It's a rare and lucky Evil Overlord who manages to get The Empire nice and entrenched, perhaps even managing to Take Over the World. And when they do, life probably seems pretty good, what with being master of all they survey. There's just one little problem they sometimes face. (Well, two, if you count those pesky heroes, but they'll be dealt with soon enough.) Everyone hates them.
The reason varies. Sometimes, it's their little hobby of periodically going out and raining terror, destruction, and death upon the quivering populace to remind everyone who's boss. Sometimes, it's the high taxes (or tribute, if you're particularly old-fashioned) they demand to keep themselves living a life of luxury as the peasants starve. Sometimes, it's just because they have a different fashion sense than everyone else, and insist on making everything look drab, gray, and depressing. And sometimes...who knows?
One almost has to pity the Evil Overlord who faces this. Sure, it's expected that a few foolhardy souls would form some sort of heroic rebellion, but it must hurt that, with the exception of the Evil Minions working directly for them (or, in extreme case, especiallythe evil minions working directly for them), every single human being or other sentient creature in their dominion hates their guts and yearns for the day they're overthrown. The only consolation they've got is that most of the populace are willing to keep their heads down and hope to stay out of trouble. But it's a sure bet that even those people still grumble, and those damn rebels can be pretty confident of getting quiet assistance from just about anyone they meet.
Maybe the Evil Overlord is some sort of incarnation of ultimate evil who just doesn't care that he or she has a Zero Percent Approval Rating. Then again, maybe he or she should consider some photo ops.
An Evil Overlord running The Empire doesn't always have this problem, it should be noted. Sometimes, they favour a certain segment of the population while keeping another segment down, so they have support in some quarters. Other times, they manage to keep their true nature hidden, becoming a Villain with Good Publicity who just about everyone loves, except for the few who find out about the true evil hiding behind the Government Conspiracy. Still other times, it turns out that a lot of people just don't care that the people in charge are openly homicidal, demon-worshipingalien hybridswho eat soulsand babies, as long as they get their Bread and Circuses.
This serves a pragmatic reason for writers in terms of keeping things morally justified for our heroes. Because if they were taking out an emperor who was popular with the people or who had done good work for the country under their control for a (usually) personal vendetta, they wouldn't seem that much like heroes at all! Then again, it happens sometimes, and then you have people Rooting for the Empire.
For some reason, a Zero Percent Approval Rating rarely stops an overlord from recruiting hordes of utterly loyal Mooks. Trustworthy lieutenants and advisers are much harder to come by for the hated tyrant, though.
The Caligula often possesses this sort of approval rating.
Of course, if a Zero Percent Approval Rating really bothers you, there's always the option of Brainwashing, or singling out a couple of people and turn them into Les Collaborateurs. The Evil Overlord who wants to work at it can try Bread and Circuses.
Sometimes, the Evil Overlordfeeds on people's hatred/fear, so there's no reason for them to try to be popular.
If the person has a plan that requires this, then it's a Zero Approval Gambit.
Nota Bene: This trope does not work in Real Life because real politicians start running into major problems before they can achieve a ZAR. "Very low" is different from "zero". In stable governments, politicians with very low approval ratings are usually unable to accomplish any actual legislating, usually because they're working with other politicians who don't want their approval ratings to plummet. In less stable situations, politicians with very low approval ratings are overthrown before they can quite hit the zero mark. Even in a complete and absolute dictatorship, the leader needs to maintain at least the grudging approval of his bodyguards, most of the army, and the top bureaucrats, to avoid being deposed/shot at the first possible opportunity. They also commonly have support among certain segments of the population, like their family or a minority race. However, the farther you are away from said hating subjects nation-wise, the easier it is to be hated without being attacked. This trope also doesn't work on polls and movie reviews as well, because polls and movie review are sampled through a small group of people and is often biased towards one opinion. That said, No Real Life Examples, Please!
Compare and contrast 100% Adoration Rating.
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Anime and Manga
In Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix, the king in Yamato is distinctly aware of how much the kingdom hates him, and therefore orders a hundred people to be sacrificed when he dies just to ensure that the country will mourn his death.
Almost every subordinate of Naraku (and everyone in general) from Inuyasha seems to want to kill him for one reason or another, including characters that are incarnations of himself.
Also, after taking his You Will Be Assimilated tendencies a bit too far, he started having to cut loose some component demons that were dead weight. You'd think this would be a good thing for his victims, but it's not the whole demon in day-one condition, just the bits he didn't need (imagine the inedible leftover parts of a turkey or something finding themselves still alive after being cut away). One such demon, made of discarded parts, went against Naraku. When even parts of your own body hate you and want you dead, you know you're doing something wrong. In fact, one his incarnations who tried The Starscream tactic on him was his own heart. Not only did it betray him but he had expected it to. Yes, it's true: Naraku's approval rating was so abysmal, not only did everyone (including his own servants) hate him, but even he hated himself.
Lelouch does this in Code Geass R2: since taking over as Emperor, he's alienated the nobility of Britannia by dismantling the aristocracy, and alienated everyone else by barging his way into the UFN and kidnapping everyone, making it seem for all intents and purposes that he's out to Take Over the World. Which he then does. Strangely, due to his actions, the common Britannia people love him. His master plan is to make himself into the enemy of the world. When Suzaku, disguised as Zero, kills him, the entire world will be united in their hatred of the now-dead Emperor.
The Zanscare Empire of Victory Gundam is seen as the most despicable villain by UC Gundam standards.
In-universe, Celestial Being of Gundam 00 drop deeper and deeper into this as they follow their Well-Intentioned Extremist nature and continue making attacks on anyone who they perceive as pursuing conflict. With the appearance of Team Trinity, who are even more aggressive in pursuing their goal than the Gundam Meisters and have no concerns about civilian casualties (to the point that when one of them blows up a wedding just on a whim, neither of her partners are at all concerned about this), the last lingering threads of approval vanish and they become reviled as the worst terrorist organization in history, enemies of all humanity. It turns out that this was all part of the plan.
Dakki of Houshin Engi is a good example. She has got the emperor Chuuou under her leash (per seduction spell) and thinks of a new atrocity each month. She lives in luxury, while the peasants starve and are picked off for her entertainment. Entertainment, in this case, always involves dying, in a snake pit, in a forest by wild tigers, and somesuch, while the emperor and she drink on a boat on a frikking lake of sake...And the list goes on. Everyone that isn't under her temptation spell (aka, everyone powerful enough or far enough away) hates her with passion. The best/worst part? She gets away with it
In the entirety of Kagerou-Nostalgia, there does not seem to be a single person (excepting his wife) who actually likes General Kiyotaka Kuroda, who controls eighty percent of the series' version of medieval Japan. His tendency towards organising random slaughters of people and using demons as a part of his army may have something to do with that. It's worth noting that even Ranmaru and Rikimaru, Co-Dragons to Gessho Kuki, the series' Big Bad, do not like Kuroda, and that Gessho himself seems to view Kuroda as The Starscream and, therefore, expendable. The man is truly loathed, albeit with good reason.
The antagonist occupiers in Guilty Crown are seen as completely unsympathetic and loves to kick innocents and kill them without batting an eye.
This happens in one backstory of the "Great Distance in the Wind; the Sky at Dawn" arc of The Twelve Kingdoms. King Chuutatsu of Hou, on the advice of his wife, orders that anyone accused of a crime—regardless of severity—will be put to death. This results in the brutal, systematic slaughter of hundreds of thousands of his subjects (including several Women of Court falsely accused by the queen) and eventually a revolt by some of his governors and generals, who promptly behead the King and Queen and Hourin and force their 13-year-old daughter Shoukei into hiding. Only once the ex-Princess gets out into the real world does she find out just how much everyone absolutely despised her father for his cruelty (Hou was the only one of the 12 Kingdoms that still practised crucifixion, for one).
Played for laughs in Princess Jellyfish — while Kuranosuke's Cloudcuckoolander uncle Saburouta is competent as a politician, his approval rating is quite low (9% in episode 4, which drops to 5% by the finale).
Marvel's Doctor Doom has been on both sides of this trope. Sometimes, the Latverians hate him, but other times, they're okay with him — especially since alternative rulers like Prince Zorba are usually even worse. It doesn't hurt that he turned a backwater Ruritania into an industrial and military force to be reckoned with, strong enough to (before the Sliding Time Scale messed it up) stand neutral directly between Western Europe and the Soviet bloc. If he didn't have a terrifying and capricious temper, he'd stay out of this trope entirely.
In the Hulk comics'Planet Hulk story arc, the Red King of Sakaar indulges in delusions of godhood and mass genocide and, judging by a flashback to Caiera the Oldstrong's origins, has been irredeemable since childhood, all the way to his death (where he tries to DESTROY THE PLANET rather than not rule it). Really, the Mini-Marvels parody of this story arc summed it up:
Caiera: Wouldn't that be bad karma? Red King:Everything I do is bad karma.
Kid Paddle, when he plays SimCity. He put barbed wire around the city so no one can leave it and raised taxes to 100% to pay for the police he needs to oppress the population. Not surprisingly, when asked what the biggest problem is, 100% of the people say "The mayor!"
This trope is played straight in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic oneshot fanfiction, Adored with Queen Chrysalis. A Changeling monarch's best popularity indicator here is their ability to sense the love and adoration of their subjects. When she can sense zip, this starts to worry her. The causes of this fall from grace are put down to her increasing ineptitude, incompetence and over-reliance on a Rasputin stand-in, as well as the ''obvious..."
In Earth And Sky, it's established that no one — from her employees to her husband — likes Diamond Tiara. When Chrysalis replaces her, she's shocked to find that the best she can feel is tolerance, which to her is like trying to eat styrofoam.
In A Growing Affection everyone hates Madara. The only people who don't want him dead are the ones who need to use him in some way. And they will kill him as soon as he outlives his usefulness. Some people like his Tobi persona, but once the mask comes off, they want his blood. Pein even trained a special corps of ninjas to take out Madara if he betrayed Pein, or just if Pein gave the order. Good thing for Madara he is pretty useful, and very tough to kill.
The film version of Eragon. The villain is so despised, it seems that nobody, from the peasants to the minions to The Dragon (that is, his most powerful ally, not his literal dragon steed), has anything but fear and loathing for him, no matter how much his reign benefits them personally.
One of the complaints directed against the filmadaptation of Alan Moore's V for Vendetta is that everyone already hated and distrusted the government before V came around, and had no fear of saying so. This is definitely not the case in the original comic; one of the most nefarious things about the Norsefire Coalition, as Moore depicted them, was that they were Villains With Good Publicity who actually had valid accomplishments to brag about (e.g., resurrecting the UK economy in the aftermath of a nuclear winter).
And the fact that if a person in the comic was caught badmouthing Norsefire, they'd be put into concentration camps. And anywhere you looked, there was a two-way CCTV with audio.
They're Villains With Good Publicity in the movie too, to an extent; plenty of people aren't happy about the loss of freedom, but after 80,000 people were killed in a bioterrorist attack, they got enough popular support to become firmly entrenched. What the people don't know is that Norsefire coordinated the attack themselves for this exact reason. All of this happens in the movie only, and is widely viewed as an allegory for a certain U.S. presidential administration, much to Moore's chagrin.
By the end of Gladiator, Emperor Commodus has this in regards to the senate. At the end of the battle between him and Maximus, his body is left on the ground to rot while the populace carry Maximus to his funeral. During the battle, he lost his weapon and commanded his Praetorians to give him one. Quintus, the head of the Praetorians, intervened and told them to sheathe their weapons.
In the Tim Burton film of Alice in Wonderland, the Red Queen is hated by everyone, and the only reason people obey her is because she's in control of the Jabberwock (it's not even clear why the beast obeys her). This goes to the point that once Alice kills the Jabberwock, the red queen's minions surrender (and seem relieved to be able to do so).
Arguably, the Empire in Star Wars. While the movies don't show how bad The Empire is when not hunting down La Résistance on screen, even people in Coruscant, the capital, is shown cheering in the extended edition once the Emperor dies, and the novels expand on just how bad things were (or weren't, Depending on the Writer).
The Wizard of Oz: The Wicked Witch of the West. The second she died, her minions started cheering Dorothy for killing her because she was controlling them with magic.
One might also consider The Wicked Witch of the East. When the munchkins realized she was dead, they broke into song for a good long while (Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead).
Played with in a few of the Discworld novels. In Wyrd Sisters, the Felmets seem annoyed at how long it takes for their tyrannical rule to get to the people of Lancre; at one point, Duke Felmet laments "You couldn't oppress a people like that any more than you could oppress a mattress."
Lord Vetinari is something of a subversion; very few people seem to actually like him or even the patrician system of government in general - there seem to be plenty of casual royalists in Ankh-Morpork. However, no one wants to get rid of him as he has carefully manipulated the situation to ensure his would-be usurpers hate each other more than they do him. If they do get rid of him, what then?
Lord Hong of Interesting Times is another good example. When Cohen the Barbarian places his sword to the neck of one of the palace servants and ask them who scares the servant more right now, Cohen or Hong, the servant actually answers Hong.
Cohen is pretty impressed by this statement, realising how terrifying, brutal and powerful Hong really is. He lets the servant live.
Jadis the White Witch: absolute zero approval rating from the "good" races (only the "evil" races were her allies).
She also had zero approval rating on her own homeworld of Charn and killed off every living thing except herself using an apocalyptic incantation called the deplorable word because her own people were on the cusp of victory in deposing her.
Miraz: zero approval rating from the Old Narnians in hiding, but was approved of by most of the Telmarines.
The Tisroc of Calomen, during The Horse and his Boy: from what we're shown of the Middle East-esque Calormen, it's impossible to say what his approval rating is. Everyone except the rich provincial Calormene lords has reason to hate him, but it appears that at least some of the peasants revere him - the protagonist, Shasta, briefly fantasizes about being this guy's son without actually knowing anything about him, for example - while the rich lords envy him and plot to rise to his position.
The Tisroc is just a generic Middle Eastern monarch and not even given a name. The peasants have no real reason to hate him(other then taxes) or love him(other then for not being worse)and their reverence would be simply the instinctive reverence taught in a hierarchical society. As for Shasta wanting to be the Tisroc's son, well it's not as if that position is without advantages.
The Lady of the Green Kirtle: Brainwashed all of the gnomes into serving her.
The book version of The Three Musketeers hardly counts as it's much more of a realistic setting with no clear villain and opinions among the populace (and in the course of the story even the main characters!) vary a lot. The film versions do, though, since they love to simplify the story.
Machiavelli'sThe Prince advises against this. It suggests ruling by being both loved and feared. However, it acknowledges that instilling both in the populace is difficult. Love is a good choice, but fear is the safer bet because love is given at will, while fear is involuntary. Above all, a ruler must avoid being hated.
In Astrid Lindgren's novel Mio, my son (or Mio, my Mio, in some translations), the antagonist, sir Kato the knight. Everyone and everything the protagonist runs into during his quest hates him, including his own servants and nature itself. Just saying Kato's name causes the sky to darken, moonlight to fade, flowers to wither, and birdsong to fall silent. Oh, and his heart is made of stone. Everything the protagonist meets during his journey enthusiastically tries to help him defeat Kato, not only people, but even rocks and trees actively helps him to hide from Kato's men since they despise the knight just as much as everyone else. In the end, when the hero finally manages to defeat him in a duel, even Kato starts begging the protagonist to kill him, which makes the hero realize that probably no one hates Kato as much as Kato himself.
Also, Tengil from The Brothers Lionheart. There doesn't seem to be anyone in Briar Rose Valley who hasn't geared up with hidden weapons to fight him with.
In the Black Company novels, the Dominator is so thoroughly hated by everyone, even his own inner circle, that many of his former lieutenants conspire with the Black Company to keep him bound in his grave. His successor, the Lady, goes out of her way to avoid this trope, but still ends up fighting disaffected rebels. For example, her big black fortress of Evil is named 'Charm'.
In Lord of the Rings, it is made clear that Sauron is not well-loved even by his own minions. His Nazgûl are directly enslaved to his will and don't have much choice in the matter, but beyond that, he controls endless swarms of Orcs and Trolls. From what little we hear from them, they aren't at all content with their lot, and if they weren't completely terrified of their master and hoping for a better life once he successfully takes over the world, they would probably be much happier looting and pillaging for themselves. Mordor is apparently designed to keep all of Sauron's slaves in just as much as it is to keep everyone else out.
Tolkien once said Sauron had many slaves, but no servants, implying no one would have served Sauron willingly.
The so-called "Mouth of Sauron" is an exception, as he seemed to be in it willingly, being rumored in-universe to have been one of the "Black Númenóreans" who sought Sauron's power. Still, that makes only one inhabitant throughout all of Mordor explicitly stated to like what he was doing.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, Stannis Baratheon more or less admits that he would be a king of this type if he manages to win the throne in the current civil war. The populace would hate his guts because he's a stern, taciturn Knight Templar, the nobility would hate him because of his complete unwillingness to budge on so much as what appetizers to serve at dinner, and his own supporters and bannermen would hate him because he would treat them just as harshly as he would his own enemies. The only reason he even wants the throne stems from the reason he would be so bad at it: as his elder brother's heir following the former king's illegitimate children, he sees the throne as legally his, despite the fact that almost no one, including himself, actually wants him to hold it.
His most fervent supporter, Davos Seaworth, the Onion Knight, was previously a smuggler/pirate who sneaked onions and other foodstuffs onto Stannis' besieged fortress during the previous rebellion. In recognition for his gallantry and heroism, Stannis knighted him. And as punishment for his smuggling activities, he ordered the last joint of the fingers from one hand removed. He let Ser Davos choose which hand. Needless to say, loyalty like the Onion Knight's is very much the exception in Lord Stannis' court.
The Lannisters seem to be moving closer and closer to this as the series goes on. In the fifth book, even random nobles on another continent spit at the sound of their family name.
Even more so Cersei Lannister in particular, who managed to surprise even Magnificent Bastard Petyr Baelish with how fast she managed to alienate everyone and turn her control of the kingdoms into a disaster.
After House Frey breaks the rules of Sacred Hospitality by brutally murdering King Robb, his mother and his bannermen at a wedding, the entire North want them dead and the rest of the continent are appalled by them.
Visser Three from Animorphs is a textbook example. He's an Ax CrazyEvil Overlord who executes his subordinates at the drop of a hat and makes a hobby out of collecting torture devices and morphing giant alien monsters. Consequently, he's almost universally hated and feared among his fellow Yeerks, with only a few die-hard fanatics expressing loyalty towards him. This actually becomes a plot point in later books, as the Animorphs are threatened with the prospect of seeing Visser One take over the invasion and decided it works more to their advantage that Visser Three remain in charge, as his leadership makes the Yeerks less effective.
Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter is an aversion. She manages to appeal to the magic!Nazi/sadomasochist niche that the school just happens to have.
Galbatorix from the Inheritance Cycle. While his (corrupt and evil) nobles like him, anyone who is good hates his guts. He's just too powerful to be overthrown.
Or, at least, so it first appears; later books show that most people support Galbatorix. While he is evil, the forces of good don't make the citizens' lives better, as it is them that are destroying the country. As such, they met with heavy opposition in most villages. Also, in the first book, the village of Carvahall didn't care that Galbatorix was ruling them because they were remote and unimportant enough to evade his attentions and thus still lead a peaceful life. The Varden are the only ones that really oppose him.
Fulbert from Malevil pays this price for subverting the Villain with Good Publicity that an evil priest with a flock should have. He would be overthrown in a heartbeat if he didn't gain total control over the food and weapons while people trusted him. To make matters worse, his Corrupt Church is composed of merely four men who are only half-loyal to him anyway.
Saint Dane in the Pendragon series: The Soldiers Of Halla, in particular. While it looks like the Ravinians are on Saint Dane's side, it's revealed late in the book that they hate what's going on too, and they deactivate the dados and help save everyone. So no one likes Saint Dane, not even the people he gave immense wealth and privilege to.
In his defense, he as an 100% Adoration Rating among the six billion aliens who work as his personal enforcers.
Discussed Trope (and Lampshaded) in Ravages Of Time, where the more savvy characters think to themselves that no government could truly be that incompetent, and that they must have been painted in a bad light by the dynasties that usurped them as to give the new guys in power the illusion of legitimacy.
In Flash Gordon, Ming the Merciless seems to be hated by everybody — but their hatred of him is exceeded by their fear of him, as his name would suggest. That, and most of Mongo's races are too busy hating each other to focus on Ming himself. (By contrast, in the Sci Fi Channel series, he's charismatic and actually has a pretty good PR thing going.)
However, in the play, Macbeth's and Malcom's roles are actually switched around, and he was, in history, a good king who actually brought peace to the land for a long time. In fact, Shakespeare lampshades this with Malcolm's speech to Macduff. The other King was also dumbed down in the play too.
His patron and king claiming descent from Macduff probably had something to do with that.
While not an overlord, the Mayoress in Anyone Can Whistle is so disliked that she mentions this in the opening lines to the opening song, "Me and My Town":
"Everyone hates me, yes, yes Being the mayoress, yes. All of the peasants Throw rocks in my presence Which causes me nervous distress, yes."
In the Starcraft expansion pack, Brood War, Kerrigan almost lampshades this when she says she is 'the Queen bitch of the Universe'. The Protoss also describe her as the 'enemy of all who live'.
So long as she controls the swarm, it doesn't really matter how popular Kerrigan is with other species, she presumably intends on wiping them out anyway.
Also, she has a 100% approval rating with her subjects.
Not quite, she introduces the Zerg campaign of Brood War by threatening to kill the player cerebrate if they don't obey her, and between the first game and Starcraft II she apparently disposed of the cerebrates and replaced them with Brood Mothers who only defer to her because they respect her strength.
Subverted by Baten Kaitos, where the ruler everyone hates (except the people in his capital city, who adore him) is actually being puppeteered by a lesser noble that everyone loves.
Orochi in Ōkami. Granted, being a monstrous, armored, multi-headed dragon probably killed any thoughts of resistance against him.
Although Tony Montana from Scarface: The World is Yours is usually a Villain with Good Publicity (or, more accurately, an Anti-Hero), raising his Cop Heat and Gang Heat too high can cause him to suffer detriments that include gangsters attacking unprovoked and police responding with amazing speed to minor transgressions.
In Half-Life 2, everyone you meet (even those who aren't members of La Résistance) seem to be fed up with the Combine's reign. The constant relocations, disappearances, warrantless investigations, and the impotence field don't help matters. Gordon's first major blow against them (Nova Prospekt's accidental destruction) is an instant signal to start a massive rebellion.
In Star Control 2, we learn about the Dnyarri, a race of evil and incredibly powerful psychics that enslaved the Sentient Milieu (in particular, the Ur-Quan) and had them do horrible things for them. When you learn about the backstory of the Ur-Quan, who up until now have been either enslaving or exterminating everything in their path, and what they had to do to bring down the Dnyarri, you're almost invited to feel sorry for them.
Especially since the alternative is the Kohr-Ah, who wish to kill every living thing in the universe other than themselves. Suddenly, living with a big red bubble around your planet doesn't seem so cruel a fate.
After the second American Civil War in Shattered Union, the one faction not composed of former Americans trying to rebuild the country is the armed forces of the European Union. Every other faction sees them for what they really are - Europe's thinly veiled attempt to prop the United States back up (the world economy did collapse as a result of the war, after all), essentially turning it into a puppet state to all of Europe.
In the Mega Man Zero series, Dr. Weil takes over Neo Arcadia in Zero 3. Sure, Copy X was a total jerk, but at least he was good at taking care of the people he governed. Then in 4, we see humans leaving Neo Arcadia in droves for the greener pastures of Area Zero. Gee, I wonder why? Weil tries to rectify the problem...by forcefully taking them back. This doesn't work, so he tries to destroy Area Zero's environment instead. Not only is he making things worse for himself, but Neo Arcadia is blown up by Weil's own Kill Sat, and his approval rating also seemed to be an indication of his chances of survival... In this particular case, however, that's exactly his intention.
Final Fantasy VI: Kefka as well. When Shadow and Sabin Figaro arrive at Imperial Camp at Doma, they overhear several soldiers talking: One of the soldiers, when learning from another soldier a rumor that Kefka intends to usurp Leo Christophe's position in the military, exclaims that he'd quit the Empire if that ever happened. The soldiers have a very good reason for complaining against Kefka (although they did it behind his back, for obvious reasons), as this is also the same guy who had a brainwashed Terra burn fifty Imperial soldiers alive during her training exercise, and later deliberately poisons Doma knowing full well that there are still Imperials being held prisoner there.
Surprisingly averted in Final Fantasy XII. When Vayne takes over as regent of the newly defeated Dalmasca, everyone expects to hate him, but he gives an impassioned speech and many members of Dalmasca begin to grudgingly respect him. At least, for a while.
The New Rubinelle/Laurentinian Army in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is practically a Zero Percent Approval Rating Army. The troops are pawns who Commander Greyfield/Admiral Sigismundo gladly sacrifices to kill one annoying commander from the rebellion, Waylon/Finn is a materialistic fighter captain with no respect for the pilots who he flies with (previews actually made him look like a good guy), and Davis/Cole is a Dirty Coward and Butt Monkey who joins a cult. Even the IDS had some redeemable personalities (Penny/Lili and Cyrus.)
In the castle sim game Stronghold, some of the scenarios require you to have a certain approval rating — and in some cases, that approval rating has to be below a certain threshold. This makes the game more challenging, because maintaining a high enough population to achieve the scenario goals while everybody hates you is quite tricky. The trick is to make them too afraid to leave, by showing yourself to be a malicious and frivolously evil ruler. In other words, you have to be in it For the Evulz in order to prevent your zero percent approval rating from hurting you too much.
Subverted fairly well in Crystalis. Though the villagers in most of the backwater places you visit complain about the rule of the Evil Empire, the urbanites in the later cities of the game (Goa and Swan (sort of)) are really living up the prestige and wealth of being in the right place at the right time.
Though some residents make a quick about face when the empire falls...or so you think, but can't tell due to the Good Bad Translation.
The Greater Korean Republic in Homefront, extremely cruel and vicious in their occupation of the other nations.
You can play one of these in Fable III, depending on your policies.
In Metal Wolf Chaos, following his coup, Richard Hawk sets out to be this, militarizing cities, bringing back slave labor, building a Wave Motion Gun on Alcatraz, gassing Chicago, and terrorizing New York with a giant mechanical spider, all while running a truly incompetent propaganda campaign, for seemingly no other reason than just being cartoonishly evil.
It is heavily implied in Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops that Colonel Volgin fell into this category, with Jonathan's claims that by Naked Snake killing Volgin at Groznyj Grad (although technically, it was lightning that killed Volgin rather than Snake himself), Snake was also considered a hero by the Soviet Union. It also explains why he wanted to place Breszhnev and Kosygin in power as PuppetKings in the first place: The Soviets would never have served Volgin had he tried to do rule it directly.
If you initiate a conversation with them and provoke them into attacking first, the bounty is zero.
The Borgias in Assassins Creed Brotherhood is universally loathed by everyone in Roma, even the soldiers are more interested in the florins paid to them than the cause they fight for as Ezio remove the pillars of support that funds the armies.
Meghren of Dragon Age: Origins was a cruel tyrant who despised the Fereldens to the core. Mass Executions and needless brutality was how he managed to hold on the the nation for a quite a long time.
His most favorite pasttime was to throw parties and invite the Fereldan lords, at least one of which would be taken away and executed either for displeasing Meghren or just because he felt like it. Unfortunately, this also resulted in many lords willing to betray their rightful Queen in order to please him.
Meghren was, in fact, exiled from the Orlesian court, as his own cousin, The Emperor, didn't even like him.
Dragon Age II: Meredith is completely bonkers, and everyone from beggar to lieutenant seems to know this, but everyone's too afraid to do anything about it. Except Justice...
Left Hand Man: Recent polls show a 40% approval rating. King Steve: Excellent! Left Hand Man: Sir, you only got that because the poll only had two options: Be ruled by King Steve forever, or get a sword in the head. We lost 60% of the voters.
The Dark Overlords from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes are almost universally hated by the populace of their dimension...that is, unless they manage to brainwash them to see things from their point of view.
The King of Town from Homestar Runner, while not a villain per se, manages to be hated by all of his "subjects" except the ones he employs. With the possible exception of Homsar, no one respects him, and he is routinely beaten up and stolen from.
In one episode of Iznogoud, he actually manages to become the Caliph by changing bodies with him. However, due to his tyranny, he's overthrown by the people of Baghdad, who think that "everything's been worse since he threw the Grand Vizier in jail". After overthrowing him, the "Grand Vizier" (really the imprisoned Caliph in Iznogoud's body) becomes the new Caliph, thus restoring everything to normal (except the two now have swapped bodies and Iznogoud is in jail, together with Dilat Harat, who now has the body of the Caliph's food taster).
Similarly, when he travels to a Mirror Universe (literally on the other side of a mirror where everything is reversed), he is delighted that every single citizen wants the Caliph's head... except that in the Mirror Universe he is the Caliph.
Princess Luna of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic earned this after enacting her plan to bring eternal night, since ponies really don't like you after you initiate a scheme that will eventually kill off all life on the planet. Ironically, her mistaken/exaggerated belief that she was already unloved was what drove her to force ponies to love her and the night, giving her the rating she thought she had.
In Superman The Animated Series, Lois Lane visits an alternate reality where Superman and Lex Luthor joined forces to take over Metropolis and seem to have a Zero Percent Approval Rating.
subverted in the series finale, where Superman expects this to be the case when he throws a beaten Darkseid to his oppressed masses, but is shocked to find that the people of Apokolips love the tyrant and tenderly help him to safety.
"I am many things, Kal-El, but here, I am God."
Also appears in an alternate timeline in Justice League. In that timeline, Luthor kills the Flash, which causes the Justice League to go rogue and take over the world (even going and changing their group name to the Justice Lords), and because of it, the public hates them.
Subverted, or perhaps parodied, in The Simpsons "Easter Stories", where David (Bart) fights and kills Goliath Jr. (Nelson), who took over his kingdom. David gets arrested for "megacide" because Goliath Jr. was publicly beloved and used his huge size to build roads, libraries, and hospitals.
In The Lion King, Scar is such an unpopular ruler that even THE LAND ITSELF seems to hate him; it begins to wither and die as a result of his reign (and once he's overthrown, everything gets pretty again.) The lionesses and Zazu openly criticize his policies, all the animals seem to hate him, and the Hyenas who helped him come to power have grown so irritated with his rule that, at the end of the movie, they eat him alive. Yet no one even tries to overthrow the guy until Simba returns from exile to take him down.
In The Lion King 2, we're introduced to a rogue pride of lions who remained loyal to Scar throughout his rule, to the point of still being loyal to him years after his death. But this group is never seen or mentioned in the original film (and you have to wonder why none of them tried to help Scar out when Simba was kicking his ass).
Many fans think that those lionesses were out hunting when Simba came back.
The Stunticons from Transformers have a vicious tyrant as a leader called Motormaster who is loathed by his fellow members, but they are too scared of him to disobey his orders. Drag Strip also counts due his narcissism and obnoxiousness.
Said word for word in the Hercules TV series for King Salmonues in the episode "King of Thessaly".