Love to Hate

This villain trope is for the characters we love to hate.

"Love to hate" is a term used to describe villains we enjoy. We love them for various reasons, such as excellent character development, being hilarious, getting the best writing, having a memorable personality, or being lucky enough to have a top notch performance by their actor. But at the same time the fans still want to see the baddie get their comeuppance in the end. There is still hatred, after all. Also named Heel Hate.

Faux Affably Evil, Affably Evil, Laughably Evil, Magnificent Bastard, and Card-Carrying Villain are sub tropes for different reasons. Being a Large Ham definitely helps (see also Evil Is Hammy). An Anti-Villain is often one of these due to the character development they often get. A villain who's The Scrappy, or Creator's Pet is typically not eligible for this trope as are some villains who cross the Moral Event Horizon.

Not to be confused with Draco in Leather Pants, which is when a villain's fandom will gloss over the actual nastiness of a villain and insist that he or she is just misunderstood. Also not to be confused with when the heroes would love to hate the villain, but just can't manage it.

This is someone whom the fans enjoy and even maybe respect because of their unapologetic evilness. Their shamelessness is cathartic to us, and they retain their awesomeness as time goes by without villain decay.

In order to be eligible, a villain must be generally well regarded/well liked by said fandom while the same fandom still acknowledges they're a villain. Being here means that said villain is part of the pantheon of great villains. Therefore, it is possible for a Complete Monster to be listed here (for example, The Joker).


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Several villains in the Dragon Ball franchise, with Tao Pai Pai, Freeza, Cell, Buu, Broly and Cooler being this at best.
  • InuYasha: Naraku, and his Quirky Miniboss Squad minions Kagura, Kanna, Hakudoshi, and the Band of Seven all have their own legions of fans.
  • One Piece
    • Admiral Akainu: Manipulative Bastard, Determinator, and unstoppable Hero Killer. Akainu is many things, but a forgettable villain is never one of them.
    • Sir Crocodile, Arlong, Eneru, and Spandam as well. All of them unrepentantly evil but all so entertaining because of it.
    • Doflamingo as well. He is similar to Crocodile, terrorized Dressrosa for years without anyone even noticing, plus he is one of the few villains who are A Father to His Men . Didnt stop him from killing his own brother Corazon, though.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion gives us some unusual characters to hate: Bardiel - the angel that possessed Unit 03, causing Shinji to maim his best friend in the anime, and to kill him in the manga; Zeruel - the angel who nearly destroyed NERV HQ, nearly killed Misato and the Bridge Crew, then nearly killed Shinji; Arael - the angel who raped Asuka; Armisael - the angel who not only mimicked Rei's personality (or lack of it) deliberately, but also mocked her through her imitation and drove Rei to kill herself and her EVA, so that Shinji wouldn't be harmed by the angel; finally, the Mass-Producing EV As - the S2 Engine-equipped machines who fought Asuka, regenerated after she defeated them, devoured her EVA, and skewered her within it.
  • Digimon: Myotismon was far and away the record-holder for the most evil villain, until Kurata topped him by far. Both characters seem to be treated like The Joker in fandom - people can't get enough of talking about how so sick and twisted they are, but it's definitely love.
  • Monster: Titular character Johan Liebert, whose sheer evil is such that he becomes loved instead of hated.
  • Mirai Nikki: Yuno Gasai for being a unrepentant irredeemable mass murdering psychopath who just happens to be "cute" and causing more of the action than our male lead does out of her massive misunderstanding of "love" for him.
  • Several villains from the Gundam franchise:
  • Agon from Eyeshield 21 is this to parts of the fandom. He's just such an over-the-top depiction of a Jerk Jock (with absolutely no traces of a Freudian Excuse to justify it), that even those who despise the character will agree that the series was at its emotional best when Agon was the main antagonist.
  • Not strictly a villain, but Puella Magi Madoka Magica's Kyuubey has this going for him. Quite popular, and quite hated. However, this is also a big time case of Base-Breaking Character since there's plenty who flat out hate it. It gets murkier after Rebellion when he does something that causes him to lose much of his excuse.
  • Izaya from Durarara!!, at least to the part of the fandom that does not simply love him.
  • Dio Brando from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is well-loved by fans for his incredible dickheadedness, unabashed desire to use others and control the world, being smart, starting a memorable Memetic Mutation and being an all-around For the Evulz monstrous, bastardly cool villain.
  • Medaka Box: Kumagawa Misogi is a compulsive liar, manipulative, twisted, and pisses off the protagonist on a whim. Fans still love him because he's hilarious and entertaining character.
  • Team Rocket in the Pokémon Best Wishes series. The recurring trio Took A Level In Bad Ass and are now more straightforward villains who rarely show the silliness or softer side they used to flaunt, and are thus easier to dislike. Yet they still keep the flamboyant style, overconfidence, and eccentric motto recitals that they built their career on, which makes (most of) the audience love it when they're on-screen.
  • Two antagonists in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime:
    • Marik/Dark Marik from the Battle City arc. While Marik was Mr. Fanservice despite the acts he committed, Dark Marik was so twisted and Axe Crazy.
    • Dartz from Season 4. He's the most evil villain in the series history considering the things he's done compared to the other villains. What is even more amazing is that Dartz is from a Filler Arc.
  • Then there's Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL which has Vector. He has done terrible things not just to the heroes, but the other villains as well. This has caused the fandom to hate him, but also love him for being a Magnificent Bastard and a Large Ham.
  • The Homunculi from Fullmetal Alchemist, especially Wrath. Kimblee also gets a lot of love from the fanbase, for being the well-dressed Breaking Speeching bomb-throwing SOB that he is.
    • Envy is this for the saner contingent of the fanbase (those who don't try to put him in leather pants), since it's easy to see him as cool, yet still despise him not only for killing Maes Hughes, but for starting the Ishvalan War. Then there's Pride for being a Creepy Child and The Dragon to Father, plus how unsettling he is.
  • Fate/Zero:
    • Bluebeard/Caster, whose seiyuu shows the talent for the dramatique. Meanwhile, Fate/stay night has Kirei, who does Evil just-because, making a nice Foil for Shirou who does Good just-because. Both have their arses kicked with much gusto.
    • Bluebeard/Caster and his Master Ryuunosuke actually discuss this trope in-universe. Ryuunosuke claims that in his world-view, God is a playwright writing the greatest tale known to man and thus loves all of his characters no matter how wicked they are; after all, what good is a tale without a villain? Bluebeard embraces this vision and decides that the pair shall honor God by performing an act of villainy unmatched so far in Creation.
  • Light Yagami from Death Note. He is loved for his habit of outgambitting and manipulating everyone around him, as well as for his hamminess (this includes both his original VA, and dubbed VA). Though there is a subset of the fandom that either outright put him in leather pants, or root for him despite admitting to his malevolent nature.
  • Several villains from Fist of the North Star, especially Jagi, Amiba, and Souther. They are three of the most evil villains in the series and are very popular with the fans.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Shishio Makoto is a brutal Social Darwinist who causes many atrocities in the series, yet his odd sense of honor makes him the perfect adversary to Kenshin due to his genuine desire to make Japan strong.
  • Medusa from Soul Eater straddles this line, depending on whether you think her magnificent bastardry (to the point that in the manga, she gets exactly what she wants even in death) sufficiently compensates for her horrid abuse of Crona.
  • Nui Harime from Kill la Kill is a unique case because she holds this view In-Universe; her philosophy is that all extreme emotions are interchangeable, so the more you hate someone, the more you love them. She lives by this rule, and makes damn sure to earn everyone's love/hate. She fits out-of-universe as well, since she is vile and despicable with a Trollish streak that would make Yuuki Terumi proud, which makes it very satisfying to hate her guts.
    • Satsuki is also like this, before it's revealed that she was Good All Along. Her elitist, hypocritical, and outright reactionary attitude is sure to make the audience hate her as much as Ryuko does, especially since, unlike Nui, there's a greater chance of encountering someone like her in real life.
  • Ladd Russo from Baccano! is a deranged Serial Killer who brutally kills several people throughout the story, including a child. On the other hand, he's just so goddamn happy about what he does that it's hard not to like him, and the child he killed was an immortal, anyway.
  • Orochimaru and Danzo Shimura are considered the greatest villains in Naruto.
  • Elfen Lied
    • Director Kakuzawa though only in the manga, where he shows how much of a villain he is.
    • From the same manga we have the Unknown Man. Despite only making a small appearance, he quickly proves to be the most monstrous villain in the manga. A sadistic Psycho for Hire with the operative word being "psycho". He's also a depraved rapist and pedophile who nearly rapes Mayu. Yet because of this, he's one of the most memorable characters of the manga despite his brief appearances. If fans are talking about him, it's because they love talking about how sick and twisted he is.
  • Seraph of the End
    • Ferid Bathory. He has done some incredibly horrendous acts in the past, kills Yuu's entire adopted family when they tried to escape. but also his care-free attitude that makes him so hated, but also liked.
  • Tokyo Ghoul
    • Shuu Tsukiyama has tried to eat Kaneki and his friends multiple times. However his mannerisms Evil is Hammy and his constant moans of arousal for Kaneki's scent has made him one of the fandom's favorite characters to hate/love. He even has his own nickname: Trashiyama.

    Comic Books 
  • The Joker in Batman, due to being so dang funny.
  • X-Men:
    • Magneto. There's a reason he's never completely Heel-Faced.
    • Apocalypse from the same series, as one villain so dangerous and detestable even Magneto wants him dead.
  • Doctor Doom of Fantastic Four. He's an egotistical prick and dictator who blames everyone else for his own flaws, but few villains can match his sheer charisma and theatricality.
  • Lex Luthor of Superman. Being an ordinary human who serves as a credible arch-nemesis to the original Flying Brick through his sheer intellect and ingenuity has a way of doing that for a villain.
  • Captain America: The Red Skull, even though he's a former Nazi. It helps that he was only into Nazism for the Facism and mass murder.
  • Nack the Weasel of Sonicthe Hedgehog. He's a greedy, somewhat charming and amoral bounty hunter whose inability to win has won him many fans. Unlike other villains, Nack is smart enough to know that Sonic outclasses him and tries to work around this.
  • Loki of Thor. Gotta love the brotherly hate they feel towards each other, but gotta hate his attitude. Up until he died and came back as a mischievous, pre-teen Magnificent Bastard. It's only a matter of time until his inevitable turn back to evil, but right now he's all love. Or not. The child committed Heroic Suicide and a copy of the old consciousness took over his body. This old-new Loki's still not evil though, the kid was so much love that gave them yet another chance, which they're determined to use... sadly nobody else wants them to change, including an evil future version of themself, who is this trope full stop. Loki's truly Loki's own worst enemy. For what it's worth, there are fans (maybe even the majority of them), who would like them to stay split for the obvious reason to neither lose the version they love, nor the one they love to hate.

    Fan Fics 

    Film 
  • The Joker (played by Heath Ledger) from The Dark Knight. He is genuinely admired for being one of the most realistic representations of the original Joker, and for being incredibly monstrous and comical at the same time.
  • Erich von Stroheim is practically the Trope Namer, as "The Man You Love to Hate" was the nickname he earned for his silent-era villainy.
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Take Alan Rickman's usual villainous angle and add in plenty of glorious scenery-chewing.
    • Pat Buttram's Laughably Evil take in the 1973 Disney animated film is a lot of fun as well.
  • Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Sharp dresser, Deadpan Snarker extraordinaire (de rigeur for a character played by Alan Rickman), and thinks nothing of executing hostages for little more than wasting a few minutes of his time. To date, still the best villain of the franchise and one of the most memorable villains in the medium itself. As he says himself, he's no common thief; he's an exceptional thief.
  • The robbers, Harry and Marv, in the first two Home Alone films. They're just competent enough to pose an actual threat to Kevin, but also bumbling enough to be entertaining.
  • Star Wars:
    • Darth Vader, for being huge, imposing, having an awesome baritone voice, and just generally being a giant badass. Hints of pathos and Hidden Depths round out the package, although actually seeing into those depths in the prequels was far less satisfying.
    • Emperor Palpatine, for being so delightfully, card-carryingly, cacklingly, hammily EVIL. Unlike Darth, he is just as fun in the prequels, since we get to see him be a Magnificent Bastard and play the protagonists like fiddles on top of everything else.
  • Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. Who doesn't love a monster who sings like that?
  • Lampshaded by Tony Montana in his "Say Good Night to the Bad Guy" speech towards the end of the movie.
  • Col. Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds. He's far too much fun for his own good.
  • American Pie series: Though not a true villain, Steve Stifler, particularly the first two, has been dubbed this in the commentaries by the directors.
  • King Ghidorah of the Godzilla films, who's had the longest run of any villain in the franchise, and typically ranks just behind the Big G himself in popularity polls.
  • In Dollars Trilogy, Angel Eyes. Mainly for being played by Lee Van Cleef, and has become one of the most iconic Badasses of his era.
    • Also, Indio from For a Few Dollars More. Vicious. He spends much of his screen time in a drug-induced haze, but is still a scary and efficient villain.
  • Frank from Once Upon a Time in the West. He is admired for being amazingly evil, and in fact, the role of Henry Fonda in this movie was meant to be shocking to the audience, as Fonda, before this, always characterized by making the "good guy". His sarcasm and cynism certainly helps this trope.
  • In GoodFellas, interestingly, the most infamous (and most memorable) character in the entire film is Tommy De Vito.
    • Jimmy Conway as well, but rather is to be played by Robert De Niro, who always wears a growing fanbase that appears as a villain.

    Literature 
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Also Nom Anor, a recurring villain of the New Jedi Order are probably the two most popular Star Wars villains who never appeared in any of the movies; Thrawn because of his being Wicked Cultured and cool under fire, Nom for being deliciously and unapologetically treacherous and duplicitious while also being the Only Sane Man of his fanatical species, and both for being certified Magnificent Bastards
  • Harry Potter:
    • Dolores Umbridge is an interesting example. There are eviller villains in the series, to be sure, but none of them are quite so passive-aggressive about it, nor are many of them the type of people readers might actually encounter in real life. As a result, Umbridge is more fun to hate even than the Big Bad.
    • Bellatrix may be a better example, because she actually has enjoyable qualities as a character - she's badass, sexy, hopelessly insane, and Helena Bonham-Carter gave a fittingly psychotic performance in the films. By contrast, Umbridge's character mostly exists to be a Hate Sink.
    • Voldemort himself arguably qualifies, seeing how he was voted the #1 villain in a poll that decided which character was the best literary villain.
    • Draco Malfoy and his father Lucius, whenever they're not getting the Draco in Leather Pants treatment.
  • Venandekatra the Vile from the Belisarius Series can be like this. Just the sheer effort of cramming so much evil and vice into the same character is amazing.
  • Joffrey Baratheon from A Song of Ice and Fire. One of the biggest douches in the series, but so fun to loathe.
    • Also, Walder Frey (even in universe) and Ramsay Bolton.
  • Paradise Lost: Satan is incredibly well spoken and says almost all of the best lines of the story, making him the favorite character of just about every reader, yet he's such a self-contradictory and self-aggrandizing jerk that he's still an effective villain.
  • Dracula is this, whenever he's not receiving the Draco in Leather Pants treatment.
  • Spoiled Brat and the queen of Aesop Amnesia, Reva Dalby from Fear Street is a mean-spirited brat who has repeatedly endured horrific encounters each holiday season, swears to be a better person, and does absolutely nothing to follow up on it. R.L. Stine has stated that he loves writing her because she's so bitchy, so this was the intended reaction.

    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
    • Gul Dukat, the former Prefect of Bajor, is continuously scheming to retake the planet while sincerely protesting that he was the best thing to happen to it, and all those Bajoran rebels just didn't understand. He doesn't see any evil in himself, genuinely loves his daughter, and wants very badly to have a Worthy Opponent relationship with Captain Sisko—at the same time, he stalks Kira, throws himself in with a doomsday cult, and beats an injured Sisko with a crowbar at one point. More often he gets Draco in Leather Pants, but Marc Alaimo's nuanced and charismatic performance means that he's universally considered a great character.
    • Weyoun, played by Trek veteran Jeffrey Combs, is another popular villain. Weyoun has smarm down to a science (helped along by genetic engineering), always trying to convince whoever he's talking to that they really will appreciate that dagger in their back, it's a mark of the new friendship between them and the Dominion. The moments when he experiences Cloning Blues give him just enough sympathy.
    • Kai Winn is the queen of passive-aggressive behavior. She is almost universally reviled by fans because of just how well-written she is (many can say they know someone like her on a small scale). She's nearly as smarmy as Weyoun and bitter at Sisko for taking her place as Bajor's religious leader; it's a plot twist if she shows up and isn't the cause of the A-Plot. Her actress, Louise Fletcher, compared her to a pope: not the international modern versions, but the ruthless, conniving medieval pontiffs who made the Inquisition famous.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Alfred Bester may have not been the Big Bad of the entire series, but every time his shuttle arrived unannounced on the station, both the viewers and the officers at flight control and customs instantly knew that he came to do something horribly and unspeakably cruel to some people on the station. And it would be awesome. Not helped by the fact that he is the head of the agency that protects society from criminal and insane telepaths and when he takes part in an operation personally, he's usually Necessarily Evil. But he doesn't need to be so smug and boastful about it all the time.
      • The major exception is when a business magnate comes up with a diabolical plan to enslave all telepaths with a virus. As he explains it with his calm fanaticism, your major reaction will be that you'll want to warn Bester of this threat, although the means how Bester does learn of it is despicable in itself.
    • To a lesser extent Neroon, one of the leaders of the Minbari Warrior Caste. He is a strong contestant for the shows greatest badass, having it made to the top in the galaxy's most powerful military where Asskicking Equals Authority. For him, he and his fellow warriors are the only ones capable of saving the Galaxy in a war that started a thousand years ago, while having to put up with incompetent politicans and priests, and he doesn't take crap from anyone, having no hesitation to kill everyone who gets in his way. But unlike most characters, he doesn't seem to seek any personal gain, doing what needs to be done.
    • Mr. Morden. Nearly every time he appeared, he exuded a massive aura of confidence and menace that let the viewer know he was up to no good. He was the leading Manipulative Bastard of the series, in part because the "associates" he represented could grant many services for those he wished to manipulate. He also wore a nice suit.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Master. Always evil, always hammy, always magnificent.
    • Davros as well. There's a reason even casual fans know his "to hold in my hand" speech.
  • Sue Sylvester from Glee is so petty and nasty and just so entertaining. Even people who dislike the show feel she does a great job.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The evil Joffrey (like his book counterpart) is so despicable that his actor Jack Gleeson gets a lot of praise from the fandom for making him so easy to hate. It helps that he's so often and so thoroughly put in his place by characters like his uncle Tyrion (Tyrion slapping Joffrey is a major meme) and grandfather Tywin.
    • Tywin himself, even more so than his book counterpart, if for no other reason than being portrayed by the incredibly charismatic Charles Dance. A Deadpan Snarker and nearly always the smartest guy in the room. He rules his family (and often the Seven Kingdoms in every way that matters) with an iron fist and can often be pointlessly cruel, but his perfect poise and utter lack of self-doubt make it fascinating to watch him work.
  • Pete Campbell from Mad Men, while not necessarily a "villain," has this affect on a lot of viewers, as a creepy, shameless climber with few sympathetic qualities (and those who exist seem to exist within his non-sympathetic ones - e.g. his greater awareness of social progress and attempts to get the other writers and execs to realize this, is something he leverages to advance his career).
  • 'Dirty' Den Watts from EastEnders was a classic soap example.
  • Charlie Gimbert from Lovejoy 'Smooth and oily and yet hard as nails.'
  • 24: Ira Gaines, Mandy, Nina Meyers, Stephen Saunders, Christopher Henderson, Charles Logan, Jonas Hodges, and Margot Al-Harazi for actual threats-to-America villains. Specifically for the political storylines, one can't ever go without mentioning Sherry freaking Palmer.
  • Once Upon a Time: Most of the villains, like Rumplestiltskin, Regina, and Captain Hook, quickly went through badass decay with their sympathetic backstories and quests for redemption. Peter Pan, on the other hand, is well-loved for finally being a villain that's content to be nothing more than an obnoxious, Magnificent Bastard, pint-sized piece of shit. As of series 4's finale, two other villains managed to keep their evil awesomeness
    • Zelena has kind of a sad backstory, but apart from the supernatural elements it's just really mundane, and mostly used to highlight that she made bad choices. She goes after a much more popular character who had it worse and did nothing to her, only to get defeated in apparent Badass Decay... and then come back stronger, crazier and magnificently bitchy. Her only redeeming qualities are her honesty (to herself), her courage, and her determination to work as hard as she can to get the life she feels she deserves. To top it off, in an alternate reality where her life would be perfect, she's still a ridiculously spiteful Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, for no reason.
    • Cruella has a comically tragic backstory that explains everything she did, we swear ! It features a stuffy abusive mother who hates jazz music and fun, mysteriously becomes a serial widow, locks her daughter up in an attic, destroys her favorite flowers and sends her dalmatians to intimidate her baby daughter. Except mommy had to lock her up because Cruella was a child serial killer who used her beloved toxic trumpet flowers to poison her father and stepfathers. The attic was her mother's only alternative to actually sending her own flesh and blood to jail, and the dalmatians were her mother's only companions and protectors. None of it stops Cruella from killing the dogs and her mother, make herself a coat, and plan a killing spree. Dresed like a fabulous flapper. And occasionally playing Angry Birds.
  • He's not exactly a villain, but in Leverage, Magnificent Bastard John Sterling. Never. Loses (by Word of God) — and yet, despite the trouble he makes for Our Heroes, you can't help but enjoy every moment he's on screen.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Lord Zedd, as he was one of the scariest, and badass villains in his first appearence as well as one of those not based on Sentai footage. He even retains some of this after his Villain Decay as it can be seen that he actually had more victories AFTER his marriage to Rita than before it.
    • Through a non-canon example IVAN OOZE from the movie. He's bound to make you laugh at some point in the movie. Being played by Paul Freeman certainly helps.
    • Astronema, for her Evil Is Sexy looks and attitude, badassery, and much darker personality compared to the earlier villains.
    • Trakeena, very similar to Astronema, but with only a more genuinely evil personality and desire to destroy the Power Rangers. It helps that she actually developed from a Spoilt Brat into a vicious alien warlord capable of holding her own against the Rangers and sending her own men to destroy her enemies as suicide bombers.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Count Radiguet from Jetman, considered one of the most evil villains ever produced by Sentai and loved for his cool design, badass scenes and his interactions with his own allies and the Jetmen, while hated at the same time for his sadistic personality combined with the horrible things he inflicted on the Jetmen.
    • Long from Geikaranger, for having a badass final form and being a Manipulative Bastard easily able to match the aftermentioned Radiguet in terms of vileness.
  • Kilgrave from Jessica Jones is arguably the most disgusting and repulsive villain in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yet, David Tennant's natural charm and charismatic performance shines through and make every scene he appears in a disturbing highlight.

    Music 
  • Ice Cube claimed to be "The Nigga Ya Love To Hate" on his debut album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, because of the firestorm of controversy surrounding him at the time.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The role of a heel wrestler is to get the audience to hate them in a way that makes them long to see said heel wrestler get humiliated and ultimately be defeated. If a heel is not a wrestler or someone similarly punch/choke/stretchable, then their job is to make the fans want to see the heel wrestler get punched/stretched/choked all the more. If someone becomes hated in a way that fans do not want to see them at all, that's X-Pac Heat. For instance, fans could make money selling rocks to throw at Dutch Mantel and Ox Baker, two of WWC's most successful heels; while The Gangstas (New Jack, Mustafa, D'Lo Brown) ended up scaring people away from Smokey Mountain Wrestling (not hate, fear, which was bad for business), and X Pac matches were deemed to be good bathroom breaks (the worst for business).
  • Breakout star Gorgeous George was hated by audiences, but he was also the highest paid athlete in the country, showing how vital a good heel can be.
  • Fans prefer Edge as a heel.
  • Chris Jericho is this in spades. No matter what, even when he is the most despicable heel in the company (especially during 2008 in WWE), fans just can't get enough of him and look forward to seeing him get every bit of Laser-Guided Karma he might have coming to him. He is just so charismatic that he can play both sides equally as convincingly.
  • Ring of Honor fans had a special hatred for Jimmy Rave. They would bring toilet paper rolls to the shows for the purpose of throwing it at him in place of the usual streamers.
  • When UltraMantis Black declared his fatigue regarding the human species and became a super villain, he was met with chants of "Oh Thank God" in Chikara. Apparently they had been waiting for an excuse to boo him.
  • Vickie Guerrero was one of the prime examples, until her last appearance....
  • Which was against Stephanie Mcmahon, who belongs here as well. As of August 2014, she and The Authority are possibly the most hated faction in the WWE.
  • It's no surprise that Steph is here, as her father was one of the best heels of all time: Vince McMahon.
  • Bully Ray seemingly goes out of his way to be a heat magnet, and it works magnificently. Case in point: Lockdown 2013, where his betrayal of the Hogan family as president of the Aces & Eights got energy drink cans tossed into a caged ring from all over the arena.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Virtually any "villain" faction from Warhammer 40,000 will have its own dedicated fans and players:
  • Chaos Warriors in Warhammer. Contrast with Chaos Daemons due to Tier-Induced Scrappy status.
    • There are a few characters, for example; Nagash the Undying. He usurped the throne, almost single-handedly destroyed a nation and planned to turn the world into a realm peopled by only undead obedient to him; he's the most feared and far-reaching villain in-universe outside of the Chaos Gods. At a meta level, when Games Workshop started the End Times, to get everyone attention they opened with literally bringing him back from the dead.
  • Exalted: The Deathlords have something to hate for everyone, but the biggest target for love-to-hatedom is Mask of Winters.
    • Chejop Kejak is the Anti-Villain that any Solar players would love to hate. This is the guy who spends every day manipulating everyone and everything just so he can tell himself that Usurpation was the Right Thing. He don't care about how many Fair Folks / Death Lords / Third Circle Demons you slaughter, to him he's always right and you're always wrong. And he's got 50 or so fate-ninjas to shut you up, even though said fate-ninjas really should be directed in helping you saving the world.
  • Individual villains in Dungeons & Dragons number in the thousands. Many are forgettable, but some have become beloved of fans for being a Magnificent Bastard (Raistlin, Vecna, Fzoul Chembryl) or for being That One Boss (Acecerak is probably the foremost example.) Since individual villains inevitably die at some point, evil organizations are even more common as the faction players love to take on - the Archdukes of Hell, the Zhentarim, or the Scarlet Brotherhood, for example.

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas:
    • Tenpenny is a corrupt, self-serving bastard who's behind some pretty despicable acts, but he's often highly entertaining and gets some of the best lines in the game. His voice actor certainly helps.
    • Ryder as well. He's a favorite among the fandom, as he manages to do enough humor during missions, in spite of being a megalomaniac jerk. Also notable for his voice actor, who is the rapper MC Eiht.
    • Interestingly, Ray Bulgarin from Grand Theft Auto IV has a large fanbase, but mostly is because him is a flatly efficient antagonist.
  • Kefka in Final Fantasy VI. He's an unapologetic sadist who also throws in plenty of Large Ham moments and several of the game's best lines. He also tops off an epic Final Boss fight that manages to thematically complete all of the themes of the game. Also, the theme to said final battle is a multi-movement tour de force that remains a fan favorite to this day.
  • Seymour. Such a detestable Smug Snake, but oh so fun to loathe.
  • Yuna from Breath of Fire IV game can arguably be counted, as well. Despite being a Smug Snake and Karma Houdini, he is considered to be one of the best villains in the series by most of the fandom.
  • Eliphas the Inheritor and Gorgutz in Dawn of War. The former for his dark charisma and wit, the later for laughs.
  • Omega from Mega Man Zero 3. Despite being a one shot villain, he's easily one of the most popular in the franchise, earning him a spot as an Ensemble Dark Horse and Bonus Boss in Mega Man ZX. Contrast with Weil who benefits from Diabolus ex Machina retcons.
    • Weil earns a special place in Mega Man history for being one of the few recurring Mega Man villains not to suffer from Villain Decay. Rather than being the Final Boss in every game like Wily and Sigma (who were turned into complete jokes because of it,) he keeps to manipulating things from the background, only personally taking on Zero in the final game of the Zero series.)
  • Prometheus and Pandora from Mega Man ZX due to how their battles never fail to entertain, especially the one where you fight both of them at once.
  • Vanitas from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is starting to get this. Despite being associated with and created by Master Xehanort, it seems that no amount of evil can quite push him past the Moral Event Horizon in the eyes of the fans, even though he's Made of Evil.
    • Like the Sephiroth example above, there are Organization XIII fans who aren't so eager to get them in the leather pants. These fans concede that Evil Is Cool (and sometimes sexy) but point out that they are absolutely the bad guys.
    • Master Xehanort himself. His debut game established his Magnificent Bastard creds, but the reveal that he's been gathering copies of himself from many timelines, and made plans for several potential futures further cranked up his competence, effectiveness as a villain and dastardliness all at once.
  • Bowser from Super Mario Bros.. He gets to come back from just about everything, from burning in lava to falling to the bottom of a very deep pit, because he's such an entertaining boss — his popularity is such that he named the Go-Karting with Bowser trope because people want to play as him in sports games and other spin-off titles.
    • As well as the Koopalings. They, like their father, have two-dimentional motives and a mean streak, but each makes for an entertaining boss nonetheless.
    • And Fawful from Mario & Luigi. He went from being The Dragon to Cackletta to a salesman to a full-fledged Big Bad over the course of three games. He also speaks in Engrish and uses hilariously clumsy metaphors and similes. He's so entertaining and yet so terrifying at the same time that he made quite the impact on the fanbase.
  • Ganon(dorf) from The Legend of Zelda. His appearance, personality and very nature have evolved and varied vastly from game to game, but he provides the player, like Bowser, with a villain who's perfect to hate while still being cool and highly competent. He's become the third member of the Power-Wisdom-Courage Triforce dynamic with Zelda and Link, with a well-established Memetic Badass reputation.
  • Skyward Sword has Ghirahim, the camp but creepy villain who's become very popular with fans. And while not necessarily a villain, Groose was loved for being a hilarious Large Ham even before he stopped being a jerk to Link.
  • Dr. Eggman/Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog. A rare case of Villain Decay actually making him more popular (due to being more sympathetic). Contrast with Eggman Nega.
    • Also Mephiles the Dark, one of the few redeeming things about the 2006 game.
  • Most villains from the Metal Gear Solid series except Volgin. Many of those examples are also Anti Villains themselves.
  • A rare exception to the Smug Snake not being eligible is Zetta from Makai Kingdom. Hilarious to watch, and intentionally done to be a parody of the Smug Snake.
  • Gig from Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. One of the most evil characters Nippon Ichi has ever made, but done with such awesome comedic wit and more awesome acting (Yuri Lowenthal FTW) that he is practically universally loved by the Nippon Ichi fan base.
  • Lezard Valeth of Valkyrie Profile. Somewhat problematic because half of his fanbase is in the Draco in Leather Pants camp, but even those that find him abhorrent believe the series wouldn't be half as good without him.
  • Erol from the Jak and Daxter series, who is a colossal Jerk Ass to Jak from the second his character is first introduced to just before he blows himself up. As if that isn't enough, he comes back from the dead in the third game and takes over the position of Big Bad.
  • General Sarrano from Bulletstorm, who taunts and swears nonstop at the player until you are FINALLY able to kill him at the end of the game...or so you think.
  • SHODAN and her/its speeches are essentially the main draw of the System Shock series. No other villain makes their taunting feel so bizarrely immediate, or so strangely personal.
  • BlazBlue: Both Hazama and Relius Clover exude this trope to the max. Hate their depravities, but admire their awesomeness while doing so, making them really solid villains to the series. Hazama started losing this as the series went on, but then Chronophantasma brought in a playable version of his alter-ego Terumi, winning him a few points back.
  • Dragon Age: Origins gives us Rendon Howe and Loghain Mac Tir. In contrast to the incoherently violent, Always Chaotic Evil Big Bad of the game, Howe and Loghain had identifiable intelligences, with dialog that provided players heightened impetus. The battle with the Archdemon has inevitability beyond the need for motivation, but the confrontation with Loghain is character-driven, and approaches with increasing dramatic tension.
  • More than anyone else in Saints Row 2, Shogo Akuji, leader of the Ronin, so much that his fate goes unpitied, and makes Ax-Crazy Johnny look reasonable. And almost as hated is Maero's girlfriend Jessica. Perhaps the comparison to these two makes the Big Bad look a little more sympathetic; by the time of his confrontation, the player's character has generated a little of this trope on himself/herself.
  • Nearly any villain from the Ace Attorney series. Each villain is thoroughly explored and wonderfully played. Case in point, Matt Engarde. He drove a woman to suicide, had a man assassinated, and had Maya Fey kidnapped as bargaining chip, at which point she was nearly starved to death. Why? To preserve his image. He also manages to sneak a glass of bourbon into the detention center. His reveal to Phoenix Wright was top notch, and the fact that he taunts you about Maya's capture makes him all the better. He forces a Sadistic Choice on Phoenix (get him convicted and have Maya killed, or get him off the hook for the sake of Maya) that makes him question his moral beliefs, but Phoenix can turn it around and turn Engarde's choice-forcing back at him (Engarde pleads guilty and is presumably executed or given life in prison, or Engarde pleads not guilty and is assassinated by the very man he hired the moment he's out of police custody) for one of the most satisfying moments in the game.
  • Ridley from Metroid, beloved for his design, which is badass to the hilt, and for his apparent Joker Immunity, as well as the Awesome Music that tends to accompany his fights.
  • Pokémon Black and White: So much so for Ghetsis (the leader of Team Plasma) that fans were ECSTATIC when a clip from the trailers showed that he will be returning in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, with a legendary of his own no less!
  • Iris from RosenkreuzStilette. Even though she's a Smug Super, she's so cute that she's able to infatuate anyone into loving to hate her.
  • Saren Arterius from Mass Effect and, once finally revealed, his boss, Sovereign. Few villains are as effortlessly terrifying.
  • The Thalmor from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Almost Nazi Elves, the fans adore massacring any Thalmor patrols they see on the road for a variety of reasons, not limited to their smugness, various acts of dickery, and complete openness about trying to kill or enslave anyone who opposes or looks directly at them. They get more hate than any of the series' heralds of the apocalypse! As cherry on the top, if you dig into the obscure lore one can find that the Thalmor in their own way are would-be heralds of the apocalypse.
  • In Punch-Out!!, Aran Ryan and Super Macho Man are booed on sight for good reason (the former for being a blatant cheater and the latter for being an egotistical Jerkass), and yet they both have quite a few fans in real life; especially Aran, whose craziness and cheating made him one of the most memorable opponents.
  • Alex from the Golden Sun series. He's among the few fictional characters to graduate from Smug Snake to Magnificent Bastard over the course of three games and still come out as an Ensemble Darkhorse.
  • Possibly the most popular villain in the Suikoden franchise is Prince Luca Blight from 2 for this reason. He is an unrepentantly cruel, deranged sociopath who commits horrific attrocities throughout the game; from slaughtering bands of children to outright genocide. Yet, because he is so over the top while still being terrifying, combined with his impressive track record in battle, he is often seen as the most memorable part of the game.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend: Doctor Shuu. He's an unpologetically Ax-Crazy Mad Scientist who literally murders you in his romantic route and is pretty creepy otherwise... and he takes to the role so well, you can't help but love the bastard. He's even this in-universe, as during one route in Holiday Star the human girl comments on how much she misses the fluffy little heretic.
  • Neyla of Sly 2: Band of Thieves. Intended to be a Hate Sink, but she has spawned plenty of fan art, and as of Thieves in Time, plenty of fan theories link her with Penelope's sudden Face–Heel Turn.
  • The 5th installment of Umineko No Naku Koro Ni introduces Erika Furudo. She's a (self-proclaimed) Great Detective who washes up on Rokkenjima and proceeds to hijack the gameboard. She's a Canon Sue, Parody Sue and Black Hole Sue and while the narration won't stop gushing over her the characters in-universe can't stand her especially after She pins all the murders on Natsuhi, kills Beatrice, gets into a fight with Maria over candy and makes her cry and tricks Battler into a logic error with a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. Erika is completely ruthless and amoral. Despite that she is a fairly popular character. Also in-universe Battler acknowledges her as an opponent in the end and is upset at her absence at the after party. Her master Bernkastel may also qualify after becoming the Big Bad.
  • Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2 is a character who goes out of his way to insult and belittle the player characters but in such a way that he's a little bit awesome in the process. By the end of the game, you want him dead but he's entertained you for hours.
  • Xenoblade gives us the despicable and utterly deplorable Metal Face. He's an arrogant, sadistic brute, a colossal Troll, and a massive Smug Snake of the highest order. He killed Shulk's best friend Fiora during the raid on Colony 9 and later taunted Shulk about her lovely screams. Yet it's because he's such a despicable bastard that makes him one of the most memorable characters in the whole game. Tim Watson's hammy performance definitely helps.
  • Hades from Kid Icarus: Uprising. He's sadistic, cruel, and a massive Troll, but he's also one of the most entertaining characters in the whole game with his hammy, snarky, and flirtatious attitude. Scott Bullock's killer voice acting really sells it. By the time you finally fight him, you'll wanna kick his ass, but he's kept you laughing for hours.
  • Deathshead, Frau Engel, and her lover Bubi from Wolfenstein: The New Order have this trope in spades. All of these three are sadistic monsters and we love them all for being just that. This trope was also somewhat reflected in Yahtzee's review of the game.
    Yahtzee: One of the first things we do is watch a soldier shoot a room full of hospital patients before we stab him right up the lebensraum, and the principal villains only need to smile and play card games to become infinitely hateable.
  • Yuuya Kizami from Corpse Party. A sociopath who spends the entirety of the game hunting down and viciously murdering his classmates and friends. Also one of the most popular characters in the fandom, largely in part due to an amazingly hammy performance from Tomokazu Sugita that makes his deluded arrogance so fun to watch.
  • Undertale:
    • Flowey, a talking flower. Looks silly and childish, right? Well, his first course of action after introducing himself to you is to trick you into running into bullets aka "friendliness pellets", then soon afterwards changing from his innocent-looking smile into one of his signature Nightmare Faces while declaring his intent to kill you. This and his subsequent, spoilery appearances make for well-lauded sources of Nightmare Fuel, especially in the Neutral path when he force-closes the game on you, hijacks the game and your save file, and shows up in a terrifying One-Winged Angel form capable of using Save Scumming against you. Never have the words "FILE x SAVED/LOADED" (commonly associated with emulator savestates) been so effectively terrifying.
    • Jerry, The Friend Nobody Likes, who is "spared" by conspiring with the other monsters to ditch him mid-battle, and is an unbelievably durable Stone Wall just to make sure murdering him on the Kill 'em All run is just as annoying. And even then, the Fallen Child on a "No Mercy" run is willing to spare him at the start of battle, which has been interpreted as either the Child not wanting to bother taking the time to kill him, or deciding that having him be an obnoxious presence to other monsters is more cruel than just killing him outright. Thanks to all this, hating Jerry is more a fandom in-joke than any actual expression of malice. Even the "hate art" focuses mostly on how much the other characters hate him.
  • Monokuma. He's a teddy bear who cracks bear puns like no one's business, has an awesomely twisted theme song, and indulges in innuendos and black comedy. He's also more than happy to manipulate high schoolers into murdering each other for no reason other than to make them suffer ultimate despair, crushing their hopes and dreams at every opportunity. And yet, he's proven to be on of the most popular characters in the entire series.
  • Tubbs fromm Neko Atsume is a Fat Cat with a tendency to come into the player's yard and wolf down an entire food bowl instead of just a small bite like all of the other cats, then lounge next to the bowl with a smug, give-no-craps look on their face. Oh, and Tubbs will only eat food if it was paid for; they won't accept the free Thrifty Bitz. They're also one of the most popular cats amongst fans, who adore Tubbs because of these habits.
  • Dark Souls 3: Aldrich and Sulyvahn, are the leaders of The Church Of The Deep and the most evil characters the Dark Souls series. In stark contrast to the other foes found in the series, the two are completely unambiguously evil committing an abundance of atrocities either for power or pleasure. Yet they both have very large fanbase where discussions are always made on how awesome they look like as bosses and how hard they are to defeat as bosses. They are loved by Dark Souls veterans for putting such a challenge, while new comers hate them for the same thing. This all make it extremely satisfying for both parties to have them killed by there hands.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Clio Gabriella of Survival of the Fittest, full stop. This is a girl who relishes her kills. Yet to quote one of the members of the site:
    Clio is an absolute bitch who will eventually get what's coming to her. But, you know, Clio could easily be a character that I actually WOULD hate just on principle alone, were it not for how she was written.
  • The Federal Epidemic Containment Agency (FECA) from the live zombie game/event Dead Town. Within the narrative, FECA agents routinely shoot at the protagonists, even calling air strikes on them and more the less ignoring zombies to instead attack the heroes. The Dead Town creators told me that FECA merchandise is the most popular they sell. I have a button with a cartoon man in a gasmask that reads, "FECA: We're Here To Help." Even though FECA did not help me when I played Dead Town! They're fun to hate!
  • RWBY has the wisecracking Affably Evil Roman Torchwick. He's a sadistic criminal who annoys everyone he meets...but the show would be less funny without him, which leads to his death when Cerebus Syndrome kicks in.
    • Adam Taurus cements himself as this in his brief appearance in Volume 3. Even the show's writers are disgusted by him, and to say the fandom would really like to see him get his comeuppance is an Understatement. Brutally maiming Yang, one of the most-universally liked characters on the show, will do that. Word of God also suggests that Adam was an abusive Bastard Boyfriend to Blake in her time in the White Fang.
    • Co-Dragons Mercury and Emerald also get some of this, especially Mercury, who is a snarky Jerk Ass who is one of the most capable fighters in the series. It helps that the fight scenes that he is involved in tend to be some of the best in the show. The "hate" part comes into play mainly due to their involvement in Yang being framed, and then topping it by murdering Penny.
  • Aunt Despair and Uncle Lies from The Nostalgia Critic are horrible people who traumatize their kids (and treat Critic like shit), but they're ensemble darkhorses because a lot can relate to knowing parents like them, and Uncle Lies being like Ask That Guy Back from the Dead really doesn't hurt.

    Western Animation 
  • Osmosis Jones: Thrax a.k.a. The Red Death - one of the deadliest and coolest germs out there.
  • South Park: Eric Cartman (after crossing the Moral Event Horizon). Most of time he's just so utterly despicable that you just want to punch in the face, repeatedly. (So it was extremely satisfactory when Wendy did exactly that at some point.) However, if you remove him from the show, it suddenly becomes a lot less funny.
  • Galaxy Rangers: The Queen of the Crown - you don't often see a villainess with that kind of leverage over The Hero. Nor are eighties cartoon foes that creative with Mind Rape.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Nightmare Moon also has her share of followers, being the Superpowered Evil Side of an Badass Princess. Of course, since her plan was to bring The Night That Never Ends (and in order to achieve this she was willing to kill members of the main cast) she is less loved by some and more respected by others.
    • Discord. Being Laughably Evil makes him fun to watch but very easy to hate. Being the thinly-veiled expy of Q (complete with sharing the same actor) went a long way to making him this and earning him the Fan Nickname DisQord. Not so much "Hate" now that he's performed a Heel–Face Turn, but he's still pretty damn cool nonetheless.
    • Queen Chrysalis, a cunning Manipulative Bitch with shapeshifting powers, she fooled the entire cast (except Twilight), and her plan led to defeating Celestia in a fight and a commendable Near Villain Victory. On top of that she's so nasty, hammy and outright intriguing that fans can't not admire her note .
    • Sombra, though he never had the charm that made the latter three villains so engaging, was intriguing to the fandom because of his Sauron-esque portrayal. Couple that with the fact that they showed outright pony slavery in his backstory and you have a villain the fandom loves to portray negatively in fanfiction and fanart.
    • Tirek showed up and completely laid waste to Equestria in his first appearance, blew up Twilight's library (nearly killing Owliscious in the process), threw Celestia, Luna, and Cadance into Tartarus, and engaged Twilight Sparkle in an epic, Dragonball Z-esque duel.
      • Starlight Glimmer, for a while, for being a villain who outright stole the cutie marks from ponies, thus denying them what made them special. Her end-of-season arc revolved around time travel to ensure that Twilight and co. never saw the sonic rainboom and never got their cutie marks as a result, in doing so always leading to an apocalyptic scenario for Equestria in some way every time. Until she was redeemed at the end of the episode.
    • The Great And Powerful Trixie is an interesting case, in that she's been one of the fandom's Ensemble Darkhorse characters since she showed up (a lot of credit is usually thrown Sethisto's way for this). Up until her return in "Magic Duel," she was one of the fan-favorite antagonists to use in fanfiction and the like because of how well of a foil she served to Twilight.
    • The Flim-Flam Brothers have a catchy song, but continue to try to con the Apple Family out of Ponyville, leading to their current stature within the fandom.
  • The evil and creepy Professor Pericles the parrot from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. He is evil, sadistic, and very ruthless. Sometimes, he would even haunt people, or would try to murder the Mystery Incorporated, or even his master, Mr. E.
  • Skullmaster of Mighty Max was an incredibly powerful, threatening and dangerous villain who threatened to eat a child's heart in the opening scene of the first episode, but with the voice of Tim Curry there's no way not to love this hateful monster. The fact that he never suffers Villain Decay, but instead becomes significantly more threatening as the show progresses only sweetens the deal.
  • The Lich from Adventure Time is admired for being awesomely evil, frightening, standing out as a serious villain in an otherwise lighthearted show, and being clever and legitimately threatening. He even managed to have his fans before his debut episode due to how intriguing he was in promos.
    • Big Destiny as well. Despite being a greedy bully, he's entertaining to watch and has some memorable lines.
  • Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. He manages to be quite admired in fandom, especially for his efficiency as a villain in the first seasons.
    • Sideshow Bob. More or less the same as Mr. Burns. In more recent seasons, he has become quite the Magnificent Bastard with his plans to kill Bart, making him even more beloved.
  • Rattlesnake Jake from Rango. In fact, he became in the favorite, even more than the Big Bad.
  • Randall and the Ashleys from Recess have always tried to make any unpopular kids suffer. It helps that they receive no consequences for their actions.
  • Bianca Dupree from Beverly Hills Teens may have been an awful Alpha Bitch, but she's the main reason most fans watch the show.
  • Malory from Archer. She's a binge-drinking control freak who abuses anyone who gets in her way, but her behavior is so over the top and mean that it's hilarious rather than cruel.
    • Barry becomes this after he becomes the show's Big Bad, for similar reasons as Malory.
  • Aku from Samurai Jack: A Shapeshifting Evil Overlord who takes evil to ridiculous levels simply to watch his victims squirm. He has a very unique design, is created from pure evil, and also tends to be pretty funny. It also helps that he was voiced by Mako, who is on full ham mode the entire time.
  • Red Skull in Avengers Assemble is pretty much everything that makes a "Take Over the World"-type villain enjoyable. Liam O'Brien's killer voice acting really sells it.
    • Squadron Supreme became this in season 2 for being a hyper competent threat whose episodes were generally some of the better written episodes in season 2. The fact that most of them are voiced by voice actors who play DC superheroes made fans fall even more in love.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse gives us Malware. He's a psychopathic Galvanic Mechomorph who has proven to be Ben's most vile antagonist to date. He's a villain so devoid of any moral compass that he once threw an oil tanker at a busload of kids to escape from Ben. Yet he is one of, if not the, most beloved villain in the show mainly because he's such an irredeemable psychopath which really helps him stand out among the Denser and Wackier nature of the show. The fact that he's one of the very few villains in this show to not suffer Villain Decay definitely helps.
  • Gravity Falls has Bill Cipher, yellow Eye of Providence with limbs, wearing a tophat and bowtie. He has a weird sense of humor, charmingly manipulative, and hadn't actually been 'defeated' until the finale. It's so amusing to watch him that it's equally easy to forget that he's an Eldritch Abomination Knight of Cerebus plotting The End of the World as We Know It, and a pure Nightmare Fuel material.

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