Troubled Sympathetic Bigot
Accept them? How can I accept them? Can I deny everything I believe in? On the other hand, can I deny my own daughter? On the other hand, how can I turn my back on my faith, my people? If I try and bend that far, I'll break. On the other hand... No! There is no other hand!This character is genuinely sympathetic, but his opinions are not. This creates a tension that creates drama and angst. Such a character is often a walking debate/Aesop on whether Rousseau Was Right or not — can we rise above our petty prejudices? He will harm himself with his bigotry. And maybe others, too. However, he's unlikely to go so far as to engage in actual Honor-Related Abuse. Condescending Compassion might be generated, in either direction. He might be ashamed of his lack of bigotry, fearing that it will make him a traitor to his race, gender, religious group or whatever. While a very different kind of character, Cerebus Syndrome may lead a Noble Bigot or an Innocent Bigot to become a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot. A Troubled Sympathetic Bigot tends to be neither heroic nor villainous — he's only a little human, struggling with his life. Sometimes a Knight Templar, Heteronormative Crusader or Windmill Crusader can be a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot at heart. A He-Man Woman Hater is rarely this, while it's far more common in a woman who Does Not Like Men — sometimes with a cheesy justification. Nearly all Tragic Bigots are likely to also be this, but the same does not apply in reverse. All of these characters are likely to suffer from Internalized Categorism or be recovering from Black and White Insanity. A Politically Incorrect Villain who makes a Heel-Face Turn may have a transition period as a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot. For characters who are destructive yet sympathetic - without having any internal conflict about their own bigotry - see instead Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
— Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof, deciding to disown his beloved daughter for marrying a man from another religion.
- In the Fullmetal Alchemist movie, many of the AU versions of the characters that we've come to know and love have quite literally become Nazis. Quite sympathetic ones though.
- In Johanna and Helena, Anna is stuck with her well-meaning but very religious parents who she assume will never accept her if they find out she's a lesbian. The parents eventually find out and politely disown her and her girlfriend. There is no malice in their rejection, and no sarcasm in their politeness. Only an overwhelming sadness.
- They probably honestly believe that their daughter will burn in hell for not being mainstream. And thus they are, in a way, in hell themselves...
- Bitchy Butch is often portrayed this way, unlike her more genuinely unsympathetic counterpart Midge.
- Magneto of the Marvel Universe has been very different characters under different authors. In some versions he was this trope, both as a villain and as a reluctant hero.
- In Logicomix, Ferge is totally honest and devoted to truth & logic. Sadly, this devotion combined with Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance leads to Black and White Insanity in the form of a Straw Vulcan despise for women and jews. On the whole, this make him a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot who is desperately trying to do the right thing.
- In At Five in the Afternoon, the protagonist's father is a Taliban who wants women to be passive illiterates dressed in burqas. However, he doesn't really have any time oppressing his daughter, because he's busy trying to keep her and the rest of his family alive. He fails. The movie ends with his grandson and only male heir dying in his arms from starvation. He's heartbroken over the few small liberties she takes in his face, and because she loves him and doesn't want to break his heart further she keeps it secret from him that she's actually learning to read.
- In Schindler's List, the protagonist wrestles with his conscience for quite a while before making the leap from being a nazi slaver to being a subversive hero secretly saving thousands of Jews from the Nazis.
- In Gran Torino, Walt is clearly annoyed that his neighborhood has been largely taken over by Hmong families, and isn't shy about throwing out stereotypes and racial slurs. He is further annoyed, after chasing away some gang-bangers who were harassing a boy in the Hmong family (he claims the only reason they did this was because they were on his lawn), when his new neighbors send him gifts of thanks and invite him over. In the end, he realizes how much he has in common with his neighbors and becomes genuinely close to them (except for the matriarch, who doesn't like white people). He ends up willing his classic Gran Torino to the boy after his Heroic Sacrifice.
- It also becomes clear that most of his racism is for show: he intentionally refers to Thao as "Toad" and the Hmong as "Hamongs" or "gooks" to disguise his affection for them, even from himself. He's just as quick to trade ethnic insults with his white friends.
- Easy A: Marianne seem to suffer worse from her own actions then it hurts Olive, and it's not from some kind of retributive Karma either. She seem to mean well, but be horribly misguided.
- Matt Dillion's character in Crash. He's shown having a racist attitude towards blacks and even sexually molests a black woman. Yet we see that he really cares about his father who is dying and lost his business. Even later, he rescues the same woman he had groped earlier from a burning car, saving her life. It's hard to know if we should feel sorry for him or not. In fact, this trope is kinda the whole point of the film, really.
- At the end of Do the Right Thing, the Itallian characters express hatred toward blacks when they burn down their restaurant in a riot. Made all the more tragic by the fact they were friends with many of the African Americans who were rioting.
- In American History X, the two main characters join a skinhead gang after their father was killed by an African American. The rest of the movie deals with their struggling with and eventually rejecting their bigotry.
- In Les MisÚrables, Inspector Javert starts out as a regular lawman, but is gradually shown to suffer from Black and White Insanity. In the end, he's quite sympathetic as he struggles with his worldview.
- In a weird example, Vimes from Discworld is treated like one, but it's a mostly informed characteristic - he never actually says anything especially racist. Of course, since he thinks equally badly of all Discworld species, he probably doesn't exactly qualify as "bigoted" anyways, and is more of a Troubled Sympathetic Misanthrope. He loves the city and will fight like hell to keep it in order, but he doesn't think well of the actual people. Thud! showcases Vimes's internal conflicts best, but most of the City Watch books are driven by Vimes's fight to protect and serve a bunch of assholes he doesn't care about.
- It's clearer in Men at Arms, when the Watch gets a troll, a dwarf, and a werewolf as new recruits. From there on, it gets a passing mention as he reflects that more non-humans are entering the Watch and comes in really strong in Thud! when he's forced to take on a vampire.
- With regards to vampires Vimes is certainly a bigot, and refuses to permit any into the watch until forced by Vetinari. He is shown in Men at Arms to hate vampires because of their stereotypical links to aristocracy. The latest book Snuff deals very heavily with the ideas of prejudice (particularly towards Goblins who are not considered citizens and ergo, have no rights even when they're the victims or murder) and shows Vimes to have grown quite philosophical about his earlier prejudices. His comments about another character finding redemption through his treating all thinking beings as equals say a lot about his Character Development.
- Huckleberry Finn's fundamental goodness eventually wins out over his ingrained racism, and he decides to help fugitive slave Jim escape, despite doing so being entirely contrary to what he thought of as moral: Alright then, I'll go to Hell.
- In The Pillars of the Earth Prior Philip, one of the main protagonists causes many trouble to the other protagonists because of this trope. The worst part is him forcing Jack to become a monk when he is really not fit to be one.
- Protagonist Okonkwo from Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is a curious example, a fiercely traditionalist Ibo tribesman in pre-colonial Nigeria. Many tropes in the book that would seem familiar to a Westernized audience, particularly Noble Savage and Good Old Ways are rightly turned on their heads.
- This is Severus Snape's backstory in the Harry Potter books. In his youth, he resented his abusive Muggle father and, by extension, Muggles and Muggle-born wizards and witches in general. The situation got worse when Snape became an outcast at Hogwarts; the only kids who accepted him were a group of even worse bigots who would eventually grow up to join Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters (as would Snape). Snape's bigotry drove a wedge between him and his Muggle-born friend Lily Evans, but he didn't see the light until his boss Voldemort murdered Lily. After this, Snape became a Reverse Mole for Dumbledore and abandoned his old bigotry out of respect for the only person he ever loved.
- Archie Bunker from All in the Family has shades of this (as well as most tropes related to bigotry), as one of the main themes of the series is how lost he feels in a modern world that constantly challenges his prejudices. This is most notable in "Stretch Cunningham Goodbye", one of the series' best episodes, where Archie is invited to give the eulogy at a close friend's funeral, not knowing that the man was Jewish.
- The Sopranos: When Tony Soprano finds out one of his top lieutenants is gay, he spews a lot of homophobic slurs but, when pressed, admits he's actually a lot more ambivalent about it than he lets on, and struggles to find a way to keep him in the fold when so many of his subordinates are far more homophobic. He ultimately caves on this point, but Phil Leotardo makes the point moot before Tony can carry out his decision anyway.
- Pierce Hawthorne on Community can come across as this. Pierce's inappropriateness, overzealous creativity, and pathological need to be accepted at all cost are all rooted in frustrations getting attention from his father and his fear that his age is now isolating himself from the rest of the study group.
- King Uther from Merlin. He hates all magic because of his wife's death, and genuinely believes that he's doing what's right when he commits genocide against those that practice magic. He's also a Hypocrite considering he seeks out magical help when he's really desperate (thus indicating that he knows magic can be used for good), and ultimately his actions cause his illegitimate daughter to turn against him, something that drives him to his death.
- In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye is constantly struggling with his belief in tradition versus his three daughters' yearning for liberation. He manages to accept the first two of them (who want to chose their own husbands, but within their own religion), but draws the line with the third (who falls in love with a Christian).
- Nellie Forbush and Lieutenant Cable from South Pacific. Nellie is in love with Emile but tearfully leaves him when she finds out he was once married to a "colored" woman, and has two half-Polynesian children. Cable is in love with Liat, but refuses to marry a Tonkinese woman. Cable's song "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught" is a self-loathing explanation of how he and Nellie acquired such deep-seated prejudice. Nellie eventually overcomes her prejudice and learns to love Emile's children, but Cable is killed before he has a chance to reconcile with Liat.
- Sakuya Shirogane Le Bel, of Hatoful Boyfriend, is a huge racist and classist Upper-Class Twit with the Freudian Excuse that this is exactly how his father raised him to be, and he can't imagine going against his father's will. This causes him quite a bit of trouble when the (human) heroine pursues romance with him and then helps him acknowledge his passion for music. The free version of his route ends with him going to confront his father about his desire to devote himself to music like a working-class pigeon; in the paid version his father disowns him for this and he goes on to live with the protagonist in a cave, on straw. The dark arc, Bad Boys' Love, goes even further: disowned half-brother Yuuya reveals that Sakuya is actually his full brother, not actually the son of the father who raised him a bigot, and also a half-breed of less than noble blood. And then Yuuya dies in front of him, having pulled a Heroic Sacrifice.
- *Mute, from Analogue: A Hate Story and its sequel Hate Plus, starts as a potty-mouthed tsun-tsun who, like, sounds like a Valley Girl. This contrasts her programmed role as a Heteronormative Crusader. By the end of her Character Arc, she becomes a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot, then deletes most of her memories when she realizes that she's failed everyone close to her and can't cope with a very different outside world .
- RWBY's Weiss distrusts all Faunus and outright hates the White Fang, a Faunus rights group. This is mostly because the White Fang have been at war with her family for years. She accepts Blake (a former member of the White Fang) as a teammate after several days, but still struggles to respect Faunus when extenuating circumstances don't force her to do so.
- In The Specialists, Henry is a nasty bigot and snob. Sympathy is roused, however, when he calls home -- and gets to talk to the butler, who tries to assure him that his father, who won't take the call, is So Proud of You.
- In ThunderCats (2011) Claudus is a stern father to Lion-O, a very narrow-minded king whom genuinely believes the cats are the Superior Species. He believes his people's Fantastic Racism is justified. Despite all his flaws, deep down he's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who only wants what's best for his people and his son.