Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
Everything that was wrong with comics in the '90s in one cover.note From the top: Stupidly overpriced first issue; Title (if you can read it) includes "Blood"; Publisher (again, if you can read it) you've never heard of; Improbable blade; Torn cape; Wolverine knock-off mask that frames face; Youngblood'sdisease; Gritted teeth; Improbable anatomy; Improbable muscles; Improbably huge and just plain improbable gun; Awkward pose; Lots of pouches; Huge boots; Hidden feet; Artist's signature on rubble.
"Instead of serving as the deliciously targeted critique of fascist superheroics that it was, Rorschach got adopted as the iconic and default form of comic book vigilante for, basically, the next twenty years. The only major developments in the Rorschach concept were basically to add guns and robot arms."
At the time, it was a dreadful setback for the idea of "grown-up" superhero comics. In hindsight, it was America's inevitable reaction to Watchmen, and the only response that could possibly be effective: Fuck realism, we just want our superheroes to look cool and kick ten thousand kinds of ass.
However, back in the Golden Age arc, he was a more sympathetic guy.
Revy from Black Lagoon. Rough but cool name, nihilistic outlook, stripperiffic outfit, sizable... tracts of land and a gun in every hand. To top it all off, the story is set in the mid-nineties.
Black★Rock Shooter: The eponymous heroine has the idiosyncratic name spelling, skimpy clothing, Badass Longcoat, fights without uttering a word with her humongous, morphing cannon and black katana and fights to kill. Add the ability to shrug off lethal wounds without blinking and a blue flame around her left eye. She's only missing one thing: The Most Common Superpower.
Killy from Blame!is this trope - minus the "hip" clothing and ridiculous muscle mass. The series was even created in the mid-90's.
Digimon is full of non-human examples (though many look humanoid), especially the early generations created during the nineties, reaching from Badass Furries to Hollywood Cyborg dinosaurs.
Vegeta of DragonBall Z started off as just another psychotic villain, but evolves into this trope during the Freeza and Cell sagas. Even after becoming a full-on good guy in the fight against Buu, he still retains a shred of his former badassery, such as punching out his opponent for mouthing off to him at the World Martial Art Tournament.
The general characterization of Kurei from Flame of Recca after the Tournament Arc. Despite separating himself and his loyal followers from the Uruha, and pursuing the same quarry as Recca and his allies, his vicious and ruthless nature remains unchanged, even until the end of the series.
Depending on continuity, the protagonists from Getter Robo may be portrayed as such. The early cartoons tried to remove this aspect, but it's back in newer adaptations.
Alucard from Hellsing - minus the ridiculous muscle mass. Not to mention, he was born in the nineties.
In Tiger & Bunny, the inhabitants of Sternbild City are introduced to the concept of the Nineties Anti-Hero with Lunatic, a menacing vigilante who unhesitatingly kills criminals, racks up the property damage like nobody's business, and mocks the established superheroes for their idealistic 'weakness'. Given what end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism the show occupies, he serves as both a villain and a Knight of Cerebus during his introduction. Though later episodes in the series put him in a more sympathetic light.
Violence Jack: Jack is possibly the oldest example having been created in 1973.
Ogami Itto from Lone Wolf and Cub has to be older, being first published in 1970. If you think about it he has all the tropes of the typical dark age anti-hero. His Katana is heavier and more ungainly than others since it was designed for cutting the heads of people who committed Seppuku, thus qualifying it as a BFS. He pushes around a babycart bristling with weaponry, including but not limited to: a Naginata, James Bond style wheel-blades, and (at least in the movies) a freaking makeshift cannon! Framed for a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to commit Seppuku, he is rebelling against authority by his mere existence. He's constantly brooding and frowning and he will kill anyone who gets in his way without a moments notice. In fact, since he makes a living as an Assassin he will kill anyone who DOESN'T get in his way also, if the money is right.
The main character of the Witchblade anime is more of a subversion than in the comic book. She may be an extremely scantily-clad woman who's fight scenes are the epitome of Orgasmic Combat, but out of costume she's a very amiable single mom.
Fon Spaak and Sven Cal Bayan from Gundam have a very strong Nineties Anti Hero vibe to them. They are both savage and brutal Gundam pilots with a sadistic streak. They are a contrast to characters like Setsuna F Seiei and Kira Yamato.
There have been some comparisons of The New 52 with the early days of Image Comics, which may be something to be expected when you've got Image co-founders Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld working for you.
In particular, Superman is far more angsty and brooding than he was in the old continuity, and most of the superheroes seem to be far more violent as well.
During Grant Morrison's run on Action Comics, in one alternate universe Lois Lane, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen created a device that would allow the user to create a super powered Tulpa. They wanted to create The Cape, however the executives thought this trope would have more wide-market appeal, and deliberately attempted to invoke it. It didn't go quite right though.
Except this is exactly what the executive who stole the idea from them wanted, to create a ridiculously over-the-top parody of Superman to kill him with, being as he was a demon from the 5th Dimension with a major grudge against the Man of Steel.
Image Comics specialized in these for as long as the fad lasted:
Spawn, quite possibly the most popular Nineties Anti-Hero. Edgy one-word name, grim-n-gritty backstory (an assassinated mercenary damned to Hell and sent back as a soldier of Satan), killing bad guys who were slightly worse than him, and written and drawn by Todd McFarlane.
Spawn is a very interesting example, as a lot of effort is put into humanizing him and he comes off as a far better character than the average Nineties Anti-Hero. But then, being around for a while tends to do that.
The first issue of Spawn also had a little parody of the tropes common appearance. Entertainment TV Talking Heads commenting that while the spikes and chains are "totally gauche", trying to bring back capes is a bad idea.
The Darkness and Witchblade both exemplified this trope. The former is a former mafia hitman who becomes a living vessel of the world's dark energies, complete with an army of flippant, happy-go-lucky demons who delight in every opportunity to torture someone; the second is a pornolicious detective with powers both lethal and which rip her clothes off whenever she uses them.
The former, however, is a Reconstruction of this trope, since he's much more subtle and complex than many other examples.
The second-tier Marvel superheroes Darkhawk and Sleepwalker, both of whom had their heyday in the early 1990s, are arguably subversions of this trope. While they have strange and bizarre appearances, neither one was especially dark in their tone, at least compared to titles like Spawn, or the other characters that exemplify the Nineties Anti Hero. Darkhawk was about a kid who followed in his policeman father's footsteps by fighting crime with the mysterious alien armor he had obtained, while simultaneously keeping his Nuclear Family from falling apart. Sleepwalker was about an alien from another dimension that became trapped in a human's mind and manifested to fight crime while he was asleep, carrying on the similar role he had carried in his home world. There were, both in the letter columns of the old Sleepwalker comics and more recent web postings, positive responses from fans who liked the fact that Sleepwalker wasn't a violent antihero.
Darkhawk is actually an interesting case of this, as he at one point finds a journal of his father's, the last entry stopping with him and his partner preparing to go in pursuit of a hit-and-run driver before seeking medical attention for his victim. Chris refers back to this several times to remind himself to take a harder edge, before discovering the journal had a stuck page, in which his father hesitates, calls an ambulance, and makes sure the old woman who was hit survives.
Bloodshot: Mobster Angelo Mortalli was framed by the Carboni crime family, forcing him to become a witness for the state. While under Federal protection, Mortalli was betrayed by his protectors and sold to Hideyoshi Iwatsu to become a test subject for Project Rising Spirit.
Pretty much everyone in Dark Age arc of Astro City, as one might expect in a deconstruction of The Dark Age of Comic Books. There is also lampshading aplenty. There is a notable subversion in the character of Hellhound who, despite having the demonic background, monstrous appearance, torn leather and chains costume and "edgy" name, is actually a Noble Demon, and a respected ally of the local Captain America and Spider-Man expies.
The Authority represent an entire Justice League of Nineties Anti-Heroes. They are, however, unusually idealistic for their kind, as part of their remit is to "make the world a better place". Their methods, however, seem to involve copious amounts of ultra-graphic violence (no Thou Shalt Not Kill for them), ruthless cynicism towards their enemies, and disdain for opposing points of view — they once overthrew the government of the United States.
During the early '90s, Bloodlines, one of the most loathed Crisis Crossover to hit The DCU, produced a glut of Nineties Anti Heroes, few of whom lasted more than a couple years, including Gunfire, Mongrel, Razorsharp, etc., etc. Probably the only one to be remembered fondly is Hitman, a, well, super-powered hitman, who alternated between being a paragon of the trope and a clever send-up.
Hitman also blatantly parodies this trope when Tommy encounters Nightfist, a Batman ripoff who takes out drug dealers with a pair of giant metal fists (which he wears over his normal fists) and then steals their drugs.
Cable, of the New Mutants, X-Force, and the X-Men was a major Trope Codifier. Tragic and mysterious past? Check. BFGs coming out the ass? Check. A "Badass" look that used to be reserved for villains? Check. His first appearance was even in 1990, Over time, though, he's been developed into a more complex character, somewhere between Messianic Archetype and A God Am I.
A strange example is Deathlok the Demolisher, who was created well over two decades before the heyday of the trope. Each of the various version of Deathlok have very 90's Anti-Hero traits to them: he is always a dead man resurrected as a cyborg (cyborgs being common in 90's comics), and turned into an unliving cybernetic weapon that uses huge guns as it's primary method of offense. Usually however the plot often involves Deathlok's unwillingness to succumb to his programming and kill wantonly, instead struggling to non-lethally dispatch his foes.
In 1994, DC turned Doctor Fate into an Anti-Hero named Fate who was a grave robber and had melted Dr. Fate's helmet into a knife.
The Doctor Who Magazine comic introduced a full-blown Nineties Anti Hero to the Doctor Who universe in the shape of Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer. He's a "chainsword"-loving professional criminal and multiple murderer who was exiled by a future Earth society to a Dalek-occupied world to kill as many Daleks as possible before his inevitable death (although he turned out to be Badass enough to survive).
Doom has the Doomguy going around and punching and/or shooting things...just because. He's also borderline psychopathic.
Around 1994, Guy Gardner, a roughnecked, "macho" member of the Green Lantern Corps, was reinvented as "Warrior," with ridiculously huge muscles, tattoos all over his body, and the ability to form his arms into any kind of weapon he could think of, mainly gargantuan guns. Rumor has it that the reinvention was the result of writer Beau Smith writing the pitch as a joke and accidentally having it approved. He eventually reverted to his old (but still roughnecked) Green Lantern persona after the fad played itself out.
Holy Terror: As one of the individuals who influenced the Dark Age of Comics, it was the natural evolution of Frank Miller that he would eventually create a Dark Age Anti-Hero of his own in the form of "The Fixer". He is a Blood Knight so psychopathic that even the darkest iterations of Batman (of which he is basedon), including even those by Miller himself, would seem saintly by comparison. This is demonstrated with The Fixer's slaughter of the Al-Qaeda cell in the underground of Empire City with a multitude guns, ranging from pistols to bazookas, as well as a chemical weapon of some sort (And yes, you read correctly). Granted, while the setting tries to justify his methods in that he is fighting a Terrorist group who is orchestrating an act of war rather than the typical mobsters and other criminals that would be the purview of the Justice system to try and punish,note (and to what extent should either the military and/or law enforcement be involved in addressing terrorism is another matter of debate). but this comic's portrayal of Al-Qaeda is so cartoonishly over the top that it resembles something out of a Chick Tracts, thus ultimately detracting from the serious message that is supposed to be expressed and unintentionally reminding audiences why this archetype fell out of favor in the first place.
Kingdom Come, by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, was in part a savage denouncement of Nineties Anti Heroes, and was one of the things that caused the changeover from the Dark Age to the Modern Age. One of the themes of the comic was the classic generation of superheroes fighting the violent "modern" heroes. Of course, the "classic" heroes shared some of the blame as well; many became just-as-violent Knight Templars attempting to deal with it. The "face" of the anti-heroes, Magog, is practically every Dark Age stereotype rolled into one cybernetic, sacrilegious package (though Waid and Ross admitted a certain fondness for him due to how over-the-top he was). In a brilliant twist of idealism, Magog realizes how screwed up he is, turns himself in, renounces violence, and is one of the people left alive at the end; in the prose novelization of the story, he becomes the Dean of Students at Paradise Island!
Magog himself was able to pull a Canon Immigrant, and was introduced in the Main DCU in a JSA storyline. In 2009 he got his own solo series, which is something of an Affectionate Parody of the old school Nineties Anti-Hero. His Rogues Gallery includes an insane homeless man with mind control powers and a silver haired woman who talks like a 1980s valley girl.
Rachel: You know what gives me strength? My loss. We're alike that way, I imagine. Admit it: nobody who's a stranger to that particular pain could ever be as driven as us. Matt:Never...*throws one of his sticks at a wall so hard behind herit plants in it*... Don't you ever say that to me again. That is a repellent statement. It is a vomitous insult to every cop — every fireman — every soldier alive who steps up to fight for those who can't! I am sorry for your loss! But if you genuinely believe that only the death of a loved one can motivate a human being to take up a cause... then get your pathetic, cynical ass out of my way so I can do my job!
Penance in the Marvel Universe, originally the happy-go-lucky character Speedball, is a strange version of this. After believing himself responsible for the death of 612 people in Civil War, he designs a costume in dark colors designed to give himself constant pain with 612 spikes. This was intended seriously, but having happened long after the 1990s, is treated like a parody in most of his appearances outside Thunderbolts.
And, very tellingly, he's sent to see a psychologist!
Speaking of The Punisher, he definitely fits this trope when written by certain authors. He's vacillated between a somewhat reasonable vigilante fully willing to abide by other heroes no-killing rules during team-ups, to an frothing lunatic who'll murder jaywalkers (retconned into being due to drugs he was exposed to without his knowledge), to being a serial killer who uses his family's deaths as a justification for the endless war he wages to sate his bloodlust.
Shadowhawk was a Image Comics title about a successful, scrupulously honest African-American attorney who refused to fix a case for an organized crime outfit and, in revenge, was kidnapped by them and dumped after being given an injection of the AIDS virus... which prompted him, in a fit of rage and desire to try and make some sense out of the world, to don exoskeletal armor and start brutalizing thugs as a vaguely Batmanish vigilante. The suits got more and more elaborate as the disease took its toll, to help compensate for his weakness, but he ended up dying of the disease anyway.
Apparently even series creator Jim Valentino hated the character, and killed him off purely out of spite. Why he even bothered with the whole affair in the first place is anyone's guess.
That may be why the second Shadowhawk ended up so... different.
Spider-Girl has AprilParker, that is simply a jerk version of main protagonist with powers of Venom. She fits this trope perfectly, right to the point that woman she once saved from bandits run away, because she was more violent that they. Oh, and she killed Tombstone too.
One of Spider-Man's lesser villains, Cardiac, was one of these.
Venom. First there was the "black suit" Spider-man, basically a Nineties Anti-Hero before his time, caused by an alien symbiote bonding to him. He later removes the symbiote, and it bonds to another man, becoming Venom, basically an Evil Spider-man. That would have all been well and good, except Venom proved to be something of an Ensemble Dark Horse, and entered his peak of popularity during the peak of the Nineties Anti-Hero's popularity, and thus Venom was given his own Comic and re-worked into one. Then they have Venom's Symbiote give birth to a second one, which bonded with a Serial Killer to become Carnage, an evil(er) Venom. This opened the floodgates. Venom's symbiote gave birth to 4 more Symbiotes, but these fused into a single one which bonded with a police officer to become another Nineties Anti-Hero Hybrid, meanwhile Carnage's Symbiote gives birth to yet another symbiote which bonded with another police officer to become yet another Nineties Anti-Hero called Toxin.
And in the 2012 Scarlet Spider comic series written by Chris Yost, Kaine is now trying to be more of a traditional super-hero and move away from the Nineties Anti Hero motif altogether.
Morbius. Edgy leather gimp suit, magical demonic powers, slaughtering bad guys by the dozen, less moping and more badass-itude and even more exaggerated 90's villains to fight with... Only aversion might be that the 90's comic made him more generic handsome.
The entire plot of Superior Spider-Man sees Doc Ock stealing Peter Parker's body and using it to become a darker, more "badass" version of Spidey. He even has a black and red costume that was originally designed by Alex Ross for the first movie (since Movie Superheroes Wear Black). The entire thing is a bit of an Idiot Plot, since it requires all of Spider-Man's friends and teammates somehow not realizing that Peter Parker has been replaced.
The "Winter Soldier" mega-arc by Ed Brubaker in Captain America subverts a lot of these tropes. When Cap's sidekick Bucky turned out to be Not Quite Dead after all, he was revived as a brainwashed assassin with a cyborg arm; it could have been really stupid, but it wasn't. Then, when Bucky took over as Captain America, he seemed poised to be a Grim And Gritty alternative to the more traditional model, with much made of him carrying a gun — however, Bucky almost never uses the gun, and in fact tries overcome his past and be a more traditional superhero.
Wolverine went from being a complicated, interesting character in the 80's to "stabby stabby stabby!" in the 90's. It took "Enemy of the State" and "Wolverine: Origin" stories to restore his former glory.
In the Dark Horse Comics superhero line Comics Greatest World, X filled this role. He was at least willing to give you one warning, a vertical slash across the face. If the X across your face or an image of your face was completed, however, he killed you. No exceptions. He was willing to do whatever it took to cleanse the city of Arcadia of its crime and corruption.
There's an obscure X-Men character named "Random", who started out as a recurring character for the second incarnation of X-Factor and can turn his arm into a gun. In Generation Hope #15, Pixie calls him "Johnny '90s". What's generally forgotten in later appearances is that Random is a shapeshifter who was actually a 13-year-old kid when first introduced, and took the form of a muscular giant with gun-arms because it's what he thought a badass was supposed to look like.
The Tick: Big Shot, who also appeared in the animated series, was originally introduced as a one-off character in the comic as someone hanging out at the vigilante table in the superhero club. While other vigilantes had complicated backstories, Big Shot's reasons for being a gun-wielding vigilante? "I just like to kill people."
The Crow: Eric Draven (in contrast to his counterpart from the original comics) is a subversion. While he may look the part with his gothic inspired attire and tragic backstory, he is one of the most amicable individuals on this list (at one point he even confronted Sarah's mother over her drug use demanding she take better care of her). His more malicious side only shows up whenever around Top Dollar and his henchman who have the misfortune of his crossing paths with him.
Hakaider from the anime/tokusatsu series Kikaider becomes this in the movie Mechanical Violator Hakaider.
Mr. Furious in the movie Mystery Men is a parody and subversion of these kinds of characters; he would very much like to be one, and tries his hardest to come up with a back story fitting this mold (with most of his proposed names being some combination of 'Phoenix', 'Dark', 'Dirk' and 'Steel'), but is in fact ultimately a rather shy, gentle and meek man called Roy. In fact, the realization that he's not one of these types is enough to prompt a moment of Heroic BSOD for him.
The Suffocator of Sins: This film, directed and starring "Diggity" Dave Aragon of Pimp My Ride fame, was to feature a Darker and Edgier Batman-like vigilante who, based on trailers that were released for it is strongly implied to be this trope, uses firearms and mercilessly kills criminals while hunting down a Neo-Nazi Villain. The film now seems to be in limbo following the 2012 Aurora Theatre Massacre, whose perpetrator, James Holmes, seemed to have been inspired by this film.
Ace became one of these in the Doctor Who New Adventures. On TV, she had been a rather messed up but still rather bubbly and exuberant school-girl with a taste for explosives and chemistry. In the books, she became a hardened and gritty Blood Knight space marine. It was relatively mild compared to some examples of the time, but it was this trope nonetheless.
Parodied in The Man in the Ceiling by Jules Feiffer. Jimmy's friend Charley Beemer (who doesn't like capes) commissions him to draw his idea of a comic, which would feature a superhero named Bullethead, a weapon of death who drills through his enemies with his head, with lots of severed bodily parts to be drawn in detail (which the author refuses to show, since it's written for children).
The obscure 90s comedy series Bob, starring Bob Newhart, focused on a comic book creator of a Silver Age hero named "Mad-Dog", who was forced by his new employers in the 90s to reinvent his character into a hero of this fashion.
Spike came as close to a televised version of Lobo as you could get. He rode a bike, lived for battle, hated all forms of authority, smoked ciggies and listened to rock n' roll. His Popularity Power ensured the heroes would never kill him off, and Buffy eventually fell in love with him.
Wishverse Buffy is what Buffy might be like had Todd Mc Farlane or Mark Millar gotten their hands on her.
An episode of Criminal Minds has a comic book artist create a character named "True Night" who seems to be one of these. It has plot significance because the ways Night kills the other characters in the comic reflect murders the artist is committing in real life. In fact, if one looks at the episode a certain way, it can be viewed as a brutal deconstruction of this trope and Dark Age comics in general.
The Ninth Doctor from Doctor Who. Though he came much later he still follows the formula perfectly, dark past, broods a lot, comes dangerously close to killing his enemies (being stopped just short by a companion), makes sarcastic one liners frequently and he dresses in a black leather coat.
The War Doctor, with Nine's leather jacket, a Badass Bandolier and a more violent methodology. However he seems a deconstruction of this trope, he doesn't like how ruthless the other Time Lords are becoming and while prepared to destroy Gallifrey this is only a last resort, with the later Doctors disowning him for this. It is later revealed he hadn't actually destroyed Gallifrey but due to Timey-Wimey Ball it is three regenerations later that the Doctor remembers this.
Heroes: Sylar, the Big Bad of the first season, is this from Season 2 onwards.
Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger has an episode that parodies Power Rangers, with an image of a comic book cover depecting the head of the "Powerful Rangers" as an overmuscled character drawn in the style of the 90's anti-hero.
Similar to the Criminal Minds example, was a serial of Kamen Rider Double. The Cockroach Dopant runs a website where people list those that have wronged them for him to assassinate. While basically a glorified contract killer, he considers himself this trope, calls himself "Roachstar" and "the Dark Exterminator", and even has and draws his own manga in-universe.
Smallville lampshades this by having a comic-geek-turned-supervillain threatening to push Chloe off a tall building and that it is "big in the nineties".
Iron Enforcer represented this type of "super hero" in the first season of Who Wants to Be a Superhero?. Unfortunately for him, Stan Lee is not fond of this archetype. So he made him a villain instead.
This was the direct result of having to compete with WCW, who hit on this concept with the New World Order, however the nWo were essentially just popular villains, albeit not entirely heelish ones, at least until the Wolfpac formed. The most successful aspects of the WWF's Attitude Era were directly inspired by the nWo. In fact, the Austin vs. McMahon feud, almost universally considered the key to the WWF's resurgence, is the nWo vs. WCW with the roles reversed.
In some ways, it was more a reaction to the growing underground success of ECW, and fueled by a number of wrestlers who developed grittier gimmicks in ECW and later brought them to WWF.
The concept may have been inspired by the underground success of ECW, but the need to change was a result of WCW's runaway success with the nWo angle.
The ongoing success of MMA (UFC in particular) in 2010 has seen a partial revival of this trope in WWE with the resurgence of the newly-turnedRandy Orton (especially when compared to his Hoganesque counterpart John Cena).
Blazblue has this in Ragna the Bloodedge. Not only does his name sound like something right out of the Dark Age of Supernames, he's also ill-tempered, has Too Many Belts, a BFS that unfolds into a scythe (fittingly called "Blood-Scythe") is motivated by Revenge, and has no problems with harming anyone who gets in his way. To top it all off, his powers consist of draining the life out of others by using the power of darkness in the form of summoning parts of an Eldritch Abomination. He does have a soft spot however.
It's hard to tell who's supposed to be a hero in Blood Storm and who's a villain. They all have menacing one-word names, are all capable of ultra-violence, all look positively Liefeldian and almost all of them are dicks with selfish motives and no care for others (Tremor manages to at least buck this trait by being the only unambiguously good character in the game.)
Champions Online has many player characters fitting this trope, and also a few amongst its NPC cast:
The Drifter. Got retconed from a mystic cowboy into a Cable-esque cyborg cowboy.
Black Mask (the 10th) is a female example. Her costume is the single most revealing of all heroes, and her power is carrying a big gun.
The PRIMUS Recognition Vendors, mainly to display the 90's style costume unlocks they are selling.
One of the criticisms levelled at DmC Devil May Cry is that it tries to take a light-hearted series and give it the full Nineties treatment, leaving it overwrought with attempted edginess and shallow satire. This is exemplified by the reimagining of Dante, who is a few pouches and a bucket of steroids away from leaping off a Liefeld cover.
Asshole!Warden in Dragon Age: Origins has a tendency to wander through Ferelden, kicking ass and taking names, while slaughtering whatever unconscious wounded soldiers or small children get in the way, condemning a significant number of elves, men, and dwarves to And I Must Scream fates for the sole purpose of getting cooler-looking allies during the final battle, and slaughtering the entire Denerim Circle of Magi for the sake of convenience.
By the standards of JRPGs, Caim from Drakengard is a Nineties Anti-Hero, bordering on straight-edge Villain Protagonist if not for the happy side effect that the people he happens to be on a genocidal rampage against want to destroy the world.
Duke Nukem. A sex obsessed, mirrorshade wearing Action Hero wannabe who hangs out in sleazy biker bars and strip clubs, with a Lantern Jaw of Justice and blond flattop haircut. He's armed to the teeth with BFGs (as it's a FPS and all), addicted to steroids (or whatever those pills are) and loves to spew one liners like "I've got balls of steel", "Some mutated son of a bitch is gonna pay!" and of course the immortal "It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And I'm all out of gum." And his games were big in the early 90s. Duke is generally accepted as being a full parody of the 80s/90s action hero rather than actually being one. He's no exception to the fact that most parodies and extreme cases of this are deeply entrenched in Poe's Law though.
In later installments of VII, Cloud Strife is played completely straight this way, but in the original game itself, he was a rather cheerful (if at first apathetic) fellow with some backstory problems and memory issues, but mostly averted this. Following his appearances in the Kingdom Hearts games and Advent Children, he could be the poster boy for this trope. He certainly looks the part◊ in the first Kingdom Hearts.
Squall Leonhart, however, plays this completely straight, but is given a Freudian Excuse in that he's been raised as a Child Soldier from the age of about 5 or 6. He, too, appears in Kingdom Hearts, quiet and snarky as ever, but he seems to have opened up quite a bit (at least to Yuffie and Aerith). His disposition does improve greatly in Kingdom Hearts II, where he's mellowed out (getting to return to your once-doomed home world and rebuild it is likely to do that) and acts as a Big Brother Mentor to Sora.
Tombstone from Freedom Force vs The Third Reich, a series that is an homage to the high Silver Age of comic books, is a Nineties Anti-Hero. And he still fits into the game, because his overblown "dark and tormented" act makes him just as laughable as the rest of the cast.
Alchemiss: [sarcastically] So how did you spend your sabbatical, Tombstone? Performing in musical theater? Raising puppies?
Varik, the protagonist of The Halloween Hack, is made to look like this, what with being a brooding, alcoholic bounty hunter with a Dark and Mysterious Past. We quickly find out this is not played straight at all - his stats suck, and he's honestly scared of the undead monsters.
John Turner is a subversion of the trope. He certainly looks the part, with his black leather coat, dark jeans, Guns Akimbo and baseball bat, incredibly muscular build, and gritty hardcore fighting style. He even is a vampire and a former street racer, to boot. But personality-wise he's pretty much a softie Dork Knight who cares about helping innocents when nobody else will, with his only flaw being that he wishes somebody else would do so, so he doesn't have to.
Raven, on the other hand, is a much more played straight example, who both looks and acts the part (albeit more conservatively dressed than average). She even got herself turned into a vampire specifically so she could hunt down and enact Blood Knight-fueled revenge on the monsters in question.
K' from The King of Fighters. Given life at the end of the decade but still fits in with the trope. Abrupt and harsh name ("Kay-Dash"), cold-hearted SOB who only cooperates when it suits his end (his victory pose has him saying he's good enough to fight your whole team), and has a laser-like focus on his objective (stamping out the NESTS organization and anyone associated with it). However, he does move away from this a bit as time goes on.
The Legacy of Kain series gives us two interesting examples. While Kain is more or less a straight example character wise, Raziel is a much more heroic/noble character, however, his character design positivly drips of it. The reason for this is because the game Dev team outsourced the concept art to Top Cow (a comic studio that broke off from Image, responsible for such works as The Darkness and Witchblade). The reason for this is because of complex corporate politics behind the creation of Soul Reaver, which was being made at the same time as Eidos was having Top Cow publish the Tomb Raider comic.
Kain himself is an odd example: while certain an incredibly anti-heroic person, is remarkably sophisticated whereas most examples of this trope are noticeably (and unfortunately) somwhat more crude, and though arrogant and callous in the extreme his ultimate goals are fairly noble, even if his motivations are selfish. Meanwhile Raziel is far more outright heroic, often trying to do the "right" thing in any given situation, except his attempts nobility often leads to even worse things then he attempted to prevent. It might be said that Kain is an outright Villain Protagonist while Raziel is a true Anti-Hero as Raziel ATTEMPTS to be good but his imperfections cause him to fail, whereas Kain doesn't bother to try at all and ends up helping the world anyway as a side effect.
Renegade!Shepard in the Mass Effect series: a ruthless and pragmatic person, willing to take the morally grey (or outright black) actions to get the job done. Basically, s/he is out to save the galaxy, but doesn't much care who or what s/he tramples to get there. Some of the Renegade choices available (particularly in the first game) can paint Ren!Shep as uncaring, incredibly xenophobic and a human supremacist with near sociopathic levels of disregard towards others.
Mortal Kombat: Scorpion (by virtue of being inspired by Comic Book/Ghostrider (who is listed under comic book section of this article) is an undead, fire wielding Ninja who is a Wild Cardwho will assist which ever side is most convenient to his own agenda ( Though the latest released game as of this posting possibly may set him up to be a more of an outright evil, though Anti-villainous, character in the future) and is the most brutal fighter in the series, with the exception of ShaoKahn, to boot due to being fueled by his unquenchable rage.
Prototype 2 replaces Mercer as the protagonist with James Heller, making Alex the villain in the process. Heller broods substantially less than Mercer, but makes up for it in being always angry, all the time. They tried to make him a bit more sympathetic than Mercer; jury's out on whether they succeeded, as many fans of the first didn't like the change in Mercer's characterization to accommodate Heller as a protagonist, and the game still tries it's best to stoke its players' sadistic tendencies.
Twisted Metal: Needles Kane (AKA Sweet Tooth), who debuted in the first game released in 1995 and was created by David Jaffe (also the director for the God of War series), is a highly sociopathic Blood Knight who has no compunction to killing anyone in his way to getting to at Calyspo.
Spoofed in an episode of The Fairly OddParents, where Timmy called upon the help of several different versions of the Crimson Chin to defeat an escaped supervillain, including a bandoleer-wearing, gun-toting "edgy" version of the Chin from the eighties. He was apparently the only version that ever got away with profanity, but was canceled because of it anyway.
The Tick: Spoofed with Big Shot, a Punisher-esque character who shoots up inanimate objects while tears run down his face. After running out of bullets, he says "Why didn't you love me, Mom?" and collapses, sobbing, on Arthur. He's someone so obviously messed-up that the Tick tells him to 'seek professional help'— the Tick! When next seen in "The Tick vs. The Tick," after Big Shot has done so, he's relatively well-adjusted and tries to convince the Tick and Barry to discuss their problems rationally. With emphasis on 'relatively' well adjusted. He starts foaming at the mouth when he mentions how he used to solve all his problems with... violence, and gives a rather, um, passionate outcry for Barry to "put it in the happy box!". In his final appearance in the show on "The Tick vs. Neil and Dot's Wedding", Big Shot goes on a shooting spree... With a camera, having channelled his enthusiasm for firearms into flash photography.
When the The Powerpuff Girls briefly decide to split up as separate superheroines, with Blossom taking on a Wonder Woman-ish persona and Bubbles dressing up as a cute bunny girl, the sullen and quick-tempered Buttercup reinvents herself as "Mange", a brooding, shadowy character with glowing green eyes who only emerges at night. Unfortunately for Townsville, this means she has to wait until nightfall to stop a monster attack in the middle of the day: she spends the hours beforehand just brooding awkwardly in the living room. Or watching TV, that part was never quite clear.
While not exactly a superhero, Matrix in ReBoot is pretty much this trope to a T, as a foil to Bob's idealistic Silver Age-ish personality. Matrix also serves as a partial deconstruction of this type of hero. The events that made him this way left him an emotional wreck and he has difficulty adjusting to peace.
The Pack was an (in-universe) live action example in Gargoyles. The actors eventually turned into supervillains through a series of literal Xanatos Gambits, complete with actual powers and an even more Dark-Age-ish look.
The Venture Bros.: While developed after the 1990s, Brock Sampson is a semi-affectionate parody of this trope.
Darkwing Duck became one of these in an alternate future where Gosalyn disappeared (because she had been sucked through time into that alternate future). He might've been this earlier on, but by the time Gosalyn ran into him he had long ago crossed the line and was solidly in the Knight Templar category.
Deconstructed in Beast Wars: an episode saw Optimus Primal's aggression turned way up by a computer virus- to the point he tries to kill someone and orders himself locked up. He ultimately storms off to retrieve the anti virus, saying that making a plan first is cowardly. While he's certainly more than capable in battle, to the point Megatron comments on it, he also takes on severe damage as a result, and it's only through the cunning of his normal persona and the plan of his allies that he survives. Interestingly enough, Dinobot ultimately decries this trope and provides the best commentary applicable to it, calling Optimus' altered mindset a "berserker" and this line, when Cheetor tries to emulate this approach:
Dinobot: There is no strategy, only blind aggression!