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Designated Villain
aka: Designated Antagonist
"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 Big Bad 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.

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 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:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • 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.
  • Dinosaur Ryuzaki (Rex Raptor) from Yu-Gi-Oh! is more of a "villain by proxy", as his best friend is the downright rotten Insector Haga (Weevil Underwood). He is shown helping 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.
  • 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.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, Faldio's 'villain-hood' is very poorly executed. He saves everyone's lives with his desperate gamble in activating Alicia, but gets only grief and reproach from everyone, even himself - though nobody ever suggests a possible alternative to his course of action. That Alicia survives to live happily ever after, whereas Faldio has an ignominious death off-scene, compounds the problem. Many fans of the game hate his prominence in the anime *anyway*, so they're likely not to care.
    • In Faldio's case, it's not so much what he does or why he does it, but how. That is to say, his "desperate gamble" to activate Alicia's power was to shoot her in the back. The anime only compounded the mess by trying to set up as the foil in a Love Triangle between him and Welkin beforehand.
  • 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.
  • The Computer Club in the Haruhi Suzumiya episode "The Day of Sagittarius", though this is by intention. Earlier in the series, Haruhi outright stole an expensive computer from them by threatening to falsely accuse them of sexual harassment. When they challenge the SOS Brigade to an online game to win back said computer, they commit the "crime" of cheating to ensure their victory. Obviously they're justified in doing this, and Kyon seems to sympathize with their situation, but the SOS Brigade still has to beat them in order to keep Haruhi happy.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • Superman of all people is reduced to this in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns due to Frank Miller's skewed interpretation of what Superman is. First of all, Superman's Shall Not Kill code is completely absent (he kills Dirty Communists left and right, even sinking a Russian carrier). Secondly he's a heel for the Government (despite the fact he'd revoke his US citizenship later since he views himself as a protector of the entire world). Third, Superman's depowered to the point where a nuclear weapon (despite tanking them since 1947 and surviving planet destructions and even supernovae) nearly kills him and makes him less intelligent. All so an elderly Batman can defeat him in the streets of Gotham.
  • 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 blow 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.

    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. She's 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 3 antagonists actively trying to corrupt him in various horrible ways since the age of 8, if not earlier, including assualt, 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.
    • As of the Fourth Ninja War arc, even Itachi himself has said he was in the wrong.
      • Wrong in mindraping Sasuke several times and trying to do things on his own. Not wrong in putting down his Clan who thought they should be treated better than the rest of the village.
    • 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 in the infamous fic. True, she does one legitimately villainous thing: killing Katara's baby through poisoned fruit, as opposed to Designated Heroes Katara and Zuko who really have nothing to back up their "hero" status. However, 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.
    • Oh, and the healthy glow was removed from her skin, just in case we needed help deciphering who is evil in this comic.
  • 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.

    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. The antagonism between Percy and Meeko is more like Tom and Jerry, where the audience is supposed to simply enjoy the rivalry rather than just root for one side over the other. 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.
  • Megamind is this in-universe - everybody was always seeing him as nothing but trouble and his attempts to blend in and get friends backfired. His main motivation for being a villain is that everybody thinks of him as one already, so why not play along? He later learns he doesn't have to be what people want him to.
  • 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.
    • His cameo appearance in Toy Story 3 seems much more neutral, appearing as a garbage man making his rounds while gleefully rocking out on his headphones.
  • 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.
    • Many people commented that they can't see Ralph in the wrong at all and see the Nicelanders as the true villains in the game who never get their Karmic Justice, mostly since they dupe Fix-it Felix Jr., and by extension the player, into keeping their pristine apartments all nice. Plus...wouldn't it be funner wrecking said apartments with Ralph than fixing his damage?
    • Ralph is also a Designated Villain within his own game. Watch the opening of the movie and ask yourself how you'd feel if a group of people just booted you out of your home and built an apartment there.
  • 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.
    • However, some fans wonder if The Man Upstairs had some degree of OCD due to his obsession with order and control for his Lego world. As stated elsewhere on the YMMV page, even most adult fans are against the idea of gluing their Legos in place.
  • Averted in Frozen. Elsa was originally going to be a villain, until the writers got to her Villain Song, "Let It Go". They realized that Elsa really hadn't done anything wrong, and rewrote the script to make Elsa a protagonist. "Let It Go" still has traces of its Villain Song origins in some of the lyrics.
  • 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.

    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.
  • Somewhat lampshaded in Tin Cup where it's stated that no decent person could hate children, dogs, or the elderly, so the love interest's Jerkass boyfriend, Don Johnson, chews out a child, an old man, and a dog in a single line of dialogue.
  • 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 didn't know the gun wasn't loaded, but the movie plainly doesn't care about that plot 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 Buellers 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.
    • He was a total Jerk Ass though. When he saw the report of Kevin's dad's credit card being missing, instead of informing the police that a man's lost child was separated from his parents he outright calls the police on Kevin for theft. And when Kevin's parents confront him about the fact that he allowed an unsupervised child to check into the hotel by himself, and didn't think of watching the obviously unsupervised child when the credit card was stolen, the concierge is completely indifferent.
      • On the other hand, the credit card was reported as "stolen", not "the kid who has this is missing and his parents are looking for him." For all the concierge knew, Kevin did steal the credit card.
  • 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 human villains in The Lost World: Jurassic Park 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. Not to mention that InGen had lost a shedload of money on the failed Jurassic Park, and had a responsibility to their employees and shareholders to try and recoup it. There's a deleted scene where the supposedly Corrupt Corporate Executive explicitly points out they've spent well over a hundred million dollars hiding the island.
    • A Deleted Scene would have thrown the Designated Villain trope out the window and thrown the movie into Grey and Gray Morality, showing the Great White Hunter character (who never does anything immoral in the rest of the movie besides wanting to hunt a T-Rex, though his methods (chaining the infant Rex to the ground and inadvertently breaking its leg) were admittedly dickish) defend a waitress from sexual harassment by beating the ever-loving crap out of the drunk idiots harassing her. Thus, Designated Villain happens by 'accident' by film-makers who had hoped to avoid it. The audience probably would have rooted for the Great White Hunter - much of them already did.
      • Also deleted was the scene where the baby's leg was accidentally broken, leaving us with the impression he did it deliberately, a rather Orwellian approach to making him seem more villainous.
  • 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 their only flaw in the movie is that they do not want to celebrate the commercialism of Christmas for one year.
  • 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."
  • Deconstructed in Unbreakable with Elijah Price. Due to his extreme medical condition, he has spent his life reading comic books and began to believe in the concept of Heroes and Villains. When he realized that he could never be the hero that the world needed, he devoted himself to becoming a villain and became obsessed with finding his hero by causing multiple disasters (Since the villain is often the exact opposite of the hero, he determined that his opponent would be able to survive such things unharmed). Throughout, it is shown that Elijah takes no pleasure in his actions and only does Them to fulfill his fantasy and have a real purpose in life. He believes that fate has already cast him in his role and he is just following it.
  • 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.
    • Perhaps the issue is that he learned nothing from it. A man died, undeniably if not directly, because Bradley ruined his act, and yet there Bradley is, continuing to try and do the same to other magicians. Dylan also suggests that Bradley started his whole endeavour to end other performers' careers after The Eye rejected him
    • Arguably, the company that made the safe gets it even worse than Bradley. After all, the fact that Shrike wasn't able to get the safe open during the trick is a testament to how well-made the safe was! All they did was make a product that functioned the way it was supposed to.
  • 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. Special mention goes to MacPhearson, Kalgan's Dragon who is billed as a horribly vile man, yet does absolutely nothing the entire movie, and yet gets the single most horrifically brutal death in the entire movie.
  • 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.

    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 marlet, 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 marlet", and resolves to make up his own mind on things. He and the marlet 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. James and Victoria also seem less horrible when you realize they were only after one person as well, but since she's the Designated Protagonist that makes it worse than killing hundreds of people.
  • 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 behaviour 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. One cannot help but pity her.
    • 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.
  • Similar to the Leah example, 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.
  • Although it's probably not very nice to pick at a story written by a 12-year old, critics of Swordbird by Nancy Yi Fan have complained that the main villain isn't really evil, just annoying.
  • 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. In fact, 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. However, 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 Halo: Glasslands and Halo: The Thursday War (prequels to Halo 4), putting the blame for the SPARTAN-II program's shadier aspects 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, especially since it hardly could have been accomplished by Halsey alone. Nobody seems to consider that making parents think their kids are dead may be more merciful than living with the constant fear of any parent whose child was kidnapped. Alternatively, the SPARTAN-III program (using orphans from glassed planets) is seen as the better alternative, as the orphans agreed to take part in it. However, the SPARTAN-III program is meant to produce a mix of Super Soldiers and Cannon Fodder. Besides, all those orphans are teenagers and, thus, cannot be mature enough to make the decision to agree. 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 Insurgents who plagued UNSC for years did so using terrorist tactics, such as suicide-bombing (in Halo: Contact Harvest, Sergeant Johnson's entire squad is wiped out trying to stop an Insurgent woman, who ends up blowing up several city blocks with her bomb-purse). While Halsey's actions may be seen as deplorable, they can also be seen as justified and in no way placed on her shoulders alone. 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.
  • 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 thsn 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.
  • 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.

    Live Action TV 
  • Helena Peabody in series 2 of The L Word. Viewers are supposed to dislike her because she chose to give money to help poverty-stricken families rather than Bette's art gallery, and because she winds Bette up even though she only did this after Bette was very rude to her (telling her that she was unwelcome when she came to Alice and Dana's party just because she didn't like her dating her ex). Tina has sex with Bette while she's supposed to be Helena's girlfriend and this is depicted as an okay thing to do, but after this, Helena starts dating other women while going out with Tina and is made out to be a villain for it. The main characters stand her up after she goes to a lot of trouble to organize a meal for all of them, and this is depicted as acceptable behavior. Granted, Helena could be bossy and a little stuck up, but no more so than Bette, and she never got any credit for her many acts of charity and generosity.
    • What made Helena so villainous at first though was that it was implied that she had been with a previous girlfriend before Tina just so the ex-girlfriend could have babies. Once the ex had two children Helena dumped her and used her influence to gain full custody of the kids, despite not being their biological mother. It was implied that she was attracted to Tina solely because she was pregnant and would've done the same thing to Tina. Bette got a heads up about Helena's actions in the past and tried to intercept her intentions, and when Tina did dump Helena, Helena got back at Bette by having her fired. Of course, when they decided to give Helena more dimensions this whole backstory was dropped entirely.
  • 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.
    • 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 noone seems to have a problem with it.
      • Expecially when one considers how Freddy is shown as the ONLY person who doesn't think Fred is the best thing ever while in real life, Fred has a considerable hatedom (there is a reason why he's an example under The Scrappy), so really, it should have been some of the people wanting Freddy dead while another bunch of people (wither Freddy likes it or not) would be sending him fruit baskets to thank him. In other words, it would be like if Freddy became an outcast for saying he didn't like the Harlem Shake.
  • 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. That said, Meredith's character (while perhaps preferring books to people) comes off as very sympathetic in a world where people act like such jerks.
      • Sterling's case is further hurt by one scene in which as a cruel joke, the bookworm's wife asks him to read poetry from one of his books to her; he eagerly obliges, only to find that she has drawn lines over the text on every page. Is it any wonder he prefers books to people?
  • 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:
    • Lex Luthor is an infamous example of this, performing many selfless (and debatably noble) acts throughout the first few seasons (including risking his life to save Clark's class from a hostage taker and saving his semi-abusive father from a tornado), only to be persistently described as having negative motivations all along when very few have actually been observed in him during his screentime.
    • In later seasons, he regularly commits murders and performs unethical experiments, having crossed the line into actual villain.
  • A particularly controversial character in the Star Trek fandom is Captain Edward Jellico. 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.
    • Call it a case of Culture Clash or the equivalent. Jellico is just a more military-like character than Picard (he also told Troi to wear a uniform), and militarism in Starfleet tends to be polarizing both In-Universe and Out.
      • Oh, and the episode ends with Picard approving of most of Jellico's changes and deciding to keep them.
    • 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 definitely counts. 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. All she did was fall victim to Morgause's plans, but was called evil for it. She did bad things of her own will in series 3, but probably wouldn't have if she hadn't been declared evil in the first place.
    • Morgause as well. What exactly has this woman done besides try to expose Uther's lies to Arthur and then win back what she thinks rightfully belongs to her half-sister? In one episode, she puts the entire castle to sleep in order to assassinate Uther and claim Morgana without any innocent lives being lost - the writers must have realized that this put her in too' good a light, and later stated that the sleeping spell would have eventually proved fatal for everyone were it not broken in time.
      • Well, Morgause was the one responsible for turning Morgana from a troubled girl, who still was nice most of the time, into a complete madwoman, who returned to Camelot wanting to kill her father (who was a creepy madman, but still...), her half-brother and her former best friend. So obviously, Morgause was not a good influence for her sister.
    • There's also Aithusa, the white dragon, who the creators described in an interview as "an evil character." Thus far he's done two, and only two, things on the show - a) hatch from an egg, and b) heal an injured woman. How the writers will translate this into "evil" remains to be seen.
  • Morgan from Camelot starts out this way. Sure, the second thing she does is kill her father — but that seems to be over a legitimate grudge, and the first thing she does is try to forgive him for it; it's only when he hits her in the face and tells her "I have no daughter" that she moves into murder mode. After that, she spends several episodes trying to claim her throne from what, so far as she can see, is a pretender plucked out of thin air by a manipulative sorcerer. And her methods for winning the throne? Well, after an alliance with the local warlord (a matter of necessity in the absence of an army of her own) falls through, she sets to work bringing justice to the kingdom, trying to demonstrate to the people that she's a better choice for ruler than Merlin's puppet.
    • Morgan becomes an actual villain as the season goes on. She murders innocent people, kidnaps her stepmother and walks around impersonating her before murdering her out of pure spite, rapes two men including her own brother and kills a child. She was already a Draco in Leather Pants to fans though, being played by the ridiculously hot Eva Green helps too.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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 her acting the way she was treated, to her 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).

    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 
  • CM Punk
    • He has made a career out of this, 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.
  • AJ Lee was nominally the heel in her feud with 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.
  • This also 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.
  • 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 everytime, despite being the ones that started it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Then again, the Beautiful People to that point were always the bad guys, and Love, who was originally the leader of the outfit, didn't exactly become a good person since then. This one's more a case of Black and Gray Morality than anything else.
  • Muhammad Hassan was definitely this. He was reviled and hated in kayfabe for the despicable crime of not wanting to be subjected to prejudice based on his Arabian heritage.
    • He was actually introduced as a tweener. They let the audience decide whether he was going to be a face or a heel. When they went with heel, 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.

     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.
  • 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 Wo D, 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 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 of a Gray Vs Grey 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 Wo D.
  • 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 see 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 Dolls 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.
  • 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.

    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. 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. Except 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.
  • The Dark Ones in Metro 2033. Whether or not you choose to treat them as villains is central to the plot.
  • 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 Inquisitor Cassandra Pentaghast in Dragon Age II. No matter how nobly Hawke acts throughout the game, Cassandra will still be certain that 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 expansions. Canach's supposedly evil attempt to drive the wildlife insane doesn't really amount to much (the wildlife was pretty insane anyway,) almost everyone agrees that there is a serious issue that was going unaddressed, he didn't act alone but his accomplices are easily forgiven, and in the end the heroes fulfill Canach's plan for him by destroying the odious contracts that put the settlers in virtual slavery, as he had intended to do. 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. The game 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • Doctor 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.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: He borders a Villain Protagonist at times, but a lot of other cases those he opposes are enabled to act even worse. "Bollocks To Stan", "Stan Time" and "The Kidney Stays In The Picture" are perhaps the most ludicrous cases where he is "the bad guy" to his family's immoral actions, despite his approach, while still flawed, being at least somewhat justified. "The People vs Martin Sugar" out and out Lampshades Roger as a Designated Hero to Stan.
    • Perhaps the best example of this would have to be "Less Money, Mo Problems". In short, after Jeff uses up all of the things that Stan paid for, Stan, Jeff, and Haley get in an argument, wherein a bet is made that if Stan and Francine can live on minimum wage for a month, then Jeff and Haley will leave, however if they cannot, then Jeff and Haley get to stay with Stan and Fran indefinitely. The bet proper ends after two days, when they are flat broke, and Francine calls it quits and goes home. The episode drags on for another 15 minutes, with the typical blundering by Stan, until he is forced to break into his own house, looking like a bum, and is almost stabbed by Jeff, who, BTW, is eating a sandwich that Stan paid for. Even if you consider that Stan was a complete idiot in the latter half of the episode, he was 100% right at the beginning: his wife (who consents to being a non-working housewife) and Steve are entitled to use the stuff he works for, being a housewife and minor. Jeff and Haley are adults, and quite honestly, he's doing them a big solid by allowing them to stay there in the first place. That said, the idea that Stan could be wrong simply because he asks Jeff to not use inordinate amounts of supplies that Jeff is not working for, or paying for in any way...it could only happen in a MacFarlane cartoon.
      • Also, Hayley and Jeff stole the families life saving and pissed it all away so he is working paycheck to paycheck now. Plus eating all of his food wasn’t the only thing Jeff was doing; he comes in 3 in the morning blasting the TV keeping Stan up, so not only is he struggling to pay the bills he’s dead tired. Most of Mac Farlane's points are made by over-exaggerating the stupidity of the opposing side and/or attributing things to them that they don't actually believe: that is to say, they're poorly made. It has already been firmly established that Stan knows very well how hard it is to survive on minimal wage. His father abandoned him and his mother as a child and his mother blatantly told him it was his fault and forced him to do all the things she should have done. Paying the bills, doing the taxes, fixing the house, etc. In A.T. the Abusive Terrestrial they even showed that when Hayley was a baby Stan and Francine collected cans for extra money. Stan knows how hard it is in fact it is his most defining characteristic. The stress of taking care of his mother caused him to grind his teeth and develop horrible acne, which in turn caused to be ridiculed at school. This is why he so obsess with appearance, popularity, perfection, and his aggressive personality. He’s such a devote republican because his dad told him some bulls**t lie about a spy. His mother was so narcissistically focused on herself that she never even bothered to teach him about sex. He learned about it from some random stranger which is why he is so repressed. Unlike Peter, Stan had a very good Freudian Excuse.
      • And when his parents are finally called out for their bullshit, he ends up the bad guy there too. Granted Stan did take extremes with his mother (exporting all her boyfriends to protect her) but it was the result of his upbringing from her own selfishness, and the Aesop is still he should let her live her own life without a hint of hypocrisy. The first appearance of his father paints Stan as an idiot for trusting him over his family, and then a hardened Jerkass the second time when he doesn't despite them.
      • Finally, Hayley is the last person to be speaking on the hardship of minimum wage. Neither she nor Jeff have ever worked a day in their lives, Stan has always paid for every facet of her life. And once again she stole his life saving and spent it in a month.
    • Every family Aesop that Stan learns can be considered this trope. Every time Stan decides to spent a little time for himself (“Man in the Moonbounce” and “Stanny Slickers II”) ends with his family in ruins and Stan having to give up his time to save them. Yet all of Francine’s dreams involve her abandoning the family and they all end up fine. What makes this worse is the numerous times the Stop Helping Me! trope has been applied to Stan.
      • Don’t forget that Stan’s biggest fear was that Francine will leave him for being boring.
  • 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 Numbah 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. That said, they do say that aging in their world is some sort of super universal disease that can make people crazy...
    • While a jerkass, 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.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants:
    • 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. 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. Particularly egregious, because Courtney was the Designated Villain of season 2 and nobody treats her badly about it at all. This might just be because the writers want us to forget season 2 as much as possible...
  • 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.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Wile E. Coyote
      • He is just trying to get a bite to eat; in some cartoons, he's so desperate for food that he is seen eating shoes, cans, and flies, and he is almost always depicted as the villain despite the Roadrunner not being very heroic. Sometimes, the Roadrunner can be quite mean to him, like causing him to hit his head on the cliff walls, scaring him into jumping off the cliff, and he once got him to eat a stuffed toy of himself which was filled with metal, causing him to get caught in a magnet. The Coyote IS trying to kill and eat the Roadrunner, putting him in danger every day of his life.
      • Indeed, one of the rules the writers always followed was that the audience should always sympathize with the coyote. If not for his motivations, than for the poor idiot's inability to go one day without hurting himself. For what it's worth, they generally never show the coyote starving even if he is hungry enough to chase after the roadrunner. The implication being that the coyote brings it on himself by choosing not to give up and chase something slower.
      • The short Little Go Beep, which depicts the first meeting between Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner (as babies), shows that Wile E.'s father ordered him to catch a Road Runner, and that he was not allowed to say one word until he caught one. This might explain not only his silence but also his determination to catch the Road Runner (though Wile E. has occasionally spoken in cartoons, mainly in his interactions with Bugs Bunny, most of which apparently take place after the events of Soup or Sonic, where Wile E. finally manages the impossible).
    • Sylvester:
      • A better case in "Canned Feud" where he's not trying to hurt the mouse; he just wants the can opener that the mouse is spitefully keeping from him so he can eat cat food. Naturally, he fails.
      • Also, when Sylvester is pitted against Speedy Gonzales. Usually, like Tom, he's just defending a food stockpile.
      • This was averted most of the times Speedy went against Daffy Duck, generally because Speedy and his friends were usually in more dire circumstances and had nothing against asking or pleading for charity from Daffy that he always coldly refused, making clear Speedy had no other alternative. "Moby Duck" is practically a remake of "Canned Feud", albeit with Daffy's callousness provoking Speedy hoarding the can and his loss being brought on entirely by Laser-Guided Karma.
      • The large majority of times Sylvester, similar to Tom, is treated in universe as a monster and a bully for going after "innocent" little animals, with many middle parties fending him off and punishing him harshly. This only happens when said animal isn't an invading pest, at which point, the very same people often lashing out at the cat for not doing his job. Adding to that how Sylvester has fewer vindictive moments than Tom and is almost always motivated by food or duties, and the guy comes off as highly sympathetic, but he's arguably one of Looney Tunes' most consistent Butt Monkeys because, well, Cats Are Mean.
      • This is thankfully averted in Sylvester's most famous rivalry with Tweetie. Like Sylvester, Tweetie is a housepet who's not meant to be eaten, so when Sylvester chases him we know he's doing something wrong.
      • Also in another short, Tweety was a wild bird while Sylvester was an malnourished stray cat so free game, though a random civilian still steps in and attacks Sylvester, along with slamming him with every degoratory name in the book for attacking an innocent bird. Granted it might be something to do with Tweety outright begging for her help beforehand.
      • This also comes up in episodes featuring Hippety Hopper, whom Sylvester mistakes for a giant mouse. He's frequently pushed into continuing the chase by his son who thinks his father is a disgrace for not being able to catch him.
      • Utilized in another Hippety Hopper short, where a mouse's bed being inexplicably placed in front of it's light. Sylvester is merely trying to keep the lighthouse running while the mouse continuously turns it off (and thus endangers the safety of passing boats) rather than just, you know, moving his bed. In the end the mouse teams up with Hippety and Sylvester gets a violent punishment from the lighthouse keeper for his failure.
  • A great many cartoons feature a slow-witted, loyal dog trying to defend some valuable property from a thief. We're supposed to take the thief's side. Probably the most obvious example is Chilly Willy, though Underdog's Klondike Kat also qualifies.
    • 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.
  • A possible deconstruction of this trope: 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.
  • 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.
    • He is, however, stated to be prideful and obsessed with winning. It's implied he may have pulled similar tricks before.
  • 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.
  • Played with in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with Iron Will, who runs a legitimate business in assertiveness training. However, Fluttershy takes his lessons too far and became a bitch. While her friends choose to blame Iron Will, Fluttershy instead takes responsibility for her actions. While Iron Will still sort of acts as the antagonist in the final scene, he's never really shown as in the wrong, just rude. While he suggests that he's going to be violent towards the end, at this point he thinks Fluttershy is trying to avoid paying him, and has effectively stolen from him. She then goes and admits that since she wasn't 100% satisfied, she doesn't have to pay. Iron Will accepts this after making sure (probably the first time anyone has actually use that tidbit) without conflict and learns from the experience.
    • Played straight, however, in supplemental materials, with Iron Will as a boss in a Re Traux video game as well as appearing in the "Chaos is Magic" poster.
    • Similarly played with for Trixie in "Boast Busters". Her initial appearance displays her as a showy magician who is merely establishing mystique in a manner very much akin to real life performers. It is only after the other ponies connect this as making her arrogant and begin heckling her she reveals herself as a genuine egotistical Jerkass, and is humiliated indirectly by Twilight Sparkle, the only one not showing ill feelings towards her.
      • Played with in her follow up appearance "Magic Duel", which has her reach outright supervillain levels, challenging and banishing Twilight Sparkle from Ponyville before turning into a dystopia. It turns out she had been corrupted by a magic amulet, and after being broken from it's spell, she makes a Heel-Face Turn, or at least a sincere apology, which is accepted by Twilight Sparkle.
  • Happens all the time in Rugrats, often deliberately due to the skewed naive perspective of the babies:
    • Didi hires a dog groomer for Spike and the babies just assume for no reason she is really a "dog broomer" who kidnaps dogs and 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 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.
  • Surprisingly averted in The Simpsons episode “White Christmas Blues”. At first it seemed Lisa went Soapbox Sadie regarding the commercialism of Christmas and vowed to buy presents with actual meaning. However, while the rest of the family worked really hard to buy loving gifts, Lisa’s gifts were not only incredible cheap, but incredibly thoughtless as well: seeds for Homer to start a garden, sticker for Maggie, a book for Bart. Later, when she catches Bart defacing the book, everything seems geared for her to call him out, only for her to realize that she bought the gift for herself - not the family. Realizing this, Lisa goes out to buy actual thoughtful gifts.
    • 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. 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. However, their complaining about not receiving things they paid for is bad, while Marge is seen as the victim.


Designated MonkeyNo One Respects the Spanish InquisitionReformed, But Rejected
Designated Love InterestShow, Don't TellFaux Action Girl
Designated MonkeyYMMV/HomepageDiscontinuity
Designated EvilThe War on StrawDry Crusader
Designated HeroAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Despotism Justifies the Means
Designated MonkeyAnti-VillainDriven to Madness
Designated MonkeyYMMVDiscontinuity
Designated Love InterestBad Writing IndexDie for Our Ship
Designated HeroIndex FailureD.I.Y. Disaster
Depraved Kids' Show HostVillainsDespotism Justifies the Means
Card-Carrying VillainVillain BallEntitled Bastard
Hero with an F in GoodSliding Scale of Antagonist VilenessUtopia Justifies the Means

alternative title(s): Designated Antagonist
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