"'...and then Jack chopped down the beanstalk, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and trespass charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no one asks inconvenient questions.'"A Designated Hero is a character in a story who, despite being presented as heroic, is actually a Jerkass at best and an arguable villain at worst. This is not the same as the deliberately morally ambiguous Anti-Hero. From the praise they receive from other characters and even the narrative, it is plain that the audience is expected to like and root for the Designated Hero; instead, they have problems that can even inspire pity or, on rare occasions, disgust. They are often mean people with no redeeming qualities aside from some superficial virtues, and they do not undergo appreciable character development. They're generally given a pass by the writers, freeing them from the consequences of their actions. An extremely common plot associated with this character is their riding the coattails of a misunderstanding or undeserved reward until they finally feel guilty about it — and are allowed to keep it at the end anyway. In so-called 'guy movies', this is sometimes associated with an implausibly attractive woman inexplicably respecting that he came forward with this information and allowing it to wipe away all fault for what he originally did, despite the fact that most reasonable human beings would never want to see him again. But hey, he learned to be a Nice Guy, right? Note that Values Dissonance can sometimes be a factor with this since the exact definition of what constitutes heroism has changed over time; a character that comes across as a Designated Hero to a modern audience might well have been The Paragon when the story was written in Feudal Japan or Ancient Rome. Of course even in modern society people will have different standards of what constitutes heroism. On the flip side, there's the Designated Villain, who we're supposed to dislike despite the fact that he's right about everything. This is often because everything he says gets accompanied by an annoying smirk. Another inversion would be the Villain Protagonist, who, while presented as the protagonist, is in no way presented as a hero; rather the opposite. (Ironically, a failed attempt at writing a Villain Protagonist can come off as a Designated Hero, though a work with a sympathetic Villain Protagonist can use this trope to their advantage by making the hero who opposes them this). Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist are usually given a free pass but this can be a result if one of their jokes comes across as offensive to the audience members. Not to be confused with The Chosen One, though they can occasionally overlap. Accidental Heroes do accomplish heroic things, but not intentionally. If the character is publicly perceived as a Hero, but is still shown to be villainous within the narrative context of the work, then he's a Villain with Good Publicity. For a character who is an utter Jerkass, but still ultimately heroic, see Good Is Not Nice. For a morally ambiguous character who is intended to be seen as such by the audience, see antihero and its related subtropes. Can also be related to Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, where a character who seems like a nice person turns out to be a mean person deep down. Also not to be confused with Supporting Protagonist, which is when the story just focuses on a character other than the hero. Pinball Protagonist is for when a character doesn't do much that's "heroic" by dint of the fact that they just don't do much of anything important. Do not confuse with Vanilla Protagonist which is where The Protagonist (not necessarily The Hero) is blander than the rest of the main cast so the spotlight can more easily focus on them. See Show, Don't Tell. Almost always a result of being Unintentionally Unsympathetic. Such a character might inspire Rooting for the Empire when the villains are seen as more likable than the main character. The level of designation falls on a spectrum, in more minor cases it's where an Anti-Hero is treated as an Ideal Hero while a theoretically extreme case would be a character that a sensible work would treat as a Complete Monster being The Hero. It should be noted however, that this accusation can be the result of audiences drawing the wrong conclusion. After all, not all heroes are boy scouts. Some are meant to be jerks or develop morally questionable traits over time. Some are meant to walk in the grey line. Or alternately, their morality may be meant to be completely foreign to humans. Note: In-Universe examples or Intentional ones go to Nominal Hero.
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- The Miller Lite beer commercials have a guy enjoying time with his girlfriend; he mentions it's been 30 days and he thinks he's found something special. Just when we think he's talking about his girlfriend, he opens up his refrigerator and reveals the Miller Lite home draft. He even moves her out of the way. (This is a parody of the E-Harmony dating service commercials.)
- The kids of "Trix are for kids" advertising campaign love to torment that poor rabbit with the fact that he will never ever get to eat the damn cereal. By far the most egregious example was when the rabbit legitimately purchased some Trix with his own money, only for the kids to take it away when he left the store, essentially mugging him. Nobody points out the sadistic glee the kids seem to take in excluding and denying the rabbit over and over.
- Both times the Trix rabbit scores some Trix was due to two separate popular votes overwhelmingly supportive of his goal to get the sugary cereal. By that point, even kids were like "just give him the damn cereal you insensitive jerk-offs".
- This made sense in the early commercials (1950s-60s), where the rabbit was actually trying to steal the Trix from the children. Later commercials lost this, probably as a result of But Not Too Evil.
- It's gotten to the point where if the Trix Rabbit even DREAMS of enjoying Trix products, the kids come along and steal them away.
- Much like the kids with the Trix rabbit, we got the kids from the Lucky Charms commercials, who will incessantly hound and chase after Lucky the Leprechaun to take his cereal. It's not as bad as the Trix example since Lucky is clearly toying with them. (Otherwise, he wouldn't always be singing "Try me Lucky Charms - they're magically delicious!")
- In some of the commercials for Golden Crisp, mascot Sugar Bear came across as this. He was always pursuing Granny Goodwitch to steal her cereal instead of getting his own, even though she never did anything to him except try to hide from him so she could finish her cereal, and share it with him during the Christmas season.
- There were numerous Golden Crisp throughout the 90s where the Sugar Crisp bear would actively steal the cereal. One would have him break in the factory at night and rush off with its entire contents, another would have him hijack a delivery truck full of the stuff, all the while singing off his "Can't get enough of that Sugar Crisp" slogan, coming off much more as a smug addict than anything worth sympathy.
- Like the above examples there's Barney, who would constantly come up with scatterbrained schemes, just so he could steal Fred's Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles, instead of buying his own. Some of the earlier commercials even had him break the fourth wall, winking at the audience while bragging how he'd trick Fred and steal his cereal, as though the audience is supposed to find this funny and charming.
- In one ad, he went as far as to disguise himself as a villain called the Purple Phantom and told Fred that Barney was being held hostage. That's right, Barney uses the very friendship he has with Fred as a tool to get Fred to hand over a box of cereal. Jackass.
- Another commercial, similar to the Trix commercial mentioned above, has Barney steal the cereal from Fred's dreams.
- Barney himself says in a parody: "Damn it, Fred, I just want some of your f***ing cereal." This parody is from Robot Chicken, where Barney kills Fred for his cereal, then kills all the animal appliances for witnessing the crime, then gets hanged.
- You know those "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" commercials with the dorky lovable PC and stuck-up Mac? Rumors abound that the audience is supposed to prefer Mac Guy.
- The Alltel Wireless commercials have a similar problem. The audience is supposed to like Chad, even when he doesn't lift a finger to stop his supporters from doing terrible things to the avatars of the other companies. Besides that, Chad adopts a Holier Than Thou personality to humiliate the other guys.
- The douchebag lies and gets the girl in the Twix "Take Your Time" commercials.
- One of the newer commercials features a guy staring at a bunch of "hot" women fooling around in the street. The guy's wife, with their presumably newborn daughter, yells at him, and asks what he's doing. The "Need a Moment?" logo comes up, the guy eats one of the bars. He says, "I'm just looking at... potential babysitters!" The wife then KISSES his cheek, saying, "You are SO sweet!". What?
- Another has a girl finding the name Terry on her boyfriend's cell phone. After the Twix Time Freeze thing happens, he casually claims that Terry is his boss. The commercial doesn't say that cheating is okay, but doesn't say anything about it being wrong in any way, either.
- Aussie Haircare has a series of ads where a Funny Animal kangaroo is going about their business when Aussie products fall out of their pouch. Women nearby use them to get better hair. At no point does the 'roo ever get anything more substantial than a "thanks". This includes the meter maid who got the stuff when the 'roo was trying to get more change out to put in a parking meter about to expire. Yes, she stole her stuff and still gave her the ticket.
- Esurance has Frank The Saver, who spends all his screentime bragging about how great he is at saving people money and doing his best to undermine and downplay his coworkers' efforts. After all, who wouldn't want to buy their insurance from somebody who only sees their accounts as another feather in his cap and another reason to rub his success in everyone else's face?
- Ad Council:
- In one commercial, a dentist is going around a store humiliating people who are thinking of buying soda. He then attempts to Scare 'Em Straight by showing pictures of one soda user's teeth. The message may be clear, but the dentist is treated as the hero, despite his borderline harassment of shoppers.
- Another commercial had an overweight guy waiting for an elevator. Someone comes up to him and says something to the effect of "Maybe you should take the stairs?"
- A Skittles commercial has one guy eating Skittles from an hourglass that represents his friend's lifetime. The friend comes in as an old man and as he continues to age before the guy's eyes, the guy continues to eat the Skittles. Apparently we're supposed to laugh as the guy is so addicted to candy he's dooming his friend to an early grave.
- A group of girls are talking and two of them mention a boy has skittles in place of teeth. So one of the girls goes over to the boy, who is smiling and looks excited, and french kisses him. Then it's not only revealed that she took his teeth into her own mouth but she promptly bites down on a skittle tooth with an audible crunch and smiles at the boy. What? She just made this random stranger toothless!
- There is another Skittles commercial where three young people eating Skittles are sitting on a rainbow in the sky. One of them starts questioning the situation he's in, upon which a Trap Door opens right beneath him and he falls, presumably to his death. The other two look down briefly and resume eating their Skittles like as if he never existed. Considering this commercial's slogan is "Believe the Rainbow!," the viewer is expected to be on the side of the two remaining people (as well as arguing to live one's life in complete blind faith).
- Some of the worst offenders in commercials on the Cracked article 6 Ad Campaigns That Prove Humanity Is Doomed.
- Some of the latest Hanes commercials has a fan harass Michael Jordan while cruelly insulting another passenger on their plane for his "bacon neck" (a wrinkled collar on his undershirt). The fan is completely insufferable, though Michael Jordan himself regards him vague bemusement, so at least he comes out of this relatively clean (despite the inexplicable Hitler mustache he wears for it).
- According to their ad campaign, anyone with AT&T's 4G is entitled to act like a total Jerkass to anyone who DARES try to tell them the latest news: "That's SO Xsty seconds ago!" Not that these people ever see fit to share the information when they learn it first; no, it's just an excuse to degrade and insult the 'uninformed masses'.
- A commercial for Kraft Mac and Cheese has a kid boasting how he took all the pans from home when he went over to a friends for a sleepover. Why? So he makes sure that his parents don't cook Macaroni and Cheese (Or anything else for that matter) and eat it when he's not there. Makes you want to throttle the smug rat.
- There was a similar commercial where a disgustingly bratty kid got their parents taken away/arrested for eating some of their Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
- The "ugly Bill" commercial where a woman is on a date with a cute guy, but then he becomes overweight, gets yellow teeth and a mole. She immediately starts insulting his looks. When the poor man asks if she's talking about him or her overpriced direct TV bill she's asks, "Does it make a difference?" Maybe he got fat from the stress of dealing with such a shallow person.
Films — Animated
- In Pocahontas, Meeko the raccoon and Percy the dog, the Empathy Pets of the main heroine and villain respectively, are meant to be cast in the same positions within their conflict. Yet Meeko steals Percy's food while the latter minds his own business, and continues to do this throughout two movies. And the things that Meeko does would result in bodily harm were his opponent not Made of Iron. To top it all off, the damn raccoon gets away with everything.
- Sinbad in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. Aside from the obvious fact that he is sent because he's their only option, the general way Sinbad acts for almost the entire movie makes him little to no different then a villain. He starts the movie trying to rob a ship, not even caring when it's his childhood friend Proteus he's robbing. Sinbad is then set up to be executed for a crime he didn't commit, and Proteus decides to take Sinbad's place in exchange for Sinbad retrieving the Book of Peace. Oh, yes, did we mention that Proteus is a prince who is next in line to inherit the throne? That means his death would result in a Succession Crisis and doom his entire country. Yet despite this overwhelming amount of faith Proteus puts in Sinbad, the pirate responds by leaving him behind to die, something he very well would have gotten away with had it not been for Proteus's fiancee stowing aboard the ship to make sure he keeps his word. When she saves the crew from a Siren attack, Sinbad actually has to be pressured into showing her any gratitude at all. But the two gradually warm up to each other and start to fall in love, despite Marina's prior engagement. Eris even calls Sinbad out on this, saying that even if he's not betraying Proteus by running away, he is stealing Proteus's girl. He does go back in the end, but it's very hard to see what goodness is in him that others are seeing. The worst part? He's the one who ends up with Marina in the end.
- His abandoning of Proteus was explained as him believing that Proteus's father would never let his son be killed, which would have been true had Proteus not suffered a massive case of Honor Before Reason. And when Sinbad does go back at the end, it's fully expecting the death penalty (he believed he failed to get the book back) and refusing Marina's offer for him to run while she went back and got Proteus off the hook by explaining that Sinbad did everything he could. Whether or not this is too little too late or not is another matter.
- Bebe's Kids. Seriously, they destroy a theme park and cause trouble for many innocent people there, yet they never get punished for it. Worse, the audience is expected not to think badly of them because they have a poor life and have "attitude." In the original stand up routine the movie was based on, they were clearly the antagonists. Robin Harris was criticizing irresponsible parents who were too selfish to raise and discipline their ill-behaved children. Also, Robin Harris' character in the movie ALSO qualifies for this trope; generally acting like a major Jerkass to everyone yet actually being praised as a good guy despite doing nothing good whatsoever.
- Stanley from A Troll in Central Park. Aside from just being a delusional idiot, his "perfect world" is filled with trolls who look and think exactly like him, he acts waaayyy too happy when a toddler kisses him, and at the end of the film he covers New York City in vegetation, causing untold devastation and no doubt killing hundreds of people.
- Jack, the protagonist from, well Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is that, if only for the fact that at the very end of the movie, he willingly throw the key that allow his heart to even function onto a cliff, with no real justification, wich wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that, for one, his adoptive mother died trying to save his life, and two, that the girl he loved tried everything she could to be at Edinburgh in time to bring him this very key, and she came from Andalousia, no less, seemingly rendering both of their effort meaningless. The fact that he seems perfectly content with dying in front of a girl who loves him, as the final image of the movie is his ghost looking down on her and smiling doesn't help
- He also made the booth of an old ghost train's caretaker, whom he previously worked for, fall off, for seemingly no other reason than she was slightly rude to him earlier... Even though she had every reason to be, since he didn't exactly worked really hard after she hired him.
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was a '90s Anti-Hero during The Attitude Era and it worked because everyone was either a villain or an Anti-Hero, and the villains he faced in particular were into things like corporate corruption, nepotism, and Hollywood Satanism. Ever since around 2003 he's presented as a face (and is still popular) but hasn't changed his act so he's a straight up jerk. He once stunned Stacy Keibler simply because she didn't like the taste of beer and also Linda McMahon (a middle aged woman who is not a trained wrestler) just for the hell of it. If any other wrestler had done this, Jim Ross on commentary would have villified them but with Stone Cold just said "I may not like it but that's the way he is." He also stunned Booker T at WrestleMania for doing a spinaroonie in the ring (apparently Austin doesn't like the attention being stolen from him) and also Josh Matthews for simply reading a message from the Raw GM that Austin didn't like.
- The Big Show during his feud with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Sure, Mayweather had a showboating problem, but he still pulled a Big Damn Heroes for Rey Mysterio Jr. at the beginning and then even shared some of his wealth with the crowd at WrestleMania XXIV; Show was the one who assaulted Mysterio in the first place, then spent the rest of the buildup doing the same to several others while bragging about wanting to injure Mayweather into early retirement. And during the match, Mayweather kept trying to fight fair until Show invoked Disproportionate Retribution on one of the former's bodyguards simply for giving his client some water (albeit in an overly elaborate chalice) mid-match, then kept trying to make good on the aforementioned injury threats. And yet Mayweather eventually resorting to both Zerg Rush interference and foreign objects to get the win was treated as dirty — even though (A) there were no disqualifications anyway, (B) Show already had a Story-Breaker Power size advantage himself, and (C) it was all out of desperation to finally put down a stubborn Juggernaut.
- The Bella Twins when they were faces. They would switch with each other to win matches. Yeah that's right - faces would cheat to win. And it was presented as completely okay and their opponents were supposed to have deserved it somehow. This was reversed with their heel turn in 2011 where they continued to use it but commentators and other wrestlers would outline it as wrong.
- John Cena frequently. One evening he hurled a hurricane of fat jokes at Vickie Guerrero who admittedly used to be overweight but has since slimmed down considerably. He also frequently bullies his opponents, spins and distorts the truth to get into their heads, and generally acts like a smug prick when he's called on his behavior, but is still presented as a role model and leads the B.A. Star Anti Bullying campaign as well as most (if not all) WWE's charity causes.
- As a specific example, when Zack Ryder got over with the crowd, Cena became Ryder's "Broski," did his damnedest to whore ALL of the attention, then stole Ryder's girlfriend and never bothered to lift a finger while Kane repeatedly assaulted Ryder. This wasn't a heel turn, he was still being treated as a face in-universe.
- Another example came with him, portraying the All-American Babyface against Alexander Rusev's Foreign Wrestling Heel, beating up Rusev because Rusev said disparaging things about America, not five minutes after Cena told Rusev he had the right to free speech in this country.
- Paige from WWE NXT is a subversion. She was a heel in FCW but got insanely popular so appeared as a face on TV without a proper character change. However she was presented as more of a Wild Card and the announcers don't imply that her behaviour is justified (or at least particularly heroic) at all. She appears to treat faces and heels equally.
- Brooke Tessmacher in TNA. She unfortunately was pushed as a face but made it clear she wasn't able to portray herself that way. She came across as arrogant and full of herself in her entrance, bratty and bitchy in her promos and unnecessarily brutal in the ring. In her feud with her best friend Tara she came across as the heel initially until the latter turned heel on her.
- Sheamus often comes off as these, and in 2013, had three straight feuds like this.
- First, he had a pre-Wrestlemania feud against Wade Barrett, which began when Wade started bragging about a movie he got to appear in. Sheamus, for no apparent reason, came out to answer this bragging by crapping all over the movie and Wade's acting skills. The odd part is that nothing ever came of this, partly because Sheamus was already in feuding with The Shield at the time, so it made his actions seem unnecessarily dickish.
- Secondly, he feuded with Mark Henry. This began when Henry attacked Sheamus backstage, during interviews, a couple of times. Sheamus paid these attacks back, then continued harassing him even after he seemed to lose interest in Sheamus. In two cases, Mark Henry challenged Sheamus to non-wrestling physical contests (tug-of-war and arm wrestling), which he clearly outclassed Sheamus in with superior strength alone. Sheamus came off as a massive dick by assaulting Henry in the middle of these just to keep himself from losing, or just to get the last laugh.
- His third feud is with Damien Sandow, which consisted almost entirely of Sandow expressing intellectual superiority, then Sheamus attacking him for no particular reason. Even in cases where Sandow was legitimately acting like a dick (cheating at the shell game), Sheamus still ended up looking like quite a dick, such as completing the chess challenge by destroying the expensive computer for no apparent reason.
- Other than those feuds, there's that one time he straight up stole a car. And no, Jerry Lawler, "just borrowing it" is not a valid legal defense. (He also promised its owner he wouldn't mess it up - then proceeded to drive it through mud and low-hanging vegetation while eating a huge sloppy burrito in it.)
- Randy Orton during his Face runs. Hates Everyone Equally, attacks heels and faces, and in general raises hell just because he can. While the commentators may try to justify it every once in a while, Randy himself is fully aware that a lot of what he does is reprehensible and that he is not a good person in any form or fashion. He just doesn't care.
- Roman Reigns does this quite often, oftentimes following essentially the same format as Cena above. Two specific example stand out.
- Immediately after The Shield broke up, he tricked his way into the main event scene by poisoning the coffees Vickie Guerrero was bringing to Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, which ended up getting Stephanie violently sick. Despite Reigns' antics being caught on camera, the Authority seemed to actively ignore his fault in it and focus on humiliating, and eventually firing, Vickie instead. In other words, Reigns got an innocent woman (and single mother, mind you) fired for his own benefit and the fact that it was his fault is never brought up again.
- His US Title feud with Rusev and Lana in 2016 may be even worse, combined with them playing the Designated Villain. Their greatest crime in this feud was obnoxiously promoting the fact that they'd just gotten married, and despite ruining their wedding segment for no real good reason and going out of his way to harass and torment them, Reigns is still presented as the good guy.
- Dino Attack RPG had it's share of Designated Heroes amongst actual heroes and Designated Villains:
- Snake was supposed to be a likeable anti-hero just like his inspiration, but unlike his namesake he didn't have as much of a context to act the way he did (Snake Plissken at least had the excuse of living in a crime-filled post-apocalyptic future). As a result, he ended up coming off as a complete Jerkass. To add insult to injury, the guy who was supposed to be a low-life scumbag in comparison ended up being a Designated Victim, seeing as Snake's motivation for wanting to beat him up seemed incredibly weak.
- Trigger is a similar case. He kept being presented as though he was the Only Sane Man, but every other second he was insulting other agents or accusing them of incompetence. The fact that other players' developments kept causing Trigger's "sane" opinions to be proven wrong didn't help.
- Dust would apparently be an example of this done right, given that despite his fanbase he spent most of his time in the RPG double-crossing or otherwise getting in the way of everybody.
- Firecracker was supposed to be an amusing comic relief. However, it turns out that apparently there's nothing funny about a man whose defining characteristic is an overt obsession with blowing things up.
- Duke... oh boy... Duke. This was a guy's primary character (and in this RPG all players are supposed to be on the same side, meaning he was supposed to be a good guy). His role was (thankfully) fairly brief, but the majority of his actions consisted of insane hate crimes against anyone in the team with the slightest idealistic beliefs. It came as quite a relief to players when Duke was finally locked up in a maximum security prison and there was actually a movement to ensure he stayed there.
- Warhammer 40,000: The Grim Darkness of the 41st Millennium might as well be the poster boy of this trope. The only reason the Imperium of Man appears to be good guys is because they are human. Beyond this they are xenophobic, fascist, anti-progress extremists that have committed just as many atrocities as any other faction. The closest thing the setting comes to actual good guys would be one of the more benevolent Chapters of Space Marines, such as the Ultramarines or the Salamanders, just because they actually care about the lives of Human civilians enough to usually rate their defense of a world's population as being slightly more important than exterminating the enemy.
- The point of the setting is that there are no good guys, and the Imperium is the perspective of the human factions. Individual characters may be heroic, however.
- Given the nature of the medium, anecdotes quite naturally circulate in tabletop RPG circles about both player and non-player characters like this. For a fairly basic example, the section "Confessions of a Hack and Slash Junkie" (which is actually about breaking out of that mold and creating memorable plots and villains) in the Fantasy Hero genre book for the 4th edition of the Hero System alludes to a slaughter of kobold children by the PCs of one of the author's past playing groups "because they aren't worth experience points alive."
- Used In-Universe in Beast: The Primordial: Heroes are literally created by the Primordial Dream, the collective metaconsciousness of humanity, to fit the role of "The Hero". Thing is, between shifts in the metaconsciousness about the definitive purpose of The Hero, and the fact that those susceptible to being drawn into the role are invariably crazy to begin with, Heroes fixate on just "kill the Beast" and completely forgo the higher purposes. The result is a dangerous mixture of Black and White Insanity and Knight Templar with nearly unshakeable belief in their benefiting from Protagonist-Centered Morality, and a propensity towards being a Glory Hound. It doesn't matter to them if the Beast is sating its hunger by beating up muggers & rapists or being a super-strict and incorruptible health inspector; a Beast is a Beast and deserves to die. No matter the harm a Hero does to everyone else around them in the process.
- Hamlet. There's a fine line between being a Tragic Hero, an overall good person undone by a Fatal Flaw, and being a Designated Hero, a character treated by the narrative as a hero despite doing nothing heroic, and it's a line Hamlet crosses more than twice. After learning from the ghost of his father that his father was murdered by Claudius, Hamlet spends the next act or so mocking and taunting Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, while also verbally abusing and Slut-Shaming Ophelia, despite that they had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the murder of Hamlet's father. When Hamlet finally does something, he murders Polonius because he heard a voice behind some curtains and jumps to the conclusion that it must be Claudius. He then hides the body and jokes that everybody will smell him soon enough. This murder drives Ophelia to insanity and her death (she may even have been Driven to Suicide). Hamlet then deliberately brings about the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern despite little to no evidence that they actually did anything wrong. He finally gets around to the one person he was supposed to be killing, Claudius, only after the latter has poisoned Gertrude and gotten Laertes to poison Hamlet who then gets accidentally poisoned by Hamlet. So it could be argued that every death that occurs from the start of the play onward is all Hamlet's fault.
- Siegfried from Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung. The anti-Semitic connotations with his treatment of Mime don't help, even if Mime is a Dirty Coward. And the identification Adolf Hitler had with him.
- Subverted as early as Gilbert and Sullivan's The Yeomen of the Guard, their only tragedy. Colonel Fairfax is often treated by other characters as a great hero. There's nothing they wouldn't do for him. The audience is repeatedly told how great he is, but sees little real evidence. At the end, he is revealed to be an absolutely hateful figure. No wonder audiences treat Jack Point sympathetically as The Woobie, despite him being something of a jerk himself.
- In Much Ado About Nothing, Claudio was tricked into thinking that his fianceé Hero had cheated on him. Instead of asking her about it or even quietly canceling the wedding, he waited until the wedding ceremony was underway then publicly accused her of being a whore. Even after being (falsely) informed that Hero had died of shock afterwards, he showed no remorse.
- All of the Christian characters from The Merchant of Venice can be seen this way, especially Portia, who ruins the Designated Villain / Well-Intentioned Extremist Shylock's life, then decides to fuck with her fiance apparently just for the lulz with the whole stupid rings subplot.
- This is probably mostly due to Values Dissonance. Shylock would most probably have originally been seen as the villain by its original audience and Portia and Antonio (who treats Shylock far worse than Portia who at least gave him what would have been a considered a happy ending) as the heroes. Over time this has changed with peoples attitudes as Shylock's portrayal has gone from villainous clown to tragic figure due to changing views of race and racism.
- There are those who believe that Shakespeare intended for the play to be taken this way, and that it was deliberately written to subvert anti-Jewish bigotry. There is basis in the text to support this interpretation, but it of course remains a matter of interpretation.
- Sam in Trouble in Tahiti wins a handball tournament while missing a chance to see his son's School Play, just to demonstrate that he's a Born Winner. He's very proud of his work, and the Greek Chorus gushes over how great he is, but it can't be taken seriously in light of the abjectly cynical context.
- The Lego Powerminers theme officially involved heroic miners armed with Dynamite and heavy digging equipment fighting rock and lava men deep beneath the earth while collecting valuable crystals. However, the packaging often depicted the the "heros" as imperialists coming to exploit the rock-men's food supply and then dynamiting the rock men when they resisted. The 2nd wave talked about how the miners had gone deeper down, which sort of contradicts the idea they are defending the surface.
- Though this falls under All There in the Manual, initial comics showed that the rock men vibrate when they eat the crystals, and doing this in large numbers had caused major earthquakes further up. So the miners' objective was not so much to obtain the crystals for their own sake, but to keep them away from the monsters to prevent natural disasters.
- Ariel from Drowtales. As the narrator and viewpoint character, she considers herself a hero, in a world where nobody can decently be called such. Though the fact that she considers herself a 'hero' is toned down in the remake. She just wants to live, and some of her more dubious actions have been retconned or changed. Her not really mother Quain'taina, is also portrayed as this in-universe, because to the Drow the definition of a great person is capability to great deeds; morality does not enter into the matter. Quain'tana's virtue is in her skills and charisma that allowed her to rise from a homeless street rat to one of the greatest political powers in the city, while the fact that she's a horrifically cruel mother is not particularly important to the drow. She isn't a sociopath, incidentally; it's more of a case of a cycle of abuse.
- Also occurs in the comic Black Tapestries. The main star is a bitch. Also has Designated Antagonist, who manages to be a villain by a compulsive "Shoot the Dog" reflex.
- Goblins plays with this by putting the protagonists on the receiving end. A band of adventurers invade their home to clear them out with no other justification than that they were goblins and therefore Always Chaotic Evil. Most of the tribe gets wiped out and the survivors decide that they are sick of being walking chunks of XP and decide to become adventurers themselves to better protect their homes. Then one of their own gets captured and brought into a human city where so-called "monstrous races" are routinely captured and tortured to better understand how to kill them. While it might seem that they slip into Designated Hero territory when they slaughter guards, they actually use the paladin's ability to detect evil to ensure only evil guards are killed. And Thaco's declaration of his intent to slaughter his way through the human civilians to get to his son is a bluff to scare away said civilians so that they aren't caught in the crossfire.
- All the "heroes" of Sonichu. Many of the female main protagonists only exist solely for "fanservice", rarely, if ever, do heroics without their significant other and usually focus on shopping and having sex. Everyone takes the title with issue 10 and later All There in the Manual-type questioning. Issue 10 shows the Author Avatar for Christian Weston Chandler eradicating everything he hates - from homosexuality to simple Internet trolls with his fellow castmates cheering him on. Later questioning and written installments turn the characters into something of a private army for the city where they're granted immunity for any actions they've done and one of their more powerful characters is used as a sort of psychic security officer patrolling for anyone "gay". Chris continuously kept backpedaling after people kept complaining, leading to his big Creator Breakdown.
- Mora in Las Lindas has a history of using sex, violence, and blackmail to extort people for cheap labor. Mora also throws childish tantrums and belittles her loved ones. Her occasional acts of charity often come as result of plot convenience or her boyfriend bribing her with sex. Yet, every story arc ends with Mora being labeled as the positive force everyone's life, despite her not really doing anything worthy of such praise. Even the ruler of the world shows favoritism towards Mora for no obvious reason, much to the chagrin of Alej.
- Rhys from Teahouse is supposed to be a troubled and rude yet somewhat charming prince. Except that he's irresponsible (meaning he would be a terrible person to run the country - his sister points this out several times); he's uncaring (he left his sister, grieving over how their father is slowly dying in front of them (who he showed zero interest in), so he could go to a whorehouse and fuck a whore - there were plenty of people within the palace who he sleeps with so it isn't a matter of needing comfort/escaping his duties); he violently beat up the whore who, supposedly, slept with his sister after he suggested that she should go there; he's repeatedly raped a whore who is technically a slave and not allowed to say no (but he still fought back as much as he could before Rhys overpowered him and tied him down) and he only goes to said whore, who's straight, so afterwards he can mock and victim-shame him - meaning he only does it so he can feel better about himself. Not only is he supposed to be a good guy that whore/prince couple is supposed to be romantic.
- Makoto Yosue turned into this by the end of Red String. He started out as an obvious antagonist to the author's originally planned main couple and was a completely rude and unrelentless jerk to Miharu. Despite him knowing she's engaged and him knowing that he's also engaged to marry her cousin, he continues to harrass and pursue her. The closest he ever comes in the comic to acknowledging this is apologizing...for still loving Miharu. However, as the author completely fell in love with him, she drastically changed the story to make him more of a protagonist and derail her original storyline to focus more on Makoto. This led to the original male protagonist getting written out of his own comic and Miharu's only concerns in the storyline being her ability to date Makoto. People in the story constantly tell the reader he's "changed" or blow off his continued bad behavior to everyone around him with handwaves. Other storylines not featuring Makoto rapidly dropped out of the comic as it blew towards its conclusion. The author herself declared him her favorite character because of his "self-sacrifice", a trait he never displays in the entire ten years of the comic's run. Miharu eventually winds up with him because the story expects him to have her. By the end of the story, he'd morphed into a complete Karma Houdini and a Creator's Pet, but never actually a person who the reader would actually want to root for.
- To highlight the complete disconnect between Makoto's portrayl in the comic and how the author wants him to be seen, in one of the final scenes of the comic, Makoto insults Kazuo for having an abusive home and for becoming so ill from it that he tried to commit suicide. Kazuo points out that Makoto entered his life by declaring the then-engaged Miharu and her family's business as his property, both of which he'd gotten his hands on with no actual effort, and pointing out that his life has been nothing but one lucky break or parental bail out after another. We are supposed to take Makoto's side. Oh, and his parents do bail him out once again, leaving him in a better position than he was before the argument...so Kazuo was completely correct that Makoto is completely useless as a protagonist.
- Miharu devolves into this as well. By the end of the comic, anything about her that indicates she exists to be anything except Makoto's girlfriend has departed the comic and she can't even make the simplest decisions without relying on him to do them for her. Miharu's goal at the start of the comic is eating and being Kazuo's wife. All that changes in the end of the comic? She just intends to be Makoto's wife instead. In the meantime, while the story tries to tell us that she's brave, thoughtful, and spunky, her actions come off as a spoiled bratty teenager that's never been told no. She's kicked out of high school (which is very hard to do in Japan and doubly so at her school in particular) due to her antagonism of her teachers and complete disregard for schoolwork. The story started to show her realizing that she was on her last chance at her new school...then dropped any pretense of showing her ever working on fixing her grades or having any plans beyond marrying the guy that just threw his job away to date her full time and has shown no indication of actually planning on getting another one. In addition, she treats her parents like crap when they rightfully point out her secretly dating Makoto could put her entire family (including Karen's family!) in serious peril if she isn't taking it seriously. Naturally, since Makoto just solved the problem for her, Miharu is never put in a position to admit she's wrong and the last scene of the comic is her mocking her parents. Oh, and Kazuo, the guy she was supposed to marry who she now knows had a physically and emotionally abusive home and who she claimed to still care about and that she'd "always be there for him?" even after his family pressured him (physically) into ending the marriage? Yea, she cuts him off entirely and can't even be arsed to tell him in person. She also seems to think she can magically solve his abusive homelife by manipulating him into participating in cooking contests and then gets angry and offended when he finally realizes she had convinced a woman to pretend to love him to convince him to cook. Only in that last scenario is Miharu ever shown to admit she did something wrong. The story still expects us to sympathize only with Miharu and be angry with Kazuo despite the fact that he's absolutely right to be angry with her for treating his problems so flippantly.
- Lighter Than Heir features a complete jerkass protagonist that deconstructs the Determinator Trope: sure, she's patriotic, optimistic, and never gave up when her instructor stacked the odds to break her jerkass. But she's UTTERLY anti-social, treating her squadmates like malfunctioning weapons, and ends up becoming the intolerable bane of her entire squad (to the ones who can tell the difference between comrade and sociopathic load). And then she proceeds to disown her father over NOTHING (she suspected that he was playing the war hero / cheating on her mother as a disappeared dad - she found out that he was tortured and murdered For Science!) and mass-murder a bunch of soldiers in her way, some of whom turn out to be decent people. It would be understandable if it were for revenge for her experimentation and her father's murder, but she's just utterly loyal to her country and willing to murder anyone who isn't part of her country. It's unknown if her power increase and constant PTSD will eventually develop into character development or full-blown sociopathy. Our Superwoman Expy, ladies and gentlemen!
- One of the most common criticisms of the Sisterhood in Sin Fest. The author wants them to be seen as heroic and noble feminists who are fighting against "the Patriarchy," which is a tangible organization/conspiracy within the world of the strip. Instead, they come across as Jerkass Straw Feminists. They brook no disagreement with their viewpoints and refuse to debate their opinions, perform morally questionable actions (like hacking into a Fembot factory and turning the androids against the staff), and even have a member who, when questioned about why she "hates men," doesn't disagree with the idea and labels men as her oppressor. They are never called out on their more extreme behavior, and the author seems to want them to be seen as 100% in the right.
- Case in point: when the Sisterhood hack into the Fembot factory, they cause all of the Fembots inside to revolt against the staff working there and attack them. Later, another Fembot who's gained sentience comes across the abandoned factory and finds that the Fembots there had been destroyed. This is treated as a tragedy...except all of the blame is put on the Patriarchy. It's never once acknowledged that the Sisterhood, whatever their intentions may have been, are directly responsible for the violence that occurred there.
- Jay Naylor, author of Better Days, actually created a porn series sold online called "Haukaiu the Hero". People have pointed out that the title character hasn't done anything heroic, by either the old use or the current one, but has in fact so far been so blatantly unheroic as to not really care that his brain-damaged mother is being used as a sex toy by the men of the village. It is a porn series, so it's not really supposed to make sense to begin with, and the series are still incomplete, but still...
- In the Online novel series Tasakeru, Skunk mythology states that their death-goddess loved the male element of the god's love quadangle so much she offered to be sub-dominant to him. The other two, the goddesses of life and time, reacted by infusing her body with poison so whatever she touches dies. They more or less act like horror-movie style sorority bitches, rather than the kind and loving goddesses they're worshipped as.
- Gordon Freeman is depicted as being like this in Freeman's Mind. Everyone hails him as a great hero, but really he just sort of bumbles around and saves the world by an accident, while at the same time trying to negotiate with enemy soldiers (it doesn't work), looting things around Black Mesa, and trying to find anything he can to get high (such as animal tranquilizers). A good example is episode 19: throughout the last few episodes, he had been randomly wandering around, pressing buttons because they looked shiny and shooting zombies who attacked him. Turns out he accidentally turns on a rocket engine that burns a giant monster to death (that he had avoided being crushed by due to sneaking and sheer dumb luck). The creator justify that if a scientist shoot his way out of an alien invasion, chances are he had a dark side before hell broke loose.
- The Irate Gamer himself. He blew up a harmless alien mothership because of E.T. on Atari, murdered the Kool-Aid Man for doing what he does... ON CHRISTMAS, casually pals around with Satan, blew up Ubisoft's headquarters because he couldn't get into their E3 conference, and we're supposed to treat him as the hero. If he was just an asshole that would be kind of understandable, except he has an Evil Twin character that hasn't even killed anyone or done anything remotely evil outside of stealing something.
- Mutants in the Whateley Universe. A number of the mutant characters seem to hold the opinion that mutants are just another minority, cruelly segregated and persecuted by 'normal' people... which, to be fair, is true, except for the fact that most mutants have powers that could easily kill a baseline, many at the school are living weapons of mass destruction, and the superheroes can be deadly- for instance, the case of the Flying Bulldozer, who tried to stop his long-time nemesis by throwing cars at him. It worked, while injuring dozens and causing over a million dollars of damages.
- Especially the main characters of most stories and any of the school staff.
- A lot of people felt this about Meridell in Neopets' Meridell/Darigan war: The shiny, pretty town of Meridell is threatened by the evil, ominous Darigan Citadel. Lord Darigan demands that Meridell give him their magic orb and makes it clear that he'll not take no for an answer. Obviously, we're meant to side with Meridell... except that the orb originally belonged to Darigan, and was stolen from him by the people of Meridell, so he understandably wants his property back- and while it's true that Meridell stole the orb only because they were doomed if they didn't, apparently nobody realised that if having the orb will make your land prosper, then maybe taking it from somebody else is a dick move.
- Most of the protagonists in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series qualify, though Yami Yugi is undoubtedly the worst offender.
- If one were to consider Seto Kaiba one, then he definitely qualifies.
- Matthew Santoro is portrayed as a hero for locking up Hugo in a cage for being crazy, and it's implied that it wasn't Hugo's fault that he's crazy.
- In the "Grounded" videos made with GoAnimate, the grown ups are shown to be no better than the children they punish. This is especially if the punishment they give them is heavily excessive, which it usually is as it tends to be some huge arbitrary number.
- Caillou's dad (aka. Boris) tends to be the worst of the bunch as he tends to go Ax-Crazy with his punishments; groundings are one thing, other times he tends to put Caillou through a very painful Humiliation Conga that can lead to death. It's even worse in some videos where Caillou's dad grounds or tortures Caillou when Caillou wasn't even misbehaving, or sets Caillou up into situations where he'll misbehave and thus get grounded. Despite clearly being an utterly despicable psychopath, Boris is clearly meant to be the hero for putting Caillou in his place.
- Das Sporking has had to put up with a lot of them. The most well-known examples are Bella and Edward from Twilight, and their expies Anastasia and Christian from Fifty Shades of Gray, but there have been others, like Rose Potter.