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Draco in Leather Pants

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Were they playing the same game?

"I guarantee you Satan's going to have no problems on this planet because all the women are gonna go 'What a cute butt!' He's Satan! 'You don't know him like I do.' He's the prince of darkness! 'I can change him.'"
Bill Hicks, Pussywhipped Satan

Where Ron the Death Eater is about the fandom taking a good character and demonizing them, Draco in Leather Pants is when a fandom takes a controversial or downright villainous character and downplays their flaws, often turning them into an object of desire and/or a victim in the process. This can cause conflicts if the writers are not willing to retool the character to fit this demand.

In fanfiction, they are frequently the love object of the local Author Avatar, who uses the power of love to redeem the character. "I can fix him" is a commonly expressed sentiment among fans of Dracos in Leather Pants. In extreme cases, the affection these characters receive from fans can lead them to forget that they're actually still supposed to be villains. Or, on the flip side, even the worst crossings of the Moral Event Horizon can be rationalized, while any insult from the hero towards the villain is cast as deplorably mean. The writer's attempt to make the villain more "sympathetic" will likely cause them to remove everything that made the character so cool/well-liked in the first place.

Common reasons for this include the character being wicked in a classy or cool way. A physically attractive villain is much more likely to be subject to this trope than a physically ugly one. Beauty Equals Goodness often subconsciously applies even when the character's beauty only extends to their physical appearance. All Girls Want Bad Boys may be a factor with male villains getting a female fandom that views them through this lens. A badass villain will naturally be preferred by many of these over meeker heroic characters at times, as well. Though these aren't the only reasons why fans could do this.

Some villain archetypes, such as the Smug Snake (because of their off-puttingly arrogant personality), female villains (because it's mostly Fangirls who invoke this trope) and the Complete Monster (because of the severity of their evil deeds and absence of redeemability) are rarely susceptible to this, but it can still happen.

Jerkass Dissonance usually plays a part in this trope. It is much easier for fans to forgive and overlook the negative qualities and stress the Freudian Excuses that form a villain's sympathetic back-story even if they would run screaming from such a person in real life. After all, the actions of a fictional character have no real-world effect.

Expect also for fans to make excuses for the character not getting any comeuppance for their sins, and, for bonus points, gloat if one of their hated and/or villainized characters gets the short stick instead, especially if the latter is the victim of the former. Double with Ensemble Dark Horse if it was a minor villain who gets this treatment. If the character is a leader of any sort, expect their fans to declare that The Extremist Was Right.

Named for a term in the Harry Potter fandom, for the most sympathetic Fanfic portrayals of Draco Malfoy, who, in Canon, is a petty, smug, elitist Spoiled Brat. (The term originated in Hurt/Comfort Fics, where Draco was the comforter and Ron was the abuser, usually with Hermione being the victim. Note the term was also used by fans of such scenarios as a completely self-aware guilty pleasure.)

On the Sliding Scale of Character Appreciation, these guys fall under "Villains we sympathize with".

Disturbingly, sometimes Truth in Televisionbut we won't go into that. For literal antagonists in leather pants, see Hell-Bent for Leather.

Related Tropes:

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    Character Tropes That Encourage Draco in Leather Pants 

  • If the audience seems to have a fairly good reason for preferring the bad guy over the good guy, you may have Unintentionally Sympathetic (and/or Unintentionally Unsympathetic in the possible case of the hero they're against).
  • When the audience embraces or admires a villain more because of their chutzpah, badassery, and/or Break the Haughty potential than out of actual admiration, and are still perfectly fine with them receiving their ultimate defeat in the end, then it's Love to Hate.
  • Rooting for the Empire is doing this while acknowledging that the villains are evil.
  • Jerk Sue is when a character is perfect and can do no wrong from the story's perspective, but is actually a horrible person when viewed more objectively.
  • An Unpopular Popular Character is a character who everybody among the main cast thinks is a complete jerk, complete loser, or both, but fans can't get enough of; applies to any type of character, not necessarily a villain. (Unlike a Draco in Leather Pants, this is often the writer's intent.)


NOTE: This only applies to the general fandom trend of whitewashing them, not specific works which instead go under Adaptational Heroism, Adaptational Nice Guy or Adaptational Sympathy. Specific works can be noted as contributing to or codifying the trend but are not examples themselves.



Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Villain White Washing Service, Paint The Villain White, Dracos In Leather Pants


Gruntilda Did Nothing Wrong

Chuggaaconroy discusses how the developers of Banjo-Kazooie went out of their way to make Gruntilda appear as a disgusting and detestable character, but ended up achieving the opposite by having half of the trivia about her be incredibly cool. However, when using it to say that Grunty did nothing wrong, ProtonJon has to remind him that she literally kidnapped Tooty and mutilates her during the game over screen, which Chugga tries to excuse under the pretense that "kids are awful".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

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Main / DracoInLeatherPants

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