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Hero with Bad Publicity

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"What is he up to now?" Well, it appears that despicable ne'er-do-well is right at this moment SAVING YOU INGRATES!note 

"I don't have time to justify myself to your viewers. I have a galaxy to save."

Being a Superhero isn't all it's cracked up to be. The heroes' lives and those of their loved ones are constantly in danger from their archnemeses — and sometimes from their own powers, too. Sometimes someone else takes credit for their heroic efforts. But perhaps the most hurtful and confusing drawback comes when the people they've sworn to protect hate their guts.

This could arise for any number of reasons:


But whatever the reason, public sentiment is against these heroes, and there's usually nothing they can do about it. Sorry - you can't please everyone.

Usually serves as the grass-roots support for a Super Registration Act. Can be a reason that Hilarity Sues. Especially ironic when it happens to the Slave to PR. Think of it as a tamer situation than Beware the Superman, where the only people who are acting like the supers are the ones to be feared are individuals and not society. The permanent version of the Untrusting Community. When the hero's problems are evident only to intimates, is No Hero to His Valet. A bad guy that people like is a Villain with Good Publicity. A character who can do no wrong in the public eye has 100% Heroism Rating. When the hero is pushed too far and concludes that being a hero for this undeserving society is up to no good, he might as well become evil...

No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Arata from Arata: The Legend is a wanted criminal due to having been framed for the attempted murder of Kikuri-hime. By extension, Hinohara is this as well due to swapping places with Arata and having his image in the eyes of other people.
  • In Attack on Titan, the Survey Corps were already largely considered a joke and a waste of valuable resources due to how unsuccessful the majority of their missions are. However, it's not until their reckless plan to capture Annie, aka the Female Titan, results in the death of hundreds and the near complete destruction of Stohess District that their public opinion really starts to plummet.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with Eren himself, who is seen by the rest of the worldnote  as a "traitor of peace".
  • Guts from Berserk has been treated as a dangerous villain by townspeople and the authorities since he started Walking the Earth as the Black Swordsman when he is actually just a sometimes ruthless Anti-Hero who is assumed to be — and actively pretends to be — worse than he is. In the first place, he's on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the demonic Apostles who killed everyone he cared about, and he claims not to care about collateral damage. He's a Walking Disaster Area because confronting an Apostle on their home turf invariably escalates into an all out war that causes the streets to run with the blood of (more or less) innocent bystanders, and by the end of it everybody who knows the truth of what happened is either dead or on the run, leaving him as the scapegoat. It doesn't help that he looks a lot like a villain because he's dressed all in black, and tries to act like a total bastard toward anyone who starts to get friendly with him in order to drive them away for their own good. There's also the fact that demons and Apostles that he kills turn back to their human form after they're killed so that if the monsters' original form had been children, he ends up looking like a mass child murderer to anyone who arrives on the scene afterwards. That causes Knight Templar Farnese of the Holy Iron Chain Knights to pursue and arrest him because she's convinced that he's a servant of evil. After all these misunderstandings he's gotten sick of trying to explain himself because everybody always assumes that he's evil anyway, and he figures that at least if he scares them, they might keep the hell out of his way. Fortunately, his reputation as a hero has improved somewhat since the Millenium Falcon Arc gave him the chance for some high-profile heroics, and some of his best sidekicks now are former enemies who realized that he was right all along.
  • Asta from Black Clover. Because his power source is a Devil, he's blamed by Damnatio and the Magic Parliament for the elves' attack on the Clover Kingdom, with his status as a peasant making him even more disliked by the aristocrats. He gets out of it by investigating the devils together with the Black Bulls.
  • The title character of Black Jack is a brilliant surgeon who truly cares for his patients, but his outrageous fees and bad attitude give him a bad reputation.
  • Victor Freeman from Blaster Knuckle hunts demons that revert to a human form when killed, and have often taken the forms of women and children. The first issue kicks off with him stomping into a saloon and gunning down a pretty brunette pleading for help (she was actually a demon, but...).
  • In Bokurano, Zearth is so destructive it's considered a Kaiju. They even assassinate a kid who claims to be a pilot. In the manga, it's somewhat alleviated when Anko appears on television to tell the world the pilots' mission, inform them about the stakes and apologize for the damage. Some people still hate the pilots after that, but others are won over.
  • A major plot-point and cause of grief for Hoichi Kano, the protagonist from Cannon God Exaxxion. Good part of it comes from the absurd amounts of damage caused by the titular Super Robot, but the Riofaldian defamation campaign on him (which smashes to dust the We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future trope) makes things even more difficult.
  • Zero and the Black Knights of Code Geass, when it comes to the Britannian Empire.
  • Akuto Sai in Demon King Daimao has a world's worth of factors against him. He's going to become the next Demon King, which his classmates are forcing him towards, willingly or otherwise, because the prophecy said so. Every time he tries to do some good, people assume it's part of his reign of terror. And then there's his name.
  • In Digimon Adventure tri., the public view all Digimon as trouble because of the collateral damage that they cause. Unfortunately, this includes the Digimon partners of the protagonists. In a twist, there's a seemingly benign government task force that recognizes the Digidestined's role in the crises, and are willing to give a helping hand.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • During the King Piccolo Saga of the original series, Tien is briefly suspected to be the Serial Killer going around murdering martial artists and nearly arrested, though Tambourine was the real culprit. It's not unjustified since Tien did have a reputation for being exceptionally brutal during fights, most notably breaking Yamcha's leg when he was already down For the Evulz.
    • Dragon Ball Super: Goku gets hit with this in the Universe Survival Saga when it's discovered that he was the one who gave Zen-Oh the idea for the Tournament of Power in the first place, especially since Zen-Oh will destroy any universe that loses the tournament. Virtually everyone in The Multiverse now sees Goku as a selfish villain, and Goku doesn't help matters since he is more concerned with the powerful opponents he'll face. Even the reveal that Zen-Oh was planning to destroy several of the universes anyway and Goku reminding him of the tournament actually gave them all a chance to defend themselves doesn't help.
  • While the public and the Magic Council is grateful that the Fairy Tail guild often solves world-threatening crises, the tendency for its members to cause massive property damage greatly irritates them.
  • Soma Yukihira in Food Wars! is really hated due to an incredibly arrogant speech he made on the first day of transferring to his new school. This persists even when he continues to rise up in the ranks of his school. Later on, it's revealed that the students continue to disparage Soma despite his achievements due to envy and their own inferiority complexes because if they acknowledge Soma's skill it would mean to acknowledge that they themselves do not work as hard as he does. His reputation does improve eventually when the student body can no longer ignore his skill as he continues to rise to the top. Hilariously, Soma wasn't even aware of how bad his reputation was and is genuinely surprised by it.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Roy Mustang more or less cultivates this by appearing to care only about chasing women and promotions. He gets hit with it for real when he is apparently responsible for cornering a woman who'd been sentenced to death for killing his best friend and burning her so badly her body is unrecognizable. Subverted in that he's still cultivating it - he fakes the murder and smuggles the woman, who is innocent, to safety in another country, knowing full well that people will hate him but preferring that over leaving her to her fate.
  • In Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu, this ends up being the case since the heroes essentially take the fight to the enemy's planet very early on. The episode in which the hero Daiya finds this out is actually called "We're the bad guys?!?"
  • Guyver features this after the Zoanoids go public and claim that the Guyver and his allies are alien invaders. The recent anime just barely scratches the surface of this plot and is the only non-manga iteration to get up to even that point.
  • Madoka Ayukawa from Kimagure Orange Road. She's a thoughtful, reserved and apparently cold and aloof loner, feared as a delinquent at school. That's because she is in truth a selfless and brave girl, able to save other people and defend herself from male thugs - yes, she's 15 but really defeats entire gangs of delinquents.
  • The titular character of Kinnikuman has this problem early on. In the first chapter, aliens actually cancel their invasion plans rather than fight Kinnikuman, the only hero available at the time. A bit later, the Japanese government allows American superhuman Terry Man to become their resident hero, in spite of the fact he charges for his rescues because it's still better than being saved by Kinnikuman.
  • Mist from Knights is generally feared and hated because he's black and he's in a Medieval European-esque setting with an overwhelmingly white population. Just about everybody in this society believes that witches are real and that the Church is infallible, so Mist's attempts to rescue wrongly convicted witches from burning at the stake are seen as heretical and treasonous.
  • Celestial Being in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 thanks to the corrupt A-Laws and Ribbons Almark.
  • Kenzo Tenma from Monster is accused of murder and goes on the run; he is hunted by the police wherever he goes, but in truth, he's Walking the Earth in search of the true perpetrator, an utterly amoral creation of a twisted psychological experiment, while trying to save everyone he comes across - even those who are trying to arrest him for crimes he didn't commit.
  • One Piece:
    • The Straw Hat Pirates tend to be treated like this. They do a lot more good than harm, but still get chased out of places due to technically being pirates amidst a series of bad coincidences.
      • This is mostly because the World Government would rather push out a cover story and pass off the victories onto their own forces, than admit that a band of pirates are more effective than said forces (Especially since said forces are the villains Luffy's crew typically fight) at cleaning up messes. During the Fishman Island Arc, Luffy outright states he doesn't want to be seen as a hero... for rather off reasons. H and his crew don't mind helping people and admire those that do, but they're not that interested in getting good press.
    • Montblanc Noland, who lived many years before the main story, is a big example. He was a truly strong and courageous explorer who saved the Shandians from being wiped out by disease, as well as who knows how many other deeds. However, due to a series of bad coincidences much like the Straw Hats, his name became synonymous with a grinning, clueless fool and a liar, a reputation that followed his descendants, and he has effectively become the North Blue's analogue to the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
  • Saitama from One-Punch Man is initially regarded as a joke, but after the defeat of the Deep Sea King, word starts spreading that he's a powerless faker who steals credit from hard-working heroes. The truth is that Saitama is that powerful, and has saved humanity from extinction several times over even before the series began; at first he got no credit because he wasn't registered with the Hero Associationnote , but afterwards he willingly cultivated the image of a lazy Glory Hound because he realized the idea of a nigh-invincible fighter diminished all the other heroes in the public's eyes. He only has a small circle of True Companions who not only know how strong he is but that he's an incredibly kind person deep down. Plus, with time and plenty of powerful enemies being obliterated at his hands, the Hero Association is gradually becoming more and more aware that there's much more to him than meets the eye.
  • At first glance, Shogun Ienari in Ooku looks like a case of Adaptational Heroism, due to how different he is (well meaning, secretly working against his Evil Matriarch mother, actively promoted treatment and vaccination against the Gendercide plague) from how Ienari was in real life (a spendthrift who cared more about his harem than government). On his deathbed, he tells his wife he ordered the scribes to portray him as the spendthrift pervert, in order to suppress any knowledge of the Redface Pox from foreign powers who may take advantage of the disproportionate gender ratio and invade Japan.
  • This trope seems to disproportionately affect Dark-type and Ghost-type Pokémon. The eponymous Pokémon in Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai is this and in the Pokémon episode "Ghoul Daze", a Dusknoir suffers being attacked by Pikachu and others when it was actually trying to save them from an actual malevolent ghost. Thankfully, both examples receive credit once the heroes realise the hastiness of their judgement.
  • In the FireRed/LeafGreen saga of Pokémon Adventures, an ultimatum was set up in that the three Pokedex holders, Red, Green, and Blue, must surrender themselves to Team Rocket, or else the evil team's attack on the Sevii Islands will continue until they are captured. This caused the local community to pin the blame on the Pokedex holders, and even trying to hunt them down.
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: Naofumi Iwatami. He started out as a pretty chill guy... until those that already scorned his existence well before he even got there, with two (one especially rotten "Bitch" in particular, though the other hates his guts as well) key figures setting him up so very "nicely" for his little "Heroic Adventure". Until his little so-called "helper" very tidily steals his belongings whilst he was napping, then double-whammies it by pushing a convenient little "He nearly raped me last night...!" story his away, with him not receiving the usual execution due to him being the Shield Hero, but he still recieves his punishment of being branded a "criminal" nonetheless, giving a healthy, grandiose helping of just how absolutely disgusting this "Fantasy World" really is. He walks out with just his under-shirt and pants (not even a shirt and pants, more like undergarments really) on him, with no money to help sustain himself as he has to be self-sufficient in order to earn the necessary coin needed to survive in the little country known as Melromarc. Even after Queen Mirellia exonerates his so-called "crimes", he still feels the pain he has suffered, for nothing can ever wash clean those internal scars he suffered, and nothing ever will.
  • Scrapped Princess: Both 'gods' of the setting are villainized by the people of "Dustvin", due to being Sadly Mythtaken:
    • While Celia Mauser is revered by her followers, who have created a religious faith in her name, to the followers of George Browning, she's a traitor who cost humanity the Genesis War five millenia ago. Not knowing that she did it because humanity was losing to the point of being on the verge of extinction. So Celia made a bargain with their alien overlords to spare their lives. When the war ended, she was left to watch over the world, as their "caretaker".
    • To the Church of Mauser, George Browning is considered a satanic figure and a heretic, along with those who follow his teachings. In truth, he was a human, like Celia. But unlike her, he was committed to fighting the aliens in order to free humanity from their control. Which is why he designed the Gigases as his trump card against them. At least, they might've been, had Celia not "betrayed" them.
    • Finally, there's Pacifica, the titular Scrapped Princess herself, a sweet Ingenue whose only powers are subconscious and purely defensive despite a prophecy that she's going to trigger The End of the World as We Know It and who gets unfairly blamed for all of the collateral damage caused by the people hunting her.
  • In most of Princess Tutu's first season, Fakir is a threatening presence who keeps Mytho under his thumb for unknown reasons. Eventually, it's revealed that this is a misguided attempt to protect the emotion-deprived Mytho from his Chronic Hero Syndrome, and as Tutu restores Mytho's emotions, Fakir eventually decides to help her. Unfortunately, the entirety of his previous behavior makes it really easy for a Brainwashed and Crazy Mytho to cast him as a violent, dangerous villain who pushed Mytho out of a window.
  • Lina Inverse from Slayers has a pretty terrible reputation... because she tends to use Dragon Slave in the middle of towns. Plus steal. But she manages to do heroic stuff anyway!
    • Revolution cranks it Up to Eleven –- she's nearly arrested and tried for the crime of "being Lina Inverse"! Her own friends regard this as being a valid reason to try and arrest her!
  • In Sonic X, shortly after arriving on Earth, Sonic and his friends get in trouble with local police and spend the early part of Season 1 hiding out at Chris' house when not foiling Eggman's latest Evil Plan. A few heroic exploits soon turn things around, and they become very popular.
  • In Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, the Letter Bees are the only ones capable of carrying mail across the Gaichuu-infested wastelands of Amberground, as well as the only ones capable of fighting the Gaichuu. Unfortunately, since the Letter Bees are government employees and the government is rather corrupt, people are naturally suspicious of them. This is part of the reason why Lag's aunt, Sabrina Mary, acts hostile toward Gauche despite being grateful to him for delivering her nephew. Her town relies on a illegal port to survive, so the town is wary of government employees.
  • Happens to Simon in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann when the war against the Anti-Spirals start. The guy who was just yesterday praised as a hero who defeated Lordgenome is now going to be executed. Doesn't help that the crowd is breaking Kamina's statue, the war was actually declared by Nia and Rossiu is attempting a coup d'état.
  • Ryūji Takasu, The Hero of Toradora! fits this trope because he's a very Nice Guy, selfless, helpful, but misunderstood and feared by everyone but his few friends, because he looks like a delinquent due to his facial traits, and is the son of a Yakuza.
  • Vash from Trigun has a reputation so bad he's viewed as a natural catastrophe. Mostly because people keep trying to kill him and blowing up the nearby towns (which he gets blamed for), blowing up a city himself one time (Which was actually Knives' fault) and finally because Knives is trying to break him and convince him once and for all that Humans Are the Real Monsters.
  • Yusei Fudou in the first season of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. Neo Domino residents do not take kindly to "Satellite scum" with a criminal mark. They don't take kindly to Satellite people in general...

    Comic Books 
  • Seriously, what hero in the Marvel Universe (besides Captain America) DOESN'T have bad publicity?
  • The instigation for the events in Marvel Comics' Civil War crossover is a large amount of collateral damage (including a few hundred dead children) due to a Taking You with Me villain. For a brief time, all the heroes have bad publicity — especially the few surviving New Warriors. The government's idea of damage control is, of course, a Super Registration Act that promptly pits hero against hero. Public opinion then gives all the non-compliers bad publicity. When the new 'government-sponsored heroes' turn out to have overlooked a massive planet-wide infiltration by aliens, Iron Man and Spider-Woman wind up with bad publicity. At this point the government decides to put noted psychotic and multiple-murderer Norman Osborn in charge, due to his brief moment of Villains Do The Dirty Work. This works out about as well as you'd expect, thus leaving the reader to wonder if the US government isn't being depicted as a Villain with Good Publicity.
  • The anti-mutant prejudice in the X-Men labels probably qualifies, although this can also be seen as a case of Fantastic Racism. Anti-mutant sentiment is so strong that the original X-Factor masqueraded as anti-mutant crusaders to endear themselves to the public.
  • Even Comic Book Iron Man falls prey for this. In the Armor Wars storyline, Iron Man’s fighting against S.H.I.E.L.D, he’s kicked out of the West Coast Avengers, nearly causes an international incident in the U.S.S.R and gets into a fight with Captain America.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man gets a lot of undeserved flak, mostly due to the negative PR campaign by his employer, J. Jonah Jameson. Probably the first superhero to have this as his status quo.
    • Within the first twenty issues it was revealed JJ felt jealous of Spidey's successes. Later revelations included being beaten by his stepfather, a mistrust of superheroes, and JJ's own failure to live up to the high standards he sets for himself. In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, JJ hates Spider-Man because he wears a mask, and his wife was killed by a masked man.
    • Though he is always the first to accuse Spider-Man of crimes, JJ is also usually the first to retract his statement when he is proven wrong, at one point remarking that he believes that claiming Spidey to be a menace prevents him from actually becoming one. Furthermore, regardless of the Daily Bugle's libel, there is enough evidence to suggest that the New Yorkers are not so easily manipulated anymore and will rally behind Spider-Man.
    • Jameson eventually became the Mayor of New York City — and as you might expect he constantly leveraged his expanded sphere of influence against Spider-Man.
    • There is the fact that Peter began his superhero career as a teenager with no guidance and tended to be a wisecracking jerk who often screwed up and lost, and also tried more than once to draw a paycheck for it (nobody knows he needs the money to take care of his aunt). A bad first impression is hard to shake. Plus, being immature, he tended to egg on JJ or get angry at him (which could be interpreted as threatening).
    • Interestingly, while the public and the police are quick to believe the worst about Spider-Man, and his "friends" in the superhero community rarely if ever stick up for him at all, it has been shown on several occasions that most of the villains in his Rogue's Gallery know he is a decent man and innocent of just about everything he's accused of. This was highlighted in an early issue of Thunderbolts, when Spider-Man was accused of a crime and the team of villains-pretending-to-be-heroes was trying to develop a plan to capture him in order to get good publicity. Mach-One, who was really the Beetle in disguise and had fought Spider-Man many times, told the team that the best thing to do was to go to the scene of the crime and wait for Spider-Man to show up and start investigating himself. When asked why he was so sure Spider-Man would do that, Mach-One responded with: "Because he's innocent. He'd never do anything like this. He'll be looking for the person who did." During this same issue, Mach-One fought alongside Spider-Man and was so impressed that this event was the beginning of him trying to turn his life around and become a real hero, which also spread to several other members of the team.
    • In Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, Superman initially thinks Spidey may be connected with a phony Superman because of Jameson's smear. Supes realizes his mistake right away, though.
    • Perhaps one of the biggest reason why Spider-Man gets a lot of publicity (particularly the police force) is his total unwillingness to kill the supervillains that he fights against. In fact, in Superior Spider-Man, Otto Octavius inside Peter Parker's body, manages to win public support by killing Massacre. Something that Peter Parker himself is unwilling to do because he's aware of the moral hazards. Apparently, the public isn't really happy about Spidey fighting a supervillain, sending the villain to jail, only to escape again and commit crimes that are worse (something that Otto himself pointed out to Ghost Peter). Because apparently, the governments inability to execute/permanently incarcerate villains is totally Spidey's fault..
    • During Nick Spencer's run, J. Jonah Jameson makes the argument that Spider-Man's bad public image is, at least in part, his own damn fault; while most other superheroes tend to work in teams and communities and are fairly open with the public, Spider-Man is usually a lone wolf and frequently gets into fights with other superheroes before teaming up with them (though as Peter points out, this is very common for other Marvel superheroes). Furthermore, whenever Jameson made a false accusation against Spider-Man, the Wall-Crawler's response was never to reach out and set the record straight but rather to insult, antagonize and sometimes even threaten Jameson, which does not help his case at all.
    • In the Ultimate line of Spider-Man comics, JJ initially only wanted to make headlines. This quickly changed, however. It came to a head after The Bugle publicly started to support Sam Bullit, who was running on an anti-vigilante (in other words, anti-superheroes) campaign. But later, after an attempt on his life by some of the Kingpin's goons, JJ went to Peter's house (after having fired Peter from his job at the Daily Bugle earlier) and revealed his deeper reasons. He'd launched a smear campaign against Spider-Man because he didn't like the fact that his own son, who had died in a space shuttle accident (a real hero in Jameson's eyes), wasn't thought of as one and didn't get the attention he deserved, while everyday people looked up to a guy swingin' in his underwear.
      • Finally inverted later on, though. After Jameson sees Spider-Man risking his life to save a woman during a flood, he does a total 180 and devotes the Bugle's energies to supporting him.
      • In fact, after the Ultimatum wave, Jameson becomes one of Spider-Man's greatest advocates. For instance, when he discovers Peter's identity, he uses the information to clear Spider-Man's name without revealing his secret identity. He then gives Peter his job back and offers to pay for his college tuition. Eventually, when Spider-Man dies, he attends the funeral and comforts Aunt May in her time of need.
    • Humorously, the alternate future of Marvel Comics 2 sees JJJ as a big fan and major supporter of Spider-Girl, the daughter of the hero he had slandered.
    • This is exaggerated in Ultimate Spider-Man where Jameson's smear campaign is not only more effective, but less deserved as he's become an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and has never egged-on JJ, thus giving less credence to it. The beginning of Season 3 finally averts this. Spidey joining and becoming a successful Avenger results in the general populace of New York loving him.
    • Apparently, it comes with the webs, because across the Multiverse it's revealed that numerous Spider-Men/Women/Girls have this going for them. Spider-Gwen is wanted for the murder of her Peter Parker and has drawn gunfire from police officers. The steampunk Lady Spider has been labelled a menace by J. Jonah Jameson in her world. Spider-Man: Noir isn't much loved where he comes from. And they're all bouncing around the multiverse filling in where other Spider-Men were killed or lost and finding themselves not necessarily welcome.
    • Subverted for Silk, who is probably the only Spider-Hero other than the aforementioned alternate universe Spider-Girl to be liked by J. Jonah Jameson from the start. JJJ is a fan of Cindy Moon's alter ego and also acts as a bit of a Parental Substitute for her. Which makes things interesting once Cindy starts working as the The Mole and tries to actively ruin her reputation and be labeled a menace to strengthen the facade. Instead, Jonah begins coming up with a number of excuses for her villainous behavior, refusing to believe Silk has actually gone bad. Later on, Cindy ends up devastated when an actually evil version of her from Spider-Gwen's dimension shows up to commit a major crime spree, causing Jameson to finally lose faith in her.
    • Lampshaded in Sam Raimi's the first movie, where, after Spider-Man rescues numerous people from a burning building, several cops arrive and try to arrest him, in spite of him pointing out he had been rescuing people. Then a person inside the building starts screaming, and one of the officers demands Spider-Man rescue the woman and then come back down to be arrested.
  • The Incredible Hulk. In fact, due to the damage he's caused in his career, it would be very hard to find someone in the Marvel Universe with worse publicity who could still be considered a hero.
  • Played literally in the 2006 Ms. Marvel series, where Carol Danvers hires a publicist after a D-list villain (Stilt-Man) doesn't recognize her.
  • In the All-New, All-Different Marvel era, Sam Wilson Captain America has this problem: after a whistleblower revealed what S.H.I.E.L.D. was doing using Cosmic Cubes, Sam decided to take a stand and no longer be bipartisan. This has lead to his popularity tanking and people calling him names like "Captain Socialism". This has also damaged his friendship with Steve Rogers, as Sam no longer trusts the US Government to do the right thing and only hopes that they can, compared to Steve, who unabashedly believes they will.
    • Kamala Khan is following in those footsteps when a plot by HYDRA ends up making Ms. Marvel look like a total sellout when her face is used to promote new and expensive apartments without her knowledge.
  • New Avengers (2015): The whole team has bad publicity, despite pretty much all of the line-up being some of the nicer people around. The American military and S.H.I.E.L.D. are just waiting for the team to step out of line and arrest them all. That they're supposedly run by A.I.M. has a lot to do with this.
    • For an added bonus, the team includes Hawkeye and Songbird, who have both been heroes with bad publicity themselves.

  • Over at The DCU, no matter how hard he tries, Booster Gold goes up against negative public opinion fairly often... usually due to his own screw-ups and glory-hound nature. He's getting better but the nature of his time-travel mission means that, in the Present Day, he's Obfuscating Stupidity and is keeping up a "jerk act" so he still has bad publicity. Now he has to have bad publicity, as being an infamous screw-up is the ultimate insurance against his enemies (also time travelers) trying to Ret-Gone him... Among his family, he is the greatest hero of all.
  • Richard Wentworth, The Spider, had a habit of killing crooks by the score. While this behavior was justified within the stories, it did make the police and public think of him as a dangerous criminal in his own right.
  • Just about all of the masked vigilantes in Watchmen after they fell out of favor and costumed adventuring was made illegal — except for those who work for the American government. Of course, the only other one still active is Rorschach, and let's be fair — he's an insane person who does terrible things.
  • The Outsiders' raison d'être is to be the team of superheroes that can do the Dirty Business and know they're going to come out with stains upon their name. Considering that it was funded by Batman, it makes sense but raises some interesting questions. When Batman retook control of the team, he fired several of the members, pointedly because they weren't suited to that sort of reputation:
    Batman: Only criminals operate without constraints anymore, so we're going to cultivate the Outsiders' reputation as a team of outlaws. I didn't think you'd mind sparing Nightwing and Thunder that kind of stigma.
  • While this tends to come up at some point in most incarnations of Transformers, it was a particularly strong theme in the original Marvel Comics run, where the humans frequently weren't even aware that there were two factions of Transformers, let alone that one of those factions might be better-intentioned than the other.
    • In particular, Walter Barnett of the Intelligence and Information Institute, inspired by one of his son's comic books, hired its writer, Donny Finkleberg, to portray "Robot Master", who claimed to be in control of all the robots. When Finkleberg ended up a prisoner of the Decepticons, Megatron decided to keep the charade going, if only because it would invoke this trope for the Autobots. It didn't quite work, though, seeing as how it was kind of hard to explain why a madman bent on Taking Over The World would have two groups of robots under his control fighting each other, but fortunately for Finkleberg, he was able to escape before he outlived his usefulness to Megatron.
    • In the IDW sequel series Regeneration One, the Autobots definitely fall under this on Earth, seeing as how they failed to clean up after themselves when they left for good in 1991, and inadvertently let Megatron nuke the population to near extinction.
  • The Transformers: Autocracy and its sequel The Transformers: Monstrosity play with this. In the first, the Autobots are considerably hated by the populace, as they are a security force for the corrupt government, and their leader, Zeta, levels a city to stop the Decepticons, who are the oppressed masses forming behind a charismatic leader, Megatron, and numerous citizens sympathize with them. The Protagonists even team up with him to stop their corrupt leader, and the second Megatron blows Zeta's head apart, he turns on the Autobots and the rest of the populace. The Autobots managed to rally the citizens (as well as getting the press on their side), and oust the Decepticons. The sequel continues to play with it, as much of the populace doesn't trust the Autobots, partly because of the old government, but mostly because people don't want to get involved in a war. Dai Atlas uses this distrust to rally people against Prime, but even then a few civilians just consider Atlas's group a bunch of cultists. At the end, the Decepticons have been thoroughly discredited, and despite the good publicity, most Cybertronians just leave rather than join the Autobots.
  • The Transformers: Robots in Disguise has this once again toward the Autobots from the people of Earth, for very justified reasons. Humanity is aware that there are two factions of Cybertronians. They're also aware that in the instances where those factions have clashed, it's resulted in hundreds of thousands of human casualties and nearly got New York nuked. They're aware that Megatron is the leader of the faction called the Decepticons and is considered an enemy of the Autobots. They're aware that Megatron and Devastator were allowed to join them instead of being executed for their crimes. So humanity sees no reason to trust anyone who would turn around and let such mass-murdering war criminals join them with no apparent repercussions.
  • Superman:
    • With the New Krypton storyline, Superman, Supergirl, Nightwing, Flamebird, Valor, and their friends are lumped together with General Zod and the Kandorians in Earth's eyes.
    • In a complete 180 of his long-held status, Superman in the New 52 starts out as one of these (which is covered in Action Comics.)
    • It becomes full-blown after he loses his powers and gets his identity outed in the Superman: Truth storyline and half the population turns against him. His approval rating dropped to just twenty-five percent.
    • He previously had a bit of bad publicity during his Electric Superman phase where losing control of his powers made him dangerous briefly.
    • Before that, there was a storyline a few years after Superman returned from the dead where stories started circulating that Superman had not returned from the dead and that this was another impostor. Seemingly backed up when Superman's body was found in his tomb (turned out to be an illusion placed by Brainiac.)
    • Way back in the very first Superman stories, by way of Early Installment Weirdness, this happened entirely as a result of his own tendency for morally questionable actions. He started getting good publicity pretty quickly, though, since one of the city's most prominent reporters was in love with him. Being a reporter himself can't have hurt, either.
    • In Kryptonite Nevermore, Morgan Edge slanders Superman to try to bring him down.
  • Supergirl:
    • PostCrisis Supergirl suffers from Kryptonite poisoning when she arrives on Earth, which changes her personality to one of a crazy, self-absorbed, whiny, rude emo teen. After one year she gets her act together and begins acting as an S-wearing hero, but it took some time for her initial behavior being forgotten. Likewise, Daily Planet journalist Cat Grant starts a negative PR campaign to smear Kara. She finally stops one year later when Supergirl saves her life.
    • Confused and frightened, Post-Flashpoint Supergirl fought Superman when they first met; which didn't exactly make the public like her. She yo-yo's back and forth on this, though. Some remember her fight with the Worldkillers in New York and praise her as a hero. Others... not so much.
    • In the Supergirl story arc Red Daughter of Krypton — in which Supergirl became a Red Lantern — this was subverted when Superman and Guy Gardner talked about Supergirl. Superman admitted that Justice League teammate Hal Jordan had nothing good to say about the Red Lanterns (even when they try to be heroes, Red Lanterns are generally regarded as violent, dangerous, blood-thirsty sociopaths); but he added that he judges people based on what they do, not what people say about them, and he forms his own opinions.
    • In Supergirl (Rebirth), Director Chase regards Supergirl as an out-of-control liability -although she has saved the world several times at this point- due to the number of messes she caused or took part in before getting over her angst, loneliness and anger issues.
    • In Bizarrogirl, the inhabitants of Bizarro World hate Bizarrogirl, believing she left them to fend for themselves when the godship turned up. As soon as they see her, they insult her and pelt her with fruit, eggs and worse things.
  • Played with in Paperinik New Adventures: because of Angus Fangus painting him as a menace to society for the sake of ratings, Paperinik, Donald Duck's superhero alter ego, has a bad reputation in Duckburg, but fairer journalists outside mean that worldwide he's considered one of Earth's greatest heroes. There's a very good reason for it: in the early stories Paperinik the Devilish Avenger was a terrifying criminal out to avenge himself that slowly turned into a hero due his conscience leading him to target mainly criminals, makes no mystery he's following the legacy of Fantomius the Gentleman Thief, and realizes the best way to keep Duckburg's criminals in check is to remain feared (hence brutal beatdowns and visiting outsider criminals at their own homes to show them films of what he did to their friends that moved to Duckburg), and thus even in classic stories the otherwise adoring population of Duckburg is all too ready to believe he just returned to his origins; outsiders, on the other hand, started hearing about him when he became a famous superhero (most notably, in "Paperinik Versus Inquinator" he saved the White House from a terrorist attack) and wouldn't believe accusation unless there's very good evidence.
  • The Creeper is often seen as a creep by the public and as an outright criminal by the police/other superheroes, but the twist is that he himself is more than willing to accuse and demonize the Creeper as Jack Ryder, his reporter/talk show host alter ego to lessen any suspicions that they might be connected. And Ryder is seen as an irritating TV menace on his own too.
  • The Green Hornet actually invokes this. Since his day job consists of him being the owner and publisher of a major newspaper, Britt Reed, he constantly has his newspaper run stories about the Green Hornet being a dangerous criminal mastermind so he (as the Green Hornet) can infiltrate criminal gangs who assume he wants a cut of their operation.
  • The three main heroes in Sin City:
    • Hartigan was framed for Junior Roarke's murder due to being one of the only clean cops on the force.
    • Marv already had a reputation of being a psychopath but going up against the Roarkes ensured that his name would be mud before execution. In fact, they initially ran afoul of him when they tried to frame him for murder.
    • Dwight is wanted for the murder of an established socialite unlike the other two examples, he actually did it, although he was manipulated into doing so. His reputation was bad enough that he underwent plastic surgery to avoid being recognized.
  • All Fall Down has Siphon suffer from this when she is arrested on the news, for the deaths and injuries her accidental power-stealing caused.
  • In Les Légendaires, the Legendaries, who used to be loved by the people of their fictive world Alysia, became Heroes with Bad publicity after their "final" fight with their Big Bad Darkhell by accidentally breaking a magic stone, causing it to accidentally trap everyone on the planet in the form of a child. The population ends up blaming them for this, and while they gradually get their reputation back, it's only after they saved the world from an Omnicidal Maniac God of Evil that the population seem to have fully forgiven them.
    • This sometimes cause the population of Alysia to be portrayed as horribly ungrateful, seeing how they were quick to forget all the time the Legendaries risked their life (and keep doing so) for them just because of one accident that wasn't even lethal to the population.
  • Batman is being hit hard with this in the new DCU as Batman and as Bruce Wayne. Some people in Gotham actually riot because they think he killed The Joker — yes, The Joker is more sympathetic in the public eye. Bruce's attempts at urban renewal are also not being well received. Some people in Gotham do not see it for the act of goodwill it is and see it as a rich bastard tearing down historical buildings (read: run-down buildings in a high crime area they didn't care about before) to make a new skyscraper. Most versions of Batman actively cultivate this trope, because it lends credit to him being far more ruthless than he truly is, therefore scarier to most criminals.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), following her brainwashing by the Iron Queen, NICOLE becomes a subject of fear to much of New Mobotropolis, particularly Idol Singer Mina Mongoose, who begins a series of musical protests against her. And things are made even worse when Ixis Naugus starts using Mina's music as a conduit for his magic, amplifying the public's distrust of NICOLE into paranoia and hate, in a bid to make himself a Villain with Good Publicity by promising to dispose of NICOLE for them. And it works, leading to a Heroic BSoD on NICOLE's part and a My God, What Have I Done? on Mina's part.
  • Atomic Robo: Robo's creator, Nikola Tesla, deliberately thrust him into the spotlight as an international celebrity as a protective measure; if anything happened to him, or if anyone tried to weaponize Tesla's technology, people would notice. Turning public opinion against Robo (through a False Flag Operation involving a stolen nuclear warhead) is how Majestic 12 finally gains the upper hand on him, allowing them to shut down Tesladyne and absorb its resources (and other Super Science institutions around the world) into the paramilitary Task Force ULTRA. Opinion swings back towards Robo's favor after he saves the world from a Biomega invasion.
  • Clean Room shows every public opinion of Astrid Mueller as "evil, corrupt, manipulative, secretive corporate emperor". While much of it is true, it pales in comparison to her hidden enemies' depths. It's implied that Astrid allows this on purpose since it explicitly separates her allies from her enemies.
  • ROM Spaceknight's a Knight in Shining Armor by any standard, but he's very bad at explaining things. Things like "my gun doesn't kill people, it sends them to a Phantom Zone", "this gadget I pulled out lets me detect shapeshifting aliens planning to conquer Earth", and "those people I shot were shapeshifting aliens hiding among you." Combine that with his faceless red-eyed design and silver full-body armor, and you have him looking an awful lot like a Killer Robot descending from the sky, waving around mystery devices, and vaporizing random humans for no reason. It's really no shock that people are scared of him.
  • Transmetropolitan: Spider is one of the few people who are consistently willing to stand up for the little guy, and he gets a lot of shit for it. Granted, Spider has done a wide variety of colourful things to piss off the rich and famous, and, at least to some extent cultivates this persona in order to draw creative inspiration from it. However, consider the fact that he once received a death threat consisting of a petition to have him dragged outside and shot. It had over five-hundred signatures...
  • The Ultimates: Loki manages to make Thor look like an out-of-control maniac when he stops some police brutality with excessive force of his own.
  • Kid Colt was branded an outlaw for killing his father's killers in a fair gunfight. (Some more recent retellings have had Colt admit that he is not sure if it was a fair fight or not, as he doesn't remember if he gave them a chance to draw.) Wherever he travels in the Wild West, he is a still a wanted man and has to keep looking over his shoulder for lawmen and Bounty Hunters.

    Fan Works 
  • A Shadow of the Titans: Due to her short temper during her interactions with the Titans and the random Jerkass civilians of Jump City, Jade ends up being labeled a public threat. And matters aren't helped any by her having to pretend to be a villain so that the HIVE doesn't kill her.
  • Rise Of Empress Midnight: Alternate Borris: Having apparently failing easy attacks against the Mork army, and is also an ex-Mork.
    • Twilight Sparkle since her alternate is Empress Midnight.
  • Mass Effect Human Revolution: Adam. Even accounting for Udina's distorted views, much of (or at least the most noticeable factions of) humanity consider Adam to be "a walking war crime", despite his actions on Elysium. Also, Tali.
  • The Fallout: Equestria universe has this in the form of Rainbow Dash, to the Grand Pegasus Enclave. After the balefire apocalypse that destroyed the world ended, the pegasi decided to stay up in the clouds instead of going back down to try and help Equestria recover. Rainbow Dash (who during the war and after it was a national hero due to being on the front lines and leading an elite pegasus unit) was sickened by their decision and eventually went back down to the surface to try and help. As this could be a devastating PR blow for the Enclave if one of their own leaders said that they all sucked for their actions, they instead declared that she was a traitor (and she's still thought as one even after two hundred years) and attempted to have her hunted down (by Gilda, no less!) so that her head could be brought back. We never find out whether she lived or died, though after she left, every pegasus that leaves the Enclave is branded with her cutie mark and given the label "Dashite", though many take it as a badge of pride because they're not as selfish and arrogant as the Enclave.
  • Light Yagami/Kougoukan in Sex Note. While many women's groups on the Internet like Kougoukan, the police and a lot of guys do not. Chief Souichiro Yagami assumes that Kougoukan must be a terrorist of the highest order who is out to embarrass the police because their can't be such corruption in his department! Also, like in canon, some people hail Light's alter ego as a savior but since he's not ruling by fear there are even more public dissenters calling Kougoukan's works the work of the devil.
  • Kage: Jade becomes this when she arrives on Meridian, due to a combination of the Guardians and rebels' prejudices and misconceptions, actions by the Queen, and Nerissa's lies.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, as of episode 11, ProtoMan is this, with 68% of New York distrusting him.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, the Citadel Council is aware this can happen and hopes to avert it by exploiting the inverse of The Greatest Story Never Told. Otherwise, widespread knowledge of Samantha Shepard's previous actions could result in a full-on application of this trope, undermining their war effort by knocking their preferred agent down a peg. They, being politicians, don't want to catch blame.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: In the season 1 finale, Trixie (whose reputation in Canterlot was already in the toilet) gets even more bad publicity courtesy of several scheming nobles using the tabloids to slander her.
  • In Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations, Mitsuzane Kureshima considers himself to be this, but more of a broken scrappy example.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: The titular Dungeon Keeper. It's hard being taken seriously as a defender of the innocent when all other Dungeon Keepers are Evil Overlords by nature.
  • Hop to It has Rabbit, an American Miraculous holder who used to be about as accepted in Los Angeles as Ladybug and Chat Noir are in Paris. However, around the time she moves to Paris, she accidentally acquires her partner's power, Dogstruction, which activates when she tries to use her own power of Lucky Strike. As such, her run through a Paris neighbourhood while trying to avoid an akuma results in her causing over a million dollars in property damage and several injuries. Chat Noir accepts her explanation quickly enough, as does Ladybug when Chat tells her, but Rabbit is first mistaken for an akuma by the media and then for a supervillain in her own right, earning the nickname "Jack Hammer". She does earn a few more defenders when she helps out civilians during the Road Rage attack, including Nino, but the media continue to question whether she's a hero or a menace. Alya even makes a Ladyblog video painting "Jack Hammer" as an agent of Hawk Moth, which persuades most of her class, some of whom have family members that were affected by the first "rampage". Alya eventually turns around on her after she helps save her from Cottontail and makes her a second video with the other heroes, but Rabbit still hasn't quite escaped her "Jack Hammer" reputation.
  • Downplayed in Scion of Sorcery. Stephen Strange and the Mystics of Kamar-Taj are considered "Dark Wizards" and criminals under the Ministry of Magic's definition of such, and thus are feared by Magical Britain. Everywhere else though, Stephen Strange is considered a hero by No-Maj Society and is an ally to Magical Congress.
  • Ruined With You has a variation where Chat Noir's publicity is still fine (partly because he hasn't done anything since he retired after Hawk Moth was captured) but Adrien's modelling career has suffered thanks to his association with his father, now a convictted supervillain, forcing him to leave Paris for two years just to find designers willing to work with him.
  • Freakin Gensokyo features Reimu. She already is one in Touhou canon, but FREAKIN GENSOKYO takes it Up to Eleven: Various people in the Human Village want to kill her, destroy her shrine, take her prisoner or dissect her and use her blood to power up the human race.
  • In Weight of the World Yang is manipulated into attacking Alfred (who she hallucinated as Neo) on live TV, beating him before shooting him in the stomach and painting herself as a murderous, violent monster. In The Depths of Deception, this causes a barkeep and other travelers to fear and mistrust Yang. Last they knew she was sitting in jail awaiting trial, so they believe she is running to Mistral's criminal underground to escape justice. Yang uses her "criminal past" to get into Kuchinashi to look for Neo without raising suspicion.
    • Many people on Remnant hate, fear, or shun Pyrrha because they think she wanted to win the Tournament so badly she purposely killed Penny. Some civilians also blame her for kickstarting the fall of Beacon. It's so bad the passengers on the airship get the crew to kick Pyrrha off, much to RNJR and the nations' disgust. Pyrrha wears a hoodie in an attempt to stop people from recognizing her due to this.
  • A wand for Steven: Given the Ministry's policies on nonhumans and Minister Fudge's bitterness towards Dumbledore, the Daily Prophet is used to slander Steven, questioning if he should even be allowed in Hogwarts in the first place for his half-human physiology.
  • Break it down, Butterfly: Since he has the same powers and butterfly motif as the very supervillain that has been terrorizing Paris all of this time, Vrai Papillon naturally has a hard time getting on everybody's good side, people from the press to Ladybug and Chat Noir are naturally suspicious of him and assume he is just Hawk Moth venturing onto the frontline.
  • Reformed, Returned and Really Trying is a Harry Potter fanfic featuring an old friend of Dumbledore that reacts to news of his death by coming to Britain with a group of volunteers to take down Voldemort. However, they have a horrible reputation that is entirely earned, due them being Gellert Grindelwald trying to atone for his past misdeeds by annihilating Voldemort, the last survivors of his old followers, and a growing number of volunteers that believe Britain will be the first step on taking over the world to spread equality between all magicals (many of the volunteers are indeed Muggleborns). This leads to France and Poland sending their own forces to help the Ministry (that they have no idea has fallen to Voldemort) defeat their ancient enemy before he can amass sufficient power. Grindelwald's troubles in avoiding war crimes don't help his case.
  • In Loved and Lost, an extended retelling of "A Canterlot Wedding", Prince Jewelius usurps Equestria's throne right after the Changeling invasion has been stopped by blaming Princess Celestia, Shining Armor, the Mane Five, and Spike for not listening to Twilight's suspicions regarding the false Cadance. He sentences the Mane Five and Shining Armor to slavery and banishes the princesses and Spike from Equestria, turning the public and Twilight against them. When the fugitives return to Canterlot one week later to redeem themselves and make it up to Twilight, they discover that Jewelius provided Queen Chrysalis the means to infiltrate Canterlot before double-crossing her to become the sole ruler of Equestria. Unfortunately, Twilight and Canterlot's citizens don't believe them when they try to expose this. It requires some serious shortsightedness from the Big Bad's part before the fugitives are able to clear their names. Fortunately, the town of Ponyville does not consider them traitors because Jewelius has made the life there difficult ever since his rise to power.
    • Subverted with Princess Cadance. Jewelius unjustly holds her responsible for allowing Queen Chrysalis to steal her identity and has her banished along with the others. However, it's revealed upon her return to Canterlot that while the other banished heroes have lost the trust and respect of Twilight and everypony in Canterlot, Cadance has not. It is for this reason that Jewelius tries to have her murdered in a way that would make the other fugitives even more scorned on.
    • When Twilight finally realizes how evil Jewelius truly is, she escapes from Canterlot to reconcile with her friends and brother. Jewelius tries to label her as another traitor, but Canterlot's citizens don't believe for one minute that she'd go against Jewelius without good reason. In fact, they not only become more sympathetic to the disgraced heroes, but also more open to the thought of giving them a second chance and letting them return to society so that they can help thwart the renewed Changeling threat for which Jewelius has done nothing about.
  • In Brilliant Lights Will Cease To Burn, "Deku" is incredibly unpopular among pro heroes and the police for showing them up constantly, leading him to be branded a villain who is apparently working with the same yakuza members he helped subdue. But this trope is zig-zagged because Deku is enormously popular among Japan's youth, with some comparing him to All Might and calling him the "pride of our nation". Izuku himself doesn't really care for his reputation and rarely checks what people are saying about him, but he's glad that his message is reaching so many people.
  • In Thieves Can Be Heroes!, Izuku is subject to the fate of the Persona 5 protagonist, being vilified for a crime he didn't commit. Notably, he has it worse than Joker does, as Izuku's reputation only worsens after Kamoshida's confession because the student body accuses him of having a brainwashing Quirk. This is on top of the usual ridicule he gets for being Quirkless.
  • Played straight then subverted in Amazing Fantasy. Peter had it rough starting out as J.J.J. ran his classic smear campaign against Spidey. But after decades of saving the day over and over, people wised up and began supporting Spider-Man wholeheartedly while the Daily Bugle was forced to tone down its blatant bias against him.
  • In Danny Phantom fanfic Resurrected Memories: Ember has this problem following her Heel–Face Turn since Team Phantom still considers her to be an enemy, though this is Played With since Ember’s human identity Amberline is very popular around Casper High. This very nearly costs her everything once Danny learns the truth about “Amberline”.
  • Spots Off turns Marinette into one of these when Alya accidentally leaks Ladybug's identity. Once people learn that Ladybug is nothing more than a teenage middle-schooler, people start to slap her with the "Just a Kid" label, asking whether she is actually fit to protect Paris. It gets to the point where Mayor Bourgeois' more-powerful associates try to blackmail him into labelling Ladybug a vigilante, exposing her to legal consequences. Alya, for her part, takes it very poorly. Part of the fic deals with Marinette and company trying to get past this image.
  • The Story Of Twilight Glow: Twilight has effectively become Nightmare Moon's top advisor, where her goal has been to temper Nightmare Moon's megalomania and ruthlessness. Unfortunately, other ponies believe she willingly betrayed Equestria to gain power.
  • A Rabbit Among Wolves:
    • Jaune accidentally murders Adam at the beginning of the story. That and subsequent mishaps make everyone think he is an evil and ruthless terrorist. Jaune is forced to reform the White Fang to prove to everyone he isn't evil.
    • Team RWBY make themselves into this after their attempted attack on the White Fang goes disastrously wrong. So much so, that Ozpin launches his own PR campaign to bring up Team RWBY's reputation.
  • The Autobots in TFA Kaleidoscope, though in the end this trope gets zig-zagged for them. People tend to be just as quick to throw them under the bus as they are to praise them for any heroic action they may commit. The police, however, have enough tolerance of them to work alongside them when they need help. They even point out that the news and media only focus on the bad aspects of their actions to paint them in a negative light for the sake of sensationalism and that the public is actually more divided on them than outright against them.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Incredibles, all supers have Bad Publicity after they're sued for causing damage while saving lives. The result is that using superpowers becomes illegal and they all have to go into the "Superhero Protection Program." By the end of the movie, this all ends after Mr. Incredible, his family, and Frozone save everyone from the Omnidroid and Syndrome.
    • The sequel dials it up a notch when the Screenslaver starts brainwashing the supers into behaving like jerks and flaunting their superiority over everyone else, to ensure that the resurgence from the first movie doesn't stick.
  • The Lion King (1994): Simba very briefly, when Scar accuses him of being responsible for Mufasa's death, until he forces Scar to admit the truth to the rest of the pride.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: After Zira sets up her ambush, and Simba banishes him, every animal in the Pride Lands tries to attack Kovu to ensure he leaves their home.
  • Shrek is this in the first two movies, because he's an ogre and most people are fully prepared to assume the worst of ogres. Not to forget that Shrek hand-made and put up posters warning people to beware of him because he derives pleasure from humans screaming then running away in fear of him. By Shrek the Third onwards, this has changed, and the public not only accepts him but views him as a local hero and role model. Forever After shows that Shrek misses getting to scare humans which he hasn't been able to do in a long time, leading to his signing a contract for a wish that triggered the plot of the fourth movie.
  • Averted for once in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. None of the seven Spider-Men in the movie seem to have bad publicity in their home universes: in fact, two of them are beloved enough to have merchandising deals. Pause the movie at the right time and you can read The Daily Bugle, of all things, calling Peter B Parker a hero while they're panning his restaurant. Miles Morales is briefly wanted by the police after getting implicated in his uncle's death, but they're back on good terms by the end, with grateful citizens applauding him and clapping him on the back.
  • Zig-zagged in The Powerpuff Girls Movie. Before becoming heroes, their game of tag renders Townsville asunder ("Bug-eyed Girls Destroy Townsville" reads the headline of the Townsville Times). Even when they attempt to do something good, they are seen as pariahs.
  • The Simpsons become this in their theatrical movie as after Homer contaminated Springfield's lake with his pet pig's feces (plus his own) inside a huge silo, the town is sealed in a dome because of President Arnold Schwarzenegger's negligent strategic thinking. The townspeople angrily go after them with Torches and Pitchforks, but they escape just in time and retreat to live in exile in Alaska.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • It's a plot point in The Adjustment Bureau, where the hero unsuccessfully runs for the United States Senate because of a college reunion prank where he exposed his bare backside has been caught on film.
  • Deconstructed in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Ford's killing of Jesse is clearly cowardly but he tried to play it off like it's heroism. Nobody buys it and Ford is widely vilified, and later murdered by a lone gun nut seeking to avenge Jesse's death (who, to twist the knife further, is buried as a hero, while Ford's tombstone reads "the coward who killed Jesse James"). The irony is that Jesse was actually a Villain with Good Publicity- while the public at large thought he was a Lovable Rogue, he was actually a violent, brooding, paranoid lunatic who had recently murdered several members of his gang because he thought they'd betrayed him, including one that he shot from behind, just like what happens to him later. In private Ford confesses that, ultimately, the real reason he killed Jesse was that he seriously believed Jesse was going to kill him, and based on the evidence he was Properly Paranoid. To top it off, James is implied to be a Death Seeker and let Ford kill him to escape a miserable life constantly on the run from the law.
  • The titular hero goes through this during Batman Returns, thanks to the manipulations of the Penguin, the resident Villain with Good Publicity. The mayor hangs a lampshade on this at the end of the movie.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, several protestors, politicians, and such angrily blame Superman for the massive destruction and loss of life from his battles against General Zod and his forces in Man of Steel. Batman also considers Superman a threat to the planet instead of a hero.
  • In Bridge of Spies, attorney James Donovan believes that the American edicts of equality for all and Constitutional justice apply even to a Soviet spy. Since this is taking place during the height of Cold War hysteria, this gets his family targeted.
  • Andy Barclay, The Hero of the Child's Play series, gets kicked out of multiple foster homes and eventually ends up in a military school because he is believed to be insane due to his claims that his doll is alive and a serial killer. Not only that, some people even insinuate that he is responsible for the murders.
  • In The Dark Knight Trilogy, this seems to be one of the most direct results of the Joker's efforts. Batman deliberately takes this on himself at the end of The Dark Knight when he convinces Gordon to blame him for the murders committed by Dent. This is part of Batman's Zero-Approval Gambit to get criminals to fear him again, and more importantly, protect Harvey Dent's reputation and legacy.
  • The Desperado series of TV movies follow Duell McCall, an innocent man framed for one murder who travels from place to place, upholds justice, defeats evil men and inevitably gets blamed for everything that happens in the film so his bounty just keeps getting bigger.
  • In Die Hard, John McClane tries to alert the hostages that they're standing on the roof which is rigged with explosives and tries to get them to run back downstairs so that the police can reach them. He opens fire to scare them into running down when they can't hear his verbal orders, making an FBI helicopter mistake him for a terrorist and start firing at him. McClane remarks, "I'M ON YOUR SIDE, YOU ASSHOLES!"
  • Vlad Dracula in Dracula Untold, according to his son.
    "My father was a great man. A hero, so they say. Sometimes the world does not need another hero. Sometimes what it needs... is a monster."
  • The Ghostbusters, who are largely thought to be charlatans while they are saving the city. Ghostbusters II shows that many people continue to doubt their legitimacy even after the climax of the first film.
  • Godzilla: A recurring theme when Godzilla and/or other Kaiju seve an Anti-Hero role:
  • The premise of The Green Hornet is this. He posed himself as a villain, but his deeds are actually heroic. Look at the Comic Book example above. In The Green Hornet Serials, the Hornet framed himself for murder (of a gangster) on his first outing.
  • Hancock starts off with this and the PR agent who volunteers to try to improve his image.
  • Independence Day: Before the alien war, President Whitmore took a lot of crap from others who either hated his policies or felt that he was too young to run a country. Much of what happens on the news prior to the attack is pretty much everyone badmouthing him.
  • I Shot Jesse James examines Robert Ford's typical depiction. While he did shoot Jesse In the Back for selfish reasons, Jesse was a vicious outlaw that just killed three men and was planning another robbery. In this film, Ford's vilification and Jesse's romanticization is portrayed as a result of hypocritical Western society, and portrays Ford as a Jerkass Woobie that can't escape his reputation and the guilt of killing Jesse.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Elves view Isildur with this level of disappointment after he refused to destroy the Ring, instead keeping it for himself.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • As shown in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers are generally seen as heroes, but some nations are distrustful of them, seeing them as tools of American cultural imperialism. More specifically, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch don't believe Iron Man is genuinely working to atone for his arms dealer past, as they lost their parents to one of his weapons.
    • While the Avengers are considered heroes to the public, there are some who look at them the other way; going as far to blame them for some of the tragedies they tried to prevent. It eventually reaches a boiling point in Captain America: Civil War where the Avengers are forced to sign the Sokovia Accords after causing more deaths in Lagos.
    • A variation in Spider-Man: Homecoming: unlike most portrayals of Spider-Man, this take on Peter Parker doesn't really have a reputation. When he swings around the city, people react more with a confused curiosity than anything else. Over the course of the movie, he becomes A Hero to His Hometown and takes pride in being a "friendly neighborhood Spider-Man" instead of a major superhero like the Avengers.
    • In Avengers: Endgame, Ant-Man's complete lack of name recognition is one of many jokes at Scott Lang's expense.
    • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Mysterio retaliates against Spider-Man defeating him by sending out a doctored video of their final fight, with the intent of changing Peter Parker into one of these. How the public as a whole reacts to this remains to be seen, but J. Jonah Jameson of believes it and eagerly begins an anti-Spider-Man campaign.
  • Godzilla in the MonsterVerse is feared by humans for his huge size and potential for destruction, and as because the humans don't know much to tell him apart from other monsters who actually are malicious and invasive in nature such as the MUTOs, Rodan or King Ghidorah.
    • In his 2014 American movie arrives in San Francisco to battle the MUTOs. He carefully tries to pass through the Golden Gate Bridge without causing any human casualties, but all the humans see is a giant monster that could crush them like ants. When Godzilla's spikes move the boats, the U.S. Navy fire upon him even though Godzilla is clearly not attacking them, causing Godzilla to lose his balance and crash through the bridge splitting it into two pieces.
    • In the 2019 sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019):
      • Although Godzilla has saved humanity from the MUTOs five years ago and is working to rid the world of Ghidorah, he is still deemed a threat by the United States. Even Mark Russell, the human protagonist, wants Godzilla dead because his son was collateral damage during Godzilla's fight in San Francisco. Only Serizawa and Monarch appear to be on Godzilla's side. Thankfully by the end of the movie this seems to be going away, as multiple newspapers report about how Godzilla is keeping other Titans away from cities once the Titans accept Godzilla as their king.
      • Also at the start of the film, the majority of the public are blaming Monarch for the San Francisco incident, and the organization are consequently on trial by the government. It's implied the backlash is further influenced by Monarch's refusal to reveal what they know about the Titans or how many more there are; but more than that, the government and most of the public just want to try killing all the Titans indiscriminately, and don't care for Monarch's arguments that that isn't a good idea.
  • Mystery Inc. in Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed after some vicious slander from a reporter.
  • Ballard gradually transforms into this over the course of Silver Lode. The townspeople initially side with Ballard as they know and trust him, being skeptical or outright distrustful of outsider McCarty and his accusations. As further events and details seemingly corroborate McCarty's account however, they turn on Ballard. By the end, only his ex Dolly and his fiancée Rose remain on his side.
  • Much like the source material, the Spider-Man Trilogy features the titular hero facing a lot of flack mostly because of a smear campaign led by J. Jonah Jameson. Though by the second film the general public begins to accept him more as a hero.
  • The Autobots in the Transformers Film Series, both in the Bay-verse's first, fourth and fifth movies and the different continuity Travis Knight-verse.
    • In the Bay-verse, almost as immediately as the first movie begins the Decepticons kill a bunch of humans and when the Autobots arrive to prevent further human casualties, the humans assume that the Autobots are also hostile and capture Bumblebee, tormenting the poor bot until Sam Witwicky convinces the humans to start trusting the Autobots because they will protect humanity.
    • Autobot and human relations stay cordial for the second and third movies although strained thanks to the Obstructive Bureaucrat du jour being a jackass (Galloway in ROTF, Mearing in DOTM) but then for the next two sequels the humans pull a massive Jerkass Ball and outright declare war on the Autobots.
    • In the Knight-verse, Decepticons Shatter and Dropkick deceive the humans into believing that their target Bumblebee is a dangerous fugitive on the lam who must be brought to justice.
  • Van Helsing: The title character is stated early on to be the most wanted man in Europe, due to his Destructive Saviour tendencies and the fact that many of the creatures he takes out revert to human upon death.
  • Dark Waters: The Tennant family get treated like dirt in town for years for suing the towns biggest employer. Then the Krieger’s and many others get blamed due to the long delays that follow the blood testing before they can go to trial.

  • In The Lord of the Rings and others of Tolkien's writings, Galadriel — the Lady of the Golden Wood — has a bad reputation with the Riders of Rohan, as well as Gondorians. So does Fangorn Forest.
    • Gandalf isn't well thought of in places, either. Some of this is the Enemy manipulating rulers against him, but part of it is that he only shows up when things are about to get really bad (which is why one of his nicknames is Stormcrow).
  • The Zombie Knight 's main character, Hector, has this problem. It started when his enemy attacked him with controlled versions of his classmates, and the property damage from later servant battles cemented this reputation. At least until he got a royal pardon, anyway.
  • Mo Dao Zu Shi: Wei Wuxian, the novel's protagonist, got murdered by his former allies, including his adopted brother, due to his false reputation as an Evil Overlord. This arose partly from his invention and use of demonic cultivation, partly from his perceived arrogance, and partly from his involvement in the death of his adopted brother-in-law and the bloodbath at the Nightless City. However, by the end of the story, he's managed to clear his name to an extent, and the younger generation of cultivators view him in a much more positive light than their parents.
  • In Dragon Bones, the protagonist, Ward, and his companions suffer from this. Ward's reputation was that he's stupid when he was Obfuscating Stupidity. Then, in an attempt to make himself harder to discard by becoming a hero, he traveled to a neighbouring country where people from his country are universally disliked. Solving the bandit problem there got them some good publicity, but before that, they were close to starving, as no one would give them food. This trope is also played straight by Garranon, who is known to be the sex toy of the evil king. Turns out this arrangement is not entirely voluntary on his side, and he tries to use it to protect his family. He tries to join the revolution, but can't convince them that he's trustworthy.
  • The Destroyermen series gives us O’Casey, a large, reticent one-armed man with a strange accent who joined the stranded submariners of USS S-19 on Talaud Island, along with a little girl he protects named Becky. O’Casey seems reasonably content to cooperate with the US Navy once rescued, but immediately gets out of sight when warships from the Empire of the New British Isles show up. O’Casey’s real name is Sean Bates, he was a childhood friend of Governor-Emperor McDonald and is wanted for treason. Bates tried to lead a rebellion against the Honorable New Britain Company, which was subverting the Imperial government ( and secretly collaborating with the Holy Dominion, who are about to invade the Empire), but it failed, the Company spun it into an attempt on the Governor-Emperor’s life, and Bates was forced to flee into exile under an assumed name. Meanwhile, the Governor-Emperor, suspicious of the Company’s machinations and fearing for the safety of his young daughter Rebecca, sent the Princess away from the Isles for her own safety. By coincidence, she was booked incognito aboard the same ship as Bates, who rescued her at the cost of his left hand when the ship was sunk by a leviathan/mountain fish. It takes several books and help from his American allies for Bates to restore his reputation.
  • By the end of the second book in the Warchild Series, Captain Azarcon and his men have acquired this reputation.
  • Harry Potter, despite being The Chosen One, gets this treatment frequently throughout the series, mostly being portrayed as an Attention Whore:
    • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets he is suspected of being the Heir of Slytherin due to always being seen with the victims shortly before it happened and being able to communicate with snakes.
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire he is accused of tricking the eponymous goblet into allowing him to participate in the Inevitable Tournament.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Daily Prophet convinces the populace that he's a psychotic attention-seeker who is pretending that Voldemort has returned to get himself more Woobieness. They also on the same track smear Dumbledore who supports Harry's claims, which gets him fired from several political positions and branded as senile and dangerous. However, when Voldemort is seen at the Ministry of Magic, the Prophet not only reverses its position but also gilds Harry's reputation as a fearlessly determined Cassandra warning the Wizardry community of the threat. Not to mention leaving out their role in smearing him.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Daily Prophet, having fallen under Death Eater control, accuses him of murdering Dumbledore and the anti-Voldemort resistance movement starts to lose faith in Harry because of his sudden disappearance, secretly criticizing him for being a Chosen One Who Doesn't Do Anything. Of course he wasn't doing nothing, and in the end all is forgiven.
    • This trope could also apply to Severus Snape. No matter how many times he has demonstrably saved Harry's life, or failed to cause him any harm besides a few detentions and sarcastic remarks when he had plenty of opportunities, Harry continued to hate his guts until the very end. Also, everyone believes him a traitor after book six because he killed Dumbledore (done at Dumbledore's request, but only Snape and Dumbledore knew this). Especially given that Snape had been a Death Eater before (of his own free will,) it was an entirely reasonable conclusion to come to. The fact that Snape was always a Jerkass to Harry doesn't help his case. He was also a Deadpan Snarker to everyone, as well, except for his chosen Teacher's Pet students. Heck, even them at times. Harry finally gets this when he views Snape's life story and forgives him for his flaws. Not only did he get his second son's middle name from Snape, he even campaigned to have Snape recognised as a legitimate Headmaster and hero of the Wizarding World.
    • Sirius Black also qualifies; nearly everyone in the wizarding community believes he is a murderous psychopath until after his death.
  • The demigod children who form the focus of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series are usually branded as troublemakers because their heritage causes ADD and dyslexia, but it's even worse for the main character. Percy seems to start every schoolyear by getting into a fight with monsters sent by the Big Bad, destroying them, and then being blamed for all the damage because the Mist obscures the eyes of mortals who witness the event. Even worse, exactly how mortals see through the mist is determined by what the gods think of Percy at the time. And since he has a habit of pissing off gods or getting framed for things, they don't see any reason to make his life easier.
  • The Deryni in the novels by Katherine Kurtz suffer for this generally, and Camber of Culdi and Alaric Morgan most particularly.
    • Some Deryni are evil, and a family of them conquered Gwynedd and ruled tyrannically for eight decades. Unfortunately, in the backlash all the Deryni were condemned as evil. Fear, ignorance and imagination soon make them seem nigh on demonically powerful and diabolically clever.
    • Camber of Culdi found the heir of the previous ruling family, engineered his restoration to the throne (and the toppling of the evil Deryni ruler), and for what? Sure, he gets sainthood but quickly loses it. He and many members of his family are outlawed and die untimely deaths, his estates are forfeited, even his family's tombs are destroyed.
    • Alaric Morgan had bad publicity from birth. He chooses to make use of this, cultivating his dangerous reputation as a means of protecting himself; he often wears black and he is open about the fact that he is Deryni, even if he doesn't perform magic openly. Despite this, he serves two kings loyally and effectively, often risking his life in the process. While he reaps many rewards, his reputation precedes him.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe.
    • Arguably, the entire New Jedi Order.
      • In their initial invasion, the Yuuzhan Vong vanguard quickly learned that the Jedi were (for various reasons) the only force that was both willing and able to oppose them. So their agents set about slandering the Jedi name, implying that the entire invasion was due to some (wholly invented) insult the Jedi had offered the Vong, offering planets amnesty if they took Jedi prisoners and turned them over, etc. Some of it stuck; at the height of their unpopularity, a third of the Senate was willing to vote to basically hand the Jedi over to the Vong, their paramilitary activities were curtailed, and Luke Skywalker was even put under (house) arrest. Although certain political and military leaders (such as General Antilles, General bel Iblis, Talon Karrde, and even Borsk Fey'lya in his way) offered them secret support, the tide of public opinion didn't begin to turn until, ironically, the war hit its lowest point. A series of high-profile victories at Talfaglio, Borleias, and Ebaq Nine, made possible by Jedi support and tactics, finally redeemed their image in the eyes of the public. Still, a certain amount of Jurisdiction Friction continued until (and even beyond) the end of the war.
    • Once again the case in the Fate of the Jedi series. Given Natasi Daala is the incumbent Chief of State for the Galactic Alliance and a major antagonist of the Order (and Force users in general) this is not that surprising. Subverted in that while the leader of the Galactic Alliance blames Jacen Solo's Face–Heel Turn and subsequent reign of terror on Luke Skywalker failing to prevent it and pushes him into a self-imposed exile from the Jedi Order, the Jedi wish him well in his quest for the truth, and his son Ben agrees to help with his father's investigation of the facts. As well as, at his trial, a crowd of Muggle supporters that reminds the reader that no, the entire GA is not against the Jedi, and yes, despite said leader's smear campaign, people in-story still realize that Luke is one of the biggest heroes and forces for good in the GFFA.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden might just rival Peter Parker for the hate that gets directed at him in-universe. To the "straights" he's at best a quirky man who knows way too much and thus is pretty damned creepy, and at worst they see him as a delusional charlatan who may be conning Chicago PD out of good money. Chicago, Internal Affairs rabidly hates him and tried to jail him, while working to undermine him and everyone connected to him repeatedly. The FBI also doesn't like him considering that once four FBI agents investigating him vanished, and their records suspects him of kidnapping, murder, at least two cases of arson, and he was recently accused of blowing up an office building. To the White Council he is considered a loose cannon who may or may not be a devious, dangerous schemer using Black Magic, and it doesn't help that he caused a war with the Red Court of vampires. His ostensible allies don't trust him, and the only people he's got on his side are a gaggle of werewolves, the Knights, a few members of the Chicago PD's Special Investigations unit, his half-brother, his teenage apprentice, a Foo dog, and a smattering of allies in the Faerie Courts and the White Council. And knowing Harry, being homeless and dead for about a year is going to cause even more problems.
  • Patrick McLanahan and his team(s) from Dale Brown's books are disliked at best, outright hated at worst by those in the American government who know of their existence. Jason Richter and Task Force TALON get a similar treatment.
  • In Something M.Y.T.H. Inc., we see how Skeeve's well-meant efforts to reform the kingdom of Possiltom in Sweet Myth-tery of Life are mistaken for the actions of a stereotypical "evil wizard" or Dark Lord by the kingdom's more impressionable citizens.
  • Caleb Williams is this in his own home after his employer accuses him of theft. His infamy spreads nationwide after he escapes from prison and his employer's half-brother offers 100 guineas for Caleb's capture.
  • In the Knight and Rogue Series Michael develops a tendency to be the prime suspect of the crime he's trying to solve due to being tattooed as an unredeemable criminal, thanks to a spectacular failure on the law's part.
  • Pei Shan-wei of Safehold tried to stop her fellow colony directors from giving in to their A God Am I delusions and forever turning the planet into a Medieval Stasis when the objective is to build back up to full technology. Her Anti-Mutiny is rewarded by her being murdered, along with all her friends and associates, and labeled the Church of God Awaiting's Satan.
  • It also happened to Sherlock Holmes in the Anthony Horowitz story The House of Silk.
  • Victor Steiner-Davion in the BattleTech expanded universe suffers from this. Of all the House Lords of his generation he's possibly the closest to a "good guy" you can get, he earnestly believes in his ideals and considers making compromises for reasons of statesmanship a necessary evil at best — but between the shadow cast by his father, the obligatory smear campaigns of his enemies, and at times simply rubbing people the wrong way in person, he still has the hardest time catching a break as far as public opinion is concerned. (That his sister Katherine takes advantage of every chance to nudge the media into reporting things her way doesn't exactly help, either.) Which of course ends up contributing straight to the eventual breakup of the Federated Commonwealth and later civil war...
  • Villains Inc. (sequel to Wearing the Cape) finds Astra going through a bit of this. Sure she helped save the President of the United States and took down a big bad super-terrorist, but she's also accused in the sensational media of being underage and having an affair with a much-older Atlas (her mentor and the setting's version of Superman). Add to this that she publicly opposes superhuman registration—a popular cause after a supervillain-triggered earthquake leveled southern California—and she's not the media-darling that she was.
  • Mesa's gambit in the Honor Harrington book Shadow of Freedom is to invoke this on the Star Empire of Manticore by going to several planets under the thumb of the Solarian League's Office of Frontier Security, offering resistance movements aid in Manticore's name, and letting it appear that Manticore left them in the lurch when the movements are either stopped or take major action thinking Manticore has their backs. It fails, because someone does actually get word to Manticore — and it's not like the Royal Manticoran Navy doesn't practically fetishise initiative, or anything. Besides, the Manties, when they find out about it, realize that by going along, they are helping their own cause, and hurting Mesa's.
  • A post-humous example with Xavier Harkonnen in the Dune prequels, who finds out that Grand Patriarch Iblis Ginjo is secretly endorsing the Tlulaxa organ farms' secret practice of abducting Zensunnis and using them as unwilling organ donors. Realizing that Ginjo will have him quietly "removed", Harkonnen decides to out with a bang by flying the ship carrying him and the Patriarch into Tlulax's sun. Prior to that, he sends a message to his friend Vorian Attreides, letting him know the truth. However, Ginjo's wife and Number Two canonize the Patriarch and vilify the "traitor" Harkonnen, causing his entire family to change their name in order to distance themselves from the shame. Vorian eventually reveals the truth to Xavier's grandson Abulurd Butler, who changes his name to Abulurd Harkonnen shortly after that and becomes the founder of the House Harkonnen we know and "love".
  • Ender's Game: Ender Wiggin manages to do this to himself quite by accident. At first, he's a great hero who saved Earth from the evil Buggers. However, after writing The Hive Queen under an assumed name, he gets people to sympathize with the Buggers; he found and communicated with a cocooned infant queen who reveals that they simply didn't understand that humans were sentient and intended to leave them alone once they realized it, but by then humanity was determined to wipe out the Buggers to protect themselves. A side effect is that thousands of years later, Ender is reviled as the monster who killed the Buggers. Never mind that the entire human race was onboard with doing so, it wasn't unreasonable based on what they knew, and Ender himself was partially tricked into doing it.
  • Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire is assumed by the commoners to be evil simply because he's a dwarf. Even after he defended King's Landing from a siege that would have killed everyone inside it and let Stannis take the Iron Throne, he's condemned by pretty much everyone because of his dwarfism after he's framed for poisoning the King. His stint as Hand of the King was rife with this, as the smallfolk blamed him for the antics of Joffrey and Cersei, perceiving him as a depraved Evil Chancellor when in actuality he was the only one trying to reign the king's madness in.
    • Tyrion's older brother Jaime is an unusual example. While he is a definite scumbag for the first two books, when we finally see his P.O.V. in the third book, we find out that the act that he is most widely hated for was done with the most noble of intentions in mind and saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The fact that he did get such bad publicity over it is part of what made him the amoral man he started the series as.
    • King Stannis Baratheon has a terrible reputation among most in Westeros, roughly on par with Tyrion's. Despite being the rightful King by law, he is perceived as a scary usurper uncle by the masses, a belief aided by slander and lies spread about him by the Small Council of King's Landing. His intimidating image is further compacted by his willingness to ally himself with a sorceress preaching the unpopular religion of R'hllor. A bad public image that his rough, coarse, blunt personality does few favors to help. However, among those followers closest to him and to us the reader we see that Stannis, despite all his personal flaws, is in GRRM's own words a righteous man. The only monarch actively living up to his Protector Of The Realm title. Riding North to save it and the Night's Watch from a horde of Wildlings, while the Iron Throne neglected their duties. Furthermore, Stannis is actively leading the war to liberate the North from the Boltons, as well as against The Others. He is the only monarch who knows they exist and is preparing to defend the realm against them.
  • King Trent in the Xanth series. When he was known as "Evil Magician Trent," he states outright he's only "evil" because he opposed the ruling Storm King - whom no one would deny was far closer to the ideal of "evil" than Trent ever was. When the Storm King dies and Trent is the only one willing and eligible to take the throne, the "evil" part of his name is quickly forgotten.
  • In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, Cloak's plots get the heroes labelled as imposters working for the Cloak Society.
  • Rose Marshal, the heroine of Sparrow Hill Road, is a hitchhiking ghost straight out of urban legend, which is spooky enough, but it's her tendency to act as a voluntary Psychopomp for people fated to die on the road that's given her the undeserved reputation as a harbinger of death or even a rapacious reaper of the unwary, rising to the level of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished when she's targeted for revenge over a death she attended but did not cause.
  • Surprisingly, in Companions Codex Drizzt Do'Urden is barred entrance from Bryn Shander, because twenty years ago, while he was undergoing a Big Sleep, the Balor Errtu attacked the town in search of Drizzt. Bryn Shander blames Drizzt for the catastrophe and tells him he's no longer welcome. All that after he spent the better part of a century trying and succeeding in endearing the people on the surface to him.
  • The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs has an interesting example in its protagonist, Leon. Leon actively courts hatred out of pettiness and spite. After having originally planned a Zero-Approval Gambit to get expelled and demoted to avoid his responsibilities as a noble, by defeating and berating the five most powerful noble heirs in the academy fails, and having bet a bunch of money on himself who seemed unlikely to win, about seventy percent of the Academy nobles hate him. Thus begins a Cycle of Revenge where the students insult and assault Leon and his property, and he does the same back, since he enjoys the pain of people who hate him.
  • Worm has just about everything on the spectrum. To name a few:
    • Bastion got some bad press for calling a fan a spic.
    • The protagonist, Taylor, after she takes on the hero identity Weaver and joins the Protectorate. Understandable, considering that as Skitter, she led a group of teenage supervillains in conquering a city, humiliating the heroes at every turn.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. as an organization has to deal with this from midway through season 1 all the way to the beginning of season 4. Following the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, no one trusts them anymore. Of course, the fact that they were infiltrated by HYDRA from their very inception is a very good reason not to trust them, but the fact remains that Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. really was trustworthy.
    • At the beginning of season 4, Daisy, AKA Quake, is this. Due to her vigilante actions against the Watchdogs and their allies, the public only knows her as a dangerous bank robber and terrorist. It doesn't help that her powers are overly destructive; she took out a bridge while capturing some fleeing Watchdogs. No one else was hurt, but that's still the kind of thing that freaks people out.
    • In the same season, Robbie Reyes, AKA Ghost Rider. Since he supernaturally knows who deserves to die, he never bothers producing any proof that any of them have done anything wrong. While this is fine for common criminals, Daisy mentions a cop and a teacher — a Dirty Cop and pedophile, respectively — who did nothing wrong as far as the public knows. Even when told why they were killed, Daisy still takes issue with just outright murdering them.
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead: Ash gets hit with this from the first season episode "Bait" onwards, becoming wanted by the police for the chaos caused by the Deadites. As revealed in the season two premiere of the show, he's also one to his entire hometown of Elk Grove, who believe him to be a deranged lunatic who killed his friends during their weekend at the cabin.
  • In Black Lightning, the titular superhero is frequently called a vigilante by the media and the police, who claim that he's only making the gang violence in Freeland worse. However, most of the African-American community sees Black Lightning as a symbol. Then Tobias sends his people to kill his boss Lady Eve and frame Black Lightning. The result? Even the regular folks are now against him. Jefferson rightly refuses to go out as Black Lightning until his name is cleared, as he figures that the cops will probably shoot him on sight.
  • In the season 4 finale of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jake and Rosa, two heroic (if occasionally irresponsible) cops, get framed for bank robbery.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The main character is feared and/or disliked by much of the teaching staff at Sunnydale High School. Initially, it was because they'd heard rumors about how she burned down the gym at her old high school, but later she's the focus of a smear campaign directed by her principal. However, in the prom episode, the entire student body reveals that they knew that she had been protecting them all along and gave her a "Class Protector Award" in gratitude.
      • Even Joyce assumes Buffy is a juvenile delinquent, when she's actually trying to do the right thing.
      • Even more pronounced in the Season Eight comics, where the Slayers are, suffice it to say, controversially heroic, in large part due to there being Vampires With Good Publicity. They've even been labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. government, due in part to the fact that Sunnydale was wiped off the map prior to this. Yeah, the whole purpose of the place was to serve as a buffet for demons and vampires, but few non-residents know that. It's not even entirely unjustified; Buffy's brilliant idea for funding her worldwide Slayer operation was to rob a Swiss bank with the aid of magic and Slayer powers; her justification was that it was insured. Meanwhile, the vampires are all a Villain with Good Publicity.
        Willow: "Sweet girl. Not that bright."
      • As of the Season Nine comics, Buffy is pretty much universally despised by the magical community, including the Slayers who used to respect her, for destroying the source of Earth's magic. As for Angel, it's been stated that his image and reputation among them is even worse than Buffy's, due in part to the various atrocities he committed as Twilight.
    • The Scooby Gang as a whole is this as of Season 8. Many people believe them to be a speciesist group preying on vampires.
  • The Defenders (2017):
    • Daredevil:
      • In season 1, Wilson Fisk uses his control over the media to pin several bombings (his doing to eliminate the Russians) and the shooting of Detective Blake and several other cops (also his doing with snipers and crooked cops on his payroll) on Matt Murdock's masked vigilante persona.
      • In season 2, Frank Castle is a case of this, without an opponent trying to smear him in the public eye.
      • In season 3 Fisk actually pays Poindexter/Bullseye to wear Daredevil's costume while murdering people, in an effort to make Daredevil a scapegoat for the city.
    • Luke Cage (2016): Played with.
      • After Luke survives Cottonmouth blowing up his building with a bazooka, Cottonmouth needs to recuperate his losses, as he's lost 80% of his cash reserves due to Luke attacking his stash houses. He decides to double down, recuperating his money while also trying to drive Luke out of Harlem by having his gang shake down and extort local businesses in the name of a "Luke Cage stupidity tax". The move backfires as the business owners go to Luke, who willingly recovers their money and possessions. Shades is savvy enough to realize that this move will backfire even before Cottonmouth implements.
      • Mariah, Shades, and Diamondback all work to smear Luke in the public eye, first by framing him for Cottonmouth's murder, and then by exploiting Fantastic Racism and basic otherism, as he's not a Harlem native. For several episodes, it seems like it's working, as the police are doing everything in their power to find him (including militarizing to a disturbing extent), and hundreds of people show up for an anti-Luke Cage rally. However, later episodes show that the majority of the people in Harlem, especially those who know Luke personally, don't believe a word of it. One cop lets Luke escape when he's cornered, and when Luke inadvertently rescues Method Man from an armed robbery while he's running from the police, the owner of the store starts selling hoodies that look like Luke's bullet-ridden one. Many people in Harlem start wearing them to show solidarity with Luke, which makes it impossible for the police to find him.
    • Iron Fist (2017): In the last episode, Danny gets framed for drug smuggling and embezzling by Harold Meachum and becomes public enemy number one. It really doesn't help that Danny attacked a DEA SWAT team sent to arrest him (in his defense, he thought they were Hand soldiers). Thankfully, once Danny, Ward, and Colleen recover the laptop full of evidence used to frame him, they are able to turn it over to the police, who quickly realize it was doctored. It's noted that even with the main charges dropped, Danny should be in trouble for assaulting the DEA agents and resisting arrest... but Jeri arranges for a big donation to be made to their widows and orphans fund, so they dropped those charges as well.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Unfortunately, that Omega business was covered up, so in "The Deadly Assassin", the Doctor is known only as a disgraced exile apparently linked to a despised 'dirty tricks' agency.
    • After Martha's departure to travel with the Doctor, her mother is warned that the Doctor is dangerous by the mysterious "Mr. Saxon" (later revealed to be the Doctor's fellow Time Lord and old nemesis, the Master). In the season finale, Saxon has the Doctor, Martha and Jack Harkness declared public enemies number one-through-three.
    • A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies, and what is it? The Doctor. Who, at the time of discovering this, is about to save the entire universe for at least the fourth time.
    • In "The Witchfinders", the Doctor's efforts to expose the evil in Bilehurst Cragg get her accused of witchcraft herself and sentenced to the ducking stool.
  • In one episode of The Flash (2014), Barry ends up being affected by the week's meta-human and ends up attacking his romantic rival Eddie as the Flash. After he's "cured", he tries to explain himself to Iris (again, as the Flash, since she doesn't know that he's Barry yet), but she wants to hear none of that. She quickly forgives him in subsequent episodes, however.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Quite a number of people consider themselves to be this, notably Jaime, Tyrion, and Stannis.
      • This is shown to be at least partially true with Jaime in Season 3, when he reveals that he assassinated Aerys Targaryen to prevent him burning King's Landing to the ground.
      • Tyrion is dismayed when he discovers that the people blame him for Joffrey and Cersei's actions, which he actually tried to stop, mostly because he is a dwarf. Not only that, he is also framed for Joffrey's death, and submitted to a Kangaroo Court where all his achievements are discredited and his personal lifestyle mocked at which points he publicly expresses contempt for his unjust reputation, deciding that he no longer cares about his reputation or trying to be a "hero" to gain the acceptance of a pack of ingrates. When he's eventually released by his brother, he decides to murder his father out of vengeance, righteous anger and hatred, permanently tarnishing his reputation in the eyes of Westeros.
      • As far as the War of the Five Kings goes, Stannis is the one in the right, since Joffrey being a bastard makes him Robert's rightful heir as his eldest brother. He's also the only one to come to the aid of the Night's Watch when they put a call out to all of Westeros. Despite this, his cold and stern personality, combined with the concern over his worship of the Lord of Light, means very few respect him and fewer love him.
    • Daenerys is the Breaker of Chains and liberator of Slaver's Bay, but helping the oppressed is no mark on the resume to winning over the feudal nobility who after all were restrained and pacified by her ancestors with the help of dragonfire, and who likely fear her precisely for that reason alone. Incidentally, Dany is impressed by Jon Snow, who also had this reputation, precisely because he's also extending an olive branch to a despised minority and helping to integrate them into society.
    • The Starks' reputation has suffered over the years but this is mostly averted by Season 6. "The Door" reveals that Ned Stark is remembered (or at least lampooned) as a boorish yokel who was executed for greedily trying to steal the throne rather than a noble martyr. King Robb and Talisa's love affair is blamed for the loss of the war. Jon is seen as a Night's Watch deserter who betrayed his oath as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch by letting Wildlings into the realm, who Northerners believe will rampage their lands. This causes House Umber to pledge their allegiance to the Boltons, whom they despise very openly, to defend themselves. The Umbers are the ones who give Jon's little brother Rickon to Ramsay as hostage. Sansa is seen as a glorified Southerner owing to her time in King's Landing and marriage to Tyrion and few powerful northern families support Jon or Sansa because neither of them are legally Starks.
    • Talisa to an extent. She is a kind and intelligent woman, a skilled medic and a loving wife to Robb, but she's generally seen and remembered by people as a "foreign whore" who seduced their king and lost them the war. Although Robb and Talisa's marriage was a pretty terrible idea in hindsight and definitely contributed to Robb's downfall, Talisa is viewed with a lot more vitriol than she deserves.
    • Thanks to the actions of his brother and mother, Tommen is forced to deal with hatred and insults despite having done nothing wrong personally.
    • In the eyes of Grand Maester Pycelle, Egg was another madman who got himself killed while trying to hatch dragon eggs, ignorant or indifferent to any deeper intentions he might have had.
    • While in his own words he isn't even close to a hero, Varys is one of the least malevolent members of the Small Council, and yet not a soul seems to trust or appreciate his job because of the widespread eunuch prejudice and the fact he's The Spymaster (considered "dishonorable" in the honor-obsessed society of Westeros).
  • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, a crossover Super Sentai season, the Gokaigers don't exactly get along with some of their predecessors right off the bat. Their demeanor doesn't help much.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Decade has Narutaki, who calls himself a "prophet" and ally of all Kamen Riders, who travels around spreads rumors across The Multiverse that Decade is the Destroyer of Worlds and will wipe them all out unless one of the heroic Riders can stop him. To be fair, he's not exactly wrong — he just omits the part that Decade destroying the multiverse is ultimately a good thing, since it'll come back stronger than before. But then, half the time Narutaki seems to be a past Kamen Rider villain in disguise who just wants his strongest enemy out of the way.
    • Kamen Rider Build: For the early episodes, the government of Touto has labeled Build a dangerous criminal who helped a convicted murderer escape from custody. The truth is far more complexnote , but Sento Kiryu (Build) doesn't really care since he believes in doing the right thing regardless, and his actions of saving people from Monsters of the Week speak louder than the government's words. In the second story arc, the neighboring nation Hokuto declares war on Touto, and the government convinces Sento (and Banjo, now a Kamen Rider himself) to fight for the country, reversing their earlier propaganda and telling the people that the Riders are heroes. This carries all the way through to the end of the series, where the protagonists get a Heroic Second Wind from hearing the people of Touto cheering for them.
  • Not superheroes, but Kenan & Kel becomes this in "Foul Bull", due to Ron Harper's injury being blamed on them.
  • The 2008 Knight Rider features this in a few of its latter episodes, as Knight Industries and FLAG have been deemed a failure by most officials over the KARR incident, and are understandably unwilling to trust the four remaining members and their car.
  • Merlin: Merlin would probably out a lot more villains if he didn't spend so much time convincing everyone he's a moron. And on a lesser note, it's mentioned several times that while he's saved the kingdom, Arthur, and everyone on the show at least once, the fact that he's magical would probably get him executed anyway due to all the magicians that attack Camelot.
  • Skylar Storm from Mighty Med is hit with this for siding with the Annihilator, which only happened because he corrupted her powers prior to claiming them. Aside Kaz and Oliver in which they're easily forgiving towards her when she's back to fight for the side of good after her powers were removed again, none of the superheroes in the titular hospital were welcoming towards her. If that wasn't enough, Alan is fine with it and tries to keep it that way, considering his reputation. At least it doesn't last long, thanks to the superheroes having witnessed him destroying the gifts that Skylar is planning to give them to make up for the things she did while under the Annihilator's influence.
  • Surprisingly averted in Power Rangers. The population still trust and love the Rangers, despite the regular rampage of hijacked Zords and the general levels of property damage involved when you're engaging in Humongous Mecha battles every week. Impersonators and other such smear campaign plots by villains don't ever get the public turned against the heroes for more than that one episode.
  • In the BBC Sherlock second-series-ender "The Reichenbach Fall", this is one of Moriarty's objectives for the titular sleuth. For as-yet-unknown reasons, Sherlock himself seems to go along with it right at the very end, after having resisted throughout the episode. (It doesn't help that he's known for a brusque and cold demeanor.)
  • In the first two seasons of Star Trek: Voyager, our heroes have this problem because the Kazon have been badmouthing Voyager to prevent them gaining allies as they trek through the Delta Quadrant. In later seasons however, their reputation has improved enough for some con artists to make a profitable business out of pretending to be the Voyager crew. Which, of course, gives them lots more bad publicity.
  • In Supergirl, Kara ends up turning into a bitch under the influence of red kryptonite, turning the city against her. She laments a single bad act turning many good acts moot. In the crossover episode with The Flash, Barry tells her of the above-mentioned situation and explains that the only cure is time. Luckily, the real "cure" turns out to be Supergirl willing to publicly perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save the people (in a twist, it's the regular folks who end up saving the day, if one can call firefighters "regular"). It's also pointed out in the episode that Kara's boss Cat hasn't written off Supergirl like the rest of the city.
    • She ended up having this again in season 4, thanks to Red Daughter, who has her appearance.
  • Sam and Dean Winchester on Supernatural they've repeatedly made the FBI's most wanted list and when that was fixed by a heroic sacrifice on the part of Agent Hendrickson it's undone by Dick Roman and now they're wanted as serial killers. Again. Some more.
  • In Teen Wolf, Derek Hale is known as a criminal, but he's actually a decent, if somewhat dark, guy.

  • In The Protomen, Dr. Light is very much this. He created the machines to benefit mankind, but Dr. Wily stole them and used one to kill Light's girlfriend, Emily. Wily blamed Light for the murder, and the angered citizens tried to lynch him.
    • This is even lampshaded by Willy when he states that it doesn't even matter if he's telling the truth or that his arguments don't really make sense, the very fact that he pointed his finger at Light caused the crowd to blindly hate him.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Hades/Pluto is frequently portrayed as a Hellenistic analogue to Satan in modern media. This portrayal of him is entirely unfair. He was certainly a Jerkass by modern standards, but most of the Hellenistic gods were. If the Hellenes had a Satan-type, it would have been Ate, the personification of ruin, folly, and destruction who causes... well, ruin, folly and destruction For the Evulz. Of course, this would serve as an inversion for those who believe he is evil... To clarify, unlike Satan who was cast into Hell for defying God, Hades pretty much got the job of ruling the afterlife because his older brothers screwed him over. Zeus claimed the Earth and the Heavens, Poseidon the Sea, meaning the Underworld was all that was left for Hades. He didn't like the job, but he wasn't overly cruel about it (at least, not in comparison to some of the other gods). And since his realm included the entire afterlife, including the Gardens of Elysium, he was essentially the ruler of both Heaven and Hell.
  • Some strands of Abrahamic thought hold that Satan is simply in charge of God's judicial system, and doesn't deserve all the hate that is thrown at him - he has a damn dirty job, but Someone Has to Do It. The proto-Evil Lawyer Joke if you will. This seems to be more the case in the pre-Christian tradition. Which would hold his original Hebrew name, "Ha-Satan", "the accuser."
  • The Bible:
    • Jesus Christ is this during His preaching days. It kinda led to his death (depending on which translation you read). He also warns his disciples that the world will hate them.
    • Thomas is the only disciple to volunteer to die with Jesus in John 11:16, one of the few people in the Gospels to explicitly call Jesus God, and, according to Church tradition, traveled all the way to India to preach Christianity. Even so, most people only know him as the guy who didn't believe that Jesus had really come back. "Doubting Thomas" is a common nickname for a skeptic.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Glacier was this during the Blood Runs Cold storyline in WCW in 1997. He was a Face but not a particularly popular one.
  • John Cena is this today and has been so for several years in WWE. He is the top Face in wrestling but try convincing someone who normally gives him bad reviews or says bad things about him that he or she is wrong. Being that he's often a Designated Hero with ridiculous degrees of Protagonist-Centered Morality about him...

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • The destruction done to the school during the Mass Super-Empowering Event is pinned on a few select students who weren't responsible for it (part of the destruction was the event itself, the other part was a different student who had temporarily lost his senses after receiving his power). It's later subverted when it's revealed that the entire thing is a set-up, but Finn's speech as they're being accused highlights how many of them are social misfits who could easily serve as fall guys for events they had no involvement with.
    • In a broader sense, various flashes of the Bad Future have shown that the public grows increasingly antagonistic to the people with superpowers, first forcing them under a curfew and then escalating to the government actively hunting them down. The superpowered individuals in question aren't shown to have done anything wrong, instead getting lumped in with one or two supervillains.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is a common problem for Solar and Lunar Exalted, since they've been branded as psychotically evil demons by the main religion of the setting.
  • In the Forgotten Realms, Helm has become considerably less popular due to his killing Mystra during the Time Of Troubles.

  • Elphaba from Wicked probably qualifies as she is definitely engaged in heroic activities saving Animals from the fascist dictator of Oz. However, due to the Wizard's efforts to paint her as wicked, she rapidly becomes the most hated figure in Oz.
  • Similarly, Ja'far from Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier, the Team StarKid parody of Aladdin, is actually a kind, honest and hardworking guy, but is hated by almost everyone in the magic kingdom as the truth keeps getting twisted to paint him as a villain. Later in the play it turns out that the same thing happened to several other Disney "villains" in the past- except for Cruella de Vil, who really did just want to make a coat out of puppies.
    • Even Cruella di Vil isn't all that evil in the grand scheme of things because there's an entire industry that raises animals just for their fur.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the song "Good Kid" has Percy lament that he's always tried to be good, but all it has earned him is bad grades, a bad rep, no friends, and no hope.
    Percy: I keep my head down / I keep my chin up / But it ends up all the same / "Pack your bags, Percy. You're always to blame."

    Video Games 
  • Jak and Daxter are constantly painted as bad guys by those in power, culminating in Veger having them kicked out of Haven at the start of Jak 3: Wastelander, even though they both saved the city before.
  • Mega Man Zero: Everyone calls him a legendary hero, but only a few know that there's something more benevolent to Zero's "extremist" actions. This isn't really explored until the fourth and final game since all characters that Zero interacts with prior to that game are Reploids who see him as a champion to their cause. It was in the fourth game that a colony of human refugees are introduced, and this trope is in full force.
  • The Borderlands series plays with this trope in a rather interesting way:
    • The protagonists of the first game, Borderlands 1, start as treasure hunters and thrill-seekers and happen to rid part of Pandora of its most dangerous bandit leaders along the way to the Vault, being praised as heroes by the inhabitants. That doesn't prevent Captain Steele, the Crimson Lance leader, to publicly call them dangerous outlaws, but no one else seems to care.
    • In Borderlands 2, more treasure hunters and thrill-seekers join in, and are quickly hunted by Handsome Jack, a villain of otherworldly proportions who doesn't hesitate to publish bullshit news about them burning orphanages or strangling kittens, and this time he has an audience buying his shit. Luckily for the protagonists, they still have allies not believing him.
    • And comes Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, that lets you see the events between the two previous games from Handsome Jack's perspective. There you learn important things: Jack wasn't the worst boss Hyperion ever knew, far from that; his first motives were rather understandable, to open a Vault for riches and to save all the inhabitants on Elpis from certain death by Kill Sat. While he had already committed various highly questionable actions by that point (including turning his daughter into his personal supercomputer) it wasn't until Moxxi, Roland and Lilith attempted to assassinate him and his Vault Hunters that he truly became the lunatic from the second game and that they were pretty much responsible for the events of 2.
  • In the first Command & Conquer at least, GDI. Nod's Greg Burdett, a respected journalist, would help them fabricate news stories about GDI slaughtering villages and burning down orphanages. Nod's mainline troops would also regularly partake in a little bit of the random slaughter, usually so they could make it look like GDI did it. This was also the entire point of the last couple of missions of Nod's campaign, in which you were working to hijack the GDI Ion Cannon to destroy a landmark (your choice), framing GDI for the attack.
    • In the GDI campaign, this is played with. It looks like Nod's media campaign has brought UNGDI to the brink of being disavowed by the Security Council, with funding being suspended while investigations are made... and then, when Nod launches a major offensive, it is revealed that it was a trick by the GDI leadership, taking advantage of Nod's media edge to bait the Brotherhood into striking before properly building up its strength. You still have bad publicity, but it wasn't so bad as it looked to you or Kane.
  • Georg Prime of Suikoden fame is frequently accused of committing regicide against the Queen of Falena. It's true, but she WANTED him to do it, as it was the only way to keep her from using the Sun rune (which was driving her insane) to wipe out the entire country.
  • Final Fantasy
    • AVALANCHE in Final Fantasy VII is branded as a terrorist group. It's basically true, but the government that labels them so consists almost entirely of Corrupt Corporate Executives.
    • Ramza in Final Fantasy Tactics. He gets branded as a heretic for pretty much telling the bad guys to stop doing bad things, and is STILL remembered as a villain after the game is over. It eventually stops and it's implied he gets the recognition he deserves... five hundred years later.
    • Orran Durai also gets this as he attempts to tell Ramza's story to the public and the church brands him as a heretic as well, and has him burned at the stake and hides his history. Until it is found hundreds of years later and clears both of their names
    • In Final Fantasy X, Tidus and later Yuna develops a case of this for not going along with temple traditions.
      Woman: You heathen.
      Old woman: Stay away from the summoner.
      Young girl: You're a bad man!
    • Yuna also gets hit with this in Final Fantasy X-2. If she returns an artifact to New Yevon, the Youth League hate her; if she gives it to the Youth League, New Yevon hates her. Either way, she gets either insulted or attacked by one side for a good chunk of the game.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Villain smear campaigning causes Link to suffer this fate in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, where the palace guards have the townspeople convinced that he's responsible for Princess Zelda's disappearance. He has to slink around Kakariko Village in order to achieve his objectives; if his neighbors spot him, they send for the guards to kill him.
    • This trope can also happen in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, although in that case, it really is justified. It is triggered if you make Link steal any item from the store by careful manouvering around the shopkeep while carrying one of the items. Should you decide to do it, your game file will be permanently renamed to THIEF, and everybody in the town will treat you accordingly, and if you return to the shop after stealing an item, the shopkeeper uses magic to shock you to death. Yikes. Still, it is pretty hard to resist doing this in-game, since the bow in the game is sold at the ridiculous price of 990 rupees (the rupee cap is at 999), and it takes a looooong time to save up that amount of money.
    • Wolf Link in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Outside of the Twilight, he's feared as a monster. Inside of it, he's invisible so he gets no credit for his heroic actions. Thankfully, Link also has a human form in which he can be viewed heroically.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the older generation of Zora hold Link in contempt, largely because they blame him and the Hylians in general for digging up the Guardians and Divine Beasts that Calamity Ganon possessed to devastate Hyrule and getting their beloved princess Mipha killed as a result. The younger Zora, in contrast, either weren't alive when all this happened or were Childhood Friends with Link and thus have no reason to hold him responsible. And the older Zora eventually soften their views once Link subdues Divine Beast Vah Ruta.
  • Subverted in inFAMOUS. The player character starts out with bad publicity because he was the delivery boy who carried the immensely destructive Ray Sphere into the heart of the city, where it exploded, but as time goes on (and if you choose to play the good guy), his publicity gets much better.
  • A refreshing Subverted in Spider-Man (PS4). Despite both Jameson's podcast and Osborn's Mayoral Office running smear campaigns against him, the people on the street seem to recognize the good he does, with one woman him calling him, "everything I love about New York". He can even take selfies and high-five people on the street, which actually provides the "Spider-Man About Town" trophy after he interacts with ten different citizens. He also has a good number of more active fans, like an impersonator who put on a Spider-Man costume in hopes of helping, and Miles Morales.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake reveals that he has been branded an international criminal since the Shadow Moses incident, and he was also framed as an ecoterrorist by the Patriots in MGS2.
    • As of the end of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Raiden appears to have become this. Going on a bloody rampage through the city of Denver and butchering legions of cops (Dirty Cops, yes, but cops nonetheless) on a mission to dismantle the biggest Private Military Contractor in the world will do that.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has an especially tragic one that is also posthumous with The Boss, who undertook a mission as a Fake Defector. But as soon as something went wrong, she was scapegoated by the U.S. government so they could save face, and she went along with it, both to prevent World War III and out of continuing loyalty to her country. From the start, she knew that her favorite student would kill her and she would be remembered in death as one of the most despicable traitors and war criminals in recorded history. Later games reveal that the mission wasn't even about saving face; the government wanted The Boss dead from the very beginning because they were afraid of her.
  • Quest for Glory IV starts out like this, due to suspicious townsfolk who are fearful of strangers and especially anything to do with magic, although the hero will gradually win their trust by helping them out.
  • Tassadar has a bit of a publicity problem in StarCraft due to his alliance with the Dark Templar and the Terrans. Arcturus Mengsk used to be one too, back when the Confederacy was in power. Jim Raynor has been one ever since the Dominion rose to power.
  • Marina from Mischief Makers takes flak from the evil double's paper-thin disguise.
  • Fate/Grand Order: In the "Cosmos in the Lostbelt" storyline, even though the heroes of Chaldea saved the world several times, the Mages Association fires and brands them criminals just because their actions threaten to break the Masquerade.
  • Similar to the Transformers example above, Jedi are almost universally hated and hunted during the time of Knights of the Old Republic II because the galaxy perceives the whole Jedi-Sith war that nearly tore apart the Republic as "a religious dispute between two factions of Jedi". Many people refuse to see any distinction between Jedi like the PC (if light side) and the Sith Lords and assassins that seem to follow him/her wherever they go.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 2, what with the Illusive Man resurrecting and manipulating him/her to save the galaxy with a Cerberus logo on his/her ship, s/he has to deal with this problem throughout the game. On the one hand, the civilians who recognize him/her love Shepard, though there are still some who feel betrayed by his/her long absence and rumors about his/her working with Cerberus. But those who knew him/her personally range from being leery of his/her new connections to outright enraged that s/he would associate with them. It's heavily implied that Cerberus invoked this with strategic information leaks to keep Shepard away from people who could counter Cerberus' efforts to manipulate him/her.
    • At the beginning of Mass Effect 3, s/he's widely seen as a Fallen Hero due to the events of The Arrival, where s/he was forced to kill over 300,000 people. When people finally find out why s/he did it, s/he becomes the face of the entire war against the Reapers.
  • In BlazBlue, Ragna the Bloodege is very much hated by the world, to the point where half of the cast are trying to kill him. This is justified though because, Jerk with a Heart of Gold he may be, he is also a wanted terrorist who has gone around destroying government facilities and cutting down any soldiers that stand in his way. There's also the little fact that he has a legendary Artifact of Doom that everybody and their mother wants to take from him.
    • Bang Shishigami is another example. He tries very hard to be a Shonen action hero and is motivated purely to restore his fallen homeland. He even shows mercy to his enemies. However, because of his Large Ham and Hot-Blooded attitude, he's mostly seen as a crazy old man by most of the cast. Although, there are a few people who do respect him.
  • Mario, of all people, has to deal with this in Super Mario Sunshine. He gets tried by a Kangaroo Court for the actions of a Paper Thin Disguised Bowser Jr.
  • In City of Heroes, there is a Story Arc where you become a Hero with Bad Publicity. You get framed for a crime and have to collect evidence that will clear your name, all the while being chased by the Malta Groupp and their Demonic Sappers.
  • In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn's recap of the first two games, what little mention there is of Felix's actions openly casts him in a bad light, and the Fire Clan are never explained at all (though the latter weren't particularly heroic to common knowledge).
  • Entirely possible in Fallout: New Vegas. Because your karma (how good or evil you are) is factored separately from your reputation (how much people like you) it's very, very possible to end the game with the highest karma possible, and every single faction hating your guts.
    • Although, because of the game, it's actually very hard to end with high karma and everybody hating you, and you must actively peruse this as a goal because you must do a lot to up your karma, and most karma upping quests are related with one faction are another.
      • If somebody is going through the trouble to be hated by everybody but still be a picture of justice overall, that might be more suspicious than anything else, that or every single person around them is just insane.
  • Alex Mercer in [PROTOTYPE] is treated as a villain. And understandably so: not only is he a carrier of The Virus who runs around Manhattan eating people, he looks like and has the memories of the scientist who released The Virus in the first place. Nevertheless, he's grown a conscience by the end of the game and ultimately performs a genuinely heroic and selfless act. That was until [PROTOTYPE 2] came along.
  • Valkyria Chronicles III: Kurt Irving and The Nameless can give Ramza a run for his money. They are supposed to do the dirty jobs that the official military won't, and at one point was branded traitor (and possibly heretic). But they finally have their name cleared, even if they must live in obscurity for the rest of their life.
    • Depends if you're talking about an individual level or group level. Individually, most are nothing more than people caught in a bad situation or simply got shanghaied into the unit. By comparison; two characters are actually Lanseal graduates (the game's equivalent of West Point), one of which graduated with honors. (And that's not including the volunteers.) As a group, the unit's bad reputation has more to do with the fact that its commanding officers keep them on hand and use them explicitly for wet works than anything they actually do.
  • In Assassin's Creed games, the Heralds always speak out against the Assassins even if you do your best to avoid civilian deaths. However, this is easily solved with simple bribes.
  • Dm C Devil May Cry shows a newscast of a reporter claiming Dante to be a terrorist from his "attacks" when really it's just damage caused by the fights in the parallel world, Limbo, carried over to the real one, however, humans can't see the monsters so they pin the blame on Dante. Justified since the news network is being run by those same monsters.
  • The Warden, in Dragon Age: Origins, is left with this reputation after the first battle of the game. Loghain spread the rumor that the Grey Wardens abandoned and betrayed everyone in the battle, which in point of fact is what Loghain himself did, and the Grey Wardens themselves were almost obliterated in the fight - only two remain alive in the entire kingdom. The trope is somewhat played with, however, because very few people genuinely believe that the Wardens are guilty.
    • By the end of the events of the second game, Hawke has become a legendary but controversial figure because s/he was at the center of an event that sparked a global conflict.
      • If you choose the Human Noble background, your family's political enemies try to paint our family as rebels and traitors. However, when you visit the Landsmeet the other nobles make it very clear that everyone knows your family are staunch royalists and the bad guys full of crap.
    • At the beginning of Inquisition, the player character is the only one to survive an explosion that killed hundreds of people, including the Divine, and who everyone believes is responsible. After the prologue, some people start believing the Inquisitor has been chosen by god to save the world, but many continue to think the Inquisitor is guilty for the first third of the game.
      • Trespasser takes place two years after the Big Bad was defeated and there has been an increasing backlash against the Inquisition (and the Inquisitor themselves), which many believe is power-hungry and on the verge of invading nearby countries. Subverted in that it's revealed the organization had been infiltrated by various spies and was falling to corruption after all, although this wasn't known to its leaders or critics at the time.
      • Dalish elves believe Fen'Harel is the god of deception who was responsible for locking away their other gods and dooming their civilization. In truth, Fen'Harel was leading a rebellion against the other gods, who had become slave-owning tyrants, and ended up locking them away to keep them from destroying the world. It is true, however, that he was responsible for their empire crumbling.
  • Averted on Phantasy Star Online 2. During the final chapter of episode 2 Luther has the player character named as public enemy number 1 after the player character comes dangerously close to destroying the plans he has had in motion for decades. However due to the player character's status as the up and coming hero of ARKS, very few members of ARKS and civilians are convinced and as a result, he has to rely on a body-hijack command programmed into each ARKS member to get them to try to take the player character down instead.
  • Marona, the protagonist of Phantom Brave. She is quite possibly the nicest person in the whole world, but almost everyone fears and hates her and calls her "The Possessed One" because of her ability to communicate with phantoms. People routinely send her nasty letters or write articles in the paper where even the good things she does get nasty spins; she is blamed for things she had nothing to do with, and some of the people who hire her cheat her out of payment for various reasons. She keeps soldiering on, smiling and waiting for the day when everything is going to be okay. Thankfully she does gain friends and respect from some people, and in the end everyone respects her for saving the world, including the nasty columnist in the paper.
  • Jodie Holmes, the protagonist of the upcoming Beyond: Two Souls, has been depicted in various trailers and gameplay videos as being pursued by both local police and the FBI, with one demo claiming that every single cop in the state has been called in to apprehend her.
  • Adam Jensen in Deus Ex: Human Revolution was hit with this in his backstory. When Adam and his SWAT unit encountered a belligerent teenager with augments, he was ordered to take a kill shot because subduing the kid nonlethally would have been too much trouble thanks to his augments. Adam refused to take the shot and another SWAT commander did it instead. Adam quit the force in disgust. His superiors were upset by this and doctored his psyche profile to make him look like a violent borderline lunatic as payback. In the present, there are still rumors that Adam was fired from SWAT for that incident when he actually quit. Fortunately for Adam, the private investigator that David Sarif had looked into Adam's background before hiring him read between the lines of the profile and saw it for the fairy tale it was.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the Jedi Exile is subject to this constantly, having been indirectly responsible for the accidental destruction of Peragus II during the prologue. The Exile was also one of the Jedi who joined Revan during the Mandalorian Wars, where they gave the order to detonate a superweapon over Malachor V, wiping out all life on the planet and in orbit and ending the war. When the game begins, the Exile returns from their ten-year long self-imposed exile on the Outer Rim, having been banished from the Jedi Order for their actions during the war.
    • The Jedi Order are also subject to this in the second game and have been forced into hiding. It's explained that as a result of the Mandalorian Wars, the Jedi Civil War and Revan and Malak's attempted takeover of the galaxy, most common people consider the Jedi and Sith to be indistinguishable from each other and little more than crazed zealots bent on destroying the galaxy over their opposing ideologies.
  • Lemeza Kosugi in La-Mulana 2, thanks to what happened at the end of the first game. He saved humanity, but had to destroy a world heritage site in the process. The public either doesn't know or doesn't believe his reasoning, so he's been on the run from Interpol.
  • Star Stealing Prince features a variant, with Prince Snowe starting off well-loved by his subjects. However, early in the game he comes so close to death that it ends up breaking a spell cast on the entire kingdom, and one of the many side effects is that Snowe's subjects (aside from a select few in the court) don't remember him, but instinctively don't like him (probably because he's part of the royal family that cast the spell on them in the first place.)
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM, for much of the early game the police are after you, and you have no idea why.
  • James Parnell in Evolve has this as part of his backstory. He was the leader of a mercenary group that dedicated itself to helping the little guy, often against the will of Hub. When a rescue attempt when wrong, the media blamed him for the loss of his own ship, the other ship, and every member of both crews.
  • Persona 5 starts with the protagonist helping a woman being physically assaulted, only to be treated as a violent delinquent by those around him afterwards, due to the molester having connections with the local police. Additionally, the vigilante group he leads is often treated by the news media as villains and criminals, though they still get some popular support, at least until they're framed for murder.
  • Valkyria Revolution has the Five Grand Criminals who started a war with The Empire and managed to kill thousands of people in the process. This is actually true but they needed the war to rescue their Cool Teacher who has been kidnapped by the empire and the war is their only ticket to save her. Their actions however also benefited Jutland in that after the war, Jutland has become one of the richest nations in the world. A researcher at an academy 100 years later wants to prove their innocence while a descendant of one of the people who know about the conspiracy wants to keep it secret because it's what the Five Grand Criminals would have wanted.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers: Grovyle is here as part of a Terminator Twosome, to Set Right What Once Went Wrong and prevent a Bad Future. Unfortunately for him, the other half of the twosome is a Villain with Good Publicity, who has managed to spin Grovyle's efforts to fix the Bad Future as the cause of that future.
  • Tales of Vesperia's infamous Yuri Lowell is officially a criminal due to various factors (a lot of which are a product of his bad luck). Yuri...doesn't care. He's actually kinda pleased to find himself with wanted posters. Though he really did commit the crimes he's accused of (well, at least most of them; one of them was a misunderstanding). His friends aren't so amused, especially when it means they have to flee the inn they are staying at to avoid a confrontation.
  • Tales of Berseria takes this trope and combines it with Villain with Good Publicity and In-Universe Historical Villain Upgrade. Velvet Crowe will go down in history as the Lord of Calamity who killed the "heroic" Shepherd and caused devastation to run across her world. She won't ever be remembered as the true hero of the time period though the Berseria novels suggest that, due to Maotelus telling Sorey about it, her real story just might get out.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, Meridia is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is obscured to mortals, but is associated with Life Energy, Light, and Beauty. She, in different ways, manages to be this trope and a Villain with Good Publicity. Most of Tamriel is skeptical, or at least cautious, toward Daedra in general (especially after the Oblivion Crisis at the end of the 3rd Era). Some groups, such as the Vigilant of Stendarr, actively oppose any and all Daedra regardless of intention. Meridia, however, still undertakes actions on behalf of mortals despite this and sometimes has to work through a proxy (like Sees-All-Colors in Online) for groups that would never collaborate with her willingly.
  • The heroes in You Are Not The Hero are NOT liked by the people AT ALL, and not without reason.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, Anonymous is Catie’s loyal protector, fighting to save the Internet by her side, yet because of the Fantastic Racism against 4chan users, pretty much everyone else distrusts him, assumes he’s secretly up to no good, and blames him for anything that happens to go wrong.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • In X-Ray & Vav, the Mad King essentially manipulates the entire city into believing that X-Ray and Vav are nothing but a bunch of Super Zeroes and that Mogar is the hero they really deserve. It doesn't help that he's right - Vav's a nice guy, but not all right in the head and X-Ray suffers from a crippling case of It's All About Me and that's not counting the destruction they've caused by their antics.
  • RWBY
    • After Yang and Mercury's tournament match ends, Cinder's machinations ensure the entire world witnesses Yang suddenly shoot Mercury in the leg for no apparent reason. The stadium crowd's reaction is so ugly it causes a spike in Grimm activity, and Yang's apparently vindictive action doesn't just damage her reputation but also Beacon's and Ozpin's, too. Ironwood is therefore forced to disqualify Team RWBY. Velvet later comments to Ruby that she thinks it's awful what people are saying about Yang; she thinks Yang just experienced stress on the battlefield and most people will never know what that's like to go through; Ironwood took the same position when disqualifying the team.
    • General Ironwood is trying to save the world, but his stubborn belief that overwhelming military force is the go-to solution has led him to turn the Kingdom of Atlas into a police state, closing the borders and damaging his nation's foreign policy and local economy. Since they have no idea what Ironwood is fighting against, the people of Atlas see Ironwood as a delusional, paranoid dictator. Ironwood is aware of the negative sentiment, but refuses to budge on his stance. At the end of Volume 7, his response to the news that Salem's about to attack Atlas in person, leads him to take a series of measures so extreme that the heroes finally oppose him fully. The volume ends with some of the heroes on the run from him, some arrested, and him transforming into a Hero Antagonist when he shoots his Morality Pet with intent to kill.
  • The titular character of Nomad of Nowhere is just a friendly, mute hermit with magical powers, who just wants to have friends. But for reasons yet to be elaborated on, though likely connected to the tendency of his good deeds to backfire, he is seen as a menace by most of the world and was forced into hiding for a hundred years to avoid being hounded by bounty hunters. Heck, Skout didn't even recognize him at first mainly because she couldn't reconcile the almost demonic visage on his wanted poster with the actual guy.

  • The title character of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja becomes one in the final arc. The Doctor manages to stop King Radical from sacrificing billions of lives, but thanks to King Radical's almost magical charisma, almost no one is grateful for it. Quite the contrary, the entire world goes out for the Doctor's blood.
  • In Erfworld, Parson is the main protagonist and The Chosen One, having been chosen by the spirit of the world to kill the Big Bad. But between his unsettling genius, work for an aggressive faction, and his own total lack of honor, just about everyone fears and loathes him.
  • In Girl Genius
    • The Wulfenbachs suffer a lot from this. OK, they are the despot of Europa and his heir, but Klaus is often accused of being the Other, betraying the Heterodynes, etc. He could probably use a good propaganda service which would only have to use some positive facts. Gil is also accused of having destroyed Dr. Beetle's lab for no reason (well, actually, he just send a bomb back to the thrower, saving not only his life but an innocent assistant as well). After the Wulfenbachs' fall during the Time Skip, Europa is in chaos again and quite a few people now think of their rule as a "golden age".
    • World opinion on Agatha herself is quite polarized. Many people see her as the rightful successor to her father's heroism. But there is also no shortage of people that believe she is every bit the monster her ancestors were, and Klaus tries very hard to kill or contain her due to being one of them.
  • Vampire Cheerleaders: The Paranormal Mystery Squad are a group of cryptid hunters, who strive to protect humanity. But, as far as the general public's concerned, it's the cryptids who need saving from them, since they believe the PMS's actions are inhumane. And their image is made worse by their leader's flippancy and flagrant disregard for the laws protecting cryptid rights. Which puts them at odds with PETMnote , who eventually takes legal action against them.
  • Saitama in One-Punch Man, thanks to the civilians being a bunch of Ungrateful Bastards, other Heroes going out of their way to ruin his reputation out of envy, Saitama himself going out of his way to ruin it to maintain public faith in the other Heroes, Saitama not really caring about publicity, and Saitama only reporting the bare minimum of his deeds to the Hero Organization to stay registered as a Hero. Despite this, his rank is still slowly rising since enough people witness and report his heroic actions anyway.
  • Ballister Blackheart from Nimona, who's mostly just looked down upon for being cast out of the local special knights' institution, and is trying to reveal their schemes for the better of the kingdom.
  • Sonic the Comic – Online!:
    • This trope has become Sonic's downfall - the Kane Broadcasting Company uses their footage to convince the population of Mobius that Sonic is actually a villain who might be worse than Robotnik, and the worst part of it is, the footage they have to back up their claims, while very one-sided, is still genuine. Sonic's base can spy on every zone in the world, Sonic himself is a bit of a dick, and his super form is a monster who's already caused havoc before. Not to mention the fact that in essence, he created Robotnik. As it turns out, Grimer, Robotnik's former Dragon, not only gave the Kane Broadcasting Company the footage and knowledge they needed, but also built a new Voluntary Shapeshifting model of Metallix to frame Sonic for crimes such as bombing the Green Hill Zone with Mega Mack, turning half of it into an uninhabitable wasteland, to get revenge on Sonic for driving Robotnik insane. The plot has succeeded, with Sonic now a wanted fugitive and terrorist, hated and feared worldwide; even the Freedom Fighters (sans Tails) no longer trust him. That being said, Sonic still has some fans; Cream the Rabbit and some of the Drakons have been fans of his since he won his trial by combat (with help from Tails and a door). Sonic spends the next several issues Walking the Earth, fighting villains wherever he goes and trying to find a way to clear his name, and as of issue 275, he's finally succeeded. After helping Tails finally put an end to the war with Robotnik, as well as helping defeat the Drakon Empire once and for all, Tails gives Kane footage of the battle in exchange for proof that Sonic has been innocent all along. Footage of Sonic fighting the Drakons and the Neo Metallix that set him up is subsequently broadcasted on televisions everyone, restoring Sonic's reputation.
    • In the wake of Sonic's fall from grace, Tails has become the Hero of Mobius in his place. Despite this, he has earned a fair bit of scorn from the public, including the other Freedom Fighters, because even in the wake of the Kane Broadcasting Company's smear campaign, he continues to support and defend Sonic.
  • Metacarpolis: In Emi's flashback, it is revealed that she was a former magical girl who became an idol when her and her group signed up to be stars. However, she finds her career turn sour when she stops a mugger with a gun by... breaking his legs. Let's just say, it goes pretty public.
  • In Nebula, Sun becomes one due to Pluto witnessing what seems like him committing a brutal (as in, ripping the person in half) and unprovoked murder. What Pluto didn't know is that the person Sun killed was torturing innocent people to death at the time with their supernatural abilities, and Sun only resorted to violence to save them when trying to talk them down peacefully failed.
  • Mechagical Girl Lisa ANT: Between her alien-ant-robot costume and Pink Flash's propaganda, Lisa's heroic alter ego ANT is perceived as an "alien monster."
  • Dear Children: Most of the students, and probably some of the teachers, at Hearthbrook High School assume that the Journalism Club is just an excuse for its members to get wasted and engage in debauchery, mostly because they are misfits. The truth is both far more innocent — and far more ominous — they're investigating reports of the paranormal.

    Web Original 
  • In New Vindicators, there are plenty of examples-mostly because all superhumans are pretty much feared and or hated by the public at large, to one extent or another. Magnus Loder (who is a bit of a dick), holds a place on the FBI's most-wanted list because he was framed for killing an anti-superhuman Senator who was campaigning for President. Anomaly, for a while, went around killing men who were abusive to their girlfriends, making him a kind of serial killer superhero.
  • There are several examples in the Whateley Universe:
    • Battery, whose final battle against his arch-enemy destroyed one of the New York City bridges and injured hundreds,
    • The Flying Bulldozer, who wasn't smart enough to avoid massive collateral damage when fighting evil: one of his recurring villains, Doctor Debt, figured out how to make millions by surrendering to FB and collecting rewards from insurance companies for preventing the incipient damage
    • Tennyo, because she is powerful even by school standards, and (through no fault of her own, other than naivete) is a major trouble magnet.
    • The Lamplighter, Boston's Green Lantern Expy, also gets this. He's powerful and certainly a hero in his own mind, but he's also enough of a loose cannon that the city's police department tends to breathe a collective sigh of relief whenever he doesn't show up while they're trying to deal with a 'situation'.
  • The <3-Verse has the Shadow (no, not that one), a vigilante, shunned for his violent methods against regular crooks.
  • In The Sword of Good, it turns out that the Lord of Dark wants nothing more than to bring the Age of Enlightenment to a world that is quite feudal in both politics and science. When the prophesied hero shows up, the real villains go to great lengths to demonize him, in an attempt to make the hero perpetuate their stagnant, self-serving regime instead. It doesn't work.

    Western Animation 
  • Believe it or not, Captain America is on the receiving end of this following the fallout of the Skrull storyline in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!. This thanks to the machinations of the Skrull impersonating Cap, who manipulated the Avengers and told the world to surrender to the Skrull forces.
  • Some instances of Batman, such as in The Batman until Gordon becomes the commissioner at the end of the second season.
  • Ben in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien has this when his Secret Identity gets outed. Will Harangue, jerk reporter even breaks out the "threat or menace" false dichotomy. Not to mention the fact that Harangue is going a step above JJ with the hero he smears by actually trying to kill Ben outright at least once. Though this played with: kids love him, and the government will occasionally collaborate with him. Dwayne McDuffie actually stated that Harangue is despised by many people for his antagonism towards Ben, and his attempts to turn everyone against him are always unsuccessful.
    Ben: Maybe I can do more good as a public superhero than I did in secret. Sure, most people think I'm a menace now.
    Julie: Only 26% of adult viewers think you're a menace.
    Ben: See? That's not bad.
    Julie: 74% think you're a threat.
  • Ziv Zulander from The Bots Master has been branded a terrorist by the RM Corp.
  • Danny Phantom for the majority of Season 1 and the beginnings of Season 2, is believed by the public to be just as dangerous as any of the ghosts he fights, and has to contend with other ghost hunters (his parents included). He gains good publicity after "Reign Storm" when he's visibly seen saving the city from Pariah Dark; too much of it actually (plushies).
  • Darkwing Duck parodies this a lot; the titular characters suffer a lot from bad publicity due to his dark looks and mannerisms, both from civilians and authorities, to the point when he dies in "Dead Duck", he is only granted a cheap burial, and Megavolt, who is believed to be the murderer, not only gets away with it without going to jail, but even becomes famous by writing a book about it.note This reaches such proportions that Darkwing attempts in one episode to give himself a better image so he'll get better publicity, and almost succeeds until his Arch-Enemy Negaduck ruins it. Ironically, both the audience and Darkwing ended up grateful to Negaduck, as Darkwing realizes his obsession with good image prevented him from focusing on his cases, and the fans found Darkwing's new look ridiculous.
  • A DuckTales (1987) episode featured a reporter named Lawrence Loudmouth who started a smear campaign against Scrooge McDuck and later started to impersonate a new masked hero (who happens to be Scrooge) and then make a smear campaign against the real hero. He was eventually captured and Scrooge gave up the vigilante career.
  • Catman from The Fairly OddParents, and it's mostly, if not completely, justified. He often ends up attacking innocent civilians while letting real criminals like purse-snatchers get away, and constantly causes more trouble than he prevents. In fact, if it weren't for Timmy (and his fairies), he would've ended up in jail a loooong time ago.
  • Gargoyles has... well, the titular gargoyles. Brooklyn even lampshades their "publicity problem" in "Hunter's Moon." Greg Weisman has alluded to that being only temporary. After saving the city a few times, the Clan becomes a branch of the NYPD and eventually, due to Goliath's sacrifice sometime in the future, the United Nations declares the Gargoyle Species a protected race, acknowledges its sentience and creates a nation for the Gargoyles to found.
  • Rex in Generator Rex suffers from this very hard in "The Hunter", where the titular character Hunter Cain turns the general public against him by claiming he is infecting people with his nanites. Of course, Cain is lured into an Engineered Public Confession and exposed.
  • The focus of G.I. Joe: Renegades which has most of the team being branded as criminals while trying to expose Cobra's operations who, in this incarnation, are Villains With Good Publicity.
  • Dib, from Invader Zim, although he receives more contempt than outright hatred.
  • Justice League Unlimited dealt with this quite a bit. 'Eclipsed' featured a downturn in popularity due to the efforts of a Glory Hound TV personality, while a much more drastic one in "Panic in the Sky" led to six of the League's founders turning themselves in to federal custody in order to clear their names.
  • The Burners in Motorcity, especially Mike Chilton, the leader. Abraham Kane, the leader of Detroit Deluxe is likewise the Villain with Good Publicity.
  • Princess Luna of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Her role as Princess of the Night and her love of creepy public display causes most Ponies in her backstory to shun her while loving her sister, which results in her original Face–Heel Turn. After her banishment, return (after a thousand years), defeat and redemption, many Ponies find it hard to believe in her new Heel–Face Turn. It certainly doesn't help that anti-Luna sentiment has reached a point where a national holiday is celebrated that claims she eats children (really, Celestia, thanks for letting it get that far). Status Quo Is God is averted, however, as eventually (though not before some misunderstandings), most ponies come to trust her again.
  • Scooby and the gang in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated are mostly reviled by their townspeople. This is because Crystal Cove enjoys having a bunch of Scooby Doo Hoaxes to attract tourists (mostly not caring about how the bad guys are mostly doing this to steal something), and they don't appreciate a bunch of meddling kids spoiling the extra revenue. Once the mayor is unmasked as a villain, the town officials become much more accepting of the gang, especially once they manage to catch the truly destructive Cry Baby Clown.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Just like in the comics, Spider-Man suffers from this in The Spectacular Spider Man. Oddly enough, J. Jonah Jameson at first shows some signs that he hates Spidey (although it is shown on the Daily Bugle newspapers), and simply views him as easy publicity but still tries to discredit him. However, similar to Ultimate Spider-Man, a story about Spider-Man in a rival newspaper outsells the Daily Bugle's own story on his son's heroic landing of a space shuttle. As a result, Jameson finally snaps and begins a smear campaign against the web slinger.
    • In the earlier series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series as part of "The Alien Costume" trilogy, Spider-Man saves John Jameson's life (who mind you, is JJJ's son) after his spacecraft crashlands in George Washington Bridge. Unfortunately, Spidey gets into a tangle with the Rhino while doing so, and the Rhino steals off with a space rock than Spidey didn't even know about. Poor Peter Parker went home thinking that for once Spider-Man will get his due, only to learn that an incensed J. Jonah Jameson went on his own network accusing Spider-Man of stealing the rock, and offering a $1 million bounty on his capture. Parker even considered quitting being Spider-Man for a while, until a mysterious ooze bonds with him. This starts a new set of problems when Spider-Man acts more aggressively during this time, particularly with Jameson.
    • This is part of the series premise of Spider-Man Unlimited, as Spidey is blamed for the disappearance of John Jameson by Jonah to the point that his saving a fire fighter from falling debris was mistaken by the fire fighter to be an attempt to attack him and the debris stopped Spidey.
    • This is exaggerated in Ultimate Spider-Man. In past series, Spidey has pulled pranks on Jameson and is technically a vigilante. Here, Spidey works for S.H.I.E.L.D. and has never met him. Despite this, Jameson's smear campaign goes on and Spidey is generally hated by the people of the city until the third season.
  • In seasons 1 and 2 of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, the citizens of Mewni mainly remember Star Butterfly as the princess that set fire to the kingdom. Her reputation starts to get better in season 3 after she settles down and starts to finally take her royal responsibilities seriously, only for all that good will to go down the drain when she decides to Abdicate the Throne to the pro-monster Eclipsa.
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Rising Tides, Crashing Skies", Ronaldo comes to the realization that the various monsters that attack Beach City are only there because of the Crystal Gems and that it would be safer for the humans living there if they left, using his vlog-documentary and "expert reporting" to stage his own one-man protest against them and tells them to leave... until it is brought to his attention that if they did leave, he would have nothing to blog, thus pleads with them to stay (not that they actually planned to leave anyway).
  • The Street Sharks get this constantly, to the point in which one of their friends has to point out to the police that if they were really guilty of one of the crimes they're accused of, they'd have to have been in two places at once. The Big Bad also gets everyone to blame their dad for creating them, so yeah.
    • This ends when Dr. Paradign fails in a massive public plan to mutate the entire city thanks to the Sharks. Followed by him turning into Dr. Pirhanoid in front of everybody. Exposing his villainy for all to see.
  • Superman has become this in the series finale of Superman: The Animated Series. Thankfully, he salvaged his reputation, but the events of the finale became a precursor to the Cadmus Arc in Justice League Unlimited.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): The Turtles themselves get this a lot, courtesy of April's boss Burne Thompson. It gets even worse during the Red Sky seasons, where after Shredder blows up the Channel 6 building, Burne, blaming the Turtles for it, goes full J. Jonah Jameson on them and does everything possible to make them look bad, and when Dregg, the Big Bad replacing Shredder for the final two seasons, uses propaganda to turn the entire city against them and make himself into a Villain with Good Publicity.
  • A bit of a problem for the Autobots in season two of Transformers Animated, presumably after the property damage of the first season starts sinking in. In the first season, it's mainly just Bulkhead who has a problem with this, as he's a klutz who's strong enough to throw cars.
    • In Transformers: Super-God Masterforce, Hydra and Buster attack Ginrai in a populated with the intention of causing considerable enough collateral damage to turn public opinion against the Autobots. They actually succeed for a short while.
    • The G1 two-part episode "Megatron's Master Plan" was all about this, to the point that the Autobots were exiled from Earth and their ship's navigation systems tampered with to send them into the sun.
    • Also, the Stunticons were mistaken for Autobots for the first few weeks of their existence due to conventional wisdom being "cars=Autobots". Oddly, no one ever seemed to think the Aerialbots were Decepticons...
  • In Young Justice, Justice League popularity starts to take a nose-dive in season 2. At first, it's mostly fueled by political pundits, but then a group of new, popular aliens (who are actually preparing to take over) manage to make the JL look everything from inept, trigger happy to outright deceitful.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Heroine With Bad Publicity, Heroes With Bad Publicity


Cole MacGrath

Cole is blamed for the Ray Sphere blast that quarantined the city and gave him his powers.

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Main / HeroWithBadPublicity