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Hero Antagonist

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Looks like someone's been over the line, isn't it Superman?

In modern English, "antagonize" means something like "to harass" or "annoy", and is usually negative in tone. Its original meaning, however, was something more akin to "opposed to"; and "antagonist" uses this original meaning — the "antagonist" of a story is simply "whoever is working against the main character", regardless of them being the villain... or The Hero.

A Hero Antagonist thus opposes the main character, but their objectives are usually things like Saving the World, foiling evil plans, helping the helpless, and otherwise working For Great Justice.

Usually, a Hero Antagonist's main concern is that The Protagonist is going to end up hurting someone or something, or bring about The End of the World as We Know It, which may be completely correct (whether because The Protagonist is a card carrying, moustache-twirling villain or just an Unwitting Instigator of Doom), or misinformed as to the nature of their enemy. In a Good Versus Good story, the antagonist might become less "opposed to" and more "competing against". In any of these events, the Hero Antagonist is able to keep their good alignment while still being the narrative's opposition. Or the conflict could be not a matter of life and death, but a simple game or sporting event in which both the protagonists and their opponent are on good terms, averting Opposing Sports Team.

Can be related to Rousseau Was Right depending on the type of Hero Antagonist in question. Often overlaps with Villainous Valor. Sometimes related to My Country, Right or Wrong. Inspector Javert is often a Sub-Trope, as is its mentally healthier cousin, Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist. If the protagonist is a Well-Intentioned Extremist, their antagonist will often be a Knight in Sour Armor. Settings with White-and-Grey Morality will favor these.

Compare the Knight Templar, whose devotion to good ideals has become unreasoning fanaticism and they refuse to see how evil they are. Often (though not always, depending on how the morality is played in the work) will oppose their inverse, the Villain Protagonist.

If the Hero Antagonist having Noble Profession is revealed to be a malicious figure, then that overlaps with Evil Hero.

Compare Hero of Another Story, Anti-Villain and Designated Villain.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Afro Samurai: Due to Afro's Anti-Hero bordering Villain Protagonist status, Shichigoro from Resurrection fits here.
  • Angel, a.k.a. Tachibana Kanade, in Angel Beats!. The whole thing was a case of Poor Communication Kills, and when they actually sit down and talk to each other they find they have no reason to fight anymore.
  • Bleach: The entire Seireitei (sans Aizen and company) in the Soul Society arc, if you look at it from their point of view — they're giving out lawful punishment to a criminal, and Ichigo and friends are the equivalent of an armed mob raiding the police station to break her out.
  • Officer Kirihara of Darker than Black. She is good and hunting the protagonist for crimes he actually committed but also being misled by her evil superiors
  • Death Note:
    • L, the world’s greatest detective, is an Anti-Hero Antagonist dedicated to catching the Serial-Killer Killer Kira (aka the Villain Protagonist Light Yagami), as are his successors.
    • Matsuda is a classic Idiot Hero — a slightly impulsive but very well-meaning everyman who's ultimately devoted to his True Companions in their quest to catch Kira — too bad one of his aforementioned friends is secretly Big Bad Light Yagami, AKA Kira.
    • Soichiro Yagami is a police chief who also wants to catch Kira (not knowing the perp is his own son), and he is described by the author as the only one-hundred-percent good character. However neither he nor Matsuda are Light's direct antagonist as such, while L and Near are.
  • Dragon Ball Super:
    • In the Universe Survival Saga, Zen-Oh decided to hold a battle royale-style martial arts tournament, but declared that any universe that's eliminated will be erased from existence. Thus, everyone is literally fighting for survival, not just for themselves but for countless lives. Universe 11 and 2's teams are outright superheroes (the former a riff on Super Sentai and the latter consisting of a trio of Magical Girls and their supporters) and most of Universe 6's team make friends with Goku and company in previous arcs. Some of them antagonize Goku because they blame him for what's happeningnote ; he's perfectly willing to be labeled the bad guy if it means people will fight him with everything they've got. In fact, he willingly admits that Universe 11's Pride Troopers have one up on him because they fight For Great Justice while he's just a martial artist looking for a challenge.
    • The manga version of Jiren, one of the aforementioned Pride Troopers, is probably the best example in the tournament: he's a selfless champion of justice who has saved his own universe countless times and is known as a great hero in it for his deeds. He devotes all his time to running around the universe, protecting civilians and righting wrongs, and won't even kill villains. He's a much more straightforwardly heroic character than anyone in the main cast, who are mostly martial artists who do very few heroic things unless essentially forced to. He's only against the main characters because of the circumstances of the tournament, and he initially wasn't even going to compete, saying that he'd rather be erased than take part in such an immoral display (Goku, on the other hand, didn't even blink at the idea). His anime self would count too if not for a huge dose of Adaptational Villainy.
    • The movie Dragon Ball Super: Broly actually turns the series main characters Son Goku and Vegeta into this, albeit of the Anti-Hero variety, due to the titular Broly being the main character. Broly is not a villainous character, he is tragically a good person who is blindly obedient to his cruel father Paragus and the victim of Frieza's manipulations. Both Broly and Paragus are recruited by Frieza, who wants to test Broly's power by sending him to Earth to fight Goku and Vegeta. This naturally puts them in conflict, as as far Vegeta knows, Broly is simply an evil warrior working for Frieza. Goku manages to deduce that Broly isn't evil and while he enjoys fighting him, he doesn't want to kill him but Broly's out of control power leaves him with little choice.
  • Elfen Lied:
    • Shirakawa, initially a cold Girl Friday to Kurama, secretly she investigates the Director, and seeks to stop his experiments. Even after her death, her information informs her superiors, the Japanese Government of the experiments at the facility and they mobilize against the Director.
    • The Operatives hate Lucy, and they pilot the vector craft to attack the facility and kill any and all Diclonii, and retrieve the cure to the disease, which has just been used to infect everyone in the world. They still have no problems with lying and shooting unarmed people as long as they complete their task.
    • The Agent is initially just a replacement field operative after Bando and The Unknown man were indisposed. She wants to save the world from the diiclonius virus. She opposes the protagonists, but honestly does not care about them, as they're all small in the grand scheme of things. She rescues Arakawa, who has the cure, and risks her own life to get the scientist to safety. Her motivations are notably without the self interest that almost every other character has, she just wants to do the right thing.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, there are the soldiers who storm and arrest the members of Section 9 — they're very much aware of what they're doing, so they're not Inspector Javert, but they are approved by the city and they limit the use of lethal force.
  • Since Gundam Build Fighters is all about people building custom Gunplanote  and battling them using a special machine, almost every single character is a Gundam fan and a modeller, giving them a few common interests right off the bat. Even the fact that they're participating in a tournament doesn't stop the characters from getting along, and in both this series and its sequel the main characters start off as or end up befriending almost every opponent they face, including having a strong Friendly Rivalry with their primary opponents. The rare few exceptions are characters who fit the Opposing Sports Team mold like the Renato brothers from the original series, or those who are just straight-up Jerkasses like Saga Adou from Try.
  • Hellsing: Father Alexander Anderson is a Noble Demon and Sociopathic Hero, sure, but he specifically targets vampires and heathens and attempts to keep civilians out of the line of fire, even forfeiting a chance to battle Alucard because of there being too many innocents in the museum. He despises rapists as well, and is willing to escort Integra back to Hellsing Manor "to protect her maiden virtue", which is quite telling after Villain Protagonist Alucard's encounter with Rip Van Winkle. Vatican Section XIII, the Iscariot Organization to which Anderson belongs meanwhile, goes well off the deep end in the manga and OVA by waging another crusade on both Millennium and all of Protestant England, swinging them into literal Knight Templar territory. This highlights Anderson's own moral compass because he assists in killing his own boss/surrogate son for his crimes.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - Northern War, the protagonist of the Cold Steel saga from the Trails Series and a heroic individual, Rean Schwarzer, is this trope as the main point of view in the anime is from the cast of North Ambria. From their perspective, Rean is the biggest threat of the country thanks to his Humongous Mecha and if he's not stopped, North Ambria will ultimately get conquered.
  • Inspector Zenigata from Lupin III. Our main character is a criminal, and Zenigata is attempting to bring him in for his crimes. Key word being attempting.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's:
    • The Wolkenritter. So here we have a group of "villains" whose malicious goal for filling up the Artifact of Doom was so they can save an innocent ill girl from certain death, and they were doing it in a way so they wouldn't kill or severely maim anyone. Problem was, due to reasons beyond their control, it wouldn't have worked without Nanoha's help. Either the Book of Darkness would have killed the girl and reincarnated elsewhere, or Admiral Graham would have frozen them both forever.
    • Admiral Graham himself. He's a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wanted to stop the Book of Darkness forever. Most previous masters of the Book of Darkness abuses it for their evil ambitions and they used the Wolkenritter as killers.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Col. Sergei Smirnov, a.k.a. the "Wild Bear of Russia", is, far and away, the most sympathetic out of all of Celestial Being's antagonists in the first season. A Reasonable Authority Figure who believes in upholding the law, flawed as it may be, against an organization of terrorists (albeit, well intentioned ones), and helped give the first season its Grey-and-Gray Morality.
    • Graham Aker of the Union and later Earth Sphere Federation, with his sportsman-like qualities or rather Samurai-like hence his nickname "Mr. Bushido".
    • Kati Mannequin of AEU considers Celestial Being's commander Sumeragi to be a Worthy Opponent even if Kati initially views Sumeragi's goals to be unfeasible and too idealistic. not too surprising given how Sumeragi used to serve alongside Kati in the AEU.
  • Zechs Merquise from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing; after achieving his initial goal of revenge for the destruction of his homeland and the murder of his parents, sets about trying to realize their goal of a peaceful world — the exact same goal his sister Relena, the show's female lead, is going for. The major difference is that Zechs is a Well-Intentioned Extremist more than willing to hold the Villain Ball in order to scare the planet towards peace — and his personal pride keeps drawing him into battles with protagonist Heero.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny is complicated (in this any many other areas) due to events that some fans consider signs of creator favoritism. Both Shinn Asuka (the show's protagonist) and Kira Yamato (protagonist of the previous series) want the same thing: to end the bloody, destructive war and protect the innocents caught in the crossfire. However, they're on different sides, have different methods, and eventually a few bodies between them so they come to blows up until the very end.
  • Monster: During Martin's flashback, Tenma and Martin are both trying to save Eva, but neither one knows or trusts the other. They're heroes of their own stories, Tenma not sure Martin isn't trying to kill Eva, and Martin believing he's protecting Eva from Tenma.
  • The court in Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. They only want to destroy the water demon that will cause a drought in the land, and none of them are very happy about the fact that the host has to die to do it. It's not really their fault that they don't know the true nature of the possession. They learn otherwise, which ends up aligning them with the heroes instead.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
  • One Piece:
    • A few of the Marine Officers the main characters have to face are genuinely good guys who actually want to protect the public and don't view civilians and their own soldiers as being completely expendable. Notable examples are Smoker and Tashigi (who have practically achieved Friendly Enemy status with the Straw Hats), T-Bone (A Father to His Men), Coby (Luffy's old friend and rising Marine equal), Garp (Luffy's grandfather), Kuzan (a.k.a. Aokiji), and Issho (a.k.a. Fujitora, one of the new guys).
    • One filler arc included the presence of a rational, normal Marine captain, who had no strange abilities or quirks, but was led by some crazy, immensely fat admiral and his equally stupid lieutenant, who were on par with all the early, lighter One Piece villains.
    • Commander Jonathan of the G8 filler arc. While he pursues the Straw Hats after they literally drop into the middle of his fortress, he offers mercy to the crewmembers that don't yet have bounties, refuses to treat his men as expendable, and has nothing but disdain for the visiting commanding officer that wants the Straw Hats captured no matter the cost.
    • Magellan and Hannyabal, the chief warden and vice-chief warden of Impel Down. While the latter is a bit promotion-happy, he is genuine in doing his job to protect the outside world from the criminals in Impel Down, even saying this in his fight with Luffy, due to the latter inadvertently starting a prison breakout.
    • Former Fleet Admiral Sengoku has done some... questionable things in the past (Ohara), but there is no question that he only does those things for what he feels is for the good of the world. And some part of him has always been suffering for it. He finally retired when the World Government decided to cover up the breakout of several Level Six Impel Down prisoners in order to save their reputation, instead of sending out warnings and wanted posters like he wanted to do.
    • The Galley-La Shipwrights start out as this in the Water Seven arc. After Nico Robin participates in an assassination attempt on Iceberg alongside CP9, the shipwrights are convinced that the Straw Hats are responsible, and try to hunt them down. After realizing that they had been deceived, they fight alongside the Straw Hats and Franky Family in the raid on Enies Lobby.
  • Oswald/Glen Baskerville of PandoraHearts only wants to reverse the effects of what he believes his own naivety caused one hundred years ago. By going through with his plan he would erase a good many characters from the timeline but would also prevent the deaths of countless innocents. Unsurprisingly, Grey-and-Gray Morality abounds.
  • Phantom Thief Jeanne has Miyako, her best friend and pursuer, and Chiaki/Sinbad, who tries to stop her from helping the Devil because he is working for God all along.
  • Ryuhou from s-CRY-ed is less evil and more concerned with the welfare of most people than the Jerk with a Heart of Gold protagonist, Kazuma. And since Ryuhou and Kazuma get about equal screen time, Ryuhou is a joint protagonist — several episodes focus on his perspective. He evolves into a protagonist in the episodes following his second battle with Kazuma, but up until then he's just painted as a semi-peaceful well-meaning villain.
  • By the end of Shakugan no Shana, Yuji Sakai with Snake of the Festival get to save the world and make the Flame Haze the bad guys without them knowing it.
  • The aliens in Tokyo Mew Mew are trying to kill humans and take the planet back, as their ancestors used to live on Earth, but at the end of the day, they are trying to save their loved ones as much as the mews (the anime itself lampshades this).
  • Ultra Magnus (God Magnus) in Transformers: Robots in Disguise/Car Robots. He's arrogant and bitter about Optimus being chosen to carry the Matrix instead of him, but he's no friend of the Predacons or Decepticons, and at least once rebuffs Scourge/Black Convoy outright when the latter thinks that just because he's Optimus' rival that it somehow makes him a bad guy. He just really, really wants the Matrix, and isn't above roughing up Optimus to get it, making him a third-party antagonist for much of his early appearances. In spite of his superiority complex, he's also not above saving humans, either, meaning that while Magnus comes off as a dick, he's still got a good spark somewhere beneath all that ego.
  • Team Unicorn and Team Ragnarok of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds are Opposing Sports Teams competing against the protagonists, so the protagonists have to defeat them even though there's nothing evil or villainous about them — they believe in The Power of Friendship just like the heroes, they care about and protect each other, they fight fair, and they don't want to hurt anyone. If they weren't competing against the characters the story had been long been following already, they would be heroes.

    Comic Books 
  • In Barbe-Rouge, a lot of stories revolve around people trying to capture the eponymous character. Since he is a ruthless, bloodthirsty pirate who terrorises everyone, this is actually quite an understandable goal. On the other hand, a lot of those who try to capture him are shown to be corrupt or using particularly underhanded schemes to do so, such as targeting his son Eric to get at him.
  • Superman in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns qualifies, as he genuinely tries to do the right thing, but he's a bit too willing to bow to authority for Batman's liking.
  • Batman in Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood is just trying to stop Huntress from murdering people, and is willing to seriously consider the possibility that Huntress is innocent of the initial murders, which she is. In the end, he does give her the benefit of the doubt and agrees to let her resolve the situation without any further bloodshed; she proceeds to murder her father in a way that she can't be touched for.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's parents frequently trying to shut down Calvin's more adventurous or destructive plans, because they're his parents and need to maintain at least some discipline.
  • Darth Vader : Except in The Ninth Assassin, the people Vader (the focus of the story) is fighting have far more sympathetic goals and personalities than he does.
    • In The Ghost Prison, Moff Gentis leads a ruthless coup against the Empire and doesn't seem to feel that all of their policies need changing, but he is disgusted by their murders and how they use young soldiers as human waves.
    • In The Lost Command, Lady Saro and her allies are trying to trick Vader into attacking Imperial loyalists and strengthen their forces to protect the Ghost Nebula from the Empire and live in peace.
    • Practically everyone in the city of former Separatists and more recent dissidents in The Cry of Shadows (Lima Starcourt and her co-councilors, General Farstar, Kaddak, various unnamed hospital patients, etc.) embodies ideals of bravery, democracy, and mercy toward their enemies and just want to be left alone as Vader tries to subject them.
  • Most of Emp's jerkass teammates in Empowered, particularly Sister Spooky (although she becomes more sympathetic and less hostile towards Emp in the later volumes).
  • Argent the Wolf of Grendel, who's opposed to the Villain Protagonist Grendel (particularly Hunter Rose, but later on Christine Spar) as an Anti-Hero Werewolf who is compelled to take down what the series equates to the Devil.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The U.S. military usually genuinely believe that the Hulk is a dangerous monster that they need to stop. Stan Lee commented in an interview that portraying them that way allowed him to get around The Comics Code's insistence that authority figures always be portrayed positively. Afterwards this changed, and there emerged a trend to portray General Ross, who usually commands the anti-Hulk military forces, as a General Ripper.
  • The DC Comics supervillain Kobra starred in his own series and his worst enemy was his own twin brother, since they had a psychic bond that prevented Kobra from killing him without dying himself.
  • Tintin:
    • An early installment has Nestor the butler working for someone he doesn't know is evil, and for much of the plot he actively sabotages Tintin and the Captain.
    • In most of their early appearances, the Thom(p)son are attempting to arrest Tintin and/or his allies for any assortment of supposed crimes. The only problem is, they're not very good at it.
  • In Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, Batman is the antagonist though he's acting in a heroic, if jerkass, capacity. He does ultimately just want to bring in Danny for her multiple counts of murder but is shown as largely unsympathetic/uncaring to the desperation and callousness of the authorties to the abuse and murders they don't care about that drove her to it. He also is agitated that she's already gotten away from him twice.
  • Ord from Whedon's "Breakworld" arc in X-Men. He seems like an Always Chaotic Evil alien invader at first, but ultimately he's just trying to save his world from destruction. The only reason he is even opposing mutantkind in the first place is because of a prophecy planted by the real Big Bad that a mutant would destroy Breakworld. In the end, he makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save Breakworld from the true Big Bad.

    Fan Works 
  • Strafe in Fantendo Playing War and Fantendo Forgotten Legends kills his way through the entire 41 chapters, though it is necessary.
  • The Pony POV Series: In the Epilogue timeline, since the first few chapters set in the Epilogue universe follow the Discorded Mane Six, and Cadence is leading La Résistance against them and Discord, she's naturally seen as the antagonist from their point of view.
  • Red Fire, Red Planet is a war story that presents characters on both sides of the Federation-Klingon War as protagonists when the story is told from their perspective and the enemy when the viewpoint switches to the other side.
  • In Origin Story, most of the "bad guys" Alex Harris ends up fighting are the well-known superheroes of the Marvel Universe.
  • Several of the sidestories of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines focused on the bad guys have some of these:
    • Twenty Gyarados Bill Gaiden has the title character face his biggest direct opposition in General Javelin Wataru (Lance's grandfather), and Denki Tekina, an Elite Four member specialized in Electric-types. The latter even performs a Heroic Sacrifice to finally bring Bill down once and for all.
    • In the Sabrina Gaiden, a bug-catching trainer named Tommy decides to confront her after she terrorizes their town. Incidentally, this was her intention all along, to get someone to stand up to her.
  • In the Temeraire fanfic Black Wings, Black Sails, the aviators and others who oppose William Laurence and his black fleet just want to protect England, and that includes enabling the currently-legal and quite valuable slave trade to continue without him stealing their ships, cutting their slaves loose, and burning slave ports.
  • The Masks We Wear: Robin is the hero antagonist to his father John Grayson who has taken the identity of Slade.
  • Team RWBY and Ozpin become this to Jaune in A Rabbit Among Wolves. After a freak occurrence, Jaune ends up in control the White Fang and gains the reputation of a cold-blooded killer. Fearing what he might be planning, Ozpin plots to bring Jaune into custody.
  • In the fan webcomic AOT No Requiem, the Alliance functions as this to Eren's Villain Protagonist.
  • In the Destiny / Inheritance Cycle crossover fic No stars in sight, Cuaroc has been ruthlessly hunting the deuteragonist Formora across Vroengard for decades, but only because Formora used to serve Galbatorix and Cuaroc is under the mistaken impression that she still does. Likewise, he is hostile to the protagonist Ikharos during their first encounter because the latter had been found investigating the entrance to the Vault of Souls, which Cuaroc is supposed to defend with his life from any trespassers.
  • Dark Spectrum Public Enemy, Spitfire, Soarin, and Misty Fly are only trying to stop a now-villainous Rainbow Dash from doing anymore damage to Ponyville.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Bad Guys (2022): Governor Diane Foxington is introduced as this, being a savvy politician trying to stop the titular Villain Protagonist gang for good. This gradually fades away; she reveals to Mr. Wolf that she really believes he can change for the better, and after bonding with him, she becomes the 11th-Hour Ranger when Marmalade frames the gang for a crime they didn't commit.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Copper becomes one during the second half of The Fox and the Hound. When his father figure and mentor, Chief, gets hit by a train and falls from a great height while chasing Todd, almost perishing in the process, Copper becomes consumed by vengeful wrath and, along with his owner Amos Slade, swears to hunt down Todd as payback for Chief's close call with death.
    • Clopin becomes one near the end of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, suddenly becoming a cruel judge presiding over a Joker Jury in the Court of Miracles.
    • Kerchak from Tarzan is the stern leader of the gorilla tribe who disapproves of Tarzan and forbids him to interact with humans. However, he is only concerned about his family's safety and he is right about some of the humans being dangerous (i.e. Clayton, the true villain of the film).
    • Captain Gantu in Lilo & Stitch is trying to capture a dangerous escaped experiment, who happens to be the main character's beloved friend. This is also the case for Cobra Bubbles, a stoic CPS agent who's there to break up Lilo's family, but is clearly a goodhearted man who wants to do everything he can to help them.
    • Tangled: Maximus, the Guard Captain's Steed, happens to be a hell of a lot smarter than his rider. He's an antagonist to Flynn, not Rapunzel — but only because Flynn is a wanted criminal and Max is firmly on the side of justice. However, he's willing to humor Flynn's endeavor to get Rapunzel to where she wants to be, and eventually he even becomes their chief Shipper on Deck.
    • Alma from Encanto is the closest thing the movie has to a central antagonist—her inflexible control over the family and her mountain-high expectations are the cause of all of the family's dysfunction—but Alma's not remotely evil so much as she is a deconstruction of the Almighty Mom. Alma loves her family, and when she finally has her big realization in the climax, she steps back, even accepting her long-gone son Bruno who has been gone from the family for years at this point.
    • In the Disney Fairies Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast, Nyx and her scout-talent fairies often have to clean up after Fawn, who likes to bring home and care for injured foundlings of fairy-eating species like hawks, rats, snakes, and vampire bats. Things come to a head when Nyx's research links Fawn's latest foundling to a thousand-year comet and a storm that threatens the whole Protectorate.
  • Sally in The Nightmare Before Christmas is the only one who opposes Jack's plans for Christmas, not out of malice but because she had a vision that his Christmas will go down in flames and she simply wants what is best for Jack.
  • Ruben Brandt, Collector: Mike Kowalski's and the police force's goal is to arrest Ruben Brandt and his team of criminals for stealing paintings. Mike Kowalski changes however after discovering Ruben Brandt did it because it is the only way to stop his harmful nightmares.
  • Abbot Cellach from The Secret of Kells is only concerned with protecting his abbey and his nephew Brendan from the Vikings, but his stern and overprotective attitude puts him into an antagonistic Fantasy-Forbidding Father role.
  • Mr. Potato Head in part of the first Toy Story. The protagonist Woody has become jealous of Andy's new toy Buzz Lightyear after he became his new favorite toy and stole the spotlight away from him. He tries to push Buzz away behind a desk, but accidentally causes him to fall off the window instead, and thus Mr. Potato Head rallies nearly all of Andy's toys against Woody, suspecting he would try to get rid of other toys, and so becoming arguably the second biggest antagonist of the film after the Big Bad Sid.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • AR Hosspack from Animal Factory. He's antagonistic towards the prisoners and a condescending Jerkass, but he's ultimately only trying to preserve order in the prison and he shows some (admittedly incredibly misguided and backhanded) concern for Ronnie.
  • In Ant-Man, Sam Wilson/The Falcon, a notable superhero in previous Marvel Cinematic Universe films, gets into a fight with Ant-Man when the latter breaks into Avengers HQ to steal a piece of technology to stop the Big Bad Darren Cross. Also, there is police officer Jim Paxton, who tries to arrest Ant-Man due to his criminal background and having escaped incarceration in the film after being arrested for allegedly relapsing to his criminal ways.
  • Pamela Landy in The Bourne Supremacy. In the next film, The Bourne Ultimatum, however, she helps blow the whistle on Operation Blackbriar.
  • It may be hard to notice because he's an alcoholic Jerkass but Osbourne Cox of Burn After Reading is consistently the one being wronged and hurt by the protagonists, without him ever having hurt any of them.
  • In Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark, Peter Parker, T'Challa, and the Pro-Registration superheroes end up fighting against the main protagonist Steve Rogers and his friends for protecting Bucky, who was blamed for a terrorist bombing that killed T'Challa's father. The biggest example would be Peter Parker (Spider-Man) who hero-worships Steve and doesn't harbor any negative feelings towards the Anti-Registration heroes. On a more personal level, T'Challa (Black Panther) wants to have his vengeance on Bucky for the death of his father, though he does relent upon learning that Bucky was wrongly framed and even offers him refuge in Wakanda.
  • Carl Hanratty in Catch Me If You Can is the federal agent attempting to apprehend the Con Man main character.
  • The title character of the old western film Chato's Land, played by Charles Bronson. He is also The Voiceless, having only two speaking scenes in the entire movie -– one, extremely brief, at the beginning, and one later in the film, shot entirely in the Comanche language, with no subtitles.
  • Deep Cover: Taft is an LAPD narcotics detective who believes that Russell (an undercover cop working for the DEA) is just some ordinary drug dealer recently moved into town who's spreading that crap to get rich off it. He continues to pursue Russell and his associates and endangers Russell's own investigation into the Gallegos Cartel at several points.
  • Downfall (2004): In a movie centered around Hitler, his direct entourage and other Nazi Protagonists, of course the Allies, specifically the Red Army surrounding Berlin, fighting to put an end to the Third Reich, will be this.
  • The bearded monk in Dracula Untold abhors Dracula's nature as a vampire and begs to allow to give him a Mercy Kill, not realizing that Dracula needs his powers to defend his people from the Turks. By the end, the monk and Dracula take the same side against the evil vampire army.
  • The guards in Escape from Alcatraz, who are simply trying to contain a prison full of dangerous criminals. The only completely unsympathetic "good" character in the film is the Warden.
  • Exam: Going by the general definition of the word, White is The Protagonist, making mostly everyone else fall into this category.
  • Martin Prendergast in Falling Down. Unlike Bill Foster, who is on his violent rampage against the petty frustrations of modern society, Det. Prendergast tracks him down while constructively dealing with his own annoyances with empathy and maturity.
  • The policeman Mitch from First Blood. Unlike the other cops he didn't bully Rambo, but still participated in the hunt for him. To a lesser degree, Col. Trautman, who knows and understands Rambo, and wants him brought in without bloodshed (partly because he alone knows just how much bloodshed will result).
  • US Marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones in the role that made him famous): The Fugitive. His quest is to capture the hero, who is a fugitive from justice, whether or not he's innocent of the charge; as Sam investigates further, he grows visibly convinced of the man's innocence, to the extent that he's shown reassuring him and pretty much taking him under his wing at the end. The character was popular enough to warrant a spin-off sequel, U.S. Marshals, which goes through a similar premise, but with Gerard's as the main POV.
  • The police chasing Maindrian Pace in Gone in 60 Seconds (1974). They're only trying to put a stop to a recent rash of high end car thefts.
    • Likewise, Detectives Castlebeck and Drycoff fill this role in the remake.
  • In GoodFellas, while Jimmy Conway and Tommy are the Big Bad Duumvirate, the police and the law are the true main antagonists, and as standard are more heroic than the gangsters they're trying to apprehend.
  • The House That Jack Built: By initially holding Jack at gunpoint to turn him over to the police, S.P. came to be the closest the film has for Jack before Jack manipulated him to put it down before knifing him. Verge however is definitely this, when it's revealed he came for Jack to ferry him to Hell for his sins. The black military veteran as well manages to delay Jack by noting that the bullets he got aren't actually full metal jackets, thus sparing them as he goes off for some, by which time the police arrive.
  • Ditto for Kazim in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He doesn't know Indy's intentions and just wants to protect the grail from falling into the wrong hands, and when the misunderstanding is cleared up, he helps out.
  • Inside Man's Detective Frazier is a cop just trying to do his job: stop a robbery and apprehend the criminals. He has no way of knowing that the robbers are actually the good guys, trying to achieve a greater justice.
  • I Shot Jesse James features the character John Kelley, who spends his time as The Rival to main character Robert Ford. However, he's a decent and friendly person, eventually becoming Town Marshal for the town of Creede. It's only when he gets into a Love Triangle with Ford's girlfriend Cynthy Waters that Ford starts to see him as an enemy.
  • Jack Valentine of the movie Lord of War. He's a good, idealistic Interpol agent opposed to the amoral arms-dealer Villain Protagonist.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series: Five of the movies have one seeking out Ethan Hunt in one way or another.
    • Eugene Kittridge, introduced in the first film, is the IMF Director and spends most of the movie chasing Ethan down believing he's the mole who murdered his whole team. He goes as far as to frame Ethan's mother and uncle to try to lure Ethan out, but eventually the truth is revealed and Kittridge drops the charges against all three of them and even offers Ethan the chance to return to IMF. The upcoming seventh film has the character slated to return, but however heroic his role still is remains to be seen at this time.
    • Mission: Impossible III: Head of IMF Theodore Brassel, given his hard ass and relentless demeanor, seemed like he was an obvious traitor helping Owen Davian when the evidence suggested it. In actuality, he was just an overbearing good guy and the real silent partner to Davian was Operations Director John Musgrave.
    • Ghost Protocol: Anatoly Sidorov is an Inspector Javert Russian agent who continues to tail Ethan throughout the movie after the Kremlin bombing. He gradually is realizing that Ethan is trying to prevent the planned attack over the course of the mission and eventually puts it all together by the end.
    • Rogue Nation: CIA Director Alan Hunley is extremely skeptical of the IMF's actions and while trying to seek out Well-Intentioned Extremist Ethan throughout the movie manages to get the IMF shut down until the end. He eventually realizes their importance though and ironically, becomes the new Secretary.
    • Fallout: Erica Sloane, Hunley's successor in the CIA, is far less idealistic about the IMF to the point that she demands CIA assassin August Walker be on board to watch Ethan and the IMF closely while they seek out Syndicate Apostle leader John Lark. However, Sloane doesn't count on Walker having been Lark all along and finds it best not to trust anyone until she is absolutely certain they're on the right side. Eventually it's proven to her that Ethan and his team are indeed trustworthy.
  • MonsterVerse:
  • The Medjai in The Mummy attack the protagonists, but it's only to stop them from awakening Imhotep.
  • The Negotiator: Kevin Spacey plays a negotiator who tries to negotiate another (rogue) negotiator (protagonist Samuel L Jackson) out of doing something dumb after he holds up some hostages because he was framed for murdering his partner. As far as Spacey is concerned, Jackson is armed, has hostages, and is therefore the villain.
  • Antoine Richis, in Perfume, played by Alan Rickman. Richis is an intelligent nobleman and loving father who tries to protect the city and his beautiful daughter from the protagonist, a serial killer who preys on virginal girls.
  • Most of the colonial officers and men (such as Commodore Norrington) that oppose Jack Sparrow throughout the Pirates of the Caribbean films, since they are trying to bring a wanted criminal to justice. Cutler Beckett is a total bastard though.
  • Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis in Public Enemies spends the whole movie trying to stop Villain Protagonist John Dillinger. Interestingly, the film undercuts Purvis' competence and implies that Charles Winstead was the agent really responsible for taking Dillinger down. (According to some sources, Winstead may very well have been the agent who actually shot Dillinger.)
  • Apollo Creed in Rocky, who is just an athlete trying to put on a good show for his fans, and, beyond being cocky and looking down on Rocky a little, he's not depicted as being a bad guy. He becomes more morally gray in Rocky II as he becomes more obsessed with definitively proving himself better than Rocky, but he ultimately proves himself to be a good guy by losing gracefully and becoming Rocky's friend.
  • Savannah Smiles: Harland Dobbs is rigorous in his pursuit of the kidnappers, and while he doesn't necessarily belie the worst of them, he is willing to consider it, and prefers to err on the side of caution in those assumptions and is quick to point out that whether they intentionally took her or not, their legally guilty of kidnapping for refusing to give her back without being paid. He is trying to recover a kidnapped child though, seems to view Savannah's predicament as more than just a job, and does show some softer sentiments towards Alvie and Boots by the end of the movie.
  • Shattered Glass depicts how Stephen Glass was found out to have fabricated several of his article in The New Republic, with Glass as the main character. Chuck Lane, the editor of the magazine, is the one who unraveled the web of lies bit by bit over the course of the movie. Not only is he the antagonist to Glass, the other journalists at the magazine don't like Lane much either and they refuse to believe that what he's saying about Glass is true.
  • In Short Circuit, Captain Schroeder may be a Jerkass and is hunting down what the viewers know to be a Technical Pacifist robot that has attained intelligence. However, from NOVA's point of view, Number 5 is a rogue Killer Robot with a laser cannon that needs to be stopped by any means necessary. In that light, Schroeder is just doing his job.
  • Shot Caller: Ed Kutcher is a parole officer investigating Jacob and the Aryan Brotherhood and is trying to bust their weapons deal with the Sonora cartel.
  • The Winkelvoss twins and Divya Narenda in The Social Network. They're both snobs (Narenda being the Token Good Teammate), but the film depicts them as being in the right, since Mark did steal their idea.

  • Tobias Ragg from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He distrusted Sweeney Todd and killed him at the end of the movie. Unfortunately, he Failed a Spot Check and trusted Mrs. Lovett completely. Lucy also qualifies, but she suspects Mrs. Lovett and tries to warn Todd.
  • Jack Welles from Takers. While the bank robbers were the Villain Protagonists, he's a cop trying to stop them.
  • In Thor, S.H.I.E.L.D. is up until the end only screwing up things for both Jane's team and Thor himself. The audience knows they're good guys due to the comics and Iron Man movies, but for the protagonists they seem only like a bunch of intrusive jerks. Thankfully, once Thor gets his powers back, he states the agents were only misunderstood, and then they decide to help Jane's research.
  • Iceman from Top Gun. He's a git, but he's on our side. He even has a point regarding Maverick being too dangerous. Really, all he wants is what's best for the navy.
  • FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley in The Town is very much a Jerkass and not quite as personally sympathetic as the Villain Protagonists, but he is ultimately an FBI agent trying to shut down a ruthless and dangerous gang of bank robbers.
  • The Villain Protagonists of Tragedy Girls are two teenage Serial Killers who terrorize their small town. Naturally, they have a couple of these to contend with. Specifically, Sheriff Welch, who is a concerned father and an honest lawman, and Big Al, who, while hotheaded and foolhardy, is a fire marshal who's determined to protect his community at all costs.
  • In Troy, Hector is pulled into the war by default as his city is attacked by the Greeks. While his little brother, Paris, is far from innocent, Hector himself is the mirror image of our protagonist, Achilles, who is also motivated to duel to defend his younger brother's honor.
  • In Utu the Villain Protagonist Te Wheke holds a personal grudge against one young British Cavalry Officer. Despite working for The Empire, Lt. Scott is a fairly decent character who wants to suppress the Maori rebellion and end the bloodshed. Pet the Dog moments include Scott's love for Kura and friendship with her older brother Wiremu, a Noble Savage.
  • The NYPD in The Warriors, who, unlike the rival gangs, aren't trying to kill the Warriors for money, they're just trying to apprehend dangerous gang members.
  • Inspector Aberline from The Wolfman (2010). He's just a cop doing his job and trying to stop Lawrence from killing again.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Unlike most authority figures in previous X-Men movies, the cops who attempt to bring Magneto in show little malice towards mutants as a whole, and seem solely interested in arresting a terrorist. The death of Erik's daughter is accidental; the result of a cop getting distracted and losing his grip on his bow, and all the cops react with appropriate horror.

  • Holly Short in the first Artemis Fowl is part of fairy law enforcement, opposed to the title Villain Protagonist in his schemes. As the series progresses Artemis becomes less and less villainous and as as a result Holly shifts away from the antagonist role, but is no less heroic.
  • Natricia Dream in The Corrupted Chronicles of Coco Claramisa serves as the biggest obstacle for Coco on account of how determined she is to prove Coco guilty of her crimes, forcing Coco to find ways around her methods of outing her.
  • Porfiry Petrovich, the brilliant and implacable policeman investigating Raskolnikov, in Crime and Punishment.
  • Roy Merritt in Daemon. Though we eventually know better, Sobol is a dangerous maniac who employs a menagerie of vicious sociopaths.
  • In the Daniel Faust series, FBI Special Agent Harmony Black is a straight-shooting, by-the-book crusader who practices witchcraft on the side. She's got a massive hate-on for anyone who uses magic for evil… which, unfortunately, includes Daniel Faust and most of his friends.
  • Claude Lebel, the man assigned to catch the eponymous assassin of The Day of the Jackal. After Lebel is introduced, the plot stops following the Jackal exclusively, and is as much Lebel's story as it is the Jackal's, so Lebel goes back and forth between being a Hero Antagonist and a straight Hero. The Jackal goes back and forth between being a straight Villain and a Villain Protagonist.
  • Discworld:
    • The Last Hero: Cohen and the Silver Horde are traditional fantasy heroes, but they are convinced their plan is bad once an honest man with a simple sword stands alone against them to stop it. This is mainly because they know they're traditional fantasy heroes.
    • A plot point in Witches Abroad, in which the supposedly wicked witch Granny Weatherwax is the one aiming to stop a fairy godmother trying to force storybook endings onto people. During their encounter, said godmother insists that she's the Good One.
    • Played with in The Truth, in which the protagonist William de Worde (mind you, not a Villain Protagonist) finds his work as a journalist significantly complicated by one Sir Samuel Vimes, Commander of the City Watch. Most readers will know Vimes to be a thoroughly decent, if perpetually grumpy, person and, as such, can understand where he's coming from.
    • Moist von Lipwig is a criminal, and Vimes has every reason to be suspicious of him, but in this case he's actually attempting to accomplish something good. Vetinari actually recognizes Moist's natural talents and turns them to his own ends. Starting with the postal service in Going Postal, Vetinari eventually places Moist in charge of most of Ankh-Morpork's civil service, banking system, transportation system, and ultimately the economy itself. By the time the author died Moist is easily tied with Vimes as the second-most powerful person in the city.
  • In Dragon Queen, the old man is a The Mentor archetype trying to force the protagonist to take The Call. His ham-fisted attempts at getting her to come with him on a quest make him an antagonist.
  • Morgan from The Dresden Files, who watches Harry like a hawk, is convinced that he's either a traitor to the White Council or just into Black Magic. This is, of course, his job, as he is specifically responsible for watching Harry after Harry used black magic to kill his mentor (in self defense). Since black magic is addictive in the setting, his concerns are perfectly valid. Eventually, he gets over his distrust of Harry; he still thinks Harry's a loose cannon, sure (and he's not exactly wrong, either), but he sees that Harry's trying to do good. Then, he dies. Heroically.
  • Kariya Matou in Fate/Zero. His reason for entering the Grail War and deciding to endure horrible torture and surely die no more than two weeks after the Grail War ends to make up for his lack of training? Because he's the Unlucky Childhood Friend of Tokiomi Tohsaka's wife and he wants to save her daughter, because he knows pretty well what kind of magecraft the Makiri family perfected. Oh, and since he failed, just look what happened to Sakura in Heaven's Feel Route. Granted, his ending and last couple of actions aren't exactly very heroic, but yea, the motive was good.
  • "The General (Foundation)": General Bel Riose (the titular character) is surprisingly likable for an enemy of the Foundation, and the narrative begins with his perspective. He demonstrates himself to be fairly noble and philosophical. His main concern is reigniting the glory of the Empire, with no ulterior motives whatsoever, which makes his inevitable defeat by politics in the inner court of the Empire rather heartbreaking.
  • In the Honorverse, the Worthy Opponents of the title character who fight for the (People's) Republic of Haven — most notably Thomas Theisman and Eloise Pritchart — are heroes of their star nation's own story despite being in opposition to and at war with the title character and her star nation. They become outright protagonists when a galactic conspiracy which kickstarted the war between the two is discovered and revealed to the nations' respective governments, which form what is known as the Grand Alliance.
  • Les Misérables: Inspector Javert is shown to be a good man who believes in the law, unfortunately he takes it to Knight Templar extremes and becomes the trope namer for… well… Inspector Javert.
  • The Necklace Of Princess Fiorimonde: The eponymous Princess Protagonist is also a Villainous Princess who transforms her suitors into beads to avoid an Arranged Marriage. She is eventually foiled by Gervaise, a friend of one of her victims, who takes advantage of her vanity by telling her he knows of a woman more beautiful than she is, and tricks her into touching her cursed necklace cord, turning herself into a bead.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Generic Girl and Miss A are the only ones that come after the Inscrutable Machine on their own initiative — Generic Girl genuinely wants to stop crime (even their relatively harmless crimes), but Miss A is just a Jerkass. Mech, Ifrit and Marvelous all show up at different points to disrupt their supervillainy activities as well, but that's more secondary. Mech showed up to stop the Eldritch Abomination they unleashed, Ifrit got dragged in by Miss A and later Marvelous, and Marvelous was actually trying to steal the same thing they were at one point.
  • A Practical Guide to Evil: Since there is a Villain Protagonist, Catherine Foundling, many of her opponents are Hero Antagonists. Most Notably William, the Lone Swordsman, one of Catherine's nemeses in the firt few books, and ocassionally a point-of-view-character. He, although an antihero and kind of a jerk, is on the side of (cosmic) Good. His goal is to free his country from foreign oppression, while Catherine wants to work with the foreign conquerers to help the country. They hate each other, but they dramatically influence each other, too. In an alternative timeline, they would be on the same side and in the same Five-Man Band.
  • Inspector Mackenzie of Scotland Yard is this to Bunny and Raffles, the criminal protagonists of the Raffles stories.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Ahrek and Lyrah are both genuinely heroic and have a ton of excellent reasons to want Daylen dead. Daylen recognizes this, which is one reason why he absolutely refuses to kill them.
  • Irene Adler in her original (and only) appearance in the Sherlock Holmes stories is this. Her only "crime" is owning a compromising picture of the King of Bohemia that he wants back (which he gave to her in the first place), because she has threatened to use it to ruin his upcoming marriage. Her true motive is simply to marry for love and get away from him — and she eventually gets away with everything. Holmes reflects a number of times in the story, even before then, that he's only following her because of the King's authority.
  • In A Study in Emerald, the murderer the detective is seeking is murdering members of the "royal families" of Europe with intentions of overthrowing them, but the reader is expected to sympathize with his goals even if the detective and the narrator do not. Especially given that the detective is Moriarty and the narrator Moran, and the murderers themselves none other than Sherlock Holmes and Watson.
  • Siobhan Dunmoore: Commander Brakal, the deuteragonist of the series, is an honorable, My Country, Right or Wrong sort who considers Captain Dunmoore a Worthy Opponent and thinks the war between her Commonwealth and his Shrehari Empire is as idiotic as she does.
  • Star Trek: Typhon Pact:
    • Thot Keer in Zero-Sum Game. A Breen shipyard manager, his work crews are developing a prototype starship using stolen Federation technology, and the protagonist's mission is to destroy both prototype and shipyard. Keer is certainly not a villain, though; he is merely a patriot who takes pride in his work, and displays great bravery and (for want of a better term) humanity throughout the novel.
    • Praetor Gell Kamemor is a Romulan patriot opposed to the Federation politically, but she adamantly disagrees with the notion of Romulan superiority promoted by the Tal Shiar and much of the military. She would rather resolve the conflict with the Federation in the diplomatic arena than on a battlefield. All of her scenes in the series show her as a Reasonable Authority Figure compared to the previous cadre of conniving and backstabbing Romulan politicians.
  • Daniel Keys Moran's Tales of the Continuing Time has Mohammed Vance, a cyborg who works for (and eventually leads) the PeaceForcers, a military and police force by the uber-powerful successor to the United Nations. He totally opposes the main character Trent, is totally ruthless, was responsible for the decision the nuke several hundred people including Trent's family, as well as repeatedly trying to capture and/or kill Trent himself. But he is honorable and truly believes that what he does is making the world a better place. There is a scene in The Last Dancer where he is addressing his military forces prior to a major invasion and telling them why what they are doing is right and why they must defeat their opponents, interspersed with the leader of their opponents addressing her forces and telling them why what they are doing is right and why they must defeat the PeaceForcers, and they are both correct in their arguments.
  • Ged, the protagonist from A Wizard of Earthsea, serves as the Hero Antagonist to Tenar in the follow up book, The Tombs of Atuan. Tenar spends the entire book as a priestess to a cabal of evil spirits posing as gods, and when Ged clues her into that fact, she Heel Face Turns and sides with him — much to the chagrin of her old bosses.
  • In Vampire Academy, Hans Croft, head of the guardians at Croft, punishes Rose and Eddie Castile for their Las Vegas "vacation", is in charge of hunting down an escaped Rose and interrogating her friends. He is an antagonist, but one that ultimately tries to keep everyone at Court safe.
  • Villains by Necessity: The side of light is, unknowingly, destroying their world by eradicating every speck of evil in it, to the point that they are annihilating everything that could be qualified as "not-light". This included the druids, who were keepers of balance, and the bards, who were more or less neutral. They then begin whitewashing thieves, assassins, and other criminals, who were more or less just grey. Indeed, the entire premise of the story is basically this: in a world of magic, once the Big Bads are fully eradicated, what would happen if the good guys started taking their intended plans for the betterment of the world to their inevitable conclusion? After all, the only way you can remove all evil from the world is if you remove choice, and freedom, from the world.
  • In the Whateley Universe, the Reverend Darren England, protector of the planet from demonic threats for decades. He's willing to deal with The Syndicate if it means the death of The Kellith, the descendant of a Great Old One, before The Kellith can destroy all life on earth. The only problem is that The Kellith is Carmilla, who is an Anti-Hero protagonist and is trying to go straight.
  • Given that the main character accidentally becomes a villain, it's unsurprising that Worm contains a lot of these. How heroic they are varies greatly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 has CTU or any other law enforcement agency whenever Jack Bauer has to go rogue or is set up (which is a lot).
  • In The A-Team, Colonel Lynch and later Colonel Decker and General Fullbright all fill this role. Although they oppose the A-Team they're not evil or corrupt. They're good soldiers who are following orders, and they honestly believe that the A-Team are dangerous criminals that must be brought to justice (which is not an entirely unreasonable assumption).
  • In the Angel episode "Sanctuary" Buffy becomes this. She wants to kill Faith; it doesn't matter if Angel wants to redeem her. The former lovers even come to blows because of it, and part on bad terms.
  • Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger is this in the first episode of Blackadder the Third, trying to get Prince George struck off the Civil List. He's in the right because George is an Upper-Class Twit who does nothing but waste money, but this puts him up against Edmund Blackadder.
  • Agent Hank Schrader of Breaking Bad. Something of an interesting case in that he doesn't know the Villain Protagonist he's chasing is his own brother-in-law ...until the middle of the finale season.
  • Burn Notice:
    • Season 1 has two FBI agents tasked with making Michael's (who was "burned" and turned into a villain in the eyes of most of his fellow co-workers) life miserable, and also Jason Bly, a CSS agent who takes up the cause when the FBI backs off.
    • Detective Paxon in the beginning of Season 3 is a squeaky-clean, by-the-books cop (when Michael & co try to figure out how to blackmail someone and can't, you know they're clean) who is a little tired of Michael blowing things up in her city.
    • Dani Reese in Season 5 is hunting for a killer. Too bad Michael has been framed very convincingly to look like said killer.
  • Lee Jin Pyo in The City Hunter: His entire black ops team was murdered by their own government, who first denied their existence and then branded them as traitors. As he's a "dead man," he can't work/live in his native Korea. He just wants to expose their corruption and get revenge on the ones who ordered his team's execution.
  • Due to its Reverse Whodunnit format, Columbo usually casts its title character in this role, with the killer as a doomed Villain Protagonist, gradually realizing that the seemingly bumbling detective is relentlessly closing in on them. We rarely actually see much of Columbo's life when he's off-duty — for instance, he regularly mentions being married, but we never actually see his wife.
  • Dexter:
    • Sergeant Doakes, though his morality is called into question a few times. Somehow, he's the only one in a precinct full of cops and forensic specialists to get a creepy vibe off serial killer protagonist Dexter. This doesn't end well for him.
    • Special Agent Frank Lundy in the second season. He probably would have caught Dexter if it weren't for Doakes' suspicious and secretive behavior making him more conspicuous than Dexter.
    • Detective Quinn is set up as this in Season 5. He's the only one in the office who notices that the Mitchell family's sketch drawings of "Kyle Butler" look a lot like Dexter, and starts to suspect that Dexter may have killed Rita, his wife. At the end of the season, he abandons his investigation when Dexter gets him off the hook for a murder that Quinn is erroneously suspected of (in fact, Dexter himself committed the murder), and he falls in love with Debra.
    • Stan Liddy in Season 5. Although he's a Dirty Cop, and is trying to expose Dexter mostly for his own benefits so that he will be allowed back on the police force, he is still trying to catch a serial killer. Dexter kills him, and Quinn is subsequently suspected of the murder.
    • Maria Laguerta in Season 7. She discovers evidence that may expose Dexter as the real Bay Harbor Butcher, and starts her own investigation. Dexter tries to kill her, and Debra shoots LaGuerta to cover up for her brother.
  • Doctor Who: In "Planet of the Dead", DI MacMillan is trying to capture Lady Christina, the Doctor's companion for the episode. He's mainly Played for Laughs and has a minor role, but Christina is guilty of theft.
  • In the second season of Dollhouse, Senator Daniel Perrin tries to expose the corrupt Rossum corporation, the Dollhouse's main benefactor. Until it turns out that he's a Doll imprinted to investigate the Dollhouse so that he can "discover" convincing evidence that it doesn't exist and exonerate Rossum.
  • Peacekeeper Commander Scorpius of Farscape swings somewhere between here, Well-Intentioned Extremist and Villain Has a Point. His one driving goal is to stop the advance of the Scarrans, a brutal and murderous race who are known to have ordered a systematic raping of women from another race to gauge whether it was worth keeping them alive as breeding stock (answer: no, because the halfbreed physiology kills the mother and normally the child on birth) and to be willing allies with the Charrid (a race of Orcs In Space who are infamous for attacking the harmless Hynerians and devouring 80 million of their young before being driven off by waves of suicide attackers). He believes the key to this is mastering wormholes, via information locked in the brain of the human John Crichton. To this end, he is willing to chase Crichton to the ends of the galaxy and Mind Rape him into giving up this info, though this is only because Crichton will not countenance simply cooperating with Scorpius and giving him the wormhole technology peacefully.
  • Most of the less-developed alliance officers in Firefly, who are unaware of the alliance's atrocities and are just trying to capture a band of criminals, such as the captain of the Alliance cruiser in the pilot episode: he tries to capture the Serenity's crew for conducting illegal salvage, but immediately breaks off to respond to a (phony) distress beacon because he thinks lives are in danger.
  • General Hospital:
    • The PCPD usually fulfills this role in Sonny Corinthos' case (such as his son, Detective Dante Falconeri, who's on good terms with Sonny, but will still arrest him and investigate when it's called for) as well as innocent civilians who badmouth him for his criminal activities (such as Jasper "Jax" Jacks, Dr. Patrick Drake, Michael Corinthos/Quartermaine, the surviving Quartermaines, etc.).
    • Ex-Police Commissioner/FBI Agent Anna Devane is probably the most prominent one in law enforcement.
    • Dante's partner and friend Ronnie Dimestico was a particularly irritating example of this, constantly giving Sonny trouble and berating Dante for not doing more to secure an arrest and conviction against Sonny. He even went as far as to transfer to the PCPD when now Ex-Commissioner Mac Scorpio hired Dante on. Then Ronnie was revealed as the biggest hypocrite of all time. Not only did he conceal evidence to make it look like Sonny tried to kill Johnny Zacchara (who he actually shot in self-defense), but was later revealed to also be a serial rapist and murderer and the one who tried to shoot Dante, but shot Sonny instead! He's dead now. He's not missed.
    • Sonny's trial for Claudia Zacchara's murder was prosecuted by Claire Walsh, a federal prosecutor who Jax got assigned to the trial. Even after Sonny was revealed to be innocent, she still sought to get him locked up. Sonny was able to get her to fall for him and soften her heart.
    • Judge Peter Carroll oversaw the trial and after it was revealed that Michael killed Claudia in self-defense, he sentenced him to five years just because he was frustrated at how much of a mockery the trial made of the legal system.
    • John McBain was this for a brief time to Sonny (until it was revealed that it was Joe Sully Jr., and not Sonny, who murdered McBain's sister).
    • Judge David Walters, a Knight Templar who handles custody hearings. He gave custody of Sonny's daughter Avery to Michael (the grandson of the woman he is dating), but earlier on he held a personal bias and stake against Maxie Jones in the custody case pertaining to her daughter. He sort of applies as Heel–Face Revolving Door as he did eventually let her get joint custody of her daughter (though under the threat of his girlfriend losing her job unless he gave in). His Freudian Excuse (his daughter, who was reckless and impulsive like Maxie, died in a car crash) is more than understandable.
    • After FBI Agent Tom Rainer (who extorted Jason by having Spinelli arrested for the hacking he did) came Ex-FBI Agent/Ex-Police Commissioner Kyle Sloan. Though since then, he's corrupt. Though he still values justice to a degree, he crossed into criminal territory by rigging the Mayoral election so that Anna would be fired and he would get her job. Plus, he only dropped the charges against Jake Doe/Jason Morgan (who was controlled by Helena Cassadine) under the condition that he infiltrate the Jerome Crime Family. Though he's doing it all for a good cause, it's a hypocritical venture. He recently started working far more closely with Anna again though, so now, he's a straight example again.
    • Former Mayor Garrett Floyd was this, but his pompous and ambitious attitude did not make him likable.
    • Mayor Janice Lomax was a somewhat Reasonable Authority Figure, until she went along with rigging the Mayoral election so that she would win it. Now, she's being set up as a new Big Bad.
    • Jordan Ashford is now Police Commissioner and develops a personal stake against Sonny, pertaining to her son TJ.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim: Takatora Kureshima, Armored Rider Zangetsu, starts off the series looking like the Big Bad, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who allowed transformation belts to be handed out to unsuspecting teens For Science!, and is humanized only slightly by his bond with his younger brother Mitsuzane (one of the main characters). Eventually, however, his true motivation is revealed: he's trying to save Earth from a form of Alien Kudzu that can (and has) destroyed entire alien civilizations in the past. However, due to misinformation from his treacherous inner circle, Takatora thinks he can only save 1 billion people at best, and is depressed at the thought that they'll have to sacrifice the rest of humanity but is still prepared to do it for the greater good. When The Hero Kouta discovers that there might be a way to stop the invasion entirely and save everyone, Takatora gladly joins forces with him… but unfortunately that's the moment when the aforementioned inner circle backstabs him.
  • On Leverage, Sterling is this, as an insurance investigator and later Interpol Special Agent up against a team of Just Like Robin Hood thieves. It doesn't help him that he is a Magnificent Bastard who is able to always win and seems Affably Evil.
  • Merlin (2008):
    • Many of the antagonists are just working to bring down King Uther, who is undoubtedly a tyrant.
    • Arthur occasionally lapses into this. While he's undoubtedly The Hero, he has been raised from birth to be distrustful of magic and will not hesitate to arrest anyone caught using it, even though the penalty is death. What separates him from Uther is that he does this not out of maliciousness, but because it is his Father's law and he's honour bound to obey it.
  • Person of Interest:
    • Detective Carter is actively trying to track Reese down... for the first few episodes, anyway.
    • Agent Donnelly continues this trope after Carter joins Team Machine.
    • The entire police force and multiple governments become this in "Deus Ex Machina".
  • Jack Walters, Joanne Meltzer, and later, Jeffery Sykes on Profit. They're all colleagues of the sociopathic main character who realize his true nature and try to expose him for what he is.
  • Sons of Anarchy is a show about an outlaw biker gang and is heavy on Grey-and-Gray Morality, falling into this trope almost as often as it features its opposite, with examples ranging from the idealistic Deputy Hale to the cynical but loyal Lieutenant Roosevelt.
  • Agent Victor Henriksen on Supernatural spends the better part of two seasons chasing Sam and Dean Winchester, believing them to be dangerous serial killers. He's a good agent and a good guy, but doesn't know that he's living in a Crapsack World where things like demons and skin-walkers exist — eventually he finds out in his last appearance on the show.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place is driven by the three protagonists being this for each other — especially Alex, who's the nearest the series has to a recurring main villain, and her by-the-book brother Justin.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Feudalism: Hector in The Iliad. The Trojans are portrayed far more sympathetically than the Greeks, Achilles finds redemption instead of punishment at the end, and the narrative ends with Hector's funeral. At the end of the day he's trying to defend his home over his brother's folly and the Greeks' warmongering.

  • In High Speed and its sequel The Getaway: High Speed II, the player's main adversary is the police officer in Car 504. 504's just doing his job of making sure people don't drive recklessly on the freeway, and then here you are in an exotic car pretending that speeds below 100 mph don't exist.

  • Captain Lovelace from Wolf 359 spends a lot of time in this role. Despite being an obvious threat, her motivations are sympathetic, and the clashes between her and the rest of the crew often end with it unclear who's actually in the right.
  • Eric Chapman from Wooden Overcoats is completely ruining the lives of our protagonists, Rudyard and Antigone Funn, and is on the verge of driving them out of business and forcing them to close a funeral home that's been in their family for generations... because he, like them, also runs a funeral home. And he, unlike them, provides services with actual quality. He's also an incredibly nice guy, and incredibly charming and outgoing (again, unlike them). He's not out to hurt the Funns (or indeed, anyone), he's just providing them with some genuine business competition for the first time in their lives, and is genuinely better at what he does. Even Antigone admits this, and doesn't actually hate Eric (so much as she will tell you otherwise), but Rudyard sees Eric as an out-and-out villain for this.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Kevin Steen during the RoH CZW feud, at least from the CZW perspective, where the baby faces, the closest thing to "heroes" in pro wrestling, were out to destroy another company because arenas catered to it more and Chris Hero had a personal vendetta against one of their owners. Steen was a traitor who made it clear on multiple occasions he didn't want to be contracted under CZW but when the CZW owner and wrestlers continued to make use of the nationally banned weed wacker as well as torture a member of the other roster, it's hard to say he wasn't right, even if he could have been far less whiny about it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Beast: The Primordial has the Heroes, the counterbalance to the eponymous Beasts. Where Beasts incarnate human fears and are meant to teach humans about the dangers of the world, Heroes are meant to inspire humans to face their fears and overcome their limitations.
  • Leviathan: The Tempest has you play Kaiju straight out of Lovecraft. Unsurprisingly, one of your biggest enemies will be the Marduk Society, an order of Science Heroes and monster hunters who have been defending humanity from the Leviathans since before recorded history.
  • In the Pathfinder adventure path Hell's Vengeance, there are a number of these, as the path is specifically designed for evil characters serving the devil-worshipping nation of Cheliax. In particular, the "Big Bad" of the adventure path is Lord Marshal Alexeara Cansellarion, a noble paladin wielding a holy sword.
  • Villainous (Ravensburger): Hero cards are Twists of Fate meant to hinder the player's villainous goals. Mickey deserves special mention, as he can effectively stop Pete from ever achieving his goal(s) at all, especially when played alongside Donald.

  • Macduff, from Macbeth, being a loyal servant of the crown compared to the Villain Protagonist Macbeth. Macbeth also had Macduff's family murdered, making Macduff's opposition much more personal.
  • Charlie, the anvil salesman, from The Music Man. He's trying to expose a con man looking to run off with the townspeople's money and, as result, makes doing business impossible and even dangerous for the legitimate salesmen who follow.

    Video Games 
  • In the Ace Attorney series, this is the role that non-Amoral Attorney prosecutors, such as Miles Edgeworth (post-character development), Franziska von Karma (post-character development), and Klavier Gavin play. They're just normal people doing their jobs and trying to get criminals off the streets, and they'll only prosecute a case they have legitimate reason to support- and if the defense can convince them that the defendant is innocent, they don't hold grudges and may even help investigate the real culprit.
  • The freeware indie game Akuji the Demon has the final boss being the hero who defeated and banished you into the dungeon.
  • Ash from Atelier Iris 3 simply wants to use the Escalario to stop Uroborus from awakening. To do this, he tries to kill Edge and Nell, and kidnap Iris, the only person able to use the Escalario.
  • Balthazar from Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, who, unlike most of the Bhaalspawn who are trying to seize the former God of Murder's power, is actually trying to rid the world of Bhaal's taint by destroying all other Bhaalspawn and then committing ritual suicide. If you're playing an evil character, he's got a good point. Sadly, if you're good, you can't persuade him that you can handle Bhaal's power without turning evil and he attacks you anyway. (One of the design directors for Throne of Bhaal did a mod, Ascension, where this becomes a possibility. You can even turn him into an ally for the final battle.)
  • Battle for Wesnoth:
    • The people of Parthyn and later Tath from Descent Into Darkness. The protagonist Malin Keshar originally only use necromancy (which got him outcasted from his town, Parthyn) to fight the orcs who have been attacking Parthyn. But midway through the campaign, he choose to attack Parthyn's guard Drogan for refusing his help, which cause everybody in Parthyn to actively antagonize Malin. Then Malin must also deals with soldiers from Tath because he helped Darken Volk raid the place.
    • Many antagonists of the scenario in Secrets of the Ancients are people minding their lawful business until they cross path with the necromancer protagonist Ardonna who is on her quest to gain immortality.
  • Hakumen from BlazBlue, one of the Six Legendary Heroes who saved the world from the attack of The Black Beast. He wants to prevent a rebirth of The Black Beast by killing Ragna. He is not open to alternative solutions. However, in quite a few character's stories — Taokaka's and Bang's, for example — he pretty much attacks them because he can, and he doesn't hold back at all; in Bang's case, if the player loses the "boss fight" against Hakumen, Bang actually dies of the injuries Hakumen inflicts on him, even though at their power levels, Bang is practically no threat to him at all. Also, like the actual Samurai, Hakumen possesses a bizarre and at times quite brutal view of "justice" that makes sense only to him, which justifies many of his clashes with other good characters. Hakumen is a textbook example of Good is Not Nice at his best, and an actual villain at his worst.
  • Bloodborne: Not everyone is attacking you because they're evil, were heroic but have since gone nuts, or just have a grudge against hunters in general. Some examples:
    • Retired Hunter Djura only wants to protect the beasts of Old Yharnam, and he warns you several times to turn back. If you can manage to approach him and talk to him, he's pretty easy to befriend. If not, he'll protect his turf with a gatling gun.
    • Gherman, the First Hunter, is actually on your side. He wants to kill you because doing so will free you from the Hunt. And you are probably fighting him so you can free him from what he's come to see as an Ironic Hell of watching over the Hunter's Dream.
    • The DLC's penultimate Boss, Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower, isn't really villainous (and the Research Hall patients seem to see her in a good light). She fights you in a desperate attempt to warn you away from the Fishing Hamlet, so you don't accidentally uncover the horrible things sleeping there.
  • Dee in Blue Revolver is the leader of the eponymous magic-regulation organization and the Final Boss. All she really wants is for Mae to stop building dangerous Devices, but Mae won't take "stop" for an answer and attacks her.
  • Both Colonel Zarpedon and the Lost Legion (later including Moxxi and the original Vault Hunters) from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! can be considered these when they try to kill the Generation 1.5 Vault Hunters and Jack, why? They're actually trying to prevent the events in Borderlands 2 from happening by preventing Jack from discovering the secret of the Vault on/that is Elpis and rising to power in Hyperion, they only end up causing the events of Borderlands 2 by breaking and betraying the well-meaning anti-hero Jack until he's driven mad by paranoia and provoking him into purging Pandora of what he now deems the Bandits. Most of the characters listed here are perfectly sympathetic characters if not Heroes of other stories. That said, the main characters in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel can be considered this, (at least) only by the fact that is Zarpedon is trying to blow up the entire moon of Elpis with thousands of Innocent Bystanders living on it to stop the main cast. Most of the playable characters can be found on Sliding Scale of Anti-Villains at varying points, from being forcibly programmed to help Jack, to being bored while holidaying.
  • In what is possibly the most controversial application of this trope, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has your player character, a US Army Ranger in disguise as a Russian terrorist, shooting at Russian Federal Security Bureau agents towards the end of the level No Russian. It's hard to blame them for shooting at you, given that they're trying to stop you and your terrorist cell from killing any more civilians.
  • Celestial Hearts: The party attacks the first boss, Gail, for being an intruder in Livia Woods. He's actually a ninja on a mission to investigate the Graveharts for kidnapping. Later, he frees the party from the Gravehart Dungeon and joins them.
  • Children of Zodiarcs: Lord Argon is the captain of the guard and one of the only honest guards on the otherwise corrupt force. Meanwhile, the protagonist's boss Zirchhoff is a sociopathic Eat the Rich rebel who wants to bathe the streets in blood (of all classes), and Argon is doing everything he can to stop the madness, including helping rebel defectors. Unfortunately, this usually means trying to kill you.
  • In one Rikti War Zone/Vanguard arc of City of Heroes, rival organization Longbow becomes full-on Hero Antagonists. In sister game City of Villains Longbow is only one of many such organizations, thanks to the Villain Protagonist nature of that game's characters.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 Given his past as an anti-corporate gang leader, his loathing of late-stage capitalism in general and Saburo Arasaka in particular and his clear affection for Evelyn, it is quite easy to envision a scenario where Yorinobu Arasaka was an ally of V and Jackie. However, someone had to take the fall for Saburo's death, and pinning that on the two sneak thieves was just too good to pass up.
    • Sandayu Oda, Hanako's bodyguard, is a grade-A asshole, sure, but he's ultimately just trying to do his job and keep Hanako safe. He is willing to hear V and Takemura out and give them a chance to run, instead of just killing them outright (which Takemura readily admits he would have done if their roles were reversed). If you believe he knew the true identity of Saburo's killer at this point, his actions could even be treated as an attempt to keep V and Takemura away from Arasaka wihile saving face.
  • Darkest Dungeon gives us the Fanatic in the Crimson Court DLC, a Vampire Hunter who has a chance to spawn in any given dungeon if one of your heroes has the Crimson Curse effect. The game makes it clear that despite the noble cause of killing off the bloodsuckers, He Who Fights Monsters is in full effect as he makes no hesitation in murdering your other party members even if they don't have the status. To say nothing of the background changing to a field of burning people and corpses.
  • In Dark Watch's evil ending, Cassidy becomes this if you decide to steal the Big Bad's power for yourself and she turns on you to stop the Curse of the West from spreading. During the whole game she serves as a disembodied voice that guides you, but she turns into an angel of light as the final boss in that ending.
  • Dawn of War:
    • The Eldar in the vanilla campaign are trying to stop a powerful daemon from being unsealed. Being Eldar however they never actually tell anyone this is their plan, and the Blood Ravens kill them in order to progress in their mission. Similarly in Dawn of War II the Eldar are trying to stop the Tyranid swarm just as the Blood Ravens are; unfortunately their plan involves luring them onto the planets and then blowing them up, while the Blood Ravens are trying to save the planets.
    • Winter Assault allows the player the option to play as Orks and Chaos fighting Imperial Guard and Eldar.
    • Dark Crusade, depending on which faction the player picks, can have them go against the Eldar (fighting to stop the Necrons from being unsealed and stopping anyone who would unseal them, even accidentally), the Imperial Guard (liberating the humans of the world from alien oppression), and/or the Tau (defending their colony world from alien invaders). Space Marines Vs Imperial Guard plays this for maximum tragedy, as they're both Just Following Orders and cannot back down. The Space Marines themselves however are not an example, as they're only fighting to conceal incriminating secrets from their Chapter's past.
    • Soulstorm has the same "Risk"-Style Map as Dark Crusade, with the Imperial Guard, Tau and Eldar making reappearances, and the Space Marines are actually heroic (if incompetent) this time. The Sisters of Battle are a blurry case; they're fighting to rid the Kaurava of all Chaos and alien taint, but their solution is to kill them all and let the Emperor sort them out.
    • Retribution bizarrely only has this for the tutorial mission for the evil factions (Orks against Eldar, Chaos against Space Marines, Tyranids against Imperial Guard), and one mission where the player fights a bunch of Eldar trying to stop the Exterminatus (which the player only learns after the fact). For every other mission the player fights against evil aliens or Chaos-corrupted renegades no matter which faction is picked.
  • In Deus Ex, after you defect from UNATCO, any cop or U.S. or UNATCO soldier that truly believes he is fighting for the greater good and is not flat out sadistic or part of the conspiracy, fits this trope.
  • A smaller example in Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the police station level. If you don't talk your way in and either sneak in through the back, or shoot your way through, the Detroit police serve as this. They are not aware of the conspiracy surrounding the dead hacker; they're just following orders.
  • Devil May Cry 4:
    • For the first half of the game, Dante is presented as the protagonist Nero's main enemy, culminating in their duel in Mission 10. But after said mission, the identity and objective of the real villain Sanctus are revealed, along with Dante's true reasons for opposing Nero.
    • Credo genuinely wants to protect the citizens of Fortuna and believed that the Ascension Ceremony was a good idea. He was also very reluctant in fighting Nero, but couldn't actually disobey Sanctus at first as he's Just Following Orders. However, he sides with the heroes when Kyrie has been hostaged, an act that would lead to his death.
  • Devil May Cry 5: In the Special Edition, Dante is the Final Boss of Vergil's campaign.
  • Disgaea:
    • Subverted in Disgaea 3. Mao is a Villain Protagonist (Noble Demon type), and Super Hero Aurum is originally portrayed as some legendary super hero. The subversion occurs around Chapter 8, when the player discovers that Aurum is nothing but a big phony who's so foul that even demons scorn him (especially his transformation).
    • Played straight in the original Disgaea, as the Recurring Boss is a Stealth Mentor to the Villain Protagonist, and the final battle is essentially the Big Good Guile Hero performing a Secret Test of Character on said Villain Protagonist. The main antagonist (who, oddly enough, is the penultimate boss rather than the final boss) is definitely evil, however.
    • The Krichevskoy group from Disgaea Dimensions 2 oppose Laharl repeatedly to make him see how villainous he is, a trait not shared with his late father. While they do some sketchy stuff, by Disgaea demon standards they're fairly noble as they are trying to remove a corrupt king who threatens to ruin the Netherworld for all demons.
  • Loghain from Dragon Age: Origins is a bona-fide hero of Ferelden, fighting only to keep the realm independent of any foreign influence, particularly Orlais (which had ruled Ferelden with an iron fist for quite some time). He was a faithful right hand to king Maric, and thought up most of the winning strategies in the king's war of independence. The only problem is that he does not understand (nor wants to understand, apparently) the threat of the Blight nor the importance of the Grey Wardens, and therefore every action he takes inadvertently weakens his beloved kingdom, which is why the player's team must stop him.
  • One from Drakengard3. She overthrew the despotic rulers of her world, who had oppressed the people to create a new, peaceful world while ruling in their place. She therefore despises Zero who wants to kill her along with her sisters. Except Zero is trying to save the world, not destroy it. from the flower that has infected her as well as all her sisters.
  • In both Dungeon Keeper games, aside from when you fight other Keepers, your opponents are mainly stock fantasy heroes.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Vigil of Stendarr is a Church Militant order dedicated to hunting down and destroying supernatural threats to mortal life, including Daedra, Daedra worshipers, vampires, lycanthropes, and others. While generally benevolent and good, including healing travelers for free, they display some Knight Templar tendencies, such as not bothering to discriminate between actual malevolent threats and those who mean no harm (like the worshipers of the more benevolent Daedric Princes and Friendly Neighborhood Vampires). This can lead to trouble with the Dragonborn if, say, the Dragonborn is carrying a Daedric artifact. The Vigilants will be very insistent that you hand it over, and will start reaching for their maces if you refuse. This can extend to the artifacts of the more benevolent Daedra, like Meridia or Azura.
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 3 the Brotherhood of Steel becomes one if you destroy the Citadel. The Regulators will hunt down the player if s/he has Evil Karma.
    • Both the NCR and Mr. House in Fallout: New Vegas if you support Caesar's Legion.
    • The Minutemen in Fallout 4, should you join the raiders of Nuka-World in taking over settlements in the rest of the Commonwealth.
  • Final Fantasy VI gives General Leo the description of "the guy with principles." Sabin even notes "he could be my friend, if he weren't my enemy." Leo is the most anti of Anti-Villains in the whole Final Fantasy franchise, as A Father to His Men who minimizes casualties on both sides, and always acts polite, even to his enemies. When Kefka starts killing people at random, Leo has enough of Kefka's dishonorable tactics and fights him. Too bad for Leo that Kefka fights dirty, killing Leo with a literal backstab. Leo proved so popular that, to this day, there's still speculation that he can be returned to the party.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics:
    • Milleuda Folles actually has very good reasons to fight the nobility of Ivalice, she's just too stubborn in opposing Ramza and is killed for it.
    • Wiegraf is one of these during the prologue and remains so to a lesser extent, later in the story. He starts out as a Holy Knight fighting against the aristocracy for very justifiable reasons. His only really even vaguely selfish or villainous actions are his attempts to take revenge on Ramza for killing his sister, but Wiegraf also doesn't know that Ramza tried to avoid killing her. Wiegraf later becomes a Fallen Hero, however, as revenge drives him off the slippery slope.
    • Zalmour Lucianada also goes after Ramza because he really thinks he's guilty of murdering Cardinal Delacroix.
    • We have Isilud and Meliadoul Tengille too, who oppose Ramza not knowing the truth about his intentions.
  • Many of the Sanctum officials, such as Yaag Rosch and Cid Raines, from Final Fantasy XIII count. They hunt down the protagonists and seek to eliminate them, but they do all this to protect Cocoon, whom the protagonists are destined to destroy.
  • In the Fire Emblem series:
    • In Fire Emblem Fates, the Hoshidan characters are this on the Conquest route since you're fighting in the name of a megalomaniacal tyrant. Sakura in particular never antagonizes you directly unless you are an immediate threat to her homeland or loved ones.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
      • Claude is this on the Crimson Flower route and briefly on the Azure Moon route. In the former, he's just trying to protect his territorial sovereignty from The Empire. In the latter, he only opposes you because The Empire has goaded his army into a Mêlée à Trois, and he knows he gains nothing from fighting your forces directly.
      • Dimitri on the Crimson Flower route, as he is stated by the developers to be a righteous king. Dimitri only counts as an antagonist due to defending his homeland from The Empire, which happens to be controlled by the player in this route due to an earlier Hazy-Feel Turn on their (read: your) part.
  • In Golden Sun, Felix, though this is not revealed until Golden Sun: The Lost Age, where a Perspective Flip occurs and Felix becomes the protagonist and Isaac becomes the Hero Antagonist.
  • Gordon Freeman and Cpl Adrian Shepherd are the protagonists of different Half-Life games, working to opposing ends. Shep wants to catch Freeman, for starters, and Freeman has fragged a number of soldiers.
  • In Halo 2, your first two missions as the Arbiter involve wiping a group of Covenant "heretics". As it turns out, said heretics were actually trying to save all life in the galaxy by revealing the truth about what the Halos actually do.
  • The Knights Templar in Immortal Souls are definitely good guys, as the only group actually devoted to actively fighting the "shadow creatures", which are almost all malevolent and/or mindless and devoted to harming humanity. But since they have a hard time accepting the "almost" in the "almost all" — and their leader is a major Good is Not Nice jerkass to boot — that brings them into constant conflict with the two good vampires that are the main protagonists.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • Ash Crimson from The King of Fighters series is an inversion. His actions make him a villain, but in the end, it's for the sake of stopping an even greater evil, who happens to be the final boss of KOF XIII. The POV of the "Tales of Ash" saga makes Ash appear like a Villain Protagonist, thus painting the former protagonists (Kyo, Iori, Chizuru, and even K') as this trope. But, as XIII attests to, Ash was Good All Along. A Guile Anti-Hero unmistakably, but his actions were for a greater good.
  • Saladin, the captain of the guard at the Castle of the Crown in King's Quest VI, is perhaps the noblest of all the characters in the game. He has an antagonistic role only because he has been deceived by Alhazred and has a strong sense of duty regarding his job, and he does eventually wise up.
  • Kirby:
  • Towards the end of The Last of Us Marlene and the Fireflies count. Their goal? To cure the zombie infection. Unfortunately, that means vivisecting Ellie's brain to get the benign strain of zombie fungus, and Joel has come to care for Ellie as a daughter. Cue Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Rando from LISA: The Painful. In a post-apocalyptic wasteland without women, Brad is raising his adopted daughter Buddy, the last female on Earth; when the warlord Rando kidnaps Buddy, Brad sets out on a bloody rampage to find her. However, it's later revealed that Buddy went with Rando willingly — Brad was an abusive drug addict who locked her in a basement for most of her childhood, and when she realized that she could work with the warlords ruling Olathe to help save the world, she Jumped at the Call. Rando legitimately wants to help Buddy, and by trying to lock her away again, Brad is essentially trying to doom the entire human race, something everyone in the game (even his own party members) thinks is atrocious.
  • Donkey Kong is presented this way in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games (as by then DK had been established as heroic by his own series of adventures). Mario knows DK's a decent guy, he just has poor impulse control.
  • Harpuia from Mega Man Zero. He even prefers to be destroyed than to be possessed by a manifestation of evil in the second game. By extension, Harpuia's fellow Guardians, Leviathan, Fefnir and Phantom, as well as all of the Bosses prior to Zero 3. They were only following orders for the sake of protecting humanity. No longer really applies as of Zero 3, at least for Leviathan, Fefnir, and Phantom, as all three are stated to have stopped caring about anything other than their obsession with defeating Zero.
  • The Metal Gear series is so full of lies and deceptions (and lots of Retcons very well disguised as such) that you can never really tell who is on which side, or even which sides there are. The prime example would be The Boss in MGS 3 whose heroic identity is only revealed after being killed by the protagonist.
  • In Metroid Prime: Hunters, two of your six rivals, Noxus and Spire, are good guys. Samus wants to secure the "ultimate power" in the area for The Federation, or destroy it if that's not possible. Noxus is trying to destroy it to keep it out of the hands of anyone who would abuse it (and considering the events of Metroid Fusion, he may not be wrong in including the Federation). Spire hopes that by finding it, he can learn more about why he's the Last of His Kind. Despite them all having good intentions for what to do with it, they end up fighting each other anyway.
  • The police in any illegal street racing game, such as Need for Speed, are just trying to stop the reckless player characters from putting them and others in needless danger. Of course, they can still be Lawful Evil, depending on your perspective.
  • Araman from Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. From his point of view, unless the protagonist can be stopped somehow, the world will end. And, Okku, for pretty much the same reason. However, if you decide to spare him after the final fight against him, he'll decide to help you.
  • In The New Order Last Days Of Europe, an Alternate-History Nazi Victory mod for Hearts of Iron IV, Albert Speer's Germany has Willy Brandt, a German dissident who leads the slave revolt against the oppressive institutions of Nazi Germany and its exploitative policies in Eastern Europe and represents the greatest domestic challenge to Speer during the late 60s.
  • Velvet from Odin Sphere, against both Ragnanival and Ringford. Given Gwendolyn and Mercedes are guilty of most of the incidents of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero in the story (Velvet causes very few herself), she's rather justified.
  • The Queen Fay and the Elves of the Everlight Sanctuary in Overlord II, even though the Elves are, for the most part, whiny hippies concerned mostly with protecting cute and furry creatures. Eventually, while sacrificing her energy to help the Overlord defeat The Empire, she is corrupted by his magic and becomes a Fallen Hero who decides that Evil Feels Good.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 4 has Taro Namatame, who started kidnapping people after the death of Saki Konishi due to being tricked into believing that TV World was a shelter from the true killer, not knowing that everyone he threw into the TV was saved due to the efforts of the main character and his friends. The player, at the behest of the party who are convinced he's the real killer, can either punish him by tossing him into the TV and letting him get slaughtered by Shadows (leading to the worst ending), or hear him out, where they will learn his side of the story and he, in turn, will understand what he's done and willingly accepting the consequences.
    • Persona 5
      • Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, along with celebrity teenage detective Goro Akechi and prosecutor Sae Niijima, opposing our Anti-Hero Team of Phantom Thieves. While Akechi can act irritatingly smug and Sae is shown to sometimes be rather aggressive, their motives are still sympathetic, and, even if it's for the greater good, the Phantom Thieves are still committing crimes — it's the police force's job to stop them. This ends up subverted with the first two accounts. The government and police are corrupt to the extreme, and Akechi is a fraud murderer in the pocket of said corrupt government. Sae, meanwhile, does a Heel–Face Turn after the main character appeals to her in the interrogation that serves as the story's framing device.
      • The 4th Palace arc has Shadow Futaba. Unlike the Shadow Selves of the other Palace rulers, or those in Persona 4, Shadow Futaba's host is a self-loathing, suicidal young girl, and so her Shadow represents her repressed survival instinct and faith in herself. She genuinely wants the Phantom Thieves to save her real-world self, but her defense mechanisms are in overdrive due to her trauma so she sometimes leads them into danger. She drops the "antagonist" part once Futaba enters her own Palace and accepts her, and helps fight the Palace's true antagonist: Futaba's exaggerated perception of her mother as an Abusive Parent. (she wasn't one, but Futaba hasn't been thinking clearly for years)
      • The Third Semester in Royal has Takuto Maruki, your former school counselor, who upon gaining the power of the Holy Grail uses it to create a world without suffering. Ultimately, the conflict between him and the Thieves is one of methodology and philosophy, rather than morality.
  • An indirect example in Pikmin 3 has previous protagonist Captain Olimar find the cosmic key drive, a necessary item if the crew is to get off the planet. Most of the game focuses on finding him. A more direct example would be Louie, if he did anything more heroic than steal the crew's food supply.
  • Most antagonist in the main Pokémon games are fellow trainers and their Pokemon who challenge you for fun and/or to test their skills. Same goes for the Gym Leaders, Elite Four, and the Champion, who are trying to see if you are worthy of becoming a Pokemon master. The only villainous antagonists are usually the evil team of each region.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon:
      • Alakazam and his team in Red/Blue Rescue Team. When the protagonist and teammate end up being tossed into exile, Alakazam and his team are the leaders of the hunt for the protagonist's head.
      • Palkia in Explorers of Time and Darkness, who thinks that the hero is threatening to destroy the universe. It turns out that he was tricked: Darkrai was the one threatening to destroy everything, and he made it look like it was the hero's fault.
  • The censors in Psychonauts are mental antibodies. They're supposed to stamp out foreign influences. Like normal antibodies, they can't really distinguish things except as "native" and "foreign", even if "foreign" is a friendly psychic like Razputin.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • Ratchet & Clank: The extermibots were sent to eliminate the amoeboids and save Blackwater City, but they for some reason are also trying to kill Ratchet, possibly because of a curfew being in effect or them being unable to differentiate between amoeboids and civilians (the remake goes with the latter interpretation).
    • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando: The extermibots in Allgon City were sent to destroy the protopets and save the city, but they were ordered to everything "small and fuzzy", a category Ratchet falls into.
  • Agent Edgar Ross from Red Dead Redemption. At the core, he wants to bring law, order, and civilization as well as round up all those who seek to destroy it. Were he not the antagonist, we would likely think he's onto something, perhaps even root for him in secret. However, this is subverted at the end, when he chooses to forgo his deal with John and raids his farm, killing him anyway. When Jack hunts him down post-game, he shows no remorse, and blames John's death on John himself for even choosing to be an outlaw in the first place, despite his desire to change for the better.
    • Similarly, the sequel introduces Agent Milton, who is a detective for the Pinkertons who is just trying to stop an outlaw gang from wreaking havoc upon the whole American west.
  • Cyrus Temple from Saints Row: The Third. His evil plot? To restore order by stopping gang wars. You are a member of a gang, and thus that makes him the antagonist. Subverted when you find out how far he's willing to go to achieve this goal.
  • In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, if you decide to forsake your lord Kuro and become a Shura, a demonic being who slaughters everything indiscriminately, then your allies Emma and Isshin will draw their swords against you in a desperate attempt to prevent your rampage from ravaging all of Ashina.
  • In Shovel Knight, the titular character is a Hero Antagonist in the Plague of Shadows campaign, with the player controlling Villain Protagonist Plague Knight. Shovel Knight is fought twice, first as the boss of the Explodatorium and again after defeating the Order of No Quarter in the Tower of Fate. Although this is simply a Perspective Flip of the battles against Plague Knight in the Shovel of Hope campaign, Shovel Knight comes across as somewhat less heroic (by attacking Plague Knight from behind when his guard is down), but this may be due to Plague Knight being an Unreliable Narrator.
  • In Sin and Punishment: Star Successor, The Nebulox are fighting against Isa and Kachi to help the humans of Earth-5. Also, from their perspective, Kachi is a major danger to their entire civilization — she was originally sent to Inner Space to recon Earth-4 for attack, but lost her memory.
  • Carmelita Fox of Sly Cooper. This epileptic-accented cop can be a pain in the ass, but she still means well, and at times will even join up with the gang to face the various Big Bads of the series.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog:
    • Knuckles in certain games, in particular those where he is tricked by Dr Eggman into stopping Sonic. He eventually realises he has been duped, and usually reverts to a side protagonist for the remainder of the story.
    • Downplayed with G.U.N. in Sonic Adventure 2. Despite wanting to protect global stability, GUN is part of a Government Conspiracy, committed some serious crimes, and is willing to endanger citizens just to catch Sonic.** * Sonic himself is an antagonist in some routes in Shadow the Hedgehog.
    • Silver in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). He opposes Sonic due to erroneously believing that killing him will save his ruined future. Like with Knuckles, he wises up after realizing that he's been duped and quickly switches sides.
  • A strange example is Colonel John Konrad in Spec Ops: The Line. When Dubai was destroyed and the civilians trapped during an apocalyptic sandstorm, Konrad leads his US Army group into that hell to try to save the city and its civilians. His attempted breakout ends in disaster despite the best of intentions. The protagonist, Captain Walker, sets off in a Whole-Plot Reference to Heart of Darkness or Apocalypse Now, thinking Konrad is the villain, only to end up the Villain Protagonist who makes things worse. Finally, in The Reveal, it turns out Konrad's failed rescue was too much for him, and he committed suicide before the game began, unable to handle his failure to save his men and the people of Dubai. Konrad was heroic until he was Driven to Suicide, and Walker has been fighting hallucinations of his own horrible guilt. Or stuck in an Ironic Hell or Dying Dream; the game is deliberately ambiguous.
  • General Warfield in StarCraft II, in stark contrast with his predecessor Edmund Duke. The literally only reason Warfield is featured as an antagonist in some missions is because he is working for Arcturus Mengsk. Other than that, he puts The Men First, is concerned about protecting the population of the Dominion and is remarkably brave. While he initially isn't happy when Prince Valerian asks him to collaborate with Jim Raynor, they get along quite well after getting to know each other. His death screams Alas, Poor Villain.
    • The Colonist Protoss from Heart of the Swarm are trying to start a new civilization, one that Kerrigan ultimately destroys. Sure their actions spell doom for our character so we have no choice, but considering Kerrigan's track record of genocide, it's a totally reasonable response.
  • Imperial characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic face a number of these: good, honorable Republic forces and Jedi looking to protect the galaxy from the Empire. This is complicated by the fact you can play any character as Light (good) or Dark (bad). The Bounty Hunter in particular has Jedi Master Jun Seros as their primary antagonist, though he's a Holier Than Thou Knight Templar at best.
  • Streets of Rage 4 has Estel Aguirre, the police chief determined to capture and arrest the main characters. She has no idea that the police have been compromised and is now corrupt because of the Commissioner selling out to the Y Syndicate. All she knows is the characters have been flagged as most wanted and she is doing her job. Later in the story mode, she discovers the truth and helps the characters defeat the Y Twins.
  • Subway Surfers: The Inspector is the antagonist, but he's just doing his job catching graffiti artists, and the protagonists are vandalizing the subways.
  • Jowy Atreides, from Suikoden II. A long time friend of the main hero, Riou, he is destined to come into conflict due to picking up opposing runes (Jowy picks up the Black Sword Rune and Riou the Bright Shield Rune). Jowy ends up betraying and murdering (although not willingly) the mayor of Muse, Anabelle. He ends up becoming king of Highland. He ends up as a Hero Antagonist because he helps bring down Luca Blight, as well as using his strength to keep the Beast Rune at bay. He ends up having the same goals as Riou, to end the war and to unify the land. The problem is that he and his friend, Riou, lead opposing forces. His love of the orphan Pilika truly drives Jowy in his goals for peace.
  • Axel Almer of Super Robot Wars Advance becomes one in the Enhanced Remake of Super Robot Wars: Original Generation, as his greatest concern is defeating Beowulf, a villain responsible for numerous atrocities in his homeworld. This is even more apparent in The Anime of the Game, where one of Beowulf's first acts involves crossing the Moral Event Horizon. Then, in the opening credits, Axel fights the main character, Kyosuke Nanbu, hoping to prevent him from becoming another Beowulf (who is Kyosuke's Alternate Universe Evil Twin). By the time of Original Generation Gaiden, Axel is still fixated on stopping Beowulf, but eventually becomes more of an Anti-Hero.
  • In Syberia a disillusioned office worker tells her husband and employers, over the telephone, that she is going into the arctic circle, unprepared, to look for a fairy tale. The private detective chasing her for most of the story is trying to save her life.
  • Yuan from Tales of Symphonia, an Anti-Hero example.
  • Touhou Project:
  • Unlike the original film TRON, security programs in TRON 2.0 are not servants of the evil MCP. Here, they're simply doing their job of protecting the system from The Virus. Unfortunately, Kernel, the chief security program, thinks you are the cause of the infection and tries to hunt you down, forcing you to fight security programs.
  • Twisted Metal: Black: While the morality of each playable character ranges from Anti-Hero to Villain Protagonist, the Final Boss, Warhawk, is just a police officer trying to stop the death and destruction caused by the titular competition and is unambiguously doing the right thing.
  • The Vendrien Guard in Tyranny are Determined Defeatists, struggling to free their homeland from the oppression of Evil Overlord Kyros, or (more likely, to their mind) set an inspiring example for those in the future. The Player Character is an agent of Kyros, sent forth to crush their hopes of liberty.
  • In ULTRAKILL, the Super Boss of the first Prime Sanctum is Minos Prime, the Prime Soul of King Minos. After V1 frees him by destroying the Flesh Prison, Minos Prime expresses gratitude to V1 for his freedom, but after remembering the sins the machines have done against humankind, the king's soul battles the robot not only to punish them for their involvement in humanity's extinction, but also protect what's left of his people and avenge the human race.
  • Undertale's No Mercy path has two major Hero Antagonists who put up a hell of a fight against the Omnicidal Maniac player, in contrast to everyone else. The first is Undyne, who's running off of Heroic Resolve and the prayers of everyone in the world. In-game text even refers to her as "the heroine" and her battle theme is named "Battle Against a True Hero." The second is Sans, the strongest monster in the Underground and the last thing standing between you and the world's destruction.
    • A lot of characters could be called Hero Antagonists, as the only reason you get attacked at all is Asgore's declaration of war on humanity. While he bears no ill will to humanity, the war is the only thing giving monsterkind hope that they can one day return to the surface. If they kill you and take your soul, then they can break the barrier and return.
      • Excluding Flowey, who is just plain malicious, and Chara, whose nature and character is… VERY ambiguous… Asgore is really the only villain in the story who admits that he knows what he is doing is wrong, but feels he has no other choice. He's realized how villainous his actions are, and deeply regrets it, but is too deep in to back out. Everyone else believes in Asgore's cause for the good of all monsters, no matter how violent they are.
  • In the Capcom game Under the Skin, one of your enemies is Jill Valentine. Yup, that Jill Valentine. She's busy trying to survive Raccoon City, while you're a little blue alien whose mission is to drive her crazy by pulling near-lethal pranks on her and mugging her for coins.
  • Grünfeld Bach from Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. A deeply devout German vampire hunter, who has seen both his father and grandfather killed by the same vampire, has travelled across the world to eliminate that vampire, and is willing to do what it takes to do it. Granted, several of Bach's actions are questionable (above all the abduction of Ingvar Johannsen) but if your character wasn't one of said vampire's Elite Mooks, chances are good you'd be cheering for him.
  • Since Wacky Races (1991) has you play as Muttley, the other Wacky Racers that Dastardly and Muttley often try unsuccessfully to stop in the show the game is based on all serve as the game's bosses who attempt to fight Muttley.
  • Some parts of the campaign in Warcraft III and its expansion have the player control a villainous army, making the enemy army a Hero Antagonist. This is most blatantly during the Scourge campaign, though the Horde and Night Elf campaigns tend to paint heroes from other factions in this light as well.
  • The World Is Your Weapon: In the secret ending, Demon Lord Dolhabach will leave his castle to personally defeat the player character Weaco, who is keeping the entire island's population as weapons.
  • World of Warcraft: Depending what faction you play, certain NPCs will come off this way. For example, in Icecrown Citadel, the two factions fight each other aboard their respective airships, each one lead by a hero from each; Muradin Bronzebeard for the Alliance, and Varok Saurfang for the Horde. Both are well-respected and honorable figureheads within each faction and both seek to climb Icecrown to stop the Lich King, but tensions between the factions force them into combat with one another.
    • The raid Battle for Dazar'alor gives you the perspective of both factions consecutively. None of the raid bosses are truly evil. At worst, they are Punch-Clock Villains who just happened to be on the wrong side of the war (the Champion of Light, Conclave of the Chosen, the Jadefire Masters) or mindless monsters manipulated by one faction or the other (Grong, Opulence, Stormwall Blockade). King Rastakhan and Jaina Proudmoore are both deeply flawed characters, but ultimately well-meaning, while Gelbin Mekkatorque is a legitimate hero whom you have served if you are a gnome character.
  • Yandere Simulator has several characters who would love to stop the Stalker with a Crush Villain Protagonist by any means necessary. For example, the Photography Club is normally silly and goofy up until you bring the School Atmosphere to a certain point. If it's too low, they will actively investigate the incidents at school and walk around with a camera in search of the killer. It even extends to fairly minor characters: if a teacher knows you are connected to a murder, they will pin you to the ground. Students with a "Heroic" persona will jump in to stop you if you kill someone in front of them. Even if they aren't Heroic, they can still spread rumors about what happened if left unchecked. The backstory also has the Journalist, who connected the protagonist's mother to her own crimes, only to be falsely accused of being a pervert who wanted a sensational headline. When he tried to bring her to justice years later, he had to flee the country because she found out.
  • With the exception of Leon, the Imperial Army of Yggdra Union are actually honest and sometimes heroic characters who are simply fighting for their own beliefs.

    Web Animation 
  • The Father Tucker short "Like Unto Sheep" has the title character's usual child-molesting antics hindered by a nun named Mother Superior.
  • The Insurrectionists/Charon Industries are this in the prequel segments of Red vs. Blue, in opposition to the Freelancers, who are Villain Protagonists at that point. Later revelations show that Charon is just as bad if not worse than Freelancer, CEO Malcolm Hargrove being a Corrupt Corporate Executive more than willing to exterminate an entire planetary population to get his hands on alien tech (and had a hand in shutting down Project Freelancer for much the same purpose) while the surviving Freelancers have become firm heroes.
  • RWBY:
    • Cordovin is in charge of protecting the city of Argus from attack by the Grimm. However, she is egotistical, prone to overreacting, and obsessively believes in the superiority of Atlas to all other people. Determined to prevent Atlas's border lock-down from being breached, she refuses to even consider the possibility that the heroes might have an urgent reason to make contact with General Ironwood. The heroes decide to steal an airship which brings them into conflict with Cordovin. When Maria rekindles her old rivalry with Cordovin, Cordovin becomes completely unreasonable; instead of responding by the book and launching fighter pilots to escort the stolen craft back to base, she unleashes a gigantic Grimm-killing robot onto the heroes, determined to teach them a lesson. The fight only ends when the Ruby's group disable the robot only to realise that Grimm are attacking the city in response to the negativity generated by the fight. The two sides are forced to cooperate to take out the giant Leviathan that is threatening the city, resulting in Ruby apologising to Cordovin and Cordovin letting Ruby's group proceed to Atlas in the stolen ship.
    • When the heroes get to Atlas in Volume 7, Ironwood involves them in a project to build a new CCT which will restore global communications. However, he gets supplies to build by diverting resources assigned to repair the outer walls protecting Mantle, quickly becoming enemies with Robyn Hill, an independent huntress who strongly opposes Ironwood's policies that are already hurting the city. Eventually, Robyn resorts to robbing supply trucks to keep the materials from leaving the city and convinces the city to refuse to sell to Ironwood unless Mantle's walls are fixed. Ironwood, however, refuses to tell why the supplies were being diverted for fear of Salem's agents finding and sabotaging the project. Blake and Yang decide to covertly tell Robyn part of the truth in the hope of getting her on their side. It works, but Ironwood later becomes furious for their disobedience. When he finds out that Cinder is in the kingdom and Salem is on her way, Ironwood concludes that exhausting his army by evacuating Mantle is exactly what Salem wanted him to do; he decides to abandon Mantle to the Grimm, by raising Atlas into the heavens to protect the Relics and Winter Maiden from Salem, using the argument that he's going to concentrate on saving who he can. When the heroes refuse to support him, he orders their arrest. The volume ends with the heroes facing separate conflicts with both Salem's forces and Ironwood's. During Volume 8 however, Ironwood's actions cause him to lose the hero part and instead become a full-on villain as the Volume's Arc Villain when Salem is taken out of commission while his forces struggle to deal with his actions as a result.
  • Zetto from TOME. It turns out that throughout Season 1, his goal has been to suppress and erase the Forbidden Power by hiring hackers to find it/steal the necessary resources to seal away the Forbidden Power. This is a departure from his original depiction in TTA, where he was an Anti-Hero at best, though Zetto in TOME still makes many misguided mistakes like trusting Rubirules which leads to some morally questionable actions.

  • The Robot Masters in the 6th Megaman storyline in Bob and George were trying to stop a rampaging Brainwashed and Crazy Villain Protagonist Mega Man.
  • Captain Madison Vrax of the Prime Galactic Navy typically finds herself opposing Loveable Rogue Cassiopeia Quinn. However, Vrax is an honorable woman who, when not battling Quinn, is usually found protecting civilians and battling actual dangerous criminals.
  • Tyr of Darken is the Captain of the Guard in a holy city, opposing his Evil Twin Gort, a Villain Protagonist and champion of Hell. Too bad Evil has way more fun.
  • Kevin Kolton in Evil Plan is trying to be a good little fledgling boy scout superhero. Too bad the supervillain is our Villain Protagonist.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Othar Tryggvasen (Gentleman Adventurer!). His stated goal of killing all the world's Sparks, ending finally with him committing suicide, appears to place him squarely in the realm of being a Villain with Good Publicity. It is only when one looks at how nearly every Spark he has ever encountered has acted that it becomes clear that his actions are fully justified. In one possible future timeline, his failure to complete his self-appointed mission results in the apparent eradication of human life in Western Europe, apparently within a few years of the main storyline. On the other hand, his twitter has him killing a college student and her father (because she was a spark and he said that the worst thing that could happen to a parent is their child to die before he did), derailing a train and killing police.
    • Klaus Wulfenbach is almost the Only Sane Man in Europe, which means that he's got to play whack-a-mole with every crazed Spark or creation that gets loose. He is half-rightly convinced that Agatha could be the Biggest Bad of all time — the "Other," a spark who destroyed most of Europe while he was removed from the picture decades ago and who may have the secrets of time travel on top of a host of other horrifying technologies. If he's right, he has to destroy her to save the world. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the full picture, and the pieces he knows look really bad for Agatha. Of course, as Agatha is the protagonist, she isn't about to tamely sit down and let him hold her.
  • Last Res0rt features Jason Spades, a hero on his home planet of Fenirel who happens to want to viciously kill Daisy to the exclusion of everything else, even if 'everything else' is something like getting the rest of the crew (including himself!) off an enemy ship alive.
  • The main characters in Niels are murdering, scheming, criminal mobsters. The antagonists are two good cops and a pervy secret agent trying to take them down.
  • The Order of the Stick:
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Berk appears at first as Gwynn's weird and annoying new boyfriend, but then, in the chapter "K'Z'K", tries to assassinate several main characters — because he's been sent from the future to stop them from causing The End of the World as We Know It by summoning the demon K'Z'K.
    • Pretty much all the holiday figures in "Holiday Wars", thanks to Bun-bun being a sociopathic Villain Protagonist bent on world domination.
  • One of the main antagonists of True Villains is a Paladin, fighting for God. Then he becomes a vampire and joins a plot to let an undead army wipe out all life on the mainland, Jumping Off the Slippery Slope pretty thoroughly. He fights for the God of Progress, not Good, after all.
  • What's New? with Phil and Dixie presents: The happy crew of weatherbright!
    Everybody has an "Evil Twin", right? Well, these guys see our Weatherlight crew as their evil twins and act accordingly. They're not villains, per se, but everybody hates them.

    Web Original 
  • Metaverse is full of these since everyone else seems to be a Villain Protagonist.
  • Worm Most of the Protectorate, the Wards and the PRT all count when Taylor is Skitter instead of Weaver. While they might oppose Taylor, they are doing their jobs as heroes and protecting people.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender is only chasing the Avatar with Zuko out of concern for his nephew and a hope to guide him to a better path. He refrains from actually coming into conflict with Aang and his group himself despite being a master firebender and retired general. In Season 2, where Zuko is more of a neutral figure, he's more frequently heroic or at least calming before eventually even working with the group before Zuko does. Overall, his presence has an incredible amount of influence over Zuko, who ends up reforming when he realizes that his father's approval is worthless.
  • Batman in Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Joker: The Vile and the Villainous!" Even sporting lines like “You’re a fool if you think you can stop my master plan!” The 'plan' was a device that tracks crimes as they happen, summoning the police or himself to the scene.
  • In The Brothers Grunt, the titular brothers Frank, Tony, Sammy, Bean, and Ding frequently ran afoul of a detective trying to turn them in for the trouble they inadvertently cause on their quest to find their brother Perry.
  • The toy robot Destructo is this in Bump in the Night due to his obsession with order and justice and always menacing the main character Mr. Bumpy whenever he breaks the rules.
  • Dr Von Goosewing in Count Duckula is the self-proclaimed 'greatest wampire hunter in the vorld" and refuses to believe the Count is anything other than a threat to all. Given that all previous Duckulas were evil and the current Count is only harmless because of a botched resurrection ritual, he's pretty justified to this view, believing the Count's pleasant demeanor to be nothing more than vampiric deception.
  • Caprice in The Crumpets episode "Ransoming Dad" leads the Crumpet children who investigate the disappearance of their father, who was "kidnapped" and hidden under a rug by their youngest sibling Li'l-One and their Granny for a ransom scheme. However, she blames them for the scheme without sufficient proof until they're tested with a Lie Detector. As this is the show's first episode, many of Caprice's subsequent portrayals are a far cry from this episode due to her selfish and rude behavior.
  • The Yankee Doodle Pigeon of Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines was implied to be of heroic alliance, delivering important messages to squadrons. However, his role rarely exceeded outside blowing his patriotic trumpet and giving bewildered glances to the Vulture Squadron's blundering attempts to "Stop That Pigeon".
  • Borderline case with The Dreamstone. Slapstick Disproportionate Retribution aside, there isn't very much antagonistic about the Land Of Dreams, at all. It is perhaps for that reason however, that the heroes are kept somewhat flat compared to the Urpneys and tend to get the shorter straw in Sympathetic P.O.V. in most episodes. The odd episode attempts to make them the more sympathetic side or plays them as Deuteragonists however.
  • Xander Crews from Frisky Dingo, also known as the superhero Awesome X. He's also one of the biggest dicks in a show made almost entirely of dicks, sometimes more than Killface himself (who kills one of his PR reps in the first episode and then uses the guy's remains as a ventriloquist dummy in front of his twin brother).
  • G.I. Joe: Renegades has Flint in this role, as he keeps trying to arrest Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock, and Tunnel Rat because they are fugitives who have been framed by Cobra.
  • Dib from Invader Zim is between a Hero Antagonist and Deuteragonist. A paranormal investigator trying to prevent the alien Zim from taking over the world, there are numerous Villain Episodes where Dib is the main character, making him the protagonist (and usually casting Zim as the antagonist) a good portion of the time. He and Zim team up almost as often as they fight, and a fair number of episodes are about Dib dealing with other stuff while Zim makes only a cursory appearance.
  • Little Demon: Two major ones from the first episode.
    • Laura, our protagonist's mother. She's brave, determined, and is just trying to get her daughter back from Hell before her father tricks her into destroying the world. She's an antagonist because, while trying to keep her daughter away from Satan and prevent the world from ending, she moved them constantly for their own safety, and once Satan finds out their new location, she wants to move again, separating Chrissy from her new friend and depriving her of the chance to meet her dad and learn more about her demonic powers.
    • The unnamed Unshaven Man, a mercenary hired by the Pope to dispose of the anti-Christ. All well and good. The problem is that the anti-Christ is thirteen, not evil, and he doesn't even do it because it's the right, just because he's greedy and bloodthirsty. Unscrupulous Hero at best, Designated Hero at worst.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • The Road Runner is one of the most iconic Hero Antagonist of Western Animation; the shorts granted little character to the bird outside his fast speed and his trademark "Beep Beep", and all sympathetic spotlight was deliberately kept on its predator, Wile E. Coyote.
    • Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird and Speedy Gonzales occasionally leaned into this trope, with many of their respective shorts focusing more on the blundering of their foes.
    • In "Fresh Hare", Elmer Fudd is only chasing Bugs because he is a mountie and Bugs has been charged with crimes. In "Big House Bunny", Bugs escapes hunters but ends up tunneling into a prison. Yosemite Sam is the guard and only goes after Bugs because he believes Bugs is an escaped prisoner.
    • In some Daffy Duck cartoons, Porky Pig is an authority figure such as a police officer trying pursuing Daffy for his antics. While the nature of some of his "crimes" can be rather disproportionate (in "Daffy Doodles" for example he becomes Public Enemy Number One for painting mustaches on advertisement posters) Porky is clearly the higher moral ground.
  • Candace in Phineas and Ferb dedicates herself to stopping the title characters' plans because their mother wouldn't like them, although "Anti-Hero Antagonist" might fit better, as their plans rarely even inconvenience anyone and she's doing it for her own self-gratification.
  • The title character of Samurai Jack is this in one episode, told from the Sympathetic P.O.V. of a robot who is being blackmailed by Aku to kill Jack.
  • South Park:
    • Kyle usually serves this when an episode focuses on Cartman, because he's the closest thing the show has to a moral compass. Expect there to be traces of He Who Fights Monsters.
    • Kenny takes this role in "Poor and Stupid", because Cartman's antics as a NASCAR driver are tarnishing the sport's reputation, and Kenny loves NASCAR. Similar to Kyle however, he reverts to such overzealous extremes as trying to shoot Cartman with a rifle.
    • Santa becomes the antagonist of the Season 23 finale, "Christmas Snow". This is not due to him pulling a Face–Heel Turn and turning evil, but rather that he's just banning drugs and alcohol until the holiday season ends so that the adult don't end driving under the influence of those substance and end up kill themselves and other people.
  • In the episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars centered around Villain Protagonist Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi fills this role. This is an interesting example because although Obi-Wan is one of the protagonists of the series as a whole, Maul is unambiguously the protagonist of this set of episodes, and Obi-Wan, by opposing him, fits the narrative role of antagonist.
  • The Centauri Empire officers in the Teen Titans (2003) episode Sisters only attacked the Titans due to misunderstanding that they thought Starfire was committing a thievery on their solar system when in truth, Blackfire was the one doing it and framed Starfire for it. Once that was cleared off, they successfully capture Blackfire and then never threatened the Earth anymore, therefore they're pretty much their planet's good police doing their job. Their conversation also kinda imply this:
    Officer: In the name of the Centauri Empire, you are all under arrest!
    Beast Boy: Uh… you can't be the good guys. We're the good guys.
    Officer: And we are the Centauri police!
  • Tom and Jerry: Tom is this depending on the short. Most of the time, he usually chases Jerry because he is a house cat who is ordered to in order to keep the mouse for stealing far more food than he actually needs, and there have also been moments in which Jerry have provoked Tom for no reason whatsoever. Naturally, Jerry would lose during those instances.
  • Top Cat: Officer Dribble, er, Dibble. The protagonist, T.C., is a con-artist and leader of a street gang! Of cats.
  • According to Fresh TV the Interns of Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race are this.
  • Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Animated is a member of the Autobot Elite Guard, but he's also very antagonistic to the show's main Autobots, so he's often at odds with them.
  • Ranger Smith from Yogi Bear. All he's trying to do is keep Yogi and Boo Boo from stealing food from the campers at Jellystone Park. A few cartoons show that he cares for them and gets upset if he thinks they're in trouble.
  • Agent James Bennett of The Zeta Project, though an outright Inspector Javert who absolutely will not stop in his quest to capture and reprogram (read:kill) the titular Zeta, is nevertheless a good man who genuinely is doing it for the safety and well-being of everyone. Since the ability to have a conscience simply isn't in Zeta's schematic, Bennett believes Zeta was reprogrammed by a terrorist organization to think he has one as part of some manner of Manchurian Agent ploy. Though rather stern and Married to the Job, he's constantly trying to talk Ro into giving herself up for her own good (he believes Zeta is using her and will dispose of her when he no longer needs her), is rather kind and even comforting of Zeta when he has the synthoid in custody, is a loving father, and when he's accidentally shot down Ro, Zee, and Bucky's plane his reaction is horror.


Video Example(s):


The Wizard

The Wizard dedicates himself to ending the Curse of Eternal Night and saving humanity, this being why Jack was sent to kill him in the first place. Granted, he seems to be in it only for recognition and scientific curiosity, so there is some karma when Jack beats him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / HeroAntagonist

Media sources: