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Sliding Scale of Character Appreciation
While having good characters doesn't make a good story, there are some characters who can make or break a series simply by walking onstage. On the one hand, you can have a minor character from an obscure and poorly liked series who nonetheless inspires thousands of fanfics. On the other hand, some characters are so hated by fans that some feel the only way the show will ever be watchable again is to write the character out of existence. If the negative audience reaction is coming from outside the target demographic it is a Periphery Hatedom. Characters We Like To Watch:

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     Characters Who Impress Us Once 

  • One-Scene Wonder: A character that has limited screen time, and usually not much in the way of plot relevance, but is still one of the most memorable things in the movie. They may even be given top billing, or at least an "And Starring" credit, along with the more obvious stars. This is not the same principle as Ensemble Dark Horse, because the character is often played by an established actor, nor is it the same as Dead Star Walking, because the intent is not to fool you into thinking that the actor will appear more often. The character just appears, gives a show-stealing performance, and then is gone. Like a Spear Carrier, only way more righteous. Like a Cameo, except you don't have to recognize the actor to appreciate the scene for all its worth. You know you're dealing with this sort of character if you start referring to "their scene."

     Characters We Love To See, Even If Just Standing In The Background 

     Villains We Sympathize With 
  • The Anti-Villain: The Anti-Villain is a villain with heroic goals, personality traits, and/or virtues. Their desired ends are mostly good, but their means of getting there are evil. Alternatively, their desired ends are evil, but they are far more ethical or moral than most villains in the story and they thus use fairly benign means to achieve it, and can be downright heroic on occasion.

  • The Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: A potential villain who is consistently a failure or never gets the respect that he thinks he deserves, and may even be angry that the heroes don't take him seriously. He may not necessarily be inept or have a laughably mild idea of what counts as villainy. Villain Decay is usually too simple an explanation. This is sometimes a relative situation, and the hero's Rogues Gallery just happens to include people more showy, better financed, or just plain scarier than him. This does not mean that he doesn't bear animosity; that's a Punch Clock Villain. He's probably jumping at the opportunity to outdo his rivals and the hero. But there is something about his perseverance or attitude about the whole thing that is just short of sympathetic.

  • The Magnificent Bastard: If there was ever a character that deserved to be called “Magnificent”, that character is the Magnificent Bastard. The Magnificent Bastard is what happens when you combine The Chessmaster, The Trickster, and the Manipulative Bastard: bold, charismatic, independent, and audacious. Capturing the audience with his charisma, incredible intellect, mastery of manipulation, and boldness of action, this character is a show-stealer, demanding your reverence at every turn.

  • The Noble Demon: A villainous character who does good in spite of himself. The Noble Demon doesn't care that he has a bad image — he actively cultivates and embraces it. He'll practice his evil laugh and iron his cape so that it billows just right when he makes his entrance. However, every so often a situation presents itself and he's just not willing to go the extra mile necessary to be completely evil. He'll topple your castle, but he'll do it right after everyone has cleared out first. He'll also be obsessed with explaining this behavior so people won't think that he's gone soft. Killing enemies or servants who have failed but are loyal is "a waste of resources" and his inevitable newfound friends are "tactically advantageous allies." Their goals are evil but their means, not so much.

  • The Unintentionally Sympathetic Villain

  • The Draco in Leather Pants: When a fandom takes a controversial or downright villainous character and downplays his/her flaws, often turning him/her into an object of desire and/or a victim in the process. This can cause conflicts if the writers are not willing to retool the character to fit this demand. In fanfiction, they are frequently the love object of the local Mary Sue, who uses the power of love to redeem the character or are part of a fix fic to save the character. In extreme cases, the affection these characters receive from fans can lead them to forget that they're actually still supposed to be villains. Or, on the flip side, any crimes the character commits can be rationalized, while any insult from the hero towards the villain is cast as deplorably mean. Common reasons for this include the character being wicked in a classy or cool way. A physically attractive character is much more likely to be subject to this trope than a physically ugly one or it can be the result from certain fans sympathizing greatly with the villain's backstory in which case it overlaps with Unintentionally Sympathetic Villain or Jerkass Woobie or Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Sometimes this is the result of the villain coming off as less evil than other villains in the story also (like the trope namer, who was a mere annoyance as opposed to Lord Voldemort).

  • The Affably Evil Villain: Then there are villains who are Affably Evil. There is absolutely nothing separating them from being normal, polite people except for the fact that they want to Take Over the World or use human souls to power their Artifact of Doom. They're not the Stepford Smiler — their affability is a genuine part of their personality, not a mask. If they have underlings, expect them to be a Benevolent Boss. In one way, they're the opposite of an Anti-Hero. They may Pet the Dog on occasion, but won't hesitate to kick it with steel-toed boots the next second if it helps them accomplish their Evil Plan. They may well be a Villain with Good Publicity because, after all, being evil doesn't mean you have to be rude.

  • The Faux Affably Evil Villain: A villain whose polite mannerisms only serve to enhance their evil. They lack a villainous demeanor yet they are truly, wholly and unrepentantly evil regardless. This kind of villain maintains a friendly, courteous mask even as they commit incredibly heinous acts. Unlike Affably Evil characters, whose niceness is genuine, Faux Affably Evil villains adopt this pleasant persona. An Affably Evil villain will treat The Hero like a friend, and will be reluctant to make an enemy of them. A Faux Affably Evil villain will throw in a jolly "Ooh, my friend, aren't we having a lot of fun?" as they are torturing them. A Faux Affably Evil character's demeanor is an act. At heart, they're utterly soulless, but they mask it with a pleasant, polite, "normal" attitude, perhaps because they have social standards to live up to or because their pleasantness reflects their sheer enjoyment of evil. It's anyone's guess what this kind of villain will do if they suffer a Villainous Breakdown; maybe they will drop all pretenses and find that they are Not so Above It All or maybe they will fall into a state of Dissonant Serenity, blabbering off-kilter pseudo-mannerisms as they go crazy.

     Characters We Love To See Suffer 
  • The Butt Monkey: The character who is always the butt of the demeaning joke or the "put him through hell" plotline. For whatever reason, the Butt Monkey seems to walk through life with a permanent "Kick Me" sign attached to their backs, invisible to them, but all too visible to the rest of the world. Nothing ever goes right for this character, and if something bad is going to happen to someone, chances are it's going to happen to them. Long story short, it sucks to be the Butt Monkey. Simply having a character go through hell once or twice (no matter how severely) is not enough to be the Butt Monkey. With primary and secondary characters, it must be a regular occurrence. With tertiary characters, it must be their sole purpose to exist. It's not Karma. They don't deserve any of what they go through, but they're an easy target. Sometimes it's all the writers can think of to do with the character.

  • The Chew Toy: An odd sort of polar opposite to The Woobie, The Chew Toy is a character the audience loves specifically because his or her misery amuses them so. The Chew Toy is roughed up or messed with on a constant basis... and is always, always used for comic effect and treated with a light touch, generally glossing over the meaner undertones of the idea. Unlike Woobification, Chew Toys are generally designated as such in the series proper, and often have a tendency to bemoan their fate. If they're lucky, the writers will Throw the Dog a Bone a time or two. If they're unlucky, they'll Yank the Dog's Chain. It can sometimes be a delicate balance. Throw too often and the character can be Flanderized into The Eeyore; Yank too much and the audience may no longer find it funny.

  • The Cosmic Plaything: Most of us like to think that our decisions have some influence on our lives. That we have control, at least to a point. But sometimes, there's the sneaking suspicion that maybe an influence doesn't like us very much, or maybe likes us in a very abusive way. On some series, a particular character doesn't just suspect. They know. For some strange reason, they find their lives governed by events and rules that defy either coincidence or logical explanation. They might figure out some of the "rules," like the what and the where, but the how and the why is a complete mystery. The nature of such a situation allows a certain flexibility to writers, as they don't have to think too hard about why this is happening, or even if the character's belief in their situation is correct, allowing them to focus on the immediate story.

  • The Designated Monkey: The Designated Monkey is an unintentional Butt Monkey. They constantly find themselves in horrible situations; the author appears to intend this to be karmic punishment, but the audience (or a significant subgroup of it) thinks that it's out of proportion and will treat them as The Woobie. This can create Moral Dissonance or Values Dissonance in the work, or it could mean that the fandom is misaimed. The audience may even begin to wonder whether the author is deliberately misrepresenting this character to prevent us from sympathizing with them. Or write Revenge Fics on their behalf.

  • The Woobie: A "woobie" is a name for any type of character that we like to see suffer if only because we can then feel extremely sorry for them. Woobification of a character is a curious, audience-driven phenomenon, sometimes divorced from the character's canonical morality. A story with The Woobie allows the audience to vicariously experience relief from some pain by fantasizing about relieving The Woobie's pain. (No, not that way! Well, okay, sometimes.) Woobification can also tie into a disturbing hurt/comfort dynamic, in which fans enjoy seeing the Woobie tortured so they can wish the hurt away. This is often explored in Hurt/Comfort Fic. An important aspect of The Woobie is that their suffering must be caused by external sources. A character who suffers as the result of their own actions is a Tragic Hero and does not qualify.

     Characters Who Allow Us To Live Vicariously 

     Villains We Love To Hate 

  • The Big Bad: The cause of all bad happenings in a story. A Big Bad could be a character with Evil Plans or it could be a situation, such as a comet heading towards the Earth. The Big Bad can (and often does) exert effect across a number of episodes, and even an entire season. Note that Big Bad is not a catch-all trope for the biggest and ugliest villain of any given story. The leader of the outlaw gang that the heroes face once or twice isn't the Big Bad. The railroad tycoon who turns out to be using the gang as muscle is the Big Bad. If there is a constant Man Behind the Man story going on in order to reveal the big bad, then whoever is behind it all is the Big Bad, not every major villain in the lead-up. At other times, if a new enemy shows up to replace the previous Big Bad, then they are the Big Bads of their individual storylines.

  • The Magnificent Bastard

     Heroes We Love To Root For 

     We Love To Watch Them Get Needlessly Killed 

     We Love To See Them Semi-Naked 

     Characters We Hate To Watch 

Sliding Scale of Broad Appeal vs. Specific AppealSorting Algorithm of TropesSliding Scale of Comedy and Horror

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