Your father wasn't the love of my life. You were. From the second you came out and looked at me with that furrowed brow, I loved all of you, Dandy. Even the madness.This is an inversion of sorts of Even Evil Has Loved Ones: the villain is humanized (i.e. becomes painted more grey than black), or at least demystified in case the feeling is not mutual, not by them worrying about others' well-being, but by others worrying about theirs. This other character is usually (but certainly not always) a fundamentally decent individual, often a family member, a former friend or student, or even just an honorable underling who is on speaking terms with the heroes. Where the heroes usually just want the bad guy dead (the All-Loving Hero notwithstanding), this character will often acknowledge the latter's villainy (unlike in in the case of Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal) but, depending on their affiliation, either sees it as Necessarily Evil or wants instead to redeem the villain. Either way, the internal conflict between their morals and their attachment to the villain mirrors their conflict of interests with the good guys who start off without such second thoughts. Protected by a Child and Villainous Friendship are specific subtropes, although the latter is also a subtrope of Even Evil Has Loved Ones. If even this character gives up on the villain, it is a telltale sign that the latter has crossed the Moral Event Horizon. For when the character who loves them is not virtuous, but equally evil instead, it's the subtropes Unholy Matrimony and Psycho Supporter that apply. Compare also Save the Villain, which may stem from this just as well as from the plain Chronic Hero Syndrome or Sympathy for the Devil. This trope is to Morality Pet what Licked by the Dog is to Pet the Dog.
— Gloria Mott, American Horror Story: Freak Show
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Anime & Manga
- In AKIRA, Tetsuo spends most of the first half of the comic being vilified. Even his friends are fairly quick to turn against him (to be fair, he kinda deserves almost all of it, especially after killing one of them). And then Kaori shows up during the second half, and suddenly Tetsuo doesn't seem so Satanic.
- Cross Ange has Prince Julio. His younger sister Ange gets mad at Embryo for killing him, despite all the terrible things Julio has done - including trying to hang Ange.
- The title character's mission in Enma (no, not Hell Girl) mission is to punish evildoers across time and space by pulling out their entire skeleton, minus as many bones as there were people who still loved them. One tyrant who was working thousands of slaves to death building the Tower of Babel had a single finger bone left when it turned out he was still loved by his son, for whose sake he built that tower in the first place.
- Death Note : Light is adored by Misa, though this is arguably part of a Villainous Friendship. Otherwise, his family love him dearly (even though they don't know he is Kira) and he loves them back, despite his Skewed Priorities.
- Lyrical Nanoha:
- The Noble Top Enforcer Fate Testarossa in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha genuinely loves her insane and abusive mother and believes she can still redeem her despite everyone—from her own familiar to her new best friend and the Space Police—telling her otherwise. Even ten years later, she keeps a picture of her right next to one of her adoptive family.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, the only thing that prevents the Mad Scientist Jail Scaglietti from being completely evil is that all twelve of his Combat Cyborgs—even the ones who question and eventually reject his evil plans—view him as a loving father (and he returns their affection).
- Dewey Novak, the Big Bad of Eureka Seven, is hands-down the most evil and unsympathetic character in the entire series, yet Holland, who's both his brother and his nemesis, still loves him because they were family. When Dewey dies, Holland is one of the only non-villainous characters who mourns him and laments his madness.
- Darkseid, the self-proclaimed God of Evil and the Anthropomorphic Personification of Tyranny, once loved a good woman named Sulli and was loved in return. Darkseid's evil mother had Sulli poisoned, and any good in him died with her.
- The first recounting of the origins of Marvel Comics' Doctor Doom is told by Boris, the faithful servant of the Von Doom family who served as surrogate father to young Victor Von Doom after his family was slain by an arrogant aristocrat. Boris sees Doom as the champion of Baltic gypsies, after turning medieval Latveria into a showpiece of Europe. Latverians are shown heartily supporting Doom as well.
- During DC's One Year Later event, several minor Batman villains were killed off, one of them a mutated biologist named Orca. During the storyline, it's revealed that Orca was married to a normal human, who's interviewed by the police regarding the circumstances around her death. While a little humor is taken from the relationship (the man remarking that he had a thing for big women◊), the pain of loss is treated seriously.
- There have been a few X-Men stories in which a young Kitty Pryde gets to know Magneto a bit better and humanizes him as a result, during the time period in which he tries to serve as headmaster to the Xavier school in respect of Charles' last wishes.
- A Friend Indeed:
Harry: Yes, I helped to rid the world of evil, but even evil people have families and friends who did nothing wrong, people who will miss those who died yesterday when all the Death Eaters died. Those are the ones I'm concerned about.
Film — Live-Action
- In the 1966 Batman: The Movie, the Penguin uses a dehydration machine to temporarily turn a group of minions into powder (so as to be rehydrated later to attack Batman). As the powdered remains are collected for transport, the Penguin takes pains to tell his mooks to be careful because "every one of them has a mother" (which actually makes their later implied deaths during a later fight scene a little disturbing).
- Vogel, the Nazi war criminal in The Debt, is married to a nurse at his office, who is horrified when told that her husband has had a heart attack.
- Downplayed with Padme in the Star Wars prequels, who is the only one still loving Anakin and believing in his goodness after his fall to The Dark Side—too bad she doesn't stick around to influence the Rebels, and the only person she expresses her belief to (Obi-Wan) already views Anakin as irredeemable. Luke from the original trilogy would count, but he hardly even knew his father, so his desire to redeem him in Episode VI stems more from him being an all-round good guy and falls under a "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight.
- Loki in Thor. Despite everything that happened his brother Thor, his parents and his friends still love and care for him.
- In the Biblical Book of Judges, the Song of Deborah has an interesting example when, amidst celebrating the evil general Sisera's defeat and death, Deborah imagines Sisera's mother anxiously waiting for her son to return from battle. The contrast is reversed again when someone consoles Sisera's mother that her son is probably just late because of all the Israelite women he and his men are raping.
- In the Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, the escaped Serial Killer Seldon is still loved by his older sister Elisa. Upon seeing Elisa's completely heartbroken reaction after Seldon is accidentally killed by the Hound, Watson comments, "Evil indeed is the man who has not one woman to mourn him." Although Watson doesn't make the connection explicit, this tells us something about the villain of the novel, whose death at the end is mourned by nobody; the one woman who might have been expected to mourn him seems positively glad he's gone and in fact helped to bring about his death.
- Aldo Rakan from Reflections of Eterna starts off a relatively likable individual but soon reveals himself as a utterly repulsive and power-hungry bastard who single-handedly brings about more evil and harm than any other villain in the series. Only his Best Friend Robert and his grandmother Mathilda, both fundamentally decent and honorable people, seem to harbor any sort of good will towards him at that point, despite realizing how morally bankrupt the guy has become.
- Tywin Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire is a grim, cold man responsible for widespread death and destruction throughout the series. In spite of that though, he's still loved by both his brother, Kevan, and his sister, Genna. Tyrion—the son who despises him—has a very sobering moment when he realizes that the man who has abused him all his life is as beloved by his brother as much as Tyrion loves his own brother, Jaime.
- In Angel, the title character clearly cares deeply about Darla, who is evil for most of her time on the show. While Angelus didn't seem capable of loving her while he was evil, Angel continually tries to help and support Darla when she's human again and later when she's pregnant. He is distraught when she is bitten by Drusilla and when she stakes herself, despite her being evil during the latter event.
- In the third season finale of The Flash (2014), Savitar/Future Flash is shocked to realize that even after all he's done, Iris is still willing to support and be there for him as long as he comes back to Team Flash, even touching his face not an hour after he tried to kill her. However, he ultimately decides that he can't stand to live in a world where Iris and his past self will live happily together when he couldn't get Iris in the future, and so decides to splice himself across time and space.
- The Midsomer Murders episode "The House in the Woods" is driven by this trope. A murderer is shielded by his twin brother, who bitterly complains that the murderer was "born wrong" and can't help being what he is. He takes this as far as Taking the Heat and serving his brother's prison sentence for killing a police officer and not defending himself against further murder charges that his brother frames him for. For his pains, the murderer tries to garrote him as soon as he stops being a useful scapegoat.
- In Exalted, the Abyssal Exalted are the earthly vessels of undead Eldritch Abominations' Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum, granted power through the trapped, debased essence of Solar Exaltations — except each has a Lunar Exalted somewhere in the world who is the bonded mate of the Solar Exalted they were supposed to be, and whose love is one of the few positive things that they can experience free from their masters' corruption.
- Vampire: The Requiem has this as an optional mechanic: a vampire in regular contact with a human who genuinely loves them can more easily resist the Sanity Slippage and occasional Unstoppable Rage that the Damaged Souls of the undead are susceptible to. Those humans usually aren't aware that some vampires are mentally incapable of reciprocating.
- King Lear: When Edmund realizes that both Goneril and Regan loved him (or at least as close to love as they could get), he resolves to save Cordelia's life. Unfortunately, her death already happened.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLC "Dawnguard", Serana the Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire does her best to humanize her father, the omnicidal vampire lord Harkon. Her tragedy is that even she realizes that the parent she had once loved has long been consumed by his hunger for power, and there is ultimately no way of redeeming him.
- In Divinity: Original Sin, Icara the White Witch reveals to the Source Hunters that the game's apparent Big Bad, the Conduit, is her own estranged sister Leandra. Icara blames herself for the Conduit's Start of Darkness and begs the Source Hunters to find the means of restoring their long-severed Psychic Link so she can attempt to redeem her.
- In MOTHER 3 Fassad is a traitorous jerk who frequently abuses the captured monkey Salsa to do his bidding and enforces The Empire's tyranny. After Fassad's death, the player's can find his house in which a mouse is residing. The mouse says the man who lived in the house may have been hated by most people, but was a very dear friend who cared for him and states he's anxiously waiting his friend's return(unknowing of Fassad's death). Itoi says he added this to show everyone, no matter how awful, is loved by someone.
- Cyrus from Pokemon Platinum seems like a pretty cut-and-dry insufferable genius Nietzsche Wannabe. Until after you've finally defeated him, and you meet an old man who bemoans having not intervened in his brilliant grandson's childhood, instead simply standing by, silent, as the boy's parents pressured him into being absolutely perfect, demanding unrealistic expectations be met, and ultimately drove a once-happy child into a life of resentment and misanthropy. It's pretty obvious who the old man is talking about, and it is gut-wrenching to hear.
- Sibling example in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations with Dahlia and Iris. The latter genuinely loved her sister despite her reeeally long list of crimes. There is also Dahlia and Phoenix which is unusual subversion. Phoenix thought he was neck-deep in love with Dahlia but in fact he barely knew her meeting her only twice when she was alive and once when wasn't, and was actually fell in love with her Nice Girl twin sister Iris.
- Morinth from Mass Effect 2 is an Ardat-Yakshi, an asari with a rare genetic defect that means they kill their mates when they meld minds with them. Rather than spend her life cloistered away with the rest of her kind, Morinth fled across the galaxy and became an unrepentant Serial Killer. She grew addicted to the rush of killing, and each melding made her stronger. She was so bad that her own mother, Samara, became a justicar and dedicated her life to finding and killing her. Yet when Samara finally does kill Morinth, she mourns her death, grieving that she was forced to kill the "bravest and smartest" of her daughters.
- In King's Quest (2015), Hagetha's nature as an Anti-Villain is cemented by the reveal that she was the original princess locked away in the tower, waiting for someone to rescue her. As time passed, nobody came for her, her looks faded and overuse of potions to maintain her beauty turned her into a hagged reptilian creature, so in her desperation Hagetha began tricking other princesses into getting trapped in the tower with her in the hopes that someone would come to rescue them all. Graham is able to redeem her by sympathising with her plight and using his love for her to break the spell trapping her there.
- The final mission of Red Dead Redemption involves Edgar Ross being hunted down by Jack Marston in revenge for him killing his father, John. During this mission, the player learns Ross's whereabouts by interrogating Ross's loving wife and his brother. Both of them end up showing off a slightly more humanizing side to Ross, that he never shows on his own, and even inadvertently reveal that he's Not So Different from John in certain ways.
- In Fable I, the Hero can be a Card-Carrying Villain with Horns of Villainy and a miasma of flies, but if he marries a villager and doesn't mistreat them, they'll be vocally "thrilled with [their] man from the Guild", even while the neighbours run screaming from the sight of him.
- Dark Pegasus is one of the principal villains in the Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures universe, having started a Zombie Apocalypse to rule the world (which failed). Heroic Daniel Ti'Fiona was prepared to battle Dark Pegasus to the death, when his girlfriend Lorenda and her mother Kria intervened. Lorenda concedes that Dark Pegasus has an Evil Plan or two, but no more so than any other demon. Lorenda knows him as Uncle Aliph, a decent and honorable patriarch of the Soulstealer family.
- Yug in TV Tropes The Webcomic does his best to convince Report and the others that his brother Dab, the main antagonist of the Original Arc, is not beyond redemption and is still a good person inside. He is ultimately proven wrong, however.
- Elan in The Order of the Stick has an exceptional amount of empathy for his evil twin brother Nale, despite Nale being an unrepentant Card-Carrying Villain with almost no redeeming qualities who repeatedly threatens Elan's and his friends' lives. That they were Separated at Birth, with Nale raised by their Faux Affably Evil megalomaniac nutcase of a father, makes Elan question whether they would have grown up in each other's roles if their positions had been reversed. When Nale is murdered in front of him, Elan is devastated. In fact, Nale's only redeeming quality is his surprisingly sincere relationship with the succubus Sabine who was originally sent to him to guide him into deeper evil, but genuinely fell in love with him. When Nale is murdered, Sabine's reaction is unbridled vengeful fury!
- Percy — a blatantly good guy (if a sometimes misguided one) — tends to have this sort of relationship with Diesel 10 and his Quirky Miniboss Squad in later episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine, while the other engines generally loathe them to the point of Fantastic Racism. It only gets exploited in "Day Of The Diesels" though they show their gratitude when he helps out Sidney in "The Missing Christmas Tree Decorations".
- Spildit is a more passive case in The Dreamstone. She doesn't so much defend the Urpneys as seem naive to the extent of their villainous actions, viewing them more as naughty playmates, and aiding them whenever they aren't up to no good, a stark contrast to the rest of the Land of Dreams, who abhor anything that serves Zordrak (willingly or not). Since Frizz and Nug are more recessive Slave Mooks, they don't seem to bother Spildit's company. Sgt Blob however sometimes uses this to dupe Spildit into helping with schemes.
- Subverted in the Batman Beyond episode "Ascension". Big Bad Derek Powers' son Paxton initially seems concerned for his father's health and safety. Paxton later reveals that he purposely set up the protest by the Verdeza activists in order to expose his father as Blight. He then hired Batman to search for Blight pretending to plan to help him when he was actually intent on killing Blight and taking control of the company for himself.
- However, it's also played straight in a much more subtle way with Derek Powers' personal assistant, who is visibly upset at seeing her boss unhinged and in hiding. The comic book tie-in even had her become a supervillain, Vendetta, to take revenge for his fate.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Azula, despite all of her evil actions, was still loved by her mother Ursa. Though Azula continually tried to deny this by claiming Ursa only ever thought of her as a monster, the subconscious knowledge that her mother really did love her was a major factor in Azula's descent into madness.
- Steven Universe: Pink Diamond of the Diamond Authority is an unusual example of a villain humanized by the love of other villains and antagonists. While very little has been revealed as of this post, we DO know that her court adored her, her sister Diamonds loved her, and even Rose Quartz (who shattered her) shows deep regret for her actions. The writers give as much weight and legitimacy to her mourners' grief as they do for Rose's own loved ones, making this yet another point of contrast between the two.
- Regular Show: This trope leads to the defeat of Anti-Pops. Despite all the evil he's committed, deep down Pops still loves him because they're brothers and nothing will change that. Anti-Pops' powers are based entirely on destruction and misery, so positive emotions like kindness and love cause him to be Brought Down to Normal. Thus, all it takes to destroy him forever is Pops hugging and reassuring him, followed by hurling both himself and the weakened Anti-Pops into a nearby star.