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"People are angry, but they can't explain why."
— PressTV reporter, on the source of the "Muslamic Ray Guns" meme.
This is when a character hates and/or blames another one for something that is at best only partially their fault. Evidence may be willfully ignored or misinterpreted to support their position, and it usually takes a titanic effort to get the hater to change their mind (if any is even possible). Sometimes, it just happens once they see the other character.
This trope comes in a few variations that, while distinct enough to probably be their own tropes, will be grouped to avoid confusion. They are: misplaced/overinflated blame, inarticulate dislike and ungrounded jealousy/prejudice.
When it's misplaced or overinflated blame, the hater assigns blame to the character (often more than justifiable) not through some misleading evidence
, but out of an emotional need to blame someone
(often in situations where no blame could be assigned). If the character did
deserve some blame, the hater will react much like in a Rant Inducing Slight
or Minor Injury Overreaction
and latch on to them as a convenient target. What's sad about this is that a hero who suffers from Samaritan Syndrome
may well let
the hater nurse this grudge if they actually did
fail, even in some minor way, out of overblown guilt. Some heroes will allow this even if they didn't
earn it to allow the hater an outlet, which usually comes back to haunt them as the hater goes on to exact Misplaced Retribution
An inarticulate dislike is (oddly) easier to quantify. The hater has a genuine dislike for the character, but either can't or won't put it to words. It may be that the hater feels insecure or jealous, and rather than face those feelings, they sublimate the dislike into a nebulous cloud of barely coherent Insane Troll Logic
directed at the character. Or it may be a truly irrational hatred
that has no basis in reality
. Because of this vagueness, the hater may end up disliking seemingly random traits of the character, which can be noted when it isn't an issue if other
people do it.
Lastly, ungrounded jealousy or prejudice stems from hating something that the character has no control over, such as being disabled or extremely beautiful
. While in these cases, the hater has a concrete "reason" and definable focus for their hate, it's just not rational to hate someone for something they have no control over. Now, if said character abused their disability or advantage to manipulate others or rested on their laurels, it wouldn't be this trope.
It bears repeating that in all of these cases, the hater may suffer from You Are What You Hate
due to Internalized Categorism
, and is sublimating the blame, guilt, or jealousy for some other thing the hated has, is, or has done into a more "acceptable" irrational hatred rather than face the ugly truth inside themselves. Getting the hater to notice this or admit to it usually requires that they Kick The Wrong Dog
in the pursuit of their prejudice.
Compare the Inspector Javert
, who pursues someone regardless of their culpability. The Armoured Closet Gay
's hatred of gays is usually born of this, and so is most hatred for any Category Traitor
. Sometimes overlaps with Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence
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Anime and Manga
- Naruto: This is a big part of Sasuke Uchiha's motives in the later half. While he had a perfectly legitimate reason to hate his elder brother Itachi for the murder of the entire Uchiha clan, he let himself get consumed with Revenge Before Reason. As a direct result, when he later learns that Itachi performed the massacre on orders from Leaf Village because the Uchiha were planning a coup, his craving for vengeance transfers over from Itachi to the Leaf Village as a whole for using his brother and living happy lives because of it.
- Vento of the Front in A Certain Magical Index despises the Science Side of the world because she and her brother were critically injured in a ride that claimed to be scientifically proven safe and doctors were able to save only one of them.
- A dominating theme in Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke.
- In One Piece, the leaders of the New Fish-Man Pirates hate humans for years of Fantastic Racism, but apparently never experienced any of it for themselves. Their hatred stems from the negative environment they grew up in, and have no personal grudge against mankind. It's described as a 'grudge without substance.
- Fisher Tiger, one of Fishman Island's heroic figures, also had an irrational hatred of humanity, though he did have that firsthand experience to a major degree when he was Made a Slave. He knew intellectually that good humans existed, but could never fully get over his own hatred. This resulted in his death when he refused a transfusion of human blood that could have saved his life.
- In the first El-Hazard: The Magnificent World OAV, Jinnai comes to view Makoto as a hated enemy and rival, for no other reason than he's Always Second Best when compared to him. Makoto in his turn, isn't even aware that his actions have been pissing Jinnai off.
- In Pokémon, Harley has an irrational hatred for May. It's later revealed that his dislike of her stems from an incident in his childhood, when a girl who looked like May stole his snack in kindergarden.
- Spider-Man "antagonist" J. Jonah Jameson, while almost never an outright villainous force, scratches the limits of the impossible in regards to his hatred of Spider-Man. He despises him with extreme passion, constantly referring to him as a menace, nevermind the fact that Spidey has saved Jonah's life, and New York and the world, on a regular basis. Whether or not there's an explained reason for it depends on the adaptation, but even when there is an excuse, it generally falls apart given everything Spider-Man's done for the world.
- He finally does figure out why◊. Though there's a number of other "reasons" (excuses) dislike of masked vigilantes, possibly the fact that he shows up in his newspaper, and possibly even the reason that just making a crusade after him sells more papers so the madder he gets the better the sales.
- Eddie Brock wasn't much better. His entire reason for hating Spider-Man was that Spidey unwittingly exposed his shoddy journalism. It took decades in real-time and years in comicbook time for Brock to get over it and become a better person.
- Lex Luthor's legendary vendetta against Superman has, over the continuities, various causes. All of them agree on the fact that Luthor, in truth has relatively little objective reason to waste so much time, money, and effort on attacking the Man of Steel beyond sheer jealousy. Superman himself has called him out on this numerous times, which only makes Lex hate him even more.
- Doctor Doom has built his entire career as a supervillain around spiting his old college pal, Reed Richards for a freak lab accident that left him disfigured. Reed didn't actually cause the accident or anything. In fact, he actually tried to warn Doom that his calculations had errors that could lead to disaster before the experiment began. Doom just ignored him out of arrogance. Doom's spent every waking moment since then trying to destroy Reed, his friends, and family because, otherwise, he'd have to admit Reed was simply smarter than him and that he made a mistake.
- General Ross's use to be obsessed in hunting down The Hulk. His motivation are a combination in his over protectiveness to his daughter Betty, and deep down he sort of envied Hulk's might and power.
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, the Lemony Narrator attempts to pin the blame of every terrible moment in Equestrian history on Celestia, even when it's clear that she had nothing to do with it. She tries to connect Celestia to events that had nothing to do with her, and seems to take great joy in relishing in her failures. Given that the fic is to cover all of Equestrian history, it makes for some great leaps in logic to reach her desired conclusions. But it's all Played for Laughs though.
- Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter fanfic Family Night has a bad case of Irrational Blame. He decides that it's Harry's fault Sirius died and that he won't come to the titular Family Nights that Hogwarts starts holding (four times a year the parents come in to take a look at their children's work) unless Harry improves his work ethic. It soon becomes clear that he has completely unreasonable expectations, insisting even as Harry works himself to the point of collapse that he isn't working hard enough. Not helped by the fact that Harry is already blaming himself and therefore thinks that Remus is being perfectly reasonable. Even Snape can see that Remus is being irrational in his treatment of Harry.
- The fact that he wears a flaming, demonically-grinning pumpkin head should be enough to indicate that Jack O'Lantern isn't exactly the sanest of people. However, his obsessive hatred of his Arch-Enemy Spider-Woman goes far beyond the enmity between most heroes and villains. Jack's hatred encompasses overinflated blame (Jack blames Spider-Woman for protecting the innocent bystanders he enjoys preying on and for interfering with his sick "fun"), ungrounded prejudice (because Spider-Woman didn't give in to her dark side the way he did) and inarticulate dislike (the fact that Spider-Woman uses her powers to protect innocent people when she could be wreaking all kinds of havoc makes Jack's blood boil) to the point where he spends half his time plotting larger criminal schemes and the other half of the time obsessing over Spider-Woman and how he wants to make her suffer.
- Sora in Lost Boys clings to severely overinflated blame of Ventus for destroying his home and ruining his life(but for Ventus's support, he really couldn't help, nor predict, Vanitas taking him over. He was honestly trying to help). Just the mere mention of his name, or any attempt to clear it, is enough to send Sora over the edge. In the sequel, Broken Heroes, when Ven wakes up, Sora is so driven with hatred and anger that he EXPLODES and reminds you why you shouldn't mess with him. If Kairi and Riku weren't there to stop him, it would be very likely Sora would have ended up killing Ven.
- Vale, the heroine of the Hunger Games fanfiction Some Semblance of Meaning, is usually a Horrible Judge of Character in that she trusts people she shouldn't. However, when it comes to Career tribute Obsidian, her hatred of him tends to fall into this. Sure, he is from District One (the home of a tribute who killed Vale's best friend in a previous Hunger Games) and is a trained killer, but he shows surprising kindness toward her and even saves her life more than once. Eventually, she does get over her hatred and warm up to him after they become allies.
- In Emancipation Dumbledore firmly believed that everything which conflicted with his plans for the Greater Good note was the fault of Snape and his evil Slytherin machinations.
- Fai to R!Syaoran in Shatterheart. Fai hates !RSyaoran for the actions of his clone who betrayed the group and ripped Fai's eye out despite knowing that Syaoran wasn't at fault and he attempted to stop his clone. To Fai's credit he does eventually realize how unfair he's being to Syaoran and does grow past it.
- Peace Forged in Fire: Defied. Morgan avoids the problem of her tactical officer Sahuel t'Khnialmnae being ex-Tal'Shiar, against whom Morgan's fellow captain D'trel has a pathological hatred, by ordering her command crew to not mention Sahuel's "prior affiliations" in D'trel's hearing.
- Lots of this in the Deryni works:
- Some members of the Camberian Council feel free to deride Morgan and Duncan for being half-breeds (having one human and one Deryni parent) as if they could choose their parents.
- In The Bishop's Heir, Caitrin twits Archbishop Loris over the failure of his assassin to kill Duncan McLain; in response, Loris mutters, "The archfiend Morgan came to his aid. He used his Deryni sorcery to heal him." Never mind that healing was a miraculous sign of Christ's divinity.
- Morgan, Duncan and other characters dissect anti-Deryni prejudice on the part of humans much the same way; people don't choose their innate talents any more more than they choose their physical traits or other skills, so it's better to consider what people do rather than what they are.
- Harry Potter: Severus Snape has always hated Harry and treated him like dirt throughout the entire series. While the two cultivate a genuinely antagonistic relationship with one another, nearly all of Snape's hatred towards Harry stems from his hatred of Harry's father James. James was a former Jerk Jock who bullied Snape when the two were in school together. However, James grew out of this kind of behavior by seventh year and would go on to sacrifice his life fighting Voldemort to try to save his family. When Harry has his first class with Snape, James Potter has already been dead for a decade. Personality wise, Harry and James are very different, however, Snape's hatred blinds him to that fact. Given that, Snape's hatred for James qualifes as this trope.
- The hatred Uncle Vernon, and to a lesser extent, Petunia, holds for Harry is unwarrented and unjust.
- Jane Rizzoli of the Rizzoli & Isles series of books is a plain/average looking woman who frequently displays an irrational hatred of beautiful women, as if they had any control over how they looked, and/or somehow stole their good looks away from her.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter, Eramus is always at Miranda. Even learning he was cursed to feel that way does not give him pause. Learning that he could have recovered what he had lost if only he had not kept blaming her for — that does give him pause.
- In The Wheel of Time, Gawyn Trakand displays this trope toward the main character, Rand. When second-hand news states Rand has done something terrible to Morgase, he believes it immediately and develops an all-consuming hatred for the man despite two loved ones who both defend Rand wholeheartedly. This includes misplaced/over-inflated blame as the terrible event is something for which Gawyn feels an emotional need to blame someone as he can't go back and change what happened; later it becomes ungrounded jealousy/prejudice due to Rand being the hero.
- Demandred, one of the series' main villains, displays an absolutely massive level of hate for Rand (originally for Rand's prior incarnation, Lews Therin) that far outstrips anything the Dragon ever did to him- at least from anybody else's perspective. From Lews Therin's POV, it was a friendly rivalry. From Demandred's, it was being repeatedly shown up for his whole life in every single aspect of his life, including height. When he finally snapped, it's said that he came to hate Lews Therin (and later Rand) more than anyone had ever hated anything, and for far less direct cause than many of his fellow Forsaken had to hate LTT. In the last book, however, Rand clearly does feel somewhat guilty over the fact that he, as Lews Therin, encouraged their rivalry and indirectly contributed to Demandred's deteriorating mental state.
- In Galaxy of Fear, the Arranda kids hate The Empire and every single Imperial they see. Well they would, they're orphans of Alderaan. But this series averts Black and White Morality in that while there's certainly plenty of evil in the Empire, it's emphasized in the story that parts of it do good and there are definitely good individuals in it. The kids even hate people who worked for it for a while, to their uncle's dismay.
- A Song of Ice and Fire. Cersei hates her brother Tyrion because she blames him for their mother's Death by Childbirth. Its in the later books do we find out Cersei heard of a prophecy saying she will be killed by her younger brother. Its implied she misinterpreted it.
Live Action TV
- In Scrubs, Dr. Cox has an irrational hatred of Hugh Jackman. John C. McGinley, his actor, jokes that he hates him because he's a better actor.
- Crais from Farscape had an irrational, borderline psychotic hatred of protagonist John Crichton, who accidentally caused the death of Crais's brother. He eventually admitted he was actually trying to protect his rapidly waning career.
- Morgana toward Guinevere in Merlin. The "official" reason is that Morgana is jealous of Guinevere's destiny in becoming Queen of Camelot but the build-up and the pay-off to this Story Arc has been less than satisfactory. On returning from a year-long absence from Camelot (that the audience never gets to see), Morgana instantly has no qualms about the betrayal, backstabbing and attempted murder of her dearest friend. No explanation is given for her sudden hatred, and by the time Morgana starts having prophetic dreams that Guinevere is in fact destined to be Queen, there is no sense of regret or hesitation in targeting Gwen. Instead Morgana jumps straight to homicide with lines like "I would rather drown in my own blood than see that woman on my throne." The sheer, inexplicable vehemence with which Morgana plots Guinevere's death is just...well, inexplicable.
- This is what Evil Queen Regina feels towards Snow White on Once Upon a Time. Regina's mother Cora puts the young Princess Snow in danger so Regina will rescue her, enabling Cora to marry Regina off to King Leopold. Snow is delighted by the idea of having a new mother, and Regina begins to care for her. However, Regina is in love with the stable boy, Daniel, so she doesn't want to marry Leopold. Snow discovers Regina and Daniel's affair, but basically understands Regina's explanation that although Leopold is a good man, Regina doesn't love him but instead loves Daniel and wants to be with him; she promises to keep their secret. Cora then tricks Snow into revealing Regina's secret, by claiming she only wants to help Regina be happy and by playing off of Snow's idealized concept of a mother due to the loss of her own. Cora then murders Daniel. Regina is angry at Cora, but inexplicably assigns at least as great a measure of blame to the child Snow White who was manipulated by the same harridan who destroyed her own youth, and dedicates the next four decades to efforts at destroying Snow's happiness.
- The Office is probably one of the most hilarious and famous examples. Michael's hatred of Toby has been a Running Gag on the show. Despite liking almost everyone else that he works with, Michael hates Toby with a passion. Michael explains that he hates Toby because "Toby is in HR, which technically means he works for Corporate. So he’s really not a part of our family." Toby constantly tries to tolerate Michael's rude behavior, tries to be nice to him, and doesn't have problems with anyone else. Michael even mocks Toby for being divorced and even rejects Toby's attempts to help Michael through tough times (The Deposition is probably one of the most famous examples). Ironically, the episode "Take your Daughter to Work Day" has Michael get along very well with Toby's daughter Sasha and is one of the only episodes where Michael is nice to Toby.
- Jim also showed signs of the Toby hate when he was left in charge in "Survivor Man." Toby, because Michael had made his birthday celebration a 5 minute party in the parking lot, calmly asks if he could have his own, since it was "Birthday Month" at the office. Jim had this to say in a head interview: Toby's great. He's great, but sometime he can be a little bit much. (mimicking Toby's voice)"I don't see the harm in that" Well, it's a cake, Toby, so come on!
- Amusingly, David Wallace, the Chief Financial Officer from Corporate, has a similar loathing for an HR worker named Kendall. It's every bit as bizarre as Michael's fixation, if not more so, since Wallace is shown to be one of the nicest characters on the show, and he brings it up during Jim's interview, which they were both being perfectly jovial in: "We have this very irritating HR guy here. He's probably the only person you're not going to like."
- On How I Met Your Mother Robin despises her co-worker Patrice; they've never had a single conversation that didn't involve Robin screeching at her. This despite Patrice being quite possibly the nicest, friendliest person since Mister Rogers.
- On Seinfeld Jerry and Newman had a mutal Irrational Hatred of each other, making them Sitcom Arch Nemeses. Both are prone to waxing poetical about how vile and detestable the other is, but these statements are usually devoid of actual reasons for their hatred.
- In Season 4, Joe Davola had an Irrational Hatred of Jerry after somehow deciding Jerry was responsible for Davola losing a job at NBC. Davola making plans to kill Jerry was a Running Gag throughout the season. Of course, Davola is mentally disturbed and spends most of the season off his meds.
- "The Fallen Goddess" Athena seems to be a magnet for it. She once cut a promo on how she first thought Maliah Hosaka disliked her for being a rookie, but she realized that was not it as time went on, so she did worked to "correct" every single issue Hosaka had with her till she was at her wits end. Maliah's answer to why she kept antagonizing Athena could be paraphrased as "You suck and I'm better than you." Meanwhile in SHIMMER, both Mercedes Martinez and Cheerleader Melissa have tried to cripple her for, basically being competent and not even the toughest opponent either had faced in the promotion.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, it is revealed that the reason Godot hates Phoenix is because he blames him for the death of Mia Fey, even though there wasn't really anything he could have done to save her. Eventually, he admits that he was really just desperate for someone to blame.
- In Aiyoku no Eustia, there is a whole special force dedicated to hunting and capturing people who (allegedly) have an infectious disease that causes them to grow wings. They are reviled and outcast by pretty much everybody. Which makes little to no sense considering that the plot-defining problem of that soaring city is the fear of falling out of the sky. Faced with that, having people with wings around should sound more like a glimpse of hope than a predicament. Needless to say, the winged ones are neither sick nor dangerous and Man is the actual problem.
- Susan from El Goonish Shive is a self-aware case. She knows that her dislike of men is irrational ever since she understood that it was little more than a backhanded excuse for her father being an unfaithful jerk. Despite this, she still can't help but instinctively mistrust mens' intentions.
- Ollie from Something Positive has an irrational hatred of Davan, to the point that he considers him his Arch-Enemy. He blames Davan for killing his directing career before it could really start, even though it was own mistakes concerning copyrights that killed his play. Davan actually feels bad about this. He's used to being hated, but only after he's done stuff to earn it. He doesn't think too much about it, though other characters warn him to be careful, since irrational hatred + resources to act on it (Ollie has a lot of money) = danger.
- In Commander Kitty, Zenith absolutely hates Nin Wah for being an "imperfect" cyborg. This seems to also extend to jealously over Nin Wah having her own button for the reader to buy when she doesn't.
- Hetty from Gunnerkrigg Court absolutely loathes her owner Adam, who she blames for trapping her in a doll's body, and pulls charming little tricks on him, like putting fiberglass in his bed. Keep in mind that Adam is just another court student, had nothing to do with the events that lead to his ownership of her and doesn't even know that he owns Hetty.
- Adam doesn't know he owns Hetty because he is completely unaware that she exists, and she perpetuates this ignorance!
- The most excuse Vriska Serket from Home Stuck ever gives for throwing Tavros off a cliff is "His weakness offends me!" Given Vriska's personality, she's almost certainly lying to herself, and her true motivations remain a common debate among fans.
- Family Guy: Quagmire's hatred for Brian plays with this. As he once blatantly pointed out, he has perfectly good reasons not to like Brian, however more than a few times he often thinks the worst of him for a minor inadvertent offense, leading him to excessively lash out verbally and physically.
- Meg herself called them out on how she's always being treated as a Butt Monkey, and very quickly discovered that without her in the family to — in her own words — "act as a lightning rod", the entire family turns on each other.
- Demona from Gargoyles has nursed a murderous hatred of humanity for over 1000 years because humans killed her clan. It's irrational because her clan only died because she betrayed the humans that liked/tolerated her clan to the humans that ended up killing them out of paranoia. This happened twice. In one episode, the Weird Sisters forced Demona to admit that she was far more culpable for the deaths of her kinsmen than humanity. After the trance was over, she angrily backpedaled and went right back to plotting genocide.
- On The Venture Bros., there may or may not be a reason why the Monarch is so obsessed with tormenting Dr. Venture. If there is one, we've never been told it, making the Monarch's constant arch-villainy against Venture come off as this.
- South Park Cartman has a irrational hatred of... well just about anything that pushes his buttons. It starts with jews, hippies, and gingers... and it goes on and on from there.
- One episode of Recess deals with the only kid in the school who doesn't like TJ, who is obsessed with why the guy doesn't like him. In the end, the person just tells him that he doesn't need a reason to dislike TJ. He just does.
- Will Harrangue from Ben 10: Ultimate Alien basically is to Ben Tennyson what Jameson is to Spider-Man; for no apparent reason, he obsessively hates Ben, constantly calls him a menace, spends thousands of dollars to build a Killer Robot to eliminate him and even praises alien invaders for getting rid of him.