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YMMV/Convinced By The Villain

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The writers' attempt to convey a villain's warped worldview (typically through a monologue) ends up being a bit more eloquent and convincing than intended. A frequent cause of Rooting For The Empire.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
ScroogeMacDuck on Nov 17th 2017 at 2:03:13 PM
Last Edited By:
AHI-3000 on Mar 13th 2018 at 3:40:52 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

A Evil Speech Of Evil (Evil Laugh optional) is one of the most recurring trappings of great villains, be they an irredeemable Classic Villain or a complex Anti-Villain you almost feel sorry for. They're just the place for the writers to showcase the character's warped worldview, why they believe what they believe, the motives behind their heinous deeds. A successful villain's-worldview monologue can and often will become an acclaimed signature scene.

Only, because villains are cultured and eloquent, they're often a bit too convincing. Not to the heroes themselves (that's Villain Has a Point), mind you, but to us, the audience. Especially if The Hero is (perceived as) a bland do-gooder with a childish, black-and-white worldview, it's easy to be enraptured by what the villain has to say... even if the writer did intend for his to be a flawed, warped logic.

A subtrope of Misaimed Fandom. Will naturally lead to the audience Rooting for the Empire. As mentioned earlier, compare Villain Has a Point when the work itself acknowledges the villain isn't all wrong.


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    Comic Books 
  • The most famous example of a Villain Monologue Backfire is probably the Joker's psychoanalysis of Batman and himself in The Killing Joke, wherein he sees himself and "Batsy" as two sides of the same coin — two men who were Driven to Madness by the trauma they went through, as anyone else would have been in their place. This interpretation of Batman as being just as insane as the Joker but just refusing to admit it has become a very popular Alternate Character Interpretation for the Dark Knightnote ... never mind that the Joker's argument is very thoroughly, very convincingly deconstructed at the end of the comic by Batman himself.

     Fan Works 
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Professor Quirrell's mournful, bleak monologue where he laments that he wasn't born someplace not populated by idiots, which was intended to showcase the worldview of a depressed sadistic sociopath, ended up one of the most memorable and oft-quoted speeches in the story.

     Film (Live-Action) 

     Film (Animated) 
  • As he himself recounts in his Evil Gloating, the Start of Darkness of Syndrome in The Incredibles was when superhero Mr Incredible dismissed him and his newly-invented rocket-boots on the sole grounds that "Mr Incredible works alone". Even if one glosses over the arguable hypocrisy of this statement note , it's hard not to agree with Syndrome that it was rather callous of Incredible to back-handedly such an obviously talented boy's dreams.

  • There have been several online examples of people posting quotes from the villain's manifesto from the novel Chasing Vermeer as 'inspirational quotes', even though In-Universe, the manifesto is the villain's own attempt to misdirect investigators and the public about their motives and create sympathy by presenting their art theft as the result of love for art, when it actually turns out to have been a normal theft for money.
  • While few people agree with the philosophy of Harry Potter Big Bad Lord Voldemort, in his last monologue (just before his death), he derides Harry as only a "lucky pawn" whose victories are all either the result of of Dumbledore's schemes or sheer dumb luck. Many readers think on that point, Voldemort was quite right, and cite this very thing as one of the series' main flaws. In truth, it was meant to be an ultimate demonstration of Voldemort's clinical inability to comprehend teamwork and selflessness.

     Western Animation 

Feedback: 44 replies

Nov 17th 2017 at 2:43:32 PM

I disagree. Rooting For The Empire is about wanting the antagonist to win, but it's just a feeling — it's the way that after a while, you kinda want to see Wile E. Coyote catch that damn bird. Even though you probably wouldn't want poor Beep-Beep to be cannibalized for real. Meanwhile, Villain Monologue Backfire is about the audience actually being convinced by the villain's worldview.

Nov 17th 2017 at 4:24:22 PM

That's narrowing Rooting For The Empire arbitrarily. Plenty of examples about Rooting for the Empire from Star Wars are written to portray the Rebels as morally equivalent to terrorists, making a "worldview" argument just as applicable to Rooting For The Empire as an emotional one.

Nov 17th 2017 at 9:11:39 PM

I think this may be distinct from wanting to support the villain(s). I'm not sure, honestly; I wanted to comment primarily on the title in case this is distinct.

The title made me think that this was when the villain's monologue backfires and causes the audience to dislike them even more. Like, the villain is explaining their position and reason and wants people to agree with them, so that backfiring wouldn't mean you agree with it.

Nov 17th 2017 at 11:07:26 PM

Maybe limit it to cases of the writer admitting they'd made the villain's argument too good?

For example, in the Justice League cartoon Batman faces off an alternate universe version of himself which a much harder stance on justice, as a result of which no eight-year-old loses his parents. Batman doesn't have an answer to that, but later counters with whether or not his parents would have approved of the world they live in.

Nov 18th 2017 at 12:55:48 AM

I know I've personally seen several examples online of people posting quotes from the villain's manifesto from the novel Chasing Vermeer as 'inspirational quotes', even though In Universe, the manifesto is the villain's own attempt to misdirect investigators and the public about their motives and create sympathy by presenting their art theft as the result of love for art, when it actually turns out to have been a normal theft for money.

Nov 18th 2017 at 5:33:25 AM

...Damn. Yes, while I insist it was quite different from Rooting For The Empire, Villain Monologue Backfire is indeed rather close to Misaimed Fandom.

Nov 18th 2017 at 2:45:12 AM

Nov 18th 2017 at 4:14:58 AM

I think the trope is still original enough to deserve its own page. It should maybe be mentionned tas a subtrope of Misaimed Fandom, then? I gave it a hat anyway.

Nov 18th 2017 at 6:17:11 AM

This may be a subtrope of Misaimed Fandom, but is this a duplicate of Unintentionally Sympathetic?

Also note the trope Villain Has A Point.

Nov 18th 2017 at 9:35:55 AM

Villain Has A Point is already taken into account, see draft. While I can see overlaps with Unintentionally Sympathetic, that trope covers flawed characters whom you nonetheless feel sorry for, whereas this trope is about being taken in by the villain's argument and/or philosophy.

Nov 18th 2017 at 11:45:25 AM

So, hello, could someone give us a hat over here?

Nov 18th 2017 at 11:53:05 AM

You have five examples and seem to be unclear as to the exact relationship this trope has to others. Hats should only be given when a trope is ready to launch, not just when it looks like it might eventually sort of possibly almost launch.

Nov 18th 2017 at 3:28:55 PM

I am not unclear on its relationship to the other tropes brought up. Here's a sum-up of what we've established:

Also, for the record, there are eigh examples in the current draft. (And unless the rules changed, a trope is Launchable from three examples onward!)

Nov 18th 2017 at 3:13:38 PM

Three examples is the base minimum. The more examples there are, the better, stronger, etc. Over on Too Rare To Trope, you'll notice that we do care that there's enough examples to support the idea that this is a pattern...

All that said, I'm still not convinced that this is distinct from Unintentionally Sympathetic. That trope is "feels sorry for the villain because of some reason" whereas this seems to be "feels sorry for the villain because of their argument."

Nov 18th 2017 at 3:14:32 PM

Three is the bare minimum and no page is going to survive on the Wiki Magic of three examples.

I also take issue with this being called a sub-trope of Misaimed Fandom. First because neither of these are tropes, they are YMMV items. Second, I don't see how this has a "distinct narrative function from the original" to make it anything less than The Same But More Specific.

I would also like to hear an example for the distinction between being Unintentionally Sympathetic to a character versus sympathetic to an argument they make. The arguments are generally a big part of the character.

Nov 18th 2017 at 3:29:49 PM

Of your argument, the Misaimed Fandom one is the strongest. I may grant you that one. On the other hand, here's an example of the distinction I'm talking about on Unintentionally Sympathetic. Here's the quote of a typical Unintentionally Sympathetic example, verbatim from that page:

"Many Looney Tunes villains fall under this category, particularly Sylvester. Sure, they are willing to eat the good guy, but in terms of eliciting sympathy, the agony they go through far outweighs any harm they want to do."

As you can see, the idea here is that we find the characters sympathetic on an emotional level, whether or not (and in this case, not) we agree with them.

Meanwhile, the Killing Joke example, which I would call the Trope Codifier were this a trope and not a YMMV, features a thoroughly despicable man as the speaker and whether or not one agrees with the argument he makes seems entirely removed from sympathy to the character personally. Ditto for the Dark Knight example, for that matter. The Voldemort example is even about agreeing with one specific argument, and again has nothing to do with how much someone likes Voldemort on his own.

Nov 18th 2017 at 6:51:48 PM

The Killing Joke example has weird characters in it.

Nov 19th 2017 at 3:00:58 AM

Uh, so it does. Fixed it.

Nov 20th 2017 at 11:09:20 AM

I tried to launch it but there was a last-minute problem and now the title's wrong… how to fix it?…

Nov 20th 2017 at 11:15:00 AM

Unlaunched as this proposal has insufficient support.

Nov 20th 2017 at 11:15:23 AM

Do that again, Scrooge, and you'll get a ban.

Nov 20th 2017 at 11:16:51 AM

Just because the "Launch" button is there doesn't necessarily mean that you should launch a page. There's currently just as many bombs as hats and ongoing discussion.

Personally, I think this is more than sufficiently covered by Evil Is Cool, Designated Villain, and Misaimed Fandom.

Even if I didn't, the fact that the name sounds like a perfect synonym for Villain Has A Point which is asking for misuse.

Nov 20th 2017 at 11:46:45 AM

I'm sorry if I goofed, but the last time I checked before launching the Hats were outnumbering the Bombs, there were enough Hats, three days had passed, there were well over the minimum amounts of examples and there didn't seem to be any new contributions of examples… I stand by my point that this page is perfectly launchable, although I will refrain from relaunching it for now.

Nov 20th 2017 at 12:18:20 PM

This would be an In-Universe equivalent to Rooting For The Empire and not YMMV.

Nov 20th 2017 at 12:48:11 PM

> This would be an In-Universe equivalent to Rooting For The Empire and not YMMV.

No, that's Villain Has A Point. This is more related to Misaimed Fandom, being a subtly different trope from Rooting For The Empire where it's about the viewer agreeing with the villain's philosophy — whether or not they root for him as a character being another material entirely.

Nov 20th 2017 at 1:15:46 PM

Is a sub-trope with 7 examples distinct enough to warrant its own page? It would make more sense to incorporate this page into Misaimed Fandom and not isolate good content like The Killing Joke example on a low-wick page.

Nov 20th 2017 at 2:07:03 PM

One of the things to check before launching is whether there was an ongoing discussion of the draft. If yes, then probably don't launch yet regardless of hat count.

That said, I don't think the point has been adequately addressed concerning the duplicate nature of this with Misaimed Fandom. Also, saying this is "subtly different" from another article is a flashing, bedazzled, giant red flag that this is The Same But More Specific of something. In this case, RFTE and MF and DV.

Nov 20th 2017 at 3:32:42 PM

^ Sorry, that's already a trope name.

Nov 21st 2017 at 9:45:21 AM

@Water Blap: Let's sum up again…

Nov 21st 2017 at 9:58:24 AM

To address each of your points:

  • You are saying this is not "More Specific" than Misaimed Fandom, but then you are also saying that this is different from Misaimed Fandom because one concerns "the entire work" whereas another concerns "a specific point the villain made."
  • What you're saying about the distinction from Rooting For The Empire is either Villain Has A Point or Strawman Has A Point. The character makes a point that one can agree with, despite that character's morals or audience sympathy.
  • There are plenty of examples on Villain Has A Point that covers both the idea that the work shows us the villain's point was correct and the audience being able to see that the villain was right despite the work not going out of its way to prove the point. That covers both "in-work treatment" and "audience reaction."

Nov 23rd 2017 at 10:38:11 AM

@Water Blap again:

  • Maybe I wasn't clear enough. While it's "more specific" under one definition, it's not More Specific in the sense that Convinced By The Villains examples would just be some examples already belonging in Misaimed Fandom. I'm drawing a line between Misaimed Fandom's general, well, misaim of the fandom, and Convinced By The Villain's focus on a specific spoken argument that may only represent a small part of the overall work (see Harry Potter example).

  • Your rebuttal to my second point only stands if one also takes your rebuttal of my third, and —

  • Then I'd say Villain Has A Point has a case of Square Peg Round Trope, and that the distinction I assumed should be put to use, because it's not the same thing at all from an author's standpoint to write a flawed argument for your villain and have it be taken as genuine by readers, and for an author to deliberate write his villain as complex enough that he's supposed to be right about something. Those feel to me like two completely different things.

I guess what I'm saying is that Villain Has A Point should be limited to in-work treatemnt, and Convinced By The Villain be the [[Just For Fun/Troperithmetic combination]] of Misaimed Fandom and Rooting For The Empire that covers the audience-related cases of Villain Has A Point.

Nov 26th 2017 at 2:27:04 PM

Regarding the dispute over the tropeworthiness of this: I think what the OP is going for is Unintentionally Sympathetic/Draco In Leather Pants being caused by viewers believing a Motive Rant by an Unreliable Expositor, or in other words a segment of the viewers taking Villains Never Lie too far. Basically, it's a meeting point of several Misaimed Fandom tropes at the same time. For instance:

Live-Action TV:

  • Gul Dukat, one of the Big Bad Ensemble of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, insists in some episodes that the Cardassians originally invaded Bajor because of natural resource depletion of their own planets (a motivation that is used as the incitement for his intent to conquer Bajor in the Terok Nor novel trilogy). Due to Dukat's charisma and complexity as a character (and probably also due to disliking the Bajorans), a segment of the show's fanbase (and actor Marc Alaimo himself), began taking that exposition literally and ignoring the Nazi-worthy laundry list of atrocities the Cardassians committed. Producer Ira Steven Behr didn't like this and reacted with the episode "Waltz", where Dukat Jumps Off The Slippery Slope and declares his intention to utterly destroy the Bajoran people. Behr says that this was Dukat's real personality all along and the genteel, charismatic military commander we saw before was only the facade.

Dec 27th 2017 at 10:58:02 AM

Too confusing, this trope is.

Dec 27th 2017 at 12:04:02 PM

I swear there was a draft of this a while ago that quickly got nuked as being trash.

Dec 27th 2017 at 2:21:19 PM

^That's a rude way to put it.

I do recall that this very draft was discarded. Am I misremembering?

Dec 27th 2017 at 2:22:32 PM

This was prematurely launched and then unlaunched. Don't know about discarded.

Dec 27th 2017 at 2:36:04 PM

I feel it was quite a while ago, perhaps it was discarded, restored, mislaunched, unlaunched, and we're back here.

^^ I couldn't recall an exact reason, so I went with simple, not trying to be rude but you know me.

Jan 3rd 2018 at 9:43:01 AM

Indeed, it was accidentally launched, and then unlaunched. That's all.