Hate Sink

Even though [Bonnie] was still loved by some, I wanted her to be generally hated so aside from the other things to make her a bitch (racism, sexism, homophobia) I wanted to make her appear as Sue-ish as possible. I wanted people to get sick of her, which thankfully did happen. I didn’t want the Russell Fan Factor with her where a major villain gets loved, because I had planned for her downfall to be the defining moment in the season, and for that to happen I needed it to be satisfying. And what better way to make people root against someone other than make them… evil and rotten and hated.
SWSU, in his author's notes for Season 9 of Survivor: Fan Characters

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.

However, this individual doesn't have to be the main villain of the story, or even a villain at all. Let's say we have a cast of perfectly likeable protagonists, reasonable and sympathetic villains, and Bob. Bob is not necessarily the main antagonist. 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. He may also be rude and obnoxious, bigoted, sleazy and undeservedly smug. 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 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, and can be quite satisfying to watch.

The Complete Monster, complete despicableness being their defining characteristic is a particularly controversial version of this, but there can be an overlap. Another 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. Common environments for this weasel are:
  • Disaster and killer-animal stories, since you can't villainize a force of nature.
  • Stories set in a prison, the army, or some other institutional setting which is regarded as an unpleasant but necessary piece of social equipment.
  • Works where the protagonist's struggle is against something personal and nebulous — say, a feeling that he is in a dead-end job and hasn't achieved any of his dreams — and there is No Antagonist.
  • Works which operate under Grey and Gray Morality.
  • Works that have a Plot-Irrelevant Villain, or sometimes several.
  • Works where the main characters are the ones causing the problems in the story rather than the antagonist.
  • Works where though there are antagonists, either none of them are main antagonists or they form a Big Bad Ensemble.
  • Certain action movies where the villains are every bit as badass as the heroes and just too darn cool.
  • Works where the main antagonist is too non-threatening to really hate.

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 or even a villain and does not need to advance the plot — if Bob is in a scene being loathsome, he is fulfilling his predestined role.

A Hate Sink doesn't necessarily detract from the work they appear in; they provide an easy target for the reader/audience/player's contempt where there may not be one, and can serve as a foil to more likable Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain characters.

See also Villainy-Free Villain. The Heel is a variant specific to Professional Wrestling.

Not to be confused with a (literal) Heat Sink. A metaphorical one counts, if you're using the pro wrestling use of the word.

Contrast The Scrappy, who is not designed to be hated but who garners a Hatedom anyway. Often a Smug Snake. Compare X-Pac Heat, when the hate is directed at an actor or performer instead of the character; and Love to Hate, when the character is supposed to be enjoyed by the readers/viewers for their evilness.

This is not merely a place to complain about characters you hate. These can't just be a Base-Breaking Character or The Scrappy. Other characters have to truly hate them in-universe as well. Otherwise, it's not this trope.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • The Marvel Universe has many villains, some pretty darn bad, but Red Skull trumps all of them. He is without a doubt the most despicable, amoral, pure evil character in possibly all of comics. When The Joker hates your guts, you know you're on a whole other level of bad. Consequently, few things are as cathartic as seeing Captain America beat the ever-loving snot out of him.
  • As well, we have Henry Peter Gyrich, the Obstructive Bureaucrat, who committed many atrocities (directly and indirectly) because of Fantastic Racism (he was one of the people behind the Sentinel Program, at least on The '90s X-Men TV show), because of thinking he could do better (restructuring The Avengers by pretty much tossing most of the membership out on the street), and for the sake of saving face (cloning MVP when he was killed in a training accident— this last one, mixed with saying exactly the wrong thing to Iron Man, finally got him fired). Alas, it wasn't enough to keep him away forever, and Gyrich eventually returned, just as smug, self-righteous and annoying as ever.
  • In that vein, the X-Men have a lot of foes fans love to hate which were likely thought up with this in mind. The Friends of Humanity are often viewed by fans the same way most folks do The Klan, while the government of Genosha was even worse.
  • Among the mutant heroes and villains of X-Men, no character qualifies for this trope better than Fabian Cortez. The Deceptive Disciple who pretty much single-handedly put Magneto back on the villain track, Cortez is a smug, self-absorbed excuse for a man who shamelessly sucks up to Magneto and later Exodus only to try and stick the knife in their backs every chance he gets. He suckers dozens of mutants into believing an ideology he builds around the assumed-dead Magneto (who he assumed he had killed himself) and freely admits he sees all his followers as nothing more than sheep to make his own life easier. He spouts loyalty to his species while secretly murdering fellow mutants for points in an arbitrary competition, boasts of the "mutant harem" he plans to build when he has triumphed, and casually abandons his own sister to die in the very first story he appears in. It's hard to be more loathsome than the likes of Sabretooth or Mr. Sinister, but Cortez pulls it off with revolting aplomb.
  • 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 guaranteed to root against him, even if Donald himself is being a Jerkass.
    • Although in an episode of DuckTales Gladstone had his lucky streak stolen and he briefly experiences a serving of misery and humble pie, especially when he realizes he relied solely on his luck to get through life. Tellingly, in the comics, after suffering the same loss and regain... he appears to learn absolutely nothing and is as smug as ever. His DuckTales incarnation is noticeably more sympathetic than his comics counterpart by comparison.
    • He isn't a bad duck by any means as well. His most admirable trait is he is a strong Heroic Bystander. If someone needs to be saved, either through luck or skill, he will save them. Best seen when he dove to save Donald, swimming upstream and keeping him stable until help arrived.
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac is, oddly enough, one of these in-universe, having been more or less randomly selected by some unnamed power to be a receptacle for everyone else's negative emotions. This has made him somewhat... wacky.
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog: Drago Wolf is despised by even the writers, who always ensure that every time he shows up, he will get at least a punch in the face.
  • Mongul II in Green Lantern. Son of the already unpleasant Superman foe, Mongul II exists as a foil to Sinestro; while both are repressive dictators, Sinestro is the type that at least establishes order at the cost of freedom, while Mongul cares only for himself and merrily runs the planets he conquers straight into the ground. In essence, the character exists so the audience feels comfortable rooting for Sinestro.
  • Apex from Avengers Arena. As with the Hunger Games example in "Literature" below (a very likely inspiration), when you're in a story about people being forced to fight and kill each other, who better to root against than the only one going along willingly? She's also a completely new character, and thus one without a fan base, to ensure nobody will like her.
    • However, Word of God claims she is not a villain, the book is trying to give her some nonexistend depth to gain people's sympathy at few points, she is ridden with Unfortunate Implications (only real-life minority out of Braddock's Academy kids and only one who is willingly killing others, strong transphobic and lesbophobic subtext), her plans are stupid and outright self-defeating when the book tries to show her as a Magnificent Bastard and she varies between being pretentious and whiny. And Marvel once tried to claim fans Love to Hate her, which, quite frankly never works. All of which is making her more of The Scrappy than this trope.
  • In The Dark Knight Returns, Byron Brassballs only shows up in a couple of sequences, but he establishes himself as an arrogant, bigoted, near-sociopathic asshole almost immediately and never stops. His hypocrisy and self-justifying of his actions only make it worse. In a story featuring psychotic criminals like Two-Face and the Joker, his petty bastardry sticks out like a sore thumb.
    Spent a second listening to that beggar pray like an idiot [...] yes, I am religious, but I've got the decency to keep it in church.
    Oh right, the cop. Listen, I've never broken the law— not in any way that counts— and it wasn't me who told him to help that Jap bitch out of her Volkswagen. (said cop apparently dies when the car blows up in his face)
  • Superman has Superboy Prime, a very powerful yet whiny counterpart of Superman responsible for the death of several heroes, as well as numerous civilians. It's always fun to watch him get beaten up.
  • The Angelic Host in Crimson aren't necessarily villains, but they are written as despicable as possible being obnoxious, obstructive and self-righteous zealots who attempt to execute The Hero's because he is a vampire, yet refuse to anything about Big Bad directly or not.
  • Subverted with Negan of The Walking Dead. Taking it back to 2012, you'd think that the author was deliberately trying to get readers to hate the then-new villain Negan when he makes his grand entrance by brutally beating fan-favorite Nice Guy Glenn to death with a baseball bat- and with heaps of insulting disrespect and jokes at Glenn's expense on top of it. But then, Negan went on to become one of the most popular characters in the comics thanks to his uniquely charming and hilarious brand of sociopathy. He's also given a few traits to make him at least somewhat less evil than he could be (such as his dislike of sexual violence). It also probably helps that, unlike The Governor, he only really killed one fan-favorite during his time as the main antagonist.
    • And speaking of The Governor- the comic's first Big Bad- he was a straight example who was written to be utterly despicable and unlikable. In contrast to Negan, he has literally no redeeming qualities and all of his screen-time is spent Kicking The Dog. Repeatedly. To make a short list, he kills over 50 (mostly) innocent people (3 of them being fan-favorites Tyreese, Hershel, and Axel), rapes and tortures Action Girl Michonne for days, french kisses his zombified niece, cuts off The Hero Rick's hand for no reason, and orchestrates the murder of a baby. And unlike Negan, he does it all without the least bit of irony or witty self-awareness of the over-the-top scale of his villainy.

    Fan Fic 

    Professional Wrestling 

    Theatre 
  • Inspector Javert is the main antagonist 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 Valjean, whom he believes to be a dangerous criminal (and technically he's right, as Valjean is a bail-jumper); when Javert realizes that Valjean is really a good person through and through, it turns his world upside down (he's always thought of criminals as irredeemable monsters, so Valjean is a walking Logic Bomb like that). So who can the audience hate? The Thenardiers, the cowardly comic relief thieves who abuse Cosette, loot bodies during the rebellion, and try to attack Valjean's house, which prompts Valjean to make plans for him and Cosette to flee the city (he thought that the attack was led by Javert).
    • Ironically, despite being the only truly morally bankrupt characters in the show, the Thenardiers are probably among the best-liked in the cast; they have the only truly funny songs in the work ("Master of the House" and "Beggar at the Feast"), and as such are the only source of levity in the musical otherwise.
  • Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a Hanging Judge pedophile who sends an innocent man to prison on the other side of the world, rapes his wife and drives her to suicide, then adopts their daughter precisely so that he can groom her into becoming a Replacement Goldfish. His sidekick Beadle Bamford is also a constant and dedicated doggy-kicker. The audience needs to be comfortable rooting for a Serial Killer, and these two provide ample reason to do just that.
    • The movie version makes both of these guys even more despicable by having them sentence a little boy to death and later both questioning whether he was even guilty.
  • Mary from The Children's Hour is only a little girl but what a terrible little girl she is. She spreads Malicious Slander about her school teachers about how they're in a lesbian affair. Considering the time period this takes place in, this ends very badly. On top of that she blackmails one of her classmates, physically harms said classmate, acts like a Spoiled Brat, and is constantly lying. Mary never even gets her just desserts for ruining her teacher's lives.
  • Hamilton is, at its core, a White and Gray Morality tale about the Founding Fathers of the United States. Though they often squabble with one another, each one honestly believes he's doing what's right for the new nation, and as some of the most respected figures in human history they're almost impossible to hate. Thus, the truly despicable members of the cast are the bit characters. You can hate Charles Lee for being a cowardly General Failure whose ineptitude leads to four-digit casualties at the battle of Monmouth. You can hate James Reynolds for being a Domestic Abuser and blackmailer who plays a major role in ruining Hamilton's reputation out of sheer greed. And you can definitely hate George Eacker for killing Hamilton's son in a duel... by shooting him in the back on "seven."
  • Jesus Christ Superstar has King Herod. While Jesus' other accusers - Judas Iscariot, Caiaphas, Annas, and Pontius Pilate - are hardly good people for obvious reasons, each has at least one semi-altruistic reason for opposing Him. Herod, who is only really in one scene, by contrast just wants to protect his power and copious amounts of stuff, and spends most of his stage-time gleefully taunting Jesus, who is unwilling to fight back, before declaring Him a phony and shipping Him off to be executed. Much like the Thenardiers, however, Herod's scenery-chomping Villain Song is one of the few funny things in the show.
  • In Jekyll & Hyde, the Bishop, Gwenny, and Simon Stride have little to no redeeming qualities and mainly exist to oppose Jekyll, showcase London's hypocrisy, and let the viewers root for Hyde briefly. The Spider is an even bigger case, as he has no redeeming qualities and gets off scot-free for his mistreatment of Lucy.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY has several antagonistic characters and groups (Grimm, White Fang, Roman Torchwick, Cinder Fall, etc.). However, for one reason or another, most of them are difficult to be a target of audience hatred. That role is filled by Team CRDL, a group of callous, obnoxious, bigoted, cowardly bullies who pick on many of the show's biggest Woobies. It's no coincidence that their leader, Cardin Winchester, is named after the Cardinal of Winchester, the man who oversaw the trial and execution of Joan of Arc (the name basis for Jaune Arc)..
  • While most of the villains in Red vs. Blue are either too entertaining or too badass to genuinely hate, the Chorus trilogy introduces Felix. Although he at first seems to be a Loveable Rogue Jerk with a Heart of Gold, he gleefully shows his true colours halfway through season 12 when it's revealed he's actually been manipulating the Reds and Blues into perpetuating a civil war with the goal of killing everyone on both sides. In a show which has its share of Jerkasses, Felix is the only character whose sociopathy is not Played for Laughs, and is hated by the fans possibly even more than the guy who's actually paying him to commit his atrocities.
  • Turnabout Storm has Asshole Victim Ace Swift. All three of the work's actual antagonists (Trixie, Gilda, and Sonata) are jerkass woobies. As all of the characters in the actual case are at least somewhat sympathetic, he seems to have been made to be as unlikable as possible just so the audience can have someone to hate. His only other purposes are being the victim for the case (of course), and kickstarting all the events of the story. It turns out, that there actually was no murder and he got himself killed while trying to murder his accomplice after she tried to leave him and opt out of their business of blackmailing athletes so he could win.
  • Every single main character of a GoAnimate grounded video is intended to be this, as the intention is to have the character act up, destroy property or kill people, or just be rude to someone so much that you'll be happy to see them get grounded grounded grounded grounded by the video's end. It's worth pointing in this case, however, that this sometimes doesn't work and the opposite happens, with the intended Hate Sink being Unintentionally Sympathetic while the other characters become Hate Sinks themselves. This is especially noticeable in the typical character dynamic between Caillou and his dad Boris, the latter of whom has more qualities of this trope than the intended Hate Sink Caillou. Boris's typical portrayal is that of a borderline Ax-Crazy abusive dad who grounds, punishes or even murders Caillou at the slightest provocation without getting in trouble for it himself. Because of this, videos depicting Boris getting his comeuppance for his actions have become very common.

    Web Comics 
  • Ace debuts in the Katamari comic's first arc when the King of All Cosmos brings him in as 'extra insurance' against the UFOs, and quickly establishes himself as The Rival. Once he proves himself more interested in ensuring the Prince fails than making sure anything gets saved — including Daisy, his own cousin — it's all downhill from there. Actively resisting any sort of character development, he's so self-absorbed and caught up in his own delusions that it's difficult to sympathize with him at all.
  • While Drowtales officially has no Big Bad, Snadhya'rune Vel'Sharen is the closest fit with most of the strife in the story resulting from her machinations. Despite this she's largely a behind-the-scenes player who keeps up a friendly veneer in public and can seem downright reasonable until she finally starts letting her Mask of Sanity slip in a later story arc. Kalki her daughter, on the other hand, is openly antagonistic from the moment she's introduced, and one of the first things she does on panel is kill one of the more sympathetic characters with a dirty trick in front of his mother and entire family. And that's not even touching on her later actions, which include stabbing her sister's hand into the table to make her stay, chopping off her arm seconds later and going for a thrill kill against some unfortunate guests in the middle of her own home being attacked by actual invaders, which establish her as firmly Ax-Crazy compared to Snadhya'rune's refined manipulations. Ironically enough, the two of them switch roles in the end when Snadhya murdered Kalki in cold blood after growing weary of her behavior. Alas, Poor Villain indeed.
  • No other character officially introduced in Sakana stays truer to this role than Arata Tasaki, Yuudai's abusive ex. His first appearance alone has him show up to Yuudai's workplace unannounced after one misaimed drunken text and acting insulting and manipulative not only to Yuudai himself, but to Jiro as well. It gets even better when he runs into Yuudai again after work...
  • When Amber's father is introduced in Shortpacked!, we only know of what a complete asshole he was through Amber at his funeral. In Dumbing of Age, you'll want to punch the screen every time he appears and demonstrates his mastery of parental abuse (lampshaded by the author, who mentions that saying he also parks in handicapped spaces would make him cartoonishly evil).
  • Garry the dragonfly from Com'c is rude (including referring to everyone as "shitheads"), obnoxious, egocentrical and hypocritical, specifically designed to be hated.
  • Cuntons of Vegan Artbook—who's intended as a jab at someone whom the author hates—is a raging Jerk Ass, kills animals For the Evulz, is drawn much uglier than the rest of the cast and has no redeeming features or Freudian Excuse like Shawn does. As if her name didn't tip you off.
  • Daimyo Kubota from The Order of the Stick is a Smug Snake and Filler Villain who possesses none of the entertaining, impressive, sympathetic, or redeeming qualities of the comic's other Big Bads or Arc Villains. He's a scheming aristocrat who cares only about getting himself into power, thinks taking Azure City back from Xykon will be a trivial matter, repeatedly tries to assassinate Hinjo to take Azure City's throne, sees no value in commoners, tries to have a pregnant woman assassinated to give himself a political edge, and murders Therkla when she tries to convince him to simply defect from Hinjo and form his own kingdom somewhere else instead of usurping Azure City. Once captured by Elan, he spends a few moments gloating about how he'll manipulate the situation to be a Karma Houdini, then is effortlessly vaporized by Vaarsuvius, who doesn't even know his name and just assumes he's a villain interfering with the main plot because Elan has captured him.
  • Mookie, creator of Dominic Deegan, really, really likes this trope. Just a few examples include Brett Taggerty, Serk Brakkis, Amelia Sturtz and Warlord Damaske all who have virtually no redeeming qualities between them and are very much meant to be loathed.
  • Polandball has ISISBall, perhaps the only character with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
  • In Yumi's Cells, Yumi's younger coworker Ruby is a shallow, selfish girl, and quite willing to spite Yumi in her quest to steal Wook. After The Reveal that he's gay (which Ruby doesn't know about) this becomes somewhat more amusing but she still inspires quite a bit of reader vitriol.
  • Survivor: Fan Characters: The creator explained in his notes for Season 9 that he wrote the season's main villain to be this; he wanted her to be so reprehensible with zero redeeming qualities that readers, instead of finding her cool or entertaining to hate like they did with many of the series' previous villains, would just plain hate her and find her eventual epic downfall to be all the more cathartic.

    Web Original 
  • Duke Crabtree from Ambition was clearly supposed to be this, with being a Smug Snake cop with a whiny, nasally voice, along with the player being given the option to insult and even punch him along with the fact that it turns out that he was Evil All Along. It backfired, though, when he became one of the most popular characters in the series thanks to some bizarre memetic lines, being far more competent than the protagonist (to the point of being able to successfully stand in as a marriage counselor,) and his apparent ability to summon bright, colorful lights and a guitar wail when he kills you with a tire iron. Meanwhile, other characters like Ted, who the creator tried really hard to make sympathetic in spite of his actions, became The Scrappy instead.
  • Ricky Collins in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries frequently compliments Lizzie and Charlotte but does so in an arrogant and obnoxious way. He tries to give advice but underestimates their accomplishments and knowledge, bashes Lizzie's blog, boasts of himself, tries to make himself look important and only speaks/cares about business.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HateSink