Unintentionally Unsympathetic / Live-Action TV

  • The page quote comes from Linkara discussing Ransik from Power Rangers Time Force. He notes the fandom considers Ransik a sympathetic Anti-Villain who was Driven to Villainy by the Fantastic Racism of humans against mutants like him. However, other characters claim that some people did try to reach out to Ransik, but he rejected them. Additionally, a flashback shows he killed a human who helped him by giving him a serum to help the pain of his mutations, and laughed at his charity as foolish. Furthermore, Ransik never shows any desire to help other mutants or make conditions better for them, and takes his vendetta a thousand years into the past where he just causes chaos for the sake of doing it. This is also compounded with the Fantastic Racism aspect being off-set by every mutant in the series save for one acting Always Chaotic Evil and justifying the fear normal humans have of them.
    • There's a subplot in Zeo that revolves around a blind woman. She drops her books and the rangers try to help, only for her to get pissed and storm off. When Adam goes to see her, she takes off again. One of the rangers tell him it was because he "felt sorry for her", but it doesn't come off that way. Rather, it comes off as her being ungrateful.
    • Conversely, other fans see Time Force themselves as this for propping up the racist government that makes threats like Ransik possible. In the Sentai source material, the Rangers' superior (the analogue to Captain Logan) is actually the true Big Bad of the show, and as such it's very easy to spin the main characters' bosses as villains.
    • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive: The Overdrive Rangers are meant to come off as sympathetic in "Once A Ranger" when they lose their powers and feel useless enough that they quit. However: 1) They still have their civilian powers, 2) Their mission was not to be just Power Rangers, but to find the jewels, which they could still do while the veteran rangers dealt with the monsters, 3) All of them, save for Tyzonn, were gloating about how awesome it is to be Power Rangers before being reminded it's about saving lives, 4) They only return because they found returning to their old lives boring rather than wanting to actually do something heroic, and 5) Mack, unmorphed, uses Excelsior to slash through a giant monster in half. While Excelsior's power is hyped up this episode, the fact remains that Mack had to jump several hundred feet in the air, and perform a slash powerful enough to one shot the monster. With civilian powers this strong, why complain about not having Ranger powers?
    • Power Rangers Samurai ends up doing this to the rest of the cast, minus Lauren. After the revelation that Lauren is the real heir and Jayden merely acted as a body-double while she underwent training for the ultimate sealing technique, the rest of the team focus so much on Jayden and how he must feel about having kept this secret from them while blatantly ignoring Lauren's attempts at getting to know and become friends with them or not taking them seriously. Along with repeatedly hero-worshipping Jayden, the rest of the Samurai group comes across as just rude to a new team member who is honestly trying her best to make good out of the situation. This is a complete 180 from the source material, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, where Lauren's analogue, Kaoru, is only disliked by Sixth Ranger Genta and that's only because he felt she took his best friend's spot. Even more, the team does accept her as part of the team once she shows a more caring side.
  • In the episode "Welcome, Stranger" of Lost in Space, Mr and Mrs. Robinson come off as this. (Well, by today's standards, anyway.) A space cowboy homes in on their ship's signal after wandering through space for a while and says he needs a new navigation system to get back to earth. Later, the two debate in private on whether to send their kids with him because they feel it was a mistake bringing them with them. We're supposed to feel their anguish, but there's one problem: They don't know this guy. They met him two hours ago and now they plan to send their kids with him? He could be someone who'd sell their kids to some aliens as slaves or he could be some lonely pervert. They don't even know if he's really going to earth. He could be a con artist looking for suckers to get parts from to sell to the highest bidder. If that's not bad enough, they tell their kids their plan but decide to spring it on the stranger at the last minute. The cowboy himself calls them out on this and yet we're supposed to see him as being the one who's wrong.
  • In Season 4 of Arrow, Felicity becomes this full-force. We are suppose to feel sorry for her when she learns that Oliverhas keep his long-lost illegitimate son a secret. But she comes off very entitled with a nasty It's All About Me attitude. She accuses him of being untrustworthy (even though he just learned about it a day prior), only thinking of himself and not caring about what she feels, ignoring what he's going through over this knowledge, and breaks up with him over it. And she gets upset with him going behind her back, even though she was doing the same thing at the beginning of the season when she was still assisting Team Arrow without his knowledge. Many fans feels she crossed the Moral Event Horizon when the first thing she does after being able to walk again is turn her back on Oliver and walk away.
  • Many of the older alien races in the Stargate-verse are meant to be seen in a sympathetic light, but come bit short.
    • The Nox, an ancient race who were once members of the Four Great Races, who keep to themselves in modern times. They claim to have an advanced pacifist philosophy due to their stance of never fighting anyone even to defend themselves. Of course they have the ability to render themselves invisible and revive the dead, but never offering these wonders to those countless innocents suffering under the Goa'uld every day makes them come across as selfish at best. Many of them claim that the Earthlings' policy "the strong defend the weak" as self-righteous and stupid, often calling them "very young". At the end of their introductory episode it comes across as extremely hypocritical when their leader tells the team that "Your way is not the only way".
    • The Tollan were an advanced race who made some mistakes during their first ever "first contact". After the neighboring aliens used the technology given to them to blow themselves all up, the Tollans decided to strictly adhere to a policy of never sharing any advanced technology with any alien race less advanced than their own (as opposed to, say, being more careful about which technology they share). This came back to bite them hard when this policy (combined with their lack of upgrading their defensive technology) led to them being blackmailed and later wiped out as a whole.
    • The series best example would most likely be the Ancients, an ancient and super-advanced race who built the Stargates and later evolved into Energy Beings. They'd often claim that they never use their powers to help un-ascended beings because they do not wish to abuse that power and turn out like their evil cousins, the Ori. They still come across as extreme Neglectful Precursors who never own up to their responsibility to repair the damage they themselves caused even before their ascension, such as the creation of the Wraith and Replicators, among others. It's made worse because apparently, if you're an Ancient, it's all right to not dismantle unbelievably hazardous or dangerous technology (or at least put safeties in), such as the machine that would download the entire Ancient database into one's head (with the only safety being "Had the Ancient Tech Gene," and would eventually kill you in a day or so), the exploding tumor machine, an infinite time loop device, and a healing device that will turn you into a zombie. To top it off many of them also appear to have a rather low opinion of non-ascended beings.
  • When Tony Almeida underwent a Face–Heel Turn in 24 he was clearly supposed to be seen as some sort of Tragic Villain who has had his family violently taken from him. But it's so quickly thrown in out of the blue that he doesn't come off sympathetic at all.
    • It also doesn't look much better when you compare it to Jack Bauer's Face–Heel Turn period in the final season. Both of them endangered innocent people, but in completely different ways. Jack did become a danger to others during his attacks, but only because at this point they had become so reckless that innocent people were now running the risk of getting harmed in the crossfire - the only people he directly tried to harm were enemy agents the whole time. Tony on the other hand had no qualms about killing anyone and everyone to further his goals, at one point even being willing to infect a crowd of innocent men, women and children in a subway station with a lethal virus.
  • The main protagonists of Charmed slowly become this in later series, turning from the Big Good into a bunch of selfish heroes-in-name-only that are more concerned with their own petty lives, than actually saving the world. The Avatar arc of Series 7 had them ultimately agree to a plan to end the battle between good and evil once and for all. Except, their reasons for agreeing was not because they'd hit the Godzilla Threshold where the apocalypse was looming and evil was in danger of winning, but because they were simply too lazy to continue fighting!
    • Phoebe, who the show insisted was the victim of Cole's actions, despite being technically responsible for his descent into insanity and preventing him from attempting a Heroic Suicide at least twice, because he felt he was in danger of becoming evil again. We're meant to sympathise with her, but the large majority of the audience felt that she was the bigger villain.
  • Assorted guest characters on Cold Case, often of the Unwitting Instigator of Doom flavor; this person may not be the murderer, but they're still, however indirectly, responsible for the victim's death.
    • Leah in "Wishing." She allowed an autistic classmate with a crush on her to kiss her, then cried rape when caught by her Jerkass boyfriend. This gets the poor kid committed as a "sexual risk," and things only go downhill from there, culminating in a Mercy Kill.
    • The victim's mother in "Time to Crime," who began an affair with an obviously-untrustworthy arms smuggler and was inevitably cheated on herself, and yes still tried to get him back. Had she not attempted this, her daughter would still be alive.
    • The victim's Fat Bastard best friend Butch in "Kensington." He was intended to be shown as a man broken by the loss of his job, but just came off as a dick. Unlike the others, however, he is actually punished; as he witnessed the murder and did nothing, the cops arrest him as accessory.
    • Both the Alpha Bitch and her older brother in "The Sleepover". Even with having abusive parents growing up, in the present, she remains a self-serving bitch who doesn't even care about the victim or her cohorts in crime. Her brother is more sympathetic, but he still killled another girl the same way as the victim for no good reason (she reminded him of the girl).
  • Desperate Housewives gave us Katherine Mayfair, who, after being dumped by Mike Delfino, went insane and delusional. She then orchestrated a plot in which Mike was framed for attacking her (complete with her pointing to him as the ambulance arrived, getting him arrested.) Later, the women, including Susan, Mike's wife, are all shown as forgiving her, and we're supposed to take their side, but what happened is treated as water under the bridge, she never once apologizes to Mike or shows any regret for her actions. She came off more as a sociopath, and we were still supposed to like her.
  • Dexter: You are supposed to root for the title character, since he only kills other Serial Killers, but that doesn't make him not a Serial Killer. Not to mention the "sympathetic" part being that these are killers that got away with their crimes. Then we see Dexter intentionally sabotaging the cases against them just so he could go after them.
  • Cirilo Rivera from Carrusel. His unrequited crush on Maria Joaquina sometimes bordered on obsession. He never stalked her — let alone hurt her — but he did not give up on her no matter how much she turned him down. And let's face it — she was out of his league, which has NOTHING to do with their being of different races or even socioeconomic statuses; she, well, just didn't like him that way. But he would not stop, and kept showering her with gifts and attentions that she clearly didn't want and either upset her or creeped her out. Viewers were supposed to take Cirilo's side... but Maria Joaquina ended up being the one often favored by the audience instead, since in practice, nobody blamed her for not loving a kid that clingy (and borderline creepy) back.
  • In the Lifetime Movie of the Week Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, we are supposed to root for the mother. However, she screams at her teenage son for looking at softcore porn and refuses to acknowledge or congratulate him because he got third place in a swimming competition, rather than first. This makes it seem like the kid's problems stem more from her than from the porn that supposedly ruined his life.
  • Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond was supposed to come off as a long-suffering Closer to Earth housewife who has to put up with her idiot husband and Obnoxious In-Laws. Instead, she frequently came off as a hypocritical harpy who belittled and bullied her husband, especially as the series went on.
    • Ray himself, thanks to Flanderization. It's hard to like a protagonist who's portrayed as a selfish, slack-witted Man Child who's constantly two-timing his wife for petty reasons while complaining about everything.
  • From Friends:
    • Monica was portrayed as being overweight and weird during her teenage years. The audience is supposed to feel bad for Monica who grew up being a virgin for a long time and had very few friends but it's hard to sympathize when past Monica is always referenced to eating a lot or breaking stuff with her size while her present self is neurotic and obsessive about being clean.
    • Ross is portrayed as someone who has bad luck with women and has been divorced multiple times. One would think he is someone to feel sorry for, but Ross' jealousy of other men when it comes to dating women and how he would rather lie his way out of situations instead of being truthful just so he can look good makes Ross look more like a jerk.
    • Rachel, who we're meant to feel sorry for because she keeps losing Ross and has to watch him date other women...except she's the one who broke up with him (and refused to take him back), malevolently manipulates The Unfair Sex and back stabs any woman he tries to move on with.
      • We're also meant to sympathise with her 'empowering' journey of getting over her spoiled upbringing and breaking into the fashion industry. That works early on when she's vulnerable and hard-working but not much later when she's unprofessional, lazy and 'empowering' equals taking Ross's daughter to a different continent from him. It doesn't help that Monica is clearly more hard-working, Chandler more capable and Ross more intelligent in their respective jobs but she's still the 'Career' character. Rachel even hires a man she is attracted to rather then someone who has the qualifications, and has an affair with him.
      • However it should be noted that, both Ross and Rachel have been called out on several occasions throughout the show for their shortcomings and refusal to take fault, arguably more spectacularly and exceptionally than the others. While maybe not proportionately to their actions, there are times they are intentionally played as Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists.
  • Thanks to its penchant for Unfortunate Implications, lots of characters in Glee have a tendency for falling into this. One particularly notable one is its Designated Hero, Will Schuester. His supposed virtue is that he is a compassionate teacher who genuinely cares for and puts all of his students first. But it's a bit hard to see him as the sweet teacher he's made out to be after he planted drugs in a student's locker to blackmail him to join Glee Club. And after he blatantly favors a select handful of students within his group. And after he abandons his students on their competition day to pursue a personal audition. And after he lets open acts of bullying of his own students go unreported, even when it lands one of them in the hospital. And after he suspends a female student (who always dresses modestly and had suffered from bulimia in the past) from school for refusing to wear a skimpy bikini in a musical performance.
    • Kurt is another frequent victim of this trope. Half the time he's a genuine Woobie; the other half, he's self-centered, hypocritical, and prone to fits of jealousy. Not to mention the sexual harassment he refused to apologize for.
  • Similar to Megan Ramsey from “Repression” (see below) the son in "All My Children" due mainly to because everyone in universe is sympathetic to his side of the story. While the father was a major jerkass like with Megan Ramsey the son never tried to live for himself and seemed to only want to make the father pay for not spoiling him. This is coupled with could have avoided this plot since if the son had just got a job any job he would have never been kicked out of the house.
    • Done in universe in the episode “True North”
    • This was combined with The Unfair Sex "Good Girl" where the murderer was treated sympathetically despite the fact if the situation were reversed (a man had an affair and killed the woman when she tried to end it) he would have never been depicted sympathetically especially if he claimed that he did it because he couldn’t live with out her. When you add to that the the fact that she seems to have a race fetish and the first thing she did after she was arrested was accuse him (the person she claimed to love) of trying to rape her it’s hard to take her crying seriously.
  • Many of the so-called victims of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fall under this.
    • Megan Ramsey from “Repression” is a great example due to just how convenient her situation turned out. Megan was a unrepentant drug addict who was cut off. She goes to therapy and recalls her childhood molestation by her father, she reports the incest hoping it would spare her younger sisters from suffering the same fate, and the threat of this seems credible because her middle sister implies she may have walked in on her father just after molesting the youngest. In the end, the middle sister accidentally shoots the father shortly after falsifying evidence of molestation against him, and we find out that Megan's memories were falsely coached by her therapist and the father was innocent; the therapist is arrested for reckless endangerment, but Megan gets exactly what she wanted from the beginning: to be allowed back in her rich parents' house with her mother taking care of her, despite the fact that this means that her drug addiction had nothing to do with any childhood trauma on her part.
    • In "Influence", a teenage girl falsely accuses two classmates of rape, makes advances on a third, and hits nine pedestrians in a car crash, killing one. Medical tests reveal that she recently stopped taking her medication for bipolar disorder, but since the Hollywood Psychology presentation of bipolar disorder includes following a consistent pattern of behavior to avoid responsibility, it makes her look more like a sociopath using the media circus surrounding her case to get away with it.
    • The basic premise of "Transitions" has a trans girl (born male, identifies female) being constantly, violently angry, but only against females, particularly a group of girls who didn't want her to use the girls' bathroom, and proudly declare she beat her (entirely supportive) mother in order to "strike a blow for her freedom" after being caught sneaking into the house at two in the morning. She also has a host of other mental problems, a history of self-harm, attempted suicide, virulent hatred of her father, and generally having serious anger issues that, while exacerbated by the stress of being a transgender adolescent, had nothing to do with her actually being transgender. And this all served to be an attempt to justify the attempted murder of her father by her school counselor, who is also a transwoman, and who tried to kill him in order to get some kind of displaced revenge for hate crimes she had experienced when she was younger. The writers at least seemed to realize this as Greyleck stated not every person that has been a victim can have an automatic get out of jail free card when they go looking for retribution. The end result is that the episode tried to show the plight of transgender people by making one of them insane and the other one a murderer, who both want a man dead essentially because he's not as supportive as they think he ought to be.
    • One episode had a full grown adult who pretended to be a high school student for years, essentially to avoid having to grow up, and in the process, had enough "high school sweethearts" she manipulated and slept with to fill a calendar. She was still seen as the victim for not being able to adjust to adult life, with her arrest for statutory rape being more of a legal formality with the victim's complaint not about being personally violated as much as being embarrassed for sleeping with an old bag. Although the ending seems to imply she's also batshit, it tends to fall in line with The Unfair Sex stance the show often takes.
    • And yet another episode is about a girl from a privilege background, who is put into a school for gifted smart students and expected by her parents to be the best student there. However, the girl can't handle the pressure and eventually snaps, killing another who she was jealous of, because she was the top student of her class, and no matter how hard she studied, she couldn't outscore her on test. Rather than the show pointing out how cold, and psychopathic such an action like that is, they try to put the girl in a sympathetic light, claiming the pressure drove her to prescription drug abuse that caused a psychotic break due to sleep deprivation. Even lampshaded during the episode, when some pointed out how the situation would be different, if it was a boy, a person of color, and from a poor background. However, the tone of the show makes them look like jerkasses, instead of people whom raised a valid point. In the end, the girl gets a slap on the risk and sentenced to a medical center for treatment. Directly afterwards, another case is brought up about a young boy who raped and murdered a young girl, raising the question, will he get the same biased treatment the rich girl got.
  • In The George Lopez Show, During Benny's trial, George brought in Benny's mother to the stand and try and make Benny sympathetic to the jurors. While on the stand, she proceed to mock Benny and shows how bad a mother she was to Benny. This was done to make Benny seem like a Jerkass Woobie at the most since how bad she grew up in a broken home and being a single mother. The problem was that Benny was just as bad at raising George. Being emotionally and physically abusive to him, being neglectful of his feelings, disregarding his learning disability, not supporting his goals, and lying to him constantly. And as an adult she still a Jerkass to him and his family. It pretty hard to sympathize with her.
  • Nellie in The Office (US). Something of a Creator's Pet from the get-go, she was given "tragic" elements of her past to make her more sympathetic. Unfortunately, all of these elements were entirely self-inflicted, leading to this trope.
  • At the end of season two of Robin Hood, Guy of Gisborne stabbed Maid Marian to death, sending his Character Development and Redemption Arc back to square one. Season Three tried to turn him into a Heartbroken Badass, ignoring the fact that for a significant portion of the fanbase, he had already crossed the Moral Event Horizon when he stabbed Maid Marian to death and thus forfeited any right to the goodwill of the audience. Even the actor hated him.
    • On the same show, the death of Kate's brother did not carry the emotional weight it should have done thanks to Kate's refusal to utilize common sense in her repeated attempts to rescue him. The writers were going for "headstrong" and "impulsive" in their characterization of Kate — unfortunately, all they really managed was "stupid." The ridiculous swinging between Wangst and trying to romance Robin didn't help her either.
      • And the cherry on top is the fact that Kate's brother was killed by Guy, resulting in a scene in which the audience has no reason to care about anyone involved.
      • And the cherry on top of that cherry is that depending on how you see it, Kate is at fault as well for the murder. He died because she got captured trying to get him out of the army and he died trying to save her. Some fans wonder if he might have survived had she just left him in the army.
  • Occurs in Scrubs when The Janitor, after losing a bet to Dr. Cox, has to watch his van being crashed into a wall, and the viewer is meant to feel sorry for him. Except that The Janitor has in the past done a number of similar actions, and many that were worse and show outright lack of regard for people that might get hurt and gotten away with them, with the only difference being that his actions were Played for Laughs.
    • It's obvious from the way her stories tend to end that the writers think Elliot is supposed to be sympathised with. All the viewers see is Elliot acting like a jerk to others, and then those others have to apologise to her. Of special note is when she goes into private practice, acts like a jerk about it to everyone and is then insulted when they 'suddenly' change their behaviour towards her. In the end, JD says it's because they're all jealous of Elliot's new job. In the end, even the writers noticed they had taken this too far with Elliot and Keith's relationship, where she's practically just using and abusing him, breaks up with him when they are engaged and then laughs it off at work - they had her give a big apology to Keith a few episodes afterwards but to many viewers it was too little, too late.
      • Note that Elliot's actress also had this happen to her character on How I Met Your Mother, where the audience tends to view Stella a lot less favourably than the writers do.
  • 30 Rock: Liz Lemon can come off as this a lot of the time, as she can be a pretty terrible person who takes out all of her problems on her staff and makes her problems sound bigger than they are, a lot of her problems are her fault and treats people pretty terribly.
  • Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, came off this way in the failed 2011 pilot. We're supposed to feel sorry for her because she had to leave her boyfriend for his own safety, and her life as an ordinary person is limited. That sympathy doesn't last long in the face of what she does during her superhero work: namely, torturing hospitalized suspects, bullying policemen, slandering rivals with no proof, and killing security guards who are just workers for hire and otherwise uninvolved in the villain's plot.
  • Jade from Victorious is this character overall, but The Worst Couple is probably the worst example of it. The writers want you to feel sorry for her that Beck broke up with her, but it's hard to actually do that when she acts like a spiteful bitch to everyone. Giving a "Reason You Suck" Speech to her so-called friends and breaking Sinjin's leg by running him down make the audience cheer for her misery rather than feel sorry for it.
  • In the 2002 Lifetime Movie of the Week "The Pact", we meet a young man who was charged in the murder of his pregnant, which was unbeknownst to him until after her demise girlfriend, who he killed in a failed suicide pact she initiated. Instead of him being portrayed as the conflicted and heartbroken boyfriend who just lost the love of his life and plagued by confusion and guilt over the situation who was sent off to prison, like he was in the original book the movie was based off of, he comes off as a sneaky, creepy, emotionally-detached douchebag who who ends up getting away with his crime due to the father of a dead girl testifying on his behalf.
  • A worker at a coffee house in Hot in Cleveland gets promptly fired in front of his young daughter and weakly tells her "I'll buy you a bicycle next year," when Melanie tells him he's been getting her order wrong. We're meant to feel sorry for him because he's clearly not doing well in life at the moment... but it's hard to feel sorry for the guy when he's been doing his job completely wrong consistently for three straight weeks.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Rose Tyler falls into this category for a lot of the fanbase, despite a lot of them liking her in Series 1. She gets angry at any women who speaks to the Doctor, treats her boyfriend Mickey horribly in her first appearance, and doesn't seem to care that due to her disappearing for a year he got accused of murdering her. Her losing the Doctor by being trapped in another Universe may be a Tear Jerker but she implies she would be willing to destroy both worlds to get back to him. And "Journey's End" when she returns to her Universe due to the Daleks collapsing reality her dialogue clearly shows she was trying to get back before this happened, despite the Doctor telling her it would destroy both worlds. It doesn't help any that her own mother also in this alternate universe, and she now essentially has her father back when the one in her own universe died when she was a baby, and her family is now fabulously rich, yet Rose acts remarkably ungrateful about all this.
    • The Tenth Doctor's attitude to regeneration been equivalent to death in "The End of Time" makes him come across a whiny brat. Not helping his case is his outrage at the fact that he has to perform a Heroic Sacrifice and how no Doctor in the past reacted in this manner and neither did the Eleventh. No other Time Lord does this either.
    • River Song as of the "The Wedding of River Song", in which she risks destroying the entire universe so she can save her "sweetie". Keep in mind that this directly threatens every single supporting character the Whoniverse has ever had, to say nothing of the countless innocent people who would have suffered because of her actions. She only stops once she gets assurance that the Doctor will survive her forced assassination of him, and never displays so much as a shred of remorse for what she's done. Interestingly enough, a similar scenario appears in Hell Bent - and this time, the person responsible is appropriately treated as having crossed the Moral Event Horizon by the narrative.
  • Game of Thrones can go through this due to the moral ambiguity and the changes from the source material.
    • The sex scene between Jaime and Cersei in "Breaker of Chains". According to the director, it's Jaime who's been abused in this relationship, and audience sympathies should be with him. However, because the scene appears to be a rape in the eyes of many viewers (Cersei repeatedly begs Jaime to stop, right up to the time the camera cuts away), Cersei becomes unintentionally sympathetic as a rape victim, and Jaime unintentionally unsympathetic as a rapist. What's worse, is if they followed the scene like it happened in the books, they could have avoided that perception. Because in the book, it was Cersei who forces herself on Jamie, and Jamie saying no and pushing her away, which leads to an argument between the two and breaks their relationship further apart.
    • Renly is meant to be seen as a likable character who is trying to take the Iron Throne for the good of the realm, the writers saying it is undoubtedly true he would make a good King, better then Stannis. However it can easily look like he is just being manipulated by the Tyrells so they can increase their power. Considering Stannis's popularity within the fan base, many viewers find Renly's willingness to seize power from his elder brother, especially as he seems quite willing to kill him, as less sympathetic than might have been intended, especially as Stannis even offers to make Renly his heir if they join him. Olenna even points out Renly didn't really have any right to the throne outside of looking good. It doesn't help that in the books Renly is shown as a vain and greedy character with no real ruling skills outside of publicity.
    • Similarly, the Tyrells. We're supposed to support them and feel sorry for Loras Tyrell that he lost his lover Renly. However, Loras was encouraging Renly to usurp the throne, basically passing over Stannis on the grounds that Stannis wasn't as socially adept as Renly. Also, despite Loras saying Renly should take the throne as Joffrey is a monster, when Renly dies the Tyrells support Joffrey so Margaery can be Queen, making it look like the Tyrells are acting more in their own interests rather then in the realm's. And let's not forget that after poisoning Joffrey they allow Tyrion to take the blame and don't do anything to help him, even though without him they wouldn't have been able to defeat Stannis.
    • The Night's Watch conspirators. Kit Harrington has reasoned that their mutiny against Jon was justified because Jon was taking them for granted. The problem is that given the events of "Hardhome" and the fact that none of Jon's more egregious actions from the novels were adapted, the brothers end up coming across as petty and shortsighted more than anything else.
    • Olly. Fans find it astonishing that the character was meant to be sympathetic, despite his role in the deaths of two prominent characters (Ygritte and Jon). He was intended to provide a gray perspective to the Night's Watch and Wildlings faceoff and started off as a Tagalong Kid to the Night's Watch, but his role in the denouement of "Watchers on the Wall" was staged in a very narm-y way. In season 5, he becomes the embodiment of the Watch losing faith in Jon Snow, and the foreshadowing of his betrayal of Jon Snow was heavyhanded to the point of being jarring. The aim was that his betrayal be an Et Tu, Brute? moment but his shameless gloating in a short scene after the incident, ruined that.
    • Brienne's actions. While her killing Stannis is clearly meant to be cathartic Laser-Guided Karma, not only is Stannis Unintentionally Sympathetic for some viewers, but the fact that Brienne abandons her duty to Sansa for revenge, spites Stannis by erroneously calling Renly "the rightful King", and essentially murders a wounded man just like Ramsay does literally a moment later, can make her come off as selfish, petty, and vindictive instead and a Hypocrite to boot, considering she is killing someone with more right to the throne for killing a usurper who intended to kill him.
    • Sam's desire to protect Gilly by becoming a Maester and go to Oldtown is meant to be a cogent, heartwarming reason for him to leave the Wall, but it can come across as extremely selfish since he's essentially using friendship to manipulate Jon into allowing him to run off south with his lover for a few years, which is precisely the reason the Night's Watch are sworn to celibacy. Remember, "Love is the death of duty." In the books Sam was very reluctant to become a Maester and was forced to do so by Jon.
    • Ellaria Sand devolved from being a sympathetic character to one of the most hated characters in the show. Yes, we are all horrified and saddened with Oberyn’s death as well. But she wants to kill Myrcella because of her Lannister blood despite that she had nothing to do with her lover’s death and Oberyn volunteered on the trial by combat which she herself had witnessed. She succeeded by poisoning her which angered Jaime and Cersei. Then, she and the Sand Snakes killed Oberyn’s brother and nephew because they’re weak and don’t deserve to rule Dorne. These actions were against Oberyn’s wishes particularly the last one which is considered to be kinslaying, one of the greatest sins in Westerosi society. This is contrast to her book portrayal where she’s the Only Sane Woman who knew that pursuing revenge against the Lannisters will not bring Oberyn back and refused to participate in it.
  • In Gotham we have Renee Montoya. In her mind she might see herself as a good friend to Barbara, coming to her believing that Gordon is actually a Dirty Cop who's manipulating her. But her actions in doing so are to go behind Gordon's back twice to warn Barbara without any evidence aside from two separate informants - both of whom, she knows, have strong mob ties and also have every reason to lie to her. In addition, the second time she broke into Barbara's home, which Barbara is not pleased about. If anything it looks more like she's a jealous ex who's willing to latch onto any idea without evidence to break the couple up so she can get back together with Barbara. In fact, when the breakup does happen, it's clear that Barbara brought it on herself by blabbing about the child snatchers earlier, before Cobblepot's return (if anything, Gordon was smart to not tell her anything about Cobblepot); Montoya was little more than the accelerator in the long run.
    • Then there is how she acted after receiving the information from Cobblepot. After he stated that Fish had the necklace before it was found on Pepper and flat out admitted he is using this information to get rid of his boss. What does Montoya do? Does she follow up on this information? Does she take it with a grain of salt from a guy that is most likely lying to her? Does she go to Gordon to find out if he was even aware of this? No. She takes this very flimsy information and jumps to the conclusion that Jim must have been fully aware and even planted the evidence on Pepper. Then instead of bring this to the police she goes right to Barbara and flat out tells Barbara with no evidence that her fiance is guilty to get them to break up. Gordon wasn't even aware of this theory until after he hears it secondhand from Barbara which means after using this information to try to break up Barbara and Gordon, she did absolutely nothing else with it.
    • Barbara herself counts. One of the first things we of her is Jim telling her, in the strictest confidence, that the police force is chasing a ring of child snatchers, but that the police force is keeping it out of the press so the snatchers aren't tipped off. Barbara's reaction to this is to immediately pick up the phone and call the newspaper to spill everything. Next episode, she's upset at Jim for not telling her about his work. Several episodes later, she comes to the conclusion that Jim is cheating on her when she calls their apartment and a 12-year-old girl answers the phone. Since she'd previously dumped him, and since she'd genuinely cheated on Jim while they were still together, her anger only made her look hypocritical. The writers eventually gave up on trying to make her actions justifiable or sympathetic entirely and just made her an actual murdering psychopath the moment she had any opportunity to do so, without much more than a Hand Wave for justification.
  • Reba has Kyra. It's hard to deny that she gets the short end of the stick at points, but this is often because of very justifiable reasons, such as trying to help the teenaged mother in the family get on her feet, and raising a new born child. In addition, with all the complaining Kyra does, she almost never does anything to help improve the situation, or at least help make things easier on everyone. The closest thing that can remotely count was moving out to her dad's place, which only succeeded in causing even more stress on the family and bringing Reba to tears. Combine this with her slowly sliding into the Teens Are Monsters trope during her teenaged years and her Deadpan Snarker tendencies being taken up to near Jerkass levels in the later seasons, and it's a bit hard to feel bad for her at times when she starts complaining about things.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Regina Mills after her Heel–Face Turn. After she nearly sacrifices herself to save Storybrooke, the heroes treat all her past heinous actions (which include slaughtering a village, raping a man, sending children on a life threatening mission, killing her own father, cursing a world to an unhappy life, imprisoning an innocent girl in a dungeon,...) as if they were done by someone else. This is mitigated by the fact that she truly acknowledges having been a villain and tries her best to be a better person but she occasionally puts the blame alternatively on her Evil Mentor Rumplestilskin or the Author of the book. It turns out that yes the Author really was manipulating everyone all along but since there was little evidences before, this comes out as a lucky guess. At one point in season 3, she says she regrets none of her acts because it gave her Henry, her adopted son, in the long run. In season 4, she whines and resents Emma for ruining her romance with Robin Hood by accidently bringing Marian back from the dead and later, with Henry, she starts a self-centered quest to find the Author so she can be reunited with her boyfriend leaving the fandom unsure whether she truly deserves her happy ending like everyone in-universe (even some of her former victims) think so. In season 4 finale, Emma goes as far to save Regina from the darkness by letting it take her instead.
    • Before her Heel–Face Turn, Regina's motivations are treated as extreme, but still sympathetic and not totally undeserved. Her vendetta against Snow White started when Snow failed to keep Regina's love affair with a stable boy secret, prompting Regina's mother to kill the man. Although Snow is indirectly responsible for Daniel's death, she did only told Cora about it in the hopes of reuniting her with her daughter. Regina treats a child's well-meaning mistake as something horrible and tortures the girl for years, despite Snow doing everything she can to give Regina a chance at redemption and a happy life.
    • Further, Regina's motivation for doing evil in the second season is that she wants to get her son back after he was taken away from her. The show tries to treat this as Reformed, but Rejected and Then Let Me Be Evil, that her fall back to darkness was induced by Emma and co. taking Henry and not trusting her. But her actions include siding with her mother, and abusing and endangering everyone around her for the sake of her own goals, and even erasing Henry's memory at one point after he called her out on her behavior, showing that she really is a dangerous and everyone was right to suspect her and she shouldn't get Henry just because she loves him.
    • The Season 5 finale throws a major Author's Saving Throw for Regina. It has her show remorse for her time as the Evil Queen with the previous lack of regret been explained as not showing it. Regina also states her belief that all her problems are Laser-Guided Karma for been the Evil Queen, which stops her blaming someone else and expresses a desire to free herself of her baggage. Finally Regina is separated into a good side and the Evil Queen allowing the queen to be punished for her misdeeds.
    • However, it should be noted that when Regina claims that she doesn't regret any of her actions, that was in the middle of her Heel–Face Turn, so she was only focused on being a better person for her son, and hadn't come to terms with her misdeeds yet. She also doesn't blame her mentor for doing all of her misdeeds, but rather for manipulating her into becoming the Evil Queen, making sure that any attempt to change failed until after he got what he wanted out of her
    • Ursula the sea witch in the "Queens of Darkness" story arc. While her backstory shows that she used to be a kind mermaid until Hook stole her voice, her transformation into a monster was self inflicted yet she puts all the blame on Hook. Just as she’s about to strangle Snow, Hook brings her voice back and makes her reconcile with her father. She’s suddenly considered as good and free to leave the town even thought she express no remorse in actively helping Rumplestilskin and the other Queens to turn Emma into a villain. Not helping is the later revelation that she and Cruella left Maleficient’s baby daughter to die.
    • Robin Hood for his Lack of Empathy toward his wife Marian. When he finds out that Regina was the one who killed her before Emma undid her death, he doesn't seem to care at all being mostly concerned with still being in love with Regina. He then starts an affair with her while Marian is in the coma. Marian turns out to be Zelena the wicked witch who killed and replaced her. Once again Robin is barely concerned by the revelation and is immediately ready to move on with Regina. The only remaining obstacle is Zelena being pregnant with his baby.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Mutsuki Kamijo from Kamen Rider Blade is supposed to be a naive, insecure young boy struggling with the powers he suddenly gains. He mostly came across as an immature whiny brat instead, particularly after his pathetic efforts at a Face–Heel Turn.
    • In Kamen Rider Kiva, Mio Suzuki is forbidden to love the hero Wataru because she is forced to marry his brother Taiga for political reasons. This would indeed have made her sympathetic - had she not repeatedly put pressure on Wataru to murder Taiga, then tried to do it herself in front of everyone at their wedding, and sneered about killing Taiga to his own mother's face.
    • One episode of Kamen Rider Wizard involved a Phantom trying to make the Victim of the Week despair by turning her husband and friends against her. However, the character was so shrill and obnoxious that most fans felt that little effort was needed on the Phantom's part.
  • Buffy in the Season 5 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is portrayed as heroic for wanting to protect Dawn at all costs, even though she knows it means unimaginable suffering and probable death for herself- never mind that she knows that it also means unimaginable suffering and probable death for everyone and everything else in existence, including Dawn, meaning that she basically just wants to end the world for no reason.
  • In the first episode of ProjectMc2, the protagonists stalk a teenage girl, following her home and putting cameras in her room... wait, why are they the heroes again? (Even worse, the girl inexplicably totally forgives them for this, within the space of one conversation.)
  • In yet another example of a Lifetime Movie of the Week, Sins of the Mother, has a Broken Bird who grew up with a single alcoholic mother. While you may sympathize with her at first, the fact that her mother, in the present day, is a responsible, sober woman trying to make amends with her and her past actions, she herself remains bitter and antagonistic towards everyone, including her innocent five-year-old half-sister and repeatedly rebuffs her mother's (genuine) attempts at reconciliation makes her this. Fortunately, she forgives her mother by the movie's end and has become more optimistic and likable.
  • Michael Bluth from Arrested Development is clearly meant to be the character the audience sympathises with, and it works to an extent, at least in the first three seasons. But anytime he interacts with a character outside of his family it becomes apparent that he's only "the nice one" by comparison - just a quick run-down of his first few romantic relationships shows him attempting to seduce his brother's girlfriend, sleeping with his son's crush (and later blaming said brother when his son finds out), and giving a fake name to a one-night stand (and later lying to her about losing her dog when he discovers she's blind). He's also not above manipulating his relatives' insecurities to get them to do what he wants, and as an employer is shown to expect everyone to be as much of a workaholic as he is, calling for long hours and weekend work even when he can't afford to pay people on time. The fact that he's most often contrasted with his brother GOB, who is largely viewed by fans as an Unintentionally Sympathetic Jerkass Woobie, probably doesn't help this trope.
  • Gwen in Torchwood got a bad case of this trope coupled with Vanilla Protagonist a few episodes in to Series 1, when she decides that the only way to cope with all the new and frightening things she's discovering about the universe is to cheat on her basically decent boyfriend with the office Jerkass womaniser and then confessing to said boyfriend to assuage her guilt, only to drug him so he'd have no memory of the event and she could feel better without facing the consequences. Though most everyone agrees she came back as one of the more sympathetic characters on the show later on, this event put a lot of fans off of her for a while.
  • Viewers are meant to sympathise with Dan Humphrey on Gossip Girl for being an underprivileged outcast struggling to be accepted by the rich, cool kids and for having to work hard for everything he gets while the Upper East Side characters get everything handed to them because they are wealthy and know the right people. He was even referred to as "the pauper" in promos at one point. We're also supposed to sympathise with him on account of him being the moral compass on a show filled with people stabbing each other in the back and going to any lengths to pursue their own selfish interests. This quickly falls apart on all accounts, starting with the fact that he's able to attend an expensive private school on Manhattan, lives in a large loft in Brooklyn, for a while took a limo to school and had a rich stepmother who paved the way for him. He oftentimes sabotaged other characters, including his own long-time best friend and (at the time) girlfriend Vanessa when she got accepted into Tish and he didn't, not to mention he sabotaged Blair's wedding via a Gossip Girl blast but when she thought it was Chuck's doing Dan not only allowed her to keep thinking that, he encouraged it. Then there's the fact that he was Gossip Girl and thus responsible for much of the misery in the other characters' lives, including putting their lives at risk on occasion.
  • Drucilla Winters from The Young and the Restless. At one point in her tenure, she became estranged from her husband Neil after he discovered that she cheated on him with his brother and that he was actually the uncle of the daughter he'd raised for 15 years. When Dru returned to town, she was enraged to discover that Neil had become involved with another woman, Carmen Mesta. She promptly broke into Carmen's apartment and trashed it. When Carmen filed charges and a restraining order against Dru, somehow SHE was made into the bad guy. Her and Neil's mutual relationship was suddenly retconned as her being The Vamp out to wreck a blissfully happy marriage and her filing a complaint against Dru was made to look like the vindictive act of a Woman Scorned. When Dru put her in a headlock following another argument and she filed new charges regarding the physical assault and violation of the restraining order, this attitude was ramped up even more until Carmen became the supposed Asshole Victim in a murder mystery that had every member of the Winters' family as a suspect. Dru was clearly supposed to be the sympathetic person in the whole mess but her hypocrisy paired with her borderline deranged and illegal actions had the opposite effect.
  • While the title character in Being Mary Jane has her moments, her niece, Niecy, is a better example. Although she mostly grew up without her father and is a single mother of two, she feels that she's owed something because of her circumstances. Aside from being morbidly obese (which unfortunately could make her unsympathetic alone), she has a huge chip on her shoulder, rarely takes responsibility for her actions and has virtually no ambition for herself. Even in the third season finale, after she's pulled over by the police for blasting her music too loudly and driving without any license plates (the latter which is illegal just about everywhere), she mouths off to them, tries to drive away and once being ordered to step out of the car, thinks it was a good idea to shove one of the officers, causing him to taser her. Even though in-universe it's treated like a case of Police Brutality and she's given compassion, the fans don't agree.
  • Some found Iron Fist (2017)'s Danny Rand to be this. He's suffered a lot and is trying to reclaim his identity, but the way he goes about it mixes naivety with entitlement. A standout moment is the third episode, when he angrily asserts his ownership of Rand Industries as something his father wanted him to have - in other words, declaring that he should be a billionaire by right of birth. He says that it's about reclaiming his own name, but never tries to negotiate keeping that without the money and teams up with a cutthroat lawyer. The obvious Artistic License – Economics doesn't help, as in reality someone who's been missing for 15 years and been declared dead would certainly not be able to do this. When Colleen allows him to stay in her dojo he takes it upon himself to lecture her students uninvited, and proudly declares himself the Iron Fist even though by going to New York at all he's abandoned the duties of that role.
  • One of the many complaints about the controversial Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, is how unsympathetic many found the subject character, Hannah Baker. The premise of the show is that she commits suicide because she was bullied into it, and creates 13 tapes with each tape directed at people she believed was responsible for her fatal choice. The problem is, the tapes slowly reveal that Hannah could have avoided most of the problems herself, takes minor things way too seriously. And can't seem to learn from her mistakes and take accountability for her own actions. Not to mention several Too Dumb to Live moments, where she keeps trying to befriend many of the popular teens whom she knows don't like her and are responsible for ruining her reputation at her high school. A common theme, is that she keeps going to parties of popular teens, even though every time she does so, worst things happen to her, resulting in her eventually getting raped by Bryce at his house, which completely breaks her. And this is after witnessing him raping Jessica during another party at his house in the past and knowing how dangerous he is. As a result, many find her character unrealistic, compared to a real life victim who was tragedy bullied into ending their life.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UnintentionallyUnsympathetic/LiveActionTV