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  • Ally McBeal: Georgia is generally described by other characters as a really nice, good-hearted person. While she certainly can be nice to some people, she can also be petty and quite mean; e.g., badmouthing Nelle, making it clear that she disliked her, and physically attacking her when she tried to break up a fight between her and Ally, for the sole reason that she's jealous, since she considers Nelle to be prettier than her.
  • American Horror Story:
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    • American Horror Story: Coven: The witches the show is centered on are unrepentant murderesses who think nothing of using their powers to suit their whims, not caring about the innocents that get in the way. And we're supposed to see the witch hunters as the villains. Since the hunters are all men and the witches are mostly women (with the one male witch we encounter being a Camp Gay man), the show tries to make it about sexism, the Patriarchy trying to suppress Feminine Power. However, this analogy fails because the witches use their magic to horrible ends whenever they feel like it, with motives that range from understandable (Madison killing the frat bros who gang-raped her) to downright petty (Queenie horribly maiming an unruly customer at her old job).
    • American Horror Story: Freak Show: Jimmy Darling had no problem murdering a policeman just because he came to the show and asked a very reasonable question about two murder suspects they were hiding, Bette and Dot had homicidal instincts against one another and their mother. Except for Ethel and the intellectually disabled members of the freakshow, none of the performers seemed to have a qualm about taking a human life.
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    • American Horror Story: Hotel: Everyone was so desensitized to murder that it was hard to call anybody a hero. Of the characters you never see murder anybody for entertainment, there's the desk clerk and bartender who has no problem with her friends committing murder, the children's doctor who carelessly created a horde of vampire children and then helped arrange for them to be killed just as carelessly, and the fashion designer who doesn't seem to be overly concerned that he spends his afterlife hanging around with a group of serial killers. And yet, it still feels like these characters were supposed to be the good guys.
  • Arrow: A lot of fans have a hard time seeing Felicity as a hero when she lies to both Ray and Oliver about the other being a superhero, along with her saying in the season 3 finale that she thinks Ray should go save Oliver instead of saving the entire city from a bioweapon. Subsequently, she continues to work behind Oliver's back with the team when the two were supposed to be retired, only to break up with Oliver when she discovers he kept a secret of his own. Then she quits the team when they need her after ruining missions because she was too busy punishing him. Felicity continuously preforms increasingly selfish acts and is never called out on it. In Crisis on Earth-X, she suddenly decides to add her and Oliver's wedding onto Barry and Iris' without warning or discussing it with them first.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
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    • Leonard, as he has taken a level up in jerkassery and developed a holier than thou attitude over the course of the series.
    • Penny is a whiny, egotistical freeloader who constantly belittles the others, and the audience is supposed to feel sorry for her because she's not a famous actress.
    • Really, depending on your view of things, all of the main cast with the exception of Stuart (who's too nice of a guy to qualify) and Sheldon (who's intended to be an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist) falls under this trope. They all have character flaws, which would be a good thing if those flaws hadn't been subjected to bizarre quantities of Flanderization through the years, and many one-time fans of the show have lost their affection for the series due to the cast having evolved into being so unlikable.
    • Even Sheldon, though usually an intentional Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, can be this at times. Because to spite how much he annoys everyone, his mental and social means he's treated as incapable of change and his friends are expected never to challenge him on it. For example in one episode Howard dresses as him for Halloween and spends the episode mimicking his annoying traits, Sheldon doesn't realize he's doing this and is very hurt when he finds out it was an impression of him. Instead of reflecting on how people see him and making an attempt to change his behavior the episode just treats Howard as a Jerkass for offending Sheldon in this way and when Amy confronts Bernadette over it she's treated as equally in the wrong for responding "well he makes fun of people all the time."
  • Big Time Rush: The four characters of the eponymous group all have moments that push them into this category, especially in episodes where they're carelessly destructive (i.e. Big Time Mansion, Jobs, etc). Though not all of them are always like this (sometimes it depends on the episode), you get the idea.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • For many fans, Buffy is the DH for much of Seasons Six and Seven. However, there were implications that Buffy wasn't exactly herself, being under even more massive pressure than usual, and having gone through several traumatic experiences in a short time. This has been played with several times, from Buffy's temper tantrum that she wasn't allowed to kill Faith and Angel telling her to get stuffed, to her being rejected by the potential slayers, to a storyline where a rogue slayer intends to kill Buffy because of how much of a princess she is.
    • There's also Spike in Season 7. For some reason Buffy and the writers seem to believe Spike is in the right when he tells Robin Wood that he doesn't regret killing his mother, and that she never loved him. And frankly, that's only the worst time by a small degree.
    • Riley. We're supposed to think he's Buffy's "real shot at love" and everyone treats him like he's the nicest guy ever. Despite the fact that he's a teaching assistant dating one of his students, thinks it's A-OK to torture demons, or "animals" as he calls them (demons are evil, but kill them quickly, don't experiment on them), and whines and complains like a two-year-old when he thinks Buffy isn't giving him enough attention... when she's distracted by her mother being in the hospital due to a brain tumor. His way of dealing with the latter is going to a vampire "whorehouse" (to get off on getting bitten by them), thinks Buffy is entirely to blame for his behavior, and gives her an ultimatum: he's leaving if she doesn't forgive him. What's worse is that, from how it's written, we're supposed to be taking Riley's side, not to mention that Xander calls Buffy out on letting Riley go and Buffy is led to believe that she was in the wrong. Sickening doesn't even begin to describe this, and the fact that the writers utterly failed to see the implications (and instead blamed fans for liking the vampires Angel and Spike too much) just makes things worse. Then, when he returns in "As You Were", he goes around believing his opinion is better than everyone else's, everyone loves him again despite what he did, has married someone below his rank (which is a no-no in the US army) and he makes Buffy (who's suffering from depression, struggling with money and raising a teenager) feel terrible... but she listens to him anyway. It's kind of obvious that the writers wanted to make us think "look what you made Buffy throw away!" but instead made him look like an even bigger jerk than before.
  • Camelot: Merlin kills an innocent man and girl after getting into a stupid fight with the man because Merlin doesn't want to give the smith his rightful credit for Excalibur. He helps Uther Pendragon rape his future wife. He never does anything objectively, unambiguously good in the entire series, but it seems as though the writers want us to see him as a good (if flawed) person simply because he's Arthur's mentor.
  • Charmed: The Charmed Ones, in the later seasons, have stopped thinking about saving people and are more about themselves. They cast magic on innocent people, needlessly set up a human criminal up to get killed by demons in their home (though they seemed to think it was necessary), and join up with a bunch of magical extremists to wipe out free will for the sake of destroying evil. Then they fake their deaths and get a new girl (played by the same actress as the aforementioned Penny from Big Bang Theory) to do all the work for them. Seriously, the new girl being convinced by her sister to turn heel and the two of them almost being powerful enough to kill the Halliwells (before she got better, anyway) was practically a due backfire.
  • Played with for most of Chris Liley's characters, the most glaring examples being the ones from Summer Heights High:
    • Mr. G is an egomaniac who tried to capitalise on the death of a student, throws a fit when he doesn't get his way and almost got the special needs classrooms shut down so he could have their classrooms.
    • Ja'mie King started a charity under false pretenses, as the money was actually intended to fund a school formal. She also leads on a lesbian classmate just so she can stand out among the couples and when she dates a Year 7 boy she goes through his phone trying to find evidence that he's been cheating on her. In Ja'mie: Private Schoolgirl she sullies her school's reputation because she refused to accept the fact that there's some things she can't control.
    • Jonah Takaluah is a bully who attacks students just for having ginger hair or being overweight. In Jonah from Tonga he has his gang film his attacks and sexually harasses both his art teacher and his cousin.
  • While Detective Scotty Valens of Cold Case always had anger issues, he began to drift into this territory in the show's final season. Granted, he had a good reason for becoming increasingly douchey, namely discovering his mother had become the latest victim of a brutal serial rapist, but he spends most of the season losing his temper, assaulting suspects (when he had previously been revolted by Dirty Cops who did the same in previous seasons) and finally Jumping Off the Slippery Slope by hiring a guy to kill the rapist in the prison shower. Whether he ever got his comeuppance for this is unknown and always will be, as the show was canceled with the very next episode.
    • Audrey Metz, the victim in "World's End", who is portrayed as a liberated woman ahead of her time for... cheating on her husband and little else.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • Edward Allen Bernero stated that Jason Gideon was meant to be the central character to the show, even though episodes tended towards ensemble-like setups. Furthermore, Gideon as a character isn't particularly nice to the rest of the team, as he frequently disobeys the chain of command (giving orders to the team when it's supposed to be Hotch's job), being terribly difficult to work with and not being very approachable. Hotch called him out on this in "What Fresh Hell?", telling him that he bought flowers for Garcia (after Gideon proved extremely difficult with her in the previous episode) and said they were from Gideon, explaining, "Jason, people need to know that they're important, and sometimes you forget that."
    • There's also Garcia's tendency to disregard the law in order to get access to information faster. She once declared (proudly) "I will make HIPAA my bitch." In another episode, while arguing with a woman who wouldn't give her access to a sealed adoption record, Garcia not only steals the record she needs, but also hacks into the woman's private files and emails a topless photo she found to the woman's boss "because you're crabby." Based on JJ's smirk as she does this, we're apparently supposed to find this justified and charming. A woman who was just doing her job, insisting Garcia follow the law that she, as an FBI employee, is sworn to uphold, had her privacy violated and has to face the repercussions of sexual content being leaked (potentially leading to her being fired or sexually harassed by her boss, to say nothing of their sharing it with others), simply because Garcia didn't want to be bothered following the proper procedures. Making matters worse: there was no ticking clock. No lives were at stake that necessitated cutting corners. Their unsub was on trial and had amnesia, meaning there was an ongoing debate over whether he'd even pose any threat in the future. But that's still apparently worth potentially ruining a woman's life.
  • Dallas: The main characters in the 2012 revival fall squarely into this by the end of the second season. Okay, they all weren't meant to be that good. Okay, they are fighting worse people out there. However, some of their actions become down right reprehensible, with even noted self-righteous Bobby falling into it. After JR Ewing dies, they decide to frame Cliff Barnes for his murder, going so far as to plant evidence in his vehicle. This leads to Barnes being arrested, charged and sentenced to life in prison. Maybe it was Laser-Guided Karma, but falsely imprisoning someone is very, very bad, to say the least. This, along with other factors, may have played a part in the show's cancellation at the end of the third season.
  • Dawson's Creek: Dawson normally acts like a spoiled, self-centred Jerkass, especially in Season 3. After he himself rejected Joey, he is furious when she falls in love with Pacey. He forces her to choose between their friendship and Pacey, alienates Pacey and tries to win Joey back in an increasingly manipulative, underhand way. (Including almost killing Pacey in a sailing race, lying to Joey about renewing their friendship and tricking Joey to going to the prom with him). All of this is treated as a normal competition to 'win the girl'.
  • Dexter started off his eponymous series as a callous, self-centered serial killer of a Villain Protagonist. However, towards the end of the series, it seems it was intended for him to undergo Character Development and become a more functional and moral hero, based on how every other character shills him to high heaven. In practice, he remained exactly as callous, self-centered, and murderous as he ever was, culminating in the last episode, where he Mercy Kills his sister, steals her body from the hospital, dumps it in the ocean, and fakes his own death, abandoning his son to the care of his murderous girlfriend effectively taking him away from his half-siblings and grandparents while he works as a lumberjack, all while every other character tells us that this is perfectly moral and he deserves to do it.
    • In the later seasons, Deb's intense need to control Dexter and place all of Dexter's problems in term of her own needs, even when Dexter was dealing with a lot of personal issues and could have used her help, meant that a lot of viewers stopped seeing her as one of the heroes.
  • In Doctor Who:
    • In "The Romans", the First Doctor ends up being unintentionally responsible for burning down Rome and this is treated as something to Squee about. It says a lot about how cleverly-written the episode is that it comes across as a genuine moment of celebration and a turning point for the Doctor's character, but think of all those people who died because of him!
    • The First Doctor wasn't just gruff and miserly, he was often a dangerously reckless man completely at odds with what he would become in later incarnations (although as Ten would point out many years later to Five, despite having the appearance of an old man, he was by Time Lord standards actually a very young man merely playing at being old which does account for a lot). Some of the examples in addition to the above include nearly trying to kill an unarmed and unconscious man in the pilot before being stopped by Ian, intentionally sabotaging the Tardis on Skaro just so he could have an adventure and nearly get them all killed, and deliberately abandoning Susan without resources or equipment in the wastelands of the 22nd century post Dalek controlled Earth just because he wanted her to settle down with a man that she had only just met.
    • The Third Doctor in "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" gets stuck as one due to a Broken Aesop. Throughout the story he attempts to persuade the Well-Intentioned Extremist villains that although their goals are noble, they are trying to achieve them by wiping millions of people from existence, and there should be another way. But then, instead of actually bothering to find or even propose another way, he just reverses their time machine so it traps them in the past. Notably, the novelisation hangs a lampshade on this by rejigging everything so Sarah Jane is the hero of the story, and having her go What the Hell, Hero? in her internal monologue about much of the Doctor's behaviour.
    • The Sixth Doctor's most famous moment is strangling his companion in his first story, "The Twin Dilemma". Throughout the rest of the serial he acts incredibly cowardly and at one point decides to blame Peri (the above-mentioned companion) for everything; he never apologises or gets called out for any of this. The rest of his time with Peri can not help but invite uncomfortable similarities to an abusive relationship. On top of that he is one of the most violent Doctors. Thankfully the audios fix all these problems.
    • The Tenth Doctor has a tendency to come across as a hypocritical, arrogant and egotistical jerk. His first story has him overthrowing the government because the prime minister blew up a spaceship of aliens whose leader had proven untrustworthy (he tried to kill the Doctor after promising to leave in peace) and would have likely gone on to decimate other planets. This leads to the Master becoming prime minister, followed by a government willing to send ten percent of Earth's children to a Fate Worse than Death in the spinoff Torchwood: Children of Earth! He also spends most of Series 3 treating Martha as inferior to Rose and whining about losing Rose — and his "no second chances" rule given to many one-off villains is waved for the Master and Davros, who have repeatedly shown to not want redemption. He also called his clone a monster for blowing up the Daleks (i.e. standard operating procedure for handling the Daleks since their first appearance) despite their being capable of slaughtering the universe. Finally, he spends most of his regeneration episode whining about how regenerating is an equivalent to death -- even though no past or future incarnation acts like this or any other Time Lord for that matter. And he gets angry at a man who caused his death because he saved someone else's life! Ten then spends the last few specials making clear mistakes due to hubris and Protagonist-Centered Morality, ending in him almost crossing the Moral Event Horizon (breaking one of the laws of time he's bound to protect, despite knowing this will have catastrophic repercussions). However, those last few specials were the character's saving grace, as both the Doctor and those around him agree that he's gone too far, suggesting that Ten had to "die" in order to atone for hurting so many.
    • The Eleventh Doctor comes off as this several times in Series 6. In "The Almost People", he murders Amy’s clone to learn the original Amy's location after spending the entire episode berating miners for treating clones as disposable and less important than the originals. In "The Girl Who Waited", he erases an aged Amy from existence after making her believe he could save her.
    • Rose Tyler is meant to be seen as really heroic and loving for crossing dimensions to find the Tenth Doctor in Series 4. Except the Doctor told her that coming back between worlds would destroy both, to which her reaction was "So?" She was able to cross worlds due to the Daleks' Reality Bomb collapsing the barriers between Universe, however her dialogue shows she was trying to come back before this happened. And for risking the destruction of two worlds so she could get to someone she loved, she gets her own, conveniently human, version of him (created by a massive Ass Pull) — she even kisses that human version of the Doctor right in front of the original!
      • All this is even worse in the wake of the final episodes of Series 9, in which the Twelfth Doctor willingly goes through unspeakable hardship and to universe-risking extremes for similar reasons but is not treated as this trope — instead it's constant What the Hell, Hero? reactions, a My God, What Have I Done? realization, and losing not only Clara, but also most of his memories of her.
      • In Series One, Rose also treats her boyfriend Mickey like he's invisible and ditches her mom Jackie to run off with the Doctor. And in "The Parting of the Ways", she periodically gives dirty looks to another girl that the Doctor had invited to come with them.
      • In Series 2's "Tooth and Claw" when people are getting torn to pieces by a werewolf, Rose's main priority still seems to be winning a bet with the Doctor that she can get Victoria to say she is not amused. In that episode she can come across as a Nightmare Fetishist and it isn't surprising Victoria gets so angry at Rose and the Doctor for seeming to enjoy the horrific events.
    • Lady Christina de Souza, the Classy Cat-Burglar from "Planet of the Dead". She is meant to be a heroic companion figure, but arguably nothing she does is particularly heroic — only self-preservation. She is introduced stealing a museum artifact and doesn't seem at all unhappy that her possible boyfriend gets arrested. Finally the Doctor helping her escape the police is meant to be seen as a great moment, and McMillian as an Inspector Javert for wanting to arrest her. However he was completely justified in arresting her. To add insult to injury, in Doctor Who (IDW) she still gets away with committing crimes after leaving Earth.
    • Clara Oswald becomes one toward the end of Series 8. In "Kill the Moon", when the Twelfth Doctor leaves the fate of the Moon Creature — whose birth might destroy Earth — in her and humanity's hands, she overrules the votes of Earth and decides to spare the creature. Fortunately it doesn't destroy all, but she has no reason to think that it wouldn't. She and the episode are busy seeing the Doctor as in the wrong for trusting humanity to save it rather than just doing it himself based on his informed guess about the creature's intentions — an intended gesture of respect that comes off as condescending partially because he has No Social Skills. In "In the Forest of the Night", upon learning that a solar flare will burn the Earth, she rejects the proposition of the Doctor to save herself, her boyfriend Danny and a class of children claiming that she doesn't want to be the last human...without bothering to consult Danny and the children first! (So the Doctor's learned from his "Kill the Moon" experience, but she hasn't!) And while it's not surprising that over time she learns to be a Consummate Liar from the Doctor's example, where he primarily uses lies to put plans into action, she constantly lies to the Doctor and Danny about her relationships with both men simply because she's a Control Freak who wants things both ways. The kicker is the beginning of "Dark Water": after the sudden death of Danny, she attempts to blackmail the Doctor to save him by drugging him and threatening to throw the keys of the TARDIS in a volcano. She is understandably stressed at the time and the Doctor does call her out on her actions, but that's still nasty for someone we're supposed to see as The Woobie — and then the Doctor bends over backwards to help her. Remember, the Ninth Doctor kicked Adam out of the TARDIS for a far lesser crime.
      • Also — she previously traveled with Eleven and was willing to die for him ( and did — perhaps millions of times over) even knowing of many of the horrible deeds of his past (i.e. the Last Great Time War). Then after he spent 1,000 or so years in lonely vigil on Trenzalore and received a last-moment reprieve from the grave that she had a hand in getting him, he regenerates into a Grumpy Old Man who has No Social Skills, a more pragmatic personality — and an identity crisis that he needs her help in working out. Naturally, she's promptly making rude comments about his appearance, slapping him, lying to him, temporarily abandoning him after "Kill the Moon" even though Eleven himself warned her that he desperately needed her friendship and support, and even betraying him. As it's established in "Mummy on the Orient Express" that she's addicted to having wacky adventures and thus can't give him up entirely, it comes off as her using him. She insists she isn't shallow, but she sure frosted up once he was no longer young, pretty, and charming. To make matters worse, while she and Twelve eventually become chaste sweethearts, consider her sendoff in Series 9: She tells him he must let her die and move on for the greater good, but doesn't simply go back to her death once he's been mind-wiped and she leaves him on Earth with his TARDIS — instead she decides to have more adventures in the second stolen TARDIS first.
    • The show's treatment of the Twelfth Doctor usually averts this trope, so when it turns up in two episodes it's extremely noticeable. Both episodes happen to have the same writer, Toby Whithouse.
      • In Series 9's "Before the Flood", he allows the villain to kill a woman simply to test a theory involving the order in which he and other characters seem doomed to die. (He's informed of this by his own ghost, which may be influencing his behavior.) After realising the next person to die is Clara, only then does he decide to step in and save everyone else. He does receive a What the Hell, Hero? speech, and it turns out to be Foreshadowing for him temporarily becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds a few episodes later when she does die but it still feels like the Doctor only intervened when someone he knew was about to die.
      • Later, Series 10's "The Lie of the Land" has him becoming the evil Monks' Propaganda Machine when they Take Over the World, which means he has to take some responsibility for everyone imprisoned and killed over their six-month reign. This turns out to be because he has been deep undercover, with his life forfeit if they realized the truth, and was probably the best choice to make under extreme circumstances. Still, it undercuts his much-professed belief in the value of individual lives even as it's brought up later in the episode as his justification for not simply sacrificing Bill's life to stop the Monks (in fairness, Missy calls him out somewhat, but the people imprisoned by the Monks are not brought up specifically). On top of that, it is deeply psychologically wounding to his companion Bill, who ends up shooting him in rage, not realizing he can heal and that this was a Secret Test of Character, but she seems to easily forgive him when the crisis has passed. Of course, this may be because...
    • Bill Potts herself qualifies as this between the end of "The Pyramid at the End of the World" and in "The Lie Of The Land". The reason the Monks are allowed to invade Earth in the first place is because she made a deal with them in exchange for the Doctor's life knowing the Monks invading Earth would be the price and explicitly against his wishes. The closest to her getting called out for this is a Secret Test of Character to establish she is not under the Monks' mind control, which ends up being why she shoots the Doctor in anger with intent to kill when the Doctor tells her why he sided with the Monks, despite being aware they have mind control powers and long before all the other options were used.
  • ER: Mark Greene, who from the very first episode was pushed as the "heart" of the show. Said "heart" was frequently unbearably self-righteous with his friends, often failed to be there for them when they needed his support, was unable to take a stand on anything, blasted others from bending or breaking the rules, then bent or broke them himself.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond: The title character's wife becomes this in the later seasons, as the show devoted ever-increasing amounts of screentime to the war between her and her mother-in-law, and kept trying to shill her as the heroine. What made it really ridiculous was the fact that her behavior was exactly the same as the mother-in-law's (i.e., bullying other family members, being arrogant and condescending,etc.), which made it really hard to actually root for her, as there seemed to be no real difference between the two characters. In fact, the wife's behavior was arguably even worse than her mother-in-law's, because she physically and emotionally abused her husband in virtually every episode of the mid-to-later seasons.
    • In one episode, she forces her husband to go with her to a couple's therapist in the hopes that the therapist will tell Ray to be more compliant to her demands. Ray is initially reluctant to open up, but then the therapist finds Ray sympathetic during the session. Naturally, Debra is shocked by this, as she expected the session to be all about how Ray is not the man she wants him to be. After all, how could she possibly be anything less than perfect? After the therapist appears to not take Debra's side, Debra refuses to attend any more sessions and is mad at Ray for embarrassing her like that (to reiterate, he did exactly what she wanted him to do - open up). And the show then goes out of its way to portray her as being right.
  • Extraordinary Attorney Woo: Han Seon-young is effectively presented as the Big Good of the series since she's the CEO of the law firm Woo works at, but while she generally acts affable, she also uses some very underhanded and unsavory tactics to sabotage rival law firm CEO Tae Soo-mi, such as digging up personal information on her that can be used to tar her reputation and sink her political ambitions. She also mainly hired Woo to her company because Woo is Soo-mi's illegitimate daughter and that's something she can use against her. And she even attempts to reveal Woo's relationship to the public right before Soo-mi's confirmation hearing, despite knowing full well of the attention it would bring Woo and the stress it would put on her as a person with autism who dislikes intense social situations, not to mention the fact that it would jeopardize the rest of Woo's legal career. She only relents from doing so when an even more incriminating piece of information comes along that she can use. Han claims to be doing all this to prevent an unsuitable candidate from becoming South Korea's Minister of Justice, but several lines of dialogue imply her reasons for doing so are purely down to the personal rivalry she has with Soo-mi and nothing else. She ends up coming across as a lot more despicable than Soo-mi, and probably more than the writers intended.
  • In many ways, the entire main cast of Fear the Walking Dead becomes more and more pragmatic as time passes, to the point that they do dangerous and foolish things (that may cause more collateral damage as opposed to solving the problem) in order to protect their families. This may have been a deliberate choice on the part of the showrunners.
    • Although Madison does tell the Cruz family about the outbreak, she stands back and does absolutely nothing (except tell her children to get away from the window) when the undead Peter Dawson attacks Ms. Cruz on her front lawn. As a result, the walker murders the entire Cruz family, including their daughter. Later on, she never displays any remorse or care about telling her other neighbors about the planned Cobalt protocol, on the grounds that they never bothered to help her family when Nick was taken. They leave the gate to their neighborhood wide open for the walkers to get in, intentionally leaving their neighbors to die just for that.
    • Daniel Salazar. He tortures a US soldier for information, worked as a Torture Technician back in El Salvador under a brutal dictatorship, was implied to have killed helpless civilians, and leads a herd of walkers towards a military base in order to break out his group's friends, which ultimately leads to the death of Liza by mistake. He is also implied to be a war criminal hiding in the US. Nevertheless, we're supposed to root for him anyway.
    • Really, the entire party gets this by the end of the first season. They not only choose to leave the gate to the safezone wide open after passing through it (even though they know there are walkers around, and there are people still alive inside), but they choose to unleash a massive horde on a military base so that they might have a chance to save two people. Although the end result is ultimately successful (they save Nick and Strand, who leads them to a safehouse), the act of doing so results in Liza being bit and having to be mercy-killed by Travis. In the end, countless soldiers and patients are killed thanks to their actions, and the fate of the civilians that were let out of the prison cells inside the base and left to fend for themselves is never addressed.
  • The Flash (2014): While not as extreme as other examples, Nora West-Allen gets hit with this in the second half of the season. In The Flash And The Furious, Nora lies to the police, telling them that Joslyn broke out of police custody when she was actually kidnapped, possibly making her prison sentence longer, all because she found out Thawne had been lying to her and that must mean no criminals can change, despite being told by someone who can feel emotions that Joslyn felt guilty about what she did. While she does come to her senses about Joslyn, in Memorabilia not only does she ignore Sherloque's warnings about not using the memory machine alone, risking the lives of herself, her parents and Grace, so she can continue to lie about working with Thawne, but we also learn her previous claims about Iris being a bad parent were untrue. She also tricks Sherloque into falling for a meta so he will be more focused on stopping Cicada instead of figuring out her secret in Goldfaced. While her teaming up with the Young Rogues turned out to be a plan to steal weapons to destroy Cicada's dagger, that's no excuse for the robberies, allying her self with three different super-villains who she should have expected to betray her, and for threatening Cisco in a way that manipulates his trauma. Plus everyone else on Team Flash was very forgiving considering she was working with their arch-enemy for months and lying about it and for the crap she pulled in ''Gone Rogue''.
  • FlashForward (2009): Mark Benford. Many perceive him to be a major-league Jerkass to his coworkers, his family, and everyone. See: giving his wife huge amounts of shit for seeing herself sleeping with another man in her Flash Forward, yet lying to her about his own (he was drinking in his); routinely flouting international law and direct orders from his boss, but unlike other Screw The Rules types, he doesn't really accomplish anything by doing so; having his hands superglued to the Idiot Ball (best example: shooting an assassin who has what is obviously a unit tattoo); and as the promo for the post-hiatus episodes shows, accusing Demetri of being a mole.
  • The Following: Both the main character as well as the FBI are incredibly incompetent and act like idiots. Ryan Hardy, The Hero, thinks that he and only he can take down Serial Killer Joe Carroll and his cult of maniacs, to the point where he ends up getting several police officers and innocent people harmed or killed and getting furious when anyone but him crosses the line to save their loved ones, as well as playing the very role Carroll wants him to play in the first place; on the other hand, the Feds aren't much better, repeatedly underestimating both Hardy and the cult and making many stupid mistakes. Both Hardy and the Feds also fail to consider that if Joe had people watching both his family and his only surviving victim, then he might have had someone watching Ryan as well - this last one gets Hardy stabbed and Claire killed. The only reason the good guys win is that the cult turns out to be just as self-sabotaging themselves in the long run, but at least the cult has the excuse that they are all Ax-Crazy; Hardy and the Feds are just selfish and stupid.
  • Friends: Rachel. She refuses to take Ross back but abuses any girl he tries to date (backstabbing the adorable Julie, shaving Bonnie's head, planning to ruin Emily's wedding and insulting a girl who flirts with him). She emotionally abuses Ross making him break up with girls and then puts stipulations on them getting back together, helps to ruin his marriage and then says he's too 'messed up' to date, and forbidding him from dating her sister. She's also incredibly self-centred, stealing Monica and Chandler's engagement night and wedding day, belittling others' problems, constantly complaining about her own, and telling Monica and Chandler they have to come to her baby's birthday party, so they can't go away after they spent a fortune on a room to reconnect after they've discovered they can't have children!
  • Gilmore Girls: The 2016 reboot, A Year in the Life, has Rory, who was considered a paragon of virtue in the original series, spend the entirety of the show casually disregarding and cheating on her boyfriend. Somehow, the disregard is Played for Laughs, though fan reaction suggests that the screen writers are the only ones who found it funny.

  • Glee:
    • Rachel and Finn fall into this category in many episodes. Often, they defy the moral of an episode, commit dubious actions without being called on it, or just act downright nasty, but they get away with it largely by virtue of being the Official Couple.
    • Will Schuster too, if not even more so. In the very first episode he plants drugs on a student to blackmail him into joining Glee Club. When said student protests his innocence and frantically promises to take a drug test, Will weasels around that obvious out by reminding the kid that being charged at all will look bad. Seeing as how in the US, a drug conviction of any kind bars kids from applying for student loans, Will essentially threatens a minor's future education to force him to join a failing club.
    • Kurt became this trope quite a bit due to being an Author Avatar. Showrunner Ryan Murphy essentially based the character on his own experiences growing up a Camp Gay kid in Flyover Country, and as such, Kurt would always be justified in his behavior (particularly in the first two seasons), no matter how ridiculously petty, manipulative, or jealous he was being. His few What the Hell, Hero? moments happened much later, and those scenes were quite blatantly written in response to viewer criticisms.
  • The Goldbergs: Evelyn Silver, depending on her motivations, is this. In a rather glaring Ass Pull, Erica Goldberg and Geoff Schwartz finally get together at the end of "So Swayze It's Crazy", but then break up at the end of the next episode "The Kara-te Kid". It turns out Geoff didn't tell Evelyn, his girlfriend, that he was leaving her for Erica and as a result, everyone views them as the bad guys in the situation because they got together the wrong way. Evelyn being upset is utterly justified, but burning a picture of herself and Geoff with a psychotic stare (even though it's Played for Laughs) causes her to lose any moral high ground given that can be construed as a violent threat and while not putting Erica and Geoff in the right for what they did, gives them legitimate reason to not want to be near Evelyn again.
  • Gossip Girl: Serena frequently acts far nastier than Blair, and her protests and apologies just make her seem like a huge liar compared to the others.
  • H₂O: Just Add Water: Sometimes, the main characters will behave in petty and selfish ways and never really learn from it or properly outgrow it. Some outstanding examples:
    • After Cleo gets fired from her job and Lewis takes the position, Rikki and Emma sabotage Lewis at his job in the hopes of getting him fired so Cleo can get her job back, which leads to Lewis being the prime suspect in a police investigation.
    • At the climax of the first season, when Lewis reveals he knew all along that the girls' loss of powers was temporary but Miss Chatham told him to keep quiet so their reactions would be real, Cleo responds by subjecting him to prolonged torture by trapping him on top of a water spout while the rest of the girls stand around laughing.
    • Despite knowing that Rikki is poor and lives in a trailer park, Emma and Cleo (who live comfy middle class lives) get angry with Rikki when they learn that she's trying to find something that has a reward attached to it.note 
    • Also Rikki, despite being poor, cringes at the simple idea of getting a job and barely even tries at the Juicenet Cafe, only getting Emma into trouble. Lately, she picks up something simple and illegal, instead.
    • Rikki, Emma, and Cleo sabotage a family dinner between Cleo's father and Charlotte's mother in an attempt to drive them, as well as Charlotte and Lewis, apart - never mind that at this point, Lewis was single because Cleo turned him down, and therefore fair game for Charlotte, who at this point has been nothing but a decent person.
    • After Charlotte's initial encounter with the moon pool, Lewis deliberately gets her wet to see if she'd gotten mermaid powers. Here's the kicker: they were in public at Juicenet. Not only would this have broken the Masquerade, but Lewis would have just exposed an innocent and confused teenage girl to the public if she had gotten mermaid powers. Neither he nor the girls seem to see any problem with this.
  • Henry Danger: The main heroes, Henry (Kid Danger) and Ray (Captain Man) get away with some particularly nasty actions with rarely any consequences, and as PhantomStrider once said, they act like hyperactive monkeys on LSD. This also applies to the animated spin-off, and it begs the question of why these superheroes (who are supposed to be protecting Swellview) act like jackasses most of the time.
    • This was also discussed and defied in the pilot, when Henry contemplates going to Jasper's (his friend) birthday party, while there is a supervillian threatening the city. Captain Man gives Henry a stealth What the Hell, Hero? speech before Henry decides to help.
  • iCarly: Carly never stops her Jerkass friend Sam from bullying others. What kind of friend lets one friend bully her other friends? Then in "iMove Out," when Freddie's mom came on the set to humiliate her son, instead of turning off the camera, she points it at Freddie while he's getting embarrassed. And that's not even getting into Carly's emotional manipulation of Freddie...
    • Carly is constantly portrayed as an immature, whiny girl who complains at any instance in which she doesn't get exactly what she wants. In one particular example, Spencer forbids her from going to a genuinely dangerous wrestling arena to film for the website, prompting her to throw an unfunny tantrum, directly disobey him, and be portrayed as if she's in the right.
  • A major problem with Inhumans from the word go. Attilan is presented as a Crapsaccharine World running out of resources. Everyone is put through the Terrigen Mists that give Inhumans their powers as a teenager... and if you don't gain powers, or do but that power isn't considered 'good enough' somehow, enjoy being immediately taken away to be a slave in the mines for the rest of your life! Now, our 'heroes' are the royal family - in other words, the people who rule with this system in place. Maximus, the Big Bad, is the only one who has a problem with this. Oh, and by the way, he has no powers, and for that has been abused and looked down on his entire life, only escaping being a slave in the mines himself by the sheer luck of being born a prince. He's the one you'll be rooting for all the way until he tells his plan for that 'out of resources' thing (specifically, "let's go take Earth's!") And even then, considering that Black Bolt et al have no plan for fixing this situation—or, indeed, to change anything at all; it takes them until the last episode to decide that a brutal caste system is a bad thing—it still makes him come off more as a Well-Intentioned Extremist than a dyed-in-the-wool villain.
  • The King of Queens: It can sometimes be hard to root for Carrie, Doug and Arthur who are occasionally exaggerated Seinfeldian levels of Jerkass.
  • Law & Order:
    • Arguably, most of the characters in every iteration, but especially Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Hardly an episode goes by without an absolutely horrifying instance of breach of protocol, bad judgment, unnecessary hatred for a suspect, or outright lawbreaking on the part of the main cast. The main cast is made up entirely of law enforcement officers and lawyers. Almost every crime drama has this to some extent.
    • Elliot Stabler is this trope personified. While interviewing a suspect (that's SUSPECT - not criminal, SUSPECT) he becomes aggravated and puts the man's head through the one-way glass in the interrogation room. He is not punished for it in any way, because obviously the suspect is an evil criminal and does not have rights.
      • What pushed the line for most viewers was when Elliot intentionally caused a man to have a Psychotic Break so the law can force him to go on medication. And Dr. Huang (the psychiatrist) is treated as a traitor when he rightfully objected and decided to become the defense's expert witness.
    • Somebody is talking with Cabot, the prosecuting attorney, and accuses the police department of harming a suspect. Cabot replies that the injuries were sustained during a fight between two suspects. Her conversation partner acknowledges that this is technically correct... because the suspects were intentionally baited, by the police department, into turning on each other. Cabot does not even bother to reply, she just stands there looking smug for the rest of the scene.
    • Stabler and Benson go to a suspect's home, where he lives with his grandfather. They do not have a warrant and cannot enter the house without permission. They tell the suspect something about his grandfather that shocks him and causes him to throw the door closed and run upstairs to confront the grandfather. Stabler puts his hand out to keep the door from closing and the two detectives chase after the suspect, into the house that they do not have permission to enter.
    • In one very serious episode, a young man recognizes that he is a pedophile and turns himself in before he harms someone. Specifically, he fears that he will molest a young relative of his and has actually been drinking heavily in an attempt to forestall his actions. When he accepts that he will not be able to stop himself for much longer he turns himself in to he police in the hope that they will be able to keep him from hurting any little kids. Benson explicitly states that up to that point, no pedophile had ever turned themselves in out of an honest desire to reform. Rather than appreciating the selfless efforts of a very confused person who needs help with a legitimate problem, he is despised by the police force and referred to as a "monster."
    • Stabler has attempted a flat-out Vigilante Execution at least once, admittedly of a guy who raped toddlers. In the first season finale he was nearly thrown off the squad when a departmental psychologist orders Cragen to conduct a psych evaluation of all his detectives and fire the one least psychologically fit; his job is saved only by one of the Fake Guest Stars admitting to having slept with a suspect, which the shrink deemed worse than anything Stabler did.
    • It doesn't help that the detectives and prosecutors tend to have a smug attitude most of the time, almost veering into Smug Snake territory.
    • Olivia never used to be this, but as the series progressed she slowly evolved into one. She's a feminist Creator's Pet, and the writers expect us to believe she's always in the right. A few good examples include her constantly defending a rape victim who was forever changing her story, despite Barba and Rollins rightfully pointing out the inconsistencies. Her refusal to accept that several police officers shooting an unarmed black suspect was wrong, even though it's obvious that their actions were racially motivated. Ordering her officers to barge into an elderly man's home, then refusing to apologize upon realizing she had the wrong apartment, and her generally sexist attitude towards men, tending to treat any male suspect with disdain before she's even gathered a speck of evidence against him. Again, we're supposed to support her actions.
    • An In-Universe example is shown in the comic book series, "Rape Man", which is about a teenager who repeatedly rapes women in every issue, and yet, the characters are supposed to see the in-universe comic book character as a hero.
    • In the original series, prosecuting attorney Jack McCoy is this. In almost every episode, Jack goes out of his way, often bending the law of practice and in some cases breaking it to get his man. Even when his bosses throughout the series tell him to let it go because there isn't enough evidence, or make a deal for a lesser sentence, he refuses to and finds loopholes to get a conviction. But since most of the suspects are proven guilty, its mostly accepted. However, one example arguably makes Jack go off the Moral Event Horizon. In one episode, a serial rapist is granted parole much to Jack's disappointment. So what does he do? Make the guy's life a living hell by constantly harassing him and trying to put him back in prison, even if it means using false charges against him. The man begs Jack to leave him alone, but Jack tells him no and becomes even more ruthless against the paroled convict making it impossible to live his life. At the end of the episode, the convict is found on top of a woman trying to rape her before he was killed in self-defense, leaving many to wonder if Jack pushed him so far that he decided to rape again because he wasn't allowed to reform. The final look Jack gives the guy isn't one of satisfaction for being proving right, but guilt.
  • Lost: Several characters, especially Jack and Kate. Both are Jerkass types who meander between helpful-yet-arrogant leader types through to paranoid, secretive, unhelpful, cliquey and murderous asses.
    • Season 3 Locke was far more reprehensible than even Kate or Sawyer ever were, especially in the last season episode. Jack himself tends to be more unremarkable or just plain capricious than reprehensible.
      • Locke's actions even earlier than that come off as quite disturbing when you know he really had no real connection to the island, coming off as a cult leader using violence to brainwash people like Boone into agreeing with him.
      • A bit false, though he counts as a DH. Locke was pretty clearly connected to the island from the very beginning, regardless of his actions. As the final season illustrates, pretty much all the main characters were.
  • Married... with Children: While none of the Bundys can really be called "heroes", it's shown that when push comes to shove, they do love each other, and they at least make an effort to do something with their lives and be better people. Peg is the exception — she would rather sit on the couch all day eating candy and watching TV than doing anything productive or useful, squanders Al's money on useless things for herself, has no interest in being a good wife or a good mother, and will put her selfish desires above the needs of her family. While the other Bundies fall under Jerkass Woobie on account of being sympathetic in their bitterness, Peg never elicits any such sympathy.
  • NCIS: Memetic Badass though he may be, Leroy Jethro Gibbs can definitely be seen as this, with repeatedly assholish behavior to various characters, occasionally bending or even breaking laws he's supposed to be enforcing, and some instances of hypocrisy regarding investigations with agents/officers from outside his team.
    • He has also put his own agents (especially McGee) into dangerous situations just to save time. Both Abby and DiNozzo tend to act terrible toward the guy.
  • Night Court: Judge Harry Stone was presented as straight-up hero on the bench throughout the entire show, except for a single episode, where a high-class brothel is raided and their records are seized. The madam begs Harry to make the case disappear, since she doesn't want her clients to be swept up in the sting, arguing that they are good men who were nice to the prostitutes and don't deserve the stigma. Nonetheless, they were still visiting prostitutes, many of them were married, and they often shared highly sensitive details of their work with the girls. For some reason Harry agonises over this until he realises that the clients, many of whom were wealthy and powerful men, including politicians and military commanders, have friends in high places that can make it go away for him. So he contacts the Pentagon and an Admiral quickly arrives to take the records in the name of security. This is portrayed as a happy ending; apparently, using political corruption to cover up the adultery and serious security breaches of the country's leaders is okay if said leaders were polite to the prostitutes they visited. What's worse is that this was extremely out of character for Harry, who was consistently portrayed as kind and compassionate to the people he judged, but ultimately a stickler for the law; he often ruled against his friends, family or childhood idols if it was his duty.
  • The Office (US):
    • Jim & Pam, who are supposed to be normal, but are actually kinda pricks. Jim knew he wasn't supposed to upset Andy when he was at Stamford, but he did, and he did it again at Scranton. He picked on Andy - someone he knew had anger management issues - enough to make him punch a hole in the wall. He even probably endangered Pam in helping too. For a long time, they were lusting after each other, regardless of the feelings of the people with whom they were involved. They also broke company policy in the baby shower episode with the Bluetooth and making themselves noticeable enough to warrant investigation (though considering how lax Michael is with office policy, he probably let it slide). Sometimes Jim's pranks on Dwight go too far (enough to give him a bit of a Heroic BSoD when regaling). The writers do notice this sometimes, especially in later seasons. A few episodes show Jim being embarrassed by his immaturity and show Dwight as more of a victim.
    • In season 9, Jim takes a step further into this territory. Feeling an early mid-life crisis, he decides to join his friend in opening a new business focused on sports marketing. The issue is that in the process, he lies and hides things from Pam, including making an investment of 10 thousand dollars (most of their savings) without telling her. As she keeps trying to help him, he becomes more demanding, accuses her of being unfair to him despite he left her to take care of their two children alone plus having a job for the most part.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Emma in season one. She decides that she knows what's better for Henry than Regina does a day after meeting him, despite having no experience with children and based solely on the fact that Regina makes it clear that she doesn't want her in their lives. She takes Henry's medical records from Archie despite the fact that it's illegal for him to give them to her, and then illegally cuts down a tree on public property shortly after Regina tells her that she's been taking care of it since she was a child. After becoming sheriff—beating a law-abiding (up to that point), longtime resident of Storybrooke, she uses her newfound power to plant an illegal bug in Regina's office and then break into City Hall and conduct an illegal search. She discounts Snow as a suspect in Kathryn's disappearance despite the obvious motive because Snow is her friend. Her full intention is to come between Henry and his mother, who raised him from birth, simply because he's unhappy, despite the fact that he's in already treatment. Many of the actions Regina takes against her are pretty reasonable given the circumstances. The only unambiguously heroic thing she does is save Regina from the fire... which was set to help her win the election, and which she initially keeps quiet about. The only reason Emma doesn't come off as a Corrupt Cop who has a vendetta against the mother of her biological son because she regrets giving him up is that we've already been told that she's the savoir and Regina's the evil queen.
    • Robin Hood is often referred to In-Universe as a bastion of nobility and virtues in the hero community. However, a lot of fans like to point out that we rarely if ever actually see him do anything heroic. The main point a lot of fans like to point towards is him sleeping with Regina not five feet from his dying wife's frozen body. A lot of fans also find it hard to root for him and Regina to get back together when he is so ready to forgive Regina for executing his wife and leaving his child motherless with barely any hesitation. Furthermore, a lot of fans like to point out the hypocrisy of him saying that Zelena is unfit to raise their daughter after he not only fails to name said daughter for weeks on end but straight up abandons her to travel to the Underworld in order to save a man who tried to kill him and his family. He then proceeds to yell at Regina for attempting to give Zelena the benefit of the doubt by trusting the still unnamed daughter to her, despite him being one of the main people who preaches that Regina should be given a second chance after all the bad she has done, with the show framing him as in the right and having Regina apologize to him.
  • The entire group of main characters in The Practice runs headlong into this by the time the final season begins (a Retool forced by ABC once it became clear the show's ratings were sliding). Once portrayed as young, idealistic and ready to change the legal system for the better, they become increasingly judgemental, arrogant and prone to defending some of the worst dregs of humanity, eroding their sense of morality and causing them to make questionable (and sometimes illegal) decisions. The show highlights this by putting them alongside Alan Shore, an Amoral Attorney who is not above using dubious and illegal means to get his clients free, but has a far more centered view of the world and understands exactly what he does for a living. This all culminates in a storyarc where Alan is fired by the practice after keeping them afloat for months nearly on his own, and he proceeds to sue them (backed by an entertaining stable of supporting characters at Denny Crane's law firm), proceeds to chew them out in front of the court for being hypocritical about their own mindsets and attitudes towards him, and wins more than he asked for from a jury that sides with him. As a result, the practice is eventually disbanded, and the main characters are forced to pursue different legal routes in the hopes of salvaging their reputations and sense of self-worth.
  • Pretty Little Liars Lucas Gottesman in the first series is continually making moves on Hanna, despite the fact she is dating Sean. Sean is a perfectly nice guy, but because Lucas is dorky, our sympathy is supposed to be with him.
  • Promised Land: Shamaya Taggert from the Touched by an Angel spin off. You're supposed to like this character, but she comes off as a bitter, self-righteous, pretentious prick.
  • In "Reckless", a Masterpiece Theatre Mini Series, the protagonist Owen Springer is a cheeky young doctor who falls in love with a woman 10-15 years his senior. The movie glosses over the fact that he's pursuing a woman who's married and who repeatedly rebuffs his advances, as well as the utterly devious and manipulative stunt that he pulls to finally get her into bed—when he discovers that her husband is having an affair, he secretly arranges for her to find out, knowing full well that she'll be so devastated that she'll come running to him. To wit, he causes her pain and then takes full advantage of it. When she eventually finds out, she's rightfully furious, even as he pitifully tries to justify his actions—"I love you, Anna!". But sure enough, she forgives him and the series ends with them getting together, and the sequel with them marrying.
  • The titular character of Redman is an Ultraman Copy who goes around fighting monsters, and is treated as a hero for it. However, the monsters he fights don't seem to actually be doing anything. Usually, all they're doing is wandering around some quarry or field when Redman instigates the conflict, and they frequently attempt to run away rather than fight, suggesting that they aren't out to kill him, either. Many of the actual fights are also very one-sided, with Redman's brutal tactics and use of weapons like knives and spears contrasting with the monsters clumsily stumbling and flailing, and it doesn't help that he invariably kills his targets, even if they're already incapacitated. Consequently, he instead reads as if he's just hunting down and brutally killing these creatures for no apparent reason. Notably, a later comic adapting the series many years later decided to essentially canonize this viewpoint—many of the monsters Redman fights are indeed harmless, and Redman himself is treated as somewhere between Nominal Hero and Villain Protagonist.
  • Revolution: Charlie, increasingly. She began as just whiny, but took entirely the wrong lesson from Miles, and ended up deciding that she was better off being jerks to her friends to make them go forward to Danny... who they lag behind because of Motive Decay. Then there's also the fact that, even after learning how bad the deed she is supposed to do in "Sex and Drugs" is, she still decides to go through with it anyway rather than try to get the victim's help, while Miles, her "role model" for getting tough, takes the higher road and tries to go and stop her to Take a Third Option. Fortunately, she has been trying to become a better hero.
  • Robin Hood:
    • Robin Hood from the BBC's 2006-2008 version of the story kept getting worse as the seasons went on. His "no-kill" policy was chucked out the second season when it became apparent that he was prepared to kill in the name of King Richard (even if it meant shooting unarmed priests and mentally deranged spies), and by the third season he was shooting guards in the back whilst still insisting that he only killed when he needed to. He also treated his outlaws like crap (especially poor Much), started a relationship with a girl he was barely interested in despite knowing that his best friend liked her, attacked a frightened woman in her own bedroom after she's had to kill a man in self-defence, and shot dead an executioner who was just doing his job (and then having the gall to tell the aforementioned woman that not only is she "a murderer" for killing a man who was threatening to rape/strangle her but that he only kills when he absolutely needs to).
    • The third season also introduced Kate, who was shilled as brave, compassionate and altogether wonderful even though she was never anything but rude, nasty and shrill to everyone around her, and once demanded that a terrified woman be left to be raped and strangled by her sadistic husband, stating that "she doesn't deserve our help."
  • Saved by the Bell: There's an entire web series now dedicated to pointing out all the ways "Zack Morris is Trash".
  • Scream Queens (2015):
    • The Chanels are a pretty painful example. They're shown to have absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever (particularly Oberlin who, while not the Red Devil, is an attempted murderer herself), show a complete disregard for anyone else, and actively enjoy bullying and belittling others for no reason but the sake of it. They're also homophobic, racist, classist, entitled, cruel, petty, and actively malicious. Yet, somehow, most the fanbase will go to hell and back to argue they aren't actually bad people.
    • The biggest example yet may be in with Grace. She spent most of the season trying to find out a) who was running around killing people; and b) who were the babies born in the bathtub. Only, she was really doing this to prove her theory that she was one of those babies, and kept making the situation about her. In the finale, she finally figured out that Hester was the killer...only to allow Hester to not only get away with it, but also framed Chanel and her friends in the process. In the end, Graced ended up remaking the sorority in the image she wanted, so apparently a psycho killing people that had nothing to do with the death of her mom twenty years ago and framing three people who were NOT the red devil (though, admittedly, they were awful human beings and attempted murderers as well) worked out in her favor.
    • Thanks to her knowing the truth, Zayday also is one, using this to become the president of the sorority.
  • Scrubs: This happens a lot with Elliot and J.D, who are both pretty awful people at times but we're supposed to root for them because they are the protagonists. Elliot is particularly bad for treating her boyfriends appallingly, like sleeping with J.D when Sean was away, knowing J.D was still in love with her, then literally jumping into Sean's arms when he returns and guilting J.D into keeping quiet about it because "you're supposed to be my friend". Then she treated Keith with borderline emotional abuse at times, constantly yelling at him and berating him, but we're meant to feel sorry for Elliot when she breaks off her engagement to Keith and he is justifiably furious with her for stringing him along for months.
  • The Secret Life of Us: Series 2 turned the character of Gabrielle into a serious Jerkass. She starts an affair with Dominic, a married man with two young children, and gets him to leave his wife Francesca for her, saying that because she loves him so, so much this is all justified. When Francesca shouts at Gabrielle and calls her selfish, she has the barefaced cheek to complain that Francesca is victimizing her, and then she breaks up with Dominic for spending too much time trying to comfort his heartbroken children, rather than forgetting them and focusing all his time on her. A short time later Dominic, who has tried and failed to make things work with his wife because he can't forget Gabrielle, tries to win her back, and she says she has gotten used to being on her own, even though she caused all this pain on the grounds that she supposedly loved him so much. Despite this, neither Gabrielle or any other character apart from Francesca says anything about how selfish, fickle and destructive her actions are, and she is still depicted as a likable character the audience should root for and empathize with.
  • Sliders protagonist Quinn Mallory may be well-intentioned, but that hasn't stopped him from causing unforgiveable mass destruction. In the episode "As Time Goes By", he destroys an entire universe. In the episode "Dinoslide", he and the others return to a world they previously visited, only to find that a virus they inadvertently carried over has wiped out the native population who had no immunity to it. And he was the one who accidentally led the Kromaggs to Earth Prime, resulting in its destruction. For all this, on several occasions in Season 3 and 4 he was willing to settle down on certain Earths, leaving his friends (who are only in this situation because of him) to fend for themselves, and also did not seem too concerned with finding Wade or saving Earth Prime in Season 4, being more interested in finding his home planet.
    • Part of the problem is Quinn's ability to both dive headlong into danger without thinking through the consequences of his actions and his frequent failure to adapt to any culture that doesn't conform to his late 1990s American suburban morality. Easily the best example of this is on Egypt World where he attacks a couple of the Pharaoh's men without really the first clue as to why they were trying to forcibly detain a woman, nearly gets his friends killed inside of a pyramid they were thrown into as punishment, causes them to miss their slide window potentially trapping them there forever, and then willingly leaves the faulty yet proven original timer behind (it still technically worked, they had just missed the slide window which added another 29 years onto the clock) in favour of a brand new yet completely untested one. For all they knew, this new sliding device (which was designed to slide a single casket one time) may not have had enough power to go anywhere else.
  • Smallville: In the early seasons, Lana Lang evolved from a slightly annoying Distressed Damsel into one of these, and remained one for her entire run. Despite her frequent betrayals of Clark and his friends, she was consistently treated as being in the right until her exit in Season 8; and unlike Clark and others who border on this, her motivation for anything heroic she does do is either 'to get with Clark' or, later, 'to punish Lex'. Former Big Bad Lionel Luthor, post-Heel–Face Turn, is seen as this in-universe: the heroes use him for his resources, but don't trust him any farther than they can throw him.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Federation often veers into this territory Depending on the Writer due to the Prime Directive causing them to routinely let entire species go extinct, despite being in a position to avert such disasters; all whilst touting it as the "Natural Order" and the morally superior thing to do. This is better shown in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager, especially the latter as seen below.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Captain "Designated Hero" Janeway - after stranding her crew in the Delta Quadrant due to reasons largely beyond her control, she forgoes several attempts that would have gotten her back to the Alpha Quadrant, kills one of her crew to restore the status quo, and when given the chance to go back in time and save her crew, rather than preventing them from going to the Delta Quadrant in the first place, she opts to save someone they recruited along the way and abandon nearly a third of her crew who died before Season 7. The "Equinox" two-parter is often seen as the worst because the Equinox was much worse off than Voyager, and her protests seemed more founded on Federation regulations than the brutality the captain was committing on innocent aliens. Her temporary alliance with the Borg against Species 8472 also got a lot of flack after 8472 were Retconned from Scary Dogmatic Aliens apparently out for The Purge to reasonable people who somehow gave Kes the completely wrong idea while they were Mind Raping her. The series' Status Quo Is God mandate meant that everyone had to come to an accord by the end of the episode, so these issues never got adequately addressed, nor was there ever a middle ground between "always stand by Federation principles" or "screw it we need to get home," resulting in this kind of mess.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise suffered a similar problem by trying to create a flawed captain who was nevertheless always right. Archer's childhood grudge against the Vulcans put two bridge officers at risk when he was reluctant to ask the nearby Vulcans for help, and he once sided with the Andorians over his supposed allies without much examination (and after the Andorians attacked him). He also let a sentient species die out because of the Prime Directive before it even existed, caused a diplomatic incident by taking his dog to a sacred grove of trees, and condemned other ships or cultures for doing things he had done or would do in the space of a few episodes. Meanwhile, the secret agent from the future kept saying Archer would be hailed as one of this era's great figures. (The third season has him committing some acts of dubious morality in the name of protecting Earth, but with more self-awareness of that dubiousness.)
  • Supernatural: After a few seasons, both of the Winchester brothers slaughter hundreds of demons, killing their human hosts in the process - even when they have the knowledge and opportunity to perform an exorcism which would save the host. Unless it's someone they know who's possessed.
    • In their many arguments throughout the series, both brothers have occasionally made selfish or hypocritical decisions that the narrative expects us to support, such as Sam retiring from hunting and not trying to find Dean in season 8, or Dean tricking Sam into letting an angel possess him to save his life. ** Season 8 ends with Sam aborting a ritual to seal all demons away in Hell permanently because it would cost him his life, which Dean refuses to accept. Overlooking the fact that a girl they saved earlier in the season will eventually go to hell if they don't finish the ritual due to her demon deal .
    • Dean spent Season 10 being driven by the Mark of Cain to increasingly gratuitous acts of violence, before learning that the Mark is a Leaking Can of Evil for the primordial Darkness that brought about Lucifer's fall; in the finale, he kills Death and lets the Darkness escape rather than sacrifice himself and Sam to remove it from Earth permanently. After telling Death that this time it was for real..
    • Season 11 has a pro wrestler the boys liked as children turn out to have murdered the Victim of the Week. He had made a deal with a demon for fame and fortune. Dean even said at the end that he was a good guy and didn't deserve to die by hellhound. Later when Sam was in shock after being shot, Dean pretty much committed suicide to make a deal with Billie the Reaper to save Sammy. She declined.
  • Survivor had this trope mentioned by Tyson Apostol in Blood vs Water at the Final Tribal, saying he wasn't a villain and that "If you aren't the villain, you have to be the hero"
  • The Thundermans: Phoebe is supposed to be the "good one" of the twin leads, but many see her as an self-righteous Alpha Bitch who enjoys antagonizing Max; because of that, many fans sympathize more with Max than Phoebe, even in situations when Max is clearly in the wrong.
  • True Blood: The vampires. Bill killed many people with Lorena and has deliberately killed people even in the present day. Every vampire we've met we know for a fact have killed at least one human, and many of these vamps we know have killed more than that. Even "saintly" Godric killed Eric's two best friends before turning Eric into a vamp. And thanks to Jessica killing a man soon after she became a vampire, there's now no vampire we can definitely state has never killed a human. The Authority might be seen as a benevolent influence... except as their Arbiter they appointed a nasty "humans-are-inferior-to-vampires" bigot who regarded the fact Bill killed a vampire to save the life of a human as making Bill's crime of killing the vampire worse, not better, and as punishment had a terrified teenaged girl (Jessica) kidnapped and forcibly turned into a vampire by Bill. And we're supposed to be rooting for the vampires and their integration with humans because why, exactly?
    • Not helping the vampires' case is Season 4's witch storyline, where it's revealed that vampires had infiltrated human institutions like the Catholic Church since at least medieval times, and would regularly torture, rape, and publicly execute witches for getting uppity and developing magic that could let them fight back. The premise of the show is that vampires are a minority that had to "come out of the coffin", but after these revelations were made, it begged the question of who's oppressing who.
    • Then, there's the non-vampires, who often have as little regard for life as the actual vampires and are constantly behaving in morally questionable ways. Sookie is probably the worst offender, since she is willing to ignore as many deaths as she needs to if it interferes with her love life or friends, and even helps Eric in his schemes, which usually involve murdering humans at some point.
  • The Vampire Diaries, increasingly. Their total selfishness and the body count attached to them, which is now in the thousands and includes people killed for reasons ranging from self-defense to Horror Hunger to to gaining advantage over an enemy to just being unhappy and taking it out on other people, can make it pretty difficult to root for them. Notable acts include causing the deaths of thousands of vampires, twice, for pretty dubious reasons, and trapping thousands of souls in limbo, possibly forever, rather than give up a chance to resurrect their friend.
  • Veronica Mars: It's easy to sympathize with her backstory, which includes Parental Abandonment, rape and subsequent social exile. It's not so easy to actually like her, as she's incredibly manipulative, enables various illegal actions throughout the series (including the kidnapping of a baby), uses her friends as pawns (sometimes putting their lives in danger) and is just outright mean to most people she speaks to on a regular basis. One could make a solid argument that the only difference between Veronica and the popular crowd she was once part of is the fact that she's directing her manipulative tendencies into a profession which ostensibly helps people — notably, her behavior worsens in season three when she has no central mystery to solve. It must be pointed out, however, that this was part and parcel of what many fans saw as the show's degeneration after season one. In the first season, Veronica seemed genuinely good and kind under her understandably gruff exterior, and seemed to genuinely care for the people she helped. It was in the subsequent seasons that she really became a hero in name only.
  • Victorious: Tori Vega in the episode "How Trina Got In" for leaving her friend Robbie behind at a Sushi bar because she selfishly wanted to return to class. Earlier, he did something nice for her by treating her.
  • Rick and his crew from The Walking Dead got a lot of criticism from viewers in Season 6 for what many thought was an unprovoked attack on Negan's group, when they slipped into one of his outposts and murdered several of his men in their sleep. While Negan is certainly not a Designated Villain, it's hard to argue with the fact that he at least kind of has a point when he says Rick and his group brought Negan's wrath upon themselves by striking first.
  • Without a Trace:
    • Jack Malone is the head of the FBI's missing persons unit. It puts him in a different position than most Police Procedural protagonists, because rather than hunting killers, his victims are potentially still alive and he's trying to bring them home safely. This means he's willing to do whatever it takes to save people. In theory, this is noble. In practice, it boils down to screwing procedure and convictions by ignoring requests for lawyers, physically assaulting and threatening to kill suspects, and generally being as abrasive as possible. He's also a hypocrite, as whenever any of his team members massage procedure, he gives them hell over it, even after he's done far worse. Even beyond the scope of his actual cases, he treats the people around him like crap. He's repeatedly pursued a relationship with one of his female subordinates (the first time, while he was married). When he attempted to transfer to Chicago to be with his wife, his position was given to a friend, Vivian Johnson; after his wife left him and he needed a good job for his custody hearing, he reclaimed his position and then blamed Johnson for being upset about itnote . He is repeatedly called on his actions by his friends and superiors alike, yet the only character development he undergoes is being a less distant father to his older daughter (while giving only an occasional passing mention to his younger daughter). At one point, he was demoted and replaced with a more by-the-book team leader. When the new leader's tactics failed to find a missing young girl, he and the narrative agreed that Jack's methods are necessary, Jack was rewarded with his job back yet again, and they implied that he'd only been fired in the first place because another agent's father pulled some strings to make his son look good. The methods Jack used to find the missing girl? Strangling the main suspect's brother with a belt, even though the brother had no involvement in the kidnapping whatsoever and, at worst, was suspicious about whether his brother was involved.
    • The Victim of the Week in the episode "Silent Partner". Yes, it's admirable that he goes all out to reimburse people ripped off by his company. It doesn't change the fact that he's an adulterer and a bigamist who faked his death so as to ditch his first wife and run off with the second one. And as evidenced by the conversation he has with the first wife, he doesn't have a shred of remorse about this—despite being presented as the typical Ice Queen Rich Bitch, she's basically a Designated Villain—she never says or does anything to indicate that she deserves to be treated like this.
  • The Wire: Jimmy McNulty, the closest thing this show has to a central character, discusses this trope in-universe with regards to his (oftentimes morally questionable) behavior.
    You start to tell the story, you think you're the hero, and then when you get done talking...
  • Wizards of Waverly Place's Alex Russo is often seen by the others as this, treated as the bad kid compared to Justin. Ironically, Justin falls into this more than she does. When turned into a werewolf without his consent, he simply runs off with his lycanthrope girlfriend. He joins the Angels of Darkness, and while on can say he was under their influence, when he's freed by Alex, and she's awarded for saving the world, he flies into a rant about he deserves that award more than she does. Quite jarringly, he at one point cheats at baseball with magic. When confronted on this, rather than get punished, he's given a chance to erase his cheating from everyone's memory and the blame falls squarely on Alex.
  • Wonder Woman: The failed 2011 pilot makes the bad guys out to be complete and utter scum who use trafficked humans and underprivileged ghetto kids to test their steroid-type drugs and use their lobbyists to avoid being investigated, and that whatever means that Wonder Woman uses is justified. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman is a brutal, vicious killer who goes after people without any actual evidence, tortures people for information (while pointing out she has a magic lasso called the Lasso of Truth, and doing this while they lay in the hospital bed she put them in), and uses her contacts with the police to avoid prosecution. This is very nicely demonstrated when the villain says that Wonder Woman is breaking the law and violating her rights, Wonder Woman rolls her eyes at her like a snotty teenager.

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