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Contempt Crossfire

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A three-character dynamic where Alice and Charlie are diametrically opposed on some subject, with Bob leaning slightly towards one and is disrespected, dismissed or ignored for it by both sides. Bob is often derided by extremists on his own side as being too soft while the opposition sees him as being affiliated with said extremists, while any attempt at defending his views are seen as defending the extremists', and any attempt at conciliation is treated as high treason. Even a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal won't get him any favors with the opposition, and he may even be Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves or at least be the target of many a Pretender Diss.

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Note that Bob can be meant to be sympathetic (for example, if Alice is a Fan Hater, Charlie a Fan Dumb, and Bob a non-obsessive fan of the same work) or unsympathetic (Alice is resisting her country's invaders, Charlie is one of the invaders, Bob is The Quisling, David just wants the fighting to stop).

Compare Category Traitor, Your Approval Fills Me with Shame and Stop Being Stereotypical (the middle character's perception of the extremists), No True Scotsman (the extremist's perception of the middle character), My Species Doth Protest Too Much, With Us or Against Us, The One Thing I Don't Hate About You, and Black and White Insanity. Frequently seen alongside Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves.

Contrast Neutrality Backlash, where leaning towards neither side causes problems.

See also Golden Mean Fallacy, Mediation Backfire, and We ARE Struggling Together.

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In-Universe Examples Only.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Manga & Anime 

    Comic Books 
  • The Punisher: Frank often ends up creating these (with himself as the extremist regarding bringing criminals to justice) when another superhero (usually Daredevil or Spider-Man who just want the criminals arrested) tries to prevent him from killing a criminal. Said criminal usually ends up shooting at both of them, even knowing going with the super means he'll live, albeit in prison.
  • The Punisher MAX:
    • During the "Slavers" arc, a weaselly little Dirty Cop is one of the titular slavers' informants in the police, looked down on by other cops for his brown-nosing. His employers have nothing but contempt for him, referring to him solely as "the little shit" to his face. Frank lets him live to send a message to the slavers' European suppliers, secure in the knowledge that he won't make it back: "The Moldovans won't even leave fingerprints."
    • During the "Man of Stone" arc, Rawlins' Dirty Coward, Smug Snake and Chronic Backstabbing Disorder tendencies are so exacerbated he ends up making General Zakharov look good, and Zakharov's strategy for luring mujaheddin out of cover involved pushing their families (babies included) off a cliff in front of them. By contrast, Zakharov has the greatest respect for Frank, deeming him a Russian born in the wrong country by mistake, and whatever feelings Frank had, he at least gives Zakharov a Mercy Kill. Rawlins's death is considerably messier.
    • "The Cell": The hopelessly corrupt chief warden Leonard reports to Don Drago, saying that they tried to intimidate Frank by showing him the scariest inmate they had (Frank killed him in maybe ten seconds), but they can't kill him without prompting a huge investigation that would reveal just how many guards are on the take or blackmailed. The don says he has a point, then tells him to fuck off: the made men have plans to make. Frank later plants Leonard's name tag on a black drug lord he murdered (and carved a swastika on his face), because Leonard's alibi is that he was having sex with the leader of the neo-Nazi gang.
  • The Boys: Billy Butcher's single goal is to exterminate supers from the face of the Earth. Hughie is well aware that the vast majority of supers are hedonistic Smug Super assholes with entitlement issues, but he also knows that there are some good ones among them (even if they tend towards Dumb Is Good). Once the most dangerous/evil supers are out of the picture, Billy starts turning on his own allies until Hughie kills him.
  • Famously happened in the Batman / Captain America crossover comic book. Since Red Skull is a Nazi, Red Skull is held equally in contempt not only by the heroes, but by The Joker as well (since, by Joker's own admission, Joker is still a proud American even if he is Axe-Crazy).

    Fan Works 
  • Sword Art Online Abridged: In episode 12, we're introduced to Asuna's father, who's decided to marry her off to one of his employees as an alternative to keeping her comatose body in the hospital. However, it quickly becomes apparent that for all the disdain he shows Kirito he couldn't care less about the guy either, not even bothering to get his name even slightly right.
    Asuna's father: Ah, good, you're here! Allow me to introduce you to my daughter's fiancé! Kazuto (Kirito's RL name), Versace. Versace, Kazuto.
    Sugou: (exasperated) Ah ha ha, sir, that's not my name. That was the brand of briefcase I put all the money in.
    Asuna's father: You're sure? It's a pretty cool name. Maybe you should go with it. All classy and Italian, like Ferrari! Ooh, I haven't bought one of those in forever! Excuse me, gentlemen, I need to go call my Ferrari guy!
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    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Elsa is visibly distraught at seeing the Nazis burning books, and is shocked that Indy thought she would give up the diary for incineration. Indy refuses to let it change his opinion of her since she's still working for them.
    Elsa: Is that what you think of me? I stood up for the Grail, not the swastika!
    Indy: You stood up to be counted among the enemies of everything the Grail stands for!
  • In the X-Men movies, Deadpool holds this place in the Mutant Civil War. Neither the X-Men nor the Brotherhood of Mutants want anything to do with him, with the only exceptions being Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus.
  • Django Unchained: Django explains that "house niggers" (slaves who serve in a plantation's mansion rather than in the fields) are the lowest of the low, being looked down by whites for being black and hated by other slaves for their cushy job and Quisling-like position.

    Literature 
  • Discworld:
    • Jingo: Vimes finds himself on the receiving end when he investigates the attempted murder of the Klatchian envoy, finding evidence everywhere that somebody tried to make it look like a Klatchian did it. It actually was the Klatchians (deliberately badly framing themselves), but Vimes was railroading himself into looking for Ankh-Morpork guilt because doing otherwise would make him appear to side with the racist Upperclass Twits (most of which already look down on him for not being of sufficient breeding and daring to think he can actually arrest them) and unthinking lowbrow hotheads in the city.
      You couldn't bring yourself to think the Klatchians had done it. Because that'd line you up with Sergeant Colon and the rest of the Klatchian-fags-are-made-of-camel-dung brigade.
    • Going Postal has Gilt and Vetinari exchanging a look after Upper-Class Twit Horsefry (one of the clacks executives) demonstrates his crass ignorance of Thud (used to demonstrate that Smart People Play Chess):
      Gilt and Vetinari shared a look. It said: While I loathe you and every aspect of your personal philosophy to a depth unplumbable by any line, I'll credit you at least with not being Crispin Horsefry.
    • Unseen Academicals: Ridcully finds himself having to rebuke an unpleasant Obstructive Bureaucrat without looking like it to preserve his authority but let Nutt continue coaching the team.
    • Night Watch: Vimes gets three hitmen sent after him. One of them is clearly in it for the thrills, so he gets selected for interrogation where he instantly breaks down. Not only do the two professionals think he's Not Worth Killing, he later ends up joining Carcer's crew and gets slapped down by him (just to rub it in, Coates was also part of the crew, and he stared down Carcer).
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Gilderoy Lockhart, Miles Gloriosus extraordinaire, is loathed by students (well, male students) and staff alike.
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Harry puts himself between Sirius Black trying to murder Peter Pettigrew to avenge the murders of Harry's parents and Sirius' imprisonment. Harry does this not because he has any sympathy for Pettigrew (he rejects his sniveling attempts at gratitude) but because he wants to think his father wouldn't have approved of his friends killing each other (not to mention the leaving Pettigrew alive to face trial is a Cruel Mercy).
    • Pettigrew appears as this even later: when he tries to get credit for being Lord Voldemort's sole servant between Voldemort's rebirth and the Azkaban breakout, Voldemort laughs at him, pointing out Pettigrew stayed on out of fear of Voldemort's retribution rather than any loyalty or devotion (such as the Lestranges). Even Snape gets in on it, snidely suggesting that he recommend Pettigrew for more dangerous missions than being Snape's housekeeper.
  • Animorphs: Ketran (a Yeerk) has some difficulty convincing the Animorphs that there is such a thing as peaceful Yeerks who oppose taking unwilling hosts, as they've known nothing but Yeerks trying to kill them. Meanwhile the militaristic Yeerks see the peace movement as traitors to the cause and hunt them down.
  • Downplayed to mutual ignorance in Dave Barry's Money Secrets, where one of the reasons newspapers are failing (according to newspaper editors) is that young people don't read the papers, thus changes must be made to make it more enticing, mostly involving giving less actual news, more pieces on celebrities, tattoos, skateboarding, etc. This has the two-pronged result of making older readers cancel their subscriptions (as the paper now looks like a hybrid between a tabloid and a comic book) and younger readers not subscribe (because as noted earlier, young people do not read newspapers).
  • Le Silence de la mer: Werner the German officer quartered in the French home is an Officer and a Gentleman, truly believing in the ideals of the Nazi party and how eliminating the weak will make the world a better place (for their part, his unwilling hosts maintain absolute silence towards him). Then after he meets his brother (now a Card-Carrying Villain delighting in the pain and misery he causes) and learns about the death camps, he finally realizes the brutish, destructive thuggery that the Nazis stand for, and volunteers for the Eastern front.
  • 20 Years After: During the Fronde, Mazarin is well aware that just about the only person who doesn't want him kicked out of France is the queen, whether they're opposing her or part of her faction. His one or two attempts at Still the Leader in front of the prince of Conde get him looks reminding him that "if Conde was defending him, it was neither out of conviction nor enthusiasm".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blackadder:
    • In the second series, Blackadder has nothing but contempt for Lord Melchett for his constant sucking up to the Queen. Melchett hates him right back, constantly scheming to get Blackadder in trouble with the Queen, but must take great care that the Psychopathic Womanchild not decapitate him on a whim either.
    • Blackadder Goes Forth: Captain Blackadder finds himself with an antagonistic relationship with Captain Darling, who abuses his position under General Melchett to make Blackadder's life miserable (and is constantly belittled by Blackadder), but he's ignored and mistreated by the general in turn. It's a sign of just how badly they know they're screwed in the final episode when Darling is volunteered for the big push and neither of them snarks at the other.

    Video Games 
  • Empire Earth: The final English mission gives the Duke of Wellington this feeling, as he's defending a corrupt monarchy busy having a party while he's fighting against a man who tried to give France a better government.
  • Mega Man X4: the game centers on the conflict between the Maverick Hunters (and Zero in particular) and their supposed partners, the Repliforce (and their higher-up Colonel in particular). Iris — Zero's girlfriend of sorts and Colonel's sister — got caught in the tension between the two, with Colonel refusing to stop the coup d'etat and Zero being vehement on stopping Colonel's group at any cost. Iris tries to make the two stop fighting, to no avail. This culminates in Zero slaying Colonel, then a distraught Iris merging Colonel's robotic core with hers and then fighting Zero, who then has to take her down in self-defense. Iris' body got overclocked and she died peacefully on Zero's arms. Cue Zero's anguished scream about questioning his (lack of) reason for fighting and the subsequent Roaring Rampage of Revenge, especially once he knows who's the real mastermind behind the (largely unnecessary and avoidable) conflict of the 2 groups.
  • Runaway synths (Artificial Human) in Fallout 4 truly have it bad from everybody. The Institute that made them considers them to be malfunctioning equipment, which must be forcibly subdued, brought back and mind-wiped. Synths are terrifiedof the prospect of having their mind wiped, seeing it as akin to death. However, the wasteland they escape to, isn’t welcoming of them either, due to long standing paranoia about synths being part of the Institute’s Kill and Replace manipulation of society, as well as possibly being Omnicidal Maniac types, owing to a decades ago massacre. The only people sympathetic to their plight - the Railroad, has to work in secret.

    Web Comics 
  • Sequential Art: Art is told to redo a drawing by both the marketing and censorship departments: one wanting more cleavage or the ad won't sell, one wanting less cleavage or the ad won't air.
  • Ménage à 3: When Yuki and Sonya are fighting over which one is his girlfriend, Gary makes the mistake of suggesting both. The girls instantly turn on him instead.

    Web Original 
  • A Scotsman in Egypt: Despite working for an odiously unworthy king who makes his contempt for him clear, an English general tries to throw a Breaking Speech at the Scottish army he's fighting, about how their leaders are content to throw their men into the grinder and not risk their own hides. One of the Scots points out that true as it may be, he's an Englishman, and that's all the reason they need to fight.

    Western Animation 
  • Frizz and Nug, two unwilling cronies in The Dreamstone, are regularly abused and Press-Ganged by the Big Bad Zordrak or his Co-Dragons, Sgt Blob and Urpgor. The heroes meanwhile either don't know or don't care that either of them are The Drag-Along and often repel them just as violently. The two Urpneys are so aware of their doomed position against either that most episodes they are more focused on evading their job altogether instead of committing much evil.

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