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Jerks Are Worse Than Villains

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"Next he mentions various tactics to make the villains hate-able... [m]ostly he just mentions stuff like personal insults, killing off developed characters for petty reasons, generally being petty to people. It's a lot of small stuff. I think he's suggesting that grandiose acts of villainy tend to be too large in scale to solicit a significant emotional response from the audience due to lack of personal connection."
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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.

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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 who is out to destroy the world 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.

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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.

Getting one’s just deserts relates to this fate too. A jerk being a Karma Houdini is just asking for audience vitriol. A villain is more likely to get their just deserts than a Jerkass.

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 villain’s 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 More Hateable Minor Villain, 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.

A Designated Hero is likely to fall under this trope. Often leading to cases of Rooting for the Empire.

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 don’t like certain characters. This trope only discusses a verifiable phenomenon.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Batman
      • 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 plead 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 Flash
      • Wally West's parents, Rudy and Mary West, were both utterly detestable and obnoxious people who treated Wally horribly throughout his entire life. Mary was emotionally abusive and smothering towards Wally as an adult by frequently guilting him into keeping all of his attention on her, while Rudy was physically abusive towards him when he was a child and later graduated to straddling the line of actual supervillainy as a Con Man when Wally became older. It's no wonder that Wally, and the fandom, preferred to think of his aunt Iris and her boyfriend Barry Allen as his surrogate parents.
      • Barry Allen fell under this heading after he was brought back from the dead during Final Crisis. As a result of Reverse Flash altering Barry's past by killing his mother and framing his dad for it, Barry became defined by his mother's death. Unfortunately, his half-assed attempt to save his mom by using time travel not only shattered time itself and created the horrific Flashpoint world, his subsequent attempt to fix it led to the creation of the New 52. Even with the roles Reverse Flash and later Doctor Manhattan had in these events, Barry gained a lot of hatred from fans due to his selfishness and stupidity throughout these incidents. He only came out looking like an even bigger jerk when he did next to nothing to fix his mistakes before making even worse ones (such as Flash War and Heroes in Crisis) while offering empty apologies and looking sorry. Barry comes off as worse than his enemies because he's just as horrible and manipulative, yet he's supposed to be a good guy.
  • 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.
    • Henry Peter Gyrich. The king of the Obstructive Bureaucrat, and a general all-around asshole to everyone and everything in his sight. Unlike the villains, he has no cool factor, and only one thing close to a redeeming feature, and never gets any real punishment for his behavior (even when he is a villain), escaping to sneer another day. Until the events of S.W.O.R.D.
    • Fantastic Four: Reed Richards is a flawed but heroic man who often neglects his family, was responsible for getting his best friend turned into an orange rock monster, and has made a number of morally questionable choices, such as trying to 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 during the Civil War event. 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 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.

    Films — Animation 
  • Beauty and the Beast: 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 insane 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, 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 quite memorable and entertaining to watch, even as he commits heinous acts such as murdering dozens of superheroes or trying to abduct a toddler. 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. Many audience members were quite satisfied when Bob threw him through a wall.
  • 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 be (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 offers Mulan Chi-Fu's job when the latter states there are no other positions open. His absence in the sequel would suggest the Emperor fired him anyway despite Mulan turning down his offer.
  • 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.
  • 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 an uproar between the Powhatans and the settlers and the worst part is that he was never punished for being a jerk to Pocahontas.
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • 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 modern 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.
    • Speaking of Sadistic Teacher, Severus Snae can also count as this for his favoritism to his own house an his bullying of griffonor sudients. Especially his treatment of Harry an Neville despide the fact he was also bullied. he also became Neville's boggart (Worst fear).The fact He was an ex death eater who told the prophecy to voldemort leading to the death of James and Lily and the torture of Neville's parent also add on the jerk factor. There is also the fact his Heel–Face Turn only happens because of Original Position Fallacy : he served Voldemort without any remorse and never really regreted his actions until the one personne he cares became a target. The fact he also projets his hatred of James on Harry despite the fact he did nothing to deserve this and the fact he is lily's son paint his love for Lily as an immature crush. Because of this his love is now interpreted as an obsession and the character as a Dogged Nice Guy. And like Umbridge, because a lot of people know someone like him, it make it easier to hate him
    • The Dursleys, Harry's abusive family, are also more hated than Voldemort. Like with Umbridge, many people have either experienced abusive relationships or know someone who has, which makes them easier to despise. Vernon gets the most hate of all the Dursleys since, unlike Dudley, who eventually grew to respect his cousin, and Petunia, who is somewhat sympathetic due to being The Unfavorite compared to her sister Lily, Vernon has no sympathetic or redeeming qualities at all. He just hates Harry because he thinks wizards are freaks.
  • 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.
  • Mercy Thompson
    • The series is full of vile villains like Cory Littleton, Tim Milanovich, The River Devil, Hopcross Jilly, and the Widow Queen just to name a few. But who is the most hated by readers? Christy Hauptman, Adam’s emotionally abusive ex-wife and Jesse’s neglectful mother. While the named villains are awful, most of them usually cross the Love to Hate territory and are at least entertaining to read. Christy on the other is just plain unbearable and unlikable with an It's All About Me attitude. When she returned in Night Broken and stayed at Mercy and Adam’s home, Christy tried to cause a rift in Mercy and Adam’s marriage and successfully managed to get more than half the pack to turn on Mercy for no other reason but because she knew she could. Even worse? She led the book’s Big Bad to Mercy’s home which led to the deaths of several people. Oh yeah, Christy is also a Karma Houdini as she never faces punishment. You know it’s bad when Tim Milanovich, a sociopathic thief who kidnaps and rapes Mercy, is far more liked by readers than Christy.
    • Several members of Adam’s Pack are also this to a lot of readers, namely Mary Joe and Auriele Zao just to name a few. The fact they continuously treat Mercy like dirt and still refuse to accept her as their alpha’s mate/wife, despite Mercy doing so much for them and stands by their side in their darkest moments. Even worse? They greatly prefer Christy despite knowing how much of an awful wife she was to Adam. Auriele is hated for always placing Christy’s best interests over Adam or his daughter Jesse and Mary Joe is despised by readers for trying to outright murder Mercy in Silver Borne despite Mercy saving her life previously just because she is jealous Mercy was chosen as Adam’s mate over her.
  • The Neapolitan Novels: Nino is a toxic Love Interest who has no problem cheating, lying, and manipulating women, and readers hate him to the point of considering him the most despicable character in the series. Keep in mind that this is a series full of criminals and domestic abusers, like Nino's own father (rapist and child molester), the Solara brothers (violent gangsters in a dangerous mafia family), Stefano (rapist and wife-beater), or Lila's father (who threw Lila out of the window when she was a child, breaking her arm, and then used her as a tool for his family business). While these men are used as a representation of the misogynistic society of the time (Naples in the 50s), Nino tries to present himself as an intellectual, idealistic guy who is different from the other men and from his father, but is actually a huge manipulative Hypocrite who only sees women as objects, and it's infuriating that the female lead is madly in love with him.
  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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, hedonistic 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 for 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.

    Theatre 
  • 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!
    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In general, annoying or unhelpful witnesses get more hate than the actual killers. A good example is in the third case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All, "Turnabout Big Top", with two of its witnesses getting 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 of 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 to take 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.
  • Danganronpa:
    • 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 for his sheer Lack of Empathy and 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 has Hiyoko Saionji, who 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, and said insults don't even affect them at all with the exceptions of Mikan and Kazuichi. 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. Judging from the way the western fandom talks about her, however, you'd believe that she is morally lower than any of the students who end up becoming murderers 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.
    • In Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, while Monaca does a lot of reprehensible things, she does a good job being a Love to Hate villain, and some do cut her slack with her Freudian Excuse. The same, however, can't be said about her brother, Haiji. He gets far more hatred from players because of his shameless fetish for younger girls and abuse towards Monaca, indirectly making him responsible for the events of the game.
  • The entire world of Monster Prom runs on this logic. Every major character has murdered or at least recklessly endangered the lives of multiple people, and one of them is a genocidal dictator, but all of them are shocked and repulsed by acts of everyday rudeness. Vera, for example, is fine with slavery but takes a passionate moral stance against unpaid internships.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, the most hated character in the murder mystery visual novel's cast is Kotoba Gaikoku, a notorious pervert who is later revealed to have been a Stalker with a Crush to Momoko, but nevertheless is not the killer; in fact, he's one of the victims, and will die if the right options aren't chosen. Hiro Shiratake is similarly hated for being an arrogant jerkass who was planning to callously cheat on his girlfriend Momoko with the latter's lesbian best friend Kamen, although it's slightly mitigated by him being the resident Hate Sink of the cast and an Asshole Victim. The true killer, Hiro's girlfriend Momoko Mori, is somewhat better received due to being more affable while being alive, as well as being a Tragic Villain and a Sympathetic Murderer.

    Web Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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 lead 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.
  • Epithet Erased has a colorful cast of villains and antagonists who are beloved by the audience for being funny, friendly, sympathetic, understandable, or just plan cool. However the same cannot be said for Molly's negligent dad Martin, whose irresponsible and idiotic nature is not played for laughs and causes untold strife for his youngest daughter while passively enabling his eldest Lorelai's toxic behavior. Many fans would even go so far as to say that the villains would be better parents than Martin.

    Webcomics 
  • Homestuck:
    • 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 his 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.
  • The most divisive character in The Order of the Stick is Miko Miyazaki, a paladin of Azure City. While she is ostensibly on the side of the heroes, she is incredibly abrasive and judgmental, and ends up doing more harm than good with certain actions (notably killing her liege lord Shojo, a murder that strips her of her paladinhood) despite being committed to fighting evil. The actual villains are more popular, likely because they're more entertaining to watch.
    • The author made an overt attempt to avert this trope and Jerkass Dissonance with regards to Xykon, the Big Bad of the strip, by making it clear that not only was Xykon a villain in a "wants to destroy the world" sense, but he was also a jerk in a "petty, annoying asshole" sense. He's charming and charismatic enough to be worth following through the story, but in case you find yourself reaching a point where you might start thinking he's actually okay he'll do something unbelievably dickish just to remind you that he's both evil and a massive prick.

    Web Videos 
  • Discussed in the Screen Rant Pitch Meetings pitch meeting for Breaking Bad. The Screenwriter introduces the character of Walter White's wife Skyler to the Producer, and after telling the latter about how she wants to uncover the truth behind her husband Walt's lies, the Producer finds her reasonable. However, the Screenwriter points out that Skyler is "naggy," and thus the audience will hate her more than the violent criminals on the show.
  • Despite being the Big Bad of season two of Escape the Night, The Sorceress is a fan favourite due to her hamminess and amazing outfit. The people who get all the hate in the fandom are Matt, a whiny but well-meaning Jerkass, and Colin, a Sociopathic Soldier who might be a colossal Jerkass and The Scrooge, but isn’t exactly evil, in fact, he aides the heroes in their mission. It’s his serious Lack of Empathy and the revelation that he willingly got many innocent people killed that makes him much more detestable then the sorceress.


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