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Likable Villain

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"Villains aren't bad guys. They're just...misunderstood. Villains know what they want and they go for it. I can respect that."
Marina, Splatoon 2

This is the Super-Trope for the cases where villains have qualities that make them more likable. This kind of thing easily leads into Anti-Villain when more than a smidgen of these tropes is added. See also the Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness. Contrast Hate Sink (which is when a character is intentionally made to be unlikable) and for some examples, Complete Monster (where the villain is so repugnant and despicable that there's nothing positive to say about them).


Evoking Admiration

  • Evil Is Cool: Audiences find the villain to be awesome.
  • Worthy Opponent: Someone admires their adversary for being a challenging and honorable opponent.

For the audience:

Showing Attachment to Other People



  • Affably Evil: The villain is a friendly sort in spite of having evil intentions.
  • Friendly Enemy: The bad guy is so chummy with the hero that it's easy to forget that they are the hero's enemy.

Good Intentions

  • Obliviously Evil: The villain doesn't know that what they're doing is wrong.
    • Non-Malicious Monster: A non-sapient creature that isn't malevolent and is only acting out of animal instinct with no concept of morality.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The villain believes that their actions are okay if the result is making the world a better place for everyone.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The villain is only doing wrong because they have noble intentions.

Having a Sense of Humor


For the audience:

  • Strawman Has a Point: The audience agrees with the points made by the character they are supposed to be against.



  • Go-Karting with Bowser: The heroes and the villains socialize without harming each other.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The character is only a villain as their job. Off the clock, they're as normal and friendly as any other person.

For the audience:

  • Villains Out Shopping: Showing the bad guys taking a break from villainy and doing the same things normal people do is a good way to humanize them.


For the audience:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: The villain dies and their death is portrayed as sympathetic.
  • Harmless Villain: The villain is incapable of being a real threat.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The villain keeps failing and getting humiliated no matter how hard they try.
  • Jerkass Woobie: The audience feels that even though this character was bad, they still didn't deserve the misfortunes they suffered.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: A henchman who is too nice and ineffectual to be evil.
  • Mook Horror Show: The hero beating up the bad guys is shown from the bad guys' perspective and has the hero portrayed as being like a movie monster.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: An unfortunate character's misery drives them to attempt to cause a lot of destruction and death.

Sex Appeal

For the audience:

  • Draco in Leather Pants: The audience portrays a character as being nicer when they are canonically a horrible person.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Villains are considered especially attractive by the audience.
  • Foe Yay Shipping: Fans ship the hero with the villain.

Understanding His/Her Point of View

  • Freudian Excuse: A villain or jerk is the way they are because of something bad that happened to them in the past.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Someone who takes a life is portrayed as having a sympathetic and justifiable reason for killing the person.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Someone admits feeling bad for the bad guy.

For the audience:

May or may not be Unintentionally Sympathetic.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: