Reportedly, Cartman of South Park was designed under the idea that you couldn't have an Archie Bunker character on TV now... unless he was a ludicrous little kid cartoon character. Naturally, there's dispute over why Cartman is one of the most popular kids. Just to make matters worse, Stan and Kyle, the characters based on series creators Parker and Stone and supposedly the only normal sensible people in all of South Park, are often perceived as "whiny little bitches" by a fanbase that prefers racist anti-Semitic misogynist Cartman.
The latter part about Stan and Kyle is definitely misaimed, but Cartman's popularity is probably because he's NOT supposed to be agreed with, thus setting up a character whom one loves to hate, and are able to laugh at him and his over-the-top evil antics, so long as he gets thwarted in the end (which he usually does, with some exceptions.) Even Parker and Stone "like" Cartman because of this.
However, many people simply prefer Cartman because Cartman, being Cartman, cannot deliver an Author Tract (save for that rainforest episode....), while Stan and Kyle frequently become voices for the creators' opinions.
It was at least slightly more justified in earlier seasons, where Cartman was more just an arrogant Jerk Ass than a scheming villain and Stan and Kyle were merely toned down bullies than actual Straight Men (and in some cases just as provocative or bullying as Cartman, it's easy to mistake them as hypocritical douches with their treatment of Kenny, Pip or Butters for example). However this faded for the most part in later seasons where the two are far more sympathetic and Cartman is very Obviously Evil (Kyle has occasional Knight Templar treatment in his handling with Cartman, though one could argue whether it's justified or not for aforementioned reasons).
Also, the Goth Kids. They're meant to be a parody of teen and pre-teen Wangsting, but instead get used by fangirls as outlets for their own misery. Also, the two older guys are apparently gay for each other, though the show gives no indication of that. Trey and Matt seem to be aware of this, so naturally they exploited it for merchandising. (Apparently, Hot Topic has a sense of humor about itself.)
The two-part episode "Go God Go" gets misaimed Fandom in TWO directions, one being Atheist and the other being Creationists.
To say nothing of "Cartoon Wars"....
While we're on the subject of South Park, Towlie was created as a sort of Take That against the Vocal Minority of the fandom demanding more drug humor. They out and out say it in his first appearence:
Stan: You're the worst character ever, Towlie.
Towlie: I know.
But then Towlie quickly became popular, and his "wanna get high?" catchphrase went memetic.
There are people out there who actually agree with Cartman that gingers have no so souls. And act on it.
Similarly, Beavis And Butthead and King of the Hill are animated satires of certain subcultures (dimwitted rock and roll loving teenagers and suburban Texans) done by Mike Judge. Both of the groups they target vocally enjoyed the very show that mocked them, and it's hard to claim that all of them are getting the joke. As Patrick Stewart once aptly put it: "Both the very smart and very stupid are fans of Beavis And Butthead, for very different reasons."
Or as The Onion put it in their Our Dumb Century book: "New MTV Show About Idiots Who Watch MTV Big Hit Among Idiots Who Watch MTV".
On the other hand, those paying attention might notice that smug jerks who look down their noses on Flyover Country suburbanites are the ones to get lampooned the most on King of the Hill.
Though to be fair to the King of the Hill fans, while the show is a parody of certain types of people, it's not a malicious parody and does often put them in a good light, so it's perfectly understandable for people like the main characters to really like the show.
In the series The Maxx, Mr. Gone is often quoted for saying "Of course I have a problem with women. Everybody has a problem with women. Because women taunt, and tease, and are attractive, and punish you for being attracted," which some fans find to be insightful and accurate. In fact, Mr. Gone is a rapist, and this attitude was intended as a representation of how a rapist thinks.
The Decepticons might as well be called "Transformers: Robots In Leather Pants". It's not quite clear how one can perceive the Autobots as evil and the Decepticons as noble warriors when they're called "the evil Decepticons" in the theme song, but there's a small but vocal fan group that supports this theory. One fan by the name of Raksha even became moderately famous within the fandom for it.
To offer some perspective, one of the key elements in Raksha's believes is the episode "Enter the Nightbird". In it, a human-built robot of unclear sentience/sapience is stolen by the Decepticons to become their latest weapon/a new soldier. Megatron and Bombshell are particularly "concerned" about her, and only one seems unhappy about her addition to the ranks. In contrast, the Autobots want her back in her creator's possession, where she can do no harm to either them or anyone else the Decepticons might target. But while their goal on itself is okay, they do go about it a little off. For instance, Optimus has pretty much heard from Nightbird's creator himself he plans to dismantle her when he gets her back, but still tries to lure Nightbird in with promises that he doesn't mean her harm. It's arguably one of the more grey moments in Transformers history, but while not the only one, it certainly is one of the rare ones. That said, the cartoon and Marvel comics did throw in little suggestions that the Decepticons are, among lots of less noble things, fighting an oppressive system, which in later canon has only become more prominent. People tend to cling onto that wee bit of woobieness more than on all the imagery of evilness.
This view eventually was made semi-canon by the time Beast Wars came around, with the writers showing off that the Autobots weren't exactly spotless in their morals, behind the scenes. And, arguably, the ultimate Fandom Nod came in the form of Transformers: Shattered Glass, a Mirror Universe parody series involving Heroic Decepticons and Evil Autobots.
An episode of The Powerpuff Girls called "The City of Clipsville" had one segment which was a Take That to PPGfanfiction cliches Craig McCracken hated, including Powerpuff Girls/Rowdyruff Boys shipper fics. The fake Flashback showed the characters as dumb airheaded teenagers. Fandom embraced that scene and even made fanart of it.
Danny Phantom fanfic is sharply divided between the silliness of the later episodes and very serious fan fiction that could rightly belong in novel form. Also, many fangirls see Ax Crazy Dark Danny as sympathetic, in spite of having the honor of being a sadistic sociopath who killed his human self along with probably millions of others, and tried to go back into the past to kill his own family to ensure his existence!
Duckman. In some very strange parts of the internet, Duckman gets hailed as "the greatest philosophical mind of this generation." Really? While his rants are sometimes justified, he's generally a spiteful, selfish, arrogant prick.
"Don't you see what's it's like living in this deranged, Waring blender of a world? Every day is an agonizing ordeal, like balancing a pot of scalding water on your head while people whip your legs and butt. Ah, you never forget your senior prom. You think I'm sick? Well the only disease I've got is modern life, a shnug-busting gauntlet of inefficiency and misery that's one long parade of letdowns, putdowns, trickle-downs, shutouts, freezeouts, sellouts, numbnuts, nincompoops and nimrods! All making every day as much fun as waxing a flaming Pontiac with your tongue! And even if you do luck into the possibility of some fleeting pleasure, like say if some nymphomaniac telephone operator with the muscle control of Romanian mat slappers agrees to a little strip air hockey, it will be over before it starts, 'cause some foul lacking, Feta-reeking cab jockey slams his checker up your hatchback and the cab is owned by some pinata-spanker from a Santaria cult in Wakampa who starts shaking chicken bones at you and gives you a boil on your neck so big that all it needs is Michael Jordan's autograph to make it complete! And even with all this, with all this! I still drag my sorry butt off the Sealy every morning and stick my face in the reaping machine for one more day!Knowing when it's time to flash the cosmic card key at those pearly gates, I won't be in a coffin anyways, because some underhanded undertaker sold my heart, liver, pancreas and other assorted good and plenty to that SAME SANTARIA CULT! So does anybody really wonder why anybody is hanging onto sanity by the atoms on the tips of their fingernails, while life dirty dances on their digits, and is it really any wonder THAT I SEEM DERANGED?!
In this one particular case, he may have a point...
Chuck Jones created Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner as a parody of popular "chase cartoons" like Tom And Jerry, by picking two unlikely animals in a bizarre setting, making the Coyote his own worst enemy, and making the whole thing as over-the-top as possible. He was surprised when audiences took the first Road Runner short at face value, rather than as a parody, and loved it. Even though it didn't work out as he'd intended, Jones was happy to have a hit and continued using the two characters for years.
Ironically, Jones went to work on the Tom and Jerry series at MGM after WB folded their animation department, and admitted he didn't quite get the characters. Tom was played as a feline version of Wile E. Coyote, down to the thick eyebrows and quirky facial expressions. One short even ends with a slightly modified version of his famous catapult trap gag from "To Beep or Not to Beep" (1963).
In the Family Guy episode "8 Simple Rules for Buying My Teenage Daughter", there is a scene where Brian, Chris, Peter and Stewie have an ipecac drinking contest. This is shown to bea terrible, terrible idea. And yet, the scene is credited with inspiring a recent upsurge in Ipecac-use among teenage bulimics.
In Pixar's Cars, the Delinquent Road Hazards, who were responsible for Lightning falling out of his transport truck, were meant to be a gang of dislikable street punks, to the point that the animators modeled them after tastelessly modified "ricer" cars. Strangely enough, the fandom completely fell in love with them, making enough fan art and fanfiction centering on them to impress even the most hardened Internet warrior.
WALL•E: While no-one disagrees that AUTO is a villain, they frequently seem to see a lot more to his (lack of) personality then there actually is. Then again, this may just be because Evil Is Cool and as noted, no-one thinks he's a good guy. Technically, NONE of the robots ever do anything they're not supposed to do, not even AUTO. It's just that AUTO's orders come from a dead man centuries ago based on centuries-out-of-date information, but nonetheless the dead man outranks the captain.
The Boondocks has Riley Freeman. His character is meant to be portrayed as a wannabe. He's obsessed with being viewed as a "real nigga" and goes through great lengths to keep it real. He's violent, ignorant, and obnoxious and yet is somehow one of the most popular characters on the show. Many fans of the show regard Riley as the "most gangsta' or "realest" character.
The whole show is misaimed much to the creators disappointment. Many refer to the show as the "realest show on television" for its hostile take on the system and the politics. They tend ignore some of the issues it takes with modern gangsta rap, the gangsta culture in general, and modern buffoonery. Case in point, Lil Wayne was perfectly willing to guest voice on the show. Be honest, what type of rappers does this show usually criticize.
The same goes for Uncle Ruckus. He was created to be the most hated character on the show, however, he ended up possibly being the most popular. Just type Uncle Ruckus on YouTube and see the many clips with over one-hundred thousand views, highlighting different scenes during the series.
The show itself gave us an In-Universe example in on of its earliest episodes, "the Trial of Robert Kelly". The eponymous R Kelly is facing legal matters for giving a 14-year-old girl a golden shower. His fans proudly defend him at the trial, going so far as to have shirts reading "Pee on Me". Ultimately, Huey tries to tell everyone off for this line of thinking, but they all refuse to listen and R Kelly becomes a Karma Houdini, much to Huey and Tom's disappointment.
Many Invader ZIM fans seem perfectly willing to ignore ZIM's ridiculous egotism and admitted evil, making him out to be a hero rather than a Villain Protagonist. These same fans often will hate and vilify Dib for, wait for it..."trying to stop ZIM" from enslaving or destroying humanity.
Granted, both the earth and its inhabitants in Zim are generally presented in a less-than idealistic fashion, and while Dib is a Hero Antagonist he can be kind of a jerk, whose motives aren't totally altruistic either; he just wants to dissect ZIM.
In general, as described by Jhonen Vasquez, the show isn't meant to have things that cause people to say "awww" (referring to things "warm and fuzzy" or kind-natured), yet some fans react in such a way.
To be fair, ZIM cranked GIR's behavioral modifier up to a "dangerously high level". It was not the character as we know him who attacks ZIM (although GIR's personality as seen here is presumably what it might be if he were fully functional).
Hilariously, Demona actually gets into a fight with a previous version of herself. Apparently, even her earlier self despises her for what she's done. Heh.
Explained (or perhaps made even worse) by the fact that while Demona is a sympathetic villain, she's sympathetic in a "we feel sorry for her because she's so messed up" way, not a "we think she's great and want her to win" way.
Parodied on an episode of Daria where Daria appears at a coffee house's opening reading an obviously satirical short story about a spy on an anti-communist operation. The reading stirs up a riot of anti-communist frenzy and forces the closure of the cafe.
This was very clearly her intent, as she was coerced into the reading by her English teacher.
This has happened to The Nightmare Before Christmas, with goth and emo crowds being drawn to it for its dark visuals, whilst in reality it is a film about overcoming identity crisis and learning to appreciate what you have.
The Simpsons: While the show spoofs, satirizes and lampoons the American family, religion, politics and society, certain people see it as a celebration of these things instead of criticism.
Itchy and Scratchy are a parody of cartoon violence, yet there are many people who feel that the characters should be a real cartoon show. The show's creators once made a montage of several Itchy & Scratchy cartoons to respond to audiences' requests to make a full half-hour show with these characters. Invariably, the audience's enthusiasm fades away after a few minutes of watching these violent scenes.
Ned Flanders somewhat subverts this trope. A lot of mainstream viewers think he's a hilarious parody of a fundamentalist Christian, and are sort of surprised when they learn that many of that latter group actually like Ned and consider themselves fans of his. But the writers are smarter than the fans here. Whenever they get letters from the rare Christian viewers who think they did create Ned to mock them, they ask in response, "Who would you rather have as your neighbor—Homer or Ned?"
As we all know, there are plenty of straight tomboys in the world, and assuming they are lesbians is extremely unfair to both straight and lesbian tomboys.
She later went on to say that people were free to interpret the character however they wished when someone brought up that some fans just wanted a positive lesbian role model in children's television (I can't find the link myself, so if someone else could find it, that'd be super, it was on deviantART), though she claimed that it wasn't her personal interpretation of the character, and that sexuality really had no place on the show.
Despite wanting a positive lesbian character, the problem is that people are still insistent on the TOMBOY being the lesbian, and thus are still going by unfair stereotypes. Also, while Rainbow Dash is definitely a positive character, she is less so then the rest of the Mane Six. Personally, I'd place my money on Twilight or Fluttershy for the emotional impact on the audience of such an emotionally vulnerable character having to come to terms with themselves and find acceptence from others. No stereotypes here, just who would win the most sympathy from the viewers, and surveys indicate Twilight and Fluttershy are the two most well liked members of the Mane Six among the fanbase
And don't even get us started on the Tyrant Celestia thing. And the associated New Lunar Republic - especially the subdivision of it who wanted Nightmare Moon to win and bring about eternal night even though it would have killed all life in Equestria. Those who want Luna to overthrow her sister are almost equally difficult to comprehend, given that the two have made peace after Nightmare Moon's defeat and are reigning over the land together in balance. And what about the Discordians? Discord, an unbelievably twisted Mad God fond of dishing out Mind Rape who turns Equestria into a Crapsack WorldGone Madwould totally be a sweet ruler, no?
The show surprisingly attracted a handful of MRAs, even though the show was created by a feminist.
Trixie and Gilda. Both are unsympathetically portrayed and seemingly dislike the mane 6 for little reason, and and yet they each have a massive fan base.
Actually, Trixie incident can be seen as an In-Universe example for the Mane 6, seeing it's the protagonists that walk to a performer trying to make a living and start disrupting her performance, instead of just leaving if they don't like the show, making them clearly in the wrong. And yet, people claim Trixie was somehow at fault here.
The show is oddly popular with white supremacists, too. They apparently base this on how Zecora's episode ends with her living outside of the "white" community and how, in "Over a Barrel", the Native American stand-ins end up surrendering their territory (fans tend to ignore that episode). This is despite how Zecora only lives in the Everfree Forest for her own convenience (there's a lot of untapped magic out there) and has visited Ponyville often, and is a well-accepted resident of the town, even if she lives outside city limits.
It's also despite the fact that the Buffalo don't "surrender" their territory to the residents of Apple-loosa. Instead, they co-own it - the Buffalo agree to let the Apple-loosians grow crops on the land, in exchange for the Apple-loosians letting them run freely through the orchard. Both get a share of the profits of the crop, and it's a fairly equitable compromise.
The Legend of Korra has the Equalists, who want to end what they see as an unfair domination of non-benders by benders. A lot of fans think they have a point, and think of them as plucky rebels against a corrupt system. To do so, they ignore the fact that the Equalists have kidnapped people, harming even the non-benders they claim to be fighting for, and their explicitly stated "solution" is to end all bending, by force if needed.
Even so, there are plenty of fans who realize that the Equalists do have a point because just look at how easily Tarrlok was able to pass laws to strip all nonbenders of their civil rights, the fact the all the people on the council are benders, the fact that the Bending Triads most often target nonbenders, and the fact that almost all if not all of the police force consists of benders. However, plenty of people realize that kidnapping people and ending all bending is an extremist thing to do and the wrong way fix this problem. While Amon did need to be stopped, removing him isn't going to solve the bender/nonbender conflict in the long run. (Or at least, it wouldn't solve a complex social issue similar to this in real life, but as each season of LOK is supposed to be a stand-alone story...)
Agreed. "The Equalists are the real heros" is Misaimed Fandom, but "The Equalists are villains, but they're villains who have a good point" is quite possibly what the creators intended.
Ash of Adventure Time was created as a Take That to characters like this. Guess what? A lot of the lady fans love him.
The episode "Princess Cookie" has gained similar following among the transgender community for the titular character, a male cookie, wishing to be a princess (specifically to make people happy by emulating Princess Bubblegum) being interpreted as gender confusion.
Lemongrab of the same show was intended to be rude, obnoxious, stupid, annoying, mean, jerky, and idiotic. He has a small but loud fanbase who thinks he's the bee's knees (for his charisma, strangeness, funny voice, and stubbornness). He's also gained borderline memetic Draco in Leather Pants status, because he happens to be a mentally dysfunctional, unadjusted failed experiment with no friends and no social skills. Even the creators admit that they can't understand how he gained such a large fanbase.
Anyone who feels bad for Lotso in Toy Story 3 is this. If his murderous, unneccessary betrayal at the end of the movie even after being saved by the heroes isn't proof of his irredemability, then there is nothing else Pixar could've done to prove it.'
Finding Nemo: Despite spending two hours exposing how awful fish feel over being taken from their natural environment and put into a fish tank in a home, little children don't get the message and want their own pet fishes as a result of this movie.
Some people believe that Moral Orel is a conventional Take That against religion/Christianity. It's easy to make that assumption watching only a few of the episodes but the show is actually criticizing hypocrisy and how most of the residents of Moralton don't practice what they preach and are pretty terrible people themselves. The fact that the show is not anti-religion is notable that Orel doesn't give up on his faith and still keeps it as an adult.
In-universe example on Futurama: Dwight and Cubert begin emulating Bender when he gets a role As Himself on "All My Circuits".