0 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Unintentionally Unsympathetic
aka: Fat Monica

"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.
    • British versions of the ads starred Mitchell And Webb as PC and Mac respectively, in a way that was reminiscent of their Peep Show characters, Mark and Jeremy. In other words, PC is a basically likeable and honest, if rather geeky, guy, while Mac is a selfish, irresponsible layabout.
  • 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.
  • Poorly done Political Ads that make the candidate it is made to support become like this is definitely one thing anyone running a campaign wants to avoid. Some that are intended to portray the candidate they are supporting as being principled and qualified for office or attacking opponents as holding values inconsistent with constituents' own values and/or unfit to serve can instead come off as making the candidate appear as an ideological extremist who puts priority on achieving his or her own group's agenda above the concerns of the general public as a whole and/or being out of touch with the concerns of mainstream voters. A case in point that demonstrates this: The United States Senate election in Indiana, 2012. The Republican candidate, Richard Mourdock, weeks before election day during a debate proclaimed that "I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen". This response explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape was intended to extol his belief in the sanctity of life (including in this case those of the unborn/yet to be born potential Human beings/or whatever term one prefers to use). Instead, his attempt to defend these comments in statements and campaign ads combined with his repeated refusal to apologize instead came off as offensive to the general public, being regarded especially insensitive by women and victims of rape, and cost him the election, by a margin of 44% to Democratic nominee Joe Donnelly's 50%, even as the Republican presidential ticket won in Indiana 54% to 44%.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Fairy Tail has Karen Lilica. A cruel Celestial Wizard who abused the spirits that served her until Loke, who is Leo the Lion, stood up to her and told her he wouldn't leave until she broke her contract with him and another spirit she abused. She refused for months and he stood his ground. She died off-screen applying for a mission and not only did he mourn her, he got banished from his home for her death. Though it plays her death as a tragedy, the audience only felt sorry for Loke.
  • 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.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • The main character 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.
    • Kyon also gets this, as well. After acting without thinking and nearly hitting Haruhi, which is not something one would expect a logical mind like his to do, he blows off his angry outburst in the days that follow and refuses to even accept a single iota of responsibility for his actions, even when Koizumi outright tells him to go apologize, and even when Haruhi has one of her biggest Pet the Dog moments in the entire series.
  • 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 this. 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 whose life he made 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 him fans. Also, Hashirama wanted HIM, not his brother, to succeed him as Hokage as a show of how much he trusted and believed in his rival, making Madara look like an ungrateful Jerkass due to his betrayal, preferring to destroy the Leaf Village out of spite instead of believing in his friend's faith in him.
    • 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. It's also implied that he was involved with Orochimaru's Sand/Sound invasion, if only so far as to just sit back and let him get rid of Sarutobi instead of actively trying to stop him, that he helped Orochimaru with his experiments in the past before the Third Hokage wised up to what his student was doing and got off scot free, including the experiment that created Yamato, was outright STATED that he ripped out Uchiha Shisui's right eye to get at his super powered Sharingan, which could all but control your thoughts without you noticing he was GUIDING your thoughts and without any eye contact, right at the moment when Shisui, a Leaf Loyalist, was planning to use his powers to pacify his family and stop the coup before it even had a chance to even start, which in turn leads to the possibility that the decision to kill off the Uchiha might have been manipulated by Danzo using Shisui's eye powers to control their decisions in the first place, and when Danzo's own Belated Backstory was shown, it made it seem that his efforts were guided more by jealousy and an inferiority complex towards Sarutobi and a desire to prove himself better rather than his stated desire of wanting to keep the village safe. Had the story not tried selling us the character as a Well-Intentioned Extremist and instead acknowledged him as an Obliviously Evil Control Freak Knight Templar, he might not be such a divisive character.
    • 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.
    • The way Utakata's master Harusame tries to extract the Tailed Beast from his disciple in an anime-only Filler is supposed to be seen as good intentions to the point that upon realizing this, Utakata eventually rebuilt the pedestal with him after accidentally killing him. The problem is, extracting the Bijuu from a Jinchuuriki will also directly kill the host, and with no indication of Utakata having trouble with his Bijuu, nor even knowing why his master does it in the first place against his will, it comes off as Harusame crossing the Moral Event Horizon with Utakata having every right to defy his master and killing him sounds more like a Kick the Son of a Bitch than what is supposed to be.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari is insecure, weak-willed, a Shrinking Violet, and mentally unstable owing to some pretty bad Parental Abandonment issues. 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 man up.
    • In a similar manner, Asuka Langley Sohryu. Her traumatic backstory was obviously meant to elicit a sympathetic response from the audience (and for some, it was successful), but by 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.
    • At the same time, Sayaka. Her pining over him after all she's done is tragic, but her losing him to Hitomi comes off as somewhat stupid and self-inflicted: She took her time and delayed even talking to Kyousuke about her crush. Hitomi, who also had a crush on him, offered Sayaka an ultimatum: tell Kyousuke about her feelings within a certain amount of times, or Hitomi will confess her feelings. This is presented as heartless on Hitomi's part, forcing Sayaka to do something she wasn't ready to do. But it's suggested Sayaka would not have the courage to confess her feelings, leaving both girls unhappy and alone. Hitomi also gave Sayaka a chance to confess first, risking her chance at Kyousuke so her friend could be happy.
  • Shaman King has Hao Asakura (the manga version), who is supposed to be a Tragic Villain, and the audience is supposed to see his eventual ascension to Shaman King as a good thing. Unfortunately, the cold hard truth is that most of the cast have pretty tragic backstories too, to one degree or another, and none of them grew up to be genocidal monsters out to exterminate "baseline" humanity! Many readers instead regard him as a Karma Houdini of the highest order, and one who hasn't necessarily abandoned his plans for worldwide mass death and destruction so much as delayed them.
    • What doesn't help matters is that Hao's goals come as petty, arrogant, and hypocritical. He goes on big rants about how Humans Are the Real Monsters with them always fighting, killing each other or things that are different than them, and destroying the harmony of nature. The final nail in the coffin is that Hao is all of those things, and he's killed far more people than he cares to count (the body count is at least in the thousands). Many of his actions killed other humans or shamans alike; one of which that caused Lyserg's start of darkness. Compared to Hao who only lost a total of three people in his past lives: his mother, his first friend Ohachiyo (by his own fault due to revenge), and Matamune (who abandoned him when Hao went off the deep end). No wonder he comes off unlikable by a lot of readers. At least the anime adaption pointed out, in-and-out of universe, how wrong his philosophy and views were, and how they are most definitely not something you should sympathize with. Plus he avoids being a Karma Houdini in the anime. The manga tries to do this, but fails spectacularly and seems to almost agree with Hao.
  • 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, just because he lost to a children's card game that he attempted to cheat in. Not to say it completely backfire: he still garnered the most diehard fanbase of the franchise who often sympathized with him the most, yet also admired his sheer audacity.
  • The Commons of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. They're the unwealthy majority of the city and are regullarly abused and oppressed by the Tops, with some even being forced into slavery during the Friendship Cup. Th dimension revolves around gladiatorial combat where only the strong move forward, and the weak are mistreated. The problem is, the Commons are just as blood-thirst as the Tops. Yuya sees such a competitive outlook abhorrent and aims to change that, but neither the Tops or Commons care what he has to say unless he wins duels and provides blood entertainment. Yuya's may be fighting back a long-standing history of another world's different values, but the people he's trying to help still ignore his message and act like jerks.
    • Shun Kurosaki, the brooding Sole Survivor of the Xyz Dimension, who lost everyone he cared about shortly after his sister was kidnapped. His major motivation is rescuing his sister from the bad guys. Characters like Yuzu will point out his tragic past to justify his behavior as a cold loner. The problem is that he knowingly trapped innocent people in cards so he could lure out Reiji, kidnap him and use him as leverage against his Big Bad father. He's a cold jerk to everyone he meets and is quick to using violence. Once in the Synchro Dimension, he abandoned his mission to live out his dreams of being a pro duelist (He claimed he was going pro to get into the Friendship Cup and convince people to join their cause, but even the Lancers think it's bullshit.) He frequently rejects the Lancers every time they try to help him, even after they've saved his life twice and helped him break out of prison. Worse still, he still says that he doesn't consider them comrades and doesn't acknowledge how they've helped him. So it's kind of hard to sympathize with the lone wolf when the reason he's alone is because he's horrible and ungrateful to nearly everyone for no real reason, and still hurt innocent people because it was convenient for his plans.
  • 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, but we're supposed to shed tears for (the first time) Vegeta dies by Freeza's hand. Problem is, they're never shown as anything other than Space Barbarians anytime we learn about their history. Invited to share a planet with friendly but 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. Any member of their race that's not an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight is considered a freak, and The Hero himself is only one bonk on the head from growing up to be his adoptive planet's conqueror instead of its savior because combat and conquest is In the Blood, and half the Too Dumb to Live stuff he does to put himself and the Earth at risk is implied to be for the same reason. The audience is told they were Too Cool to Live, but the universe is actually breathing a sigh of relief that even if Freeza didn't make them extinct, they casually did it to each other. note 
  • 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 herself caused so much pain and suffering to her own family members for the most childishly petty reasons. 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. To say the fandom felt she was way too Easily Forgiven at the end would be an understatement.
  • In One Piece, many fans had this reaction to Usopp during the otherwise extremely well-received Water 7 arc. The Straw Hats are visiting Water 7, an island known for its skilled shipwrights, in hopes of getting their badly-battered ship repaired, and hopefully recruiting an in-house shipwright for their own crew. One of the best shipwrights on the islands looks over the ship and tells the Straw Hats that the damage is irreparable, and they are best off scrapping it and getting a new one. All the Straw Hats agree except for Usopp, as the ship happens to have been a gift to him from his girl back home, Kaya, and as such he is extremely attached to it. He ends up challenging Luffy to a duel, where the stakes are that if he wins, he will become Captain and the crew will not get a new ship, and if Luffy wins, Usopp will leave the crew. Luffy defeats Usopp and Usopp exits in a huff. Fans overwhelmingly sided with Luffy, feeling that Usopp was being extremely unreasonable, and that he was risking stranding or outright killing the crew essentially on the hopes that the ship wouldn't break. As for the ship, there is a brief Hope Spot when the shipwright who gave the bad news is revealed to be an undercover government assassin in town to swipe a MacGuffin, but when asked about this he reveals that in order to maintain cover he legitimately became an excellent shipwright himself, so the ship really was doomed, making Usopp's rebellion a wash.
    • In what was probably an Author's Saving Throw, this view is also held in universe. Zoro tells the whole crew that Usopp was out of line, and that Luffy has no place just letting Usopp return, even if they all do feel upset at the thought of abandoning him on Water 7. Usopp is not Easily Forgiven, either; he has to literally get on his knees and beg the Straw Hats to take him back, and that's only after he realized that the crew wasn't buying any of his excuses.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Meruem, the Arc Villain of the Chimera Ant Arc. He has something of a god complex, believes that genocide is the answer for humanity's atrocities, and abducts several gaming prodigies to test his own intellect and kills the losers. One of said prodigies is a blind girl named Komugi, who becomes a Morality Pet to him and eventually falls in love with her. Meruem's relationship with Komugi is supposed to be treated as his redeemable quality, but with the way he treated her, it bordered on Stockholm Syndrome. Not helping matters is that after he contracts radiation poisoning, rather than let Komugi leave with her life, he decides to play Gungi with her one last time. While he does warn her that his condition is contagious, he makes no effort to stop her when she refuses to leave.
  • The Amazon Trio and Pegasus from the 90s anime adaption of the "Dream Arc" from Sailor Moon come across like this to some viewers, which is another reason why the fourth season of the anime is so disliked.
    • The Trio's Heel–Face Turn comes across as rather forced considering they spent pretty much every episode prior to that acting incredibly creepy and stalkerish to their targets, compounded by the Mind Rape tactics and sexual assault undertones whenever they attack. FishEye does get some individual character development when he begins to question if the Trio are able to have dreams of their own, mixed with his unrequited love for Mamoru and the sympathy he develops for Usagi. Hawk's Eye and Tiger's Eye, however, get no such development, with their motivations being read as wholly selfish and more for the sake of telling Zirconia off than any understanding of love or dreams.
    • Pegasus is supposed to be seen as the prince-like love interest for Chibi-Usa, but is rather emotionally abusive to her. Never mind how incredibly screwed up his interactions with her while he was still in horse, form and made some not so subtle advances towards her even though she's an elementary school student, but he refuses to answer any of her questions about who he is or where he comes from. He demands blind faith from Chibi-Usa and throws the equivalent of temper tantrums if she tries to find out any other information about him, cutting off contact from her and worsening the guilt complex she's had since "R." That he makes her continue to lie about their relationship puts Chibi-Usa in grave danger. One other aspect of Pegasus' dislike from the fans is how his presence undermined the theme of the Sailor Senshi being strong on their own as girls and a team, as they suddenly became dependent on him for their new powers and transformations. Sailor Moon couldn't even attack without him!
    • The Starlights in the last season were still dealing with the trauma of losing their princess and their planet being destroyed, but as the last season went on they kept making asses of themselves. Seiya's infatuation with Usagi bordered more on harassment, deliberately ignoring her repeated explanations of having a boyfriend. There was even a scene where Usagi was scared Seiya wanted to have sex with her, and Seiya decides to go along with it for the sake of trolling her despite how clearly uncomfortable she is at the moment. Taiki, who was at the very least polite in the original manga, became rather pompous and condescending, at one point laughing right in Ami's face over her idealism. Strangely enough, Yaten, who tended to be a Drama Queen, was the least offensive of the three, but was the one who tended to get called on their behavior while Seiya and Taiki keep getting defended by the show itself. And even then, Yaten's behavior was frequently more justified than Seiya's or Taiki's.
  • This trope is the main reason why Kyoma Mabuchi from Dimension W is such a divisive character. He is meant to be portrayed as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a soft spot for kids and a Dark and Troubled Past involving the deaths of his girlfriend and his fellow soldiers. But while his past is genuinely tragic, it does little to garner any sympathy for him, especially with his horrendous treatment of Mira due to her being a robot ( and resembling his deceased girlfriend.) He spends most of the series bossing her around and treating her like a robot and not a person, never calling her by name and referring to her as a piece of junk. One particularly egregious example is in episode 5 where after Mira manages to escape the other world, instead of being concerned, Kyoma punches her for not being there when he needed her (hurting his hand in the process). The fact that he warms up to Mira in the end does very little to make up for him treating her like shit for 11 episodes straight.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers manage to catch this in Avengers vs. X-Men, thanks to a thorough distribution of Conflict Balls among characters normally much less dickish. The Phoenix is flying through space on direct course for Earth - and destroying every planet it comes across in the meantime, killing billions.
    • While the Avengers are trying to save billions of lives, the way they go about it makes them seem like a bunch of assholes. Wolverine gives 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), and later decides the only solution is to kill Hope, the innocent teenage girl. Captain America acts antagonistically, parking an army on the X-Men's front steps and demands they hand over Hope, who is Cyclops's granddaughter and essentially a messiah to them. Cap also refuses to even think about consulting them on how to deal with the Phoenix, despite the fact the X-Men, especially Scott, are the most experienced with it.
    • When the Phoenix gets closer, Iron Man's technobabble weapon ends up splitting it, resulting in the Phoenix Five, five X-Men each empowered by a portion of the Phoenix.
    • The Avengers, who reason the P5 are dangerously unstable, decide to provoke said dangerously unstable demigods by taking Hope again. Since the P5's benign dictatorship basically takes place between issues, the reader sees the Phoenix stopped and the conflict ended, and then the Avengers immediately starting another conflict.
  • 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 an Invincible Villain. Some of the fans despise him and the series for various different reasons. The behavior 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.
    • Peter Parker / Spider-Man has also become this in recent comics, mostly stemming as frustration from the controversial One More Day and Superior Spider-Man stories. Many argue that Spider-Man's new personality, coming as it does from external retcons makes him almost an entirely different character from the one planned by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. The current Spiderman stories has Peter serving as a businessman and owner of his own industries which many argue, 1) undoes Peter's original Working-Class Hero appeal, 2) is unearned, since it came from Otto Octavious hijacking his body.
  • 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.
  • The 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.
  • Superboy Prime. He's supposed to be a Tragic Villain for having lost his world, and driven mad to the point of wanting to destroy the world to replace it with a new one. Most people instead see him as a snot-nosed brat who has murdered countless people left and right, including at one point killing a pregnant woman in cold blood, and constantly blaming all of Earth's heroes for the horrible crimes he causes by claiming they've corrupted him.
  • Deathstroke's mercenary team of Titans were described by writer Eric Wallace as being bad people, but it's clear that the majority of the team was supposed to be seen as tragic and sympathetic due to their horrible backstories and the recent series of traumas that pushed them into the team. This included Cheshire and Tattooed Man losing their respective child, Osiris being haunted by the man he accidentally killed to protect his sister, and the years of sexual abuse and Survivor's Guilt Cinder suffered from. However, any sympathy these characters might have gained was instantly crushed by the team's first actual appearance when they brutally slaughtered Ryan Choi, followed by Osiris's gradual transformation into a self-centered brat and Cinder stupidly letting a serial child rapist free because she rushed her attempt to murder him. The only member of the team who managed to retain any sense of sympathy from fans was Roy Harper, who was not a part of Ryan's death and had the distinction of being manipulated by both Deathstroke and Cheshire. It helps that readers were still majorly pissed off at how poorly Roy was being handled after Justice League: Cry for Justice and Rise of Arsenal.
    • Another Titans example would have to be Cassandra Sandsmark and Tim Drake during the "One Year Later" storylines. Understandably the two are still reeling from Superboy's death, but Cassandra began to sorely grate the nerves of the readers because she Took a Level in Jerkass and became an insufferable, bitter asshole. Tim came across as more sympathetic in his grief especially since the writers were deliberately ignoring parts of his backstory (like the stepmother who was nowhere to be found after his dad died), but then he became involved in a Wangst fueled on/off relationship with Cassandra that ultimately went nowhere. But what ultimately made the two unsympathetic was their constant zigzagging with Rose Wilson in the Titans, either accepting her as one of their own or viewing her as the team's token psycho and badmouthing her behind her back. In fact, Rose left the team and briefly allied herself with the new Clock King when she heard Tim and Cass profess she was a lost cause. This is all despite knowing very well that Rose's Face–Heel Turn was not of her choosing, but because her father pumped her full of drugs and drove her insane

    Fan Works 
  • 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. Of course, it could be INTENTIONALLY Unsympathetic if you subscribe into the theory that it's a Troll Fic instead of just really bad writing.
  • 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, constant whining about their bad lot in life, and blaming their (usually self-inflicted) problems on anyone but themselves.
  • 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. 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 author eventually had to pull an Author's Saving Throw of sorts with the reveal that Celestia funds anti-slavery movements and is playing the Long Game, and with Celestia herself feeling she can never truly atone for what she did, but for some readers it just didn't cut it.
    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..."
  • Little Sun has Sunset Shimmer as Princess Celestia's biological daughter, with her anger over being given up for adoption and keeping it secret during years as Celestia's student leading to her Start of Darkness. This was after Celestia saved her from an assassination attempt, showing that the reasons for secrecy, which weighed heavily on Celestia and leaked through no fault of hers, were fully justifiable. Then there's Sunset inexplicably, instantaneously becoming a jerk, forgetting all the good times they had together and rejecting everything Celestia offers to reconcile insisting she be made an ailcorn, the one thing beyond her power.
  • 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.
  • The Axis Powers Hetalia Alternate Universe fanfic Not Everything is Silver and Gold tries to paint Prussia/Gilbert as sympathetic because he lost Ludwig, and can't get him back unless he finds a Pure One, a being that can find treasure easily, to Arthur, the guy who murdered the reader's parents. However, the fact that chapter 2 involves Gilbert raping you instead of explaining what's going on, and why, then constantly forcing himself onto you and basically behaving like an abusive boyfriend doesn't exactly win sympathy from the readers.
  • Emerald of I'm Here to Help can come across this way, especially if one interprets the fic as him being right.
    • His backstory (his family dying in a massive attack on Earth, being trapped in ice for centuries while conscious, and losing his teammates) is sympathetic, but he makes it difficult to feel too sorry for him because he tells everything in an incredibly smug, condescending way.
    • He makes a lot of Dude, Not Funny! jokes, many of which involve him mentally raging about killing characters like Luna, just because they won't do what he wants (keep in mind that Emerald does lose his temper and violently kill others at several points in the fanfiction).
    • He frequently mocks Tuxedo Mask for, among other things, getting kidnapped too often and is seriously fine with letting the poor guy remain trapped as a servant to Beryl, even though he claims brainwashing is a major Berserk Button to him. Oh, and he makes a very tasteless joke to a still-brainwashed Mamoru about "sleeping to the top" with Beryl.
    • With the senshi, even though he claims to be on their side, he does nothing but mentally mock them for being young and stupid and untrained. He even does so to Sailor Moon, who he claims to legitimately admire and feel sorry for.
    • And that's his actions in the past. Various records throughout the fic hint at an extensive terrorist record in the future, which involve multiple attacks on Crystal Tokyo that put a lot of people's lives in danger. The lives of people he claims to want to save and free. The lives of people who he refer to as brainwashed sheep and cattle. It doesn't help matters that the senshi of the future aren't shown having actually done much wrong (what little we see of the people of Crystal Tokyo don't show any indication of brainwashing) and actually try to create a peaceful world where everyone's safe (which Emerald seems to hate on principal and succeeds in stopping, which he takes for granted is what everyone wants).
    • The fact that Emerald and his teammates (who, through his own admission, he didn't care about) chose to attack the senshi first makes them not come across as particularly admirable or make the senshi look very unlikable for choosing to send them away.
    • Finally, the fact that Emerald somehow isn't able to realize that Sailor Moon and Neo Queen Serenity are the same people (even though both look almost identical, they date/marry the same man, they both use the power of the Silver Crystal, they both fight in the name of the moon, and have the same friends rallied around them) makes him look remarkably stupid.

    Films — Animated 
  • Valka in How to Train Your Dragon 2. So a dragon smiled at your baby? Well, the obvious move is to hop on the dragon and leave behind all your loved ones, letting them think you're dead, using the flimsy excuse that your husband is too violent a man to understand, but then leaving your only child with said husband which will no doubt lead to an abusive relationship. It's not hard to see that she was originally intended be a bad guy.
    • And there's also Stoick and the Hooligan Tribe in the first movie. They abuse Hiccup for most of the movie (with the exception of Gobber, who is Hiccup's kindly mentor) yet we're supposed to root for them at the climax.
  • Ricardo of The Jungle King. The story tries to present him as a funny sidekick and outright gives him a happy ending, even though he clearly helped with Chancellor Hyena's treason plan and doesn't show any signals of remorse or willingness to be good. Even if he is mistreated by Hyena, his lack of actual redeeming qualities make him unsympathetic.
  • 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.
  • Davey from Eight Crazy Nights apparently lost his parents in a car accident on their way to see him on his basketball game...during Hanukkah. Even worse, before he learned of their deaths, he worked himself to the core winning as a tribute to not only his parents, but to the parents who always came to watch their kids play basketball... despite the fact that they never win! While that may pass him off to be a Jerkass Woobie, he way he takes his anger out on by nearly everyone and being more as an outright bully, which really loses him sympathy points. Yes, he eventually learns to be a better person, but he also never faces any consequences for his nasty behavior or selfish attitude, which, as many critics have pointed out, is not how someone tends to deal with what he went though.
  • Sunset Shimmer from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls transformed into a demon, brainwashed Canterlot High, and tried to murder those in her way. This was meant to be her being corrupted into something much worse than she was normally willing to act: thus her shock, horror, revulsion, and Heel–Face Turn after her defeat. But, while she never used physical violence before her transformation (and in one crucial scene let Spike go, when the obvious thing to do was to try a Hostage for MacGuffin), she had been an Alpha Bitch through the whole movie, and she had been like that for quite a while before then, as Princess Celestia indicated in the movie and as her origin-story comic confirmed; her potential for change, and such of a good side as she had, was mostly in subtext. So, the fanbase as a whole was less than convinced, and not a few fans suspected that she was faking remorse to get off easier. But in the next movie, Rainbow Rocks, the rest of the school was just as unforgiving as the fanbase, or worse; even the principal took snide little potshots at her. But she pushed on through this, proving that she was sincere and now trustworthy, and winning over the audience — although the student body remains a little leery, at least as of Friendship Games. (The latter movie also confirmed that she had gone mad in her demon form and gave her a chance to pay her cleansing forward.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 prick. 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.
    • Gwen herself suffers from this as well. She's perfectly fine with dating Peter, essentially dishonoring her father's last wish. Her death was supposed to be heartbreaking, until you remember that she ignored Peter's wishes to stay out of harm's way.
    • Harry also hasn't earned much sympathy from fans. He is supposed to be pitiful for audiences since he is terminally ill, got kicked out of his company, and was neglected by his own father Norman Osborn. However, Harry comes off as an entitled jerk. Not mention that he crosses his Moral Event Horizon by attacking Peter and indirectly killing Gwen.
  • 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.
  • Harry in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when he attacks Snape in Shrieking Shack. Sure, Snape wasn't the nicest person in the world but Harry had him Blown Across the Room for no apparent reason, just because he tried to take Sirius (who was escaped convict at the time) and wanted revenge on him (which isn't any different from what Harry wanted for most of the movie). Averted in the books, where Harry attacks Snape because Snape didn't want to listen to them and tried to get them Fate Worse Than Death without giving them any chance to explain themselves. Harry tried to convince Snape to at least listen to them, and only after Snape had shown that he has no intention of doing so, Harry attacked him, and had his doubts even after the fact.
  • 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.
  • Another Christian film, God's Not Dead achieves this through its protagonist, Josh. He's a religious college student challenged to debate the existence of God by his Jerkass professor. Despite being painted as a righteous Christian fighting a smug Hollywood Atheist, Josh's actions range from questionable to obnoxious.
    • Breaking up with his longtime girlfriend, Kara. Admittedly, she's painted as clingy and unsupportive, telling Josh it's a bad idea to debate Professor Radisson. Nonetheless, her concerns are justified, as Radisson outright tells Josh that he'll ruin his academic career if he goes forward with the debate. We also learn that Kara turned down two other colleges to stay with Josh, and even resisted her mother's disapproval to date him. Josh is unmoved by all of this, dismissing her without a second thought and (it's implied) hooking up with another girl later in the film.
    • For that matter, not only Kara but several characters note that Josh could easily drop the class and take a similar course with a less obnoxious professor. Josh's counterargument is that doing so would "mess up my schedule." Naturally he's portrayed as a principled martyr rather than a kid too lazy to move some classes around.
    • YMMV how effective Josh's actual arguments are, but he's just as apt as Professor Radisson to use cheap shots and insults when arguing his points. The worst comes when Radisson confides in Josh that a personal tragedy drove him away from religion. Josh uses this in their final debate, browbeating Radisson with an Armor-Piercing Question of why he hates God, driving Radisson into an anguished Motive Rant in front of the whole class. The movie treats this as a brilliant move on Josh's part, rather than a low blow exploiting Radisson's past to discredit his argument.
  • 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. Dr. Sarah Harding being made into a Composite Character with Dr. Richard Levine makes her a standout example as the latter described as having "a world-wide reputation for being a pain in the ass" and lacking any idea of consequences or any training in fieldwork as he preferred to study museum samples. His poor traits makes the movie version of Sarah much harder to sympathize with.
  • Sean from the 1996 Alaska being upset over his mom's death gives him a reason to feel sorry for him. But the way he takes his anger out on everyone and his overall, unpleasant and nasty personality ends up making him more of a whiny Jerkass instead. Even going as far as to wishing his own dad had died instead of his mom!
  • In the movie Trainwreck, the main character, Amy, and her sister go and visit their Dad in a care home to tell him that Kim is pregnant. He's happy about the news and says he's excited to finally have a grandkid. Kim gets offended and says he's forgetting her step-son, Alistair. He says he cares about the boy and worries about him getting bullied but he's not, technically, a blood-relative. Kim gets so offended she yells at him and storms out, and because he was an Alcoholic Parent to Amy and Kim when they were kids, we're obviously meant to sympathise with her. But the thing is, the Dad is right in this situation and considering Kim wanted to put him in the worst care home she could find and throws out his possessions when she's sorting through them with Amy, it makes her look incredibly petty and looking for an excuse to be pissed off at him.

  • 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 Demon's 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. 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 little more than a whiner. 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.
      • There's a scene in Breaking Dawn where the Cullens invite a bunch of vampires into town and give them keys to their cars so that they can feed on humans from out of town, because apparently their friends murdering people is okay so long as they don't know the people being murdered.
    • From the latter half of 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 Fifty Shades Darker 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 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.

    It eventually got worse with the release of Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey As Told by Christian when many, including some fans, were turned off by his internal thoughts where he comes out as a creepy stalker.
    • Anastatia Steele as well. Since the story is written from her point of view, it is very easy to see that she whines about almost nothing, always complains about the very things she has just agreed to do with Christian - to keep up her "innocence" in the eyes of the reader - and, worst of all, has a very obvious eating disorder, is in denial about it and has not the slightest bit of illness insight, making you almost feel sorry for Christian trying to deal with his mentally sick "girlfriend".
  • 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.
  • Harry Potter
    • 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.
    • Cho Chang herself, from the same book. The reader is obviously supposed to feel sorry for her because her boyfriend Cedric died, but she comes across as nothing but a whining little girl who has no help in dealing with her current emotional situation and repeatedly demands that Harry talk with her about it, despite him not wanting to talk about it, because he saw Cedric die, but also was fearing for his own life at the time and has been suffering from PTSD and nightmares of being back in the graveyard and bringing it up in every situation won't help. The fact that Cho sees nothing wrong with the fact that her friend ratted everyone out to Umbridge, which had the consequence of Dumbledore being forced to leave Hogwarts among other things makes her come across as selfish and incapable of seeing her part in it. After all, she was the one who dragged the friend to the meetings.
  • 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.
  • Circe in The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince is described as being kind and compassionate, but she only curses the Prince after he jilts her personally (even though one would think she would have picked up on the fact that he's rather selfish and misogynistic in general), she extends the curse to the servants after he taunts her (essentially messing up their lives just so he'll be a little worse off), and then completely ignores him for years, without even thinking to check in on his progress until she hears her sisters are doing so behind her back (because of this, she doesn't learn about the abuse he heaped on Princess Morningstar until it's nearly too late to save her and her family). And on the subject of the last point, despite knowing how her sisters operate on a different moral sense than her and hate the Prince, she does little to enforce her order to leave him alone and is easily manipulated by them into not noticing them attempting to kill Belle and the Beast. The end of the novella also has her showing more sympathy to Belle than the Beast, who besides being the character she actually knew and claimed to care about, is on the ground, dying of a stab wound.
  • Marcus Yallow, The Hero of Little Brother. You're supposed to feel sorry for him because of the abuse he goes through from the Department of Homeland Security, but he comes off as incredibly self-righteous. During the book, he gets into an argument with his father, who agrees with the DHS's methods, but he had every right to since for several days, Marcus was missing after the terrorist attack that triggered the book's conflict. He regularly ignores his friends' warnings that he shouldn't pick fights with the government. Finally, him being monitored by the DHS is his own fault because he did nothing but make himself look suspicious at the beginning of the book. He used his hacking skills to cut school, and according to his principal, it wasn't even the first time he used hacking to screw around in school. When he got interrogated, he refused to hand his phone over to the Big Bad of the story. Not because he had anything incriminating on it, but because of the principle of privacy. Finally, to make a point to his father, he tampers with the DHS's security system to cause a city-wide halt on everything, but that leads to the DHS to start increasing security, making things worse for Marcus. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero at its finest.

  • Taylor Swift:
    • The protagonist of "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 whole song comes off as a more passive-aggressive version of Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend".
    • "Better Than Revenge" is about a woman who is mad that another 'stole' her crush. It's quite easy to view the protagonist as very in the wrong though. There isn't even concrete proof that the woman took her boyfriend - they could have been in a steady relationship or in a flirtatious pre-dating state - but the protagonist is absolutely rabid at the other woman for having the guts to be interested in the same guy as her. There's a fair share of Slut-Shaming in the song and it's vague how far she'll go with her revenge but it doesn't sound like she'll go easy on the woman.
  • 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.
  • Drake's "Hotline Bling" is probably supposed to come off as the lamentations of an ex who feels a deep sense of disappointment and unfulfillment in regard to a failed relationship and can't stop being reminded of how much better than him his former partner seems to be doing. Instead, he comes off as a whiny, clingy, prudish, controlling Nice Guy who can't come to terms with the fact that his ex has become her own person and deals with it by whining about how she's a lesser person for no longer being at his beck and call.

    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.
  • My Fair Lady: When it was first made, Professor Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle were each meant to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold (i.e. Not So Different from one another), but nowadays, it's common to view him as a snobbish, misogynistic villain unfairly putting down Eliza, because current values don't look well on characters like Higgins.

    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 its 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. The Extended Cut fixes this slightly by allowing you to question the Catalyst's logic, and it becomes clear that it's more a case of A.I. Is a Crapshoot. The Leviathan DLC expounds on this further when you meet the Catalyst's creators and realize it really was just following its protocol; they just forgot to program it to not turn on them, too. It leaves a less sour taste in player's mouths than the original scene, but caused debate as to whether this was intended from the start or if this was an retcon to placate the angry fanbase.
  • The Qun is a fictional quasi-religious philosophy and a major setting element in the second and third games of the Dragon Age series. The games try to depict it as the same mix of noble and flawed as the Andrastian Chantry, but their success is debatable. Qunari society is, though somewhat egalitarian, utterly totalitarian. Careers and other life-choices are made for citizens by the state, gender roles are so strictly enforced that those who go outside them are effectively considered trans-gender rather than, say, women who can fight, and mages have their mouths sewn shut and are chained and collared. It disdains outsiders who refuse to be converted (the word for non-Qunari is "bas", literally translating to "thing"), and anyone who leaves the religion behind is hunted down for re-education or, if they are violent habitual offenders, lobotomization with a chemical called qamek. The intent was to create an alien society that would make sense to its members but not to outsiders (and vice-versa), but to many gamers they come across instead as frighteningly, chillingly evil.
    • 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 even before Trespasser was released and players learned that the Qunari and Bull himself will betray the Inquisitor if the Chargers were sacrificed.
      • As mentioned above, BioWare seems to be catching on to how unpopular and frighteningly dogmatic the Qunari are, since they were cast as the primary antagonists in Trespasser, in which they planned to assassinate most of the leadership in southern Thedas in a plot eerily reminiscent of a terrorist attack and invade and forcibly convert the South. Perhaps the most chilling example of how deeply indoctrinated believers in the Qun are comes from Iron Bull's potential betrayal of the Inquisitor (which occurs if the Chargers were sacrificed in the base game), which he does without a second thought once ordered by the Ben-Hassrath. He even refers to the Inquisitor as "bas" before he attacks. Cole remarks that Iron Bull felt absolutely no regrets betraying a person who trusted him and considered him a friend for years.
    • 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 deaf-to-reason 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 (including murdering Otacon's sister purely out of spite), and is completely unrepentant for his crimes. Vamp 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.
    • Solid Snake even offers a counterpoint to the idea that a tragic past makes you sympathetic (in the same game, no less). When talking about the B&B Corps, Drebin retells the horrible lives of each of the members, but Snake shoots it all down by saying that, at some point, a terrible life stops being an excuse for your actions. Yet, MGS4 expects that same line of logic to work on a character with more reason for the player to hate.
  • Mostly features in the Playable Epilogue (The Answer) of Persona 3; 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.
  • Persona 4: Ryotaro Dojima comes off as this. Throughout the game, he often suspected the Protagonist of getting involved with the murder mystery. Okay, a bit understandable since the murders started around the same time he came to town, and it's his job as a detective to find the pieces. During his Social Link, he and the Protagonist start to bond, but all of his Character Development immediately gets derailed when the killer sends a threatening letter to the Dojima residence. Dojima's first instinct is to completely distrust the Protagonist, regardless of whether you completed his Social Link or not. Then, in the biggest What an Idiot moment in the game, he takes the Protagonist to the police station to interrogate him, and leaves Nanako, his seven-year-old daughter with no self-defense experience, home alone. This leads to Nanako getting kidnapped and put into a life-threatening coma, and not once is he ever called out on his negligence. Afterword, regardless of whether you complete his Social Link or not, he immediately forgets the lesson he learned on not letting revenge consume him when he attempts to kill the kidnapper in his hospital bed. He was originally going to have been the killer, and with how he was written, it makes you wonder just how late in game's development the change was made.
    • 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 Mk 2, 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 idiot and her HDD form an overpowered and bitchy jackass 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 Ship 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.
  • Arietta from Tales of the Abyss. Despite being one of the villains, she's portrayed as a poor girl who lost her parents in the events of Hod years prior to the story, was raised by ligers and can talk to them, before being intergrated into human society. She's supposed to be seen as pitiful, because she used to be a Fon Master Guardian, but was removed from that position two years ago, making her feel thrown away from Ion, whom she loved. The reason she was removed was because Ion died and was replaced with a replica, who had no memories, so it would have been easily discovered, had the new Ion not remembered the years he had spent with Arietta. Even the heroes feel sorry for Arietta. But she spends the game whining about how she lost her position, whining at Ion when she sees him and getting into petty fights with Anise, all while blaming Luke, Tear and Jade for having killed her adoptive liger mother and refusing to listen to any explanations. Arietta even killed people and paid a major part in the overtaking of the Tartarus, early in the game, so she's got blood on her hands. It's very difficult to like her even when she dies later on.
    • A big reason for the Broken Base surrounding Anise herself can be attributed to this trope as well. She was blackmailed by Mohs to spy on the player's party with her gullible parents held hostage. This act of spying would eventually lead into Ion's death. Anise felt absolutely guilty over this, and rightfully so. However, her way to deal with Arietta was to spare her from the Awful Truth about Ion, which Anise says would devastate Arietta's mind. The fans still hated Anise for this, and the hatred wasn't quite unfounded. After witnessing her party members growing so strong, she should have confessed to them without harming anyone. On top of that, Anise was on board in blaming Luke and giving snarky death suggestions on him after Akzeriuth, which was believed to be not quite Luke's fault, thus she's pegged as Easily Forgiven for causing Ion to die.
  • 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 Despair Event Horizon 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.
  • Tales of Xillia 2
    • Strangely enough, Alt!Milla is considered this In-Universe. She comes from an alternate dimension, where she managed to get rid of Exodus at a young age and, hence, did not need to be the Lord of the Spirits any longer and is living a rather human life with her sister Muzét. Said sister has been blinded by an attack while protecting Milla and denied re-entry to the Spirit Realm, which has resulted in her abusing Milla for the past fourteen years. When Alt!Milla gets accidentally transported into the prime dimension, she needs to deal with the reality that her world was not real, is now destroyed and that her appearance has caused Prime!Milla to disappear into the abyss between dimensions, as well as that she actually has no real place in the prime dimension. Unfortunately, Alt!Milla decides to be repeatedly abrasive with others, whines about how her world is destroyed and in general does nothing but wallow in her misery. It gets to the point that Gaius calls her out on her behavior.
    • Elle. She's a young girl, separated from her father and on a journey to the Land of Canaan. She's taken under Ludger's wing and tries to act adult, but is still a child in a situation that she isn't ready for and understandably lashes out, as a kid is wont to do. She's also revealed to be part of a fractured dimension, meaning that she'll disappear if they wish for all fractured dimensions to disappear, leaving her to consider herself a fake, similar to Alt!Milla above. Exactly how sympathetic she is to people can vary, though some of her lashings out leave her looking beyond selfish for a child's standards.
  • 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. And to make matters worse, in the remake, once he's miraclously brought Back from the Dead, rather than having an epiphany (which could have made his redemption having a meaning), he instead reverts to his tyrannical personality like nothing happened in the course of both games and got a happy end on top of it. Anyone wonders why they usually opt to leave him dead afterwards?
    • 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: When They Cry 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. Some 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.
  • Mr Sohta from the horror RPG, Misao. In the end, the game tries really hard to make you feel sorry for, or at least forgive him due to his backstory, but by that point he has killed at least two girls and committed various other awful acts and it's generally considered too late. During his playthrough of the game, Markiplier puts it best:
    Markplier: (reading game text) "You're really a nice person Mr. Sohta...just a little awkward sometimes. And I like you for who you are." Even though you're a murdering psychopath!
  • Mermaid Swamp gives us the old man. He reveals that he felt sorry for the 'mermaids' his family had kept for years and wanted to return them, but due to the strange fascination that they have on the men of the Tsuchida family, he was incapable of actually doing anything to them, so he used the protagonist and her friends to do it for him. While this could make the guy very sympathetic to some players, the fact that it's only revealed in the Golden Ending makes it difficult to actually feel it, because one is more likely to get any of the other endings, which are all bad, first. And the fact that said old man is anything but helpful in those endings makes him less sympathetic. In the other endings, he's more inclined to abuse Rin's insane state than actually help her and kills some of the characters.
  • Dangan Ronpa has Sayaka Maizono, the super duper highschool Idol. She reveals that she became an idol, because they fascinated her as a child and were loved by everyone, which she desperately wanted to have, having been left alone a lot as a child by her workaholic father and is terrified of losing her status as an idol and the friends she has made with it. Then it turns out that she began to form a plan to commit a murder and having Naegi set up to take the fall, so Sayaka can leave the school. This included manipulating him and his obvious crush on her, getting the two to swap rooms for the night and her plan to backfire horribly and resulting in her death, rather than Leon's. After those revelations, Kirigiri tries to calm Naegi (and the player) down by saying that Sayaka wasn't as bad as this may have made her look, but the damage has been done in the player's eyes and Sayaka lost any sympathy, no matter what her Freudian Excuse of a sad past had attempted to build up.
  • The Kobali are put under the light in Star Trek Online. They weren't particularly liked for their Grave Robber ways when they showed up in Star Trek: Voyager, but the Kobali Battlezone missions as well as "Dust to Dust" make them even more unlikable as we come to find out that they've been resurrecting dead Vaadwaur and the Vaadwaur want them back. It gets worse when it is revealed that they have the body of the original Harry Kim. So much so that Harry Kim takes the Kobali to task for their actions, despite the fact that it goes against the Prime Directive and that they're supposed to be our allies.
  • Sonic Lost World: So a major conflict in the game is how Tails starts feeling like Sonic is beginning to lose faith in him in favor of Eggman, and just wants to be of use to his hero. However, this ignores the fact that 1) Eggman is the only one capable of disabling the machine since he was the one who made it. and 2) Tails makes no objections to even allowing him to help in the first place. In fact, this has the side effect of making Sonic Unintentionally Sympathetic, as he's treated negatively for his earlier actions that kicked off the plot despite his genuine remorse and trying to make amends. The plot is firmly on Tails` side of the conflict and in the end, Sonic apologizes for "not trusting him enough". And the whole conflict ends up being moot anyway when Tails just randomly disables Eggman's machine to begin with.
  • Bravely Default: Easily this trope falls onto the Arcanist Victoria. So, she has had a terrible life as she had an incurable disease and that the local corrupt church would just abandon her to die. Her life was spared thanks to an experimental chemical treatment, but it comes with the side-effect of trapping her in a young girl's body despite being in her late teen's as well as periodic seizures. While that's sad and everything, these circumstances have turned her into a psychotic sadist willing to kill anyone even tangentially related to the corrupt church in the first place, even if it's simple pious innocents living far away from the church's center, or even just outright killing people for mistaking her for a little girl, which she does.
  • Nilin of Remember Me traces everything back to her mother losing her leg in a car accident when she was a kid. The story definitely portrays Nilin as being an undeserving victim, but her character development over the rest of the game tends to undermine it. Her self-centered behavior in the game implies that her behavior as a child, and her willingness to use her remix ability to just make Scylla out to be a bad driver and herself a perfect angel and dodge all the hard work and consequences, are not simple childishness or immaturity as much as they are inherent character flaws.
  • While Undertale tries very hard to make you feel sorry for Dr. Alphys, her Monster Protection Racket with Mettaton and Involvement in the creation of the Amalgamates and Flowey still leaves a bitter taste in a few fans mouths, especially since she never apologies or even confesses to the former (Mettaton is the one who spills the beans), and doesn't face any consequences for either.
  • The Final Fantasy VII prequel Crisis Core wants you to feel sorry for Genesis, who is suffering a genetically degrading disease and is so desperate for a cure he's allowing Hollander and Lazard to use him. Except he's an arrogant, long-winded jerk, the injury that triggered the disease is his own fault for showing off, and you could make a strong case that if he hadn't started his rebellion against Shinra, the events that set Sephiroth's Start of Darkness in motion might not have happened. Hell, Genesis seems to be amused when he reveals Sephiroth's origins to him and watches him begin to fall apart for it, yet we're supposed to feel sorry for him.
  • This trope is the reason why Nix from Infamous 2 is so disliked among the fandom. She's meant to be portrayed as a Jerkass Woobie with a tragic past involving the deaths of her parents at the hands of Bertrand, but this Freudian Excuse is flimsy at best and does little to justify her violent streak as the Evil choices she advocates for Cole are outlandishly evil and stupid and make her come off as a borderline sociopath. This is especially in contrast with Kuo and Zeke, who are far more sympathetic and have more character depth in general. note 
  • The Ace Attorney series, with its Loads and Loads of Characters, has a number of folks who fall into this.
    • The That One Level case of "Turnabout Big Top" has the murderer, Acro. It's true the murder was accidental, but he was intending to kill someone else. Namely, a 16 year old girl who, due to her sheltered upbringing, didn't understand the seriousness of a prank she played that put Acro's brother into a vegetative state. He would have killed his benefactor's only child, and that made some fans think the Sympathetic Murderer angle trying to be played was forced.
    • Adrian Andrews's Wangst turned off a few fans, especially since her forging of evidence led to Shelly de Killer taking Maya hostage.
    • Desiree Delite. She's helpful to Phoenix and is definitely a nice person. But she does, by the end of the game, advocate her husband's life of crime in order to satisfy her shopping habit, a habit she has no intention of stopping.
    • Godot. He even lampshades how his screw up of not going to Phoenix when he learned of Morgan's plan to kill Maya. This directly leads to the death of Misty Fey. Lots of fans believe Misty's death wouldn't have been necessary if he hadn't tried to get revenge for Mia's death.
    • Ace Attorney Investigations has Justine Courtney in the second installment. She's supposed to come off as a merciless to lawbreakers and a servant to the law, coupled with being in a bad situation having to worry about her kidnapped son. But in the 4th case, she introduces fabricated evidence to convict Kay of a murder, and later, is discovered to have the opportunity to commit the crime, but she dismisses this out of hand, and no one else brings this up. To make things worse, she is a Karma Houdini.

    Web Animation 
  • GoAnimate "Grounded" videos: The parent characters who are punishing the trouble-making kids, particularly those of "baby show" characters such as Caillou and Dora the Explorer. The makers of these videos intend for the viewers to side against Caillou and Dora (who, truth to tell, aren't the wholesome lovable heroes that they are canonically, themselves) and with their parents. But in all honesty, the measures the parents take to teach Caillou and Dora their lessons often come off as overly cruel. Even so much as hitting a sibling can lead to getting grounded or even murdered (directly or indirectly) by their parents. Additionally, sometimes the parents even do stuff without Caillou and Dora just to be mean (sometimes even before the kid has even caused any trouble) and, in extreme cases, even tell them to their faces how much they and the world hates them. In the end, the parents frequently come off as incredibly abusive Jerkasses not worth rooting for over the Jerkass Woobies Caillou and Dora.
  • Blake Belladonna in RWBY after the events of Volume 3's finale. While her actions from that - running away to protect everyone from Adam Taurus' Yandere-like wrath - has incredible merit, it's the fact that she ran off without telling anyone that she was running away to protect them that has caused many fans to never forgive her for it. What makes this hurt even worse for the fanbase is that Yang Xiao Long essentially risked her life, lost her right arm in trying to save her and this is how Blake repaid her. This ends up triggering a very powerful Heroic BSOD in Yang that, when the Volume closes, she is several months in and shows no sign of escaping. Nice Job Breaking It, Blake.

    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 The 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.
    • Another example involving D.W. is "D.W.'s Very Bad Mood", wherein the audience is supposed to sympathize with her because she didn't get invited to a birthday party that Lisa, one of her classmates, is throwing. However, throughout the episode, rather than act sad about it, D.W. has a violent temper tantrum that lasts several days, wherein she screams at the top of her lungs, insults her brother and parents, and slams the doors through the house all through the night, among other things. Adding to that is Jane and David do not punish her in any meaningful way, forcing Arthur to enlist Francine's help in finding out what's wrong with her. And as if all of that isn't enough, D.W. even considers wrecking Lisa's birthday party in an Imagine Spot before Francine cheers her up by inviting her to her own birthday party.
  • To a large number of fans, Dodie from As Told by Ginger is the definition of a "toxic friend" however the show itself doesn't treat her nearly as bad as the fans see her. She rarely gets her just desserts for doing stuff like trying to break up her best friends romance or tattling what kids have lice, and Ginger never abandons her for being overly clingy and back-stabbing.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse
    • Ben's ego and immaturity 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 occasion. But now that he 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 whatever enemy is fighting Ben, even Vilgax himself.
    • Azmuth to a lesser extent. He is supposedly this wise and benevolent ruler of Galvanic Prime, but it is repeatedly shown that he can be as much of a jerk as Ben. A prime example is the Duel of the Duplicates arc when he punishes Albedo by permanently trapping him in the form of 10-year-old Ben. While Albedo was clearly meant to deserve that, many fans saw that as a needlessly petty Kick Them While They're Down moment, especially as one of the reasons for Albedo's Start of Darkness was being fed up by Azmuth's treatment of him.
    • Blukic and Driba to many fans. The many problems they cause by acting stupid and irresponsible don't exactly make them come off as charming, and their comments on Cerebrocrustacean's intelligence come off as flat out racist. The two of them being Creator's Pets do not help.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Family Guy:
    • When Glenn Quagmire called Brian Griffin out on everything in one episode, he became this 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.
      • Which brings up Stewie's beating towards Brian earlier on, in which Brian was supposedly the one in the wrong but one can sympathize for him.
      • 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.
  • From Gravity Falls, there are so many characters that are sympathetic, but these are the ones that aren't:
    • Ford Pines, Stan's brother. He response to his estranged brother going well out of his way and risking everything just to save him and doing a bunch of other things he didn't have any obligation to (staying at his house to pay his bills, devoting three decades to getting him back, yearning to fix their strained relationship, ect.) with a punch in the face and a warning that he'll be back on the streets come the end of the summer. He is so bitter towards Stan that he pretty clearly uses it to try and separate Dipper and Mabel, apparently convinced that Mabel, like Stan, is nothing but a burden to her smarter brother. If one didn't know better, they'd say the fact that normal sibling relationships are generally loving is completely beyond his realm of comprehension. Oh, and his response to his emotionally sensitive twelve-year-old niece running away in heartbreak? All alone? Into dangerous woods? “She'll get over it.”
    • The episode Roadside Attraction shows all the girls Dipper practiced on getting mad at Dipper for "flirting" with a different girl at every new tourist trap are this. We're supposed to feel bad for them and know that Dipper is in the wrong for his unfaithful flirtations, but considering each girl only had one simple, non-romantic conversation with him, gave Dipper their numbers to keep in touch, and really had no expectations to ever see him again, the idea that they would assume they were now anything more than friends and get mad at Dipper for hanging out with other girls is absolutely ridiculous. By domino effect, this causes Candy's more justifiable hurt to also become unsympathetic, because Mabel, Candy, and Grenda's anger at Dipper is based entirely on the other girls' words rather than anything Dipper did wrong, but the situation is never addressed as anything other than Dipper's fault, with Mabel even hissing "Betrayer!" at him when he tries to apologize.
    • Mabel Pines, Dipper's twin sister. She is supposed to be seen as an All-Loving Hero who cares about everyone around him but especially her own brother but her selfishness, her Ignored Epiphany to any lessons learned as well as her constant bullying to a clearly troubled Dipper caused many fans to doubt whether she is as kind as the narrative treats her. Case in point, when Ford offers apprenticeship to Dipper what does she do, she accuses Dipper of abandoning her and not doing what she wants to donote  and runs off refusing to accept that summer is over. Her selfishness ultimately allowed Bill used this Moment of Weakness to open up a portal and directly caused The End of the World as We Know It. Adding insult to the injury, since she is supposed to be Deuteragonist of the story, she almost always gets away with whatever trouble she caused in favor of making someone else suffer nor did she even apologize for whatever misdeeds she ever did (Including the deal above).
  • Towards the end of the House of Mouse episode, "Mickey Vs. Shelby", Donald glues Baby Shelby to the stage so he can't run away from him or Mickey anymore. As it is time for him to perform, Shelby gets stage fright in front of the guests at the House of Mouse. The audience is expected to feel sorry for Shelby and see the following moment, wherein Mickey performs with him, as a heartwarming moment. The problem is, Shelby has done nothing other than run away from, tease, and torture Mickey and especially Donald throughout the episode; not just in the wraparounds, but also both the Mouse Works shorts.
  • Jem:
    • Jerrica can come off as a two-faced jerk who hides it under a facade. For example, when she meets The Misfits she outright calls them "trash" when they did little to her besides being a bit rude and arrogant. She also flirts with and kisses her boyfriend as Jem despite the fact he is utterly clueless to them being the same person.
    • We're meant to at least somewhat sympathize with Pizzazz's father however most Misfits fans can't. We're supposed to see him as a father who had difficulties taking care of his daughter after his wife left, and him being unable to deal with Pizzazz's behavior and being overworked. Instead he comes off as neglectful and the source of most of her issues. He didn't show her enough affection and thus she now tries to get the attention she lacked as a child by being the top rock group out there, which is why she gets so mad that Jem is more popular. Pizzazz's father doesn't want Pizzazz bothering him when it's obvious she just wants attention from him,
    • Rio is supposed to be Jerrica's lovable boyfriend however is a huge Base Breaker. He's a Crazy Jealous Guy who gets mad easily. He's in love with Jerrica but also has an affair with Jem and this is treated in a lighthearted manner. It's hard to see why Jerrica is so hung up on him. His IDW comics version is seen in a far more favorable light as he isn't so jealous, is more mellow, and doesn't cheat.
    • The Misfits themselves undergo a clumsy Heel–Face Turn at the end of the show despite spending most of it endangering lives including one instance when they kidnapped Jerrica's sister Kimber and left her in a volcano. Word of God says it was only a temporary truce however that doesn't stop it from being awkward.
  • Justice League: Word of God has stated that Project Cadmus, the anti-Justice League government think tank in the fourth season, were supposed to be sympathetic Anti Villains with a strong point about the dangers of unrestricted superhumans. In fact, the writers found Cadmus so sympathetic that they introduced a Conflict Killer in the form of Brainiac so he could be revealed as having been manipulating both sides to avoid having to paint either Cadmus or the League as in the wrong. Fans, on the other hand, overwhelmingly sided with the League, considering Cadmus's deeds included attempting to nuke an inhabited island simply to kill Superman and Doomsday, creating Doomsday to begin with, manufacturing an army of cloned Slave Mooks and sending them to massacre the League, including the completely innocent Watchtower staff, and teaming up with supervillains including Lex Luthor, all before the League had done much of anything to them.
  • 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. Thankfully, Character Development kicks in and she gets better.
    • While not disliked enough to be The Scrappy, a number of fans never warmed up to Suyin Beifong, the long lost 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.
    • Much of the spirits of the Spirit World also become this in "Operation Bei Fong", refusing to ally themselves with Korra to protect Republic City from Kuvira's super weapon because they don't want to involve themselves in humans' wars. From how it's pointed out that Korra is attempting to exploit the spirits for human purposes just like Kuvira has been, we're clearly meant to see their point, but seeing as we were told that humans and spirits and their respective worlds are now "harmoniously co-existing" and thus are now expected to help one another in their lives, the spirits instead come off as self-centered jerks who think little of the humans they co-exist with and feel they're not worth risking their necks for under any circumstance.
    • Tenzin regularly wanders into this territory. While he is positioned as the The Obi-Wan and the voice of reason, his actual views are often extremely regressive and to favor a non-egalitarian status quo; even when the audience knows the other side of the argument is a Well-Intentioned Extremist being set up to be a season's Big Bad, Tenzin has a tendency to reject their valid complaints for the wrong reasons well before any direct evidence of their villainy comes to light.
  • 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).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • 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.
  • 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. Of course, since this episode is (somewhat) more realistic than the others, it could just be an honest examination of fundamental social injustices that people to not bother to correct or even realize are there, and how these circumstances can lead to misanthropy and derangement on the part of the disadvantaged despite everyone's best intentions. In this light, perhaps Frank Grimes is best understood as a classically Greek tragic hero, doomed to fail by the cosmos itself.
    • 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 was his relationship with Edna Krabappel, whom he drove away with his fear of change and commitment; while his subsequent trying to win her back could be seen as a My God, What Have I Done?, it could get grating when the viewers realized he probably wouldn't try any harder than he had before.
    • 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.
    • Homer's half-brother Herb, a wealthy car tycoon, hires Homer in "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" to design a car that will save Powell Motors. The resulting car is such a disaster that it destroys Powell Motors overnight, and Herb blames Homer for the failure. This is continued in Herb's return in "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?" where we're expected to sympathize with Herb, who Homer supposedly owes a chance to rebuild his fortune. Unfortunately, the first episode clearly indicated that Powell Motors was in serious trouble long before Homer came along, Herb repeatedly blew off his engineers' warnings that Homer's ideas were unworkable, Herb never did his job as CEO in supervising the project that would make or break his company, and Homer himself wasn't sure he would be able to do it, until Herb badgered him into doing it. Homer only ever did anything Herb asked him to. As a result, Herb blaming Homer for Powell Motors' downfall makes him look like a self-centred asshole who refuses to accept responsibility for his own incompetence, and makes it questionable as to whether he even deserves a chance to rebuild his fortune.
    • Luann van Houten following her divorce. The writers felt the need to make her ex-husband Kirk into as much of a deadbeat dad as they possibly could, having Luann espouse he was no good while going off to live a new and exciting life without him weighing her down. This is all despite the events which led to their divorce including that they were mutually unhappy with each other for a variety of reasons. So rather than making it look like Luann is an unhappy woman reinventing herself from a failed marriage, she comes across as a callous and selfish bitch unwilling to admit she had an equal role to play in the dismal quality of her marriage and content to dump the blame all on Kirk.
    • Marge, of all people, fills this role in "A Star is Burns." Springfield hosts a film festival with a panel of judges headed by Marge and visiting New York film critic Jay Sherman - and Homer, jealous of the affection Jay has been receiving from the Simpson family, insists that he be put on the panel too. At the festival, the films are all short and locally produced, and frankly not very good in either form or content. Despite this, Marge and Jay gush about an obviously "serious" and "dramatic" documentary by Barney Gumble about his alcoholism, even though it makes Barney look a lot more self-pitying than socially conscious. Homer prefers a much more upbeat film called Man Getting Hit By Football, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Marge scolds him for picking the "wrong" movie, and the narrative indirectly lumps him in with most of the other judges, who eagerly take bribes from Mr. Burns in exchange for casting votes for his propaganda film - so Homer is made to look not only stupid, but also vaguely immoral. This is unfair: Homer is not insensitive to Barney's problem; and he does not want the football film to win because he'll be monetarily rewarded for it, but because he honestly thinks it is better. The fact that Man Getting Hit By Football is of poor quality and lowbrow in subject matter should be irrelevant, but so are all of the other films! (Indeed, if one is to judge purely on production values, then Mr. Burns's film did deserve to win, his ethical failings notwithstanding, if only because he was able to afford a semi-mainstream director.) When Homer eventually changes his mind after watching Barney's film again, allowing it to break the judges' deadlock and win, Marge praises him...for not voting for the "wrong" movie, as if anyone's opinion is to be considered inferior in the context of a small-town festival that is getting almost no media attention. (Ironically, Homer is vindicated the next year, when a big-budget adaptation of Man Getting Hit By Football wins the Academy Award for Best Picture, beating out Burns's entry.)
  • Sonic's incarnation in Sonic Sat Am, while much more sympathetic against Robotnik compared to his Adventures counterpart, 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 plot of Steven Universe episode "Too Far" is centered around Amethyst having her feelings hurt by Peridot; joking about how a gem like her would normally be much bigger and stronger than she is, with her form essentially being a defect. The rest of the episode is centered around Peridot learning about how to interact with people and when apologies are owed, with Amethyst treated as a pure victim of the situation. This is undermined fairly significantly by the moments preceding the unintended insult consisting of Amethyst laughing her ass off and shouting encouragement while Peridot mercilessly mocks her family members for their most precious traits and deepest insecurities. Making her come off less as someone deserving an apology, and more a hypocritical jerk who can't take what she throws out.
    • The fact that Peridot honestly didn't know any better (being entirely new to life outside the homeworld) and what she said being a product of Amethyst egging her on and an attempted compliment doesn't help.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Fat Monica