person and would take out his own grandmother to remain WWE Champion. Even more disturbing when you realize he was treated as a Face at the time.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • George Carlin theorized that this was why Americans elected Clinton over Dole in 1996:
    Dole: I'm a plain and honest man.
    Voters: Bullshit!
    Clinton: Hi folks, I'm completely full of shit and how do you like that?
    Voters: Y'know something? At least he's honest.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Champions adventure Deathstroke: The villain group The Destroyers decide to take over the United States. They think they'll be better leaders than the corrupt politicians running the country because the Destroyers admit that they're criminals.
  • A lot of references to the modrons and the rilmani in the Planescape campaign mention that dealing with demons is often easier than dealing with them, because at least with demons, you know what to expect.

    Theatre 

  • Older Than Steam: Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing has Don John describing himself as "a plain-dealing villain".
  • This is more or less the basis of the Pirate King's "I Am" Song.
    Oh, better far to live and die
    Under the brave black flag I fly
    Than play a sanctimonious part
    With a pirate head and a pirate heart
    Away to the cheating world go you
    Where pirates all are well-to-do
    But I'll be true to the song I sing
    And live and die a pirate king

     Video Games  

  • In Advance Wars Days of Ruin, Waylon says that Will only does his heroism to feel self-important; at least he doesn't hide the fact that he's a selfish bastard. Will counteracts that he might indeed be leading Brenner's Wolves out of selfishness, but if it helps even one person, then it's worth it.
  • This is Kaido's philosophy in Devil Survivor. To him, all people are ugly, selfish and power-grubbing underneath and try to solve all their problems with force — he just doesn't see the point in trying to hide it. This comes to light when he ends up in a fight with the resident Knight Templar of the lockdown and ends up explaining how they're Not So Different (in using the fact that they're more powerful than others to bully them into following their point of view) just before he uses Pazuzu to strangle and fry his opponent to death.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2's Bishop holds much the same view. He doesn't bother to hide his inherent beastliness, and says as much if you try to dig out his Freudian Excuse through conversation.

    Webcomics 

  • In Least I Could Do, Rayne gets word that a lesbian is gonna be working in his company, and he puts out a company-wide hunt for her. One of his aides calls him out on his actions, but wrongly accuses it of being a Witch Hunt. Rayne would then clarify his stance.
    Rayne: I'm not a monster, Nancy; I'm a sexual deviant.
  • The Order of the Stick has Redcloak's Breaking Speech to Miko. He accuses paladins of being unnatural thanks to their divine immunity to fear, arguing that Xykon the Lich "is a unnatural abomination, but at least he cops to it". However, Redcloak himself gets an enhanced lifespan from the Crimson Mantle he wears, yet he remains very private about that matter.
    • Xykon does this to Redcloak in Start of Darkness. Redcloak has just murdered his own brother to save Xykon and further his plans, and Xykon is well aware of it. He tells Redcloak that all he succeeded in doing is prove that he is just as evil as Xykon, but hides it under his good intentions, and will now serve loyally because he's too chickenshit to accept all the horrible things he's "had to" do becoming meaningless if he quits. Redcloak has since convinced himself he's still in charge, just secretly, but he's *very* bad at being honest with himself and Xykon has repeatedly proved he's smarter than people assume.
  • Schlock Mercenary has this as a botched compliment:
    Thrummb: At least you are honest enough not to pretend to morality, sir.
    Gamm: You need to work on the internal consistency of your flattery, Thrummb.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic has a dark elf captive sharing her expectations with a goblin:
    Gren: That's what our people would do! But we're evil. These people are good! They wouldn't do that sort of thing!
    Arachne: Sweetheart... In this world the difference between good and evil is that good pretends not to enjoy this sort of thing.
    • Broch has a disagreement with his colleague on this matter, though: if the "good guys" have all the same despite their priests preaching the opposite, this means what?..
  • Tom's excuse for being a Manipulative Bastard in El Goonish Shive is that everyone says what they think will get the right reaction from others, and at least he admits it ... to himself.

     Western Animation  

  • Family Guy: Lovable Sex Maniac Quagmire, during his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Brian: "And what really bothers me is you pretend you're this deep guy who loves women for their souls when all you do is date bimbos. Yeah, I date women for their bodies, but at least I'm honest about it!"
    • Though this still makes him a huge hypocrite since he's not in a hurry to admit to all the sex crimes he's done.
    • Brian in "FOX-y Lady", when Lois points out the bias in Brian's political views.
      • Except he DIDN'T admit it until she point-blank called him out on it.
  • The Grand Pumpkin in a "Treehouse of Horror" episode of The Simpsons - who, after expressing apathy over the fate of a yellow pumpkin (the Grand Pumpkin is your standard orange type of pumpkin), is called out for his racism by, of all people, Nelson Muntz. The Grand Pumpkin claims all pumpkins are racist and that he's different from others because he admits it. And while it's not a saving grace for the Grand Pumpkin, Nelson is being hypocritical here because he doesn't care about the fate of the little yellow pumpkin, either; in fact, he was precisely the one who had been perfectly willing to smash that little pumpkin in order to save his own life!
    • Another example: In "A Fish Called Selma", when Selma confronts Troy McClure and demands to know if he married her simply to boost his career, he admits it quickly, and actually convinces her, at least for a while, that being a sham wife isn't so bad. (What actually makes her have second thoughts at the end is the idea of having a child; getting a child involved in a sham marriage is something she can't do.)
  • In one episode of Garfield and Friends, Jon turns on an infomercial for a weight-loss product with a disclaimer at the beginning that says, "The following is a half-hour commercial that we've disguised as a real show because we assume you're too dumb to tell the difference." To which Jon replies, "Well, at least they're being honest about it." (Seeing as the product being sold is a complete scam and the episode ends with the perky female host being exposed as a Con Artist, the episode is likely meant as a Take That towards such programs.)
  • In Total Drama Island, after Heather gets her lackey Lindsay eliminated from the competition, and goes on to insult Lindsay and admit she was only using her to get further in the contest, Duncan calls it "cold." After Heather tells him off for being Not So Different since he uses his delinquent behavior to scare everyone, Duncan replies, "At least I'm straight with them."
  • Daffy Duck admits that he's a coward in "Ducking the Devil"; however, he is willing to stand up to the Tasmanian Devil when he hears that there's a $5,000 reward offered by the zoo, because he also admits he's a greedy coward.
  • in one episode of G.I. Joe, Flint, Lady Jay, Cobra Commander, and the Baroness were all kidnapped by a third-party villain called the Gamemaster and forced into a Deadly Game scenario. It was clear from the start that the Commander's promises to cooperate with any of them (the Baroness included) were nothing but Blatant Lies. The Baroness, however?
    Cobra Commander: Whose side are you on?
    Baroness: Why, the same side you are, Commander. My own.


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