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[[caption-width-right:300:Note: The guy in the black uniform is supposed to be in the wrong here.]]
->''"You can't have heroes and villains when the wrong side is making the best sense."''
-->-- '''Creator/RogerEbert''' [[http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20020125/REVIEWS/201250303/1023 reviewing]] ''Film/IAmSam''
A StrawCharacter exists in a work to represent a caricature of a position which the author [[StrawmanFallacy 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 ([[AuthorTract namely the characters who agree with the author's opinion]]) and who is wrong. Yet sometimes -- possibly at the time, possibly [[FridgeLogic 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 RootingForTheEmpire. 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 CreatorProvincialism or ValuesDissonance cause different audiences to see its merits.
Using this trope cannot be done directly: the whole point is that it's a reaction the writer never intended. To purposefully use it, the writer would either have to be criticizing some other work or use a ShowWithinAShow format. If there's any awareness of this from the writers (and one might suspect subconscious awareness), expect a lot of unrelated KickTheDog 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. Or maybe they really do believe what they argue, but they think this gives them license to whatever [[IDidWhatIHadToDo "needs" to be done]] [[KnightTemplar to make their beliefs]] [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans a reality]]. 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. Above all, remember that a strawman argument isn't inherently wrong, only poorly stated, as per the FallacyFallacy.
Contrast JerkassHasAPoint, DumbassHasAPoint, HypocriteHasAPoint and VillainHasAPoint, where the author deliberately has a non-credible character hit the nail on the head. Compare and contrast MisaimedFandom, which results when the characters opposing the author's view are wrong but the fandom misinterprets the story as saying they were right, and BothSidesHaveAPoint, where [[CaptainObvious both sides are treated as having legitimate arguments]]. See also: TheExtremistWasRight, InformedWrongness, DesignatedEvil, NoMereWindmill, AlternativeCharacterInterpretation, DoNotDoThisCoolThing, BrokenAesop.