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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

Sometimes, a fanwork will portray a villainous character in a more positive light. It can be done out of sympathy for the character, for shipping reasons, as a part of a role-reversal story, several of the aforementioned or for the variety of other reasons.

The common subjects of this treatment are characters who are 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 = Goodness, after all, and shallow as it may be, it seems that, for some fans, this is the case even when the character's beauty only extends to their 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.


While this happens a lot with male villains, female villains are often twice as likely to get this treatment, due to the belief that women cannot be truly evil and so a man must ultimately be responsible for "turning her evil." It helps if the woman in question is attractive in a cute and/or sexy way.

Some villain archetypes, such as the Smug Snake (because of their off-puttingly arrogant personality), the Generic Doomsday Villain (because of their complete lack of a personality), the Hate Sink (because they are specifically written to be hated), 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 people to forgive and overlook the negative qualities and stress the Freudian Excuses that form a sympathetic back-story for fictional characters than it is to do the same for people in real life, because the actions of the fictional character have no real-world effect. In some cases, fan material will play this further by treating the characters as less like the originals and more like actors who share the personalities of the original, allowing the villain to cheerfully bounce off the heroes in casual settings with their evil deeds forgotten or downplayed.


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 Well-Intentioned Extremist of any sort, expect their fans to declare that The Extremist Was Right.

As always, though, Tropes Are Tools. Sometimes fans who see the character as unfairly villainized due to Values Dissonance (such as the Scary Black Man or Depraved Homosexual) turn them good as a sort of reclamation of power. Sometimes the fanon has proper justification from an in-story context, such as a what-if or a heavy AU. Sometimes the villain is more likable than the heroes, and even if they aren't good people per se, they're easy to root for. And sometimes, the character is simply much more interesting or offers more storytelling potential when interpreted as sympathetic, while their flatly evil original counterpart was just bland. The classic example is Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, where a sympathetic Anti-Villain coping with prejudice and demanding what he is rightfully owed in a society determined to wrong him is seen as a much weightier role than a stereotypical Greedy Jew being thwarted by straight-jawed good guys. In some cases, this can even become Ascended Fanon, with the creator taking notice of the character's popularity and redeeming them or developing them further. Nonetheless, of course, Sturgeon's Law applies frequently.

Named for a term in the Harry Potter fandom, for the most sympathetic Fan Fic 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. Not coincidentally, the Inverted Trope Ron the Death Eater also originated from such fics.) According to user HELP_MANBABIESGOTME on Reddit, "Harry Potter trends alone are interesting. There was a single cabal of authors who created everything you know about Draco Malfoy being a love interest instead of a creep. Cassandra Claire was one of them. All fic prior to that had him firmly as a nasty bully. The Veela stuff, and him being smart and good at potions, is all fanon. It was called 'Draco in Leather Pants' back then, in, like, 2005. Now, it's just Draco's default, fanon personality."

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

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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 his or her 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.)



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


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