Hannibal Has a Point

"What's disappointing is the villain is just a racist nutter who wants the blow up the world. The truly great villain is the one that talks sense. Andrew Ryan had some weird ideas about "sweat ownership," but he was articulate, dangerously intelligent, and wouldn't let someone like Comstock run the fucking hot tap!"
Yahtzee's commenting on the the differences of the villains from Bioshock Infinite to BioShock in Zero Punctuation

So the villain and hero are having another therapy session and begin getting on the topic of the current conflict of the story. The hero is about to mention or is already explaining why the villain fails at life. But then something happens that the band of heroes didnít expect. The villain begins presenting an argument...and people are agreeing with him.

Usually found in more cynical works in the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, the villain is shown exchanging words with the band of heroes that cannot be ignored. He isnít toying with them or telling them technical truths for selfish motivations. Hannibal, indeed, is trying to make a point.

This isnít to say that Good Is Dumb. For unlike Breaking Them by Talking, this trope isn't meant to tear down the hero to show how pathetic they are. Itís merely there to show that throughout all the encounters good and evil have with each other in a story, one exchange of dialogue from the dark side is reasonable. It may make more sense than how the good guys are going about an issue. This may even result in a FaceĖHeel Turn from one of the heroes after hearing the villainís side of the story.

This trope is usually found in (very likely to be philosophical) works to show that not everything is black and white in morality and will make the viewer question where the line of Moral Event Horizon begins. An example of this is the Armor-Piercing Question, What Is Evil?

In order to qualify, the character must be a villain. It doesnít particularly matter when they turn to the dark side, but they must already be a villain in order to present this type of reasoning. Any type of villain can qualify. But they cannot be Anti-Heroes or on a neutral side, since this would eliminate the special kind of conflict this trope invokes.

Compare with Strawman Has a Point, its Sister Trope. Strawman Has a Point happens when an author unintentionally sets up the villain to have more legitimate arguments for his actions than the hero makes him out to be, and thus a product of bad writing; while Hannibal Has a Point occurs when the villain is purposefully meant to be stating sensible points for his motives that take the hero by surprise. Someone might come out and say that the villain has a point, but the context of the story might allude strongly enough to this trope as well. Actions of the other characters reacting to the villains' argument must be noted if it is the latter. Related to The Extremist Was Right, which is what happens when the villain is so right, well... it works. See also Jerkass Has a Point.


Anime and Manga
  • A double subversion played with Paptimus Scirocco from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam by stating that while he knows his methods are extreme and that his ideal world will have very few people in power, that having people freely do what ever they please has been the cause of such horrendous bloodshed. And having more gifted people in power will lead to Utopia Justifies the Means. The only two people in the room listening to this are Haman and Char. Char at the time tells him to shut up. However, Charís ideals in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack mimic Sciroccoís in a way thatís a little too close for comfort.
  • WeiŖ Kreuz. Reiji Takatori is the Big Bad of the TV series, and antagonizes Weiss and their boss Persia aka his brother Shuiichi. However, in a certain confrontation, he brings up a valid point in regards to their subordinates (which in Reiji's case, are his own sons Hirofumi and Masafumi), summed up as this: "You tell ME I use my sons to my advantage?! Look at the way you treat your four subordinates, you hypocrite! Specially the little guy whom you thought he was my kid... and who happens to be YOUR illegitimate son!" And then he kills Persia.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Solf J. Kimblee's speech to Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye during the Ishbalan war causes the two to stop trying to dodge responsibility for their actions, remember the faces of those they've killed, and try to change things for the better later on.
  • In Bakuman。, when Nanamine reveals his true colors to the main characters, he makes a point that they, like he, took risks and defied their editors to get what they wanted, first by submitting two one-shots in violation of their contract, and second, by making a deal to end Tanto, a series they were dissatisfied with, under the promise of being able to deliver something better. Takagi is quite surprised to realize that Nanamine is aware of all this.

Comic Books
  • X-Men villain Magneto regularly points out the futility of humans and mutants living together in peace. Considering how many Evil Plans humans and mutants have launched at each other over the course of the series, it's hard to argue with the guy.
  • In Watchmen, Ozymandias is at first pegged as a monster for creating a monster that will kill millions of innocent people and blaming it on an alien invasion. After he explains his reasoning with Dr. Manhattan that by killing millions during such dark times (a Cold War that got even closer to nuclear annihilation than real life did), he will save billions because everyone will become united to solve this issue rather than trying to rip each other apart, Dr. Manhattan points out to the band of heroes that heís right; regardless of the morality of carrying out the plan in the first place (Manhattan refuses to say more than "without condoning, or condemning, I understand"), exposing him after the plan has already been put into effect wouldn't bring the dead innocents back to life, and would merely undo any good outcomes that might be salvaged from it.
  • DC Comics villain Vandal Savage, when written by Christopher Priest (comics), has these account for about half of his dialogue.

Fan Fiction
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act IV: In chapter 24, despite being a Straw Nihilist and a lunatic, Hokuto's statement that Yokai Academy's lessons are more about hiding amongst the humans than actual human/monster co-existence does make sense in retrospect, even if Moka denies it.
  • In Origin Story, Henry Peter Gyrich argues that Alex Harris must be brought to heel and controlled because she's far too powerful to be allowed running around as a loose cannon. He fears that she will flaunt US law, disrupt legal authority, and generally cause mayhem. And he's right. She not only kills people and gets away with it, she destroys government property, beats up law enforcement officers who are trying to simply do their jobs, steals a metric buttload of money from an international security corporation, threatens the government of the United States with terrorist actions, and even does such petty things as break underage drinking laws. Just because she can and because there's no one who can possibly stop her.
  • In With This Ring, despite Paulphidian being a demented Fusion Dance of the Orange Lantern Paul and the Ophidian that has no emotions and only being guided by Paul's thankfully benevolent desires, it is completely correct in their assessment of Martian Manhunter. The situation is really is most Martian Manhunter's fault for using an untested, high-stress scenario without checking for side-effects or properly assessing his students. Even Black Canary couldn't think up of a defense.

  • Watchmen has a similar issue to its comic counterpart above. Though the debatably Evil Plan is slightly different, its effects would be the same.
  • Jigsaw from the Saw series has one goal: Teach people to appreciate life. Though the message does get muddled in the sequels' continuing reliance on Torture Porn, the final film does a good job of bringing the series back around, and explaining why Jigsaw does what he does.
  • The Dark Knight: This seems to be part of the draw to The Joker's character. He may be chaotic and does things For the Evulz, but proves to be accurate in his assessments of certain people, such as Harvey Dent and Lau. He does, however, misjudge the characters of two entire boatfuls of people, including one that was full of criminals.
  • The Last King of Scotland: Near the end of the film, the dictator Amin finally confronts Garrigan and calls him out for his naivete and thinking he could play "the white man and the natives". Which in effect sums up Nick's character for most of the film.

  • The Hunger Games has this in the third book. President Snow explains to Katniss that he could not have sent the bomber to kill Prim because he would have used it to escape in such a hopeless situation. It would be out of character for him not to. And only one other person could have had hovercrafts...
  • Sultan Mehmed of Count and Countess may be the Designated Villain who conscripts Child Soldiers and destroys Catholic churches for kicks, but he's got more common sense than the titular characters put together. Vlad realizes this at one point and gets annoyed.
  • The Dresden Files: Nicodemus's crimes are so repulsive both on and offscreen they could take up an entry on their own. He also makes some very good points about the Black Council and Red Court while proposing an alliance that Harry has trouble arguing with. Harry still rejects Nicodemus, but it's not as easy as he thought it'd be.
  • Although MARZENA plays a lot with the question What Is Evil?, both Marian and Helena find themselves in a tug of Cold War II to convince Lauren to join either the West or the East. Lauren being an Extreme Doormat, the reader has no choice but to sit through one speech after another. Although both sides are technically evil, they naturally also both make a few convincing points, with Marian putting emphasis on the need to be part of a family and survive, and Helena on American's selfishness and lack of a greater vision for the world.

Live-Action TV
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In season 3, the Mayor (who, while anything but Jerkassy, was definitely a vicious villain) provided frank and accurate advice on why Buffy and Angel's relationship was doomed to fail. While he was trying to kill the both of them. Nice Guy.
    • Spike's legendary "Love's Bitch" speech in Season 3:
    Spike: You're not "friends." You'll never be friends. You'll be in love 'til it kills you both. You'll fight, and you'll shag and you'll hate each other 'til it makes you quiver, but you'll never be friends. Love isn't brains, children, it's blood. Blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it.
    • Buffy even acknowledges this later:
    Buffy: I can fool my friends. I can even fool Giles. But I can't fool myself... or Spike, for some reason.
    • In season 6, when Buffy tries to talk Dark Willow down by trying to get her to focus on the positives in life, Willow promptly responds with a Breaking Speech that's hard to argue against, especially since Buffy had stated more than once over the course of the season that she was happier when dead and finds it so hard to be alive:
    Dark Willow: Please! This is your pitch? You hate it here as much as I do! I'm just more honest about it. You're trying to sell me on the world? The one where you lie to your friends when you're not trying to kill them. You screw a vampire just to feel. And insane asylums are just the comfy alternative. This world? Buffy, it's me. I know you were happier when you were in the ground. The only time you were ever at peace in your whole life is when you were dead. Until Willow brought you back.
  • The conspiracy in Utopia revolves around a far-reaching plot to sterilise 90% of the UK, and later the world. The conspirators point out to the protagonists that this is to avert an even bigger catastrophe when Earth's resources are depleted.
  • Supernatural:
    The Trickster: This obsession to save Dean? The way you two keep sacrificing yourselves for each other? Nothing good comes out of it. Just blood and pain. Dean's your weakness. And the bad guys know it, too. It's gonna be the death of you, Sam. Sometimes you just gotta let people go.
    • Happens again in "Swan Song", during the apocalyptic confrontation between Lucifer and Michael:
    Lucifer: A part of me wishes we didn't have to do this.
    Michael: Yeah. Me too.
    Lucifer: Then why are we?
    Michael: Oh, you know why! I have no choice, after what you did!
    Lucifer: What I did? What if it's not my fault?
    Michael: What is that supposed to mean?
    Lucifer: Think about it. Dad made everything. He made me who I am! That means God wanted The Devil.
    Michael: So?
    Lucifer: So why? And why make us fight? I just can't figure out the point.
    Michael: What's your point?
    Lucifer: We're going to kill each other. And for what? One of Dad's tests. We don't even know the answer. We're brothers. Let's just walk off the chess board.

  • The Witch of Into the Woods has this effect on the characters; regardless of whether they say so aloud, they are visibly humbled by the "The Reason You Suck" Speech that is "Last Midnight", in which she calls them out on the fact that their wishes and carelessness got them in the trouble they're in now.

Video Games
  • Arcanum establishes Arronax (in actuality, Kerghan impersonating Arronax) as nothing short of an Omnicidal Maniac. Yet, despite this extreme position, when you get to hear his argument, Kerghan's logic make perfect sense. In the world of Arcanum, the world after death is one of peace and bliss, and the dead find returning to the living world physically painful precisely because in comparison to the afterlife life is pain. There is a certain sense, then, in doing the living world a favor by killing everyone and sending them to a happier place. One party member who has experienced death even confirms what Kerghan has to say, even if he objects to his conclusions and methods.
  • Assassin's Creed III LOVES this trope. Almost every major templar you kill will lecture to Connor at length as they're dying about how they were only trying to maintain order and peace and Connor has just royally screwed it up by killing them and/or calling Connor out on how naive he is.
  • Gungnir has Rodrigues say to Giulio that if he and Ragnus didn't cause another Espada uprising, the Espada Massacre wouldn't have happened and everyone would be fine. Whether or not you believe he has a point is actually a choice that helps determine the ending.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: In chapter 23, Hades' statement on "what is the difference between being reborn as something else and being removed from existence?" actually does make sense in retrospect; Pit is left almost speechless in response.

  • The Order of the Stick: The unnamed evil spirit living in Durkon's head seems to have a legitimate argument when he points out that Durkon has every reason to be vengeful against his own people, and indeed has expressed those feelings openly in the past. For that matter, his mistress Hel seems to have a legitimate grievance against the other Northern Gods for excluding her from their political process because she's less popular among mortal worshippers.

Web Original
  • Achilles, leader of the titular superhero team in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, goes to his father for advice on his personal life all the time. His father, by the way, is Lord Doom, one of the setting's world-conquering master villains. This is a slightly inverted example, though, because usually Achilles is the blunt antagonistic one (for a hero), and Lord Doom is generally urbane and polite (for a villain).
  • The Nostalgia Chick's Dark Nella Saga coupled this with What Measure Is a Non-Human?. The titular Big Bad (formerly an abused BFF) lets every one of the jerkass characters have it, the Chick herself getting the most tearing down, but it turns out Dark Nella was a clone and the original Nella trapped under the sea, so the show can carry on being a Played for Laughs Dysfunction Junction.
  • In the climax of The Sword of Good, not only does Hirou begin to think that the Lord of Dark has some correct beliefs, he ultimately comes to think that he is entirely right— the humans really are the aggressors in the conflict with the orcs, his allies really did use torture against their foes, and his wizard ally Dolf is the real Big Bad because he could easily have used his healing magic to help others but chose not to because that would lead to democracy, and then when questioned makes up some BS to justify his incredible selfishness. This promptly causes Hirou to switch sides and execute Dolf for his crimes, behavior which the Sword of Good approves of.

Western Animation
  • Justice League:
    • First, the episode "A Better World". We have the Justice Lords, the Evil/Totalitarian Counterpart to the Justice League, who took over the world and turned it into a totalitarian state after their President Lex Luthor murdered the Flash. They deal with crime by lobotomizing their villains. When the two versions of Batman confront each other, they have a discussion on the virtues of democracy:
      Lord Batman: Think about it. A world where there's no crime, no victims, no pain.
      League Batman: And no choice. Who elected you, anyway?
      Lord Batman: Who elected you? The problem with democracy is it doesn't keep you very safe.
      League Batman: It has other virtues, but you seem to have forgotten them.
      Lord Batman: I didn't forget. I just chose peace and security instead.
      League Batman: You grabbed power!
      Lord Batman: And with that power, we've made a world where no eight-year-old boy will ever lose his parents because of some punk with a gun.
      League Batman: [emerges from the shadows, dropping his batarang] You win.
      • Notable in that this effect happened to the writers. Originally, League Batman was supposed to win the argument and the fight, but when they wrote that last line for Lord Batman, they couldn't come up with a response, so they rewrote the scene accordingly. Eventually, they later had a scene where a man is beaten for making a scene complaining about crummy service at a restaurant to showcase the cost of this world.
    • Later, in Justice League Unlimited, this happens to Bats again. He confronts Amanda Waller, the head of Project Cadmus, a secret government agency that had been opposing the League. Batman tells Waller that the League will take down Cadmus if they pose a threat to the world. Waller shoots him down, telling him Cadmus exists as a way to stop the League from threatening the world — after all, an alternate League dethroned the world's government with only seven members, and the Unlimited League has a whole army of supers, as well as a giant fusion cannon hovering over the world and pointing down. That said, Waller doesn't say what would prevent Cadmus from doing the same thing. note 
  • Amon from The Legend of Korra is The Leader of The Equalists, who are tired of benders oppressing nonbenders, and he cites a few facts to back up his claim. The Triads that trouble the shops are made up entirely of benders, the ruling council of Republic City is comprised entirely of benders (the four member air nomads have more representation on it than a city of muggles), the police force's elite squads are all benders, and a lot of the good jobs are available only to benders. If you overlook the fact that the benders in the city aside from one family have no more representation than the non-benders, most of the jobs available to benders only amount to living infrastructurenote , inbuilt offensive capabilities are useful in any field that boils down to applied violence, and bending does not breed true... he sounds like he has a point.
    • Kuvira was assigned to bring order and stability back to the Earth Kingdom. When she's finished, she sees no reason to hand it back to the royal family that let it fall into such a state to begin with. Part of Korra's arc is coming to the realization that Kuvira's goals aren't evil (and aren't even that different from her own), just the extremes she's taking to achieve them.