Playing With: Kick the Dog

Basic Trope: A villain commits a gratuitously evil act to reduce audience sympathy.
  • Straight: The villain kicks a puppy even though it would not serve him at all.
  • Exaggerated:
    • The villain kicks a puppy to death, then cuts its head off and starts playing hackeysack with it in front of its owner. And then he eats it. Not only was it a completely worthless waste of time to do, but it actually hindered him.
    • Moral Event Horizon
  • Downplayed: Poke the Poodle
  • Justified: The Villain's entire motivation has no logical sense as he is a sadist.
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted:
    • The villain kills a bystander, and later it turns out that the bystander had been trying to defeat the villain (and the villain knew this).
    • Kick the Son of a Bitch
  • Double Subverted: The villain kills a bystander, and later it turns out that the bystander had been trying to defeat the villain... but the villain didn't know that at the time Nor did he do it for any particular purpose.
  • Parodied:
    • The villain has a compulsion to kick any puppy he sees, even if he has to drop whatever he's doing and chase it.
    • A dog breed is mentioned to have been specially bred to "maximize kicking pleasure".
  • Zig Zagged: The villain refuses to kick puppies, but that's because he happens to be a dog lover. He'll happily stomp on a passing kitten. Oh, wait, he didn't know the kitten was there. Actually, he did, and he also lied about it for no good reason.
  • Averted: The villain's actions may be evil, but they all have purpose.
  • Enforced: "Our villain's morality is still more ambiguous than we would like, so let's have him kick this puppy."
  • Lampshaded: "I didn't have to kick that puppy, but it was fun."
  • Invoked: "But how will anybody know I'm eeeeevil if I don't kick this puppy?" *PUNT*
  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied:
  • Discussed: "You'd better watch out for him. He's the sort of guy who would kick a puppy just because it was there."
  • Conversed: "Have you noticed how the villains in this show need to keep proving how evil they are?"
  • Deconstructed:
    • The villain is a fairly realistic violent psychopath who genuinely can't pass by a helpless target without being compelled to hurt it. The misery and frustration it causes makes the villain become the focus of the story.
    • The villain is killed by his pragmatic superior.
  • Reconstructed:
    • The villain's act of petty cruelty is so gratuitous that it forces everyone to reevaluate his character, leading to big changes in how the cast react to him.
    • The villain's superior is annoyed by his sadistic tendencies, but keeps him alive because he does achieve results for Team Evil.

Oh look, a cute puppy. Let's kick it!.