A character whose intended
role in the story (the role the authors made for him/her) is to be so despicable that the audience wants him or her to fail just as much as they want the heroes to succeed. Contrast The Scrappy
, who is not designed to be hated but who garners a Hatedom
Let's say we have a cast of perfectly likable protagonists, reasonable and sympathetic villains, and Bob. Bob is not the main antagonist, and is usually not a villain at all. He is not causing the struggle that the heroes must overcome, but he is making the heroes' lives more difficult. His list of character traits includes selfishness
, stubbornness, greed, holier-than-thou contempt, cowardice
, and an inexhaustible penchant for making bad decisions
. Basically, Bob exists to be hated. Everything he does and everything he says is designed to make the audience yearn for his death just a little bit more. If we do see his eventual downfall — and we usually do — it is just as satisfying as the writers can possibly make it. A particularly pointed Karmic Death
is always a nice touch.
An especially common flavor of this character in recent decades is the Politically Incorrect Villain
The Hate Sink is typically found in stories that do not have a natural target for the audience's scorn. Examples include disaster and killer-animal movies, since you can't villainize a force of nature
, and certain action movies where the villains are every bit as Badass
as the heroes and just too darn cool
This trope is not the same as Designated Villain
, which is a character who is put into the villain role for the sake of the plot, even though his or her actions are not particularly evil. A Hate Sink character may or may not be important to the story and does not need to advance the plot — if Bob is in a scene being loathsome, he is fulfilling his predestined role.
See also Villainy-Free Villain
. The Heel
is a variant specific to Professional Wrestling
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Anime and Manga
- The Diamond and Pearl part of the Pokémon anime shows the heroes' first significant losing streak, which is much of the real conflict. Enter Paul, the most ruthless rival Ash has ever met, who's borderline Social Darwinist with his training methods, and the only one Ash has never beaten (until the League Tournament). However, Paul's importance in the overall story is nonexistent, not even as a driving force like the others have been.
- Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Gladstone Gander, the unbelievably smug, obnoxious and infuriatingly lucky cousin of Donald Duck. In any story he appears as a rival to Donald, you're pretty much guaranteed to root against him, even if Donald himself is being a Jerk Ass.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Titanic: Billy Zane's character, Cal. He disparages the Picasso paintings; he verbally and physically abuses Rose; he tries to have Jack killed; is exposed to care more about money than Rose; and finally cons his way onto a lifeboat using a small child to save his pathetic hide. But the karma gods are not mocked: in the aftermath of the disaster Cal loses the Heart of the Ocean diamond, loses Rose, loses his fortune, and eventually takes his own life.
- Independence Day: The Secretary of Defense, Mr. Nimzicki (dubbed by RiffTrax "Foily McAntagonist"). The aliens are inscrutable, have cool ships and bring the Monumental Damage and massive carnage that is the reason the audience bought the tickets. This guy knows about the aliens ahead of time but stays silent to give the President "plausible deniability." He continually pushes the use of nukes that are ineffective. He cockily celebrates victory too soon only to immediately be proven wrong. Finally he is the only person to disagree with the final plan that ends up working. His comeuppance is being fired by President Whitmore in person. Though he's then thrown a bone by being allowed into the prayer circle David's father is starting.
- Aliens: Paul Reiser's company guy, Carter Burke. The aliens are already scary, so the filmmakers are hedging their bets by offering Burke as the weaselly company guy that only cares about money and fame. He knows about the aliens ahead of time and sends the colonists to investigate. He disagrees with nuking the site from orbit. He tries to impregnate Newt and Ripley with alien embryos with a plan to sabotage and kill the other heroes. Finally he cowardly retreats behind a door locking the other heroes out, where he is deliciously killed by an alien.
- In the novel, he is found attached to a wall when Ripley goes on her rescue mission to save Newt. Although he begs for death, she only hands him a grenade. (This scene was actually filmed, but was cut from the movie when it was realized that too little in-story time would have passed for the scene to work. Since everything up to that point had established that it took several hours for the facehugger to drop off its victim, and several more hours for the chestburster to grow and break out, Burke should still have had the facehugger attached to him when Ripley found him less than an hour after he got grabbed.)
- Die Hard: The reporter. The German terrorists/bank robbers have awesome accents and their leader is the perfect villain to love: intelligent, Wicked Cultured, and somewhat considerate to the hostages, but swift and deadly toward the authorities and driven by greed. So who do you hate? The annoying reporter that ends up exposing who Holly McClane really is by threatening the McClane housekeeper with deportation and terrorizes their kids all for the sake of a story. Possibly the greatest comeuppance example: he gets punched by Holly McClane at the end.
- The coke-snorting yuppie asswipe who constantly badly flirts with Holly exposes John's identity to the terrorists, probably hoping to finally get her in the sack. He ends up getting shot in the head by the terrorists for his trouble.
- To a somewhat lesser degree, the two Agent Johnsons (no relation). They are rather disrespectful to Powell and the other police, unknowingly play into the robbers hands by cutting the power, and are perfectly fine with allowing some of the hostages to die if it means getting the villains.
- A third example: Deputy Chief Robinson is a massive Jerkass, continually assumes Powell is wrong, distrusts McClane and generally acts as though he has the Idiot Ball in his pocket at all times. Roger Ebert went so far as to argue that this character alone more or less wrecks the film for him.
- The same reporter gets zapped with a stun gun by the same Holly McClane in Die Hard 2 after revealing on international TV that the airport has been hijacked, thereby causing a panic that the authorities were desperately trying to avoid. William Atherton seems to have made a career playing jerks we love to hate. Speaking of which...
- Ghostbusters: Walter Peck, probably the quintessential Obstructive Bureaucrat. You can't hate ghosts or Gozer. But this pencil pusher is pissed that someone has the audacity to be as cool as the ghost busters. So he shuts their containment system down causing the climax of the movie.
- Peck must be a complete Jerkass to avoid stirring up Fridge Logic. Peck's insistence the Ghostbusters follow environmental laws is hardly unreasonable, even if he is a jerk. Egon already Lampshaded the questionable legal status of their business with his line about "unlicensed nuclear accelerators."
- Peck is simply a case of nearly succumbing to Death By Pragmatism. He doesn't believe in all this "ghost mumbo jumbo", and there's implications that he's one of the reason for the Ghostbusters losing all credibility between films. But still, when you've got the guy who invented this machine telling you the horrid consequences for turning it off, and an unbiased electrician telling you he's never seen the likes of it before, you have to be borderline Too Dumb to Live to go ahead and turn it off anyway. At the very least he should have simply gotten a court-ordered injunction to have them stop 'busting until third-party groups could look over the equipment.
- Twister: Cary Elwes plays the corporate-backed scientist Jonas. You can't rage at the tornadoes, right? They're a force of nature, and they inspire awe in the heroes and give them purpose. But this guy "sold out" and got corporate funding, making him a puppet of The Man (and why would a scientist ever want funding?). His team travel in sleek and sinisterly identical black vans compared to our Ragtag Bunch of Misfits' ragtag assortment of vehicles, and he's a hack that doesn't know the true science and just copies the heroes or relies too much on the instruments rather than the clairvoyant way that Bill Paxton just stares at the storm and knows which way it will go. Ultimately, he and his driver get sucked into the storm when he arrogantly ignores the heroes' warnings.
- The Towering Inferno. You can't hate a fire, but you can hate the selfish, incompetent Roger Simmons. Jim Duncan also plays this role, to a lesser degree.
- Sean Parker from The Social Network. In a story full of Gray and Gray Morality, he's the closest character portrayed as an outright villain due to what a Jerkass he is.
- Harvey Baylor in the laughably awful Planet of the Dinosaurs. The protagonists have all crash-landed on a far flung planet inhabited by prehistoric creatures, with no way to contact Earth and little hope of being rescued. Harvey proceeds to whine indiscriminately about how he's the Vice President of Spaceways Incorporated (and therefore their boss) and he can get them all fired, complains about having to do so much walking with no clear endpoint, and repeatedly sexually harasses his secretary. You can't hate the dinosaurs because they're dinosaurs (and barely put in any appearances in the movie anyway), and you can't hate the planet because it's a planet. But BOY can you hate Harvey Baylor! Thankfully he dies about halfway through the movie by being fatally gored by a Centrosaur and tossed off a cliff.
- You can't hate the titular eldritch abominations from The Langoliers (especially since they're just a creepy noise closing in from over the horizon for most of the story), and there's no one to really blame for stranding the characters in the past. But there's Toomy. Hateful, spiteful, assholish, with Freudian excuses and issues stacked high, who annoys, irritates and backstabs. You can't not hate Toomy. He gets eaten by the title Clock Roaches near the end of the movie.
- In the live action production of The Mist, the monsters are terrifying but don't appear to be acting with true malice. They're just following their instincts to eat and reproduce. But boy, oh boy, can you ever hate Mrs. Carmody, the shrill, hateful Jesus freak who looks down her nose at anyone who isn't as "righteous" as she is and whipped the mob into a religious frenzy that almost resulted in the murder of the protagonist's young son.
- Percy Wetmore in The Green Mile. You can't hate the racism in the '30s that put John Coffey on Death Row, you can't hate the system for making sure he'll die in the electric chair, and you sure as hell can't hate Old Sparky itself. But you can definitely hate Percy, who uses the fact that he's the nephew of the governor's wife to duck authority at every turn...even after deliberately sabotaging the execution of a convict he particularly hates and having him literally fried alive in the chair. His comeuppance comes in the form of Mr. Coffey, who "uses him as a gun" to kill a more proper villain, William Wharton, then leaves him catatonic.
- Carl Anhauser from 2012 is a subversion of this, surprisingly. He acts like a dick for much of the movie and occasionally lashes out at people, he's still trying to keep as many people alive as possible, and the movie never really paints him as a completely bad person.
- Jurassic Park: Donald Gennaro, the lawyer. Specifically because of how different his character is in the book from the movie. In the book he is actually fairly competent and brave, not the useless, spineless one-dimensional character in the movie, illustrating the screenplay writers needed someone the audience to focus some hate on, because you can't hate the heroes or the dinosaurs right? He's the only person to not see any problem with cloning dinosaurs, shows his stupidity on the tour by asking if the live people are autoerotic (confusing the word with "animatronic"), and then abandons the children during the scene with the T-Rex. His comeuppance of getting eaten sitting on the toilet is masterful. The movie version of Gennaro seems to be a Composite Character of Ed Regis from the book, who also abandoned the children during the T-Rex attack and ended up eaten.
- Ironically, the novel version of John Hammond fills the role very nicely; he's an arrogant, rich bastard used to getting his own way, whose refusal to listen to criticism ends up getting numerous people killed. His comeuppance is falling prey to the dinosaurs himself at the very end, after it seems as though they're safe. In the movie he's upgraded to a nice old man whose only fault is naive overconfidence.
- Resident Evil: Afterlife: Kim Koates plays the annoying Bennett, a movie producer trapped in an L.A. prison with a few other survivors. His character is the classic hatesink - utterly one dimensional and can be lifted right out of the story. He is rude, selfish, and disagrees with every other main character on decisions. When things start to go wrong he shoots a fellow survivor and then escapes in a small plane leaving the rest behind. Then in the climax he does the bidding of the main evil character so that he is saved. But he gets his just deserts when the heroes kill the main villain and leave him to be eaten by some unseen horror.
- Unstoppable: You can't hate a runaway train, but you can hate Obstructive Bureaucrat Galvin. His comeuppance is that he loses his job afterwards.
- George A. Romero's Zombie Apocalypse movies always include at least one of these; they usually have a big share of the blame in making things go From Bad to Worse.
- Simon Canton in Deep Rising. The monsters are just predators that live to consume, and most of the mercenaries have some redeeming qualities such as determination and being badasses. Canton however is only selfish, cowardly, and greedy. He's not so bad at first, but he eventually tries to leave the other survivors for dead, then tries to kill Trillian, shrugs off the all the passengers' deaths because he can still scam the insurance agency if the ship sinks, and tries to steal Finnegan's boat. He meets a deliciously Karmic Death.
- Dr. Gerhard Klopfer in Conspiracy, who stands out as the most detestible character in an entire film filled with Nazis. He and his colleagues are all genocidal imperialists, but most of them are at least pragmatic, coldly efficient, or not completely unsympathetic (Kritzinger and Lange). Klopfer tops them all by being morbidly obese, gluttonous, ugly, rude, an open pervert, even more simple-mindedly racist than the others, and cowardly (he makes jokes about Heydrich's possible Jewish ancestry behind his back but dares not to say it to his face when dared to do so by Mueller).
- In the movie Waiting, the primarily antagonist is the restaurant staff's soul-crushingly dull and miserable existence. Which is why we have the "biatch" who ordered the steak. She's only in one scene, but that was more than enough. Every single line of her dialogue is a condescending insult (including being angry her food was delivered too fast,) delivered with an infuriating sneer. When she drags out the "How hard is your job?!" line, that's when they've had enough. Even after watching them subject her food to the most disgusting act of revenge you could imagine, you'll still feel like she was let off too easy.
- In the Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa trilogy, Choryu. He is selfish, entitled, arrogant, smug, and cowardly. When he finally gets his, most readers will want to do a little happy dance. Then they stop when they find out just how horrifying his fate really is.
- In Deadhouse Gates, the second book in Malazan Book Of The Fallen, the Chain of Dogs (a massive host of refugees marching across the continent) is constantly being attacked by enemy armies, but our viewpoint character for these sections of the story never gets more than a few glimpses of the enemy leaders. Without a face or personality to put to them, it's hard to dislike the armies of the Apocalypse on a personal level. Instead we're invited to vent our loathing upon a group of whiny nobles within the Chain of Dogs, who protest the main characters' actions at every turn, are openly cruel to their servants, and get a lot of their fellow refugees killed through incompetence.
- Harry Potter gives us Dolores Umbridge. In a book in which Lord Voldemort is laying low, she takes the stage as the main face of opposition, and is still the character most hated by many fans. While Voldemort was never seen as the slightest bit sympathetic, Umbridge is a good demonstration of what you get when you take a bigoted, hypocritical shrew and give her authority, and is so plausibly cruel in the course of her travesties of justice that readers find their blood seething with her every word and deed.
- Since there's no real villain in Flight 116 Is Down by Caroline B. Cooney, the audience gets to focus their hatred on Darienne, a selfish passenger who ends up being completely unharmed in the crash. Heidi and Patrick work hard to save the passengers of the crashed plane while Darienne stands around doing nothing but complaining and being useless, yet she tries to take credit for saving people at the end. Even Patrick loses his cool when Darienne gets too much to handle.
- An in-universe occurs in The Hunger Games. Katniss, Peeta and other tributes can't exactly attack the Capitol or directors of the games. The rest of the tributes are just as oppressed as them so they channel their hate and murderous instincts towards the Careers from District 1, 2 and 4 who are Child Soldiers volunteering to be in the game, having trained from birth to kill others. Combined with their cruel mindset and superior skills, the Careers always team up to take down the weaker tributes, then gleefully kill each other once the others are dead. However Katniss eventually realizes that the real enemy isn't the Careers but the Capitol and therefore leads her to join the rebellion.
- Busqueros from The Manuscript Found In Saragossa. Smug and infuriatingly clingy, his unwanted "help" always brings more bad than good (if it brings any good at all), yet he still claims he is indispensable for the viewpoint characters' plans and schemes, and he will not take "no" for an answer.
- Persons Unknown: We don't know who's behind the kidnappings of our main cast, but Bill Blackham, played by Sean O'Bryan, seems to be a repository for all the negative reactions one could have to being kidnapped and placed in a ghost town. Everything he does is selfish or irrational, especially his forcing Janet's gas mask away from her (which backfires), trying to rape Tori, and blackmailing Charlie when he finds out about Charlie's possible Mercy Kill / serial killing of his wife.
- Stargate Universe: The crew is mostly threatened by lack of resources, or on very rare occasion, mindless alien beasts, mindless robot drones, or the blue aliens, who don't communicate. The Lucian Alliance was brought in to provide a more relatable antagonist, but really, the main cast had no shortage of hate sinks to choose from: Rush, Young, Wray, Chloe, Greer...
- Doctor Who: Gibbis from the "God Complex". That annoying rat-human. After the initial humor of his planet of origin, he let go of Howard to be eaten by the Minotaur. And they were so close to finding out who he was. Many people could have been spared if not for Gibbis.
- Inspector Javert is the main villain of Les Misérables, but while he does make life miserable for Valjean, Javert honestly believes that he's the good guy and he's just trying to do his job and arrest what he believes to be a dangerous criminal; when Javert realizes that Valjean is really a good person through and through, it turns his world upside down. So who can the audience hate? The Thenardiers, the cowardly comic relief thieves who abuse Cosette, loot bodies during the Revolution, and try to attack Valjean's house, which leads to Cosette being sent away to protect her.
- In Pokémon Gold and Silver , the evil Team Rocket organization only turns up three times and hardly drive the plot, and so are hardly detestable as a result. However, the story features many encounters with your rude, thieving, Pokemon-abusing, borderline-sociopathic rival, who is much easier to hate (until he finally undergoes Character Development, that is).
- Your rival in Red/Blue might count. He's not evil in any sense, but he's a rude, annoying braggart, always one-upping you and will make you want to beat his face in.
- In Pokemon Black And White, Ghetsis Harmonia can qualify. Although he's technically the Big Bad, the game's main conflict is about clashing ideals between the protagonist and N, who is too much of an Anti-Villain to dislike. Ghetsis, however, spends the entire game giving speeches to try and convince everyone to break their bonds with their Pokemon by releasing them (so he can take over the world), is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and a horrible father to N, and just for emotional catharsis at the end of the game you get to lay the smackdown on him when he gives his Motive Rant. In the sequel Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, he's more clearly the Big Bad from the start for anyone who's Genre Savvy, but even then his underlings (specifically Zinzolin, Colress and the Shadow Triad) easily have more motivation and sympathetic qualities than him.
- Final Fantasy X. As it's rather hard to develop much hatred for a giant, emotionless crustacean regardless of how many people it kills (and even harder to keep coming up with excuses to wind up in the ocean having boss fights with it), Seymour keeps popping up in the plot to provide a speaking villain for the party to fight on land instead of Sin. While he does have his own motivations and does get somewhat tied into the plot with Sin, his personal impact on the story itself is quite minimal overall aside from providing ever more complex boss fights after you kill him and he just keeps creating ever more elaborate boss forms for himself.
- However, in the context of the game's universe, it can be argued that Seymour is the only willful antagonist in the story. It doesn't help his case that his master plan is to become Sin and wreak devastation across Spira, killing everybody on the planet.
- Volgin of Metal Gear Solid 3. His first action is blowing up his allies with a nuclear bomb, for the hell of it. However, despite being (relatively speaking) the Big Bad of the game, he's not the main antagonist - the game is much more interested in the relationship between Naked Snake and The Boss. Volgin simply serves as 1) A homage and Affectionate Parody of James Bond villains; 2) a foil to The Boss; and 3) a form of catharsis before The Reveal.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, the Big Bad is the Archdemon, but it's an alien, unknowable force whose only goal is destruction, looming in the background until the Final Battle. As such, the game sets up Loghain as the primary antagonist.
- Bann Vaughan from the same game only has a notable role in the City Elf Origin Story, and even then has possibly fifteen minutes at most of screentime. Yet in this short timeframe he establishes himself as a racist towards elves, an Entitled Bastard, and a serial rapist and killer of elven women who abducts the entire female part of an elven wedding party, which includes the protagonist's cousin. He's totally superfluous to the plot, and his whole purpose is to act as a Starter Villain who's actions force the City Elf to join the Grey Wardens.
- In Dragon Age II, there isn't really a "bad guy" at all, so Meredith takes the villain seat.
- Ser Alrik is an even better example. In a game filled to the brim with Grey and Grey Morality, Alrik is a sadist who tortures mages and makes them Tranquil For the Evulz, and is pushing a plan called "the Tranquil Solution" to apply this to every mage in the city. Just in case you think Anders is exaggerating, his one scene consists of him threatening an apprentice who just wanted to see her mum again. "Once you're Tranquil, you'll do anything I ask." (Oh, and NPC banter confirms he's done this before.)
- While many villains in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword are Grade-A Moral Event Horizon-crossers, nearly all of them have some sort of sympathetic quirk or cool point that makes it difficult to say you sincerely want to throttle them. Sonia has her sex appeal and a vaguely sad death scene; Ephidel is very suave and cool-headed and has a few Draco in Leather Pants fangirls; Darin is such a hapless dupe that you'll probably just end up feeling sorry for him; Jerme is so over-the-top in his villainy that he becomes somewhat amusing; and even Nergal comes across as kind of Woobieish if you get all the super-ultra-hidden chapters. So, who can you hate? For many fans, the answer to this is King Desmond of Bern, a man who, out of sheer envy and spite for his wife, arranges at least two assassination attempts on his own son which end up turning said son into a would-be continent-destroying dictator twenty years later. Lundgren also gets some of this for how petty and racist he is, but even he can command some respect for being an exceptionally powerful boss for someone his age; by contrast, Desmond's entire motivation for being evil is that despite being King he's a huge loser and nobody likes him.
- Dalatrass Linron in Mass Effect 3 exists solely to be vilified for not helping the krogan overcome the genophage. Under certain circumstances in the previous games, however, Linron can subvert this. Specifically, the source of Linron's Jerkass attitude is that she's afraid that if the genophage is cured, the galaxy will have another Krogan Rebellion on its hands, the krogan overwhelming everybody with force. In most playthroughs, this attitude comes off as prejudiced and closed-minded. But if Wreav is the Urdnot leader instead of Wrex, and simultaneously the player chooses to cure the genophage with Wreav as the leader...guess what? After the Reapers are finished off, in the Extended Cut ending slides, raising a giant krogan army to take on the galaxy is exactly what Wreav does!!! This actually makes Linron right, since this is basically a Krogan Rebellion in the making.
- Maven Black-Briar from The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. She not only consorts with thieves and assassins, but she has the government of Riften in her hands, she has her employees killed if they displease her, and she even supports the Thalmor.
- In Sponge Bob Square Pants, Plankton usually fills this role. Though it doesn't exactly work, as Plankton hasn't ever succeed in any of his schemes, and Mr. Krabs is usually seen as far worse than him.
- In universe, he's definitely this.