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"Vlad was one of those old-time bad guys with honor and morals, which made him almost one of the good guys. None of us was a saint."

An Anti-Villain is the opposite of an Anti-Hero — a character with heroic goals, personality traits, and/or virtues who is ultimately villainous. Their desired ends are mostly good, but their means of getting there are evil. Alternatively, their desired ends are evil, but on a personal level they are far more ethical or moral than most villains and they thus use fairly benign means to achieve it, and can be heroic on occasion. They could also be someone or something whose desired ends or means are not necessarily "evil" at all, but their actions simply conflict with that of whoever seems to be the protagonist.


They often reach a kind of critical mass that makes them more good than normal villains but not quite heroes, blurring the line between hero and villain the same way an Anti-Hero does, but by coming from the opposite direction.

Anti-Villain is an attempt to lighten up a villain as opposed to an Anti-Hero, which has a tendency to darken the hero. Side by side, it can become very hard to tell them apart. The only reason some would even be considered evil at all is because they're the Designated Villain. Despite this humanizing characterization, they are rarely less dangerous. For instance, heroes wouldn't know what to expect if their enemy shows caring and then attacks their reputation, without giving them an excuse to rationalize killing them.

Most of them are probably well aware that what they're doing is "evil", unlike the blinded Knight Templar, but strive to maintain a façade of good PR, often by engaging in Pragmatic Villainy. They'll see it as a viable means to a (possibly) good end.


In terms of personality, anti-villains are kind-hearted and can be caring and honorable in nature, even towards their enemies, but it can be possible for them to treat their own allies with rudeness, which by its own accord, is a very unusual trait to possess. Moreover, compared to regular villains that are just simply evil, anti-villains are mainly of either the neutral or evil alignments depending on the writers of said characters. Those that are part of the neutral alignments however, aren't exactly benevolent, but they aren't malevolent either, but there also does exist anti-villains that are outright evil in nature, though they still maintain having all of the attributes on what anti-villains usually have in common. They can also be capable of a Heel–Face Turn much more easily than normal villains thanks to their personalities.


It may also be possible to turn a normal villain into an Anti-Villain over time by detailing their Start of Darkness, giving them a Cynicism Catalyst, a Morality Pet, kind episodes, or otherwise retconning them into submission. A Freudian Excuse may explain their actions, but almost never changes them into an Anti-Villain if there is nothing good about their present motivations.

See also the Sliding Scale of Anti-Villains.

Character types particularly prone to anti-villainy and classifying them as such (though many have their share of flat-out villains and heroes, too) include:

See also Villain Protagonist, Hero Antagonist, and Minion with an F in Evil, as well as No Place for Me There. Another way for the Anti-Villain to transcend conventional morality is to completely, utterly set aside limitations and achieve a moral fluidity that prevents himself from crossing the Moral Event Horizon, becoming The Unfettered. For a broad covering of what Anti-Villains can be, see the Sliding Scale of Anti-Villains. Compare Sympathy for the Devil and Satan is Good. See also Evil Virtues.

Compare and contrast Nominal Hero, a character who is often essentially a villain working for the heroes because Even Evil Has Standards. Do not confuse Anti-Villains with members of the Anti-Villain League.


    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Revelation has Agent Washington who is only after the Blood Gulch crew to take Epsilon back to the Chairman so he doesn't have to go to prison. Adding to this, the only reason he has to get Epsilon in the first place is because Caboose didn't turn Epsilon in like Wash told him to.
  • DemonKing from TOME really just needs the money to go back to school, okay?