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Designated Villain
aka: Designated Antagonist

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"Wow! Free burgers for everyone? Even the poor? That would be a very kind thing for them to do. And they're apparently the villains for some reason."
Linkara, Atop the Fourth Wall

A villainous antagonist is a common driving force behind conflict in stories, so it makes natural sense to write one in. But villainy requires performing villainous acts; a villain who doesn't really act on those is difficult to root against.


The result is a character who is treated as a bad guy by the principal characters, despite never actually doing anything to justify that amount of hate. They might even be sympathetic by virtue of their social position. Any astute arguments and observations by this character are to be dismissed by the audience, because they are Evil.

Naturally, this can boomerang back onto the protagonist and make them a Designated Hero — a character regarded as "good" despite having no significant virtues — as often, the "villain" is only considered such because they dislike/oppose the "hero". Works with Designated Heroes tend to have Designated Villains. Conversely, Protagonist-Centered Morality isn't a case of having weaksauce villains; it's a personification of being an ass for its own sake, and being lauded for it. In both cases one has to be certain about the creator's intentions about who's sympathetic and who is right. Particularly bad attempts to avert this may include having the character in question Kick the Dog in a completely unrelated situation, which proves that no, they're not a good person, but still doesn't prove that they were wrong in the main conflict that they participated in.


Please note that Tropes Are Tools, as this can sometimes appear to happen, but it's actually done on purpose to add more shades of grey to a story, or to show that the heroes are not completely perfect. When an antagonist is not intended to be a villain but a genuine good guy, they are a Hero Antagonist or at least an Anti-Villain. Keep in mind that antagonists and villains are very different things. Also do not confuse with Unintentionally Sympathetic, which is where a villain does do bad things but gets audience sympathy despite this, or Offstage Villainy, which is where the bad guy did bad things... but not on screen.

Compare and contrast Rooting for the Empire, Poke the Poodle (this trope Played for Laughs), Villain Ball Magnet, Hate Sink (a character the show wants you to hate just as much as other characters in-universe do), Unintentionally Sympathetic (how an audience typically reacts to such a character), Villain Has a Point, Informed Wrongness, Felony Misdemeanor (something minor being treated as horrific for drama or humor purposes) and Villainy-Free Villain (a villain who would be a Hero Antagonist were it not for being a complete Jerkass).


(As an aside, it's worth noting the origin of the word 'villain'. It comes from villein. The villeins were pretty much the lowest of the low in feudal Europe. The scum of the earth. The serfs. Peasants, tied to the land. (And they were in the majority.) In effect, this trope is Older Than Feudalism: the oppressed and persecuted were often depicted as baser and nastier than anyone else and were held to a higher moral standard.)


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Sio is this in Afro Samurai: Resurrection. Let's overlook what she does to Afro directly. Name one thing that Sio does to earn her the Informed Attribute of wickedness given to her by Professor Dharman. (Go on, we'll wait.) Afro Samurai runs on Grey-and-Gray Morality anyway, however, given all of the heinous things that Afro does in his quest for revenge, and given how Sio wound up the way she did, it's hard to say that anything she does to Afro in particular makes her evil. Hell, she lied about torturing Afro's father: she doesn't even keep her word when she's talking about hurting people she hates. That said, the runner up for evil things that Sio did in the story is her sexually humiliating an evil person who wanted to be sexually humiliated. This is really a victimless crime any way it's viewed. She can't even get Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds status, because she doesn't perpetrate villainy against anyone other than Afro. Sio is such a designated villain, that in any other story (or if the screentime focused on her more than Afro), she could arguably be an anti-hero.
  • Dinosaur Ryuzaki (Rex Raptor) from Yu-Gi-Oh! is more of a "villain by proxy", as his best friend (only in the anime) is the downright rotten Insector Haga (Weevil Underwood). He is shown helping Jonouchi (Joey) on occasion, and is more just a jerk than an actual villain, but ends up selling his soul for power in the Doma arc anyway (also only in the anime, and filler no less, making this a case of Adaptational Villainy).
  • Gauche and Droite (Nistro and Dextra) from Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL debut as villains because they want to expel Tokunosuke (Flip) from the World Duel Carnival tournament. Why did they want to expel Tokunosuke from the tournament? Because he was swindling people out of their Heart Pieces. He was breaking the rules of the tournament and directly screwing over other people. Even if the punishment (confiscating his deck and expelling him from the WDC for life) was pretty excessive, Gauche and Droite were just doing their jobs. Even though the moral of the franchise has been that Cheaters Never Prosper since day one, we're expected to root for Yuma when he comes to Tokunosuke's defense, because he's Yuma's friend (and even that's a pretty dubious title) when, if that weren't the case, Yuma would almost certainly be the one dueling him.
    • Justified somewhat, as in their debut appearances, they were seen helping Kite and Mr. Heartland, the former of whom was already introduced as a villain. In addition, they approved of Tombo Tillbitty's "Basket Rule", when said rule had been seen causing physical harm to several Duelists. Their main "redemption" move was quitting the WDC staff to become entrants because they enjoy dueling more than working security.
  • King Gurumes, the villain of Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies. He ruled his land with tyranny because he became addicted to blood rubies. So Goku and his friends try to stop the evil king from gathering the Dragon Balls and making his "terrible wish" of wishing himself free of the blood ruby hunger... which would solve the problem itself! Averted in the Japanese version, where he wanted to wish for finer foods.
  • Donan Cassim in Fang of the Sun Dougram. The reason why he's so determined to keep the colony planet a part of the Earth Federation is that he wants to use the manpower and technology to develop two nearby mineral-rich planets and save an exhausted Earth, but he's the local authority figure and therefore the villain. At some point, the authors themselves realized that he's a little too sympathetic and installed his aide, the genuinely evil and loathsome Helmut J Lecoque, as the Big Bad instead.
  • Luc displays an odd case of this in the Suikoden III Mameanga, where he goes to considerable effort to hide the fact that he's trying to save the world (through mass genocide, but still). When the hero finds this out, he even rants about not needing sympathy for his actions. He was a Jerkass even when he was a good guy.
    • He got his Poor Communication Kills from his mentor, who when he asked if there was any way to save everyone without killing everyone, just looked at him and was silent. Lady Leknaat might have realized the comedy of errors in the ending when she asked the world to forgive them all.
  • Clair Leonelli in Heat Guy J. First, he starts off as a puppy-kicker with Joker Immunity, then inexplicably disappears for a while. Then, when he comes back still holding the Villain Ball, another Designated Villain grabs the Villain Ball, and Clair goes into an Angst Coma. When he comes out of the coma, he has a Heel–Face Turn and is now an Anti-Hero, and the real Big Bad (whom we, until a few episodes ago, thought was Clair) reveals himself. In the manga, he belongs in the first category above; all he does is Kick the Dog for the sake of kicking the dog.
  • Star Driver has a bit of this. Yes, the Glittering Crux Brigade kidnapped the maiden to allow them to summon giants to Earth for some reason that probably involves fighting since we never see anything else happen, but when they aren't wearing their masks, they're pretty nice guys. Even the leader of Adult Bank, President, who is a schoolgirl wife who kisses men other than her husband through the glass because her husband is never around - Openly! Like, in class! - only has a massive boat to live in, not because she's uber-rich and spoiled, but because she's pretty sure that volcanoes will explode when they succeed, and wants to evacuate everyone off the island, so no one dies. After asking why else she would possibly have such a thing, both of her subordinates - who give her drinks and massages whenever she wants - simply stare at her, bewildered. The only true villain in the series turns out to be Head who was manipulating the rest of Glittering Crux from the very beginning.
  • Invoked in Ratman in that Hero and Villain are official designations in the society. The Protagonist/Hero is made into a villain due to a Xanatos Gambit and is forced to work for a villain group. So he's only a villain due to red tape.
  • Humanity itself is eventually portrayed this way in Blue Gender, where the Earth itself is spawning the Blue, horrific monsters, for the sole purpose of killing all humanity for daring to develop technology that elevated humans above the natural order (and also overpopulating). In particular, the leaders of the space colonies, Chairman Victor and the High Council, are demonized and portrayed as the Big Bad for the grave crime of wanting to leave the bug-infested Earth (which had apparently decided to kill them all itself) behind for good and wanting to keep technology around, while Seno Miyagi and his group of humans who try and flee Earth to settle on more hospitable planets elsewhere in the galaxy are portrayed as the worst of the worst, and all of them wind up going insane and “karmically” dying.
  • Pokémon: An Orange Islands episode involving a school of wild Lapras has, as its villains, a team of what are essentially pirates who are leaving the local police on edge by tracking a herd of wild Pokémon and then... weakening them with Pokémon they already have and tossing Poké Balls to capture them. In other words, exactly the same thing every trainer ever does. All the episode has to go on for why this is a bad thing when these pirates do it is mention of a "no-capture zone". Not even that Lapras are rare and endangered and need to be left alone to keep from going extinct, which would make sense with what its Pokédex entries have mentioned - no, just an arbitrary no-capture zone in the middle of the ocean with no actual reason specified for its existence.
  • An in-universe example from Re:CREATORS (in which fictional characters come to life) would be Yuuya Mirokuji, who was supposed to be the main villain and leader of a street gang in his original work, but turns out to be a friendly, caring and intelligent guy. Eventually, he acts more like a Cool Big Bro for the rest of the Created group than his designated Anti-Villain role.
  • Goku is hit with this in Dragon Ball Super's Universal Survival Saga. The Gods of Destruction and their Supreme Kais are angry that they're being forced to fight for their very existence and since they're scared shitless at the idea of calling out Zen'o, they've all turned their attention to Goku as he's the one who reminded the two Zen'os of the tournament idea and not the fact that he's the one who has given them the chance to live.
  • The Empirenote  from The Saga of Tanya the Evil comes across as this with respect to the war. The rest of the world vilifies them for their brutally efficient tactics as the war rages on, ignoring two important facts. First being that while the tactics they begin to use are brutal none breach international law,note  and the whole thing kicked off because one nation violated a treaty and attacked the Empire. The world treats them as villains because of the fact they successfully fought off a war of aggression.
  • An In-universe example in Akuyaku Reijo ni Koi wo Shite: the world has a will of its own and outright forces the citizens to view both the Windhill siblings, Vincent and Ariel as villains, no matter what they do, say, or think, twisting each and every little thing they do into horrible character destroying rumors until Vincent is executed for treason, and Ariel is sold into slavery, rescued by Rion, who then marries her and becomes the Baron of a distant land, thus meeting the world's desired "scene."
  • Hachiman Hikigaya of My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, as I Expected invokes this trope on himself when dealing with social problems. He does this on the idealogy that conflicts are unable to be resolved unless both parties focus on a single enemy, i.e, him. This becomes defied later on during the field trip to Kyoto when Hachiman confesses to and subsequently gets rejected by Hina in Tobe's stead. As a result, Yukino voices her comtempt for Hachiman's methods while Yui tearfully asks him why he does not understand the feelings of others.
  • Mami Yagihara of Blue Flag. Readers don't have a good vibe from her due to being an Alpha Bitch character that would potentially wreck havoc upon the story, but as far as an Alpha Bitch go she's not even that bad; being slightly hostile towards Taichi's group after Toma's injury is fairly reasonable for someone that can be immature, and while In-Universe the other girls dislike her for hogging up Touma for herself, it turns out that Touma never clearly turned her down & gave her the impression that she still has a chance.
  • Diego Brando from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run. He acts like a Smug Snake, but contrary to what the narrative wants you to think, that's about the worst thing he ever does. He's a talented jockey in search for the Corpse Parts, but that's literally what every other contestant in the Steel Ball Run race is doing, and although it takes a while to get to this point, he eventually assists the heroes in attempting to defeat the main antagonist, Funny Valentine. There's a rumor that he married an old woman, then killed her to inherit her fortune, but throughout the story, it was never proven. Really, compared to his original universe counterpart, Dio Brando, a complete and utter psychopath, there isn't anything Diego does to fully warrant his reputation as an antagonist besides being a bit full of himself.

    Audio Plays 
  • The early Doctor Who audio drama "Doctor Who and the Pescatons" treats the Pescatons this way. The Pescaton leader is using Mind Control, but its goal is to use the Doctor's powers and time travel access to help him find a new home, as a fish-creature from a dying planet with seas evaporating as it follows its dwindling orbit around its sun. This is exactly the sort of reasonable desire that the Doctor would normally help aliens with, at least if they promised good behavior. However, due to extremely out-of-character writing, the Doctor repeatedly declares them the most evil race he has ever known, and he and Sarah commit genocide against them without showing any remorse.

    Comic Books 
  • Thanks to the crossover comic storyline Avengers vs. X-Men, Cyclops is positioned as one of the most hated "villains" in-universe. The problem with this, other then the very idea of Cyclops going from X-Men's Jerk with a Heart of Gold leader to a villain, is that he killed Xavier while being controlled by the Dark Phoenix. No one in-universe brings up the fact that he was under the powers of a force strong enough to defeat Galactus in favor of just being a dick to him. This includes Wolverine, a guy who killed another member of the X-Men (Northstar) while brainwashed. Before anyone asks, yes, Wolverine is being a Hypocrite to Cyclops in front of Northstar (Death Is Cheap).
    • Cyclops reenters this post-Secret Wars (2015) where we find out that, despite uniting the mutant populace and bringing a level of peace through his (rather unorthodox) actions, the time skip has somehow made him a monster on the level of Adolf Hitler (and yes, he was actually called that). For over a year, readers wanted to know just what exactly he did (especially since an early story seemed to paint the mutant Sunfire as just as bad), only for Death of X to reveal that Cyclops wasn't even alive when he acted! It was Emma Frost, who somehow convinced the world that he led a group of mutants to alter the Terrigen Mists so that they would be safe for all. And he was disintegrated by Black Bolt for his actions! Much of this owed to the fact that Marvel, being overzealous in protecting from leaks, hadn't told the writers what Cyclops did aside from it apparently being really, really bad. Writers naturally assumed it had to be something seriously awful, hence the comparisons to Hitler, when the actual bad thing turned out to be kind of neutral.
    • A minor example sees Hellion punished by Cyclops for killing Karima. Even though she was attacking Utopia, there was absolutely no one else able to stop her from killing everyone there, and the entire crux of Cyclops's side during the Schism was that the kids needed to be trained to fight and defend themselves. He ends up being shipped off to Wolverine at the Jean Grey School, who goes so far as locking him up despite Logan having done far, far worse himself and been forgiven for it. Yet pretty much every book Hellion appeared in at the time attempted to drive home just how horrible and wrong his actions were.
  • One Looney Tunes comic from The '90s has Daffy and Bugs go on a luxury cruise ship. However, Daffy's luggage flies overboard and a puff of wind causes him to lose his ticket, and the captain forces him to spend the entire cruise slaving away to Work Off the Debt. Daffy begs Bugs to vouch for him, only for Bugs to pretend that he doesn't know him. At the end of the comic, once the cruise is over, Bugs tricks Daffy into signing a contract to work on the ship for two more weeks. Now, in most stories and cartoons, Daffy brings misfortune upon himself by acting like a jerk. What does he do to deserve his fate in this comic? Absolutely nothing - it's just that Bugs doesn't like his company, and deliberately ruins Daffy's cruise just so that he can enjoy its luxuries alone.
  • The Sirens in My Little Pony: FIENDship Is Magic. The way the issue is told, they don't come off as much as a threat as the legends told in Rainbow Rocks implied. Particularly, their singing doesn't cause strife or arguing between other ponies, it makes ponies adore them, and it's implied the Sirens do this as a way to get fame and attention, not to purposefully create trouble. If any harm was caused, it was Offscreen. Enter Star Swirl who, after repeatedly failing to best them in music to stop their spells, just banishes them to another world to get rid of them. At the very best it makes Star Swirl look like a petty jerk who hurled them into another world because he lost a music contest, and some fans go so far as to say Star Swirl is the villain of the comic and the Sirens were victims Driven to Villainy after their banishment. Worth noting this only applies in the comics canon; their appearance and subsequent banishment in Shadow Play clearly depicts them as villains spreading a Hate Plague that compels victims to violently beat the crap out of each other as they engage the Pillars of Equestria with Projectile Spells.
  • John D. Rockerduck from the Disney comics acts as The Rival to Scrooge McDuck and is typically depicted as a villain. Often, he shows his villainy by cheating or otherwise using underhanded tactics. However, in some stories (such as "Zio Paperone e lo slogan invincibile") he competes with Scrooge while doing nothing particularly villainous (or at least, no more than Scrooge himself does in the story), yet the audience is still supposed to cheer at him losing and getting humiliated at the end, simply because he happens to be in competition with the hero and is a villain "by default".
  • Therese in For Better or for Worse. Her crimes include...marrying Anthony, agreeing to have a child mostly because he wanted one, expecting him to do most of the childcare like he promised, going back to work after birth, eventually getting divorced (giving Anthony custody) and moving to Toronto, all of which is serious gossip fodder for the residents of their small town. It is fairly clear that the author hates this woman and wants everyone else to hate her too.

    Fan Works 
  • My Immortal:
    • Anyone who opposed Ebony.
    • Dumbledore is apparently a very mean and cruel teacher who tortures Ebony for being gothic. He was rightfully angered to see her having sex in the middle of the forest. He laughed at Draco being kidnapped by Voldemort, but you have to admit, it was pretty hilarious.
    • Britney is this and a Butt-Monkey. Preps in general are treated as monsters, despite not even doing anything mean.
  • Naruto
    • Fan fics in general seem to make ALL of the Uchiha Clan evil and jerkasses, simply because the readers dislike Sasuke — who, it should be remembered, had a seriously traumatic childhood and no less than three antagonists actively trying to corrupt him in various horrible ways since the age of 8, if not earlier, including assault, Mind Rape, and torture; so it's understandable if he's more than a little messed up, even if he is a villain. So they think Itachi was right to kill every single baby, non-ninja, or elderly member of the entire clan. Simply because one member is a bit of a Jerkass, his entire genetic family tree must be like this and deserves to be wiped out to make space for the recently powered-up Naruto.
    • On the flipside we have Sinister Chakra where this is invoked so the reader is unsure of just who is evil. Akatsuki? Wanna change the world for the better with a newer system that currently works and is in place in Ame but lament they have to take over the world to do so. The biggest one being Madara: Sealed in Naruto with the Kyuubi but is okay with being absorbed but wants Naruto to go after Konoha for allowing a corrupt council to exist and nearly wipe out all of the clan Senju but 4 people. He generally helps Naruto but warns him not to be naive.
  • How I Became Yours.: Poor, poor Mai. True, she does one legitimately villainous thing, killing Katara's baby through poisoned fruit, but she is right when she hides Katara's letters and eventually confronts Zuko about them, and is truly sad when Zuko tells her that he never loved her. Then Katara kills her. With bloodbending. In the middle of the day.
  • The Red Dragon Satan (Re-Loaded): In this High School D×D fanfic, Rias Gremory is immediately portrayed as the bad guy for not loving Issei even after she politely said no. Which Issei then commits suicide over, all because Rias didn't return his love? And yet Rias is blamed for him committing suicide and is treated like a heartless bitch for not loving Issei back in this fanfic.
  • JDR's (Chatoyance) The Conversion Bureau fanfics depict humans as evil in the extreme unless they convert, in which case they're simply 'misguided' beings who are being 'uplifted' into a supposedly better state of living. Any character who refuses to convert, and calls the ponies out on the genocide they are conducting is written as unsympathetic and beyond any kind of redemption on their own and must be forced to convert against their will. The catch is that humanity doesn't seem to have done anything villainous.
  • Most of the The Prayer Warriors villains are simply people who aren't Christian. Interestingly enough, Percy Jackson, initially the main antagonist of The Evil Gods Part 1, despite having supposedly done enough wrong to make him contemplate suicide, doesn't do anything actually evil until after he converts, at which point he stones his half-brother Tyson to death for refusing to become a Christian.
  • Seeing it from her perspective, Yukari was seen as this to a mild extent during the events of ''Mine because she refused to give back Reimu once her duties as wet-nurse were exhausted, which were to be expected as she took care of her since birth, thus she's grown to be attached, seeing herself as a mother figure to "her little human child light, especially if you take into account that she is unable to bear children of their own and hasn't caused anyone any harm to warrant anyone's hostility, aside from refusing to give Reimu back to her mother initially once her deeds were exhausted.
    • However, Amoridere swings between both Reimu's mother and Yukari as being designated villains, if either side is taken, as both are at fault.
  • Cyclops in a large proportion of X-Men fanfictions, in these he is the villain for being the Stop Having Fun Guy, which to be fair is sometimes necessary as a leader if you don't want your team to die horribly, a lot of the time even if he's had an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy decision regarding Jean he'll be called out for attempting to move on, trying to stop new untrained students fighting in missions, which again could get them and all his friends killed, oh and the best of the lot, existing, often he will be maligned by characters even when his dialogue isn't filled with jerkassery unless greetings are suddenly insults in these fics. The only way to reliably avoid these is to solely read fanfictions where he is part of a major pairing, which means tough luck if you're a fan of him and want to read about him being badass because he suffers from severe Wimpification in these.
  • The celebrities in the Real-Person Fic, The Global Gunger, who get punished by the titular Designated Hero, Tony Stevens, because he's stuck in a dead-end job, while they get to go off on holiday. Also because they're cocky. (Even though the narration never shows them acting even close to arrogant.) Therefore, we're supposed to laugh at them, and cheer on Tony Stevens, as he dishes out their 'Just Desserts' upon them, turns them into laughingstocks, and stranding one of them on a boat, completely messy, and alone. Instead, you just end up feeling sorry for them, and want them to get their revenge on him.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos ends up deconstructing this trope. Sonic and friends immediately turn on Maledict and consider him to be The Man Behind the Man the moment he comes to Tsali's aid in Episode 63. It turns out they're right...but Maledict only manipulated everything to end the Eternal War and was (kinda) on Sonic's side the whole time.
  • In Of Blood and Steel, Jackie Lambert isn't evil, per se, but she is Erwin's rival for the position of tankery team commander and is said to be somewhat stuck up and vain, resulting in some people being dismayed at the prospect of her leading the team. She doesn't quite live up to this reputation, though, and she has several valid points about Erwin's shortcomings as a leader. Jackie decides to give Erwin a chance as leader unless she causes the team to lose, and after Erwin loses to Salem High, Erwin begrudgingly honors the agreement. It's unclear how much Jackie deserves her reputation, or whether we're meant to think she does.
  • Adam Taurus and the White Fang as a whole in Of Vale Blood are much less villainous than in the original, mostly due to their goals being entirely understandable. Their main purpose is to abolish slavery in the Kingdom and they target almost exclusively the ones responsible, yet they are treated as monsters for causing "bloodshed". The intended heroes of the story never bother to end slavery - though they make vague plans for it at the end - and at no point attempt negotiating with the White Fang, leaving violence as their enemies' only option.
  • In The First King by Savu0211, Nkosi gets upset at a trio of hyenas for hunting an elephant. He thinks that they're torturing her and says that they should hunt animals that they can kill quickly. However, weakening their prey is how hyenas hunt. They're just doing what comes naturally to them. The elephant also died of natural causes a few minutes afterwards.
  • Total Drama Crios Cath has a contestant whose title literally is this trope. Molly Reid has the reputation of a violent bully, but it is noted in her introduction that she has never been a bully.
  • The Fantasia Times fanfic series has the "Royals" subgroup of characters. They're essentially the butt-monkeys of the rest of the cast, being treated like garbage simply for being a part of said subgroup, threatened with physical harm at the slightest hint that they're being mean to someone, and having to deal with an invoked Star-Crossed Lovers scenario with their designated love interests (who also treat them like garbage, yet are supposed to be their destined mates). And yet we're supposed to root against them/for their "redemption" whenever they oppose the God-Mode Sue protagonist. Heck, even Ayato Sakamaki (the only "Royal" who's canonically a pure jackass; all the others are jerks with hearts of gold or straight-up nice) comes off as the Only Sane Man instead of the jerk the writer says he is.
  • The Renegade protagonist of With This Ring calls out Guy Gardner for treating him this way.
    Gardner: Gray, you're a part'a the Light now. You should be grateful he just punched you.
    Grayven: Oh? I thought the League had principles. Ideals you held to above what an ordinary man on the street might reasonably be expected to do. King Orin punched me because he allowed his passions to override his reason, not because I was doing something for the Light. Heck, it's not like I'm hiding. If you want to make an accusation, do it. I turned up in court when my life was on the line. I'd gladly do it for a lesser charge.
    Gardner: Yeah, that's what Luthor says too.
    Grayven: And he would. You see, Guy, being the 'good guy' is rather dependent on you doing certain things and not doing certain others.

    Films — Animation 
  • Percy in Pocahontas is designated as a villain simply by being the pet of Ratcliffe. Although Ratcliffe is a racist, genocidal jerk, Percy is actually a pretty decent dog. While aloof, he certainly isn't arrogant, and he doesn't attack anyone without any provocation. He just seems content with staying in the ship and enjoying his well-off, carefree life. Then, Meeko bursts in and steals his food for no reason other than to be a Troll. By the end of the movie though they've made up, and have even exchanged accessories. Their rivalry is kept strictly a friendly one in the sequel, with Flit as a third party keeping it under control.
  • Dr Ivan Krank in Disney's Teacher's Pet,. The film tries to tackle the topic of animals being abused by science but does so poorly as Krank's creations may be deformed but they show no sign of pain or suffering, if anything they show gratitude for creating them (much to his annoyance). On top of that his motives were somewhat justified in the film as all he wanted was credit for his accomplishments. Yet the filmmakers seem to think he's the villain for whatever reason.
  • Played straight and inverted in Over the Hedge with all three antagonists:
    • Played straight with Vincent the bear. On-screen, the only thing he does is make RJ replace the food that he lost because he was stealing it. He makes a monologue about a bunch of Offscreen Villainy, but without that, he's really just trying to survive.
    • Inverted with Gladys Sharp and Dwayne "the Verminator" La Fontant. On the surface, they seem like the leader of a homeowners' association who just wants her town rid of bothersome pests and an exterminator just doing his job, if it weren't for the fact that she's clearly a pompous, arrogant Control Freak who willingly buys an illegal pest control device and demand that said pests by eliminated inhumanely as possible and he was someone who clearly enjoyed hunting down animals and setting up dangerous traps.
  • Ken from Bee Movie is supposed to be an unpleasant jock and poor boyfriend to Vanessa, but he mostly just seems to be a pretty decent guy who just has some severe anger issues, and even those are 1) comically over-the-top and mostly harmless and 2) never directed at Vanessa personally. He does attempt to murder Barry, but even then, Ken accurately points out his severe allergy to bee stings means Barry could kill Ken just as easily as Ken could kill Barry (not that Barry wants to harm Ken, to be fair). It's hard not to feel sorry for him when everyone treats him like a racist jerk because he gets upset when his girlfriend dumps him for a bee.
  • Sid in Toy Story. He is portrayed as a budding sociopath for his cruelty to toys, but he can't be faulted for the way he treats his toys since he doesn't actually know that they're alive; the worst thing he knowingly does is bully his younger sister Hannah. Amusingly, a few of Pixar's employees have said that they too used to mess with their toys, and jokingly called Andy "a freak" for treating his so nicely. His dog Scud plays it even more straight. While he is still considered a threat, he can't be faulted for chewing up the toys since his aggression was most likely brought on by Sid and chewing toys isn't exactly an unusual thing for dogs to do.
  • Wreck-It Ralph, the (Designated) Villain Protagonist of Wreck-It Ralph, which invokes this trope In-Universe and deconstructs it. His In-Universe backstory is that he lived in a forest that was cut down to build the Niceland Apartments, which leads to him wrecking up the place as the game's bad guy. However, his Designated Villain status carries over to when the game characters are off the clock too, with the NPCs shunning him because he plays the role of the bad guy. This prompts him to go on a quest to prove that he can be a good guy.
  • Mr. St Peter the appliance repairman from The Brave Little Toaster. He rips apart appliances and uses the parts to build new ones, and since the film is from the viewpoint of the appliances he is equated to Doctor Frankenstein. The ones trapped in his shop have gone mad from watching it over and over. Like Sid, he has no clue at all that the appliances are sentient and isn't operating out of any malice, though he does sell used parts claiming they are new which really is fraudulent.
  • The Man Upstairs from The LEGO Movie falls into the same category of "didn't know his victims were sentient." Though that conflict is purely a metaphor for his relationship with his son, Finn, wherein he acts as a "Stop Having Fun" Guys and squashes Finn's imagination and creativity, which one could argue qualifies as non-designated villainy.
  • Satan in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a deconstruction. He's portrayed as Saddam's henpecked boyfriend for the most part, but it really sinks in during his Up There song, which reveals that his role as the villain to humanity is just a job and he only wants to take over Earth to enjoy what humans take for granted. This carries over into the series, which repeatedly shows Satan as a featured character in episodes that also show Catholic Church guilt-tripping their patrons and forcing little boys into sex-slavery.
  • In the Christmas special short film The Small One the tanner is portrayed as a terrifying villain who wants to buy the boy's donkey to skin and make leather out of him. In other words he's nothing more than a working man making a living. It's also worth noting that he does nothing dishonest at any point in the film when the boy asks if he'll take good care of his donkey he flat out states he's only interested in the hide when he could've simply reassured the boy "Sure, I'll take care of him." and had more business.
  • The Emoji Movie: Smiler is played up as a Control Freak when really, she is only trying to prevent Textopolis' death. Smiler is clearly protecting the city out of altruism, as opposed to a desire for power; she actually allows some compromise, until it gets rejected by the designated heroes. At worst, she is a mildly unstable Well-Intentioned Extremist and, even then, Smiler had very few options. Overall, it is difficult to view Smiler as a monster because she is justified in marking Gene as a threat and, even otherwise, Gene himself is not particularly endearing in the first place.
  • Princess: Charlie. His only crime is getting Christina involved in the porn industry, but other than that, he doesn't really do anything else making him worthy of being an antagonist. Ironically, August is much more of an antagonist compared to Charlie.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 28 Weeks Later tries hard to portray Dom as this. Leaving his wife to die, lying to his kids about what happened. Then grabbing the Idiot Ball and getting infected and causing a fresh breakout would put him in this bracket, however in the context of the setting, combined with bad writing combine to ruin this.
    • Had his wife not given away the survivors' location at the start by letting in a child, there's a good chance they would have been fine, not to mention Dom was unable to reach her due to an infected in the way and more coming, survival instinct kicked in right there. Not to mention he would have never reached his wife in time to prevent her from being bitten (she was on the second floor of a house, he outside) and attempting to do so meant fighting off no less than ten infected with his bare hands (it's established in the film fighting a single infected one-on-one unarmed is effectively a death sentence).
    • He doesn't exactly lie to his kids as he breaks down before getting to that part, not to mention he never actually sees what happened to her. Plus he is shown to be very guilt-ridden about the whole matter as it is. Yet his kids flat out accuse him of lying about everything.
    • Speaking of which, he had every right to be furious about them leaving the safe-zone. When you have the most deadly plague in history which has ravaged Britain in less than a month out there and the US Army enforcing the rules then you would be pissed, yet the film forgets that to focus on how him lying was so terrible and he is shown to struggle to find a response, making it seem like his kids have any moral high ground.
    • While he stupidly went and kisses his now-alive wife and got infected, why was she not being guarded? Plus, had he succeeded in killing his son while under the effects of the virus, then it's likely the rest of the world would have been fine.
    • There's also the US Army, who decide to just up and wipe out all civilians, infected or otherwise. Harsh? Yes. Necessary? Yes. It's the most deadly plague in human history, it spreads so unbelievably fast it's simply too deadly to try and tell if someone's infected or not (and if he is and he spots you, you have about two seconds before he's on you biting and vomiting infected blood in your face), and they've now learned people can be asymptomatic carriers. Any escaping survivor could spread the infection, which is exactly what happens when the protagonists spread it to France by escaping: Good job Sergeant Doyle, you saved two children but doomed (at least) all of Europe and Asia.
  • "Slaggy Lindsay" in Angus Thongs And Perfect Snogging. Sure, she's a bitch to Georgia, and doesn't seem particularly loveable, but it's kinda excused by the fact that Georgia is trying to steal her boyfriend throughout the film. To make matters worse, in the book series that the film is based on, she is known as "Wet Lindsay", and is basically despised by Georgia for being a wimp.
    • Lindsay only began to show signs of bitchiness after Georgia's constant attempts to steal her boyfriend become enormously apparent. In many ways, Georgia is a Designated Hero, blatantly insulting Lindsay throughout the film, treating her friends and parents horribly and using everyone as a means to an end to get with Robbie.
  • Dean Wormer in the Animal House movie has every right to hate and put the Delta Fraternity on probation due to their disruptive antics, continuously poor academic standing, and flouting the school's rules. He also had reasons and authority to expel the members (plus he actually started plotting to expel them only after he was threatened into doing something about it).
  • Amy Squirrel in Bad Teacher, thanks to her repeated, downright obsessive efforts to expose Elizabeth, the title character, for being Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Elizabeth is superficial, vain, lazy and mostly incompetent, a drug user, doesn't help her kids to learn (her success is achieved through cheating), she doesn't learn anything herself except perhaps to be slightly less superficial and jealously causes her to ruin Amy's life. She breaks multiple laws and rules and her only selfless acts are brief attempts to make some of her kids a little more cool. In short she is a terrible person and does almost nothing to justify the fact that the audience are supposed to root for her. Amy's methods are overbearing and underhanded, but it doesn't change the fact that she's absolutely right. Yet somehow, the audience is supposed to cheer for Elizabeth and see her wrecking Amy's life as a good and/or amusing thing.
  • The villain of the 1996 made-for-TV horror movie The Beast is Schuyler Graves. He's the bad guy because: 1) He's richer than the hero, and 2) He has a less manly first name.
  • Did anyone think that Faulkner in Bio-Dome was the bad guy? The stoner protagonists already screwed up his expensive experiment upon entering the dome, but he was willing to let them stay in the dome, getting free food and living in a paradise of an environment for a year rather than ejecting them and prosecuting them for trespassing. When the protagonists then proceeded to ruin every experiment he tried to conduct within the dome (including trying to rape two female scientists), he locked them off to stop them from ruining it even more. The only time in the film he does anything approaching Disproportionate Retribution is when he decides to blow the dome up, but considering that the protagonists had held, of all things, a massive party with hundreds of people in the dome, ruining an experiment that cost him billions... Yeah, the film is less "radical youths stick it to the Man" and more "man's life's work ruined by moronic pothead assholes."
  • Christmas with the Kranks places the Kranks at the same level as the Grinch simply because they want to go on vacation for Christmas and don't want to partake in any of their neighborhood's usual celebrations.
  • Jordan's father in the latter half of Cocktail is a villain purely because he won't let Brian and Jordan get back together. Brian being the same man who despite falling in love with Jordan immediately cheated on her with an older woman, and who didn't exactly have a positive reaction to the news that Jordan was pregnant with his child. Even though Mr. Mooney ended up disowning Jordan when she took Brian back, considering Brian's track record to that point his condemnation and derision of Brian was perfectly justified.
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic: The debt collector, Derek, who is just doing his job and trying to get the main character to pay the bills she herself got. Even if he is a jerk, it doesn't change the fact that Becca goes on to owe tens of thousands of dollars due to her obsession with shopping and she has to pay for it. This is notably an adaptation-only case, as in the book, Becca acknowledges this happening and that Derek has devoted a lot of his and the bank's resources to get Becca to pay and gave her many chances to do so, for which she deeply apologizes and promises to start working off her debt.
  • Amy's mother and aunt in Cuties, supposedly, for their traditional beliefs about women and their role in their culture. Even when they discover about Amy's out of control behavior and provocative wardrobe, their reactions weren't that unjustified since, in the mother's words, "you lied to me. You steal from me," which are things that Amy actually did. Granted, the mother's first response was to slap her but for the most part, she was panicking and sobbing while any other conservative Muslim family could've done much worse, especially in real life.
  • Jillian in the Lifetime TV Movie, Dear Santa, is supposed to be seen as the bad guy because... she has a loving relationship with Derek. Her attempts at thwarting Crystal are completely justified because she has stalked Derek and tried to sabotage their relationship.
  • Even Tim Burton points out that the various producers in Ed Wood are all DVs; all they want to do is prevent Wood from making terrible movies on their dime.
  • Exaggerated with the Central Park Rangers in Elf, who are immediately evil because for some reason they look like the Nazgul despite being mounted police (though Santa eventually mentions that he put them on his naughty list once and they never forgave him.)
  • Expelled: Principal Gary Truman is shown to be completely justified in suspending and expelling Felix O'Neill because of his rule-breaking behavior, but is depicted as the antagonist only because Felix is the protagonist and is constantly framing himself in the right. Truman is strict, but mostly a Reasonable Authority Figure and he's clearly lost his patience with Felix because he can't get him to stop breaking the rules. It gets even worse when the movie has Felix discover Truman is embezzling the school's money in order to pay his gambling debts. The writers had to make him a criminal because they couldn't make him unlikable or wrong any other way.
  • From the standpoint of the protagonists in Fast Five, Hernan Reyes is this. While he's a drug dealer and murderer to be sure, they only ran afoul of him because he'd hired them to steal some cars and they broke the deal because they realized his people were only really interested in one of the cars which turned out to have important information regarding his business. They really had no reason to do this as they were just hired to steal the cars. This ultimately results in a high speed chase dragging a ten ton vault through the streets of Rio where the "heroes" cause untold damage. The police in the film are absolutely this unless we are to believe EVERY SINGLE cop in Rio is on the drug dealer's payroll, and even then they would have every valid reason in the world to stop the group of street-racing assholes who were speeding down the street, dragging a freaking massive safe, destroying buildings and parked vehicles and everything they pass by and endangering the lives of the innocent citizens of Rio every step of the way for no reason other than some cash and to spite Hernan Reyes for sort-of-but-not-really lying to them.
  • The New York district attorney Sean Kierney in Find Me Guilty. Throughout the film, Kierney is the rival to Designated Hero Jackie DiNorscio. Despite coming off as something of a Jerkass, at no point in the film is Kierney wrong about his reasons as to why Jackie and his associates deserve to be convicted. However, the film goes out of its way to portray Jackie as the blameless hero (who at best will try to explain his flaws with halfassed reasoning) and Kierney is presented as a crusading zealot out to enforce the claimed "government oppression" of Italian-Americans. He ends up being a borderline Straw Character for how easily Jackie outmaneuvers him. Granted, this was based on historical events, but even still, the movie is clearly not on his side when he's one of the few characters in the movies who's simply looking for justice.
  • Dan Sanders in Furry Vengeance is a nice guy who just happens to work for a company that wants to tear down the forest. However, because he works for the company, even though he has no real power in whether or not the forest will be destroyed (as he's pretty much just the land developer and, therefore, the middle man), we are supposed to be delighted when the animals beat him up.
  • The bodybuilding documentary Generation Iron does this with the multiple time Mr. Olympia champion, Phil "The Gift" Heath. All his edited interview clips make him come off as stuck up and arrogant, in contrast to his rival Kai Greene, who is shown as humble, philosophical, and the underdog. This was done intentionally to add some drama to what would otherwise be a standard bodybuilding film.
  • Godzilla vs. Megaguirus: Godzilla, of all characters, manages to be this. The Godzilla of this film is one of the less violent incarnations of the character, who only attacks Japan because he was attracted to a nuclear power plant and later plasma energy. When Godzilla attacks Japan again, it is revealed to have been because some humans were conducting tests with plasma energy, ignoring how such technology is illegal and capable of attracting him. While Godzilla is certainly dangerous, his actions do not justify the extreme lengths the humans go to kill him including building a black hole weapon. Furthermore, in trying to kill Godzilla using said black hole weapon, the humans wound up bringing film's other titular monster, which was only stopped by Godzilla himself.
  • Gold Through the Fire: The school biology teacher is portrayed as bad just for saying to Peter that, while he may disagree with evolution, it's what they teach (as this is the scientific consensus) and he isn't allowed to disrupt things, nor later write his objections rather than the actual answers in a paper.
  • The Hannah Montana movie's villain was a land-developer who wanted to pave an empty field to build a mall. Todd in the Shadows pointed out that a mall would actually have greatly boosted the economy of the town, attracted more people (such as tourists or prospective home-buyers, which would have also improved economy) and that the guy wants to pave an empty field that has no real use. Yet the audience is expected to root against him just because he's a land developer in a family movie.
  • Taken Up to Eleven with Natalie from Home Alone 4. Despite supposedly being some kind of Rich Bitch Wicked Stepmother, she is nothing but kind to Kevin until he ruins her engagement party note  and gives her reason to suspect he is trying to sabotage her relationship with Peter. She is even nice to Kate when she comes to visit, the only bad thing she's alleged to have done is overwork Prescott, which we never even get to see, as such the ending (Peter breaks up with her on Christmas Eve and she bursts into tears in front of everyone, who seem to be happy about it) comes across as extremely mean spirited.
  • The title character of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! becomes this to an extent in the live-action film adaptation, due to his sympathetic portrayal compared with the commercialistic Whos, who are almost Obliviously Evil. Subverted when he decides to, well, steal Christmas solely based on something only one Who (the Mayor) does.
  • The Hunt for Red October: The "villains" of this film are all patriotic Soviet citizens, who are either told the truth and desperately trying to prevent their top submarine captain from defecting to their arch-enemy with a state-of-the-art submarine carrying a non-trivial portion of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, or have been led to believe that said captain has gone rogue and intends to kick off World War III and are equally desperately trying to stop that from happening.
  • In a World......: Gustave (Ken Marino) is a sexist jerk with an entitlement complex, but he never actually does anything underhanded or immoral. His "crimes" are limited to taking up some of Lake Bell's father's attention, having consensual sex with her at a party, submitting an audition for a part they both want, and being a sore loser afterward.
  • Keith in La La Land is a Jazz musician who understands the traditional form a Jazz is no longer popular like it used to be, and to save the music, he must adapt to what the younger people are listening to today. He creates a successful Jazz Fusion band. Too bad he is not the hero of the story. Sebastian, who is a Jazz traditionalist doesn't want to change anything and thinks anyone doing so is a sellout and a traitor. Keith is shown as nice guy and just as passionate about Jazz as Sebastian, but the film makes it seem like he is in the wrong for wanting to change the music from what it used to be, despite Jazz itself being a form of music that was created as something new and non-traditional and something that evolved over time, never staying the same.
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park:
    • Peter Ludlow is the head of InGen Corporation, and is primarily made out to be the main villain by Ian's group. Yet, all of his actions throughout the film are pragmatic, well-reasoned and entirely understandable. In a deleted scene from the opening, Ludlow removes John Hammond from the board of directors, correctly pointing out that Hammond's experiment has resulted in tens of millions of dollars being lost, the deaths of at least five people, and a little girl getting injured by Compsognathus when her family strayed too close to "site B", and then correctly pointing out that the only way to save the company is to authorize a relaunch of the park at their backup site. Despite the fact that he acts generally callous towards Ian, Sarah and Nick (who are outsiders), InGen still rescues them during the climax when they reach the operations center. Even when they get back to San Diego, Ludlow invites Ian and Sarah in to his private launch event despite them acting like dicks to the security guards. After all this (and the T. rex escaping), all he receives is a response from Ian that "now (he's) John Hammond" a short while before he gets eaten by a baby T. rex as its father watches.
    • The human villains have this trait specifically so that their arguments can be dismissed. While they were shown to be quite ruthless when dealing with the dinosaurs, the Designated Heroes were directly or indirectly responsible for every human death in the movie. The 'villains' keep going out of their way to save the protagonists' lives, while the 'heroes' continue to heckle and sabotage them. While a Tyrannosaurus is rampaging through the hunter group, the leader suddenly finds out that one of the heroes stole the bullets from his gun.
    • The film also falls headfirst into Strawman Has a Point. The antagonists are supposed to be evil because they claim that the dinosaurs were property of the local Mega-Corp, when that's exactly what they are; they wouldn't even exist if they hadn't been deliberately created, which also nicely shatters the protagonists' argument that they should be left alone to live naturally, nature having nothing to do with it. A clear example of the "villains" being more like jerks than actually evil.
  • Caroline in Maid in Manhattan, one of the two "wicked stepsisters" in this modern-day version of Cinderella. She's a flake and utterly oblivious to the fact that the "Prince" is completely uninterested in her, but other than that, she doesn't do anything wrong. The one remotely bad thing that she does is file a complaint when she discovers that Marisa (the titular maid) has been wearing her clothes and pretending to be her—a perfectly legitimate gripe.
  • Dr. Jarret in Man's Best Friend is an interesting case of this. He is performing unethical and illegal research on animals (bad) and he created the genetically engineered killer dog that causes all the trouble in the movie (also bad, but keep reading). His purpose was to build the ultimate guard dog after his wife and child were killed; he figured it would be a good product to sell. He also kept Max on a strict regiment of drugs designed to keep him from going berserk and insane. When the Designated Hero steals Max from the laboratory, the police and others don't seem too interested in taking Dr. Jarret seriously, despite the fact that he has explained that his dog is a ticking time-bomb that's ready to explode in a shower of mayhem...He made the monster, but he kept it under control, and it was only due to the acts of others that it escaped and was able to kill people. And we're supposed to believe that he's bad.
  • The disaster film Meteor had an American general be portrayed in a bad light for objecting to Russians getting access to a top secret American command center during the height of the Cold War. Straw Man Has A Point.
  • Rail Chief Patterson in Money Train is the bad guy for the terrible crime of not wanting his trains robbed by the protagonists. Granted, he's not exactly likable, being a bit greedy and a Control Freak Jerkass, but when the "good guys" are motivated by paying off gambling debts, (and one of them was semi-seriously planning the heist when paying off the debt was not nearly as much of an issue as it later became) it's hard to say they're any better when it comes to greed, at least. Patterson does go Jumping Off the Slippery Slope by endangering the lives of innocents as part of his attempt to stop the robbery, but that's also something which movies tend to shrug off or ignore when, say, a main character who's a detective or action hero does it.
  • Discussed in Monkey Bone by Death who is fed up with people treating her like the bad guy when she's just trying to do her job, which must be done, all the while people are breaking into the Land of the Dead to steal "exit passes" and cheat death. She's right too: while she has a literally explosive temper, she's a charmingly likeable person (Being played by Whoopi Goldberg cemented that), a Benevolent Boss, and even a Reasonable Authority Figure willing to bend her own rules sometimes and let people return to Earth.
    Death: Look. I'm a simple person. I do an honest day's work. Why does everybody make that so hard for me? You're switching bodies, you're stealing exit passes, I work a long enough day as it is!
  • Stuart in Mrs. Doubtfire is guilty of nothing more than dating Miranda and building a relationship with her children. Daniel hates him for stealing his family's affections, even though Stuart wasn't even in the picture until after the divorce and custody hearing. At the end (having inadvertently nearly killed Stuart), Daniel seems to realize that he was blaming the wrong person, and they manage to work out a reasonable co-parenting arrangement.
  • Now You See Me: Thaddeus Bradley did nothing illegal and nothing more immoral than expose Lionel Shrike's magic tricks. Of all the people responsible for Shrike's death and his family never receiving the life insurance they were owed, he's arguably the least responsible, yet undeniably gets punished the worst for it.
    • The reason might be connection. While Lionel's death was the result of a faulty safe and insurance trickery meant not a lot of money, the only reason he was placed in that situation was because Bradley ruined him. His motive seems to be nothing more than bitterness.
    • If anything, the safe company was the least at fault. Holding them responsible for the fact that a man who, of his own free will, locked himself in one of their safes and then had said safe submerged deep under water, and then died, is fairly absurd. If anything, the fact that Shrike was unable to escape from the safe is testament to the fact that the safe was well-made and functioned as intended.
    • Also, the insurance company can hardly be faulted for refusing to pay out for the death of a man, whose reckless actions directly caused it. Being a magician doesn't absolve one from responsibility..
    • On top of all that, this designation is later subverted in the sequel where it's revealed that, like Dylan in the first movie, Bradley was really part of the mysterious Eye organization all along, with his rivalry with Lionel Shrike being all a ruse to keep up appearances when they were really partners the whole time. So it turns out Dylan's beef with him was entirely pointless.
  • Sgt. Doberman from the 1970s love letter to anarchy, Over the Edge. His shooting of a teenager in the film is considered a Moral Event Horizon - and subsequently, his murder by anonymous teenagers is presented as a good thing - ignoring that the stupid kid was pointing a gun at him and screaming "Die, pig!!"note  Doberman tries to defend himself by saying that he didn't know the gun wasn't loaded (and, in fact, his life depended on not making such an idiotic assumption), but the movie plainly doesn't care about that very salient point and drops it rather quickly. '70s audiences no doubt were horrified, but modern audiences might instead feel relieved that the Sergeant took this moron out before he could get the chance to breed.
  • In Patch Adams, anyone who expects Adams to conform is an antagonist, especially Dean Wilcott. Adams' nonconformity includes practicing medicine without a license, stealing from a hospital, and ignoring background history. The audience is expected to side with Adams on all issues, but most audiences think that the Strawman Has a Point. Adams' roommate is treated as a villain who needs to change because he's annoyed by Adams and thinks that he cheats on his exams. However, the character is simply an earnest medical student who has good reason to be suspicious of Adams' flawless grades, given the fact that we never see him study. Even the Real Life Patch Adams, who behaves nothing like his fictional counterpart, hates the movie and sides with the "villains."
  • The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (1962), who is in that version entirely a victim despite posters and plot synopses calling him "the figure of terror incarnate" seeking his "hellish revenge". He doesn't even kill anyone or actively seek any sort of retribution (which many viewers would likely actually see as justified) against the evil man who was the cause of all his suffering, Lord Ambrose d'Arcy.
  • Donald Sinclair of Rat Race. He doesn't tell the racers he and a bunch of other millionaires are betting on them, and some of the bets they do make come off as kind of callous, but he's otherwise totally upfront about the conditions of the race, he's polite to the racers, doesn't sabotage or impede them in any way, really does have a cash prize waiting for them, and isn't directly responsible for any of the problems the racers run into including not getting the money. Yet at the end him getting shamed into donating millions of dollars he wasn't interested in donating to charities is treated like a moral victory instead of incredibly unfair.
  • The A.I. from the first Resident Evil movie. It was supposed to be seen as wrong for insisting that the main characters kill one of their own who was infected before the A.I. would let them leave and for killing everyone in the facility when the virus was released. The problem with this? It was the only one doing its job. Everyone else was too busy trying to force their way in and then out, short circuiting the A.I. or sending in more and more people into what should be a building under total quarantine. If they had just let the A.I. do its job they wouldn't be dealing with a world wide zombie apocalypse two movies later. The Red Queen becomes much more antagonistic during her return in Resident Evil: Retribution, in which she's running a facility cloning Alice and several of the movie series characters by the hundreds and killing them over and over again in order to try and control Umbrella's viruses.
  • School of Rock depicts Ned's girlfriend Patty as being pushy and hypocritical because she "forces" him to demand Dewey actually get a job and pay his massive rent debt. Even though this is a rather reasonable demand, since Dewey isn't terribly concerned with what a drag he is on Ned. She is also supposed to be seen as hypocritical by pointing out that Dewey steps all over him and manipulates him...even though he does exactly that to Ned, to the point of engaging in identity theft to get a job under his name and trying to beg that he not do anything about it when Ned finds out. She's later further villainized for convincing Ned to press charges over the identity theft. At no point in the film is Dewey ever truly sorry for what he pulls on Ned and how many laws he broke or even that what he did could seriously impact Ned's own career as a teacher. For starters, the income from the job that Ned technically lost out on since Dewey took it from him, or what would happen when Ned didn't declare income from a job unknowingly taken under his name on his taxes. Dewey does acknowledge that what he did to the kids was wrong, but he's not ever aware of how much he took advantage of his roommate either. The moment where Ned breaks up with Patty for Dewey's concert is supposed to be a triumph of assertiveness when her only crime is being kind of aggressive over Ned not ever standing up for himself and being taken advantage of.
  • The Gorgonites in Small Soldiers is actually a Justified Trope In-Universe. The Gorgonites were originally meant for an environmental-friendly toyline, but it was cancelled and folded into the Commando Elite as the bad guys. However, their creator was angry at that and, instead of turning the Gorgonites into the enemy, their friendly nature was left in. Thus, the supposed-to-be heroic Commando Elite turn into genocidal monsters because they are "the good guys" and the Gorgonites are "the bad guys".
  • Most of the men in The Smokers are this, particularly David. He's considered bad because he's hot and cold towards Lisa, despite the fact that he knew her for less then an hour before they had sex and that Lisa never hinted that she'd like to go out with him instead of just having a one-night stand. Hell, he isn't even depicted as being a jerkass for most of the movie, but not only does the film tell us we're supposed to hate him, it expects us to laugh when he's being raped and tortured by our "heroes".
  • In the Nickelodeon flick Snow Day; the "villain" is simply the town snowplow driver, referred to exclusively as "Snowplow Man". It's more or less Played for Laughs, as obviously, from the perspective of a kid, the guy who clears away the snow and enables more school days after a blizzard is a heinous villain, even though this is obviously not the sole consequence for clearing away the snow. Then we actually see the guy in action and it turns out The Cuckoolander Was Right, and he does take pleasure in sending the kids back to school For the Evulz.
  • Space Mutiny. Seriously, all the "mutineers" wanted was just to go home instead of being forced to spend the rest of their lives on a derelict spaceship just because of some ridiculous, bullshit law the ship's captain made decades ago. Kalgan doesn't even start using underhanded tactics until after Ryder starts slaughtering his men unprovoked. This is doubly egregious since the opening blurb about the colony ship is that they're looking for a new planet to settle. The mutineers have found a planet to settle and are going to fulfill the ship's mission by settling there. A scene cut from the better known Mystery Science Theater version establishes that their leaders are planning to sell the ship's crew into slavery, with the rank and file being duped into it.
  • Zander Barcalow in Starship Troopers. He's supposed to be seen as the bad guy because he keeps trying to "steal" Johnny Rico's girl Carmen throughout the movie. However, he's completely upfront about his interest in her. When they fight in the mess hall, he keeps his word about disregarding rank (he's an officer fighting with an enlisted man), he could have easily had Johnny imprisoned or thrown out of the Mobile Infantry. He risks his own ass to come out and give the Roughnecks covering fire when they are evacuating Planet P when he could have sat in his cockpit, safe and sound. He was an honorable man and a brave soldier.
  • Mrs. Tingle in Teaching Mrs. Tingle is really the only sensible and likable character. Most of the movie involves the jerkass protagonist and her friends trying to torture and murder her because she accused the protagonist of cheating when she had every reason to believe that the protagonist had, in fact, been cheating. The movie also heavily implies that Trudy, the protagonist's competitor for the stipendium, deserves to be killed merely for being studious.
  • In the "Kick the Can" segment of the Twilight Zone: The Movie , the apparent villain is a man whose only concern is for the welfare of a bunch of octogenarians who shouldn't be engaging in physically strenuous activity. How's he supposed to know that it's really magic at work that will keep them safe? The man, Mr. Conroy, is crushed to find that the magic was real and he missed the chance to be young again (but right at the end, Mr. Bloom promises us that he'll get the magic after all).
  • Twister:
    • Jonas and his "evil, tornado-chaser crew". Jonas used to be a "pure" tornado chaser, then he got corporate sponsors and a fleet of black SUVs. He also has a duplicate of the main characters' "Dorothy" system, which he rightly claims credit for building. Bill (a guy who had given up tornado chasing to get a job as a TV weatherman) even assaults Jonas while he's talking to reporters, and gets angry when Jonas snidely asks how his new gig is going. This motivates Bill to abandon his fiancee and team up with his ex-wife and her crew. Bill also looks down on Jonas because he relies on technology and not instinct in order to predict tornadoes. So, if you can't sense the weather like Bill, you're a fraud, because, apparently, the whole point of tornado chasing isn't scientific research... And at the end, Jonas gets killed by a tornado. Um...yay?
    • This is made even worse because Bill and Jonas have the exact same goal - using the Dorothy system to gain valuable scientific data that could lead to better tornado warning systems that could save lives. Not only that, Jonas does not once use evil means to achieve these ends. There's no difference between Bill and Jonas ... except that Jonas is just a bit mean to Bill, whereas Bill is actively violent and abusive to Jonas.
  • In Unaccompanied Minors, the bad guy is the airport security director. He's upset that he can't go on vacation because the whole airport is snowed in. The protagonists are all kept away in a children's area, but the main characters break out, and proceed to steal food, steal a transport, and go to the mileage club without being accompanied by an adult. He confines them to the airport room while the rest of the kids are taken to an inn. For the rest of the film, they break out, steal from the unclaimed baggage, and try to get to that inn where one of the character's sister is. The director's just doing his job in trying to get them back. He proceeds to fall over a slop, crash a canoe, and an annoyed guest assaults him, along with the girl who stole the car! At the end of the film this is addressed, as he just tells the main kid that he's just doing his job. However, the movie still treats him as a scrooge for being bitter on Christmas, and it's he who learns the lesson about giving, while the protagonists don't get called on their actions.
  • Davey Bunting in Unforgiven. He's a good-natured cowboy who never hurts anyone in the film, and when his partner Quick Mike (who definitely IS evil) maims Delilah, Davey tries to compensate her by giving her a pony. But because he's partnered with Quick Mike, his offer is rejected with rocks and sticks, a bounty is placed on his head along with Quick Mike, and he is brutally killed by Will Munny, the main protagonist.
  • Laura Barnes in Unfriended. The entire movie is about her coming back from the dead as a ghost to torment and kill her former classmates via Skype because they drove her to suicide via, not only an embarrassing video they filmed of her passed out drunk after a party, but also by cyberbullying her through anonymous videos and harsh Facebook posts telling her to kill herself. While one of the teens tries to justify these actions by saying Laura was allegedly a bully in school, the fact that we never learn much about her as a character at all from before her death put this claim into question and it thus could easily be assumed that they drove Laura to suicide because they were jealous of her popularity and maybe wanted the spotlight for themselves (as it would make more sense than a baseless bullying accusation).
  • Walt Ferris, the inspector, from We Bought a Zoo. The most 'evil' thing he does is give a surprise, unofficial inspection a few weeks early... allowing the family to fix the problems he points out, so they can pass the REAL inspection (he also warns them of an impending regulation change, something he didn't really have to do; they treat this as a dick move, for some reason, as if he's the one changing the regulation). He is stated to have stolen some of their innovations for himself, but there's no actual evidence of that. In fact, he acts downright civil towards his supposed enemy, as long as the latter doesn't try to kill him.
  • Inspector Aberline from The Wolfman (2010) is really only an antagonist so far as he's trying to kill the hero. Sir John is the actual villain of the story.

  • Author Peter David, in his Star Trek: New Frontier novels, uses Jellico (now promoted to Admiral) as a recurring character. For most of the series, he remains a Designated Villain to the pseudo-Military Maverick main character, Captain Mackenzie Calhoun. Then, after a Time Skip, he's informed that Calhoun is missing and presumed dead. The reader is clearly supposed to expect Jellico to not be particularly upset by this...until it's revealed that some time during the Time Skip, the two had resolved their differences and were now close friends.
  • Jill in The Girl Who Owned a City. Her arguments in favor of voting and collectivism seem rather reasonable, but are dismissed in favor of the Mary Sue objectivist main character.
  • Before The Worm Ouroboros decided to ditch its framing device, the viewpoint character is guided around by a talking martlet, who identifies many of the main characters and pours a ton of adjectival condemnation on the villains. This is before they've done anything. Lessingham dryly concludes that "A fiery politician is my martlet", and resolves to make up his own mind on things. He and the martlet are never referred to again. As it turns out, the villains aren't much different from the heroes and certainly don't deserve titles like "the children of night everlasting". This is an odd example because the author seems to quite like them.
  • Deliberately invoked in Typewriter in the Sky, L. Ron Hubbard's Deconstruction of swashbucklers. The protagonist of the story is the antagonist of the story-within-a-story, but does his best to subvert the author's wishes. Even the editor can't tell who's supposed to be the good guy, so he forces a bit of rewriting and, among other things, has the newly revisioned baddie attempt I Have You Now, My Pretty on the heroine.
  • Javert, in Les Misérables. He's not a monster, he's not cruel, he doesn't kick puppies, he's just a cop trying to arrest a wanted fugitive. The fact that the fugitive is sympathetic doesn't make Javert evil. His All Crimes Are Equal Felony Misdemeanor attitude and refusal to give second chances does tip the scales towards the "evil" end, though.
  • Deliberately invoked in The Ogre Downstairs. The ogre in question is the grumpy stepfather of three of the main characters. One of the first things he does is the book is buy two of the kids chemistry sets as presents, but the kids are determined to treat him as a bad guy. As the book progresses, he gets increasingly angry and punishes the kids for messing up the house, getting in trouble, making a lot of noise, and ruining a party he was throwing. By the end of the book, the children realise that the ogre was actually trying to be nice and that maybe he had a point about their misbehaving.
  • Twilight:
    • The Volturi. We're told that they're a corrupt government with no respect for human life who want to take out the Cullens for selfish reasons (kidnapping Alice and Edward), but they're the only vampires that make any active attempt to control their species, follow their own laws, and keep vampires from senselessly slaughtering humans. Even though their primary motive is self-preservation, they still do more to protect both their own species and humans than the designated protagonists, the Cullens.
    • Laurent. He's reasonable and even warns the Cullens about James and his ability. In New Moon he's revealed to have been trying to be a 'vegetarian' but sometimes relapses; since Bella has a delicious scent and he's quite hungry, he can't help himself and plans to eat her, but is still planning to make it quick and painless. In fact, he considers it to be a Mercy Kill because it will pre-empt the much nastier death that Victoria would like to deliver. He's subsequently killed by the werewolves. The narrative paints him as evil, but other people-eating vampires (such as the dozens introduced in Breaking Dawn) are not treated as such, despite eating just as many people and mostly not even considering becoming vegetarians.
    • Leah. The characters and narrative treat her as a bitter, shrill harpy who gets in everyone's way. But Leah has had arguably one of the worst lives of the Pack, is fiercely loyal to her tribe/Jacob, and manages to get over the myriad of ways that life has screwed her to do her job as a shifter.
  • Mr Rochester's wife, Bertha Mason, could be Jane Eyre's only real Designated Villain, because she is the main reason why Jane and Mr Rochester cannot be together. However, she was insane and her erratic behavior came from what spread in her family and Mr. Rochester locked her up for ten years in the third-story room with no one to see but a maid.
    • In Jean Rhys's novel Wide Sargasso Sea, it is portrayed as Bertha went insane due to Rochester's mistreatment of her, including everything from obviously disliking her during the duration of their marriage to having sex with one of their servants. Bertha's mom, on the other hand, went insane after the servant of her new English husband abandoned her infant son during a fire started by the angry townsfolk. This led to the child dying of smoke inhalation. Their madness is not hereditary, but rather a result of the English men who came into their lives and messed everything up.
  • Kayla in The House of Night makes a whopping two appearances and is promptly branded a man-stealing jealous bitch by Zoey as a result. Kayla's crime, really, is hooking up with Heath after Zoey tells her several times, in no uncertain terms, that she's broken up with him. In Betrayed, Zoey acts like Kayla was being horribly spiteful and irrational in going to the police after witnessing Zoey drinking Heath's blood, and then having Zoey threaten to do the same to her. To really hammer this point in, Zoey's friends (who never even met Kayla before) begin referring to her as "skank-bitch Kayla" after learning that she went to the police.
  • In the Fairy Tale "The Wonderful Musician", the wolf, fox, and hare don't actually do anything to harm the protagonist until he tricks and humiliates them because he wanted a human companion, not an animal. Then they come after him.
    • What's worse, the only reason they approached him in the first place was that he compelled them to with his supernatural music, and could easily release them; he's only trapping them in various ways For the Evulz. The narrative makes it clear that he effectively brainwashes the woodsman and makes him give up his old job to be a companion. Yet when the "beasts" charge in for revenge, the same narrative says they have "some evil design". After the woodsman chases them off, the musician releases him from servitude, which is played off as a gesture of kindness and gratitude... even though he enslaved him in the first place.
  • Done deliberately in Rosso Malpelo, a novel written by Giovanni Verga. The child miner protagonist is portrayed by the narrator (who embodies the Sicilian mentality of the nineteenth century) as a malicious and bad bully...due to his red hair but it is made pretty clear that Malpelo is just a poor Jerkass Woobie, brutalized by the cruel society where he lives, who sometimes even borders on a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, especially when he interacts with his ill friend, Ranocchio (and no, this is not a case of Villainy-Free Villain, all the other characters, with the exception of his father and Ranocchio, are far bigger jerks than him, if not outright evil).
  • Michael Crichton's Timeline features a Jerkass corporate executive Robert Doniger whose quantum teleportation experiments kickstart the plot. He supports all possible safeguards for his technology, all accidents and disasters are caused by people refusing to follow his orders, and he does everything in his power to help the protagonists. As thanks for this, they murder him at the end by sending him back in time to die of the Black Death. For being a jerk. This was addressed in The Film of the Book, where Doniger actively tried to hide the flaws in the system and strand the protagonists in the past by destroying the machine, which earned him a trip to the past and a sword in the face.
  • Even if Claudia weren't a member of The Baby-Sitters Club, the title of Claudia and Mean Janine tells us which sister we're supposed to be rooting for in The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry. However, Janine never does anything particularly "mean" in the book. Instead, she makes attempt after attempt to connect with her sister, while Claudia repeatedly shoots her down, internally snarking about Janine's activities, friends, and her clothes. Claudia's complaints that Janine isn't helping take care of their grandmother also ring hollow since (a) no one ever asks Janine to help, and (b) when Janine tried to volunteer to help, Claudia insisted she could take care of everything and there was no reason for anyone else to disrupt their lives.
  • Karen Traviss seems determined to do this to Dr. Catherine Halsey in her Halo novels Glasslands, The Thursday War, and Mortal Dictata (prequels to Halo 4), putting the blame for the SPARTAN-II program's shadier aspects (primarily the kidnapping of six-year-old children) squarely on Halsey's shoulders. Almost everyone suddenly starts seeing Halsey as a monster who shouldn't be allowed to live. The specific act that earns the hate is the flash-cloning of the kidnapped children in order to convince the parents that the kids aren't really missing. The clones fall ill, with most dying a few months later. The head of ONI, Admiral Margaret Parangosky, personally blames Halsey for this. The kicker is, nothing happens in ONI without Parangosky's say-so, so there's no way she could not have known about the flash-cloning beforehand, especially since it hardly could have been accomplished by Halsey alone (indeed, previous sources implied that the flash-cloning was done with ONI's full approval). Nobody seems to consider that making parents think their kids are dead may be more merciful than living with the constant fear that their child was kidnapped (and additionally, Traviss even conveniently forgets that the flash-cloning was done precisely to stop people from asking further questions). Another argument is that the SPARTAN-II program was started many years before the war with the Covenant, so there's no justification for it. However, the Insurrectionists who plagued UNSC for years did so using terrorist tactics far beyond anything we've seen so far in real life, like using suicide bombers armed with nukes (the Insurrectionist nuking of the Haven arcology, mentioned in Halsey's own journal, killed two million civilians and injured 8.3 million more). While Halsey's actions may be seen as deplorable, there were reasons why she took them, and it's fairly clear that the moral culpability rests on ONI as a whole (which, to its credit, Mortal Dictata does touch a tiny bit on). Worse, the author shows no sympathy for Halsey, even when it's revealed that she cries herself to sleep every night with the name of her dead daughter (Miranda Keyes) on her lips.
    • In addition, the SPARTAN-III program (using orphans from glassed planets) is presented as the better alternative, as the orphans agreed to take part in it. However, the SPARTAN-III program were meant to be Cannon Fodder Super Soldiers, most of whom end up dying in combat by the age of twelve. Since all those orphans were also recruited as children (many of them at ages even younger than the IIs), they're obviously not mature enough to make the decision to agree.
    • Much of the fandom's issue with Traviss's presentation isn't so much that she points out that the Spartan-II program was ethically dodgy at best (obviously), but that she even ignores prior canon to make Halsey look worse; for one thing, claiming that Halsey lied to the children about why they were taken, when prior sources showed that she specifically said that ONI should not lie to the children about the reasons behind their kidnapping.
  • Traviss just barely skirts the line on this with the Jedi and the Republic in her Star Wars Legends material. Granted, she does have a point about an army of cloned, 10-year-old cannon fodder being led by 13-year old commanders, with both Jedi and Clone Troopers trained as emotionally detached killers with no messy "attachments" from infancy, and a Republic that sees no problem with this being very dodgy with ethics at best and no better than what they're fighting at worst — but she also seems to present them as better than the beloved Mandalorians, who do at bare minimum every single thing that the Jedi are accused of, often worse.
  • Bishop Patricius in The Mists of Avalon. Granted, he was very lawful and by-the-book. And he was the head of Christianity, which was the new "invading" religion, as compared to the Druidism that the Lady of the Lake and the Merlin were the heads of. But did he really deserve such a horrendous portrayal?
  • Danny Pickett in the Just Disgusting story, The Story of the Very Stupid Boy, and the Very Big Slug. The narrative constantly berates him for accidentally creating a giant mutant slug by feeding it dog food, and becoming unable to control it, leading to the world's destruction, just after he gets arrested for creating it. Justified, as this is a story Andy made up to make himself look good, to the point where he makes himself into a Marty Stu.
  • Isengrim the Wolf from "Reynard the Fox" and many of the other animals like Bruin the Bear and Tybalt the Cat. They are treated as the villains for being against Reynard and wanting him brought to justice. Reynard is a Designated Hero who raped Isengrim's wife, blinded their children, killed the Cockeral's wife and most of their children, along with killing a hare and framing a ram leading to their execution. The version by Andre Norton simply makes Reynard himself the villain.
  • The Chemical Garden Trilogy:
    • We're repeatedly told that Housemaster Vaughn is evil because he dissected Rose's body after she was killed by the virus to find a cure, but that's a fairly common medical practice, even today. It's not pleasant, but it's not evil.
    • How dare Cecily 1) do her best to adapt to a situation that to her doesn't seem at all horrible, considering she was practically raised for it, 2) attempt to make friends with her sister-wives, 3) criticize the staff when she quite reasonably expects them to do their jobs (particularly when she's pregnant and intensely frustrated from being kept in bed all the time), 4) try to monopolize Linden's attention when he's the only one who takes much notice of her anyway, and 5) make an honest mistake when she tries to keep Rhine from getting into trouble?! How dare she?! Later, she also gets yelled at for trying to stop a man from smoking near her while she's pregnant and holding a newborn.
  • The Department of Homeland Security from Little Brother are depicted as tyrants trying to infringe on privacy. They started enforcing strict security measures after a major terrorist attack occurred in The Hero, Marcus's Doomed Hometown, and the only person they're outright said to be spying on is Marcus. However, Marcus has done nothing but make himself look suspicious, such as using his hacking skills to play hooky and refusing to hand over his phone to The Severe Haircut Woman on the principle of privacy, and yet acts like he's a victim. The only DHS member that acts legitimately villainous is the Severe Haircut Woman, enforcing strict security measures, detaining Marcus's friend Daryl, and waterboarding Marcus just For the Evulz.
  • In-Universe in Worm. Skitter and the Undersiders probably do more good for Brockton Bay over the course of the story than any other faction, including the PRT. By the time they decide to publicly unmask Taylor, breaking the unwritten rules the public ain't havin' that shit anymore.
  • Cardinal Richelieu of the 1632 series, acknowledged both in-universe and out; he's not a bad person, and is shown to be Nice to the Waiter and perfectly fine with diplomacy, it's just that he's the right hand to the king of France, and France is at war with the Swedes that back the time-displaced Grantville. Eric Flint has gone on record that Richelieu is only the villain because he needed a smart and capable antagonist for the plot, and if there were anyone else Richelieu could have gotten a different role.
  • Redwall runs into this trope on occasion. Due to the clear expectation that we’re supposed to see species like rats, ferrets, weasels, stoats, and foxes as Always Chaotic Evil, characters who are among those species tend to be treated as automatically evil regardless of their previous actions or their circumstances. On the one hand, the main antagonists of the books almost always do go above and beyond in proving their villainy with countless murders, looting and plundering, trying (and occasionally even briefly succeeding) to take over Redwall, using Bad Boss treatment on their own subordinates, etc. On the other hand, a group of Redwallers will occasionally encounter a stray group of rats that have no affiliation with the Big Bad, for example, and treat them like bad guys despite that stray group not having done anything to justify it. One egregious example was in the book “The Legend of Luke”, where Martin’s group encountered a stray group of rats on their journey and forced them all at sword-point to jump off a cliff, even though this group didn’t seem to have done anything wrong or even had any affiliation with any villains. Another example was in “The Outcast of Redwall”, when the Redwallers took in an orphaned baby ferret and named him “Veil” specifically BECAUSE it was an anagram of “evil”, and accordingly they fully expected him to grow up to be evil. Sure that baby did grow up to become evil, but most fans tend to interpret this as a result of the Redwallers treating him like a bad guy from birth and Veil internalizing this reputation as he grew up. It is worth noting that very occasionally there will be a member of an “evil species” who is proven to be good and actually treated as such Blaggut and Romsca being notable examples, but these instances are extremely rare.

  • The Romantic False Lead in Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" is apparently supposed to be a bad person for being more popular and more feminine than the narrator and dating her best guy-friend who she has a crush on. It's implied to be a not-entirely-stable relationship, but that doesn't necessarily make her an Alpha Bitch like the song implies.
    • The same sort of situation is handled rather better in "The Girl Next Door," an earlier and nearly identical song by Saving Jane, where the narrator admits she's turning the other girl into a villain in her own mind to justify her jealousy of her.
    • And yet another similar situation occurs in "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne. The song's lyrics outright state that the narrator wants to break up her crush and his current girlfriend because "I don't like her"; she also states that the boy clearly likes her better, even though we never get his opinion on the matter. (Though he's grinning like an idiot over having a hot girl try to steal him, and doesn't seem to care about his initial girlfriend getting abused by a stranger.) Lavigne has stated that the message of the song is that doing this is wrong, which is not the message most viewers receive.
  • "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood has the protagonist thinking that her boyfriend is cheating on her so she trashes his car as revenge. Although the lyrics make it clear she's acting on unfounded suspicions, the boyfriend is still painted as being on the receiving end of justice even if he hasn't done anything wrong.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Most of the "monsters" in Classical Mythology are never actually shown to do anything evil, and a lot of them are treated horribly anyway. Medusa is a particularly prominent example to modern observers, as one version has her turned into a monster by Athena for being raped in the wrong place by a far more powerful being (in this case the god Poseidon, generally considered to be an okay guy). The reason for this is that being classical mythology, they are using the original definition of "Hero", which is very much a Designated Hero: someone who does great things in the name of the Gods. The monsters weren't necessarily to be killed because they were bad (though some of them were), but because they were tough, and thus killing them would be a great feat.
  • Loki and his children in Norse Mythology are designated villains for taking part in the doom of the gods, despite the gods being somewhat morally ambiguous figures anyway (although Loki definitely has some of their dodgier behavior on his hands too). However, Jörmungandr is alone among the children of Loki in being treated this way before the Ragnarök. Odin tried to drown him for... well, being a snake. Hel was put in charge of Hel and given control over 9 realms. Sure, she was separated from her family and was not allowed to live among the other gods but she was given an important job. Fenrir was taken to Asgard and only chained up after he grew enormous and wreaked havoc.note 
  • The Bible:
    • Many of the antagonistic factions in the early books of The Bible come off this way to modern readers, as they tend to be either not really guilty of anything except being enemies of the Israelites (the Midianites, the Canaanites), or are legitimately nasty but don't really do anything particularly out of the ordinary for a Bronze Age society, including the Israelites (the Egyptians, the Amalekites) - and yet we're still supposed to cheer when the Israelites, and sometimes even God Himself, subject them to Rape, Pillage, and Burn. In later books the Israelites mellow out considerably, and villains that truly go beyond the pale such as the Babylonians and Haman are introduced.
    • The New Testament doesn't get away scot free either. Pontius Pilate's job was to maintain peace in a fractious and distant corner of the Roman Empire, and the locals were doing everything they could to drag him in to their local squabbles. To Pilate, the Pharisees and other sects being angry at Jesus was them being bratty about someone who had dared to challenge them. On the flipside, much of the rhetoric and villainization of the Pharisees and Jewish leadership was written to attack them as a competing religion to Christianity in the first few centuries CE.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In the year 2000, WCW tried to turn Goldberg, the most popular wrestler whose star was built in the company, into a heel against the founders of the nWo, who had long been seen as overstaying their welcome. You can imagine how well that didn't go over.
    • In the same year, WCW rebooted itself and turned the roster into two stables; the older wrestlers as The Millionaire's Club and the younger wrestlers as The New Blood. The idea was good in theory since it could help making the younger talent over. The problem? The New Blood were the heels of the storyline, meaning that the audience were meant to support the older, complacent wrestlers who always pushed back the younger talent.
  • Sting as leader of the Main Event Mafia. He wanted respect from the younger members of the TNA locker room but was so noble in going about it fans took his side and much easier to hate Kurt Angle had to usurp control of the group.
  • Most fans who only occasionally glanced at Lucha Underground or had only just started watching it assumed Johnny Mundo was the babyface during his feud with Alberto El Patron. Even most fans who had been watching the program sympathized with Mundo because he had also been around from the start while Patron barged in from AAA and acted like he owned the place because he was Mega Champion.
  • Becky Lynch, a long time Face, turned heel at Summerslam 2018 after attacking her "best friend", Charlotte Flair following their triple threat match (also including defending champion Carmella) for the SmackDown Women's Championship in which Charlotte pinned Becky when she had Carmella in a submission hold. Becky had been angry that Charlotte had been given title opportunity after opportunity every time while Becky had to worked hard to do so after being neglected for almost two years. She even gave a heel speech on how the fans never supported her. Contrarily, Becky was one of the most beloved women wrestlers in the company and the fan had been cheering for her for years, even more after attacking Charlotte, no less due to Charlotte's role as a Creator's Pet who the fans had been tired of her Roman Reigns-like push over the last three years. Fan reactions quickly made this Canon Discontinuity.

  • In Dino Attack RPG, Plastic Serpent was intended to come off as seeming like a low-life criminal scumbag who deserved to get repeatedly beaten up by Snake. The trouble was that Snake himself ended up coming off as also being a low-life criminal scumbag who acted like a Jerkass to everyone and ditched the team to save his own skin. In the first encounter, Plastic Serpent was simply getting a bite to eat when Snake began viciously beating him up (it was implied that he had stolen Snake's codename at the time, "Plastic Serpent"- as he originally operated under the name of "Snake" but changed it as a result of this encounter).
    • In the second encounter, Snake had to go and beat him up while he was already wounded in battle. An attempt to justify this was made by throwing in off-hand references to Plastic Serpent supposedly screwing Snake over, but many players found given Snake's character up to this point combined with the fact that none of the Offstage Villainy actually appeared brought the reliability of Snake's comments into question.
    • A non-canon scene was also written (mainly as a joke in response to certain comments) in which a third beatdown happened. This time Plastic Serpent was just minding his own business when Snake started violently bashing his head into the rails of a bridge. Admittedly this time Snake did get what was coming to him (albeit after Plastic Serpent had his head bashed in several times and got thrown into the river below where he may have drowned) when Snake Plissken and Solid Snake themselves show up and get back at him. Of course Snake receives a comparatively lighter beatdown and then Plissken went ahead and did to Solid Snake the same thing that had been done to Plastic Serpent.
    • Admittedly, the fact that the entire thing was meant to be an allegory for what turned out to be a massive Critical Research Failure on Atton Rand's part didn't help.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Vampire: The Requiem:
    • The Ventrue are the de facto Designated Villains, although that isn't fair, as all vampires are villainous despite their best efforts. The Daeva, who have the explicit weakness of inevitable moral decline have far more reasons to actually be the Designated Villains, only the fluff of the manuals and supplements just don't write them that way. The Daeva are sympathetic, as being evil is not really their fault, they're just morally decadent. The Ventrue, however, are always portrayed, every last vampire jack of them, as conniving, cackling, sadistic, and evil sons of bitches who are evil because that's what the Ventrue are and do.
    • As far as fluff goes, the Nosferatu and Gangrel tend to get Designated Hero slots, but if an NPC in a supplement is marked "Ventrue Invictus", you can guarantee that the character is going to be portrayed in a villainous light.
    • Mekhet, however, are the Designated Morally Ambivalent. They might as well be Vulcans for all the White Wolf writing staff cares.
  • In-Universe example; in Beast: The Primordial, the titular Beasts are trapped in a living story in which they have been made to assume the role of living nightmares, incarnations of the fears spawned by the unknown and slapped with a Horror Hunger that compels them to hurt and torment people both for survival and to fill their cosmic role. Being well-aware of their role breeds a certain level of antipathy in Beasts, especially towards Heroes who A: get the "cushy job" as the Designated Hero, B: never try to fight their narrative role the way many Beasts choose to, and C: that "cushy job" is "track down and murder Beasts, without question or compromise. Little wonder the "Good End" for Beasts is the Apex path, where they successfully subvert their overarching narrative and rewrite it to make themselves into the protagonist.
  • Similarly, the Technocracy from Mage: The Ascension are largely Designated Villains, by Old World of Darkness standards, given that there are expansion books to play technocrats and the core books note that the rivalry is somewhat one-sided, with the technocracy not so much hunting you down as reacting with vague surprise that you're still around when you bust into their laboratory.
    • Later books softened them up a lot. While they are crushing human creativity and enforcing reality to abide by their standards, this is actually done in order to prevent all sorts of monsters and other horrible things creeping into the world, while giving the average person access to 'magic', as technology is magic that anyone can study and use. At worst, they could be seen as Necessarily Evil.
    • The Old World of Darkness wasn't named on a whim. Like every other playable faction, the Mages are legitimate dangers to the free will and physical welfare of mortals (the majority of sentient beings) in their own right. Every sourcebook got an antagonist faction that was outright stated to be the designated villain _because it holds the interests of humanity above other things_. Most human corporations in Werewolf are actually reasonable enough, the technocracy brought on the enlightenment, and the various vampire-hunting organizations aren't exactly unreasonable in their desire to hunt and slay creatures that have to kill humans with some frequency to survive.
      • All that said, the 'villainous' parts also hold true for all the antagonist factions. The Technocracy brought on the Enlightenment, but back then they were the Order of Reason and they were the rebels against the stifling status quo of Hermetic traditionalism and Christian fundamentalism. Over time, as befits the darkness of the WoD, they became the villains, crushing the world in their grip in their goal to keep humanity 'safe', but only on their terms. Similarly, the Wyrm is a very real evil force with no current redeeming qualities and anti-Vampire hunters rarely distinguish between a Sabbat Tzimisce who likes to decorate his living room with the skins of his still-alive ghouls and the Anarch Toreador who only feeds from willing supplicants and never kills. It's more Grey-and-Gray Morality with ample degrees of What Measure Is a Non-Human? and Utopia Justifies the Means. No one is unequivocally a good guy in the WoD.
  • Vlad von Carstein in Warhammer borders into this, depending how you look at him. While his successors were defiantly evil, the most he did was try and take over The Empire, which its Elector Counts are trying to do all the time, and if his enemies surrendered to him, he let them live. Though all the undead he kept around would take some getting used to.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Imperium hates many things, but they harbour a special hatred for the Gue'vesa, those humans who have accepted the Tau Empire's offer of egalitarianism and progressive thinking. They consider the Gue'vesa as despicable race-traitors. Readers may think differently (especially in those cases where the Imperium pulled back from a planet, leaving the civilians to fend for themselves).

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet. Since Claudius killed Hamlet's father all by himself, he'd have no reason to confide in R&G or anyone else about it. So R&G might not have seen anything vile about obeying his summons to check out their old friend, Hamlet, and see if they can find out what's wrong with him. When Claudius sends R&G to England with Hamlet, he gives them a sealed envelope for the English which orders Hamlet's immediate execution. Since these orders are sealed, there's nothing to indicate R&G knew what those sealed orders were. Yet when Hamlet breaks into their cabin and opens the seal and reads the order, he changes the order making it for R&G's immediate executions. Since Hamlet gets kidnapped by pirates on the way to England, R&G would have no reason to deliver those sealed orders if they already knew what those orders originally were.
  • King Lear: Goneril and Regan, Lear's elder two daughters, are portrayed as villains because they lie to their father about how much they love him and later tell him that he has to send away some of his retinue of knights if he's going to stay with them. While it's true that they did exaggerate about their affection for Lear, they were doing so because he wanted them to — he was quite literally deciding how much of his kingdom they would get based on their answers, and Cordelia, who does genuinely love him, ends up being banished forever because she wouldn't kiss up to him. Furthermore, Lear acts like a completely spoiled brat while he stays with Goneril and Regan, hunting and living it up all day, then coming home (with a hundred men) and demanding to be waited on hand and foot while he and his knights carouse all evening—completely ignoring the fact that the princesses are trying to run the kingdom he left them. Granted, Goneril and Regan are far from saints, but they often seem more sympathetic and frustrated than evil. They do show unambiguously villainous colours, however, in fully condoning Cornwall's blinding of Gloucester.
  • The ultimate Shakespeare example might be Shylock from The Merchant of Venice. His name has become a slur synonymous with villainy, and the phrase "pound of flesh" has come to refer to anything given unfairly—but the thing of it is, within the play, Shylock didn't do anything wrong. The contract that he and Antonio form is honest and legally binding; there's no coercion involved. Of course, Shylock could have taken the other characters' offer to buy out the contract for double its worth, but that doesn't make his insistence on sticking to the bond illegal. So why is he such a villain? Because he's Jewish, and when the play was written, Christianity was the dominant religion of England.note  That fact even explains his less-than-clear thinking on the matter: his only daughter elopes with a Christian man and converts to do so, leaving him without any descendants whatsoever. His insistence on clinging to the contract seems less like a villain scheming to hurt people and more like a broken, scared man desperately clutching at some semblance of order to keep himself sane. Virtually every contemporary production of Venice addresses this problem, and tries to find a way to reconcile the intense antisemitism of Shakespeare's time with more tolerant/open values.
  • The Duke of Castile in Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy. He's a rather oppressive father to Bel-imperia but otherwise not a bad guy, and actually tries to investigate and mitigate his son's villainy, but he is still eternally punished along with the villains of the story in the final scene.
  • Dick Deadeye in Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore is roundly hated and vilified by all his shipmates, mainly for being ugly. "From such a face and form as mine the noblest sentiments sound like the black utterances of a depraved imagination." This certainly applies to the blandest sentiments, e.g., Dick: "Ah, it's a queer world!" Ralph: "Dick Deadeye, I have no desire to press hardly on you, but such a revolutionary sentiment is enough to make an honest sailor shudder." And when leading man Ralph, a foremast hand, in response to Sir Joseph's foolish claim that a British seaman is any man's equal (except his own), is deciding to propose to ingenue Josephine, his captain's daughter, Dick's voice of sanity—"When people have to obey other people's orders, equality's out of the question"—is roundly rejected by his messmates. On the other hand, when in Act II Dick has warned his captain of "the wicked men who['ll] art employ/to make his Josephine less coy", no retribution lands on Dick after the surprise ending that unites the hero and heroine after all. Perhaps everyone simply expects such behavior from "poor Dick Deadeye", the Designated Villain.
  • The Bad Baronets of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore are obligated by a family curse to commit one evil deed each day, or else die in agony. The reigning Baronet, Sir Despard Murgatroyd, is a Punch-Clock Villain, who gets his daily crime over early in the day and does good afterwards. After the hero is unmasked as Despard's elder brother, Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, he emerges from his Face–Heel Turn as a Harmless Villain, who commits misdemeanors so small that the ghosts of his ancestors rise up to torment him until he agrees to prove that he can do something more nefarious.
  • It happens in Fools. Count Yousekevitch is set up to be the villain by the other characters and is presented in a ridiculous "bad guy" outfit. His only real crime is trying to marry a pretty girl. Later, he even lampshades this. He then seemingly has a Pet the Dog moment... only to turn it into a Kick the Dog and prove himself to be just as bad as everyone else said.
  • Ellen in Miss Saigon is often perceived as this by fans of the show, as she is seen as the obstacle to Kim and Chris reuniting. It's clear that the authors meant her to be sympathetic, though, and over the years they've repeatedly revised her part to make her more so.
  • Magnificent in Ibsen's A Doll's House with Nils Krogstad, who is repeatedly demonized as an unpleasant and weak dog kicker, but is, upon closer inspection, just trying to secure his job so he can feed his children, and is eventually talked into a total Heel–Face Turn. There is no real villain, apart perhaps from how Torvald and Nora have turned their marriage into a dysfunctional delusion where he doesn't take her seriously as a human being and she believes he'd keep supporting her even if she were to reveal her 'true' self.
  • The Giantess in Into the Woods. Her only real crime is not being human. She treated Jack kindly and protected him from her husband, and, in return, he robs her and kills her husband. If she was a human, Jack (who admits that he did it) would have been hauled off to jail, if not the chopping block. All the deaths in the second half are either accidents (because she can't see without her glasses) or caused by humans. There is even a scene in the second act deconstructing this, and discussing why she deserves to live less than Jack does. Eventually, the heroes recognize that her grief is as valid as theirs — but they still have to take her down, because she'll destroy the kingdom otherwise.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: subverted by Colonel De Guiche In-Universe. The audience of the play identify him as the villain because he wants to bully Roxane into being The Mistress, but the Gascon Cadets who serve under him never call him out on this: they think he is the villain merely because he doesn't want to be an Idiot Hero, has villainous motivations, and prefers to thrive by his connections in the Decadent Court...and he dresses like The Dandy. In summation, De Guiche is the villain because he is No True Gascon. Observe that not one of the cadets even complain when De Guiche informs them of the Last Stand.
  • This is done via Historical Villain Upgrade in 1776. For 90% of the play, John Dickinson appears to be a hidebound aristocrat whose primary concern about independence is that it will upset his comfortable, upper-class status quo, combined with a total aversion to risk and continued loyalty to England. It also attributes to Jefferson words actually written by Dickinson (the passage from On the Necessity For Taking Up Arms; the two men co-wrote it). It is remedied in the last scene, though, by giving Dickinson a Worthy Opponent sendoff where he proves that his desire for reconciliation really is the completely reasonable fear that the colonies will be crushed for rebelling and resigns from Congress to join the army.
  • The Sound of Music has The Baroness. In the musical, the only thing she did wrong was be rich, disliked by the children (and even then, only in comparison to Maria), and choosing not to cause any trouble with Germany to save their heads. She was made a little cattier in the movie, but really at worst she was just preventing Maria from moving in on her fiance. And then there's the live Carrie Underwood show, where, thanks to a virtuoso performance by Laura Benanti, many viewers were rooting for her over Maria!
  • RENT: Benny is treated like a monster for getting married and expecting his friends to — GASP! — pay rent to live in a building. Despite him frequently going out of his way to help them, such as offering them jobs at Cyber Arts and paying for Mimi's rehab and Angel's funeral, they treat him with contempt.
  • Hamilton: Aaron Burr is treated as a villain for running against Hamilton's father-in-law in an election, trying to mediate arguments instead of exacerbating them, and advising Hamilton to talk less. While some of his later actions really are villainous, such as obsessively discriminating against immigrants, betraying the Democratic-Republicans, and shooting Hamilton even after he forfeits the duel, his earlier "villainous" actions come off as this trope.

    Video Games 
  • Arc Rise Fantasia gives us Eesa. There doesn't seem to be any real reason why she shouldn't help bring about L'Arc's Law to save the world since she makes it clear that she only wants to choose the Laws that are best for everyone, yet she's still the final boss. Umwat?
  • Dissidia Duodecim reveals through Chaos' backstory that he really isn't evil at all—he's just doing what Garland, Cid, Cosmos, and Shinryu have told him to do and as such, this is an Invoked Trope. It just happens he looks like a monstrous demon, and most of the warriors he calls to serve him are villainous.
  • Touhou Project runs on this:
  • Yggdra Union:
    • Played with, where the heroes assume that Gulcasa and his army must be evil because they conquered Fantasinia and killed King Ordene. They eventually realize — while invading Gulcasa's country — that they are wrong, but continue their invasion (and in doing so, wipe out a third of Bronquia's able-bodied population in this campaign alone) because they think it's too late to turn back. The Royal Army spends the rest of this part of the game slaughtering civilian militias and the remnants of the Imperial Army, who insist that protagonist, Yggdra, will have to go through them if she wants to kill Gulcasa. There's also some vague nonsense about Bronquia trying to bring about The End of the World as We Know It by resurrecting an ancient demon, but from the way Gulcasa and his last few generals talk about this planned resurrection, it was actually supposed to be their very last resort in case Fantasinia retaliated by invading them. Welp.
  • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves:
    • The game, given its tendency to use Grey-and-Gray Morality, uses this in-universe quite well with Big Bad Dr. M. He's fighting off the Cooper gang and is held at gunpoint by Inspector Carmelita for it. He points out that since he legally owns the island where the treasure is (and by extension, the treasure hidden there), he is simply defending himself and his property from a group of wanted, notorious criminals who are attacking his home, henchmen, and trashing the place.
    • M also plays the trope straight. The reason Sly goes up against him is to get his hands on a huge amount of gold and treasure that M is trying to steal. Sly claims the treasure belongs to him since it was amassed by Sly's ancestors. The problem with that claim is that nearly all of the treasure was obtained through theft, so Sly has just as much right to it as M does - which is to say none at all. Even Sly's claim that he's entitled to it because it belonged to his father is contestable as Dr. M was his father's teammate and thus has some stake in the treasure as he helped the father earn it to begin with.
    • And just to make things even more complicated, while Dr. M's primary goals and motivations are, as stated above, neutral-to-legitimate, he's still clearly a villain, considering he poisoned one of his lackeys (who he knows full well has a wife and son) for incompetence, attempted to murder an Interpol agent, and continued to attack even as Sly tried to retreat.
  • Daleth from Shin Megami Tensei II is a literal example. He was created by the Center to be the anti-Messiah so the main character can defeat him and grow more popular.
    • And ironically, he's one of the few named characters, aside from the protagonist and Hiroko, to have a happy ending. He even gets a pretty girl who loves him dearly. Beth, Gimmel and potentially Zayin, all intended to be heroes, end up dead.
  • Most of the Portrait Ghosts in Luigi's Mansion don't even attack, and seem fairly content with just hanging around the mansion. Keep in mind Luigi isn't a Designated Hero, he's just making sure all the ghosts are captured and some of them happen to be the said villains.
  • While this is debatable, in BlazBlue, the NOL is straddling this line. For the most part, the organization is filled with lots and lots of Punch Clock Villains, who were doing their jobs for their paycheck, and they truly believed in their goal in creating a peaceful world free of conflicts. However, because Ragna mainly opposes them and they employ several villains like Hazama and Relius, combined with the fact that they are mainly composed of rich people and make up some dictatorship rule (even if it's for preventing total chaos), it becomes easy to paint them as a tyrannical group of villains or a merciless Empire type organization.
  • Cao Cao and the Wei forces in Dynasty Warriors, in keeping with his characterization from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In fact, the game runs on this. No matter who you play as, the other 2 kingdoms (and minor forces) tend to be painted as the bad guys - which makes sense since they're trying to unite China under their rule too, so it's a conflict of interest. The exceptions are Dong Zhuo and, to a lesser extent, Lu Bu.
  • Played with in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. During the search for Amelia, you run into Rodger and then run into a bandit leader. He was willing to ignore you and go about his way, but the party members kept saying he looked 'evil'. The only reason you fight him is because they wouldn't stop saying that and the bandit snapped.
  • Simply going by what the players see, the UED in StarCraft: Brood War turn into this. They don't come off as particularly evil when you're playing as them in the Terran campaign, and many players were glad that you force Mengsk off his throne playing as them. Yet in the Zerg campaign you find Jim Raynor, who loathes Mengsk with passion, and the Protoss, who the UED barely have any contact with, helping Kerrigan try push them out when she ultimately proves to be the worse of two evils.
    • There's also the backstory, where the United Powers League (the precursor to the United Earth Directorate) conducts racial cleansing of all Earth citizens, including cyborgs, mutants (including those with Psychic Powers), and other undesirable elements. The original idea is to put them in camps and kill them. A scientist suggests using them to colonize a far-away planet, so tens of thousands of them are forcibly placed in cryo-pods and sent in Sleeper Starships to that planet. The navigation system malfunctions and they end up spending decades in warp, ending up in the Koprulu sector. Throughout the struggles of the "colonists", the UPL continues to keep track of them and incorporating some of their technological breakthroughs. After the discovery of the Zerg, the UPL is reorganized into the UED, which sends a fleet to take control of the situation. In this light, it's difficult to see them as anything but villains; assuming, of course, that the UED didn't politically reform at some point, which is entirely possible, as neither of the UED's top officers seemed bothered by the presence of 'undesirables'.
    • In the opening cutscene of Brood War, the UED fleet is first seen observing the Zerg overrunning a colony, and it's heavily implied by Gerrard's line about "unleashing them upon men" that the UED is responsible for the attack. When it's clear that the colony is doomed unless help arrives, the fleet...simply leaves. That's pretty villainous behavior. It doesn't make the Dominion the good guys, especially since Mengsk did the exact same thing to his enemies. It's more of a case of Evil vs. Evil.
  • In X3: Albion Prelude, the Terrans are evil for demanding justice for a terrorist committing an act of genocide that appears at first to be conducted purely out of racism. To be more specific, as far as you can tell in the game, the cause of the Second Terraformer War between the Terrans and Argon Federation is that Saya Kho suicide-bombed the Torus Aeternal (massive space station ringing Earth's equator) for little reason, an act that killed thousands of Terran civilians and military personnel instantly, then millions more from deorbiting debris.

    In a rather extreme case of All There in the Manual, the war started because the Terran intelligence services were infiltrating the Community of Planets with the hope of influencing its future course, due largely to the Terrans' paranoia about artificial general intelligence. This ended up as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: the Argon began working on AGI combat vessels in order to give their military a fighting chance against the Terrans' technological superiority, then used them to invade the Solar System in a preemptive strike when they discovered the Terrans' spy network. Saya Kho infiltrated Sol as an agent of the Argon Secret Service; her attack on the Torus was intended to open the way for an Argon invasion of Earth. So, while a little more nuanced than it originally appears, there's still the fact that the Argon struck first.
  • While Heavy Rain's Carter Blake is a Jerkass Rabid Cop who has no business being on the force, calling him "psychopathic", as Jayden does, is a tad extreme. He at least seems to mean well ("The only thing I'm interested in is saving that kid's life!"), and the conclusions he comes to aren't unreasonable. But, ends don't justify means.
  • The Reapers in The World Ends with You, at least the ones outside the big four, and it's debatable. Really, they're just doing what they're supposed to do, and their erasing of players is actually important to keeping the universe in balance and humanity constantly evolving based on what we learn in secret reports. Also, while Minamimoto and Konishi are obviously villains, Yodai was simply doing his job and Kitaniji was trying to save the UG from complete destruction with an Assimilation Plot, although Neku and the player don't learn this until after Kitaniji has lost.
    • Justified since this is the view of the protagonists whom the Reapers are erasing. From their view, the Reapers are just predators and they want to survive.
  • The Enclave in Fallout 3 can come across this way, especially to people unfamiliar with them from Fallout 2. True, they hijack Project Purity and their leader's plan is pretty horrific when you learn of it. But the subordinates of the Enclave seem more level headed in comparison and more interested in governing the Wasteland rather than destroying it. And considering the Wasteland is a pretty horrible place to live what with the wandering gangs, super mutants, and poor living conditions, and they have by far the most advanced technology available to enforce order albeit with brutal tactics, the player may find himself wishing there was an option to side with them rather than treating them as Always Chaotic Evil. It gets even more clear if you foil President Eden's plot, at which point the Enclave's plan is simply to turn on the water purifier - something everyone wants to do anyway.
  • Guild Wars 2 gives us Canach as the villain in the Secret of Southsun and Last Stand at Southsun arcs. After accidentally inciting some monsters to attack a major city, Canach is arrested, but claims to be a protector of the weak. He eventually disappears in order to sabotage the Consortium he used to work for. The player is ultimately tasked to stop him, which they do. The only problem is, long before you defeat him, you learn that the refugees that had settled the island had been tricked into virtual slavery thanks to the Consortium's contracts and Canach's goal was to end this injustice. Canach only fought the heroes in self-defense when they came after him, and the authorities had been refusing to help the settlers until Canach forced their hand. Ultimately, you fulfill his plan by destroying the odious contracts, but the game still acts like locking Canach up and throwing away the key is a just outcome. Why he was wrong and the heroes were right is never adequately explained.
    • The Ascalonian humans suffer a strange form of this retroactively. In the first Guild Wars campaign, you played an Ascalonian forced out of their homeland by the Always Chaotic Evil Charr. In order to make the Charr playable in Guild Wars 2, took steps to Retcon their Always Chaotic Evil nature, partially by attempting to reframe the war as not a defensive one on the human's part, but a rightful reclamation of land on the Charr's part. In an attempt to make it more ambiguous, a new event was added to the lore after the player's left Ascalon, where the king who remained behind, surrounded by enemies, activated an ancient spell that succeeded in destroying the nearby Charr... but also cursed him and his people to forever wander as ghosts who still think they're fighting the war. This is treated as a Moral Event Horizon for the king and, by extension, the Ascalonians, by humans and Charr alike in the present. There are still two problems with this, however. First, that the king had no idea that would happen. Second, that from what we saw in Guild Wars, there was no indication that the humans knew the land used to be owned by the Charr, and the Charr's response was not diplomacy, but casting an apocalyptic spell that reduced the entire region to a barren wasteland for at least 250 years. Not only that, but the Charr who led the attack were from a faction that is recognized as evil to this day. Despite this, the Charr are treated as being completely justified for hating humans and it's treated as something humans should learn to put up with, while bitter, modern descendants of Ascalonians are treated as dangerous zealots.
  • Duke Crabtree from Zap Dramatic's Ambition. We're apparently supposed to see him as an egotistical jerkass who is out to steal your job, but he appears to be far more competent than the player character. He'd probably be better suited for the job. While we as the detective spend about half of Episode 6 sleeping, Duke is actually doing work. While interrogating Bridget, if you end the interrogation too early, Duke will helpfully inform the player that Bridget contradicted herself and tell us to go back and "nail her." When you are interrogating Bridget near Ted's cell, Duke will ask the valid question of why we are exposing the suspect to a known violent criminal. One possible response to this is to call Duke a meddling creep and then punch him in the face. This results in a game over, but the fact that the option is there in the first place clearly indicates that we're not supposed to like Duke. Duke does insult the player, but the attentive player should notice that Duke only insults you when you waste time, and after you get a confession from Bridget, he stops insulting you entirely and works with you to try and solve the case. Somewhat negated by the fact that Duke actually becomes genuinely villainous in Episode 10. It is revealed that he is in on the plot to frame Ted Hadrup for murder, and then he hijacks your cab and takes you somewhere to kill you. However, he still qualifies because we're supposed to see him as villainous from the start even though he doesn't do anything particularly villainous before being revealed as Evil All Along.
    • Helen is portrayed as unreasonable and overemotional about her husband cheating on her. In "The Tryst," telling Yale to break off his affair with Angie and stick with Helen causes you to lose. Yale then mocks you for thinking that having an affair is at all a bad idea, before throwing you out and saying that you have a limited future, unlike him, because having an affair means he has "ambition". Amusingly the narration set up that the Player Character is only talking her down not because she wants to club her husband with a violin but that the violin is a gift from his/her aunt and is too tired to call the cops.
    • To a lesser extent, Angie. Presumably the player is meant to share Ted's outrage that she would conclude that a man who threatened to blow up an office building and rambles on about getting his orders from God might just be a touch crazy.
  • Queen Odette from Odin Sphere acts cruel and sadistic most of the time, but when it comes down to it, she just wants for everyone to stop breaking into the Netherworld to bring people back to life, and stealing her jewels to create Psyphers to kill more people while corrupting the natural flow of life. The only really villainous things she does revolve around Oswald and his Magically Binding Contract with her (granted, he wasn't aware of the conditions when the contract was made, but that was because the contract was made by somebody else who didn't have his best interests at heart). In fact, when she's finally Killed Off for Real, King Gallon is able to take control of the Netherworld's forces and help trigger Armageddon.
  • The Vaadwaur in Star Trek Online: Delta Rising. Yes, they're basically Space Nazis and their leader Gaul has no qualms about gunning down civilians in cold blood. But neither did the Romulans, Klingons, or Cardassians, and the Federation had a detente with them for decades. The Vaadwaur are also an endangered species who used Human Popsicles to escape extermination by an alliance fighting back against their imperialism. The real problem, though, is that their enemies the Kobali come off as the Designated Hero. While they're the Alpha Quadrant nations' ally against the Vaadwaur, the Kobali come off as Holier Than Thou with a Culture Justifies Anything attitude, and for all practical purposes contribute little of worth to The Alliance (their population is going to be fairly low for various reasons and their only modern warship was built with Alpha Quadrant technology). Plus, their method of reproduction, basically necromancy, has drawn many rape comparisons, especially given that they're holding several thousand Vaadwaur cryo tubes and using the failed ones for more stock, along with making use of Vaadwaur battlefield casualties. Gaul jumps off the slippery slope in "All that Glitters", but the storyline reveals that the Vaadwaur high command are all infested with Puppeteer Parasites except for Gaul, suggesting they wouldn't have willingly gone along with his plans.
  • Tales of Destiny 2: While Elraine is definitely evil, albeit in a well-intentioned way, the goddess she serves, Fortuna, isn't shown doing anything evil at all until the very end, when she's rejected by the very being she created, and even helps the heroes return to the present at one point. In fact, she's trying to bring eternal happiness to the world. It's the lengths her Saint goes to to resurrect her (she needs prayer badly) that she may not even be aware of (her instructions to her Saints seem to have been pretty vague, along the lines of "find the best way for me to help humanity") really cause the heroes to oppose her presence. At worst, she herself had Blue-and-Orange Morality.
  • Tales of the Abyss has a particularly bad case in regards to The Hero Luke: the Wham Episode is of him unintentionally destroying an entire city and beforehand he wasn't exactly a shining example of a person. He follows through by going Never My Fault. But here's the thing that makes everyone's What the Hell, Hero? and "The Reason You Suck" Speech plus treatment from then on cross the line: Luke is seven years old due to being a replica of the original one. He even acts like what you can expect from a spoiled and seriously sheltered seven-year-old. Despite that, everything becomes Luke's fault, and he doesn't handle it well to the point of seriously bad Heroic Self-Deprecation and becoming a Death Seeker. Despite this somehow his treatment during this point is supposed to be a "heroic" and "good" thing for the rest of the party to do. And that's not even getting into the fact that the disaster is just as much Van's fault as it is Luke's, if not more so.
    • It doesn't help that literally every single other person in the party comes off as a massive hypocrite due to their own shady actions. Guy was actively helping Van's plans in order to get revenge on Luke's father for the massacre of his family, only stopping once Van's true goals came to light; Tear and Natalia knew the truth about Luke's identity from the beginning, yet said nothing; Jade literally helped cause the conflict of the story by (at least partially) creating Fonic Arts and the Score; and Anise spends the majority of the story as The Mole for Van's second in command. And yet despite all this, Luke is the only one subjected to such brutal treatment over his mistakes.
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4: Forseti who is actually Kai Schulen defected from the Atlantic Federation to the East Europan Imperial Alliance because the Federation was doing secret experiments on girls with Valkyria powers and using them to power their Snow Cruisers and Ragnite Implosion Bombs. While the Empire was also doing it's own experiments, Forseti's goal was only to stop the Alliance's and free the trapped girls. Despite this, the game treats him as if he has become pure evil, and he is shot by his sister Leena Schulen while trying to rescue Angelica from being used as a power source in your reactor. The game treats this as completely necessary, despite the fact that he was completely unarmed, limping with a cane, and surrounded by heavily armed soldiers. Meanwhile, the so-called heroes are trying to Use the girl's powers to destroy the imperial capital, killing 8 million people, mostly civilians, in the hopes that it will end the war.
  • Life Is Strange:
    • David Madsen is depicted as a paranoid lunatic who wants to put Max's school under heavy surveillance. However, this is because of a series of incidents where students were getting drugged and photographed against their wills, with one of the victims disappearing and later turning up dead. Said victim is his step-daughter's best friend, so his paranoia looks pretty understandable.
    • Another Designated Villain point is David's relationship with Chloe. He's painted as an abusive hardass for how he treats her, but more often than not, Chloe is the one starting the fights. One particular incident was when one of David's guns got stolen, and when he confronted Chloe about it, he scolded her for having a joint out in the open. It's later revealed that Chloe did steal his gun, so his confrontation was entirely justified. The only points that make him a villain are when he goes too far in trying to fix things, like his abrasive way of confronting Kate (which ended up being one of the driving forces in her suicide attempt), and slapping Chloe when she gets fresh with him.
  • Overwatch: Symmetra is working for the corrupt Vishkar corporation. She's in fact an altruistic, autistic person who wants to genuinely improve other people's lives instead of just in it for more profit, prefers not killing others and does doubt about whether Vishkar was really living up to their words that they are trying to make the world a better place, her worst crime is 'doing corporate espionage' on Vishkar's orders (compare with some who murder at their own will). But since the narrative designated Vishkar as one of the bad guys (the corrupt corporate type, and unlike Symmetra, they rightfully earned it) and the one who opposes them, Lucio, is genuinely good and friendly, averting the Designated Hero, and the new Overwatch saw him as the picture of a hero after his opposition, the narrative lumps Symmetra as a villain character with her company, while she is an Anti-Villain, sometimes the narrative and the fandom kind of like to omit the 'Anti' part, especially pre-nerf when Symmetra could completely destroy entire teams in Quick Play with impunity.
  • King Dedede is the official antagonist of the Kirby series, but in name only (in the games, at least). He's a greedy jerk with a grudge against Kirby, but the only game in which he does anything truly villainous is the first, Kirby's Dream Landnote . In the second, Kirby's Adventure, he does break the Star Rod into pieces and stop everyone from having dreams, but this was to protect Dream Land by stopping the real villain, Nightmare, from invading. From then on, all he ever does is get brainwashed (or impersonated) by the real villain, get falsely accused by Kirby, act as a harmless rival to Kirby, defend his property from Kirby, or actively fight on Kirby's side. (The second and last of those apply in the Subspace Emissary mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.)
  • King Aelfred the Great in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla has been marketed as the antagonist of the game since he opposes the Viking invasions of England which are depicted as not just outright raids but simple migrations to escape the violence and chaos engulfing Scandinavia. This was actually a case of Misaimed Marketing as Aelfred in-game not only opposes the Order of the Ancients despite being a Grand Maegester but he has no problem working with Eivor to expel the last vestiges of the group from the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Britain. It was very much intentional by the developers to show that neither the Saxons nor Vikings are all that good or evil.
  • Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles has Jack Moschet, the owner of Moschet Manor and its respective mrryh tree. While the game justifies its previous boss battles by having them stand guard over the myrrh tree you need to make use of, the level is instead spent actively hunting down and killing Jack's tonberry chefs to provoke him into a fight when there's no indication that you need to do so, as the tree is just outside the manor in a different area.
  • Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth's movie labyrinths have some intentionally really dubious Designated Villains along with equally dubious Designated Heroes. Part of the mission for each level is doing some major script edits to a more sane moral code. If you notice a running theme in the movies, it's deliberate; the movies combined are, for all intents and purposes, OG character Hikari's Palace, and she suffers from near-crippling C-PTSD from almost everyone in her life trying to discipline the individuality out of her, which these movies functionally embody and depict.
    • The designated villain of the first movie is YOU, the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, with the Designated Hero being Kamoshidaman, the mighty superhero and "protector" of Kamocity. Since you were seen as an intruder, Kamoshidaman kidnapped Makoto and Haru. And seeing what kind of person Kamoshida is, things don't seem to go well with you, the villain....thankfully for you, he isn't Kamoshida and is just a bully terrorizing and occupying a city inside a movie, so he's just punishing criminals. Aside from that, you did nothing wrong other than entering his reality in the first place.
    • The designated villain of the second movie appears to be the carnivorous dinosaurs terrorizing the herbivore dinosaurs, which seems to be quite normal. In reality, the movie quickly displays that the carnivorous dinosaurs are just backdrops and the true designated villain is Yosukesaurus, a herbivore dinosaur with Yosuke's head. His crime? Not following with the Hive Mind and telling the other dinosaurs about a nonexistent "paradise" that he probably doesn't know in the first place. His punishment for this is to be ostracized from the pack, which drives him to the Despair Event Horizon and turns him into a carnivorous dinosaur resembling Shadow Yosuke.
    • The third movie has the most dubious choice for a villain in a movie. It's just a Cute Aigis Lookalike whose sole crime is to develop emotions and personality, in which the protagonist, an omnipotent AI has to remove so she can't start any wars. And for the crime of having a personality, her punishment is to undergo initialization and returning into an Empty Shell to be scrapped in the center disposal area. How fitting it is, then, that the central AI resembles Shuji Ikutsuki, whose mentality makes him the perfect fit for the AI Overlord.

    Web Animation 
  • In the various Go Animate "Grounded" videos, the person getting grounded becomes this when their punishment comes off as more excessive than needed. Probably the most egregious usage of this trope comes from the full-length movie "Caillou Gets Grounded: A Tale of Two Dimensions", Caillou is first seen trying to evade being run over by his dad Boris, who is indignant that Caillou isn't standing there and being allowed to be run over, which horrifies Caillou. He's blamed for attacking Boris when his alternate dimension counterpart attacks him, despite the fact they looked nothing alike. After failed attempts to capture the evil Caillou, his family blames him for his counterpart existing, which leads to him pulling a Face–Heel Turn and joining the evil Caillou as "Daillou". When his family finds out about this, of course, it's his fault and not theirs. And, at the end, Caillou survives and is grounded anyway.

  • PvP:
    • Max Powers. Even though he seems to be a nice, cheery, and outgoing person to everyone around him, the entire magazine crew seems to hate him, especially Cole, constantly saying how "evil" he is even though we have almost never seen him do anything objectionable. When the website Websnark did its analysis of Powers, it came to the same conclusions. Kurtz himself admitted that this was close to the truth. Max isn't supposed to be an actual villain, but instead, one of those guys who is so nice and perfect and successful that it inspires jealous hatred. The closest he comes to "evil" is that he can't see Skull, and only "innocents" can see him. That said, he managed to motivate Roby and Jase into becoming physically fit and productive people. It may not have lasted, but it was a fairly beneficial change without nasty consequences.
    • Recently addressed in the comic after a Mistaken for Gay brief storyline:
      Cole: It's not because of a girl, or because you always succeed where I seem to fail. It's just that, well, you're a better person than I am, or ever will be.
      Max: Stop it.
      Cole: It's true. I'm petty, selfish, jealous, and small. You're none of those things, Max. You never have been. You're a big reminder of just how flawed I am, and how very little I've grown. Sometimes that's hard to be around. But I'd like to try, Max. I'd really like to try.
  • Sluggy Freelance has an in-universe example as part of a Harry Potter parody. Gandledorf (a Captain Ersatz of Dumbledore) explains why House Wunnybun (the Ersatz Slytherin) must always be treated like scum:
    "Wunnybun is the house for bad guys. Reward them amiably? Treat them with respect? They may become good. And then our paperwork would be all screwed up."
  • If the heroes of Sonichu are the definitions of Designated Hero, then many of the villains are easily in the Designated Villain spot. Due to a massive case of Life Embellished, the author paints various characters this way. The worst case of this is the entirety of issue 10 which has the main characters murder people who amount to nothing more than simple Internet Trolls.
  • In Sinfest, Baby Blue in a flashback got F's in all spiritual matters -- D in harp. The thing is, we haven't seen her do anything evil at that age; this appears to be her Start of Darkness.
    • For what that matters, the Patriarch and most male cast in the Sisterhood Arc can be seen as such. While they are supposed to see them as little more than misogynistic jerks, many readers think that Xanthe and her friends go to such extreme, cruel lengths when dealing with them that the shallow and perverted antagonists end up being far more sympathetic and reasonable than the Sisterhood: it's incredibly hard to root against misogynistic perverts who really don't do much "wrong" when doing so means you're rooting for violent misandrist terrorists who just roll around hurting people and destroying things.
  • Alejandra in Las Lindas stops at nothing to shut down Mora's farm as revenge for all the emotional pain Mora caused her in the past. Her evil deeds include an offer to buy the farm at a generous price, retracting the offer when Mora storms Alej's office with violent hostility, and legally purchasing the farm from the bank when Mora's plan for exploiting free labor doesn't work out. Alej's crowning moment of villainy came as a response to the hero announcing her intentions to commit murder. And who's supposed to be the villain of this story?
  • In Cthulhu Slippers Cthulhu himself is ostensibly the head of the evil Cthulhu Corp and one of the most evil beings in the universe. In reality he's one of the nicest characters in the story, and though he was present at the end of the world he hasn't actually done anything wrong (penchant for Girl Scout Cookies aside).
  • Zig-zagged in 1/0 with Junior. He is created to be evil, but as there is not much evil to do, he is in danger to be killed as an one-dimensional character, who only insults his creator constantly. Eventually, he kills Mock, leaves, commits suicide, then returns (as a ghost), and gets a Heel-Face Turn near the end of the comic.
  • The Perry Bible Fellowship has an In-Universe example in this strip, in which a book describes Farmer Ben as "mean" for wanting to protect his crops from the rabbit protagonists, something that is shown to be entirely justified when the last panel shows the farmer and his family experiencing famine due to losing their crops.

    Web Videos 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog:
    • The series features a deconstruction of the traditional superhero/supervillain relationship, wherein the protagonist is only evil because the society he lives in has determined that anyone who is too brainy and unpopular automatically becomes a villain. Doctor Horrible tries to do evil, but only manages to Poke the Poodle — at least until the Designated Hero, Captain Hammer, makes things too personal. He only wins because his death ray backfires.
    • At the same time, though, some people have taken the opposite view. He's a Smug Super, sure, but Doctor Horrible is every bit as arrogant, if not moreso, and treated much more sympathetically. Hammer's only intentional dickish actions in the story are taken against a villain who wants to destroy the city - an incompetent villain, sure, but still. He also actually pays attention to what Penny wants, even if he doesn't care that much about it, and they seem to enjoy each other's company. Hell, he opens a homeless shelter for her, in comparison to Doctor Horrible, who actively dismisses the idea of trying something like that. As crude as he could be, he does very little to deserve the derision he's given.
  • Invoked during The Sharkasm Crew's Mario Party "Let's Play"s. One player tends to get shunned by the others, usually for having a lucky start to their game.
  • Invoked and parodied in Third Rate Gamer. If the Evil Rate Gamer didn't point out that he's evil at every opportunity we wouldn't know. This is a parody of "the Evil Irate Gamer", who kinda fell flat because the standard-issue Irate Gamer was already a bit of a Comedic Sociopath.
  • Hugo, the clone of Matthew Santoro, is portrayed as a villain for not wanting to be locked up in a cage by Matthew.
  • Evil Lady is this in the web video, So You Wanna Be a Princess. She's booed for being evil despite her only crimes consisting of wearing black, acting grumpy, opposing Purity Sue Kayla, and burping after doing the first challenge. She doesn't even bother to cheat at all. At the end, after a blatant Curb-Stomp Battle that Kayla pulls on her when the latter is declared a princess, and subsequently, slimed, all Evil Lady does is leave the show in a huff.
  • Outside Xbox: Discussed. One of the villains the Oxventurers went up against was Vex, a hermit whose crimes originally seemed to be "cutting down trees and killing animals". Merilwen the party Druid was very keen on fighting him, while Dob rightly pointed out that someone who lives on their own out in the woods pretty much has to cut down trees for firewood and tools and kill animals for meat and clothes to survive. However, it soon comes to light that Vex is a sadistic necromancer who killed Merilwen's original Animal Companion and made him into a hat. After that, even the usually happy-go-lucky Dob agrees that Vex has to die.
  • In Underverse, Cross just wants to recover his world and is hesitant to hurt anyone not directly involved in hurting him.

    Western Animation 
  • In the short-lived series Camp Candy the antagonist was a real estate developer who wanted to buy the camp so he can build condos. However, more often than not, he's in the right. The camp counselors are incompetent to the degree that the campers could get hurt, and overall they're horrible bad role models. In reality the camp would be shut down immediately.
  • Sissi Delmas was often this during the first season of Code Lyoko. While she was the Alpha Bitch, several of the heroes were as guilty of just as reprehensible behavior, including against her and her cronies, yet we are supposed to root for them and against Sissi for no really defined reason. The prequel makes this worse, as it reveals that the heroes' feud against Sissi was their fault to begin with and she became the Alpha Bitch in response. Thankfully, Character Development for both parties in the progressing seasons fixed things.
  • Deputy Dawg is a full time case of this. While he at least gets some moments of justice, most of the time we are supposed to root for the mischievous, thieving animals the law-abiding dog is trying to keep in line. Used most erroneously in an episode where a beaver is flooding the forest with his dam. Despite the beaver refusing to take it down solely out of pride, Deputy Dawg is the one presented as being unreasonable and ends up humiliated and submitting.
    • In a zig-zag, one Deputy Dawg cartoon had DD running for re-election. The animals rig the election so that Vincent Van Gopher would win and thus get carte blanche to do whatever they wanted with no culpability. But Vince takes his role as deputy to heart and enforces all the laws, much to his pals' chagrin.
  • Donald Duck can be this, mainly in shorts where he faces off against his nephews or Chip 'n Dale. Sometimes he is indeed the one that starts the conflict, other times he is just minding his own business, and whatever character he is facing off against decides to antagonize him for no other reason than because he is there.
  • The Dragon Prince: Going with King Harrow's Designated Hero status, Viren before his Then Let Me Be Evil moment is hard to see as a proper villain when all of his actions are done as damage control for King Harrow being either particularly stupid or selfish depending on the situation. For example, he saves hundreds of thousands of lives through a dark magic ritual after King Harrow was going to let them die of starvation due to his inability to prioritize his kingdom's subjects. Instead of being thankful, Harrow blames him for the death of his wife on this mission and treats him like dirt over and over again. By the time Harrow chooses to simply allow Elven assassins to kill him and Viren proposes that he swaps bodies with someone else, Harrow disturbingly rejects this proposal in a Kick the Dog way that makes Viren deciding to take advantage of the situation out of anger seem almost reasonable.
  • Most of the Urpneys in The Dreamstone, but especially Frizz and Nug. The heroes generally consider them the highest form of scum, however in early episodes they were more or less established as unwilling slaves of Zordrak who got their numbers thinned out the longer he had to wait to get the stone. Even their zeal and motives come off far less petty than the heroes, who inflict Disproportionate Retribution on them every time they try to give them nightmares. Later episodes made some tweaks to ease their treatment and allow the heroes to look genuinely heroic against them, but even then they are primarily sympathetic bumblers, over evil in any way.
  • Played for Laughs with Melvin in Duck Dodgers. The episode where he appeared suggested people should hate him for opening a rival restaurant next to I.M. Neighborly's and taking Neighborly's customers away by offering them free sodas. It also suggested that it was okay for Dodgers and Neighborly to sabotage Melvin's in a way that, in real life, would get them arrested for not only damaging private property but also endangering the lives of everyone inside. Dodgers treated it like a space battle.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • It has the unique distinction of having Designated Villain Protagonists, in the form of the Eds. They always lose and end up being treated horribly by the end of nearly every episode and Eddy is the only one that ever deserves any of it, even if they didn't even do anything that bad. Add to this the fact that most of the rest of the cast gets away with being insufferable little assholes who are unconditionally mean to the Eds with little or no provocation.
    • Though Eddy's main schtick is scamming the other kids and being exceptionally greedy, he's often forced to pay the price for attempting legitimate business ventures. More often than not, he (or the other Eds) put a lot of effort into these businesses. An example of this is an incredibly elaborate theme park ride that showcases the sort of Bamboo Technology we might expect from the future, not unlike the kind people ride frequently at Disney World. They eventually manage to break out of their role in Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show.
    • Jimmy sometimes. Although Jimmy was wrong for framing Ed and Edd (when he should have only targeted Eddy) in "If It Smells Like An Ed," we're supposed to feel sorry for Eddy since he was punished for a prank, while his unfortunate friends were guilty by association.
  • There's a few cases on The Fairly OddParents when characters are designated villains as the result of a wish (Jorgen in "Action Packed", the popular kids in "Scary Godparents", as well as Timmy himself in "Nega Timmy") or the circumstances, as Tootie in "Dread and Breakfast". Oddly enough, Timmy is this in "The Masked Magician". Bickles came dangerously close to destroying Dimmsdale simply because Timmy (unknowingly!) showed up his own magic show, and yet its Timmy that's presented as being in the wrong and the one who has to apologize in the end!
  • Blendin Blandin of Gravity Falls is portrayed as an antagonist for being a stressed-out guy who doesn't want 12-year-old twins Dipper and Mabel using a time machine device because it's his own property. This unfair treatment is brought up in "Blendin's Game", where the twins make it up to him for unintentionally ruining his life. In his second appearance he does claim he'll use his Time Wish to ensure Dipper and Mabel were never born which seems like Disproportionate Retribution, but of course this could've simply been a bluff (especially since he already threatened to go back in time and prevent their birth at the end of his debut episode, and yet seemingly never got around to it). That being said, Blendin is absolutely terrible at his job, so much so that after he gets his job back due to Dipper and Mabel in “Blendin’s Game,” he gets tricked by Bill and nearly causes the Apocalypse. So maybe we shouldn’t feel too sorry for him.
  • Minx from Jem usually averts this, clearly being a villain in most episodes. In one episode, however, Minx becomes indebted to Rio after he saves her from drowning and undergoes a Heel–Face Turn. She ends up becoming Unwanted Assistance to Rio and his friends, but she really didn't do much wrong despite being painted as a villain. She gave some of the Starlight Girls toys and sweets, which causes Jerrica to get mad at Minx when the kids get stomach aches from eating too much candy and make messes with their squirt guns. This is despite the fact that Jerrica is their guardian, not Minx, and Minx didn't make the girls do anything. She also installed a house alarm for them, which causes the Holograms to get mad at her when Kimber forgets the alarm's code. It wasn't her fault that none of them remembered the password. Minx was being overbearing, but she didn't need to take the brunt of their anger and isn't wrong for getting angry at the end of the episode.
  • Johnny Test:
    • Played for Laughs with The Beekeeper. Unlike the other villains, who want to take over or destroy the world, The Beekeeper just wants to get kids to eat healthier. The characters even lampshade that this wouldn't be a bad thing if he wasn't so crazy about it. Turns out his candy bars are pretty tasty as well. Luckily, by "Johnny Holiday", The Beekeeper is no longer an antagonist, as both he and the Tests team up to create a holiday in which free candy (or rather, honey bars) are given out. Thus, after this episode, The Beekeeper hasn't been seen since.
    • Played straight in, among other episodes, "Johnny Test in 3D" - the hotel manager is the bad guy simply for trying to enforce the no-pets policy.
    • Sunblock Mom is an antagonist in "Sunshine Malibu Johnny" for trying to get Johnny to put on sunscreen. Subverted when the episode ends with Johnny stuck in bed suffering from a bad sunburn because he didn't put on the sunscreen.
  • In the pilot episode of Justice League, an American Senator has a proposal to rid the world of nuclear weapons by having Superman work round-the-clock to dismantle the nukes of every country on Earth (it's implied that all the countries agreed to this). While he's outlining the proposal, an angry American General stands up and declares that he shouldn't do it because "Those weapons are our only defense against aggression!" (in this continuity, the Earth had just barely escaped an alien invasion by Darkseid...and a brainwashed Superman as well...only a few years earlier). The American general is accused of warmongering and shamed into silence and the nuclear disarmament begins. Then, after all the nukes in the world are disarmed, it turns out that the Senator was actually an evil alien in disguise and the disarmament plan he proposed was intended to keep the nations of Earth from destroying the alien ships that were about to invade. Oops. Guess you should have listened to the warmongering American General in the first place, eh? note  This is clearly satirizing the plot of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
  • Kaeloo: Even if Mr. Cat hasn't done anything wrong in the episode (yet), he still gets tortured and the audience is supposed to find this funny. In episodes like "Let's Play Cops and Robbers", he even gets punished for things he didn't do.
  • The Lion Guard: One episode revolves around the Lion Guard stopping a family of jackals from hunting "little ones" (baby animals). The problem is that the episode presents them as villainous for hunting young animals, despite this being how many predators hunt. Two of the Lion Guard, Kion (lion) and Fuli (cheetah), are large carnivores themselves, which adds to the confusion of stopping the jackals from getting food. The jackals are antagonistic for "invading" on Prideland territory, as the family was previously banished to the Outlands for being sneaky and malicious, but the episode puts a lot of emphasis on the jackals being evil baby eaters.
  • Friz Freleng took this view of Elmer Fudd in Looney Tunes, arguing that Elmer, as presented, ended up being too sympathetic and too low on actual evil: as opposed to more obviously abrasive or villainous characters like Yosemite Sam, Elmer is just a guy who wants to hunt a rabbit, and he never seems to be much of a threat to Bugs, since Bugs always gets away from him easily. In his view, Elmer came across as less of an antagonist and more of a bullying victim.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Iron Will runs a legitimate business in assertiveness training (although its practices are arguably somewhat extreme). However, Fluttershy takes his lessons too far, and becomes a fearsome bully. While her friends choose to blame Iron Will, Fluttershy instead takes responsibility for her actions. While Iron Will still sort of acts as the antagonist in the final scene, he's never really shown as in the wrong, just rude. While he suggests that he's going to be violent towards the end, at this point he thinks Fluttershy is trying to avoid paying him and has effectively stolen from him. She then goes and admits that since she wasn't 100% satisfied, she doesn't have to pay and Iron Will accepts this after making sure (probably the first time anyone has actually used that tidbit) without conflict and learns from the experience. Played Straight outside of the show, where Iron Will is often grouped with the show's actual villains in merchandise.
    • This is subverted again in MLP: Friends Forever Issue #10. In the very beginning, he's angrily searching through Ponyville for Fluttershy, but the Mane characters are actually surprised that he's looking for her for some anger management rather than retribution. It's revealed that he's not really a bad guy so much that he has anger issues, and can honestly be a pretty decent person if he tries to be more patient.
    • A straighter example with Iron Will pops up in Once Upon A Zeppelin where he uses "pushy and manipulative" tactics to get customers aboard his Princess-themed cruise, but the fact remains that he gave Twilight's entire family a free cruise and clearly outlined the terms of it in a consent form which Twilight Velvet didn't bother to read before signing. In fact, when Twilight takes offense to the terms he even offers to tear the contract up and free them from their obligations, but understandably cancels the cruise and points out how disappointed the guests will be if they do, and Twilight not only refuses but actually offers to take on additional responsibilities so her family and friends can enjoy themselves. Pushy and manipulative or not, he was well within his reasonable right to expect them to honor the agreement and Twilight was only so overworked because she decided to do the work of multiple princesses, making it very hard to blame Iron Will for any of the events that happened.
      Twilight Sparkle: Iron Will, I'm not sure it was entirely honest of you to offer this cruise to my family without telling us that ponies bought tickets just to see Cadance and me!
      Iron Will: Iron Will outlined all the details of the cruise in the Prize Acceptance and Consent Form that you signed.
      Twilight Velvet: Well, when somepony offers you a free vacation, who reads the fine print?
    • For Trixie, this trope is played straight once and later deconstructed twice.
      • Her initial appearance in "Boast Busters" displays her as a showy magician who is merely establishing mystique in a manner very much akin to real-life performers. After some of the Mane Six come to the conclusion that she's a braggart and begin heckling her, she reveals herself as a Miles Gloriosus, accepts their challenges and makes fools of them to bolster her own image, even bullying Twilight who played no part in the heckling. Later, however, a monster destroys her caravan (and presumably causes loss of her livelihood) and none of the protagonists express sympathy for her but continue to comment on her arrogance, while Snips and Snails who brought the monster into town on purpose in the first place get "punished" with free mustaches. While a nasty and arrogant Jerkass, she's no villain, though.
      • The first deconstruction comes in "Magic Duel". Trixie not only calls out the town on the way they treated her before but also points out she lost everything thanks to what happened in Ponyville. Her revenge against Ponyville is also somewhat justified as residents of said town are shown vandalizing her new cart, and the worst of her vengeance is aimed at Snips and Snails who got off scot-free for the problems they caused the first time around. Ironically, she ends up as the Big Bad for that episode, having obtained - against the shopkeeper's own advice - the magic mind-control amulet for revenge in the first place. Even the others admit she wasn't that bad beforehand.
      • Deconstructed again in "No Second Prances" where Twilight Sparkle was willing to give the dangerous and possibly psychotic Starlight Glimmer a chance at redemption but rigidly refuses to drop her personal grudge with the decidedly less villainous Trixie. The episode features Twilight being called out for it several times and gives her a My God, What Have I Done? moment when it hits her just how badly she's harming Trixie.
  • Benson in Regular Show is shown to be a hot-tempered, hostile, and petty mean boss, but it's still his job as park manager to keep the park in order and actually cares about the park being tidy and shows a great dislike for Mordecai and Rigby's constant lack of productivity and is usually chewing them out for it, but he's really doing it to get them to work more and slack off less and wants them to look good for their future.
  • Happens all the time in Rugrats, often deliberately due to the skewed naive perspective of the babies:
    • Didi hires a dog groomer for Spike. The babies, thinking she's a "dog broomer" who kidnaps dogs, cause all sorts of mayhem for her ("What else could a dog broomer be?"). True, Spike didn't want to get groomed, but that would make Didi the villain here, not the groomer.
    • A teenager hired to work in the Java Lava is a bit moody and surly but the babies assume she is Angelica's doll grown huge and try to shrink her by pulling out her belly button ring. And they mess up the coffee shop and when the girl tells everyone that they did it they almost fire her for "blaming it on the pups," but she quits in agitation and disgust before they can.
    • Angelica herself in the episode "Silent Angelica". Drew and Charlotte promise to buy her toys if she stays quiet and watches the babies. Angelica actually tries her best to stay quiet but the babies take advantage of this and run wild around the house. Angelica finally snaps after they've caused so much mayhem, but then Drew and Charlotte punish her for it when she had done nothing wrong at all.
    • Some of the babies' theories on "villains" run so much on Insane Troll Logic that it's lucky some of them aren't even real. For example they hear the story of the Sand Man, and worry about the off chance that he may accidentally bury them with too much sand while putting them to sleep. They ultimately come to the conclusion they must kill the Sandman. Naturally there is no Sandman for them to murder, though they spend most of the episode mistakenly beating up Chuckie's dad in the process.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Played straight with the tenants Marge invites to live in the house for the holiday. They are supposed to be seen as selfish and evil for constantly complaining, ruining Marge's Christmas, but this ignores the fact that the only reason she was able to have a Christmas was that she invited an inordinate amount of people to her house, promising them a ludicrous amount of activities which she didn't have any hope of providing.
    • Bart and Homer's attitude towards George Bush Sr. in "Two Bad Neighbors". Bush is repeatedly portrayed as a fun-hating sourpuss, despite the fact that a lot of his frustration comes from Bart's annoying behaviour. Homer's beef with Bush is that he's more popular with the neighbours than Homer. The episode ends with Bush having to apologise to both of them and Bart and Homer get away scot-free.
    • Itchy and Scratchy are a parody of this in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry. It's very rare that Scratchy's even doing anything before Itchy murders him.
    • Evelyn and the other country club women, save for Sue-sin, in "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield". While constantly referred to as snobs throughout the episode, none of the women were intentionally rude or even catty to Marge (and, at worst, could only be seen as Innocently Insensitive) and had she and the rest of family went to the big party at the club, they would have welcomed them in with open arms. Even Sue-sin comments she wasn't serious or malicious in her attitude.
    • In "Bart the Fink", the IRS is portrayed as antagonistic for utterly destroying Krusty after his fraudulence is exposed, even though Krusty should have paid his taxes and exposing him was the right thing to do. Of course, it is the IRS after all...
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Plankton during seasons 6-8, in which he's become much more of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, and Mr. Krabs is more of a Jerkass Knight Templar. The only reason he doesn't become a completely undeserving target of the show's increasing Comedic Sociopathy is the few stray episodes where he actually acts like a villain, and the role he takes in the movie.
    • Squidward comes across this way too, in spite of a few moments here and there where he actually deserves what he gets coming to him. All he really wants is for SpongeBob and Patrick to allow him some peaceful and quiet time to himself. But apparently wanting some downtime and respite from his well-meaning, yet loud and obnoxious neighbors makes Squidward a Jerkass...somehow. Honestly, many viewers end up sympathizing with Squidward's desire to have some time to himself to relax, away from SpongeBob's loudness and intrusiveness.
    • Mrs. Puff too. Before she attempted to murder SpongeBob, all she wanted to do was to not have to deal with SpongeBob's bad driving, and because of that, it makes her a jerk who deserves the abuse she gets, Disproportionate Retribution simply because she dislikes SpongeBob, when really, fans sympathize with her because SpongeBob is un-teachable and Mrs. Puff shouldn't have to put up with him.
  • During the Blasts from the Pasts two-parter in Superman: The Animated Series we're introduced to Mala, a Kryptonian criminal trapped in the Phantom Zone that Superman just happens to discover by chance one day. Looking into her history, he learns that she was a member of the military under Jax-Ur, a Composite Character of General Zod and Comic!Jax-Ur, who was imprisoned for being part of a traitorous rebellion initiated by her aforementioned superior. Because she was merely an accomplice, her sentence was scheduled to end around the time Krypton exploded. Superman decides to release her in the hopes that she'd become a hero like him (also because he wanted another Kryptonian to hang out with). Long story short, she listens to Clark and helps him thwart some crime but goes a bit overboard and causes damages to civilian property, which causes Superman to genuinely consider sending her back into the Phantom Zone, presumably forever. This, along with an unrelated altercation with Lois Lane about Superman's affections, causes her to return to her former leader and attempt to take over the Earth. You have a character that is genuinely trying to be a hero, and their minor mistakes are treated as catastrophes, and all mentions of her after the fact are as though she was a violent psychopath the entire time.
  • In the Thundercats 2011 episode "The Duelist and the Drifter", Master Swordsman the Duelist appears guilty of nothing more than challenging swordsmen to duels for their swords and winning, but is set up as a villain to Kid Hero Lion-O, who foolishly takes up his challenge unaware of his rep. While the Duelist does eventually prove to be less-than-honorable — he insists that Lion-O Duel to the Death and attempts to kill him after Lion-O wins — there's no evidence of wrongdoing before that, apart from goading Lion-O by implying his dead father was a coward, and some unadvertised deck-stacking through the use of two blades to Lion-O's one. After all, he introduced himself as "the Duelist". It's not his fault that Lion-O failed to pick up on the homonymic pun.
  • Tom from Tom and Jerry is usually attacked by Jerry unprovoked. Jerry is portrayed as the hero. No matter what happens, Jerry is viewed as being right and Tom is always punished. The worst examples are when Tom is, in an episode set in the past, executed when he was just doing his job. Tom's job in this short was simply defending his home's supplies and nothing malicious. Hanna-Barbera did seem to wise up to this in many of their later shorts, which often made Jerry more altruistic and Tom more sadistic and deserving of his abuse. The majority of times Jerry drew the first blow or got a bit too vindictive in his retribution, Tom actually claimed a victory.
  • Total Drama:
    • Heather is the legitimate villain of season 1, but after that, she becomes mostly ineffective because everybody knows how manipulative she is. As a result, she goes through seasons 2 and 3 being snarky and rude at times, but never doing anything wrong...and yet, the other characters still constantly act as if she is still evil. Probably the best/worst example is when Leshawna knocked Heather's tooth out when Heather tried to explain that the new villain, Alejandro, was manipulating her; even when Leshawna finds out that this is true, she still openly brags about attacking Heather and never seems to consider that it was completely unjustified.
    • Gwen (in-universe) in Action, World Tour and All-Stars.
      • In Action, when Trent's teammates discover that Trent was throwing challenges for Gwen's benefit, they immediately blame her for it, despite her not knowing about it at all. Later, she gets demonized for breaking up with him despite having a perfectly valid reason for doing so, and on the next challenge she repays the favor by throwing a challenge, and voting herself off.
      • In World Tour, she gets the most harassment and blame for Duncan's adultery, even though she wasn't the one who initiated their kiss. This also extends into All-Stars, where she's placed on the Villainous Vultures despite having done more good than bad. To make things worse, every time she tries to apologize or do something nice for Courtney, she ends up either injuring or humiliating her instead, resulting in a delighted Chris telling her she's on the right team after all.
      • In All-Stars, despite the whole love-triangle facade being only partially her fault, she ends up receiving the full blame and the villainous status to accompany it. Immediately getting treated as the "evil boyfriend stealer" and is put on the Villainous Vultures despite "three seasons of niceness".
    • Courtney in World Tour. The writers ended the love triangle in a de facto deleted scene with Courtney knocked out by a sandal while Gwen and Duncan happily kiss.
    • Lightning in Revenge of the Island, due to needing a villain to accompany Cameron to the finales, but having both of the season's original villains Scott and Jo eliminated a few episodes earlier. Lightning is immediately granted status as the new Big Bad, previously being just Dumb Muscle who remained fairly neutral (albeit a bit arrogant), he suddenly Took a Level in Jerkass (with little reasoning) and becomes the villain Cameron faces-off with in the finales.
    • Anne Maria in Revenge of the Island. Because of showing an interest in Mike after becoming Vito for the first time. She is treated as a mistress or someone trying to steal Mike from Zoey despite the fact they weren't actually dating yet. Also, she is only mean when provoked as such by her conflict with Jo or when she led to believe that Dawn stole her brush. Also, the only reason why she pushed Zoey was because of the fact that Zoey was stepping on Jo's oxygen supply.
    • Alejandro in All-Stars, who showed a fair bit of redeeming qualities as he shifts towards Anti-Hero status after discovering the greater evil that is Mal. However his heroic acts are rejected by everyone due to his history, and is continuously treated as the real villain up until his elimination.
  • VeggieTales: In "The Grapes of Wrath", the eponymous grapes are supposed to be a bunch of jerks, but the only ones among them actively causing trouble are the children, Tom and Rosie Grape. Their parents, on the other hand, are shown to be quite a bit saner, especially Ma Grape, who gets on her children's case after Junior Asparagus gets humiliated trying to get back at them for their latest prank. This is pretty much justified considering the story is intended to teach the value of forgivenessnote .
  • Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production:
    • In "For the Love of Acorns", a kind of conceited baseball player is treated as a villain for wanting Bugs and Squeaks to stop vandalizing the field looking for an acorn and disrupting the game.
    • Carl the Grim Rabbit is treated as a villain for doing his job.
  • Magneto in X-Men was often a victim of this, due to the fact that the series treated him as a villain even while adapting storylines where he was at most a Well-Intentioned Extremist. This leads to many sequences of him being referred to as "our most intractable foe" despite having actually fought the X-Men only a few times and spent the rest of the series in Enemy Mine situations at his worst. (Granted, the way they were introduced was the X-Men foiling his attempt at nuclear terrorism, so it's rather understandable if they got a bad impression of him.) "Sanctuary" in particular is this, where Magneto creates a new nation in space where mutants can live peacefully, and the only hostile action he takes in the episode is freeing mutant slaves from what is essentially a concentration camp so they can live there. Everyone treats this as a horrible thing that will have grave consequences, but the only reason the plan doesn't work is that Magneto got betrayed by one of his subordinates. If he'd been a bit choosier in Acolytes, he would have done more to advance mutant rights in that episode than the X-Men had in the entire prior season.
  • Ranger Smith to Yogi Bear, he was treated as an antagonist to Yogi even though Ranger Smith is trying to stop Yogi from stealing people's lunch. In real life, wild animals getting hold of human food is a very serious thing - it can lead animals to associate humans with food, meaning that they have to be killed or relocated to areas where humans are not very plentiful, otherwise the animals might get aggressive and start attacking people. Not that this show's universe has many things in common with real bears. Reasoned in one episode, where Ranger Smith finally gets sick of Yogi's antics and delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech on all the felonies he's caused. Yogi defends himself by pointing out the forest belonged to the animals first, then humans such as himself took over and tried to enforce rules onto them. Yogi steals food, but Smith stole his entire habitat.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Designated Antagonist


Dear Santa's "villain"

Jillian actually objects to her boyfriend's daughter spending time alone with a woman they just met? That BITCH!

How well does it match the trope?

3.67 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / DesignatedVillain

Media sources:

Main / DesignatedVillain