Fiction is created for a wide variety of purposes, but it's safe to say that almost all fiction has one goal in mind: make the audience feel something. The audience knows that what they're experiencing isn't real, but is willing to go along with it because they want to be entertained. If a work succeeds at this one thing, then it's accomplished at least that much. Of course, as this wiki has extensively documented, the emotion that a work provokes isn't always necessarily the emotion that the creator had in mind.
One common unexpected reaction to fiction is that audiences tend to react with greater disdain to garden-variety Jerkass characters than they do to the Big Bad of the story, even if the villain's deeds are far more heinous in nature and/or by comparison. The Big Bad may want to cripple the economy, rule with an iron fist, or destroy the world, yet the audience will show greater hatred for The Dragon or The Bully who only has a few scenes tripping the protagonist or kicking their dog. While this makes no sense from a rational perspective — unsurprisingly, as cold facts often have little to do with how a person feels — there are some rational explanations for this phenomenon.
The most plausible explanation is a difference in context. Everyone has been affected by garden-variety jerks and bullies in one way or another. Thus, the audience can personally relate to the everyday cruelty of such people's fictional equivalents, which can make the audience actively dislike such characters. By contrast, many fictional villains, especially those from Speculative Fiction, are committing acts of cruelty far beyond those of normal experience. An Evil Sorcerer Omnicidal Maniac is doing things much worse than anything a schoolyard bully could possibly manage, but the Evil Sorcerer isn't and can't be real. The audience can understand that the villain is only there for our entertainment, whereas certain Jerkass characters don't have the same dissociation from Real Life.
There's also the fact that Evil Is Cool; Jerkassery isn't cool. Villainous characters appeal to the desire to be rebellious and wild, or our natural fascination with forbidden things. Creators often try to make their villains cool, badass, funny, charismatic, full of ham and cheese, audacious, perhaps even sexy because an interesting or Likable Villain helps make a fun and interesting story. They also tend to have real goals and actually do things to attain them, often showing Villainous Valor and other such Evil Virtues. Even when the audience does hate them, they love doing so. By contrast, Jerkasses typically lack the flair and charisma that makes the villain enjoyable or interesting, being not only unpleasant and unlikable, but also mundane and uninteresting.
There are also storytelling devices that can depersonalize the main villain's evil. A Million Is a Statistic means that the villain can do terrible things to countless people, but because the audience doesn't know anything about those people, they don't care. Conversely a Jerkass being cruel to a character the audience knows and is emotionally invested draws a more significant emotional response. Off Stage Villainy can cause this as well, as the villain doing terrible things out of sight is easy to dismiss or forget, while the Jerkass's deeds are more likely to be front-and-center.
Some tropes that help provide explanations for this include Evil Is Cool, Evil Is Sexy, and the stereotype that All Girls Want Bad Boys (plus any applicable variations of that concept). All of these are merely expressions of the truism that rebellious, forbidden, and even dangerous things have their own appeal to people. The logical outcome for that concept, of course, is Draco in Leather Pants.
On the other hand, this can be combated by having the villain engage in bullying, jerkish behavior themselves: See Evil Is Petty. A Jerkass can avoid this fate typically by being funny enough for the comedy factor of Played for Laughs to come in. See Laughably Evil. Of course being funny also works in a villains favor as well. Jerkasses that are fully-developed and have redeeming factors to them alongside their Jerkass traits are usually exempt from this fate, too.
Note that the 'villain' in question can also include the highest caliber of heinous evil villain, the Complete Monster, making it somewhat kind of more acceptable in the audience's eyes rather than those mundane jerks.
Contrast Jerkass Dissonance, where a jerkass in fiction is actually more likeable than the ones in real life.
See also Hate Sink, an intentional example of this phenomenon where a more minor villain is meant to get more scorn than the larger villain or overall threat in the story, and Realism-Induced Horror, a similar concept but with fear instead of hatred.
No Real Life Examples, Please! It is not appropriate to discuss anything resembling real-life examples of this phenomenon on this site. Regardless of how you or others may personally feel, greasy public figures or the jerks in your personal life should not be argued to be worse than a genocidal dictator. Moreover, this is not the place to grouse about characters you personally dislike, or grouse about people who dont like certain characters. This trope only discusses a verifiable phenomenon.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable: Three of the most hated characters in this Part are Tamami, Hazamada and Shigechi, people with rather unpleasant personalities who end up on the heroes' side after being defeated. Meanwhile, the main antagonist, Yoshikage Kira, is a Serial Killer who has killed many people, including Shigechi, and is rather popular.
- Berserk: An example specific to the Lost Children arc is Zepek, Jill's truly loathsome father. He is abusive, cowardly, and a Miles Gloriosus of the highest order. The main Apostle Rosine is a mass-murdering Enfant Terrible monster who has caused massive terror and carnage for her selfish fantasies, as well as transformed dozens of poor children into insectoid minions, but she still has fans for her sympathetic backstory, friendship with Jill, awesome design, and the brutal fight she gives Guts despite being a little girl. Zepek has none.
- My Hero Academia:
- Despite the series having a gauntlet of villains who range from mass murderers to Omnicidal Maniacs, Endeavor is particularly despised by a good portion of the fandom for what he did to his family. He put his five-year-old son Shouto through such hellish training that the boy was left vomiting and crying on the floor. He mistreated his wife to the point where she snapped and scarred her son by pouring boiling water on his face. And there's the emotional neglect of his oldest son Touya (albeit in a misguided attempt to help him) that resulted in him apparently dying and the fallout of which sent much of Endeavor's abuse into overdrive. Many of these Endeavor haters did not respond well when Endeavor finally changed his ways and sought to be The Atoner, to the point of sending the author death threats for the crime of attempting to portray Endeavor as a three-dimensional character who grows and learns like the rest of the cast. These fans reject Endeavor's Character Development and hope Dabi, a known mass murderer who has since been revealed to actually be Touya himself now Ax-Crazy, slowly and painfully burns him to death, despite the fact flashbacks show that Endeavor doesn't have sole responsibility for the broken state of the family or that Touya also wants to kill his little brother Shoto and has no problems hurting/killing the rest of the family if it means making Endeavor suffer more.
- Despite being one of the heroes, Minoru Mineta is more reviled by the fandom than any of the villains. He's a shameless pervert who constantly makes unwanted advances on his female classmates, though usually not doing anything more than spying on them and making lewd jokes. At one point, he even goes so far as to make a pass at a traumatized six-year-old. Despite not being a villain, Mineta's slimy, lecherous demeanor makes him come off as a more realistic individual to hate. Expect many a fanfic to villify him, ratchet these flaws to ridiculous levels, and face extremely brutal punishment for his "crimes".
- A major reason why Katsuki Bakugo is a Base-Breaking Character lies with this. For the half that dislikes him, they are repulsed by his treatment of Midoriya early at the beginning of the series, which involves bullying him, blowing up his belongings in broad daylight, and suicide baiting him in the very first chapter. Similar to Mineta, numerous popular fanfics have author bents that vilify or otherwise brutally punish him; under the belief that he's a Karma Houdini even after his Character Development from a Jerkass into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Some writers even have his quirk stolen by All For One, resulting in some cheers despite the latter's reputation as a Card-Carrying Villain who murders For the Evulz.
- Pokémon: The Series: Many Ash's and his friends' hostile rivals qualify as worse than the show's main antagonists Jessie, James and Meowth of Team Rocket who are mostly Plucky Comic Relief and Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains.
- Paul, in particular, from the Sinnoh arc is portrayed as the nastiest and most despicable Ash's rival. In the episode "Different Strokes for Different Blokes", he immediately attacks the Terrible Trio even before finishing their motto with his badly trained Pokémon Chimchar. As a result of this trope, Team Rocket calls Paul "the rude twerp".
- Damien, one of the show's early antagonists, was an asshole who abandoned his Charmander, displayed a horrible Lack of Empathy when told it could've died in the rain, and only came back when he saw Charmander could be useful. Despite Team Rocket appearing in that episode, Damien was the most wretched character of that episode. He deserved that Flamethrower that Charmander gave him.
- And then there's Koji from "Good 'Quil Hunting", who's introduced making it clear that he's entitled to any Cyndaquil in the area, just because. When Ash captures one first, Koji makes him battle for the right to keep it — and even when Ash wins and Cyndaquil makes it clear that is chooses him, Koji tries to steal Cyndaquil. Just like Damien, he gets a well-deserved ass-kicking.
- Following the pattern, there's Shamus, Tepig's former trainer, who appeared in "Evolution by Fire". Like Damian, he left Tepig tied to a post and muzzled after he lost to a Deerling. He also likes to intimidate the trainers he beats into giving him their Pokémon, and after Tepig evolves and defeats his Emboar, he has the gall to ask him to come back. Just like Damian and Koji, he gets literally burned for his trouble.
- In the Touhou Bougetsushou manga, the Watatsuki Sisters of the Lunarians are hated by a lot of fans, mostly for easily curb-stomping the protagonists and established characters while acting smug, condescending, and racist towards Earthlings. Ultimately, though, they're the Hero Antagonist who are only doing their job of protecting the moon. In contrast, the subsequent Touhou game Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom introduced another Lunarian, Sagume. Despite being responsible for two atrocities and having a plan to annihilate all life in Gensokyo, she acts much more amicably towards the protagonists, and so is much better received among the fandom than the Watatsukis.
- One of the most disliked characters in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series among its Western fanbase is Weevil Underwood. His first interaction with the protagonists ends with him throwing Yugi's rare and powerful Exodia cards into the ocean, and he goes on to prove himself to be a selfish, egotistical jerk who regularly cheats in order to gain the upper hand during a duel, to the point where the average viewer doesn't feel bad at all when Yami Yugi completely overkills him with Berserker Soul in the Doma arc. This is in spite of the fact that during their first meeting, Yugi and his friends were on their way to fight Pegasus, who stole the soul of Yugi's grandpa, a far more heinous crime than ruining some pieces of cardboard and cheating at a children's card game, and yet Pegasus, along with other major villains such as Marik and Yami Bakura, is much more of a beloved character than Weevil.
- Dragon Ball's villains are mostly considered that of the Evil Is Cool variety. A non-villain who gets a lot of hate from the fanbase, however, is Chi-Chi, Goku's wife. She is often seen as a nagging housewife who is overly protective of Gohan and Goten and is generally overly dismissive of Goku's side of the story.
- Fullmetal Alchemist has Shou Tucker, one of the most infamous examples of Abusive Parents in anime, since he turned his daughter and dog into a chimera, just to keep his job. While the real villains, the homunculi, have a plan of mass genocide, they don't get as much hate, likely because of their Charisma and the fact that they aren't human. Other villains also are too entertaining to hate. This opinion is shared by the mangaka herself, as in the "In Memoriam" strips at the end of each manga volume, Shou is the only character to go to hell. Other characters like Envy, Wrath, and Kimblee get to go to heaven.
- Eureka Seven has Holland Novak. Throughout the first half of the series, he abuses and belittles Renton out of petty jealousy for being Eureka's partner, and his ineptitude as a leader has gotten the Gekkostate in trouble on multiple occasions. Even after his Character Development, this earned him more hatred than his brother, Dewey, who uses Tyke Bombs and initiates False Flag Operations to gain public support for a genocide against the Coralians.
- The DCU:
- An In-Universe example of this trope occurs in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell regarding Corrupt Corporate Executive Warren White. After White embezzles the life savings and pensions of nearly every one of his company's clients, he decides to plea insanity to try to beat the rap, only for the furious judge to sentence him to Arkham Asylum instead. He quickly becomes the most despised, reviled, and hated inmate in the place. Jeremiah Arkham, the head doctor, outright calls White "the worst person I've ever met"— Arkham houses some of the deadliest mass murderers, sociopaths, serial killers, and outright inhuman monsters in all of fiction. One of those mass murderers—the Joker himself—also declares White the epitome of evil, remarking that "I didn't steal [victims'] kids' college funds." Never mind that the Joker has probably slaughtered a college campus's worth of people... Somewhat justified in that, while the other inmates of Arkham have committed deadlier crimes than White, they at least have the reasoning of actually being mad to fall back on; White, who is 100% sane, doesn't get that excuse. Also Jeremiah just got his retirement plan pushed back because of the embezzlement so he is stuck with the murderers and inhuman monsters because of White and White does not even try apologizing.
- Another Batman example comes from Mr. Freeze's backstory: his former boss Ferris Boyle. Whereas Mr. Freeze (real name Victor Fries) was motivated to develop his cryogenic technology to save his terminally ill wife Nora, Boyle is a straight-up Jerkass who interfered with Victor's experiments and ended up turning him into the coldhearted monster he is today. Freeze's body count and crimes have long surpassed Boyle's singular action, but fans have a ton of sympathy for Victor and absolutely no love for Ferris.
- Jason Todd, the second Robin and current Red Hood was hated for being violent, aggressive and defiant of Batman's orders, aka things that every other member of the Batman family have been. Fans actually cheered when he was murdered by the Joker, a villain whose crimes include crippling Barbara Gordon and torturing her father, and shooting Dick Grayson, the original and much more popular Robin, in the shoulder.
- The Marvel Universe:
- The citizens of the Marvel Universe are known for being very mistrustful of superheroes, often to the point of violent hostility. It is not uncommon to see fans expressing hate for and disgust towards Marvel citizens regardless of whether or not their grievances with the heroes are justified. Villains with grudges against superheroes are treated with comparatively less contempt.
- Fantastic Four: Reed Richards is a flawed but heroic man who often neglects his family, was responsible for the Four being mutated, of which his best friend got the worst of it due to being stock as an orange rock monster and has made a number of morally questionable choices like trying take away his son Franklin's powers when he was a baby. Reed's Arch-Enemy Doctor Doom is a petty, vindictive, murderous tyrant whose grudge against Reed is based on envy and a mistaken belief that Reed was responsible for scarring him. Despite being far worse than Reed and far less aware of his flaws, a segment of fans view Doom in a more sympathetic and heroic light than Reed.
- World War Hulk: Despite the reveal that the Illuminati (Iron Man, Mr Fantastic, Blackbolt and Dr. Strange) did not plant the bomb that killed the Hulk's wife, they are still hated by fans for sending the Hulk into space in the first place and other stuff Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic did in Civil War. Fans make less of a big deal over the loyalists of the Red King planting the bomb or even Meek, one of Hulk's new friends, keeping this information from the Hulk because he wanted the Hulk to become the World Breaker.
- The Transformers: Robots in Disguise: The first year has Metalhawk, who spends near-all of his page time being a Holier Than Thou jerkass, doing his best to undermine and insult Bumblebee, such as implying to a newcomer Bumblebee arranged the deaths of everyone on the Lost Light right in front of Bumblebee, then saying he did no such thing, while at the same time treating the Decepticons, who are a bunch of murderous psychoes and thugs, as mistreated victims. It's kind of satisfying when one of those Decepticons, Starscream, murders Metalhawk for a political advantage. You really expect The Starscream to be a total wad, and he is. But he never acts like it gives him (much of) a moral high ground.
- Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Amongst the major antagonists in this Godzilla MonsterVerse fanfiction, there's Alan Jonah (who on top of his canon crimes here is presented as a Smug Snake whilst orchestrating inhumane and torturous experiments on San and Vivienne Graham without a drop of pity or remorse), there's Ghidorah (an "ultraviolent" sadist of a Planet Destroyer, whose middle and right heads fostered practically all of San's psychological issues, and who actively wants to inflict a Fate Worse than Death on Vivienne all because she unwittingly hit the middle head's Berserk Button), and there's MaNi/Elder Brother (an extra-Ax-Crazy version of one of Ghidorah's heads, whose gleeful acts of only the most heinous Cold-Blooded Torture he can think up and his lack of Ghidorah's cunning in favor of Stupid Evil arguably make him the single biggest Hate Sink in the entire story). However, even MaNi is at least made more memorable by his fantastical Kaiju design and personality, than Guard B-04. B-04 is accurately described as a "juvenile thug" dipshit of a mercenary, whose only onscreen crimes compared to the aforementioned villains' atrocities are throwing crass and low blow insults at the imprisoned Vivienne and firing gunshots at her which do temporary damage for no other reason than his own amusement, yet this makes him feel very close to Real Life for any readers who've ever had to put up with a shitty asswipe like him before.
- In the Case Closed fanfic Dominoes, despite the existence of genuine villains like the Red Siamese Cats, Tequila and the Crows, who spend their time murdering, committing terrorism, and kidnapping and experimenting on homeless children, readers are far more vocal in condemnation and criticism towards the overall heroically intentioned but deeply flawed Irregulars, and Yuusaku. Commenters have expressed a variety of reasons for this, ranging from a dislike of their hypocrisy and privileged moral posturing, to disapproval of their perceived betrayals towards interpersonal loyalties and friendships, to the greater focus on (and resulting greater empathy for) the climate of extreme emotional and psychological abuse these characters perpetrate onto their so-called loved one, Shinichi, "for the sake of protecting him." The applicability of this trope may vary and be void if the reader considers any of the Irregulars and/or Yuusaku to themselves also be genuine villains rather than Hero Antagonists in the overarcing interpersonal conflicts.
- Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: One of the biggest reasons why Parker is so despised and was disliked even before the Cyan Desert Car. Sure, in terms of scope, he's nothing compared to The Apex, Cage of Flauros, or Mrs. Turner. But what he lacks in scope, he makes up in relatability: he acts like an unhelpful brat most of the time, has dangerously violent tendencies and anger issues, never takes responsibility for his actions, and even before the Unown got involved, he showed interest in hurting people just to make himself feel better. He has no concept of proportionate punishment - seeing Cold-Blooded Torture as fitting retribution for being part of a Gang of Bullies. And he looks up to Chloe to such an extent, he cant conceive that people might have priorities that dont include her, or be genuinely ignorant of her troubles; the only explanation for their inaction must be that they hate her. This, coupled with the Character Shilling he gets across the story, struck so many nerves with the readers that, especially after the Unown, he became the most hated character in the Blossomverse bar none.
- My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic: While many of the villains are disliked for being bland and generic, most of the Starfleet crew have garnered a much more negative response for being speciesist, brutal, hypocritical and inept but Lighting Dawn, in particular, gets most of this primarily in the first Starfleet Humans where many people found the uptight Principal Celestia more sympathetic.
- Never Had a Friend Like Me: The villains of the story are the Pixies and Anti-Fairies, who are willing to drop innocent children into lava, and Bob the Boil, who plans on destroying the world. However, the most unpleasant characters are Amanda's parents, because of how horribly abusive they are.
- Hell Is a Martial Artist: In-Universe, people are stunned to see Hild is a better mother figure to Ranma than his own biological family. This is justified for several reasons: since Hild wants to bring people over to her side, it wouldn't be in her interest to willingly antagonize someone or put them down. Also, she doesn't share human perceptions of gender and masculinity, meaning she is more intrigued by Ranma's power than disgusted. Being a demon, she also has to acknowledge free will and is thus more understanding of Ranma's choices.
- Beauty and the Beast: Zig-zagged. In the first half of the movie, the Beast (The Anti-Hero) imprisons Belle, which makes him a worse person than Gaston (the villain, who was harmless at first, and his obnoxiousness was Played for Laughs). However, in the second half of the movie, the Beast learns to genuinely love Belle, respecting her choices and letting her go, while Gaston turns into a Stalker with a Crush who blackmails Belle into marriage, even threatening to lock Belle's father in an insame asylum. There are still many fans who think of the Beast as a domestic abuser and Gaston as a Laughably Evil guy who is a saint compared to him, completely overlooking Gaston's villainous actions in the second part of the movie.
- Chicken Little: The title character's father, Buck Cluck, who wants to do right by his son, yet is guilty of continuous Parental Neglect as his son suffers from All of the Other Reindeer. Even though the actual antagonists are aliens causing havoc on Earth, they didn't really have any bad intentions; they were just looking for Kirby. Many fans see Buck as a detestable Abusive Parent. Buck himself acknowledges his mistakes and actually apologizes for them when his son finally calls him out.
- The Incredibles: Syndrome is a Laughably Evil Psychopathic Manchild whose hamminess makes him pretty memorable and entertaining to watch, even if he commits a bunch of heinous acts such as murdering dozens of superheroes or stealing a toddler from Bob's family. Gilbert Huph, meanwhile, is shown to be a despicable Corrupt Corporate Executive who encourages his employees to avoid helping clients with their insurance claims to ensure low payouts and high profits for the stockholders. He shows a total Lack of Empathy towards a mugging occurring right outside his window and threatens to fire Bob if the latter tries to intervene.
- The Land Before Time: In the first film, Cera exemplifies this along with Base-Breaking Character. Despite being the deuteragonist, Cera shows almost nothing but antagonistic behavior and reprehensible qualities towards the main characters. Sharptooth is undoubtedly the main antagonist and a bigger threat overall to the cast, but it can (and has) been argued by fans (and by Don Bluth himself, no less) that his villainy is because of the food chain and only acts as such out of survival.note Cera doesn't get that excuse: she not only openly intimidates, physically hurts and insults the others (especially Littlefoot), but she even stoops so low as to insult Littlefoot's mother who was killed trying to save the both of them and leave Ducky, Petrie and Spike to their deaths in the Mountains That Burn. In response to criticism about her character, the sequels greatly toned down Cera's less-than-savory traits making her more of a short-tempered, bossy, yet loyal and caring Jerk with a Heart of Gold who always helps her friends when they're in danger.
- Mulan: Chi-Fu is such a misogynistic, obnoxious, Obstructive Bureaucrat and sniveling fraidy-cat that you would end up hating him more than the actual villain (who shows zero misogyny towards Mulan), who burns down several villages during his conquest of China and is heavily implied to kill the civilians he comes across (including children). Chi-Fu is so pompous and ungrateful that even in-universe, nobody can stand him. Even the Emperor detests him so much that after Mulan saves China from the Huns and he orders Chi-Fu employ Mulan in his council, when Chi-Fu says there are no council positions open, the Emperor happily tells Mulan "Very well. You can have his (Chi-Fu's) job" causing Chi-Fu to Faint in Shock.
- Peter Pan: The title character is supposed to be the embodiment of a cocky and impulsive kid who can be unintentionally cruel but ultimately is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and the Disney version toned down some of his more questionable traits from the books. To many fans however, he's still much worse than the Big Bad Captain Hook, even if the latter is an evil pirate who Would Hurt a Child (even innocent children, not just Peter himself) and casually kills his own men for random reasons. Since Captain Hook is portrayed as a Laughably Evil loser, fans find him more pitiable than anything.
- Shark Tale: Despite being the main protagonist and being intended as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Oscar is near-unanimously hated for his constant lying, general insensitivity towards Angie and his stupidity leading him to make reckless decisions (see: selling Angie's prized heirloom and betting the money on a horse race which he ends up losing). The Big Bad, fish-eating mob boss Don Lino is viewed in a much more sympathetic light by comparison due to his love for his sons and his motivations revolving around avenging the death of one of them, while villainous Gold Digger Lola earned some love in the fandom by being played for Fanservice despite (or perhaps even because of) constantly abusing Oscar during their short-lived relationship.
- Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World: Even though that he's in this movie for less than a minute, you may despise this background character, more than the main villain. Why? Because after Pocahontas saves the life of this English settler, does he thank her, no. He calls her a "bloody savage" and knocks her to the ground. He nearly started a uproar between the Powhatans and the settlers and the worst part is that he was never punished for being a jerk to Pocahontas.
- Atonement's readers really hate Briony or view her as the nastiest character, considering she ruins several lives because of her False Rape Accusation. Except for the most part, Briony was a naïve twelve-year-old who misunderstood a situation that the adults around her didn't explain very well - and she was driven to help her cousin after she was raped. World War II broke out shortly after this, meaning her sister and her lover (who was falsely named as the culprit) likely would have been separated anyway. Marshall the actual rapist and Lola, the victim who allowed Robbie to go to prison knowing he wasn't guilty, get less hate from fans - presumably because they're side characters and it's unknown what happens to them. The reader meanwhile knows that Robbie and Cecilia never get to be together because of the war, and Briony grows up to have a family and can only atone by writing a fake happy ending for them in her book.
- Harry Potter: Dolores Jane Umbridge is perhaps one of the best known examples of this trope, maybe even the Trope Codifier. Lord Voldemort, the Big Bad of the series, is a genocidal maniac who's Wizard Hitler. Umbridge, however, has nothing to do with Voldemort and his Death Eaters, but is far more hated by fans for her abuses of power and generally acting as a malevolent dictator more than a teacher or administrator, and more so in the movie, thanks to Imelda Staunton's awesome portrayal of her. A lot of it has to do with the fact that many in the audience are more likely to know someone like Umbridge than they are to know a fanatical supremacist like Voldemort. Eventually, even Rowling herself blurred the line between the two by having Umbridge return in the last book as a wholehearted Black Shirt for the Death Eaters' regime.
- Goosebumps has many villainous entities in every iteration of the books, most having no qualms about hurting kids, but they're usually hard to hate. This is mainly because most can't be called "evil" by human standards, or are just too entertainingly villainous. By contrast, there are many human characters readers walk away absolutely hating, ranging from violent bullies, clueless parents, cruel teachers, and on rare occasions the protagonists themselves! This is even a plot-point in Calling All Creeps where Ricky decides to help transform humanity into Creeps, because while the Creeps are maniacal lizard-monsters, they're still nicer to him than anyone at his school.
- Most of the Nevermoor fandom dislikes Corvus (Morrigan's unloving father), Baz Charlton (an insensitive boor and overall pain), and Inspector Flintlock (a bigoted cop), way more than the series' actual villain, Ezra Squall. Part of this is Evil Is Cool, and the fact that Squall has shown some Hidden Depths that the other three mostly lack, part of it is that Squall is a monster from your nightmares, the other three are assholes you have to deal with every day. (The fandom's hatred of Corvus, in particular, really cannot be overstated; some have joked that Squall at least encourages Morrigan and takes an interest in her education, which is more than Corvus can say.)
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Zeus is a brutal Hypocrite and Ungrateful Bastard who has an inflated opinion of his own intelligence and is far harder to like at all than most of the Ax-Crazy (but often Affably Evil) villains from the first two series.
- Survivor Dogs: In a series of blood-thirsty and murderous characters, one of the most disliked characters is a dog that's actually The Load of his pack: the slimeball Pug named "Whine". Whine blackmailed Lucky, inadvertently got a packmate killed, and was all too keen to let Alpha kill the Fierce Dog puppies, all because he didn't like being the Omega of his pack.
- Temeraire: The Big Bad, Napoléon Bonaparte, is portrayed as a Worthy Opponent verging occasionally on Friendly Enemy of the protagonist Laurence, and is genuinely interested in improving the lives of his citizens. In contrast, Laurence's fellow captain Rankin is a classist, racist, sexist, speciesist ass whose defining moment is abandoning his dragon companion to die alone, begging to see him, while he goes for drinks.
- Warrior Cats: Appledusk is one of the most glaring examples of a Base-Breaking Character in the franchise. Many readers wish he was sent to the Dark Forest or even that he was killed twice. Yet, Appledusk himself only rejected and cheated on his former mate Mapleshade, who subsequently proceeded to go on a killing spree that included him. This rejection also led to his kits being killed, and to make it all worse, it's easy to interpret Appledusk as rejecting his children as well. Appledusk's cruelty towards his own family makes him one of the most despised cats in the series, yet he never laid a claw on anyone.
- Worm: Many of the characters, including the protagonist, are either criminals, terrorists, or outright world-destroying monsters. But the most despised characters are Emma, Madison, and Sophia, the bullies who caused Taylor to gain powers by subjecting her to a really Deadly Prank. Glory Girl straight-up tells a remorseful Madison In-Universe that she is a more despicable person than Taylor.
- In the Overlord light novels, one of the most despised characters is Remedios Custodio, a Knight Templar paladin who's the leader of the evil-slaying military order of the Roble Holy Kingdom. She is widely hated by the fans because of her forceful, stubborn, arrogant and unreasonable personality, yet she is also honestly concerned with protecting the people of her kingdom and saving innocents. But because she's mean to Ainz and to fan-favorite Neia, many fans hate her while singing the praises of Ainz, a genocidal despot who thinks nothing of killing millions of people in the name of making his "children" just a little bit safer.
- Warhammer 40,000: The most evil faction isn't generally considered to be Chaos, a collective of evil gods attempting to conquer and corrupt the whole galaxy. Normally, that honor goes to the Dark Eldar, a group of backstabbing, decadent, hedonostic pirates hiding in the Webway and sometimes going out to kidnap people in order to torture them to death in the most horrible ways possible to stave off the devouring of their souls by one of said gods. They can always join their Craftworld brethren and instead stave it off through proper discipline, but that means giving up the hedonism and backstabbing. That said, in spite of how utterly heinous they are, the Drukhari do have a diabolical appeal. They are generally well-liked for being Machiavellian badasses with sleek, fast vehicles and technology so advanced that it looks like magic, plus their Glass Cannon nature means many players consider them the hardest army to play well. The Craftworlder Aeldari, however, are quite widely disliked for being supremacistnote , status-quo defending fairies.
- Among the most detested individuals in the setting is Kubrik Chenkov, the worst example of General Ripper ever. His infamy comes from the fact that he sends waves upon waves of guardsmen straight into enemy fire, with little to no regard to losses or casualties. Most commanders would be reprimanded for senseless waste of life, but since his actions yield victory, he is seen as a capable commander by high command.
- Heathers: Heather Duke, Kurt Kelly, and Ram Sweeney are all far more disliked than the actual villain, J.D.—who is an actual Serial Killer — mainly because they lack his charisma and tragic backstory. By contrast, Heather Duke is a Beta Bitch who taunts her friend's suicidal feelings, and Kurt and Ram are Jerk Jocks and attempted rapists... which explains why many fans aren't very sympathetic when J.D. targets them.
- In Prince Igor, the whole plot is kicked off when Prince Igor goes to war with the Cuman khans Gzak and Konchak who are responsible for devastating raids on Russian towns. However, the character viewed as the vilest one both in- and out-of-universe is Vladimir Galitsky, Igor's own brother-in-law, who starts a regime of debauchery when Igor is away on campaign and plans to seize power in Putivl for good. It doesn't help that the actual central villain Khan Konchak is revealed to be an honourable Affably Evil man and Friendly Enemy to Igor.
Maidens of Putivl (on Prince Galitsky and his cronies): Worse than the enemies, worse than the Cumans!
- Ace Attorney:
- In general, annoying or unhelpful witnesses get more hate then the actual killers. A good example is in the third case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All, Turnabout Big Top. Two of the witnesses get a lot of hate. Ben Woodman is a shy ventriloquist who uses his puppet Trilo to insult people, and has a creepy crush on the teenage Regina. Meanwhile, Moe is a clown who keeps on telling obnoxious jokes (in the middle of a murder trial!) and going on long tangents that get the player penalized. The actual killer is a lot more sympathetic, since he only attempted murder because of a misplaced attempt at avenging his comatose brother.
- Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney has Zak Gramarye, one of the most hated characters in the franchise, even though he didn't kill anyone. To recap: He hid evidence from his lawyer Phoenix, causing the man to be disbarred. Then, he ran away, leaving his daughter Trucy to be taken care by Phoenix. Later on, he came back, trying to frame Phoenix for cheating at cards, even though that would mean that Phoenix wouldn't be able to afford taking care of Trucy. When that attempt failed, he hit his accomplice with a bottle, knocking her out. The actual Big Bad of Apollo Justice doesn't get that much hate, despite murdering two people, including Zak, and attempting to poison a teenager.
- From Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc gives us Byakuya Togami, who while not universally reviled like other examples listed here are, manages to have a very vocal hatedom relative to his sheer Jerkass behavior towards other classmates. Highly elitist, condescending to everyone he meets and extremely unpleasant, Togami is drawn more ire to him by some fans than the actual Mastermind themselves, both his sheer Lack of Empathy but also for tampering with the crime scene and Chihiro's corpse, arranging it in a way that makes it look like Genocide Jack's doing, all for the sole reason of making the trial more interesting. For some fans, this was a worse sin than what the Mastermind, Junko Enoshima, did over the course of the story, as Junko is at least consistently a Laughably Evil villain. Some players felt that Togami's abusive personality hits too close to home, and when combined with his treatment of Toko, even him gradually getting slightly better felt too little, too late to fans.
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair also gives us Hiyoko Saionji is an unpleasant bitch that, with one exception, likes to mock her classmates, especially Mikan Tsumiki. However, she doesn't tend to do much more than throw childish insults at others. In fact, she is horrified at the idea of actually killing someone (though the way she voices this through mention of the students who ended up killing someone and were executed for it really doesn't tend to help her case). There also is a fairly harrowing reason for why she acts the way she does that's on par with many of the most tragic backstories in the series, and with the exception of Mikan and Kazuichi, her classmates tend to either ignore her insults or laugh at her antics. Judging from the way the fandom talks about her however, you'd believe that she is morally lower than any of the students who end up becoming murderers (though granted in the circumstances of this series that part may be a little complicated to judge in most cases) and more detestable than even Monokuma.
- A more... interesting example is that many fans are willing to forgive Nagito Komaeda for orchestrating a murder while appearing to be friendly and polite, but not for constantly insulting Hajime when he finds out that he is a student from the Reserve Course of Hope's Peak Academy and thus doesn't have a talent.
- This trope has afflicted Battle for Dream Island for years. About 95% of the time, if a character shows jerky traits or qualities, and their team is up for elimination, they're bound to get eliminated immediately. This was the reason that Flower was eliminated first in BFDI, Donut was eliminated first in Battle for Dream Island Again, and Pencil was eliminated first in Battle for BFDI. Granted, Battle for BFB and The Power of Two attempt to avoid this by changing the voting system from elimination to immunity, but unpopular characters who gain the least amount of votes are usually the ones who are jerks. Likewise, Leafy's change from a Genki Girl into a sociopath with a Dark and Troubled Past was seen as the best thing to come out of BFDIA, keeping her as an Ensemble Dark Horse, and her reversion back to a cheery person in BFB left quite a few fans disappointed, especially considering that she was the second eliminated contestant after Pencil (before rejoining by fan voting) because she acted like a commandeering jerk to her team.
- Similarly, this trope also afflicted Inanimate Insanity during Season 1 and the first half of Inanimate Insanity II. This mentality resulted in contestants such as Knife, Balloon, Cherries, and Trophy getting voted off rather early, whereas villainous characters like Taco managed to make it extremely far. However, this has been completely averted starting with "Rain on Your Charade" in II2, as not only has the system been completely changed to be contestant voting, but characters are likely to get eliminated if they're going through an antagonistic arc and are reaching the end of it, like with Test Tube and Microphone. The shift to Cerebus Syndrome also helps, as while villainous characters are still viewed highly by the fandom, characters previously viewed as one-note jerks, like Balloon and Knife, are much more nuanced than they were before, effectively having them be Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Granted, while Inanimate Insanity Invitational opts for a Lighter and Softer tone, thus keeping the newcomers from being as nuanced as the ones from II2, III still retains contestant voting, thus zigzagging this trope by preventing jerk characters from being voted out too early by fans.
- RWBY: Volumes 1-3 includes both school bullies and villains. As ringleader, Cardin demonstrates Fantastic Racism towards Faunus, kick-starts Jaune's development via blackmail, and highlights Pyrrha's exceptional abilities. He's therefore a flat character the fandom loves to hate while the villains all have interesting hooks. As leader, Cinder is a mysterious woman with unusual powers. Her team includes: the stylish, charismatic Roman; the flamboyant, acrobatic Neo; and the sassy Emerald and Mercury who really enjoy their work. The spin-off show RWBY Chibi, which often uses fandom reactions to parody the main show, lampshades this by making Cardin a villain-wannabe, whose attempts to join the villains constantly leads to them outclassing and duping him.
- Sonic for Hire: The series features Mario as a mob boss, Kirby as an Ax-Crazy psychopath that loves murder, and Sonic as a Villain Protagonist. But Tails is the one who gets the most hate from fans for his actions in Season 4: throwing drinks at people's faces, pissing on Sonic, and just acting like a douchebag. Even Sonic, who tried to blow up a movie theater with dozens of people inside just to kill Tails in the same season, isn't hated as much.
- Hazbin Hotel: Alastor was a serial killer in life who became a demon overlord in hell. He seems to only help Charlie's rehabilitation program because he finds it funny. He's quite popular among the fans, thanks to his Evil Is Cool factor, his radio-like voice, and his design. One character that few people would admit liking is Katie Killjoy, a jerkass reporter who mocks Charlie on screen, makes homophobic remarks to her ("I don't touch the gays") and generally comes off as the most unpleasant character in the show.
- By far one of the most divisive characters in the comic is Vriska Serket. Mainly due to her lying, manipulation, the fact that she broke Tavros' legs and later caused his death and being the direct cause of a HUGE Wham Episode. It's not rare to see her much more reviled in the fandom than genuine villains like Jack Noir, Doc Scratch, Lord English or Her Imperious Condescension.
- Eridan Ampora is similarly hated by the fandom due to his creepy, desperate attitude towards Feferi, his Fantastic Racism towards the other Trolls and condescending, snooty attitude. After killing two of his friends and attempting to betray everyone, not many fans were particularly upset after Kanaya chainsawed him in half.
- Cronus is one of the biggest Hate Sinks in the story despite never killing anybody, since he's a boundary-ignoring creep and a complete asshole to Mituna. He also lacks anything that could put him under Evil Is Cool. Andrew Hussie's Author Avatar calls him "the worst character in Homestuck by a nautical mile" in an Easter Egg, and a good portion of the fandom agrees with him.
- An In-Universe example occurs in Dominic Deegan with the interactions between Dominic and Hans Reinhold. Their first meeting was in the "War in Hell" storyline where Hans, under the misguided belief of his superior officer's orc racism, insulted Luna's orc teeth syndrome, causing Dominic to claim to have a vision of Hans dying alone and unloved. When the two meet again a year, Dominic is still ticked about it and brings it up publicly unaware that Hans had learned from his mistake and was trying to atone. While the two eventually develop a grudging respect and bury the hatchet when forced together in the "March Across Maltak" plotline, Hans is the only character Dominic is antagonistic towards that he makes no attempt to fully make amends with, especially considering Dominic has attempted to make peace with every other one of his enemies except for the Greater-Scope Villain.