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More Hateable Minor Villain

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Typically, when the audience is intended to hate a character, it's the Big Bad. After all, they're the one responsible for the hardships the heroes are going through. The Classic Villain fits this archetype.

However, in many stories, the main villains are sympathetic Anti Villains, characters people like in spite of their villainy. And sometimes, the villain will simply be too cool, mysterious, or animalistic to really hate. So what do you do if you still want your audience to have someone to boo and hiss?

Enter the More Hateable Minor Villain. This character is not the Big Bad of the story, but since the actual antagonist is unlikely to draw the ire of fans, they serve as a replacement for that hatred. They can range from your garden-variety Jerkass all the way up to a mass-murdering psychopath, and they are often used to make the main antagonist look better in comparison.

The More Hateable Minor Villain can be recognized by these signs:

  • The villain must be a minor villain — they must play a small role in the overall plot. Arc Villains can qualify if there is an overarching Big Bad and the arc villain is unrelated to them (ie, a Role-Playing Game split up into several chapters with their own subplots), and a Small Role, Big Impact villain can qualify as well.
  • The villain must be unaffiliated with the Big Bad — if they are employed by them, then they are a More Despicable Minion, which is a related but separate trope.
  • The actual Big Bad must be someone who the work does not portray as hateable.
  • The villain must, therefore, be hateable in place of the Big Bad.

Common environments for the MHMV are:

  1. Works which operate under Grey-and-Gray Morality or White-and-Grey Morality, where neither side is truly bad, and the main antagonist is too sympathetic and/or non-threatening to really hate.
  2. Works where the villains are not sympathetic, but every bit as badass as the heroes and just too damn cool to hate.
  3. Works in which the antagonist is a mindless or strange-minded Eldritch Abomination that is too animalistic, unknowable, or non-sapient to despise.
  4. Works in which the protagonist, in addition to fighting the Big Bad, struggles against a faceless group, such as a corporation or an institution, on the side. Here, the MHMV is a representative of the group, not necessarily its leader, who embodies all its vices and maybe more. Likely to be an Obstructive Bureaucrat and/or Corrupt Bureaucrat.
  5. Works in which the protagonist's struggle is against something personal and nebulous and there is No Antagonist to hate.
  6. Works in which the Big Bad is more of an Anti-Villain, and the MHMV is just a straight-ahead bad guy, in order to provide contrast.
  7. Works requiring an Asshole Victim of some variety, since they can use a MHMV to fill that corpse-shaped hole in the plot.

The less sympathetic flavour of Big Bad Wannabe usually fits this trope, with their more detestable qualities standing out due to their lack of competence, intellect, or bravery.

See also Jerks Are Worse Than Villains, which is an audience reaction often related to this trope but not necessarily intentional, and which only applies to a character's jerkish qualities as opposed to genuine atrocities. Contrast Noble Top Enforcer, which is when The Dragon or a minion is more sympathetic than the Big Bad, and Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey, which is when a serious and nasty villain has a minion who's more silly than them. Can overlap with Sympathetic Villain, Despicable Villain when the despicable minor villain can sympathise the usual Big Bad, if only for a time.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

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    Fan Works 
  • Danganronpa: Memento Mori: Although Naoya Edogawa may be the Big Bad and a Bad Boss, he is established to have a rather tragic reason for his villainy, namely a misguided belief to impress his dead older sister Arisu, and ultimately has a Heel Realization that ends with providing a Villain's Dying Grace. Despite having zero affiliation with him, as the "unsympathetic murderer of Chapter 3", Luka Aikuchi is way more loathsome, being a remorseless Serial Killer deliberately targeting the homeless out of an insane belief that the "unclean" are unworthy of life.
  • Danganronpa: Paradise Lost: The Big Bad Duumvirate of Junpei Ichikawa and Momiji Akamatsu may be the masterminds of the Deadly Game orchestrating it out of a fanatical refusal to forgive the ones they blame for their torment, but they have understandable reasons for why they were driven to extremism and ultimately realize their wrongdoing, unfortunately too late to be saved. Although they have their own minor agendas and no involvement in the masterminds' grand scheme, Noriko Aino and Akihiro Garaki are much more unapologetic and thus hateable — the former is a psychotically violent Stalker with a Crush willing to murder their target upon rejection, whereas the latter is an Insufferable Genius and Mad Scientist who shows no remorse for the unethical experiments they did simply because they could do so.
  • Danny Phantom: Stranded:
    • While most of Danny's villains are too awesome or entertaining to hate, neither can be said for Colette Bevier, a cruel Big Sister Bully and Alpha Bitch who's tormented Star since the day they met just for kicks and is willing to use any means to steal her boyfriend Danny simply as a way to mess with her along with harassing their friends. She's so vile that even the sadistic Manipulative Bitch Penelope Spectra calls her a sociopath in the making.
    • Beatrice Traville is no physical threat to Team Phantom and is overshadowed by both Vlad and his ghost bat in her debut during "Visited", but she stands out as a Dirty Coward elitist bitch and Abusive Mom to her daughter Stella as well as a Gruesome Grandparent to Star. She bullies Stella into obeying her through verbal and emotional abuse, and tries to force Star into an Arranged Marriage with her most hated wannabe-suitor, Donovan Loadman, just for her own personal benefit regardless of Star's feelings and genuinely happy relationship with Danny, or the fact that Donovan is willing to hit her for opposing him. Beatrice's utter lack of positive traits makes us cheer when Star cuts her grandmother out of her life with a restraining order and Danny scares her into leaving Amity Park forever after she spent all of "Visited" treating them and their loved ones like dirt.
    • Donovan Loadman is just a Spoiled Brat no more menacing than the Box Ghost who only cares about getting his own way. He mainly poses a threat to Danny and Star's relationship, only to become even less of a threat after being cut off by his father. However, he disgusts the characters and audience because of how cruel, self-centered, entitled, obsessive, cowardly, sociopathic, and downright insane his behavior can get. He still refuses to leave Star and Danny alone despite the restraining order against him because his fragile ego can't stand being denied, though Team Phantom and their loved ones only regard him as a nuisance that they want out of their lives, just like Colette. Even other snobs like the Mansons and the Beviers don't want anything to do with him after the unforgivable way he treated Star in "Visited" and eventually, even his stuck-up friends, Vivian and Theodore, begin getting sick of Donovan's petty vendetta with Star and Danny.
  • Super Danganronpa Another 2: Mikado Sannoji is the leader of Void and mastermind of the Deadly Game (this is not really a spoiler as it is revealed in the prologue), but is comical, affable, and a very charismatic villain. The Chapter 3 culprit, Kanade Otonokoji, takes the usual “chapter 3 unsympathetic culprit” Once an Episode thing and takes it to extreme levels, being an outright Serial Killer and abuser to her sister Hibiki who disgusts even Mikado. Despite being the only culprit who is not a member of Void, Kanade is worse and more loathsome than all of them.

    Films — Animated 
  • While the Carnotaurus is supposed to be the Big Bad of Dinosaur, it is merely just a predator who only kills other dinosaurs in order to survive. On the other hand, there's the tyrannical Iguanodon herd leader Kron, who rules the Herd with an iron fist, and constantly abuses other dinosaurs he sees as being inferior to him, even feeding them to said Carnotaurus, just to try to "protect" the Herd and make sure they eventually reach the Nesting Grounds, but at the cost of their safety and well-being.
  • The titular monster of Superman: Doomsday is just a mindless monster and Lex Luthor is his typical Mad Scientist Corrupt Corporate Executive self — but the Toyman is presented as a child kidnapper and ultimately child killer. That last one, killing a four-year-old girl, leads to him suffering a Vigilante Execution at the hands of Luthor's Superman clone.
  • While Unicron is a world-eating Planet Killer culpable for the deaths of billions in The Transformers: The Movie, it's implied that, much like Marvel's Galactus, he has to do it to survive, and so is more a force of nature than a true villain. However, there are the Quintessons, the villains of one of the Wacky Wayside Tribe vignettes in the second act. They run a Kangaroo Court that seemingly dispenses with charges and goes straight to the verdict — it's heavily implied that all the "defendants" are actually innocent of whatever the hell brought them to the Quintesson tribunal in the first place. And the "verdicts" always lead to the same result — if the "defendant" is judged guilty, they are dropped into a tank full of Sharkticons. If the "defendant" is judged innocent, they are dropped into a tank full of Sharkticons. It's made blatant that the Quintessons are pretty much doing it all For the Evulz.
  • Kazar, the Big Bad of The Wild, has at least a sympathetic backstory due to his desire to eat lions is simply just to avenge his family, who were killed and eaten by lions during his childhood, Samson's father, as seen in Samson's backstory, is shown to be a cruel and callous lion who abused Samson during his childhood, where he grew up in a circus with no sign of remorse and is completely devoid of redeeming qualities.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ghostbusters (1984): Because Gozer the Gozerian is too alien to hate within the film, Walter Peck is made especially obnoxious and slimy so that his entirely reasonable request to check the Ghostbusters' equipment quickly escalates into him rashly shutting down their containment grid and unleashing a literal hell on earth. Granted, Peck is absolutely right about the inadequacy of the containment procedures, but he proves it by breaking them. The fact that his first reaction to a disaster, which he is clearly responsible for bringing about in front of multiple witnesses, is to have the Ghostbusters arrested while totally ignoring his own culpability with such Smug Snake self-righteousness seals the deal securing the audience's hate for him.
  • Hellraiser: Pinhead and his fellow Cenobites are sadomasochistic abominations who serve an evil eldritch deity, but their otherworldly morality and strange code of honor helps them avoid being completely loathsome. The Cenobites' main victim Frank, by contrast, is a depraved human hedonist who sought out the Lemarchand Box to satisfy himself and has no problem killing and consuming innocents to regenerate his body when he escapes Hell. He also manipulates his lovesick girlfriend into aiding him and later casually kills her, murders his own brother to steal his skin, and has a creepy lust for his own niece, even plotting to make her a Sex Slave in the sequel. Frank isn't a minor character, but he's a small potato in the franchise and yet far more repulsive than the Cenobites.
  • Jurassic Park (1993): While the dinosaurs do pose a threat to the lives of the main characters, they are also animals who rely on instinct to guide their behaviour and as such can't truly be hated. The human Dennis Nedry is more loathsome, as his tampering with the park's security system is what allows the dinosaurs to break free from their different paddocks and escape into the park.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service: The Big Bad Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is much too intentionally hammy and hilarious to be seriously loathed even before you factor in his Affably Evil personality and his Well-Intentioned Extremist goal, and his Dragon Gazelle is a Handicapped Badass with endearing down-to-earth moments herself, although they do have a More Despicable Minion in the form of Charlie. But the protagonist's wicked stepfather Dean is just an abusive, drunk, wife-beating Hate Sink, and it's even more satisfying to imagine him getting his dues at the movie's end.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Sonny Burch is much less sympathetic than Ghost. The former is a low-level criminal-type who wants Hank Pym's technology to sell on the black market. The latter is simply trying to find a way to end the pain she feels every second of every day.
    • Captain America: Civil War: Most of the conflict is between heroes who believe their actions are justified, and the Big Bad, Zemo, is out for revenge for the death of his family. The one villain we truly can hate is Crossbones from the opening, who has given up the few redeeming qualities he had before and became a murderous Arms Dealer who kills dozens.
  • Twister's main antagonist is the twisters themselves, which are a force of nature, and they inspire awe in the heroes and give them purpose. Dr. Jonas Miller, meanwhile, is The Rival to Bill and Jo Harding, and a corporate-backed Jerkass who copies their experimental prototype for predicting tornadoes while needlessly antagonizing them whenever they meet. Ultimately, he and his driver get sucked into the storm when he arrogantly ignores the heroes' warnings.
  • Ultraman Cosmos: The First Contact: Basical Baltan is the film's Big Bad, but he's not evil, just a desperate, fatherly figure to the last children of his kind that is seeking a way to save his species from extinction and give the children under his care a safe place to live in. Commander Shigemura, while not the main threat, is the absolute most despicable being in the film as he is a miserable cowardly manchild that causes the peaceful negotiations with Basical to fail by attacking the alien when he is pacified, eventually leading to the alien committing suicide out of regret of almost harming humanity in his rage, and then tries to kill Ultraman Cosmos even when he helped stop Basical and was trying to help the Baltan children, all because he hates aliens.

  • The Beginning After the End: While the main antagonists turn out to be the Jerkass Gods who have torn apart the setting in the midst of their Divine Conflict, that isn't to say there are some minor antagonists whose villainy makes them much more hateable than them.
    • Lucas Wykes. The scion of a corrupt and powerful noble house, Lucas inherited his family's Jerkassery and Might Makes Right tendencies, and as such is willing to go to heinous lengths to get what he wants. His insubordination in the Dire Tombs led to a near-Total Party Kill and yet he was let off almost scot-free for his actions thanks to his family pulling strings for him. He would continue to torment Arthur during his time in Xyrus Academy despite not recognizing him as the masked adventurer he had come to blows with back then, and his resentment towards him led to him joining the Radicals and participating in the attack on the academy. During the attack, Lucas takes center stage in slaughtering students and faculty, on top of threatening to desecrate the incapacitated body of Arthur's Love Interest Tessia right to his face. No wonder that with his depravity having reached its nadir at that point and him having eluded justice for his actions for so long that Arthur decides to end him right there in a rather graphic yet cathartic fashion.
    • Trodius Flamesworth. The head of House Flamesworth, Trodius controlled his family with an authoritarian grip with anyone who did not conform to his desires receiving horrible treatment from him. He is an Abusive Parent whose desire to have a perfect heir has left all of his children with severe issues, in particular his youngest daughter Jasmine whom he effectively disowned for manifesting wind instead of fire magic. Not only that, but from the War Arc onward Trodius gets much worse as an individual. Despite presenting a front of strength, he turns out to be a Dirty Coward who is not only willing to send the troops under his command to their deaths (including Arthur's father Reynolds), but afterward is willing to sell out his own countrymen to the victorious Alacryans to save his own life.
  • The Folk of the Air: In the first novel, General Madoc serves as the primary villain. While Madoc murders heroine Jude Duarte's parents and is a warmonger, he also has genuine sympathetic features like honor, the fact he took in and raised Jude as his own, and genuine affability. In contrast, the first book features a childhood bully of Jude named Valerian who acts as a more solid figure to hate. Valerian is a smug, Fantastic Racist who despises humans and demeans Jude and her sister in the novel for being human rather than Fae. He's also a callous Jerkass who eventually tries to kill Jude out of spite and bigotry because he feels like it.
  • Masks of Aygrima: While The Autarch is a horrible person, it's difficult to truly hate him due to his lack of screentime and formal way of speaking. In contrast, it's very easy to hate Grute from the first book due to him being a sexist pervert who tries to sell Mara as a sex slave.
  • Small Game is about the conflict between the survivors vs nature. Lenny the showrunner appears in the first half to abuse the cast in the name of a better TV show and attract audience hate.

  • In Prince Igor, Konchak, the Cuman khan and longtime enemy of the Russians, is at the root of all the main characters' problems. However, he is incredibly Affably Evil, a Father to His Men, a Friendly Enemy to Igor, and a kind and loving father to his daughter. The more minor villain, Prince Vladimir Galitsky, who is only able to seize power in Putivl because Igor's away in Konchak's captivity, is a vile drunken rapist who wants to stay in power for good to indulge in debauchery and deplete the town treasury; he doesn't even care for his sister, saying that he'll send her to the convent if she dares to oppose him. The trope is lampshaded by the maids of Putivl when they come to Galitsky's sister to complain about him:
    Worse than the enemies, worse than the Cumans!

    Web Original 
  • The closest things Has anyone heard of the Left/Right Game? has to a Big Bad are the road itself and the mysterious entity that led the narrator to the road, heavily implied to be her distant future self. However, both are so far beyond human comprehension that it's hard to truly hate them. This is not the case for Denise "Bluejay" Carver, a rude, meanspirited sceptic who joined the convoy in hopes of publicly exposing the titular game as a hoax. She refuses to take the dangers of the road seriously except for when it's her own life at risk, and when her actions end up getting one of their number killed, she goes so far as to mock the others for mourning him. As the story goes on, the party continues to dwindle, and supernatural phenomenon starts taking place right before her eyes, she only grows more convinced that it's all fake, unable to accept she could have been wrong and rationalising everything by accusing the rest of the group of trying to trick her. This eventually culminates in her pulling a gun on the remaining survivors moments after they saved her life, attempting to steal the last working car for herself and leave everyone else for dead.
  • Looming Gaia: Major antagonists in this series include the Sovereign of Aquaria, an aquatic terrorist who is leading the genocide of all land-dwelling peoples, and Mankind's Disgrace, a divine warlord who feeds on pain and misery and has killed and tortured countless people for thousands of years. But the one fans generally consider the most despicable villain is Dario Dusk, whose crimes are on a much smaller scale. Dario intentionally became a vampire simply because he wanted to become immortal, but the biggest reason why he's hated is not that he's a sadistic serial killer, but because he physically, verbally, and sexually abuses his adoptive daughter Lilian, on top of isolating her from the outside world and telling her that he only loves her and whenever he hurts her, it's only her fault. Sovereign meanwhile is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to stop the Terrians' pollution of the ocean and Disgrace is under the control of his cursed mask (though how much exactly is unknown), while Dario has no excuse whatsoever.
  • The Oxventure has had two characters hold the post of Big Bad, but neither qualifies for being a Hate Sink (Channail is too funny and incompetent, while Liliana is badass enough to elicit Evil Is Cool). The same cannot be said for the unaffiliated villains of the following episodes:
    • "Peak Performance" features Vex, a sadistic necromancer and hunter who uses necromancy to bring animal corpses to him for selfish taxidermy, and also skinned Merilwen's wildcat companion and turned it into a hat, mocking her subsequent distress. To date, he is one of the very few villains not played for humour, and Dungeon Master Johnny has admitted they designed Vex to be as loathsome as possible (which worked too well when Ellen, Merilwen's actress, burst into tears at the end).
    • "Elf Hazard" featured an unlikeable Knight Templar, Eroan, responsible for murdering multiple wood elves for rejecting tradition, who terrified Merilwen's birth village into following his orders on pain of Cruel and Unusual Death. Also a rarity in that his actions were not only entirely devoid of humour, but so heinous that All-Loving Hero Dob made no attempt to talk him down first and declared he had to die.
    • "Snow Mercy" featured another necromancer, this time one who had been murdering kobolds and resurrecting them to kill more of their kin. As it turns out, their true identity is Dana, the racist tavern keeper, who grew angry that kobolds "stole" her business from her with their own tavern (in reality, her customer service was awful, and her refusing to serve them led the kobolds to declare they would Start My Own). The Guild is collectively disgusted by these actions, to the point that when Egbert transforms them into a lizardfolk with a cursed mace, it's treated as a Karmic Transformation rather than shocking Black Comedy, simply because they now have to contemplate how it feels to be an outsider.

    Western Animation 
  • Beavis And Butthead has Todd Ianuzzi. In the grand scheme of things, he's little more than a local thug but Principal McVicker is the duo's most recurring Arch-Enemy in a position of authority who's constantly stressed out by the duo, is trying to enforce school rules, and can have rare moments of decency. Additionally, Muddy and Dallas from the first movie were Western Terrorists who presented a threat to the entire country with their biological weapon and as bad as they were, even they at least offered the duo money for what they thought were the pair's assassination skills. Serena Ryan from Do The Universe was a Corrupt Politician who confessed to murdering people but she at least started out as a decent person when she was younger and ultimately backed down from her antagonism when she found out the truth about Beavis and Butt-head. In contrast to all the other antagonists who have more legal authority than him or present a much greater political threat, Todd is easily more petty and despicable than all of them, showing no redeeming qualities, mercilessly beating the duo up, taking what he wants from them, and never once doing a single decent (or even transactional) thing in his interactions with the main protagonists.
  • Most villains in Courage the Cowardly Dog are far too fantastical and charming to hate (like Katz, LeQuack, Fusilli, Dr. Gerbil, or Schwick) and some are even rather sympathetic (Shirley, Robot Randy, Freaky Fred, the Snowman). Neither can be said for Mad Dog, a cruel Domestic Abuser who keeps a terrified Bunny under his paw and threatens to kill her and her girlfriend Kitty if she steps out of line. Mad Dog is so vile he actually makes resident asshole Eustace look like a better person.
  • Gravity Falls: The main villain is Bill Cipher, an eldritch interdimensional demon who wants to destroy worlds for fun. He is also a clever Chessmaster and boasts several impressive powers as he manipulates the Pines family throughout the show, making it hard to really hate him. None of these positive things can be said about Preston Northwest, a Dirty Coward asshole and abusive parent to his daughter Pacifica. Most of the intended audience's hate is aimed at him despite having a smaller role in the overall story and only one episode where he's the focal villain.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures has Mr. Jumba, whom despite appearing in only one episode, is far viler and more despicable than most of the recurring antagonists, like Big Bad Shendu, and Finn, Ratso, Chow, and Hak Foo, the four Enforcers.
  • Ōban Star-Racers: While Canaletto is a horrifying, irredeemable Omnicidal Maniac, he still has plenty of impressive qualities for being a pragmatic, ruthless chessmaster and is even implied to develop a twisted sort of respect for Eva, the heroine. Likewise, most of the alien racers manage to be both badass and sympathetic. A huge exception is the first opponent Groor, who has zero depth beyond being a smug, Stupid Evil brute. He revels in mocking his opponents on the track and even apparently caused Rick Thunderbolt's Career-Ending Injury with no remorse. And after Eva beats him fair and square, he throws a childish fit and assaults her in a bar over his bruised ego.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): All the recurring villains of the show, up to and including Satanic Archetype Him, are more often than not Laughably Evil and very clearly cartoon characters even at their most seriously threatening. One-Shot Character Dick Hardly, meanwhile, is a Mad Scientist who mass-produces increasingly flawed clones of the title characters for profit with zero regard for the living creatures he is indeed creating as disposable products, and is portrayed more seriously and as more despicable than any other villain in the series, notably being the only one to explicitly die for his crimes.
  • The Raccoons: While the main businessmen in the series aren't always the nicest characters, they each have some redeeming qualities that keep them from being entirely unsympathetic characters. However, the same can't be said for Milton Midas, a conman eagle who appears in three episodes, two of which he played a major role in. His misdeeds include mistreating his workers, selling swampland under the guise of usable land, selling faulty products and denying refunds to customers, and illegally hiring people to improperly dispose of toxic waste. Thankfully, however, he usually gets his comeuppance for these acts, and the last one got him arrested in the final episode he appeared in, which is also the second-to-last episode of the series. Even then, though, the last one has Milton succeeding to an extent, having the lake that the characters loved polluted for a long time, if not permanently.