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Designated Villain / Live-Action TV

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  • In Stargate Atlantis, Bates, Kavanaugh, and Ellis tend to end up in this role. They usually have legitimate concerns or complaints, but because these are against the main cast of characters (Bates seeing Teyla as a security risk, Kavanaugh complaining to Weir about Weir degrading him in public, Ellis wanting McKay to cut the exposition and get to the point), the characters are presented as reactionary jerkasses. There is also a trend of portraying Kavanaugh, in his few appearances, as a coward, even though, every time, he is up against a situation in which his fear is perfectly understandable.
    • In his initial appearance, Kavanaugh's supposed "cowardice" was due to his pointing out his concern that McKay mucking around with the Jumper's drive-pods while the cockpit was demolecularised, could cause a feedback surge that would cause the entire Jumper to explode, sending the fragments back through the gate with the force of a bomb! He's treated as being in the wrong despite his entire team, Zelenka and McKay himself admitting that this was a very real possibility and if it did, they'd only have a few seconds of warning to raise the shield before it took out the gate room!
  • In The Office:
    • The conflict between Andy and Dwight: both were trying to get each other fired, but we're supposed to side with Dwight.
    • Andy becomes this again in the final season, where him is a massive jerkass in order to make the Creator's Pet Nellie sympathetic due to being the constant target of his rage and distaste (and everyone is supposed to forget the fact that she basically stole his job and got him fired) and introduce Pete, a new Love Interest for Erin that was hated from day one.
    • In other episodes, particularly when it comes to clashes with Dwight and Jim, we are always to see Dwight as a villain and Jim as sympathetic, despite the fact that it's been made pretty clear that Jim has made Dwight's life hell for many years without ever being punished or discouraged. In season two it's revealed that Dwight has made at least three hundred complaints against Jim, exactly none of which were taken seriously. While Dwight's demeanor doesn't do him any favors, Jim's pranks really do come across as distracting and childish at best and borderline bullying at worst. This is lampshaded by Jim when he realizes that his pranks don't really sound funny when listed in rapid succession.
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    • Jan is often treated as the true villain of the show for being a selfish megalomaniac. Granted, she is, but so are several other characters; Jan gets away with it less because her cruelty isn’t played for laughs.
    • The UK version of The Office features this trope in regards to Neil Godwin (Brent's boss) who, according to Word of God, we are not supposed to like. His crimes are neatly summed up in The Other Wiki as "He is dismissive towards David's dog and shared a joke with Chris Finch at the expense of David's Christmas party date, Carol." The Christmas party in question doesn't happen until the very last episode.
  • In Scrubs, Lester Hedrick, the grief counselor at Sacred Heart is this in-universe. He arrives to counsel an elderly woman who is dying, despite the cast spending much of the season treating and bonding with her. JD and Dr Cox are openly hostile to him, especially when he tells them frankly that, despite their hopes, the patient isn't going to get better. Nevertheless, he's only shown doing his job with a great deal of compassion, and when Cox and JD go to confront him at his home, they find him counselling a group of terminally ill people who angrily defend him. He tells the pair that he's used to this treatment from doctors, because he forces them to face the fact that there are people they simply can't save.
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  • iCarly: In some episodes, Freddie comes across as this, most jarringly in "iMeet Fred" where he is ostracised and nearly killed for saying he didn't think Fred was that funny, and no one seems to have a problem with it.
  • In The House: While Maxwell is a jerk with a heart of gold many of the antics of Marion and Tonia put him into this role. Not only does he not get any say in the clinic that he’s a partner of because they work against him, but many of the pranks they play on him are incredibly cruel. When Mercedes proposes to Maxwell is a perfect example. At first Max was perfectly content with this development; however Marions repeated shots at his manhood eventually caused him to think up some ridicules scheme to redo the proposal, which almost ruined their relationship. However in the end Maxwell was the only one who had to apologize.
    • Marion and Maxwell are this with respect to Tonia. Like SpongeBob Tonia can be incredibly destructive and annoying yet Marion and Maxwell wanting to spend sometime away from her is depicted as incredibly selfish.
  • In the early Babylon 5 episode "Survivors", Leanna Kemmer is the Designated Villain for most of the episode...because, after a witness names Garibaldi as a saboteur, and plans for a bomb are found in his quarters along with a whole lot of alien money, Ms. Kemmer (who is in charge of security for an impending visit by the President of Earth) wants to lock him up. Yes, she has a personal grudge against him, but anyone in her position would want to lock Garibaldi up and would be right in doing so. Seriously, Garibaldi, Ivanova, and Sinclair should all have been court-martialed for their efforts to obstruct her.
  • The Twilight Zone: In a particularly famous episode, "Time Enough at Last", Burgess Meredith plays a bookworm type who spends the whole episode being abused by every person he meets, and only wants to be alone with his books. Then a nuke wipes out the entire city while he's safe in a bank vault, and he's finally free to read his books in peace...until his reading glasses break. Unfair Cruel Twist Ending? No, Word of God says that this was his just punishment for his misanthropy.
  • Legend of the Seeker:
    • In the episode "Broken", Cara is on trial for the atrocities she committed as a Mord'Sith. To her defense, it is revealed that Mord'Sith are actually abducted as young girls, then horribly tortured and brainwashed until they become heartless killing machines. They were unwilling victims of the D'Haran more than anything else. Cara is ultimately forgiven for this reason. However, during the trial, they arrest another Mord'Sith hiding in the audience: Cara's mentor, the one who abducted and trained her. They then proceed to condemn this woman to what is described as the most painful death in existence. Everybody seems oblivious that, as a Mord'Sith, this woman endured the same fate as Cara, and so is every bit as much of a victim... (It could be argued that Cara was forgiven because she was a victim AND repented, while the other Mord'Sith did not repent and would have gone on killing. This does not make the Mord'Sith any less of a Designated Villain, but the death of Cara's mentor is at least somewhat justified.)
    • Cara also helped overthrow the evil overlord who was in charge of the brainwashing. So, it could be argued that she had broken her brainwashing and was already helping people without anyone forcing her to. Cara was also happy for them to kill her.
    • Panis Rahl is also treated as a big villain in the episode where he appears. Why? Because Zedd's brother reveals that Panis murdered their father while disguising himself as Zedd. The problem? Their father admitted to Panis (thinking it was his son) that he was trying to murder Panis's infant son. Yes, said boy would grow up to become the Big Bad Darken Rahl, but what father wouldn't do anything he could to protect his child? And he definitely felt remorse for the act, especially since Panis and Zedd were good friends back in the day. Of course, there's also the business of seducing Zedd's daughter while also in disguise, resulting in Richard. The series clearly paints him as a villain in such a way as to make Redemption Equals Death the only way out.
  • Mr. Moseby in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody is the hotel manager who is often viewed as the antagonist for scolding the titular twins when the latter two treat the hotel as a playground when he is only doing his job to keep the hotel under control. This gets even more egregious in the episode where Zack and Cody turn into superheroes and Moseby is the villain who uses a ray that turns children into adults.
  • Possibly used in Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, where people like Sandra and Coach could hardly be considered villains (lampshaded when Jeff Probst asks if anyone thinks they were put on the wrong team); and Rob, who (shockingly) played the game more heroically than most of the Heroes, to the point where he outright states he's "not a good villain".
  • Diana Marshall (played by Jane Badler of V (1983)) was heavily publicized as a villain prior to her introduction on Neighbours, on the basis of her ruthlessness in her quest to bring down Paul and Rosemary. But given that Paul was responsible for embezzling thousands of dollars from his business and Rosemary's willingness to let her nephew get away with it, it's not hard to see Diana as justified in her actions and to want her to win.
  • Star Trek:
    • A particularly controversial character in the Star Trek: The Next Generation fandom is Captain Edward Jellico from the two-part episode "Chain of Command". Commanding the Enterprise-D when Captain Picard was off on an espionage mission, he apparently was supposed to come off as a martinet, as evidenced by his changing everything for no good reason other than because he could, disregarding perfectly valid advice, and generally acting like a jerk. However, when the chips were down, he proved an outstanding commanding officer who singlehandedly stopped a war, recovered the captured Picard (who, caught red-handed as a spy, had no expectation of being returned), and refrained from tossing Riker out the nearest airlock which the character badly deserved it for his childish petulance during the two-part episode. He could certainly be seen as a Jerkass, but when a guy who can at worst be said to be a jerk, successfully defeats an enemy who has no problem setting up a trap so that they could capture Picard and brutally torture him for information necessary to invade the Federation it seems rather petty to complain about how he changed the schedule around.
    • The entire Vulcan race suffers from this in Star Trek: Enterprise. One problem is that the writers would often try to make the Humans look good by making the Vulcans look bad; which unfortunately falls flat as the Enterprise crew often come across as so reckless and foolish in the first two seasons, the Vulcans honestly seem right in their belief that their species shouldn't have left the cradle yet.
  • Merlin (2008):
    • Several Monster of the Week would fall under this category. Most of them are magical beings that just want revenge on Uther, who admittedly did commit genocide, even if they usually take it too far by jeopardizing his son Arthur or the rest of innocent citizens of Camelot.
    • Mordred, who, in this version, is played by a child. We're supposed to view Mordred as a Creepy Child because the show plays ominous music over extreme close-ups of his large blue eyes, but all that's played out on screen is a kid who's been hunted, persecuted, and had everyone he's ever loved killed by the people who are generally considered "the good team". He uses his magical powers to kill a group of knights advancing on him with swords drawn, clearly preparing to kill him - this was apparently meant to prove to the audience that he's evil incarnate, even though the good guys make self-defensive kills all the time.
      • When Mordred reappears as a young adult in series 5, the results are...muddled. At first, he very much fits this trope: He saves Merlin and Arthur's lives more than once and proves his loyalty to them, yet Merlin insists on seeing him as evil to the point of twice leaving him to die (even choosing to encourage Arthur to continue persecuting magic users rather than save Mordred). When Mordred's Face–Heel Turn finally comes, it's because Arthur has the woman he loved executed. Understandable but perhaps unfair, since she had tried to murder Arthur and he was prepared to show her mercy if she had shown any sign of wanting peace. (Although Merlin didn't help by abruptly deciding the best way to reconcile Arthur and Mordred was to foil Mordred's attempts to take her away from the area peacefully.) In the end, Mordred dies after less than two episodes as a Type II Anti-Villain, during which he only really qualifies as a villain because he's on Morgana's side and shows clear distaste at her more ruthless acts.
    • Morgana in the first two series. What she has done is no worse than what Merlin has done to his own kind, including her, yet he is viewed as the hero and she the villain. Like Mordred, at first she is only a villain because Merlin believed the dragon when he said she was.
  • Sheriff Don Lamb on Veronica Mars can come across like this. While certainly a deeply unpleasant man who has done some shocking things (dismissing Veronica's rape in the pilot may as well have been stabbing a puppy), he is not the type the writers are clearly trying to show him as. The fact that people seem far more comfortable putting their trust in a teenage girl and rarely, if ever, actually report crimes kind of makes the argument for incompetence difficult. He never really asked for the job but came into it when Keith was forced to resign for chasing a lead (which later turned out to be wrong anyway) and that he is likely just trying to keep his job (seeing Keith fired was probably a sobering lesson in the virtues of not upsetting the apple cart). This, combined with his backstory of parental abuse, as well as the fact that he seems to be at least somewhat liked and a good boss to his men, can make one far more sympathetic to him than the writers had probably intended. The 2014 movie remedied this by replacing him with his older brother Dan Lamb, who was noticeably more venal and corrupt.
  • Charmed:
    • A cafe owner in the incredibly Anvilicious episode "The Bare Witch Project" gets a verbal putdown from Phoebe at the end in public while dressed as Lady Godiva, claiming that "he wants women to be barefoot and pregnant". His crime? Asking Piper politely to not breast feed her son in his cafe after customers had complained about it. That's right, the customers complained yet Phoebe shoots the messenger instead.
    • She specifically puts him down as a sexist pig. However, there were many customers in the cafe, and a good number of women. It's just as likely that some of the women complained about it than only men.
    • Cole in Season 5 got hit with this especially hard after he came back from the dead. For most of the season the sisters, Phoebe especially, felt that he was evil and planning on killing the sisters. The problem is that most of the time Cole never did anything wrong and if he did to something morally dubious it was usually to help the Charmed Ones in some way. Yet despite saving their asses time and time again he would continually get shit on by everyone around him. It's especially Anvilicious when the show tried to justify their behaviour by saying that Cole became the Source, despite the fact that he unwillingly became the Source due to the Seers' Batman Gambit and Phoebe willingly joined evil but is never called up on it. Obscurus Lupa more or less pointed out that it seems when Cole finally did become evil it was more because he was brow beaten into doing it rather then actually being evil. Yeah, there's a reason that Phoebe became The Scrappy to a lot of fans.
      • Cole never explains that he became the Source unwillingly to any of the sisters, and pushes Phoebe hard to restart their relationship despite her going through a traumatic Mind Rape and magical miscarriage prior to his death. Plus he was some form of immortal jacked up on the power of numerous demons who was not emotionally stable. The sisters wanting to keep him away from Phoebe is well justified, but a few mediation sessions might have worked better than repeatedly trying to kill him.
  • The West Wing:
    • Former Vice President John Hoynes. The writers obviously want us to view him as a sleazy backstabber desperately clinging his way back to the top. Instead he comes across as a broken man venting his anger at years of disrespect and mistreatment at the hands of the President and White House staff. The fact that Hoynes was almost a lock for the nomination before Bartlet came along (only at the pestering of Leo and others) and swept the primaries goes without mention, as does the work Hoynes put in to help the House get bills passed (using methods far less devious than what Josh had employed). He even resigned as Vice President to spare the office and his family any more bad publicity. Not exactly the devious Smug Snake he's constantly painted as.
    • Admittedly, this often depends on the episode. Josh and Leo like or at least respect Hoynes, and several episodes give him acknowledged Pet the Dog moments, like inviting Leo to his AA meeting or taking his name off an education bill he sponsored to ensure its passage. Leo himself says that the staff respects Hoynes, they just don't trust him.
    • His successor, "Bingo Bob" Russell, fares no better and for even less cause. At least Hoynes caused a sex scandal (that is, he did something wrong) which could justify the main cast's hatred of him (if they'd known about it before it was exposed). Russell didn't even have that much. He was a choice forced on the West Wing by the Republicans because he had a reputation as a lightweight, and it was hoped he wouldn't be much competition to Republicans wanting to run for President in the next election. Russell is aware of his bad reputation and is determined to rise above it, but the rest of the cast doesn't care. While trying to write the speech announcing his Vice Presidency, Toby rants a mock speech on how much they all genuinely despise him that accidentally winds up on the teleprompter. Russell sees it, but is remarkably good-humored about it. Russell does manage to rise above expectations and be an effective Vice President, and (to the dismay of those Republicans who selected him) is able to become the front runner for most of the campaign to be the presidential nominee... and the rest of the cast still hates his guts. The worst thing we ever see him do is give a speech in the Iowa caucus praising ethanol, even though he and everyone else in-universe "knows" ethanol is crap. But you know Josh's candidate for President, Santos, the man who, according to Josh, is "twice the man Russell is on his best days, ten times, and Russell doesn't have very many best days," that Santos? He did the exact same damn thing. Because praising ethanol is one of the things you do if you're trying to win in Iowa, regardless of whether you believe it. Really, it seemed like the office of Vice President on this show was the place to put the guy who was on the same side as the main cast whom the main cast could despise, even if the reason why they despised him was always left a little vague.
    • Though 'villain' is a little harsh. None of the main cast seem to have much against him personally, they just think he's unqualified for his position, and are frustrated at the political realities that put him there. There's a difference between hating someone and not thinking they should be President.
    • Also it is strongly implied Russell was involved in leaking information regarding the President's daughter controversially lab research as a means to distance himself from Bartlett politically, not only causing a minor media frenzy, but also subjecting the President's family to attacks.
  • The treatment of Internal Affairs (aka "The Rat Squad") in Law & Order, especially. They also treat defense attorneys this way on the courtroom side of the show all the time. Presenting them as smooth talking con artist that only care about making headlines by defending their clients, instead of having a genuine passion for the job. Prosecuting attorneys are also sometimes shown this way, if they refuse to bring charges against someone, just because the protagonist police think they are guilty.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • The show often veers into this, presenting the officers of the division as little more than self-important, vindictive assholes targeting the main characters purely out of spite, despite their usually deserving far more censure than they inevitably end up getting. The audience is often expected to dislike them for investigating cops for crimes we the audience know they didn't commit, even though they have sufficient evidence to look into it (in spite of the fact that the detectives often investigate the lives of innocent people all the time- it's just part of the job). And the fact that the police on the show have a tendency to do not-entirely-legal things doesn't help.
    • Defense attorneys, too. In Real Life their job is to make sure the prosecution has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt, whereas Law and Order would have you believe they're all smug social-climbers who'll do anything up to and including knowingly let murderers go free for a bit of publicity. The bad guy's lawyer in the SVU episode "Hate" is a particularly striking example: he's perfectly okay - happy, even - with letting a serial hate-murderer walk if it means his Chewbacca Defense that racism is genetic gets on the books. (The show gets better about this one in later seasons.)
    • Several guest characters on SVU qualify for this, often of the There Should Be a Law variety. One guy was the normal-looking boyfriend of a young woman with Turner Syndrome, who thus looked like a young child despite being (barely) legal. The detectives spend most of the episode trying to find something to nail the guy on, even hauling him into court several times, only to have all their attempts turned down by judges. We're supposed to side with them. Admittedly, the age gap is still significant verging on creepy (he's still literally ), but one wonders if they would have paid that much attention if she actually looked 17 instead of like a little kid.
  • Logan on one episode of Zoey 101. After screaming at Dustin over the phone because Dustin made a mistake, Logan was enrolled in anger management classes. He gets out of them early, but needs to be monitored by his teacher. If he can go a day without getting angry, he gets to be out of the classes. So what do the main characters do? Play tons of cruel tricks on him to get him to snap, tricks that anyone would rightfully get mad at (such as attacking him with paint-filled balloons). Logan manages to go the entire day without getting angry at anyone, until the teacher finally leaves. He then, of course, yells at the others, and is taken back to anger management.
  • All My Children:
    • Adam Chandler frequently got this treatment. Granted he wasn't exactly a saint and did do some pretty horrible stuff, but a lot of people in Pine Valley (particularly Tad Martin) equally did terrible things to Adam. It more or less became an unofficial rule amongst Pine Valley residents that Adam wasn't allowed to have children, and that if he did then he wasn't allowed to raise them because they didn't want the children tainted by the "Chandler Influence". So when he fathered both JR and Colby on separate occasions, he was barred from having a relationship with either one of them. Colby was even kidnapped by Liza and spirited away, and Adam never met her until she was a teenager!! But all of these actions were shown as justified because of the fact they happened to Adam. More poignantly is the fact that the show somehow managed to blame Adam for the switching baby fiasco with JR and Bianca's babies, just for the mere fact that he threatened Paul Cramer—the actual kidnapper—to tell him where his grandchild was!!
      • Or when he sues ex-wife Dixie for custody of JR, after discovering that Dixie has been sleeping around and that her latest conquest is a barely-legal teenage boy (his daughter Hayley's ex)—and he is the one vilified in the whole thing, to the point where even Hayley eventually takes Dixie's side, while Dixie's promiscuous, irresponsible behavior is glossed over. This borders on The Unfair Sex if not outright hypocrisy, as Dixie frequently tried to wrest custody from Adam over far lesser issues, including his multiple wives and girlfriends.
    • True to Chandler fashion, JR also received this treatment after he married Babe Carey. Babe, a young woman who'd committed bigamy, was found to have slept through high school to get her diploma, and had an affair with JR's own brother Jamie the night of their wedding. The stress of his marriage to Babe had JR turning to alcohol and he became an alcoholic—ironically used by the other characters to "prove" what a monster he'd become. Granted both JR and Babe were also victims of the baby-switch (they didn't know initially that their daughter Bess was actually Bianca's daughter Miranda), but Babe found out eventually and kept the secret from both JR and Bianca for well over a year—until she found out their son was actually alive. However she kept the lies rolling, telling JR their son was dead and Miranda was ripped from his arms by the citizens of Pine Valley to be returned to Bianca. And when all the truths came out—that his son was really alive and Babe had started most of the lies—most of the residents in Pine Valley didn't see a problem with it. They felt Babe was perfectly justified in lying to JR in such a way and denying him his son for the exact same reason they'd denied Adam his children. And when JR started fighting for custody of his son, he was vilified by the town and the show for daring to go after Babe and separate their child from his mother. The only people who sided with JR in any of this were Adam, Bianca's mother Erica, and Bianca's sister Kendall. Even Kevin Buchanan, the man who'd been raising the baby as his son and whom Babe kidnapped him from, sided with Babe against JR!! Even Bianca, the one person more victimized by Babe's lies than JR, inexplicably sided with Babe against JR!! The show even expected viewers to be outraged when JR did win full custody and Babe only got minor visitation rights!!
  • Used in an unfortunate manner with Holly Lindsay in Guiding Light, during her feud with her daughter Blake. Blake decided to steal Holly's boyfriend Ross just to spite her, though it's quickly rewritten that Blake loved Ross all along. Holly is then vilified for being angry about it, and she's told repeatedly by Ross and other people that she didn't deserve to be angry because Ross "never made her any promises". They were boyfriend and girlfriend and had been longtime friends—one would think promises didn't need to be made. Furthermore she is emotionally blackmailed by both Ross and Blake to keep their affair a secret from Holly's ex-husband and Blake's father, Roger Thorpe, because Ross was Roger's bitter rival and because of the substantial age difference between Ross and Blake. The stress of the situation has Holly turning to alcohol, and she's written as a drunk lunatic—any confrontational scenes she has with Blake makes Blake look like an innocent victim of her raving drunk mother. Even though Blake up to that point had already made history by breaking up marriages and sleeping her way through the Spaulding family, the viewers were expected to believe that Holly had always been emotionally abusive to Blake and that was why Blake turned out the way she did and deserved to be happy. Longtime friends of Holly, and people who'd been victims of Blake's manipulations in the past, championed for Blake's happiness. Granted, Blake finally did make her peace with Holly and Ross and Blake became a supercouple of the show, but their beginnings were at the expense of Holly's happiness, much to the indifference of Springfield and the writers.
  • Bones: Oliver Wells is a perfect example of this trope the audience is supposes to dislike him because everyone in the cast does, even Dr. Brennan. He is portrayed as having a wide range of interests, ranging from Physics to Psychology, and considers himself to be very open-minded, even on subjects like time travel or if there is life after death. In fact the only reason Dr Brennan doesn’t like him is because he’s smarter than her. Not only does he repeatedly correct her mistakes but he doesn’t let her derail a conversation with him by introducing unrelated topics. In the end she proves herself by finally stumping him.
    • The writers stressed his social awkwardness during his second appearance focusing on all of his negative traits and repeatedly stating he had no friends even though he and Dr. Hodgins got along really well last time. However in the end it showed the same thing the cast don’t like him because he treats them the same way they treat everyone else they meet. Talking down to then, correcting their mistakes, congratulating them when they get something correct, and refusing to dumb himself down.
  • From the Earth to the Moon has one of the better examples of this trope in Senator Mondale in the episode Apollo 1. At first, Mondale seems like someone who wants to stop the space program and focus on things other than landing a man on the moon simply as a political maneuver, but as the episode progresses, it becomes clear that he isn't doing this just to for political ends and that he seriously believes the money NASA receives could be put to better use by feeding and educating those less fortunate.
  • Bonanza:
    • In "The Saga of Annie O'Toole", Gregory Spain is this. When he comes to claim a piece of land that the eponymous Annie is illegally squatting on, he is immediately made out to be the villain by everyone involved, particularly Annie, who recounts how Spain scammed her father out of profits in the bar they worked in. Unfortunately, the events of the episode suggest that Annie is far more dishonest than Gregory: Spain provides proof of ownership, and various pieces of circumstantial evidence point to Spain's ownership of the plot. When the matter is brought to Miner's Court, Spain obeys every command the judge gives without question. Even when he goes to attempt to take the claim by force, he does so within the bounds of the law, and only uses the required force needed to take the claim (as he can by rights have everyone on the claim shot, but he merely holds them up). For Annie's part, she forges papers to confuse the issue, destroys the circumstantial evidence to remove any corroborating proof, and in Miner's Court, shows contempt for the judge at every turn. Also, when cooking meals for the miners, she raises the prices for meals like ham and eggs from a reasonable 1.50 in 1860's money (about 25 bucks today), to over 15 dollars by episode's end (over 350 bucks in today's currency). But somehow, we're supposed to think that Spain is the crook...
  • Elvin on The Cosby Show was this when he was first introduced as a Straw Misogynist. Sure, he did and said a few stupid things (like forgetting he had a date with Sondra, or claiming that baking and cooking was a "women's job"). But really, the guy was a harmless doofus, who never would have hurt Sondra on purpose. And yet, her parents treated him as if he was the biggest scum on Earth. But it later got better, and Elvin got married to Sondra.
  • ER had Recurring Character Roger McGrath, stepfather to Peter Benton's son Reese. When Carla, Peter's ex and Roger's wife, dies in a car accident, Roger sues Peter for custody. We're supposed to side with Peter, despite the fact that he has very few arguments as to why he would be a better father beyond First Father Wins, and at one point forces his current girlfriend, Dr. Cleo Finch, to commit perjury to help his case. Even stranger is the fact that Roger's actor was also one of the shows producers, so you'd think he could've changed things to make the playing field a bit more even.
  • The Christmas special in the Norwegian sitcom Mot i Brøstet has Karl set up as the bad guy since he insists that they should celebrate Christmas in the old fashioned way, much to the other's displeasure, but even before that the rest were shamelessly demanding expensive gifts from him since he earned a lot of money on the stock market.
  • The security guard in the Muppet special The Muppets at Walt Disney World is already on his last chance after a number of past mistakes (including losing many of the keys to the park). When the Muppets break in without paying, he sets out to capture them. Eventually, he does capture them all, but it turns out Kermit and Mickey Mouse are old friends, so the Muppets don't get in trouble, while in his last scene the guard is shown scraping gum off the bottom of a bench, presumably demoted for his actions, even though he did capture characters who broke in without paying (and had no idea his boss was friends with one of them).
  • Doctor Who
    • Roderick from "Bad Wolf", the winner of the deadly future version of The Weakest Link. While he is a bit of a jerk he is, like all the other players, just trying to survive the game. And while Rose treats him as horrible because of the way he is voting, he points out he wants to go against her at the end so he doesn't get disintegrated. Bear in mind it's very likely all the contestants were forced into this game. Slightly justified, however, since he doesn't show any regret about killing other participants, but is actually quite gleeful about it. Every other participants we see is stressed and scared of the situation, and we even see them being supportive to each other, while Roderick only thinks about how many money he's going to win. It could be argued that he is basically just a Pragmatic Villain.
    • The Metacrisis Doctor from "Journey's End". The Doctor treats him as wrong for wiping out the Always Chaotic Evil Daleks after he had temporarily incapacitated them just after they attempted to destroy the universe. Bear in mind, it's never made clear exactly how the Doctor intended to deal with the Daleks, and the Metacrisis Doctor says this Dalek army has the capacity to slaughter the cosmos. And the fact that the few Daleks who survive this are able to rebuild their Empire and bring more death and misery to the universe just proves he was right. The Doctor's mentality comes across as bizarre considering that in the Daleks' previous appearance, the Doctor not killing the last Dalek caused the events of "Journey's End".
  • The Young and the Restless. When Carmen Mesta came to town, she quickly took up with Neil Winters, who was estranged from his wife Dru, having just discovered that she cheated on him with his brother and that he's actually the uncle of the daughter he's raised for 15 years. When Dru returned to town, she was enraged to discover Neil and Carmen's fling and promptly broke into Carmen's apartment and trashed it. When Carmen filed charges and a restraining order against Dru, all of sudden SHE was made into the bad guy. Her and Neil's mutual relationship was suddenly spun as her being The Vamp out to wreck a blissfully happy marriage and her filing a complaint against Dru was made to look like the vindictive act of a Woman Scorned. When Dru put her in a headlock following another argument and she filed new charges regarding the physical assault and violation of the restraining order, this attitude was ramped up even more until Carmen became the Asshole Victim in a murder mystery that had every member of the Winters' family as a suspect. No one ever thought to call Dru out for her crazed—and hypocritical—behavior and Carmen was made out to be a vengeful bitch out to ruin Dru's life rather than someone who had every right to do what she did, given Dru's actions.
  • Griffin Grey from Season 2 of The Flash (2014). Unlike other Villains of the Week who have their legitimate share of villainy, the only thing he did was kidnapping Dr. Wells, which he did because his metahuman power (Super Strength Cast from Lifespan) was killing him, and he wanted Wells to make an antidote. It's not even like he kidnapped some random scientist, he kidnapped Wells specifically because he thought that Wells was responsible for his condition in the first place (correctly, but he didn't know he got the wrong Wells). Despite this he's treated just like every other Villain of the Week, and ultimately dies from overusing his power while fighting the Flash.
  • The school administration in Beverly Hills, 90210's infamous "Donna Martin Graduates" storyline. Before the senior prom, it is explicitly stated that anyone having or consuming alcohol at the dance will be suspended, not allowed to attend graduation, and have to attend summer school. So Donna gets drunk, gets caught, gets punished, and somehow, the viewer is supposed to see the administration as the bad guys. Donna's mother Felice was also frequently portrayed as an overbearing bitch, and she was portrayed this way again during this storyline. But she has every right to be angry at the parents who served her underage daughter alcohol and at Donna herself, who drank the champagne.
  • More of a borderline example, and often Depending on the Writer, would be Dr. Alfred Bellows from I Dream of Jeannie. He's not a bad person, and doesn't seem to dislike Major Nelson, quite the opposite, actually. In fact, the worst you could say about him is he's a tad arrogant. However, most episodes usually have him trying to expose whatever weird crap Jeannie did that week, which puts him in the position of antagonist, and frequently sees him humiliated and /or thinking he's going crazy simply because he's trying to do his damn job! note 
  • For all the crap she gets, Priya from The Big Bang Theory isn't as bad as she's often claimed to be. True, she was a bit more serious and less accepting of Leonard's more nerdier hobbies (a description that could also apply to Penny as well) and, while she didn't want him hanging around Penny during the time they dated, it's not such an unreasonable request to ask your boyfriend to not pal around with a former flame. Yet all the girls act like she a terrible person, despite her not doing anything bad outside of dating Leonard and Sheldon disliked her for finding loopholes in his "Roommate Agreement," which was intentionally biased to favor him anyway. Though her reconciling with her ex after moving back to India, despite still being in a relationship with Leonard, can be seen as a real dick move, that comes off as more Derailing Love Interests than any inherent nastiness on her part.
  • Maximus, the main villain of Inhumans. What's his motivation? To end a Fantastic Caste System in his society. Okay, but surely the good guys agree with him and just disagree with his methods? Actually, they're the primary benefactors of the system and want it to stay in place for good. Getting pretty suspect here, but maybe his plan itself is evil? Nope: it's a largely bloodless coup deposing (not even killing) the smallish royal family of the show's protagonists and executing or exiling the people who were responsible for the system to begin with. But maybe that's just his Start of Darkness and he becomes progressively more violent and extreme as the show goes on? Er... not really. The only truly selfish and harmful thing he does would probably be an act of self-preservation against the wishes of the people he liberated (which happens in the last episode), and everything else is just killing people who were either murderers themselves or actively plotting to kill him. The show does such a spectacularly bad job of making him seem evil (not helped by the protagonists themselves being far worse) that many reviewers claimed to be rooting for him!
  • In 24, the seventh season introduces Senator Blaine Meyer, an Obstructive Bureaucrat who is a leading a Senate hearing on human rights violations at CTU (which has just been disbanded), and hauls Jack Bauer before a committee to explain his actions. Meyer's behavior and dialogue indicates that he's already all-but-convicted Bauer, and acts smug and short-tempered as he accuses the latter of treating suspects terribly. The problem is that he's absolutely right. Not only was CTU an absolute failure as an agency (to such a point it exemplified Swiss Cheese Security — it was the site of at least two takeovers by terrorists, the site of a nerve gas attack, several workplace shootings, a bombing, multiple incidents of workplace violence and numerous fatalities), but other CTU staffers routinely tortured suspects, with diminishing success as time wore on and the previous season proving it didn't even work (CTU spent hours torturing an employee who was revealed to have not known anything about what they were investigating). Jack himself assaulted and tortured multiple suspects, with the showrunners doing very little to dissuade viewers that his methods weren't needed. In light of all that, it's no wonder why Meyer is abrupt and smug towards Jack (though this lessens right before the Senator is killed by an assassin midway through the season).
  • Played for Laughs in the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode "Mr. Neutron." The narrator and the other characters repeatedly describe Mr. Neutron as a terrifyingly evil intergalactic conqueror who's planning on destroying the Earth as well, but we never see him actually do anything even remotely evil, except flirt with a married woman, and is actually a pretty nice (albeit eccentric) fellow.
  • Dawn Buckets, the older sister of the titular Kirby Buckets, is supposed to be the main antagonist of the show, and she was indeed presented as a Big Sister Bully and Killjoy to Kirby during the beginning of the show's run. However, she usually was involved in her own plots on the show, leaving her most villainous traits not working without Kirby as a foil, and they were for the most part dropped pretty quickly, with her original personality only occasionally showing up since then. Since then, Dawn was usually portrayed as a Cosmic Plaything in her universe who always felt she was getting the short end of the stick both at home and out in public, and she is clearly a Jerkass Woobie.

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