Unintentionally Unsympathetic

"There's a difference between having a sympathetic backstory and actually being sympathetic."

When a character's supposed insecurities or embarrassing quirks are supposed to inspire sympathy, but fail to impress the audience because they're mishandled or plain written badly.

It's a cousin trope to Cursed with Awesome — it can be hard to dredge up sad feelings for a character whose life is in every respect more glamorous (or at very least, more interesting) than the reader's. True unintentional unsympathy is generally reserved for unpopular traits such as being overweight or being a nerd, both of which tend to be grossly exaggerated on television (see Hollywood Pudgy and Hollywood Nerd) and usually have nothing to do with anyone who might have such problems.

Sometimes these are humorous things in a character's past dredged up to embarrass them. This is supposed to make the character more human without affecting their present "perfection."

Can even go for villains, and here it's an especially easy trap to fall into: Sometimes one is meant to be more complex or gray-area, but their Freudian Excuse just doesn't cover the acts they go on to commit. Yeah, we're sorry your little sister died in that building the superhero battle knocked over, but that doesn't make you not a sociopath for trying to blow up the hero's entire planet. Note in this case that the "unintentionally" is an important part of this trope: if the excuse the villain makes is flimsy on purpose, it's likely not this trope.

Often a problem with The Scrappy and some varieties of Mary Sue. Also Designated Hero.

This is the opposite of Unintentionally Sympathetic, and can be the result for those who are opposing characters who are more sympathetic than the author intended.

See also Law of Disproportionate Response.


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  • I'm a Mac... and I'm a PC. Aside from being a smear campaign against the PC, the Mac comes across more as a smug yuppie than anything next to the poor put upon everyman playing the PC.

    Additionally, the British version used a miscast David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Many viewers recognized them from Peep Show, where Mitchell (playing the PC) was the more sympathetic character.
  • Some commercials for the Toyota Highlander featured a kid bragging about how his parents are cool and not embarrassing now that they bought the Highlander. But he comes off as a smug little bastard, and we're supposed to sympathize with the other kids whose parents don't drive Highlanders. Being a nice, loving parent just isn't good enough, oh no, if you don't drive the right car your kid has every right to hate you! Even worse, once they buy the Highlander, he's seen not only pitying his friends whose parents didn't buy one, but, to make his parents "cooler", makes them throw out everything in the house he doesn't like, including their family portrait.
  • DirecTV's ads portray a man who married a...marionette and had a child with her. Yet he constantly brags about how his TVs have no wires now that he switched to Direct TV...often right in front of his wife, son, or father in law. While he attempts to deflect he was talking about the TVs...it all comes off as a man who's hating his own family for being different.

    Anime and Manga 
  • GE - Good Ending has Yuki, one of the main protagonists in the series. A good part of the manga is spent trying to get Utsumi, the protagonist, help her deal with her Broken Bird issues, only to have her throw everything out the window by asking him to rape her, in order to overwrite the bad memories she had with her previous boyfriend. Utsumi calls her out on it, so she dumps him because he's always too nice to her.
  • The main character of Haruhi Suzumiya had this in The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. Nagaru Tanigawa wants you to fell sorry for her after Kyon scolded her, but take it into account that the reason Kyon lashed out at her in the first place was because she spiked Mikuru's drink for a scene in a movie, kept hitting her, and said "Mikuru is my toy." This is probably the only time she ever gets called out for her Jerk Ass behavior.
  • To a non-contemporary-Japanese audience, Momotaro from the World War II propaganda film Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors comes off as a monster rallying adorable animals together to go to war and brutally kill British soldiers.
  • Several of the Naruto characters fall into this sometimes as well due to the authors insistence on shoving the "everyone is redeemable" into our face.
    • The Uchiha Clan itself comes off as Unintentionally Unsympathetic. Despite being destroyed by Konoha, the manga repeatedly goes out of its way to show that they have been a violent, unstable clan since ancient times due to their Curse of Hatred mantra. The fact that the Uchiha also have warred amongst themselves with the reality abusing Izanagi, the way they gain power by killing their friends and siblings...and when responded by a good supposition that one of their own controlled Kurama - instead of helping in the investigation and enduring a bit of surveillance to catch the culprit they isolate themselves from the village and begin plotting a coup. The four main Uchiha members suffer from this the most:
      • Sasuke seems to be meant to be seen as a morally gray character being led down the wrong path by his obsession with revenge, but to a number of fans his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, recent descent into mass murder of Samurai he could have easily defeated non-lethally, and callous disregard for how many people have to suffer for his own emotional satisfaction has caused a number of fans to think he does not deserve Naruto's goodwill.
      • Itachi, for his Mind Rape of Sasuke and Kakashi, which the former kicked him down the slippery slope and never gets punished despite his good intentions. All because he "loved" and wanted to "protect" his "precious" little brother. It got worse when he was turned into a Spotlight-Stealing Squad in the Fourth Shinobi World War arc.
      • Obito is an even more unsympathetic version of Nagato below as not only did he orchestrate the Nine-Tails attack on Konoha but also caused Minato and his wife's death, made Naruto's life miserable, send the state of Kiri to hell and created the Fourth Shinobi World War which caused thousands of people to pointlessly die all because his love interest Rin died. Yet we are meant to sympathize with him because of this and upon being talked about, turned into a good guy by Naruto and Minato, aka the same people whom he made their life miserable. His death is also meant to evoke a Tear Jerker reaction except that he not only gets praised by the same person whose life he ruined but also reunites with Rin in the afterlife, essentially becoming a complete and total Karma Houdini.
      • The real Madara is painted as a Well-Intentioned Extremist whose attempts for peace in the past is declined in favor of his rival Hashirama. So what does he do after this? He immediately challenges the first Hokage to the death in hopes to destroy their entire creation of Konoha along with it. However, it is only when he is resurrected from the dead does he managed to earn the apathy from the fans due to his absolute Invincible Villain status due to completely shattering the established rules of canon (Such as managing to capture all nine Bijuus at once in only a few minutes despite previously taking days for a group of 10 S-Rank ninjas to seal a single tailed beast). His anticlimatic end by Black Zetsu as well as being Easily Forgiven by Hashirama in spite of everything does nothing to gain his fans.
    • Similarly, the Belated Backstory of the legendary "Salamander" Hanzo, the ninja against whom the Sannin won their titles by surviving a battle with him sets Hanzo up as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who lost sight of his goals but is honored in defeat by his rival as a man who strove for peace. By starting a lot of wars and turning his homeland into an unlivable hellhole that produced the most psychologically broken, defeated human beings in the series, just because he was arrogant enough to think his strength could unite the world. Most fans still consider Hanzo an utterly unsympathetic character whose violent death at Pain's hands was richly deserved, as his claim of good intentions didn't make him any less of a paranoid warmongering dictator.
    • Danzo as well. The story claims he wants to protect the village. While turning kids into his personal soldiers, creating one of the most twisted individuals in the process. He also decides to ignore the village in its Darkest Hour.
    • Pain/Nagato, for many readers it was impossible to sympathize with someone who killed Jiraiya and Kakashi, leveled Konoha and stabbed Hinata right after she confessed her love to Naruto, mostly because his Belated Backstory wasn't any worse than other characters', like Haku's or Gaara's who didn't do anything that bad.
    • Karin's tearful reaction over Sasuke's near-death is supposed to be a Tear Jerker, but when her half-assed characterization (Like how she easily forgave the same man who once try to kill her because she is just a burden despite healing him before) comes into play, her crying over Sasuke is instead met with complete apathy from the readers.
    • Sakura when she confessed her feelings for Sasuke at chapter 693; we're supposed to sympathize with her when her confession got "coldly" rejected by Sasuke, except that the person that is listening to this is the same person who not only shows no feelings for Sakura at all and attempted to kill her multiple times without remorse, this moment also made many fans completely cemented their view on Sakura as a complete Faux Action Girl, negating any Character Development she had received. It got to the point that not only Sasuke has an unintentionally valid point regarding her but also made fans root for Sasuke to kill her and became disappointed when it is just a genjutsu. Her easily forgiving Sasuke's weak apology and marrying the same person in the future does not help her case.
  • Infamously, Neon Genesis Evangelion has Shinji Ikari. As Evangelion is a deconstruction of all things Super Robot, Shinji is insecure, weak-willed, a Shrinking Violet, and unstable, as opposed to the stereotypical Hot-Blooded pilot. While plenty of fans see Shinji as The Woobie, just as many find him annoying and Wangsty and wish that he'd suck it up and start being a badass warrior.
    • Asuka Langley Sohryu. Her traumatic backstory was obviously meant to elicit a sympathetic response from the audience, but at that point in the series she had behaved like such an abrasive bratty jerkass and was downright antagonistic towards the other characters (especially Shinji and Rei) that some fans felt that her Freudian Excuse just didn't cut it.
  • Kyousuke Kamijou from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. He is meant to be sympathetic because he's a violin prodigy who's hospitalized because of an accident that broke his left arm and left him unable to play again. Unfortunately, he comes off as an aloof boy who's ignorant of Sayaka Miki's feelings, because he dislikes her for playing music which he's unable to play. She visits him numerous times in the hospital, but he doesn't even talk to her after he gets out and blithely starts going out with Hitomi instead, starting Sayaka down the road to her Despair Event Horizon.
    • Gen Urobuchi stated that even if Sayaka had hooked up with him, he would've stood her up on dates in favor of practicing his violin. In The Movie, he does, in fact, turn down a date with Hitomi to practice violin (the second time he's accidentally spawned a Lovecraftian monstrosity by ignoring a girl), so this may be Ascended Fanon.
  • Shaman King has Hao Asakura (the manga version). He is supposed to come off as a sympathetic tragic Anti-Villain, but due to being overpowered, hypocritical, having a arrogant social Darwinist type attitude, and a Karma Houdini, it falls flat. Even with his back story in mind, there are fans that feel it does not excuse Hao's actions. This is averted in the anime adaption since he gets less back story and is played straight as a villain and avoids being the Karma Houdini.
  • Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh!. He was an orphan who had to raise his brother Mokuba until they were adopted by Gozaburo Kaiba, who was an abusive bastard that made Seto's life hell and threatened to send him back to the orphanage if he failed a birthday test of his business skills. The series constantly emphasizes Kaiba is a Broken Ace filled with hate, he has no friends outside of his brother Mokuba, and his childhood was a nightmare. Yet in the present, he's the rich CEO of a multi-national company, is a complete Jerk Jock when it comes to Duel Monsters, is an all-around Jerkass when it comes to his interactions with anyone except Mokuba, and he makes it clear several times he doesn't want friends anyway, because the main cast repeatedly reaches out to him and are insulted or ignored. In the original manga, he even tries to have Yugi and his friend killed by convicted serial killers as Disproportionate Retribution for Yugi beating him at a children's card game.
  • This is part of the reason why many fans dislike Chris Thorndyke from Sonic X. Near the end of season two, Sonic and his friends needed to return back to their home planet to prevent time from freezing. Enjoying his adventures, Chris obviously didn't want them to leave. Many fans found Chris to be selfish since he was okay with Earth's time never going forward just so he can have Sonic and the others with him forever. The same fans were also disgusted when he turned off the machine to send the others home right when Sonic was about to go through it and ran off with Sonic.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: Haruna from Tenchi Forever is supposed to be a sympathetic Anti-Villain; a woman dead before she can live her romance with the man she loves and whose soul feels so alone, than she is trying to recreate this love story with the grandson of her former lover. What many viewers see is a bitch who kidnaps, brainwashes and rapes a teenage boy.
  • WORKING!!: For many viewers, Mahiru Inami. We're supposed to feel pity because she can't help but punch any man that comes across, but that's something really hard to sympathize with, especially as she doesn't seem to do much to fix it. She also gets a romance plot with the main guy that is supposed to be endearing, but fails because it just looks abusive (and when the guy complains about being punched, he's the one shown as the bad guy).
  • Toriko Midora comes off as this. Because Frohze died while treating his injuries he got while getting Heal Water for her, Midora throws away all of her's and Acacia's ideals to become the epitome of It's All About Me. To the point that after he defeats Ichiryuu before the Timeskip...he unleashes Meteor Spice on the entire Human World which causes 80% of it to become a barren wasteland, causes over 100 countries to break down, and displaces 32 billion people. When Meteor Spice was first revealed, people thought its because NEO intruded on his fight with Ichiryuu and killed him, and he was trying to wipe NEO out desperately, but when none of that happened...yeah...any sympathy he would have had has gone out of the window.
  • The history of the Saiyans in Dragon Ball Z is a very long love poem dedicated to bloodshed that we're supposed to shed tears for (the first time) Vegeta dies by Freeza's hand. Problem is, even without Freeza offing nearly the entire race, they were never shown as anything less than Space Barbarians anytime we learn about their history. Invited to share a planet with friendly Puny Tuffles? Kill 'em All, take their tech, rename the whole damn planet after your king, and rewrite your history and paint them as cruel little oppressors your people valiantly rose up against. Population down to a pitiful handful of men? kill the weak bastards and any who stand in your way! Any member of their race that's not an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight is a freak and The Hero, himself was only one bonk on the head from growing up to be his adoptive planet's conqueror instead of it's savior just because of his DNA. The audience is told they were Too Cool to Live, but the universe is actually breathing a sigh of relief that if Freeza didn't make them extinct, they casually did it to each other.
    • There's now a bunch of canon Fix Fic Manga's out there now that portray the Saiyan's with more nuance, mostly by editing out the Anime Only Tuffle thing. As such, they're portrayed more as soldiers who are working for Freeza as Punch Clock Villains, not only that we see that not all Saiyan's are sent off to space, most stay on planet to help run the day to day things or help train new Saiyans. Hell in the Retcon, Bardock and his wife send Goku specifically to Earth to save him from the coming apocalypse, NOT to destroy the human race. They're even telling him they love him before they sent him off.
  • Enishi Yukashiro from Rurouni Kenshin. While its true he lost his sister, he completely ignores or flat out forgot it was a Heroic Sacrifice. Ever since childhood, he was a selfish little brat who only cared about his own happiness. What did he do when taken in by a kind family in Shanghai? Kills them all without any regret since he can't stand their happiness. Not to mention he attacks Kenshin while he's atoning for all his sins, aiming to maim or kill all of his allies, gets several innocent people involved and nearly kills them, and doesn't give any two shits about his comrades.
  • Matsukaze Tenma from Inazuma Eleven Go got this from a handful of people, especially in the western community. Many people find his trait of speaking about soccer like it's a person to be very annoying and childish, rather then cute and innocent like it's supposed to come off as. Incidentally, the characters in the show and the game make fun of Tenma for this exact reason.
  • Nakago, the Big Bad of Fushigi Yuugi, is supposed to be seen as a victim of circumstances that drove him to evil, and as a result, the intent is to make him come across as pitiable and worthy of forgiveness. Because of the horrific atrocities he commits, like driving Suboshi to murder Tammahome's family, this doesn't work so well: by the time his Dark and Troubled Past comes to light, many readers had lost all ability to sympathize with him.
  • Mikono Suzushiro, the main heroine of Aquarion EVOL. The show tries to make her come off as a shy girl that despite of having daddy issues and insecurity problems because of her apparent lack of powers as an element, tries her best to help and understand the people around her. But to many, she comes accross as uncaring, spoiled, indecisive and useless (both in and outside the Aquarion!) throughout the entire show, as she does nothing to solve the problems between Amata and Kagura, and only makes up misunderstandings that Amata must apologize for, showing no concern over his issues or how her indecisiveness causes him and Zessica trouble. If polls and general fan reactions are to be trusted, she's one of the least liked female characters of the show.
  • Saya Kisaragi of Blood-C. At first, the show presented her as a skilled warrior against the Elder Bairns. But the problem is that she fails in protecting and saving people. The most egregious example is episode 8 where she just watched several of her classmates die before she could attack and at the end, all of them, except the class representative, are dead. Her mourning of their deaths was supposed to come out as sympathetic. But given the track record of how many people died throughout the show and the Idiot Balls that these people had been holding on, it's not.
  • In the Area 88 manga and OVA, Shin is intended to be sympathetic because his dreams were crushed after he was tricked into becoming a mercenary. However, he's not a particularly heroic or moral character. His self-absorption, wangst, and failure to contact Ryoko during his deployment make him unsympathetic in some fans' eyes. In the TV anime, he's so emotionally flat and withdrawn that it's difficult to sympathize with him.
    • Mickey, a traumatized Vietnam Veteran who struggled to adapt to civilian life, is intended to be sympathetic as well. However, he comes across as amoral, self-pitying, and self-absorbed, abandoning a fortunate life and the people who loved him. Instead of getting therapy, he chooses to fight in a bloody civil war that is tearing Asran apart. His anger issues and overbearing personality in the TV anime make him even less sympathetic.
  • Akito Sohma from Fruits Basket. While her childhood was understandably horrible, it's hard to feel sorry for her when she spent most of the series acting like a violent and abusive sociopath. Just to start off, she put Kisa and Rin in the hospital due to their respective relationships with Hiro and Haru, verbally and emotionally abused Yuki, half-blinded Hatori and ruined his relationship with his girlfriend, planned on locking Kyo away from society once he became an adult, and tried to kill him and Tohru during a Villainous Breakdown.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers as a whole, but mostly Captain America and Wolverine, during Avengers vs. X-Men; since the story quickly takes their side of the conflict, and any X-Man or Woman who defects is seen as heroic, they're clearly who the reader is supposed to sympathize with. In the end, Cap chews out Cyclops and tries to make him feel as bad as he can for what he did, yet during the conflict every single problem is directly their fault:
    • The original punch out came from Wolverine giving the Avengers biased information that painted a terrible picture of both the Phoenix and Hope (as well as framing Scott as being still hung up on Jean's death); Cap acts antagonistically and demands they hand over Hope, who is essentially a messiah to them, and refuses to even think about consulting them on how to deal with it, despite the fact the X-Men, especially Scott, are the most experienced with it. Wolverine ends up believing that the only solution is to kill Hope.
    • When the Phoenix gets closer, they decide to attack it, resulting in the creation of the Phoenix Five who started out quite benevolent. However, the Avengers, reasoning they should Beware the Superman, tried to take Hope, causing the Five to lose it staring a chain of events that includes the destruction of Wakanda and Xavier's death. The entire conflict comes down to the Avengers refusing to even think of cooperating with the X-Men, who, by the way, turned out to be right about the Phoenix.
    • Of course the whole series was one huge shaggy dog story. The X-men wanted the World to simply trust that a World destroying cosmic entity heading to Earth was a good thing, willing to risk the end of Humanity on an off chance that maybe the Phoenix would save Mutant kind. The Avengers over reacted , thanks to the whole Global threat. And things ended up escalating. Also the whose wrong, and whose right thing took a real strange turn when the cosmically powered X-men offered to make a better World as long as Humanity took to their knees and obeyed.
  • Was also a problem with Marvel's controversial Civil War where, depending on the writer, the level of sympathy one could feel for the characters at any given time wavered greatly. Sympathy for Iron Man in particular took a big hit when he and the other Pro-Registration Heroes started throwing the Anti-Registration Heroes into an extra-dimensional prison without trial(s). Again, all suffered due to the Idiot Plot and Jerkass Balls being tossed all around.
  • This proved to be a huge problem with the character Magog in DC Comics. When introduced in Kingdom Come he was a caricature of the worst part of 90's heroes, and was fairly popular for it, as he seemed so pathetic and remorseful. When he was brought into the main DC Universe he was given a huge push and eventually added to the Justice Society of America and later given his own series. He was shown to be a war veteran with PTSD, but proved to be so unlikable and mean to his teammates that he was eventually killed off in Justice League Generation Lost.
  • Otto Octavius is supposed to be the protagonist of Superior Spider-Man, being a Darker and Edgier Anti-Hero . To some he comes off as a Villain Sue. Some of the fans despise him and the series for various different reasons. The behaviour of Dan Slott has not helped in the slightest.
    • Carlie Cooper, Spider-Man's one time love interest, was featured in stories designed to make her seem similar to Spider-Man and therefore a more appropriate love interest and a better match for him as a person. Unfortunately, it caused her to come across as selfish, entitled and self-centered, declaring that Peter couldn't possibly understand what she went through. Her attempts to be seen as a more appropriate match for Peter and a more sympathetic character ultimately made her into someone the audience couldn't stand.
  • The dragon queen, T'mat from Gold Digger. Gold Digger operates on Rousseau Was Right and everyone is given a second chance. However, it's hard to sweep T'mat's actions under the rug. T'mat was tortured and raped by her former best friend Dreadwing during his rampage 1000 years ago and suffers from PSTD from the incident and sought revenge from two elves who inadvertently helped Dreadwing gain power and threatened death on anyone who tried to stop. This led her to have the elves captured and imprisoned for her to torment at her leisure. When the elves' friends came to rescue them, T'mat went on an assault of violence and murder, all the while ranting like a self-righteous maniac. It only ended because Summoner began to threaten revenge on her for killing Tirant and T'mat saw the error of her ways and was saved by the same elves she was trying to torture. Later, she would try and enslave Britanny for her power to paralyze Dreadwing and would injure a political leader in rage. Naturally, no one's shown any umbrage at her actions.
  • Transformers: Robots in Disguise: Metalhawk was supposed to be written as Jerkass Has a Point by voicing the harm that the war caused to all the neutrals and to the planet itself. However many of his points went unchallenged by all but Prowl and eventually Prowl fell under mind control and purposefully tried to destabilize the political climate. Metalhawk continually tried scratching open the divides between factions, from accusing Bumblebee of murdering the Lost Light crew, to undercutting him at every turn. The result was Metalhawk trying to bring the population together under a peaceful rule, by insulting the factions, driving them further apart, and not bothering to see the other side of things.
  • The deer from The Root Of The Problem of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW), despite losing their home to a genuinely evil construction company, garnered close to zero sympathy from the audience as their means of fighting back was unleashing all Hell on towns and cities full of ponies that had absolutely nothing to do with the company. Some fans were actually cheering on the construction company believing at this point that the deer deserve to lose their home, and even those who are still on the side of the deer hoped it at least ended with them learning the aesop. It doesn't.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Frigid Winds And Burning Hearts claims to be even-handed when it comes to Princess Luna vs. Princess Celestia, but swiftly comes down on Luna's side. Even as it reveals she was perfectly willing to have all of Equestria collapse into riots and civil war if it meant she could leave. Even as she bullies, lies, and manipulates every other pony she meets to have her way.
  • In How I Became Yours, Prince Zuko, upon finding out that Mai hid his letters to Katara, hits her, divorces her and runs off to go to Katara. He's meant to be motivated by love and reacting to Mai's betrayal, but he comes off as an abusive husband and irresponsible ruler. Similarly, Katara is portrayed as grieving over her baby's death, but comes off as selfish by inexplicably emphasizing that her unborn son died a day before her birthday, and the morality of her decision to kill Mai with bloodbending instead of taking her in alive comes off as fairly questionable.
  • My Immortal: According to the author, you are supposed to like Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way . For those who don't know, Ebony is every negative stereotype about goths made manifest, in the vessel of a self-centered sociopath.
  • In The End of Ends, Beast Boy is this, even before he becomes Count Logan and starts destroying entire worlds. His whining over Terra wanting a normal life, even one away from him, easily qualifies as Wangst, he essentially stalks Terra, and resigns from the Titans because after they call him out on beating up Terra's friends, he's convinced none of them like or appreciate him.
  • Despite Cori Falls going out of her way to make them sympathetic woobies, her versions of Jessie, James and Meowth become very unsympathetic as her stories go on; not only in their brutal treatment of characters like Ash, but in their self-righteous behavior and constant whining about their bad lot in life.
  • Princess Celestia became this to many readers in Chains. Even though it's made clear she didn't enjoy turning the humans living in Equus into slaves for the ponies and she is genuinely haunted by her decision, the fact that the flashbacks explaining why humanity was enslaved in Chapter 15 made Celestia look like she was carrying a massive Idiot Ball, her weak attempts at justification to a very angered Luna, as well as the fact that she refuses to just overturn slavery overnight have made her come off like a weak and incompetent leader easily manipulated by her Evil Chancellors to many a reader.
    Celestia: "Luna, please, I need your help. I want your help to bring things to how they should be, with humans free."
    Celestia: "That would not solve the problem. Ponies have had humans as slaves for centuries, to just force them to give it up would be difficult, these things will take time, but..."
    • The fact that it took protests from pegasus abolitionists to outlaw the practice of human gladiatorial rings, as well as the fact that a great many slaves are being mistreated (Twilight and Applejack are very clearly exceptions rather than the rule), yet Celestia doesn't seem to have done much to improve those conditions doesn't exactly help her case either.
  • The Doctor Who fanfic Fragments tries to be a Fix Fic for the Tenth Doctor's regeneration. Here 10 comes across as incredibly selfish, hating 11 just for being the next Doctor and wishing he could die so he was the last. And for this he gets Rose. Karma Houdinis together.

  • Peter Parker, in the 2012 reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, is clearly meant to be someone we are supposed to sympathize with given the tragedies in his life and the twists and turns he goes through, but a lot of audiences tend to instead see him come off as an unlikable prat. While he is grieving for half the film following his uncle's death, a lot of audiences don't see that as justifying enough, primarily with breaking his promise to George Stacy right after his death.
    • However an Author's Saving Throw is made in the sequel where it is shown that he is completely racked with guilt over doing this to the point that he and Gwen break up. That being said, his conversation with Harry as Spider-Man doesn't help him avoid this trope.
  • In Avatar:
    • Many viewers saw the Na'vi as arrogant, xenophobic hypocrites who were Not So Different from the human antagonists. For example, they hold themselves above humans because they always mate for life, but when Neytiri finds out Jake's true mission, she leaves him to die.
    • Furthermore, while we don't know who fired the first shot originally, the first time the audience sees Neytiri she's shown planning to shoot Jake with an arrow coated with a neurotoxin, simply for the crime of walking in their territory. Furthermore, the RDA machinery are covered in those same arrows, meaning that the Na'vi are just as guilty of attacking the Humans and are indeed, actively doing so throughout the film.
    • There is supposedly a Deleted Scene that would've revealed that the impetus for the current conflict, the destruction of Grace Augustine's school and the accidental death of Neytiri's unmentioned-in-the-film-proper sister therein, involved both species acting badly to various degrees, getting across some moral ambiguity not present in the final cut.
    • Jake himself, the movie's main hero, spends months dicking around with the Na'vi and enjoying having legs again while feeding intel to Quaritch, instead of warning them about their imminent destruction. Supposedly they won't listen to him until he passes his manhood ritual, but when he finally does pass, does he tell them about the invasion that will be arriving to wipe out their home tomorrow? Nope, he goes and bones the Chief's daughter instead. How It Should Have Ended calls this out, claiming that the ending of the film could have been avoided if he just did his job in the first place and negotiated with them like he was supposed to.
  • In The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, the Kids are obviously intended to be depicted as the innocent, sympathetic victims of prejudice in a story about how people should be judged for their personalities rather than their appearances. Fair enough, except they have almost no personality outside of being incredibly disgusting. Between extremely gross and/or uninteresting pointless shenanigans and frequently breaking the law, they come off more as Humanoid Abominations than The Grotesque.
  • In the Christian propaganda film Rock: It's Your Decision, the main character is meant to come off as a good Christian trying to steer clear from the "sins" of rock and roll and save others from it, but instead he comes off as a closed-minded and bigoted jerkass to anyone who doesn't share the same values and interpretations of Christianity as the protagonist (and then in some cases, as many Christians have no difficulty reconciling their faith and an enjoyment of secular entertainment).
    • At the beginning of the movie he was a normal guy until he found out about all the dangers of rock music, and then he became a walking stereotype.
    • He even turns against his own mother, who brought the youth pastor in to get him to quit rock music in the first place, when he decides that the soap operas she always watches are evil, too.
    • His sermon in the penultimate scene of the film sees him condemn all rock music as 'evil' through various and unsupported claims of such music promoting Hell and the Devil; he goes out of his way to decry homosexuality through the course of this bigotry-laden rant.
  • In Star Trek: Insurrection, the Ba'ku were supposed to come off as innocent victims of an under-the-table Federation and the devious Son'a (who are actually exiled Ba'ku), but instead, they came off as selfish/self-righteous pricks who won't share (or tolerate anyone of their own who wants to share) their planet's amazing healing powers, leaving the rest of the galaxy to die of ailments they themselves easily overcame. There's only a few hundred of them, so the vast majority of the planet is uninhabited. It's worth noting that Picard's argument that moving them violated the Prime Directive doesn't even hold up, since they were an non-indigenous group of Luddites, so they had just as valid a claim to the planet as the Federation colonists.
    • It certainly doesn't help that the movie, despite clearly treating their relocation as the Trail of Tears in space, doesn't at all play up the imagery of that event. On the contrary, the Ba'ku look more like the 1800s middle-class all-white individuals responsible for the Trail in the first place. Roger Ebert described them as a "gated community."
  • In Unstoppable, main character Will Colson's wife has a restraining order against him keeping him from being able to see his son. The reason for the restraining order is because he suspected his wife was cheating on him, then gets upset when she won't submit to his spot check of her cell phone, grabs her violently, pulls a gun on a police officer and friend of his because he suspects he's sleeping with his wife, and she's not even cheating on him. Because he one of the heroes of the movie, we're meant to sympathize with him and want him to get back together with his wife, despite the fact that he could easily be the villain in a Lifetime Movie of the Week.
  • Queen Gorgo in 300: Rise of an Empire mourns Leonidas' death and doesn't want to commit her remaining Spartan troops to help the Athenians. This is suppose to spark sympathy with the audience because of her losses, but instead she comes across as stuck up, prejudice against the Athenians, and whiny. Subverted at the very end, after she pulls a Big Damn Heroes right when the Athenians were about to lose the sea battle against the Persians.
  • Griffin from Red Zone Cuba was supposedly meant to be seen as a mostly decent person who was down on his luck and held back by a Hair-Trigger Temper, and what happens to him at the end of the movie was supposed to be tragic and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, all sympathy for him is lost by the time he rapes a blind girl and murders her father, making the ending seem more like justice being done than anything else.
  • The portrayal of Lyndon Johnson in Selma, judging by reactions from some critics and historians. The filmmakers want to show Johnson as a complex figure who supports Civil Rights, but a) views it as part of a larger agenda, and b) is restrained by political realities - more or less Truth in Television. But since virtually every scene featuring Johnson shows him trying to block or undermine Martin Luther King's actions, he becomes the film's de facto antagonist; many viewers consider his portrayal bordering on Historical Villain Upgrade.
  • David and Mia, the main characters of Evil Dead (2013), are given an elaborate and tragic backstory (which is relayed all at once through dialogue even though they obviously both know the details) clearly meant to make them sympathetic, but the rest of the movie never really succeeds at showing either of them, or any of their friends for that matter, in a particularly positive light. Even though these people are all supposedly friends, they treat each other distantly at best or hostilely at worst; for example Mia is shown to be totally incapable of overcoming her heroin addiction despite constantly assuring everyone else that she can, and they criticizes her for it even though their over-the-top method of "helping" her is incredibly unhealthy and harmful, making it impossible to even figure out who's really to blame out of these assholes.
  • In The Birth of a Nation, Austin Stoneman's horrified reaction to Silas wanting to marry his daughter is intended to be an Even Evil Has Standards moment but to modern audiences it actually makes him seem worse by revealing him to be a gigantic hypocrite.
  • The "heroes" of The Lost World: Jurassic Park become a lot less heroic when you realise that they release the dinosaurs from their perfectly secure containers and cause them to go on the rampage that causes all the deaths on the island. Their actions also cause the corrupt corporation that owned the dinosaurs to bring a T. Rex to San Diego which causes even more death and destruction. So the heroes cause every death in the film with the highest body count in the series and never get punished for this. The motives for all this are that the dinosaurs should be allowed to live in their natural environments which a) does not exist any more and b) is in direct opposition to the moral of the first film and the books both films are based on.

  • Most male "heroes" in romance novels, for some reason. The rake who rapes the virgin heroine is one especially bad one. "Pamela" has one particularly grating example. However, even works of a higher quality have this, with Jane Eyre being one of the worse offenders - that guy is very rude, scornful, uses other women to make Jane jealous, plays mind-games with her and other women, and even tries to trick her into marrying him although he is already married.
  • Two big ones in The Demons Lexicon.
    • Seb. It starts well enough, with his genuine regret for his bullying of Jamie, which is even revealed to be because he's an Armored Closet Gay who was terrified of his attraction to him. But then he's revealed to be a magician, despite which we're still supposed to think he's a nice guy whose eventual Heel-Face Turn was inevitable. Just one problem: before that turn there are not one but two scenes where the other magicians, in his presence, threaten to kill a little kid, and he doesn't raise a single word of protest. It doesn't even come off as him being too scared to speak up; his presence is simply ignored.
    • Helen. She's supposed to be seen as a Worthy Opponent who simply sides with the magicians out of pragmatism. Except at the end of book 2 she murders Annabel without a second thought, and despite her posing no real threat. This makes her Heel-Face Turn come off more as a Karma Houdini who's still just as evil, and just biding her time until she can show her true colors again.
  • Zoey and her friends, in The House of Night series. The group as a whole are supposed to be outcasts known as "the nerd herd", but it's hard to see them as that when all of them are given extra-special powers directly from the vampire goddess. All of them have a tendency to be pretty rude to each other (most often it being the Twins constantly making gay jokes at the expense of Damien and Jack), which is meant as friendly ribbing but doesn't really come across as such. Zoey herself is extremely judgmental, dubbing many female characters (including ones we never even see in the series) as "sluts" and "hos", constantly making disparaging comments about the behaviors or appearances of people in various groups (this includes, but is not limited to, goths, emos, chess club members, cheerleaders, people who use too much eyeliner, people who smoke marijuana, women who give blowjobs, people with bright red hair, girls who take dance class, and homeless people). She's incredibly shallow, constantly focusing on outward appearance first and foremost. She constantly complains about suffering stress from the various hardships she has to deal with, but she does virtually nothing to solve the problems herself. Instead, she waits until the end of the book, when Nyx magically tells her what to do and gives her the powers to do it. We're also supposed to pity her terrible home life, except that ridiculous stepfather aside, her complaints about her siblings are that her sister is having lots of sex, and her little brother plays violent video games. When we see her meeting her mother on her birthday, she constantly reacts in a condescending manner, and makes no effort at all to reach her mother halfway on any attempts made to bond with her.
  • Patch, from Hush, Hush. We're meant to feel sorry for him for losing his status as a well-respected archangel and the mortal woman he loved, as well as pity him for lacking the ability to feel things. Trouble is, he chose to abandon his job and home for a girl he hardly knew. Upon losing his wings, he sought out a Nephilim and forced the poor guy to be his slave for eternity, stealing his body for two weeks out of the year (and with the Nephilim able to feel everything). In other words, his situation is entirely his fault, but he never really acknowledges it. Oh, and his ultimate plan to become human and fix his problems centers around murdering an unsuspecting girl. He doesn't go through with it, but he does lure her to a motel room and hold her on the bed while threatening her, which is supposed to be steamy but comes across as something else entirely.
  • Pedro from Like Water for Chocolate. He only marries Rosaura de la Garza to be close to her sister Josefita aka Tita (who's stuck as The Dutiful Daughter), heavily neglects Rosaura which furthers her increasing Jerkassery and ultimately destroys her and Tita's already shaky relationship, causes poor Tita quite the misery as well (and she doesn't forget to call him out on it), and years later bullies and pressures Tita when Nice Guy Dr. Brown shows interest in her. (Not to mention, he barely seems to acknowledge his and Rosaura's children unless it's needed for the plot.) So, Pedro is supposed to be Tita's One True Love and the right guy for her... why?
  • Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God . Her first husband spends the first few months of their marriage waiting on her hand and foot, but when he eventually starts expecting her to pull her weight around the farm she runs off with the first young hottie she sees. She even tells her grandmother that Husband #1 is completely incapable of ever being loved by anyone...because he's ugly. Her issues with Husband #2 are more legit (he hits her at one point), but even then it's hard to sympathize—unlike Husband #1, he doesn't want her to work much, but she just complains more about being bored and how the little work she has watching the store is too much math for her poor little head. Then she tells him off on his deathbed and at one point blames all her problems on her dead grandma, who told her not to run off with Husband #2 in the first place. Jeez!
  • It's easy for Okonkwo, protagonist of Things Fall Apart to come off this way. He's meant to illustrate a rich native culture that is destroyed by the European colonists. Unfortunately, he's also a racist, sexist control freak who savagely beats his own son after they convert to Christianity, causing them to leave the family. The finale of the book, meant to elicit despair, can instead come across as justice being served.
    • This may be intentional, showing the good and bad sides of Igbo culture. It is unlikely the reader is supposed to identify with Okwonko's actions, as even other people of his society criticise his behaviour.
  • In Trixie and Dan's interactions in the Trixie Belden book The Black Jacket Mystery, neither of them are portrayed as completely innocent. Trixie, however, is the main character, and it is obvious from the narration that the audience is supposed to side with her. But that's difficult to do considering these factors, especially during re-reads:
    • Trixie lives in a sheltered small town, with an intact, stable family, in nice farmhouse with farm property. Her father is the bank manager, her mother is a homemaker. The family is said to be poor, but they never face any financial difficulties or shortage of food or clothing, and they can afford to give four teenagers five dollars a week each (This was established in 1951. With inflation, that's over forty dollars per teen each week). Her closest friends are exceedingly wealthy for their time. Trixie is thirteen.
    • In contrast, Dan lived through the death of his father, and later on, the death of his mother, lived on the streets of New York City for a time, joined a street gang to survive, was arrested in a gang fight, and shipped off to live with his uncle, who he didn't know at all. The uncle, embarrassed to be associated with him, denied relationship to him, and shipped Dan off to live with a hermit-like gamekeeper who lived in the middle of the woods. Not only did this mean Dan was isolated from diverse human contact, but we later see that he was forced to walk long distances to reach the school bus stop (or get to anywhere) and was not equipped with the proper gear for rough terrain in winter, nor did he actually know the way. Why this arrangement was allowed is anyone's guess. Dan is somewhere between fourteen to sixteen when this is taking place. Granted, Trixie only knows about where Dan is living, not why, until the book's ending.
    • The very moment Trixie sees Dan, she points and laughs with her wealthy friends, mocking his clothing. He notices this and takes offense, and doesn't make any effort to impress them when they are introduced, which irritates Trixie. However, not only is understandable to be cold toward a person who was openly mocking you, but on re-reads, the audience realizes that Dan probably did not have much other clothing to wear. Basic logic guarantees his urban-style clothing would be viewed differently in a small suburban town.
    • When Trixie and her wealthy friend Honey go horseback riding, they notice Dan wandering around the game preserve where he works, attempting to walk home from school, wearing clothing that isn't adequate for winter of wilderness. Honey offers to help him, while Trixie stares at Dan judgmentally, but Dan sullenly refuses Honey's help, expressing reservation about associating with the daughter of his employers (Again, understandable in his situation). Trixie is angered by Dan's unfriendliness, and insults him to Honey as though Dan isn't there. This incident begins bad blood and verbal battles between Trixie and Dan for the rest of the book, including her falsely accusing him of theft and vandalism based solely on circumstantial evidence, which brings Dan's uncle to dislike him even more (though Trixie isn't aware of this). All of this is in spite of three people — Honey, another wealthy friend, and family friend whom Trixie believes is Dan's grandfather (he's not) — asking Trixie to make more of an effort to be nicer to Dan, at which she only gives a single, half-hearted attempt.
    • Trixie's actions and opinions unintentionally isolate Dan from his uncle, his guardian, and the few people who live within five miles of him, which includes Trixie's close friends. Some of this is Dan's fault due to his surliness in regard to Trixie and her friends, but he wouldn't have acted that way had she not begun deriding him the moment she laid eyes on him. However, if he had had someone to confide in with his problems, most, if not all, of the damage that took place during the story could have been avoided, and the villain certainly would have been caught sooner.
      • Looking at the book from Dan's perspective, a sheltered, spoiled, wealthy girl who is loved by all continually belittles and insults him, destroys his chances of turning over a new leaf, temporarily ruins his relationship with his uncle, and makes false accusations against him, and leads to a dangerous criminal being able to go undetected. It's a wonder why Dan bothered becoming friends with Trixie afterward, let alone saving her and her younger brother's life at the end of the book.
  • Bella Swan from Twilight, whose helplessness, constant whining, frequent disdain for other people, and lack of any real problems cause many to regard her as an Anti-Sue. Ditto for her love, Edward, who is so smug and perfect that it's hard to care about any emotional issues.
    • The Cullens in general could count. They are held up as the epitome of generosity and goodness. Even so, they generally are cold and anti-social to anyone who isn't another vampire or Bella, they are hostile towards the werewolves even though some (for example, Alice) never even met the werewolves before, and they are perfectly fine with letting vampires that do drink human blood hang around the area. Apparently their desire to protect humans only counts as long as they themselves are killing, and so long as the human isn't Bella. Also, every one of them except for Carlisle has killed at least once in their past, and recollections of said murders are generally treated as embarrassing incidents that are swept aside.
    • From the latter half of New Moon and on, Jacob generally becomes this. His endless pining after Bella, even though it's obvious she'll always choose Edward over him, makes him come across as pretty dense (and also raises the question of what he finds so great about her that he constantly returns for more abuse). In Eclipse we're meant to feel sorry for him for being rejected, but he becomes unlikable when he continuously guilt-trips Bella into showing affection for him. This reaches its peak when, upon finding out she got engaged to Edward, he threatens to let himself die in battle if she doesn't kiss him... and then complains mid-makeout session that she's not putting her all into it. Any sympathy Jacob still has is lost in Breaking Dawn, where it's revealed he is a pedophile and is grooming an infant for sex. This is portrayed as no less romantic, because she looks 17.
  • Joane Walker from The Walker Papers. While admittedly having a metric ton of very good reason be sullen, cynical, and unwilling to take up her intended calling of Shaman, the way she was written comes off as bitchy, idiotically immature, and obstinate out of spite towards the world, and her redeeming qualities are there just to artificially induce sympathy.
  • Caine for a lot of the series Gone, particularly in Plague. You're supposed to see him as a misguided and twisted person, but ultimately understandable. But it's hard to feel sorry for him when he takes advantage of and abuses Diana, the only person who actually cares about him. This was fixed in Light for a lot of fans, though.
  • Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey. We're supposed to feel sorry for him because he was hungry as a child, his mother was, in his words, "a crack whore" who died when he was small, and her pimp was abusive. All of these things are supposed to have resulted in a man who is Troubled, but Cute. He despises his young mother, Ella (whom his subs all strongly resemble), for having been an impoverished and addicted prostitute, saying that she was "harsh" and unloving and that she did not protect him from her pimp. However, he also remembers that she made him a birthday cake and that she was abused by the pimp as well, even when she was asleep or unconscious. Furthermore, his hatred of blonde women stems not from his statutory rape by and sexual enslavement to an adult woman named Elena Lincoln from age 15 to age 22—which everyone but Ana treats as a good thing until the end of the second book and which is ignored thereafter—but from a blonde female cop who removed four-year-old Christian from the room where his mother's corpse had lain for four days. Toddler!Christian thought that his mother was sleeping (thus indicating that her body didn't reek or rot, which suggests that Ella was a saint) and was outraged at being taken away from Ella...which doesn't mesh well with the notion that he wasn't close to her. And to top it all off, the series itself emphasizes that Grey remembers very little of his mother or of the abuse; most of what he "knows" is hearsay from his adoptive parents and supposition (based on that hearsay and on Christian's nightmares) by his current psychiatrist.
    • Somehow, these four years of barely recollected hunger are supposed to woobify him, despite having, for the next twenty-four years, a rich family that clearly adores him. And, when you combine his canonical dislike of surprises and change with his lack of progress with any psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor, it's clear that he doesn't want to change and get past his issues. He likes having the excuse to hit and screw "little brown-haired girls" who look like his mother.
    • And despite his being hungry as a toddler, he never thinks about helping the 15.9 million American kids who suffer from hunger every year. He invests in the odd agricultural program to help people in developing countries, but he does nothing to fight hunger in his own country. Instead, he uses it to guilt-trip Ana. Every time she's insufficiently sympathetic, he hammers home the point that he was soooo hungry as a four-year-old. It never occurs to Ana that he hasn't been hungry since.
  • The main characters of Left Behind are supposedly models of great Christian virtue who we are supposed to support, sympathise with and emulate. Critics of the series are more likely to describe them as callous, spineless, misogynistic, self-righteous knobs.
  • One of the reasons Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is so polarizing was Harry's characterization. We're supposed to feel sorry for Harry because he witnessed Cedric's death and nobody believed him about neither Voldemort nor the Dementor incident, but he comes off as incredibly wangsty when he complains about it, especially since this was the third time Harry was accused of something, but handled the first two with better maturity. Then there's his breakup with Cho. Harry of all people should have known that she was still grieving for Cedric, but still decided to date her anyway. Then there's Harry dumping her because she called out Hermione for disfiguring her friend, and she had every right to.
  • Let's just say Ayn Rand invited this kind of criticism in more or less all her novels and leave it at that. Her vision of the ideal Objectivist paragon as presented in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged is contested, at best, especially given her own problems with living up to her own idealised standards.
  • In The Firebrand, a wife argues with her husband about his decision to kill their newborn son, who is prophecied to bring doom upon their city. It's a justifiable point, but her arguments are ridiculously, unnecessarily, misandrist. Apparently their son should live because she's a woman and she says so - not because they love him, or it would be the right thing to do.
    "What right has a man over children?"
  • In the eyes of many fans, Luke Skywalker became this toward the end of the Star Wars Legends continuity, frequently sanctioning drastic measures such as torture and assassination to stop villains. The intent was to show the character growing increasingly cynical with age, but the fans argue back that even so, that's not a very good way to write Luke Skywalker.
  • Kerim in From Russia with Love becomes this on sheer force of Values Dissonance. When describing his past to Bond, he blithely admits to kidnapping, false imprisonment, and Attempted Rape he committed as a rowdy teen, and his present-day self's reflection on this is essentially, "Oh I sure was stupid as a kid, huh? Besides, she didn't hold it against me." Keep in mind that even for the '50s Kerim was clearly intended as an Unscrupulous Hero - he shows himself to be okay with gunning down a fleeing opponent, for one, something Bond mentally notes he'd never do - but to modern readers taking him seriously as a protagonist at all can be difficult.
  • In Shadow Song, we're told that Bobo Murphy and Amy Lourie/Myers aren't in particularly happy marriages, and their chance meeting at Avrum's funeral is portrayed as fulfilment of a destiny, a teenage romance finally getting a chance to bloom away from meddling parents and whatnot. It's certainly portrayed as romantic, but at the end of the day, they are cheating on their spouses.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The page quote comes from Linkara discussing Ransik from Power Rangers Time Force. He notes the fandom considers Ransik a sympathetic Anti-Villain who was Driven to Villainy by the Fantastic Racism of humans against mutants like him. However, other characters claim that some people did try to reach out to Ransik, but he rejected them. Additionally, a flashback shows he killed a human who helped him by giving him a serum to help the pain of his mutations, and laughed at his charity as foolish. Furthermore, Ransik never shows any desire to help other mutants or make conditions better for them, and takes his vendetta a thousand years into the past where he just causes chaos for the sake of doing it. This is also compounded with the Fantastic Racism aspect being off-set by every mutant in the series save for one acting Always Chaotic Evil and justifying the fear normal humans have of them.
    • Conversely, other fans see Time Force themselves as this for propping up the racist government that makes threats like Ransik possible. In the Sentai source material, the Rangers' superior (the analogue to Captain Logan) is actually the true Big Bad of the show, and as such it's very easy to spin the main characters' bosses as villains.
    • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive: The Overdrive Rangers are meant to come off as sympathetic in "Once A Ranger" when they lose their powers and feel useless enough that they quit. However: 1) They still have their civilian powers, 2) Their mission was not to be just Power Rangers, but to find the jewels, which they could still do while the veteran rangers dealt with the monsters, 3) All of them, save for Tyzonn, were gloating about how awesome it is to be Power Rangers before being reminded it's about saving lives, 4) They only return because they found returning to their old lives boring rather than wanting to actually do something heroic, and 5) Mack, unmorphed, uses Excelsior to slash through a giant monster in half. While Excelsior's power is hyped up this episode, the fact remains that Mack had to jump several hundred feet in the air, and perform a slash powerful enough to one shot the monster. With civilian powers this strong, why complain about not having Ranger powers?
  • Many of the older alien races in the Stargate Verse are meant to be seen in a sympathetic light, but come bit short.
    • The Nox, an ancient race who were once members of the Four Great Races, who keep to themselves in modern times. They claim to have an advanced pacifist philosophy due to their stance of never fighting anyone even to defend themselves. Oh course they have the ability to render themselves invisible and revive the dead but never offer these wonders to those countless innocents suffering under the Goa'uld every day makes them come across as selfish at best. Many of them claim that the earthlings policy "the strong defend the weak" as self-righteous and stupid, often calling them "very young". At the end of their introductory episode it comes across as extremely hypocritical when their leader tells the team that "their ways not the only way".
    • The Tollan were an advanced race who made some mistakes during their first ever "first contact". After the neighboring aliens used the technology given to them to blow themselves all up, the Tollans decided to strictly adhere to a policy of never sharing any advanced technology with any alien race less advanced than their own. This came back to bite them hard when this policy (combined with their lack of upgrading their defensive technology) led to them being blackmailed and later wiped out as a whole.
    • The series best example would most likely be the Ancients, an ancient and super-advanced race who built the Stargates and later evolved into Energy Beings. They'd often claim that they never use their powers to help un-ascended beings because they do not wish to abuse that power and turn out like their evil cousins, the Ori. They still come across as extreme Neglectful Precursors who never own up to their responsibility to repair the damage they themselves caused even before their ascension, such as the creation of the Wraith and Replications among others. It's made worse because apparently, if you're an ancient, it's all right to not dismantle unbelievably hazardous or dangerous technology (or at least put safeties in), such as the machine that would download the entire Ancient database into one's head (with the only safety being "Had the Ancient Tech Gene," and would eventually kill you in a day or so), the exploding tumor machine, an infinite time loop device, and a healing device that will turn you into a zombie. To top it off many of them also appear to have a rather low opinion of non-ascended beings.
  • When Tony Almeida underwent a Face-Heel Turn in 24 he was clearly supposed to be seen as some sort of Tragic Villain who has had his family violently taken from him. But it's so quickly thrown in out of the blue that he doesn't come off sympathetic at all. It also doesn't help that the same season that had said event that would drive him to said Face Heel Turn portrayed him as drastically different: although he was of course devastated by the loss even though he did contemplate taking revenge on one of the killers he still threw the chance for revenge away because he knew it was morally wrong. So it just comes off as a nasty case of Character Derailment.
    • It also doesn't look much better when you compare it to Jack Bauer's Face-Heel Turn period in the final season. Both of them endangered innocent people, but in completely different ways. Jack did become a danger to others during his attacks, but only because at this point they had become so reckless that innocent people were now running the risk of getting harmed in the crossfire - the only people he directly tried to harm were enemy agents the whole time. Tony on the other hand had no qualms about killing anyone and everyone to further his goals, at one point even being willing to infect a crowd of innocent men, women and children in a subway station with a lethal virus.
  • The main protagonists of Charmed slowly become this in later series, turning from the Big Good into a bunch of selfish heroes-in-name-only that are more concerned with their own petty lives, than actually saving the world. The Avatar arc of Series 7 had them ultimately agree to a plan to end the battle between good and evil once and for all. Except, their reasons for agreeing was not because they'd hit the Godzilla Threshold where the apocalypse was looming and evil was in danger of winning, but because they were simply too lazy to continue fighting!
    • Phoebe, who the show insisted was the victim of Cole's actions, despite being technically responsible for his descent into insanity and preventing him from attempting a Heroic Suicide at least twice, because he felt he was in danger of becoming evil again. We're meant to sympathise with her, but the large majority of the audience felt that she was the bigger villain.
  • The majority of teenagers who commits a crime in a crime series (Cold Case, Law & Order, etc.), and even some who don't are always depicted with such Wangst. While they are suppose to be seen as sympathetic they often just come across as spoiled and selfish with little regard for anyone's problems but their own.
  • Assorted guest characters on Cold Case, often of the Unwitting Instigator of Doom flavor; this person may not be the murderer, but they're still, however indirectly, responsible for the victim's death.
    • Leah in "Wishing." She allowed an autistic classmate with a crush on her to kiss her, then cried rape when caught by her Jerkass boyfriend. This gets the poor kid committed as a "sexual risk," and things only go downhill from there, culminating in a Mercy Kill.
    • The victim's mother in "Time to Crime," who began an affair with an obviously-untrustworthy arms smuggler and was inevitably cheated on herself, and yes still tried to get him back. Had she not attempted this, her daughter would still be alive.
    • The victim's Fat Bastard best friend Butch in "Kensington." He was intended to be shown as a man broken by the loss of his job, but just came off as a dick. Unlike the others, however, he is actually punished; as he witnessed the murder and did nothing, the cops arrest him as accessory.
    • Both the Alpha Bitch and her older brother in "The Sleepover". Even with having abusive parents growing up, in the present, she remains a self-serving bitch who doesn't even care about the victim or her cohorts in crime. Her brother is more sympathetic, but he still killled another girl the same way as the victim for no good reason (she reminded him of the girl).
  • Desperate Housewives gave us Katherine Mayfair, who, after being dumped by Mike Delfino, went insane and delusional. She then orchestrated a plot in which Mike was framed for attacking her (complete with her pointing to him as the ambulance arrived, getting him arrested.) Later, the women, including Susan, Mike's wife, are all shown as forgiving her, and we're supposed to take their side, but what happened is treated as water under the bridge, she never once apologizes to Mike or shows any regret for her actions. She came off more as a sociopath, and we were still supposed to like her.
  • Dexter: You are supposed to root for the title character, since he only kills other Serial Killers, but that doesn't make him not a Serial Killer.
    • Not to mention the "sympathetic" part being that these are killers that got away with their crimes. Then we see Dexter intentionally sabotaging the cases against them just so he could go after them.
  • Cirilo Rivera from Carrusel. His unrequited crush on Maria Joaquina sometimes bordered on obsession. He never stalked her — let alone hurt her — but he did not give up on her no matter how much she turned him down. And let's face it — she was out of his league, which has NOTHING to do with their being of different races or even socioeconomic statuses; she, well, just didn't like him that way. But he would not stop, and kept showering her with gifts and attentions that she clearly didn't want and either upset her or creeped her out. Viewers were supposed to take Cirilo's side... but Maria Joaquina ended up being the one often favored by the audience instead, since in practice, nobody blamed her for not loving a kid that clingy (and borderline creepy) back.
  • In the Lifetime Movie of the Week Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, we are supposed to root for the mother. However, she screams at her teenage son for looking at softcore porn and refuses to acknowledge or congratulate him because he got third place in a swimming competition, rather than first. This makes it seem like the kid's problems stem more from her than from the porn that supposedly ruined his life.
  • Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond was supposed to come off as a beleaguered, long-suffering heroine who unfairly has to put up with her in-laws, but instead, she came off as a hypocritical misandrist who regularly belittles, bullies and attacks her husband, even urging their children to put him down, all played for laughs.
  • Monica in Friends was portrayed as being overweight and weird during her teenage years. The audience is supposed to feel bad for Monica who grew up being a virgin for a long time and had very few friends but it's hard to sympathize when past Monica is always referenced to eating a lot or breaking stuff with her size while her present self is neurotic and obsessive about being clean.
    • Likewise, Ross is portrayed as someone who has bad luck with women and has been divorced multiple times. One would think he is someone to feel sorry for, but Ross' jealousy of other men when it comes to dating women and how he would rather lie his way out of situations instead of being truthful just so he can look good makes Ross look more like a jerk.
    • And Rachel, who we're meant to feel sorry for because she keeps losing Ross and has to watch him date other women...except she's the one who broke up with him (and refused to take him back), malevolently manipulates The Unfair Sex and back stabs any woman he tries to move on with.
      • We're also meant to sympathise with her 'empowering' journey of getting over her spoiled upbringing and breaking into the fashion industry. That works early on when she's vulnerable and hard-working but not much later when she's unprofessional, lazy and 'empowering' equals taking Ross's daughter to a different continent from him. It doesn't help that Monica is clearly more hard-working, Chandler more capable and Ross more intelligent in their respective jobs but she's still the 'Career' character. Rachel even hires a man she is attracted to rather then someone who has the qualifications, and has an affair with him.
      • However it should be noted that, both Ross and Rachel have been called out on several occasions throughout the show for their shortcomings and refusal to take fault, arguably more spectacularly and exceptionally than the others. While maybe not proportionately to their actions, there are times they are intentionally played as Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists.
  • Thanks to its penchant for Unfortunate Implications, lots of characters in Glee have a tendency for falling into this. One particularly notable one is its Designated Hero, Will Schuester. His supposed virtue is that he is a compassionate teacher who genuinely cares for and puts all of his students first. But it's a bit hard to see him as the sweet teacher he's made out to be after he planted drugs in a student's locker to blackmail him to join Glee Club. And after he blatantly favors a select handful of students within his group. And after he abandons his students on their competition day to pursue a personal audition. And after watching him let open acts of bullying of his own students go unreported, even when it lands one of them in the hospital.
    • Kurt is another frequent victim of this trope. Half the time he's a genuine Woobie; the other half, he's self-centered, hypocritical, and prone to fits of jealousy.
  • Similar to Megan Ramsey from “Repression” (see below) the son in "All My Children" due mainly to because everyone in universe is sympathetic to his side of the story. While the father was a major jerkass like with Megan Ramsey the son never tried to live for himself and seemed to only want to make the father pay for not spoiling him. This is coupled with could have avoided this plot since if the son had just got a job any job he would have never been kicked out of the house.
    • Done in universe in the episode “True North”
    • This was combined with The Unfair Sex "Good Girl" where the murderer was treated sympathetically despite the fact if the situation were reversed (a man had an affair and killed the woman when she tried to end it) he would have never been depicted sympathetically especially if he claimed that he did it because he couldn’t live with out her. When you add to that the the fact that she seems to have a race fetish and the first thing she did after she was arrested was accuse him (the person she claimed to love) of trying to rape her it’s hard to take her crying seriously.
  • Many of the so-called victims of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fall under this.
    • Megan Ramsey from “Repression” is a great example due to just how convenient her situation turned out. Megan was a unrepentant drug addict who was cut off. She goes to therapy and recalls her childhood molestation by her father, she reports the incest hoping it would spare her younger sisters from suffering the same fate, and the threat of this seems credible because her middle sister implies she may have walked in on her father just after molesting the youngest. In the end, the middle sister accidentally shoots the father shortly after falsifying evidence of molestation against him, and we find out that Megan's memories were falsely coached by her therapist and the father was innocent; the therapist is arrested for reckless endangerment, but Megan gets exactly what she wanted from the beginning: to be allowed back in her rich parents' house with her mother taking care of her, despite the fact that this means that her drug addiction had nothing to do with any childhood trauma on her part.
    • In "Influence", a teenage girl falsely accuses two classmates of rape, makes advances on a third, and hits nine pedestrians in a car crash, killing one. Medical tests reveal that she recently stopped taking her medication for bipolar disorder, but since the Hollywood Psychology presentation of bipolar disorder includes following a consistent pattern of behavior to avoid responsibility, it makes her look more like a sociopath using the media circus surrounding her case to get away with it.
    • The basic premise of "Transitions" has a trans girl (born male, identifies female) being constantly, violently angry, but only against females, particularly a group of girls who didn't want her to use the girls' bathroom, and proudly declare she beat her (entirely supportive) mother in order to "strike a blow for her freedom" after being caught sneaking into the house at two in the morning. She also has a host of other mental problems, a history of self-harm, attempted suicide, virulent hatred of her father, and generally having serious anger issues that, while exacerbated by the stress of being an transgender adolescent, had nothing to do with her actually being transgender. And this all served to be an attempt to justify the attempted murder of her father by her school counselor, who is also a transwoman, and who tried to kill him in order to get some kind of displaced revenge for hate crimes she had experienced when she was younger. The writers at least seemed to realize this as Greyleck stated not every person that has been a victim can have an automatic get out of jail free card when they go looking for retribution. The end result is that the episode tried to show the plight of transgender people by making one of them insane and the other one a murderer, who both want a man dead essentially because he's not as supportive as they think he ought to be.
    • One episode had a full grown adult who pretended to be a high school student for years, essentially to avoid having to grow up, and in the process, had enough "high school sweethearts" she manipulated and slept with to fill a calendar. She was still seen as the victim for not being able to adjust to adult life, with her arrest for statutory rape being more of a legal formality with the victim's complaint not about being personally violated as much as being embarrassed for sleeping with an old bag. Although the ending seems to imply she's also batshit, it tends to fall in line with The Unfair Sex stance the show often takes.
    • Carrie Lynn Eldridge from "Intoxicated" could qualify for this trope. She's caught by her mother having sex with her 21 year old boyfriend, yet the narrative and the detectives (especially Olivia) view the mother as being unreasonable and crazy for being angry, concerned, and freaked out that a twenty-one year old is dating her fifteen year old daughter. Carrie later kills her mother, runs from the crime scene and runs away with her boyfriend to hide in his parents' cabin. When Carrie's caught and the detectives investigate the case it begins to look like Carrie killed the mother solely because the mother didn't approve her boyfriend... and then we find out that Ms. Eldridge was an abusive alcoholic who hid bottles in every part of her house (including the kitchen drawers and a ceiling lamp, places CSU would've checked when processing the murder scene) and Carrie suffers from Premenstrual syndrome that heightened her emotions, especially rage, and pushed her to brutally murder her mother during another argument. While Carrie manages to garner sympathy from Olivia and her lawyer, many fans don't feel the same way and instead see Carrie as a temperamental and violent brat who killed her mother because she didn't get her way and definitely didn't appreciate the writers' attempt to portray her as an abused and troubled teen.
    • In "Alien", the politics between the Catholic faculty and the lesbian parents (and the implication that 8-year-old Emma is unstable) is all based on the fact that a poor twelve year old boy will never walk again. Except that kid only got paralyzed because he was allowed (by the faculty that didn't want a child raised by lesbians in their school anyway) to physically assault a little girl in a pattern of hate crimes, culminating in a red-flag juvenile version of corrective rape, after which Emma finally fought back and just happened to score an unlucky Critical Hit and severed his spinal cord. The boy was being raised in an environment that explicitly condoned his sustained torture of a little girl because she was related to a lesbian and he had no remorse for any of it. He's supposed to be the victim of the day and his being harmed what gets the SVU involved, but his behavior strongly suggests he's a fledgling sex offender who has an irrational hatred for lesbians and their children. It's hard to feel bad for him when it's very possible that his being paralyzed from the waist down is going to save SVU some headaches later on down the line.
  • In The George Lopez Show, During Benny's trial, George brought in Benny's mother to the stand and try and make Benny sympathetic to the jurors. While on the stand, she proceed to mock Benny and shows how bad a mother she was to Benny. This was done to make Benny seem like a Jerkass Woobie at the most since how bad she grew up in a broken home and being a single mother. The problem was that Benny was just as bad at raising George. Being emotional and physically abusive to him, being neglectful of his feeling, disregarding his learning disability, unsupported of his goals, and lying to him constantly. And as an adult she still a Jerkass to him and his family. It pretty hard to sympathize with her.
  • Nellie in The Office (US). Something of a Creator's Pet from the get-go, she was given "tragic" elements of her past to make her more sympathetic. Unfortunately, all of these elements were entirely self-inflicted, leading to this trope.
  • At the end of season two of Robin Hood, Guy of Gisborne stabbed Maid Marian to death, sending his Character Development and Redemption Arc back to square one. Season Three tried to turn him into a Heartbroken Badass, ignoring the fact that for a significant portion of the fanbase, he had already crossed the Moral Event Horizon when he stabbed Maid Marian to death and thus forfeited any right to the goodwill of the audience. Even the actor hated him.
    • On the same show, the death of Kate's brother did not carry the emotional weight it should have done thanks to Kate's refusal to utilize common sense in her repeated attempts to rescue him. The writers were going for "headstrong" and "impulsive" in their characterization of Kate — unfortunately, all they really managed was "stupid." The ridiculous swinging between Wangst and trying to romance Robin didn't help her either.
      • And the cherry on top is the fact that Kate's brother was killed by Guy, resulting in a scene in which the audience has no reason to care about anyone involved.
      • And the cherry on top of that cherry is that depending on how you see it, Kate is at fault as well for the murder. He died because she got captured trying to get him out of the army and he died trying to save her. Some fans wonder if he might have survived had she just left him in the army.
  • Occurs in Scrubs when The Janitor, after losing a bet to Dr. Cox, has to watch his van being crashed into a wall, and the viewer is meant to feel sorry for him. Except that The Janitor has in the past done a number of similar actions, and many that were worse and show outright lack of regard for people that might get hurt and gotten away with them, with the only difference being that his actions were Played for Laughs.
  • 30 Rock: Liz Lemon can come off as this a lot of the time, as she can be a pretty terrible person who takes out all of her problems on her staff and makes her problems sound bigger than they are, a lot of her problems are her fault and treats people pretty terribly.
  • Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, came off this way in the failed 2011 pilot. We're supposed to feel sorry for her because she had to leave her boyfriend for his own safety, and her life as an ordinary person is limited. That sympathy doesn't last long in the face of what she does during her superhero work: namely, torturing hospitalized suspects, bullying policemen, slandering rivals with no proof, and killing security guards who are just workers for hire and otherwise uninvolved in the villain's plot.
  • Jade from Victorious is this character overall, but The Worst Couple is probably the worst example of it. The writers want you to feel sorry for her that Beck broke up with her, but it's hard to actually do that when she acts like a spiteful bitch to everyone. Giving a "Reason You Suck" Speech to her so-called friends and breaking Sinjin's leg by running him down make the audience cheer for her misery rather than feel sorry for it.
  • In the 2002 Lifetime Movie of the Week "The Pact", we meet a young man who was charged in the murder of his pregnant, which was unbeknownst to him until after her demise girlfriend, who he killed in a failed suicide pact she initiated. Instead of him being portrayed as the conflicted and heartbroken boyfriend who just lost the love of his life and plagued by confusion and guilt over the situation who was sent off to prison, like he was in the original book the movie it was based off of, he comes off as a sneaky, creepy, emotionally-detached douchebag who who ends up getting away with his crime due to the father of a dead girl testifying on his behalf.
  • A worker at a coffee house in Hot In Cleveland gets promptly fired in front of his young daughter and weakly tells her "I'll buy you a bicycle next year," when Melanie tells him he's been getting her order wrong. We're meant to feel sorry for him because he's clearly not doing well in life at the moment... but it's hard to feel sorry for the guy when he's been doing his job completely wrong consistently for three straight weeks.
  • Rose Tyler from Doctor Who falls into this category for a lot of the fanbase, despite a lot of them liking her in Series 1. She gets angry at any women who speaks to the Doctor, treats her boyfriend Mickey horribly in her first appearance, and doesn't seem to care that due to her disappearing for a year he got accused of murdering her. Her losing the Doctor by being trapped in another Universe may be a Tearjerker but she implies she would be willing to destroy both worlds to get back to him. And "Journey's End" when she returns to her Universe due to the Daleks collapsing reality her dialogue clearly shows she was trying to get back before this happened, despite the Doctor telling her it would destroy both worlds.
    • In a similar vein there's River Song who was willing to destroy time itself by breaking a fixed point to save the Doctor's life because as she put it the Doctor was worth more to her than all of the universe. Rather than coming off as romantic it instead wouldn't be out of place as a villain's motive rant. Made worse in that while she does give in and allow events to play out it's only because the Doctor told her that he was faking his death, not that she can't put the universe over his own safety.
    • The Tenth Doctor's attitude to regeneration been equivalent to death in The End of Time makes him come across a whiny brat. Not helping his case is his outrage at the fact that he has to perform a Heroic Sacrifice and how no Doctor in the past reacted in this manner and neither did the Eleventh.
  • In Gotham we have Renee Montoya. In her mind she might see herself as a good friend to Barbara, coming to her believing that Gordon is actually a Dirty Cop who's manipulating her. But her actions in doing so are to go behind Gordon's back twice to warn Barbara without any evidence aside from two separate informants - both of whom, she knows, have strong mob ties and also have every reason to lie to her. In addition, the second time she broke into Barbara's home, which Barbara is not pleased about. If anything it looks more like she's a jealous ex who's willing to latch onto any idea without evidence to break the couple up so she can get back together with Barbara. In fact, when the breakup does happen, it's clear that Barbara brought it on herself by blabbing about the child snatchers earlier, before Cobblepot's return (if anything, Gordon was smart to not tell her anything about Cobblepot); Montoya was little more than the accelerator in the long run.
    • Then there is how she acted after receiving the information from Cobblepot. After he stated that Fish had the necklace before it was found on Pepper and flat out admitted he is using this information to get rid of his boss. What does Montoya do? Does she follow up on this information? Does she take it with a grain of salt from a guy that is most likely lying to her? Does she go to Gordon to find out if he was even aware of this? No. She takes this very flimsy information and jumps to the conclusion that Jim must have been fully aware and even planted the evidence on Pepper. Then instead of bring this to the police she goes right to Barbara and flat out tells Barbara with no evidence that her fiance is guilty to get them to break up. Gordon wasn't even aware of this theory until after he hears it secondhand from Barbara which means after using this information to try to break up Barbara and Gordon, she did absolutely nothing else with it.
    • Barbara herself counts. In the first ep she's a hardnosed reporter who uses her husband's position in the police force to get a scoop despite this going against any decent journalist's code of ethics. She later argues with him when he doesn't want to talk about his work, she becomes frightened of "his world", she leaves him for her ex-girlfriend (the above, Renee) who in turn leaves her (Barbara) because they were "Toxic together". She rings her old flat and by complete chance a 12 year old Ivy Pepper has broken in and answers the phone causing Barbara to get mad at Jim even more, and take up refuge with her parents. As of writing this at the 14th episode mark, she hasn't been seen since.
  • Reba has Kyra. It's hard to deny that she gets the short end of the stick at points, but this is often because of very justifiable reasons, such as trying to help the teenaged mother in the family get on her feet, and raising a new born child. In addition, with all the complaining Kyra does, she almost never does anything to help improve the situation, or at least help make things easier on everyone. The closest thing that can remotely count was moving out to her dads place, which only succeeded in causing even more stress on the family and bringing Reba to tears. Combine this with her slowly sliding into the Teens Are Monsters trope during her teenaged years and her Deadpan Snarker tendencies being taken up to near Jerkass levels in the later seasons, and it's a bit hard to feel bad for her at times when she starts complaining about things.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Regina Mills after her Heel-Face Turn comes out as this to part of the fandom. After she nearly sacrifices herself to save Storybrooks, the heroes treat all her past heinous actions (which include slaughtering a village, raping a man, sending children on a life threatening mission, killing her own father, cursing a world to an unhappy life, imprisoning an innocent girl in a dungeon,… ) as if they were done by someone else. This is mitigated by the fact that she truly acknowledges having been a villain and tries her best to be a better person but she occasionally puts the blame alternatively on her Evil Mentor Rumplestilskin or the Author of the book. It turns out that yes the Author really was manipulating everyone all along but since there was little evidences before, this comes out as a lucky guess. At one point in season 3, she says she regrets none of her acts because it gave her Henry, her adopted son, in the long run. In season 4, she whines and resents Emma for ruining her romance with Robin Hood by accidently bringing Marian back from the dead and later, with Henry, she starts a self-centered quest to find the Author so she can be reunited with her boyfriend leaving the fandom unsure whether she truly deserves her happy ending like everyone in-universe (even some of her former victims) think so. In season 4 finale, Emma goes as far to save Regina from the darkness by letting it take her instead.
    • Ursula the sea witch in the "Queens of Darkness" story arc. While her backstory shows that she used to be a kind mermaid until Hook stole her voice, her transformation into a monster was self inflicted yet she puts all the blame on Hook. Just as she’s about to strangle Snow, Hook brings her voice back and makes her reconcile with her father. She’s suddenly considered as good and free to leave the town even thought she express no remorse in actively helping Rumplestilskin and the other Queens to turn Emma into a villain. Not helping is the later revelation that she and Cruella left Maleficient’s baby daughter to die.
    • Robin Hood for his Lack of Empathy toward his wife Marian. When he finds out that Regina was the one who killed her before Emma undid her death, he doesn't seem to care at all being mostly concerned with still being in love with Regina. He then starts an affair with her while Marian is in the coma. Marian turns out to be Zelina the wicked witch who killed and replaced her. Once again Robin is barely concerned by the revelation and is immediately ready to move on with Regina. The only remaining obstacle is Zelena being pregnant with his baby.

  • The protagonist of Taylor Swift's song "You Belong With Me". This is about a shy girl who has a crush on a boy who already has a girlfriend but, as the title suggest, she feels that he's obligated to be with her because she somehow understands him better, with no indication that she's said anything to him to indicate her interest in being more than friends. Then she criticizes his girlfriend for wearing high heels and short skirts. The video also portrays her as a stalker.
  • The title character of Bruce Springsteen's song "Johnny 99," who is sentenced to 99 years in prison for a murder he committed while drunk over the loss of his job. The song does its best to portray him as a victim of a broken system, even demonizing the judge who sentences him, but that doesn't change the fact that he's still a killer and that most people who have been in his situation haven't killed anyone.
  • The protagonist of .38 Special's tender ballad "Second Chance" really sells how sorry he is over a mistake he made, and the song pressures the subject to stop making such a big deal over it and take him back. The singer then proceeds to specify that the mistake was cheating on her, and defends it by saying this of the girl he cheated with: "I never loved her, I never needed her. She was willing and that's all there is to say." In other words, the guy didn't cheat because he's a flawed man who was tempted and gave in to his own weakness and selfish impulses; he cheated on her because he could, and then tries to guilt his lover for holding that against him. It makes him seem more like a self-absorbed sociopath than a man who's genuinely contrite over what most people consider a very serious betrayal of trust.
  • In the Megadeth song "1,000 Times Goodbye," we're clearly supposed to sympathize with the protagonist, since his lover left him for another man. However, her voice clips make it clear that she's been suffering for years under him and tried repeatedly to make their relationship work, making the protagonist sound more like a narcissistic jerk than a jilted spouse.
  • The Bullet For My Valentine album The Poison has several songs relating to finding out that a girlfriend or love interest is sleeping with other people, and how painful this is to experience. However, this becomes less sympathetic and more disturbing when the protagonist is revealed to be a violent stalker in "Hit the Floor" (one who has apparently put thought into how and when he could attack his target) and that his retaliation over her infidelity is to murder her and any man he catches her with (as shown in "Room 409" and "The Poison"). Yes, cheating is bad, but stalking and murder are usually considered to be far worse things.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Anthony from For Better or for Worse, so very very much. You're supposed to feel sympathy for him because his wife doesn't want their baby and he "doesn't have a home," but not only is it irritating, it rubs in the fact that he harassed her into having a child she didn't want in the first place. He lost even more ground when it came to light that he even promised that he would stay home with the kid, but had no intention of keeping that promise because he expected the magic of motherhood to kick in and somehow make his wife want to quit her job (which was heavily implied to make more than his did) and raise the kid anyways. But she's supposed to be the bad guy for wanting him to keep his promise and because she's not maternal.

  • A number of characters in Dino Attack RPG:
    • Rotor was introduced by Atton Rand in an attempt to undo his earlier Demonization of realists with a sympathetic realist character. At first, Rotor wasn't so bad. Even when he made it clear that he was willing to exploit Kate Bishop as a means to getting to Wallace Bishop, who seemed to be the most dangerous enemy on the island at the time, it was an understandably realist outlook on being willing to do what must be done. And then, he's scolding his T-1 Typhoon crew for not being willing to do what must be done; okay, fair enough, Greybeard's done it before... wait a second, is he ordering his own men to be executed by firing squad by means of Kangaroo Court? And now he's torturing prisoners, with a heavy dose of subtext that he doesn't even believe that they have the info he seeks; he might just be doing it For the Evulz? We're supposed to like this guy? He's no better than any of the previous realists Atton Rand introduced!
      • Fortunately, Rotor finally regained some sympathy when he started to clean up his act. That, and the fact that the two following Unintentionally Unsympathetic characters were introduced and made him look sympathetic in comparison...
    • Atton Rand had, to a certain extent, intended Trigger to be a sort of Spiritual Successor to Dust, inspired by his popularity to attempt to write an anti-hero of his own. Unfortunately he had the opposite reception which Atton had intended. He did attempt to salvage some dignity by at least giving Trigger a memorable death scene, but whether that succeeded is debatable.
    • Snake is a similar deal, as like his namesake he was intended to be likeable despite being an uncaring anti-hero. This backfired horrendously, especially when he was meant to look honorable in comparison to Plastic Serpent, who, to add insult to injury, became Unintentionally Sympathetic instead.

  • This is one of the main criticisms of RENT. At best, the heroes—Mark and Roger in particular—are Brilliant but Lazy and want the adoration that being a respected artist would bring, but have yet to actually produce anything to earn it. At worst, they're spoiled elitist brats who think working a regular job is beneath them and expect to stay in their apartment rent-free as they wait for inspiration to come to them.

    Video Games 
  • The Catalyst in Mass Effect 3 is probably one of the most extreme examples. Both his presentation and creator commentary pretty much indicate that he is intended to come across as some sort of Anti-Villain who had to resort to extreme measures in order to accomplish it's task (i.e., he created the Reapers in order to end organic-synthetic conflicts), and that the choices he gives you at the end are meant to be similarly extremely morally ambiguous acts for the greater good. However, to many a fan, his reasoning is extremely nonsensical at best, and at worst exemplifying utter hypocrisy. Furthermore, the choices he gives pretty much throw the whole theme of the franchise down the toilet. For this reason, he is very rarely liked in the Mass Effect fandom, and most often regarded as either Too Dumb to Live or as a psychopath.
  • The Qun is a fictional religion and a major presence in the second and third games of the Dragon Age series, and many fans have... issues with it. The games try really hard to portray the Qun as a misunderstood philosophy that is discriminated against by the Andrastian nations of Thedas. The argument kind of falls flat with some gamers due to the oppressive nature of the Qun and its Insane Troll Logic. Nobody can choose their own path in Qunari society, strict gender roles are enforced, and mages have their mouths sewn shut and are chained and collared. The philosophy shows great disdain for outsiders (the word for non-Qunari is "bas", literally translating to "thing"), and they regularly hunt down anyone who leaves the religion behind (Side discussions reveal that they lobotomize persistent criminals or those who resist reeducation with a substance called qamek). All of this combines to make certain fans of the Dragon Age franchise have not much love for the Qun. They do have a rather progressive policy towards transgender people, at least, although the sympathy this garners is lessened slightly when it's revealed by party banter that this policy doesn't contradict their strict gender roles - Sten assumed a female Warden must actually be a man (and The Iron Bull in turn has difficulty viewing Cassandra as being a woman) because in their society, "women warriors" would be seen as transgender men.
    • This disdain for the religion of the Qun does not translate to Qunari characters, however. Sten in Dragon Age: Origins is seen as lovable for his Fish out of Water characterization, and the Iron Bull in Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the most popular characters in the entire series. The latter is telling however, since many fans adore him for being such a relaxed and open-minded character and rejecting many Qunari conventions in his role as a mercenary and Ben-Hassrath, and the decision to sacrifice a deal with the Qunari, save his mercenary company, and subsequently drive Bull out of the Qun is a no-brainer for many gamers.
    • Dragon Age II also has the Mage-Templar conflict at the center of its plot. While the narrative tries really hard to portray the two factions as being morally grey, a common criticism of the game is that both sides come off as Jerkasses
  • The dwarves in Chrono Cross are supposed to come across as a race who has been victimized by the excesses and the greed of humanity as a whole, and call humans out on not being able to live in harmony with nature. The intent is to make the player feel bad for killing them, but the fact that the dwarves were conducting an operation of ethnic cleansing on the fairies, while at the same time doing the same things they accuse humans of doing prevents them from getting sympathy. The fact that the game itself fails to see the hypocrisy of it all, in favor of putting all the blame on humans, (even the fairies blame the humans, rather than the dwarves who are actively killing them) is a sore spot for many players.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: The way that Vamp's death scene is set up, with Naomi cradling him in tears as he slowly passes away from his various wounds after having his immortality-inducing nanomachines suppressed, is also clearly meant to make the players feel sympathetic for him and his tortured existence. The problem is that Vamp is never depicted as anything but a complete bloodthirsty monster; murdering dozens of innocent people and inflicting immeasurable suffering to the main cast of characters (including murdering Otacon's sister purely to spite him) for nothing but his own amusement, and is more or less completely unrepentant for his crimes. He had a horrible past, and the nanomachines arguably made it even worse, but he's still such an awful human being that it's nearly impossible to actually feel sympathetic towards him.
  • Mostly features in the Playable Epilogue (The Answer) of Persona3; while it can be attributed to SEES falling apart due to their leader's (the main character) death, a lot of them become abrasive or take on idiotic actions that contradict their behavior from the main story. Yukari in particular acts hostile the entire time, and when the opportunity to possibly revive the MC is presented to them, she immediately decides to take that chance, despite the risks involved. Mitsuru is even worse - she supports Yukari because she comforted her after her father's death, and she wants to support her. Mitsuru is the granddaughter of the man who spurred most of the game's events, and she spent most of the game trying to clean up after him and atone for it. In a way, her actions are the most nonsensical out of everyone. The rest of the cast either acts rather passive about the entire affair, or acts like a boneheaded jerk, like Akihiko. It's very much a relief for many people when Aigis makes sure that nothing is reversed in the end, and even Yukari apologizes for her erratic behavior.
  • The fighting game Persona 4 Arena Ultimax gives us Sho Minazuki, the main antagonist. It has been displayed that he has had a horrid upbringing, which was actually similar to the upbringing of the orphans who would become Strega in Persona 3, and it's mentioned that his adoptive father, Shuji Ikutusuki, tried to kill him at one point. He's reprimanded through and through as he deserves, and is ultimately left to his own devices in the end. Seems all well and good, except for the fact that Yu and Labrys, more or less the protagonists of their respective routes, continually forgive him and insist that because of his upbringing, and because Sho feels he cannot form bonds without fighting, Sho cannot be held at fault. Sure, he's under the thumb of the Malevolent Entity the entire time, but Sho's been shown to be psychotic, unforgiving, gleeful in harming others, and extremely immature.
    • From the same game is a far less extreme version, but Akihiko, at the end of Arena, seems to find value in protecting others and chooses to live out that desire by becoming a police officer. In Ultimax's ending, he plans to establish some connections with Officer Kurosawa for his job with the Shadow Operatives, despite the fact that he wants to leave that group someday. He regularly slacks off of college, desires to aimlessly train like he did at the start of Arena (which he dropped out of college t do), and is extremely rude towards Aigis, who's more or less been forced to babysit him for the classes that Mitsuru is paying for. Even with his connections, chances are high that he'd need said college education to become an officer (most police-related occupations in Japan do). If Mitsuru didn't value him so much, Akihiko would basically be an incredibly ungrateful moocher with no life goals.
  • Helena Harper from Resident Evil 6. She's been blackmailed by villains who kidnapped her sister and turned her into a monster while they were at it. Unfortunately, her actions trying to save her sister led to an entire college campus turning into zombies. Even if you do feel bad for her at first, watching Liz die from the infection and her lovable father fall apart into heart-breakingly narmy tears will make quick work of that pity. It also doesn't help that she whines about her sister for the entire game.
  • Within the Neptunia series, the games generally did a good job portraying the heroes as heroes and the villains as villains. The third game, Neptunia Victory, had a lot of problems with this matter.
    • The eponymous main character Neptune has become even lazier than she was in Mk2, spending YEARS without doing anything and being an ass to anyone who calls her out on her laziness. Even worse, she treats her beloved sister VERY badly, especially in the Good Ending (Spoiler: No, this ending isn't much of an ending at all...)
    • Of course, we have Base Breaker Plutia, with one side of the fandom loving her endearing laziness and her HDD mode as sadistic Iris Heart, and the other side thinking that her normal form is a lazy Anti-Sue and her HDD form an overpowered and bitchy Jerk Sue whose only reason for existing is to rape everybody.
    • This has the side effect of making the villains Unintentionally Sympathetic, as not only are THEY the ones going up against insurmountable odds (seven random people who aren't the most united working together against Physical Gods), their motivations of overthrowing the CPUs (who can be lazy, arrogant, sore losers and pretty illogical) can be pretty sound.
    • However, ONE villain has this problem. Rei, normally, is sympathetic. However, like Iris Heart, her HDD mode kills her character, making her an intolerable hypocrite unwilling to acknowledge her mistakes and actually DESERVING her ten thousand years of loneliness.
  • Metroid: Other M:
    • Adam Malkovich is supposed to be a stern but fair leader who genuinely cares about the protagonist Samus Aran and a competent commander. However, his actions on screen show him treating Samus with a mixture of condescending rudeness and cold indifference. Despite the fact that at this point she has a successful career as a bounty hunter and as a mercenary for the Federation who destroyed the entire base of the pirates, he still doesn't consider her as his equal and allows her to join his crew on the Bottle Station only if she strictly follows his orders. Which leads to the infamous Authorization System. Samus cannot use any of her equipment, even her defensive gear, until Adam says she can. At one point of the game, Adam asks you to go to a lava-filled area without the Varia Suit (a suit that protects you from deadly heat and convection). Eventually Adam does something heroic when he saves Samus from a Metroid...by shooting her in the back! For those reasons, many players were apathetic during his death scene and horrified by the implications of him coming back as a computer in Metroid: Fusion.
      • Something repeated about Adam, over and over, is that he's willing to sacrifice things that he cares about for the greater good. The game certainly shows a lot of him sacrificing things... not so much on the "cares about" front. There is never a point in the game where Adam exhibits any affection or care for those around him or under him (including his own family), nor is there a point where he grapples with the difficulty of sacrificing something important to him. Even in his "Heroic Sacrifice," he states that the only reason he is sacrificing himself and not Samus is that Samus is more able to finish the mission. Because of this, Adam comes off less like a man willing to make hard decisions and more like a sociopath who views everything as disposable assets.
    • Melissa Bergman/MB is regarded by Samus as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, who was unfairly used by the Galactic Federation as a means for a telepathic army. While there's some truth to this, the story treats her as though all her megalomania came from their treatment from her, and not from being a clone of Mother Brain, the archetypal power-hungry AI of the Metroid series. Samus then claims MB killing all the staff aboard the Bottle Ship as her vengeance, wanting to merely "punish the foolish and conceited", but that's an overly excusing reading of a someone who murdered hundreds for the actions of a few and then planned galactic genocide.
  • The Big Bad of Tales of Vesperia is supposed to be a Fallen Hero / Well-Intentioned Extremist wanting to create a utopia at any cost. In theory, it's a great idea that fits in with the game's overall Order Versus Chaos theme. The problem? He claims to be behind everything that we see in the story. This not only doesn't make much sense (considering that so many of the villains seem to be working against one another) but it also means that he is directly responsible for all of the corruption that he claims he is trying to stop. The fact that the full extent of his plan is not explained in the main story (instead being relegated to many sidequests with obnoxious requirements) and the fact that his English voice, of all people, is DC Douglas - a man who excels at playing Obviously Evil Large Hams, and who plays Alexei's Laughing Mad moment as a straight-up Evil Laugh - means that he comes across more as a cheesetastic over-the-top pantomime villain when he should be a tragic Anti-Villain. While this is not necessarily bad per se (since Alexei's Laughably Evil antics have become rather memetic within the series' fandom), it's clear that the character really didn't come across as the writers intended him to.
  • League of Legends: The developers have stated that all of the factions are mostly neutral, including Demacia and Noxus. However, with how Noxus is portrayed as being filled with various SocialDarwinists and sadists who are very brutal and sinister in doing their jobs, not to mention often taking the 'bad guy' role during cinematics... Well, we have a reason Noxus is often considered the Always Chaotic Evil faction.
  • There is a version of this trope that led to a bit of a Broken Base in BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma. Litchi Faye-Ling has taken swing into Anti-Villain against her will and her arcade shows that she has a big remorse in fighting her friends and is not pleased with her superiors. All in all, it led to her being 'sympathetic'. However, in story mode, after having her attempts to be 'good' again was undone via time reset, she's later shown to still continue aiding Relius to 'recreate the world' under the goal of 'creating a world where Lotte Carmine exists', to dissuade her grief of losing him now that he couldn't be saved. At that point, the base broke: some still considers her sympathetic and tragic like what was intended in the Arcade Mode because amongst other things, she's pushed beyond her limits and sees no other 'option' to save Lotte, and she still shows dislike and remorse to what she must do, proven with how she tried to stop Carl from joining her, others follow this trope and lost any sympathy for her, thought she crossed the Moral Event Horizon because... is saving one person and alleviating your own grief and guilt when no one else could worth aiding an equivalent to a genocide that involves herself and other characters that cared about her?
  • Fire Emblem
    • Michalis of Fire Emblem Akaneia is supposed to be a Tragic Villain, with the wise sage Gotoh expressing pity for the burden that his crimes have put on his soul. Trouble is, those crimes are killing his father so that he can seize the throne and ally Medon with the Big Bad after too long chatting with Gharnef. Then he dupes his little sister Maria and makes her a hostage in Doluna, with orders that she be killed if his other sister Minerva tries to pull a Heel-Face Turn. While it's understandable that Maria (who's a healer) would save her brother, it's hard for players to find his story all that sympathetic or his redemption arc in the sequel very satisfying.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has a villain example, Carlyle. The head of the Jehannan military, he nursed a Bodyguard Crush on his country's beautiful Queen Ismaire, but eventually sells his country out to the Grado Empire when it becomes apparent she'll never reciprocate. He seems to be intended as a Tragic Villain driven to evil by unrequited love, but in practice comes off more as an Entitled Bastard who uses I'm a Man, I Can't Help It as a justification for treason.
    • To a lesser extent, there's Dragon King Deghinsea in the tenth game. To avoid a prophecy that states The End of the World as We Know It would come if all of Tellius went to war, he ordered his nation of Goldoa into a state of total isolationism, with Goldoans being forbidden from providing military aid to, conducting diplomacy with, or even trading with any other country, just so, in the event of a war, there would be one country that technically isn't involved. He does turn out to be sort of right, but he could've been less of a knob about it.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni has Ushiromiya George, the eldest of the cousins. We're shown that he deeply loves and cares about his fiancée Shanon, and how despite being an servant/master relationship he's willing to go against his mother's will to marry her. He's crushed and traumatized each time Shanon is murdered, mourning their lost future and dreams together. However, in the flashbacks and even during the family conference we're shown that George is very manipulative of Shanon, taking delight in being able to make her feel however he pleases, bossing her around and going on and on in detail about the future he has planned for both of them while showing very little concern with Shanon's opinions or what actually Shanon could want. He's conscious of his manipulative tendencies, but sees nothing wrong with them.
    • Later, we're also shown that he harbors a resentment towards Battler and Jessica for being outgoing and popular, while he was rather shy and reserved, to the point of being considered boring by other people, and that traces of this can still be shown when he looks down on Battler and Jessica for not getting good grades as him or acting childish to play with Maria. In the flashbacks he even looks delighted when Battler leaves the family, rubbing into Shanon's face how her childhood crush will never, ever come back. Given that most of his issues are rooted in Eva's overly controlling behavior towards him, going as far as to plan an arranged marriage for him and switching between guilt trips and praise to make him to do whatever she wants, you'd understand why he behaves like that, but for some fans that still doesn't quite balance the scales.
  • Clover from Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. In the true route, Junpei is able to help her get over the emotions of brother's death, gets an emotional reunion scene when it turns out her brother isn't actually dead and goes on in that route to remain as the bubbly character she started out out. However, in one of the other endings where Junpei isn't able to help her, she snaps and goes crazy with an ax, killing everyone. Players who got this ending before the true ending find it impossible to think of Clover as anything but an ax-wielding psychopath.
    • The developers themselves seemed to be aware of this problem. In the game's sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, during Luna's path during which it's revealed that clover confronted Luna over Alice's death, threatening her with an injection gun, the game throws in a few lines explaining that Clover didn't seem like she actually wanted to kill Luna, and that the gun fired by mistake during a struggle.
  • Valkyria Chronicles players sometimes end up taking a dim view of Alicia because of her melodramatic whining about her superpowers. Her life doesn't change at all after she becomes a Valkyria, the only difference is that she has the option of killing enemy soldiers with a lance instead of a rifle (and she's deadlier with the rifle), and that since she's an orphan, she now has some idea of who her birth mother must have been. She ignores all of this and instead goes on to have a screaming temper-tantrum that very nearly burns her entire squad alive because she just wants to be normal... even though her powers are completely under her control and she can use them, or not use them, at her discretion, and she doesn't realize it until her boyfriend tells her it's all gonna be okay. Which is exactly what she does, she just never uses her powers again.

    Web Animation 
  • In the RWBY episode Black And White, the team criticize Weiss for not caring about Blake's whereabouts. However, given that Blake had recently revealed that she used to be an terrorist, it's hard not to sympathise with Weiss.

    Web Comics 
  • Hazel from Girls with Slingshots: The author, Danielle Corsetto, has said that she deliberately writes her as a flawed character to make her more believable and relatable. However many times this crosses into Hazel being downright unlikable.
  • A large chunk of the cast of Dominic Deegan come off as this, which is one of the main reasons for the series' rather large hatedom. Luna, Melna and Dominic himself are probably the biggest offenders, though Melna at least has a Freudian Excuse to explain her behaviour even if it doesn't justify it for many fans.
  • Therkla, of Order Of The Stick fame. She's only in the comic briefly, but she's more or less every negative stereotype of modern teenage girls in human form: she compromises her mission because she has a crush on a boy, she's overly dramatic about her home life (treating the fact that her parents are sickeningly in love on the same level of harsh and disgusting as being a Child by Rape), her primary complaint about the lack of reconciliation between her crush and her mentor (who are on opposite sides of a good-vs-evil conflict) is that it means she never gets her way, and she ends up committing a variation on suicide because a boy wouldn't dump his girlfriend for her. It's sad that she died young, but she spent most of her time acting like a brat with levels in Ninja.

    Western Animation 
  • Sonic in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog can come across as this, with the villains being The Chew Toys of the series, and Sonic, like any traditional slapstick hero, taking perverse pleasure exacerbating it for them.
  • Stan Smith in the later seasons of American Dad! comes across as this for how he treats his family (especially Hayley and Steve) as well as causing his own problems only to learn a lesson that he will immediately forget by the following episode. "The Scarlett Getter" and "Old Stan in the Mountain" to name a few are prime examples of this trope in action.
    • Roger also counts for the same reason as Stan (learning a lesson that will never resonate by the next episode) as well as his derailment/Flanderization into being a complete psychopath who very rarely suffers any consequences for his actions nowadays.
    • The rest of the Smith family also step into this, usually serving as foils to Stan or Roger's behaviour, despite having equally self serving and callous moments that (unlike even the former two) don't get called out. Hayley in particular is essentially a leftist version of Stan, with all the same self righteousness and callous hypocrisy, but whenever the two argue, Stan is almost always given An Aesop about mistreating her.
  • Arthur: D.W. in the infamous "Arthur's Big Hit". The audience is supposed to feel sorry for her because Arthur hit her, but the problem is, she loses any sympathy she may have received by a) repeatedly bothering Arthur when he is trying to build his model plane (even ruining the paint job after she had been told not to touch anything), b) throwing the model out of the window, even though she had absolutely no right whatsoever to touch it, and c) blaming Arthur for building a plane that can't fly, instead of apologizing for her actions. To make matters worse, the parents punish only Arthur, instead of doing the sensible thing and punish both of them, and thus make D.W. a Karma Houdini.
  • One of the bigger complaints about Chicken Little is that the dad, Buck, is supposed to be a guy who just wants to connect with his son, but the movie repeatedly shows him to be an awful, awful father. He neglects his son repeatedly when his son is ostracized by the community. He only gets interested when his son wins a baseball game and brings him some fame among the other parents, but when his son needs him, he turns his back again, and even joins the town in excluding him and laughing at him. It takes the literal apocalypse to get him to try to actually reconcile.
  • Danny Phantom: In "Double Cross My Heart," a guy named Gregor shows interest in Sam Manson, while the hero Danny is suspicious of him. Sam calls him out for being suspicious and spying on them and yells at him, but this completely neglects that a) she did the same thing in the previous episode and received no criticism for it, b) this had happened before to someone else (Danny's sister) and her life was at stake, and c) Danny ended up being right for the wrong reasons (Gregor wasn't a bad guy, just an egotistical brat).
    • Unlike when Sam spied on Danny, Danny actually had a legitimate reason to spy on them: they knew nothing about Gregor so he may as well be a spy, he just didn't know he was jealous at the time. Sam spied on him solely out of jealousy.
  • Daria could slide into this trope when she was being especially bitchy and misanthropic. Thankfully she's confronted about this in-universe most of the time, so this is a very mild example.
  • The Land of Dreams in The Dreamstone on occasion. We are meant to side with the heroes because Zordrak and the Urpneys keep trying to give them nightmares. Except that the Urpneys are Zordrak's Slave Mooks who get tortured or executed if they don't follow orders. The heroes resultantly look Wangsty and petty, especially in cases their retribution gets particularly excessive. That they could rarely back it up whenever the villains really were dangerous didn't help. Later episodes at least fixed their characterisations and gave them proper mortal stakes, though they still had Frizz and Nug as their main provocateurs.
  • Brian Griffin from Family Guy.
    • Ironically, when Glenn Quagmire called him out on everything in one episode, he became unintentionally unsympathetic to half the fanbase (the other half seeing it as a neat Take That, Scrappy!), as many found it hypocritical for Quagmire to be saying these things to Brian and felt he had no right to. That his hatred for Brian got flanderized since then, with Brian coming out more sympathetic in their encounters, hasn't helped.
      • Badly beating Brian for unknowingly sleeping with Quagmire's post sex change father and you know, being a huge sex-maniac, implied pedophile and more, TRYING to take the moral high ground doesn't help his case.
      • This reached its height in "Tiegs For Two", after a feud over dating, the two take part in a heated Escalating War where they are both portrayed as equally vindictive and petty towards the other.
  • Oberon from Gargoyles may never been intented to be a sympathic character to begin with, but he come across as such a conceited, impulsive dick that he becomes much more hated character than he was intented to be. (to the point that Greg Weisman had to defend and explain Oberon actions in The Gathering
  • The Looney Tunes series of animated cartoons could sometimes fall victim to this (not that it made them any less funny, of course!):
    • "Canned Feud": Are we actually supposed to root for the mouse that pointlessly torments Sylvester left and right (with the intent of starving him to death no less)? Mind you, Sylvester had no intention of hurting him.
      • The character, referred to as Brownie Mouse by some sources, appeared in several other Sylvester shorts, most of them only nominally better than the above. Brownie was essentially Jerry with the negative aspects punctuated, being a smug little vermin who had nothing against taking his offense above and beyond self defense or even, as in "Canned Feud", just skipping the "he started it" mentality altogether. He even got away with tormenting Bugs Bunny in "Rhapsody Rabbit".
    • Also "Gonzales Tomales" where, angered by Speedy stealing their girls, the male mice trick Sylvester into thinking he's called him out for a fight. Sylvester dares him to just try it, upon which he gladly beats him to a pulp. Sylvester, the supposed villain of the story, was the only sympathetic character of the bunch (among Speedy's home wrecker tendencies and the rest of the mouse population resorting to murderous measures of revenge), yet still ended up the sole loser.
      • "Mexican Cat Dance": Speedy, despite being the supposed "good guy" in this cartoon, is little more than a bully, constantly tormenting and humiliating Sylvester for no reason other than sheer entertainment.
    • "Long-Haired Hare": While nobody would argue that Giovanni Jones is anything more than a violent hot-head and pompous Jerkass, the rather extreme measures Bugs Bunny takes to exact revenge on him (the ending borders on murder!) make it very hard to root for him.
      • In fact, this trope is what led to the creation of Yosemite Sam. Elmer Fudd was so pathetic that Bugs came off as more mean spirited, so the animators needed an even bigger and more belligerent Jerkass to be Bugs' victim.
      • Early Bugs Bunny shorts are even worse, where Bugs is a Screwy Squirrel tormenting others, who aren't trying to even hurt him, seemingly for his own amusement. "Wabbit Twouble" and "Elmer's Pet Rabbit" are pretty bad in this regard. Directors made restraints on the character afterwards, making clear he couldn't attack with being victimized first (though to what degree varied).
  • Babs Seed from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic had a Freudian Excuse for bullying the Cutie Mark Crusaders which should have made you feel sorry for her... except her characterization bordered the realms of The Sociopath, who gleefully tormented the CMC far beyond what Diamond Tiara's peer pressure demanded. Thankfully Apple Family Reunion and the comicbooks series have painted her in a far more positive light and gained her quite a bit of popularity.
  • Benson from Regular Show is supposed to be sympathetic because he always has to deal with Mordecai and Rigby's antics, but he doesn't really handle the situations professionally. He berates them to their faces by often calling them idiots, puts them under harsh working conditions with little instruction, and can be an Ungrateful Bastard when the two save his life on multiple occasions, and yet still threatens to fire them. The last one was eventually lampshaded in A Bunch of Full Grown Geese when the mother duck calls him out for his ungratefulness.
  • Sonic's incarnation in Sonic Sat Am, while much more sympathetic against Robotnik, often teases or undermines his friends (even Antoine sometimes fails to be provocative enough), man handles (and has supposedly damaged) Sally's sentient computer NICOLE out of irritance, and frequently almost gets the rest of the team killed in an arrogant stunt. Add to that his inability to stop talking about how awesome he is for all of a minute, Sonic's characterization leans towards a Jerk Jock.
  • South Park parodies this numerous times. For instance, when Eric Cartman contracts HIV he constantly reminds people of it for sympathy, and any time something bad happens to Cartman, he attempts to milk sympathy and fails.
    Cartman: I'm not just sure: I'm HIV positive.
  • The second half of Tom and Jerry sometimes gets flak for this. While he is often the defending character being chased or victimized by Tom, this is often due to taking the role of thief, with Tom merely acting as a house cat ordered to prevent Jerry from stealing food. In addition Jerry could occasionally be sadistic, attacking Tom with minimal or no provocation whatsoever. Allegedly, MGM recieved fan letters siding with Tom over Jerry so began to moderate the formula with Laser-Guided Karma, with Tom usually acting more vindictive, and actually allowed to get the last laugh on Jerry whenever the latter took his offense to an unsympathetic level.
  • Total Drama:
    • Cody in World Tour. We are supposed to feel sorry for him because of the fact that Sierra is obsessing over him and barging in on his personal space and sympathize with him whenever he pushes her away. However, this instead makes him look like a complete hypocrite because of how by this point in the series he became a Gwensexual and was basically treating her the same way he was being treated by Sierra. There's also the fact that his spot in the semi-finals felt undeserved since he did nothing worthy all season and was essentially carried (both figuratively and literally) to that point by Sierra. Without her, he would have been eliminated as early (if not sooner) as he was in Island.
    • Revenge of the Island and All-Stars have moments where the audience is supposed to feel sorry for Chris (such as when he was stuck in a septic tank, or when Duncan blew up his cottage) but these happen after most of the fanbase agreed he'd passed the Moral Event Horizon.
    • Courtney has had a lot of crap thrown at her, but several of her actions such as bullying Beth and Lindsay, suing her way into the contest, and cheating someone else out of it, her treatment of Gwen and Duncan even before the cheating scandal, plan to backstab Scott and Gwen, her extremely aggravating and controversial "me, me, me" attitude and of course, her threatening to send Owen, DJ, Cody, and Tyler to their deaths for the sake of a million dollars have caused her to become more and more hated over the years.
    • Mike. We're supposed to feel for him because his MPD making it for him to get the girl he actually wants. However, because of the portrayal of said MPD is viewed as insulting to people with real with problems. Not to mention the fact he never tells anyone about his MPD and most find out on their own. This hurt Zoey & would have hurt Anne Maria as well, not that we see.
      • Mike also makes Zoey this.
    • Dave, in a manner very similar to Cody, does little to nothing to help his team out and instead spends most of his time creeping on Sky or whining about getting dirty. When Sky rejects him in "Hurl and Go Seek!" it's supposed to be a sad moment, but most viewers felt the rejection was justified and that Dave was being Wangsty. And when he votes himself off, it's solely because he was rejected by Sky, and we're still supposed to sympathize with him the whole time. However, it may not have been as unintentional as expected, considering his actions in the finale.
    • Shawn could be viewed as this due to his entire character revolving around a rather annoying gimmick, as well as being partially at fault for ruining his relationship with Jasmine, and being extremely reluctant to split the million dollars with her. Though some do feel for him since his dream for a zombie bunker is kind of his life goal, and he did end up seeing the light eventually by voluntarily agreeing to split the money with her, due to being weighed down by his own guilt.
    • Sky also falls into this boat due to how harshly she treats Dave late in the season. Granted she never wanted a relationship to begin with, but many thought her actions that resulted in shattering Dave were really uncalled for.
  • The "Breakdown" episode that deals with Cyclops's origins on Wolverine and the X-Men. Though meant to gain the viewer's sympathy by showing what a tragic and awkward life he's suffered all the episode really does is kill what little credibility Cyclops was meant to have by portraying him first as an incompetent idiot who couldn't do anything right without Jean Grey there to hold his hand and then portraying him as a petty, insecure boyfriend who completely lost control of himself when Wolverine started hitting on Jean. True, Wolverine was being a jerk but Cyclops's reaction was way out of line.
    • And yet, in classic Double Standard fashion, it's perfectly okay for Jean to rough up Emma Frost when she sees the blonde getting too friendly with Cyclops.
    • Speaking of Wolverine, his Canon Sue tendencies actually make him less sympathetic during the series, while most of the X-Men fail to generate sympathy with the viewers due to not getting enough characterization to really warrant any.
  • In X-Men: Evolution, Lance's romantic subplot with Kitty starts with him saving her life — from an accident that he caused. He had also previously attempted to attack Kitty, and due to the nature of his powers, he tends to cause a lot of collateral damage (sometimes near schools populated by children who are never confirmed to have gotten out alive). To some people, all this makes it kind of hard to believe that Kitty would want him for a boyfriend. This also puts him in the somewhat unusual situation of being a common victim of both Ron the Death Eater AND Draco in Leather Pants.
    • A weird inversion actually happens because of this. The time Avalanche did attempt a Heel-Face Turn, Scott doesn't buy it and proceeds to mistrust him. This is made out to be wrong of Scott, except, he is completely justified in mistrusting him: Lance was actually his biggest rival and had pulled crap on him and others before. While we (as the audience) knew that Lance was trying to do good things for Kitty's sake, Scott simply lacked such knowledge since Lance had given him reason to be antagonistic, and thus it's understandable to have him not trust Lance off the bat, and it would've been Out of Character otherwise.
      • The fact that Lance doesn't try very hard to convince Scott otherwise doesn't help him either. And the fact that Lance rejects Scott's heartfelt apology (after Scott found out that he had been wrong about Lance) and goes back to the Brotherhood really doesn't help.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Frank Grimes from "Homer's Enemy". To explain, one of the main premises of this episode was the concept of a real person having to put up with Homer Simpson. But Frank is far from a "real" person in that his life is just exaggerated misery after misery, such as his parents abandoning him and waving goodbye all the way to losing a sweet position in the power plant to a dog. And Homer's annoying tendencies and stupidity were amped up a lot more than he usually was as if the writers were specifically trying to make Homer so obnoxious the viewers would have no choice but to sympathize with Frank. But it's hard to feel sympathy when Frank is overly wound up already. To make matters worse, Frank came off as something of a pompous, uptight jerk long before he ever met Homer, making him rather unlikable to begin with. The episode falls more into Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy.
      • Adding to the problem is that Homer actually invites Frank into his house and makes an attempt at being friendly, and Frank outright rejects this out of rage over seeing how much better Homer's living conditions are than his. Add to that only Mr Burns' treatment of Frank is all that callous (dooming him into a dead end job after losing interesting in him and blaming him for mistakes Homer makes), the other residents of Springfield are generally friendly to him, just his contempt for Homer goes over their heads. The coldest thing they do to him (laugh at Homer's antics during his funeral) is after he's been put out of his misery.
    • Seymour Skinner is a broken-down Extreme Doormat Momma's Boy, but any sympathy felt for him can wear thin when he's repeatedly offered a chance to change his circumstances and shoots it down. The biggest offender being his relationship with Edna Krabappel, whom he once loved enough to stage a lockdown of the school to fight for their rights to be together; by the end he barely cared about her or their relationship, and only tried to win her back after she dumped him because he couldn't deal with her moving on.
    • Lisa Simpson, despite having valid reasons to feel like an outcast and complain about her family, can fall into this when she takes it too far. Even more so when her efforts to make the world and her town a better place fall into Well-Intentioned Extremist and it takes her the whole episode to realize she's gone overboard and apologize. Granted she's still a kid and even smart kids don't know their limits, but still.
  • Young Justice fell into this trap a few times without even realizing it. Neither Superboy nor his designated mentor Superman come off being particularly sympathetic, albeit for different reasons. We're obviously meant to sympathize with Superboy because Superman refuses to spend any time with him because he's creeped out by the fact that someone cloned him without him knowing it, but Superboy is such a rage prone whiner that after awhile it's hard to feel bad for him. Superman, meanwhile, is portrayed as a shallow, superficial Dirty Coward and Jerkass for refusing to overcome his personal issues to help the obviously troubled Superboy... and the show does absolutely NOTHING to actually develop a relationship between them outside of a cheap "good job kid" moment at the end of season one and then doing a time skip to avoid doing any actual character development, making their "brotherly" interactions in season 2 look inherently false.
    • Then there's Roy Harper, AKA: Speedy, AKA: Red Arrow, We're obviously meant to feel bad for the first Roy we're introduced to when he learns that he's actually a clone who was used as an infiltrator against the heroes, but he spends so much of the show being a nasty, belligerent little asshole mistreating everyone around him that it's impossible to feel bad for him.
    • Wally West, AKA: Kid Flash, was often a spazzy, unfunny little jerk, and his character development was... erratic to put it nicely. Most of the sympathy over his death in the series finale probably stems less from what few merits he had in the show and more from the fact that he was a long standing DC character and was actually the primary Flash for 20 some years, an honor he was strangely denied.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Hank, particularly in the later seasons. The audience is supposed to sympathize with how he feels about anything new, untraditional, or otherwise out of his comfort zone. But it's difficult to take that in when most of the people who are "against" him are straw stereotypes, the show goes to ridiculous lengths to make him the Only Sane Man by Flanderizing most of the recurring cast, and how he starts narrowing down what he finds an "acceptable" lifestyle to his son Bobby until he will nearly-only accept it if Bobby becomes just like him. The fact that the show ends not by Hank finally accepting Bobby for who he is (again) but instead with Bobby turning out to have a talent related to Hank's interests does not help matters at all.
    • Bill. He has been through a bad divorce and is the show's regular Butt Monkey, except that his emotional attatchment can sometimes border on creepy levels. Especially how he's implied to be stalking Peggy on more than one occasion. This reaches its peak when he's put in charge of a flood shelter: He goes mad with power, puts the blame on Hank (who, by contrast, has been acting as a reasonable and responsible shelter leader the entire time) before locking him up, allows the people inside to waste supplies, and was even implied to keep everyone in after the flood ended. On top of that, he pulls a Karma Houdini and he's seen as a hero by almost everyone involved. The one time where it seems like his leading methods are going to backfire on him, where everyone complains that they ran out of cinnamon sticky buns, he simply blames Hank for eating them all and everything's fine again. The reason why he's supposed to be sympathetic is because he got to be a respected leader once in his life, but his selfishness and carelessness throughout the episode makes it hard to feel sorry for him.
    • Bill's affair with Reverend Stroup ends with much the same result. Even though she genuinely cared for Bill enough to step down from Arlen Methodist just to be with him and it seemed as if he'd finally found love, Bill dumps her because without the Forbidden Fruit aspect of the relationship, he found it boring. It's hard to feel sorry for him constantly whining about how lonely he is from there on when he had a shot at happiness with a good woman, and he threw it away for an incredibly selfish and stupid reason.
    • Even Dale occasionally qualifies. He's an acknowledged Cloud Cuckoolander, but the show treats his relationship with Nancy and Joseph as his saving grace. He undoubtedly loves them, but considering a) the sheer amount of crap he subjects Nancy to, b) that his "raising" Joseph involves either spoiling him rotten or setting a terrible example ("Vision Quest" comes to mind), his intended Pet the Dog moments often fall flat. When John Redcorn (Joseph's biological father) basically tells Nancy that he can't trust Dale to raise Joseph, it's hard to argue.
  • The Legend of Korra
    • The title character was seen by some fans as more of a Jerk Jock than the well meaning but naive Cute Bruiser the show's writers intended, due to her boisterous and sometimes belligerent nature.
    • While not disliked enough to be The Scrappy, a number of fans never warmed up to Suyin Beifong, the long last half-sister of Lin Beifong introduced in season 3. Due to her rather unapologetic attitude about her criminal past, which included disfiguring Lin and getting away with it, a number of fans saw Suyin as a smug Karma Houdini instead of the cool, complex older lady that the show's writers obviously wanted them to see her as being, and for some her less than sincere apology to Lin at the end of Old Wounds came off as unintentionally funny.
      • This has only gotten worse in Season 4, where it's rather sharply debated if Suyin's decision not to get involved with reuniting the Earth Kingdom was a principled attempt to not force her ideals on others or selfishly abandoning everyone outside her city to the mercy of bandits and warlords and refusing to lift a finger to help the barely-trained Airbenders doing their best to assist the situation. The season's Big Bad Kuvira can have her ascendency at least partially blamed on Suyin's Bystander Syndrome, although her exact culpability is a very divisive point among fans.
    • Mako remains one of the most divisive characters in the series because of this. He spends the first season in a Love Triangle between himself, Korra, and Asami, and while things often don't work out for him, fans often wonder if his rather stupid behavior toward one or the other is the reason for it. His problems being seen as his own fault and the way the Love Triangle was poorly received in general made him this. This is eventually lampshaded in Season 4.
    Mako: Well, me and Asami were never officially back together.
    Tu: Really? That again? Ya' know, it seems like you're so afraid to disappoint anyone, that you end up disappointing everyone.
    • And then there's Bataar Jr. He was more than happy to help Kuvira take over the Earth kingdom and was more than happy to disown his family to get what he wanted, but we're supposed to feel bad for him after he defects from Kuvira and goes back to his family, whining to mommy Suyin about his brothers not liking him anymore for his crimes against them and the Earth Kingdom. Suyin forgives him despite the fact that he's equally guilty of terrible crimes and only defected from Kuvira when he realized that ultimately things were not going to end in his favor. At best he was a jerk and at worst he's shown to be a Dirty Coward, and Suyin being so quick to forgive him while being a petty bully towards a spiritually broken and genuinely regretful Kuvira reflects badly on her as well.
    • Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that grumpy old granny Toph Bei Fong also has some of this going for her. We're supposed to feel bad for her when she and Lin are finally together again for the first time in thirty years and things don't exactly go smoothly. Although Toph does admit she was a bad mother and says she's proud of Lin, it does not change the fact that Toph still acts like a nasty, arrogant old woman who is generally disrespectful towards people because she thinks it's funny. And it is still her fault that the estrangement happened in the first place due to her insensitive hypocrisy.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Kevin was this in This Won't Hurt an Ed. The viewer is supposed to feel sorry for him because Eddy kept exploiting his fear of needles. However, when you consider all the shit Kevin did to Eddy in previous episodes, such as the infamous Your Ed Here, it seemed like a well-deserved Kick the Son of a Bitch moment on Eddy's part.
  • Dee Dee from Dexter's Laboratory whenever Dexter either destroys something of hers or yells at her to get out of his lab for example in Down in The Dumps. The total disregard she shows for Dexter’s things and even Dexter at times makes Dexter's action unintentionally cathartic to the viewers, especially since a lot of those instances were well-deserved retaliations for something she did.
  • Patrick Star from Spongebob Squarepants is meant to be an adorkable ditz who acts as one of Spongebob's best friend but his Jerkass acts to Sponebob and the other citizens and his selfishness makes fans wonder why are they best friends. "Stuck in the Wringer" is the best example of this case, with Spongebob lashing out at him is supposed to be some kind of horrible, Moral Event Horizon with the citizens rooting for Patrick, but considering Patrick was the cause of everything bad that happened in that episode many people would rather side with Sponge.
  • Ben's ego and immaturity in Ben 10 had already started to get on the fans' nerves in season 3 of Alien Force and Ultimate Alien, but this was still somewhat balanced by him acting intelligent and selfless on occasions. But when Ben 10: Omniverse kicks in and has been flanderized to the point he takes next to nothing seriously, acts incredibly stupid and seems to care more about having fun than actually helping people, many consider he has become downright unlikable to the point that fans prefer to root for whoever enemy is fighting Ben, even Vilgax himself.

Alternative Title(s):

Fat Monica