"You can't have heroes and villains when the wrong side is making the best sense."
A Straw Character
exists in a work to represent a caricature of a position which the author wants to tear apart
. Authors use these Strawmen because they have a position of their own to defend, and they want to make it clear who is right (namely the characters who agree with the author's opinion
) and who is wrong. Yet sometimes — possibly at the time, possibly after some thought
— the audience realizes that the Strawman made the better argument, even though his position was the "wrong" one.
A particularly persuasive Strawman can cause the audience to turn their empathy from the "heroes" and start Rooting for the Empire
. The presence of this trope generally indicates bad writing (a good writer could make his case without needing a Strawman to demolish). Occasionally the Strawman's argument was as weak as intended in its native context, but Creator Provincialism
or Values Dissonance
cause different audiences to see its merits.
Invoking this trope cannot be done directly: the whole point is that it's a reaction the writer never intended. To invoke it, the writer would either have to be criticizing some other work or use a Show Within a Show
format. If there's any awareness of this from the writers (and one might suspect subconscious awareness), expect a lot of unrelated Kick the Dog
moments from the villains. Alternatively, the author may attempt to work around this trope by revealing that the villain may have been using a valid argument, but only as a cover to let them do whatever they want. This is also not a scenario where two people have a disagreement and both have valid points. A Strawman is, by definition, an overly simplified position that is so flimsy it can be easily toppled. If everyone is partially correct, no side is a true straw man - they're still not this trope.
Contrast Jerkass Has a Point
, Dumbass Has a Point
, and Villain Has a Point
, where the author deliberately has a non-credible character hit the nail on the head. Compare and contrast Misaimed Fandom
, which results when the characters opposing the author's view are wrong but the fandom misinterprets the story as saying they were right. See also: The Extremist Was Right
, Informed Wrongness
, No Mere Windmill
, Alternative Character Interpretation
, Do Not Do This Cool Thing
, Broken Aesop
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In Black Cat, Baldor's desire to murder Kyoko after her Heel-Face Turn is supposed to be a sign of how demented he is, which will make us root all the more when Train fights him and his partner, Kranz, to save her. Problem is, Kyoko pre Heel-Face Turn, was not only a member of a group determined to plunge the world into chaos, but a Psycho for Hire who enjoyed burning people alive from the inside out, while kissing them. On top of that her switching sides is motivated not by the realization that what she's doing is wrong, but from fear of Big Bad Creed, and a crush on Train. End result, Baldor comes off looking far more reasonable than he ever should when he recommends they just kill her. Happens again when one of the heroes tells him that just murdering your enemies is wrong. Cue one of the enemies she'd just spared blowing himself up to try and kill her. Baldor's maniacal laughter ends up being less Kick the Dog, and more "told ya". This also leads into Could Have Avoided This Plot; if Saya had just killed Creed in their battle instead of distracting him none of the horrible things he did in the manga would have happened.
- In Code Geass, Suzaku and Lelouch call out the head of the Japanese Government in Exile for retreating to China when Britannia invaded rather than staying to fight. He protests that retreating and building one's forces is a perfectly valid tactic, and, well, it is. In fact, it's not all that different to Lelouch's own actions prior to the start of the series. Lelouch does the exact same thing in the next season. Of course, the real reason Lelouch is opposing him is because if he wins, Japan will just be a puppet of the Chinese Federation.
- In Freezing, Scarlett Oohara is portrayed as being wrong for wanting to turn ordinary girls into artificial Pandoras to fight the Novas which plague humanity. The argument is that there is no point making civilians fight the battles when they're supposed to be the ones being protected, and that humans shouldn't try to reach for more than they have. Never mind that natural Pandoras are getting killed off faster than they can be born and that the current system is plenty cruel enough in that if you're born with the potential to become a Pandora, you have no other choice but to be one. Giving one a choice would be a huge benefit. Dr. Aoi Gendo, Oohara's main opposition, is okay with the Limiter system, which sends plenty of willing, once-civilian boys into the battlefield. Scarlett's point is then undermined since the E-Pandora project was never really meant to succeed in the first place. It was merely a publicity stunt to buy time for the Type Maria project. The girls who suffered and died because of the E-Pandora project did so for nothing.
- Grave of the Fireflies: The director Takahata intended for Seita to be seen as wrong for not swallowing his pride and returning to his aunt. Yet many saw Seita's actions as understandable, if not necessarily right.
- The Leaf Village's elders' decision to keep Naruto on the Toad Mountain during Pain's attack to the village, as opposed to summoning him back to fight, was portrayed as unequivocally wrong, and Tsunade's outburst and calling them out for their lack of faith in Naruto (and in the anime, subsequent lecture to them about believing) was put as the right position. However, the elders' decision was not at all unreasonable, as the target of the attack was known to be Naruto himself, and there was no guarantee at the time that Naruto could fight, let alone defeat, Pain (a villain who had already killed Naruto's master, Jiraiya); the Elders even point out to Tsunade that it's tremendously risky to summon Naruto back, and that if she is wrong and Naruto is defeated, the consequences would be disastrous for the world. And then they were proven utterly right when Pain kicked the crap out of Naruto, who was saved only by a timely intervention by Hinata. The anime portrayed the decision as influenced by Danzo, adding more fuel to the discussion of Danzo's motives. Interestingly, in later arcs the Kages make the same conclusion of hiding both Naruto and Killer Bee to keep them safe during the war, with only Tsunade and the Tsuchikage objecting to it, and it's Gaara who shoots down Tsunade's argument of putting Naruto on the front lines.
- The Raikage is painted as a stubborn-headed git for refusing to forgive and rescind the 'kill on sight' order of Sasuke for the suspected murder of his brother. The manga tries to make it so that the Raikage's desire for revenge is clouding his personal judgment to the point where he's willing to start a Cycle of Revenge, but the fact remains that A) Sasuke is still at large, working for a terrorist organization, B) Raikage's brother and other such targets hold the equivalent of a WMD, C) Raikage isn't the only person who wants Sasuke's head.
- Another example would be Danzo's first act as Hokage. That is, declaring Sasuke a missing-nin who is to be captured or killed on sight. Naruto and Sakura insist Sasuke doesn't deserve it but not only did he defect three years prior to a village that was established to destroy Konoha, he also (as far as anyone knows) kidnapped and killed the Raikage's brother. If Konoha doesn't declare that Sasuke is a missing-nin, such an act would be tantamount to a declaration of war on Kumo by Konoha. Even if Sasuke was merely "misguided", no leader would declare a single soldier that was clearly in the wrong to be worth starting a war over.
- In one flashback Orochimaru suggested Mercy Killing three orphans, on the grounds that a miserable life was all that awaited them. He was shown as a Jerkass for this with Jiraiya criticizing him for it and instead Jiraiya abandoned his mission in order to raise them. And it turns out their lives did suck, as Jiraiya left as soon as they had a basic amount of training, leaving them to fend for themselves in the middle of an on-going war. One of them was forced to kill the other, which eventually led him to side with the Big Bad, who only fed and reinforced his misery. Meanwhile the third supported his every move. These orphans would go on to kill Jiraiya and destroy the Leaf Village.
- Back during the battle with Naruto and Neji, Neji claimed that fate has already been decided pretty much at birth and there is no way for Naruto, who is believed to be a failure, to change it. After Naruto managed to defeat him, Neji believs that Naruto is right and destiny can be changed meaning he does not need to be a Hyuuga branch. However, later Naruto is revealed to not only the son of the fourth Hokage and a Jinchuriki, he also inherited the will of fire by Hashirama, the reincarnation of the sage's younger brother and is the child of destiny that is prophecised by the toad elder. Coupled with the Uchiha's curse of love and power, it means that Neji is by all means right. The final nail in the coffin is when Neji sacrificed his life to save Hinata, effectively means that Neji will always remain a 'failure' branch of the Hyuuga clan elders.
- Way back when Obito and Kakashi are arguing whether they should save Rin or not, Kakashi claimed that Rin is not as important as completing the mission, due to learning from Sakumo's experience only for Obito to shot him down stating that "Those who break the rules may be scum but those who abandons their friends are worse than scum" thus Kakashi eventually decided to go back and save Obito. But had Kakashi not save Obito, he wouldn't have become Tobi and being responsible for everything that happens in the current Naruto world. In other words, Kakashi and by extension, the Konoha villagers code is right all along when it comes to following ninja rules.
- Although it was intended to come across as an example of Sasuke's callousness and self-absorption, at least some of his observations regarding Sakura's feelings in chapter 693 is actually spot-on. Given that by this point Sasuke has repeatedly betrayed his friends, his village, his entire nation, and at the latest turn of events the entire social order of the continent, has openly announced his intention to murder everything that is good or just and take over the world as its new demon-powered overlord, and never had anything in common with or shown the slightest bit of affection or encouragement to Sakura in their entire lives, it makes absolutely no sense that she is still in love with him, and Sasuke is being entirely on-point to stop and lampshade that. It really interrupts the whole rhythm of a scene intended to show a megalomaniac's utter alienation from normal human emotion when you have to stop and go "... wait, that's actually true."
- Pokémon: In Best Wishes 2, in the eliminatories of the Junior World Cup, Georgia and her Beartic suffer a Curb-Stomp Battle at the hands of Iris and her exceptionally powerful Dragonite, which had decided to join Iris' team on his own accord just in the previous episode. The former gives the latter a What the Hell, Hero? and tells her that she didn't win by her own merits, but because of her Pokemon's strength (especially since Dragonite wasn't obeying her at all). We are supposed to think Georgia is being a Sore Loser like she usually is, but her argument makes perfect sense — that instead of relying on Pokémon that she trained and fought alongside, she's just using a last-minute super-weapon she just found. Iris herself isn't shown to completely disagree with this, and it comes to a head when she battles Ash; she and Dragonite seem to finally be working together until Ash's Krokorok evolves into Krookodile and gains the upper-hand. Dragonite starts disobeying again and goes on a bit of a rampage which leads into an embarrassing loss for Iris, that of which makes Georgia extremely pleased to have been proven right.
- A real thinker in Rurouni Kenshin. The central Aesop of the series circulates around Redemption Equals Life, Everybody Lives, and Forgiveness, and main character Himura Kenshin breathes this philosophy in order to atone for his past crimes. However, Kenshin's rival, Saito Haijime, deconstructs Kenshin's no-kill philosophy by stating that by allowing his enemies — who are usually Ax-Crazy, sociopathic, Card Carrying Villains — to live, he endangers more lives than he saves. And this has happened. Case in point, during the Jinchuu Arc, Kenshin defeats and spares two of Six Comrades, Gein and Kujirinami, who were no doubt the most dangerous. What do they do as soon as they recuperate during the climax of the battle (when Enishi was going to enact his true revenge against Kenshin)? They go straight onto aiding Enishi again.
- Sonic X:
- Knuckles largely exists as a Commander Contrarian to the team that desires to take more desperate measures to get back home. While he has a bad attitude (especially where Sonic is concerned) and some of his antics like trusting Eggman over and over are genuinely short sighted, the team tend to demean him over any point he makes (a few of which are rather valid and likely would have led to less disastrous results if followed, though of course this is never called out). Most of the time he argues with them he is tricked or bullied into following through rather than reasoned with in any way, despite the team endlessly pointing out how wrong it is when Eggman manipulates him in a similar manner.
- Vector claims that Cream, a six year old, should be sent home to her mother rather than tagging along with Sonic and the others around the universe fighting a powerful and murderous alien force. While he steps over the line by trying to send her back by force, it's hard not to feel he has a strong point, especially since Cream shows far less physical capability in this interpretation. Much like their arguments with Knuckles the other team mates are belittling to his theories and angrily label him an egotist who should butt out.
- A manga one-shot by Rumiko Takahashi called The Tragedy of P tells the story of an apartment complex where pets are forbidden. We're supposed to resent Mrs. Kakei, who's the most vociferous pet-opponent of all the members of the tenants' association, for the way she mercilessly throws out all tenants who are discovered keeping pets. But the thing is, the tenants' agreement clearly forbids keeping pets. Although Mrs. Kakei's stoic demeanor helps convey the image of her as cold and evil, the pet-keeping tenants did sign an agreement saying they wouldn't keep pets. So they're breaking their word and being dishonest, and we're expected to dislike Mrs. Kakei for not wanting them to. It's revealed that Mrs. Kakei had a beloved dog she was forced to give up after moving into the apartment complex, a decision that was emotionally devastating to her, but she still did it because that was what she agreed to do by signing the tenants' agreement. So her apathy towards her fellow tenants over breaking this rule makes perfect sense because she's upholding herself to the same standards that she expects of her fellow tenants, and because she didn't expect an exception for her beloved pet then nobody else should expect an exception either.
- In The Twelve Kingdoms, given that Shoukou is a lunatic guilty of committing multiple atrocities such as hunting humans for sport, it's easy to write off his denouncement of the practice of having each kingdom's ruler chosen by kirin according to the mandate of heaven. However, when one takes into account that the kirin, as spirits of mercy and compassion, have an In-Universe alignment of Stupid Good (to the point that one of the first things a good king has to learn is when to ignore their kirin, since a kingdom cannot be run by compassion alone), that each king becomes The Ageless when they take the throne (and thus stay in power unless and until they go bad and have to be overthrown, which happens eventually in most cases), and that because each king is a Fisher King, a bad ruler causes all kinds of natural disasters in his or her kingdom (famine, plague, armies of rampaging monsters...), it's hard not to concede that Shoukou has a point.
- YuYu Hakusho:
- The Koorime are made to appear to us as heartless bitches who would willingly condemn a child to death just because his mother made him with someone from a different race (albeit a demon) and he looks "a little" creepy at birth. Even his sister, by far the purest creature from the series, thinks their whole kind deserves to be killed for what they did to her, her mother, and her brother (although she also expresses that she sees it as a form of Mercy Kill). The problem is, their point is completely valid. All the male offspring so far have killed many Koorime, who can only reproduce at intervals of over a century. And Hiei was only saved by The Power of Friendship.
- A minor example from the Dark Tournament arc is George suggesting Hiei attack Bui while the latter is busy removing his armor. While the girls chew him out for suggesting such a dishonorable act, they seem to forget a very important detail. The tournament isn't an officially sanctioned martial arts competition. It's Blood Sport where the only consistent rules are 1) No interfering with the match. 2) Stay in the ring. When most matches are won by killing your opponent, every fighter should be a Combat Pragmatist.
- The current page image is from a Very Special Episode of Batman that spoke out against drug use. Tim Drake tries to convince a group of kids at his school that they shouldn't use such things, only for the lead kid to provide the sensible argument pictured above (namely that Tim doesn't have any right to forbid the kids from doing what they want with their own bodies and that equally harmful drugs like tobacco and alcohol are legal so it's hypocritical to pull the "that stuff's poison" card).
- In Action Comics #176 Muscles For Money, Superman decides to start charging money to save people. While it's certainly true that Superman was doing some reprehensible things (charging insane amounts, forcing people to sign contracts before he'll save their lives, etc) the primary argument seems to be that Superman doesn't deserve any sort of reward for the good he does. The worst part is when Superman politely requests the $10,000 reward for two criminals he brought in only to have everyone declare him a money-grubber for it, despite the fact that this is a reward the police themselves had offered and which anyone else besides Superman would have been given happily.
- Since her return to The Avengers, Scarlet Witch has been attacked by several of her teammates for the events of House of M, even though The Children's Crusade established that she was possessed and manipulated by Doctor Doom. Her critics (namely The Vision and Rogue) are made to look like massive Jerkasses for attacking her, but House of M wasn't the first time Wanda lost control of her powers. There is definitely some logic behind the idea that having her on the Uncanny Avengers might be dangerous and counterproductive to the team's mission statement.
- During the "War with the Runaways" arc of Avengers Academy, Hank Pym and Tigra plotted to take Molly Hayes and Klara Prast and put them into foster homes where they would never be found by their older "siblings". Predictably, when the Runaways found out, they attacked. While Pym and Tigra's plan sounded cold and heartless, and while Hank Pym is probably the last person who ought to be making decisions about other people's lives, it's worth noting that the arc was, in part, a follow-up to the unfinished "Home Schooling" arc from the Runaways series, the central thesis of which seemed to be that Nico and Chase were god-awful parental figures who seemed especially ill-equipped to help Klara, who was still showing signs of trauma from her near-death experience and who is powerful enough to accidentally kill someone if she gets too upset. Thankfully, at the end, Nico casts a spell to make each team see things from the other team's point of view, and thus the two groups are able to reach a peaceful compromise.
- In the Chick Tract "Somebody Goofed" as well as the "edited for black audiences" version "Oops!", a man named Bobby overdoses on speed and as his friends and family are gathered around, a Christian shows up to tell them all about how Bobby is burning in Hell right now. When another man shows up to stop him we're supposed to side with the Christian. Of course, whether the Christian is right or not, moments after the death of a loved one is usually not the best time to preach to people (let alone say he's suffering eternal damnation for his choices), making the other man totally justified in trying to shut him up. Of course, this being a Chick tract, not only is this guy evil and rude and even assaulting the Christian for no apparent reason, the final panel of the comic reveals he was in fact Satan himself luring another soul to the lake of fire.
- Civil War was supposed to be a nuanced exploration of whether or not compulsory registration for superheroes was necessary to curb catastrophic mistakes and potential abuses of power. Both sides were supposed to have valid points (but supposedly supporting the Pro-Registration overall). Unfortunately, due to insufficient coordination between the writing teams of different books (as well as a serious difference in the skills of the writing teams — the anti-reg side got J. Michael Straczynski), Mark Millar failed at making readers sympathize with the pro-registration side and both sides ended up looking like straw men, with the pro-registration side looking particularly monstrous. For starters, the SHRA criminalized the act of apprehending a criminal when you yourself are an average citizen, as well as SHIELD trying to arrest Captain America for refusing to join the pro-reg side and enforce the law, before it was actually signed into law. To make matters worse, the actual specifics of registration varied from book to book:
- In pro-reg books, registration was treated as a prerequisite to a superhero being a crimefighter. Supers were given the option of not using their powers, getting trained in using them properly and to establish that they were not a threat to themselves or others, and going to prison. If they did not want to fight crime after they were finished being trained, then they didn't have to, and there was no indication that they would be forced. It was just shown that a lot of people chose to fight crime because they had made friends with their fellow trainees and they felt like they should use their powers for good. However, the pro-registration side was still not sympathetic because Tony Stark and Mr. Fantastic were portrayed as being jerks, who felt like they knew what was best, as well as committing some blatant crimes. But they were making excellent points throughout and if Mr. Fantastic's soothsaying math can be believed, it was the lesser of a few evils.
- In anti-reg books, SHIELD forcibly conscripted anyone who happened to have any kind of superpowers whether they wanted to fight crime or not, and the pro-reg heroes were Well Intentioned Extremists. When Luke Cage said he just was going to not use his powers and stay out of it, armed gunmen showed up at his door on midnight of the day the act went into effect. In Avengers: The Initiative, kids recruited were told that they either join the initiative, get their powers taken, or go to jail. Cloud 9, whose power was a little cloud that could make her fly, was recruited, turned into a sniper and sent to killing missions, even though she never wanted to use her power for crime fighting. In addition, Stark orchestrated an attack on Black Panther, foreign chief of state, because his wife (who had diplomatic immunity) refused to sign up. It was quite clearly a case of "work for us or else".
- Kingdom Come:
- At one point, one of the "newbloods" calls out Superman to argue against the notion that they have saved lives thanks to their willingness to kill the most dangerous supervillains. While the new "heroes" are clearly reprehensible and vile, the reader is almost certain to find themselves agreeing there are some criminals who should be taken down permanently, rather than being given relatively light sentences. They also note that the traditional heroes never had to deal with threats like Genosyde and the Murder Squad - if they had a better answer for those situations, the anti-heroes are all ears.
- When Superman questions Wonder Woman about bringing a lethal weapon (a sword crafted by a deity) to quell a riot, she shoots back that not everyone has built-in deadly powers like heat vision or bullet-proof skin.
- It's seen that the point where this Bad Future started to come into shape was when Magog murdered The Joker in cold blood and was not only acquitted for the murder, but celebrated as a hero for it. Superman retired mostly from disgust that the populace would accept this murder in lieu of justice and embrace Magog as their new champion, showing the world accepting a terrible new type of hero. This all falls apart when we're reminded that it's The Joker, the comic-book poster child for an irredeemable, mass-murdering monster who can never be stopped or reasoned with. Honestly, it's surprising nobody tried murdering him sooner. Of course, Supermans view, that murdering a criminal already in custody, isnt exactly unreasonable, and blame should fall on the court systems that refuse to give the Joker any other punishment than internment in Arkham.
- Magnus Robot Fighter eventually ascended the straw point — the hero accepted that the robots' reasons for rebellion were basically sound, and tried to arrange a peace. That is before it descended again, at which point Magnus even destroyed robots that were not rebellious.
- Red Sonja — "She-Devil with a Sword" #1-7 has the Borat-Na-Fori religion, which practices human sacrifice. The Celestial, the antagonist, and some sort of strawman for organized religion, points out that his religion is the only thing keeping the entire realm from plunging into barbarism, and that Sonja is only going to make things worse by bringing him down. Turns out that he is absolutely right. At best, the moral of the story is that the Aztecs deserved what they got from the other Mexican Indians and the Spaniards.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- We're shown that Thrash the Devil seems to be going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge by tossing every last echidna into an alternate dimension in a major case of Sins Of The Father. However, while they weren't responsible for what happened to his people, the fact that the echidnas, an overly advanced civilization, sat there and did nothing concerning Dr. Robotnik/Eggman and allowed beings like the Dark Legion and Enerjak to wander freely, you can't help but wonder if he was in the right there, just in an odd way.
- Mina is depicted as being overzealous and callous for making a public statement about how dangerous NICOLE is and indirectly starting a mass paranoia concerning her. However, as sympathetic as she is, NICOLE was shown to be extremely dangerous as a result of the Iron Queen corrupting her programming, leading to a takeover that led to the Mobians being enslaved and many supposedly legionized (ie. mutilated with cyborg implants). The Freedom Fighters are outraged by Mina's actions and label the public as being vindictive, but as she angrily pointed out, people had suffered because of NICOLE, and largely because they were cocky enough to neglect installing any security precautions into her software (it was implied they were taking precautions by that point, though had neglected to consult the public about it, by then it was too little too late).
- Hamlin is conveyed as smug weasel who uses a long-lived grudge against Sally to try and get the council to persecute her for disobeying orders. However, Sally was the one who created the Council in the first place, and then nonchalantly ignored them when they attempted to use democratic tactics. When Hamlin pointed out she was undermining their entire purpose (with some other members even agreeing with him), she gave up her refute and outright blackmailed the Council into siding with her. Quickly assuming Hamlin is persecuting her out of spite (he was, but he also had completely legitimate reasons) and moaning about how he could be so heartless as to suggest that she was not acting entirely professionally just made her look like a self-righteous tool.
- The reason for Hamlin's spite is the neglectful treatment that his old team received from the Freedom Fighters. While we're supposed to side with Hamlin over his team's being mistreated and forgotten, despite being an actual team that Sally personally trained, it falls apart because that team was called the Substitute Freedom Fighters. By definition, they go into action when the regular line up can't. Also, his team was led by Larry Lynx, who had volunteered to help Rotor in the past, so Hamlin and his teammates could've had more active roles if they had simply asked.
- Pretty much any character who calls out Sonic or the other Freedom Fighters for being reckless. Compared to other interpretations, Sonic is more fallible because of his cockiness and his failures have much more dire repercussions. He sometimes accepts this shortcoming, but only whenever it falls straight on his head and even then it never lasts. Otherwise Sonic, as shown above, is actually pretty ignorant towards criticism, and in some cases is even hostile to those who try to handle things their own way (be it more stable or not).
- When Jason Todd, the second Robin returned in the "Under the Hood" series, his primary goal was to take down the Joker. Towards the end of the mini-series, Batman tries to justify the Joker's continued survival by revealing he fears that his killing Joker would make for a line that he can never uncross, leading him to become nothing more than a Serial-Killer Killer. Jason, who has been set up as a murdering maniac now little different to the Joker himself, immediately shoots back a rebuttal about the Strawman Fallacy of this particular argument, asking why taking exceptional actions to deal with an exceptional individual, a monster whose list of crimes should have earned him the death sentence a dozen times over or more, would lead to those actions becoming the new default. As he points out, he's not saying that Batman should start killing crooks at random, or even that he should start lethally pruning his Rogues Gallery in general. Just that Batman should do what the legal justice system fails to do, and put the mass-murdering, psychotic, irredeemably evil monster that is The Joker to an end. It's telling that all Batman can muster in response is an empty apology and an insistence that he can't do that.
- Very often it seems like is Magneto was right arguing that peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants is impossible, considering that no matter what the X-men do, the plot never seems to get any closer to reaching that, particularly because people in the Marvel Universe are Too Dumb to Live and suffer from Aesop Amnesia regarding that theme. In a lot stories they seem willing to easily sacrifice any and all of their freedoms at a moment's notice, so quite often it would seem like the world would be better if the X-men let Magneto Take Over the World, since at least he doesn't go making the Green Goblin the most powerful man in America.
- Robert Kelly's arguments (such as comparing mutant registration to gun control) actually made sense to some readers and viewers. Then they turned an otherwise logical argument into an anvilicious allegory to McCarthyism when they had the senator hold up a "list of names of identified mutants", shifting the argument from "Some mutants are dangerous" to "All mutants are dangerous". Of course, once the killer mutant-seeking robots come in (and they always do), it seems clear that Kelly is Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, even if his arguments do have a grain of truth to them.
- The first arc of Cable and X-Force involves the head of a Chick-Fil-A stand-in who bars mutants from eating in her establishments. When confronted, not only does she explain that her daughter was killed during Xorn's attack on NYC, but also points out that superhumans tend to cause insane amounts of collateral damage wherever they go. Thus, her desire to not see her customers and employees killed comes off looking pretty rational, all things considered.
- In the New Mutants mini-series, Kevin Ford (AKA Wither) is hiding out in a junkyard after accidentally killing his dad with his disintegration abilities. While trying to lay low, he ends up killing the dog belonging to the junkyard's owner. A confrontation ensues, and at the last second, Dani Moonstar rescues Kevin and beats up his attackers. While we're supposed to root for Dani and not the bigoted junkyard owner, it's hard not to sympathize with him given that a mutant just trespassed on his property and killed his innocent pet. And then when Wither decides he doesn't want to stay at the school, after having no on-panel counselling or training to control his powers, and after having to be stopped from deliberately killing someone, Xavier just lets him go on his way. You're supposed to be on Xavier's side for letting a kid choose his own life, but when the kid has already killed someone and his mutant power is dissolving any organic matter he touches, you kind of feel like getting the cops involved might be a good idea, and maybe the pro-registration crowd have a point.
- In the Schism event which leads to the second volume of Uncanny X-Men and to Wolverine and the X-Men, both Cyclops and Wolverine are presented as Strawmen. But both also have valid points.
- Wolverine is correct that Cyclops' new, militant approach to the mutant race's survival goes against what Xavier intended for the X-men, and that he seems to have forgotten that the X-men were supposed to be teachers and educators for mutants. There's a reason practically half of the teaching staff abandons Utopia so as to be able to go back to being teachers, not defenders.
- However, Cyclops is also correct in his points, and his points arguably have a lot more weight to them. The X-men are living in a world that is more hostile towards mutants than it ever was whilst Xavier was alive, and with barely 200 mutants alive on Earth at the present, they need to be able to pull together and make humans see they won't just roll over and die to any bigots who comes knocking. It's telling that many of the students choose to remain with Cyclops, pointing out to their Wolverine-siding fellows that A: more students died in the Xavier Institute than have ever died on Utopia, and B: they are living in a world where Fantastic Racism overrules any concept of kids as non-targets in a racial war. As the spokesperson for the Cyclops-loyalist so eloquently puts it, the second a mutant's X-gene activates, they stopped being a kid and started being a target for every anti-mutant bigot in a world crawling with them. And if one must be a target, then better to be a target who can shoot back.
- The Punisher can sometimes get this during crossovers with other heroes, as his arguments for killing a criminal will be all-but ignored. Note that this only applies when talking about legitimately irredeemable murderers; Punisher's tendency to brutally murder people who commit relatively minor crimes (stealing, drug-dealing, defending someone else from Punisher, etc.) is significantly harder to justify than him trying to kill a lunatic like Carnage or Norman Osborn.
- Common whenever Draco in Leather Pants and Ron the Death Eater are both in use. The "Ron" is likely to insist that they shouldn't trust the "Draco", often bringing up very valid points.
- Anthropology: The story deals with the background pony Lyra trying to prove the existence of humans. Bon Bon her roommate does not believe her and can come across as frustrated and sarcastic in her denial, and we should see her as an insufferable skeptic, especially when she threatens to kick Lyra out, but she makes some fairly decent points: Lyra hasn't any real proof besides some books and dreams, something Twilight agrees with, her behavior is shown to be weird by the pony standards, and Lyra needs to improve her image to advance her musical career, which Rarity agrees with, and she only threatens to kick Lyra out when one of her stunts-bringing an apple cart to life to ride it like a car-nearly hurts somepony. Of course when Lyra comes back to Ponyville with not only proof of humanity, but the fact that she herself is human all that is left is her sarcasm and frustration.
- In the Harry Potter/DC Comics crossover Ascension, Aresia is irredeemable for unleashing Circe in an attempt to kill Harry, believing him to have bewitched her fellow amazons. Her reasoning: a male magic user came to Themyscira and within a few days, all of the Amazons are literally lining up to have sex with him, all the while talking about how amazing he is. It's rather hard to argue with that logic.
- Bitterness: The rest of the cast is absolutely right when they point out that Twilight was acting irrationally angry when she accused Cadance of being evil in A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1. However, we're supposed to take Twilight's side, even though in this fanfic she A) rejected Applejack's apology, B) acts like a complete Jerk Ass to everypony about what happened (even insulting her own brother), and C) has spent most of the fanfic twisting every pony's words.
- The so-called villains in The Conversion Bureau, the Human Liberation Front, see ponies as a threat to mankind — and given that the ponies' goal is the total extinction of the human species, they are absolutely right. Fics like The Conversion Bureau: Not Alone and The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum take this and run with it, portraying the bureau as villains.
- About two-thirds of the way through Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness, Zacharias Smith decides to leave the DA. When he does so, he explains that the DA is sounding more and more like a martyrdom cult with each passing day, and the focus of the group has changed from "Resist the Death Eaters" to "Die heroically". The DA counterargument is... to agree with every word he says and ask, "What's the problem with that?" Bear in mind that all of the members of Dumbledore's Army are teenagers, and Zacharias Smith (who was a strawman in canon!) suddenly becomes the Only Sane Man.
- In The Empty Cage, one of the differences in the seal from Naruto canon is that from the moment the vessel is destroyed, the Kyuubi will be banished from the human realm for a hundred years. A civilian is presented as being heartless for suggesting killing Naruto immediately to insure a hundred years of freedom from the Kyuubi. Though, at least one person who disagrees with said civilian uses the justification that every day Naruto (really the Kyuubi) lives is another day added on to their hundred years of safety. It would ALSO result in Kyuubi deploying the equivalent of a strategic nuclear weapon on his way out, and going full-on genocidal when he got back. The fight that kicks off the plot? That's Kyuubi returning fire out of vague annoyance, not fighting seriously.
- In-Universe example in Fallout: Equestria: Red Eye was raised in an earth pony supremacist stable, and frequently argues against it in his propaganda. Given that unicorns can do magic, pegasi can fly, and earth ponies don't seem to have anything special, it would be hard to argue that earth ponies are even as good as the other races, let alone better. Despite that, the arguments he quotes are pretty convincing. Most significantly, he would have died of old age had he not been given cybernetic implants that were only developed because of the stable's obsession with technology over magic.
- Frigid Winds And Burning Hearts has Braveheart being court-martial by Blueblood in Chapter 8. We, the readers, are supposed to side with Braveheart, and feel that Blueblood is badly mistreating him. This would be easier if everything Blueblood says about Braveheart (that he's a violent, hateful street punk in Royal Guard's clothing who has yet to succeed at a single task he undertakes in the story) wasn't true.
- In Hogwarts Exposed, the Obviously Evil school bully Dick rants about what an idiot Jamie is for diving into the freezing lake to rescue a child's doll. He's right, because however much sentimental value a doll has it's not worth drowning or freezing to death over, especially as she could just have said "Accio doll" and had done with it.
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender webcomic How I Became Yours, Mai hides letters from Katara to Zuko telling him that she's pregnant. When confronted by Zuko, she gives a reason that does make sense◊: She wants to prevent a possible civil war coming from all the succession problems that the existence of a bastard child of the Fire Lord would bring. (And, well, Zuko impregnated Katara when he already was married to Mai). However, since this is Mai and she is Katara's love rival for Zuko, she's presented as a petty and clingy Designated Villain who does this only out of bitterness and jealousy... and we're supposed to side with Zuko when, in response to her rant, he humiliates and beats her before abandoning his war-torn nation to run away with his babymama. Interestingly enough, Katara herself, who is not a strawman, has similar reasons for not telling Zuko.
- Mare of Steel: Rainbow Dash/Supermare is taken captive by a General Ripper who believes that she is dangerous to Equestria. Surprisingly, she agrees that if she ever did go rogue then she would be a dangerous threat worth being removed.
- In My Brave Pony: Star Fleet Magic II, there is an ex-Wonderbolt named Ace Ray who was kicked off the squad for badmouthing Star Fleet and has become a loser who sits around stuffing his face all day. However, he accuses the Star Fleet of being arrogant and lazy for not taking action against their enemies sooner and thus leading to the destruction of Equestria. He also calls them out on assuming every enemy they fight is irredeemably evil without even considering the possibility that they might have a reason for acting that way. He then accuses them of being overlords due to their species essentially taking over United Equestria, doing everything of value, and Celesto being extremely powerful, both politically and literally. The reader is clearly supposed to side with his sister Skye, who tells him he's bad for speaking his mind about Star Fleet. However, he makes some very good points that were mentioned by reviewers and riffers of the original fic.
- In the Girls und Panzer fanfic new friends, new horizons, Yukari is shown as being in the wrong for distrusting Nicholas White for carrying a gun, and having heard that he was put on trial for killing two people (although even Saori is shocked upon hearing of the latter). While it soon comes to light that Nicholas killed the men while they were trying to kidnap his older sister Elizabeth (aka Darjeeling from canon) to sell her to the sex trade, Yukari's reaction seems more reasonable from a first impression, especially considering the heavy restrictions on owning guns in Japan.
- The Secret Life Of Dolls: Anna is persistently paranoid and accusative of Edward, which the author condemns her for. However? Edward Tallen is a dangerous, antisocial dollpire — and just committed pre-meditated murder. This was darkly foreshadowed, when Anna insists that the reason she wants to kill Edward is that killing vampires is what her family does. Cleolinda says "Yeah, well vampires are supposed to eat people and he's not doing that!"
- Shinji And Warhammer 40 K: The Government bureaucrats in episode 22 are portrayed like idiots concerned about their position and afraid of losing power and influence if people does not obey them. However their concerns were not reasonable: give weapons to a teenager and allow him hoard them is a recipe for a disaster, moreover if he keeps them in his school.
- Maledict in Sonic X: Dark Chaos claims that without peace under his tyranny - despite all his atrocities and manipulation - life in the galaxy and the universe-at-large would be nasty, brutish, and short and that if they would've let him win in the first place, most of the war wouldn't have happened. And considering what Sonic and his friends encounter during the story, it's hard not to see his point. This trope is lampshaded in the rewrite by Sonic of all people, who says there may be a kernal of truth to it - but even a difficult freedom is better than simply being Satan's plaything.
Film — Animated
- In the Balto II: Wolf Quest, the wise elder leader of the wolf pack, who Aleu is fascinated by, is meant to be the good guy. He is very spiritual and preaches accepting change and realizing that you will never know anything; contrasting this is a young, loud, warlike wolf who scoffs at his elder's spiritualism and argues that the pack has to fight to defend itself. The elder's talk of a vague "Grand Design" and not fearing change would probably be received better if the entire pack wasn't on the brink of starvation. Admittedly, fighting a human development would not end well for the wolves, but... Spiritual Leader, why didn't you just say that in the first place?!
- In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, even though he is essentially an abusive foster parent, Frollo's grim depiction of the world "out there" actually sounds quite realistic considering the film is set in Mediaeval Europe which was not known for being kind to those with severe birth defects. Quasimodo does, however, get to witness this first hand, and later says that it's because of people like Frollo that the world is that way.
- In The Little Mermaid, Triton is the intolerant Jerkass telling Ariel how cruel and evil humans are, and Ariel's idealistic views all turn out to be right. But given humans have been exploiting the oceans for millennia, along with using it as a giant garbage dump, as far as he knows humans really are evil.
- South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: At the start of the movie, the mothers of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny are at least partly justified when they boycott Terrance and Philip, as their film did influence the boys badly, and Kenny eventually dies trying to replicate one of their stunts. They only become full-on villains (well, Sheila anyway) when they decide to blame all of their problems on Canada.
Film — Live Action
- In the live action film of 101 Dalmatians, the evil fashion exec Cruella Deville is dismissive of the idea that Anita, her employee, should leave her job in the event of marriage. This is meant to show Deville as callous and cynical, but her observation that marriage tends to deal a massive blow to a woman's career is unfortunately true.
- The closest thing that 2012 has to a villain is Oliver Platt's heartless presidential adviser, who's an obvious Take That to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney — note that his name is Anheuser, presumably after Anheuser-Busch breweries. However, after the fifth or sixth argument where his level-headed pragmatism is contrasted with the Honor Before Reason Save Everyone bleeding-heart attitude of the rest of the cast, you kind of have to wonder if maybe the writers did not secretly agree with him. Some examples:
- He is heavily criticized for keeping the impending disaster a secret from the general public, although announcing the end of the world would've caused massive panic and hysteria and helped no one.
- Dr. Adrian complains that "only rich people" are being let onto the Arks, to which Anheuser responds that the money they spent buying tickets is what funded the Arks in the first place. That and snarking "Oh, you mean life isn't fair?!" (No one seems to point out that those "rich people" won't be rich after the catastrophe. Even if they could take all their money with them, it'll be worthless in a world without an economy to back it up. They'll have to work just like everyone else.)
- When Adrian wants to open up the Ark to save one more family, Anheuser chews him out for wanting to risk everyone's lives just for a slim chance of saving five or six more people. Which is made even more glaring in hindsight after this supposed heroism results in the horrific deaths of Gordon and Tamara.
- The scientists gave the world governments a set time table for when the world was supposed to end, and the world governments began their doomsday preparations based upon the timeline given to them. But when the end of the world started earlier than what was projected, Anheuser essentially has to make decisions on the fly which are morally ambiguous but are also realistic. He's supposed to be seen as evil for not wanting to save certain people, but considering the scientists keep feeding data that is consistently wrong it's hard to blame him for having to make such drastic decisions.
- In Accepted, a high school senior rejected by every college ends up inventing one out of thin air. The thing spins out of control and becomes an actual, factual school set out of an old mental institution. The Dean Bitterman at the nearby traditional college wages an accreditation jihad against the upstart. The guy's a Jerkass, and the new school (with its emphasis on the students) is presented as a brave bastion of new educational methods. But as Dean Dick points out, the new place doesn't have a health center, more than one faculty member, or even a library. One doesn't have to be a crusty old academic to argue that a college should at least have a freaking library.
- Dean Wormer's point of view in Animal House is understandable — no sane college administration would want the Deltas around, and the rest of the student body might well have been good and tired of their endless pranks, hell-raising and rule-breaking. The Deltas may have been Affably Evil, but evil they were nonetheless — a lot of the stunts they pulled would get people who tried them in Real Life tossed straight into jail. That Wormer goes overboard ultimately justifies him being the villain.
- In Billy Madison, Eric is supposed to be a Corrupt Corporate Executive who merely wants to run Madison Hotels. However, he is right when he points out that the company's fifty-thousand employees are not likely to have jobs for very long if the president makes his drunkard son (who only graduated because his father bribed his teachers) president of the company. Notably, before Billy strikes a deal to graduate legitimately, this actually does temporarily convince Billy's father to hand the reins over to Eric. It's also noteworthy that, after some Character Development, Billy himself concludes that he's not cut out for the management of a large company and turns it over to Carl, who is both competent and not a Jerkass.
- In Brüno, Sacha Baron Cohen's goal as the titular character is to "expose the undercurrent of homophobia in American society". But he does this by assuming the character of an outrageously, nauseatingly flamboyant caricature of the worst stereotypes of homosexual men, (to say nothing of idolizing Hitler as Austria's greatest national character) and then engaging what is fundamentally sexual harassment of various men who cross his path. The "homosexual hate" he encounters, in a lot of cases, feels less like homophobia and more like a perfectly natural response to being accosted by such an unpleasant, highly offensive individual.
- In Cape Fear, Bowden gets the chief of police to try to drive Cady out of town before Cady has done anything illegal. Cady hires a lawyer who is portrayed as fussy and over-liberal, but who makes the entirely legitimate point that Cady is being harassed for no reason. Of course, Cady does not stay innocent for long.
- Chairman Of The Board has a version of this mixed with Hilarious in Hindsight: Bradford, the antagonist, blasts Edison's management of the company while the latter is shown driving up the stock price and getting magazine covers amid his antics running the company. The only problem? He was running the company in almost exactly the same manner as a lot of dotcom startups at the same time, almost all of which went broke. Had Bradford not violated numerous laws in forcing Edison out, his fight for control of the company would have been justified to save it from Edison's "interesting" management style. In the meantime, Bradford would arguably have managed the company competently even if he was only looking to sell...one presumes he would have gotten more for a functional company than an asset-stripped wreck, after all.
- Christmas with The Kranks expects the viewers to side with the neighbors who harass the title characters for deciding to celebrate Christmas by taking a cruise. Their daughter went off on a Peace Corps assignment thus making the first time in almost two decades they have time for themselves, except the annual Christmas lights competition in which the neighborhood competes annually would count against them having a family out of town and not competing, and they could not have that. The entire plot of the movie is because the neighborhood wants a certificate or a trophy to put in Town Hall for a year. The ending moral is about Christmas being about togetherness and love, the husband portrayed as being selfish and petty for resenting the neighborhood finally getting him to join their traditions (complete with Unsportsmanlike Gloating and insults) and still wanting to go on the cruise. Said cruise was a romantic gesture and an attempt to spend long deserved time alone with his wife, a much better symbolism of Christmas' virtues than bullying someone in excess for the sake of winning a contest.
- In The Class, a French teacher (François Bégaudeau) struggles to teach grammar to his often apathetic students. Though the students are fleshed out and late in the film the teacher is disrespectful and called out for it, thereby avoiding Straw Characters, the audience is expected to take his side about the necessity of grammar. Not all agreed with it, though.
Ebert: As the students puzzle their way through, I don't know, the passive pluperfect subjunctive or whatever, I must say I sided with them. Despite the best efforts of dedicated and gifted nuns, I never learned to diagram a sentence, something they believed was of paramount importance. Yet I have made my living by writing and speaking. You learn a language by listening and speaking. You learn how to write by reading. It's not an abstraction. Do you think the people who first used the imperfect tense felt the need to name it?
- In the hilariously anvilicious and Narmy Lifetime Movie of the Week Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, the mother of the protagonist freaks and panics upon learning that her son is looking at Internet porn. The father is very unconcerned and does not think there is anything abnormal about a teenage boy looking at porn, and the viewer is expected to consider the father an oafish buffoon. (Admittedly there are some types of porn no-one should be looking at, but you'll have a hard time convincing someone that All Porn Is Bad.)
- In The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) the humans are lambasted for "striking first", but the craft landed with little warning in a capital city, Klaatu walks directly at the humans with an object held up that snaps open unexpectedly within melee range — and didn't expect humans to flinch? While the soldiers are still in error for firing (in a first contact situation you don't shoot someone just for doing something you don't understand, because they're an alien life form — lots of things are probably going to be happening you won't understand), their error is still entirely understandable, because making sudden moves during a very tense situation where people are already pointing guns is not going to end well.
- In The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) various characters from the government and military are depicted as being callous, paranoid, and inhumane when they immediately imprison the injured alien visitor and attempt to interrogate him about what he's doing on Earth. Even though the viewers are supposed to be disgusted with their behavior, there's one minor problem; Klaatu is indeed planning to destroy the entire human race, taking all of a day and a couple interviews to verify it as the right course. The "inhumane" government officials were completely correct to treat him as an enemy.
- In the film of The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to her poor, put-upon assistant Andrea, who just wants to be a writer and doesn't understand why everybody looks down on her for not being a fashionista. The problem is that she works for the editor of a fashion magazine. Miranda's speech shows quite nicely that problematic though it is, the industry influences everyone and is ignored at one's own peril. Moreover, thinking that you're "above" the field you work in is not a professional attitude or one you should display in front of your boss and coworkers, who have slaved and sacrificed to succeed in an intensely cutthroat line of work.
- In Dragonslayer, King Casiodorus is presented as a villain whose great crime is creating the lottery by which innocent virgins are sacrificed to the dragon Vermithrax. The thing is, though, the lottery worked. Casiodorus tells the story of how his brother Gazerick, a brave warrior king, went out to try and slay the dragon. Vermithrax killed Gazerick and all his men, then laid waste to whole towns in retaliation. The point is underscored when Galen's first bungled effort at dragon-slaying provokes a slaughter. Casiodorus's solution of pacifying the dragon with a handful of sacrifices was far better. Even though Casiodorus is later shown to be a hypocrite who accepts bribes to keep rich ladies out of the lottery, then jettisons the whole scheme when his own daughter offers herself up, no one ever presents a compelling answer to his argument: better a few should die that many may live.
- A frequent problem in Cowboy Cop type movies, particularly Dirty Harry, where the wishy-washy liberal superiors chastise Harry for his flagrant abuse of the rights of the suspect and ignorance of police procedure. But the thing is, they are right, and Harry would be a terrifyingly dangerous person in real life. This whole issue was deliberately acknowledged in the earlier film, Bullitt, where the superior turns out to be completely right: it's not good to be a loose cannon. Dirty Harry itself acknowledged this with the second movie, with the primary antagonists being a group of Cowboy Cops. It is instructive to note that despite all the other rules he breaks, Harry never actually killed anyone outside standard law enforcement rules of engagement.
- Even in the first movie, Harry isn't portrayed as completely in the right. Everyone seems to forget (probably because the sequels retconned it) that at the end of the movie, he quits the force because things just don't work. Also that the killer goes free because of Harry's misconduct (though see the Hollywood Law entry about this-legally, his apprehension of Scorpio was perfectly legal except for the confession (which wouldn't be necessary for a conviction). It's certainly not the case that Harry's methods get things done in spite of being unconventional and illegal.
- The creators seem to be at least aware of this, as a common feature of the sort of Cowboy Cop movie like Dirty Harry and Cobra is to make the villains so over-the-top evil (baby-killers, mass murderers, etc) that the political strawmen do end up looking like callous enablers allowing them to game the system. As a result, it's not the politicians but the villains themselves who become strawmen to justify the movie's aesop that the cops were doing what they felt was right to prevent greater evils.
- In Dobro Pozhalovat, ili Postoronni vhod vospreschen ("Welcome, or No Entry unless Invited"), a Russian film about a child expelled from summer camp, the camp director Dynin is a horrible Obstructive Bureaucrat who clearly doesn't understand children while sucking up to his superiors. Yet his reasons to expel Innochkin (the main protagonist) are absolutely valid. Innochkin already taught everyone to fence with sticks, resulting in injuries, broke the curfew repeatedly, and now swam across the river despite this being strictly forbidden. Not only is Dynin right in no longer wanting to be responsible for Innochkin (though he is a very good swimmer, he could still drown), but unless an example is set other children may start crossing the river too - and not all of them are such good swimmers. Removing Innochkin from camp was the only sane thing to do-especially as they might be liable for anyone getting hurt.
- Edward Rooney in ''Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He's a dean of students - he is paid for preventing vagrancy among his students. And Ferris was skipping school, lying to his friends and family. Rooney was basically doing his job - and trying to do his best.
- In Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Tommy Jarvis desperately attempts to warn the Crystal Lake/Forest Green police after he accidentally brings Serial Killer Jason Voorhees back to life, but nobody but the sheriff's own daughter will believe him. Jason's subsequent bloodbath only convinces the cops that Tommy himself is the killer, acting out a delusion of Jason's return. Never mind that the sheriff's daughter can vouch for Tommy because he was with her during two of the murders. The cops are only forced to accept Tommy's story when they are attacked by Jason himself at the camp, and promptly killed. We are supposed to side with Tommy and see the policemen as useless buffoons, but on the other hand, when a kid who spent several years in the institution and is under psychiatric care shows up and claims a notorious murderer, who is dead and buried for years, was revived by a lightning and is now a zombie, prowling around with a machete and killing people, would you believe him unconditionally? And Megan's statement means only that Tommy could have an alibi for two of the murders, not for the rest of them.
- Walter Peck. Hoo, boy. He's an archetypical Obstructive Bureaucrat that cripples the Ghostbusters' activity, but if you look at things from different perspective... Four guys, who aren't even academics, are operating an unlicensed and unsupervised nuclear reactor in the middle of a major population centre; furthermore, anyone, as Winston's example shows, can apply for a job and get it without any questions. Even in a pre-September 11 world, this would be a major cause for concern for any responsible government agent: even if Winston isn't some sort of villain, his unfamiliarity with such devices could easily end up in an accident. Not to mention various risk factors associated with the proton packs...
- A few Godzilla movies have the debate over killing Godzilla or capturing him for study. While it's true that the traits that enable the monster to exist could lead to immeasurable benefits for humanity, they won't be much good if he keeps smashing cities or infrastructure in general.
- In Gross Anatomy, the protagonist, Joe Slovak, lambastes the administration of the medical school where he is a student after his roommate and best friend is "invited to leave"; that is, informally expelled. The problem is that said roommate was caught using amphetamines. The protagonist objects that medical students are only human, not superhuman, and that the school's expectations of them are too high, and that the school should be more understanding and compassionate toward a student who needed speed to get through his classes. We're clearly meant to side with Slovak and his roommate - but, here's the thing: would you want to be the patient of a doctor who needed amphetamines just to pass his first year of medical school? Moreover, most doctors passed their first years without speed. Also, arguably the school is being compassionate by washing out a student who can't hack it as a first-year, rather than waiting for him to accrue tens of thousands of dollars more in student-loan debt when they have to expel him later. A doctor who washes out as an intern after graduating from medical school doesn't get all his student loans magically forgiven. He still has to pay them back, but without the income of a full-fledged licensed physician.
- The title character of Hitch makes some very valid points about continuing with one's life, adapting, and moving on after a relationship goes sour. He gets called out on this by one of his clients who outright calls him a coward for not chasing after one's love; granted, in the client's case, the breakup was because of a misunderstanding, but on Hitch's case there was a very clear and valid reason for it. As expected, since the film is a Romantic Comedy, Hitch gives in and goes great lengths to get back his love interest even after several rejections, incurring extreme behavior and injuries to himself.
- Home Alone 2
- After the card Kevin used at the Plaza Hotel comes up as "stolen," the hotel concierge has every right to want Kevin arrested for credit card fraud. As far as he and the rest of the hotel staff knew, Kevin's story was a complete lie. And even though the card did belong to Kevin's dad, Kevin was still using the credit card without permission, and Kevin really was lying about how he got a hold of it. Sure, the concierge may have been trying to snoop in on Kevin, but the fact remains that the concierge was acting well within the law.
- Later on in the film, Kevin's mother slaps the hotel concierge for telling her not to go out looking for Kevin by herself, even though he points how huge and dangerous New York is, especially in the middle of the night, which is when she wants to go looking. Even Kevin's dad tries to tell her it's a bad idea, but she's insistent. We're supposed to take her side as a concerned parent, but she's needlessly putting herself in all kinds of danger just on the off-chance she might find out where Kevin is in a town as huge as New York City.
- As the page quote demonstrates, I Am Sam. More than a few critics and viewers couldn't help agreeing with the "bad guys" that, no matter how wonderful of a person Sam was, he wasn't capable of raising a child. Having said that, it's clear at the end that the would-be adoptive mother is still in the the picture, even if Sam is legally the father. Presumably she helps out with the various things that he can't handle by himself, but the movie didn't make that explicit.
- In The Incredible Hulk, General Ross is wrong because he is obsessed with weaponizing the Hulk Out for an army of Super Soldiers. At one point, he says "As far as I'm concerned, that man's whole body is property of the US government". In a way, he is right: Banner tested the procedure on himself, and that automatically made him the government's responsibility, since the experiment was Backed by the Pentagon to begin with. Ideally, the solution would be to give Banner a place to relax and be humanely treated while they work on a cure/synthesize it. However, Banner is determined to prevent the Hulk from being weaponized, so he stays on the run until he finds a cure. Of course, Ross could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he hadn't lied to Banner about the project's purpose (radiation treatments instead of Super Soldiers) so he could recruit a known Technological Pacifist for such a project in the first place — except that he seems to believe that most scientists ARE Technological Pacifists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, two government agents angrily interrogate Indy after Russian spies kidnap him and an old partner of his, murder several American soldiers at a top secret test facility and make off with an alien corpse. Considering what just happened and that Indy's old partner was working with the Russians, the interrogation doesn't seem that unnecessary. Bear in mind this is set during the Cold War.
- In Iron Man 2 Senator Stern is an ass and a member of HYDRA, and Hammer is an idiot, but both of them make a lot of valid points in the senate hearing. Tony is a loose cannon, his suit is a weapon (whether he likes the term or not) of the sort that would ordinarily be denied a private citizen, and he is acting totally independent of anyone who could review his actions or rein him in if he gets out of control. None of these things are remotely desirable traits in someone who is trying to be a one-man police for the whole world. Notably, SHIELD agrees with Stern and Hammer that while Iron Man is useful, Tony Stark is too unstable. They still call him in for Avengers, on the grounds that they've hit the Godzilla Threshold.
- In La Haine, the more one observes the main characters and their tendency to escalate every small issue into violence, the more one feels the police are absolutely right to treat them with suspicion and loathing at every turn, including the use of force. Though it is no doubt a Grey and Grey Morality tale, it is not that hard to be Rooting for the Empire.
- Ebert's review of The Life Of David Gale, which is a different type of this trope wherein the movie's central characters go so ridiculously far to show that their position is right, you can not help but be disgusted with them. The characters were going for "the death penalty is wrong because an innocent man can potentially be executed". What they actually proved was "if you deliberately conceal the evidence that you are innocent from the court until after its too late to do anything, it will arrive too late to do anything". Well, duh.
- Many critics who disliked Lions for Lambs felt this way about Tom Cruise's character. A Senator with Presidential ambitions, his role in the film is an interview with anti-war journalist played by Meryl Streep discussing his new plan for Afghanistan. The Senator outlines a reasonable plan and makes some good points, but the film basically expects us to side exclusively with Streep's character simply due to her being anti-war and it being an anti-war film.
- In Look Who's Talking Too, the mooching brother-in-law is essentially a strawman for everything that is not a Proper New York City Attitude, including the fact that he has a gun. However, it is a little difficult to argue with one of his rationalizations for having it:
"You know, you people really amuse me, stockpiling your canned food and your water in case of disaster. But when the shit really hits the fan and you're sitting over here with your stuff, and the guy next door has a gun, who do you think's gonna go hungry? Him, or you?"
- In The Lost World: Jurassic Park the villains, InGen corporation, are portrayed as evil because they want to recapture the dinosaurs from Isla Sorna to recoup their losses from the first film. While they were pretty ruthless, as well as dicks with the exception of two (hunter Roland Tembo and his buddy Ajay), their argument that the dinosaurs are their rightful property does have merit. When the heroes call them out on destroying the island's "natural" environment, the Corrupt Corporate Executive points out that they created the dinosaurs and introduced them to the island in the first place, millions of years and thousands of miles from their actual long-gone natural habitat. The heroes have no counterargument to this other than starting a fight. This is one of those cases where what's right legally may or may not be what's right morally, but it's certainly not as cut-and-dried as Malcolm's party (or his detractors) likes to present it.
- The unofficial James Bond film Never Say Never Again introduces us to a new M who orders Bond to go to a health farm after he fails a training exercise - an act in which we the viewer are clearly meant to believe makes him some kind of tinpot dictator or Obstructive Bureaucrat that is unable to register just how badass Bond is. But if you take off your fan hat for a second and analyse the situation from his point of view you suddenly realize that he is absolutely correct. He has an ageing senior field agent of the elite 00 unit who failed an exercise because he wasn't being careful enough, who drinks heavily, who smokes like a chimney, who frequently gambles, who is open to all sorts of S.T.D.s thanks to his womanising, who is not a team-player and has a diet rich in fatty heavily salted foods. Even by the standards of the 80's you simply can not let an active agent who is licensed to kill anyone he pleases behind enemy lines carry on like this.
- In what is likely a nod to this, Skyfall features a similar scenario. Bond is cleared by M to go back on active duty, despite having failed his physical re-evaluation (and her hiding the fact from him). When he's informed that he's been approved, Gareth Mallory points out that "it's a young man's game" and that there's no shame in admitting that he's too old for the job. It seems as though the audience is supposed to take the side of Bond (who is the main character), but Mallory isn't exactly far off the mark. An agent with a previous injury (that, by his own words, nearly killed him) and borderline-inadequate physical health shouldn't be the sole resource for a mission, even when Bond's machinations play into Raoul Silva's plan to attempt an assassination on M. By the end of the film, however, it is reaffirmed that sometimes, old dogs have to learn new tricks to stay relevant in the modern age.
- The premise of Minority Report revolves around Pre-crime, a system where murder suspects are arrested and imprisoned based on the predictions of the Precogs, psychics who are forcibly kept in a catatonia-like state so that they can have the prophetic visions that this whole future justice system runs on. At the end of the film, the Big Bad argues at length that the system, while flawed, is doing much more good than harm and pleads with the main character not to oppose it, but ultimately his argument is ignored and the system is retired anyway for three reasons: 1.) the Precogs are innocent children, essentially kidnapped, held against their will, and forced into having psychic nightmares for their entire lives, 2.) not every single murder suspect is guaranteed to commit a murder, and lo and behold, someone has been tampering with the system to hide this, and 3.) the man who established this whole system is actually a murderer himself. The third comes down to a Guilt By Association fallacy. The first and second are much more substantial, but even then they're not without their flaws. First, while the Precogs have obviously had their rights violated heinously, many viewers felt that the lives and rights of those three people were a worthwhile sacrifice in light of the thousands of lives the system has already saved. Second, the ambiguous cases where one Precog predicts that the murderer won't go through with the crime (the titular "minority reports") are extremely rare; the problem they present could potentially be fixed by just revamping the system without needing to shut it down entirely.
- Nine Months is all about a man (Samuel) who finds out his girlfriend (Rebecca) is pregnant; needless to say, it's a surprise pregnancy and neither of them are really sure if they want to go through with it at first. Samuel himself doesn't really accept it until close to the end of the pregnancy, but Rebecca accepts it pretty early on and starts preparing for motherhood. Great pains are taken to paint Samuel as wrong for being reluctant to have a kid, veering into Strawman territory at several points, but the kicker has to be early on when Rebecca gets worried that the cat Samuel owns might be a problem, as a cat can lie on a baby's face and smother it. She tries to convince Samuel to get rid of the cat, and we're supposed to side with her and think Samuel is an uncaring jerk for putting his pet ahead of his baby...except that, as Samuel says, the cat is fifteen years old, so it would be a surprise if it lived long enough to see the baby born, the cat has no teeth left, and the poor thing hardly moves. No vet would agree to put down an otherwise healthy pet that's just old, and giving it up to a shelter would be heartless because a cat that old is unadoptable, so it would be put down after a few months anyway instead of living its final days in comfort with a loving owner. Not to mention, the very idea that a cat would lie down on a baby's face and smother it to death is, at best, implausible. Samuel point-blank refuses to get rid of the cat and the matter is dropped for the rest of the movie.
- The 70's film Over the Edge presents police officer Sgt. Doberman as the face of authoritarian evil for trying to do his job and treats his shooting of a teenager as a Moral Event Horizon because the kid was pointing an empty gun at him while screaming "Die, pig!!" The sympathetic characters immediately dismiss Doberman's point that he had no way of knowing the weapon was unloaded, conveniently ignoring the fact that it's a damn good point. Anyone who's had firearms training —especially police officers— knows they absolutely cannot afford to assume that any gun aimed at them isn't loaded. Common sense dictates that anyone pointing an empty gun at somebody guaranteed to have both the means and ability to shoot back is either Too Dumb to Live or trying to die.
- Patch Adams:
- Siskel & Ebert agree with the villains. Yes, while they were shown as insisting on being coldly professional at all times, which apparently includes things such as flatly telling someone they had a few weeks to live and then heading off to complete your rounds without another word, Ebert and Siskel said they would run if they got a wacky doctor like Robin Williams' character who is never actually seen treating patients. The option of having a reasonable amount of bedside manner without going overboard is never offered. The real Patch Adams himself was upset regarding his depiction in the movie, saying his method was more like the middle ground; help patients keep a positive attitude with good humor, but still, you know, practice real medicine.
- Patch's roommate is supposed to be a Jerkass whose hostility is motivated by his frustration over Patch's subversive antics. When Patch calls him out after he turns Patch in for suspected cheating, the roommate replies he has seen how little Patch actually studies and asks how Patch still manages to get such high marks. The viewer has yet to see Patch do much studying either, so it seems primed for Patch to defend himself to show he knows the material. Instead, Patch launches into another speech attacking the roommate for being a Jerkass, and the viewer is left to assume Patch wears his smart hat offscreen because he is the protagonist, so he could not possibly be cheating to excel in an academic system he has such little regard for.
- Plan 9 from Outer Space: If, and only if, such a device that could blow up not only the world but the universe were plausible - then these visiting aliens would have a good point in trying to prevent it from being built. They really need to work on their methods though...
- School of Rock:
- Dewey has been bumming at their place for months if not years, while continually refusing to get a steady job and therefore doing little to contribute to the rent. Ned keeps doing whatever he can to accommodate him because they were in a band years ago, while his girlfriend Patty is just supposed to put up with this. It doesn't change the fact that she seems to take joy in Dewey's suffering, but anyone would be frustrated by that point.
- It's hard to blame Dewey's band for firing him — just watch Dewey in action during the opening scene. The fact that they win the battle of the bands without him only proves their point.
- It doesn't exactly make parents "tightly-wound" for being upset that their kids are learning nothing but rock music, and no academics, for weeks or months on end. Even many rock-loving parents would be bothered by how this would set their kids up for some serious educational problems later in the area (for being behind all the other classes in their grade). They might even sue the school for not checking Dewey's credentials. In their case, it's not as extreme as the others in the movie as they are shown to just want what's best for their kids (as seen by their horrified reaction when Dewey accidentally implies he molested the students).
- In the film version of Sgt. Bilko, the villain is a military higher-up who wants to run Bilko out of the Army for essentially running a team of Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters out of an American military base, and also for getting him blamed for a crime Bilko committed and getting the villain transferred to Alaska. Since this is actually a completely reasonable thing to do from any objective viewpoint, the villain is made to accomplish his goals through methods even more criminal and underhanded than Bilko's, in order to make sure he doesn't get the audience's sympathy.
- Space Mutiny tries to present the mutineers as evil, but look at it from their perspective. They didn't choose to spend their entire life on a ship - that decision was made for them. Space is clearly inhabited beyond the Southern Sun, so why aren't people who want to leave allowed to just leave? It's not hard to see the mutineers as simply trying to escape the flying jail they were unlucky enough to be born in, even if they are going about it in a bad way. The best the movie can muster against them is that the mutineers are wrong because their plans go against some nebulous, ill-defined "law of the universe."
- Lex Luthor in Superman Returns accuses Superman of selfishly withholding the advanced alien technology he inherited from his dad, so that the planet is forced to stay dependent on Superman. While he is probably wrong about Superman's motives, he has a point. Sharing, say, what Kryptonian science knows about medicine or space travel or producing food would probably save a lot more lives than individually putting out fires with super breath.
- In the Killer Bee movie The Swarm, Michael Caine's character, Dr Bradford Crane, is clearly supposed to be the hero and Richard Widmark's General Slater the villain. The trouble is that all of the schemes for dealing with the bees suggested by Slater all seem eminently sensible but are shot down by Crane on the grounds of the "environmental damage" (even after the bees have already blown up a nuclear reactor, killing upwards of 30,000 people) whilst none of Crane's schemes actually work until the end. On top of that, Crane defeats the swarm of bees by setting an oil slick on fire, even though that is not exactly great for the environment.
- Teaching Mrs. Tingle: the title character is a high school Sadist Teacher who has it in for the lead character, who is just trying to become valedictorian. At the start of the film, Mrs. Tingle gives a C grade to a project she worked six months on, a historical recreation of the diary of a girl accused of being a witch during the time of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. Except that the diary describes witch-burnings, whereas the accused witches at Salem were all hanged, except for the one man who was crushed, meaning the teacher was well within her rights to mark the assignment down.
- The Wicked Witch Of The West. Hands down. All she actually wanted was a pair of shoes - shoes that belonged to her sister, who died when Dorothy's house crushed her. Dorothy not only (accidentally) killed the Witch Of The East and stole her shoes, but mounted a gang, tracked the other Witch down and confronted her in the Emerald City, eventually killing her as well. One actually wonders who is the real villain in The Wizard of Oz...
- In X-Men, Senator Kelly casts all manner of aspersions on mutants, and we're supposed to side against him because he's the antagonist. But when you get down to the actual arguments he uses, his concerns start to sound rather reasonable. For instance he cites a report of a mutant girl who can walk through walls, and asks "what's to stop her from walking into a bank vault, or into the White House?" Not only does the film never offer up a counter-argument against this, but in the second film a mutant actually does use his powers to sneak into the White House and nearly assassinates the President.
- X2: X-Men United: The villain in X2 is so extremely anti-mutant that he would experiment on and enslave his own son to exterminate them all. In the process he enslaves another mutant to attack the president of the US, just so he can offer a target for the president to authorize an attack on. Before the strike, though, an objection is made that the target is a school. The villain responds sarcastically, "sure it is," showing x-ray imagery of a secret jet underneath the school's basketball court. A dispassionate observer should note that is extremely suspicious. Normally schools don't have military-grade equipment hidden in their facility, and schools in some parts of the world have been used as recruiting centers/supply bases/etcetera by terrorist organizations before—both for the purpose of camouflage, and making attacks on them politically troublesome. The president then orders a non-lethal infiltration and capture mission, which from his position is entirely reasonable. This being the Darker and Edgier sequel, his soldiers— men who, for all we know, have loving families waiting for them at home— get their internal organs perforated by a dude with knives in his knuckles.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past presents the inverse of the situation seen in X1. This time, it's the government who takes the side of the mutants at Trask's Senate hearing and refuse to give the funding he needs to create the Sentinel program. The problem is that Trask has very well-founded fears that the audience can sympathize with. He correctly points out that the U.S. and Russia nearly went to war in the course of a single battle as a result of mutant intervention (which they officially deny, but are later seen to have removed several pieces of clothing and technology from and stored). After the Paris Peace Accord incident, he then points out that the participants include a man who can direct metal (and is the prime suspect/convicted prisoner in the death of a sitting U.S. President), another who believes that mutants will drive humanity into extinction, and a third who can shapeshift into anyone and order a nuclear strike if she felt like it. It doesn't justify his genocidal tendencies towards mutants, but there are some very real fears.
- In the made-for-TV movie Zenon: The Zequel, General Hammond (no, not that one.) arrives to decommission the station, which was still suffering the after-effects of the sabotage in the previous film. His actions are seen by the main characters as evil. Here's what he really does: decommission an unstable space station before it falls to Earth, doing untold damage, attempt to apprehend a girl who thinks it's ok to smuggle aboard a shuttle, chase after spaceship thieves, and other actions perfectly in line with what any good soldier or policeman would do.
- In the Anita Blake series Richard (the avatar of the author's ex-husband) frequently rants against the murder, rape, hypocrisy, greed, and general bad behavior of the protagonist, allegedly to show what a self-hating mess he is. He's the only one who makes any kind of logical, intelligent points about the heroine — and she doesn't even dispute the things he says.
- Happens sometime in the Circle of Magic books. In Daja's Book, the protagonists butt heads with an arrogant University mage named Yarrun Firetamer. Yarrun is dead wrong about the fire risk in the valleynote and pays with his life but he has an illuminating conversation with Daja in which he points out that workers of "ordinary" magic do highly necessary work such as sanitation, preventing food spoilage, etcetera, and deserve more credit than they usually get. He also defines learning as "when other people can work their spells as you do and get the same results." Replace "spells" with "experiments" and you have a key part of the Scientific Method. But Daja dismisses his opinions as more "bile."
- Friedrich Nietzsche had this reaction to Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov, from Crime and Punishment: Raskolnikov at first believes himself to be an Übermensch, but is wracked by guilt and eventually gets his redemption through a religious (specifically Orthodox Christian, as this was Dostoevsky's religion) experience. Nietzsche regarded the religious redemption bit as bull and disdained Raskolnikov's feelings of guilt, but agreed with the unreformed Raskolnikov's Ubermenschian perspective.
- In the second Death World book (the Harry Harrison series), a major character exists solely so the Author Avatar can explain to him the virtues of moral relativism. Only problem is, while the character is a dog-kicking Designated Villain, the arguments he makes against relativism aren't really shot down, just ignored in favor of the main character being made to look much cooler than him. There is, however, the issue of the character being perfectly willing to kidnap an innocent man and taking him back to be tried in a Kangaroo Court followed by a public execution. It's hard to justify this with a "good cause".
- The Dean in The Fountainhead exists mainly to mouth bad arguments in favor of classical architecture so that Howard Roark can humiliate him, but his fearful reaction to Roark's total indifference to the thoughts and feelings of others seems totally sensible given that that kind of chill, unemotional disregard is generally associated with sociopathy.
- In Harry Potter, Zacharias Smith is skeptical about Harry's version of events after Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and is portrayed as a Jerk Ass for not immediately believing Harry. But he doesn't have the privileged viewpoint of the readership, and Harry has been very close-mouthed about what happened. Later books show him to be a Jerkass for other reasons, such as providing a more biased commentary for a Quidditch match then Lee Jordan and being the first to bail at the Battle of Hogwarts.
- In Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits, Esteban Trueba's feudalistic views on his workers are unacceptable by today's standards. Still, it would indeed be quite idealistic (if not downright unreasonable) to believe that barely literate people are fully qualified to participate in political life. Apparently it never occurs to him (or more likely, this was the entire point) that they won't get to be qualified by being kept out, either. Increased education for the peasants might help, but of course Don Trueba would hardly support that.
- In the Inheritance Cycle, Galbatorix can be seen as this. While later books established him as being thoroughly evil and tyrannical, his depiction in early books left him looking pretty good for many readers. His rise to power (in which he won humanity's superiority over the elves and killed the all-powerful dragon riders) is portrayed as a Moral Event Horizon, and he wants to stomp out the urgals, a warlike species whose rite of passage is to find something, anything, and kill it. He's done plenty of unsavory things and isn't to be praised, but he's made humanity safe and superior, and even his enemies acknowledge that his insanity doesn't touch most of his subjects. And he is the established power, with a clear-cut law, as opposed to the Varden, who will gladly accept you into their group provided you A.) follow your flawed and suicidal orders to the letter, and B.) be sure to always shower praise on Eragon, the elves, and your visionary leader, Nasuada. In the end it isn't so much that the Strawman Has A Point, but that the other side is so self-righteous and annoying the reader finds it hard to root for them.
- In LARP: The Battle for Verona, the main characters' home, the island of Verona outside of Washington, is invaded by Mongolians who use Medieval weapons, and the main characters, who have no military or combat training, but who do Live-Action Role Playing, want to help free it. The US military gives very good reasons for them not to — i.e., they're citizens with no military or combat training, no real weapons and no guarantee they could get any, no real idea what they're going up against, and any action they might take in their ignorance might make the situation worse, including getting the people of Verona killed. The "argument" the main characters put forth essentially comes down to "we just want to be cool" and that they're somehow more qualified to attack people who use Medieval weapons because they use replica Medieval weapons once a week. Somehow the military thinks these are good points and lets the main characters and their LARP friends go in to save Verona.
- This is a problem with the Left Behind series, as noted in Slacktivist's deconstruction. The main heroes are such Jerk Sues that many of the people with whom they argue come off looking much better by comparison. For example, in the first chapter, a drunk Texan wakes up and sees the carnage wrought by the Rapture (plane crashes, etc). He is mocked as a silly drunk by the narrators, but he is the only one to express any sort of horror at the proceedings. In the next book, we are clearly supposed to cheer for the alleged hero as he is insubordinate to his boss — whose main crime seems to be being a woman who does not fawn over him and expects him to do his job. Verna is constantly presented as a no-fun, uppity woman who thinks Buck is a pompous Jerkass, and she's right.
- In the fourth Maximum Ride novel, Max is furious that, after she and the Flock come to the government's attention, they would dare to try to put them in a boarding school. A few of their concerns — being told they would be studied to a certain extent, etc. — were valid, given their history. Several others not so much, especially when Max basically tells them "we've had it harder than you and we know better". It's kind of difficult to argue that they are properly prepared to move to civilian life when they decide to dive-bomb the Pentagon for amusement and then are surprised that there's retaliation.
- In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Satan argues against God by invoking democracy, free speech and egalitarianism. This sounds more plausible nowadays that it would have at the time. The speech is so persuasive that a lot of critics think it's meant to be that way, for one reason or another. However Satan states in the speech there can be superiors and inferiors because he doesn't want his angels to revolt against him, and later admits he's just being a jerk to humanity because they have Paradise while he doesn't. This very well may have been intentional, considering Milton's political ideas.
- The Pale Woman in the Realm of the Elderlings novel Fool's Fate actually has a very good point: reviving an apex predator with the capacity to wipe out humanity and no real reason not to is a pretty darned stupid idea. It is primarily the political implications that drive Fitz to oppose her, though.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- In the first half of the New Jedi Order series, there's a schism in the Jedi Order over whether or not it is acceptable to use leftover Imperial projects and superweapons against the Yuuzhan Vong. The Jedi in favor are called radicals and, just to make sure we know that their viewpoint is immoral and evil, the authors made them willing to kidnap children and perform other heinous acts to get what they want. No one, including Luke, seems to be able to explain to us how killing Yuuzhan Vong with superlasers is more evil than fighting them with conventional weapons. Later authors in the series recognize this as a strawman and offer the argument of superweapons being inefficient wastes of resourcesnote that are for terrorizing civiliansnote , not fighting wars.
- In the Fate of the Jedi series, Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala enacts various policies to rein in what she sees as the unchecked power that the Jedi have within the Galactic Alliance. Coming off a major galactic civil war started by a corrupted Jedi who enacted a coup and seized control of the Alliance, she is not entirely without precedent or reason to be concerned over potentially uncontrolled actions by Force users. These policies grow excessively draconian and begin to cost her public opinion due to various publicized incidents. However, instead of using the mounting public pressure and political scandals resulting from her actions to legally reign in Daala's excesses (as had already proved effective in overturning the siege of the Jedi Temple and dissolving the Court of Jedi Affairs), the Jedi embark on a coup to remove her from power that involves taking hostages, attacking government facilities, killing the appointed acting Grand Master of the Jedi, Kenth Hamner, and removing Daala from power to install Hamner's killer as part of an acting Triumvirate over the Alliance.
- The Turner Diaries: a strawman proclaims the "heroes" of the book as "depraved, racist criminals." He's supposed to be a strawman, yet this is a 100% accurate description of the "heroic" white supremacist Right Wing Militia Fanatic group known as the Order (that went on to inspire an actual group of depraved, racist terrorists by the same name, whose exploits included murdering a critical Jewish talk show host in his own driveway).
- Twilight: Anyone who disagrees with or doesnt like Bella is automatically wrong, no matter how right they are.
- In the novel New Moon, Bella is annoyed that Jessica won't talk to her, and thinks that Jessica is being petty and evil. This is after Bella has ignored everyone for four months, used Jessica to get Charlie off her back, ditched her shortly into the movie to pine over Edward, and then nearly frightened Jessica to death by walking up to a very dangerous-looking biker in a bad part of town that Jessica clearly wanted to avoid, all because Bella thought it may be the same one that Edward rescued her from before.
- In Breaking Dawn, Leah calls Bella out on some of her more selfish actions in trying to manipulate and keep Jacob with her despite knowing full well how much it hurts Jacob to be around her knowing that she's chosen to die and become an undead monstrosity with Edward over a life with him. Even Bella admits that she's being selfish, but chooses to keep doing it anyway. Everyone else gets angry at Leah for upsetting Bella, including the guy Leah was trying to stand up for. And any point Leah made is completely forgotten.
- The part where Aro says that humans now have technology that could be used to hurt or kill vampires, so since there's no way of knowing that Renesmee will always be able to keep vampires a secret she's a vulnerability. The response to this is something along the lines of "Aro is a big mean jerk who just wants to destroy the Cullen family for loving each other" and nobody bothers to refute his point until Alice conveniently shows up with another half-vampire. Aro is actually kind of right, though, especially since Renesmee's superpower involves sharing her thoughts with people, and her power is suspected to be an inversion of Bella's, which Bella finds out she can project her power over an area (if she ever experiences any Power Incontinence she could end up accidentally sharing random things with random humans).
- Charlie gets both this and Informed Wrongness. His daughter is creepily obsessed with a guy who has never displayed any attributes aside from being equally creepily obsessed with her and being an asshole, and gives him no reason to assume he isn't an abuser (which, by real world standards, he is). The narrative pretty clearly wants the reader to side against Charlie, even when Bella and Edward team up to casually manipulate and bully him into letting her do whatever she wants. In New Moon he's trying to get Bella help when she's clearly depressed, pointing out (correctly) that she's just going through the motions and that it would be better if she lived with her mother rather than staying in the town that has too many painful memories. The readers are supposed to side with Bella, who refuses to move on with her life.
- An in-universe example appears in George Orwell's 1984, in the form of Emmanuel Goldstein, a strawman politician invented by the ruling party in order to draw out dissidents. Orwell uses Goldstein in order to set out his own views of totalitarian societies; in the book he is entirely correct, but the authorities do not even try to suppress his message. Instead, they attempt to condition the population into being unable to comprehend an objective reality.
- In Thief of Time, Susan's boss is depicted as a hopeless mess of an educator because her school uses the "learning through play" method. It's claimed that parents send their children there only as a last resort when "normal" methods fail. This seems to be a dig at non-traditional educational systems such as the Montessori method, with an added insinuation that any good teacher can make any five-year-old sit in a desk and learn arithmetic from a lecture. However, increasing bodies of evidence indicate traditional methods aren't actually the most effective (not to mention that some children genuinely have special needs and straight-up can't cope in a traditional learning environment). Some non-traditional methods have actually shown to be highly effective at teaching skills like reading. They're also hardly the product of newfangled hippie thinking; Maria Montessori established her first Casa de Bambini before World War One.
- The Older Son in the parable of the Prodigal Son in The Bible is probably one of the oldest examples. The guy mostly exists to complain about the fact that his turd of a little brother is getting all the respect for dragging his sorry butt home after wasting all his inheritance money and generally being a turd, while the older son has been obedient and worked hard all his life and has never been rewarded. Dad scolds him for not celebrating that his brother is once again part of the family. Yeah, it's a metaphor about the value and meaning of repentance, but the older son does have a point: why bother working hard when the rewards for being a turd are so much better?
- In Dragonlance, especially the original novels by Weis & Hickman, one is supposed to take the viewpoint that the gods are patient, long-suffering parents who have been wrongfully scorned by their mortal children, and that those mortals who argue that the gods are the ones who have done wrong and do not deserve mortal reverence, like Tanis Half-Elven, are misguided fools at best. Thing is, the story of the Cataclysm essentially involves the gods devastating the world with a massive destructive event, stealing away all sources of healing magic beforehand, and then, when the angry survivors demand to know why the gods have done this to them, the gods respond by turning their backs on mortalkind and leaving them to suffer without healing spells for centuries after. It's hard not to say that mortals don't have legitimate reasons to be angry with their gods in this setting... but, of course, the authors fully support the viewpoint that the gods are in the right and so events proceed accordingly.
- Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin is meant to be seen as hilariously paranoid for fearing his babysitter, Rosalyn; whenever he tries to tell his parents how "evil" Rosalyn is, they defend the teenager and imply that Calvin has so many problems with her because he brings them on himself with his behavior. In fact, while Rosalyn isn't evil, she is a bad babysitter: repeatedly charging the parents more and more money in exchange for doing practically nothing, since instead of actually watching Calvin she works on her homework (okay, that's understandable, but what was stopping her from working on it earlier?) or calls her boyfriend Charlie on the phone while gossiping about Calvin and his parents behind their backs. One can understand her frustration at Calvin's many pranks and misdeeds, but Rosalyn wouldn't have that problem if she interacted with Calvin to make sure he didn't get into trouble (and, to her credit, she does eventually do just this and there are no problems).
- A September 2009 Funky Winkerbean storyline has Susan defending Wit, the story of a middle-aged woman dying of cancer, as the choice for the School Play against parents who want their kids to perform something light and fun instead of a drama with challenging and potentially depressing ideas. The message being True Art Is Angsty and should be explored over lighthearted far. However, the snarking blogs The Comics Curmudgeon and Stuck Funky, comments sided with the parents in this situation, pointing out it would be tough to stage with high school students and lack appeal to teens and their families. Thus they would not sell tickets which would cause them to lose money thus possibly forcing cutbacks in the art department. Why not do something light and fun that many people will want to see instead? It did not help the argument that the story was interpreted as a giant Take That, Critics! at readers unsatisfied with Funky's Cerebus Syndrome.
- "The "Pipe Bombshell" from AJ Lee, in which the champ verbally eviscerated the Total Divas cast as "interchangeable" women who only got air-time because of the reality show, and not because they were the best in the business like her; that AJ got over with ring work and charisma and not by being "useless" eye candy who could wear $4,000 heels but couldn't "lace up my Chuck Taylors", and that AJ single-handedly restored credibility to the division and was in it for the job and not in it for the modeling fame. This was supposed to make AJ look like a petty mega-bitch heel... except that to pretty much everyone, all of that was true. The wrestling audience gave AJ a huge ovation as all the Total Divas cast could do was yell things like 'bitch' at her. The promo proved so ineffective in getting the crowd behind the Total Divas and away from AJ that there was no follow-up, giving AJ the first and final word on the subject.
- CM Punk frequently prompted this reaction.
- During his 2009 feud with Jeff Hardy, Punk was portrayed as the villain for pointing out that Jeff, who had twice been suspended from the company due to his drug issues, was hardly a good example for people to let their children look up in contrast to himself, who wore his straight edge lifestyle on his sleeves - Jeff didn't really have a response better than "I'm a free spirit!".
- During his 2011 feuds with John Cena & Randy Orton, Punk frequently pointed out the Draco in Leather Pants/Designated Hero tendencies of both men.
- His July 2012 Face-Heel Turn was motivated by the fact that, despite being the WWE champion since November the prior year, he was frequently being set aside in favor of John Cena to the point that his WWE title match took place before the Money in the Bank ladder match for a shot at the WWE title at any time over the course of the next year.
- In Deadlands: Hell on Earth, the Anti-Templars, who draw upon the corrupting power of the Reckoners so they have the strength to try and save everyone are supposed to be the villains, and the far more self-righteous and judgmental Templars the good guys, to the point that in the Last Crusaders sourcebook, the authors outright state that the Templar's way of abandoning those who do not meet their standards is the right way, under the adage "if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem". Many fans, however, see the noble intentions for which the Anti-Templars are willing to damn themselves and consider them more heroic than the Templars will ever be. Given that the Templar archetype in the corebook comes with fluff-text about him punishing a town for looking down on him when he was pretending to be a harmless beggar by forcing the adults to be Cannon Fodder for a Suicide Mission against a bandit camp and the children to be slaves to help a town he does consider "worthy" prepare its defenses, well...
- Mage: The Ascension had this pretty bad. The Technocrats were set up as a terrible conspiracy bent on destroying art and imagination and generally ruining the world. Except... they were responsible for every good thing that's happened to common people throughout history, from better farming to television. And they're also the only people who are organized and powerful enough to actually land a blow against the supernatural powers that be and saving countless people with their, admittedly harsh, actions. White Wolf released handbooks for each of the Technocracy Conventions, each including copious Kick the Dog moments intended to justify their position as villains. Of course, this implies that it was those actions, not their underlying ideology, that was wrong. In Mage: The Awakening, White Wolf was a little more careful to have the terrible conspiracy not be quite so benevolent this time.
- The Coalition States. On the surface, they're a hardcore anti-magic, xenophobic tyranny whose leader is deliberately Putting on the Reich because he considers the post-apocalyptic remnants of lore about Nazi Germany to depict a culture worth emulating. On the other hand, a lot of the depicted Dimensional Beings in the setting are either highly unscrupulous or outright evil AND more powerful than human beings, whilst magic isn't necessarily entirely Black Magic, but does have a lot of bad elements to it that means that seeing it as The Corruption isn't entirely wrong. Spells having the ability to come alive spontaneously and promptly seek to kill every sentient being in sight simply to draw upon their Potential Psychic Energy in order to sustain themselves is the least of the objectionable aspects of magic in the Megaverse.
- Doc Reid's Rangers, from the sourcebook on the Vampire Kingdoms of Mexico. There's a lot wrong with most of the Rangers, especially Doc Reid himself, but when it comes down to the "Nazi concentration camp like" experiments on vampires, it's kind of hard to not see them as Kick the Son of a Bitch. Wild Vampires are little more than mindless, blood-sucking animals whose bite is infectious; they are basically nothing more than a blood-drinking Zombie Apocalypse. A Master Vampire is a monster who willingly sold his or her soul to a Vampire Intelligence and then chose to create as many vampires as possible in order to let it manifest itself on Earth. The only arguably innocent vampires are Secondary Vampires, who were merely the victims of the Master Vampire... and even then, they're still ruthless blood-sucking predators whose bite spawns Wild Vampires, making them heralds of the swarm.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Wyrm, strangely, has a point. The other aspects (creation and stasis) broke the balance first, it's just trying to bring things back to the original intended balance by covering their roles itself... poorly, because it's Destruction (also Corruption, but only because of said broken balance), but still.
- The ad campaign for Dead Space 2 highlighted its self-professed tasteless disgustingness by showing some middle-aged women squicked by it. "Your mom hates this" was the tagline. "Why would they even make something like this?" one woman asked. Good question, ma'am, good question. Moral Guardians and Media Watchdogs naturally were not pleased. (However, there was also a fan-made version (again using real mothers), one of whom laughed when she saw the same images, creeping out the younger people around her.)
- In Dragon Quest IX, the Celestrians are charged with guarding the Protectorate (i.e. Earth) and collecting Benevolessence (concentrated gratitude) from mortalkind (i.e. humanity). The main way to collect Benevolessence is to care for humans, protecting them from monsters and solving their problems. However, when you speak with them, you quickly learn that the Celestrians hold the mortals in obvious disdain, which is treated as a negative trait of the Celestrians themselves... except the Celestrians exist — as a race — to protect and clean up after mortals (one of the Hero's first tasks in the game is to clean out a stable full of horseshit while the nearby farmer is napping). This would be an obnoxious job at the best of times — and the Celestrians have been doing it for hundreds if not thousands of years, and for most of that time there's been no end in sight. On top of that, their attitude is eminently justifiable — they exist to solve the problems mortals cause.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Khajiit trading caravans are banned from entering the cities of Skyrim because the people of Skyrim suspect the Khajiit are criminals and thieves. This is obviously a commentary on real-life fears of outsiders and racism. Trouble is, almost every Khajiit you meet in the game actually is involved in some criminal activity. Most conversations with them go along the lines of, "We're so oppressed! Those racists think we're all criminals! Now would you like to buy some drugs?" The trading caravans themselves fence stolen goods for the Thieves Guild. This may be a matter of a cycle of poverty, since Khajiit struggle to get legitimate work outside Elsweyr (much like real life Romani and other traveler peoples), which resets the scale somewhat, and strangely none are seen in the Thieves Guild itself.
- The Jackal from Far Cry 2, on his interview tapes, sounds a lot more logical than the game seems to want you to think of him as, given the tape descriptions. While many of them are blatantly MORALLY wrong, his logic to justify what he does makes a scary amount of sense. This is especially invoked in the tape asking him why Africa, when he gives the interviewer a small Hannibal Lecture, asking him if there's someone else's home he doesn't care about that he should sell weapons in. He might have been intended to be right all along, given that his ultimate goal is to help all the refugees and sane people escape the nation while the two warring factions all kill each other, and he even kills himself in the process to make sure his arm dealing can't cause another conflict like the one in the game.
- In Pokémon Black and White , Team Plasma's position on the immorality of owning and fighting with Pokémon was a smidge too hypocritical to win many fans to their side, but does make the rest of the cast less likeable, as few compelling or complete retorts are ever made.
- Barret Wallace in Final Fantasy VII is meant to be a seen as a revenge-driven hardhead who's lost his way because of the people who died as a result of his actions, and the salvation of The Planet is admittedly more of a bonus to him with revenge being his main motivation. When called out by Cait Sith he says that casualties have to be expected in a war, which is supposed to be a weak and arrogant excuse, given Cait's response to it, but he has a valid point. He and three others (Cloud had just joined at the start of the game, and Tifa usually stayed home to take care of Marlene) have been fighting a war against Shinra, who have an army of supersoldiers and robots and literally run the entire planet while the ignorant populace eats out of their hand. Worse, the draining of the Lifestream, which Shinra uses as energy, has mortally wounded The Planet. (Which is sentient as well as alive itself... it's complicated.) It's stated several times that The Planet is dying, and the amount of time until it has left, according to Bugenhagen, the authority on the subject? "Maybe ten [years] maybe a hundred, but not long." What the hell was Barret and the rest supposed to do, start an awareness campaign? Should they have gone around passing out paper pamphlets while the entire world and everything in it heads towards Armageddon? And for all his talk of what Barret shouldn't have done, Cait doesn't give any suggestions on what he could've done instead, namely how exactly those casualties could've been avoided. Barret doesn't have a laundry list of ways to take down all those reactors with his literal Five-Man Band without there being some casualties in the process, even if he should give the consequences of his actions, potential and actual, more consideration.
- STAG in Saints Row: The Third do some pretty extreme things to fight crime. That said, consider how much mayhem the Saints and the other gangs cause on a regular basis - enough to either appal or impress real-world terrorists. It's enough to make one wonder why the US government didn't try clamping down earlier.
- General Damon in Valkyria Chronicles is Ambition Is Evil personified; he happily sends Squad 7 on suicidal missions as a meat shield for his own soldiers just to pad his own win-loss ratio. This comes to a head when he captures Selvaria, swooping in after the battle is over to take credit, and has her pistol-whipped to knock her out. Welkin and Alicia act like this is just the most horrible thing ever, but Damon counters with a pretty solid piece of logic: she's a Valkyria. The only safe way to take her alive is to do it while she's unconscious and unable to use her magic powers. When she regains consciousness, she uses those powers to detonate a castle and destroy the entire army in very short order.
- World of Warcraft: While Sylvanas raising the dead as Forsaken and invading Gilneas is fairly horrific, she does have a point that if more Forsaken aren't raised, they will eventually die out and the Horde will lose its hold on Lordaeron. Likewise, her arguement that the Forsaken have a more valid claim to Lordaeron than the Alliance does make sense given that it was their home in life. The issue is muddied given that there are living Lordaeron refugees, including Garithos and his men, whom Sylvanas used and betrayed in "The Frozen Throne", and a quest involves an inheritance dispute between a man and his Forsaken brother (in the original version, Alliance players help the former and Horde players help the latter). It can thus be argued that both the Forsaken and the living refugees of Lordaeron have a legitimate claim to Lordaeron and are unfairly denying the other's claim.
- Mr. Hattrick in Bully, who wants to get Mr. Galloway fired. Yeah, Hattrick is an asshole, bribe-taking bully who's been mistreating Galloway their entire shared careers, and his blustering about setting a good example is bullshit because the students know all about it and don't care, since regardless of his personal habits, he treats them with respect (even one of the clique leaders supports his right to drink, being that he's a good man and entitled to a drink if he wants). But... he's still an alcoholic who drinks during class and hides booze all over the school. In real life, being fired would be the least of the consequences. From a teenager's (and thus the game's) point of view, considering how awful Bullworth is and how little non-nerds such as Jimmy care about education, it's not surprising that they would support a legitimately nice, caring teacher in spite of all his problems.
- In Gears of War Judgment, Colonel Loomis is portrayed as being overzealous in his on-the-spot trial of Kilo Squad for their unauthorized use of the Lightmass Missile against Karn, and the game established Karn as being a serious threat in his own right in addition to being in command of the Locust forces attacking Halvo Bay. Colonel Loomis is presented in the wrong. But look at it from his perspective; Kilo Squad stole a weapon of mass destruction (low yield as it might have been comparatively, it still created a very large explosion) to deal with a threat that Loomis had only heard about from them, used said weapon against their own city in order to kill said threat, repeatedly defied direct orders to do so, and using the missile turned out to be completely unnecessary. Karn survived the blast unharmed, and you end up killing Karn on foot with five people in your squad. Not to mention, unauthorized use of military hardware is a serious crime in real life. Loomis is a General Failure and The Inquisitor General, and it was stupid to hold a trial in the middle of a warzone. But arresting Kilo Squad was entirely called for.
- Freefall: Sam Starfall is, by Word of God, meant to be a comedic exaggeration of human laziness and kleptomania in support thereof (as in, his entire species considers theft and deceit virtues). Funny thing? He's never done anything any human in history has not. This means when someone actually asks him to unravel Kornada's plot, he cracks it in minutes. Though in the process he smashes the worldview of some very nice robots to pieces. And ultimately, it seems he's the one to finally put the kibosh on the whole, "lobotomize all robots" thing... by pointing out that if humans don't act to preserve robot rights, they won't be the ones to profit from them - it will all go to the rich people instead.
- On Living with Insanity, the creator bemoans how an unknown artist can’t make a living by making original content instead of drawing established characters, showing a woman ignoring the lead character pitching his original independent comedy comic and getting excited over an artist who drew Green Lantern, followed by a profitable crowd. The problem with this is that the cover of the independent comic is literally just a close-up of a pair of breasts, which seems like an excellent reason to ignore it.
- In Jay Naylor's comic Original Life, the small girl Angelica was created as a strawman into which Naylor stuffed everything he hated, from politics to spirituality to musical taste. She's also widely considered the most likeable and sympathetic character in the strip since she seems to be one of the few characters that doesn't act like a complete Jerkass to everyone around her. For five months, she's been waging a campaign against the strip's Objectivist protagonists, and most reader reaction is rooting for her.
- While Suzette from Precocious is typically set up as a hateful feminist extremist, she does make a valid point about gender roles in this strip, where she rants against the Double Standard present in most advertising.
- Red String:
- Near the end, Kazuo is made to appear jealous and desperate by pointing out that he's upset Miharu is dating Makoto because he's a terrible person. While we're meant to see Makoto as the good guy and Kazuo the needy jealous ex, Kazuo is exactly right - Kazuo voiced his opinion because Makoto was so petty and jealous that he grabbed Miharu by the wrist and dragged her away from Kazuo without telling him. On top of that, while we're supposed to be sympathizing with Makoto's relationship, it's hard to feel like Kazuo is crossing any boundaries when Makoto is literally dating Miharu because he never stopped cheating on his own fiance to aggressively pursue Miharu while she was still in love with and planning to marry Kazuo. And as we are supposed to be thinking Makoto is this great guy that Kazuo doesn't understand, Makoto is at that moment screaming at Miharu in public (though out of earshot of Kazuo) for being too stupid to understand what Kazuo "really" wants. The scene ends with Miharu apologizing to Makoto, seemingly proving Kazuo right about what a terrible boyfriend he is, though the story presents her apology as a romantic moment sealing them as a perfect couple.
- In Kazuo's final scene in the main storyline, he is again portrayed as a villain for angrily telling Makoto that he treated Miharu and her family's business like they were his property and he'd gotten his hands on both with no effort. Makoto angrily rebuffs that he "worked hard" to get what he wanted and that Miharu seems to "not care" that he "acts like an idiot." We are intended to take Makoto's side, but Kazuo is dead right - Makoto is literally dating Miharu entirely because Kazuo's father literally started beating him up to pressure him to end his engagement with Miharu. Makoto only has the restaurant because in spite of him not keeping up his end of the bargain and marrying Karen, his parents bought the restaurant anyway because the Ogawas inexplicably like him. On top of that, Makoto is clearly still treating Miharu like his property because he is presuming to speak for her and has, on this subject in particular, berated her into apologizing to him or blatantly ignored her. Furthermore, while Makoto is angrily telling Kazuo he's a "puppet of his parents", Kazuo points out that Makoto's had an easy life because his parents give him everything he wants. Makoto's dispute that he works hard is rather weak when his parents are constantly shown bending over backwards to get him whatever he wants, even if its extremely expensive or time-consuming. And how does the story end to prove that Makoto works hard? He calls his parents and arranges for them to let him quit his job so he can date Miharu full time. As the call is not shown, it appears that Makoto got no opposition whatsoever. Miharu is elated that he made all her choices for her. In the original script, it even read like they were literally letting him sponge off them without him ever planning to get another job. But no. We are really supposed to think Kazuo is being petty and jealous of the greatness that is Makoto, despite him once again being the only voice of sanity in the closing pages of the comic.
- Kazuo just racks these up. Even earlier in the comic, Miharu decided the way to magically solve his abusive homelife was to get Kikuko to pretend she was in love with him and willing to marry him, all to convince Kazuo to enter cooking contests. Miharu felt this would teach him he had a choice. When Kazuo finally realized the entire thing was her manipulating him, we're intended to feel that he's crossed a line and hurt Miharu by confronting both Kikuko and Miharu. Instead, especially given later events in the story, it's hard not to feel sorry for him - his father actually beats the crap out of him whenever he tries to assert himself, and now he's learned that Kikuko's warming up to him was all a lie. Not to mention, winning a cooking contest would not fix his homelife. Much later in the comic, after he's Driven to Suicide, Miharu finally admits to Makoto that her plan was stupid, but the story wants us to think she's being too hard on herself.
- In the Sonichu webcomic, several trolls are on trial for murdering a character. The trial is quickly derailed to have more to do about their respective webcomics, and one of the characters, stoned off his mind, complains about the author's lack of work ethic. There are several tirades about letting the author write as he wants, but the stoner was right. Not updating can be a serious detriment to the success of any franchise. Sadly, this was played dead serious (literally, as this was used as evidence for their executions), rather than lampshading the hell about the absurdity of it all.
- In Sticky Dilly Buns, Ruby is presented as something of a Sour Prude who will be happier when she gets a boyfriend. However, when she tells other cast members that not everything is about sex and that it's possible to be happy as a "self-actualizing ugly stepsister", it's perhaps easier to side with her than the writers intended.
- This Subnormality comic was probably intended as a massive Take That to professional sports, but it ruins it by making Brian the Brain seem like a whiny elitist and the other two characters intelligent guys who just enjoy turning him off and relaxing every now and then. "Take a break from intellectualism every now and then" is probably a better moral than "Watching sports will make you an idiot misogynistic racist homophobic criminal". It's just as easy to take the comic as intentionally arguing the former moral, rather than the latter. Rowntree himself commented that it could be interpreted either way, and the comic is meant to point out the "cognitive dissonance regarding hockey in particular".
- When Sinfest switched over to introduce the Sisterhood arc (straw feminists who wage a war on... pretty every male character in the strip), the male characters were increasingly shown surrounded by fembots programmed to be everything the customer could desire. This is shown as a bad thing, and indeed the men are regularly forced to confront how their actions victimize the fembots. However... the behavior of the female characters is such that the males can be considered justified in preferring to pay for the company of companions who don't treat them as the enemy. Interestingly enough, the single pairing of nonbot male and female (Criminy and Fuschia) are also the only ones who fail to even acknowledge tthe concept of a gender war or the Matrix-ish "Patriarchy."
- Wondermark published this comic as a humorous illustration of an annoying Twitter habit, now known as 'Sea Lioning.' Many people, including The Other Wiki's Jimmy Wales, have pointed out that the protagonists insulted all sea lions everywhere, in public, and that the sea lion had every right to call them out on it, only becoming a villain when invading the other person's home.
- Neopets: Xandra did have a legitimate point: the Faeries do comparatively little for Neopia, and yet everyone idolises and reveres them. However, her response was... well... there aren't many people who'd say that crashing Faerieland into Neopia was the right thing to do.
- In Super Mario Bros. Z, Shadow argues that they should leave Princess Peach in Bowser's hands while they instead focus on finding the last of the Chaos Emeralds and stopping Turbo Metal Sonic, which Sonic uses as an excuse to call him out on how he's become more of an asshole since Mobius was destroyed. However, while he was a jerk in how he put it, Shadow is right that Bowser is a Harmless Villain who outright told them that he wouldn't hurt Peach, Turbo Metal Sonic is an Omnicidal Maniac who will happily butcher his way across the Mushroom Kingdoms looking for the last Chaos Emeralds while they are distracted, and once they have those last Chaos Emeralds they can transform into a group of Super Mode versions of themselves and lay waste to Bowser's whole army in the blink of an eye.
- The Bullshit Man is a caricature of people who complain about things that can't be helped. At the same time, why is he the "bad guy"? There is nothing that actually "can't be helped" and getting angry about it is step one in finding a way to change it. Many fans even find themselves agreeing with his rants. For example, the one about warranties is something that would certainly be a valid complaint, as after he bought a warranty it ended up proving worthless.
- Stan Smith of American Dad! is often portrayed as a bigoted self-serving sociopath who causes havoc over even the slightest problems caused in his perspective, however given he lives in a Crap Saccharine World where half the cast are almost as bad as he is, he does actually often have a reason to be annoyed (e.g. his Control Freak in-laws taking over his house uninvited, his wife becoming a surrogate mother behind his back, pretty much any disagreement he has with either Hayley or Roger) it's just his depraved overzealousness causes him to take much nastier measures that gives the other side the higher moral ground.
- The animated special The Berenstain Bears' Easter Surprise has Boss Bunny quitting his job as the Easter Bunny, resulting in the seasons getting stuck on a permanent winter in Bear Country. When we first meet Boss Bunny, he is cast off in a negative light, not caring about Easter and calling spring a bore. Brother pleads with him to come out of retirement and make Easter possible so the seasons can return to normal. However, Boss Bunny clearly is too old and worn out to continue Easter preparations and his body can't take the hassle anymore. Seasons getting stuck aside, setting up the factory, making truckloads of candy, painting millions of Easter eggs and caring for employees year after year add up to a pretty taxing job.
- This was a frequent occurrence on Captain Planet with Wheeler, who was portrayed usually as an arrogant and obnoxious jerk and hence always wrong, despite the fact that he often made sense. In one episode, he was mocked and declared selfish due to his opposition to keeping endangered and injured animals picked up in the groups travels on Hope Island, despite the fact that not taking exotic species out of their natural habitat is a perfectly valid Green Aesop on its own. This is not the only example. He has been "wrong" to espouse two entirely contradictory positions in two separate episodes, and was somehow wrong both times — even when the episodes came to the same conclusion. See The Complainer Is Always Wrong for details.
- In Danny Phantom's final episode, "Phantom Planet", Sam's is visibly upset with Danny getting rid of his powers and calls him selfish for doing it. He questions why what he did was selfish, and many people took Danny's side of the argument as his reasons were justified; his wanting to be normal again was to protect his family from the ghost hunters searching for him, and in keeping with the perception that he was no longer needed as Amity's protector. This just adds to the Alternative Character Interpretation for Sam that she only cares for Danny Phantom but not Danny Fenton.
- The Fairly OddParents has its most infamous episode, "It's a Wishful Life", where Timmy receives no appreciation for his good deeds. While the kid can be a jerk, he had every right to be upset with no one appreciating his work. Bickles was ungrateful simply because Timmy used a different shade of blue for a painted background that others wouldn't have noticed or cared about; AJ was ungrateful simply because Timmy bought a computer that was obsolete as of 5 seconds ago, then used the expensive computer as a door stopper; and Timmy's parents were ungrateful simply because Timmy knew nothing about the "dirty yard contest" they were competing against the Dinkleburgs for and spent untold hours (as far as they knew) making the garden beautiful to show his love for them.
- The failed pilot for The Groovinians has the Big Bad tell the artistic heroes that nothing in life is free and that they have to pay bills if they want to stay in their new home. This, of course, is presented as corporate greed and the villains making life harder for the heroes. Except viewers, even other artists, agreed more with what the bad guy was saying.
- An example that occurred to the writers happened in the Justice League episode A Better World. In it, Batman gets into a debate/duel with his Justice Lord counterpart, about the latter's seizing control of the world. Originally, League!Batman was meant to convince his counterpart, but after writing a particularly apt line for Lord!Batman note the writers couldn't come up with a compelling counter argument. In the episode proper, League!Batman concedes the point, and later gets through to Lord!Batman by pointing out how much their parents would have (dis)liked the new Gotham.
- King of the Hill often centered on Hank opposing some person or organization that conflicted with Hank's view of life, and Hank is almost always portrayed as being the correct person in these conflicts, though many of the apparent straw men often had good enough positions. In one particular episode, Hank butts heads with a man who has a less-than-flattering interpretation of the Alamo (namely, that the Texans involved were a bunch of drunken cowards). The other man points out the logic behind his views, such as citing Sam Houston's troubled life and documented alcoholism and pointing out that the only people who know exactly what happened at the Alamo are long dead so all they have to go off of is historical records. In the end, Hank is dissuaded from smashing up the stage when he realizes that it's wrong to censor someone else just because you don't like their message, but he insists on giving a speech to relate the bare facts of the battle before the play begins.
- A second season episode of toon animals-turned superheroes show Loonatics Unleashed has Lexi Bunny ignoring the team's tech guy's warnings (apparently the latest of several times) not to play with his inventions, and messing around with something that looks like a video game but is actually the controls for a real weapon system. The spaceship she blew up was real and belonged to an understandably peeved Melvin the Martian who demands restitution from them, and agrees to spare the world if Lexi will be his opponent in two-player games from then on. Team leader Ace Bunny refuses out of hand (even when warned by their tech guy that the best they can hope to do is hold Melvin off for a little while). Teammate Danger Duck, the one who's always wrong, urges Ace to reconsider, and while Duck's doing so out of a desire to preserve his own hide, his point's still valid. Lexi messed with something she shouldn't have, the world's facing obliteration because of it, and deciding to basically sacrifice the world in a war they can't win for the sake of a superhero who's supposed to put herself on the line for others... doesn't make a lot of sense.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The Canterlot Elite in "Sweet and Elite" are depicted as smug elitists for treating the ponies from Ponyville as boorish hicks. In addition to their assorted bad behaviours at the Grand Galloping Gala (the highest profile national annual party), Rarity's friends crash and trash the Canterlot Garden Party (the second highest profile national annual party), making one wonder if the reputation for being boorish hicks is at least somewhat deserved. Indeed, for the Gala, Celestia deliberately invited the main characters in hopes of "livening up" the party, and afterwards claims it was the best one in a long time because the Mane Cast engaged in disruptive behavior, culminating in Fluttershy screwing up a party which is, for her, exceedingly boring, further adding fuel to the fire.
- Spike's Heroic Self-Deprecation in Equestria Games is perfectly justified. His little anthem shtick was probably extremely offensive towards anyone from Cloudsdale (they were not entertained: they didn’t laugh, and, judging by the audience’s reactions, they seemed furious), while the heroic actions he can take credit for basically amount to being in the right place at the right time—any other pony would have probably done the same. Other ponies trying to chalk it up to him senselessly being self-conscious, outright ignoring how he humiliated himself in front of thousands of spectators (along with how long it took him to light the torch, followed by his embarrassing failure to light the picture he signed on fire) is somewhat bewildering.
- In Rocket Power, a group of Moral Guardians lobby to put a ban on Skateboarding, biking, running, and rough-housing on the boardwalk and pier after Merv Stimpleton steps on a skateboard and falls down. (Presumably one of many other accidents, not just when someone carrying boxes was shown as stepping on the skateboard and falling down). They're depicted as strawmen, but if you ask anyone who lives around a town like that, that ban isn't exactly that unreasonable due to safety reasons. Meanwhile, the kids had to be told not to skate around an extremely crowded area. The episode at least acknowledges this through Ray; he points out that regardless of Mr. Stimpleton's Disproportionate Retribution, the kids did hurt him and hadn't yet apologized, and Otto and Co. care more about having fun than someone getting hurt.
- In The Secret of Kells, the Abbot is portrayed as being an obstinate Philistine obsessed with building a wall to fortify Kells instead of letting the monks, who are artists and illuminators, get on with their true work of creating beautiful manuscripts. This would be fair if it weren't Dark Ages Ireland, which is constantly under threat from marauding Vikings — who do, in fact, turn up and burn the abbey to the ground. One can argue that the wall didn't work to keep the invaders out, but if everyone had taken the project more seriously, it might have been completed on time.
- The Spongebob Squarepants episode "Stuck in the Wringer" has Patrick glue Spongebob into the titular device for no reason other than his own stupidity. When this proceeds to ruin Spongebob's day, even rendering him unable to eat, Patrick clearly does not care. Spongebob eventually loses his patience and yells at Patrick, who fully deserves it. The crowd watching them then give Spongebob a dose of What the Hell, Hero? for treating his friend like that. The writers want us to agree with them.
- Ultimate Spider-Man:
- Peter Parker is often depicted as a jerk for wanting to work alone. While it's true that this incarnation of Spider-Man is way more stupid and dickish than usual, Spidey's arguments to defend himself are pretty valid. His "friends" are a bunch of jerkasses who frequently harass and disrespect him with little to no reason at all, force themselves in his life without any consent from his part and know much more about him than he does about them. And that's not forgetting about Nick Fury, who for all the claims to be a responsible authority figure, has little to no respect for his recruit's privacy and promises (he placed security cameras in his house, and their initial agreement clearly stated that Peter doesn't need to work in a team if he doesn't want to). Therefore, Spider-Man has no actual reason to trust any of them, completely ruining the lesson of working in a team.
- This comes up again in "The Incredible Spider-Hulk" where Fury acts like Spidey's whining again about his PR problem when it's clear that Jamerson constant berating him has begun to affect his ability to fight crime.
- X-Men: Evolution:
- When Lance joined the X-Men, Scott does not trust him and eventually accuses him of being behind a series of joyrides which have totaled the various X-Vehicles. He is presented as being in the wrong for not trusting Lance and being so apprehensive, in order to motivate Lance to stick with the Brotherhood, even after Scott realizes he was being a dick about it and apologizes. However, Scott had every right to be suspicious as Lance had been an aggressive criminal and was only interested in joining because of his crush on Kitty. Scott even did try to welcome him at first, but became dissuaded when Lance repeatedly did things for the fun of angering Scott including lying about going on joyrides when he did not.
- Magneto had schemes such as evolving the mutants he deemed to be 'worthy', and assembling a group of followers to his cause, in preparation for the inevitable war against humans when the world finds out they exist. Xavier always felt he was taking an extreme stance against humanity and opted to reveal themselves when they were ready...except there was one rogue SHIELD agent who deemed mutants a threat to humanity and built a Killer Robot with advanced weaponry to go after Wolverine and the larger X-Men and Brotherhood members, though Magneto arranged the battle was brought to the world's attention. The result is a widespread witch-hunt against mutants leaving them on the run. Xavier was conveniently out of commission thanks to Mystique, but one wonders what his reaction would be to see police around his school.
- In season 2 of Young Justice, G. Gordon Godfrey is an incredibly biased, inflammatory, and paranoid newscaster who constantly criticizes the Justice League unfairly, is suspicious towards aliens in general, spreads obvious misinformation and propaganda, and is revealed in the finale to be working for the villains. Unfortunately, his fundamental message of promoting public accountability of the League does ring true, however obvious it is that the heroes are in the right. The League keeps a lot of secrets from the public for arbitrary reasons; they don't even publicly announce a team member's death to avoid "people thinking we're mortal". They are an organization of superhumans and nonhumans responsible for the safety and security of the entire Earth, but they really aren't beholden to anyone except themselves. In more than a few ways the Justice League still acts like a secret group of vigilantes, despite being an extremely powerful public institution that consistently interferes in global affairs.