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Designated Hero

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Yeah, sure is definitely The Hero alright. note 
"Even though our hero does as much if not more damage than the villain, the writer will still make the story demand you root for him even as he slaughters orphans along with the couples who were about to adopt them."
Terrible Writing Advice, "Grimdark"

A Designated Hero is a character who, despite being presented as The Hero within a story, doesn't actually do anything heroic. The narrative paints their actions in a heroic light, despite their behaviour lining up to morally ambiguous or even outright villainous actions. A normal Anti-Hero is typically shown to be conflicted and struggle with choosing between right and wrong, but the Designated Hero is treated as unambiguously heroic. From the praise these Designated Heroes receive from other characters, the narrative, and perhaps Word of God, it is plain that the audience is expected to root for them. However, they often have only superficial virtues, with no Character Development and a free pass from the consequences of their actions (because they're already perfect and don't need to learn any moral lessons).

Note that Values Dissonance can sometimes be a factor with this, since the exact definition of what constitutes heroism has changed over time; a character that comes across as a Designated Hero to a modern audience might well have been The Paragon when the story was written in Feudal Japan or Ancient Rome. Of course, even in modern society, people will have different standards of what constitutes heroism between or within cultures. Such writing might inspire audiences to begin Rooting for the Empire, because they see the villains as "better" than the heroes.

The Inverse is a Designated Villain, who the narrative depicts as villainous despite not doing anything wrong. This is often because everything they say gets accompanied by an annoying smirk. These two reactions tend to go hand-in-hand, especially if the "villain" is considered such solely because they oppose the "hero". This is not a requirement, as a Designated Hero could easily oppose a genuine villain that they may be very similar to. This reaction to the writing can also be seen as the inversion to a Villain Protagonist, who is presented as the person that the story is about, but not as a person who guides the moral compass of the story; rather the opposite. A work with a sympathetic Villain Protagonist may attempt to invoke this reaction by making the hero who opposes them a Smug Super or some other deeply flawed and unlikable character. Ironically, a badly done Villain Protagonist can lead to audiences misunderstanding the author's intentions and be perceived as a Designated Hero.

If the character is publicly perceived as heroic and/or believes themselves to be a Hero, but is still shown to be villainous within the narrative context of the work, then they're a Villain with Good Publicity and/or a Knight Templar. If a character is a good guy on paper, but doesn't do much that's "heroic" by dint of the fact that they simply don't do much of anything and lack agency when they do, then they are a Pinball Protagonist. An extreme example of Designated Hero is when the character that a sensible work would treat as a monstrous villain is portrayed as The Hero or a Big Good.

Note: In-Universe examples or Intentional ones go to Nominal Hero, Evil Hero, or Villain Protagonist.

Example subpages

Other examples

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  • The Miller Lite beer commercials have a guy enjoying time with his girlfriend; he mentions it's been 30 days and he thinks he's found something special. Just when we think he's talking about his girlfriend, he opens up his refrigerator and reveals the Miller Lite home draft. He even moves her out of the way. (This is a parody of the E-Harmony dating service commercials.)
  • The kids of the "Trix are for kids" advertising campaign love to torment the Trix Rabbit with the fact that he will never ever get to eat the cereal.
    • By far the most ridiculous example was when the rabbit legitimately purchased some Trix with his own money, only for the kids to take it away when he left the store, essentially mugging the poor bastard. Nobody points out the sadistic glee the kids seem to take in excluding and denying the rabbit over and over. And refusing to share your cereal is one thing, but flat-out stealing it from somebody is quite another.
    • Both times the Trix rabbit scores some Trix was due to two separate popular votes overwhelmingly supportive of his goal to get the sugary cereal. By that point, even kids were like "just give him the damn cereal you insensitive jerk-offs".
    • This made sense in earlier commercials (1960s-80s), where the rabbit was actually trying to steal the Trix from the children. Later commercials lost this, probably as a result of But Not Too Evil.
    • It's gotten to the point where if the Trix Rabbit even dreams of enjoying Trix products, the kids come along and steal them away.
  • The kids from the Lucky Charms commercials, who will incessantly hound and chase after Lucky the Leprechaun to take his cereal. It's not as bad as the Trix example since Lucky is clearly toying with them. (Otherwise, he wouldn't always be singing "Try me Lucky Charms - they're magically delicious!")
  • In some of the commercials for Golden Crisp, mascot Sugar Bear came across as this. He was always pursuing Granny Goodwitch to steal her cereal instead of getting his own, even though she never did anything to him except try to hide from him so she could finish her cereal, and share it with him during the Christmas season. There were numerous Golden Crisp throughout the 90s where the Sugar Crisp bear would actively steal the cereal. One would have him break in the factory at night and rush off with its entire contents, another would have him hijack a delivery truck full of the stuff, all the while singing off his "Can't get enough of that Sugar Crisp" slogan, coming off much more as a smug addict than anything worth sympathy.
  • There's Barney, who would constantly come up with scatterbrained schemes, just so he could steal Fred's Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles, instead of buying his own.
    • Some of the earlier commercials even had him break the fourth wall, winking at the audience while bragging how he'd trick Fred and steal his cereal, as though the audience is supposed to find this funny and charming.
    • In one ad, he went as far as to disguise himself as a villain called the Purple Phantom and told Fred that Barney was being held hostage, which means he uses the very friendship he has with Fred as a tool to get Fred to hand over a box of cereal.
    • Another commercial, similar to the Trix commercial mentioned above, has Barney steal the cereal from Fred's dreams.
    • In a Robot Chicken parody, Barney is hanged after he kills Fred for his cereal and then kills all the animal appliances for witnessing the crime.
      Barney: Damn it, Fred, I just wanted some of your f***ing cereal.
  • A detergent ad sees two obviously busy parents busy with last minute packing when their daughter comes in insisting that they have to do her laundry despite the facts that they're clearly shown to be busy, that this is something that needs to be done, and that she's old enough to do her own laundry.
  • Rumors about the "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" commercials with the dorky lovable PC and stuck-up Mac abound that the audience is supposed to prefer Mac Guy.
    Robert Webb: It was a confused campaign. I was the unlikeable one and you were supposed to buy my computer, and David had all the funny lines and you were supposed to despise him. Americans don't really get it about us.
  • The Alltel Wireless commercials have a similar problem. The audience is supposed to like Chad, even when he doesn't lift a finger to stop his supporters from doing terrible things to the avatars of the other companies. Besides that, Chad adopts a Holier Than Thou personality to humiliate the other guys.
  • The guy who lies and gets the girl in the Twix "Take Your Time" commercials.
    • One of the newer commercials features a guy staring at a bunch of "hot" women fooling around in the street. The guy's wife, with their presumably newborn daughter, yells at him, and asks what he's doing. The "Need a Moment?" logo comes up, the guy eats one of the bars. He says, "I'm just looking at... potential babysitters!" The wife then kisses his cheek, saying, "You are SO sweet!".
    • Another has a girl finding the name Terry on her boyfriend's cell phone. After the Twix Time Freeze thing happens, he casually claims that Terry is his boss. The commercial doesn't say that cheating is okay, but doesn't say anything about it being wrong in any way, either.
  • Aussie Haircare has a series of ads where a Funny Animal kangaroo is going about their business when Aussie products fall out of their pouch. Women nearby use them to get better hair. At no point does the kangaroo ever get anything more substantial than a "thanks". This includes the meter maid who got the stuff when the kangaroo was trying to get more change out to put in a parking meter about to expire. Yes, she stole her stuff and still gave her the ticket.
  • Ad Council:
  • Skittles:
    • "Warp the Rainbow" has one guy eating skittles from an hourglass that represents his friend's lifetime. The friend comes in as an old man and as he continues to age before the guy's eyes, the guy continues to eat the skittles. Apparently we're not supposed to judge that he is so addicted to candy he's dooming his friend to an early grave.
    • A group of girls in "French the Rainbow" are talking and two of them mention a boy has skittles in place of teeth. So one of the girls goes over to the boy, who is smiling and looks excited, and makes out with him. Then it's not only revealed that she took his teeth into her own mouth but she promptly bites down on a Skittle tooth with an audible crunch and smiles at the boy. In short, she just made this random stranger toothless.
    • There is "Believe the Rainbow" where three young people eating Skittles are sitting on a rainbow in the sky. One of them starts questioning the situation he's in, upon which a Trap Door opens right beneath him and he falls, presumably to his death. The other two look down briefly and resume eating their skittles as if he never existed. Considering this commercial's slogan is "Believe the Rainbow," the viewer is expected to be on the side of the two remaining people (as well as arguing to live one's life in complete blind faith).
  • Some of the worst offenders in commercials on the Cracked article 6 Ad Campaigns That Prove Humanity Is Doomed.
  • Some Hanes commercials have a fan harass Michael Jordan while cruelly insulting another passenger on their plane for his "bacon neck" (a wrinkled collar on his undershirt). The fan is completely insufferable, though Michael Jordan himself regards him vague bemusement, so at least he comes out of this relatively clean (despite the inexplicable Hitler mustache he wears for it).
  • According to their ad campaign, anyone with AT&T's 4G is entitled to act like a total Jerkass to anyone who dares try to tell them the latest news: "That's SO X-sty seconds ago!" Not that these people ever see fit to share the information when they learn it first; no, it's just an excuse to degrade and insult the 'uninformed masses'.
  • A commercial for Kraft Mac and Cheese has a kid boasting how he took all the pans from home when he went over to a friends for a sleepover, so he makes sure that his parents don't cook Macaroni and Cheese (Or anything else for that matter) and eat it when he's not there.
    • There was a similar commercial where a really bratty kid got their parents taken away/arrested for eating some of their Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
    • Kraft then started airing ones with the parents making honest mistakes, and giving their kids the macaroni to apologize... though you still kind of want to punch the mom for not recognizing her own daughter has stopped playing hockey.
  • The DirecTV "Ugly Bill" commercial where a woman is on a date with a cute guy, but then he becomes overweight, gets yellow teeth and a mole. She immediately starts insulting his looks. When the man asks if she's talking about him or her overpriced DirecTV bill she asks, "Does it make a difference?" Maybe he got so disheveled from the stress of dealing with such a shallow person.
  • This Greek telecommunication company Wind ad suggests that no matter how good you have been otherwise, going to Hell is a perfectly justified punishment for paying your economy expensively. Obviously, you’re supposed to root for God at the expense of the guy whom he promptly condemns to Hell.
  • The infamous "10 by 10: No Pressure" advert depicted several groups of people (teachers, managers and the audio engineer for the voiceover) trying to encourage other people (pupils, workers and Gillian Anderson respectively) to cut their carbon footprint. Fair enough, you might think, only they did this by asking them to do it and if anyone doesn't want to they press a red button which murders the dissenters by exploding them, in ridiculously gory splatter explosions that sent guts and gore flying around the room. The survivors are clearly pretty traumatised. (The only one that had any justification was Gillian Anderson, who felt like she didn't need to do anything because doing the v/o for the commercial counted). Despite it being done in a extremely tongue-in-cheek way, it wasn't a surprise that this advert caused a massive backlash, resulting in the ad being withdrawn from circulation on the day of release, and several of the charities that had helped funded it had to issue press releases stating how appalled they were and effectively disowning the ad and its makers.
  • One brief series of commercials for Sprint had a spokesman demonstrating how fast their phones were by making people bet their belongings in a downloading contest. The issue with this? Not only is the point that his Sprint phone will always win, but he never returns the items he takes either, which makes him seem like a con-artist.
  • Played for Laughs with the Wilkins Coffee commercials. The ads claim it's okay for Wilkins to batter, bruise, and maim Wontkins just because he doesn't like coffee. However, because of the insanely over-the-top methods of Wontkins' torture, sometimes to the point that he's outright killed, the commercials go from simply having Wilkins be a designated hero to Crosses the Line Twice. Jim Henson himself stated that it was incredibly easy for him to come up with Wilkins' crazy antics, as he admitted to not liking coffee himself and saying that these scenarios are what it would take to get him to drink it.

    Comic Strips 

    Eastern Animation 
  • A Stranger's Voice, a Stalinist Soviet propaganda film made during the early stages of the Cold War in 1949, tells the story of a nightingale who delights the forest's other birds with his beautiful singing, until a magpie who "has been abroad too long" shows up and proposes to teach him some "modern" tunes. She tries to reciprocate American Jazz music, at which point all the other birds start not only start jeering, but attacking her, tearing her costume and jewellery to shreds, stealing the flower basket they had gifted her only moments earlier and laughing at her misery. She flees in abject terror and all the birds that took a liking to the Jazz are cowed into silence, while the nightingale and his friends are treated as the unambiguous heroes of the tale.
  • Miniforce: The Miniforce are indeed heroic when they are in their suits fighting baddies, and they do get their jobs done, but they act like brats around Suzy when they are in their normal animal forms living at her house. Out of all four main members of the Miniforce, Volt is easily the worst offender, while Lucy is the best-behaved of the bunch (but even she has her moments occasionally too). Possibly justified in that, heroes who save the day or not, the Miniforce are still young kids.
  • This trope is the main complaint fans have with Pucca. While the title heroine is a Nice Girl for the most part, she's also an Abhorrent Admirer, a Yandere, a Clingy Jealous Girl, and a Stalker with a Crush par excellence who torments Garu to no end and anyone who gets in between her and Garu is beaten senselessly whether they're right or wrong. The other characters in the show are fully aware of how ridiculously creepy Pucca can be around Garu, but they write it off as "Funny Love". Despite this, we're supposed to root for her because everyone in Sooga Village loves her unconditionally (even naming a year after her) even though she gets away with things that would get any other character arrested years ago. The fact that she's an Invincible Hero who can effortlessly solve her problems does not help her case.
  • Mustafa, the protagonist of the India-made film Mustafa and the Magician (also known as Son of Aladdin), would probably be seen more as a hero and less as a lecherous creep if he didn't decide to stalk the princess he rescued from bandits back to her castle, peep in on her while she's bathing, brush off her complaints afterwards, and then weasel his way into fighting for her hand in marriage (and winning it) over the course of the movie.
  • Simple Samosa: Samosa not liking how Cham Cham can be quite nasty towards him is understandable, but some of the things Samosa does to his rival are... questionable. In "Makkhi Makkhi", he bullies Cham Cham by scaring him into thinking there's a fly on his back, and in "Patang Hurdang", he doesn't bother to help Cham Cham down to the ground when he is lifted far into the air by kites, even after helping Vada from the same situation. In both instances, it's supposed to be funny since the two are constantly at each others' throats, even though Cham Cham did nothing wrong beforehand.
  • Roadside Romeo: Romeo makes a lot of reckless and dumb decisions, such as harassing Laila for a kiss, spending protection money, promising Laila to Charlie, and hitting on Laila (even though he knows Charlie will murder him if he does).
  • Vuk the Little Fox: Vuk; while he is the protagonist, he kills lots of innocent, apparently sentient animals. He also systematically destroys a human's property

    Films — Animated 
  • The Adventures of the American Rabbit: Rob constantly misses opportunities to stop the Jackals throughout the movie, and only directly stops about two of them by the time the movie's over.
  • Aladdin and the Adventure of All Time
    • Both Aladdin and Paige in the 3rd act, forcibly changing people who weren't like their traditional depictions looking like their stereotypes, murdering a pharaoh and making the world a worse place by "correcting" mistakes in time
    • Aladdin is especially this for not caring about Paige (when she was to be sacrificed) or his girlfriend (who he forgot) to flirt with Cleopatra until she revealed her obesity, which is fixed.
    • By the end of the story, Aladdin and Paige are directly responsible for the genocidal tyranny of Henry VIII, the murderous piracy of Blackbeard, the brutal civil war between Rome and Egypt, and making the Leaning Tower of Pisa lean. And then at the end they Mind Rape the Big Bad into becoming good and force her to release dozens of potentially dangerous prisoners back into society.
  • Bébé's Kids. They destroy a theme park and cause trouble for many innocent people there, yet they never get punished for it. Worse, the audience is expected not to think badly of them because they have a poor life and have "attitude." In the original stand up routine the movie was based on, they were clearly the antagonists. Robin Harris was criticizing irresponsible parents who were too selfish to raise and discipline their ill-behaved children. Also, Robin Harris' character in the movie qualifies for this trope too; generally acting like a major Jerkass to everyone yet actually being praised as a good guy despite doing nothing good whatsoever.
  • Charming: Philippe's meant to be the movie's hero, but a combination of lack of Show, Don't Tell (the movie says he hates his curse and tries not to take advantage of it, but his establishing scene shows him deliberately flirting with every woman in town and he does so several more times during the plot) and his status as The Load during the gauntlet scenes make it hard to see why we're supposed to root for him.
  • The Christmas Light: Santa and Isaac come off as real jerks here; the narration makes a point of mentioning that Burton is ostracized by Isaac and the other elves and the jolly old elf himself comes off as apathetic at best to Burton. Then later after Burton transforms into the Snowman, Isaac and Santa not only don't seem to care that this happened to Burton but seem to have no qualms whatsoever about outright killing him, and are only prevented from doing so by Jennifer.
  • Coonskin: Despite being the protagonist, Brother Rabbit has no qualms about killing at the drop of a hat.
  • Davey Stone from Eight Crazy Nights spends most of the movie being a complete asshole towards everyone and commits a lot of crimes in the process, and we are supposed to root for him somehow. Even when he learns to be a nicer person towards the end, he still never faces any consequences for his actions and each of his heinous deeds have been completely ignored by the end of the movie.
  • One of the many complaints that The Emoji Movie has is that the main character, Gene, who is meant to be seen as the hero, causes the majority of the film's problems ranging from panicking for no good reason while being scanned by Alex, causing several apps to be deleted, and even leaving the Just Dance girl, Akiko Glitter, to die in the trash along with the Trolls while only showing concern for Hi-5. It really doesn't help that it's technically Gene's fault Akiko is in the trash to begin with. It also doesn't help that, while Smiler does want Gene to be deleted, she does have an extremely good reason for being angry at him since he technically is a major threat toward the entire cellphone.
  • Freddie as F.R.O.7: Freddie as an adult is far more concerned about fulfilling his mission while being a Smug Super about it. This includes keeping disabling walkie-talkies of his teammates without their consent, treating Messina as a nuisance, despite the latter murdering his parents and letting her get away to do more horrible things. That and he's a huge jerk to everyone except Nessie.
  • Injustice (2021):
  • Jack, the protagonist of Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is that, if only for the fact that at the very end of the movie, he willingly throws the key that allows his heart to even function off a cliff, with no real justification, which wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that, for one, his adoptive mother died trying to save his life, and two, the girl he loved tried everything she could to be at Edinburgh in time to bring him this very key, and she came from Andalusia, no less, seemingly rendering both of their efforts meaningless. The fact that he seems perfectly content with dying in front of a girl who loves him, as the final image of the movie is his ghost looking down on her and smiling, doesn't help.
    • He also made the booth of an old ghost train's caretaker, whom he previously worked for, fall off, for seemingly no other reason than she was slightly rude to him earlier...Even though she had every reason to be, since he didn't exactly work hard after she hired him.
  • Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie: Jonah is framed as a deliberate and deconstructed version of this idea in the story. While he does bring enlightening messages to the people of Israel, he never actually does anything particularly heroic. When he is ordered by God to deliver a message to the infamously sinful Nineveh, Jonah disobeys his orders by sailing the other way, though he does show shades of guilt at doing this. When the pirates and their ship are endangered by a massive storm, Jonah realizes his mistake and abandons ship to suffer the consequences for his actions. After being eaten then vomited by a whale, Jonah decides to get the message delivered to Nineveh and be done with it. After he sends the message, the citizens of Nineveh change their ways, but Jonah still expects God to annihilate the city. However, after God had a large plant grow to shade Jonah from the sun as he waits, Jonah has the gall to be upset when Khalil eats the stem of the plant. Even after Klahil gets it through Jonah's head that God has given Nineveh a second chance at redemption, which was exactly what He had given Jonah, Jonah still complains at how unfair all of it is. Of course, Khalil and Reginald decide to leave Jonah to wallow in his selfish misery, which is done to get the message of the story across. When the veggies listening to the story realize this, the Pirates explain that Jonah's heroism is besides the point.
    Lunt: The question, my friends, is not "what did Jonah learn." The question is — what did you learn?
  • The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists: Old One is supposedly a wise leader to be admired, but really comes across as a Jerkass who isn't willing to do what it takes to save a dying fellow longneck.
  • The Legend of the Titanic:
    • Taken to the extreme with Re. He is depicted as the Big Good. However, he looks and acts like a Big Bad.
    • Don Juan acts bossy and condescending to the other protagonists whenever they show any doubt or fear and is a total Yes-Man in favor of everything the Atlanteans force on them.
  • Little Angels: The Brightest Christmas:
    • The Angels, despite being there to protect the characters from harm, rarely do anything useful.
    • The kids' father is supposed to be liked because he saved Zeke Eaterman's life during the war at the risk of his own, however, a lot of the trouble Daniel has to go through could have been very easily avoided if it weren't for the dad leaving his kids in a cottage on an isolated mountain.
  • Little Princess School: The princesses are constantly trying to skip school and lie to everyone if they get caught. This behavior is not portrayed as wrong at any point.
  • The Magic Roundabout (2005): Dougal, as explained by DazzReviews:
    "Doogal is the worst character in this film. Everything is caused by his addiction to sugar. He unseals Zeebad, he asks for dinner, he doesn't make a tent, he keeps his own food, he gets kidnapped, he reveals information when getting rewarded, he calls himself leader when pushed onto the bridge, is cowardly against the traps, he activates the lasers, causes the lasers to be hit after Ermintrude's whole uncharacteristic movement, he presses one button that saves the day, and then again loses the gems, and he headbutts a gem right at the end, not paying off any skill he didn't have before hand, and suddenly he's the hero! And he's still got a sugar addiction, he never developed at all!"
  • In Pocahontas, Meeko the raccoon and Percy the dog, the Empathy Pets of the main heroine and villain respectively, are meant to be cast in the same positions within their conflict. Yet Meeko steals Percy's food while the latter minds his own business, and continues to do this throughout two movies. And the things that Meeko does would result in bodily harm were his opponent not Made of Iron. To top it all off, he gets away with everything.
  • Princess: While August's goal is sympathetic, most of the things he does make it very difficult to root for him, such as beating up a man simply for going out with a prostitute, breaking a boy's arm, blowing up a porn industry which very likely had innocent workers that did nothing to deserve being sacrificed, and at the end, plants a bomb inside the mansion that Charlie is supposedly hanging out at, killing many innocent lives in the process, including Mia.
  • Ratatoing: Marcel not only steals food from a human restaurant and send his rivals to an animal testing lab, but he's the protagonist of the story and is supposed to be rooted for.
  • Rock and Rule: Omar, being a self-interested, egotistical, antisocial and apathetic Jerkass, is this for the majority of the film, arguably only stepping up and being heroic in the climax.
  • Oscar from Shark Tale constantly lies and gets himself into trouble, no matter what anybody else does to get him OUT of trouble. For instance, his friend Angie gives him a pearl that her grandmother gave her to get him out of a debt. What does Oscar do? Instead of paying off the debt, he bets the pearl at the seahorse races (which backfires on him spectacularly). He complains about a job where he's popular, paying the bills, and well-liked because he wants to be rich and famous instead, and it's clear that the people who dislike him do so for very justifiable reasons. Even after he has his supposed epiphany, he still directly causes the events of the climax by taunting the villains while he was on a time limit. It's only during the climax that he uses his image as the "Sharkslayer" to the benefit of anyone other than himself, and he never receives any real comeuppance for his actions and basically gets everything he ever wanted.
  • Sinbad in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. Aside from the obvious fact that he is sent because he's their only option, the general way Sinbad acts for almost the entire movie makes him little to no different than a villain. He starts the movie trying to rob a ship, not even caring when it's his childhood friend Proteus he's robbing. Sinbad is then set up to be executed for a crime he didn't commit, and Proteus decides to take Sinbad's place in exchange for Sinbad retrieving the Book of Peace. Especially since Proteus is a prince who is next in line to inherit the throne, which means his death would result in a Succession Crisis and doom his entire country. Yet despite this overwhelming amount of faith Proteus puts in Sinbad, the pirate responds by leaving him behind to die, believing that King Dymas would never let them execute his son (he's correct, but when Dymas later engineers Proteus' escape, Proteus refuses to leave). And Sinbad very well would have gotten away with had it not been for Proteus' fiancee Marina stowing aboard the ship to make sure he keeps his word. When she saves the crew from a Siren attack, Sinbad actually has to be pressured into showing her any gratitude at all. But the two gradually warm up to each other and start to fall in love, despite Marina's prior engagement. Eris even calls Sinbad out on this, saying that even if he's not betraying Proteus by running away, he is stealing Proteus' girl. He does go back in the end, but it's very hard to see what goodness is in him that others are seeing. And most of all, he's the one who ends up with Marina in the end.
  • Teen Titans Go! To the Movies discusses, expands, and probably deconstructs this trope's effect on the cartoon already explored in the Western Animation section. The main drive of the movie is that the Titans, Robin especially, want a movie of their own, but they are looked down upon in the superhuman community, considered just sidekicks at best, or immature jerks at worst. Superman is shown to be incredibly upset that Cyborg considers finding a burger shop and saving room for dessert to be heroic. Even Slade, who is made their Big Bad, doesn't take them seriously.
  • Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans: While 2013 Robin is annoying, it was actually 2003 Robin who started insulting both Robin and the 2013 Titans. At the end of the film, he kept giving Robin backhanded compliments while the latter seemed willing to ignore their dislike for each other at some moments in the film. Despite this, the 2003 version was treated with far more respect that 2013 Robin.
  • Stanley from A Troll in Central Park. Aside from just being a delusional idiot, his "perfect world" is filled with trolls who look and think exactly like him, he acts waaayyy too happy when a toddler kisses him, and at the end of the film he covers New York City in vegetation, causing untold devastation and no doubt killing hundreds of people.
  • Wonder Woman (2009): Steve Trevor. He spends the majority of the film being a sexist creep who seems to only tag along with Diana because he wants to sleep with her. This is despite the fact Diana spends much of the film making it clear she is not interested. At one point, he even offers her alcohol before making a pass on her, ostensibly because he thought alcohol would make her more willing to sleep with him (to be clear, Diana had explicitly never had alcohol before and was unfamiliar with the concept and its effects; he was trying to take advantage of her ignorance of this). Earlier, he spies on Amazons who are bathing, and even earlier, was hitting on a rookie despite being her commanding officer. Then he lectures Diana on how Not All Men are the monsters she thinks they are, even though he himself has repeatedly demonstrated the behaviors she's criticizing, and the narrative presents it as him being right. Yet she still gets together with him at the end.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Hulk Hogan/Sid feud of 1992. The whole feud started because Sid had eliminated Hogan fair and square at the 92 Royal Rumble match and then Hogan proceed to cost Sid the match. Then afterwards Jack Tunney was going to give Hogan the title match at Wrestlemania till Sid challenged Hogan and pointed out how unfair that was. Hogan was presented as the face in the feud while Sid was the heel despite the fact Sid had legitimate gripes to be mad at Hogan.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was a '90s Anti-Hero during the Attitude Era and it worked because everyone was either a villain or an Anti-Hero, and the villains he faced in particular were into things like corporate corruption, nepotism, and Hollywood Satanism. Ever since around 2003 he's presented as a face (and is still popular) but hasn't changed his act so he's a straight up jerk. He once stunned Stacy Keibler simply because she didn't like the taste of beer and also Linda McMahon (a middle aged woman who is not a trained wrestler) just for the hell of it. If any other wrestler had done this, Jim Ross on commentary would have vilified them but with Stone Cold just said "I may not like it but that's the way he is." He also stunned Booker T at WrestleMania for doing a spinaroonie in the ring (apparently Austin doesn't like the attention being stolen from him) and also Josh Matthews for simply reading a message from the Raw GM that Austin didn't like.
  • DGeneration X in 1998 WWE were a group of obnoxious Jerkasses who reveled in Vulgar Humor and low-rent behavior. However, they were pushed as Faces due to politics and simply because of Triple H's feud with The Rock, not because they did anything that could be considered admirable (or even entertaining). Their Catchphrase was "Suck it!" and was expressed while doing crotch-chops, with their wrists crossing in the form of an "X." At the same time, it was the perfect gimmick for the sleaze-filled Attitude Era, which was the result of Vince McMahon trying to copy ECW and misinterpreting it, due to the need for WWE Raw to end WCW Monday Nitro's dominance in the Monday Night Wars.
  • John Cena frequently. One evening he hurled a hurricane of fat jokes at Vickie Guerrero who admittedly used to be overweight but has since slimmed down considerably. He also frequently bullies his opponents, spins and distorts the truth to get into their heads, and generally acts like a smug prick when he's called on his behavior, but is still presented as a role model and leads the B.A. Star Anti Bullying campaign as well as most (if not all) WWE's charity causes.
    • As a specific example, when Zack Ryder got over with the crowd, Cena became Ryder's "Broski," did his damnedest to whore ALL of the attention, then stole Ryder's girlfriend and never bothered to lift a finger while Kane repeatedly assaulted Ryder. This wasn't a heel turn; he was still being treated as a face in-universe.
    • Another example came with him, portraying the All-American Babyface against Alexander Rusev's Foreign Wrestling Heel, beating up Rusev because Rusev said disparaging things about America, not five minutes after Cena told Rusev he had the right to free speech in this country.
  • Colt Cabana during his feud in Ring of Honor with Jimmy Jacobs. A Romantic False Lead type angle where Jimmy was in love with and trying to win over the absolutely despised "Lovely" Lacey, who herself was attracted to Jerk Jock Colt, who was only with Lacey for sex and lording this over Jimmy. The fans decided to cheer Colt Cabana just because they didn't like Lacey that much and Jimmy got booed when Colt openly revealed his true colors and Jimmy remained loyal to the woman he loved.
  • Homicide was this during his Ring Of Honor feud with Colt Cabana. Yes Cabana had said racially insensitive things within Homicide's earshot, but that hardly warranted attempting to murder the man with drain cleaner. Unless you were the ROH fans that is, as they cheered Homicide the entire way through.
  • Carlito Caribbean Cool felt this way about his own face run in WWE, not believing he had done anything to deserve a Heel–Face Turn after poisoning The Big Show and pointing out that insulting and spitting food on people were not exactly good guy behavior.
  • The Bella Twins when they were faces. They would switch with each other to win matches. Yeah that's right - faces would cheat to win. And it was presented as completely okay and their opponents were supposed to have deserved it somehow. This was reversed with their heel turn in 2011 where they continued to use it but commentators and other wrestlers would outline it as wrong.
  • Brooke Tessmacher in TNA. She unfortunately was pushed as a face but made it clear she wasn't able to portray herself that way. She came across as arrogant and full of herself in her entrance, bratty and bitchy in her promos and unnecessarily brutal in the ring. In her feud with her best friend Tara she came across as the heel initially until the latter turned heel on her.
  • Sheamus often comes off as these, and in 2013, had three straight feuds like this.
    • First, he had a pre-Wrestlemania feud against Wade Barrett, which began when Wade started bragging about a movie he got to appear in. Sheamus, for no apparent reason, came out to answer this bragging by crapping all over the movie and Wade's acting skills. The odd part is that nothing ever came of this, partly because Sheamus was already in feuding with The Shield at the time, so it made his actions seem unnecessarily dickish.
    • Secondly, he feuded with Mark Henry. This began when Henry attacked Sheamus backstage, during interviews, a couple of times. Sheamus paid these attacks back, then continued harassing him even after he seemed to lose interest in Sheamus. In two cases, Mark Henry challenged Sheamus to non-wrestling physical contests (tug-of-war and arm wrestling), which he clearly outclassed Sheamus in with superior strength alone. Sheamus came off as a massive dick by assaulting Henry in the middle of these just to keep himself from losing, or just to get the last laugh.
    • His third feud is with Damien Sandow, which consisted almost entirely of Sandow expressing intellectual superiority, then Sheamus attacking him for no particular reason. Even in cases where Sandow was legitimately acting like a dick (cheating at the shell game), Sheamus still ended up looking like quite a dick, such as completing the chess challenge by destroying the expensive computer for no apparent reason.
    • Other than those feuds, there's that one time he straight up stole a car. And no, Jerry Lawler, "just borrowing it" is not a valid legal defense. (He also promised its owner he wouldn't mess it up - then proceeded to drive it through mud and low-hanging vegetation while eating a huge sloppy burrito in it.)
  • Paige from WWE NXT is a subversion. She was a heel in FCW but got insanely popular so she appeared as a face on TV without a proper character change. However she was presented as more of a Wild Card and the announcers don't imply that her behaviour is justified (or at least particularly heroic) at all. She appears to treat faces and heels equally.
  • Randy Orton during his Face runs. Hates Everyone Equally, attacks heels and faces, and in general raises hell just because he can. While the commentators may try to justify it every once in a while, Randy himself is fully aware that a lot of what he does is reprehensible and that he is not a good person in any form or fashion. He just doesn't care.
  • Roman Reigns does this quite often, oftentimes following essentially the same format as Cena above. Two specific example stand out.
    • Immediately after The Shield broke up, he tricked his way into the main event scene by poisoning the coffees Vickie Guerrero was bringing to Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, which ended up getting Stephanie violently sick. Despite Reigns' antics being caught on camera, The Authority seemed to actively ignore his fault in it and focus on humiliating, and eventually firing, Vickie instead. In other words, Reigns got an innocent woman (and single mother, mind you) fired for his own benefit and the fact that it was his fault is never brought up again.
    • His US Title feud with Rusev and Lana in 2016 may be even worse, combined with them playing the Designated Villain. Their greatest crime in this feud was obnoxiously promoting the fact that they'd just gotten married, and despite ruining their wedding segment for no real good reason and going out of his way to harass and torment them, Reigns is still presented as the good guy.
  • Priscilla Kelly was a basically a sexually curious asset of a Power Stable in Full Impact Pro who would do anything to help her men get ahead. As a lone manager in EVOLVE Kelly was exaggerated into a succubus who used her sexual wiles to lure in clients and corrupt them into nearly unrecognizable men as she steered them towards title belts. At Shine Wrestling she was presented as a baby face because she was bullied by Malia Hosaka for being a rookie and sabotaged by the Cutie Pie Club Girl Posse because she had the same goals as their leader. However, beyond being a singles wrestler Kelly's behavior was still the same as it was in FIP and EVOLVE. She still antagonized wrestlers who would have otherwise left her alone or kept matches clean, was still a Sore Loser, and still got off on molesting people. While Kelly wasn't necessarily booed, fans did tend to take the side of any wrestler who didn't actively provoke Kelly. Only after winning the Nova Championship belt and breaking down into tears did Kelly start to clean up her act.
  • Charlotte Flair's role as a Designated Hero is less of her doing questionable actions as a face and more of the company trying to retcon her past actions. In 2016, Charlotte was the top heel of the women's division; her actions include multiple Kick the Dog moments, pulling strings to ensure her victory and betraying everyone around her, from her best friend, Becky Lynch to even her father. A year later, she turned face after being attacked by a group of heels without facing any consequences from her actions (aside from losing the Raw Women's Championship) and the people she betrayed easily forgive her without so much of an apology. Another year later, Charlotte again enters another feud with Becky Lynch, with Becky being the heel this time, after the latter attacked Charlotte following their Triple Treat match at Summerslam 2018 which also includes defending champion Carmella. However, the angle completely ignores their 2016 feud and made it as if Charlotte was the one who values friendship over the tittle. WWE continues to make Charlotte more sympathetic by making her being a role model to children and attempting to turn Becky back by reminding their friendship while making Becky more and more villainous. It's not just David; being the daughter of one of wrestling's greatest legends also has its perks. Ultimately however, because of Becky's massive popularity, WWE gave up and a Face/Heel Double-Turn eventually occurs.
  • Seth Rollins got hit by this hard in late 2019. Despite being pushed as the top male Face on Raw, audience reaction became increasingly negative, partially due to his booking and partially due to his antagonistic interactions with fans and critics on social media, and the audience turned on not only the character, but also the man. It got to the point that when he attacked Bray Wyatt in the Firefly Fun House, many fans believed it was intended as a double turn. For once, WWE leaned into the crowd response and turned him Heel rather than stubbornly staying the course as they would normally do.
  • Sasha Banks' first Heel–Face Turn in 2016 begins with her attacking Becky Lynch after she lost her match to Charlotte Flair, before challenging the latter herself. Though she remains a Face for the next few years, Sasha herself displays little qualities of one herself, simply only being the Face because she is feuding with Heels. In 2018, she repeatedly betrays her best friend Bayley yet the latter is treated as the bad guy after Bayley begins to treat Sasha the same way she treated her and not once does the commentators brought up Sasha threw the first stone first or does Sasha apologize for being a bad friend. This angle ended with both of them forgiving each other but is revisited two years later in 2020 when both are heels. After failing to recapture the Women's Tag Team Championship, Bayley attacked Sasha, turning the latter Face. Like in 2018, the angle does not bring up Sasha's previous betrayals or the fact that she was responsible of turning Bayley Heel the previous year. And if Bayley's claim has any truth in it and considering Sasha's past treatment towards Bayley, Sasha would had betray Bayley first if Bayley hadn't act first. Following the end of their feud, Sasha continues to act as an Alpha Bitch and has made several turns throughout 2021 depending who she is feuding with. Notably, Sasha was treated as the Face when Shotzi turned Heel on October 29th, despite it was Sasha who interfered in Shotzi's match with Charlotte, whom Sasha is feuding with at the time, and costing Shotzi the match. In fact, Sasha never even undergo a proper Heel–Face Turn at the time, as she was a Heel not too long ago while feuding with Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch before targeting Charlotte.
  • Similar to the Sasha example above is the 2021 feud in NXT between Hit Row & Legado del Fantasma. For those who don't know, Hit Row is basically a rap-style entourage for Isaiah "Swerve" Scott. They were heels, cutting heel-like rap promos, and even used interference to help Swerve win the North American title from Bronson Reed. Then Santos Escobar, who wanted the NA title and his group (whose stated goal is to restore the integrity of Lucha Libre)who are also heels, start a feud with them. Suddenly, despite still acting exactly the same and doing stuff like burning a lucha libre mask, Hit Row are, for storyline purposes, the heroes of the feud (in contrast, the worst thing Escobar did was steal Swerve's grille), because Mexicans.

  • The Ballad of Edgardo: Literally every Player Character with the exception of Edgardo, A Guy Called Squid, and Goldnharl was a complete Jerkass whose only heroic quality was that they fight the evil "shadows" menacing the world (not that we ever actually see any of them do this). The most powerful "hero" in the game even rules a portion of the world like an iron-fisted dictator and functions as the Big Bad of the story.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a number of these scattered across its many novels and settings:
    • The Gods of Good from Dragonlance come off as this more than once, especially in the original novel trilogy written by Weis & Hickman. The corrupt ruler of a theocratic empire trying to demand the power to break the Balance Between Good and Evil by eliminating evil obviously should be met by throwing around extremely vague portents of doom with no clear messages to the mortals as to why the gods are angry, culminating in devastating the planet with a cataclysmic meteor strike. Oh, and make sure you kidnap all of the still-faithful priests and whisk them away to the god's realms first, and never send them back to minister to the survivors during the massive disasters, famines and plagues that result from the Cataclysm afterwards. And don't forget about being offended when mortalkind is angered by this treatment, declare mortalkind has "turned its back on the gods", and abandon them for centuries to struggle in the now-devastated world with no healing magic of any kind! Small wonder that a lot of fans support Tanis Half-Elven and those of similar view when they claim the gods are arrogant, self-absorbed bastards who don't deserve reverence in the first place.
    • Also from Dragonlance, part of the reason that Kender are considered The Scrappy is because of this trope. Despite the race description defying logic for their continued survival and encouraged to act as The Millstone towards other players(famously detailed here), Word of God states that they are unambiguously good and beneficial to the world.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Grey Knights, an order of Super Supersoldier Space Marines. They were created by actual heroes from the Horus Heresy novels, but have degenerated into very powerful bullies who kill Imperial citizens for kicks. They have wiped out two completely loyal Space Marine chapters for imaginary crimes, and began an open war against the Space Wolves chapter (who are loyal, mind you) because the Wolves interfered in the Knights' campaign of genocide against innocent imperial citizens. Finally, they slaughtered a significant number of Sisters of Battle so they could steal their blood and use it to make talismans which protect from an attack which Grey Knights are already completely immune to. In-universe, this genocide and blood-fixation would point to the Grey Knights secretly being a chapter who worship Khorne, the Blood God. Out-of-universe, the Knights are still being held up by the lead writer of the setting as champions of winning and justice and awesome.
  • Given the nature of the medium, anecdotes quite naturally circulate in tabletop RPG circles about both player and non-player characters like this. For a fairly basic example, the section "Confessions of a Hack and Slash Junkie" (which is actually about breaking out of that mold and creating memorable plots and villains) in the Fantasy Hero genre book for the 4th edition of the Hero System alludes to a slaughter of kobold children by the PCs of one of the author's past playing groups "because they aren't worth experience points alive."
  • Used In-Universe in Beast: The Primordial: Heroes are literally created by the Primordial Dream, the collective metaconsciousness of humanity, to fit the role of "The Hero". Thing is, between shifts in the metaconsciousness about the definitive purpose of The Hero, and the fact that those susceptible to being drawn into the role are invariably crazy to begin with, Heroes fixate on just "kill the Beast" and completely forgo the higher purposes. The result is a dangerous mixture of Black-and-White Insanity and Knight Templar with nearly unshakable belief in their benefiting from Protagonist-Centered Morality, and a propensity towards being a Glory Hound. It doesn't matter to them if the Beast is sating its hunger by beating up muggers and rapists or being a super-strict and incorruptible health inspector; a Beast is a Beast and deserves to die. No matter the harm a Hero does to everyone else around them in the process.
    • Out of universe, though, there is a huge fandom war over whether or not Beasts count as this, with many fans taking umbrage at the way the game portrays Beasts as sympathetic when they terrorize and torment others to feed on their fear. The fluff examples given have Beasts behaving as petty assholes (a taxi driver who ditches rides in dangerous parts of town for kicks, one literally dumps trash on people's lawns) to murderous psychopaths (one purposely gets into arguments that she uses as an excuse to eviscerate people, another acts like a siren to drown innocent people.) Not one in the given fluff of their own book is depicted as having any issue with their nature or actions and none display even the slightest amount of empathy for the lives they end or ruin.
  • The player characters in Racial Holy War (which somehow manages to suck even worse than the the title implies) are White Warriors- the last hope of the dying white race, out to cleanse the world of evil Latinos (which the game constantly misspells as 'latrinos'), blacks, Asians, middle easterners, and of course Jews. And even aside from that, the totally broken rules mean that they are corrupt enough to accept bribes not to attack in the middle of combat (Jews have the 'special attack' of bribing PCs to skip their turn), and will run whenever they're outnumbered, even if it's by babies (the Morale Mechanic doesn't account for anything other than number of combatants).
  • This is the most common fan perception of the Red Talons from Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Although they are probably intended to be seen as the Token Evil Teammate, the fact of the matter that they're an entire Tribe whose hat is embracing the anti-human Fantastic Racism aspects of the setting and whose near-universal goal is the reduction of humanity back to Stone Age-level hunter-gatherers (if not its outright extermination) means most fans regard them with great distaste and they are near-universally banned as a player option. It's telling that their creed is used with fairly minimal changes as the philosophy of an outright villain faction, the Predator Kings, in Spiritual Successor Werewolf: The Forsaken.
    • Likewise, the Silver Fangs tribe, whose defining trait is also Fantastic Racism, but of the belief that werewolves are a Superior Species who should be ruling over humanity, and that their own "superior" lineage means they should be ruling over werewolves. Not only do they have a strong Aristocrats Are Evil vibe, but their beliefs actually made them collaborators with the Nazi regime, a stain they still haven't overcome In-Universe and with several editions of attempts to fix them. As with the Red Talons, they served as the foundation for one of the villainous factions in Spiritual Successor Werewolf: The Forsaken: their heirs are the Ivory Claws, who're an entire tribe that are as close to unrepentant werewolf Nazi Nobleman as you can get without them actually running around with swastikas.
    • Speaking of which, it hasn't gone unnoticed that the Get of Fenris tribal symbol looks a lot like a swastika. It's implied that this was not a mistake, either — there was a sizable camp of full-blown Nazi Garou (The Swords of Heimdall) in their ranks prior to the Second World War's end, and the tribe as a whole still uses a lot of rhetoric about the Garou (particularly the Get) being a "superior" species to humans and the other Changing Breeds despite this. Added to their Stay in the Kitchen tendencies, violent abhorrence of "weakness", and Social Darwinist views that have seen them outright attack other tribes in the past, it's difficult to see them as heroes a fair amount of the time.
    • The Changing Breeds get in on this, too, especially the wererats, who are essentially "What if the Skaven were presented as heroic?" Insane even by the game's standards, they're plaguemasters who actively spread pandemics and poison human consumables, with one splatbook spelling out their endgame being perhaps even more extreme than the Red Talons - not only over 90% of all humans dead, but the rest kept only as test subjects or future wererats themselves. (By contrast, the Kitsune's original, sane plan of "Lay low until this all blows over" gets treated as rank cowardice.)

  • Dear Evan Hansen: Evan Hansen is supposed to be seen as an adorkable, relatable, well-intentioned protagonist, held back by serious mental health issues. However, all the daddy and abandonment issues in the world can barely offset the fact that he pretends to have been friends with Connor, a kid who died by suicide. Initially, this is just Evan not correcting a mistaken assumption by Connor's family (the title of the musical comes from the fact Connor had a note that started "Dear Evan Hansen" on him when he died, and the family doesn't realize that Evan wrote it and Connor stole it to make fun of), which is somewhat understandable—it's an intense moment and he's very socially inept. But Evan not only fails to tell them the truth as time goes on, but actually adds even more lies, going so far as to write an entire fake email correspondence, so that he can continue to receive affection and attention. On top of that, he romantically pursues Connor's sister under these false pretenses. But wait, we're supposed to feel sorry for Evan?
  • Fences: We're meant to believe Troy is a sympathetic character, but he abuses his son, cheats on his wife, is a murderer, and took most of the money from his brother's injury and used it to buy the house that his broken family lives in. On the other hand, he does basically lose everything he cares about before his death.
  • Oklahoma!: The hero tries to drive a lonely, unstable young man to suicide over a girl? That's pretty messed up.
  • There are many cases in the canon of William Shakespeare:
    • Hamlet. There's a fine line between being a Tragic Hero, an overall good person undone by a Fatal Flaw, and being a Designated Hero, a character treated by the narrative as a hero despite doing nothing heroic, and it's a line Hamlet crosses more than twice. After learning from the ghost of his father that his father was murdered by Claudius, Hamlet spends the next act or so mocking and taunting Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, while also verbally abusing and Slut-Shaming Ophelia, despite the fact that they had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the murder of Hamlet's father. When Hamlet finally does something, he murders Polonius because he heard a voice behind some curtains and jumps to the conclusion that it must be Claudius. He then hides the body and jokes that everybody will smell him soon enough. The murder of her father at the hands of her betrothed drives Ophelia to insanity and her death (she may even have been Driven to Suicide). Hamlet then deliberately brings about the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern despite little to no evidence that they actually did anything wrong. He finally gets around to the one person he was supposed to be killing, Claudius, only after the latter has accidentally poisoned Gertrude and gotten Laertes to poison Hamlet, and Laertes then gets accidentally poisoned by Hamlet. So it could be argued that every death that occurs from the start of the play onward is all Hamlet's fault.
    • All of the Christian characters from The Merchant of Venice can be seen this way, especially Portia, who ruins the Designated Villain / Well-Intentioned Extremist Shylock's life, then decides to fuck with her fiance apparently just for the lulz with the whole stupid rings subplot.
      • This is probably mostly due to Values Dissonance. Shylock would most probably have originally been seen as the villain by its original audience and Portia and Antonio (who treats Shylock far worse than Portia who at least gave him what would have been a considered a happy ending) as the heroes. Over time this has changed with peoples attitudes as Shylock's portrayal has gone from villainous clown to tragic figure due to changing views of race and racism.
      • There are those who believe that Shakespeare intended for the play to be taken this way, and that it was deliberately written to subvert anti-Jewish bigotry. There is basis in the text to support this interpretation, but it of course remains a matter of interpretation.
    • In Much Ado About Nothing, Claudio is tricked into thinking that his fianceé Hero has cheated on him. Instead of asking her about it or even quietly canceling the wedding, he waits until the wedding ceremony was underway then publicly accuses her of being a whore. Even after being (falsely) informed that Hero had died of shock afterwards, he shows no remorse. Then, when a Contrived Coincidence leads to the reveal that no, Hero was in fact completely innocent of every accusation he leveled at her, he finally regrets what he's done... and is rewarded with a Happily Ever After!
    • In The Tempest, Prospero is portrayed in the text as a misunderstood Gentleman Wizard who was unfairly usurped of the throne by his brother Antonio. However, Prospero having no qualms about enslaving the island natives Caliban and Ariel has not aged well.
    • Proteus and Valentine, The Two Gentlemenof Verona themselves, treat their supposed love ones like crap. Proteus emotionally cheats on his hometown girlfriend Julia, tries to steal his best friend Valentine's girlfriend Silvia and gets Valentine banished just to remove any competition, and threatens to rape Silvia if she will not submit to his advances. In the text he is still forgiven by Valentine and Julia at the end. Valentine offers Silvia to Proteus if the latter wants her that badly as if Silvia were an inanimate object to be traded at will, and even though Proteus threatened to sexually assault Silvia just moments earlier.
  • Siegfried from Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung. The anti-Semitic connotations with his treatment of Mime don't help, even if Mime is a Dirty Coward.
  • Sam in Trouble in Tahiti wins a handball tournament while missing a chance to see his son's School Play, just to demonstrate that he's a Born Winner. He's very proud of his work, and the Greek Chorus gushes over how great he is, but it can't be taken seriously in light of the abjectly cynical context.
  • Subverted as early as Gilbert and Sullivan's The Yeomen of the Guard, their only tragedy. Colonel Fairfax is often treated by other characters as a great hero. There's nothing they wouldn't do for him. The audience is repeatedly told how great he is, but sees little real evidence. At the end, he is revealed to be an absolutely hateful figure. No wonder audiences treat Jack Point sympathetically as The Woobie, despite him being something of a jerk himself.

    Visual Novels 
  • Majikoi! Love Me Seriously!: Yamato is very fond of using underhand tactics, blackmail and is something of a jerk in general, but he reaches a new low in Chris' route. In order to convince his girlfriend to stay in Japan, he decides to tie her up in her sleep and rape her until she changes her mind. When Yamato tells his male friends about this plan, they are only worried about his safety in case he failed, since most girls in the game are absurdly strong. Yet, Chris isn't able to free herself and Yamato manages to overpower her with not much trouble. His explanation: "Men are strong at times like this." The whole incident isn't played dramatically, the word "rape" is never used and Yamato's plan, as usual, ends in success.

    Web Comics 
  • Also occurs in the comic Black Tapestries. The main star is a bitch. Also has a Designated Antagonist, who manages to be a villain by a compulsive "Shoot the Dog" reflex.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del: Christian is a jerk, doing some incredibly slimy things, but considering that Ethan's antics have also screwed over people whom he considers his friends for selfish reasons and have even put people's lives in danger, it gets harder to root for Ethan.
  • Ariel from Drowtales. As the narrator and viewpoint character, she considers herself a hero, in a world where nobody can decently be called such. Though the fact that she considers herself a 'hero' is toned down in the remake. She just wants to live, and some of her more dubious actions have been retconned or changed. Her not really mother Quain'taina, is also portrayed as this In-Universe, because to the Drow the definition of a great person is capability to do great deeds. Morality does not enter into the matter. Quain'tana's virtue lies in her skills and charisma that allowed her to rise from a homeless street rat to one of the greatest political powers in the city, while the fact that she's a horrifically cruel mother is not particularly important to the drow. She isn't a sociopath, incidentally. It's more of a case of a cycle of abuse.
  • Furry Fight Chronicles:
    • Muko only wants to be a Combagal for perverted purposes and Cookie doesn't hesitate to bribe a rival team to win a fight to pay off her debts. Subverted, as they are nice people despite their flaws and Part 3 has them try to be more self-aware and honorable when it comes to furry fighting.
    • Nyarai fits this trope straighter. She wants to create a better world for Wilds, a noble goal given the Fantastic Racism shown in the comics. However, she's an Ax-Crazy Combagal with a Hair-Trigger Temper and a violent fighting style. The fact that she's one of the four protagonists in Act 1 and yet ends up being one of Muko and Cookie's biggest obstacles following the end of Part 2 only makes this more confusing.
  • Goblins plays with this by putting the protagonists on the receiving end. A band of adventurers invade their home to clear them out with no other justification than that they were goblins and therefore Always Chaotic Evil. Most of the tribe gets wiped out and the survivors decide that they are sick of being walking chunks of XP and decide to become adventurers themselves to better protect their homes. Then, one of their own gets captured and brought into a human city where so-called "monstrous races" are routinely captured and tortured to better understand how to kill them. While it might seem that they slip into this trope's territory when they slaughter guards, they actually use the paladin's ability to detect evil to ensure only evil guards are killed. And Thaco's declaration of his intent to slaughter his way through the human civilians to get to his son is a bluff to scare away said civilians so that they aren't caught in the crossfire.
  • How I Became Yours:
    • Katara. She's presented as vain ("I'm sure that Kuzon will come out quite charming, with me as his mom."), self-absorbed ("[Kuzon] died years ago, a day before my birthday..." emphasis not added), and murderous (do we even really need to mention Mai's horrifying death again?). Yet she's somehow always right and no one ever questions her.
    • The same could be said for Zuko. Cheats on his wife, fathers a baby with the designated heroine mentioned above, smacks Mai when she confronts him, leaves his kingdom to go to Katara... and yet we're supposed to sympathize with him?
  • It's (Not) Your Fault: Sam. She was meant to be seen as a girl with a bad home life and in a messy relationship with Luna, but the fact she lured, kissed and raped Lincoln when she was drunk shows that she isn"t heroine material, but the story still expect us to support her.
  • Lackadaisy: The Lackadaisy Gang gets this title, due to being the protagonists. But being bootleggers who stop at nothing to keep their struggling business afloat means they aren't exactly paragons of all things pure and good.
  • Mora in Las Lindas has a history of using sex, violence, and blackmail to extort people for cheap labor. Mora also throws childish tantrums and belittles her loved ones. Her occasional acts of charity often come as result of plot convenience or her boyfriend bribing her with sex. Yet, every story arc ends with Mora being labeled as the positive force everyone's life, despite her not really doing anything worthy of such praise. Even the ruler of the world shows favoritism towards Mora for no obvious reason, much to the chagrin of Alej.
  • Lighter Than Heir features a complete jerkass protagonist that deconstructs the Determinator Trope: sure, she's patriotic, optimistic, and never gave up when her instructor stacked the odds to break her jerkass. But she's UTTERLY anti-social, treating her squadmates like malfunctioning weapons, and ends up becoming the intolerable bane of her entire squad (to the ones who can tell the difference between comrade and sociopathic load). And then she proceeds to disown her father over NOTHING (she suspected that he was playing the war hero / cheating on her mother as a disappeared dad - she found out that he was tortured and murdered For Science!) and mass-murder a bunch of soldiers in her way, some of whom turn out to be decent people. It would be understandable if it were for revenge for her experimentation and her father's murder, but she's just utterly loyal to her country and willing to murder anyone who isn't part of her country. It's unknown if her power increase and constant PTSD will eventually develop into character development or full-blown sociopathy. Our Superwoman Expy, ladies and gentlemen!
  • One of the biggest criticisms of Nineteen-Ninety-Something is that neither Joel or his friend Aaron are all that likable. The author wanted them to be seen as victims of persecution who are fighting back against an oppressive world and engage in rowdy behavior as coping mechanisms. For many readers, however, they really don't come off as any better than their oppressors; Joel is an inconsiderate, foul-mouthed smart aleck who disregards the opinions of others, while Aaron is a sleazy, woman-obsessed idiot who is Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance. Despite having such predominantly negative traits, we're still expected to root for and sympathize with these two. Later strips attempted to lessen said negative traits in order to make them more genuinely sympathetic, but they didn't completely go away. Eventually, the author just rebooted the comic to a Lighter and Softer version to address the complaints (though that was more about the comic as a whole rather than just Joel and Aaron).
  • The Princesss Jewels: Princess Ariana. She spends the comic seeking out and collecting gorgeous men to make them part of her harem, referring to them as her "jewels", and treating them like objects for her personal amusement. It's pointed out in this video that she would more likely be the villain of the story if it showed her actions to be as terrible as they are.
    • In the above-mentioned video, a portion of it is devoted to a scene in episode 9. In it, Princess Ariana lures out Lord Meldea by posing as a street dancer. When he comes for her, he's portrayed as the perviest sexual predator of all time, asking her to come into her house, and ordering his men to bring her by force if she refuses. She easily trounces him and his men, all the while chewing him out for treating women like toys for his own sexual amusement, even ordering him to be castrated for what he did. This is all portrayed without the slightest bit of irony, and only the video commentators tear into the blatant hypocrisy Ariana is displaying, considering she's essentially doing the exact same thing as him.
  • Makoto Yosue turned into this by the end of Red String. He started out as an actual and obvious antagonist to the author's originally planned main couple and was a completely rude and relentless jerk to Miharu. Despite him knowing she's engaged and that he's also engaged to marry her cousin, he continues to harass and pursue her. The closest he ever comes in the comic to acknowledging this is apologizing...for still loving Miharu. However, as the author completely fell in love with him, she drastically changed the story to make him more of a protagonist and derail her original storyline to focus more on Makoto. This led to the original male protagonist getting written out of his own comic and Miharu's only concerns in the storyline being her ability to date Makoto. People in the story constantly tell the reader he's "changed" or blow off his continued bad behavior to everyone around him with handwaves. Other storylines not featuring Makoto rapidly dropped out of the comic as it blew towards its conclusion. The author herself declared him her favorite character because of his "self-sacrifice", a trait he never displays in the entire ten years of the comic's run. Miharu eventually winds up with him because the story expects him to have her. By the end of the story, he'd morphed into a complete Karma Houdini and a Creator's Pet, but never actually a person who the reader would actually want to root for.
    • To highlight the complete disconnect between Makoto's portrayal in the comic and how the author wants him to be seen, in one of the final scenes of the comic, Makoto insults Kazuo for having an abusive home and for becoming so ill from it that he tried to commit suicide. Kazuo points out that Makoto entered his life by declaring the then-engaged Miharu and her family's business as his property, both of which he'd gotten his hands on with no actual effort, and pointing out that his life has been nothing but one lucky break or parental bail out after another. We are supposed to take Makoto's side. Oh, and his parents do bail him out once again, leaving him in a better position than he was before the Kazuo was completely correct that Makoto is completely useless as a protagonist.
    • Miharu devolves into this as well. By the end of the comic, anything about her that indicates she exists to be anything except Makoto's girlfriend has departed the comic and she can't even make the simplest decisions without relying on him to do them for her. Miharu's goal at the start of the comic is eating and being Kazuo's wife. All that changes in the end of the comic? She just intends to be Makoto's wife instead. In the meantime, while the story tries to tell us that she's brave, thoughtful, and spunky, her actions come off as a spoiled bratty teenager that's never been told no. She's kicked out of high school (which is very hard to do in Japan and doubly so at her school in particular) due to her antagonism of her teachers and complete disregard for schoolwork. The story started to show her realizing that she was on her last chance at her new school...then dropped any pretense of showing her ever working on fixing her grades or having any plans beyond marrying the guy that just threw his job away to date her full time and has shown no indication of actually planning on getting another one. In addition, she treats her parents like crap when they rightfully point out her secretly dating Makoto could put her entire family (including Karen's family!) in serious peril if she isn't taking it seriously. Naturally, since Makoto just solved the problem for her, Miharu is never put in a position to admit she's wrong and the last scene of the comic is her mocking her parents. Oh, and Kazuo, the guy she was supposed to marry who she now knows had a physically and emotionally abusive home and who she claimed to still care about and that she'd "always be there for him" even after his family pressured him (physically) into ending the marriage? Yea, she cuts him off entirely and can't even be arsed to tell him in person. She also seems to think she can magically solve his abusive home life by manipulating him into participating in cooking contests and then gets angry and offended when he finally realizes she had convinced a woman to pretend to love him to convince him to cook. Only in that last scenario is Miharu ever shown to admit she did something wrong. The story still expects us to sympathize only with Miharu and be angry with Kazuo despite the fact that he's absolutely right to be angry with her for treating his problems so flippantly.
  • Sandra and Woo: Ye Thuza is starting to become this. While her actions of dismantling a safety harness already caused a bit of a Broken Base, it's what she does after that plants her here. She also appears to have killed an overzealous feminist for being mean to her son, but that incident might benefit from Refuge in Audacity (and from the victim being resoundly hated by the readers).
  • One of the most common criticisms of the Sisterhood in Sinfest. The author wants them to be seen as heroic and noble feminists who are fighting against "the Patriarchy," which is a tangible organization/conspiracy within the world of the strip. Instead, they come across as Jerkass Straw Feminists. They brook no disagreement with their viewpoints and refuse to debate their opinions, perform morally questionable actions (like hacking into a Fembot factory and turning the androids against the staff), and even have a member who, when questioned about why she "hates men," doesn't disagree with the idea and labels men as her oppressor. They are never called out on their more extreme behavior and the author seems to want them to be seen as 100% in the right despite them being objectively worse than the Patriarchy in almost every possible manner.
    • Case in point: when the Sisterhood hack into the Fembot factory, they cause all of the Fembots inside to revolt against the staff working there and attack them. Later, another Fembot who's gained sentience comes across the abandoned factory and finds that the Fembots there had been destroyed. This is treated as a tragedy...except all of the blame is put on the Patriarchy. It's never once acknowledged that the Sisterhood, whatever their intentions may have been, are directly responsible for the violence that occurred there.
  • Sly Cooper: Thief of Virtue: Sly tends to act rather selfish in this comic and almost kills Kevin Turbo by threatening to tip his car into water. In the chapter "Welcome to the Jungle", Sly neglects to mention that there were warlords who Zahn had sold weapons to that planned to terrorize the Congo.
  • Sonic the Comic – Online! is a deconstruction of this trope, showing the consequences of Sonic's behavior from the original Sonic the Comic. Even from the start, it's clear Sonic's ego, putdowns and self-righteousness has begun to wear thin on everyone and when the Kane Network uses their resources to reveal all of his more morally ambiguous decisions to Mobius, the populace finally hits their breaking point and turns on Sonic.
  • All the "heroes" of Sonichu. Many of the female main protagonists only exist solely for "fanservice"; rarely, if ever, do they perform heroics without their significant others, and usually focus on shopping and having sex. Everyone takes the title with issue 10 and later All There in the Manual-type questioning. Issue 10 shows the Author Avatar for Christine Weston Chandler eradicating everything she hates - from homosexuality to simple Internet trolls with her fellow castmates cheering her on. A jarring example that was retconned was when one of the heroes lost his wife to an attack of the trolls. He blew his moral high ground by having his very young daughter torture one of them to death. Later installments turn the characters into something of a private army for the city where they're granted immunity for any actions they've done and one of their more powerful characters is used as a sort of psychic security officer patrolling for anyone "gay". Chris continuously kept backpedaling after people kept complaining, leading to her big Creator Breakdown.
  • Suicide for Hire: While we are supposed to root for these characters, Hunter is a psychopath who enjoys "assisting" the suicides of various people, whether they are willing to go through it or not, and Arcturus is too ineffectual to question their methods and just goes with them.
  • Tails Gets Trolled: In general, the protagonists often do things that make them no better than the trolls. Shadow and Sonic are the biggest offenders. However, as the story goes on this starts to gets subverted a bit as Sonic's attempt at revenge on the trolls leads to him being killed brutally. And after the failure of the fucking awesome plan, Shadow is painted in a much more negative light to the point that even Knuckles calls him out on his brutality.
  • Rhys from Teahouse is supposed to be a troubled and rude yet somewhat charming prince. Except that he's irresponsible (meaning he would be a terrible person to run the country - his sister points this out several times); he's uncaring (he left his sister, grieving over how their father, in whom he had previously shown zero interest, is slowly dying in front of them, so he could go to a whorehouse and fuck a whore - there were plenty of people within the palace who he sleeps with so it isn't a matter of needing comfort/escaping his duties); he violently beat up the whore who, supposedly, slept with his sister after he suggested that she should go there; he's repeatedly raped a male whore who is technically a slave and not allowed to say no (but he still fought back as much as he could before Rhys overpowered him and tied him down) and he only goes to said whore, who's straight, so afterwards he can mock and victim-shame him - meaning he only does it so he can feel better about himself. Not only is he supposed to be a good guy, that whore/prince couple is supposed to be romantic.
  • Vegan Artbook. All vegan characters are intolerant, self-righteous assholes who bully people who disagree with them. The one who doesn't (Bunny) is portrayed as an antagonist for respecting people who disagree with her. On the other hand, Raziel is even more extreme than the others, hates humanity in general, murders a man for telling her a joke, and she is portrayed in a positive light because she agrees with the author. The vegans also tolerate Sterk, who is a demonic serial killer, when he kills meat eaters. Meanwhile, the worst thing the "bad guys" do is buying bacon.


Video Example(s):


Patch Adams

Nostalgia Critic points out how Patch Adams, the hero of the story, practices medicine without a license and steals recourses from hospitals, something that the real Patch Adams never did.

How well does it match the trope?

3.67 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / DesignatedHero

Media sources: