A potential villain who is consistently a failure or never gets the respect that he thinks he deserves, and may even be angry that the heroes don't take him seriously.
He may not necessarily be inept
or have a laughably mild idea of what counts as villainy
. Villain Decay
is usually too simple an explanation. This is sometimes a relative situation, and the hero's Rogues Gallery
just happens to include people more showy, better financed, or just plain scarier than him.
This does not mean that he doesn't bear animosity; that's a Punch Clock Villain
. He's probably jumping at the opportunity to outdo his rivals and the hero. But there is something about his perseverance or attitude about the whole thing that is just short of sympathetic.
May also be a Determinator
out of necessity or overlap with Draco in Leather Pants
. If they get even more
pathetic in regard to the hero, Unknown Rivalry
looms. Just watch out, they may suddenly turn out to be a Not-So-Harmless Villain
versions of this trope frequently overlap with the Goldfish Poop Gang
if they are just as pathetic in actual battle as they're treated by the story. They may maintain threat status if Conservation of Competence
allows them to keep competent supporters.
The Evil Counterpart
to Failure Hero
, when your bad guy is competent but still earns sympathy for their cause they're a Sympathetic Criminal
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- The South Korean mice in the propaganda-tastic North Korean series A Squirrel and a Hedgehog. The pair, consisting of domineering Jerk Ass Mulmangcho and his meeker, one-eared companion Yelipalip, migrate from faction to faction amongst the villains, and are consistently mistreated and abused. All of their efforts to prove their worth, do something evil, and make it higher up in the ranks of whichever group they're currently attached to inevitably fail, miserably and pitifully, usually thanks to the heroes. More than once, the two are actually arrested and imprisoned by their own bosses and almost executed because they got the blame for what the undercover good guys, Geumsagi and Juldarami, did. So far, they have always managed to somehow get out of such situations alive. Although they clearly want to be evil and respected (Mulmangcho more so than Yelipalip), they fail so often and so pitifully it's difficult not to feel bad for them.
- It should also be noted that this was originally an evil trio of Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains, but the third guy, Mulsajo, whose distinguishing characteristic was that he wore a pink shirt, was even more ineffectual than his comrades and was blown up with a grenade midway through one of the earlier story arcs, leaving just his two buddies to carry the mantle of constantly failing.
- Dr. Einstein of Arsenic And Old Lace. At the very least, he's helped Jonathan escape from jail and evade the police. He probably has something to do with the latter's ability to be a contender in the play's Body Count Competition as well. However, he's clearly motivated by fear and spends a lot of time drunk. This may be the reason for his escape at the end.
- In Ruddigore, when the protagonist Robin becomes Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, he finds that he can't commit evil deeds if his life depended on it, which is exactly the predicament he's in.
- Pretty much every heel in the WWE these days is one of these.