I agree that we need a subtrope for victems of crimes being assholes in order to maximize the number of people that would have a motive to do unpleasant things to them. This has a very distinct storytelling purpose from, say, a corporate executive being depicted as as asshole to make us root for the Karmic Thief
protagonists that wants to rob from him.
I also think that there is a reason for limiting this to murder, attempted murder and other violent crimes against the person.
For one thing, speaking as a reader of lots and lots of mysteries, that generally is the most common crime that these stories are about.
Secondly, when the victim being an asshole is most in these stories is used as a motivation (in real life and in fiction) for violent crimes against the person intended for revenge.
Both in real life and in Detective Fiction
, people generally don't steal from people, embezzle their money, or shoplift from their stores because they dislike the person. They do it for greed.
Well, as long as the purpose of it is to make the perpetrator more sympathetic
In the context of murder mysteries, the main point really isn't the make the perpetrator sympathetic. That may be a part of it in some murder mysteries, but in murder mysteries the audience is being asked for root for the detective that wants to catch the bad guy. With rare exception, we generally aren't being asked to root for the murderer in these stories. At most, the author is using the fact that the murder victim is an asshole and the perp is otherwise likeable as a way or making the human relationships and emotions involved more complex and less "Black and White Morality". Also, as a way of making the situation more poignant and tragic when the perpetrator is finally caught and confess their reasons for the crime. But all the same, at the end of the day, the audience wants the detective to catch the criminal.
As I say above, that is entirely different from being asked to root for the Loveable Rogue
protagonist stealing from the corrupt politician or brutal mafia dons, to the point of rooting against the police that want to catch them.
edited 27th Jan '14 5:53:51 AM by Catbert