This is a tough question. I mean, in my mind, Darth Vader is the poster boy for this trope. You can accept that Anakin is doing bad things but is not actually evil through most of the films, but at that point where he starts killing children there's just no way around it. He's evil and you can't have any sympathy for him from that point on.
In fact I think that's a big weakness of Rot S
as a film — after that point, the movie tries to evoke sympathy for Anakin, from the scenes of him burning on Mustafar to his Big "NO!"
, and it all falls rather flat because of what he did earlier.
I think Vader is a bit of a special case, though. His redemption story came years and years before
his Moral Event Horizon
was revealed. We knew Vader was bad
, but nothing totally unforgivable was really shown on screen, so we could accept his return to the light as long as he died in the act of atoning. If we'd watched him slaughter innocent children and then later
seen him turn on the Emperor, I'm betting there wouldn't be as much sympathy for him.
I guess as long as it's an In-Universe
trope, I can see it. Luke can forgive Vader because he wasn't there and didn't see it; Obiwan, Yoda, and Padme can never forgive him. Am I using this correctly?
So, new question, then — if Moral Event Horizon
becomes a trope related to how other characters (or the work in general?) perceives the character, do we need to make a new, separate YMMV trope for when a previously sympathetic character loses any audience buy-in because of their behavior? Perhaps limited to cases where the character is apparently intended
to continue to be sympathetic but a significant part of the audience is so horrified that they can't accept it? In other words, the point at which an Anti-Hero
or Tragic Villain
flips across the line to Complete Monster
Edit: I can spell. Really.
edited 31st May '12 8:22:39 AM by Escher