No work of fiction can exist without a {{conflict}}. Almost all works help accomplish this by having a [[BigBad villain]] of some sort. After all, if there's [[NoAntagonist no villain]], who will create the conflict? Who will the heroes confront in the climax? [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Who will sing]] [[VillainSong the best songs?]]

But sometimes, writers encounter a problem. Sometimes, what the antagonist is doing isn't illegal, or even immoral. In a sports story, the antagonist would just be the leader of the OpposingSportsTeam. If, say, you're writing an inspiring story about an underdog who aspires to be a great chef, the antagonist would be a tough-to-please food critic, or the owner of a rival restaurant. Sure, their success would make the hero's life worse, but in real life, nobody would hold it against them. That's just the way the world works. Surely, these stories are forever bound to having both a hero protagonist ''and'' a HeroAntagonist, right?


Meet the Villainy-Free Villain, the very personification of a FelonyMisdemeanor. To make sure that viewer sympathy is still squarely on the protagonist, the Villainy-Free Villain is an antagonist who compensates for their completely socially acceptable aspirations by being as much of a {{Jerkass}} about them as humanly possible. They're not a villain, but they sure act like one. It's as if they don't care about their own well-being, but see their actions as a wonderful opportunity to crush the protagonist's hopes and dreams.

In any work of fiction in which the protagonist is a LovableRogue or JustifiedCriminal or [[ClearMyName an innocent person who has been framed for a heinous crime]], the law enforcers chasing after them are inevitably going to appear unsympathetic to the audience, even if their motives are beyond reproach. The hero may even end up fighting them as much as the villain. Authority figures who have to control children (teachers, especially) also make fine default antagonists even without being a genuinely malicious SadistTeacher. So do any authority figures [[GoodIsNotNice whose job requires them to be harsh]]: police officers, judges, and [[DrillSergeantNasty drill sergeants]] are all especially prone to this.

Still, this is a clear case of TruthInTelevision. A person doesn't have to kill or steal or do anything illegal to be unlikable. If you're a complete jerk and rub your victories in the faces of the people you step over, you'll still be seen in a bad light.

'''Note that a character cannot qualify to be a Villainy-Free Villain if they participate in unethical activities. As the name suggests, this antagonist has all the aspects of the villain except the actual villainy. Also, for a character to qualify, they have to actually be as unpleasant as a normal villain, enough so for the viewer to not sympathize with them, otherwise, they’re just a DesignatedVillain.'''

The character needs to keep a balance and be unpleasant without doing [[KickTheDog anything too unpleasant]].
On the other hand, if they are evil but barely even do anything to fill the "antagonist" role, then they’re a PlotIrrelevantVillain. If they aren’t necessarily unpleasant--heck, they can be even downright nice--yet thier actions are the cause of unpleasant effects for other innocents without thier knowing, they’re ObliviouslyEvil. Compare HateSink, who may not be the main conflict-maker but acts nasty so the audience has someone to root against. Contrast AntiVillain, a sympathetic and generally likable villain who isn't outright villainous, and AffablyEvil, for a villain who is downright ''nice''. For the {{Fanon}} version, see RonTheDeathEater, where a character is good in Canon, but the fans treat them as evil.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' has several cases of Pokémon trainers who do nothing worse than being huge jerks and fighting against the protagonists with their Pokémon, which is perfectly normal in the Pokémon world. Quite often, they will [[DefeatMeansFriendship become nicer]] by the end of the episode or the arc, whatever the case may be.
* ''Manga/JojosBizarreAdventureDiamondIsUnbreakable'': The Bank Teller during the "Shigechi's Harvest" arc ends up as a downplayed example. The heroes find a winning lottery ticket and try to cash it, but the Teller is suspicious of how a bunch of teenagers came across a winning ticket especially as the original owner's name is on it. He expresses a huge amount of joy at accusing them of stealing the ticket and tries to get them arrested which all together isn't unreasonable given the information he has. Though after they successfully trick him, he apologizes, ashamed of the accusations, and happily pays them the money. They even agree to continue to use his bank to store their winnings and at the end of the day there was no real hard feelings.

* ComicBook/{{Mickey Mouse|ComicUniverse}} once opened a pizza parlor and its success led Petey to open a rival pizza parlor in front of Mickey's. While the readers were expected to cheer for Mickey, Petey couldn't realistically be called a villain until near the end, when he sicced some animals to eat a giant pizza made by Mickey (and even then, it's made clear he ''didn't'' like doing this and considered it as a last resort). Fortunately, some of the animals [[HoistByHisOwnPetard ate the rival's own giant pizza as well]]. After that, Mickey ran out of flour and his rival ran out of cheese and the two of them decided to share to avoid bankruptcy.
* John D. Rockerduck from ComicBook/DisneyDucksComicUniverse is Scrooge's main business rival, but while he often uses underhanded tactics, in some stories he competes entirely fairly (or at least, doesn't cheat any more than Scrooge himself does), but is still unsympathetic due to his smug attitude. In the only story Creator/CarlBarks ever used him, all he did was enter a boat into an upcoming race to prove his gasoline was better than Scrooge's.

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* The sequel to ''FanFic/AngelOfTheBat'', ''Times of Heresy'' actually uses this to ''[[PlayingWithATrope increase]]'' the threat of one of its characters. Cameron Gram is an abrasive, bigoted, HolierThanThou radio evangelist... And is threatening to Cassandra precisely because he ''isn't'' doing anything illegal or physically violent. Cassandra notes it was easy to write off the previous story's religious antagonist because he was so violent and clearly mentally unstable. Gram, while a major jerkass, is perfectly sane, successful and has been a practicing Christian much longer than she has. According to Cassie, Gram embodies her fear that she is the one being EgocentricallyReligious, not people like Gram.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* The Shadowbolts of Crystal Prep High School from ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirlsFriendshipGames'' aren't really all that antagonistic towards the heroes of Canterlot High School, save for some competitive smack-talking and bragging. Most of Crystal Prep's students are just good enough to beat the Wondercolts fairly, without any [[DickDastardlyStopsToCheat unnecessary cheating]]. If anything, they're the most antagonistic towards one of their own, the {{Anti Villain}}ous Human Twilight, than the Wondercolts. All of them are still obnoxious in their own ways to prevent any sympathy from being given to them. [[spoiler:And while they do convince Human Twilight to [[VillainSong unleash the magic]], that was more due to the toxic influence of the movie's BigBad, Principal Cinch.]]
* [[AdaptationalVillainy The human version of Filthy Rich]] serves a similar role in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirlsLegendOfEverfree''. He intends to buy out the titular Camp Everfree to build a spa and is generally unpleasant in his brief appearance, even to the point he doesn't really care about what happens to the camp, but it's well within his right to do so if Timber Spruce and Gloriosa Daisy can't pay the rent (which they can't) and that's simply a fact of the business world. He even gives Gloriosa one more week to either get the money together (which he figured was unlikely) or prepare her goodbyes to the camp. [[spoiler:He also has no direct hand in Gloriosa becoming corrupted by magic and turning into [[BigBad Gaea Everfree]]; that was all on Gloriosa's part and he didn't even know about it]].
* Anton Ego of ''WesternAnimation/{{Ratatouille}}'' seems to fit this trope to a T at first. He's a food critic. Food critics can and do give restaurants negative reviews. He also hates Gusteau's populist philosophy that "anyone can cook," so he's looking forward to hating the restaurant's food. Ego even {{lampshade|Hanging}}s it in his introduction to Linguini: "Pardon me for interrupting your premature celebration, but I thought it only fair to give you a sporting chance as you are new to this game... and you've been playing without an opponent, which is, as you may have guessed, against the rules." [[spoiler:However, when being served a genuinely delicious dish, he gives the restaurant glowing praise even knowing full well that he'll be throwing his career away should anyone discover who is cooking the food. And they do.]]
* Well-meaning but prissy Aunt Sarah from ''Disney/LadyAndTheTramp''. Sarah's main flaw is being a HorribleJudgeOfCharacter. She fails to recognize the only two (okay, three) true villains of the film: the rat that Tramp kills and Si and Am, her two [[CatsAreMean Siamese cats]]. She remains convinced that [[WrongGenreSavvy her cats are incapable of doing anything wrong]] and blames all of their misdeeds on Lady.
* Sid from ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory''. He can't really be faulted for mutilating and destroying toys if he doesn't even know that they're alive. His worst actual offense is being a jerk to his younger sister and mutilating ''her'' toys. Sure enough, once he learned that they were alive, he never hurt another toy again (even if they let him know they were alive by scaring him).
* Francesco from ''WesternAnimation/{{Cars 2}}''. He's not an unscrupulous racer like Chick, the previous film's antagonist; indeed he's a very good sport, but he ''is'' just as obnoxious as Chick, enough to give [=McQueen=] a motivation in the otherwise Mater-centric story: [=McQueen=] really, really wants to beat this guy.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Jonathan Poe, the final opponent of the protagonist, Josh Waitzkin, in ''Film/SearchingForBobbyFischer''. Quite possibly one of the most unpleasant chess players in all of cinema, this kid is just begging to get his head handed to him by Josh. "Trick or Treat" indeed.
* Dr. Jonas Miller, the protagonists' tornado-chasing rival in ''Film/{{Twister}}''. His sins? Taking corporate funding, creating a competitor to the protagonists' experimental prototype, being a SmugSnake, and riding around in a [[ColourCodedForYourConvenience caravan of black SUVs]]. Jonas even has plenty of valid points that he and Bill are NotSoDifferent. Both Bill and Jonas left their old crew for better-paying jobs (Jonas for his corporate sponsors, Bill as a TV weatherman.) Bill also abandoned his idea for the "Dorothy" system, and Jonas built a working prototype without him.
* Jeanie Bueller in ''Film/FerrisBuellersDayOff''. Jeanie never does anything immoral - rather she counters several of ''Ferris''' immoral acts. However, being entirely motivated by spite launches her straight into antagonist territory. And she does [[spoiler: experience a HeelFaceTurn of sorts]].
* ''Film/BigDaddy'': Arthur Brooks (Josh Mostel), the social worker who takes Sonny to court. He really does care about the welfare of the boy Sonny has adopted, but the story still makes him out to be an antagonist when he shows up in Sonny's apartment and coldly drags away the boy, who is clearly frightened and can't understand what's happening. But he never actually acts maliciously, and when he loses his case against Sonny at the climax of the film, he realizes that Sonny really is a well-meaning family man.
* In ''Film/GrumpyOldMen,'' Snyder of the [[IntimidatingRevenueService IRS]] is just doing his job, trying to collect back taxes John owes. And (off-screen) he is actually fairly reasonable - Jacob talks him into waiving the late fees if the original amount is paid. Doesn't stop Max from insulting him and playing a few [[ComedicSociopathy hilarious practical jokes]] on him.
* The Mayor and (especially) The Mayor's Wife from ''Film/RockOfAges'' want to shut down a poorly run nightclub that owes the city a small fortune in unpaid taxes and clean up a sleazy neighbourhood and are willing to do so through the completely legal means of a public protest. Luckily they turn out to be {{Straw Hypocrite}}s when it comes to sex so it is okay for the audience to hate them.
* In ''Film/BeKindRewind'', film companies send a cease and desist order against the video store for presenting their "sweded" remakes as the original films, violating copyright. Their lawyers grandstand their actions by steamrolling all the films in front of the whole neighborhood, putting the struggling video store out of business. The lawyers even lampshade the trope as they look at the crowd's reaction, snorting, "Oh, now ''we're'' the bad guy, huh?"
* In ''Film/TheFighter'', Mickey Ward wins a championship by beating Shea Neary, who was arrogant and disrespectful during their press conference and does not touch gloves at the beginning of the fight.
* Miss Leavey (Jan Hooks) in ''Film/SimonBirch'' is thought of as a villain by her students, but she isn't evil - just grouchy.
* Dean Wormer from ''Film/AnimalHouse'' is an unpleasant JerkassHasAPoint antagonist type who is merely trying to enforce campus rules without committing immoral actions against hilarious but admittedly proto-delinquents frat boys. Part of his problem is that he's under pressure from the town's mayor, a genuinely evil amalgam of Mafia don and authoritarian plutocrat, who goes so far as to [[MoralEventHorizon threaten to have Wormer physically crippled]] if the Deltas do anything to embarrass him. While Wormer never does anything illegal, he certainly bends ethics by enlisting one group of students to spy on another, runs a kangaroo court in which the spied-upon have no reasonable chance to address the charges against them (some of which are false), and to justify all this with a "double-secret probation."
* The small-town mayor in ''Film/{{Jaws}}'' means well, but he's at heart a pompous politician who cares too much about public image, and ''honestly'' doesn't believe the shark is dangerous: "My kids were on that beach, too."
* The mayor [[LampshadeHanging (these characters so often seem to be mayors, don't they?)]] of New York City in the 1998 American remake of ''Film/{{Godzilla|1998}}'' isn't a villain by any means (and, to the extent that he could be considered one, he's treated to a KarmaHoudini at the end), but he's such an obnoxious blowhard that it's perfectly okay to dislike him.
* The concierge in ''Film/HomeAlone2LostInNewYork'' has every right to be wary and suspicious of a ten-year-old checking into a four-star hotel by himself, so the film has him act as though his very life is consumed by a desire to nail Kevin for "credit card fraud."
* Miles Edgeworth is this for the first part of the ''Film/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' movie. He's a SmugSnake who ruthlessly fights to win each case, but he ''is'' doing his job and even tells the defense at one point that all of his methods are perfectly legal.
* Lampshaded a bit in TheMovie of ''Film/TheFugitive'', in which Marshal Sam Gerard's reckless actions in enforcing the law are questioned even by his colleagues. But Gerard earns our respect by [[HeroicResolve his courageous determination to see justice done]] and his uncanny intelligence ("Never argue with the big dog, because the big dog is always right") - enough to be repackaged as the main hero of the sequel, ''Film/USMarshals''.
* Team Zeus in ''Film/RealSteel''. Their evil acts consist of 1) building the absolutely strongest boxing robot they could via the means and methods available to them (which is pretty much what the protagonists do as well), 2) trying to buy the protagonist robot as they think it will make a good sparring partner for their champion robot (to remove any serious competition, and to their credit they offered a fair price for it), and 3) [[spoiler: not handling a win that isn't a complete rout well, as their robot takes an immense pounding in the final match but does not get KO'd and ultimately gets the technical win on points]]. The film seems to recognize this, and includes a secondary antagonist figure who does more straightforward villain acts.
* ''Film/TwelveAngryMen'':
** As the primary advocate for a "guilty" verdict, Juror #3 is the closest thing the film has to a villain, even though he honestly does think the kid is guilty. The fact that he's an aggressive, irritable {{Jerkass}} who refuses to listen to the opposing side keeps our sympathy on the "not guilty" lobby through the duration of the story.
** Juror #10 is even more of one. Like Juror #3, he is only trying to prevent someone he honestly believes is a murderer from going free. However, he's also a lunatic who [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain assumed the defendant must have been guilty because of his race]] and openly admits that he doesn't want to hear any fact-based arguments otherwise. Unlike Juror #3, there is never any hint of his having a hidden sympathetic side.
* ''Film/TheJudge'' has Dwight Dickham, the prosecuting attorney, go after the Judge ruthlessly. In his first appearance, he seems like an asshole because he's got a metal, retractable water cup with a pin-up girl on the lid that he [[MundaneMadeAwesome dramatically extends]] with a loud "THWANG!" sound in court. It's also implied that he's taken a [[ItsPersonal special interest]] in the case because of his feelings of moral superiority to the Judge's son and counsel, Hank. In spite of all that, he's still just an honest prosecutor doing his job.
* Max Baer in ''Film/CinderellaMan'' is just the boxer who happens to be opposing our hero, and happens to be a very good boxer. He's made the villain by seeming to take a perverse pride in having killed opponents in the ring, and publicly warning that Braddock may not survive his bout. (This [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade contrasts the real Baer]], who was apparently a very nice guy who felt terrible when one of his opponents died, to the point of donating money to his family. He also beat a Nazi champion boxer while wearing the Star of David on his boxing shorts.)
* ''Film/OverTheTop'': Mike Hawk's grandfather never delivered his wayward father's letters to him, sends him to a boarding military academy and tries to take custody of him away from his father. He comes across like an overbearing jerk, but he seems to be acting in an honest attempt to do what he feels is best for his grandson.
* ''Film/RockyIII'' has Clubber Lang, who is an incredible {{Jerkass}} and unparalleled [[TrashTalk Trash Talker]], but trains hard and fights clean in the ring. Lang's single-minded focus (as contrasted with Rocky's distraction from proper training by fame and fortune) is a key plot point. TruthInTelevision; Lang's behavior is not unlike most professional boxers before a match in RealLife.
* "Pretty" Ricky Conlan in ''Film/{{Creed}}'' is extremely abrasive and deliberately antagonizes Adonis at a press conference, almost to the point of being a [[{{Heel}} wrestling heel]]. However, he is also a clean fighter and, after narrowly winning on points, tells Adonis that he is [[WorthyOpponent the future of the division]], and his abrasiveness is somewhat justified by the fact that he's being forced into retirement in his prime, and that Donnie is getting a title shot on his second professional bout off the strength of his name, while Conlan had to scratch and claw his way up from nothing.
* The Sovereign fall into this trope as they fulfill the role of secondary antagonists in ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxyVol2'': they have every reason to be angry that the Guardians stole their batteries, given that not only are those batteries incredibly valuable, but the Guardians were actually hired to ''protect them''. But they're such absolute pompous ''{{jerkass}}es'' that we really don't care.
* ''Film/{{Golden Boy|1939}}'':Fuseli is obviously supposed to be the villain—he's a mobster, with all the brusque, gruff, scary attitute of a mobster. Joe the boxer's old manager Moody is appalled at the prospect of Fuseli managing Joe, Lorna recoils from Joe when he accepts Fuseli's mentorship, and in the last scene a repentant Joe calls Fuseli a "gutter rat". But Fuseli never actually does anything bad. He doesn't fix the fight, or try to talk Joe into ThrowingTheFight. He actually is a better manager than Moody, using his connections to get Joe big-time fight in Madison Square Garden and a shot at the title. He doesn't use force to muscle Moody out, instead paying him fairly for his interest in Joe. And he doesn't even try and stop Joe from quitting boxing at the end, although he's pretty pissed off about it.

* ''Literature/RiversOfLondon'' has Tyburn. She's a RichBitch {{Jerkass}} who really takes far too much pleasure in one-upping Peter and while she might be a bit of TheStarscream to her mother, her real intentions are to modernise how London (and the rest of the United Kingdom) deals with magic, get everything systematised and above board, and do away with the tangles of "arrangements" and "agreements" that have accumulated over the years. Something that Peter himself is pretty keen on, she just goes about it all in a really arsehole-ish ways.
* ''Franchise/LesMiserables'' has {{Trope Namer|s}} InspectorJavert, who pursues JustifiedCriminal Jean Valjean because...he broke his parole. How sympathetic he is depends on the adaptation, but as Valjean acknowledges [[spoiler:when he saves Javert's life]], Javert's actions are completely in accordance with the law, even if he's cruel in doing so.
--> '''[[Theatre/LesMiserables Valjean]]:''' ''"You've done your duty, nothing more."''

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Any "villain" on ''Series/{{Survivor}}'' or any other reality show is bound to be this (the casting department should've weeded out the ''actual'' psychos). Villainy isn't defined by dirty play here - "heroes" have also done their share of deceptive moves, and villains don't noticeably break the rules lest production kick them out. The villains are the ones that are [[ImNotHereToMakeFriends mean-spirited about it]] and annoy everyone with bragging and the like. For ''Survivor'', this inevitably led to complications in their ''Heroes vs Villains'' season when half the contestants on the villains team weren't even villains anyways. It's incredibly tough to determine in a series like that who is a hero or villain because everyone does something underhanded eventually. Even one of the quintessential "heroes" of the series, Rupert Boneham, stole the entire other tribe's shoes in the first episode of his first season. Probably the only true villains of the series are Johnny Fairplay (who concocted a story about his grandma dying to gain sympathy and roll through to the finals), Russell Hantz and Colton Cumbie (complete and unrepentant dicks), and Brandon Hantz (who, while sympathetic, has issues and turns out to be one of the "psychos" casting should've weeded out).
* Skyler on ''Series/BreakingBad'' only wants to know what her sick husband was up to while she was at home struggling with a disabled son and another kid on the way. Her notable offences include returning an unattractive piece of jewelery she got from her sister, faking labor to avoid being arrested (for something she didn't do), and being lukewarm to her husband's sexual advances. She later becomes a typical shrewish, visitation-denying, ex-wife [[spoiler: and an adulterous white collar criminal]], but her main function from early on is to put more pressure on Walt's already stressful double-life, making her somewhat unsympathetic by default. Vince Gilligan has stated that he's disturbed by the level of hatred some of the fans have for her, and if they're still keeping it up by season three it's probably just pure misogyny (Creator/AnnaGunn has defended the character from the {{hatedom}} as well for the same reasons). Then subverted, as she starts getting involved in Walt's business and proves to be far more level-headed than him.
* Steven Spreck of ''Series/{{Community}}'' isn't quite evil, but he is shown to be rather underhanded (and creepy) in his attempts to get rid of Greendale.
* [[InternalAffairs Captain Sharon Ryder]] on ''Series/TheCloser'' is portrayed as an antagonist to Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, but in fact she's just doing her job, and at one point she actually tells Johnson she's only investigating her because she has to, and tries to hint to her to be more careful (hints which Johnson doesn't seem to pick up on). She's also had several EnemyMine moments with Johnson, eventually forming a mutual respect with her, and eventually taking over her team after Johnson retired.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'':
** Bruce Maddox from "The Measure of a Man" wants to disassemble Data in order to find out how to replicate his design. Although his goal is noble, Data refuses when it becomes obvious that Maddox doesn't have a very good idea of what he is doing, and Maddox spends the rest of the episode trying to legally force him into compliance. This is mostly because Maddox does not see Data as a self-determining individual and does not believe he has the right to refuse. He comes around at the end.
** Admiral Nechayev and Picard never saw eye-to-eye on matters of policy, since Nechayev was far more [[WarHawk hawkish]] than Picard. Whenever she appeared in an episode, it was usually a sign that she was about to browbeat Picard over his latest command decisions in the most condescending and {{jerkass}}y way possible.
** Captain Edward Jellico could be considered a subversion of this trope. He is given command of the ''Enterprise'' during the "Chain of Command" two-parter and obviously doesn't get along well with the crew. His brusque and demanding style of command makes him easy to dislike, both for the crew and the audience, he appears to lack diplomatic savvy, and he even relieves Riker of his position. Despite this, Jellico is vindicated by his success in resolving the crisis of the day, saving Picard from the Cardassians and averting an armed conflict. Perhaps an example of GoodIsNotNice by the end.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' introduced Solok, an insufferable [[StrawVulcan Vulcan]] captain obsessed with demonstrating his species' physical and intellectual superiority over humans. The one time he appears on the show, it is to challenge Sisko to a not-so-friendly game of baseball and humiliate him with a CurbStompBattle.
* [[ParodiedTrope Parodied]] on ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' with the StoryWithinAStory, ''The Wedding Bride''. It's based on events that happened during ''How I Met Your Mother'''s fourth season, but recasts Ted as the villain of the story rather than the victim; to make up for the fact that Ted never did anything villainous, the character based on him just acts like the most over-the-top asshole imaginable in every single scene.
* In ''Series/PowerRangersLostGalaxy'', there's Kegler- a harmless alien who only starts working for [[BigBad Trakeena]] when his best friend [[NobleTopEnforcer Villamax]] started working for her. He never fought, he never did anything really evil- the closest he got was constructing a laser device that got blown up anyway- but [[spoiler: got killed just because he was onboard the Scorpion Stinger when it crashed (Trakeena had killed Villamax earlier for showing mercy towards the evacuating citizens of Terra Venture)]].

[[folder:Music Videos]]
* Mark Metcalf's characters in Music/TwistedSister's "I Wanna Rock" (the high school teacher) and "We're Not Gonna Take It" (the father) videos. They act harshly toward his students/son, yes, but they aren't exactly cruel to them; they actually seem to believe that they're "bad" kids and they really need their help. But their behavior is so angry and unreasoning that it's still a pleasure to see [[CoolPeopleRebelAgainstAuthority the "cool" kids finally shut them down]].

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* In ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'', Calvin's tendency to see himself as a DesignatedHero causes his teacher Miss Wormwood, his BadlyBatteredBabysitter Rosalyn, and even his mother to be portrayed as horrifying sadistic monsters in his fantasy imagination. Of course, when you're only six years old, the adults in charge of you tend to look more menacing than they really are.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Unless they KickTheDog all the time, many of the heels in Wrestling/{{WWE}} (and to a lesser extent Wrestling/{{TNA}}) aren't all that villainous. Many times, all it takes for them to get booed is to be a little whiny or contrary, or to [[TheComplainerIsAlwaysWrong say something that nobody wants to hear]]. The worst instances are when a wrestler is a heel simply because he or she is a ForeignWrestlingHeel from a country that Americans don't really like, and has the balls to [[CaptainPatriotic praise his or her own country instead of automatically bowing down to worship the United States of America]].

* ''TabletopGame/SentinelsOfTheMultiverse'': Villain The Dreamer isn't, in fact, a villain -- she's the 6-year-old version of one of the heroes from the future, whose psychic visions are manifesting and causing havoc. The heroes actually ''lose'' if they bring her to 0 HP, and instead have to fight her specters.

* In ''Theatre/TheGirlOfTheGoldenWest'', Sheriff Jack Rance represents the law, so it makes sense that he'd torment a man who, after all, is a wanted criminal. He also acts possessively towards the Girl and tries to push her into a bigamous relationship with him, but doesn't really go lower than a common JerkAss.
* ''Theatre/TheMusicMan'' has Charlie Cowell, who aggressively (though truthfully) denounces Harold Hill to the River City public as a SnakeOilSalesman, driving them to hunt him down with TorchesAndPitchforks. He's otherwise hardly a vicious antagonist, though his trade of selling anvils does make him a literal "heavy."

* Heather from ''Webcomic/{{Misfile}}'' fits very nicely here. She is a complete ass, but has actually played fairer than our heroes when it has come to her races.
** The comic later subverts this. Heather isn't actually a cruel person, she's just vindictive and dislikes Ash, Emily, and Missy simply because she's {{Yandere}} for James (which is, admittedly, just a bit stupid considering Ash and the others only dislike ''her'' in retaliation). She actually has something of a HiddenHeartOfGold, but prefers to have a reputation as an unapproachable bitch. She even tells Ash off for believing her to be inherently nasty and even states that she just doesn't ''want'' to make good with Team Misfile.
* Played straight when one of the villains from ''Webcomic/CharCole'' is attacked by the titular character. Later, his conscience lambasts him for throwing the first punch in a situation that could have been avoided by talking or even just doing nothing, when the guy is just a complete douche, "which isn't illegal, by the way."
* Teresa from ''Webcomic/{{Exiern}}'' has genuinely meant well, but is the designated antagonist due to her being a(n unwitting) racist snob. It is a good job she is though because otherwise having our hero([[GenderBender ine]]) make unfounded accusations of pedophilia towards her and verbally bully her simply because [[AttractiveBentGender she enjoys being an attractive woman]], while our hero is all mopey about it, could have been a real moment of MoralDissonance.
* ''Webcomic/ALoonaticsTale'': Van Parker is only doing his job when he captures Riley and Flint, chronic escapees of the Mercia Sanitarium and Straitjacket Emporium. He's not exactly discriminating about ''when'' he tries to grab them, though, so he might be interrupting important work at the time (bearing in mind that the two men are under the employ of the King of Mercia himself).

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* While capable of being a straight-out villain, WesternAnimation/{{Pete}} from the ''WesternAnimation/ClassicDisneyShorts'' often fell into this category, particularly in his shorts with WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck. Shorts like ''The Riveter'', ''Timber!'' and most of Donald and Pete's wartime cartoons feature Pete in perfectly legit professions, but still acting like a bullying {{Jerkass}}. In ''WesternAnimation/GoofTroop'', he isn't even played as a villain at all (with a few exceptions) and is more of a JerkWithAHeartOfGold on many occasions in contrast to his standard {{Jerkass}} personality.
* Sapphira in ''WesternAnimation/{{Pearlie}}'', whose ultimate evil goal is to discredit her cousin Pearlie and have a lot of people come to her spa... Yes, somebody has loads of ambition. Subverted in that she has no ethical reason for discrediting Pearlie; however, her goal in most episodes involves exposing Pearlie's screw-ups, rather than frame her for anything.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' has [[PhysicalGod Oberon]], who merely tries to reclaim Avalon from a gargoyle clan that has taken up residence in his absence. One of the squatters even notes that he's within his rights to do so, [[InformedWrongness but her concerns are quickly dismissed]]. (As stated in a creator commentary, "good thing our heroes are sympathetic and Oberon isn't".) Of course, then he tries to take Xanatos' baby son a few episodes later and the "Villainy-Free" part goes out the window. He's still more ChaoticNeutral than anything else, though.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''
** In the episode "[[Recap/TheSimpsonsS8E11TheTwistedWorldOfMargeSimpson The Twisted World of Marge Simpson]]", the Investorettes weren't really doing anything wrong by kicking Marge out of their investment group (Marge herself admitted she didn't like "the whole idea of 'investing'"), and they were well within their rights to compete with her when they both started up mobile snack businesses. But they're such ''jerks'' about it that you're not sad at all when Marge's Mafia goons blow up their truck. Keep in mind, Marge ''didn't'' know that Homer had gotten the Mafia involved for her. The Investorettes on the other hand, ''knowingly'' hired the Yakuza to compete and take down Marge.
** When Homer returns to college to complete a nuclear science class, he immediately assumes that the Dean is [[DeanBitterman automatically a student-hating villain]] while in fact the Dean is laid back, friendly and the most understanding man you could ever meet. Homer ''still'' treats him as a villain, though, since he needs one to fulfill his college fantasy.
* ''{{WesternAnimation/Futurama}}'': Professor Farnsworth's {{Jerkass}} rival scientist, WERNSTROM!! Both men are frequently called to come up with solutions to various world-threatening calamities, and the fact that he keeps being called back proves that Wernstrom is just as much of a ScienceHero as Farnsworth... the only difference is he's a ''colossal'' dick about it! Their rivalry actually started over something ridiculously trivial, back when Farnsworth was Wernstrom's college professor and he (very slightly) deducted points on a test to penalize bad handwriting, and Wernstrom [[DisproportionateRetribution swore he'd get revenge even if it took a hundred years]]. This revenge usually comes in the form of criticism, skepticism, and trying to be the better scientist. However, when Farnsworth meekly asks for a teamup, Wernstrom states it would be his honor.
* This happened in the ''WesternAnimation/MarthaSpeaks'' episode "Martha Out West"; Alice's BigBrotherBully Ronald didn't want to play an outlaw in the western movie they were filming (since outlaws do illegal things) so they made him a guy who buys the town and forces everyone to leave.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents''
** Remy Buxaplenty isn't really doing anything wrong by one-upping Timmy, and his backstory makes him easy to sympathize with, except that he's such a huge jerk about it. He starts out like this, but we see that get pulled apart when we see him attempt to bribe Timmy from his fairies and later enter a magical duel with him. After they tie, Timmy tries to get Remy to just call it a draw, mentioning he doesn't care if Remy has fairies. However, it's an issue for Remy because he doesn't view it as fair for Timmy to have both loving (if not idiotic) parents and his godparents. He ends up losing his (but returns in a later episode and a few more times.) He changed the moment he decided that he'd risk losing his fairy just for the chance for Timmy to lose his.
** [[SitcomArchnemesis The Dinkleburgs]] too, who are, for the most part, completely harmless, but enjoy rubbing their accomplishments in Timmy's dad's face. That being said, the show does portray Timmy's dad in a less-than-flattering light for him hating them so much. However, one episode did feature Mr. Dinkleburg act like an evil villain just to make Timmy's dad appear ProperlyParanoid (though we discover Dinkleburg did it to try and cheer Mr. Turner up).
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' has its fair share of these -- though, admittedly, it also has plenty of ''genuine'' villains, too.
** Prince Blueblood in "Best Night Ever" is a RoyalBrat, and although genuinely unpleasant he is never anything more than a self-centered snob who probably would have never approached Rarity if she had not done so first.
** Jet Set and Upper Crust from "Sweet and Elite" are snobby elitists who walk around with their muzzles in the air and disparage Rarity because she comes from a rural town -- the moment that they go from admiring Rarity's hat design to dismissing it as worthless because they just found out she comes from Ponyville is the moment they get revealed as "the bad guys" of the episode.
** Trixie, who is often regarded as one of the show's more memorable villains, was only guilty of showboating and humiliating three of the protagonists in "Boast Busters" (who actually ''started the fight'' by heckling and then challenging Trixie to best them). When a giant bear trashed the town, Trixie's only real involvement was that she had made claims of being able to stop such a threat when this was not actually true. The later episode "Magic Duel" subverts this at first, when Trixie returns to Ponyville armed with immensely powerful magic, boots Twilight Sparkle out of the town and reigns as a tyrant over the city. However, her newfound evil is revealed to be the doing of the ArtifactOfDoom she used to obtain power. It is not hard to surmise that Trixie got the Amulet in an attempt to simply show up Twilight, but TheCorruption took it from there. By the end of the episode, [[spoiler:Trixie is remorseful for the horrible things she has done under the Amulet's influence, and makes amends to Twilight]].
** Chancellor Neighsay is one of the most maligned characters to ever appear in the show and often considered to stand alongside major villains like King Sombra and Queen Chrysalis, in spite of the fact he doesn't actually do anything definitively villainous outside of enforcing the policies of the EEA and closing Twilight's School of Friendship due to [[FantasticRacism racially-motivated]] but valid concerns (see his entry under StrawmanHasAPoint). He's just ''such'' an obnoxious, nasty, and unlikable individual about it that he's hard not to hate.
* Filthy Rich in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirlsLegendOfEverfree'', in [[AdaptationalVillainy stark contrast]] to his BenevolentBoss pony counterpart, acts like an evil CorruptCorporateExecutive yet ''what'' he's actually doing is merely laying claim to some land he has the legal and financial right to. Even giving Gloriosa Daisy an extra month to pay for her land, by a verbal agreement he actually honors in the end, is portrayed as malicious taunting rather than the surprisingly generous act it actually was.
* Ranger Smith from ''WesternAnimation/YogiBear'' is by no means a bad guy. He's simply trying to do his job to keep Jellystone Park trouble free and keep Yogi and Boo-Boo from stealing picnic baskets from the campers.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants''. While capable of being an outright villain [[DependingonTheWriter Depending on the Episode]] Plankton at times can be a legitimate competitor towards Mr. Krabs with no real malicious intention, once even offering to give up attempting to steal the formula for one single customer. Worse case scenario in these situations, Plankton just wants to drive Krabs nuts.
** Squidward fits the role even better, simply being irritable and condescending about Spongebob's demeanor. A lot of the older fanbase has actually ended up sympathizing with Squidward over Spongebob, finding the former's irritation justified. Can you blame someone for disliking a neighbor who once blasted techno music for 12 hours?
* Done intentionally with the aptly-named fan-favorite Freaky Fred of ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog'', despite being fondly remembered as one of the most disturbing characters in the entire series alongside legitimately terrifying characters like King Ramses and Katz, is ironically the least malicious and dangerous "villain" to ever appear. He's a truly freaky person, he's obsessed with cutting hair and can't help himself, but his intentions for visiting truly were to visit his Aunt Muriel and he's a polite, genuinely kind person. Just don't make the mistake of getting locked alone in the bathroom with him, or you'll end up bald and scared shitless.