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CaptainTedium
topic
11:28:42 PM Nov 6th 2014
I think this article requires a cleanup.

I attempted to add a Villain Protagonist entry for Pete's listing on the character page for Goof Troop twice because several episodes had him as the protagonist with a clearly evil goal, and both of those attempts resulted in another contributor removing the Villain Protagonist entry and saying that Jerkasses don't count as villain protagonists.

Quite a few of the entries I see on the Villain Protagonist page qualify more as jerkasses than downright villains, for example: Clay Puppington from Moral Orel and the titular protagonist of Dan Vs.

What are your thoughts on this opinion?
SeptimusHeap
moderator
11:44:44 PM Nov 6th 2014
It was being discussed on Ask The Tropers as well.
needsanewhobby
topic
03:55:47 PM Aug 2nd 2014
Wondering why Overlord is the page image when there are far more recognisable examples.
SeptimusHeap
moderator
01:36:32 AM Aug 3rd 2014
Because we don't care that much about "recognizability" - images work bes tif they don't need one to know the work.
ZombieBobUSA
topic
11:45:17 AM Dec 15th 2013
I think it's funny that even the classic family board game Monopoly features players as Villain Protagonists. Think about it. Monopolies are illegal, but that's the primary goal in the game is to acquire them. At least this is touched upon with the chance to "Go to Jail".
LordGro
topic
09:37:56 AM Apr 4th 2013
edited by LordGro
I removed this line for sounding like an 'arguable' example and providing no context to decide if it fits.
  • To some extent, Richard III's father, Richard of York, in the Henry VI trilogy.
Morgenthaler
topic
05:41:42 AM Mar 5th 2013
Something that's been bugging me about the page quote. The title character of Dexter is described as a Villain Protagonist through the quote, but he's not listed as one either on this page or the series page.

The point is — can Dexter objectively be called a Villain Protagonist? He is a serial killer, but he only kills murderers who have escaped the law. He does it out of bloodlust, but he also allows himself to believe that he is a vigilante. He also deeply cares about his family, friends, and coworkers. All in all, this character really skirts the line between this trope, Sociopathic Hero, Anti-Hero, and Anti-Villain.
Thecommander236
10:35:30 AM Mar 5th 2013
He breaks the law and he's a detective by trade that could catch them the normal way? Idk, but he sure is hell has a quote that fits this trope. The difference here is that taken out of context and used with these other villains that last line "The series compels viewers to empathize with a serial killer, to root for him to prevail, to hope he doesn't get discovered"... Yeah... When Light in Death Note said he was a god, I shock my head and was happy when he was killed and proven wrong. I see where he was coming from and empathize with him like the quote said, but I didn't really think he was doing the right thing.
Larkmarn
10:41:17 AM Mar 5th 2013
I posted on your discussion about this on Dexter, but I'll chime in here.

While I think Dexter is definitely a Villain Protagonist, the quote is still fine because, in the context of the page, it's clearly describing a VP. Hell, even if Dexter were actually a puppy maker made of chocolate, the quote still works even if it were wrong.
Thecommander236
11:02:20 AM Mar 5th 2013
edited by Thecommander236
The wee difference here is that Light killed innocents or people trying to catch him. Dexter just went under the radar and caught people in a less "kill you where you stand public way". Either that makes or breaks a Villain Protagonist is up for debate.
Larkmarn
11:18:47 AM Mar 5th 2013
Long story short is that Dexter does illegal things for immoral purposes, and actively impedes justice/causes harm to innocents in the process. That qualifies him as a VP, in my book.
Morgenthaler
04:35:36 AM Mar 6th 2013
Call me convinced. Something I sometimes forget is that tropes are indeed flexible.

@ Larkmarn: Do you mind if I use some of what you wrote in an example description for Dexter?
Larkmarn
11:33:27 AM Mar 6th 2013
Not at all, go ahead.
CaptainCrawdad
01:50:25 PM Mar 18th 2013
edited by CaptainCrawdad
Dexter isn't a villain protagonist, he's an antihero. We're expected to sympathize with him and hope that he succeeds. Each season pits him against the actual villain of the season, whom he defeats. Just because he does horrible things doesn't make him an villain protagonist. Antiheroes are often flawed, immoral and even tragic characters. A villain protagonist is the villain of the story. Dexter isn't the villain of the show.

The page quote is also not reflective of a villain protagonist. The critic is complaining that Dexter is too dark of an antihero. We're expected to root for Dexter to succeed even though he's a serial killer. In effect we excuse his serial killing. The critic would have no such complaint for a real villain protagonist, like Richard III, who commits murder and is treated as an evil villain for it.
Hodor
01:56:14 PM Mar 18th 2013
Hmm, I'm not sure. What seems to me to justify the Villain Protagonist label (if not the serial killing itself) is that besides as you say, being pitted against actual villains, Dexter is also in opposition to his colleagues on the police force, who are goodish people, and want to catch the Bay Harbor Butcher (i.e. Dexter).
CaptainCrawdad
02:20:53 PM Mar 18th 2013
The police force are treated as obstacles that our antihero Dexter must avoid and overcome so that he may continue doing what the audience wants him to do: kill villains. Of course, we're frequently reminded of how morally questionable it is for Dexter to go behind the backs of his honest(ish) colleagues and take the justice into his own hands. That's why he's an antihero and not a hero.
Hodor
02:27:28 PM Mar 18th 2013
edited by Hodor
I largely see your point. My sort of informal test for whether a character is an Anti-Hero or Villain Protagonist looks at how law enforcement are presented in relation to the main character.

For instance, heroic con artist or thief types- anti-heroes- tend to be opposed by either corrupt cops or ineffectual ones, and if they do have a heroic opponent, they will tend to end up on the same side as them.

In contrast, villain protagonists will be opposed by well-characterized hero antagonists. See for instance Death Note or Breaking Bad''.

Now Dexter complicates this because his crimes are shown as having positive outcomes (along the lines of an anti-hero), but his relationship with police is more of the villain protagonist type.
Thecommander236
02:48:35 PM Mar 18th 2013
Here's the thing. Look at it like this. The police is the white (morality) of the story, Dexter is grey, and the other serial killers are black or darker grey. Since there is a white side in the story, I think you can call him a villain. Still, I rather him running around than those other serial killers or Light.
CaptainCrawdad
03:33:06 PM Mar 18th 2013
edited by CaptainCrawdad
The test of a antihero versus villain protagonist is whether the audience is expected to sympathize with them.

An antihero might be a really horrible person, but if we want him to succeed (or at least don't want him to fail) he's our hero. He might be a crook, a liar, a coward, a murderer, etc. An antihero might be considered an "evil" person by conventional morality, but that doesn't matter. As long as the audience is on his side, for all his faults, he's the hero of the story.

By contrast, the villain is, by definition, the person we don't want to succeed. He's the force that must be stopped. The only difference between a Villain Protagonist and a standard villain is that we see the story from their perspective. Look at characters like Richard III. We follow his actions and get inside of his head, but we hate him all the more for it. We want to see him fail, and therefore he's the villain.

So applying this to Dexter, he's the antihero. We want Dexter to survive, season after season, killing the bad guys and evading capture just a little bit longer. Sure, we realize that he's terribly flawed, but he's all the more fascinating for it.
Thecommander236
03:44:19 PM Mar 18th 2013
Still it's a matter of opinion and I'm not talking about Misaimed Fandom or Fan Dumb. I'm talking about character interpretation which can come from your beliefs to your culture. There's a reason different countries and even different states give out difference a sentencing for the same crime. Like ever country/province/state/county/city set their own laws and definition, TV tropes needs a line to draw some where (while not being hard asses about it).

All in all, I have given reasons for why Dexter would be a Villain Protagonist and why he would be an Anti-Hero. I'm 50/50 on it and don't even mind if I end up seeing him in anti-hero AND villain protagonist.
CaptainCrawdad
04:28:06 PM Mar 18th 2013
I think you're still confusing Villain Protagonist with "Anti-Hero, but more-so." A Villain Protagonist isn't an protagonist who does worse things than an Anti-Hero. In fact, one story's Villain Protagonist could look like a choir boy compared to another story's Anti-Hero. The difference is in their function within the story, not their morality.

Thecommander236
05:11:20 PM Mar 18th 2013
Yeah, I went looking, but the question is "is he a villain or a hero"? In this case, "is he an Anti-Hero or an Anti-Villain"? The way you work it out is this. We start with the question, "is he a villain protagonist?" which, according to it's page, can overlap with Nominal Hero which has a link in Sliding Scale Of Anti Heroes. Also, Villain Protagonist has this little gem in the first paragraph, "Sometimes (but not always), this villainous main character will even get the Sympathetic P.O.V. or be portrayed as an Anti-Villain". So you see, Anti-Villain, Anti-Hero, Villain Protagonist, Villain Antagonist, Hero Antagonist, and Hero Protagonist are all linked and can be compared with one another. So yes, it would be pretty fine to put Dexter in Anti-Hero and Villain Protagonist. If the character's alignment is so on the edge, s/he can go in YMMV and be described as a type of Anti-Hero and Anti-Villain. Finally, there's the neutral zone.
CaptainCrawdad
07:06:21 PM Mar 18th 2013
It's perfectly acceptable for a villain protagonist to receive enough sympathetic aspects to make him an Anti-Villain. What keeps him a villain is the fact that you don't want him to succeed. That's what distinguishes heroes from villains. If you want him to succeed, then he's a hero, not a villain.

A nominal hero is a hero who doesn't have a strong motivation for being on the "good" side. By definition, however, you want him to succeed, because he's technically the hero. A nominal hero cannot also be a villain protagonist because heroes cannot also be villains. They are mutually exclusive.
Thecommander236
01:19:09 AM Mar 19th 2013
Unless you want to see the world burn or you just curious about what would happen.
Larkmarn
06:00:57 AM Mar 19th 2013
edited by Larkmarn
Where are you getting that you're not supposed to root for the Villain Protagonist? There is nothing on the page that indicates that at all.

Protagonist is the person that, by definition, you're supposed to root for. Antagonist is someone that, by definition, you don't. Heroes and villains you can choose who you like but protagonists and antagonists are pretty clear. Dexter's a protagonist, no one's debating that. But you seem to think that by merit of being the protagonist, that makes him The Hero. That's just not true.
CaptainCrawdad
08:42:07 AM Mar 19th 2013
edited by CaptainCrawdad
The protagonist is the main character. The antagonist is the person who opposes the protagonist. The villain protagonist is when the villain is the main character. He's usually opposed by a Hero Antagonist, who is opposing the main character but actually the hero of the story.
Larkmarn
08:54:19 AM Mar 19th 2013
Right. Where are you getting this "You don't want the villain to succeed" bit from?
CaptainCrawdad
01:08:45 PM Mar 19th 2013
edited by CaptainCrawdad
That's the function of a villain in a story.

Here's the breakdown:

Hero Protagonist: Main character you want to win

Villain Protagonist: Main character you don't want to win

Hero Antagonist: Main opposition you want to win

Villain Antagonist: Main opposition you don't want to win

Anti-Hero: a hero with unsympathetic aspects to their character, but you still want them to win.

Anti-Villain: a villain with sympathetic aspects to their character, but you still want them to lose.

So Dexter is a Hero Protagonist (because he's the main character and you want him to win) as well as an Anti-Hero (because he's a hero with unsympathetic aspects to his character)
Larkmarn
01:34:45 PM Mar 19th 2013
edited by Larkmarn
Where are you getting this? That's just not how villainous is used on this site.

It's obviously not how the trope is used on this site.

Pro/Antagonist are what "you want to win." You want the Antagonist to lose. You don't necessarily want the Villain to lose. The fact we have a video game section for that is proof enough of that. Villain is treated not really as whether you want them to lose, but whether they're considered morally superior. Saying that you're rooting for Dexter doesn't make him a hero, it makes him a protagonist.
Hodor
01:40:24 PM Mar 19th 2013
I agree that "want them to win" isn't the best test, in that (for example), plenty of people want Light of Death Note to win, and I'm pretty sure he's a Villain Protagonist. That's why I think it may be more helpful to look at who opposes the main character.

And I don't think it is necessarily helpful either to look at whether the character opposes someone worse, because a Villain Protagonist can definitely be in opposition to someone worse- that just means the work uses Evil Versus Evil.

CaptainCrawdad
04:20:56 PM Mar 19th 2013
Larkmarn and Hodor, you've simply got the terms reversed. Protagonist means "main character," and the antagonist is the character that opposes the main character. How the protagonist and antagonists are characterized is where you get the hero/villain part.

Richard III is the protagonist because he's the main character. He's a villain because he's a murderous bastard that the audience wants to lose. Thus, he's a Villain Protagonist. You don't always want the main character to win, because sometimes he's the villain of the story. That's why this trope exists.

As far as rooting for the villain, that's a common enough audience reaction. However, just because I decide to root for Gozer doesn't make it the hero of Ghostbusters. Gozer serves the objective function of villain for that film. In the same regard, I might want to see the protagonist Light win and become a god of the new world, but he still serves the function of the villain, and is opposed by the various Hero Antagonists.

As far as video games go, I've noticed that they would basically never fit villain protagonist trope, because the player is both the audience and the main character. The player character is always the protagonist (because that's who you the audience follow through the story) and always the hero (because you the player want to win the game). Even though the appeal of many games is to get to "play the bad guy," you are the bad guy, and everyone is the Hero Protagonist of their own story. Like I said, interactive fiction twists the conventions of normal storytelling by making the player both the audience and participant.
Morgenthaler
topic
09:33:30 AM Mar 4th 2013
Moved this example here.

  • The titular character in Ratman is one officially although it's not like the heroes there are particularly heroic.
    • Although more and more people see Ratman as the hero he wants to be, and actually is, as the manga goes on.

It's badly written, since it doesn't even seem sure if this character fits the trope or not. I'm not quite sure myself if Word of God is enough to make a character a villain; their actions should probably speak for themselves.
Morgenthaler
topic
09:10:45 AM Mar 4th 2013
edited by Morgenthaler
These examples are Zero Context Examples, and need more details.

We'll take your word that the character you're describing is the protagonist, although it's helpful to make clear what kind — whether they're the main character, one of several protagonists, the replacement of a Decoy Protagonist, etc.

It needs to be described how the character is a villain, however. Is the character a murderer, an Evil Overlord, a monster? These details are required.

These are also an example of Weblinks Are Not Examples.

CaptainCrawdad
topic
03:55:51 PM Nov 19th 2012
Removed:

I'm not terribly familiar with slasher films, but my understanding is that while the villains are the whole draw of the film and might be the most interesting characters, they're almost never the protagonist of the film.
CaptainCrawdad
topic
09:39:51 PM Jul 12th 2012
This trope probably needs a new quote, since Dexter isn't actually a villain protagonist in Dexter.
Smasher
topic
04:10:03 PM Jun 3rd 2012
edited by Smasher
Do Jerkass Gods count as Villain Protagonists? Or would adding them just open a can of worms?
cthulhucalamari
topic
01:17:11 AM May 15th 2012
So um, why do so many posts rave about how awesome the villian protagonist is? That's not really this trope.
stewyworks333
topic
02:42:42 AM Apr 15th 2012
So why is Villain Protagonist located in the Scrappy Index?
Smasher
topic
09:25:54 PM Apr 9th 2012
I put it in twice and it was deleted both times, but how does Mein Kampf (Hitler's autobiography) not count?
CaptainCrawdad
12:35:19 PM Apr 10th 2012
I don't recall deleting this, but I got a private message about it. I would say that it doesn't apply because Hitler is not the villain in his own story. In fact, he's the hero of Mein Kampf. If another author were to write a story about Hitler's rise to power, portraying it as a Start of Darkness, then this trope would be in full effect.

Sure, the real Adolf Hitler is a villain, but this isn't a YMMV trope. It's not about what we feel about Hitler. It's purely about what tropes the work itself is using.
MagBas
topic
07:11:09 PM Mar 2nd 2012
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: The Vigilantes are very much this. The funny thing is that the author was trying to portray them as heroines fighting against evil Complete Monsters. Unfortunately, the author fails to actually show the people the Vigilantes fight against as horrible people who deserve what they get! Indeed, the bad people actually come off as more sympathetic than the protagonists themselves. The protagonists' use of Disproportionate Retribution puts them in this role. This is what happens when a story contains Bad Writing!

If it is an Alternate Character Interpretation, it not belongs here.
captainmarkle
topic
11:45:49 AM Jun 8th 2011
Would Punch from punch and Judy counts? He is played for laughs, but he often ends up injuring Judy or killing the baby (it DOES vary from performance to performance admittedly) and then beats the devil and a constable half to death, getting away scott-free.
fuckshitpiss
topic
03:06:21 PM Apr 8th 2011
Would playing the Devil in Black & White count as an example?
Scalondragon
topic
09:34:14 AM Mar 23rd 2011
What about Melissa, Jacqui and Cerise from "Magick Chicks," the spin-off strip of "Eerie Cuties"? They were originally the "queen bees"/"magical mean girls" whose use of the Orb of Tiresias led to a massive "Gender Bender" and nearly turned their school, Charybdis Heights, into an all-blonde-girl school thanks to Nina's magical perverted doll, Blair. When Ace, a former boy, was stuck as a girl thanks to being outside the orb's area when the spell was reversed, that led to their "volunteering" by the headmistress for a transfer program with Artemis Academy, an all-girls school. They must now start all over again as the new girls, against Faith Abbott, someone whose already gotten her hold on power at Artemis, and might even impress Nabiki Tendo herself.
lrd127
topic
08:31:00 AM Feb 6th 2011
Do Isaac and his party from the first Golden Sun game count? They're not villainous, because they're nice people and help people out with their problems, but they're trying to destroy the world. (although without knowing that's what they're doing)
Goremand
11:17:55 AM Apr 3rd 2011
Definitely not. Their intentions are pure, and furthermore the guy who tricked them isn't really trying to destroy the world either. By the end of the second game it's clear who the true villain is.
dchimp
topic
09:44:23 AM Dec 13th 2010
Is a Person still a villain protagonist, if, being shown as evil, he still fight people who are even worse?
EJO1
12:02:33 PM Dec 13th 2010
That's more like a Anti Hero Level V, which is Anti Hero in Name Only.
cclospina
12:54:29 PM Dec 16th 2010
Smasher
04:07:09 PM Jun 3rd 2012
Yes indeed.
cclospina
topic
02:43:17 PM Nov 13th 2010
edited by cclosina
On second thought, Lelouch really is a villain protagonist, he took advantage of the ideals of others to achieve his personal vendetta against his father.
azul120
01:01:49 PM Mar 31st 2011
Way late responding here, but Lelouch wanted to fix the entire world. His father was only one part of his overall motivation.
JDKillian
topic
02:50:06 AM Aug 4th 2010
I don't feel like making a justifying edit, because it feels awkward, but Light Yagami of Death Note tends to be a fairly decent guy when he forsakes the death note, which may or may not qualify for a justified justifying edit.
JDKillian
02:51:20 AM Aug 4th 2010
Nevermind. I'll just word the edit carefully.
cclospina
topic
04:53:28 PM Aug 3rd 2010
I do not believe that Guts(Berserk) belongs here, because almost all its immorality is part of their Jerkass Façade.

SomeGuy
05:17:19 PM Aug 3rd 2010
94.9.139.139
topic
02:30:07 PM Jun 4th 2010
edited by 94.9.139.139

No he doesn't?! It's been a while, but from what I can recall he wished revenge on the human race, definitely, but the Colony Drop was something else out of the eleventh hour. Unless you're confusing Shadow with the Ultimate Lifeform prototype (Biolizard/Finalhazard)?
SomeNewGuy
11:16:00 AM Jun 9th 2010
That is correct. Shadow just wanted justice for Maria's death, but Gerald wanted the entire world to suffer as he did. Its subtly implied that the only reason Shadow is going along with Geralds genocidal plan is because Gerald used More Than Mind Control on him.
94.9.139.139
topic
02:14:48 PM Jun 4th 2010
I'm not sure if Benjamin Linus of LOST fits or not.
Peteman
topic
08:14:51 PM Apr 7th 2010
As for Lucy not slaughtering anyone inarguably innocent, didn't she slaughter Kouta's family and numerous civilians over what amounted to a temper tantrum?
cthulhucalamari
01:14:29 AM May 15th 2012
thats pretty much it in a very dark and black and grey/black morality series
back to Main/VillainProtagonist

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