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Enemies Equals Greatness
“Judge a man by the reputation of his enemies”
Arabian Proverb

They've insulted you for your physical appearance. They've beat you up and stuffed you into the locker. They've told nasty rumors about you liking an unattractive girl. They tried to get the boss to fire you. Scratch that. Your boss wants to get rid of you, too. Heck, they even made an attempt to kill you for goodness sake! Those jerks will do many nasty things to you just for the sake of making your life miserable.

Wait. You think that your enemies are the best thing to ever happen to you?

This is the trope where the hero has the ideology that having enemies is good, beneficial, or necessary for his life. Here are some common reasons why the hero puts up with them day after day:

  • Moral character: The hero has gained a lot of enemies because he stood up for something that is right. After all, they're too cruel and nasty to understand it. This character usually believes that Peer Pressure Makes You Evil, and hanging with his boring friends is better than hanging with the wrong crowd.
  • Motivation: Another reason could be that the hero sees their scorn as some sort of motivation. The more they hate him, the more stronger and better he will become in the long run.
  • Honesty: Maybe it could be that the hero knows that it's better to have openly honest enemies than distrustful friends. Reason 2 from above would be that enemies are lighting up the fire in the hero whereas friendships are just there to bring down the hero.
  • Jealousy: They are torturing the hero for just being different from them, but deep down, they envy him for being gifted with many talents and accomplishing so much in his life. This is what commonly creates a very dangerous villain for the hero.
  • Culture: Plain and simple, the hero belongs to -or finds him/herself immersed in- a warrior culture in which the number and quality of your enemies is a measure of your achievements: the more people want you dead, the more important/powerful/dangerous they are, the greater your honour and reputation. As the page quote indicates, this is Literal Truth in Television for a good many Real Life cultures throughout history. Having this kind of reputation will often lead to people picking fights with you in order to build up their own reputation.

Other reasons may vary. Because of these reasons, it's no secret that the hero wouldn't bother changing the status quo and it's also no secret that he remains physically, emotionally, and morally strong.

Note that this doesn't always have to be exclusive to the heroes. Villains like the Visionary Villain can apply this philosophy to their goals, although that doesn't mean they wouldn't give their enemies a smug gloat if they have succeeded. Other versions would have an oppressive tyrant having an enjoyment of being hated because he believes they fear him. Even the hero would rub it in all of their faces for being inferior towards him, especially if it's reason 1 from above. Jerkass characters will use this trope to excuse their behavior towards others. Arrogant characters will often have this belief.

This is more of an alternate version of The Power of Friendship where a hero's friends and allies are the reason why he has accomplished his goals. Replace friends and allies with enemies and you have this trope in a nutshell.

Compare Misery Builds Character if opposition or mistreatment from others is what makes a character stronger. Compare Good Needs Evil if having enemies is a necessity. Obviously on the idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. If so, it can be served as An Aesop if played right. Can be the belief of a Blood Knight as far as fighting is concerned. Can be Truth in Television for many politics, but lets leave it at that. See also Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Rob Liefeld has referred to himself as "the most hated man in comics".
  • The second volume collection of The Sandman opens with Destiny recapping the first arc. This involves Morpheus retrieving his lost helmet from a demon, and earning the enmity of Lucifer himself in the process.
    "They say we are known by our enemies. If this is so, then Morpheus is to be highly regarded."
  • In a story from the Mickey Mouse Comic Universe, Detective Casey stands by with a uniformed officer while Mickey and the Phantom Blot duke it out near them, Casey saying it's part of their ritual and remarking that "a man is defined by his enemies". The uniformed officer slyly responds "Is that why you don't have any?"

    Film 

    The Internet 
  • This is the entire point of the "Haters Gonna Hate" meme. No matter how awesome you are, the purpose of a hater is, in fact, to hate you for being awesome.
  • The spirit of this poster.

    Literature 
  • This quote in Gone To Texas: The Outlaw Josey Wales published by Forrest Carter:
    "It is good that a man's enemies want him dead, for it proves he has lived a life of worth."
  • Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack has the proverb "love your enemies, for they tell all your faults", which means that even though your enemies will cruelly tell you what you're failing at, this gives you the opportunity to improve yourself for the better, much to their displeasure.
  • The Art Of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracián has this proverb which seems to also apply the Right Way/Wrong Way Pair:
    "A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends."
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Dorsk 81 who was mistreated by his older clones because he has the ability to access Force powers.
  • Sam Vimes of Discworld's City Watch books takes great pride in having assassins constantly out for his head, because it means he's annoying people who ought to be annoyed. In fact he's almost offended when he learns eventually learns that the Assassin's Guild has stopped taking contracts on him.
  • The Canim of the Codex Alera actually believe that a good enemy is better to have than a good friend and have multiple words for it in much the same way Eskimos are said to have multiple words for snow. Most prominent of these is their word, gadara, which roughly translates to a "trusted enemy." Fathers and sons actually refer to one another by it.
  • Any works written by Ayn Rand, particularly Atlas Shrugged is designed with this trope in mind. The good guys are always some sort of genius, exceptional, or determined person. The bad guys are always those who hate their success.
  • In Watership Down, the rabbit's ancestral hero is called "Prince with a Thousand Enemies".
  • The quote in Bennett Cerf's Shake Well Before Using: A New Collection of Impressions and Anecdotes Mostly Humorous in 1949 has some shades to this trope which also goes along with the Be Yourself moral:
    "Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
    • This quote was then used by Bernard Baruch, who was the presidential advisor of former presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, in response to Igor Cassini's question in regards to the seating arraignments of dinner parties.
    • The quote was also then used by Dr. Seuss in one of his books, but without the citation of the work.
  • A fledgling Voldemort is seen using a variation of this trope in a Pensieve Flashback to explain why Dumbledore has heard so many bad things about him; "Greatness inspires envy, envy engenders spite, spite spawns lies." While this statement may have some truth to it, Dumbledore does not believe for a second that it applies to Voldemort.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Chappelle's Show: Played for Laughs in the skit "The Playa Hater's Ball" where people hate each other for being great... at doing very dirty, low-down things because they wish they were doing them. It makes a lot of sense considering this is one of the terms for "player hater".
  • On Psych, Detective Lassiter takes great pride in the fact that there are a lot of criminals who might want to kill him.
  • The pilot episode of Glee has aspects of this trope. There's Will encouraging Rachel that it comes with a price for showing her talents and there's Finn giving Puck this moving speech:
    Finn: Don't you get it, man? We're all losers! Everyone in this school! Hell, everyone in this town! Out of all the kids who graduate, maybe half will go to college, and two will leave the state to do it! I'm not afraid to be called a loser because I can accept that's what I am.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles: In the episode "The Debt", Sam, G. Callen, and, of all people, Hetty use the "Haters Gonna Hate" quote.
  • Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory states that the neighborhood kids hated him because they were jealous of his intelligence. Mary, his mother, doesn't think that was really the reason.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the episode "Checkpoint", Buffy points out that the reason she keeps being belittled by The Watcher's Council was because they wanted to keep her from realising that she had the power. She explains that Glory talked down on her and never bothered to finish her for the same reason: Buffy had The Key, and that gave her power over Glory who needed it.

    Music 
  • A lot of rap songs, especially from the Glam Rap and Swag Rap sub-genres, are all over this trope. There are too many to list, but common songs include "Hate Me Now" by Nas, "Motivation" by T.I., and "Hi Hater" by Maino.
  • The first lines of Shinedown's "Bully" implies this:
    It’s 8 AM, this hell I’m in,
    Seems I’ve crossed the line again,
    For being nothing more than who I am.
  • Fozzy's "Don't You Wish You Were Me".
  • "People Hate Me" by Murderdolls.
  • Eminem, who had used Winston Churchill's quote above the page, also said this:
    "Behind every successful person lies a pack of haters."
  • "Stronger" by Christina Aguilera.
  • Ally Burnett's "Talk Of The Town".

    Philosophy 
  • The point of Objectivism is to explain this trope. Ayn Rand professes that the elite and exceptional are what's good and right in the world, and true evil comes from attempts by the unexceptional to drag them down to their level. Rand opposed socialism in any form, and Objectivism was established to condemn it in any fashion.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This seems to be the case with John Cena recently. According to the WWE, the reason Cena is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, star today is because not only for having a large fanbase, but also having a huge pack of haters; in this case, it doesn't really doesn't matter whether he's cheered or booed, what counts is that he has the biggest reaction out of everyone else.
  • The Miz's promo during his run as the United States Champion has this Wham Line:
    The Miz: "I'd rather you all hate me for who I am than love me for something I'm not!"
    • He again boasts to his detractors in a promo in November 2010 after winning the WWE Championship from Randy Orton the previous week.
  • Part of CM Punk's imfamous "pipebomb" promo in June 2011 states that ever since he came to the WWE, he was strongly hated because Paul Heyman saw something in him that they don't want to admit. In short, he's a Paul Heyman guy.
    • His speech against John Laurinaitis points out that the reason Laurinaitis has been getting under Punk's skin for the past months is because he's jealous of his success as the WWE Champion. This is what also let Big Johnny to snap.
  • During his feud with Hulk Hogan in mid 2005, Shawn Michaels insults the Montreal crowd for hating him because he's everything they wish they could be. This is one of the guys who claim that he screwed Bret Hart.

    Religion 
  • The Bible deals with this trope a lot, making this Older Than Feudalism. The reason why people have many enemies is because of them choosing to follow God and His laws. It's pretty much one of the reasons why Jesus wants His followers to love and pray for their enemies.
    • The reason why Joseph was hated by his ten half-brothers was for three things: 1.) Being favored by Israel, thus being granted with the "coat of many colors". 2.) Sharing his dreams to his family, which said dreams were given by God. And 3.) Being the most loved son of his father, Jacob.
    • David was resented by King Saul just for being the only one to defeat Goliath. Let's not forget that King Saul lost God's favor for disobeying His orders of killing the Amalekites.
    • Job is a good example of a person who is doubted by others (his wife and his close friends) due to putting their trust in God during a Crisis of Faith.
    • Stephen was hated and brutally stoned to death all because he was witnessing to others about Jesus, cementing himself as the first Christian martyr in history. For this matter, a Christian being persecuted for their faith in God is a sign of honor and rewards, especially in heaven.
    • Let's not forget about Jesus Himself. He was hated, tortured, mocked, and was nailed to a cross for performing miracles that some thought was impossible to believe, preaching doctrines that the Pharisees strongly disagree with, angrily rebuking merchants for defiling His Father's house, and most importantly, being the Son Of God.
    • The Beatitudes and Woes are a contrast that explicitly bring up this trope, pointing back to Israel's history and saying that the real prophets were always oppressed and scorned by the people, while the false prophets were always lauded and fawned over.
    • Some scriptures assures that it is better for a believer to have enemies than to be an enemy of God. John 15:18-20 is an example of this:
      "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also."

    Sports 
  • Real Madrid football player Cristiano Ronaldo was given huge heat for allegedly forcing the referee to send off Wayne Rooney in the World Cup 2006, although it was said that the two were close friends. Despite the hatred he received from the fans, Ronaldo states that their boos and insults is motivating him to train harder than ever. His quote in 2010 sums up this trope:
    "Maybe they hate me because I'm too good."
  • Legendary basketball player Isiah Thomas had experienced being hated along with the rest of the Pistons in the early 90's and states that it isn't such a bad thing. Here's this quote:
    "Hate is not a bad thing in sports . . . That means that you're pretty good, you're touching people's emotions, a little controversial, and you're being talked about. That's what sports is all about. It's not about the good guy all the time. If they're chosen as the bad guys that means they're going to be on television a lot, they're going to be written about a lot, and they're going to win a lot of games."
  • In Australian Rules Football, the Collingwood Magpies seem to take pride in how much fans of other teams hate them. One commercial had fans of other teams talking about how much they hate Collingwood, with a voiceover at the end saying, "Give 'em the bird. Sign up for Magpies membership today."

    Video Games 
  • Played with in BlazBlue. Hazama needs people to hate him to stay in the world.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Loghain will remark that his late friend King Maric once told him that a man can be judged by the quality of his enemies. He wonders if that's more a compliment to you or to him.
  • Mass Effect:
    • This is an important belief of the Krogan. They love to fight, and the more challenging the enemy, the greater the glory. If you manage to impress a shaman, he'll tell you "May your foes be strong enough to keep you sharp!" If you don't, he'll give you a backhanded insult by saying "May your enemies give you exactly what you deserve."
    • Urdnot Dagg (the third game's stand-in for a dead Grunt) specifically says he envies Shepard, the only organic considered a personal enemy by the entire Reaper fleet.
    • During the "From Ashes" mission in the third game, Shepard can mention this to Ashley.
    "They say you can judge a man by his enemies."
    "Well, we've got the best."
  • In The Bard's Tale, a barbarian chieftan tells the Bard that the locals "Loathe you! Despise you! They'll curse your name for a thousand years! Ahh, What I wouldn't give for fame like that...!"
  • The official tagline for Batman: Arkham Origins was "Your Enemies Will Define You".

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of the Spider-Man: The Animated Series featured an alternate universe version of Peter Parker who was an arrogant prick (who was also reckless and less skilled) because he didn't have his Hero with Bad Publicity status in that universe.
  • In an episode of The Boondocks, we have Huey and Riley discussing this matter in "Shinin'":
    Riley: "I can't wait for niggas to start hatin! I can't wait!"
    Huey': "So you judge your success by the amount of ill-will you generate from those around you?"
    Riley: "Hey, if niggas ain't mad at you, then you doin' something wrong."
    Huey: "By that definition then, you have a very bright future."
    • It's safe to say Riley believes this trope a bit too much considering that it got him in trouble with Butch Magnus, who took his chain from him later on that episode.
  • In The Venture Bros., Dr. Orpheus actually says he's jealous of Dr. Venture because he has archenemies, saying that having one is "romantic."
  • Happens in Kim Possible. Even Drakken admits she was a worthy foe.
  • In The Fairly OddParents special "Channel Chasers", Timmy revealed that if he was never miserable with an evil and mean babysitter like Vicky, he would never had Cosmo and Wanda in the first place.
    • It was also learned that in "Vicky Gets Fired", Timmy having Vicky as his babysitter was for the greater good of the world, since having her rule the city, country, or the world would have been worse.

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