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Females Are More Innocent

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In fiction, it's not uncommon for a given franchise to have a very uneven ratio of male to female characters, particularly when it comes to the Villain of the Week, but even among many franchises with a more even mix, the mix of genders within various character roles may also vary wildly from role to role. For example, a gang of villains might contain several male and several female villains, but where most of the male villains are of the card carrying variety, the female villains are all noble demons who were forced into a life of crime.


That's where this trope comes in. In franchises that adhere to this trope, female villains will generally fall into one of two categories:

In either case, the essence of this trope is the suggestion that, while male villains can be evil by nature or by choice, such depths of evil are not natural for women, and so, if a female character has truly evil thoughts, a man must be ultimately responsible for putting them there, even if her actions and behavior don't hint at it. Thus, when facing in-universe justice, she is more likely to receive a less severe fate for the same crimes as a male villain might, assuming she is not just Easily Forgiven and let off completely. Murder-mysteries have a related phenomenon: generally, if the murder victim is a female, she is more likely to be portrayed sympathetically, as an innocent victim who was Too Good for This Sinful Earth; whereas the vast majority of Asshole Victims are male.


A long-running franchise might occasionally depict a woman who is maliciously evil, or motivated by money, greed, fame, intimidation, jealousy, power, or because they enjoy it. However, they will be extremely few and far between. A good indication that this trope is in force is if you can count the number of leading female villains on the show in the last three years on one hand.

This trope might be related to the "Double Deviance" theory that women are naturally passive/ineffective/"pure" and therefore a female criminal isn't just deviant against society, but against her sex and its "natural" passivity. Here there are two ways to interpret the vicious character of a woman who really is doing bad things because of her own character, not because of the influence of those evil men: You could portray her such that she's still female and innocent, therefore not as bad as a man; or you could also say that she is even worse because men have the excuse of I'm a Man; I Can't Help It while a woman would have to be motivated by her own willpower—and therefore she has a more evil will than most men.


It's likely that this trope originated in the Victorian Era, when women were considered so delicate and frail that they should be shielded from the world's ills — treated like slightly bigger children, in fact. The flip side of this was that once a woman fell into sin, she was a depraved and godless individual who would think nothing of any crime, no matter how hideous. Then along came writers such as Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens, whose idea of balancing this was by having "fallen" women whose very innocence had made them easy prey for cruel and heartless men. The influence of this wicked man never pierced the pure soul beneath, however, and the sinner would always happily return to the straight and narrow if she could bring herself to accept it.

Compare All Abusers Are Male, High-Heel–Face Turn, Men Are the Expendable Gender, The Unfair Sex and Women Are Wiser. Contrast More Deadly Than the Male and Lady Macbeth.

Needless to say, the idea that women cannot commit crimes of their own volition is not Truth in Television.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The anime Mai-Otome has very few male characters to begin with; however, most of the ones seen are villains. The Big Bads are either male (Grand Duke Nagi, John Smith) or genderless (Yuna), and they usually send male monsters of the week to fight the heroines. Also, all the evil heads of state are male while the good ones are female. It is true they all have female WMD but they are Just Following Orders. The main male in the series is Sergay Wang, who is a father figure and Love Interest of protagonist Arika and Nina, and also The Dragon and completely loyal to his master. The only good men are the captain of the guard who is the Royal Brat queen's Butt-Monkey, a one-off prince (Takumi), and the Satellite Love Interest of a secondary character (Kazuya). There are a few female antagonists in the show but almost all of them are shown to be actually be good people and are redeemed by the end of the show (the only exception, Tomoe, is a Karma Houdini).
  • In the Pet Shop of Horrors manga, although there aren't really "villains" per se, the guys who screw up their contracts normally do so out of greed or ambition (the Chinese mob boss who murders a little girl to obtain her tiger, the drifter whose pursuit of success makes a kitten cry) The women screw up out of more sympathetic emotional weakness (a mother who spoils her daughter, a girl who wants her pet bird to be happy).
  • Sailor Moon Zig-Zagged this trope. Both the manga and the original anime had female villains who were just one-dimensional bad guys. However, others were manipulated or misguided and portrayed more sympathetically.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Yui enters the Universe of the Four Gods with Miaka, and not returned with Miaka, who goes back looking for her. Yui is attacked by thugs, rescued by Nakago who allows her to believe she was raped, and he convinces her that Miaka had just abandoned her to her fate. Yui doesn't believe him at first, but is convinced that Miaka didn't really come back for her when she sees Miaka and Tamahome (Whom Yui also has feeling for) kissing. This spurs Yui to become the Priestess of Seiryuu and enemy to Miaka.
    • Also in the Eikoden OVA, it's played with. Mayo enters the book, spurns all attempts to get her back home, spreads vicious rumors about Miaka and tries to steal Tamahome away from Miaka. She does that stuff all on her own. But she is motivated by a male demon posing as Suzaku to pray for the destruction of Konan, in order to save herself from a Traumatic C-Section and get to be with Tamahome.
  • In Parasyte, Reiko Tamura is the only important "female" Parasite on the mayor's side, and though The Heavy, she gets more character development than the other villains, because Motherhood Is Superior; she's also the only one who (eventually) chooses not to eat humans. Averted, however, with the Parasite who kills and takes over Shinichi's mom.
  • All the Claymores in Claymore are women because all of the male Claymores would Awaken almost immediately.
  • The anime adaptation of Senran Kagura, being that kind of show, has a largely female cast anyway. But the Big Bad, and the only major antagonist who is meant to be hated without being given any kind of justification, is the male Headmaster Dougen. While the anime gives a reason or a Freudian Excuse to explain why each of the bad girls are dark/evil ninja who joined Hebijo, and why they became who they are now, he is just a generic, self-centered, wannabe world conqueror bad guy with no redeeming qualities. And in the final episode, all the “evil” girls team up with the heroines in a Enemy Mine situation against him, while Orochi, the female-ish Eldritch Abomination who, in the games, was Dougen’s partner-in-crime, here is demoted to Dougen’s Ninpo who shows up for three minutes before dying. This also extends to the girls’ backstories, as many of them involve being victimized by men (Ikaruga by her brother, Homura by her mentor, Haruka indirectly by her father) who are also not given any characterization beyond one-dimensional abusers, and aside from that, Ikaruga and Haruka’s fathers are shown to be terrible, greeedy people.
  • There are two female Espada in Bleach, past and current. note  Apart from Starrk, they're the only nice ones. They're also stronger with only two Espada stronger and Harribel is the last Espada defeated, taken down personally by Aizen. And the two female Espada seem to be the only ones that actually get to live.
  • Overlaps with Designated Villain in Blue Gender. Humans Are the Real Monsters who brought on the Blue with technology and overpopulation, and run Second Earth as a dictatorship, but it's mainly the men (like the intended Big Bad Chairman Victor) who are given this treatment. Women, like Marlene, are innocent victims who have been separated from the goodness of nature. Alicia Whistle does a Face–Heel Turn, but only due to the influence of the male Tony, and the one female member of the High Council, Lu, is also the only one spared and repents along with Su. And in the end, Gaia, the personification of the planet and intended Big Good, is referred to as female.
  • In Silent Möbius, all of the heroes in the AMP are female, and the only visibly female Lucifer Hawk, Rosa Cheyenne, is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who is only evil because of persecution by humans; in addition, minor antagonist Anne turned to killing because of her treatment by the researchers who raised her; and both of them redeem themselves before they die. When Katsumi does a Face–Heel Turn later on, it is only because she lost her boyfriend, and she turns back to the side of good by the end. Meanwhile, all the Lucifer Hawks besides Rosa appear to be male and are not given any characterization beyond generic Monster of the Week stuff, and the male Ganossa Maximilian is the Big Bad, a total Hate Sink, and the one who manipulated Rosa and Katsumi into joining him in the first place.
  • Every female villain in Speed Grapher is given a sympathetic backstory to explain their reasons for joining the Roppongi Club. Kaoru Koganei is addicted to diamonds, and is shown to have truly loved her late husband, but the cutthroat world convinced her that love is about material things. Miharu Shirumaku was abused and almost killed by her Stage Mom. Kikukawa ends up happily marrying Niihari. Most egregiously, Hibari Ginza is a violent Cowboy Cop who sells out Kagura to the bad guys and outright rapes Saiga while he’s unconscious, yet she is supposed to be pitiable and sympathetic, and even the Big Bad Shinzen, an abusive Evil Matriarch to Kagura, is treated as sympathetic because she was a failed actress who was abandoned by her husband while she was pregnant, and is losing her looks, and abuses Kagura out of jealously- and she isn’t the real Big Bad, but a pawn of the male Suitengu (who himself is portrayed sympathetically). Meanwhile, all the male Euphorics and politicians (except Suitengu and his Terrible Trio) are straight villains, and the worst, most evil Euphorics are all male, especially Prime Minister Kamiya, who is the root of Japan’s corruption.

    Comic Books 
  • Tintin ran for five decades, and in that time Tintin only met one female villain, who was aiding her husband (and both were quite insignificant even in the book they were in). Of course, Tintin has almost no female characters to begin with.
    • The movies added another female villain, who merely spied on the heroes for the Big Bad.
  • Of the most famous Batman villainesses, Catwoman varies between being an Anti-Hero and Anti-Villain (and her villainy in Batman Returns is caused by an evil man trying to kill her), Harley Quinn is a sympathetic abuse victim of a far more evil man, Talia al Ghul was reared by an evil father and is noticeably more sympathetic than him. Poison Ivy was less sympathetic but even her origin story has her being experimented on by an evil man, and in recent years even she has gotten the Anti-Hero treatment.
  • Judge Dredd does this in a couple of ways. There have been all manner of criminals across a whole spectrum of sympatheticness, but only four major villains have been women. Of these, only half were truly evil: the Sisters of Death, creators of the Dark Judges, were bloodthirsty psychopaths; Judge Bachmann, who tried to overthrow Chief Judge Hershey, just wanted power; the others were Judge Edgar, who was a knight templar, and America Jara, a hero antagonist with a tragic backstory. Within Justice Department, there is a tendency for women to be more sympathetic and kind as foils to Dredd himself, most notably Anderson, Hershey, and more recently Beeny.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Zigzagged in the Saw film series. The only "original" villains are John Kramer and Hoffman, who are both male. The only woman who can seriously be counted as a villain is Amanda Young, who only became John Kramer's apprentice because she was "rehabilitated" by him and sincerely believed that the experience "helped" her. On the other hand, many of the female victims were Jerkasses including a thief, a loan shark, a woman who pimped out younger girls, and several con artists.
  • Frequently happens in the Lifetime Movie of the Week, as well as in the 'Rape and Revenge' style flicks like I Spit on Your Grave.
  • The Bourne Series enthusiastically embraces this trope. To date no female character has been portrayed as truly villainous; at worst they are simply misled by evil male superiors about the true nature of Bourne and Treadstone.
  • In Flatliners, medical students putting themselves through Near Death Experiences to try and glimpse the afterlife are tormented by the vengeful spirits of the people they have wronged in their lives; they can only stop them by Crossing the Burnt Bridge. All the men in the group have to deal with some pretty serious sins, while the only woman in the group's only sin is having a veteran drug addict father who committed suicide out of shame when she as a little girl walked in on him hitting up, through no fault of her own. In the original script, her character actually had an affair with her college professor; when she was caught out, she villainised him and claimed he was sexually abusing her.
  • The Baroness's film incarnation's sins in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra are apparently all attributable to brainwashing. Can't a lady just be a bad guy anymore?
  • V for Vendetta features a long series of definitely awful male villains for whom V has no sympathy at all, plus one completely repentant female minion whom he treats almost tenderly.
    • However the original work does feature the power-hungry, treacherous, manipulative, heartless and completely rotten to the core Helen Heyer, Conrad Heyer's horrible wife, whose goal is taking over Norsefire as the power behind the throne by using her husband as a puppet. She's presented as a serious threat on her own, so much so that V himself feels he needs to put her out of commission for good, lest his own plans be ruined. And while he doesn't kill her, he eventually has her reduced to a homeless street hooker. which is quite the humiliation for a former Rich Bitch Socialite. But the trope is still in play since she's presented as being unnaturally evil compared to all the other evil men around her and, without these men, she's nothing.
  • The Dark Knight Saga:
    • Of all the traitors in Gordon's unit in The Dark Knight, the only one with a sympathetic motive is Anna Ramirez who was on the take because she needed money for her mother's hospital bills, and she is the one who lucks out and survives Two-Face's judgement.
    • Played straight again in The Dark Knight Rises with Selina Kyle but averted with Talia. Selina royally screws Bruce Wayne out of his wealth and throws him to the wolves, yet he forgives her. Talia tried to nuke Gotham City, and he wound up inadvertently killing her.
  • Subverted in Escape From Planet Earth—the female villain, Lena, is manipulated by her fiancée Shanker, and the movie seems to set her up for a High-Heel–Face Turn. When push comes to shove, though, she refuses (either refusing to believing that Shanker is tricking her or just planning to take over the galaxy without him), and Kira stops trying to help her and takes her down instead.
  • Inverted in Basic Instinct. All female characters in the film are either sociopathic, homicidal, manipulative, obsessed, or some combinations of the above. There are no truly evil male characters, while the protagonist is duped by the main villainess depite his better judgment.
  • Noah is set in a world where humanity has grown so thoroughly wicked that God has decided to destroy it all and start over. Noah himself witnesses the cruelty of humanity, and comes to believe that all humans are too evil to be redeemed. However, all the atrocities seen in the film are committed by men, while women are present only as victims of massacre or rape. Additionally, when Noah cites his family's own sins as proof that they too are evil, the worst he can come up for the women is that they would do anything to protect their children.
  • Act of Valor sets up a group of suicide bombers intending to sneak into the United States. Out of 14 men and three women, the men are casually shot down while the women are given lingering closeups and scenes of themselves looking regretful, including one's tragic backstory of wanting to reunite with her husband.
  • Maleficent plays this straight. The Villain Protagonist is revealed to be evil because the king cut off her wings and on top of that, she's reformed by Aurora and forgiven for all of her crimes - including high treason and mass murder.
  • Played straight in Blackk Klansmen with the KKK terrorist lady, who is implied to only be a racist bitch because her husband has convinced her they'll be happier when all the black people are dead. In reality of course, many women were active instigators of racist violence: sometimes for no other reason than they were bored teenagers.

  • The Trope Codifier would probably be Sherlock Holmes, who never brought any woman to justice. He would always either allow her to escape or make sure no charges were filed against her. He would also come up with sometimes ludicrous explanations on why it was not her fault, like something must have hit her hand, causing the load stone of a structure to collapse, killing her ex-fiancé and she just took the money because she might be pregnant. This courtesy was sometimes extended to men if they had a female accomplice.
  • Jo speaks against this trope in Little Women where the men in the boarding house are discussing whether women should receive the vote. One of the men invokes this trope in favor of giving women the vote, while Jo says that women should not vote "because they are angels" but because it is their right as human beings.
  • In Oliver Twist, most of the women are wholesome, decent people (special mention goes to The Ingenue Rose), save for Nancy, who is a Love Martyr for Bill Sykes, someone who is less than pleasant.
  • Averted in The Bad Seed. Not only is Rhoda a vicious sociopath of a child but she's like that because it's inherited from her maternal grandmother.
  • Averted in A Song of Ice and Fire, of the three Lannister siblings, Cersei is by far the most villainous and least sympathetic, in contrast to her Anti-Hero brothers. Also notably averted with the Tyrells, where Olenna is a bitch queen and Margaery is a only slightly sympathetic manipulative seductress but Margaery's brother Ser Loras is one of the few actually selfless people in the stories. All the characters in-universe take the trope seriously though, and plenty of the women take advantage of that fact (Most notably, Margaery and Melisandre).
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: The only reason the Kthonian knights want to wipe out all the men in the world is because they were horrifically abused by men and so they think all of them are evil. Even Ktonia herself fits this trope; Jihadain, her daughter, attacks Daniar, Kalak's wife, and is killed by him for it. Ktonia watches this happen and thinks everything is Kalak's fault.
  • This is constantly used as an argument as to why women need to be shielded from the vices of the world in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Helen vehemently argues against this idea, knowing from experience that keeping women innocent will only set them up for future problems.
  • There are no male Confessors in Sword of Truth because they would inevitably abuse their powers. Male babies a confessor bears are killed shortly after birth.
  • In Warrior Cats, villains are almost always male:
    • This trope is really present in The Prophecies Begin arc, in which nameless bad guy cats are always, or almost always, toms. The named villains are also overwhelmingly male. Tigerstar and Scourge are the main villains of series one, and both of their chief henchcats, Darkstripe and Bone respectively, are toms as well, as is Brokenstar, the villain of early series one. Blackfoot, who later becomes Blackstar, is at his most villainous in this arc as well.
    • In The New Prophecy the villain is Hawkfrost, and also Mudclaw, who plots to overtake WindClan. Sharptooth, the cougar who preys on the Tribe, is also male, although not really a character so much as a monster.
    • The Power of Three has Sol, who wants to destroy the Clans, and Ashfur, who tries to murder three of his Clanmates. The closest thing to a female villain in this arc is Hollyleaf, who kills Ashfur. Of the Tribe invaders, half are toms and half she-cats.
    • In Omen of the Stars, most of the villains reused from previous series are male, although some female villains finally get introduced. Mapleshade is the biggest female villain, and introduced in this series (after fans pointed out that most villains so far were dark brown tabby toms). Also appearing in the Dark Forest is the minor female character Sparrowfeather. Ivypool may also qualify, before she realizes that the Dark Forest wants to destroy the Clans.
    • Dawn of the Clans has the male cats Clear Sky and later One-Eye as chief villains, but also the she-cat Star Flower, although she later undergoes a Face–Heel Turn.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Coronation Street. Any male character that isn't a gormless twat or a henpecked husband, or has any type of backbone, is some kind of villain. Be it a wife beater, serial killer, con artist, womanizer or just your average Jerk Ass. In affair storylines the woman will almost always be the sympathetic one.
  • Doctor Who ran for a quarter century and had a large number of Big Bads, yet in that time period only about 10 were women, and only one or two of them appeared in the show's first 15 seasons. The revival series is starting to subvert it with more frequent female villains.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is an interesting case as they have had enough bad women that you would think that it is not the case. However, they continually subscribe to this theory, and look for anything that will get a woman who attacked a man off for her actions.
  • In Terra Nova, It turns out that the female sixer leader Mira is working for associates of Lucas Taylor, and has more or less been coerced into the role in much the same way as another female "villain", sixer spy Skye Tate. Lucas Taylor, on the other hand, causes trouble for the colony largely out of a sense of Disproportionate Retribution for his father's decision years earlier that led to his mother's death, and the associates are doing it out of pure greed.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • Marla McGivers of the episode "Space Seed" is perhaps the prototypical example of this. The episode's writers clearly want us to see her as a weak, innocent victim of Khan and maybe the audiences of 1967 saw her that way. To modern audiences, however, she often comes off as more of a Dirty Coward.
    • Dr. Janice Lester of "Turnabout Intruder" is a power-hungry psycho who, among other things, murders her entire research party and shows no sign of remorse for it. She should be considered a serious criminal, but the episode ends with the main characters regarding her with condescending pity. Granted, she's clearly mentally ill, so she could be legitimately pitied for that. However, the pity expressed for her was definitely more along the lines of, "Poor silly girl got too uppity."
  • This trend isn't rare in traditional sitcoms utilizing a Women Are Wiser dynamic. Even when it is time for the more rational female character to act Not So Above It All it will still often be heavily provoked by their more bumbling male costar's stupidity or arrogance.
  • Definitely a common trope in older westerns, such as Bonanza.
  • In the pilot of Supernatural, Sam tries to explain the actions of the Woman in White by saying the woman was temporarily insane because of her husband's infidelity when she killed her children.
  • A popular Cliché of Telenovelas is an Inversion of this, where a taken man is wooed by a woman and the whole situation is treated like if the guy was a blameless victim who was seduced by an evil vamp, even when almost every time said guy is a completely sober, full grown adult that could have just pushed the girl away. Is also very common that other characters feel bad for the "poor innocent guy" that was fooled for ulterior motives and his girl treated like an unfair, resentful woman. It makes no sense since the main demographic of these shows are women and sadly, not yet discredited.
  • Averted in Investigation Discovery series Deadly Women. As the title suggests, the show is all about female killers who usually have no sympathetic or justifiable motivation for their crimes.
  • Bones averts this with the The Reveal of Heather Taffet as the Gravedigger.
  • Callisto from Xena: Warrior Princess is an aversion. She became a warlady because she believed Xena killed her parents.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Females playing this straight include Regina - who was once kind and good but was purposefully corrupted to become the Evil Queen by Rumpelstiltskin, and eventually undergoes a Heel–Face Turn. Her sister Zelena followed suit as the show went on. Additionally Ursula the Sea Witch was once good but became evil after years of abuse from her father, and Captain Hook stealing her voice was the last straw. She too gets redeemed. Ingrid the Snow Queen is a borderline case as although she had a sympathetic backstory, she was still presented as evil. She likewise got Redemption Equals Death. Cora, Regina and Zelena's mother, was horrifically evil in life, and yet died a tragic death and ended up finding redemption in the Underworld later on.
    • Completely avoided with Cruella - who is shown to have been rotten to the core ever since childhood, the Black Fairy who is considered the Ultimate Evil despite her sympathetic traits, and Mother Gothel, whose tragic backstory is not used to justify her evil (especially given how long ago it transpired), and she is ultimately proven to be too far gone for any sort of redemption and thus Killed Off for Real in the end.
    • The spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland plays it very straight. There are two female villains - Anastasia and Amara. Both have sympathetic reasons for their evil deeds and both get redeemed. This is in contrast to Jafar, who is shown as irredeemably evil. Likewise the Jabberwocky switches sides and attempts a Heel–Face Turn (that doesn't happen due to getting sealed away again). Also Alice's stepmother is presented as something of an antagonist but appears to be redeemed by the finale.

  • In the song "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels", the lyrics state "From the start most every heart that's ever been broken/has because there always was a man to blame". It was written as a response song to "The Wild Side of Life", a song about a man who's fiancee left him for a man she met at a roadhouse
  • The song "Daughters" by John Mayer is about a man who is rejected by a girl and so admonishes fathers to treat their daughters well because it will influence how she falls in love later in life - as if the only reason she could have rejected him is because her father was cold or abusive. Becomes a Double Standard in the bridge, which states you can "break" boys and they'll be fine, but don't you dare even raise your voice to a girl or she might turn someone down one day.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible often averts this with women who initiate the temptation against men: Eve encouraged Adam to bite the apple after she did it first (although, the serpent may count as a male tempter), Jezebel was the driving force behind the persecution of the prophets while her husband Ahab just went along with it, and the "strange woman" of Proverbs 5 is definitely The Vamp seducing a virtuous man rather than being herself an innocent victim of seduction. On the other hand, it's easier to see it as played straight with that other famous Vamp Delilah (it seems she was really led on by bribes from the Philistine); or Hosea's extremely unfaithful wife Gomer, who surely can be interpreted as being more of a low-self-esteem woman who is easily influenced by any man who offers her a gift.
  • Modern versions of King Arthur legend seem to follow this trope very much. Most of the important female villains in Merlin have sympathetic backstories and are Well-Intentioned Extremist types; Morgana gets several Being Evil Sucks scenes. Likewise, in Camelot, Morgan gets a rather more sympathetic treatment than King Uther who is just a brutal warlord.
    • Debatable as Merlin goes on; not only is there an overwhelming number of evil magical women on the show (compared to good magical men), but the likes of Morgana and Morgause are portrayed as consistently more one-dimensional, whilst King Uther grows considerably more sympathetic.
  • Classical Mythology averts this quite a bit.
    • Apate is the goddess of deceit who helped kill a mortal princess on another goddess' orders.
    • Kakia is the goddess of vice and immorality who tried to tempt Hercules away from his heroic path.
    • Nemesis is the goddess of retribution who exists solely to punish those who succumb to hubris.
    • Eris is the goddess of chaos and she started the Trojan War just because she wasn't invited to a wedding.
    • Keres are goddesses of death who search the battlefield for wounded and dying men they can feed upon.
    • The myth of Pandora is basically an illustration as to how the greeks viewed women as evil incarnate.
  • In Norse Mythology the "evil" female figures are almost always less evil than the men on their side. Hel is the least dangerous of Loki's offspring, and the female giants are always innocent. The only exception might be the giantess that didn't weep for Baldr (which would make her contextually the most evil and miserable character in the myths), which was most likely a shape-shifted Loki anyways.

    Video Games 
  • In the game Bully you can seduce any female student to your side no matter how bad she is. There are also several boys you can seduce, but the gender ratio is around 6:1.
  • In the Yakuza games, the only female enemy is an optional encounter in the first game.
  • The female antagonists in Dragon Age: Origins follow this trope. Even among the demons, the female "Broodmothers" are ultimately seen as victims, abducted, raped and transformed into Mook Makers. Much the same holds true for many male Darkspawn, but excepting one instance in the Dalish Elf origin, this isn't stressed as much.
    • Subverted with Anora. Among all the possible candidates for the throne, she is presented as a Reasonable Authority Figure unless she betrays the warden to Ser Cauthrien or suspects she won't get her way at the Landsmeet. Of course, shrewd doesn't equal innocent.
    • Flemmeth can be this depending on who's story you believe. If you believe Lelianna's story, she started out a winsome young bride who escaped an arranged marriage to be with her one true love. If you believe Morrigan's story, she was a shrewd dealer who got screwed over and did what she had to do to survive.
  • Valkyria Chronicles Selvaria's body count is in the hundreds of thousands, but it's made very clear that all the bad things she does are Maximilian's fault. All the other generals under him are male; the only one who isn't portrayed as utterly evil is Jaeger, and even he's at least responsible for the actions he takes under duress. Selvaria is presented as a tragic character who, despite being by and large the most powerful being in the game, is doomed by Maximilian's mishandling of her; this is reinforced in her DLC mission, where all she wants to do to thank one of her subordinates is cook a meal for him.
  • In the latest Fire Emblem games, truly villainous female bosses have become very rare and are usually depicted as an abused pawn of the real male villain.
    • Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem: Both of the female villains in the remake's subplot are depicted as tragic pawns of the male villain, the teenager Clarisse being raised from birth as an assassin and the adult woman, who raised her, Eremiya being magically corrupted by a male villain. Both get tragic cutscenes on their deathbed, conversely the male assassins, Legion die with much less fanfare despite having the same Freudian Excuse as Clarisse.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening seems to only have one truly evil woman throughout the game, with any other women merely being antagonists and/or mooks. But if you receive the SpotPass chapters you suddenly find out that she was mind controlled for the entire game, she then joins your team. To compare, Gangrel was a genuinely messed up individual, with a long list of atrocities to his name; he joins too, but he actually has to bear responsibility for his actions, instead of shifting the blame to someone else. In the Japanese version, Sissy Villain Excellus is depicted as a Trans woman, but this is an an example of Acceptable Targets.
    • Fire Emblem Fates has Arete's death played for Tragedy complete with a Dying as Yourself as she Came Back Wrong by a male dragon. Her husband, Garon just dies before the game starts and since he's been a mere meat puppet for the male dragon's will the entire time since and truly "alive" there's no moment with his children.
    • Zigzagged In Fire Emblem Heroes. The Big Bad, for a change, is a princess, Veronica. However it’s implied that she’s being manipulated by a voice that’s telling her to kill. It turns out to be the female Loki, and they become friends. However she was doing this under the King Surtr, who mistreats his daughters (both of whom are portrayed sympathetically), betrays Veronica, and turns out to be the biggest threat, ultimately playing this straight to the frustration of many fans.
  • The first official translation for Final Fantasy VI describes Defector from Decadence Celes Chere as having "a spirit as pure as snow" even though her in-universe claim to fame is being the war criminal who burned a city. Celes is a good person (being as she joins the party out of distaste for Kefka's even worse tactics) but the retranslation's character blurb does not repeat the odd assertion that she somehow had Incorruptible Pure Pureness while committing atrocities for The Empire.
  • Starting from the third entry onward, the Persona series started to adopt this mindset with its villains. While male villains often are pretty vile or extreme with few exceptions, the female ones are treated either as tragic characters who end up villains due to circumstances beyond their control, or as in the case with Izanami, ultimately well-intentioned but misguided.
    • The fifth game has a large variety of minor antagonists with all manner of crimes to their names, whom the protagonists reform by stealing their hearts. These people include members of both genders, but not only are two of the more sympathetic targets female- Futabanote  and Sae Niijimanote - but while many of the other females you target terrible people, they aren't nearly as monstrous as the worst of the males.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, female Big Bads are few and far between, even when Dr. Eggman is being usurped from his usual position by various eldritch monsters or other more "normal" villains. The most noticeable one, Merlina from Sonic and the Black Knight, also has the honor of being an Anti-Villain and a Well-Intentioned Extremist, something almost no other villain can claim to be.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Subverted in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations. At first, Dahlia's tendencies date back to being neglected as a child. But not only was she horrible even as a child (sending her twin sister Iris to a monastery just so she can be center of attention) but her issues go back to the turmoil within the women of the Fey Clan. And the abuser was her mother.
    • The series in general plays with this, as while most female murderers are just as petty and greedy as the male murderers, they are much, much less common than the male ones, at a ratio of roughly 4 or 5 to 1. Of those relative few, only 2 are the Big Bad in their game. And Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies has no female culprits as well as more female defendants wrongly accused, although it is the only game in the series to do so.
  • Subverted in Sunrider. The heroes, the crew of the titular ship, are all female with the exception of Kayto. Meanwhile, the Big Bad is the masked dictator Veniczar Arcadius, and the local Evil Empire, PACT, has two other leaders/Veniczars, both of whom are male. The sole female among Arcadius’ cohorts isn’t even an official leader, but a space pirate hired by PACT. She’s also the most sympathetic, as her backstory involves her being born on a nigh-inhospitable planet and forced to drink dirty water just to live. She comes across as a prime candidate for a High-Heel–Face Turn, but she has to be forced into one. Veniczar Kuushana, the official female Veniczar, eventually left PACT due to being disgusted with Arcadius’ actions. And the Greater-Scope Villain (Crow Harbor) is a male. However, this is turned on it’s head by The Reveal that Arcadius is a woman by the name of Alice Ashada, and the commander of an all-female Hive Mind known as the Prototypes. The Hive Queen is also a girl, called Alpha. Finally, working with the Prototypes is Claude, the female doctor of the Sunrider; she is actually a powerful Jerkass God who’s primary motivation is amusement. Add in Lynn, Chigara’s manipulative Evil Twin, and the female villains actually outnumber the male ones.
  • Rose Guns Days has not a single female villain among its extensive cast of both males and females. All the villains are male, while the only antagonistic woman, Amanda, is revealed to be Good All Along. It’s rather odd since Ryukishi07’s other works are known for their Cute and Psycho female villains.
  • Akai Ito and Aoi Shiro are Girls' Love visual novels so most of the characters are female, yet none of them are true villains while the Big Bad in each is male. The former has female Creepy Twins Nozomi and Mikage, but they are both pawns working for the male Big Bad Nishi. KEI-kun, the only other major male character, gets possessed by Nishi. In the latter, the only major male character is the Big Bad Ba Rouryuu.

    Western Animation 
  • In "The Most Dangerous Game Show", the third-to-last episode of Ben 10: Omniverse, almost the entirety of the females in Ben's Rogues Gallery help save him when he's in a pinch as a way to return the favor of him helping them. It's highly unlikely many of the male villains would have done the same.
  • Family Guy sometimes invokes this when it comes to Lois' flawed behavior. A lot of her more self righteous or aggressive bouts are shown to be provoked by Peter's selfish or obnoxious antics, even if many of her reactions are disproportionate. Later episodes just skip the formalities and just make Lois an even bigger Jerk Ass than Peter, even if her losing it as a result of his behavior isn't that unlikely.
  • The Karate Kid, "Homecoming": Tina helps her jerk boyfriend Brick steal the shrine, but she clearly doesn't like doing it and tries to keep him from hurting Daniel in the process.
  • Frequently played with or subverted in Justice League:
    • In the first episode, while watching a riot that resulted from the alien invasion, Wonder Woman remarks on how savage "man's world" is (comparing it to her all-female home of Themyscira). J'onn immediately tells her not to judge them so harshly because "they're scared", and points out that amid the rioting an equal number of people are rushing to the help of others and digging victims from the rubble.
    • Subverted with Tala, who longed for affection, would obsessively cling to whichever man was in charge, and obediently follow his orders. She gets no sympathy from anyone: she's depicted as pathetic more than anything, it's made quite clear she's a bad person regardless, and she ends up shackled into Lex Luthor's machine and brutally electrocuted to death.

  • The infamy of one Lizzie Borden is largely due to this trope. In 1892, this trope was widely accepted and thus the public was shocked by the very idea of an upper-class lady committing such a violent crime against her own parents. This helped in securing her acquittal, despite a firm case for her guilt, while even feminist groups of the time backed Borden through disbelief that a women was capable of such brutal murders.
  • Male betta fish are very territorial and will not hesitate to attack another male betta (and other showy fish, such as male guppies) that's placed in their tank. But what a lot of people don't realize is that although it's certainly possible to keep female bettas together, it's very difficult because they too are territorial (remember, bettas are not schooling fish). The first week is often the worst, as they fight to figure out a pecking order. Some can't even handle being with other fish and need to be kept separate, just like males. If you want to attempt a sorority tank, it's best to have a large tank, with lots of plants and other places for the fish to escape to.
  • This trope is a reason why female suicide bombers tend to gain particular notoriety. They can bypass security more easier, dress themselves in a way to conceal their equipment and many are hesitant to perform body searches, making them Beneath Suspicion. Female suicide bombers are also statistically shown to receive more coverage and sympathy than their male counterparts, as well as being used by the group associated with them to highlight that the Godzilla Threshold has been crossed and now even the women have to fight. There have even been pregnant suicide bombers, taking this Up to Eleven, since few people could imagine such a thing.

Alternative Title(s): Women Are Pure


Example of: