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Designated Hero / Live-Action Films

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  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 films:
    • The Puma Man. Given the fact that the "hero" is trying to come into his new superhero persona, he's still incredibly feeble, whiny, and ineffectual at genuine superheroics. Meanwhile, his wise Aztec sidekick/mentor Vadinho has to hand-hold Puma Man through his heroics, and is shown more than once to do an equal or superior job at whomping bad guy ass without superpowers. Towards the end of the movie on MST3K, Crow thinks it's time to admit that Vadinho is the real hero. And frankly, the movie wouldn't have suffered if Tony weren't in it at all and it was about Vadinho in the first place. The movie may be having a go at the idea of a badass superhero in how useless Tony is (it attempts to make some jokes about how silly his superheroism is), but it may have been lost in the translation.
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    • In the episode Beginning of the End, Mike and the Bots make a running gag at getting increasingly angry at how Peter Graves's scientist character is treated as a Science Hero, when in fact, it was his nuclear energy experiments that created the mass-murdering giant grasshopper menace in the first place.
      Peter Graves: In a way I feel responsible.
      Mike: In a way?!
    • Mitchell. The title character is an alcoholic slob of a cop who behaves like a complete Jerkass most of the time. Sure, he's a little more on the ball than his colleagues (only he suspects that Deaney may not have acted in self defense), but other than that he's a damn lousy cop. When a criminal tries to bribe him by sending him a prostitute, he actually sleeps with her. And then arrests her for possessing marijuana. Nice. Joel even says the line, "Our hero, ladies and gentlemen", when we first see Mitchell.
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    • Joe Don's character in Final Justice is a Jerkass Cowboy Cop who ignores every rule in the book - including violating the sovereignty of foreign nations and threatening blameless individuals for information - in order to hunt down criminals. The word "hunt" is used literally - Geronimo doesn't give a damn about arresting the crooks, instead challenging them to Old West-style gunfights. Oh yeah, and in the end, he kills the main villain by challenging him to a gunfight...and then shooting on "two". Our hero, a big stinky cheater.
      Servo: Yes, our 'hero': a murderous oaf who threatens women with coat hangers.
    • Escape 2000, while maybe not a perfect example, does have somewhat of a Designated Hero. While Trash is somewhat more justified in his fight against the GC Corporation since they killed his parents, the man he gets to help kidnap the company President, Strike, not so much. He's only involved because once the GC is gone the gangs will be back in control to the dilapidated Bronx. Which means he'll get to go back to being "head of all the big robberies". Neither hero is helped much either by the fact that, even though they're the bad guys, the GC corporation overall wants to build schools and hospitals after they've paved over the now crime infested Bronx. So by rooting for Trash and Strike the audience is hoping they succeed in keeping the Bronx as a criminal's paradise... yay?
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    • In the episode Wild Rebels, Joel & The Bots point out the only remotely heroic thing the protagonist does is flash his lights at some cops, which actually only gets the cops killed.
      "So, Rod, that's thirteen dead cops, a half dozen dead innocent civillians, and a couple of dead bikers. Good work!"
    • Used as a defense against critics claiming the subject of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, This Island Earth, was "too good" to mock. When Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo) was asked about this during filming, he "threw his head back and laughed uproariously," explaining that Cal, the movie's protagonist, goes on a mind-bending journey across the universe but remains utterly unchanged in any way, and his most heroic action in the entire picture is to shout, "Run, Ruth, run!" when she's being attacked by the mutant.
    • Probably the worst one of the bunch is Adam Chance from Agent for H.A.R.M.. Adam does nothing for the first 45 minutes. He spends most of the movie hanging around the beach house, trying to act cool, and failing every single time. What he does do is kill people, and is very nonchalant about it. In fact, he fails the mission entirely: He doesn't find the antidote to SPORE, can't save the man he's assigned to protect, and misses an obvious mole until after the mole kills two people. Mike and the Bots were all over him about this, with them believing that the only thing he does is to call the Archery Convention in Vienna, which reveals who the mole is... and then Adam reveals he knew all along. Loser!
    • The main character of The Wild World of Batwoman performs something like two unambiguously heroic deeds in the entire movie. Admittedly, that's not a bad ratio given that she only does five things in the entire movie and two of those are stupid, but two good deeds in more than an hour of film does not a superhero make.
    • Young "Tee" in Quest of the Delta Knights is built up to be a brilliant strategist and sage - yet his supposed wisdom and powers leads to him constantly getting himself or his allies captured or hurt, getting his mentor killed in a pointless escape attempt, and oh yeah, blowing up the lost storehouse that his entire order, including his mentor, fought and died to have him open to save the world. He claims he had to do it to prevent it from being used for evil, but in reality, he accomplished nothing except wasting a lot of people's lives. Even blowing up the storehouse was irrelevant, since the villain blew it up himself at the same time completely by accident.
    • Griffin from Red Zone Cuba is one of the best (worst?) examples of this trope in all of media. He was intended to come across as a mix of an Anti-Villain and an Unscrupulous Hero, a Tragic, mostly decent man, who, despite being a criminal, would have been a very nice person were it not for his anger issues. Unfortunately, he just comes off as a straight up villain. All sympathy is lost for him when, in a scene mercifully omitted from the MST3K version, he rapes a blind girl after throwing her father down a well. Over the course of the film, he kills many people, steals from a friend of his after whipping him with a belt, and beats up and strangles his friends. To cement his status as one of the most defining examples of this trope, Griffin is so far the only Designated Hero to be listed as a Complete Monster.
    • Paul from Cry Wilderness, who gets this reaction for being Too Dumb to Live (even for a kid protagonist), chronic disregard for the directions given to him by the adult figures around him, and just in general being useless and causing or getting himself in trouble as he joins his father, his Native American friend, and an Egomaniac Hunter Big Bad in a hunt for an escaped animal. Paul himself winds up being directly responsible for the danger that he was warned that his father was going to get in (Paul's father gets trapped in a cave-in at an abandoned mine looking for Paul), meaning that Paul ultimately could have just stayed at school.
    • David Shelby from Avalanche. On top of getting to build his ski resort in some fairly unscrupulous ways, the reason that the eponymous event is so devastating is because Shelby blatantly and stubbornly disregarded all warnings given to him that an avalanche was possible. Even when it really hits him that he is responsible for the many injuries and deaths that have happened around him due to the avalanche (including that of his own mother), he barely seems fazed by it at all. And then there's how possessive he is toward his ex-wife Caroline. The implication that the movie ends with that he and Caroline may get back together down the line is just flat-out unbelievable.
    • Alex the chimpanzee and, by extent, all of the heroes in Carnival Magic. Alex's antics are supposed to be funny, but sometimes they're just downright dangerous. Midway through the film for example, Alex is carelessly left alone, and he takes a car for a joyride down the road (with its hapless sleeping occupant inside), wreaking havoc all the way. Alex experiences no repercussions for stealing a car, making the sheriff crash his car, and destroying a fruit stand, nor do the heroes experience any for letting this happen.
    • Captain Ryder of Space Mutiny is first introduced abandoning the important scientist he was supposed to be escorting to die in order to save his own ass, then viciously insulting said scientist's apprentice when she calls him out on it. From there, he proceeds to kick off the main conflict by slaughtering a group of mutineers, who are only mutinying because they're somehow the only people who recognize that spending the rest of their lives on a derelict ship because of some asinine law is a bad idea, when they only wanted to parlay. From there, he proceeds to slaughter hundreds of "mutineers" whose only crime were wanting to go home, and then proceeds graphically burn a disabled man alive.
      • Subverted when you consider that the transporter beam for the fighter-ship carrying him and The Professor could only work on one person at a time and that (revealed in the uncut version of the movie) the mutineers are actually genuine baddies working in cahoots with evil Space Pirates and they intended on selling the rest of the crew into slavery. Also, the disabled man had just finished murdering several defenseless people, so he arguably deserved his fate. Ryder is less a Designated Hero and more an obnoxious Invincible Hero.
    • Red from Atlantic Rim. After the first kaiju is defeated, he arrogantly brags to his teammates about his battle prowess, while literally standing right next to the dead bodies of several innocent civilians and callously ignoring them, and it's not even clear whether they were killed by the kaiju, or by Red when he accidentally fired his death beam into the middle of the city. And he receives no Character Development throughout the entire movie. Also, Red and Jim both have feelings for Tracy, but she chooses Red because he's the hero, even though Jim is a much more likeable guy.
  • Jumper is an interesting case, as the director deliberately wanted to spread out the standard super hero origin story over several films... meaning that throughout the first film the main character is almost universally self-centered and, at times, needlessly cruel. Only at the end of the film does he do something truly altruistic; anything he'd done before that point that helped others was just a side-effect of him saving himself.
  • The movie Cheaters was based on the true story about a group of students and their teacher who cheated their way through the United States Academic Decathlon. The cheaters were portrayed as heroes who had no choice except to cheat while the one student who did the right thing in outing them was portrayed as a disgruntled, rat-faced snitch. In addition, the movie also tried to play up the biased assumption that they had cheated because they came from a less than stellar school, regardless of the fact that 1.) They had cheated and 2.) A sudden, unexplained spike in scores would naturally raise a few eyebrows.
  • Yor from Yor: The Hunter from the Future is undoubtedly the protagonist, but he wipes out several mini-civilizations, including one he was trying to save.
  • In RoboCop (2014) the senator who opposed robots being used in law enforcement noted that even though they have never accidentally harmed civilians, they would not feel anything if they did. He's supposed to be the good guy, but not only was he advocating against using a method of law enforcement with a lower civilian casualty rate, he thought ensuring that an accident be traumatic for the cop involved was more important than reducing the risk of such an accident in the first place. In fact, everything OCP did that was truly evil, they did after he denied them a contract in order to meet his standards.
  • Nomi Malone from Showgirls really didn't even try to be heroic. The Hooker with a Heart of Gold trope is attempted to be played with her job as a stripper/topless dancer, despite the fact that many of her actions in the movie come off as mildly amoral. She gives what is apparently a lap-dance, but is just actual sex while he kept his pants on. She screwed her boss Zack Carey to get higher in the consideration to be Cristal Conners's (the lead dancer) understudy. Then she pushes Cristal down the stairs, which one character mentions resulted in injuries that would keep her out for up to a year. Sure, Cristal was a bitch, but Nomi just stooped to the level of the bitchy dancer who purposely injured another dancer because she yelled at her kids. Her best friend Molly Abrams is disgusted at Nomi for having done this... for a whole four minutes before she goes back to fangirling over Andrew Carver, who for some reason gang-rapes her. By the end, everybody forgives Nomi and treats her as some angelic force- the girl she pushed down the stairs, her boss, everybody. There's also the fact that her punishment of Andrew, to kick him in the face a few times, really did nothing to prevent him from raping again. Nomi leaves town at the end after threatening Andrew's life. Nomi was a Vegas star, did she think her disappearance would go unnoticed? What's stopping Andrew from attacking Molly again? Nothing.
  • The Garbage Pail Kids Movie tries to paint the titular characters as "revolting on the outside, but not revolting on the inside." This is overshadowed by the fact that the Kids spend the entirety of the movie beating up innocent people and committing multiple crimes, thus showing that they truly are revolting on the inside.
  • Poppy, the protagonist of Wild Child, starts the film by ruining and destroying all of her father's girlfriend's possessions. He calls her out on it but it is treated more as an over the top prank than, you know, criminal behavior. When she is sent Off to Boarding School, she is obnoxious and rude to everyone until her roommates find out her mother died and decide to help her get expelled out of sympathy. Then Harriet, the head girl, sends Poppy's roommates an email revealing that she told Ruby from back home that they were all losers and another to the headmistress's son, Freddie, telling him Poppy was using him to get expelled. While playing with her lighter, Poppy accidentally starts a fire but puts it out only to find the whole dorm on fire and Drippy trapped and in need of saving. She is almost expelled until The Reveal that Harriet actually framed Poppy for starting the fire. Harriet is expelled AS SHE SHOULD BE but no one bothers to mention that Poppy's lighter could easily have set the school on fire... or that she did say all of those things about her new friends... or that she did use Freddie (and he forgives her suspiciously quickly). The headmistress is automatically fond of her because she looks like her mother. Poppy undergoes Character Development but it is more along the lines of 'know who your friends are and how great boarding school is' than 'don't be an Ungrateful Bastard.'
  • The Wizard of Oz:
    • This is sometimes a criticism about Glinda the Good Witch. When the Wicked Witch of the West shows up to claim her now dead sister's magic shoes, she gives them to Dorothy, who was just some random girl who showed up instead of, say, hiding them from her, and it's never stated that WWotW wanted them for some sinister magic purpose or a magical purpose at all; she could've just wanted them to mourn her now dead sister. After Glinda essentially forces a random teenage girl into a tug-of-war between two witches for seemingly no reason, she sends Dorothy to talk to the wizard. When she gets there, the wizard tells them that they need to take the witch's broom before he'll do anything for them. As it's pointed out, they need to kill her to do this. After they kill the witch (albeit accidentally) and come back with her broom, the wizard's method of getting Dorothy back to Kansas fails (sort of) and she's left with no way to get home... until Glinda shows up and tells Dorothy that at any point she could have just used the slippers to wish herself back. When she's rightfully asked why she didn't tell Dorothy this, Glinda attempts to handwave the issue by saying that Dorothy wouldn't have believed her. Except, yes, she would have. Dorothy is in a dangerous world with witches and the way out is on her feet. Considering how acid-trippy the place was, would there be anything you wouldn't believe at that point? It's all made worse when you really think about it and it makes sense why the Wicked Witch wants Dorothy dead. To her, she killed her sister and then ran away with her dead sister's shoes.
    • There is even a Cracked article detailing how she is the best villain in film history, as well as a Mad TV skit in which Dorothy has a far more realistic reaction—utter outrage—to Glinda's actions.
    • It should be noted this is not a carry-over from the original L. Frank Baum novel- the good witch who meets with Dorothy in Munchkinland is an entirely different (and far less powerful and knowledgeable) character than Glinda, who only appears at the very end of the story.
In CinemaSins video of the movie, the narrator points out various moments of dickery from Glinda, which includes the fact that she could use magic bubbles to teleport and never even offered Dorothy a ride.
  • Note that this only applies to the movie. The book's Glinda doesn't appear until the very end, and the Good Witch of the North has no idea what the slippers actually do. Movie-Glinda was a Composite Character of the two, and at least some of what she does could possibly be justified by the fact that the whole thing is a dream. Note that everything strange only takes place after Dorothy is struck in the head by the falling curtain rod and is knocked unconscious. (In the book, Oz is a real place and everything that happened to Dorothy really did happen, as evidenced by the sequels.)
  • The titular character of Ferris Bueller's Day Off has cut school at least nine times before, covering his tracks by hacking into the school computer to change the records. He gets away with all sorts of things by blatantly exploiting the good will of everyone around him, including his parents, by weaving a complex web of whatever lies will serve him currently at the moment, and by psychologically bullying his friend Cameron. The original script includes scenes Ferris does more immoral things, such as stealing his father's money, but also has more dialogue clarifying Ferris's charitable intentions toward others, such as Cameron.
  • Bud (Pauly Shore) and Doyle (Stephen Baldwin) from Bio-Dome. They are portrayed as the heroes despite that they spend the majority of the movie acting obnoxious, destroying the experiments in the Bio-Dome, and sexually harassing the female scientists.
  • Horrible Bosses: Nick, Kurt and Dale all act like this. In the first film, they wanted their bosses killed simply for being harrassed by them and kept spying on them and breaking into their houses for a weakness to be used against them, and one of their actions indirectly led to Kurt's boss being murdered. It gets even worse in the second film where they stage a ransom to become rich after they lost their money after being bamboozled by the company they signed for. And when their "hostage" betrays them and tries to have them arrested for real, they act very quick to prove to the police that he is the bad guy even though this was entirely their own plan in the first place. Basically, the three are always causing the trouble that drives the main plot and never get any punishment for it.
  • In Money Train, the two main characters John (Wesley Snipes) and Charlie (Woody Harrelson) are not heroes at all, and yet they are played out to be the morally good guys. They risk the lives of innocent people, rob the eponymous money train (to pay off the debts of Charlie's gambling problem), and assault an officer (the "villain"). They both get away with it absolutely scot-free and the villain is arrested for risking the lives of innocents — while this is an accurate charge, the situation would never have arisen had the main duo not tried to rob the train and stop the brakes from working simply so they wouldn't get caught. In any case, the robbery came at the expense of the New York City taxpayers! If the film had been done differently, the villains could have so easily been the main characters, and the officer in charge of protecting the train could easily be made the hero.
  • The designated heroes of The Pink Panther (1963) were so unsympathetic that many people don't realize they're supposed to be the heroes. The hero is supposed to be David Niven as Gentleman Thief The Phantom, who foils the bumbling police, steals the diamond, gets the girl, and gets away with it all. There's a reason Peter Sellers' Clouseau took the role of hero later on - viewers thought he was much funnier and more likable.
  • Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) in Safe House. Everything he seems to do (from turning off the surveillance cameras to allow for a waterboarding session to letting Tobin run away several hundred times to allowing himself to be constantly one-upped by other characters) makes everything worse for himself and his job. Even Tobin (the film's decoy antagonist) manages to be more heroic than our actual hero by actually doing something relevant. And don't get started on the ending where Matt becomes the mastermind of WikiLeaks. To be fair, Weston is not only clearly shown to be way out of his league (and fully aware of it), it's later shown that the Big Bad of the movie is his boss, so he was an Unwitting Pawn all along. The biggest problem is that Tobin Frost is a Designated Villain - he's The Dreaded, and clearly a very ruthless man, but we get very little explanation as to what villainous things he's supposed to have done, his Offstage Villainy being limited to some vague mention of selling secrets. He's treated like a serious killer or terrorist, but the only people we see him kill are torturers and traitors.
  • Erik, the father in Hanna, is portrayed as a good guy, but several times, he kills innocent government employees. At times, they aren't even a threat to him, like the guy who is going to answer the door in one scene.
  • All five main protagonists (the Baker, his Wife, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack, and Cinderella) from the movie Into The Woods fall into this. They all (with the exception of Riding Hood) rely on magic to get what they want done instead of, you know, actually trying to get what they want on they own. (The Baker and his Wife couldn't get what they wanted without magic because of a curse.)
    • The Baker (alongside his Wife, but only for this one) cons a child out of his cow for what they thought were normal beans, attempts to steal Red Riding Hood's cape, is happy when his wife steals some hair from a stranger, tries to lie about the true color of the replacement cow (the first cow died), and attempts to abandon his baby boy in despair. He does successfully kill the Big Bad wolf after he ate Red Riding Hood.
    • The Wife gave the Baker the idea to lie about the beans, tries to steal one of Cinderella's shoes (twice), steals hair from a complete and utter stranger and lets herself get seduced by the prince.
    • Jack lied about the real worth of his cow, stole from giants three times (the third was on a dare, but he could've easily said no), and kills a giant who was only defending his home, which sets of the third act which kills a lot of people.
    • Riding Hood eats all the bread from the Baker and his Wife before she even gets to her grandma's house, she listens to a wolf over her mother (thus getting both her mother and grandma eaten), acts petulant to Jack and dares him to get the harp of gold, and if quips in act 2 are to believed, she killed a number of other wolves for revenge.
    • Cinderella lied to a prince about who she really was three times, asks a stranger to lie to the prince for her about her whereabouts, makes her prince find her because she wasn't sure whether or not he liked her (despite him chasing after her three times), and never tells the Baker that the prince seduced his Wife (though that was Never Speak Ill of the Dead).
  • All of the protagonists of Itty Bitty Titty Committee could be considered this to a certain extent if you don't share their radical feminist viewpoint, but Sadie and Shulie stand out especially. Our first scene with Sadie has her framing main character Anna for an act of vandalism she herself committed, to keep Anna from calling the police, which is is portrayed as being charming. Throughout the movie Sadie is portrayed as a serial philanderer, emotionally manipulative, self-obsessed, and self-righteous, yet Anna ending up with her (with little to no change aside from breaking up with the girlfriend she was previously cheating on) is viewed as a good thing. Shulie is merely a Jerkass sarcastic misandrist Straw Feminist, but her radical opinions are never countered or challenged.
  • Neil Shaw in the The Art of War films, to more and more of an extent as the series goes on. In the first film he's a competent enough agent, though kind of a Jerkass. In the second film he makes numerous basic errors of logic and judgement, and at the end he casually murders his love interest just in the name of getting the villain to frame himself. The third film takes it Up to Eleven, as he unknowingly takes the bad guy or rather bad girl into his confidence, then ends up killing at least a dozen or so South Korean intelligence agents, before unwittingly facilitating the assassination of South Korea's U.N. representative and nearly getting the Secretary-General of the U.N. herself killed. After all that you'd think the Secretary-General would be only too happy to hand Shaw over to the South Korean authorities and let them hang him out to dry, but she instead ends the film by telling Shaw that he's the only person the U.N. can trust with their lives.
  • Jeff from the Christian propaganda film Rock: It's Your Decision. He's supposed to be a good Christian youth standing against the evils of rock and roll, but he comes across as a bigoted Jerkass who will verbally attack anyone who doesn't have the exact same beliefs he does, won't tolerate even an instrumental rock song being played in his general vicinity, and cannot even be bothered to do the slightest bit of research on the songs he thinks are so evil. He tries to control his friends, is an asshole to his mom, and is just generally very hypocritical and unlikable.
  • Gavin, the atheist protagonist of The Ledge, was intended to be shown as a courageous, rational, tolerant and moral person who refuses to fall for any superstitious beliefs. However, the main conflict of the movie is about a Love Triangle between him, the antagonist Joe (a fundamentalist Christian), and Shana (the latter's wife), and it is clear that the affair did not arise spontaneously, but was actively pursued by Gavin. It would be one thing if Shana was legitimately unhappy, but she and Joe are shown to be perfectly happy together; moreover, Gavin straight out admits and is shown to be emotionally manipulating her to make her fall for him. And the justification Gavin uses for trying to seduce Shana and convince her to leave her husband comes off as Disproportionate Retribution on his end, since all Joe did was express pity towards Gavin for his "empty life without God," as well as that Gavin believes Shana is too good for her deeply religious husband, and thus appoints himself as her "savior" from an oppressive life. He ends up ruining her life more than anything else by the end.
  • Heather from Texas Chainsaw 3D, she actively tries to help save Leatherface and aid him in killing the police even though she knows that he is a cannibalistic serial killer who murdered many people, including her friends. She actively aids a chainsaw wielding maniac, and the audience is supposed to believe that she's in the right. To be fair, those police were trying to murder her for no reason other than being related to Leatherface so it may have been her only option or a Lesser of Two Evils case.
  • Superman comes across this way in a number of films. In Superman II, Superman gives up powers that will save millions of lives to be with someone who is Too Dumb to Live, and after being re-powered and rendering Zod helpless he sadistically crushes his hand before casually executing him by throwing him to his death in an icy crevasse, then uses his regained powers to injure a human in an act of petty revenge (granted the guy was a Jerkass), and then gives Lois Laser-Guided Amnesia for his own convenience. Superman Returns follows on from Superman II, where Superman promised that he would never abandon humanity again. He then left Earth for five years without telling anyone where he was going, or even that he was leaving. He also leaves Lois pregnant from the tryst that he erased from her memory. And because he wasn't around to testify at Lex Luthor's trial, Luthor was acquitted.
    • The last bit makes little sense, as the first film clearly shows Lex is wanted for other crimes and the second states outright he'd already been sentenced to life plus 25 years.
  • The main character of Paparazzi and his killing spree against the paparazzi would be far less sympathetic if paparazzi weren't Acceptable Professional Targets (and if the paparazzi in the movie weren't practically cackling supervillains who take perverse joy in ruining people's lives.) One murder even had to happen off-screen, because the director found that test audiences found the main character less sympathetic when it happened on-screen.
  • Now You See Me gives us the Four Horsemen, a team of con-artist magicians who act Just Like Robin Hood, robbing the rich and giving to the poor... because they were ordered to by a shadowy mastermind — the Fifth Horseman — who promises them a place in a secret society of real magicians called the Eye if they do what he says without questioning any of it or/and wondering if they're being tricked or/and used. But they are morally ambiguous from the outset, and the main character is arguably the FBI agent Dylan who is chasing them. The biggest example of this trope in this movie is Dylan himself, who is in fact the Fifth Horseman, because — while it's implied he really does work for the Eye and his offer is serious — it's established that the victims of the Horsemen were people/organizations he held responsible for his father's death, so it was all really a revenge scheme. What pushes this beyond Anti-Hero and into "villain in any other story" territory is that he gets four magicians to do magic tricks on his behalf that are basically crimes which could have gotten innocent people hurt or killed, such as the prearranged car chase throughout New York, as well as the framing and apparent abduction of Thaddeus Bradley, strongly implied to now be a prisoner of the Eye for the rest of his life, because he was a little bit of a Jerkass.
  • Dave: The film treats Dave, Ellen and Duane as heroes despite - or because of - the fact that by not denouncing the secret substitution of Dave Kovic for the incapacitated president of the USA, however unpleasant he was, they subvert democracy and the US Constitution, effectively depriving the American people of the government they voted for.
  • Captain Turner in Hornets' Nest. Ostensibly the good guy because he's an American soldier fighting against the Nazis and getting a couple of Pet the Dog moments, he's a shockingly amoral person who doesn't think twice about arming children and training them to kill and holding a civilian German doctor hostage and raping her. He does, eventually, have a powerful Heel Realization at the end, but this is only after the damage has been done.
  • Michael Douglas' character, Oren Little, in the 2014 movie And So It Goes is a sexist, racist, nasty jerk who is never shown being nice to people.... but because he is the lead in a romantic comedy the audience is meant to find him endearing and even though he softens up by the end of the movie, he is never called out on his previously awful behavior.
  • Patch Adams is "based" on the actual experiences of real-life doctor Hunter Adams, who was unhappy about how he was portrayed. "Patch" is first seen putting words into the mouth of Beanie, a catatonic schizophrenic, making fun of him. In real life, catatonic schizophrenics are fully aware of what is going on when they are catatonic, and are often annoyed when people do this to them. Later, Patch annoys his classmates even when they are taking tests. When one of his professors gives him the job of helping prepare for visiting gynecologists, he ruins the visit by placing giant inflatable legs in front of the college door so it looks like a giant vagina. Finally, he does extremely illegal things like practicing medicine without a license, and stealing drugs from a hospital.
  • Jackie DiNorscio in Find Me Guilty. Though based on actual events and people, the movie, rather than show an honest portrayal of the gangster trial the film is based on, goes out if its way to present Jackie (and by extension, his fellow gangsters) as victims of oppression because the government obviously hates everyone whose name ends in a vowel (something that actual gangsters fervently believe). Despite clearly being a remorseless sociopath who expertly manipulates the jury into making the gangsters look innocent, he never actually offers up any evidence that they are innocent other than....they sometimes tip people whom they see everyday. He's racist, insensitive, misogynistic, loves indulging in Logical Fallacies while crying foul whenever far better evidence is used against him, and despite the other gangsters wanting nothing to do with him, he still somehow manages to get them all to come around. His rival, D.A. Sean Kierney, is completely accurate in his assessment of why Jackie and his associates are horrible people, and the movie completely glosses over this with borderline straw arguments. In the end, Jackie pulls a Karma Houdini, and we're expected to cheer on the fact that the gangsters were acquitted, despite them all clearly being assholes who deserve no sympathy. What makes it worse is that this trope could've been avoided completely if the film had just bothered being objective in its views rather than glamorize it to such absurd amounts.
  • The British teen movie Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. The main character, Georgia is whiny 90% of the time, critical, spoilt, selfish, insulting and insensitive, and goes out of her way to steal another girl's (a bitchy girl, yes, but still) boyfriend, treating her friends badly when they stand up to her, and using loads of boys along the way, and yet we are for some unknown reason, supposed to support her. Fair play, by the end of the story, she has became slightly more palatable, but still...
  • A Trip to the Moon might be the oldest case of this, to the point that many film historians argue it was a deliberate satire of imperialism. Over the course of the film, the protagonists interfere with the planet's ecosystem, attack the intelligent native aliens first, murder their king, and eventually return home with one of them on a leash to be placed in a zoo.
  • The main characters of Kelly's Heroes are a group of opportunistic soldiers who leap at the chance to plunder a French bank filled with Nazi gold. While they aren't particularly evil, they also exhibit nothing resembling classic heroic behavior, either.
  • The main character of The Spanish Prisoner is only really the "hero" by virtue of being the victim of a con. He's a bit stuffy and humorless, and really doesn't have any likable qualities.
  • Adam Sandler's character in That's My Boy who tries to be a good father to his estranged son. However he was never really a good father to him since he raised him as a teenager, and his mother is in jail, and the only reason why he is even connecting with him is he is offered money by a TV producer which he needs to pay to the IRS or face jail time. He is also an immature drunk Manchild with few redeeming qualities. The only reason why he is even the hero is because his son's bride to be and brother are just as bad as he is.
  • Everyone in The Room is extremely unlikable, but special mention goes to Mark. Mark has an affair with his best friend's fiancée, then insists that he's a blameless victim because she was just too clever and manipulative to resist, despite the fact that she and her boyfriend clearly don't have a brain cell between them. The Only Sane Man Peter sides with him on this, and while everyone in their friend group who finds out about the affair treats Lisa like she's the Antichrist, nobody ever calls Mark out for his part. Mark also makes some blatantly misogynistic comments, and judging by things people who worked on the film have said about the director, it's likely we're meant to agree. Mark randomly tries to murder his friend at one point, but the friend instantly forgets about it and it's never brought up again. While this might not be intended, one scene seems to suggest that he beat a previous girlfriend of his who cheated on him so badly that she had to be hospitalized - Johnny, who is portrayed as being the greatest guy ever, laughs after hearing this (though it could just be that he doesn't believe Mark and is laughing at how ridiculous he finds the story).
  • In King Kong (1976), Jack Prescott cheers when soldiers trying to kill Kong are blown up. We are supposed to side with him because the authorities of New York went back on their word to try and take Kong alive. At the end of the day, Kong is still a very dangerous animal that has already killed numerous people. The soldiers were trying to stop him and got killed for it, and Jack cheers at this.
  • Crystal from Dear Santa to the Nth degree. She's a spoiled fashionista who mooches off her parents rather than do something like get a job of her own or find a man. On the day that her mother announces that Crystal is going to be cut off from them, she finds a "Dear Santa" letter from a little girl who wishes for her father to find a woman to make him smile like her mother used to. Crystal uses this opportunity to stalk this single family that she just heard of and unknowingly volunteers at the father's soup kitchen. Once she learns that he has a supportive girlfriend who's been with him since his wife's death, she does everything she can to ruin the relationship so that she can have a chance with him. It doesn't really help that the girlfriend, Jillian, is treated as the Designated Villain simply because she's dating the father and she's known him for years while Crystal has known him for a few weeks.
  • The movie Fracture (2007), has Ryan Gosling, playing a self-entitled, Smug Snake, and Jerkass, prosecutor trying to expose and bring down a Manipulative Bastard in Anthony Hopkins, who killed his wife after he caught her cheating on him.
  • Janis in Mean Girls. She is just as manipulative as Regina (if not more so), taunts her by revealing her manipulations in front of the entire school (throwing Cady under the bus in the process), and gets cheered for it. This, combined with her Hollywood Homely appearance, has only fueled some fans' theories that Janis is herself a former Alpha Bitch.
  • The Candy Tangerine Man: The Black Baron is a pimp who lies to his family about his job and brutally murders anybody who stands in the way of his pimping. Literally the only thing that stops him from being a full-on Villain Protagonist is the fact that he quits his job at the end.
  • Blood Cult: Sheriff Ron Wilbois is supposed to be a small-town detective desperately trying to solve the brutal murders, but comes off as a jackass who emotionally neglects his daughter to the point of driving her to murder, is more concerned about his upcoming election than the string of homicides and is convinced that the killings are inspired by Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Goth (2003): Crissy becomes this when it's revealed that she went along on Goth's escapades knowing she was a homicidal maniac, meaning that she was a willing accomplice to a bunch of rape and murder, all in the pursuit of revenge.
  • The Brain (1988): Jim is supposed to be a lovable rebel unjustly persecuted by the small town, but is actually a destructive asshole who dumps pure sodium, which is explosive in water, down the toilets of the high school For the Lulz.
  • The Exterminators of the Year 3000: Alien is supposed to be a Lovable Rogue doing what he has to do in a post-apocalyptic Crapsack World, but is actually a douche willing to abandon anybody to die at the slightest inconvenience.
  • Trancers: Jack Deth becomes this at the end of the film when he goes on living in the present in his ancestor's body, functionally killing him.
  • Dom, Brian, and crew in Fast Five. First, they break Dom out of the prison bus in the most dangerous way possible that probably killed some/all of the prisoners and guards on the bus. Then, after fleeing to Rio, antagonize a drug lord they double crossed because he was actually only interested in a one specific car among several they were hired to steal. It turns out the drug lord just wanted a chip that was hidden in the car, meaning they basically were upset he had an ulterior motive that had nothing to do with them and that he was a bit dishonest (A dishonest criminal? Who would have guessed those exist?). The climax has them robbing the dealer as payback by stealing and towing a 10 ton vault through the streets of Rio in the middle of the day while being pursued by the drug lord and the police, causing huge amounts of property and vehicle damage. And while it's entirely self serving, the drug dealer actually builds schools and helps the people in the poor neighborhoods.
  • Gabby, the supposed heroine of The Choice (a Nicholas Sparks movie), cheats on her fiance Ryan with Travis the hero, despite there being absolutely nothing wrong with Ryan or their relationship. She meets Travis when he's looking after her dog (he's a veterinarian) and ends up carrying on with him for roughly a month while Ryan is away on a medical mission, never once giving a second thought to how she's betraying him. When Ryan returns, she compounds her thoughtlessness by now ditching Travis to pick up right where she left off with Ryan as if nothing happened between them. As one review pointed out, "How are we supposed to root for her when she's so callous?"
  • Starship Troopers does this in-universe. Though the story frames the characters and humanity as a whole as heroic, even the slightest reading between the lines suggests them to be less The Federation and more a People's Republic of Tyranny. They're a violent, jingoistic power that kicks off a Bug War for incredibly suspect reasons (blaming a meteor strike on a race of insect-people who don't seem like they could have managed it and with no stated evidence). Their training procedures are a cruel meat grinder. Their government is so dedicated to military development that non-soldiers can't even vote. They aren't even particularly successful in their battles with the bugs. However, being that the film is meant as in-universe propaganda, nobody so much as questions this, and the war is framed as a just and heroic victory.


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