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Sliding Scale of Anti-Villains
Much like how Anti-Heroes
can be vastly different from each other, so can Anti-Villains
. This scale is a measure of how ambiguous an Anti-Villain is. Inversely related to Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness
. Can contribute to Sliding Scale of Villain Threat
and Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness
. Compare with Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes
Type I and Type II are often a darker shade of grey, while Type III and Type IV tend to be a lighter shade
(with the latter even being in a Good Versus Good
Works with an Enlightenment
leaning tend to make frequent use of Type II and Type III anti villains,showing the villain as a product of society or simply misguided.
open/close all folders
Type I: Noble Anti-Villain
Although he may choose to be evil and perhaps embrace his villainous reputation
, when the time comes for him to walk the walk, he turns away. This type of anti villain has a set of standards, certain lines that he will never cross. As such, he is the first one to say Even Evil Has Standards
when faced with someone who offends said code of conduct. Unlikely to Kick the Dog
but will Pet the Dog
. Often accompanied by a Morality Pet
. Alternatively, villainy is just a job to put food on the table
, thus it's never personal. Placed higher on the "evilness" scale than type II because villainy is usually a choice rather than something they are driven to. The type I is the common definition of the Anti-Villain.
The defining Trope for this type of Anti-Villain would be the Noble Demon
(with emphasis on "noble").
Related Tropes: Noble Top Enforcer
, Hitman with a Heart
, Minion with an F in Evil
, Would Not Shoot a Civilian
, Never Hurt an Innocent
, Even Evil Has Standards
, Wouldn't Hurt a Child
, and My Master, Right or Wrong
Anime and Manga
- Greed of Fullmetal Alchemist. He may try to paint himself as self-centered, but he cares deeply for his followers. He's also the only Homunculus who doesn't resent humans or is a cold-blooded psychopath. And he's the only Affably Evil villain in the series as well. It's no surprise the he later becomes an Anti-Hero in the series.
- Yureka: Lotto, is self-loving, manipulative, and excessively vengeful, but is also capable of caring about those around him.
- Tia Harribel of Bleach.
- In One Piece, we have Bartholomew Kuma.
- Viral from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is quite honorable, despite always wanting to enact revenge on Kamina for tarnishing his reputation and pride.note Here are several examples:
- Just after the Hot Springs Episode, he not-so-politely asks the heroes to Please Put Some Clothes On and allows them to arm themselves before fighting him.
- When he confronts Simon and Yoko over Kamina's whereabouts, and eventually accepts Simon as his new rival, he agrees to a fair one-on-one duel.
- When said duel is interrupted by Cytomander, who takes Yoko hostage and orders Viral to perform a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Gurren Lagann, Viral refuses and sheathes his axe, knowing that his honor cannot be regained that way.
- Diabolik may be the King of Terror, but he will not harm children (or anyone particularly sympathetic actually), has little tolerance for human traffickers and drug smugglers and zero tolerance for rapists and biological weapons, tries to avoid collateral damage (not that he cares when he has to cause it), respects those who give him a run for his money, and will always keep his word.
- Deadpool depending of the day of the week (In his worst moments, he's Faux Affably Evil). With his Blue and Orange Morality and all.
- The Eddie Brock version of Venom from Spider-Man became this (originally, he was just a psychotic Knight Templar.)
- Julius Caesar in Astérix. He isn't above tricking people, but within far more defined limits than Asterix himself, generally being more clever than he is deceitful. He always keeps his promises, treats people below his station and even his enemies with respect (even when they're really annoying), and is one of the few Roman politicians we see who isn't plotting to backstab everyone else, stealing money from the state, being completely ineffectual, or fantasising about getting the Gaulish magic potion and using it to kill their friends and become god-emperor. It should be noted that in no way is he a nice guy, though - he's still a colonialist tyrant who tries to have people executed, is delighted by various Villain of the Week characters with bizarre and horrible gifts, and trying to destroy a culture's way of life simply because they're getting on his nerves.
- The Rogues from The Flash comics. "The Rogues are all about the score."
- Artemis Fowl and by extension, Butler, but only in the early books before they lean more towards Anti-Heroism.
- Napoleon in the Temeraire series. Indeed he often comes off as better than the people running Britain.
- Harry Potter has quite a few characters among the Death Eaters who learn the hard way that they're not quite as evil and twisted as Voldemort wants them to be, such as Draco Malfoy and, more sympathetically, Regulus Black.
- Admiral Sam Trang of the Kollin brothers Unincorporated series at least at first. He starts with very strict ideas of military conduct and honor. Unfortunately that military code includes I Gave My Word and My Country, Right or Wrong and because the President of the UHF is a murderous scumbag, he finds himself Jumping Off the Slippery Slope despite his best intentions. Then his wife is killed during the Avatar War and he briefly goes completely to the Dark Side before then having a Heel-Face Turn.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe Boba Fett fits this trope nicely. He is the Consummate Professional, and while he will work for anyone who can afford his prices, he does have a code of honour and a sense of justice. His justice is just much more direct and no-nonsense. The "evil" in him comes from the fact that he believes order, no matter how it is achieved, is preferable to chaos; so he'll work for a genocidal xenophobic totalitarian faction like the Galactic Empire because he genuinely believes it's better than the alternative of chaos across the galaxy without a unifying power. But he has standards and acts on them frequently, refusing jobs that do not meet his exacting standard of justice or outright refusing to do things that he considers wrong, like sniping the clone of Starkiller when he was distracted kissing Juno Eclipse.
- Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, when we first meet him. Through Character Development, he gradually shifts down the scale, and now spends most of his days as a Type II.
- Mike could count as a Type I. He never hesitates to kill, but he never holds any grudges and only kills because it is his job.
- Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he does have standards. He is also quite utterly unapologetic about the rather horrifying things he has done (and does).
- Both Mr.Gold/Rumpelstiltskin and Captain Hook from Once Upon a Time: sinister, manipulative, and generally remorseless about the pain they inflict on others, yet possessing noble qualities and being able to do great good in addition to great evil.
- Black Knight Camus from the original Fire Emblem until he Heel-Face Turn-ed as Sirius in the sequel
- Lloyd and Linus in the seventh installment where they carried out the deeds of the Black Fang (and Nergal) but were relatively honorable.
- Planet Eater Pyron from Darkstalkers started out as a full straight villain in his debut, but then his ending in the third game indicates that he evolved into this as he began to show curiousity and respect toward Earth and its inhabitants, and chose to not destroy it at the end.
- Heihachi Mishima from Tekken. While a dickhead, he's got some soft spots to prevent him to be equal or even worse than Kazuya.
- For a short time, Anji Mito from Guilty Gear, crossing with Type IV. Unlike Litchi below, Anji has no desperation or pressure to make him join That Man and joins out of complete, unpushed free will (and HIGH level of curiosity) rather than being forced. However, despite all that, he's still friendly as ever to even That Man's nemesis (Sol), tried to befriend May at one of her endings, and in any moment he met Baiken, after one fight, he calls it quits.
- The Bonne Family from Mega Man Legends series. Tron Bonne especially, as she even becomes an Anti-Hero in certain spin-off and crossover games.
- Dr. Colress from Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, who has shades of Type III as well due to doing what he does For Science!
- Pre-Heel-Face Turn Axel Almer in Super Robot Wars Original Generation. He's still dedicated in kicking the good guys' ass, but he's more of a Noble Demon and his true enemy is actually Beowulf and is actually preventing him to 're-materialize' in that world after seeing the brutality Beowulf caused in his world.
- Sagat before Street Fighter Alpha 3, he willingly became a subordinate of Bison in order to get stronger and embraced his status as one of Shadoloo's Four Devas. But over time, he developed into a Noble Demon who is disgusted by Bison's more underhanded methods of granting strength and eventually ditches him for good to resume a more healthy rivalry with Ryu.
- Augus from Asura's Wrath, who only fights him because he fights for the strongest side, and actually treats up Asura's wounds from fighting Kalrow's space fleet before fighting him.
- Magus from Chrono Trigger. Everyone thought he was summoning Lavos to win his war in the Middle Ages. Turns out Lavos destroyed Magus' home and family in the Dark Ages and the whole war was so he'd have an army strong enough to defeat it. While in the past it's shown he's always been pretty cold, he offers your party advice on how to save Crono and his childhood pet cat follows him around very willingly.
- Walhart from Fire Emblem Awakening. While his method for his goal is very accepted as evil, he only wants to conquer the world so it's united under a single banner in order to avert an even bigger disaster. He's also surprisingly noble and refuses to do underhanded methods, making him a mix between this and type III.
- Assassin/Sasaki Kojiro in Fate/stay night embraces his status as Caster's 'gate guardian' and enjoys warding off the heroes from whatever Caster's planning, but he's incredibly polite and only in it because of the good fight he gets from the heroes, without ill-wills and if they beat him fair and square, he'll congratulate them. Essentially, a Noble Demon.
- Sebastian of True Villains seems to be this; his morals often conflict with his villainy, and he admits to turning to evil because of the adventure it offered him. When faced with the option to kill his rival, he lets Gray live, even though he broke the rules of their duel.
- David Xanatos of Gargoyles teeters between this and Pragmatic Villainy. He's far from the purest human being ever to live, but knows that "revenge is a sucker's game," ends up Happily Married, and eventually comes to terms with the titular gargoyles, all without ever quite pulling a Heel-Face Turn.
- Despite considering himself an official villain, Puma Loco from El Tigre puts his family in first place than his criminal schemes (at least most of the time), and is often seen helping his grandson Manny and his son White Pantera in beating up the other criminals of Miracle City.
- Ultra-Humanite in Justice League is quite morally ambiguous for a villain. While he does a series of serious crimes, like blowing up a modern art museum because he despises Modernism, he also tends to help the heroes in certain occasions. A particular example is in the Christmas Episode where he helps the Flash giving a desired toy to a group of orphans.
- Tom of Tom and Jerry, Depending on the Writer. Although he does get sadistic pleasure out of tormenting Jerry and at the beginning of some shorts is shown doing so, in other shorts he's really only forced to go after Jerry by his owner. Jerry does his share of provoking their battles as well, sometimes to the point of Disproportionate Retribution, and sometimes even just because he feels like it.
- Dreadwing of Transformers Prime. Undying Loyalty to Megatron and the Decepticon cause, Combat Pragmatist and Mad Bomber, but shows honor, gratitude and respect to Optimus Prime and the Autobots. In the end, Starscream's defilement of Skyquake's body almost causes him to switch sides.
- Jack Spicer from Xiaolin Showdown. He is not seen as very evil by any of the other charecters. He also will help the xiaolin dragons, and in one episode, he was neutral. In one episode, he actually turned good.
Type II: Woobie Anti-Villain
It's obvious that these types of villains don't WANT to be evil; circumstances just make them out to be. They may act out of Undying Loyalty
or love for someone
or maybe they're simply fighting for their own survival. Others are broken cuties
who have snapped and want to end their suffering by destroying everything. Usually they are suffering from their alignment. The characters garner our sympathy not because their goal is good but because we can see how the Crapsack World
made them the way they are. Often suffer from a damaged psyche. Anti-Villains in this category may become true villains, but they're also just as likely to turn into an Anti-Hero.
A lot (although by no means all) of Buffyverse
vampires/demons fall into this category. They will tend to be driven to their villainous acts by something within their biology. One example would be vampires who don't necessarily want
to kill people, but it's simply that they find human blood to be much more nutritious or tastier than that of animals.
The defining trope for this type of Anti-Villain would be a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
Related Tropes: Sympathetic Murderer
, Jerkass Woobie
, Tragic Villain
, and a typical Dark Magical Girl
Anime & Manga
- Fate Testarossa in the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. She's a girl with an abusive mother who does said abusive mother's bidding in the hope that once she's succeeded, her mother will once again become the kind person she or rather, Alicia, the girl she's based off of remembers.
- Jeremiah Gottwald from Code Geass falls into this early on, when you consider his real motives. He later becomes a Type IV Anti-Hero.
- Guilford, while less malicious than Jeremiah was early on, also falls under here, a Knight Templar of the first order, his loyalty being his defining trait.
- Lelouch, in addition to Type III (see below) and Anti-Hero types IV and V. His hardships have caused him to jump off the deep end on more than one occasion, to put it lightly.
- Pegasus J. Crawford from Yu-Gi-Oh!, who, like Mr. Freeze, is only evil so he can resurrect his dead wife.
- Hishigi of Samurai Deeper Kyo. He fights entirely because of his loyalty to his one remaining friend.
- Enchu in Muhyo And Roji, as it's revealed late in the series that the real reason he turned to evil was not out of hatred for Muhyo, but a desire for release from his pain. Some of his accomplices, including Rio and the Cortlaw Siblings are spurred on by the loss of loved ones, including the desire to return them from the dead.
- Sure, she may come across at times as unusually vicious for someone of this type, but GOD DAMN, does it suck to be Regina! This seems to run in the family, considering her father, King Jikochuu, only did what he did because he was under the influence of the dark essence in the castle basement, which wouldn't have happened if he hadn't gone crazy over almost losing his daughter.
- Atlas from Astro Boy.
- Alma from Jewelpet Twinkle wants nothing more than to ressurect her mother and reunite with her brother so they can be a family again. Too bad her plans include opening a book containing all the evil magic in the world and kidnapping her brother against his will.
- Alyssa from the Mai-HiME manga, and Yukariko from the anime. The former does what she does out of a belief that she will be abandoned should she fail. The latter falls in love with a man who proceeds to use her for his own evil bidding, and gradually grows more and more guilt-stricken over time.
- Reiner Braun, Bertolt Hoover, and Annie Leonhart from Attack on Titan. The series thrives on moral ambiguity, with enough mysteries and ruthless people doing necessary but cruel things to make labeling anyone truly "good" or "evil" difficult. However, The Reveal really drives this home once the enemy is uncovered. While responsible for most of the death in the series, all three Titan Shifters are shown to be conflicted and remorseful over their actions. Annie's issues with her father hint at tragic reasons for her ruthlessness in battle, while Reiner and Bertolt are explicitly shown to be traumatized by what they've done. It isn't clear exactly what drives them, but there's enough indication of being Trapped In Villainy. Reiner develops a dissociative disorder to cope with his guilt, while Bertolt states while he knows his crimes are unforgivable, it had to be done.
- Mifune of Soul Eater is genuinely a good, kind, benevolent person - one of his defining character traits is that he loves children. Therefore, he has wound up protecting the young witch, Angela, the one child who's more in danger than any other. This is because, in this world, witches' magic makes them destructive by nature, and thus they are at the top of Lord Death's hit list.
- Mr. Freeze in Batman post-influence from the animated series. All he wants is to find a cure for his wife's terminal illness, but society itself denies him the opportunity to legally do so.
- Ultimate Spider-Man has the Ultimate version of Shocker, who was screwed over by the company he worked when he tried to make legit money.
- Big Daddy from Kick-Ass. He may be a bit mixed with a Type III, but he's more closer to this once you see what happened to him five years ago.
- Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader from the Star Wars prequels, Well-Intentioned Extremist and Love Martyr who turns to The Dark Side because Love Makes You Evil.
- Loki from Thor was doing the wrong things for the right reasons. Or maybe not "right reasons," but definitely "tragically understandable." He lets the Jotun's into Asgard to prevent Thor from becoming king because he is not ready, he brings them back to Asgard so as to appear to save his father from an assassination attempt, and then attempts to destroy Jotunheim so as to rid Asgard of that threat. At its heart, it was all an attempt to prove to his father that he was just as worthy of his pride and affection as Thor.
- Simone and her sisters in Moon Over Soho. Never asked or set out to be what they became (and weren't even truly aware of it until the end), and whose origin was entirely accidental.
- The "monster" from Frankenstein. He actually recounts how all his thoughts were extremely noble when he had just been hiding and listening to people, but when he actually tried to interact with them and was feared, he became bitter and nasty. This slides it towards Informed Attribute, but the actual events in the novel also give good enough grounds to say this trope applies, especially when the protagonist Dr. Frankenstein is not very heroic himself.
- Fëanor, Maedhros, and Maglor from The Silmarillion. Mass murderers, but they are bound by an unbreakable oath to recover the Silmarils from anyone, at any cost. All three swore the oath of their own volition, and only Maglor regrets it at the end.
Table Top Games
- The Master from Doctor Who is revealed to be this trope given that the only reason he does what he does is because he's been driven absolutely insane by the drums in his head, and that the drumming was put there deliberately (and in Big Finish Doctor Who the Master was made into Death's Champion without his consent). However, he takes a lot of joy in the death and suffering he causes.
- Jefferson aka the Mad Hatter from Once Upon a Time. He's pushed into what he does by Regina's manipulation and betrayal plus love of his daughter. Also he's been driven more than a bit crazy by his time in Wonderland and being one of the few conscientious people in Storybrooke.
- While he still qualifies in the present day, subsequent episodes interestingly reveal that he was once far more ruthless, and actually helped corrupt Regina and drive her past the Despair Event Horizon.
- On that note, Regina herself qualifies, as she struggled hard to avoid becoming evil, but fate itself seemed to conspire against her and the more pain she was put through, the more evil she became.
- The entire reason that Rumpelstiltskin became the Dark One was to save his son from the Ogre War. His whole background and motivation for doing evil is based around his love for his son. Not to mention that his village and his father Peter Pan belittle him and treated him badly his entire life.
- The Red Queen of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland has become this as well, when it is revealed that everything she has done working with Jafar has simply been so she can help him change the rules of magic, allowing her to change the past, in which she abandoned her true love Will Scarlet in order to be queen.
- Richard Harrow in Boardwalk Empire. An expert killer, utterly broken by his experiences and injuries in the trenches of the First World War. His only friend, Jimmy, is a gangster who has a use for Harrow's skills. Harrow has therefore murdered a couple of dozen people on screen, many of them without even asking why.
- Cole Turner in Charmed. An Ascended Demon who tries to use his powers for good, but is repeatedly turned evil because of the corrupting nature of his powers, Demonic Possession by the Source of All Evil, or the Charmed Ones refusing to believe that he's actually good.
- Benjamin Barker, a barber, was such a nice guy with a beautiful wife and daughter before a corrupt judge banished him from London, sexually assaulted his wife, and then engaged in some Wife Husbandry with his daughter. It doesn't excuse his becoming Sweeney Todd, who murders all his customers and gives them to his Psycho Supporter Ms. Lovett to cook into meat pies and sell to unsuspecting Londoners for a nice profit. And yet he's one of the most sympathetic characters in the Crap Sack World of the musical.
- Barry Burton in Resident Evil. Wesker threatened his wife, so he went along with betraying the STARS unit.
- Brad Kilstein in Psychic Force. He's actually pretty decent provided his Split Personality doesn't take over.
- Zero's girlfriend Iris from Mega Man X4. She didn't take Colonel's death well...
- Reptile in Mortal Kombat. It's nearly a Running Gag that if you don't off him, his superiors screw him over. Unlike most of the villains, who seek power, his only goal is to resurrect his race, of which he is the sole survivor.
- Walter Sullivan from Silent Hill 4 may count. He's just a little kid who wants his mom back. Plus he was raised by a cult of manipulative bastards.
- Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in Epic Mickey. Much of what he does (and well, mostly what he intends on doing: betraying Mickey, taking his heart, and abandoning him and all of Wasteland by going to the cartoon world in a rocket) is the result of neglect, jealousy, and the loss of everything he cared about (especially Ortensia) and built in the Thinner Disaster.
- The real Overlord Zenon from Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is this trope. "Everyone who has ever come close to me, has betrayed me..."
- Jack Krauser is retroactively implied to be of this trope in Resident Evil 4, as Darkside Chronicles explains that his reasons for turning to Wesker was because that was the only option left for him to do the thing he did well at, fighting, after his mission with Leon resulted in him being fired from SOCOM due to an arm injury that never recovered.
- Dr Stahngun/Dimitri Allen in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. He's only villainous in order to bring back the woman he loved. Layton even acknowledges he'd never go so far as to kill anyone.
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer features the Founder, the definition of Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. She inflicted the Player Character with a soul-eating curse and set into motion events that threaten the very fabric of the Forgotten Realms, all to save her lover from the Wall of the Faithless.
- Yasha from Asura's Wrath is a combination of this, a Type IV, and Stoic Woobie, who is legitimately the one of the only deities that turned on Asura that feels legitimate regret fro the way they treat humanity after betraying asura, by forcing them into a Martyrdom Culture.
- The Locusts from Gears of War was revealed to be this, despite being Always Chaotic Evil. It turned out that they were fighting a losing war against the lambent and they invaded the surface world as a means of survival.
- Shadow the Hedgehog starts out as this in his debut, as he seeks revenge on humanity for the death of his first and only friend, Maria. He later becomes an anti-hero, then later a hero.
- Yen'fay from Fire Emblem Awakening. He's forced to be a general in an army hellbent on conquering the world because his sister is under constant watch, and leaving his position will result in her dying from the army's spies.
- Idoun from Fire Emblem: The Sword of Seals. Yes, the True Final Boss. She's actually the last of her kind, trying to resurrect the species, which humans had driven away from Elibe.
- The 3,000 year-old king AZ from Pokémon X and Y. Formerly the ancient king of Kalos from 3000 years ago, his Floette, one he loved very much, ended up in the great war, and died, being brought to AZ in a small coffin. This Saddened, yet angered AZ, creating a machine that would revive his Floette. he succedded, but his pain and anger was too great, as he converted his machine into an ultimate weapon that ended the war in one fell swoop. Yet after all this, his Floette, shocked and saddened at his action, left him, as he killed many pokemon to power his machine. The resulting energy left him and Floette immortal, reducing him to Walking the Earth, trying to atone for his sins. He succeeds in the end, finally letting go of his anger and meeting his floette after 3000 years of trying to find. "Sniff".
- Cyrus from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. While his goal is villainous to those outside, he only wishes to rid the world of the emotions that plagued him for his life. While he does have a lake where a spirit needed to create something for his plan bombed, as well as two others planned for the same fate, he does as little harm as possible in the process and releases the spirits after he completes what he needed them for. He treats his Pokémon and allies great as well, if his Crobat and one of the Galactic admins going into the Distortion World when it closes so he won't be alone are any indication. He also has shades of feeling like he's in too deep to stop, considering how he acts towards the player.
- Rider/Medusa from Fate/stay night, throughout the whole series. Her past involves getting bullied by sisters as well as humans and turning into a monster and her resolve in joining the war is simply to protect Sakura simply because they're kindred spirits. Too bad that Sakura handed down the Master status to Shinji and Rider also suffered her abuses, but since it's what Sakura wanted and all to protect her, Rider had to embrace her status as a 'villain'.
- Even when she is returned to Sakura's control, she still fits this, being quite willing to kill Shirou and Rin if necessary to save Sakura (even if Sakura herself is opposed). In Hollow Ataraxia, she even admits that she would happily destroy the entire city if necessary to save Sakura.
- Takano from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni takes and interesting yet disturbing approach on type II's. Her motive for uncovering the truth about Hinimizawa Syndrome starts out noble enough, but due to a combination of desperation and severe PTSD from her experience with the Orphanage of Fear, she becomes progressively more insane as time passes.
- In 151 Hidden Depths, Diglett becomes this after evolving into Dugtrio. Being small led him to be rejected from joining the Pokemon Police Force so he proves he's a force to be reckoned with by destroying cities.
- Dr. Horrible from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a combination of this and Type III until his Despair Event Horizon caused by Penny's death plunges him into complete villainy. Even so, he retains traces of this, given his decidedly depressing turn for the worse.
- The Ice King of Adventure Time, especially after the revelation that he used to be normal until he tried an antique crown that resulted in a loss of sanity, along with gradually gaining supernatural ice powers and becoming unsightly, leading to his present self.
- A lot of fans see Lemongrab as being this. Even though he did pretty horrible things, he was described by Word of God as "not evil- just completely unadjusted to living" and "dysfunctional," thanks to his failed experiment-induced problems with his noggin.
- Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender is somewhere between this and a Type I, before his Heel-Face Turn.
- In the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra Tarrlok and his brother Noatak, better known as Amon turn out to be examples of this flavor of Anti-Villain. Their father was Yakone, the infamous crime lord that Aang had defeated and depowered decades before the start of the series. Yakone proved to be a Horrible Father, perhaps almost as bad as Ozai. He forced Tarrlok and Noatak to learn bloodbending so that he could use them to exact his promised vengeance against Republic City. Ultimately, Noatak turned on him and ran away from home, with a festering hatred of bending that would one day lead to him starting the Equalist revolution under the guise of Amon. Ultimately, Tarrlok kills himself and Amon by igniting the fuel tank of Amon's escape boat using an Equalist shock gauntlet.
- Noatak also arguably fits as a Type III as Tarrlok implies that he genuinely believes that what he's doing is for the greater good.
- In the movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, we have the Phantasm/Andrea Beaumont.
- Charmcaster becomes this in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien with her motive being to save her home dimension and resurrect her father, with shades of Type I, especially after she moves into neutral territory as a Dimension Lord following the failure to accomplish her aforementioned goals.
- An interesting subversion/deconstruction of this character type can be found in Demona of Western Animation/Gargoyles. She's certainly got enough nuance and tragedy in her backstory to qualify her as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, but at the same time she has both the motive and means to do probably the most large-scale damage of any villain in the Rogues Gallery and her obsession with getting revenge for her own pain has blinded her to the fact that she's spent the last milennium just digging herself in deeper.
- Nox of Wakfu, who desperately aims to be Type III but is mostly inhibited by his own delusions.
- Princess of Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure is the top enforcer and The Dragon to her father King. However, she doesn't share the same Social Darwinist mindset as the rest of the Rogues and follows her father out of familial loyalty to him. Although this doesn't stop her from caring for and trying to protect Runt when he's taken as the Rogues' hostage.
- Eddy from Ed, Edd n Eddy is one, though it wasn't made obvious until the Big Damn Movie that served as the series finale.
Type III: Well-Intentioned Anti-Villain
The Well-Intentioned Extremist
. They may believe in a good goal, but use whatever means there are to achieve it. The sympathy the audience can garner for this character comes from the fact that they basically share the same goal as the hero, but are pragmatically, expediently, or pessimistically, ruthless about it. They can very much be conscious about their morally questionable actions, but feel that there is no other way
. Common antagonist in White and Grey Morality
scenarios and relatively likely to be redeemed if shown the error of their ways depending on how
"extremist" they are. These Anti-Villains may become more malicious true villains, but they are more likely to either stay in this category or possibly become a Type IV Anti-Villain or an Anti-Hero. The Type IV can also be a revolutionary of some sort, fighting against the main character only due to their affiliation to some government or organization, and usually fighting for a noble cause. Alternatively, they may not even realize what they're doing is wrong or making things worse in the first place
. The more heroic examples tend to overlap with either Unscrupulous Hero
, or Nominal Hero
The defining Trope for this type of Anti-Villain would be the Well-Intentioned Extremist
, of course.
Related Tropes: Necessarily Evil
, Obliviously Evil
, Totalitarian Utilitarian
, Utopia Justifies the Means
, Villainy-Free Villain
Anime & Manga
- Kijima from Enigme is arguable less extreme, but his unstable facade puts him here.
- Kuze from the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who only wants to see the refugees in Japan be treated with the same respect as any normal citizen of the country. Once he breaks free from the scheme of a corrupt bureaucrat, he wants to turn the refugee zones into autonomous countries. Failing that, he has a plan to allow all the refugees to transcend the need to have physical bodies.
- In Akame ga Kiru!, the Night Raid, given that they are the only heroic characters in the series.
- The "heroes of justice" in Akahori Gedou Hour Lovege are this at best.
- Folken from The Vision of Escaflowne really just wants peace. Unfortunately, it will take massive bloody mecha battles and razing a few kingdoms to get there.
- Defense Devil has a very misguided version in Legato.
- Admiral Gil Graham in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, who set the whole thing up in order to seal the Book of Darkness when it awoke, in order to prevent future tragedies. That Hayate would be collateral damage was unfortunate but unavoidable in his mind. Nobody judges him too harshly for this, because, honestly, no one else had come up with a better plan for stopping the Book.
- Pain, Konan, and Itachi of Naruto. The former two were orphans who tried to bring an end to the civil wars plaguing their country, but after their best friend died, gave up on less violent means of securing peace. Itachi performed the Uchiha massacre because he was ordered to do so by the village in order to avert a civil war, and spared his brother.
- Ultimately Sasuke qualifies as well. He wants to reform the Shinobi world via a violent revolution that involves killing all of the current Kages.
- Magneto may very well define this category, at least when he's on the Heel side of his Heel-Face Revolving Door. He only wants to protect his people and sees a war between mutants and humans as inevitable so he wants to strike first. He may even have a point or two about this, he just can't resist going several steps too far.
- Thrawn ends up here by the time of his last campaign. He started out as a morally ambiguous character in Outbound Flight, but turned into a ruthless, pragmatic man who wasn't above committing some truly villainous acts to achieve his goals. His motives were understandable, especially after they were retconned into stemming from a desire to protect the galaxy from an imminent invasion, but he was most definitely not a good or nice man. His men adored him, but Leia might have had something to say about that...
- Javert in Les Misérables, who is only trying to maintain order and enforce the law, but is extremely rigid in carrying out his goals.
- Lord Asriel from His Dark Materials. His goal is to eliminate an evil god, but the ways he gets to it includes killing a little boy by separating him from his soul.
- The priestess Lady Melisandre from A Song of Ice and Fire and possibly the other red priests. Her ultimate goal is saving the world and she's willing to do pretty much anything to achieve it, including killing a child. On a personal level, she's cold and fanatical, but also kind and extremely forgiving. The motivations and actions of the rest of her order are less clear.
- Walternate from Fringe seems to fall into this category. Yes, he wants to destroy our universe, but for all he knows there isn't any other way to save his. He thinks the two universes are at war. True, he is openly malevolent towards Olivia while she is trapped on the other side, along with anyone that helps her and is quite ruthless, but he occasionally has higher moral standards than Walter. Most obviously displayed when he flat-out rejects his top scientist's idea to text cortexiphan on children, an idea that Walter developed and executed far before the conflict between the universes began. Though it was later revealed that Walter only did that in an attempt to find a safe way to cross to the other universe and return Peter home.
- Thomas from The Event, also Sophia after Thomas's death and finding out the aliens homeworld is dying.
- Walter White from Breaking Bad, in addition to being a Type V Anti-Hero, before he reaches the end of the slippery slope and becomes a Villain Protagonist.
- Touch: Guillermo Ortiz may be the most ruthless person to ever hold this distinction, singularly devoted to the goal of killing a group of 36 people whose very existence he believes to be a crime against God and bound to this goal by being a member of said group (presumably he intends to commit suicide after all of the others have been killed), but when he nearly took the life of someone outside this group of 36, it caused him to doubt himself, and when his attempt to confess his sins forced him to do what he'd narrowly avoided doing in order to remain free to continue his mission, he had a severe crisis of faith that only ended when he saved the life of a man who'd been Driven to Suicide and restored the man's will to live. It truly appears that he is genuine in his belief that in hunting down and killing 35 highly gifted individuals and then committing suicide he is merely carrying out God's will.
- Marche in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. He a Villain Protagonist because of this trope. All of his friends in the real world hate their lives. When they discover a book that warps reality into the land of Ivalice, everyone suddenly has everything they want. They're happy and want to stay there. But no. Marche won't accept it. He's determined to take everyone back to the real world because it's just not right to live a lie and abandon their parents and problems that they have to face in the real world. For Marche's brother, that would mean taking away his ability to walk and turn him back into the wheelchair-bound helpless child that he was. He pretty much has NO reason to ever go back to the real world, because nothing in his life went right before coming to Ivalice.
- Marche is arguable. He wants to go back to the real world, but neglects to notice that Ivalice is real as well and that his friends are plenty happier in it. He also refuses to go back alone and doesn't even bother trying to find a way to leave without destroying the world.
- Namatame in Persona 4 (due to being oblivious to the consequences of his actions more than anything else).
- Matriarch Benezia from Mass Effect 1. And depending on which camp are you on, Saren Arterius. At the end of 3, even The Illusive Man can come off as this, despite his utterly brutal experiments.
- Keith Evans in Psychic Force. He truly wanted the good of his kinsmen, who was being oppressed by humanity and the only way to do it, he thinks, is being a Dark Messiah.
- Jedah Dohma from Darkstalkers. He wants nothing but to eliminate all the evil that plagues Makai, but on the other hand his plan consists in fusing all the Darkstalkers (including the good ones) in a gigantic demon womb.
- Big Boss in Metal Gear did the things he did, besides for his Blood Knight tendencies, out of a legitimate desire to free soldiers so they won't have to be expendable pawns of the government, due to his experience with The Boss's death (and his involvement in it). He also is shown to forgive and save his enemies/defectors if they are threatened, as evidenced by his saving Kyle Schneider's resistance from NATO's nuclear bombing of Outer Heaven despite the latter group being against him.
- Solidus Snake is similar, having taken in people who weren't wanted anywhere else, and also doing terrorist actions in order to prevent the Patriots from eliminating everything America stood for, such as liberty.
- The original founders of the Patriots were also this, as they did legitimately attempt to follow through with The Boss's will, and thought they were doing so with their actions.
- Fallout had The Master, the main villain whose only objective is to unify the wastelanders into a single race and thus prevent any more fighting and wars.
- Look no further than Ammon Jerro from Neverwinter Nights 2. The man has an army of powerful fiends at his beck and call, murders several people who get in the way of his recovering a MacGuffin, and is canonically Neutral Evil. He's not the Big Bad, not even The Dragon. He's the former court mage of Neverwinter, trying to save Faerűn from the Big Bad by whatever means necessary. And you get to give him an absolutely epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
- The Big Bad he's opposing, the King of Shadows, can come across as this when you meet the ghosts of people who knew him. He willingly underwent a transformation into a magical golem called The Guardian so he could protect the Illefarn empire, and everything he's done since then, from binding himself to the Shadow Weave to waging war on Neverwinter, and all the carnage he's caused, is simply him fulfilling the orders programmed into him.
- In Arcanum, Kerghan is a powerful necromancer who seeks the destruction of all life... because, after centuries of using necromancy to study the place where souls go after death, he's wholeheartedly convinced that since all beings undergo suffering during life, the comparable peace associated with death is a desirable state of existence. This view is backed up by one of your party members, who is likely to have been killed and resurrected during the events of the game.
- Archie and Maxie, the leaders of Team Aqua and Team Magma in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, who are doing what they think is best for the environment.
- Lysandre from Pokemon X. While he does plan on wiping out life from the world, he only does so because he feels it's his duty to make the world a better place due to his lineage and feels pressed for time due to humans not living forever. He even shows remorse over the path he's chosen throughout the game and gives the player an option to stop his plans. He certainly did a poor job hiring henchmen, however. Note that this is not true in Y, due to his motivation changing.
- Bioshock: Andrew Ryan. The Audio Diaries show that he never let go of his dream, even as he went from a staunch idealist to a power-mad dictator. Grace Holloway in Bioshock 2 believes in Sofia Lamb completely and believes Delta kidnapped Eleanor. Lamb herself might have been this once, but definitely isn't now. At all.
- Kessler from inFAMOUS. His end goals are noble, hoping to prepare the protagonist Cole, his past self, for the coming of the Beast, an entity intent on destroying all life, which Kessler failed to stop in his own timeline. So by extension, he hopes to save Cole's world. He hopes to do this, however, by showing Cole firsthand the kinds of atrocities he has to prepare for when the Beast comes, as well as the agonizingly difficult choices he'll have to make for the greater good, resulting in the slaughter of thousands of innocent lives at Kessler's hands, including Cole's girlfriend and Kessler's former love, Trish
- Viridi from Kid Icarus: Uprising. As the Goddess of Nature, she is disgusted with the way humans fight against each other and pillage nature, so she tries to wipe them off the earth with the Reset Bomb. While Palutena and Pit agree with her views, they also say that what she does is not the solution and fight her forces to stop her Reset Bombs. Later on she joins with Palutena and Hades to fight the Aurum Invasion and when Palutena is possesed by the Chaos Kin, she helps Pit so he can rescue her.
- Walhart from Fire Emblem Awakening. While his method (conquering the world) is very villainous, he's surprisingly noble and only does it to try to avert an even bigger disaster, making him this and type I.
- Lord Arvis of Velthomer in Fire Emblem Jugdral wanted Jugdral to achieve a state of peace and is willing to do and sacrifice anything for it, including siding with the Dark Bishop Manfloy and killing Sigurd and the majority of his followers. He made good use of his claims and actually turns Grannvale into a benign, noble Empire for about 10 years... until Manfloy gave his son Julius the tome of Loptyr and everything Arvis worked hard for went straight to hell and he can't even stop it. By the time he's confronted by Seliph, he's been so miserable and outclassed by Manfloy and Julius that he's just fighting to be able to die in the battlefield, giving him shades of type IV.
- Redcloak from The Order of the Stick, initially; he became more of a straight villain over time due to his association with Xykon. Then he realizes that he is being corrupted and then becomes even more sympathetic and dangerous.
- General Xinchub of Schlock Mercenary started out as this...he did a lot of villainous things with the best of intentions, in order to protect humanity from threats it wasn't even aware of. Of course, by the time the main cast encounters him, he has discovered that he really enjoys doing all these things and is a much less ambiguous villain. About the best thing you can say about him now is that Petey finds him useful.
- Tangerine from Sinfest doesn't do the stuff she does out of malice, but as a result of not knowing any better. More recently she and Lil' E have slipped into Type IV territory.
- Baron Wulfenbach, absolute ruler of Europa in Girl Genius. He demands obedience of his subjects, kidnaps the children of notable Sparks to his floating citadel in the sky, sends criminals and troublemakers to the Castle Heterodyne to repair it, despite nobody even possibly knowing how to, and has burned entire towns down to the ground to contain unmanageable problems within. He's also absolutely fanatical about keeping the Heterodyne bloodline under control, which puts him at odds with the protagonist Agatha, herself the last known heir of the family. The thing is, he has a point. Prior to his taking control, Europa was a chaotic, feudal place of madness where most Sparks ran wildly and warred against each other with their insane creations, the worst of which included the exceptionally powerful Heterodyne family, which for at least fifteen hundred years had been, with two very notable exceptions, irredeemably evil warmongers singlehandedly capable of bringing Europa into ruin. Everything Baron Wulfenbach has done, however horrific, has been to restore peace and order to the country, and he did a damn good job of it too. Not only that, but once he freezes himself along with the entirety of Mechanicsburg in a bid to keep Agatha from reclaiming the seat of her power, Europa quickly descends once again into a terrible anarchy unmatched by any before.
- Jaffers and the obstacles (except for Suede at the end of part 5) in Suburban Knights just want to protect the gauntlet from Malecite so that he cannot pose a threat to our technology-dependent world. In the process, however, they're willing to fight and kill anyone also looking for the gauntlet in order to prevent that from happening.
- The Global Occult Coalition, while, like the Foundation, ultimately trying to protect humanity from potential threats, is quite a bit more extreme, seeking the total destruction of all paranormal objects.
- Skitter in Worm wavers between this and Pragmatic Hero — she is unquestionably a criminal, but her heroic motives and aspirations frequently lead her to risk life and limb for Innocent Bystanders being threatened by other supervillains in the town.
- Ken'tu Kel, the Big Bad from The Lay of Paul Twister. His evil plan is to reunite the two sundered worlds, which Paul even agrees would actually be a good thing, probably. It's his callous indifference to the suffering that would come along with it, and his relentless willingness to do whatever it would take to accomplish his goal, no matter who gets hurt that makes Paul realize he needs to be stopped.
- Jet from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He has a good reason to be opposing the Fire Nation, he just takes his grudge way too far.
- Earl of Lemongrab of Adventure Time just wants the castle to be quiet, clean, orderly, and free of pranks and sass. So he sends EVERYONE to the dungeon for impossible lengths of time. Also, this guy doesn't exactly have all his marbles together, so he overlaps a lot with type II.
- Tony of Alpha and Omega pressures his son to enter an Arranged Marriage with a complete stranger and will enact a war with the Western Pack to take their territories if they don't comply. But once you get past his Jerkass behavior, his motivation isn't warmongering, but trying to ensure that his pack will have enough food and resources to survive, even if they must take it by force.
- Kang the Conqueror in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes becomes sort of this. The sole reason why he wants Captain America dead is because he blames Cap for disrupting the timeline (remember, Cap got preserved in a block of ice in the North Atlantic after an accident in his last mission in the 40's and then was revived to present times by the Avengers), which for an unexplained reason causes the destruction of the world within 10 years and almost erases Kang's wife Ravonna from existence.
Type IV: Villain in Name Only
These characters either lack any villainous traits whatsoever or have so much concern over others that any signs of villainy are nearly completely drowned out. Frequently, these characters are called villains only because they fight against the hero. Basically, these guys are NEVER actively malevolent. They usually have some other reason for opposing the hero besides evil schemes. Ironically, these characters can be extremely dangerous to the hero as their high skill at arms/competence more than makes up for their lack of vileness. Fighting them also poses a moral dilemma which can also sap the hero's morale. It is at this point where an Anti-Villain
starts to blur with the Hero Antagonist
. Having to kill a particularly well liked type IV in a boss fight can be a Player Punch
. Their deaths are extremely likely to be a Tear Jerker
Related Tropes: more benign My Country, Right or Wrong
or My Master, Right or Wrong
, Non-Malicious Monster
, Punch Clock Villain
, Noble Top Enforcer
(when not a Type I), mild examples of Necessarily Evil
, those who are Forced Into Evil
, and occasionally a Token Good Teammate
(when amongst a bunch of scumbags).
Anime & Manga
- Akame ga Kiru! has Wave Being one of the Jaegers for the incredibly corrupt empire he is surrounded by some very evil types yet still retains his sense of goodness and honor, fulfilling his duty to protect the peace for the innocent and hasn't brutally or coldly killed anyone yet. That nature of his is drawing him closer and closer to the Rage Breaking Point thanks to some of those in the empire he is supposed to answer to.
- Hajimete No Aku. The "villains" actually try to choke the world doing nice things. The villains are so good, in fact, that the characters question the heroes' good will and say that they are eviler...
- The Team Rocket trio from Pokémon were this for a looong time until the Black/White series. They had started out as bumbling and humorous, but still villainous in personality, but by the end of the Johto arc, any evil they had was drained out and they were left as just bumbling and humorous.
- Excel and Hyatt from Excel Saga are both a perfect example of a Minion with an F in Evil. Excel is a hyperactive idiot who can't keep her focus on anything more than 3 seconds and lets her overt loyalty to Lord Il Palazzo prevent her from actually making rational decisions. Hyatt actually is competent but is constantly dying at the drop of a hat that she's only marginally more successful than Excel in carrying out their goals.
- In One Piece, this type applies to any of the Marines (particularly Smoker and Garp) that aren't corrupt or abusive, and follow a reasonable justice code that usually conflicts with the intentions of their Knight Templar superiors.
- Coyote Starrk from Bleach is only really considered an enemy because he follows Aizen. He fights against the heroes but never actually takes the step into actual villainy, never attacking to kill. It's eventually revealed that the only reason he joined them is he is so powerful that his spirit energy kills any weaker hollows and he was tired of always being alone.
- Shin and Noi from Dorohedoro are an interesting example. Both seem to be Blood Knight assassins at a first glance, but in reality they are just Punch Clock Villains that reserve their ruthlessness on the people they suppose to kill.
- Sasaki in Haruhi Suzumiya. In a Genre Savvy display, she even states she KNOWS she's poised as "the villain of this story", but chooses not to follow through with playing the part, and actively helps in trying to sabotage the REAL villain's plan.
- Also the Computer Research Society President, who only opposed the SOS Brigade because Haruhi extorted a computer from him. Lately, though, he and Haruhi seem to be on better terms with each other.
- Ivan from Digimon Savers, who kills Digimon to earn money to support his mother and his many siblings. He's a stark contrast with his boss Kurata.
- The title character of Squid Girl. First of all, her threat of invading and taking over the surface world isn't taken very seriously by other characters (except Nagisa). If she tries to actually invade the surface, she would easily be defeated the entire military from many different countries that would put her under control. Oh wait, you don't need a military to do that, because it only takes one person to keep Squid Girl under control. Also, the worst thing she can actually do is trying to tie you up with her tentacles and attempt to take over a beach restaurant. She is very oblivious and has very limited knowledge on the human society in general. In the end, she end ups a cute squid girl goofball with her villainy not taken seriously by anyone.
- Chao Lingshen from Mahou Sensei Negima!. She's such an Anti-Villain, in fact, that Negi had actually considered letting her complete her plan.
- Ratman is a protagonist version, and is actually a superhero Otaku who is only a "dark hero" because he was tricked into joining Jackal, an Oddly Small Organization of rather goofy and nonthreatening villains. Since his missions have him breaking the law and put him at odds with the Hero Association (especially the more Jerkass heroes), he's a criminal, but takes every opportunity he can to use his powers to help people.
- Alyssa from the Mai-Otome manga, who wants to end the Otome system so that she can spend more time with her sister.
- Panza from Muhyo And Roji. She ends up Taking the Bullet for Roji, and Muhyo points out that she's not evil like the rest of Ark.
- Maho Nishizumi from Girls und Panzer, especially when it's revealed that her reason for wanting to be a good Nishizumi heiress is so that her younger sister Miho will be free to live her own way.
- The Wolkenritter from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's spent centuries fighting in the service of the Book's masters, but when they entered the service of Hayate, who had no desire for power or to see people harmed in her name, they are content to obey her command not to fight for her. However, when they realize that the Book will kill her unless it is filled, they set out to do so, but do so in a way that minimizes harm.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures and Teen Titans crossover fanfiction A Shadow Of The Titans, Jade fits this trope, as she is only being a villain because circumstances forced her into the HIVE, and are currently keeping her there, though she has plans to defect as soon as she can.
- Similarly, in the Jackie Chan Adventures and W.I.T.C.H. crossover Kage, Jade is only working with the villains because the Guardians' misconceptions and Nerissa's Blatant Lies have forced her into it.
- Nanoha herself is one of these in Game Theory. Definitely a good person, but the cause she's fighting for threatens to kill a lot of people.
- Mariko Suou in Perfection Is Overrated unwittingly serves the agenda of the Big Bad by causing everyone to adore her through her SUE powers, and is the only SUE with anything near a healthy conscience. In a side story, she realizes what is going on and tries to oppose the rest of the SUEs, but the Big Bad manages to get a SUE free of her powers and has her killed.
- Naval Marshall General Isoroku Yamamoto from Pearl Harbor. While being charged by the Japanese Empire with the task of somehow successfully destroying the American Pacific navy at anchor in shallow waters, he is making comments such as "A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war."
- In Underworld once the truth comes out, Lucian is a villain only by virtue of being on the other side. Somewhat unusually for this trope, both Selene and Michael recognize that he isn't a real villain, and turn on the real villain Viktor.
- In Frozen, Elsa is less evil than she is free-spirited and very frightened, and she means her sister no harm even when she hits her heart with a freezing spell. Furthermore, she only harms those who deliberately try to harm her. Likewise, the snow monster she creates only goes berserk on Anna and her party because she unwisely threw a snowball at it in a rare moment of her acting without thinking.
- Dr. Connors in The Amazing Spider-Man is a genuine, kind man who only tests the Lizard formula on himself to prevent Dr. Ratha from using it on unwitting test subjects at the veteran's hospital. Even when he turns into the Lizard he's only a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to heal the world of weakness. Admittedly, he plans to do this by turning everyone into Lizard-creatures, but at least his intentions are noble. He puts himself firmly back into villain in name only territory by his actions after he is cured, saving Peter's life.
- Ramsey Michel from Chef appears to be a Caustic Critic who gives Carl Casper's then-employer two stars. Casper takes it personally and trashes him in front of the entire restaurant. Turns out, the reason for his rating is because the restaurant was deliberately restraining Casper's creativity (he's actually a fan of Chef Casper), and once he gets a chance to explain everything, the two patch things up, and Michel finances Casper's new restaurant.
- Several of the Havenite military personnel in the Honor Harrington series are only villains because they happen to be part of a nation that is at war with Manticore. This is especially the case after Eloise Pritchart takes over as President and transforms Haven from a People's Republic of Tyranny into a genuine democracy. They have now become straight protagonists after Haven and Manticore allied to fight Mesa.
- In many of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, the perpetrator or the closest equivalent turns out to have merely been the victim of the circumstances, not known what they were doing, merely committing a lesser crime for understandable reasons, or at least to be a Sympathetic Murderer taking justice in their own hands against an Asshole Victim who really had it coming. Once they're exposed and explain themselves, Holmes tends to let these characters off the hook even when they actually did do something illegal.
- Nen Yim from the New Jedi Order was like this, putting her skills to the service of the Yuuzhan Vong more because they were her own people rather than because she believed in their cause (privately, she thinks her peoples' religion is bogus and their God Emperor is a total nutjob, though she'd never say it out loud). Indeed, her only actually villainous appearance is in Conquest, the first book to feature her, in which she was more a sidekick to a much nastier Mad Scientist than a villain in her own right. Later on, she'd be the protagonist of her own subplot (Rebirth), helping the Warmaster root out a Starscream conspiracy (the Enemy Lines duology), a cameo (Destiny's Way) or in an Enemy Mine with the heroes followed by a Heel-Face Turn (The Final Prophecy), but any further real villainy was off-page.
- Before that, in the X-Wing Series, there was Admiral Teren Rogriss. In his first appearance (Solo Command), he's a good-natured officer who pulls an Enemy Mine with General Han Solo to take down Warlord Zsinj. In the second (Starfighters of Adumar), more of his background is revealed, showing him to be an overall honorable man who happens to be on the side of the Empire. It's mentioned that he's fought the New Republic in ship-to-ship battles, but his name has never shown up in any so-called "dark projects" (like Imperial superweapons or Imperial Intelligence operations). Overall, he's a sympathetic character.
- Lt. Kavenaugh on The Shield at least until the premiere of season 6 when he crosses the Moral Event Horizon.
- Enos from The Dukes of Hazzard. He is never really portrayed as corrupt or evil, and despite his Designated Villain role (by default by being on the same side as Boss Hogg), becomes quite sympathetic and likable over the course of the show. Enos is plagued by a strong sense of duty. He's a deputy, and sworn to uphold the law. Unfortunately for him, Boss Hogg controls the law. At times, one has to wonder if his goofing up isn't at least somewhat intentional as a way of helping the Dukes. Especially considering that he was able to become the head of the Los Angeles SWAT team.
- Sgt. Shultz and Col. Klink from Hogan's Heroes
- The Gorgs in Fraggle Rock. While the Fraggles see them as cruel ogres, they just see the Fraggles as pests, and they actually have a valid reason to, seeing as the Fraggles steal vegetables from their garden. (The Fraggles don't consider this stealing; of course, the have a skewed view of many other beings, including humans.)
- John Dickenson in 1776 is staunchly against Independency, even coming to blows with protagonist John Adams. His only claim to villainy is he's a Loyalist that truly believes America's best course is to remain with England.
- In NieR, The Shadowlord, who is actually the original Nier. His "villainy" is the only thing preserving human life at this point, and his only selfish actions in the series are to save his daughter - the same motivation that ironically drives the player character to kill him and ruin everything forever.
- The Guardians from Mega Man Zero, especially Harpuia. They're essentially good people (technically, Reploids) fighting for an evil government. Eventually they make a Heel-Face Turn.
- Litchi Faye-Ling in BlazBlue. She actually disliked NOL and thinks Hazama is suspicious, but the situation forces her to join the bad guys.
- Mid Boss in Disgaea. The worst thing he does is loot the party's picnic basket.
- Sif The Great Grey Wolf from Dark Souls is a giant wolf that does nothing beside protecting his master grave, and will fight to the death for protecting it, even when he's too weak to stand.
- For that matter, Maiden Astraea herself. The only reason she's even billed as a villain is because she has a demon's soul (she's the Valley of defilement's Archdemon), but it's outright stated that even in her bitter disillusionment after finding out about God's non-existence,, she still hasn't lost her kind heart, and her soul is the most impure one because she's taking all the sins and suffering of the Valley's inhabitants on herself, relieving them of some of their misery. The Valley's denizens adore her, and will do absolutely anything to protect her, including judiciously slaughtering pesky soul-hunters looking to snag her soul. Like say, the player character. And she commands such loyalty simply by being a good person at heart. Sixth Saint Astraea, indeed.
- The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3.
- Miles Edgeworth in the Ace Attorney series is either this or a type III: he starts off as a more typical villain, trying his best to get all the defendants found guilty, but he has a Heel-Face Turn. Now, he looks for the truth, and helps Phoenix if need be.
- Both Eldigan and Ishtar from Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu. Eldigan was too much of a Stupid Good when it comes to loyalty (and dies for it), and Ishtar was really decent for children or Tinny, but just can't say "no" for Julius.
- Ishtar, however, did go directly against Julius's orders and had children that were due to be sacrificed smuggled into Freege castle, and made it clear that anyone who laid a finger on them would be dealt with by her personally. While she does end up dying for Julius, she does show that she's willing to disobey the orders of the most powerful character in the game in order to do what she feels is right. Really, if she wasn't in love with Julius she'd probably have done a Heel-Face Turn.
- The Fire Emblem series likes this trope. Others who fit this would be General Eagler from Blazing Blade and Selena and Glen from ''Sacred Stones.
- General Teo McDohl from Suikoden I. And you, being his son, offed him because he serves the Empire, you lead the rebels.
- Baldur's Gate:
- Tamoko in the first game, based on what we see of her. She's only on the side of the Big Bad, and willing to try to kill the Player Character, because she loves him, and she even wants to stop his plans to save him. However, she is officially Neutral Evil according to game files, which doesn't actually contradict her behaviour if we assume she's otherwise willing to do evil but her True Love for the villain is stronger than those tendencies. But according to what we actually see her do, her being merely somewhat amoral rather than evil would be the most sensible explanation.
- In the sequel, Yoshimo, Tamoko's brother according to cut content. What a Senseless Waste of Human Life indeed. Even more clearly amoral rather than evil, but forced to work for the villain through a Magically Binding Contract.
- Tales Series:
- Leon Magnus from Tales of Destiny, who's fighting you only to preserve the life of Marian, his surrogate mother figure. For double whammy, so is his manipulator Hugo Gilchrist, who turns out to be his and Rutee's father and he's been possessed all along.
- Arietta from Tales of the Abyss. She hates the party because they killed her mother (there were extenuating circumstances, but still) and because Anise essentially took over her job as Ion's guardian, gaining all his affection in the process. She doesn't understand why Ion doesn't care about her anymore. She doesn't know that this Ion is a clone, not the one she knew. The boss fight where you kill her is a serious Tear Jerker.
- Sonia/Chris Ryan from Psychic Force. Her loyalty was actually programmed and any events of her death proved to be soul-crushing for her little sister Wendy.
- Golbez and Jecht in Dissidia: Final Fantasy. The first is a Stealth Mentor, the second just wants a reunion with his son.
- The latter character was a Type IV in his original game as well, seeing how the only reason he's on the villain's end is because he fused with Sin after becoming Brask's Final Aeon with the intention of eliminating Sin, and was perfectly willing to die at the hands of his son as long as it at least ensured Sin's permanent destruction.
- Cloud Strife and Kuja were depicted as Anti-Villains in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, being on the Warriors of Chaos side, yet not being too happy about their current position in the conflict, as well as sympathizing with the other side in the case of Cloud. It's also implied that Cloud's sympathizing for the Cosmos side is because a person he knew and cared for was there. Cloud eventually managed to defect to the Warriors of Cosmos, although at the cost of getting killed by Chaos at the end of the 12th cycle and having to be revived. Kuja, however, wasn't so lucky, thanks to Kefka and his implementing Fake Memories.
- General Leo from Final Fantasy VI is the Empire's Token Good Teammate. He is heartbroken when all of the inhabitants of Doma are poisoned to death by Kefka, gives fatherly advice to Terra, and turns against Kefka as soon as the latter proves to be not so harmless. After being slain by Kefka, the heroes give him a heartfelt funeral.
- From Pokémon Black and White, N, leader of Team Plasma is easily the most heartbreaking example of one of these in the Pokemon series, and has a bunch of qualities of the other 3 types above this one, with none of the truly evil traits that belong to them.
- Lemon Browning in Super Robot Wars Advance and Super Robot Wars Original Generation. Despite her Mad Scientist tendencies, she's generally without malice and kind enough with her creations, and you off her merely because she just has to fight for the side she's on. Oh, and her relationship with Axel is genuine. Add up that she's Excellen Browning's Alternate Universe counterpart...
- Originally in Advance, if you feel genuine enough, you can avoid attacking her in the last stage and go beat down Vindel, leaving Lemon's fate more open than surefire death.
- Sophitia Alexandra starting from SoulCalibur IV goes to this path. Despite starting out as the holiest and purest of all fighters, her motherly instincts decreed her to protect her children who was under Soul Edge's influence, by protecting said weapon that she swore to destroy. There's a reason why she's crying in her official art in IV.
- Her daughter Pyrrha gets the same treatment in Soulcalibur V. Being raised by Tira and manipulated into being a new host for Soul Edge, everything out of her mouth screams she doesn't want to do any of it.
- Donkey Kong himself when he's the antagonist, such as the classic arcade game or the Mario VS Donkey Kong series. He never has any malicious intent; he simply has trouble controlling his impulses and tends to get angry when he doesn't get what he wants, leaving Mario to stop him. After Mario defeats DK, he generally forgives him and gives DK whatever he wanted in the first place.
- Claus, AKA The Masked Man from MOTHER 3. He's only evil because Porky revived his dead body and brainwashed him as an assassin.
- Aphelion, the silver dragon from Radiata Stories is the closest thing to a Big Bad the game has—and wouldn't be considered evil on any conceivable moral scale if it weren't for the fact that his plan cannot go through without killing his fellow dragons and the host of his opposite, Quasar.
- Mr Freeze in Batman: Arkham City is this with a bit of Type II. As usual his main goal is to protect his wife and he only goes against Batman once in the entire game and that's just because Bruce's stubborness lead to a miscomunication between them.
- The Thieves Guild in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Despite being unrepentant thieves they never kill, protect the poor and only target people who can easily afford the loss. Their leader the Grey Fox in particular fits this as he only resorts to crime due to a curse which he seeks to break.
- Odin Sphere: Odette deserves the title of "Jerkass Antagonist" more than she does "Villain". Unlike most other antagonists, Odette's ambition is to keep the living from helping dead souls escape (or stealing her deadly crystals to use as weapons), and insisting that her contractee keep his end of their bargain. (On the one hand, it was a fair trade, but he didn't have much choice, given how he wasn't the one that did the trading.) A throwaway line suggests that Odette's strictness stems from hear fearing that too much rule-breaking would lead to The End of the World as We Know It. She's absolutely right; not only does one hero's escape allow the Big Bad back into the land of the living, but the her death lets one of the prophesied calamities out of its can... along with possibly making death much worse than it ever was before.
- Lancer/Cu Chulainn from Fate/stay night is actually a laid back cool guy who's source of joy is good, fair fights and teasing. It's just that he's stuck with a Master that he finds disgusting like Kotomine Kirei (after his previous Master got yanked on the arm by said Kotomine), but too honor-bound to obey the rules despite his misgivings. Kotomine's actions and his other servant Gilgamesh disgusted him so much that he ends up defecting when opportunity presents itself (and dying as a result). It does show when the show goes Alternate Universe in Fate/hollow ataraxia, what he does is just hanging around fishing rather than being hostile.
- Various characters of True Villains could count as this. Cecile and Xeke only seem to help Xaneth because they are friends with Elia, and Mia is just going along with Sebastian. Had someone different taken her in, she could've easily been a hero.
- Waspinator in Beast Wars. Technically, he's never done anything villainous, even compared to Megatron's other mooks.
- King Julien from The Penguins of Madagascar is a complete Jerk with a Heart of Gold but while he's a recurring antagonist, he repeatedly teams up with the Penguins to help them out. Okay so he sometimes messes things up even worse but at least he's trying.
- Lindsay from Total Drama Island in the first season when she was Heather's lackey, as well as the final episode in the third season, she helps Alejandro.
- General Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender; A jolly old man who just happens to be on the side of the Fire Nation, he has no malicious plan of any kind and just wants to help his Troubled, but Cute nephew Zuko. He's also the leader of The Order of the White Lotus, a group of Cool Old Guys who end up liberating Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation.
- Swiper from Dora the Explorer may be antagonistic, but he's definitely not evil, and is in fact one of Dora's friends. Also, even swipers have standards (for example, after the Christmas Carol-based episode, he never swipes anything on Christmas).
- Cheese Sandwich from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a cheery guy whose only goal is to throw parties for ponies and make them happy. The problem is that Pinkie Pie does the exact same thing, and feels threatened that Cheese Sandwich might lure her friends away with his charisma and energy. Once he explains his backstory, the two team up and depart on good terms with one another.