Designated Villain

"Wow! Free burgers for everyone? Even the poor? That would be a very kind thing for them to do. And they're apparently the villains for some reason."
Linkara, Atop the Fourth Wall

A villainous antagonist is a common driving force behind conflict in stories, so it makes natural sense to write one in. But villainy requires villainous acts... so a villain who doesn't really perform those is a bit hard to swallow.

If one is written in anyway, the result is a character who is treated as a bad guy by the plot, despite never actually doing anything as to justify the amount of hate that they receive from the good guys. Any astute arguments and observations by this character are to be dismissed by the audience, because they are Obviously Evil, just as the Designated Hero is regarded as 'good' despite having no significant virtues.

In fact, this may only prove a character a Jerkass, especially in regards to the protagonist. This isn't a case of a deliberately over-the-top villain, it's a personification of being an ass for its own sake. That being said, there are cases where just being a jerk can qualify one for being the antagonist by itself.

Alternately, it might be a character that could fall under Hero Antagonist. Keep in mind that antagonists and villains are very different things.

If a work is too Anvilicious with this, than the audience might start Rooting for the Empire out of spite.

Compare and contrast Designated Hero, Poke the Poodle, Villain Ball Magnet, Hate Sink, and Villainy-Free Villain. Also see Felony Misdemeanor. Not to be confused with Designated Evil.

Not to be confused with Unintentionally Sympathetic, which is where a villain does do bad things but gets audience sympathy despite this, or Offstage Villainy, which is where the bad guy did bad things... but not on screen.

Please note that Tropes Are Not Bad, as this can sometimes be done on purpose to add more shades of grey to a story, or to show that the heroes are not completely perfect.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Sio is this in Afro Samurai: Resurrection. Let's overlook what she does to Afro directly. Name one thing that Sio does to earn her the Informed Attribute of wickedness given to her by Professor Dharman (Go on, we'll wait)? Afro Samurai runs on Grey and Grey Morality anyway, however, given all of the heinous things that Afro does in his quest for revenge, and how Sio wound up the way she did, it's hard to say that anything she does to Afro in particular makes her evil. Hell, she lied about torturing Afro's father: she doesn't even keep her word when she's talking about hurting people she hates. That said, the runner up for evil things that Sio did in the story is her sexually humiliating an evil person who wanted to be sexually humiliated. This is really a victimless crime any way it's viewed. She can't even get Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds status, because she doesn't perpetrate villainy against anyone other than Afro. Sio is such a Designated Villain, that in any other story (or if the screentime focused on her more than Afro), she could arguably be an anti-hero.
  • About halfway through the anime Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor, it seems that the writers realized that they made their Designated Hero Hidden Elf Village too unlikable, and the alternative, the U.N. backed "Human Army", too sympathetic in trying to survive against the world ending threat. Sweeping changes were made in personalities to ensure that the audience knew who was right and who was wrong.
  • Rex Raptor (Dinosaur Ryuzaki) from Yu-Gi-Oh! is more of a "villain by proxy", as his best friend is the downright rotten Weevil Underwood (Insector Haga). He is shown helping Joey (Jonouchi) on occasion, and is more just a jerk than an actual villain, but ends up selling his soul for power in the Doma arc anyway.
  • Nistro and Dextra (Gauche and Droite) of Yu Gi Oh ZEXAL debut as villains because they want to expel Flip (Tokunosuke) from the World Duel Carnival tournament. Why did they want to expel Flip from the tournament? Because he was swindling people out of their Heart Pieces. He was breaking the rules of the tournament and directly screwing over other people. Even if the punishment (confiscating his deck and expelling him from the WDC for life) was pretty excessive, Nistro and Dextra were just doing their jobs. Even though the moral of the franchise has been that Cheaters Never Prosper since day one, we're expected to root for Yuma when he comes to Flip's defense, because he's Yuma's friend (and even that's a pretty dubious title).
  • King Gurumes, the villain of the first Dragon Ball movie. He ruled his land with tyranny because he became addicted to blood rubies. So Goku and his friends try to stop the evil king from gathering the dragon balls and making his "terrible wish" of wishing himself free of the blood ruby hunger... which would solve the problem itself!
  • Donan Cassim in Fang of the Sun Dougram. Sure, the reason why he's so determined to keep the colony planet a part of the Earth Federation is that he wants to use the manpower and technology to develop two nearby mineral-rich planets and save an exhausted Earth, but he's still evil. At some point, the authors realized that he's a little too sympathetic and installed his aide as the Big Bad instead.
  • Luc displays an odd case of this in the Suikoden III Manga, where he goes to considerable effort to hide the fact that he's trying to save the world (through mass genocide, but still). When the hero finds this out, he even rants about not needing sympathy for his actions. He was a Jerkass even when he was a good guy.
  • Clair Leonelli in Heat Guy J. First, he starts off as a puppy-kicker with Joker Immunity, then inexplicably disappears for a while. Then, when he comes back still holding the Villain Ball, another Designated Villain grabs the Villain Ball, and Clair goes into an Angst Coma. When he comes out of the coma, he has a Heel-Face Turn and is now an Anti-Hero, and the real Big Bad (whom we, until a few episodes ago, thought was Clair) reveals himself. In the manga, he belongs in the first category above; all he does is Kick the Dog for the sake of kicking the dog.
  • Star Driver has a bit of this. Yes, the Glittering Crux Brigade kidnapped the maiden to allow them to summon giants to Earth for some reason that probably involves fighting, since we never see anything else happen, but when they aren't wearing their masks, they're pretty nice guys. Even the leader of Adult Bank, President, who is a schoolgirl wife who kisses men other than her husband through the glass because her husband is never around - Openly! Like, in class! - only has a massive boat to live in, not because she's uber rich and spoiled, but because she's pretty sure that volcanoes will explode when they succeed, and wants to evacuate everyone off the island, so no one dies. After asking why else she would possibly have such a thing, both of her subordinates - who give her drinks and massages whenever she wants - simply stare at her, bewildered. The only true villain in the series turns out to be Head who was manipulating the rest of Glittering Crux from the very beginning.
  • A common complaint about Crest of the Stars is that the United Humankind Alliance is this, as the author is blatantly favoring The Empire of Space Elves that tricks or conquers through military force any human world it encounters in order to strip them of any capacities for interstellar travel that are not dependent on the Abh to run them. Grey and Gray Morality is involved (the United Humankind Alliance, whilst it does only accept worlds that request to join, is a lot more politically/culturally meddlesome than the Abh), the Abh are still pretty obviously Designated Heroes.
  • Invoked in Ratman in that Hero and Villain are official designations in the society. The Protagonist/Hero is made into a villain due to a Xanatos Gambit and is forced to work for a villain group. So he's only a villain due to red tape.
  • Humanity itself is eventually portrayed this way in Blue Gender, where the Earth itself is spawning the Blue, horrific monsters, for the sole purpose of killing all humanity for daring to develop technology that elevated humans above the natural order. The humans who try and flee Earth to settle on more hospitable planets elsewhere in the galaxy are portrayed as the worst of the worst.
  • Pokémon: Ash is banned from Erika's gym and later kicked out and ostracized by his companions and the entirety of Celadon City just for insulting Erika's perfume.

    Comic Books 
  • Thanks to the crossover comic storyline Avengers Vs X-Men, Cyclops is seated as one of the most hated "Villains" in-universe, the problem with this, other then the very idea of Cyclops going from X-Men's Jerk with a Heart of Gold leader to a Villain, is that he killed Xavier while being controlled by the Dark Phoenix. No one in-universe brings up the fact that he was under the powers of a force strong enough to defeat Galactus in favor of just being a dick to him. This includes Wolverine, a guy who killed a certain other X-Men (Northstar) while being brainwashed. Before anyone asks, yes, Wolverine is being a Hypocrite to Cyclops in front of Northstar (Death Is Cheap).
  • Numerous antagonists in the Chick Tracts. One example is Rev. Westhall, the title character in "Reverend Wonderful," who is a bad, bad man for... being a Christian pastor who nevertheless advocates brotherhood between the different religions.
  • God from Preacher. The main characters have frequent discussions on how much of an asshole he is, but almost everything God does in the series is not only understandable, but justifiable. God does become genuinely villainous at Alamo when we learn he started the war in Heaven and made Earth the way it was just to see who would love him. However he still counts as before this, the only thing he's really guilty of is inaction and yet the characters still talk about him like he's awful; long before that revelation.
  • One of Looney Tunes comics from The Nineties has Daffy and Bugs go on a luxury cruise ship. However, Daffy's luggage flies overboard and a puff of wind causes him to lose his ticket, and the captain forces him to spend the entire cruise slaving away to Work Off the Debt. Daffy begs Bugs to vouch for him, only for Bugs to pretend that he doesn't know him. At the end of the comic, once the cruise is over, Bugs tricks Daffy into signing a contract to work on the ship for two more weeks. Now, in most stories and cartoons, Daffy brings misfortune upon himself by acting like a jerk. What does he do to deserve his fate in this comic? Absolutely nothing—it's just that Bugs doesn't like his company, and deliberately ruins Daffy's cruise just so that he can enjoy its luxuries alone.
  • The Sirens in My Little Pony: Fiendship Is Magic. The way the issue is told, they don't come off as much as a threat as the legends told in Rainbow Rocks implied. Particularly, their singing doesn't cause strife or arguing between other ponies, it makes ponies adore them, and it's implied the Sirens do this as a way to get fame and attention, not to purposefully create trouble. If any harm was caused, it was Offscreen. Enter Star Swirl who, after repeatedly failing to best them in music to stop their spells, just banishes them to another world to get rid of them. Some fans go so far as to say Star Swirl is the villain of the comic, and the Sirens were victims Driven to Villainy after their banishment.

    Fan Fiction 
  • My Immortal:
    • Anyone who opposed Ebony.
    • Dumbledore is apparently a very mean and cruel teacher who tortures Ebony for being gothic. He was rightfully angered to see her having sex in the middle of the forest. He laughed at Draco being kidnapped by Voldemort, but you have to admit, it was pretty hilarious.
    • Britney is this and a Butt Monkey. Preps in general are treated as monsters, despite not even doing anything mean.
  • Generally common in Harry Potter fics that try to portray Dumbledore as a cruel, manipulative man (as opposed to the benevolent, manipulative man he is in canon). Often times, the author cannot be bothered to figure out what Dumbledore's big plan is, resulting in him coming across as manipulating the main characters purely for the sake of manipulating them. Or at least trying to, since, invariably, despite Harry having no clue of Dumbledore's malevolent intentions for however far into the series the fic takes place, he is suddenly painfully transparent and Harry or our new Mary Sue can avoid his manipulations with ease.
  • Fan fics in general of Naruto seem to make ALL of the Uchiha Clan evil and jerkasses, simply because the readers dislike Sasuke - who, it should be remembered, had a seriously traumatic childhood and no less than three antagonists actively trying to corrupt him in various horrible ways since the age of 8, if not earlier, including assault, Mind Rape and torture; so its understandable if he's more than a little messed up, even if he is a villain. So they think Itachi was right to kill every single baby, non-ninja, or elderly member of the entire clan. Simply because one member is a bit of a Jerkass, his entire genetic family tree must be like this and deserves to be wiped out to make space for the recently powered-up Naruto.
    • On the flipside we have Sinister Chakra where this is invoked so the reader is unsure of just who is evil. Akatsuki? Wanna change the world for the better with a newer system that currently works and is in place in Ame but lament they have to take over the world to do so. The biggest one being Madara: Sealed in Naruto with the Kyuubi but is okay with being absorbed but wants Naruto to go after Konoha for allowing a corrupt council to exist and nearly wipe out all of the clan Senju but 4 people. He generally helps Naruto but warns him not to be naive.
  • Most of the antagonists in Christian Humber Reloaded. If you're not familiar with the source material, they hardly seem evil compared to Vash, since apart from marshaling their forces to attack the good guys, their canon misdeeds are rarely described in detail. This especially goes for one group of "snobs" that Vash attacks, killing thousands and doing trillions of dollars worth of damage in the course of doing so. And while there is no apparent reason for this, they are apparently meant to be seen as evil enough to deserve it.
  • How I Became Yours.: Poor, poor Mai. True, she does one legitimately villainous thing, killing Katara's baby through poisoned fruit, but she is right when she hides Katara's letters and eventually confronts Zuko about them, and is truly sad when Zuko tells her that he never loved her. Then Katara kills her. With bloodbending. In the middle of the day.
  • JDR's (Chatoyance) The Conversion Bureau fanfics depict humans as evil in the extreme unless they convert, in which case they're simply 'misguided' beings who are being 'uplifted' into a supposedly better state of living. Any character who refuses to convert, and calls the ponies out on the genocide they are conducting is written as unsympathetic and beyond any kind of redemption on their own and must be forced to convert against their will. The catch is that humanity doesn't seem to have done anything villainous.
  • Most of the The Prayer Warriors villains are simply people who aren't Christian. Interestingly enough, Percy Jackson, initially the main antagonist of The Evil Gods Part 1, despite having supposedly done enough wrong to make him contemplate suicide, doesn't do anything actually evil until after he converts, at which point he stones his half-brother Tyson to death for refusing to become a Christian.
  • Seeing it from her perspective, Yukari was seen as this to a mild extent during the events of Mine because she refused to give back Reimu once her duties as wet-nurse were exhausted, which were to be expected as she took care of her since birth, thus she's grown to be attached, seeing herself as a mother figure to "her little human child". Reimu can never forgive her birth-mother for "demonizing" Yukari. Unlike most examples, she is seen in a more sympathetic light, especially if you take into account that she is unable to bear children of their own and hasn't caused anyone any harm to warrant anyone's hostility, aside from refusing to give Reimu back to her mother initially once her deeds were exhausted.
    • However, Amoridere swings between both Reimu's mother and Yukari as being designated villains, if either side is taken, as both are at fault.
  • Cyclops in a large proportion of X-Men fanfictions, in these he is the villain for being the “Stop Having Fun” Guy, which to be fair is sometimes necessary as a leader if you don't want your team to die horribly, a lot of the time even if he's had an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy decision regarding Jean he'll be called out for attempting to move on, trying to stop new untrained students fighting in missions, which again could get them and all his friends killed, oh and the best of the lot, existing, often he will be maligned by characters even when his dialogue isn't filled with jerkassery, unless greetings are suddenly insults in these fics. The only way to reliably avoid these is to solely read fanfictions where he is part of a major pairing, which means tough luck if you're a fan of him and want to read about him being Bad Ass, because he suffers from severe Wimpification in these.
  • The celebrities in the Real Person Fic, The Global Gunger, who get punished by the titular Designated Hero, Tony Stevens, because he’s stuck in a dead-end job, while they get to go off on holiday. Also because they’re cocky. (Even though the narration never shows them acting even close to arrogant.) Therefore, we’re supposed to laugh at them, and cheer on Tony Stevens, as he dishes out their ‘Just Desserts’ upon them, turns them into laughingstocks, and stranding one of them on a boat, completely messy, and alone. Instead, you just end up feeling sorry for them, and want them to get their revenge on him.
  • Foal Necromancer is about a necromancer from a Dungeons & Dragons based setting who had been stuck in the role of a designated villain accidentally escaping to the world of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and having to adjust to no longer being treated as a villain.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos ends up deconstructing this trope. Sonic and friends immediately turn on Maledict and consider him to be The Man Behind the Man the moment he comes to Tsali's aid in Episode 63. It turns out they're right...but Maledict only manipulated everything to end the Eternal War and bring peace to the universe.

    Films — Animated 
  • Percy in Pocahontas is designated as a villain simply by being the pet of Ratcliffe. Although Ratcliffe is a racist, genocidal maniac, Percy is actually a pretty decent dog. While aloof, he certainly isn't arrogant, and he doesn't attack anyone without any provocation. He just seems content with staying in the ship and enjoying his well-off, carefree life. Then, Meeko bursts in and steals his food for no reason other than to be a Troll. And then it all goes downhill from there.
    • Then it goes uphill. By the end of the movie, they've made up, and have even exchanged accessories. Their rivalry is kept strictly a friendly one in the sequel, with Flit as a third party keeping it under control.
  • Vincent the bear in Over the Hedge. On screen, the only thing he does is make RJ replace the food that he lost because he was stealing it. He makes a monologue about a bunch of Offscreen Villainy, but without that, he's really just trying to survive.
  • In Astérix and the Vikings, the villain has only one Kick the Dog moment (against the wangsty and relatively unsympathetic Justforkix) but otherwise isn't particularly evil or villainous, his grand scheme simply being to outwit a bunch of dumb vikings. He's clearly more civilized and competent than his intended victims, who, true to viking tradition, attack a town in the opening scene and keep the skulls of their victims all over the place.
  • Sid in Toy Story. He is portrayed as a budding sociopath for his cruelty to toys, but he can't be faulted for the way he treats his toys, since he doesn't actually know that they're alive; the worst thing he actually knowingly does is pick on his younger sister. Amusingly, a few of Pixar's employees have said that they too used to mess with their toys, and jokingly called Andy "a freak" for treating his so nicely.
  • Wreck-It Ralph, the (Designated) Villain Protagonist of Wreck-It Ralph, which invokes this trope In-Universe and deconstructs it. His In-Universe backstory is that he lived in a forest that was cut down to build the Niceland Apartments, which leads to him wrecking up the place as the game's bad guy. However, his Designated Villain status carries over to when the game characters are off the clock too, with the NPCs shunning him because he plays the role of the bad guy. This prompts him to go on a quest to prove that he can be a good guy.
  • Mr. St Peter the appliance repair-man from The Brave Little Toaster. He rips apart appliances and uses the parts to build new ones, and since the film is from the viewpoint of the appliances he is equated to Doctor Frankenstein. The ones trapped in his shop have gone mad from watching it over and over. Like Sid, he has no clue at all that the appliances are sentient, and isn't operating out of any malice.
  • The Man Upstairs from The LEGO Movie. He is another one of the "has no idea the characters are alive" variety described above; the worst thing he actually does in the movie is take apart his son Finn's LEGO creations. The conflict in the real world is just that Finn and his dad disagree about whether LEGO sets are toys, but this trope is Deconstructed in that in the LEGO world, Finn bases the villain Lord Business on his dad. The main thing that gets the man to give in is simply that he doesn't want his son to think of him as a villain.
  • Satan in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a deconstruction. He's portrayed as Saddam's henpecked boyfriend for the most part, but it really sinks in during his Up There song, which reveals that his role as the villain to humanity is just a job and he only wants to take over Earth to enjoy what humans take for granted. This carries over into the series, which repeatedly shows Satan as a featured character in episodes that also show Catholic Church guilt-tripping their patrons and forcing little boys into sex-slavery.
  • In the Christmas special short film The Small One the tanner is portrayed as a terrifying villain who wants to buy the boy's donkey to skin and make leather out of him. In other words he's nothing more than a working man making a living. It's also worth noting that he does nothing dishonest at any point in the film, when the boy asks if he'll take good care of his donkey he flat out states he's only interested in the hide when he could've simply reassured the boy "Sure, I'll take care of him." and had more business.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Wizard:
    • It has two villains: one is a true villain type - a jerk kid (Lucas) who goes against the heroes in the big video game contest; the other is a guy (Putnam) who tracks down runaway kids for a living, but everyone accuses him of somehow exploiting the kids. Given that he has an attitude and uses tactics more befitting of a child abductor than a professional private detective, there could be some off-screen truth to it.
    • He also actively tries to prevent Sam (the two boys' father) from finding them first just so he can collect the reward. At one point, he slashes the man's tires. Certainly doesn't justify all of Sam's interactions with him (such as trying to run him over later), but Putnam was hardly just some well-meaning authority figure caught up in a misunderstanding. The guy could actually be considered an in-universe Designated Hero.
  • Sgt. Doberman from the 1970s love letter to anarchy, Over the Edge. His shooting of a teenager in the film is considered a Moral Event Horizon - and subsequently, his murder by anonymous teenagers is presented as a good thing - ignoring that the stupid kid was pointing a gun at him and screaming "Die, pig!!"note Doberman tries to defend himself by saying that he didn't know the gun wasn't loaded (and, in fact, his life depended on not making such an idiotic assumption), but the movie plainly doesn't care about that very salient point and drops it rather quickly. 70s audiences no doubt were horrified, but modern audiences might instead feel relieved that the Sergeant took this moron out before he could get the chance to breed.
  • Twister:
    • Jonas and his "evil, tornado-chaser crew". Jonas used to be a "pure" tornado chaser, then he got corporate sponsors and a fleet of black SUVs. He also has a duplicate of the main characters' "Dorothy" system, which he rightly claims credit for building. Bill (a guy who had given up tornado chasing to get a job as a TV weatherman) even assaults Jonas while he's talking to reporters, and gets angry when Jonas snidely asks how his new gig is going. This motivates Bill to abandon his fiancee and team up with his ex-wife and her crew. Bill also looks down on Jonas because he relies on technology and not instinct in order to predict tornadoes. So, if you can't sense the weather like Bill, you're a fraud, because, apparently, the whole point of tornado chasing isn't scientific research... And at the end, Jonas gets killed by a tornado. Um...yay?
    • This is made even worse because Bill and Jonas have the exact same goal - using the Dorothy system to gain valuable scientific data that could lead to better tornado warning systems that could save lives. Not only that, Jonas does not once use evil means to achieve these ends. There's no difference between Bill and Jonas ... except that Jonas is a big fat meanie to Bill.
  • High School Dean Edward R. Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off is presented as a villain, even though it is his job to enforce school rules. The film makes him rather crazy about his job, resorting to breaking and entering, to make him the villain.
  • The hotel concierge in Home Alone 2 is depicted as a bad guy from the get-go just for being suspicious of Kevin when, in fact, he and the rest of the hotel staff have every right to be wary of a ten-year-old checking into a four-star hotel by himself.
  • The disaster film Meteor had an American general be portrayed in a bad light for objecting to Russians getting access to a top secret American command center during the height of the Cold War. Straw Man Has A Point.
  • Mrs. Tingle in Teaching Mrs. Tingle is really the only sensible and likable character. Most of the movie involves the jerkass protagonist and her friends trying to torture and murder her because she accused the protagonist of cheating when she had every reason to believe that the protagonist had, in fact, been cheating. The movie also heavily implies that Trudy, the protagonist's competitor for the stipendium, deserves to be killed merely for being studious.
  • Dr. Jarret in Man's Best Friend is an interesting case of this. He is performing unethical & illegal research on animals (bad) and he created the genetically engineered killer dog that causes all the trouble in the movie (also bad, but keep reading). His purpose was to build the ultimate guard dog after his wife and child were killed; he figured it would be a good product to sell. He also kept Max on a strict regiment of drugs designed to keep him from going berserk and insane. When the Designated Hero steals Max from the laboratory, the police and others don't seem too interested in taking Dr. Jarret seriously, despite the fact that he has explained that his dog is a ticking time-bomb that's ready to explode in a shower of mayhem...He made the monster, but he kept it under control, and it was only due to the acts of others that it escaped and was able to kill people. And we're supposed to believe that he's bad.
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park:
    • Peter Ludlow is the head of InGen Corporation, and is primarily made out to be the main villain by Ian's group. Yet, all of his actions throughout the film are pragmatic, well-reasoned and entirely understandable. In a deleted scene from the opening, Ludlow removes John Hammond from the board of directors, correctly pointing out that Hammond's experiment has resulted in tens of millions of dollars being lost, the deaths of at least five people, and a little girl getting injured by Compsognathus when her family strayed too close to "site B", and then correctly pointing out that the only way to save the company is to authorize a relaunch of the park at their backup site. Despite the fact that he acts generally callous towards Ian, Sarah and Nick (who are outsiders), InGen still rescues them during the climax when they reach the operations center. Even when they get back to San Diego, Ludlow invites Ian and Sarah in to his private launch event despite them acting like dicks to the security guards. After all this (and the T-Rex escaping), all he receives is a response from Ian that "now (he's) John Hammond" a short while before he gets eaten by a baby T-Rex as its mother watches.
    • The human villains have this trait specifically so that their arguments can be dismissed. While they were shown to be quite ruthless when dealing with the dinosaurs, the Designated Heroes were directly or indirectly responsible for every human death in the movie. The 'villains' keep going out of their way to save the protagonists' lives, while the 'heroes' continue to heckle and sabotage them. While a Tyrannosaurus is rampaging through the hunter group, the leader suddenly finds out that one of the heroes stole the bullets from his gun.
    • The film also falls headfirst into Strawman Has a Point. The antagonists are supposed to be evil because they claim that the dinosaurs were property of the local Mega Corp., when that's exactly what they are; they wouldn't even exist if they hadn't been deliberately created, which also nicely shatters the protagonists' argument that they should be left alone to live naturally, nature having nothing to do with it. A clear example of the "villains" being more like jerks than actually evil people.
  • In the "Kick the Can" segment of the Twilight Zone: The Movie , the apparent villain is a man whose only concern is for the welfare of a bunch of octogenarians who shouldn't be engaging in physically strenuous activity. How's he supposed to know that it's really magic at work that will keep them safe?
  • The villain of the 1996 made-for-TV horror movie The Beast is Schuyler Graves. He's the bad guy because: 1) He's richer than the hero, and 2) He has a less manly first name.
  • The Hannah Montana movie's villain was a land-developer who wanted to pave an empty field to build a mall. Todd in the Shadows pointed out that a mall would actually have greatly boosted the economy of the town, attracted more people (such as tourists or prospective home-buyers—which would have also improved economy) and that the guy wants to pave an empty field that has no real use. Yet we're supposed to think that the guy is scum just because he's a land developer in a kid's movie.
  • Christmas with The Kranks places the Kranks at the same level as Ebenezer Scrooge simply because they want to go on vacation for Christmas and don't want to partake in any of their neighborhood's usual celebrations.
  • In Patch Adams, anyone who expects Adams to conform is an antagonist, especially Dean Wilcott. Adams's nonconformity includes practicing medicine without a license, stealing from a hospital, and ignoring background history. The audience is expected to side with Adams on all issues, but most audiences think that the Strawman Has a Point. Adams' roommate is treated as a villain who needs to change because he's annoyed by Adams and thinks that he cheats on his exams. However, the character is simply an earnest medical student who has good reason to be suspicious of Adams' flawless grades, given the fact that we never see him study. Even the Real Life Patch Adams, who behaves nothing like his fictional counterpart, hates the movie and sides with the "villains."
  • Even Tim Burton points out that the various producers in Ed Wood are all DVs; all they want to do is prevent Wood from making terrible movies on their dime.
  • Caroline in Maid in Manhattan, one of the two "wicked stepsisters" in this modern-day version of Cinderella. She's a flake and utterly oblivious to the fact that the "Prince" is completely uninterested in her, but other than that, she doesn't do anything wrong. The one remotely bad thing that she does is file a complaint when she discovers that Marisa (the titular maid) has been wearing her clothes—a perfectly legitimate gripe.
  • In the film Unaccompanied Minors, The bad guy is the airport security director. He's upset that he can't go on vacation because the whole airport is snowed in. The protagonists are all kept away in a children's area, but the main characters break out, and proceed to steal food, steal a transport, and go to the milage club without being accompanied by an adult. He confines them to the airport room while the rest of the kids are taken to an inn. For the rest of the film, they break out, steal from the unclaimed baggage, and try to get to that inn where one of the character's sisters is. The director's just does his job in trying to get them back. He proceeds to fall over a slop, crash a canoe, and an annoyed guest assaults him, along with the girl who stole the car!
    • At the end of the film this is addressed, as he just tells the main kid that he's just doing his job. However, the movie still treats him as a scrooge for being bitter on Christmas, and it's he who learns the lesson about giving, while the protagonists don't get called on their actions.
  • The A.I. from the first Resident Evil movie. It was supposed to be seen as wrong for insisting that the main characters kill one of their own who was infected before the A.I. would let them leave and for killing everyone in the facility when the virus was released. The problem with this? It was the only one doing its job. Everyone else was too busy trying to force their way in and then out, short circuiting the A.I. or sending in more and more people into what should be a building under total quarantine. If they had just let the A.I. do its job they wouldn't be dealing with a world wide zombie apocalypse two movies later. The Red Queen becomes much more antagonistic during her return in Resident Evil: Retribution, in which she's running a facility cloning Alice and several of the movie series characters by the hundreds and killing them over and over again in order to try and control Umbrella's viruses.
  • Most of the men in The Smokers are this, particularly David. He's considered bad because he's hot and cold towards Lisa, despite the fact that he knew her for less then an hour before they had sex and that Lisa never hinted that she'd like to go out with him instead of just having a one-night stand. Hell, he isn't even depicted as being a jerkass for most of the movie, but not only does the film tell us we're supposed to hate him, it expects us to laugh when he's being raped and tortured by our "heroes".
  • Now You See Me: Thaddeus Bradley did nothing illegal and nothing more immoral than expose Lionel Shrike's magic tricks. Of all the people responsible for Shrike's death and his family never receiving the life insurance they were owed, he's arguably the least responsible, yet undeniably gets punished the worst for it.
    • The reason might be connection. While Lionel's death was the result of a faulty safe and insurance trickery meant not a lot of monet, the only reason he was placed in that situation was because Bradley ruined him. His motive seems to be nothing more than bitterness.
  • Subverted in the Nickelodeon flick Snow Day; the villain is simply the town snowplow driver, referred to exclusively as "Snowplow Man," who would ordinarily qualify for this trope, except he takes an active and hammy pleasure in ruining the neighborhood kids' winter fun. He might even qualify as a parody of this trope.
  • Any cop in the Cheech and Chong films. The cops are out to bust the main characters for smoking pot, which is illegal.
  • The title character of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! becomes this to an extent in the film adaptation, due to his sympathetic portrayal compared with the commercialistic Whos, who are almost Obliviously Evil. Subverted when he decides to, well, steal Christmas solely based on something only one Who (the Mayor) does.
  • Exaggerated with the Central Park Rangers in Elf, who are immediately evil because for some reason they look like the Nazgul despite being mounted police (though Santa eventually mentions that he put them on his naughty list once and they never forgave him.)
  • The Stargate costume designer has been jokingly referred to as "the evil Joseph Porro" due to the coincidental placement of his name in the credits just as the music starts to become ominous.
  • Jordan's father in the latter half of Cocktail is a villain purely because he won't let Brian and Jordan get back together. Brian being the same man who despite falling in love with Jordan immediately cheated on her with an older woman, and who didn't exactly have a positive reaction to the news that Jordan was pregnant with his child. Even though Mr. Mooney ended up disowning Jordan when she took Brian back, considering Brian's track record to that point his condemnation and derision of Brian was perfectly justified.
  • Tubal-Cain can come across as this in Noah. Many of his villainous actions can be seen as simply being pragmatic about the world he lives in. His scene demanding that God speak to him shows him to be wracked by fear, doubt and guilt over what he's had to do to survive, though how much of each is in the mix is up for debate.
  • In a World...: Gustave (Ken Marino) is a sexist jerk with an entitlement complex, but he never actually does anything underhanded or immoral. His "crimes" are limited to taking up some of Lake Bell's father's attention, having consensual sex with her at a party, submitting an audition for a part they both want, and being a sore loser afterward.
  • School of Rock depicts Ned's girlfriend Patty as being pushy and hypocritical because she "forces" him to demand Dewey actually get a job and pay his massive rent debt. Even though this is a rather reasonable demand, since Dewey isn't terribly concerned with what a drag he is on Ned. She is also supposed to be seen as hypocritical by pointing out that Dewey steps all over him and manipulates him...even though he does exactly that to Ned. To the point of engaging in identity theft to get a job under his name and trying to beg that he not do anything about it when Ned finds out. She's later further villainized for convincing Ned to press charges over the identity theft. At no point in the film is Dewey ever truly sorry for what he pulls on Ned and how many laws he broke or even that what he did could seriously impact Ned's own career as a teacher. For starters, the income from the job that Ned technically lost out on since Dewey took it from him, or what would happen when Ned didn't declare income from a job unknowingly taken under his name on his taxes. Dewey does acknowledge that what he did to the kids was wrong, but he's not ever aware of how much he took advantage of his roommate either. The moment where Ned breaks up with Patty for Dewey's concert is supposed to be a triumph of assertiveness when her only crime is being kind of aggressive over Ned not ever standing up for himself and being taken advantage of.
  • Space Mutiny. Seriously, all the "mutineers" wanted was just to go home instead of being forced to spend the rest of their lives on a derelict spaceship just because of some ridiculous, bullshit law the ship's captain made decades ago. Kalgan doesn't even start using underhanded tactics until after Ryder starts slaughtering his men unprovoked. This is doubly egregious since the opening blurb about the colony ship is that they're looking for a new planet to settle. The mutineers have found a planet to settle and are going to fulfill the ship's mission by settling there.
  • Inspector Aberline from The Wolfman (2010) is really only an antagonist so far as he's trying to kill the hero. Sir John is the actual villain of the story.
  • 28 Weeks Later tries hard to portray Dom as this. Leaving his wife to die, lying to his kids about what happened. Then grabbing the Idiot Ball and getting infected and causing a fresh breakout would put him in this bracket, however in the context of the setting, combined with bad writing combine to ruin this.
    • Had his wife not given away the survivors' location at the start by letting in a child, there's a good chance they would have been fine, not to mention Dom was unable to reach her due to an infected in the way and more coming, survival instinct kicked in right there.
    • He doesn't exactly lie to his kids as he breaks down before getting to that part, not to mention he never actually sees what happened to her. Plus he is shown to be very guilt-ridden about the whole matter as it is. Yet his kids flat out accuse him of lying about everything.
    • Speaking of which, he had every right to be furious about them leaving the safe-zone. When you have the most deadly plague in history which has ravaged Britain in less than a month out there and the US Army enforcing the rules then you would be pissed, yet the film forgets that to focus on how him lying was so terrible and he is shown to struggle to find a response, making it seem like his kids have any moral high ground.
    • While he stupidly went and kisses his now-alive wife and got infected, why was she not being guarded? Plus, had he succeeded in killing his son while under the effects of the virus, then it's likely the rest of the world would have been fine.
  • Rail Chief Patterson in Money Train is the bad guy for the terrible crime of not wanting his trains robbed by the protagonists. He may have been a bit greedy, but when the "good guys" are motivated by paying off gambling debts, it's hard to say they're any different.
  • The New York district attorney Sean Kierney in Find Me Guilty. Throughout the film, Kierney is the rival to Designated Hero Jackie DiNorscio. Despite coming off as something of a Jerkass, at no point in the film is Kierney wrong about his reasons as to why Jackie and his associates deserve to be convicted. However, the film goes out of its way to portray Jackie as the blameless hero (who at best will try to explain his flaws with halfassed reasoning) and Kierney is presented as a crusading zealot out to enforce the claimed "government oppression" of Italian-Americans. He ends up being a borderline Straw Character for how easily Jackie outmaneuvers him. Granted, this was based on historical events, but even still, the movie is clearly not on his side when he's one of the few characters in the movies who's simply looking for justice.
  • Did anyone think that Faulkner in Bio-Dome was the bad guy? The stoner protagonists already screwed up his expensive experiment upon entering the dome, but he was willing to let them stay in the dome, getting free food and living in a paradise of an environment for a year rather than ejecting them and prosecuting them for trespassing. When the protagonists then proceeded to ruin every experiment he tried to conduct within the dome (including trying to rape two female scientists), he locked them off to stop them from ruining it even more. The only time in the film he does anything approaching Disproportionate Retribution is when he decides to blow the dome up, but considering that the protagonists had held, of all things, a massive party with hundreds of people in the dome, ruining an experiment that cost him billions... Yeah, the film is less "radical youths stick it to the Man" and more "man's life's work ruined by moronic pothead assholes."
  • "Slaggy Lindsay" in Angus Thongs And Perfect Snogging. Sure, she's a bitch to Georgia, and doesn't seem particularly loveable, but it's kinda excused by the fact that Georgia is trying to steal her boyfriend throughout the film. To make matters worse, in the book series that the film is based on, she is known as "Wet Lindsay", and is basically despised by Georgia for being a wimp. I wonder why they changed her nickname in the film... although being slaggy is frankly none of Georgia's business.

    Literature 
  • Author Peter David, in his Star Trek New Frontier novels, uses Jellico (now promoted to Admiral) as a recurring character. For most of the series, he remains a Designated Villain to the pseudo-Military Maverick main character, Captain Mackenzie Calhoun. Then, after a Time Skip, he's informed that Calhoun is missing and presumed dead. The reader is clearly supposed to expect Jellico to not be particularly upset by this...until it's revealed that some time during the Time Skip, the two had resolved their differences and were now close friends.
  • Jill in The Girl Who Owned a City. Her arguments in favor of voting and collectivism seem rather reasonable, but are dismissed in favor of the Mary Sue objectivist main character.
  • Before The Worm Ouroboros decided to ditch its framing device, the viewpoint character is guided around by a talking martlet, who identifies many of the main characters and pours a ton of adjectival condemnation on the villains. This is before they've done anything. Lessingham dryly concludes that "A fiery politician is my martlet", and resolves to make up his own mind on things. He and the martlet are never referred to again. As it turns out, the villains aren't much different from the heroes and certainly don't deserve titles like "the children of night everlasting". This is an odd example because the author seems to quite like them.
  • Deliberately invoked in Typewriter in the Sky, L. Ron Hubbard's Deconstruction of swashbucklers. The protagonist of the story is the antagonist of the story-within-a-story, but does his best to subvert the author's wishes. Even the editor can't tell who's supposed to be the good guy, so he forces a bit of rewriting and, among other things, has the newly revisioned baddie attempt I Have You Now, My Pretty on the heroine.
  • Deliberately invoked in The Ogre Downstairs. The ogre in question is the grumpy stepfather of three of the main characters. One of the first things he does is the book is buy two of the kids chemistry sets as presents, but the kids are determined to treat him as a bad guy. As the book progresses, he gets increasingly angry and punishes the kids for messing up the house, getting in trouble, making a lot of noise and ruining a party he was throwing. By the end of the book, the children realise that the ogre was actually trying to be nice and that maybe he had a point about their misbehaving.
  • Twilight:
    • The Volturi. We're told that they're power hungry, corrupt government with no respect for human life who want to take out the Cullens for no particular reason, but they're the only vampires that make any active attempt to control their species, follow their own laws and keep vampires from senselessly slaughtering humans. Even though their primary motive is more along the lines of self-preservation, they still do more to protect both their own species and humans than the designated protagonists, the Cullens.
    • Laurent also falls into this. He's a pretty nice guy and even warns the Cullens about James and his ability. In New Moon he's revealed to have been trying to be a 'vegetarian' but since Bella has an irresistible scent he can't help himself and tries to eat her in New Moon and is subsequently killed by the werewolves.
  • Mr Rochester's wife, Bertha Mason, could be Jane Eyre's only real Designated Villain, because she is the main reason why Jane and Mr Rochester cannot be together. However, she was insane and her erratic behavior came from what spread in her family and Mr. Rochester locked her up for ten years in the third story room with no one to see but a maid.
    • In Jean Rhys's novel Wide Sargasso Sea, it is revealed that Bertha went insane due to Rochester's mistreatment of her, including everything from obviously disliking her during the duration of their marriage to having sex with one of their servants. Bertha's mom, on the other hand, went insane after the servant of her new English husband abandoned her infant son during a fire started by the angry townsfolk. This led to the child dying of smoke inhalation. Their madness is not hereditary, but rather a result of the English men who came into their lives and messed everything up.
  • Kayla in The House of Night makes a whopping two appearances and is promptly branded a man-stealing jealous bitch by Zoey as a result. Kayla's crime, really, is hooking up with Heath after Zoey tells her several times, in no uncertain terms, that she's broken up with him. In Betrayed, Zoey acts like Kayla was being horribly spiteful and irrational in going to the police after witnessing Zoey drinking Heath's blood, and then having Zoey threaten to do the same to her. To really hammer this point in, Zoey's friends (who never even met Kayla before) begin referring to her as "skank-bitch Kayla" after learning that she went to the police.
  • In the Fairy Tale "The Wonderful Musician", the wolf, fox, and hare don't actually do anything to harm the protagonist until he tricks and humiliates them because he wanted a human companion, not an animal. Then they come after him.
  • Done deliberately in Rosso Malpelo, a novel written by Giovanni Verga. The child miner protagonist is portrayed by the narrator (who embodies the Sicilian mentality of the nineteenth century) as a malicious and bad bully...due to his red hair but it is made pretty clear that Malpelo is just a poor Jerkass Woobie, brutalized by the cruel society where he lives, who sometimes even borders on a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, especially when he interacts with his ill friend, Ranocchio (and no, this is not a case of Villainy-Free Villain, all the other characters, with the exception of his father and Ranocchio, are far bigger jerks than him, if not outright evil).
  • Michael Crichton's Timeline features a Jerkass corporate executive Robert Doniger whose quantum teleportation experiments kickstart the plot. He supports all possible safeguards for his technology, all accidents and disasters are caused by people refusing to follow his orders, and he does everything in his power to help the protagonists. As thanks for this, they murder him at the end by sending him back in time to die of the Black Plague. For being a jerk.
    • This was addressed in The Film of the Book, where Doniger actively tried to hide the flaws in the system and strand the protagonists in the past by destroying the machine, which earned him a trip to the past and a sword in the face.
  • Even if Claudia weren't a member of the Baby Sitters Club, the title of Claudia and Mean Janine tells us which sister we're supposed to be rooting for in The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry. However, Janine never does anything particularly "mean" in the book. Instead, she makes attempt after attempt to connect with her sister, while Claudia repeatedly shoots her down, internally snarking about Janine's activities, friends, and her clothes. Claudia's complaints that Janine isn't helping take care of their grandmother also ring hollow since (a) no one ever asks Janine to help, and (b) when Janine tried to volunteer to help, Claudia insisted she could take care of everything and there was no reason for anyone else to disrupt their lives.
  • Most of the 'monsters' in mythology are never actually shown to do anything evil, and a lot of them are treated horribly anyway. Medusa and the children of Loki especially come to mind.
    • Through only Jörmungandr was treated that way. Odin tried to drown him for... well being a snake. Hel was put in charge of Hel and given control over 9 realms. Sure, she was separated from her family and was not allowed to live among the other gods but she was given a important job. Fenrir was taken to Asgard and only chained up after he grew enormous and wreaked havoc.
    • Poor Humbaba...
    • Likewise, depending on which versions of a fairy tale you read, the evil stepsister/rival to the heroine doesn't do anything evil in general, besides being pushed to replace the heroine by her mother. In some stories, the stepmother even forces her own daughter(s) to mutilate themselves, inflicting worse pain on them than the heroine goes through! And yet most of those tales end with the rival being humiliated or brutally murdered.
  • Karen Traviss seems determined to do this to Dr. Catherine Halsey in her Halo novels Glasslands, The Thursday War, and Mortal Dictata (prequels to Halo 4), putting the blame for the SPARTAN-II program's shadier aspects (primarily the kidnapping of six year old children) squarely on Halsey's shoulders. Almost everyone suddenly starts seeing Halsey as a monster who shouldn't be allowed to live. The specific act that earns the hate is the flash-cloning of the kidnapped children in order to convince the parents that the kids aren't really missing. The clones fall ill and die a few months later. The head of ONI, Admiral Margaret Parangosky, personally blames Halsey for this. The kicker is, nothing happens in ONI without Parangosky's say-so, so there's no way she could not have known about the flash-cloning beforehand, especially since it hardly could have been accomplished by Halsey alone (indeed, previous sources implied that the flash-cloning was done with ONI's full approval). Nobody seems to consider that making parents think their kids are dead may be more merciful than living with the constant fear that their child was kidnapped (and additionally, Traviss even conveniently forgets that the flash-cloning was done precisely to stop people from asking further questions). Another argument is that the SPARTAN-II program was started many years before the war with the Covenant, so there's no justification for it. However, the Insurrectionists who plagued UNSC for years did so using terrorist tactics far beyond anything we've seen so far in real life, like using suicide bombers armed with nukes (the Insurrectionist nuking of the Haven arcology, mentioned in Halsey's own journal, killed two million civilians and injured 8.3 million more). While Halsey's actions may be seen as deplorable, there were reasons why she took them, and it's fairly clear that the moral culpability rests on ONI as a whole (which, to its credit, Mortal Dictata does touch a tiny bit on). Worse, the author shows no sympathy for Halsey, even when it's revealed that she cries herself to sleep every night with the name of her dead daughter (Miranda Keyes) on her lips.
    • In addition, the SPARTAN-III program (using orphans from glassed planets) is presented as the better alternative, as the orphans agreed to take part in it. However, the SPARTAN-III program were meant to be Cannon Fodder Super Soldiers, most of whom end up dying in combat by the age of twelve. Since all those orphans were also recruited as children (many of them at ages even younger than the IIs), they're obviously not mature enough to make the decision to agree.
    • Much of the fandom's issue with Traviss's presentation isn't so much that she points out that the Spartan-II program was ethically dodgy at best (obviously), but that she even ignores prior canon to make Halsey look worse; for one thing, claiming that Halsey lied to the children about why they were taken, when prior sources showed that she specifically said that ONI should not lie to the children about the reasons behind their kidnapping.
  • Traviss just barely skirts the line on this with the Jedi and the Republic in her Star Wars Expanded Universe material. Granted, she does have a point about an army of cloned, 10-year-old cannon fodder being led by 13-year old commanders, with both Jedi and Clone Troopers trained as emotionally detached killers with no messy "attachments" from infancy, and a Republic that sees no problem with this being very dodgy with ethics at best and no better thn what they're fighting at worst.
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, for the first two books at least, King Galbatorix can come across as this. During his centuries-long reign, we never actually see or hear about him doing anything truly evil. The worst he does is imposes hard taxes on his people (acceptable as his Empire is in a state of war) and sends an army against the rebels attacking his reign. Despite this, every good person in the books seems to see him as a tyrant.
    • Though, Urgals under his command completely massacre a small town, leaving all the bodies in a pile in the middle, with a baby impaled on a spear on the top. Yes, this was not done by him directly, but by a trusted lieutenant who he very much approved of.
    • Notably, in the second book Eragon is directly confronted with this by his Elven tutor. Eventually, he comes to the conclusion that while Galbatorix could not be argued to be evil, replacing him would be the only way to bring back the dragons. In that same book, it is revealed that he rose to power by enslaving huundreds of dragon soul gems for use as magical sources in battle.
  • Bishop Patricius in The Mists of Avalon. Granted, he was very lawful and by-the-book. And he was the head of Christianity, which was the new "invading" religion, as compared to the Druidism that the Lady of the Lake and the Merlin were the heads of. But did he really deserve such a horrendous portrayal?
  • Danny Pickett in the Just Disgusting story, The Story of the Very Stupid Boy, and the Very Big Slug. The narrative constantly berates him for accidentally creating a giant mutant slug by feeding it dog food, and becoming unable to control it, leading to the world's destruction, just after he gets arrested for creating it. Justified, as this is a story Andy made up to make himself look good, to the point where he makes himself into a Marty Stu.
  • Isengrim the Wolf from "Reynard the Fox" and many of the other animals like Bruin the Bear and Tybalt the Cat. They are treated as the villains for being against Reynard and wanting him brought to justice. Reynard is a Designated Hero who raped Isengrim's wife, blinded their children, killed the Cockeral's wife and most of their children, along with killing a hare and framing a ram leading to their execution.
    • The version by Andre Norton simply makes Reynard himself the villain.
  • The Chemical Garden Trilogy:
    • We're repeatedly told that Housemaster Vaughn is evil because he dissected Rose's body after she was killed by the virus to find a cure, but that's a fairly common medical practice, even today. It's not pleasant, but it's not evil.
    • How dare Cecily 1) do her best to adapt to a situation that to her doesn't seem at all horrible, considering she was practically raised for it, 2) attempt to make friends with her sister-wives, 3) criticize the staff when she quite reasonably expects them to do their jobs (particularly when she's pregnant and intensely frustrated from being kept in bed all the time), 4) try to monopolize Linden's attention when he's the only one who takes much notice of her anyway, and 5) make an honest mistake when she tries to keep Rhine from getting into trouble?! How dare she?! Later, she also gets yelled at for trying to stop a man from smoking near her while she's pregnant and holding a newborn.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the new Battlestar Galactica, Tom Zarek. His stated positions (which are in opposition to those of the show's "heroes") tend to be credible enough to get significant audience sympathy, but his actions, especially in season 4.5, are intended to show that he is clearly a Bad Guy, though the increasingly irrational behavior of the main characters makes him look more like the Only Sane Man.
    • In fact, it's pointed out at least twice that the so called ideals that they were protecting to keep Zarek out of power are actually being violated. He's cheated of the post he was elected to at least twice by Adama and Roslin, who try to, and succeed in a coup against him. Then he's falsely imprisoned by Adama, who has no legal right to do so and does so ignoring the commands of the legal government and yet we're supposed to buy that he's in the wrong when he tries to overthrow the illegal military government.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Bates, Kavanaugh, and Ellis tend to end up in this role. They usually have legitimate concerns or complaints, but because these are against the main cast of characters (Bates seeing Teyla as a security risk, Kavanaugh complaining to Weir about Weir degrading him in public, Ellis wanting McKay to cut the exposition and get to the point), the characters are presented as reactionary jerkasses. There is also a trend of portraying Kavanaugh, in his few appearances, as a coward, even though, every time, he is up against a situation in which his fear is perfectly understandable.
    • In his initial appearance, Kavanaugh's supposed "cowardice" was due to his pointing out his concern that McKay mucking around with the Jumper's drive-pods while the cockpit was demolecularised, could cause a feedback surge that would cause the entire Jumper to explode, sending the fragments back through the gate with the force of a bomb! He's treated as being in the wrong despite his entire team, Zelenka and McKay himself admitting that this was a very real possibility and if it did, they'd only have a few seconds of warning to raise the shield before it took out the gate room!
  • In The Office:
    • Charles was brought in to act as a buffer between Michael Scott and upper management, which was a valid action given that Michael really should have been fired for lying about a risky sales scheme he engaged in (or kidnapping a pizza-boy, or any number of others). When Michael quit, Charles took his place and took a hard line with the office, cutting a number of activities to save money and asking the employees to actually sit down and do their work.
    • Then again, Charles isn't much of a nice guy to work with the employees and portrays a Never My Fault trait, especially when he hits Phyliss in the face with a soccer ball and blames Jim for it.
    • This can also be the case for the conflict between Andy and Dwight: both were trying to get each other fired, but we're supposed to side with Dwight.
    • In other episodes, particularly when it comes to clashes with Dwight and Jim, we are always to see Dwight as a villain and Jim as sympathetic, despite the fact that it's been made pretty clear that Jim has made Dwight's life hell for many years without ever being punished or discouraged. In season two it's revealed that Dwight has made at least three hundred complaints against Jim, exactly none of which were taken seriously. While Dwight's demeanor doesn't do him any favors, Jim's pranks really do come across as distracting and childish at best and borderline bullying at worst. This is lampshaded by Jim when he realizes that his pranks don't really sound funny when listed in rapid-succession.
    • The UK version of The Office features this trope in regards to Neil Godwin (Brent's boss) who, according to Word of God, we are not supposed to like. His crimes are neatly summed up in The Other Wiki as "He is dismissive towards David's dog and shared a joke with Chris Finch at the expense of David's Christmas party date, Carol." That Christmas Party doesn't happen until the very last episode.
  • iCarly:
    • Nevel starts out this way by trying to steal a kiss from Carly (which is apparently pretty bad if you’re not into gonk nerds). Then, he unbecame this trope when he decided that revenge was in order (though even then, he comes across as more of a Jerkass than a true villain, as much as he may think otherwise.)
    • In some episodes, Freddie comes across as this, most jarringly in "iMeet Fred" where he is ostracized and nearly killed for saying he didn't think Fred was that funny, and no one seems to have a problem with it.
  • In The House: While Maxwell is a jerk with a heart of gold many of the antics of Marion and Tonia put him into this role. Not only does he not get any say in the clinic that he’s a partner of because they work against him, but many of the pranks they play on him are incredibly cruel. When Mercedes proposes to Maxwell is a perfect example. At first Max was perfectly content with this development; however Marions repeated shots at his manhood eventually caused him to think up some ridicules scheme to redo the proposal, which almost ruined their relationship. However in the end Maxwell was the only one who had to apologize.
    • Marion and Maxwell are this with respect to Tonia. Like Spongebob Tonia can be incredibly destructive and annoying yet Marion and Maxwell wanting to spend sometime away from her is depicted as incredibly selfish.
  • In the early Babylon 5 episode "Survivors", Leanna Kemmer is the Designated Villain for most of the episode...because, after a witness names Garibaldi as a saboteur, and plans for a bomb are found in his quarters along with a whole lot of alien money, Ms. Kemmer (who is in charge of security for an impending visit by the President of Earth) wants to lock him up. Yes, she has a personal grudge against him, but anyone in her position would want to lock Garibaldi up and would be right in doing so. Seriously, Garibaldi, Ivanova, and Sinclair should all have been court-martialed for their efforts to obstruct her.
  • The Twilight Zone:
    • In the episode "Sounds and Silences" centered around a Large Ham owner of a model ship making company. His meets a cruel fate in the end because he commits the sin of...making too much noise.
    • In a particularly famous episode, "Time Enough at Last", Burgess Meredith plays a bookworm type who spends the whole episode being abused by every person he meets, and only wants to be alone with his books. Then a nuke wipes out the entire city while he's safe in a bank vault, and he's finally free to read his books in peace...until his reading glasses break. Unfair Cruel Twist Ending? No, Word of God says that this was his just punishment for his misanthropy.
  • Legend of the Seeker:
    • In the episode "Broken", Cara is on trial for the atrocities she committed as a Mord'Sith. To her defense, it is revealed that Mord'Sith are actually abducted as young girls, then horribly tortured and brainwashed until they become heartless killing machines. They were unwilling victims of the D'Haran more than anything else. Cara is ultimately forgiven for this reason. However, during the trial, they arrest another Mord'Sith hiding in the audience: Cara's mentor, the one who abducted and trained her. They then proceed to condemn this woman to what is described as the most painful death in existence. Everybody seems oblivious that, as a Mord'Sith, this woman endured the same fate as Cara, and so is every bit as much of a victim... (It could be argued that Cara was forgiven because she was a victim AND repented, while the other Mord'Sith did not repent and would have gone on killing. This does not make the Mord'Sith any less of a Designated Villain, but the death of Cara's mentor is at least somewhat justified.)
    • Cara also helped overthrow the evil overlord who was in charge of the brainwashing. So, it could be argued that she had broken her brainwashing and was already helping people without anyone forcing her to. Cara was also happy for them to kill her.
    • Panis Rahl is also treated as a big villain in the episode where he appears. Why? Because Zedd's brother reveals that Panis murdered their father while disguising himself as Zedd. The problem? Their father admitted to Panis (thinking it was his son) that he was trying to murder Panis's infant son. Yes, said boy would grow up to become the Big Bad Darken Rahl, but what father wouldn't do anything he could to protect his child? And he definitely felt remorse for the act, especially since Panis and Zedd were good friends back in the day. Of course, there's also the business of seducing Zedd's daughter while also in disguise, resulting in Richard. The series clearly paints him as a villain in such a way as to make Redemption Equals Death the only way out.
  • Possibly used in Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, where people like Sandra and Coach could hardly be considered villains (lampshaded when Jeff asks if anyone thinks they were put on the wrong team); and Rob, who (shockingly) played the game more heroically than most of the Heroes. The episode where he gets voted off is even titled "I guess I'm not really a good villain". Also subverted with Parvarti and Russel, who said "what did I do that was so bad?" and ended up being the primary antagonists season after season.
  • Diana Marshall (played by Jane Badler of V) was heavily publicized as a villain prior to her introduction on Neighbours, on the basis of her ruthlessness in her quest to bring down Paul and Rosemary. But given that Paul was responsible for embezzling thousands of dollars from his business and Rosemary's willingness to let her nephew get away with it, it's not hard to see Diana as justified in her actions and to want her to win.
  • Smallville: The pro-registration side in Season 10's "vigilante registration" storyline is portrayed as a bunch of political strawmen (perhaps the most blatant moment is when one registration supporter refers to the superheroes as a "hero menace", a phrase that doesn't even make sense, rather than as vigilantes. It was as if they showrunners were trying to make him as unconvincing and easy to lampoon as possible rather than formulating a credible opposing argument).
  • A particularly controversial character in the Star Trek: The Next Generation fandom is Captain Edward Jellico from the two-part episode "Chain of Command". Commanding the Enterprise-D when Captain Picard was off on an espionage mission, he apparently was supposed to come off as a martinet, as evidenced by his changing everything for no good reason other than because he could, disregarding perfectly valid advice, and generally acting like a jerk. However, when the chips were down, he proved an outstanding commanding officer who singlehandedly stopped a war, recovered the captured Picard (who, caught red-handed as a spy, had no expectation of being returned), and refrained from tossing Riker out the nearest airlock which the character badly deserved it for his childish petulance during the two-part episode. He could certainly be seen as a Jerkass, but when a guy who can at worst be said to be a jerk, successfully defeats an enemy who has no problem setting up a trap so that they could capture Picard and brutally torture him for information neccesary to invade the Federation it seems rather petty to complain about how he changed the schedule around.
    • The entire Vulcan race suffers from this in Star Trek: Enterprise. One problem is that the writers would often try to make the Humans look good by making the Vulcans look bad; which unfortunately falls flat as the Enterprise crew often come across as so reckless and foolish in the first two seasons, the Vulcans honestly seem right in their belief that their species shouldn't have left the cradle yet.
  • Merlin:
    • Mordred, who, in this version, is played by a child. We're supposed to view Mordred as a Creepy Child because the show plays ominous music over extreme close-ups of his large blue eyes, but all that's played out on screen is a kid who's been hunted, persecuted, and had everyone he's ever loved killed by the people who are generally considered "the good team". He uses his magical powers to kill a group of knights advancing on him with swords drawn, clearly preparing to kill him - this was apparently meant to prove to the audience that he's evil incarnate, even though the good guys make self-defensive kills all the time.
      • When Mordred reappears as a young adult in series 5, the results are...muddled. At first, he very much fits this trope: He saves Merlin and Arthur's lives more than once and proves his loyalty to them, yet Merlin insists on seeing him as evil to the point of twice leaving him to die (even choosing to encourage Arthur to continue persecuting magic users rather than save Mordred). When Mordred's Face-Heel Turn finally comes, it's because Arthur has the woman he loved executed. Understandable but perhaps unfair, since she had tried to murder Arthur and he was prepared to show her mercy if she had shown any sign of wanting peace. (Although Merlin didn't help by abruptly deciding the best way to reconcile Arthur and Mordred was to foil Mordred's attempts to take her away from the area peacefully.) In the end, Mordred dies after less than two episodes as a Type II Anti-Villain, during which he only really qualifies as a villain because he's on Morgana's side and shows clear distaste at her more ruthless acts.
    • Morgana in the first two series. What she has done is no worse than what Merlin has done to his own kind, including her, yet he is viewed as the hero and she the villain. Like Mordred, at first she is only a villain because Merlin believed the dragon when he said she was.
  • Sheriff Don Lamb on Veronica Mars can come across like this. While certainly a deeply unpleasant man who has done some shocking things (dismissing Veronica's rape in the pilot may as well have been stabbing a puppy), he is not the type the writers are clearly trying to show him as. The fact that people seem far more comfortable putting their trust in a teenage girl and rarely, if ever, actually report crimes kind of makes the argument for incompetence difficult. He never really asked for the job but came into it when Keith was forced to resign for chasing a lead (which later turned out to be wrong anyway) and that he is likely just trying to keep his job (seeing Keith fired was probably a sobering lesson in the virtues of not upsetting the apple cart). This, combined with his backstory of parental abuse, as well as the fact that he seems to be at least somewhat liked and a good boss to his men, can make one far more sympathetic to him than the writers had probably intended. The 2014 movie remedied this by replacing him with his older brother Dan Lamb, who was noticeably more venal and corrupt.
  • A cafe owner in the incredibly Anvilicious Charmed episode "The Bare Witch Project" gets a verbal putdown from Phoebe at the end in public while dressed as Lady Godiva, claiming that "he wants women to be barefoot and pregnant". His crime? Asking Piper politely to not breast feed her son in his cafe after customers had complained about it. That's right, the customers complained yet Phoebe shoots the messenger instead.
    • She specifically puts him down as a sexist pig. However, there were many customers in the cafe, and a good number of women. It's just as likely that some of the women complained about it than only men. However, the owner does get labeled as the bad guy when he points to the sign warning that they can refuse service to anyone, which is a more generic phrasing than "no shoes, no shirt, no service".
    • Cole in Season 5 got hit with this especially hard after he came back from the dead. For most of the season the sisters, Phoebe especially, felt that he was evil and planning on killing the sisters. The problem is that most of the time Cole never did anything wrong and if he did to something morally dubious it was usually to help the Charmed Ones in some way. Yet despite saving their asses time and time again he would continually get shit on by everyone around him. It's especially Anvilicious when the show tried to justify their behaviour by saying that Cole became the Source, despite the fact that he unwillingly became the source due to the Seers Batman Gambit and Phoebe willingly joined evil but is never called up on it. Obscurus Lupa more or less pointed out that it seems when Cole finally did become evil it was more because he was brow beaten into doing it rather then actually being evil. Yeah there's a reason that Phoebe became The Scrappy to a lot of fans.
      • Cole never explains that he became the Source unwillingly to any of the sisters, and pushes Phoebe hard to restart their relationship despite her going through a traumatic Mind Rape and magical miscarriage prior to his death. Plus he was some form of immortal jacked up on the power of numerous demons who was not emotionally stable. The sisters wanting to keep him away from Phoebe is well justified, but a few mediation sessions might have worked better than repeatedly trying to kill him.
  • Former Vice President John Hoynes on The West Wing. The writers obviously want us to view him as a sleazy backstabber desperately clinging his way back to the top. Instead he comes across as a broken man venting his anger at years of disrespect and mistreatment at the hands of the President and White House staff. The fact that Hoynes was almost a lock for the nomination before Bartlet came along (only at the pestering of Leo and others) and swept the primaries goes without mention, as does the work Hoynes put in to help the House get bills passed (using methods far less devious than what Josh had employed). He even resigned as Vice President to spare the office and his family any more bad publicity. Not exactly the devious Smug Snake he's constantly painted as.
    • Admittedly, this often depends on the episode. Josh and Leo like or at least respect Hoynes, and several episodes give him acknowledged Pet the Dog moments, like inviting Leo to his AA meeting or taking his name off an education bill he sponsored to ensure its passage. Leo himself says that the staff respects Hoynes, they just don't trust him.
    • His successor, "Bingo Bob" Russell, fares no better and for even less cause. At least Hoynes caused a sex scandal (that is, he did something wrong) which could justify the main cast's hatred of him (if they'd known about it before it was exposed). Russell didn't even have that much. He was a choice forced on the West Wing by other Democrats because he had a reputation as a lightweight, and it was hoped he wouldn't be much competition to Democrats wanting to run for President in the next election. Russell is aware of his bad reputation and is determined to rise above it, but the rest of the cast doesn't care. While trying to write the speech announcing his Vice Presidency, Toby rants a mock speech on how much they all genuinely despise him that accidentally winds up on the teleprompter. Russell sees it, but is remarkably good-humored about it. Russell does manage to rise above expectations and be an effective Vice President, and (to the dismay of those Democrats who selected him) is able to become the front runner for most of the campaign to be the presidential nominee... and the rest of the cast still hates his guts. The worst thing we ever see him do is give a speech in the Iowa caucus praising ethanol, even though he and everyone else in-universe "knows" ethanol is crap. But you know Josh's candidate for President, Santos, the man who, according to Josh, is "twice the man Russell is on his best days, ten times, and Russell doesn't have very many best days," that Santos? He did the exact same damn thing. Because praising ethanol is one of the things you do if you're trying to win in Iowa, regardless of whether you believe it. Really, it seemed like the office of Vice President on this show was the place to put the guy who was on the same side as the main cast whom the main cast could despise, even if the reason why they despised him was always left a little vague.
    • Though 'villain' is a little harsh. None of the main cast seem to have much against him personally, they just think he's unqualified for his position, and are frustrated at the political realities that put him there. There's a difference between hating someone and not thinking they should be President.
    • Also it is strongly implied Russell was involved in leaking information regarding the President's daughter controversially lab research as a means to distance himself from Bartlett politically, not only causing a minor media frenzy, but also subjecting the President's family to attacks.
  • The treatment of Internal Affairs (aka "The Rat Squad") in Law & Order, especially Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, often veers into this, presenting the officers of the division as little more than self-important, vindictive assholes targeting the main characters purely out of spite, despite their usually deserving far more censure than they inevitably end up getting. The audience is often expected to dislike them for investigating cops for crimes we the audience know they didn't commit, even though they have sufficient evidence to look into it (in spite of the fact that the detectives often investigate the lives of innocent people all the time- it's just part of the job). And the fact that the police on the show have a tendency to do not-entirely-legal things doesn't help.
    • Defense attorneys, too. In Real Life their job is to make sure the prosecution has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt, whereas Law and Order would have you believe they're all smug social-climbers who'll do anything up to and including knowingly let murderers go free for a bit of publicity. The bad guy's lawyer in the SVU episode "Hate" is a particularly striking example: he's perfectly okay - happy, even - with letting a serial hate-murderer walk if it means his Chewbacca Defense that racism is genetic gets on the books.
    • Denise in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode Intoxicated. Denise is the villain of the episode strictly by virtue of the fact that she's an alcoholic and wants to file statutory rape charges against her fifteen-year-old daughter Carrie's twenty-one-year old boyfriend Justin. She's also the villain because Olivia takes an immediate disdain for Denise because she identifies with Carrie. Olivia's efforts to sabotage Denise's case and then personally hiring a lawyer for Carrie so Carrie can emancipate herself from Denise are portrayed as heroic and justified, and Denise's rage and frustration are portrayed as being evil and irrational. Then when Denise is murdered and it's revealed Carrie killed her during an argument, the viewer is expected to feel nothing but sympathy for Carrie and that Denise had it coming. Most of all, in the end both Carrie and Justin get a Karma Houdini because Olivia guilt-trips Casey Novak into offering a plea deal to Carrie because she felt Denise was to blame for her own murder.
    • Several other guest characters on SVU qualify for this, often of the There Should Be a Law variety. One guy was the normal-looking boyfriend of a young woman with Turner Syndrome, who thus looked like a young child despite being legal. The detectives spend most of the episode trying to find something to nail the guy on, even hauling him into court several times, only to have all their attempts turned down by judges. We're supposed to side with them. Making it even worse is the fact that it's stated the young woman's condition will almost certainly kill her before she turns thirty, meaning this may well be the only romantic relationship she'll ever have, and our heroes are trying to ruin is simply because they, personally, are grossed out.
  • In Little House on the Prairie, Harriet Oleson, her daughter Nellie, and sometimes son Willie are all designated villains. The stories are so predictable that if you watch them, if you want to know what the wrong thing to do is, watch Harriet. She's always wrong.
  • Before her Face-Heel Turn, Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was treated as this. She was rightfully the Slayer and she was shown to be rather effective, nice, funny, and friendly. However, she's evidently supposed to be viewed as psychotic, lacking in morality and someone to avoid. Many of Faith's actions have been blamed on Buffy, from Buffy's initial cold shoulder to Faith almost causing a fight between them, to Faith's attempt to kill Angel (since Faith was scared of the horrors he might cause and Buffy didn't tell her he was supposedly reformed.) After the Face-Heel Turn, she becomes a case of Never Live It Down, note  and later in the series, some of Buffy's hatred of her stems from jealousy.
  • Logan on one episode of Zoey 101. After screaming at Dustin over the phone because Dustin made a mistake, Logan was enrolled in anger management classes. He gets out of them early, but needs to be monitored by his teacher. If he can go a day without getting angry, he gets to be out of the classes. So what do the main characters do? Play tons of cruel tricks on him to get him to snap, tricks that anyone would rightfully get mad at (such as attacking him with paint-filled balloons). Logan manages to go the entire day without getting angry at anyone, until the teacher finally leaves. He then, of course, yells at the others, and is taken back to anger management.
  • The fact that mutants are pretty plainly second-class citizens in the future of Power Rangers Time Force means you get a lot of fans rooting for Ransik, even though his methods are rather extreme. Even fans who don't side with him tend to see him as the most sympathetic Power Rangers Big Bad, which might be why he's the only one to redeem himself completely of his own volition.
  • All My Children:
    • Adam Chandler frequently got this treatment. Granted he wasn't exactly a saint and did do some pretty horrible stuff, but a lot of people in Pine Valley (particularly Tad Martin) equally did terrible things to Adam. It more or less became an unofficial rule amongst Pine Valley residents that Adam wasn't allowed to have children, and that if he did then he wasn't allowed to raise them because they didn't want the children tainted by the "Chandler Influence". So when he fathered both JR and Colby on separate occasions, he was barred from having a relationship with either one of them. Colby was even kidnapped by Liza and spirited away, and Adam never met her until she was a teenager!! But all of these actions were shown as justified because of the fact they happened to Adam. More poignantly is the fact that the show somehow managed to blame Adam for the switching baby fiasco with JR and Bianca's babies, just for the mere fact that he threatened Paul Cramer—the actual kidnapper—to tell him where his grandchild was!!
      • Or when he sues ex-wife Dixie for custody of JR, after discovering that Dixie has been sleeping around and that her latest conquest is a barely-legal teenage boy (his daughter Hayley's ex). While it's true that part of the reason for this is revenge for the hurt that Dixie has inflicted on Hayley, Adam is clearly legitimately concerned about Dixie's fitness as a parent. But of course, he's vilified and made out to be an evil, cruel bastard by everyone in town, with zero mention of Dixie's promiscuous, irresponsible behavior. This borders on The Unfair Sex—one can certainly imagine that the reaction to similar behavior from Adam would never have generated the inexplicably sympathetic treatment of Dixie. Right down to the fact that when a desperate Dixie kidnaps JR, it's all because evil Adam drove her to it, rather than a confirmation of her increasing instability.
    • True to Chandler fashion, JR also received this treatment after he married Babe Carey. Babe, a young woman who'd committed bigamy, was found to have slept through high school to get her diploma, and had an affair with JR's own brother Jamie the night of their wedding. The stress of his marriage to Babe had JR turning to alcohol and he became an alcoholic—ironically used by the other characters to "prove" what a monster he'd become. Granted both JR and Babe were also victims of the baby-switch (they didn't know initially that their daughter Bess was actually Bianca's daughter Miranda), but Babe found out eventually and kept the secret from both JR and Bianca for well over a year—until she found out their son was actually alive. However she kept the lies rolling, telling JR their son was dead and Miranda was ripped from his arms by the citizens of Pine Valley to be returned to Bianca. And when all the truths came out—that his son was really alive and Babe had started most of the lies—most of the residents in Pine Valley didn't see a problem with it. They felt Babe was perfectly justified in lying to JR in such a way and denying him his son for the exact same reason they'd denied Adam his children. And when JR started fighting for custody of his son, he was vilified by the town and the show for daring to go after Babe and separate their child from his mother. The only people who sided with JR in any of this were Adam, Bianca's mother Erica, and Bianca's sister Kendall. Even Kevin Buchanen, the man who'd been raising the baby as his son and whom Babe kidnapped him from, sided with Babe against JR!! Even Bianca, the one person more victimized by Babe's lies than JR, inexplicably sided with Babe against JR!! The show even expected viewers to be outraged when JR did win full custody and Babe only got minor visitation rights!!
  • Used in an unfortunate manner with Holly Lindsay in Guiding Light, during her feud with her daughter Blake. Blake decided to steal Holly's boyfriend Ross just to spite her, though it's quickly rewritten that Blake loved Ross all along. Holly is then vilified for being angry about it, and she's told repeatedly by Ross and other people that she didn't deserve to be angry because Ross "never made her any promises". They were boyfriend and girlfriend and had been longtime friends—one would think promises didn't need to be made. Furthermore she is emotionally blackmailed by both Ross and Blake to keep their affair a secret from Holly's ex-husband and Blake's father, Roger Thorpe, because Ross was Roger's bitter rival and because of the substantial age difference between Ross and Blake. The stress of the situation has Holly turning to alcohol, and she's written as a drunk lunatic—any confrontational scenes she has with Blake makes Blake look like an innocent victim of her raving drunk mother. Even though Blake up to that point had already made history by breaking up marriages and sleeping her way through the Spaulding family, the viewers were expected to believe that Holly had always been emotionally abusive to Blake and that was why Blake turned out the way she did and deserved to be happy. Longtime friends of Holly, and people who'd been victims of Blake's manipulations in the past, championed for Blake's happiness. Granted, Blake finally did make her peace with Holly and Ross and Blake became a supercouple of the show, but their beginnings were at the expense of Holly's happiness, much to the indifference of Springfield and the writers.
  • Bones:
    • Oliver Wells is a perfect example of this trope the audience is supposes to dislike him because everyone in the cast does even Dr. Brennan. He is portrayed as having a wide range of interests, ranging from Physics to Psychology, and considers himself to be very open-minded, even on subjects like time travel or if there is life after death. In fact the only reason Dr Brennan doesn’t like him is because he’s smarter than her. Not only does he repeatedly correct her mistakes but he doesn’t let her derail a conversation with him by introducing unrelated topics. In the end she proves herself by finally stumping him.
      • The writers stressed his social awkwardness during his second appearance focusing on all of his negative traits and repeatedly stating he had no friends even though he and Dr. Hodgins got along really well last time. However in the end it showed the same thing the cast don’t like him because he treats them the same way they treat everyone else they meet. Talking down to then, correcting their mistakes, congratulating them when they get something correct, and refusing to dumb himself down. It takes Moral Myopia to the extreme and doesn’t place Dr. Brennan and the others in a good light.
  • From the Earth to the Moon has one of the better examples of this trope in Senator Mondale in the episode Apollo 1. At first, Mondale seems like someone who wants to stop the space program and focus on things other than landing a man on the moon simply as a political maneuver, but as the episode progresses, it becomes clear that he isn't doing this just to for political ends and that he seriously believes the money NASA receives could be put to better use by feeding and educating those less fortunate.
  • Bonanza:
    • In The Saga of Annie O'Toole, Gregory Spain is this. When he comes to claim a piece of land that the eponymous Annie is illegally squatting on, he is immediately made out to be the villain by everyone involved, particularly Annie, who recounts how Spain scammed her father out of profits in the bar they worked in. Unfortunately, the events of the episode suggest that Annie is far more dishonest than Gregory: Spain provides proof of ownership, and various pieces of circumstantial evidence point to Spain's ownership of the plot. When the matter is brought to Miner's Court, Spain obeys every command the judge gives without question. Even when he goes to attempt to take the claim by force, he does so within the bounds of the law, and only uses the required force needed to take the claim (as he can by rights have everyone on the claim shot, but he merely holds them up). For Annie's part, she forges papers to confuse the issue, destroys the circumstantial evidence to remove any corroborating proof, and in Miner's Court, shows contempt for the judge at every turn. Also, when cooking meals for the miners, she raises the prices for meals like ham and eggs from a reasonable 1.50 in 1860's money (about 25 bucks today), to over 15 dollars by episode's end (over 350 bucks in today's currency). But somehow, we're supposed to think that Spain is the crook...
  • Elvin on The Cosby Show was this when he was first introduced as a Straw Misogynist. Sure, he did and said a few stupid things (like forgetting he had a date with Sondra, or claiming that baking and cooking was a "women's job"). But really, the guy was a harmless doofus, who never would have hurt Sondra on purpose. And yet, her parents treated him as if he was the biggest scum on Earth. But it later got better, and Elvin got married to Sondra.
  • ER had Recurring Character Roger McGrath, stepfather to Peter Benton's son Reese. When Carla, Peter's ex and Roger's wife, dies in a car accident, Roger sues Peter for custody. We're supposed to side with Peter, despite the fact that he has very few arguments as to why he would be a better father beyond First Father Wins, and at one point forces his current girlfriend, Dr. Cleo Finch, to commit perjury to help his case. Even stranger is the fact that Roger's actor was also one of the shows producers, so you'd think he could've changed things to make the playing field a bit more even.
  • The Christmas special in the Norwegian sitcom Mot i Brøstet has Karl set up as the bad guy since he insists that they should celebrate Christmas in the old fashioned way, much to the other's displeasure, but even before that the rest were shamelessy wishing expensive gifts from him since he earned a lot of money on the stock market.
  • The security guard in the Muppet special The Muppets at Walt Disney World is already on his last chance after a number of past mistakes (including losing many of the keys to the park). When the Muppets break in without paying, he sets out to capture them. Eventually, he does capture them all, but it turns out Kermit and Mickey Mouse are old friends, so the Muppets don't get in trouble, while in his last scene the guard is shown scraping gum off the bottom of a bench, presumably demoted for his actions, even though he did capture characters who broke in without paying (and had no idea his boss was friends with one of them).
  • Roderick from Doctor Who episode "Bad Wolf", the winner of the deadly future version of the Weakest Link. While he is a bit of a jerk he is, like all the other players, just trying to survive the game. And while Rose treats him as horrible because of the way he is voting he points out he wants to go against her at the end so he doesn't get disintegrated. Bear in mind it's very likely all the contestants were forced into this game.
    • The Metacrisis Doctor from "Journey's End". The Doctor treats them as wrong for wiping out the Always Chaotic Evil Daleks after he had temporarily incapacitated them just after they attempted to destroy the Universe.

    Music 
  • The Romantic False Lead in Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" is apparently supposed to be a bad person for being more popular and more feminine than the narrator and dating her best guy-friend who she has a crush on. It's implied to be a not-entirely-stable relationship, but that doesn't necessarily make her an Alpha Bitch like the song implies.
    • The same sort of situation is handled rather better in "The Girl Next Door," an earlier and nearly identical song by Saving Jane, where the narrator admits she's turning the other girl into a villain in her own mind to justify her jealousy of her.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This occurred in the classic feud between Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Hulk Hogan. The former accused the later of stealing his spotlight and copping a feel of his wife; both of these things were clearly seen to be true by millions watching at home, but the glory-hounding, marriage-wrecking Hogan still wound up as the hero of the story.
  • CM Punk
    • He has made a career out of this, one need not look further than his feuds Raven but the most notable incident was his bitter feud with Jeff Hardy. The ostensibly villainous Punk told fans that the beloved Hardy was not a hero, but a morally-bankrupt drug addict who did not care about them in the least, and was booed for this. Things then crossed over into Real Life when Hardy left the company and was immediately arrested for drug trafficking.
    • His feud with Randy Orton may be worse. To put it in Punk's perspective, Orton is putting members of your stable on the shelf with the same move with which he stripped you of the biggest accolade in the sport. So you want revenge on him for this, but you're treated like the villain, and the villain who said he wants to break your neck and paralyze you is treated as a hero.
  • Muhammad Hassan was introduced as a tweener. WWE let the audience decide whether he was going to be a face or a heel (never mind he was already the latter in OVW, which he was likely called up from too early, seeing how they sent him to Puerto Rico in a effort to make him a better wrestler) When he was booed, he started insulting the crowd and doing normal heel stuff. It really does say a lot about wrestling's audience, though. Especially since the crowd made it clear on several occasions that they hated him because of his supposed ethnic background. It also suggests that WWE wasn't sure what to do with his character. He was reviled and hated in kayfabe for the despicable crime of not wanting to be subjected to prejudice based on his Arabian heritage.
  • In TNA, The Beautiful People had a match where, on their way to the ring, they reunited with founding member Angelina Love. At the end of their match, Angelina joins them in the ring to celebrate, only for her to attack them (Leaving BFF Velvet Sky in tears). Why did she turn on them? Because she was replaced with Lacey Von Erich (done because she was having issues with her work visa [she's Canadian] that kept her from returning to the U.S.). Yet the Beautiful People are seen as the bad guys for wanting revenge against a cheap attack by someone who they thought was their friend. At best, it was Black and Gray Morality if only because the Beautiful People had consistently been rotten people, Angelina Love present or absent.
  • Happened in a feud between Jillian Hall (a heel) and the Bella Twins (faces). Brie Bella used the twin switch to beat Jillian in a match. Jillian had wrestled the match cleanly and yet was apparently supposed to deserve it somehow. Next week, Nikki Bella did the same thing. The feud was the Bellas one-upping Jillian every time, despite being the ones that started it. Though some viewers protest Jillian was booked horribly during her entire WWE run, including having the shortest recorded reign as WWE Divas' Champion, thus arguing it to be expected.
  • AJ Lee was nominally the heel in her feud with John Cena, but aside from her being disproportionately vindictive for him hurting her feelings, the whole thing was pretty much his fault. But then, AJ Lee became the Designated Hero in that she was still cheered against Kaitlyn, with her major heel tactic being creating a secret admirer plot to disrupt Kaitlyn's mental state, but when the match came, AJ got a bigger pop from the crowd and got a huge cheer when she won the match, and only became more popular during her year and a half long title reign. Kaitlyn was taunted by the crowd as she left for tapping out and losing the match. There wasn't even any "reasonable" explanation for the attitude like "cheering for a better wrestler" because if that was the case, the fans wouldn't have voted Kaitlyn to the main roster over AJ in the first place.
  • Ron Killings:
    • R-Truth's heel turn. He won a match to earn a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Next week, John Morrison tried to convince Truth to put his title shot on the line against him, with no apparent benefit for Truth. This is after Truth ended up beating several wrestlers for that right (including John Morrison). Truth caught on to what he was playing at and decided to do the nice thing and leave the decision up to the audience, who were in support of the match taking place. Morrison won and Truth lost his first shot at the title in his entire career, and then responded by brutally attacking Morrison. It's hard to truly hate Truth too much, as all he did was let the fans decide and ended up getting bitten in the ass for it.
      • In a total concession, it was Truth's own fault for allowing the fans to decide, since he'd have nothing to gain even if he'd won the match. It's hard to argue in Truth's favor when that's true. However, what is also easy to argue in favor of is that John Morrison, a face and somebody who was supposed to be R-Truth's friend and tag team partner, would even try to swindle him out of what might have been the biggest moment of his career. While Truth was the villain, Morrison definitely ended up coming off as a Designated Hero during this.
    • Lighting a cigarette to blow smoke in Morrison's face was going too far, because it's illegal in a public building, Think of the Children!! The next week on Raw, Truth fell into more typical villainy.

     Radio 
  • The early Doctor Who audio drama "Doctor Who and the Pescatons" treats the Pescatons this way. The Pescaton leader is using Mind Control, but its goal is to use the Doctor's powers and time travel access to help him find a new home, as a fish-creature from a dying planet with seas evaporating as it follows its dwindling orbit around its sun. This is exactly the sort of reasonable desire that the Doctor would normally help aliens with, at least if they promised good behaviour. However, due to extremely out-of-character writing, the Doctor repeatedly declares them the most evil race he has ever known, and he and Sarah commit a genocide against them without showing any remorse.

     Roleplay 
  • In Dino Attack RPG, Plastic Serpent was intended to come off as seeming like a low-life criminal scumbag who deserved to get repeatedly beaten up by Snake. The trouble was that Snake himself ended up coming off as also being a low-life criminal scumbag who acted like a Jerkass to everyone and ditched the team to save his own skin. In the first encounter, Plastic Serpent was simply getting a bite to eat when Snake began viciously beating him up (it was implied that he had stolen Snake's codename at the time, "Plastic Serpent"- as he originally operated under the name of "Snake" but changed it as a result of this encounter).
    • In the second encounter, Snake had to go and beat him up while he was already wounded in battle. An attempt to justify this was made by throwing in off-hand references to Plastic Serpent supposedly screwing Snake over, but many players found given Snake's character up to this point combined with the fact that none of the Offstage Villainy actually appeared brought the reliability of Snake's comments into question.
    • A non-canon scene was also written (mainly as a joke in response to certain comments) in which a third beatdown happened. This time Plastic Serpent was just minding his own business when Snake started violently bashing his head in to the rails of a bridge. Admittedly this time Snake did get what was coming to him (albeit after Plastic Serpent had his head bashed in several times and got thrown into the river below where he may have drowned) when Snake Plissken and Solid Snake themselves show up and get back at him. Of course Snake receives a comparatively lighter beatdown and then Plissken went ahead and did to Solid Snake the same thing that had been done to Plastic Serpent.
    • Admittedly, the fact that the entire thing was meant to be an allegory for what turned out to be a massive Critical Research Failure on Atton Rand's part didn't help.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Vampire: The Requiem:
    • The Ventrue are the de facto Designated Villains, although that isn't fair, as all vampires are villainous despite their best efforts. The Daeva, who have the explicit weakness of inevitable moral decline have far more reasons to actually be the Designated Villains, only the fluff of the manuals and supplements just don't write them that way. The Daeva are sympathetic, as being evil is not really their fault, they're just morally decadent. The Ventrue, however, are always portrayed, every last vampire jack of them, as conniving, cackling, sadistic, and evil sons of bitches who are evil because that's what the Ventrue are and do.
    • As far as fluff goes, the Nosferatu and Gangrel tend to get Designated Hero slots, but if an NPC in a supplement is marked "Ventrue Invictus", you can guarantee that the character is going to be portrayed in a villainous light.
    • Mekhet, however, are the Designated Morally Ambivalent. They might as well be Vulcans for all the White Wolf writing staff cares.
    • Could be somewhat of a Justified Trope in regards to the Ventrue. It isn't so much that they are any more evil than other clans, but they make much more interesting villains than most other clans.
  • In-Universe example; in Beast: The Primordial, the titular Beasts are trapped in a living story in which they have been made to assume the role of living nightmares, incarnations of the fears spawned by the unknown and slapped with a Horror Hunger that compels them to hurt and torment people both for survival and to fill their cosmic role. Being well-aware of their role breeds a certain level of antipathy in Beasts, especially towards Heroes who A: get the "cushy job" as the Designated Hero, B: never try to fight their narrative role the way many Beasts choose to, and C: that "cushy job" is "track down and murder Beasts, without question or compromise. Little wonder the "Good End" for Beasts is the Apex path, where they successfully subvert their overarching narrative and rewrite it to make themselves into the protagonist.
  • Similarly, the Technocracy from Mage: The Ascension are largely Designated Villains, by Old World of Darkness standards, given that there are expansion books to play technocrats and the core books note that the rivalry is somewhat one-sided, with the technocracy not so much hunting you down as reacting with vague surprise that you're still around when you bust into their laboratory.
    • Later books softened them up a lot. While they are crushing human creativity and enforcing reality to abide by their standards, this is actually done in order to prevent all sorts of monsters and other horrible things creeping into the world, while giving the average person access to 'magic', as technology is magic that anyone can study and use. At worst, they could be seen as a Necessary Evil.
    • The Old World of Darkness wasn't named on a whim. Like every other playable faction, the Mages are legitimate dangers to the free will and physical welfare of mortals (the majority of sentient beings) in their own right. Every sourcebook got an antagonist faction that was outright stated to be the designated villain _because it holds the interests of humanity above other things_. Most human corporations in Werewolf are actually reasonable enough, the technocracy brought on the enlightenment, and the various vampire-hunting organizations aren't exactly unreasonable in their desire to hunt and slay creatures that have to kill humans with some frequency to survive.
      • All that said, the 'villainous' parts also hold true for all the antagonist factions. The Technocracy brought on the Enlightenment, but back then they were the Order of Reason and they were the rebels against the stifling status quo of Hermetic traditionalism and Christian fundamentalism. Over time, as befits the darkness of the WoD, they became the villains, crushing the world in their grip in their goal to keep humanity 'safe', but only on their terms. Similarly, the Wyrm is a very real evil force with no current redeeming qualities and anti-Vampire hunters rarely distinguish between a Sabbat Tzimisce who likes to decorate his living room with the skins of his still-alive ghouls and the Anarch Toreador who only feeds from willing supplicants and never kills. It's more Grey and Gray Morality with ample degrees of What Measure Is a Non-Human? and Utopia Justifies the Means. No one is unequivocally a good guy in the WoD.
  • Vlad von Calerstien in Warhammer Fantasy borders into this, depending how you look at him. While his successors were defiantly evil, the most he did was try and take over The Empire, which its Elector Counts are trying to do all the time, and if his enemies surrendered to him, he let them live. Though all the undead he kept around would take some getting used to.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Imperium hates many things, but they harbour a special hatred for the Gue'vesa, those humans who have accepted the Tau Empire's offer of egalitarianism and progressive thinking. They consider the Gue'vesa as despicable race-traitors. Readers may think differently.

    Theatre 
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet. Since Claudius killed Hamlet's father all by himself, he'd have no reason to confide in R&G or anyone else about it. So R&G might not have seen anything vile about obeying his summons to check out their old friend, Hamlet, and see if they can find out what's wrong with him. When Claudius sends R&G to England with Hamlet, he gives them a sealed envelope for the English which orders Hamlet's immediate execution. Since these orders are sealed, there's nothing to indicate R&G knew what those sealed orders were. Yet when Hamlet breaks into their cabin and opens the seal and reads the order, he changes the order making it for R&G's immediate executions. Since Hamlet gets kidnapped by pirates on the way to England, R&G would have no reason to deliver those sealed orders if they already knew what those orders originally were.
  • Dick Deadeye in Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore is roundly hated and vilified by all his shipmates, mainly for being ugly. "From such a face and form as mine the noblest sentiments sound like the black utterances of a depraved imagination." This certainly applies to the blandest sentiments, e.g., Dick: "Ah, it’s a queer world!" Ralph: "Dick Deadeye, I have no desire to press hardly on you, but such a revolutionary sentiment is enough to make an honest sailor shudder." And when leading man Ralph, a foremast hand, in response to Sir Joseph's foolish claim that a British seaman is any man's equal (except his own), is deciding to propose to ingenue Josephine, his captain's daughter, Dick's voice of sanity—"When people have to obey other people’s orders, equality’s out of the question"—is roundly rejected by his messmates. On the other hand, when in Act II Dick has warned his captain of "the wicked men who['ll] art employ/to make his Josephine less coy", no retribution lands on Dick after the surprise ending that unites the hero and heroine after all. Perhaps everyone simply expects such behavior from "poor Dick Deadeye", the Designated Villain.
  • The Bad Baronets of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore are obligated by a family curse to commit one evil deed each day, or else die in agony. The reigning Baronet, Sir Despard Murgatroyd, is a Punch Clock Villain, who gets his daily crime over early in the day and does good afterwards. After the hero is unmasked as Despard's elder brother, Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, he emerges from his Face-Heel Turn as a Harmless Villain, who commits misdemeanors so small that the ghosts of his ancestors rise up to torment him until he agrees to prove that he can do something more nefarious.
  • It happens in Fools. Count Yousekevitch is set up to be the villain by the other characters and is presented in a ridiculous "bad guy" outfit. His only real crime is trying to marry a pretty girl. Later, he even lampshades this. He then seemingly has a Pet the Dog moment... only to turn it into a Kick the Dog and prove himself to be just as bad as everyone else said.
  • Ellen in Miss Saigon is often perceived as this by fans of the show, as she is seen as the obstacle to Kim and Chris reuniting.
  • Magnificent in Ibsen's A Doll's House with Nils Krogstad, who is repeatedly demonized as an unpleasant and weak dog kicker, but is, upon closer inspection, just trying to secure his job so he can feed his children, and is eventually talked into a total Heel-Face Turn. There is no real villain, apart perhaps from how Torvald and Nora have turned their marriage into a dysfunctional delusion where he doesn't take her seriously as a human being and she believes he'd keep supporting her even if she were to reveal her 'true' self.
  • The Giantess in Into the Woods. Her only real crime is not being human. She treated Jack kindly and protected him from her husband, and, in return, he robs her and kills her husband. If she was a human, Jack (who admits that he did it) would have been hauled off to jail, if not the chopping block. All the deaths in the second half are either accidents (because she can't see without her glasses) or caused by humans. There is even a scene in the second act deconstructing this, and discussing why she deserves to live less than Jack does. Eventually, the heroes recognize that her grief is as valid as theirs — but they still have to take her down, because she'll destroy the kingdom otherwise.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: subverted by Colonel De Guiche In-Universe. The audience of the play identify him as the villain because he wants to bully Roxane into being The Mistress, but the Gascon Cadets who serve under him never call him out on this: they think he is the villain merely because he doesn’t want to be an Idiot Hero, has villainous motivations, and prefers to thrive by his connections in the Deadly Decadent Court...and he dresses like The Dandy. In summation, De Guiche is the villain because he is No True Gascon. Observe that not one of the cadets even complain when De Guiche informs them of the Last Stand.
  • Javert embodies this trope in Les Misérables. He is at best an incorruptible cop and at his very worse he's only a Well-Intentioned Extremist who is devoted to the law and truly wants to do what's right.
    • To be fair, Valjean himself points this out right before he helps Javert escape the barricade. Hell, the 2012 movie adds a scene from the book in which Javert hands Valjean the perfect opportunity to ruin his career and get him out of Valjean's way for good, and Valjean rejects it because he doesn't want to deprive France of such an honest and dedicated policeman!
  • This is done via Historical Villain Upgrade in 1776. For 90% of the play, John Dickinson appears to be a hidebound aristocrat whose primary concern about independence is that it will upset his comfortable, upper-class status quo, combined with a total aversion to risk and continued loyalty to England. It also attributes to Jefferson words actually written by Dickinson (the passage from On the Necessity For Taking Up Arms; the two men co-wrote it). It is remedied in the last scene, though, by giving Dickinson a Worthy Opponent sendoff where he proves that his desire for reconciliation really is the completely reasonable fear that the colonies will be crushed for rebelling and resigns from Congress to join the army.
  • The Sound of Music has The Baroness. In the musical, the only thing she did wrong was be rich, unliked by the children (and even then, only in comparison to Maria), and choosing not to cause any trouble with Germany to save their heads. She was made a little cattier in the movie, but really at worst she was just preventing Maria from moving in on her fiance. And then there's the live Carrie Underwood show, where, thanks to a virtuoso performance by Laura Benanti, many viewers were rooting for her over Maria!

    Video Games 
  • Age of Wonders. We're told that the Elves, Halflings, and Dwarves are good, and the Orcs, Goblins, and Dark Elves are evil. While the good races are described briefly as having peaceful, wholesome habits and the evil races are supposed to be violent and aggressive, we don't really see any of this in action. In gameplay, the difference doesn't show up at all: both sides are equally warlike, and have the option of fighting or buying off neutral races. Furthermore, a central gameplay mechanic is the ability to repopulate captured cities with a population of a friendly race; it's plain cultural imperialism at best and the good and evil races do this with equal impunity.
  • Arc Rise Fantasia gives us Eesa. There doesn't seem to be any real reason why she shouldn't help bring about L'Arc's Law to save the world since she makes it clear that she only wants to choose the Laws that are best for everyone, yet she's still the final boss. Umwat?
  • Dissidia Duodecim reveals through Chaos' backstory that he really isn't evil at all—he's just doing what Garland, Cid, Cosmos and Shinryu have told him to do, and as such this is an Invoked Trope. It just happens he looks like a monstrous demon, and most of the warriors he calls to serve him are villainous.
  • Touhou runs on this:
    • Undefined Fantastic Object offers a rare encounter: in one route, at least, Marisa and Byakuren seem to hit it off on the subject of magic use, end-up sidelined by a painfully short theological disconnect ("'youkai' protected from humans" versus "humans protected from 'youkai'"), and it's the last boss who demands the fight. Marisa might have been rude (as always) but Byakuren didn't even try hard.
    • Alternatively, given events in Silent Sinner In Blue, where Reimu and Marisa assist Yukari in her invasion of the Moon (causing Reimu to comment that they were the villains and would lose, which they did), it's possible that they were meant to be villain protagonists for the duration of UFO in the same vein previous bosses became player characters.
    • It's invoked in Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, where Tenshi designated herself as the villain because she was bored.
      Tenshi: I thought, "I want to play disaster resolution too." So I caused one. A disaster, I mean.
  • Yggdra Union:
    • Played with, where the heroes assume that Gulcasa and his army must be evil because they conquered Fantasinia and killed King Ordene. They eventually realize—while invading Gulcasa's country—that they are wrong, but continue their invasion (and in doing so, wipe out a third of Bronquia's able-bodied population in this campaign alone) because they think it's too late to turn back. The Royal Army spends the rest of this part of the game slaughtering civilian militias and the remnants of the Imperial Army, who insist that protagonist, Yggdra, will have to go through them if she wants to kill Gulcasa. There's also some vague nonsense about Bronquia trying to bring about The End of the World as We Know It by resurrecting an ancient demon, but from the way Gulcasa and his last few generals talk about this planned resurrection, it was actually supposed to be their very last resort in case Fantasinia retaliated by invading them. Welp.
    • Following this, we also have Nessiah, who is actually quite finished causing trouble throughout the world by the time you find him, and whose current major offense is that he's being a vindictive little shit.note  Nessiah congratulates you on your victory by making a People Puppet of your recently deceased friend, Kylier, and forcing you to fight her. (Incidentally, Kylier herself actually says outright that she doesn't hold it against him.)]] At this point of the game, all he wants to do is leave the world of Ancardia and finally get revenge on Asgard for the wrongs done to him—and Asgard is run by the Bigger Bad of the series and Nessiah's people are subject to horrific levels of Fantastic Racism even when they're not marching out of step. If he succeeded, the world would be a much better place; if he died trying, well, it wouldn't be any skin off the Royal Army's nose; either way he wouldn't be your problem any longer. Instead, the Royal Army insists that he must be killed in order to prevent any possible negative consequences for the world of Ancardia.
  • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
    • The game, given its tendency to use Gray and Gray Morality, uses this in-universe quite well with Big Bad Dr. M. He's fighting off the Cooper gang and is held at gunpoint by Inspector Carmelita for it. He points out that since he legally owns the island where the treasure is (and by extension, the treasure hidden there), he is simply defending himself and his property from a group of wanted, notorious criminals who are attacking his home, henchmen, and trashing the place.
    • M also plays the trope straight. The reason Sly goes up against him is to get his hands on a huge amount of gold and treasure that M is trying to steal. Sly claims the treasure belongs to him, since it was amassed by Sly's ancestors. The problem with that claim is that nearly all of the treasure was obtained through theft, so Sly has just as much right to it as M does - which is to say none at all.
  • Daleth from Shin Megami Tensei II is a literal example. He was created by the Center to be the anti-Messiah so the main character can defeat him and grow more popular.
    • And ironically, he's one of the few named characters, aside from the protagonist and Hiroko, to have a happy ending. He even gets a pretty girl who loves him dearly. Beth, Gimmel and potentially Zayin, all intended to be heroes, end up dead.
  • Most of the Portrait Ghosts in Luigi's Mansion don't even attack, and seem fairly content with just hanging around the mansion. Keep in mind Luigi isn't a Designated Hero, he's just making sure all the ghosts are captured and some of them happen to be the said villains.
  • While this is debatable, in BlazBlue, the NOL is straddling this line. For the most part, the organization is filled with lots and lots of Punch Clock Villains, who were doing their jobs for their paycheck, and they truly believed in their goal in creating a peaceful world free of conflicts. However, because Ragna mainly opposes them and they employ several villains like Hazama and Relius, combined with the fact that they are mainly composed of rich people and make up some dictatorship rule (even if it's for preventing total chaos), it becomes easy to paint them as a tyrannical group of villains or a merciless Empire type organization.
  • Cao Cao and the Wei forces in Dynasty Warriors, in keeping with his characterization from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In fact, the game runs on this. No matter who you play as, the other 2 kingdoms (and minor forces) tend to be painted as the bad guys - which makes sense, since they're trying to unite China under their rule too, so it's a conflict of interest. The exceptions are Dong Zhuo and, to a lesser extent, Lu Bu.
  • Played with in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. During the search for Amelia, you run into Rodger, and then run into a bandit leader. He was willing to ignore you and go about his way, but the party members kept saying he looked 'evil'. The only reason you fight him is because they wouldn't stop saying that and the bandit snapped.
  • Simply going by what the players see, the UED in StarCraft: Brood War turn into this. They don't come off as particularly evil when you're playing as them in the Terran campaign, and many players were glad that you force Mengsk off his throne playing as them. Yet in the Zerg campaign you find Jim Raynor, who loathes Mengsk with passion, and the Protoss, who the UED barely have any contact with, helping Kerrigan try push them out when she ultimately proves to be the worse of two evils.
    • The "evil" part does come into play when they decide to take control of the Zerg instead of destroying them. On the other hand, simply destroying the new Overmind would not destroy the Zerg. It would, instead, turn them into mindless beasts attacking anything nearby and free for Kerrigan to control (which is exactly what happens when she suceceds in killing the Overmind).
    • There's also the backstory, where the United Powers League (the precursor to the United Earth Directorate) conducts racial cleansing of all Earth citizens, including cyborgs, mutants (including those with Psychic Powers), and other undesirable elements. The original idea is to put them in camps and kill them. A scientist suggests using them to colonize a far-away planet, so tens of thousands of them are forcibly placed in cryo-pods and sent in Sleeper Starships to that planet. The navigation system malfunctions, and they end up spending decades in warp, ending up in the Koprulu sector. Throughout the struggles of the "colonists", the UPL continues to keep track of them and incorporating some of their technological breakthroughs. After the discovery of the Zerg, the UPL is reorganized into the UED, which sends a fleet to take control of the situation. In this light, it's difficult to see them as anything but villains; assuming, of course, that the UED didn't politically reform at some point, which is entirely possible, as neither of the UED's top officers seemed bothered by the presence of 'undesirables'.
    • In the opening cutscene of Brood War, the UED fleet is first seen observing the Zerg overrunning a colony, and it's heavily implied by Gerrard's line about "unleashing them upon men" that the UED is responsible for the attack. When it's clear that the colony is doomed unless help arrives, the fleet...simply leaves. That's pretty villainous behavior. It doesn't make the Dominion the good guys, especially since Mengsk did the exact same thing to his enemies. It's more of a case of Evil Versus Evil.
  • In X3: Albion Prelude, the Terrans are evil for demanding justice for a terrorist committing an act of genocide purely out of racism.
    • To be more specific, as far as you can tell in the game, the cause of the Second Terraformer War between the Terrans and Argon Federation is that Saya Kho suicide-bombed the Torus Aeternal (massive space station ringing Earth's equator) for little reason, an act that killed thousands of Terran civilians and military personnel instantly, then millions more from deorbiting debris.

      In a rather extreme case of All There in the Manual, the war started because the Terran intelligence services were infiltrating the Community of Planets with the hope of influencing its future course, due largely to the Terrans' paranoia about artificial general intelligence. This ended up as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: the Argon began working on AGI combat vessels in order to give their military a fighting chance against the Terrans' technological superiority, then used them to invade the Solar System in a preemptive strike. Saya Kho infiltrated Sol as an agent of the Argon Secret Service; her attack on the Torus was intended to open the way for an Argon invasion of Earth. Doesn't make it right, though.
  • Hawke can become this to Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast in Dragon Age II. No matter how nobly Hawke acts throughout the game, Cassandra will still be certain that s/he is the culprit she is looking for. The game being a deconstruction of the Big Bad, she is told multiple times that there is no one at heart to blame. Although Anders might count, given the events of Act III.
  • While Heavy Rain's Carter Blake is a Jerkass Rabid Cop who has no business being on the force, calling him "psychopathic", as Jayden does, is a tad extreme. He at least seems to mean well ("The only thing I'm interested in is saving that kid's life!"), and the conclusions he comes to aren't unreasonable. But, ends don't justify means.
  • The Reapers in The World Ends with You, at least the ones outside the big four, and it's debatable. Really, they're just doing what they're supposed to do, and their killing is actually important to keeping the universe in balance and humanity constantly evolving based on what we learn in secret reports. Also, while Minamimoto and Konishi are obviously villains, Yodai was simply doing his job and Kitaniji was trying to save the UG from complete destruction with an Assimilation Plot, although Neku and the player don't learn this until after Kitaniji has lost.
    • Justified since this is the view of the protagonists who the Reapers are erasing. From their view, the Reapers are just predators and they want to survive.
  • The Enclave in Fallout 3 can come across this way, especially to people unfamiliar with them from the first two games. True they kick the dog in a pretty big way by hijacking Project Purity and killing your father, and their leader's plan is pretty horrific when you learn of it. But the subordinates of the Enclave seem more level headed in comparison and more interested in governing the Wasteland rather than destroying it. And considering the Wasteland is a pretty horrible place to live what with the wandering gangs, super mutants, and poor living conditions, and they have by far the most advanced technology available to enforce order albeit with brutal tactics, the player may find himself wishing there was an option to side with them rather than treating them as Always Chaotic Evil.
  • The 'villain' of the Travellers questline in Kingdoms Of Amalur Reckoning can be seen as this. The Hierophant is never really explained beyond the fact that she is an entity who is the patron of the group and speaks to them through magical statues. She provides them with jobs and seemingly has telepathic abilities. That is, until you rescue a member of the Travellers from captivity, who believes that the Hierophant "set him up". He offers no evidence or motive for this beyond the fact that he seems to question her leadership, despite the fact that to the Travellers, she is an abstract entity who would be unable to do anything to anymore who disobeyed them anyway. And then, when you get caught in a trap yourself, the same man claims that she set you up as well, once again offering no evidence and absolutely no motive this time, as you have not questioned her orders at all. The rest of the questline is spent defying her in various ways, until the stirrer reveals her true identity: *gasp* a completely random member of the group, with absolutely no reason to pretend to be a god-like being at all! Umm...okay. The final mission involves you delving into her random hidden lair and confronting her. You can side with her at the end and remove Onwig once and for all, and admittedly that seems like the best choice given the circumstances.
    • The conflict is less good vs. evil (everyone involved is a thief), and more a case of freedom vs. security. Defying the Hierophant means sacrificing the benefits of her Fateweaving, but it also frees up the Travelers to make their own way. Since the whole game has a Screw Destiny theme going for it to the point that the player character embodies it, it's easy to see why the game is biased in favor of Onwig.
    "The Travelers of old were free, dove... But all that changed when the Hierophant came."
  • Guild Wars 2 gives us Canach as the villain in the Secret of Southsun and Last Stand at Southsun arcs. After accidentally inciting some monsters to attack a major city, Canach is arrested, but claims to be a protector of the weak. He eventually disappears in order to sabotage the Consortium he used to work for. The player is ultimately tasked to stop him, which they do. The only problem is, long before you defeat him, you learn that the refugees that had settled the island had been tricked into virtual slavery thanks to the Consortium's contracts and Canach's goal was to end this injustice. Canach only fought the heroes in self-defense when they came after him, and the authorities had been refusing to help the settlers until Canach forced their hand. Ultimately, you fulfill his plan by destroying the odious contracts, but the game still acts like locking Canach up and throwing away the key is a just outcome. Why he was wrong and the heroes were right is never adequately explained.
    • The Ascalonian humans suffer a strange form of this retroactively. In the first Guild Wars campaign, you played an Ascalonian forced out of their homeland by the Always Chaotic Evil Charr. In order to make the Charr playable in Guild Wars 2, Arena.net took steps to Retcon their Always Chaotic Evil nature, partially by attempting to reframe the war as not a defensive one on the human's part, but a rightful reclamation of land on the Charr's part. In an attempt to make it more ambiguous, a new event was added to the lore after the player's left Ascalon, where the king who remained behind, surrounded by enemies, activated an ancient spell that succeeded in destroying the nearby Charr... but also cursed him and his people to forever wander as ghosts who still think they're fighting the war. This is treated as a Moral Event Horizon for the king and, by extension, the Ascalonians, by humans and Charr alike in the present. There are still two problems with this, however. First, that the king had no idea that would happen. Second, that from what we saw in Guild Wars, there was no indication that the humans knew the land used to be owned by the Charr, and the Charr's response was not diplomacy, but casting an apocalyptic spell that reduced the entire region to a barren wasteland for at least 250 years. Not only that, but the Charr who led the attack were from a faction that is recognized as evil to this day. Despite this, the Charr are treated as being completely justified for hating humans and it's treated as something humans should learn to put up with, while bitter, modern descendants of Ascalonians are treated as dangerous zealots.
  • Duke Crabtree from Zap Dramatic's Ambition. We're apparently supposed to see him as an egotistical jerkass who is out to steal your job, but he appears to be far more competent than the player character. He'd probably be better-suited for the job. While we as the detective spend about half of Episode 6 sleeping, Duke is actually doing work. While interrogating Bridget, if you end the interrogation too early, Duke will helpfully inform the player that Bridget contradicted herself and tell us to go back and "nail her." When you are interrogating Bridget near Ted's cell, Duke will ask the valid question of why we are exposing the suspect to a known violent criminal. One possible response to this is to call Duke a meddling creep and then punch him in the face. This results in a game over, but the fact that the option is there in the first place clearly indicates that we're not supposed to like Duke. Duke does insult the player, but the attentive player should notice that Duke only insults you when you waste time, and after you get a confession from Bridget, he stops insulting you entirely and works with you to try and solve the case. Somewhat negated by the fact that Duke actually becomes genuinely villainous in Episode 10. It is revealed that he is in on the plot to frame Ted Hadrup for murder, and then he hijacks your cab and takes you somewhere to kill you. However, he still qualifies because we're supposed to see him as villainous from the start even though he doesn't do anything particularly villainous before being revealed as Evil All Along.
    • Helen is portrayed as unreasonable and overemotional about her husband cheating on her. In "The Tryst," telling Yale to break off his affair with Angie and stick with Helen causes you to lose. Yale then mocks you for thinking that having an affair is at all a bad idea, before throwing you out and saying that you have a limited future, unlike him, because having an affair means he has "ambition".
    • To a lesser extent, Angie. Presumably the player is meant to share Ted's outrage that she would conclude that a man who threatened to blow up an office building and rambles on about getting his orders from God might just be a touch crazy.
  • Queen Odette from Odin Sphere acts cruel and sadistic most of the time, but when it comes down to it, she just wants for everyone to stop breaking into the Netherworld to bring people back to life, and stealing her jewels to create Psyphers to kill more people while corrupting the natural flow of life. The only really villainous things she does revolve around Oswald and his Magically Binding Contract with her (granted, he wasn't aware of the conditions when the contract was made, but that was because the contract was made by somebody else who didn't have his best interests at heart.) In fact, when she's finally Killed Off for Real, King Gallon is able to take control of the Netherworld's forces and help trigger Armageddon.
  • The Vaadwaur in Star Trek Online: Delta Rising. Yes, they're basically Space Nazis and their leader Gaul has no qualms about gunning down civilians in cold blood. But neither did the Romulans, Klingons, or Cardassians, and the Federation had a detente with them for decades. The Vaadwaur are also an endangered species who used Human Popsicles to escape extermination by an alliance fighting back against their imperalism. The real problem, though, is that their enemies the Kobali come off as the Designated Hero. While they're the Alpha Quadrant nations' ally against the Vaadwaur, the Kobali come off as Holier Than Thou with a Culture Justifies Anything attitude, and for all practical purposes contribute little of worth to The Alliance (their population is going to be fairly low for various reasons and their only modern warship was built with Alpha Quadrant technology). Plus, their method of reproduction, basically necromancy, has drawn many rape comparisons, especially given that they're holding several thousand Vaadwaur cryo tubes and using the failed ones for more stock, along with making use of Vaadwaur battlefield casualties. Gaul Jumps Off The Slippery Slope in "All that Glitters", but the storyline reveals that the Vaadwaur high command are all infested with Puppeteer Parasites except for Gaul, suggesting they wouldn't have willingly gone along with his plans.
  • Tales of Destiny 2: While Elraine is definitely evil, albeit in a well-intentioned way, the goddess she serves, Fortuna, isn't shown doing anything evil at all until the very end, when she's rejected by the very being she created, and even helps the heroes return to the present at one point. In fact, she's trying to bring eternal happiness to the world. It's the lengths her Saint goes to to resurrect her (she needs prayer badly) that she may not even be aware of (her instructions to her Saints seem to have been pretty vague, along the lines of "find the best way for me to help humanity") really cause the heroes to oppose her presence. At worst, she herself had Blue and Orange Morality.

    Web Comics 
  • PvP:
    • Max Powers. Even though he seems to be a nice, cheery, and outgoing person to everyone around him, the entire magazine crew seems to hate him, especially Cole, constantly saying how "evil" he is even though we have almost never seen him do anything objectionable. When the website Websnark did its analysis of Powers, it came to the same conclusions. Kurtz himself admitted that this was close to the truth. Max isn't supposed to be an actual villain, but instead, one of those guys who is so nice and perfect and successful that it inspires jealous hatred. The closest he comes to "evil" is that he can't see Skull, and only "innocents" can see him. That said, he managed to motivate Roby and Jase into becoming physically fit and productive people. It may not have lasted, but it was a fairly beneficial change without nasty consequences.
    • Recently addressed in the comic after a Mistaken for Gay brief storyline:
      Cole: It's not because of a girl, or because you always succeed where I seem to fail. It's just that, well, you're a better person than I am, or ever will be.
      Max: Stop it.
      Cole: It's true. I'm petty, selfish, jealous, and small. You're none of those things, Max. You never have been. You're a big reminder of just how flawed I am, and how very little I've grown. Sometimes that's hard to be around. But I'd like to try, Max. I'd really like to try.
  • Sluggy Freelance has an in-universe example as part of a Harry Potter parody. Gandledorf (a Captain Ersatz of Dumbledore) explains why House Wunnybun (the Ersatz Slytherin) must always be treated like scum:
    "Wunnybun is the house for bad guys. Reward them amiably? Treat them with respect? They may become good. And then our paperwork would be all screwed up."
  • If the heroes of Sonichu are the definitions of Designated Hero, then many of the villains are easily in the Designated Villain spot. Due to a massive case of Life Embellish, the author paints various characters this way. The worst case of this is the entirety of issue 10 which has the main characters murder people who amount to nothing more than simple Internet Trolls.
  • In Sinfest, Baby Blue in a flashback got F's in all spiritual matters -- D in harp. The thing is, we haven't seen her do anything evil at that age; this appears to be her Start of Darkness.
    • For what that matters, the Patriarch and most male cast in the Sisterhood Arc can be seen as such. While they are supposed to see them as little more than misogynistic jerks, many readers think that Xanthe and her friends go to such extreme, cruel lengths when dealing with them that the shallow and perverted antagonists end up being far more sympathetic and reasonable than the Sisterhood.
  • Alejandra in Las Lindas stops at nothing to shut down Mora's farm as revenge for all the emotional pain Mora caused her in the past. Her evil deeds include an offer to buy the farm at a generous price, retracting the offer when Mora storms Alej's office with violent hostility, and legally purchasing the farm from the bank when Mora's plan for exploiting free labor doesn't work out. Alej's crowning moment of villainy came as a response to the hero announcing her intentions to commit murder. And who's supposed to be the villain of this story?
  • In Cthulhu Slippers Cthulhu himself is ostensibly the head of the evil Cthulhu Corp and one of the most evil beings in the universe. In reality he's one of the nicest characters in the story, and though he was present at the end of the world he hasn't actually done anything wrong (penchant for Girl Scout Cookies aside).

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe:
    • The Goodkind family. A very rich and influential family, they run Goodkind International, Goodkind Research, the Goodkind Trust, etc. They uniformly take the position that they don't hate mutants, they merely understand that mutants represent a terrible threat to baseline humans. Since the Whateley Academy is a high school for mutants, run by mutants, this makes the Goodkinds the bad guys. Only problem? It's clear that many mutants are a terrible threat to baseline humans. The Goodkinds do provide a lot of money for Humanity First! which is full of bigots, but they also subsidize the MCO and direct the Knights of Purity. Still, when all the main characters are mutants, anti-mutant = bad.
    • They claim that they don't hate mutants, but when you see CEO Bruce Goodkind in private, it's clear that he does. And funding bigots is the least of their crimes against mutants. They also shipping children (including their own son) off to be tortured by a Mad Scientist who horrifically tortures mutants, for example. However, other, less influential, Goodkinds are actually considered good, or at least neutral, characters. The MCO aren't particularly good guys either, thanks to rampant dog-kicking; the Knights of Purity are an enigma - it's not clear where they stand with two major characters having an argument about this...
    • Ayla — nee Trevor, son of the selfsame Bruce — Goodkind, a.k.a. Phase, is a mutant, a member of Team Kimba, and one of the main protagonists. This is relevant because the stories written from his perspective seem to make it fairly clear that the Goodkinds do believe in using their considerable wealth and power responsibly and aren't necessarily bad people at all...so long as you're a baseline human, anyway (it doesn't help the mutant cause that Ayla's own mother is clinically mutophobic thanks to a particularly monstrous supervillain eating her sister alive in front of her when she was six).
    • As for the Knights of Purity, they're demonised by Chaka for going after Jolt, an emergent mutant, when Jolt could have easily killed someone (electricity powers). Chaka also points out that they have huge casualty rates, but the Ko P go after mutants, usually super villains, and so it's not surprising- they contain mutant threats, and sometimes that can't be done without casualties- sometimes they're the only option or the closest one there.
  • Spoofed (to a degree) with Blue Laser in the Cheat Commandos shorts at Homestar Runner.
    • Blue Laser is frequently staked out and attacked by the Commandos (Gunhaver in particular) no matter what they're doing, including shopping or having Thanksgiving dinner. Gunhaver makes a point of exaggerating the "evil" potential of every action Blue Laser takes. Occasionally, Blue Laser does do evil or pseudo-evil things, but more often than not, they're only opposed to the Commandos because the Commandos are the heroes and Blue Laser are the villains.
    • Sometimes, it turns out that whatever innocuous thing Blue Laser was doing actually was meant to help them crush the Cheat Commandos. Like the time the Cheat Commandos busted in on their grocery shopping; they were out shopping because a computer analysis had determined that the moldy grout in the shower was the reason they hadn't yet crushed the Cheat Commandos. Blue Laser is that kind of villain.
  • The appropriate Cracked list for this page: "Nine famous movie villains who were right all along"note .
  • Parodied in How to Write Badly Well, where the "villain" is trying to cure leukaemia.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog features a deconstruction of the traditional superhero/supervillain relationship, wherein the protagonist is only evil because the society he lives in has determined that anyone who is too brainy and unpopular automatically becomes a villain. Doctor Horrible tries to do evil, but only manages to Poke the Poodle — at least until the Designated Hero, Captain Hammer, makes things too personal. He only wins because his death ray backfires.
  • Invoked during The Sharkasm Crew's Mario Party "Let's Play"s. One player tends to get shunned by the others, usually for having a lucky start to their game.
  • Invoked and parodied in Third Rate Gamer. If the Evil Rate Gamer didn't point out that he's evil at every opportunity we wouldn't know.
  • Hugo, the clone of Matthew Santoro, is portrayed as a villain for not wanting to be locked up in a cage by Matthew.
  • Evil Lady is this in the web video, So You Wanna Be A Princess. She's booed for being evil despite her only crimes consisting of wearing black, acting grumpy, opposing Purity Sue Kayla, and burping after doing the first challenge. She doesn't even bother to cheat at all.

    Western Animation 
  • In Ben 10: Omniverse:
    • Phil the former Plumber (not the alien monster who took over his body and mind) was said by Ben to essentially be less redeemable than Kevin. Sure, Phil was a criminal, but he never did anything as bad as what Kevin had done in the original series. Even without the With Great Power Comes Great Insanity excuse Kevin had, there wasn't anything inherently preventing Phil as he was from turning over a new leaf. To be fair, only Ben was thinking this way, and he may have not been meant to be agreed with, and The Reveal at the climax of the episode makes it kind of a moot point anyway.
    • Charmcaster almost veers into this, because she has no villainous goal at all in this series, she just wants to rule her dimension in peace and she needs to be all-powerful to do so. Thus when the artifact making her all-powerful is stolen and has its power drained, she seeks new magic artifacts that are rightfully her's to replace it, and is only considered a villain because the heroes oppose her. The reason she avoids this trope completely is because she is mentally unwell and being repeatedly manipulated by the downright evil Adwaita, which means that she can NOT be trusted with the power of these artifacts and thus the heroes have a very justified reason for standing in her way. Plus Gwen, Rook and Hex all treat her less like a villain and more like someone who just needs to get help, which also subverts the trope.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • Secret groups of children are locked in war with teenagers and adults. Yet aging inevitably happens, so to prevent former KND agents who have aged past 13 from knowing KND secrets, they are supposed to willingly subject themselves to Laser-Guided Amnesia, thus becoming clueless and hopefully harmless. Anyone who does not to do this turns evil at that very second, a type of evil that includes insults and fighting dirty. There are undercover exceptions but this is usually the rule. In the KND 'verse, puberty makes you evil. This is explicitly the case. While not all adults are evil, all their enemies are adults, and kids are mostly good. (There are exceptions on both sides.) The kid's parents are good, but perhaps that's because none of them were agents (that we know), and thus not subject to The Dark Side tempting them.
    • Numbah 86's father is Mr. Boss. Unusual because he loves his own child, but is one of the greatest and oldest enemies of the present KND and is the leader of some of the lesser villains.
    • Some villains don't even display malice toward the KND after their introductory episodes. The holding of events like villain barbecues and award ceremonies seems to indicate that fighting the KND is a hobby as well as a crusade.
    • However, Numbah 1's dad was once the greatest KND agent who had his memory erased and has shown no signs of being evil (though he does seem rather dippy). There's also the fact that Chad's parents only were villains on the show because Chad was a member of KND (they thought that he had "such a high number" and wanted to pick off the other agents so that he could be Numbuh 1).
    • Chad's turn to evil was also in part due to his own ego and selfishness. As the best KND agent and oldest (he's being decommissioned after all) he felt he put too much time and effort into his accomplishments to let the organization just kick him out to the point that he was betraying anyone he could. He eventually starts directing his anger away from the cruelty of he decommission rule toward the whole organization itself. In the finale it turns out he was a double agent secretly working against the teenagers and adults.
    • Done intentionally in earlier episodes, where the KND were more self righteous rebels who played themselves as heroes against any sort of enforced rule or annoyance an authority figure put against them (eg. the adult swim in a public pool, a delivery of tuneless pianos, ice cream reserved for a private meeting). The majority of these cases played the KND more as Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists and usually ended in comedic failure.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Plankton in recent episodes, in which he's become much more of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, and Mr. Krabs is more of a Jerkass Designated Hero. The only reason he doesn't become a completely undeserving target of the show's increasing Comedic Sociopathy is the few stray episodes where he actually acts like a villain, and the role he takes in the movie.
    • Squidward comes across this way too, in spite of a few moments here and there where he deserves what he gets coming to him. All he really wants is for SpongeBob and Patrick to allow him some peaceful and quiet time to himself. But apparently wanting some downtime and respite from his loud and obnoxious Designated Hero neighbor makes Squidward a Jerkass...somehow. Honestly, many viewers end up sympathizing with Squidward's desire to have some time to himself to relax, away from SpongeBob's loudness and intrusiveness.
    • Mrs. Puff too. Before she attempted to murder Spongebob, all she wanted to do was to not have to deal with Spongebob's bad driving, and because of that, it makes her a jerk who deserves the abuse she gets, simply because she dislikes Spongebob, when really, fans sympathize with her because Spongebob is un-teachable and Mrs. Puff shouldn't have to put up with him.
  • Heather on Total Drama Island is the legitimate villain of season 1, but after that, she becomes mostly ineffective because everybody knows how manipulative she is. As a result, she goes through seasons 2 and 3 being snarky and rude at times, but never doing anything wrong...and yet, the other characters still constantly act as if she is still evil. Probably the best/worst example is when Leshawna knocked Heather's tooth out when Heather tried to explain that the new villain, Alejandro, was manipulating her; even when Leshawna finds out that this is true, she still openly brags about attacking Heather and never seems to consider that it was completely unjustified.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • It has the unique distinction of having Designated Villain Protagonists, in the form of the Eds. They always lose and end up being treated like crap by the end of nearly every episode, and Eddy is the only one that ever deserves any of it, even if they didn't even do anything that bad. Add to this the fact that most of the rest of the cast gets away with being insufferable little assholes who are unconditionally mean to the Eds with little or no provocation.
    • Though Eddy's main schtick is scamming the other kids and being exceptionally greedy, he's often forced to pay the price for attempting legitimate business ventures. More often than not, he (or the other Eds) put a lot of effort into these businesses. An example of this is an incredibly elaborate theme park ride that showcases the sort of Bamboo Technology we might expect from the future, not unlike the kind people ride frequently at Disney World. They eventually manage to break out of their role in The Movie.
    • Jimmy sometimes. Although Jimmy was wrong for framing Ed and Edd (when he should have only targeted Eddy) in "If It Smells Like An Ed," we're supposed to feel sorry for Eddy since he was punished for a prank, while his unfortunate friends were guilty by association.
  • There's a few cases on The Fairly Oddparents when characters are designated villains as the result of a wish (Jorgen in "Action Packed", the popular kids in "Scary Godparents", as well as Timmy himself in "Nega Timmy") or the circumstances, as Tootie in "Dread and Breakfast".
  • Tom from Tom and Jerry is usually attacked by Jerry unprovoked. Jerry is portrayed as the hero. No matter what happens, Jerry is viewed as being right and Tom is always punished. The worst examples are when Tom is, in an episode set in the past, executed when he was just doing his job. Tom's job in this short was simply defending his home's supplies and nothing malicious.
    • Hanna-Barbera did seem to wise up to this in many of their later shorts, which often made Jerry more altrustic and Tom more sadistic and deserving of his abuse. The majority of times Jerry drawn the first blow or got a bit too vindictive in his retribution, Tom actually claimed a victory.
  • Deputy Dawg is a full time case of this. While he at least gets some moments of justice, most of the time we are supposed to root for the mischievous, thieving animals the law abiding dog is trying to keep in line. Used most erroneously in an episode where a beaver is flooding the forest with his dam. Despite the beaver refusing to take it down solely out of pride, Deputy Dawg is the one presented as being unreasonable and ends up humiliated and submitting.
    • In a zig-zag, one Deputy Dawg cartoon had DD running for re-election. The animals rig the election so that Vincent Van Gopher would win and thus get carte blanche to do whatever they wanted with no culpability. But Vince takes his role as deputy to heart and enforces all the laws, much to his pals' chagrin.
  • In the pilot episode of Justice League, an American Senator has a proposal to rid the world of nuclear weapons by having Superman work round-the-clock to dismantle the nukes of every country on Earth (it's implied that all the countries agreed to this). While he's outlining the proposal, an angry American General stands up and declares that he shouldn't do it because "Those weapons are our only defense against aggression!" (in this continuity, the Earth had just barely escaped an alien invasion by Darkseid...and a brainwashed Superman as well...only a few years earlier). The American general is accused of warmongering and shamed into silence and the nuclear disarmament begins. Then, after all the nukes in the world are disarmed, it turns out that the Senator was actually an evil alien in disguise and the disarmament plan he proposed was intended to keep the nations of Earth from destroying the alien ships that were about to invade. Oops. Guess you should have listened to the warmongering American General in the first place, eh? note  This is clearly satirizing the plot of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
  • In the ThunderCats (2011) episode "The Duelist and the Drifter", Master Swordsman the Duelist appears guilty of nothing more than challenging swordsmen to duels for their swords and winning, but is set up as a villain to Kid Hero Lion-O, who foolishly takes up his challenge unaware of his rep. While the Duelist does eventually prove to be less-than-honorable—he insists that Lion-O Duel to the Death and attempts to kill him after Lion-O wins—there's no evidence of wrongdoing before that, apart from goading Lion-O by implying his dead father was a coward, and some unadvertised deck-stacking through the use of two blades to Lion-O's one. After all, he introduced himself as "the Duelist". It's not his fault that Lion-O failed to pick up on the homonymic pun.
  • Most of the Urpneys in The Dreamstone, but especially Frizz and Nug. The heroes generally consider them the highest form of scum, however in early episodes they were more or less established as unwilling slaves of Zordrak who got their numbers thinned out the longer he had to wait to get the stone. Even their zeal and motives come off far less petty than the heroes, who inflict Disproportionate Retribution on them every time they try to give them nightmares. Later episodes made some tweaks to ease their treatment and allow the heroes to look genuinely heroic against them, but even then they're primarily sympathetic bumblers over evil in any way.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • Happens all the time in Rugrats, often deliberately due to the skewed naive perspective of the babies:
    • Didi hires a dog groomer for Spike. The babies, thinking she's a "dog broomer" who kidnaps dogs, cause all sorts of mayhem for her ("What else could a dog broomer be?"). True, Spike didn't want to get groomed, but that would make Didi the villain here, not the groomer.
    • A teenager hired to work in the Java Lava is a bit moody and surly but the babies assume she is Angelica's doll grown huge and try to shrink her by pulling out her belly button ring. And they mess up the coffee shop and when the girl tells everyone that they did it they almost fire her for "blaming it on the pups," but she quits in agitation and disgust before they can.
    • Angelica herself in the episode "Silent Angelica". Drew and Charlotte promise to buy her toys if she stays quiet and watches the babies. Angelica actually tries her best to stay quiet but the babies take advantage of this and run wild around the house. Angelica finally snaps after they've caused so much mayhem, but then Drew and Charlotte punish her for it when she had done nothing wrong at all.
    • Some of the babies' theories on "villains" run so much on Insane Troll Logic that it's lucky some of them aren't even real. For example they hear the story of the Sand Man, and worry about the off chance that he may accidentally bury them with too much sand while putting them to sleep. They ultimately come to the conclusion they must kill the Sandman. Naturally there is no Sandman for them to murder, though they spend most of the episode mistakenly beating up Chuckie's dad in the process.
  • Wacky Races has Dick Dastardly as the designated villain because of his cheating, but, in this race, cheating is often the only way for any of the racers to win. Sure, Dick's schemes involve taking out the other racers, but the rest of them do the same thing (though the majority of the other racers' attempts involve jumping a few places ahead or lifting another racer up and driving under them, while Dick Dastardly's plans are usually more deadly). Dastardly's one victory was reversed after finding out he extended his vehicle when crossing the finishing line. He is disqualified and booed vigorously, despite the fact other episodes featured another racer using the same tactic and winning legitimately.
  • Ranger Smith to Yogi Bear, he was treated as an antagonist to Yogi even though Ranger Smith is trying to stop Yogi from stealing peoples lunch.
    • In real life, wild animals getting hold of human food is a very serious thing- it can lead animals to associate humans with food, meaning that they have to be killed or relocated to areas where humans are not very plentiful, otherwise the animals might get aggressive and start attacking people.
    • Reasoned in one episode, where Ranger Smith finally gets sick of Yogi's antics and delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech on all the felonies he's caused. Yogi defends himself by pointing out the forest belonged to the animals first, then humans such as himself took over and tried to enforce rules onto them. Yogi steals food, but Smith stole his entire habitat.
  • Played for Laughs with The Beekeeper from Johnny Test. Unlike the other villains, who want to take over or destroy the world, The Beekeeper just wants to get kids to eat healthier. The characters even lampshade that this wouldn't be a bad thing if he wasn't so crazy about it.
    • Luckily, by "Johnny Holiday", The Beekeeper is no longer an antagonist, as both he and the Tests team up to create a holiday in which free candy (or rather, honey bars) are given out. Thus, after this episode, The Beekeeper hasn't been seen since.
    • Played straight in, among other episodes, "Johnny Test in 3D" - the hotel manager is the bad guy simply for trying to enforce the no-pets policy.
    • Sunblock Mom is an antagonist in "Sunshine Malibu Johnny" for trying to get Johnny to put on sunscreen.
  • Played for Laughs with Melvin in Duck Dodgers. The episode where he appeared suggested people should hate him for opening a rival restaurant next to I.M. Neighborly's and taking Neighborly's customers away by offering them free sodas. It also suggested that it was okay for Dodgers and Neighborly to sabotage Melvin's in a way that, in real life, would get them arrested for not only damaging private property but also endangering the lives of everyone inside. Dodgers treated it like a space battle.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Played straight with the tenants Marge invites to live in the house for the holiday. They are supposed to be seen as selfish and evil for constantly complaining, ruining Marge’s Christmas, but this ignores the fact that the only reason she was able to have a Christmas was that she invited an inordinate amount of people to her house, promising them a ludicrous amount of activities which she didn’t have any hope of providing.
    • Bart and Homer's attitude towards George Bush Sr in "Two Bad Neighbors". Bush is repeatedly portrayed as a fun-hating sourpuss, despite the fact that a lot of his frustration comes from Bart's annoying behaviour. Homer's beef with Bush is that he's more popular with the neighbours than Homer. The episode ends with Bush having to apologise to both of them and Bart and Homer get away scot free.
      • Played as straight as humanly possible when Bart destroys Bush's memoirs and Homer hears Bush's side. His reaction is "Bart didn't tell me that!", but still attacks Bush.
      • Homer really goes after him because he smacked Bart in the bottom (once). Homer perceived this as taking away his right to raise "a disobedient, smart-alecky son!" Possible Fridge Brilliance in that Bush by doing that, is implying that Homer is a terrible parent (He did say he's gonna do "something [Bart's] parents should've done a long time ago").
    • Itchy and Scratchy are a parody of this in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry. It's very rare that Scratchy's even doing anything before Itchy murders him.
  • Blendin Blandin of Gravity Falls is portrayed as an antagonist for being a stressed-out guy who doesn't want 12-year-old twins Dipper and Mabel using a time machine device because it's his own property. This unfair treatment is brought up in "Blendin's Game", where the twins make it up to him for unintentionally ruining his life.


Alternative Title(s):

Designated Antagonist