->''"Vladimir was one of those old-time bad guys with honor and morals, which made him almost one of the good guys. None of us was a saint."''

This which occurs when the hero realizes that a villain he is fighting is [[AntiVillain not so bad]], after all or at least has relatable (if still wrong) reasons for doing what he has. This generally only occurs in morally ambiguous stories such as GreyAndGrayMorality or WhiteAndGreyMorality. Used well, it can make for greater emotional value and added depth to the villain. Often the story will have a worse villain to contrast with the sympathetic one and act as a HateSink for the audience.

Very commonly, the two characters involved treat each other as [[WorthyOpponent Worthy Opponents]] and they may be the target of FoeYay. Sometimes, the bad guy in whom the hero found a glimmer of humanity will die or suffer a FateWorseThanDeath to provide angst for the hero or just because the WordOfGod must "confirm" that the he doesn't support crime and that RedemptionEqualsDeath. If he gets killed by another villain it's almost always a KickTheDog moment for that villain. If he does survive, he is a prime candidate for a HeelFaceTurn.

When it's the ''audience'' that feel sympathy for the villain regardless of whether or not the heroes or even author do, it's CryForTheDevil or DracoInLeatherPants. Compare with AntagonistInMourning, LastSecondChance, RivalTurnedEvil, CantKillYouStillNeedYou. Contrast SympathyForTheHero where it's the villain having a similar realization about the hero.

The name comes from a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sympathy_for_the_Devil 1968 song]] by Music/TheRollingStones. Which, ironically enough, is ''not'' an example of this trope at all, Satan is [[VillainSong gleefully singing]] about what a {{Jerkass}} he actually is or rather sarcastically confessing that he's responsible when it's really mankind [[NeverMyFault denying their own sins.]]

A common trait of an AllLovingHero. May overlap with GoKartingWithBowser or EnemyMine moments.

%% While this trope contains some degree of TruthInTelevision, '''[[NoRealLifeExamplesPlease please refrain from adding real life examples]].''' Calling RealLife people devils is a way to say that they are evil. Not to mention that there would be lots of endless debate on which bad people can be sympathized with and which is not. Cases where a fandom assign sympathetic attributes to a character that isn't meant to have any it's a case of DracoInLeatherPants.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'': After Envy's defeat, Ed expresses pity for it after realizing that Envy is actually jealous of humanity's capacity to form friendships and support one another. [[DontYouDarePityMe Envy is so humiliated that Ed pities it]] that it [[DrivenToSuicide kills itself]].
* Kenshiro from ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'' is famous for this trope. Even a deranged emperor that used children slaves to create a giant pyramid gets a little bit of the love.
* ''Anime/MazingerZ'': Played with in the GosakuOta manga version. The main characters go over Dr. Kabuto's notes to try to ascertain what are the ''[[Anime/GreatMazinger Mykene Warrior Monsters]]'' and where they come from. After learning [[BeneathTheEarth they were a civilization was forced to live underground during milennia]], Misato feels genuinely sorry about them. Kouji will hear nothing of it, though, and he remarks that their sufferings don't give them right to kill innocent people.
* Simon and Viral in ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', particularly in the final arcs.
** Not to mention both pre-timeskip Lord Genome and the Anti-Spiral, who, despite being mortal enemies, are both using the same basic strategy of tyranny to protect what they love (humanity from the Anti-Spiral for Lord Genome, the universe from humanity for the Anti-Spiral).
* With a few exceptions, this trope is all over the ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' franchise.
** One good example in ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED Gundam SEED]]'' is when Mu La Flaga, resident AcePilot and BigBrotherMentor actually expresses some sympathy for OmnicidalManiac [[BigBad Rau Le Creuset]]. It's worth noting that La Flaga is the only person in the whole series who seems to understand Le Creuset's motivations, let alone sympathise with him, while still of course, agreeing that he needs to be stopped. Sharing the same AbusiveDad may have helped.
** In ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEEDDestiny Gundam SEED Destiny]]'' {{Antivillain}}ous BigBad [[PresidentEvil Chairmain]] [[DarkMessiah Gilbert Durandal]] also expresses some sympathy for Le Creuset, and seems to be quite upset over the fact that [[ILetGwenStacyDie he couldn't save him]]. Similarly, his henchmen, [[JerkassWoobie Shinn Asuka]] and [[WellIntentionedExtremist Rey Za Burrel]] are two of the only characters in-show to feel sorry for the [[{{Tykebomb}} Extended]], a trio of {{Sociopathic Soldier}}s who work for [[EvilerThanThou rival]] BigBad [[DiabolicalMastermind Lord Djibril]].
* Similarly, ''Manga/BlackLagoon'' is full of sympathetic devils. The only exceptions that come to mind are the Neo-Nazis (who are misguided and comical) and Chaka.
* ''RaveMaster'' Haru Glory has been sympathetic towards several of his foes upon learning [[StartOfDarkness the events that brought them where they are]]. However, his first experience with this through King taught Haru that despite his sympathy "We have to fight anyone who inflicts pain upon the innocent. That's the path we've chosen."
* Nearly does in Robin Mask when he faces Kinnikuman Mariposa in ''{{Kinnikuman}}'s'' Scramble for the Throne arc. Mariposa tells Robin about his past, in which he was forced into thievery due to poverty and Robin, who had never faced a foe with a Tragic Past before, couldn't bring himself to pile more defeat onto Mariposa. It took a reminder that Kinnikuman himself was a bigger ButtMonkey than Mariposa ever was ''and'' overcame it without falling to evil before Robin could get back into the fight guilt-free.
* In the anime version of ''Anime/SailorMoon'' (it's last season, ''Stars'', to be exact) ''All'' the Sailor Senshi (yes, even Uranus and Neptune) shed tears after learning about Nehellenia's StartOfDarkness. It was hard for them to imagine living with the sadness and loneliness she endured. This prompted Sailor Moon to [[spoiler: return Nehellenia to her childhood, giving her a second chance at life.]]
* Johan Faust VIII from ''Manga/ShamanKing'' is first presented as a ruthless, cruel, and slightly insane antagonist. He gets a fair bit of sympathy when it's revealed that his fairytale romance with his wife Eliza was cut short like an ironic Greek tragedy, leaving him a broken man. Anna actually recruits him as the team medic in exchange for Anna summoning Eliza's spirit. Having his beloved wife back mellows him out to the point that he's a valued teammate, if still crazy.
* ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'' [[PerspectiveFlip alternates between question and answer arcs]], showing each villain from a SympatheticPOV. Even the BigBad is not an exception, [[spoiler:having a DarkAndTroubledPast and succumbing to the HatePlague in the end.]]
* In Manga/DeathNote, after [[spoiler:shooting and almost killing Light]], Matsuda is shown to feel a degree of pity for him, as does Aizawa in the anime (ironically, he tells Matsuda he ''shouldn't'' feel pity for [[spoiler:Light]] in the manga). In the spin-off manga chapter starring Near, Matsuda does freely admit though that [[spoiler:Light]] was "an evil person".
* One episode of ''Anime/CowboyBebop'' has this as it's title. [[spoiler:The devil turns out to be a boy whose aging process was halted by the explosion of a hyper-space gate prototype[[note]] He killed a lot of people to keep up the masquerade.[[/note]].]]
* Yuu from ''Manga/{{Holyland}}'' comes to realise that some of the gangsters he comes into conflict with just want a place they can call their own, just like him. The main difference is that he's content to defend what he can get, while they are aggressive and expansionist in doing so.
* This appears to be the ultimate {{Aesop}} for the anime version of ''Manga/BlueExorcist''; have sympathy for demons, and try to understand them before you try to destroy them. [[spoiler: Rin and Yukio's mother, Yuri, literally had sympathy for {{Satan}} himself.]]
* [[spoiler:When Aizen is finally defeated]] in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', Ichigo is only able to feel pity for him [[spoiler:after sensing the soul-crushing loneliness that ultimately drove Aizen's delusions of godhood.]]
** Before that, there was [[TheStoic Ulquiorra's]] intense, emotional death scene, during which his (now former) captive [[MessianicArchetype Orihime]] [[spoiler: [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming reassures him that she's not afraid of him and tries to hold his hand as he disintegrates]].]] This is reinforced a few chapters later when Ichigo notes that she's been rather upset about the Arrancar's death, especially when compared to his surviving comrade (whose reaction can be summed up as "oh, he's dead?").
* In TokyoMewMew, the Mew Mews learn that their enemies once lived on earth, but were forced to leave when the environment shifted, taking refuge on a world that was inhospitable. They returned, only to find that the humans are polluting it, and seek to kill all the humans and reclaim Earth. Zakuro says it's understandable that they would be upset over what is happening to what was once their planet, but points out that it doesn't justify their crimes.
* ''Anime/BloodPlus'''s Saya Otonashi shows pity/sympathy for [[EvilTwin Diva]] for her tragic FreudianExcuse several times in the series, although it doesn't stop her from carrying out her duty when Diva threatens her [[HappilyAdopted family]] and [[KillAllHumans the world]]. [[spoiler: When she finally succeeds at killing Diva, Saya holds her and cries for her as she dies]].
* Jonathan Joestar in Part I of ''Manga/JojosBizarreAdventure'' had every reason to hate Dio Brando. Despite everything, he still shed tears when he apparently defeated Dio. Even after Dio mortally wounded him, Jonathan's last act was to embrace Dio's head, acknowledging that he still considered Dio his brother.
* From ''[[Manga/DragonBall Dragon Ball Z]]'', Vegeta tearfully begging Goku to avenge their race as he dies has this effect on Goku, who [[DueToTheDead makes a grave for him]].
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'':
** Naruto despises [[spoiler: Obito]] for his StrawNihilist views, but as he works to finally separate him from the tailed beasts, all of his emotions and memories come flooding in with them. Naruto experiences visions of the man's past, his dreams of becoming Hokage, his [[spoiler:mourning Rin's death]], and is [[TearJerker genuinely moved to tears]] over [[spoiler:Obito's]] loss.
** Hashirama Senju, the First Hokage, actually sympathizes with his EvilFormerFriend Madara Uchiha, believing that everything Madara has done is simply his way of lashing out over his brother's death. As a result, Hashirama is one of the ''very'' few people in the entire series who ''doesn't'' find Madara [[ZeroPercentApprovalRating too much of a bastard to tolerate]].
* ''Manga/TheElectricTaleOfPikachu'': After [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast the Black Fog]] chooses to [[DrivenToSuicide self-destruct]] rather than let Ash capture it, Sabrina sheds tears for it, remarking that even though she's hated the Black Fog for years for killing all of her Pokemon, she just can't help but feel sorry for it.
* ''Manga/{{InuYasha}}'': After [[EmotionlessGirl Kanna]] dies as part of her [[SuicideMission final mission]] from Naraku, Kagome cries for her, having realized that Kanna truly ''did'' have emotions and didn't want to die.
* In ''Manga/TheSevenDeadlySins'', King sympathizes with Helbram despite the latter doing all sorts of atrocious things. This is because Helbram [[spoiler: is actually King's old friend who had gone mad with hatred for humans due to King being too late to save him.]]
* ''Manga/ElfenLied'': Even though Lucy killed his father and little sister in a jealous rage, Kouta, despite openly admitting that he can't forgive her actions, can't actually bring himself to hate Lucy herself no matter what and would rather get her to stop killing than seek revenge.
* ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' is filled with sympathetic villains, and the heroes are often conflicted over realizing they really aren't that different.
** Eren and Armin express sympathy towards [[spoiler: Annie Leonhart]], wondering what would drive a person to do such terrible things.
** Jean and Connie both express sympathy towards [[spoiler: Bertolt]], and his TearsOfRemorse are enough to shake Mikasa out of her murderous UnstoppableRage. Ymir later expresses her sympathy towards [[spoiler: Reiner and Bertolt]], stating she's the only person that understand their situation.
** Hange ends up feeling sympathy towards Pastor Nick, and later Djel Sanes after realizing both genuinely thought of their actions are NecessarilyEvil.
* ''Manga/RosarioToVampire'': This turns out to be why [[spoiler: Kahlua had UndyingLoyalty to a monstrous bitch like Gyokuro; Kahlua knew that if it weren't for her, Gyokuro would be all alone in the world, without the love and attention of her husband or children]].
* ''Manga/FairyTail'': [[spoiler:The conversation in Chapter 340 between [[BigGood Mavis Vermillion]] and [[BiggerBad Zeref]] implies that at one point, the two were close enough to know rather uncommon knowledge about one another; for example, Mavis knowing that Zeref is a DeathSeeker, and Zeref referring to humans as if Mavis isn't one of them. She also apparently willingly let him stay on Sirius Island with her, indicating that despite Zeref's [[TheDreaded very well earned reputation]], she seemed to genuinely feel bad for the guy... up until his rather unnerving threat about [[OmnicidalManiac wiping out humanity]], anyway]].
** ''Fairy Tail Zero'' and chapters 449-450 elaborate a bit more on their relationship. [[spoiler:Mavis was the only one to ever show Zeref kindness and recognize him for what he was: a kind but troubled man under a truly horrific curse. When Mavis became similarly cursed, she realized she was the only one who could ever truly relate to him, and as a result they fell in love. But the curse would never allow Zeref to be happy, and killed her in spite of her immortality, causing Zeref's true StartOfDarkness. Mavis did not just sympathize with the devil -- she ''loved'' the man who became the devil, and at the same time recognizes it was her death that made him the devil in the first place]].
* This causes Emi a great deal of grief in ''LightNovel/TheDevilIsAPartTimer''. She's spent most of her life training to slay the demon lord, only to find out that he's genuinely a nice guy and has become a productive member of society upon ending up in Japan. Over the course of the light novels, she comes to view him as a friend [[spoiler: and eventually falls in love with him]].

[[folder:Comic books]]
* In ''ScottPilgrim'', [[spoiler: this is materialized as the Power of Understanding.]]
* Marvel's SelfDemonstrating/{{Loki}} uses this trope all the time to get away with a lot, although he's genuinely sympathetic (as jerks go). He's also a user of NotMeThisTime, [[SocietyIsToBlame Blame the Asgardians]], and [[YouCantFightFate I'm unworthy/sorry/cursed, forgive me]]. Ironically, he's usually at least mostly honest.
* TheDCU: First shown in Creator/NeilGaiman's ''Comicbook/TheSandman'' and then later confirmed in [[Comicbook/{{Lucifer}} his own title]], [[{{Satan}} Lucifer]], the Prince of Hell, is actually not that bad a guy once you get to know him. Sure, he's bitter about how God's treated him over the last several billion years, he's arrogant, he's a bit of an [[{{Jerkass}} asshole]], but he's not the soul-stealer Christianity and Islam would have you believe he was.
* In the ''Series/{{Buffy|the Vampire Slayer}}'' comic series ''Tales of the Vampires'', a group of young Watchers-in-training are brought before a captured vampire who tells them all about vampires both as monsters and people. [[spoiler:At the end, after foiling an attempt by this vampire's sire to free him, (and killing the sire) the main character acknowledges that she did learn from the vampire and apologizes for his loss as he weeps disconsolately.]]
* In the ''ComicBook/SonicTheHedgehog'' comic series, Sonic is shown to feel visible guilt when a series of defeats reduces Dr. Eggman to an insane babbling wreck. Granted this comes to an end when he regains his stability, and all his ruthlessness and more, shortly afterwards.
** Likewise, when Fiona starts crying and denying that she trusts and depends on Scourge, Sonic just walks away with a pitying look on his face, muttering, "Keep telling yourself that."

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* ''Fanfic/{{Luminosity}}'''s Chelsea is unquestionably evil. [[BadPowersBadPeople Her power]] is to MindControl people into [[MindRape loving people of her choosing or feeling nothing for people they once loved]], and she uses it regularly. [[StepfordSmiler Then the story goes on.]] [[spoiler:[[MadnessMantra "Everyone must love me."]]]]
* The Horde-aligned protagonist of FanFic/TravelsThroughAzerothAndOutland has this attitude towards the Alliance.
* ''FanFic/TheLegendOfSpyroANewDawn'': Despite everything she's done, Spyro and Cynder remain sympathetic to [[BigBad Deadlock]], stating that the circumstances that drove her insane could have easily broken ''anyone''.
* In the [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic MLP]] fanfic ''FanFic/WhatHaveYouDone'' and the sequel ''Even As..'', Twilight sees ''Discord'' as just like her, another abandoned creature after she crosses the DespairEventHorizon when she is alienated from her friends and family due to the Canterlot Wedding. [[spoiler: She decides that Discord does not deserve being in stone, and uses a stone reversal spell to set him free.]]
* In ''[[FanFic/SovereignGFCOrigins Origins]]'', a ''MassEffect''[=/=]''StarWars''[[spoiler:[=/=]''[=Borderlands=]''[=/=]''[=Halo=]'']] MassiveMultiplayerCrossover, Jane Davenport, an [[Characters/MassEffect3MultiplayerCharacters N7 Shadow]], finds two ex-Cerberus camped out aboard Omega. She quickly learns the [[DemonicSpiders engineer turret]] she took out as per the usual was actually there to defend against [[spoiler:the Flood]], not as a trap for unwitting Alliance. After receiving a [[WhatTheHellHero tongue lashing]] for destroying "our only defense", Davenport finds that these Cerberus troops were [[WellIntentionedExtremist just trying to defend humanity]] when it seemed [[FantasticRacism no one else]] would. Thus, the lone Alliance soldier joins up with her former foes.
* ''FanFic/TheTwilightChild'': Even after all she's done to them, the Cutie Mark Crusaders try to reach out to Diamond Tiara after she's been on the receiving end of a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech. Diamond Tiara's response is to scream and swear at them until they go away.
* ''Fanfic/HopeForTheHeartless'' is about [[PurityPersonified Avalina's]] growing [[MoralityPet compassion]] towards the [[VillainProtagonist the Horned King]] as much as it's about the [[ImpossibleTask chance]] for [[RedemptionQuest redemption]] the [[ResurrectedForAJob resurrected]] BigBad of ''Disney/TheBlackCauldron'' has been given unexpectedly.

[[folder: Film - Animated]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda'', Master Shifu faces Tai Lung when the latter makes his way to the Jade Palace. During their battle, Tai Lung angrily calls out Shifu for pushing him to train so hard his bones cracked, filling his head with dreams of becoming the Dragon Warrior, and turning his back on him when Oogway denied him the Dragon Scroll. Exhausted and beaten physically and emotionally, Shifu acknowledges the part he played in Tai Lung's descent and apologizes for failing him. Unfortunately, [[IgnoredEpiphany Tai Lung just wants the Scroll]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2'', Po pities Shen and tries to help him. This is pretty damn impressive considering that it happens ''after'' Po learned that Shen [[spoiler: slaughtered damn near his entire race, including his mother.]]
* It's brief but in ''WesternAnimation/RiseOfTheGuardians'', the Guardians all wore an expression of pity when [[spoiler: Jamie runs right through Pitch, indicating that the Boogie Man is no longer feared or believed in.]]
* Taken literally in ''WesternAnimation/SouthParkBiggerLongerAndUncut'', Kenny [=McCormick=] comforts Satan after he has an argument with his boyfriend, Saddam Hussein.

[[folder:Film - Live Action]]
* Luke Skywalker to Darth Vader in ''Franchise/StarWars''.
* Cpt. Benjamin L. Willard and Col. Walter E. Kurtz in ''Film/ApocalypseNow''.
* Johnny Utah and Bodhi in ''Film/PointBreak''.
* Inspector "Tequila" Yuen and Alan in ''Film/HardBoiled''.
* In ''Film/{{Brick}}'', the Pin, a club-footed drug dealer barely out of high school, briefly opens up to the hard-boiled hero on the beach. Talking about his love for [[TheLordOfTheRings Tolkien]], he reveals himself as something of a sad, lonely geek.
* Another Creator/JohnWoo example: [[HitmanWithAHeart Ah Jong]] and [[CowboyCop Inspector Li Ying]] from ''Film/TheKiller'', who end up teaming up against Jong's boss in order to get the money needed for Jenny's eye operation.
* Lt. Vincent Hanna to Neil [=McCauley=] in ''Film/{{Heat}}''.
* Happens in ''Film/{{Devil}}'' when Detective Bowden realizes that [[spoiler: Tony Janekowski was the one who killed his wife and kids, but it was technically an accident because he was drunk.]]
* Jason attempts this with [[spoiler: Robert]] in ''Film/MysteryTeam''. It doesn't work.
* Examined in ''Film/{{Manhunter}}''.
-->'''Jack Crawford:''' You feel sorry for him.
-->'''Will Graham:''' This started from an abused kid, a battered infant... My heart bleeds for him, as a child. Someone took a kid and manufactured a monster. At the same time, as an adult, he's irredeemable. He butchers whole families to pursue trivial fantasies. As an adult, someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks. Does that sound like a contradiction to you, Jack? Does this kind of thinking make you uncomfortable?
** The same goes for its remake ''Film/RedDragon''
* Sister Helen Prejean to Matthew Poncelet from ''Film/DeadManWalking''.
* Raoul Silva in ''Film/{{Skyfall}}''. During his confrontation with M where he reveals his TragicVillain backstory, when he says "You betrayed me," Bond looks away from Silva and gazes intently at M. After Silva has a mini-meltdown where he reveals his cyanide-induced deformity (for which he also blames M), M leaves and Bond turns to follow, but slowly and hesitantly, suggesting he doesn't entirely want to leave Silva alone. After he rejoins M, he stares silently at her until she explains why she "betrayed" Silva. According to Daniel Craig on the DVD special features, under better circumstances Bond would have rather let Silva live and get therapy.
** M, for her part, is visibly shaken after Silva's big reveal and her explanation is tinged with melancholy. Later in the film, as they are lying in wait for Silva's final attack, she says, "I fucked this up, didn't I?" While Bond assures her she was just doing her job, he doesn't go so far as to tell her she did the right thing.
* ''Film/GodzillaVsDestoroyah'' : The titular King of Monsters has absorbed too much radiation from an explosion in Film/GodzillaVsSpaceGodzilla, and his body is now melting down. After going through a TraumaCongaLine with his son dying, his body being frozen, and a couple rounds with the monster Destoroyah, he finally reaches the breaking point and [[SuperpowerMeltdown melts down]]. Despite all of the destruction Godzilla has caused over the years, the human protagonists can't help but feel remorse for his passing.
--> '''Miki Saegusa:''' I think this is going to be Godzilla's last fight.

* Cassie in Literature/{{Animorphs}} for Aftran. Initially, Cassie viewed Yeerks as complete monsters, but Aftran forced her to see how the natural Yeerk state was like a prison.
* Several characters for [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings Gollum]]. In ''Literature/TheHobbit'', Bilbo has pity on him and doesn't kill him when he has a chance, despite Gollum trying to kill and eat Bilbo. Frodo and Sam, who initially feel no pity, both develop compassion for Gollum after they've experienced the burden of bearing the Ring and are able to imagine what five hundred years of that would do to a person. Especially poignant with Sam, who's spent most of the book (understandably) regarding Gollum as a vile, treacherous little creature who deserves no sympathy.
* Aziraphale and Crowley in ''Literature/GoodOmens'', quite cordial for an angel and a demon (specifically, the angel with the flaming sword who guarded the gate of Eden and the demon who took the form of a snake and tempted Eve).
** Possibly best summed up in this exchange:
--->'''Aziraphale''': "I'd just like to say, if we don't get out of this, that ... I'll have known, deep down inside, that there was a spark of goodness in you."
--->'''Crowley''': "That's right, make my day."
--->'''Aziraphale''': "Nice knowing you."
--->'''Crowley''': "Here's to next time. And ... Aziraphale?"
--->'''Aziraphale''': "Yes."
--->'''Crowley''': "Just remember I'll have known that, deep down inside, you were just enough of a bastard to be worth liking."
* Literature/ErastFandorin and Momos in ''The Jack of Spades'' (''Special Assignments'') by Boris Akunin.
* Woland [[spoiler: who actually '''is''' the Devil]] in TheMasterAndMargarita.
** He's also the inspiration for Rolling Stones song mentioned in the Trope description
* A version of this occurs in Raymond E. Feist's ''TheRiftwarCycle''. The dark elves of the setting, also known as moredhel or the Brotherhood of the Dark Path, are generally portrayed as evil and sadistic, with no morals and a love of torturing their victims before killing them. A huge invasion by the moredhel and their allies is the main plot of one book, ''A Darkness At Sethanon''. In spite of that, the BigBad of that book, the charismatic moredhel leader Murmandamus, is revealed to be [[spoiler:a Pantathian (snake-person) priest in disguise who doesn't care about the moredhel and only wants the Lifestone below the city of Sethanon, an artifact that supposedly has the power to revive the Pantathians' Valheru mistress and revered goddess. On top of it all, the power to use said Lifestone comes from the life forces of all the people who died near the priest, the bulk of which is moredhel soldiers who died in a careless siege against a ''very'' well-defended fortress, thus making the moredhel the ones who were most cruelly used and manipulated,]] resulting in literal Sympathy For The Devil, or for the Dark Elf at least.
** On top of that, two other books - ''Krondor: The Betrayal'', which deals with events ten years after the invasion, and ''Honored Enemy'', which is set before the invasion - feature moredhel protagonists and switches to moredhel perspective for a change, also making them a bit more complex and multi-faceted rather than the standard 'evil and sadistic' image. Additionally, in Feist's universe dark elves are really the same as light elves, just with a different culture, as opposed to being a different race, as in many other settings.
* The IncarnationsOfImmortality novel "For the Love of Evil" tells the events of the previous six books, all from Satan's point of view. It definitely plays this trope well, showing both how [[spoiler:Parry]] became Satan through evil he performed, how effectively he evokes evil (it is his job) yet how, secretly, is actually a very good man.
* Both in-story and out-of-story with Mayella Ewell, "the loneliest person in the world," in ''Literature/ToKillAMockingbird''. This is particularly true if you happen to catch one easy-to-miss remark, spoilered here because it has the most impact in context: "She said she never kissed a man before, and she might as well kiss a nigger. [[spoiler:She said what her pa do to her don't count.]]" Also, she pretty much has to raise her family by herself, and she has no idea what a friend is. She has a few plants that she takes care of, and that's pretty much the only thing of hers. It's really pretty sad.
* A quite literal sympathy in the case of ''Literature/HandOfMercy'' - the Fallen are are depicted as a small band of martyrs just trying to end their people's slavery.
* ''Literature/ILucifer'' literally has Lucifer attempting to create sympathy or rather simply telling his side of events. He largely succeeds in both regards. He also mentions the trope naming track, The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil".
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'':
** While learning about Voldemort's BackStory, Harry expresses a twinge of sympathy when Dumbledore reveals [[spoiler: that his mother chose to die in childbirth, rather than save her life with magic and raise him alone]]. Being an orphan himself and bullied worse than anything we see happen to Voldemort as a child, Harry could have just as easily [[ForWantOfANail become as bad if not worse than him]].
** Harry's hatred for Draco is replaced with pity after the events of [[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince Book 6]]. He even saves Draco's life in the last book [[spoiler:and Narcissa repays the favor]].
* In ''Literature/WarriorCats'', when the villain Tigerstar is killed, Firestar reflects on the fact that normally he'd be relieved or happy that this dangerous cat is gone, but all he feels staring down at Tigerstar's body is grief. Tigerstar had been gifted with strength, intelligence, and charisma, and he could have become a legend as one of the greatest warriors in history had he not chosen to follow a dark path.
* In the DaleBrown novel ''Rogue Forces'', Patrick [=McLanahan=] sympathises with the antagonistic Turks, recognising that they have a nation-level DudeWheresMyRespect that drove them to act. A marked difference from TheUsualAdversaries Russia and China that get no such sympathy.
** In ''A Time for Patriots'', Patrick and Jeremiah Paulson eventually manage to agree that they have common ground, including being wrongfully hounded by the FBI.
* AtTheMountainsOfMadness cranks this up a few notches, with the protagonist identifying similarities in the actions of an alien race to how humans would react under the same circumstances.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': [[InvokedTrope Part of the job description]] for [[ThePaladin Knights of the Cross]]. The knights' main enemy are humans who have partnered with [[SealedEvilInACan sealed demons]], and bargained for power. The knights make every effort they can to convince these humans to give up the power and the coin it's sealed in. The sympathy is [[JustifiedTrope far from unjustified]], either, as one of the knights used to be one of those enemies.
** Also includes Marcone, the crime lord of Chicago, once Harry learns what drove him to create his criminal empire. Harry may not like the man, what he does, or how he does it, but he does appear to respect him and understand 'why' he does it.
* In ''Literature/{{It}}'', this is one of the reasons why Mike can't quite bring himself to kill [[{{Jerkass}} Henry Bowers]] in self-defense. Mike pities him for having grown up under [[AbusiveParents someone like Butch Bowers]], who naturally heavily influenced Henry's way of thinking and was partially responsible for his son's racism and jerkassery.
* In ''Literature/UndeadOnArrival'', Novak spends the entire book hating and hunting down his killer, only to discover [[spoiler: it's a poor kid who regrets what he did.]]
* In Creator/AnneRice's ''[[Literature/TheVampireChronicles Memnoch the Devil]]'', the titular character, who claims to be TheDevil, tells and shows his life's story to Lestat as an AlternativeCharacterInterpretation meant to invoke this trope. At the end, though, it's left unclear if this was all true, or if Memnoch was just messing with Lestat.
* In ''Literature/MemorySorrowAndThorn'', the [[BigBad Storm King]] used to be the [[TheFairFolk Sitha prince]] Ineluki, dedicating his entire life to protecting his people. His flame burned so brightly that he might have led them out of their exile, but instead the humans came and waged an unstoppable war. Rejecting his father's fatalism, he delved deeply into ThingsManWasNotMeantToKnow, destroying his own sanity in the process. His final attempt to destroy the invaders cast him into the realm beyond death, where his hate burned in darkness for five centuries. This tragic backstory proves key to defeating his plan to return to (and destroy) the mortal world, by showing him {{Forgiveness}} at a crucial moment.
-->''That was the truth behind this terrible, burning thing. No creature in all the cosmos deserved what had happened to the Storm King.''
* Just after the climax of Geoph Essex's ''Lovely Assistant'', Jenny points out that the [[DidWeJustHaveTeaWithCthulhu monster]] bent on [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt world destruction]] isn't the real bad guy - the creature was provoked by [[spoiler: Carrie Raymond]], who essentially lured, captured, and cosmically [[MindRape raped]] it when all it wanted was to be left alone. [[spoiler: Jenny's able to [[StarfishLanguage apologize]] on behalf of humanity and convince the thing to leave.]] In the [[DistantFinale final chapter]], it seems Jenny even manages to muster up a less than hostile attitude toward [[spoiler: [[BigBad Carrie and Vincent Raymond]]]] themselves, though calling that "sympathy" might be stretching it.
* In TheMoteInGodsEye, Horace Bury develops a pathological aversion to the Moties after nearly smuggling breeding stock of Watchmakers off the doomed Mac'Arthur, realizing just in time that they breed in ridiculous numbers and would pose an unbeatable threat to humanity if they ever escaped from their home system. Yet he acknowledges in the sequel, ''The Moat around Murcheson's Eye'' (US Title: ''The Gripping Hand''), that he pities them nonetheless as they are cruelly trapped by their own biology: "They die in agony if they can't become pregnant".
* (Former) [[TheVisitation Reverend Travis Jordan]] is not exactly malicious toward [[VillainWithGoodPublicity Brandon Nichols]], though he is [[DeadpanSnarker fairly]] [[JadeColoredGlasses sarcastic]] with him, and doesn't appreciate Nichols bringing up the more painful parts of Travis' past in an attempt to invoke NotSoDifferent. Then Travis finds out exactly what made Nichols who he is.
-->But I had never been in such a place as Nechville - and I know I'd never been in such a place\ as Justin's backyard. I only thought I had, and I was acting like it ... Now I was sorry.\ Desperately sorry.


[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The Episode 'Terms of Endearment' of the sixth season of the ''Series/{{X-Files}}'' does this LITERALLY when [[spoiler:The character who is being shown as the Devil is shown to be crying over his failed attempt at a child, as well as having an emotional discussion where he almost breaks down talking about how he's always wanted to have kids]]
* Starting around season 3 of ''Series/BabylonFive'', [[MagnificentBastard Alfred Bester]] begins to head this way, bordering on AntiVillain, due to us learning about more of his motivation and goals [[spoiler:and discovering that his lover was taken by [[BigBad The Shadows]] and [[BodyHorror turned into a control unit]] for their ships]]. The only thing keeping him from going straight into AntiVillain territory is the fact that he ''very'' obviously enjoys torquing with the good guys, [[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds Lyta Alexander]] in particular, along with his [[FantasticRacism casual disregard]] for [[WhatMeasureIsANonSuper the Mundanes]].
* In Season 5 of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'', [[{{Satan}} Lucifer]] tries this multiple times: with Sam at the beginning of the season [[spoiler:after appearing as Jess, Sam's dead girlfriend]], with Dean when Zachariah [[Recap/SupernaturalS05E04TheEnd sends him]] into the [[BadFuture future]], and with Castiel in "[[Recap/SupernaturalS05E10AbandonAllHope Abandon All Hope...]]" while he has Cas trapped in a ring of holy fire. Subverted in that none of these attempts work. Dean even name-drops the trope when calling Lucifer out on his "sympathy for the Devil crap".
** He pulls this on Nick to get him to say yes, since he couldn't get to Sam. It works.
** The first episode of that season is aptly titled "[[Recap/SupernaturalS05E01SympathyForTheDevil Sympathy for the Devil]]".
* The Master from ''Series/DoctorWho''.
* Scorpius of ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' fits this trope very well. He pursues Crichton throughout the second season for his knowledge of how to use wormholes. By the end of the third season however, Crichton genuinely considers giving it to him when he comes to understand Scorpius' motivations, [[spoiler: though in the end he chooses not to]].
* After Mrs. Etuk's death in ''{{Tinsel}}'', Amaka Okoh finally realizes that [[StrawmanHasAPoint a lot of the old woman's anger against her was justified]].
* In ''Series/TheWire'', when [=McNulty=] learns about the death of [[spoiler:[[AntiVillain D'Angelo]]]] and quickly sees that it was [[MakeItLookLikeAnAccident a murder made to look like a suicide]], he expresses a lot of sympathy for [[spoiler:D'Angelo]].
-->I kinda liked your son, you know. [[TheFamilyThatSlaysTogether All things considered]], he was [[WhiteSheep a pretty decent kid]]. And it grinds me that no one ever spoke up for him. Seems to me that now nobody ever will.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'': In the episode "Skin of Evil", both Picard and Troi express their sympathy for Armus for spending untold eons on a dead planet in pain and rage after his creators abandoned him, while nevertheless acknowledging that he is a [[MadeOfEvil malevolent liquid of pure evil]].
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'': Sisko feels sympathy for Dukat after he loses his grip on reality when [[spoiler:his daughter Ziyal is killed]].
* ''Series/TwentyFour'': In Season 7, Jack and Renee corner [[spoiler: Tony Almeida]] just as he is about to kill Alan Wilson [[spoiler: one of the major figures responsible for killing David Palmer, Michelle Dessler, and her and Tony's unborn son.]] They are both forced to shoot him to save Wilson. However, both of them clearly heard [[spoiler: Tony crying about his unborn son]] beforehand. As the FBI agents take [[spoiler: Tony]] away, he yells at Jack in anger and berates him for letting the bad guys get to this point. While Jack's reaction to the whole thing is hard to tell [[spoiler: (at least partially because he is severely suffering from the pathogen weapon infection and is close to death at this time)]], Renee is clearly saddened and utterly horrified. She further demonstrates these feelings when she bitterly tells Wilson that [[spoiler: she blames him for Larry Moss's death, even though Tony was the one who actually killed Larry as part of his cover to gain Wilson's trust.]]
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'' loves this trope. The series started with two delicious baddies in [[WickedStepmother the Evil Queen]]/Regina and [[TheChessmaster Rumplestiltskin]]/Mr Gold.
** Then we found out that Rumpel turned dark because [[spoiler:he took the power of the Dark One in order to save his thirteen-year-old son from being sent to certain death fighting in the Ogre War. That dark power twisted him into the ruthless (though not completely irredeemable) Dark One.]]
** But we still have the evil Queen, until we find out [[spoiler:she was stuck in a miserable marriage with Snow White's father, after her mother Cora murdered her beloved because he was only a stable boy and she wanted her daughter to be queen]] and that Regina hates Snow White because [[spoiler:as a child Snow inadvertently caused the murder of Regina's beloved by telling Cora that Regina was going to run away with him.]]
** Then there is Cora who seems like a wonderfully wicked and remorseless villain until we learn [[spoiler:she truly loves her daughter and acted as she did because she grew up a poor and hardworking miller's daughter who was treated like dirt by the royalty until she finally vowed she would get her revenge by becoming one of them and making them all bow to her and her child.]] As Rumpel says "Evil isn't born, it's made."
* In the ''Series/{{Millennium}}'' episode "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me", a group of demons discuss how they go about their business to spread evil and their run-ins with Frank Black, who can see their true forms. When one of the demons begins a relationship with a human woman but finds himself compelled to drive her to suicide anyway, Frank sees the demon crying and remarks "You must be so lonely".

* The TropeNamer, the Music/RollingStones' ''Sympathy For The Devil''.
--> "Please allow me to introduce myself, [[WickedCultured I'm a man of wealth and taste]];
--> [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld I've been around for a long, long year]], [[YourSoulIsMine Stole many a man's soul to waste...]]"
* Music/BlackSabbath provide examples, as might be expected: in ''[=NIB=]'', the virtues of the Devil are described at length, the implication being that he has a warped stalker-type love for humanity, and is only doing the job God assigned him to do.
-->Follow me now, and you will not regret
-->Leaving the life you did before we met
-->you're not the first to have this love of mine -
-->Forever with me till the end of time!
* Sabbath's ''Master of Reality'' album riffs a lot on this theme of Satan being misappreciated.

[[folder:Role-Playing Games]]
* In ''Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG'', after [[spoiler:the Darkitect's DivineIntervention granted Dr. Rex a FateWorseThanDeath]], many Dino Attack agents felt pity towards Dr. Rex. Even Rex, who moments prior proclaimed that Dr. Rex deserved to die a slow and painful death, realized that no one, not even Dr. Rex, deserved the terrible fate he met.
-->'''Tropers/BrikmanMcStudz''': "As I was reading that post, I felt just a very small shred of sympathy for Dr. Rex. Sympathy best described using a quote from a review by Creator/RogerEbert for the movie ''[[Film/{{Downfall}} Der Untergang]]'' (''Film/{{Downfall}}'') to describe sympathy toward Hitler in the film: "Sympathy I felt in the sense that I would feel it for a rabid dog, while accepting that it must be destroyed."

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Imperium of Man in ''{{Warhammer 40000}}'' is portrayed as an extremely cruel, repressive, and paranoid society that is the "most frightening regime one could ever imagine". However, when the entire scope of the canon is taken into perspective, the Imperium is one of the closest things to a "good guy" the universe has ''by comparison'' to what it fights against and protects humanity from, including: an endless horde of Greeskinned brutes that slaughter innocents ''for fun'', another endless horde of extragalactic world-devourers, otherwordly Chaos entities that revel in causing suffering and torment to other forms of life, two highly-advanced alien races that seek to control or exterminate all in their path, and treacherous, murderous space pirates.

* Opinions about Creator/MarquisDeSade aside, Weiss paints a rather sympathetic idea of the man in the play ''Theatre/MaratSade''.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Max Payne and Vladimir Lem in ''VideoGame/MaxPayne''. [[spoiler:Max kills Vladimir in the sequel.]]
** ''"Max, dearest of my friends… I was supposed to be the hero..."''
* It's a staple for [[Franchise/MetalGear Solid Snake]] to relate to his opponent during his or her post-BossBattle dying speech.
** Although this was averted in the final game, ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots'', where Old Snake is too tired to give a crap. Drebin instead fills him in the [[QuirkyMinibossSquad Beauty and the Beast Unit's]] backstories if he defeats them non-lethally, relating the emotionally-scarring situations that made them the way they were. Snake actually tells Drebin once that he doesn't care about such ridiculous sob stories, but Drebin keeps talking anyway.
*** Played straight with Rose, however, who finds said backstories absolutely heartbreaking; she even states that Liquid is truly a [[BadBoss heartless monster]] for forcing such broken people to fight, remarking that they'll eventually break down and be completely useless. Snake agrees with her on all points, but also points out that, since they're nuts and thus not fighting at their full effectiveness, [[SanityHasAdvantages he has an advantage]].
* Priestess Meden and General Gong Hawkeye of ''VideoGame/{{Patapon}}''. Gong's your enemy, yes, but - all things considered - he's also a likeable fellow who certainly strikes a chord with Meden. He tries reasoning with you before he goes to battle, he mourns his fallen comrades, he tries to prevent Queen Karma from selling her soul to the demons and in the end he faces your army alone in a heroic last stand. It's very cruel that you have to kill him to progress in the game.
** In Patapon 2, [[spoiler: Gong becomes your ally.]]
* Ganondorf in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'', definitely, in keeping with the "wind" theme of the game:
-->'''Ganondorf:''' My country lay within a vast desert. When the sun rose into the sky, a burning wind punished my lands, searing the world. And when the moon climbed into the dark of night, a frigid gale pierced our homes. No matter when it came, the wind carried the same thing... Death. But the winds that blew across the green fields of Hyrule brought something other than suffering and ruin. I... coveted that wind, I suppose.
** Link and Zelda show pity for the alternate timeline version of Ganondorf, in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' after his death, which is somewhat strange given how this Ganondorf is portrayed. While we know from ''Wind Waker'' that both final versions of Ganondorf were originally out to save his people, this version never regains his sanity and remains a BigBad, despite similar circumstances of imprisonment. Needless to say, he's not intended to be sympathetic.
** After Link apparently kills Ganondorf in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'', Zelda says he was a pitiful man who could not control the power of the gods and met an ignoble end as a result.
* In the original ''ShadowHearts'', as Yuri and the party find out more about Roger Bacon[[spoiler:'s imposter, Albert Simon]], they start to feel this way towards him. The final battle with him is as rivals deciding the course the world should take, rather than a showdown between Good and Evil... and when he loses, he uses the last of his power before dying to send Yuri and his friends to destroy the Meta God, keeping his word that, win or lose, both sides would accept the consequences and there would be no hard feelings.
** The sequel takes it even further, with most of the antagonists being at least somewhat sympathetic. The Final Boss, in fact, could probably have finished his plans without interference if he hadn't told Yuri and company when and where to meet him.
* Towards the end of ''YggdraUnion'', Kylier tells the main characters that she can't hate Nessiah and only feels sorry for him for what he's been through--she's [[spoiler:been in his head, and has seen how he was thrown out of Asgard for [[ActualPacifist refusing to fight in Ragnarok]], after which he was put through [[WhoWantsToLiveForever so]] [[EyeScream much]] [[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds trauma]] that the only support for his sanity was [[RageAgainstTheHeavens the chance for revenge]]]]. (This is ''after'' he [[spoiler:resurrects her and [[PeoplePuppets forces her mind-controlled body to try to kill her love interest]] solely to power up his sword]], by the way, and Kylier isn't what you could call easygoing.) Nessiah's [[spoiler:death scene]] and the side materials, which fleshed out his backstory considerably, [[CryForTheDevil evoke this reaction in many a player, too]].
** The same goes for [[HeroAntagonist the Imperial Army]] starting in chapter seven, where the game's GrayAndGreyMorality becomes blatant. [[spoiler:Especially after Gulcasa's breakdown at hearing his little sister is dead.]]
* At the end of ''VideoGame/{{Mother 3}}'', where [[spoiler:Dr. Andonuts traps Porky inside the Absolutely Safe Chamber, he notes that for all the horrible things he's done Porky was deep down an insecure and lonely little boy driven by the fact that [[LonersAreFreaks everybody hated him.]]]]
** That last one wasn't helped by him being a {{Jerkass}} since early childhood. While it explains the reason behind his actions, it hardly ''justifies'' them to any extent.
* Surprisingly [[AvertedTrope averted]] in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' with Sora. Despite being a notorious [[LoveFreak Friendship Freak]] diagnosed with ChronicHeroSyndrome, Sora frequently called out Organization XIII whenever they'd pretend they had emotions or that they were completely justified for their actions. It's this very reason why Sora has RonTheDeathEater status with the more hardcore Organization XIII fans.
** Well, he ''tries'' to do this with Xemnas when he seems to die the first time but then Xemnas comes back to screw him and Riku over again. In this light, his previous attitude was probably more justified.
** Master Xehanort, the BigBad from ''Birth By Sleep'', is quite skilled at [[ExploitedTrope exploiting]] this trope, even if he doesn't deserve it. He tricks Terra into listening to him not by pretending to be a good person, but by admitting to doing horrific things to Ven and then feigning guilt to earn Terra's pity. Unfortunately for Terra, it works all too well - it's all too clear that he really ''does'' feel sympathy for Xehanort, and trusts him more than he should because of it.
* In ''IcewindDale'' ''2'', the spirit of Mother Egenia and Iselore are the only characters who express sympathy for the [[BigBad Big Bads]] Isair and Madae. Egenia was the one who raised the twin cambions after their birth mother was DrivenToSuicide. Her spirit mourns her children's turn to darkness but recognizes that they have to be stopped. Iselore was the one who ''named'' the twins when they were born. He recalls with shame his warning to Egenia that "they are forged in evil and nothing but evil can come from them!" and wonders if this was a SelfFulfillingProphecy.
* Most of [[Franchise/AssassinsCreed Altair's]] targets get this treatment. So do a surprisingly large number of Ezio's.
* Appears as a conversation option in VideoGame/MassEffect1. Shepard, after discovering that [[BigBad Saren]] [[spoiler: has become a victim of [[BiggerBad Sov]][[EldritchAbomination ereign's]] [[MindControl Indoctrination]], can remark to Liara that s/he feels sorry for Saren.]]
** For similar reasons, The Illusive Man can prove to be a deeply tragic character in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', trying to do what he believes to be the best things for what happen to be all of the worst reasons.
* In ''VideoGame/SpiderManShatteredDimensions'', ComicBook/SpiderMan2099 is sympathetic to Scorpion, who, unlike every other villain who gets a hold of the tablet, just wants to [[BalefulPolymorph change back into his human form]]. When Madame Web congratulates him on defeating Scorpion and reclaiming his tablet fragment, Spidey 2099 mutters, "Then how come I feel so bad about it?"
* In ''VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy'', upon defeating [[OmnicidalManiac Kefka]] for the final time, [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI Terra]] feels that his urge to destroy was because he was incapable of finding anything to live for save for destruction and that he was trying to find something to fill his "broken heart".
** Many of the chosen of Cosmos appear to feel this way towards their designated foes. The Warrior of Light openly admitted feeling pity towards Garland. Zidane never stopped reaching out to Kuja. And despite his claims of hating his fathers guts, Tidus once gave Jecht a potion so they could fight on equal terms. In fact, it might be easier to list off the number of heroes who ''don't'' feel some form of sympathy for the villains.
* In AceAttorneyInvestigations, Kay feels some pity for [[spoiler:Shih-na/Calisto Yew]], who killed her father, because she believes that she was able to look into her heart while speaking to her, and she wonders what it would be like to do all the terrible things she did without feeling anything.
* In ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry 3'', Arkham manages to use his status as Lady's [[spoiler:father]] to manipulate her into moving into the place he needs her. He tries it again before the final battle when [[spoiler:he's kicked out of the demon world by not being able to handle Sparda's power.]] He's near death at this point, so he loses and lets it slip that [[spoiler:he saw absolutely nothing wrong with killing his wife to become part demon.]] Lady finally has enough. At the same time, Dante obviously feels similar about Vergil since the two are brothers. He doesn't feel good about having to fight him but has to due to Vergil's ambitions being dangerous towards humanity. [[spoiler:He even cries for a moment when he meets back up with Lady.]]
* Elvis in ''VideoGame/GodHand''. He's implied to eat people, yet what we see is an overall nice guy who punishes his men for disrespecting the dead and has a lot of similarities to Gene. [[spoiler:Gene even says they could have been friends if he were human. When Shannon insults him later after his death, Gene makes her '''pay.''']]
* Viola in ''VideoGame/{{Zone of the Enders}}''. Even Dingo seems to have a lot of respect for her in the sequel [[spoiler:although he's fighting a CPU copy of her. She died at Leo's hands.]]
* When talking to the BigBad in the final route of ''VideoGame/DuelSaviorDestiny'' before he unveils himself, Taiga finds himself sympathizing strongly with the man. He realizes that he himself could have easily become quite twisted if he had undergone the same situation.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Nier}}'', [[spoiler:Popola and Devola reveal themselves to be soulless artificial humans and the closest thing the game has to a BigBad and fight you.]] Things take a tragic turn when [[spoiler:Devola is slain. Popola is distraught because she can't bear to be alone.]] Nier pauses and begs her to stop fighting. [[spoiler:Popola]] [[VillainousBreakdown snaps]], claiming there's no way she can stop after [[spoiler:her own sister]] was cut down in front of her. The boss fight then continues, the action packed boss theme of the first round of the fight replaced with a tragic reprise.
* In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII'', the Templars are given several sympathetic motivations for their plans and have justification unlike the previous games were they simple said they had the moral high ground, but simply used the order to gain more power. In almost all of their death scenes they come across more as [[AntiVillain AntiVillains]] than anything else.[[spoiler: [[BittersweetEnding Considering the ending]] and [[DoomedByCanon what we know happen in the history books]] it may give you the feeling that it would've been better for them to succeed.]] It's even sadder when you find out that the Templars, just like the Assassins, were more or less [[UnwittingPawn Unwitting Pawns]] of [[spoiler:Juno, the true villain of the series]], manipulated into fighting a meaningless war.
* ''VideoGame/TheAmazingSpiderMan2'': After defeating [[PsychoElectro Electro]] Spidey explicitly remarks that it's hard ''not'' to feel sorry for him.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* By the end of [[VisualNovel/FateStayNight Heaven's Feel]], Shirou realizes that he no longer hates Kotomine. He actually kind of likes him. In fact, he's more similar to Kotomine than to his own hero figure, Kiritsugu. In the end, there's only a fight to the death because [[spoiler:Kotomine is following his 'ideal'/way of living to the end, and Shirou just wants to save his girlfriend Sakura. Saving the world is a perk.]] Kind of sucks that he was born so broken.

[[folder: Web Original]]
* In season 10 of ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'', the Reds and Blues spend the entire season trying to take down [[TheBigBad the Director]] and even [[spoiler: fight an army of Tex robots to get to him.]] When [[spoiler: Carolina and Church]] finally reach him, however, [[spoiler: Carolina finds him so broken and miserable that she can't bring herself to kill him.]] This may have more to do with [[spoiler: him being a terrible father and her allowing herself to let go of her own demons than actually granting him mercy,]] but it is certainly an example of this when [[spoiler: he asks her to leave [[DrivenToSuicide him her pistol]] and she does so with barely a word.]]
* At the end of the Silo mini-arc of ''Roleplay/{{AJCO}}'' Egg had plenty of chances to kill A_J - who had given her plenty of reasons to want to kill her. When A_J first gave her the bullet for the pistol, [[DrivenToSuicide making the implications very clear]], Egg could have shot her and saved herself from having to be expelled into the irradiated terrain above, but she didn't. And then when A_J [[spoiler: ran out after her following a MyGodWhatHaveIDone moment]] she ''still'' didn't shoot her, instead guarding her while she slept.
** It should be noted that Egg feels sympathy for pretty much ''everyone'', and has acknowledged in her diary that this will [[FatalFlaw probably wind up getting her killed one day.]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* On ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' in the ChristmasEpisode, the main characters [[TheHero Finn]] and [[CanineCompanion Jake]] create their own Christmas (they live in a PostApocalyptic world) after they feel sorry for the Ice King who was just revealed to be a victim of [[spoiler:SanitySlippage via his ice crown]].
* ''WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien'': In the episode "The Enemy of My Frenemy," Charmcaster sacrifices 600,000 people, including Ben, Gwen, and Kevin, to bring her DisappearedDad back to life. However, her father can't bear to be the cause of so many deaths and thus dies to bring all those Charmcaster sacrificed back to life. Charmcaster is so heartbroken over this that Ben and co. agree not to arrest her for her actions out of pity.
* Zuko and Katara's silent but all too visible reaction to [[spoiler: Azula]]'s VillainousBreakdown in the last episode of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' invokes this trope.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', after hearing [[spoiler:[[CorruptPolitician Tarrlok]] and [[BigBad Amon]] / [[KnightTemplar Noatak's]] backstory]] Korra says that it's one of the saddest stories she has ever heard. In season two, Korra is the only one who feels bad about [[spoiler:not being able to stop Unalaq without killing him. Unalaq was such a terrible person that even his own children don't regret his death.]]
* ''ThePowerpuffGirls'' are sometimes shown to take pity on some of their villains. Semi justified at times since they are naive little girls, and most of said villains are [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain rather pitiful at times]]. This is especially prominant with the Amoeba Boys, who are [[HarmlessVillain so hopeless at being evil]] they actually try to ''teach'' them how to commit crimes.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats 2011}}'', the [[LizardFolk Lizards]] are actually given an understandable motive for siding with [[BigBad Mumm-Ra]]. Under the reign of the Cats' kingdom Thundera, most of the arable and prosperous lands are controlled by the Cats while the other species are left to starve and are often captured and [[MadeASlave enslaved]] if they try to steal food for their people. This is explicitly stated by a Lizard who was captured and tormented by the Cats to [[ShelteredAristocrat Lion-O]], which caused him to later defend the Lizards from an angry lynch mob.
* [[WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries Batman]] is certainly capable of empathising with adversaries with more tragic backstories, though he doesn't let it stop him from preventing their schemes if they are endangering the lives of others. This is most notable when he sees a recording of what happened to [[AnIcePerson Victor Fries]] and his wife.
** It's telling that, especially compared to his more campy or DarkerAndEdgier incarnations, this Batman actually does seem to want to ''reform'' his RoguesGallery rather than simply beat them down over and over, displaying a heavy amount of this trope. That's why Joker tweaks him so bad; rather than having a tragic backstory (Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy) or being legitimately, untreatably insane (Firefly, Riddler and his obsessiveness), the Joker seemed to be in complete control of his faculties and just [[BlueAndOrangeMorality saw the world as a big playground]] and every other person was simply a cheap toy to be played with and discarded. For him, the only one who was really a devil didn't ''deserve'' any sympathy, and yet he ''still'' gave it whenever possible.
** In ''Trial'', it was outright stated that Batman and most of his RoguesGallery were most likely NotSoDifferent: Deeply troubled individuals who reacted to great hardship by putting on a mask and lashing out. The big difference being that Batman put on his mask and lashed out against crime, while the villains put on a mask and lashed out at society.
* Mostly subverted by the main heroes in ''TheDreamstone'', there is very little to sympathise about [[BigBad Zordrak]], and his minions the Urpneys, though far more sympathetic, [[WhatMeasureIsAMook are dealt with indiscriminately]]. [[CheerfulChild Spildit]] however, naively converses and even attempts to help Sgt Blob's team at times. At one point they even sympathise with each other after [[MiddleManagementMook Urpgor]] once again chews the squad out and steals Spildit's leaf.
-->'''Spildit:''' It was very mean of him to take my leaf!
-->'''Nug:''' He's like that sometimes.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}'', Yugo cannot bring himself to finish off Nox after he sees Nox shedding tears [[spoiler:after his plan to SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong ended in utter failure]] and allows the defeated villain to leave peacefully. Averted in season two; Yugo feels no sympathy for [[spoiler:Qilby the Traitor]] after hearing his twisted reasons for destroying worlds to fuel his own selfish desires and imprisons him in an empty void. Played straight again in the manga, when Yugo admits that he feels guilty that he left [[spoiler:Qilby]] to that horrible (though justified) fate but is told because of him feeling SympathyForTheDevil is what makes him a good king.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode ''[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS4E26TwilightsKingdomPart2 Twilight's Kingdom Part 2]]'', the Mane Five are clearly horrified when Tirek betrays Discord and violently sucks his magic dry. Note that this is ''after'' Discord betrayed ''them''; there's not even an ounce of biting sarcasm in Applejack's voice when she returns an IronicEcho over his backstab.
* ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'':
** In the Valentine's Day special, when [[NiceGuy Edd]] finds May Kanker weeping in the janitor's closet, [[Heartwarming/EdEddNEddy he tries to comfort her and gives her a valentine to help her recover from Ed's rejection.]]
** Throughout the show Eddy is a greedy arrogant {{Jerkass}} and hated by everyone but Ed and Double D. However in the movie [[spoiler:all the kids feel sorry for him for the abuse he received at the hands of his brother and after Eddy cries and admits his mistakes, they forgive him.]]

%% While this trope contains some degree of TruthInTelevision, '''[[NoRealLifeExamplesPlease please refrain from adding real life examples]].''' Calling RealLife people devils is a way to say that they are evil. Not to mention that there would be lots of endless debate on which bad people can be sympathized with and which is not.