This villain trope is for the characters we love to hate
"Love to hate" is a term we (and others) use 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.
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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 Fatherto 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.
- Several villains from the Gundam franchise:
- Paptimus Scirocco and Yazan Gable of Zeta Gundam, the former for being the only intelligent character in a show full of immature childre, and the latter for being a Badass Normal Hero Killer in a series where Newtypes are usually the only characters to achieve anything of import.
- Haman Khan of Zeta Gundam and Gundam ZZ, who is easily the franchise's most iconic Lady of War.
- Katejina Loos of Victory Gundam, she is well loved for her insane personality, being a major Hero Killer and her memorable moments in the series, and at the same time hated for all the horrible things that she has done to the point where her final Fate Worse Than Death is considered to be fitting punishment by both the fans and Tomino himself.
- Rau Le Creuset of Gundam SEED, who singlehandedly talked the world into self-destruction, while coming off as a seemingly impossible combination of Char Aznable, Emperor Palpatine, and Hannibal Lecter.
- "Prince" Ali Al-Saachez and Ribbons Almark of Gundam 00.
- All factors seem to indicate that Decil Galette of Gundam AGE is also heading in this direction. A seven year old Sociopathic Soldier who becomes the hero's archenemy? That'll get you on the fandom's radar.
- 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 it's 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 Breaker since there's plenty who flat out hate it. It gets murkier after Rebellion after 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 Dangerously Genre Savvy, 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.
- 2 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 ever, 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.
- 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). While there is a subset of the fandom that do put him in leather pants, they are still the minority.
- 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 the line between this and Complete Monster, 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.
- 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.
- 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 his old consciousness took over his body. He's still not evil though, the kid was so much love that gave him yet another chance, which he's determined to use... sadly nobody else wants him to change, including an evil future version of himself, who is this trope full stop. Loki is truly his own worst enemy. For what it's worth, there are fans (maybe even the majority of them), who would like him to stay split for the obvious reason to neither lose the version they love, nor the one they love to hate.
- Spider-Man villain Boomerang is slimy, lying asshole who has canonically thrown one of his best friends off a bridge for a quick buck. And yet he's just so freaking snarky, charismatic, and hilarious that fans love him. He's so popular that he managed to star in a short-lived book of his own.
- 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.
- Any evil character played by Alan Rickman, for his usually icy, collected demeanor and his apparent dismissive contempt even for his fellow villains. Examples:
- The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Take his usual villainous angle and add in plenty of glorious scenery-chewing.
- Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Sharp dresser, Deadpan Snarker extraordinaire, 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.
- Even Severus Snape. This one kind of speaks for itself.
- Similarly, although in a slightly different way, any villain played by Gary Oldman because of his tendency to switch from "cool and in control" to "dangerous psycho" at the drop of a hat. Especially Norman Stansfield.
- 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.
- Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films.
- 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.
- Agent Kruger from Elysium is a despicable, psychotic and sociopathic Psycho for Hire but he's a run away hit with viewers and critics, thanks to Sharlto Copley's performance and the sheer badassery he emits.
- "Call to John."
- TRON: Fans absolutely love the Master Control Program, thanks to his famous Verbal Tic and claiming to "run systems 900 times better than any user". Sark, as well, because he fought Tron as a giant after having his head split open by the latter. It helps that they are both voiced/played by David Warner.
- 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
- Crowley from Supernatural is this due to his genre savvyness and moments of being a Magnificent Bastard.
- Azazel and Lucifer also qualify for similar reasons.
- 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.
- 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.
- Another good one from The BBC is Madame President Servalan. Dear God, she usually walked away with whatever she was after and made the alleged heroes look like idiots in the process. Evil, but you can't help but admire her sense of style.
- 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.
- In 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.
- Ramsay Snow/Bolton now takes Joffrey's place as this, for being equally sadistic and needlessly cruel. After everything he had put Theon Greyjoy through he actually made Theon a Jerkass Woobie. Iwan Rheon's chilling and off-putting performance certainly helps.
- 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, and Jonas Hodges 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 a 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. 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 (that's X Pac Heat, 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.
- Ring of Honor fans had a special hatred for Jimmy Rave. They would bring toilet paper rolls paper to the shows for the purpose of throwing it 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 and 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dracula from the Castlevania series, who just continuously keeps coming back, just to get killed and then revive and then get killed and, you get the picture...
- 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.
- 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 1 and, once finally revealed, his boss, Sovereign. Few villains are as effortlessly terrifying.
- Kai Leng from Mass Effect 3 is paradoxically both hated and loved for 1) being a xenophobic asshole who's actions (killing Thane, Major Kirrahe, or Miranda, depending on how you play the game) give players enough incentive to take him down and 2) having a cool cyborg-ninja motif.
- 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 then 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.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Played for Laughs with Faux Affably Evil Cloudcuckoolander Xykon and Evil Twin Nale, among others.
- A lot of the fandom love for Xykon stems from the fact he's a convincingly written For the Evulz who still manages to be a Brilliant but Lazy Cloud Cuckoolander.
- Miko's fall from grace turned her from simply Scrappy to this. When she killed the Cool Old Guy, the hatred she'd garnered up to that point reached critical mass, in-universe and out.
- Tarquin, who manages to be smug, Genre Savvy, helpful, and balance competence with being a Large Ham, is a meta-example. He knows he's an evil archvillain, and will eventually get defeated by a dashing hero, but he's entirely okay with that, because at least he'll be an awesome villain whom everyone will like more than the hero.
- 8-Bit Theater: Black Mage Evilwizardington. He's a completely amoral jerkass who's evil is so audaciously horrible that it becomes funny and the character is beloved by fans.
- Looking for Group has Richard, the Token Evil Teammate warlock who embodies the trope Chaotic Evil. He's as big of a scumbag as he possibly be and constantly commits horrendous crimes (zapping a guy into dust is probably one of the least evil things he's done) but he's just so damn hilarious.
- Vriska, of Homestuck. To some, anyway.
- Lord English/Caliborn. He's an egotistical, rude, misogynistic, obnoxious, creepy, and self-centered little shit but very few people actually dislike him. This may be because nearly every scene he appears in is fucking hilarious.
- The Living Words aka Story the Wild Card Manipulative Bastard Anthropomorphic Personification who manipulates because, well, "It Amused Me" and also the readers, no matter how they might deny it, from Roommates. The readers want to congratulate him/her/it and kill him/her/it but really not sure in which order. The guy did stuff like manipulating two children and killing one of them, just for the sake of the Rule of Drama.
- For a lesser extent the Shadow Child aka Disbelief, an Affably Evil, Creepy Child with Mind Rape powers and Ninja Props. The thing is that the kid is just damn cute and at least more honest, which actually makes him harder to hate. And the kid mind raped the cast once for no other reason just because he could.
- 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.
- Katz from Courage the Cowardly Dog. Unlike other recurring villains in the series, he is incredibly popular in the fandom. He is genuinely admired for being a villain incredibly scary and creepier, who play like an Ax-Crazy Serial Killer in a kids show. Very few villains like him can be found in Cartoon Network.
- Him from The Powerpuff Girls. More or less like Katz, Him is admired for being a villain incredibly efficient and frightening in several of his early appearances (albeit while still managing to get in lots of charismatic and amusing moments like the rest of the Rogues Gallery).
- The Joker was already this, but Mark Hamill's performance made him even more lovable while being as monstrous as ever.
- Most Disney animated villains:
- Special mentions go out to Maleficent, Scar, Hades, Jafar, Judge Claude Frollo, Dr. Facilier, Ursula, and Professor Ratigan. Also, no one is evil like Gaston.
- When he's not outright hated or being a Draco in Leather Pants, Prince Hans from Frozen tends to be this for being such a wonderfully attractive Magnificent Bastard.
- A non-animated canon Disney villain: Pete, in almost all of his performances especially the ones performed by Jim Cummings. A sizable portion of the Goof Troop fandom loves him for being three-dimensional and a consistently hilarious Chew Toy due to Laser-Guided Karma (and because he's played by Jim Cummings) despite hating him for reasons that would normally make a character into The Scrappy such as being a Manipulative Bastard without being a Magnificent Bastard and deliberately tormenting The Woobie. However, that doesn't mean everyone feels this way: he gets a fair share of Draco in Leather Pants and complete hatred too.
- Pre-Heel-Face Turn Prince Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender is an Anti-Villain example. Considered the most well-developed character in the show.
- The Legend of Korra:
- Viral siblings Megabyte and Hexadecimal are considered two of the coolest characters in ReBoot.
Tarantulus: (getting the drop on Dinobot and Rattrap) DIEEE, MAXIMALS!
Dinobot and Rattrap: (look over from their bickering) SHUUUT UP! (WHAM)
- Blackarachnia before her High Heel-Face Turn, in earlier appearances of season one especially.
- Transformers Animated:
- Transformers Prime:
- Megatron looks to be running for most threatening and psychotic Megatron to date. His sadistic tendencies, brutal methods of engagement and overall creepy voice brings out his inner-monster to many.
- And Starscream, who's both effective and threatening, but also humorous as well.
- Soundwave. Threatening, intimidating, menacing, perpetually silent. He's essentially the show's version of the Slender Man. Yet he's one of the most popular decepticons in the show and widely considered the most badass incarnation of the character to date.
- Airachnid is for all intents and purposes, a Cybertronian Serial Killer put on a kid's show. But her monstrous sadism and bitter rivarly with Arcee make her beloved by many.
- 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.
- 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.