Evil Hero

"I know what it means to be a hero, Commander. And trust me - you are no hero."
Robin, to Commander Uehara, Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo

You might be thinking, "What are you talking about?" or "How does that even make sense?", which is very reasonable. It does sound like an oxymoron doesn't it? Everybody knows what a hero is, and everybody loves a hero. In fact, a hero, by definition, is a good guy, the one who saves the innocent from the forces of evil, showing children of all ages what a hero does for them, encouraging them to not live in fear, to one day stand up tall and become the next hero everybody looks up to for protection. All of that is nothing an evil villain would do, right?

Here's the thing. There are others that people almost instantly identify with heroism: police officers, soldiers, park rangers, doctors, presidents and the like, viewing them as the kind of humans that they would want their kids to grow up to be, so they can live successful and promising lives and still be seen as heroes (no powers recommended).

But... as we have seen before, that is not always the case.

Sometimes, the bad guy comes in the form of a familiar friendly face, one that people are meant to see without any worry and think that they are safe, until they get a closer look.

This is what happens when Nominal Hero meets Villain with Good Publicity: a definite bad guy works as a cop or even a so called "firefighter", and, despite their actions, whether due to ignorance on The Government's part, or the fact that they simply didn't get fired or resign yet, or haven't been caught yet, still qualify as such. In short, a bad guy with a "good guy" job.

Unfortunately, this allows them to do their evil behind the scenes, disgracing the name of the position they wear, and either people don't notice, or they can't do anything about it. It is during these times that people wait for and cheer when a true hero, of whatever size, comes to the rescue, demonstrating how a hero REALLY does it, the right way.

An extreme example of Fake Ultimate Hero.

May or may not overlap with Pragmatic Villainy or Noble Demon, as they might actually do their job accordingly every now and then, but the reasons for them are less likely because Even Evil Has Standards, and more to just maintain the facade.

Compare Designated Hero, Villain with Good Publicity, Fake Ultimate Hero

Contrast Jerkass Fašade.

Not to be confused with Villain Protagonist.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece: Many of the Marines note  in the Navy, would, in real life, not be considered good role models for sea lovers and young naval cadets, to say the least, even if their job is to arrest pirates; they sometimes act no better than pirates. The same goes for those who run the superprison Impel Down. But to really put it into perspective, take a look at Admiral Akainu, who's a Blood Knight in a sailor's cap with no regard for anybody's life, including Coby's; then there's the fact that, after a vicious duel with another marine, he is now Fleet Admiral, the head honcho for the entire navy. Though his evilness is still second to the Five Elder Stars, the guys in charge of the entire World Government, who can, will and have, destroyed entire nations for the "crime" of a small number of their citizens figuring out how to read a dead language, in order to keep some secret about the government's past from getting out.
  • A variant occurs in the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX episode, where the name possibly originates: when Judai/Jaden became Drunk on the Dark Side, the evil that affected him also affected his deck, turning his Elemental HEROes into, literally, Evil HEROes, basically the same Elemental HEROes, now with darker and deadlier appearances and powers. in the dub, Axel even expresses shock that "two good guys equal one bad guy", which in a nutshell, is what Judai does to summon them.
  • In The Seven Deadly Sins, while there are a few in the Holy Knights who are heroic and there are those that see the group as a whole as such, many of its members are evil.
  • Momon the Dark Hero in Overlord is hailed as the greatest warrior adventurer in the vicinity of the city of El-Rantel, and possibly the whole Re-Estize kingdom, rivaling warrior-captain Gazef Stronoff in power and virtue... And it's all a lie, as he's actually Ainz Ooal Gown, Elder Lich and Evil Sorcerous Overlord of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, who's using the alias as a convenient way to gather intel on the New World, garner glory and public trust, getting people to owe him one, and stretch his legs, all without attracting too much attention towards his true self.
  • The Lovely Angels in Dirty Pair are considered heroic in their own reality (and their constant claim that "It's not our fault!" is readily believed) despite the fact that they've committed planet-wide genocide multiple times. (The series Crosses the Line Twice rather often.)

  • Most of the superheroes in The Boys are anything but heroes. The most notable are The Seven (who are twisted parodies of the Justice League), who are all a bunch of self-centered hedonistic assholes. The Boys themselves are not actually saints, either.
  • The Upward Path from Runaways were a gang of religious bigots and strike-breakers (as in, people who beat up workers who attempted to go on strike) who professed to be heroes upholding law and order.
  • The Alliance from Comix Tribe's The Red Ten are an expy of the Justice League. In reality, barring two members, they were a bunch of murderers, a liar, a pedophile and a junkie.

  • IN Avatar, Colonel Miles Quaritch and the miners are, admittedly, doing their job: whatever the CEO of RDA on Pandora orders them to do, which is protecting prospectors from the hostile wildlife and the occasionally hostile Navi; but, said CEO couldn't care less about a bunch of 'blue monkeys', only using diplomacy to avoid a political controversy, and is clearly more interested in his precious Unobtainium, and the soldiers show a little too much pleasure in gunning down alien wildlife and indigenous people trying to protect their homes (with Quaritch hinting personal reasons for attacking the Navi).
  • While Alex from A Clockwork Orange is no angel himself, the fact that The Government would be willing to use nausea-enducing Pavlov related torture, basically stripping free will from the brain, on any human being makes you wonder if there are any real heroes left in the future world.
    • How about the revelation that, in his absence, Alex's own "droogs" have somehow become cops, cops that hold no second thought on nearly drowning a comrade that they abandoned to the authorities in the first place, and getting away with it.
  • The main protagonist of The Crow: Salvation, Alex, was framed for the murder of his girlfriend, and executed for it, by her true killers: a group of cops who apparently rape and murder for kicks on a regular basis.
  • Another Karma Houdini example is Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, who psychologically tortures patients at a mental hospital, who are in no way dangerous, to the point of preventing any opportunity to watch a baseball game, and becoming annoyed when they find a slight way around that, and driving one of her patients to suicide; all while looking like a normal nurse doing her job in public eyes.

     Live Action TV 
  • In Kamen Rider Drive, Captain Mitsuhide Nira is an unpleasant bully who enjoys mocking the protagonist and his team (who are a group of Bunny Ears Lawyers). It's later learnt that to reach his current rank he often took shortcuts and even committed murder. There's also the little fact that he was aware of the Roidmudes (the cybernetic villains of the story), and had been working for one for years.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Imperium of Man: Sure they fight aliens and demonic entities, but many of them tend to be as ruthless and evil to the humans they are meant to protect and help as the threats they fight against. Everyday millions of people die from the Imperium's own actions just as much as they get killed by all the other threats out there.

    Video Games 
  • Caim from Drakengard is one. He's heroically fighting to save his Cosmic Keystone sister and defend his country from an evil empire, but he's only doing so because he's a bloodthirsty psychopath who loves killing as many people as he can on the battlefield.

  • Black Mage from 8-Bit Theater, to almost absurd degrees. He's a member of the Light Warriors and (technically) helps to bring an end to the world ending threat, but those are the limits to his status as a hero. He has comitted murder, genocide, traumatized children, sacrificed to dark gods, and betrayed his allies numerous times. And he doesn't even try to hide it, though some people still see him as a Warrior of Light.