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Rooting for the Empire

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"Who roots for the cops in a heist movie, anyway?"
Feng Shui: Friends of the Dragon

Where the audience root for the villains of a series over the good guys. The heroes start to rub the fans the wrong way, and a notable proportion of the fandom now dislikes and actively bashes the main characters. For these fans they can almost become a Hatedom, yet they call themselves fans and continue to read/watch/play the source material because they like the bad guys. Rooting for the Empire is fairly common in a story with a Villain Protagonist, due to the natural tendency for audiences to bond with the viewpoint character of any story; but there are many other reasons for this attitude to take hold. Having their conflict be against other (sometimes even worse) bad guys rather than heroic antagonists tends to cause either this or being too apathetically grim. It also often happens in works with a Designated Hero and/or Designated Villain where the supposed empire isn't so imperialistic after all.

There's usually a turning point in Canon that leads to this, sometimes irrational and sometimes rational:

Irrational reasons for this include:

Rational reasons include:

Tends to occur when the source material has jumped the shark and started to lose its focus, but sometimes Just for Fun or for reasons of the fans' own. It can also be a response to Writer Revolt or a perceived slight to the fans. Jerkass Dissonance often plays a part. Unlike the Misaimed Fandom, the character roles are working out as they're supposed to, but the audience willingly cheers on the enemy. Hate toward the actor can also be involved in this, when the hated actor is playing a good guy.

Some sociologists have pointed out that, as irrational as it sounds, many people, both when it comes to fiction and real life, will root for whichever side reminds them the most of themselves, even when that side is thoroughly immoral, totally unlikable or both. As simple as it is to always want to see people of your own ethnic group, religion, or social or political class — or who simply have the same goals or aspirations as yourself — triumph, it is understandable, because it's easy to convince yourself that if they lose, you will lose too.

Common manifestations of the trope include:

Compare Draco in Leather Pants (where the negative traits of a character or faction are outright ignored in Fanon) and its inverse Ron the Death Eater (where positive traits are ignored). Contrast Love to Hate (where the villain is just popular, but not always rooted for) and Hate Sink (characters made uncool, unsympathetic, and deliberately lacking any traits to root for). For cases where people rooting for the empire get their wish, see The Bad Guy Wins. For a sort of In-Universe version (though pretty much exclusive to The Empire), see What the Romans Have Done for Us.

Not to be confused with Unintentionally Sympathetic (where a simple Jerkass, but not necessarily a villain, accidentally comes off as sympathetic) but the two can overlap. noreallife


Real Life Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • In the Apple-produced "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" commercials, many viewers tended to side with the PC, which came across as more of a likable everyman, while the Mac seemed like a smug tosser. They also tried to dismiss the PC advantages as boring stuff and push how great Macs are for artistic types, but the way they presented it came off as "the PC is better unless you're a professional artist". Over the following years, the fact that Macs were often unable to meet the demanding spec requirements of a lot of video games even as they became exponentially more widespread meant (while any computers that could were almost invariably PCs) meant that the PC also became the computer for "fun people" as well as for boring people, and the Mac ended up being good for little beyond art and non-memory-intensive business.
  • Who doesn't root for the Lucky Charms leprechaun? He's only trying to protect what's his. Thankfully, later commercials have him steal it back by the end.
  • There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world who want the Trix Rabbit to put a hurting on some smart-assed kids and take their cereal. General Mills has actually played this to their advantage by holding voting contests asking kids if the Trix rabbit should get to have some cereal; the results in three of the contests in 1976, 1980, and 1991, were an overwhelming victory for the "Yes" side.
  • Completing the cereal-ad trifecta, many ads for Cocoa and Fruity Pebbles feature ostensible-protagonist Barney stealing ostensible-antagonist Fred's cereal to shouts of "BARNEY! My PEBBLES!" Fred may be overreacting, but once you realize why the thieving little Tyrion Lannister wannabe doesn't just buy his own damn cereal, it's hard not to sympathize with Fred.
  • Symbicort, a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease medication, have a grandfather with the condition and his grandchildren rooting for The Big Bad Wolf to eat The Three Little Pigs, with every commercial ending with "Watch out piggies!"

    Comic Books 
  • It's easy to root for the Dark Egg Legion in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics). They do take orders from Eggman, but they aren't completely evil, and most of their members seem to be regular Mobians, bar the cybernetics. Given that the heroes are headed by Sonic, who can be a bit of a jerkass, and the Kingdom of Acorn, an incredibly ineffectual monarchy that can barely function and made worse with the addition of the obstructive,bickering, and flat-out useless Council of Acorn, as well as their allies like The Brotherhood of Guardians who have their heads either in the sand, the clouds, or up their own asses with the addition of the rest of echindakind being hypocrites about technology, it's no wonder. And they're the only group in the world who don't actively despise technology. A great example is the Great Desert DEL. They were turned into mindless Robian mooks thanks to Unwilling Roboticisation and forced to fight the Sand Blasters, an extremist group of Freedom Fighters. After being turned back into Mobians, they tried to make peace with the Sand Blasters but were instead hit with Fantastic Racism for being former Robians. In order to survive, they went to Eggman for help, who legionized them. When The Baron, leader of the Great Desert DEL, was confronted about this by his niece, hero Bunnie Rabbot D'Coolette, he responded that being in the DEL isn't so bad. Being legionized means cybernetic upgrades, which in turn make for an awesome health plan, as The Baron pointed out, when he thanked legionization for fixing his "bum knee". He also mentioned something about D'Coolette's being oppressors, which insinuates Fantastic Racism within the Kingdom, making them look even worse. Due to the Super Genesis Wave, the original Desert DEL will be missed while the Sand Blasters...oh wait, what Sand Blasters?
  • Doctor Doom has gotten this in a big way, and partly due to his Memetic Badass status in the fandom, and neither one is all that unjustified; Doom usually is that badass, and Reed Richards has a notorious history of being a total prick rather frequently. Warren Ellis gave Marvel 2099 a grand send-off by letting Doom take over the USA. It worked... right up until the politicians broke out the WMDs they had previously been too scared to use. Ellis points out that the basis of Doom's megalomania is that he truly believes that the world would be better off under his rule so he could protect and provide for it with the fruits of his genius without interference. And in canon Marvel, Doom has turned Latveria into a Gothic Dubai while Reed Richards Is Useless.
    • The 2014 Fantastic Four annual gave an odd case where roles were reversed when Susan came to get her and Reed's daughter Valeria when she chose to live with Doom. Susan tried asking Valeria, only to find her daughter played with her mother's emotions by sending a remote-controlled robot to speak with her. Sue got mad and tried to take Valeria back, while Doom tried to stop her. The whole ensuing fight shows Susan as being in the wrong and her actions being the result of her Superpowered Evilside, which caused her to terrify Valeria and damage the surrounding town while Doom actually tried to reason with her as Susan almost kills him. But given Doctor Doom's past villainy, something Susan even calls him out for during the fight, how cruel Valeria just acted towards her own mother, Doom's Popularity Power leading to him rarely losing, means even though he's in the right it can be easy to cheer for Susan just for the sake of seeing Doom lose.
  • Fables does a pretty decent job of openly asking whether those in Fabletown should have been rooting for the empire; Gepetto committed horrifying atrocities but ruled an empire where most inhabitants lived in peace and also imprisoned a lot of frightfully powerful evil beings that as of the fall of his reign have begun to escape. On the other hand, it seems pretty clear that us mundies would definitely be getting the short end of the genocidal stick if Gepetto had taken over our world.
  • Cobra from G.I. Joe and to a lesser extent Hydra from Marvel Comics. Both present modern society as corrupt and self-serving and should be fought against. They do make good points except both organizations are much, much worse. Join or die was Cobra SOP at one point.
  • Green Lantern: Sinestro is a charismatic villain whose arguments about the Guardians being too involved with their mysteries and prophecies to do an effective job policing the cosmos aren't entirely incorrect so of course people find themselves rooting for him.
  • Grant Morrison once discussed how it's easy to do this for Lex Luthor in an interview:
    "It's essential to find yourself rooting for Lex, at least a little bit, when he goes up against a man-god armed only with his bloody-minded arrogance and cleverness."
  • The anti-mutant human villains in X-Men can also look sympathetic at times to some readers. The mutants often cause terrible mayhem as well, ranging from the often lethal Power Incontinence of sympathetic ones to all-out attempts by one would-be Evil Overlord or another to conquer America (or the world) and either enslave or exterminate the "flatscan" humans, with democratic and civil-rights-abiding governments time and again shown largely powerless to stop them. All of which makes at least some fans think that just maybe the anti-mutant Strawman Has a Point, mutants are dangerous, and after Magneto tries to destroy civilization for the Xth or Yth time and gets away with a slap on the wrist, they'll be quite happy to vote for Senator Kelly if only he'll sic some sufficiently big Sentinels on the Master of Magnetism and his cronies.
    • The Genoshans are an especially sympathetic example, in large part because they lose, and we get to see the human cost to the "normals" when mutants are free to dominate a country. Basically, the Genoshans forcibly conscripted their mutants and forced them to work for the betterment of their country under close supervision, giving Genosha's non-powered population (the huge majority) a supremely high standard of living. While this is unquestionably evil, it's not done in the style of cackling, Card-Carrying Villain evil, and they justify themselves to the X-Men in the first story they appear in by pointing out that if they don't keep the mutants under strict control, these few but very powerful individuals will quickly take over their country, smashing the freedom and democracy the vast majority of the Genoshan people are presently enjoying. The X-Men, of course, liberated the mutants anyway at the end of X-Tinction Event—And the freed mutants promptly did exactly that, first destroying Genosha in a devastating civil war in Bloodties and then turning what remained of it into a mutant-supremacist People's Republic of Tyranny in Magneto Rex. Genoshan expatriates are understandably extremely bitter about all this, and at least for some readers it's hard not to admit that they sort of have a point. Also, their special police force that kept the mutants in check was a Badass Army with majorly cool uniforms, which probably added to their appeal.
    • Magneto and other mutant supremacists like him are often hard not to root for. Regardless of how Magneto unintentionally helps the case of anti-mutant villains, no matter how many times the X-Men stop him or save the world from other threats, mutants are still as hated and feared as ever. This happens even though the Marvel universe is loaded with superhumans who do not face the same prejudice mutants do despite many of them actually being more powerful than most known mutants, making the prejudice for mutants seem irrational in comparison. This causes many readers to see normal humans as undeserving of the X-Men's aid and feel they deserve to be oppressed by mutants. One of the worst examples is in Secret Empire where HYDRA, which is comprised of actual Nazis, takes over the United States of America and begins a purge of mutants, along with Inhumans, and the normal civilians don't bat an eye to it.
  • Star Wars: Legacy plays with this, due to its Black-and-Gray Morality. For the most part, the two main Big Bads, the Sith and The Empire have made major reforms. The Sith, while still quite evil, have abandoned many of their old ways in favor of working together as one (one even saves another's life after spending the whole issue arguing, because "We are Sith"), plus they are very sexy. While The Empire is now a force of good in the Galaxy and most of its anti-nonhuman ways are behind them. The Republic has been reduced to a handful of planets and ships whose only act in the comics have been a stealing a Sith Super Prototype which the Empire had already rigged with bombs so it would look like a malfunction causing the Sith to blame the Mon Calamari (who aided the Republic) and declare war (meaning genocide). The Jedi, while still good, are back to being a Hidden Elf Village to the point where they refused to aid the Mon Calamari. The main character, last of the Skywalkers, is a total Jerkass just looking out for himself (and abusing his powers) as a result of being sick of all the But Thou Must! his family (as Force ghosts) and fellow Jedi have been ramming down his throat.
  • Darth Vader: Canon says Vader and Palpatine will defeat any threat against them, but each arc features antagonists who the readers can really hope will win and find far more sympathetic than Vader, who gets some of his worst dog-kicking moments in these comics. Three comics feature Villain Protagonists who want to either stop or break away from the Empire and its atrocities, while the industrialist from The Ninth Assassin is not a good man but still has some impressive guts and understandable grief over the death of his son.
  • The Exile of Super Dinosaur has a sympathetic backstory, and though he does intend to conquer the world, it is to save his people from his brothers tyranny and forced isolation, rather than a lust for power. Then you get the obnoxious Kid Hero not only rubbing out his shot at liberating his people, but smugly taunting him about it.
  • In Superior Spider-Man (2013), quite a lot of fans are starting to root for any supervillain who's against Spider-Man (aka. Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man's body, which he has stolen) due to his increasingly amoral behavior. At first this was just the fans, but as the comic continues it seems to be intentional. Helped by the fact that most of said supervillains are of the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain variety or are really cool. This has ultimately boiled down to watching the Goblin King and his army tearing down everything Otto had built up.
  • The Marvel event World War Hulk had most readers rooting for the Hulk, mainly because of all the crap The Illuminati put him through. It even happened in the story with many bystanders siding with the Hulk. Another major factor was the events of Civil War (2006). It's hard to root for the heroes when they've forced all superhumans to work solely for the government, enslaving, imprisoning, and killing everyone who disobeys. It even leaked into Secret Invasion (2008), with some readers hoping that the Skrulls would manage to conquer Earth and enslave the muggle population to teach them a thing or two about freedom. While the Skrulls didn't win, this led to Dark Reign with Norman Osborn as head cop, with some fans rooting for Osborn and his Dark Avengers, which was even Marvel's top-selling book month after month during its run.
    • Later flipped around in Incredible Hercules when Hulk went up against Zeus and got his ass kicked hard. Zeus, while not exactly evil, was the more unsympathetic party by far, but lots of fans cheered him on simply because they felt Hulk was starting to get into God-Mode Sue territory and they were happy to have a hard limit on his power established.
  • Batman may as well be Trope Codifier.
    • Batman's Rogues Gallery is the most famous of any superhero's, and each one of said rogues has their own dedicated fanbase who love and root for them, knowing full well what scoundrels they are. We wouldn't have 'em any other way.
    • Due to Batman and the Gotham Law Enforcement only giving a Superficial Solution to dangerous serial killers by giving them to courts that sentence these murders to prisons or asylums they can easily escape, when a Knight Templar appears in Gotham City to offer a more lethal solution, some readers can't help wish they can spill the blood of Batman's more vile foes before Batman himself can stop them.
  • Foolkiller being a Villain Protagonist generally gets this treatment. But one can hardly help it since he does What It Says On The Tin. In The '90s limited series, his body count ranged from muggers, dope dealers, and even drug-addicted mothers and their violent, out-of-control children. The public turned against him only after he publicly killed a narcissistic billionaire real estate mogul who planned to bulldoze low-income housing projects (making thousands of poor homeless) to build gentrified condominiums. As an encore, he went on set to kill a volatile, hate-spewing right-wing TV talk show host right in front of the eyes of his cultish audience. It should be noted that the said billionaire was the head of the city's major drug operations and also had business interests that threatened the Amazon rain forests. The reader can't help but identify with the Foolkiller's mission to some extent. They may not approve of his wanton mass murder, but one can't help but be tempted to feel that he's a necessity in the world we now live in.

    Eastern Animation 
  • Certain older fans of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf tend to root for the villain Wolffy instead of the heroic goats. The fact that he's Laughably Evil and can come off as an Iron Woobie due to the amount of abuse he gets from his wife Wolnie probably has something to do with it.
  • In the North Korean propaganda-fest that is Squirrel and Hedgehog (although the animation was done by a foreign company, probably Chinese), the creators went a little too far in making the Americans (as Savage Wolves no less) badass. Just... take a look. A YouTube commenter summed it up pretty well:
    Protip: When attempting to make effective propaganda, having your arch enemy appear as a badass wolf with glowing eyes, sinister voice and his own laser techno-plane while having your troops look like effeminate squirrels and ducks that constantly cry is not a good idea. Hey, did those wolves just fire laser machineguns?! AWESOME.
    • It's worth noting that unlike most fascist propaganda, which generally extolls the strength of its people, North Korean propaganda tends to sell how weak and helpless the North Korean people are — and thus how they need the Kim dynasty to protect them. Not that this makes the American wolves any less cool.

  • The Conversion Bureau: Even though the Human Liberation Front are often depicted as terrorists, the deck being so stacked against them and the blatant Moral Myopia of the ponies makes the HLF easy to sympathise with. They're xenocidal racists, but so are their enemies.
  • Code Prime: Many fans enjoy how often the Decepticons humiliate Britannia on a regular basis, despite both factions working together to fight the Black Knights and the Autobots. The Empire's more haughty individuals, particularly the ones that value social standing and pedigree over strength and merit in combat, end up being humiliated a lot more often than others. Many fans are actually hoping that Megatron overthrows Charles by the end of R1. Come Chapter 34, Megatron manages to succeed in destroying the Britannian Empire and killing Charles, to the joy of the fans.
  • In Dungeon Keeper Ami, Keeper Mukrezar, Ami's foil, plays this trope very straight: he's hammy, he's funny, he's as inventive and fast-thinking as Mercury and it's tons of fun watching him backstab and manipulate his own 'allies'.
  • In Event Horizon: Storm of Magic, The Company™ is a powerful, ruthless, opportunistic, and manipulative organization, but most readers still support them or at least consider them a Villain Protagonist at worst. They do, after all, bring positive social change and technological progress to worlds locked in Medieval Stasis like Westeros, as well as fighting on humanity's side against the more omnicidal factions like Mordor and the Forces Of Chaos.
  • A major part of the Firebird Trilogy of Harry Potter stories. This heavy AU world features two antagonists; Voldemort and the Sabbat. Voldemort, who is worse than he is in canon (Prone to messing with Harry's head with images of possible, happy homes he could have had, turning Cedric into a human bomb, being an immense He-Man Woman Hater) has a ton of fans who want Harry to join him. This is less because he is a nice guy, far from it, and more because the other bad guys, the Sabbat, are far, far worse, and actually ended up creating Voldemort. While fans would probably still want Harry to kill him, many would have preferred he let Voldemort torture and kill the Sabbat first.
  • The author of The House of Elendil seems to have succeeded a little too well in making the Empire of Umbar seem impressive. The majority of readers are more excited to see Umbar in all its glory and many say they would be perfectly happy seeing it conquer Westeros, or even the whole world.
  • My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic: The story is meant as a Revenge Fic against My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, centering around ponies in another dimension and/or in space, fighting off an evil sorcerer without The Power of Friendship and therefore being superior to the cast of the original show. Many readers actually wished to see the bad guy win, just so that the one dimensional main characters get their asses kicked.
  • In Pages Of Harmony Twilight Sparkle, like Light Yagami, becomes a Knight Templar who believes that Utopia Justifies the Means. Despite her crossing the Moral Event Horizon in order to try to attain her goal of complete Harmony, it reached a point where there were almost more people wanting to see Twilight win, despite her killing her friends and wanting to eliminate anyone without the right traits.
  • The writer for The Storm Dragons series is definitely rooting for the Empire in the Inheritance Cycle, as the two separate story arcs describe in detail the backgrounds of two of the main villains, one which is an elder black dragon and the other is Galbatorix, plus multiple Anti-Villains on the side.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition fanfic Walking in Circles, by the time the story reaches the Conclave, quite a number of readers have expressed their support for Solas's plan of taking down the Veil. This's because while Solas, and Evelyn by extension, do want to destroy the current world, they have good intention behind it and takes no pleasure in their actions. Not to mention if their plan does succeed, it'll bring long-term benefits for not just the elves but also mages of all races. Meanwhiles, the Templars who act like tyrants oppressing the mages and the Chantry that either encourage such actions or turn a blind eye to it certainly don't endear themselves to the readers at all, even if it did show that there are some good Templars.
  • Super Smash Bros: The Animated Series: Our heroes are all Unintentionally Unsympathetic jerkasses who bully the nicer cast members, rob houses for no reason, are perfectly willing to kill innocent civilians, and still manage to be annoyingly bland. You'll be begging the antagonists to kill them.
  • In We All Need A Hero; a AU Where Sayu Yagami is Kira. With Sayu as Kira who unlike her brother Light Yagami, she is a far more well intentioned, merciful Kira that doesn’t have a God-complex and avoids killing innocents even if they are against her. As a result, a vast chunk of readers have expressed being Pro Sayu even if they weren’t Pro Light in Death Note proper.
  • Apotheosis (MHA): Izuku became a ruthless Visionary Villain (armed with a created Infinity Gauntlet), with his goal being the complete restructuring of hero society. The thing is, he's entirely correct that society judges based on powerful quirks rather than one's personality and merits, (citing the abusive Endeavor and Bakugo as examples), most heroes aren't for the sake of helping others, but rather for the fame and glory, the quirkless and impractical quirk users are heavily discriminated against, and nothing has been done to improve things. Also helping is that his actions as the story progresses, Izuku never harms innocents, empathizes with those with similar backgrounds, extols genuine heroes, and is willing to reinstate "false heroes" if they atone.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Aristocats has Edgar, a butler who has loyally served Madame Adelaide Bonfamille and is angered to discover her inheritance is going to her cats instead of him. His actions merely portray him as an Anti-Villain and fans who sympathize with him claim he has justifiable reasons for abducting the cats. (And anyway, they're just cats.)
  • Nobody inspires "Rooting for the Empire" like Gaston! While it wasn't always this way, he has gotten quite popular over the years, arguably more so than either of the protagonists in Beauty and the Beast. This is probably due to viewers finding his ego oddly charming than obnoxious (as intended), his ridiculously exaggerated but still catchy and lively song, and for being a straight-up Large Ham.
  • A Bug's Life: The ant colony sans Dot were such obnoxious bullies to Flik throughout the film, when the grasshoppers come for "reparations" from the colony (just after the colony has hypocritically banished Flik for lying to them after the colony themselves sent him out implicitly to die based on a lie), plenty of viewers were cheering the grasshoppers on more than they were empathizing with the ants now under their heel.
  • From Chicken Little, plenty of viewers were cheering on the titular aliens who were vaporizing the citizens of Oakey Oats. It helps that the townspeople were such assholes who mercilessly bullied Chicken Little for no good reason.
  • The villain of the The Emoji Movie; Smiler is one of the most popular characters in the movie and what makes her even easier to root for is that everything she says is right! Many people were really hoping she did kill Gene and the others. One critic was "openly rooting for Gene to be executed."
  • The Emperor's New Groove: It isn't that Kuzco and Pacha aren't entertaining or good characters, so much as Kronk and Yzma flat-out steal the show, to the point that some viewers even wish that Kuzco doesn't get better just because they want to see the villains succeed.
  • Many FernGully watchers sympathize with Hexxus, who for the record is the incarnation of pollution in a heavily Anvilicious cartoon about how life is precious and pollution evil. Yet viewers seem to forget he's an abomination whose end game is to spread pollution across the world, which would threaten all life — in the film it's more open as to how severe of a threat he'd be, but his book version was stated as constantly trying to kill all life including humans. But, that's what you get for casting Tim Curry as your main villain against main characters that have been forgotten more easily (save for comic relief Batty) — an antagonist who has fans and people who cheer for him and want him to win.
  • The titular character of Hercules, is simply your standard hero. Hades, by contrast, is still considered one of the best Disney villains of all time and the most entertaining character in the movie, and even fans of the original mythology would likely root for him even harder.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The reason Frollo was made a Complete Monster was that Disney was trying to avoid this trope (it had happened so many times before). Didn't work. Some even have a disturbing habit of justifying his, a massive hypocrite's, actions.
  • A few viewers of Disney's The Little Mermaid found the sly, manipulative Ursula a lot more likable than the naive, impulsive protagonist Ariel, or her overprotective, human-hating father King Triton, and were rooting for her to actually win the deal and conquer Atlantica. It helps that she's been shown as a Benevolent Boss to her minions Flotsam and Jetsam (in the movie, at least), and was none too happy when they were eradicated.
  • If some fanfics are anything to go by, some people prefer Joe to the protagonist Jack from Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, not only beacuse of Evil is Cool in both his design and voice, but also because some see him as a much better partner for Miss Acacia both due to them having known each other as friends and having probably dated in the past, and he has a bit more life experience than Jack, who has been sheltered his entire life until age 10 and being forced to leave his home to avoid being arrested for accidentally pecking one of Joe's eyes with his cuckko-clock heart , and having met Miss Acacia only once on his birthday and instantly becoming smitten with her, which can unsurprisingly rub some viewers the wrong way, and not helping is that he can come out as a Designated Hero at best; even Matthias Malzieau, co-director of the film the original author of the novel it is adapted from, admitted that Joe is not really that bad of a guy as he is only motivated by his love for Miss Acacia, and that if the story were told from his point of view, Jack would be the bad guy.
  • A good number of people prefer Captain Hook over the main protagonist in Peter Pan. This is probably because, unlike other Disney villains, Captain Hook has an understandable reason to want and destroy his nemesis. That and the abuses he continually suffers from seems more undeserved than anything, putting him straight into Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain territory. Where he crosses the line, of course, is by lashing out at perfectly innocent people in his quest to get at Peter, even if he thinks that's the only way he can succeed. It should also be noted that his own crew hates him because they never get to do fun pirate stuff, but have to constantly aid and abet a revenge quest they don't give a rat's ass about.
  • While this is combined with Misaimed Fandom and Draco in Leather Pants, a few fans of the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog were rooting for Facilier and Lawrence to succeed in their goal, considering how Naveen was really unlikable in the beginning due to him being spoiled, lazy, and being (unknowingly) inconsiderate towards Lawrence. Anyone who has been in Lawrence’s position would have been understandably fed up with putting up with that abuse, whether it was intentional or not.
  • Bowser has always had some players rooting for him in Super Mario Bros., and The Super Mario Bros. Movie is no exception. His being both Laughably Evil and cool, along with his voice from Jack Black, have won him over many fans who would have loved to watch him get away with his crimes and succeed with his goals.
  • Many viewers of A Troll in Central Park find the antagonists, Queen Gnorga and Llort, far more likable than the largely cloying protagonists Stanley, Gus, and Rosie, thanks in part to how hammy and over the top their acting is.
  • Turning Red: There are fans that feel that Mei's ultimate philosophies can come across as misguided or selfish. Many of these fans tend to side more with Ming as a result, feeling that for all her flaws, she is the more reasonable one in the conflict and the more sympathetic character overall, especially after her backstory is revealed.
  • Wish (2023): There is no shortage of viewers who, whether they admit to his faults or not, believe Magnifico's rule is what is best for the kingdom of Rosas and that Asha should have left well enough alone. It's established at the beginning that people are safe from the dangers of the outside world under his watch, they are largely happy with the state of things given how prosperous the kingdom is, and (despite his selfish reasons for picking some of them) Magnifico grants the heart's desire of as many as fourteen people per year — not to mention that they willingly gave up their wishes to him with full knowledge they would forget the wish, and that the odds of "winning" were always going to be low given the city's large population. With things going so well and the possibility that it could go all downhill without him, many root for Magnifico to maintain the status quo he worked hard to build in the first place, not helped by the fact that his Jumping Off the Slippery Slope into becoming a would-be Sorcerous Overlord only happens after Asha's actions cause Star to materialize, making him desperate to protect his power.
  • Deliberately invoked in Wreck-It Ralph as a central theme to the film. The antagonists of various video games are presented as Punch Clock Villains who participate in an AA-style support group to help one another with the daily realities of being reviled as evil. The titular character is a 30-year industry veteran who is treated as a pariah in his own game and has gotten sick of being relegated to living in a dump and ignored while the other characters of the game celebrate with one another. Incidentally, and less deliberately, this also applies to the game's universe, since Ralph's motivation for wrecking the apartment in the first place was that it was built over his forest home. The film showing the residents as pompous, stuck-up jerks makes many fans feel that Ralph was justified in wrecking their building. Played straight with the movie's actual villain, Turbo, thanks mainly to his being Laughably Evil.

  • EltonJohn and BernieTaupin wrote a song about the comic hero Dan Dare and his archenemy, which includes these lines:
    Dan dare doesn't know it, He doesn't know it, He doesn't know it, But I liked the Mekon
  • Nas "One Time 4 Your Mind"
    When I'm chillin', I grab the buddha, get my crew to buy beers
    And watch a flick, illin' and rootin' for the villain, huh

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • The Amazons were villains whose intended purpose was to demonstrate the dangers in allowing women any power whatsoever, and were conquered by Heracles to show a belief that women are always weaker than men. In later times, especially with the rise of feminism, they have been portrayed with increasing sympathy, most prominently with a certain very popular heroine.
    • A number of people support the Titans over the Olympians. A case of Grey-and-Gray Morality, Cronus ate his kids but is recorded as ruling over a Golden Age for mankind where humans lived without the need for toil, disease, or war. Then Zeus and a bunch of other Jerk Ass Gods came along, ended the Golden Age, and introduced every cruelty they could think of. Many modern adaptions have to villainize the Titans (including often designing them as monsters) so you sympathize with the Olympians. The story of Prometheus is pretty much the prime example of this. Even most modern adaptions of Greek Mythology can't get around making him sympathetic and portraying him as human looking.
    • This arguably even applied to Prometheus in ancient Greece itself, since some stories have Heracles freeing him from the torment that Zeus put him through, and his punishment becomes merely symbolic by having to wear a metal ring on his finger to represent his chains.
    • Actually, most of the Olympians invoke latent, guilty-pleasure hatred for their extreme injustice toward mortals, especially for offenses that are minor or accidental, or that are not even directed at the gods themselves. And if you dare to think yourself the equal of a god, you are going to die, or at least end up wishing you would die. (Of course, since quite a few mortals did succeed in making monkeys of the Olympians, or even becoming gods themselves, you can't really blame the Olympians for feeling insecure and paranoid.)
    • The ancient Greeks despised Hades, the god of the dead and the underworld since they didn't like dying. He has a somewhat better reputation today, in that he regularly kept his bargains with gods and mortals alike, and would only inflict a Fate Worse than Death on someone who crossed him first. His kidnapping of Persephone is still rightly seen as vile, but even then Hades is faithful to her, which is more than his philandering brother Zeus can say. In most versions of the original myth, Hades didn't kidnap Persephone at all but asked for her hand in marriage from her father first, meaning even this can be discounted. Depending on the Writer is in full effect with these myths and their retellings.
    • Show of hands — how many people wanted Troy to win the war? Notable for being an in-universe example as well, with the gods taking sides, Zeus himself supporting the Trojans. This goes back centuries, multiple medieval European royal dynasties would claim descent from Trojan refugees, and famous Frankish hero Roland claimed his sword had belonged to Achilles' Arch-Enemy Hector.
  • Satanism is effectively rooting for the empire of Christianity. Ever since Paradise Lost (and sometimes before then), Satan has been interpreted as an individualist figure who sticks up to a controling monarchial God. As Western culture values individuality more and more, it's become more common to interpret the devil as the hero (or at least a sympathetic figure).

    Newspaper Comics 
  • 90% of the For Better or for Worse fandom was hoping that Elizabeth would end up with one of her Wrong Guy First candidates, rather than the inevitable blandness that is Anthony. Pretty much everyone thought his "shrewish" wife Thérèse was absolutely in the right as well.

  • In the Cool Kids Table game Homeward Bound 4, the entire game is based on the common situation of audiences liking animals more than people.

  • The people in the stands at sporting events are usually expected to cheer for the home team, but some of them might be cheering for the away team or other competition for various reasons:
    • The away team's fans are so devoted to them that they follow the team to the venues they're playing at.
    • The host city or country might be home to a lot of expatriates from the away team's community. People who move from one city to another for work or education might bring their team loyalties with them. In international competitions like the Olympics or the World Cup, immigrants living in the host country might cheer for their original homelands.
    • Other times they may be rooting for the visitant team to show spite for the home one - for example, when the latter is playing miserably and is being curb-stomped by the former.
  • It's not uncommon for a team to benefit from having their rivals win a game. As a hypothetical, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL absolutely hate each other. But, it could turn out that the Steelers and New England Patriots are both in the running to be the #1 seed in the AFC, which would ensure home-field advantage in the playoffs until the Super Bowl.note  And then, through scheduling coincidence, the Bengals play the Patriots. Particularly if the Steelers are well ahead of the Bengals in the standings, Steeler fans would be pulling for the Bengals to win, giving the Steelers a leg up on the Patriots in the standings.note 
    • This was actually the case at the end of the 2018 NFL season, as the Steelers needed the arch-rival Browns to beat the Ravens (admittedly another division rival, but not one as historically hated by Steelers fans as Cleveland) in order for the Steelers to slip into the playoffs. It didn't happen.
  • Due to Values Dissonance, some people who are appalled by bullfighting might end up cheering for the bull and celebrating whenever the matador gets injured or even killed.
  • Fans of historically successful NFL franchises typically get viewed this way by other fans.
  • Right from the start, Tonya Harding had a huge fanbase, despite being viewed as a punching bag by pretty much everyone else — which in itself fuels resentment and defiant sympathy on the part of the former group. It helps that even people who are sympathetic to Nancy Kerrigan have admitted that she isn't particularly likable either.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
  • White Wolf's Exalted ran into this in the first edition and then deliberately invoked it in the second edition. As every Exalt type's splatbook is written from their perspective and to promote their agenda, each type has its partisans. The most literal case is with the Terrestrial and Sidereal Exalted, who run (openly and covertly, respectively) the Scarlet Empire, which is an oppressive dogmatic theocracy that yet is one of the only things standing between many people and numerous horrors from beyond the world. Even the Yozis, the demon lords who were once the ancient titans that treated the world as a plaything, have their apologists.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Quite a few fans are rather pro-Phyrexian, to the point where one rather prominent fansite is named "" (and themed around the plane). As Phyrexians are not so much Always Chaotic Evil as Always Completely Evil (they were created by a man who lived as a nomad visiting various civilisations just so he could release plagues and wipe them all out -- in one case just to see what would happen), the level of support they've garnered is almost shocking.
    • The Scars of Mirrodin story arc brings the Phyrexians back into the limelight, and Wizards of the Coast being quite adamant about not revealing whether or not they'll win (they did) just contributed to this — just watch the promotional videos on Youtube, often depicting Phyrexians committing Nightmare Fuel atrocities against the Mirrans, then look at all the comments proudly shouting Phyrexian slogans. According to the statistics from when Mirrodin Besieged came out, 51% of players supported the Phyrexians.
    • Wizards of the Coast invoked this trope during the Mirrodin Besieged prerelease: those that supported Phyrexia were given several packs containing nothing but Phyrexian cards, while the Mirran side got only Mirran cards.
    • Back in the day, Phyrexia was confined to Black, the (usually) "evil" color. As per the New Phyrexia expansion, though, they've branched out into all five colors, and while this has mostly consisted of twisted Phyrexian takes on each color's philosophy, some Phyrexians, most notably those aligned to Red (the color of freedom and passion), are starting to show more sympathetic tendencies.
  • For the Old World of Darkness's Mage: The Ascension setting, quite a few players think that the Technocracy's earth is a much safer, freer place than a world where you might be eaten by a troll the second your back is turned. This viewpoint steadily gained canon support through Mage's run. The first few Technocracy books were clearly written to help the Storyteller write better villains, and the Technocrats in those books want to do things like destroy creativity. The later ones realized that, given their history (and the fact that they, you know, create all kinds of shiny new technology), the Technocracy makes more sense as Well Intentioned Extremists on an organizational level. In the "canon" Mage ending, the Traditions and the Technocracy ultimately realize that they aren't so different as they both wish the best possible future for humanity. They both Earn The Happy Ending when the world comes to a close in the best way possible for everyone. In the other finale, where the Nephandi win, the Technocracy makes a heroic (if futile) last stand to protect mankind, same as the arguable Big Good, the Order of Hermes.
  • Some Rifts fans see The Coalition States in a heroic light, as defenders of humanity. This is a nation that's blatantly modeled after Nazi Germany, including the institutionalized genocide, with one of the later books including a commentary reiterating the fact that the Coalition, or at least those in charge of it, really are bad guys. Draco in Leather Pants plays a large role here, as does What Measure Is a Non-Human?; the Coalition's military aesthetic is heavy on black and "Death's Head" skull imagery, making even a common grunt soldier look incredibly badass.
    • Not helped by recent supplements giving the Coalition every lucky break it is possible to have until they start verging on Canon Sue territory. Much of the fanbase is starting to wonder if Kevin Siembeda himself is Rooting for the Empire.
  • The first published Traveller adventures had the players breaking into Imperial research stations, breaking out of Imperial prisons, and helping the rebels. Then the rebels nuke a city, and the players had to help the Imperium in a war. In the last published adventure about the Imperium, the players are Imperial nobles and generals who try to stop it from collapsing.
  • While everyone is fairly evil to some extent in Warhammer 40,000, even the most unambiguously evil factions have their fans, and not just for the strength of their army list.
    • Chaos are out to turn the material universe into an Eldritch Location by permanently merging it with the Warp, and they work for a set of gods who want to kill, rape, mutate and infect everything, things which they are more than willing to perform in their name. Yet they're just so... METAL!
      • Nurgle and his followers get this even more than the other Chaos factions. While he is genuinely nice, and unlike the other Chaos gods (or the Emperor, for that matter) deeply cares for his subjects, he expresses his kindness by infecting his followers with every disease ever, to the point that they're in so much pain they can't feel any other pain. His followers generally don't mind, but it still isn't exactly a pleasant fate.
      • Black Crusade does a decent job at presenting the Chaos cultists' case. It admits that the Chaos Gods are cruel masters and that Chaos is anything but cuddly — but embracing Chaos is nonetheless humanity's only hope of surviving in any form. Meanwhile, the Imperium's brutal tyranny and persecution might be justified if there was any chance that it might work, but as it is, the Imperium is beyond saving and so the Adeptus Terra are committing atrocities for the sake of a lost cause.
    • The reason that the Imperium is The Empire in the first place is that it is surrounded by unspeakable horrors that Lovecraft would be proud of. Ergo, Rooting For The Empire is, in this case, the only sane choice in an utterly insane galaxy. In the Imperium, there is law and order — even if it is draconian — and not every Imperial world is entirely a hellhole. They also have the largest amount of characters that seem likable and possibly the closest somebody can get to heroes in the setting. Note there is a reason for this. Two, in fact.
      • In the 8th edition of the rules, it is made clear that the Imperium is The Empire specifically due to the greed and corruption of the Lords of Terra. When one of the Primarchs long thought to be dead, Roboute Guilliman, is revived he is utterly disgusted and taken aback by the state of the Imperium, and among his first acts is retaking the title of Imperial Regent and seizing personal control from the oligarchy that had been infighting to further their own personal interests. 40k being the Grimdark setting that it is, this is likely a doomed crusade of its own.
    • The Tau Empire, while not exactly good, they are much less "not exactly good" than the others and actually make alliances and work together with other species. In their initial release, they were considered too "good" and so were given some moral ambiguity to bring them in line with the rest of the universe, becoming more "join us or die" (which is still better than the "die xenos scum!" of everyone else), with the incorporation of implied More than Mind Control being used to subdue both vassal races and their own people into their lore.
    • Orks have a lot of support, not because they are less evil than other factions (though they are about the most egalitarian race in the setting), but they are by far the most fun, crossing the line so many times they become endearing.
    • The Eldar gain much sympathy for how their only interest is in trying to prevent their extinction, being the only faction not interested in conquering/enslaving anyone (except for the militaristic Biel-tan Craftworld), as well as for how Games Workshop have relegated them to Butt-Monkey status. They're still entirely incapable of giving a straight answer even if it would benefit them, and while they're often called arrogant and willing to kill millions of non-Eldar to save handfuls of their own, every other faction in the setting thinks the same way.
    • The Tyranids are a Horde of Alien Locusts intent on devouring all life in the galaxy. Nonetheless, they have supporters who at the very least aren't happy with the period where they were repeatedly subjected to The Worf Effect and were demanding the Tyranids actually be allowed to win.
  • Warhammer: The End Times avoided this with the central villains, especially since the winning brought about the end of the world, something fans weren't happy with, especially since the villains were seen as being handed victories they didn't deserve. But it did occur in the civil war between Tyrion and Malekith. Tyrion was one of the main heroes in the setting and the greatest defender of the High Elves. Malekith was the Evil Overlord of the Dark Elves, the High Elves' Arch-Enemy, and had a hand in many of the disasters in the setting in some shape or form. But out of nowhere it was revealed that despite his villainy, Malekith was in fact the rightful king of the High Elves and they were all expected to bow down to him. Tyrion opposing Malekith has him framed as being in the wrong, causing fans to see him as a Designated Villain and wanted to him defeat Malekith. Quite tellingly even with the plot bending over backwards to make Tyrion look bad, his atrocities still weren't anywhere close to those of Malekith.
  • In Anima: Beyond Fantasy, there's a significant number of fans who hate Elisabetta Barbados, the Child Empress, because of their Common Mary Sue Traits -Iron Woobie, Chosen One, described as very beautiful, Wise Beyond Their Years in both how governs and fight abilities...-, and root for Matthew Gaul, who has a much more fleshed out background, even if he looks like an Evil Overlord and loves stabs in the back.

  • Hamilton:
    • Overlapping with Alternative Character Interpretation, those who supported the real Jefferson's political positions may root for him during the Cabinet battles. It helps that he's portrayed as a hilarious Large Ham and that most other stories featuring him tend to portray him as a hero, predisposing audiences to view him favourably.
    • Aaron Burr also gets quite a bit of this. While he's the closest thing the play has to a Big Bad, he's shown in a very sympathetic light, and the two songs he gets to himself, "Wait For It" and "The Room Where It Happens", are generally considered two of the best in the play. Combine this with the fact that Hamilton is shown to be obnoxious, arrogant, and an adulterer, and a lot of viewers end up finding Burr to be the more likeable of the two.
  • Les Misérables:
    • Some people side strongly with Javert, rejecting the Lawful Stupid interpretation and instead insisting that Valjean, as a thieving, robbing, murdering, treacherous parole-breaker who engages in armed rebellion against the government, is perhaps not undeserving of the law's, and thus Javert's, dedicated attention. This isn't as extreme an example as the others on the page, Javert is ultimately an admirable figure for his commitment to justice, and no character in the play is meant to be outright hated (excluding the Thenardiers).
    • The Thenardiers themselves also get this treatment. As the above poster mentioned, they're the only truly bad people in the musical — everyone else is fighting for some cause that is, to some degree, noble (freedom, justice, love, etc), but the Thenardiers are only concerned with their own standing and are willing to do anything, from ripping off customers to abusing their daughter to robbing corpses, to make a quick buck. They have no morals whatsoever, and are truly reprehensible... but they also get pretty much the only comic moments ("Master of the House" and "Beggar at the Feast," which are also insanely catchy) in an extremely dark show. Plus, they know how evil they are and revel in it, and nearly every production casts exceptionally over-the-top actors in the roles (for proof, the film put Sacha Baron Cohen — freaking Borat — and Helena Bonham Carter in the parts), so it's easy to forget that they're disgusting, vile people.
  • Medieval Times Dinner And Tournament: Following his descent into villainy starting with the 2006 show, many fans have come to root for the Green Knight to win, if only because he's deliberately designed to be a Hate Sink destined to lose every time, and they want to see him actually earn a victory.
  • Shylock from The Merchant of Venice is a Jewish money-lender who is derided, insulted, and generally discriminated against by pretty much everyone. He serves as the main antagonist of the story and is trying to collect on a debt owed by Bassanio, a friend of the protagonist Antonio. Antonio had signed onto the debt as a guarantor and Shylock, who hated Antonio, saw a path to revenge by demanding a pound of Antonio's flesh as a penalty for defaulting on the loan. Thanks to some Rules Lawyering on behalf of the protagonists, Shylock is not only denied his revenge, the debt is annulled, his wealth is taken from him, and he is forced to convert to Christianity. At the time Shylock was considered a highly effective, loathsome villain and his fate was just comeuppance for his greed. In today's world, the character is received much differently, to the point of being a highly sympathetic character. Modern productions often play Shylock as a tragic villain rather than his traditional "pure evil" role, and his famous "I am a Jew!" speech, with no modification whatsoever, today reads perfectly as the lamentations and frustrations of an oppressed people to discriminatory and dehumanizing treatment from the masses. That said, Shylock does provide the current page quote for Fair for Its Day.
  • Iago from Othello, since he's an extremely charismatic character who turns Refuge in Audacity into an art form. Convincing Othello that his wife is cheating on him in a single scene doesn't exactly portray the hero in the best light, as well as the rest of the cast having a bad case of Horrible Judge of Character to the point where if they ever just talked to each other, they'd have quickly realised who was pulling all the strings (to be fair, he comes close to winning, and most of the "idiots" who believe him end up dead).
  • The Phantom of the Opera fan base is often partial toward the sympathetic phantom's side, romanticizing his unhealthy obsession with Christine as "true love" and perceiving him as a tragic villain, sometimes even while demonizing bland rival suitor Raoul in fanfictions.
  • Richard III is the smartest man in the room (any room), and much more charismatic and entertaining than any of the milquetoast good guys who surround him. Just try watching a production of the play without wanting him to win. Also the supposed hero of the play, Richmond, only appears at the end so comes across as a very Flat Character. It also helps that the play is practically the Trope Maker for the Historical Villain Upgrade, and the real Richard III was actually a good king, even if he did some ruthless things to get there.
  • Sweeney Todd:
    • The title character. At first glance, it's understandable — after being arrested on a trumped-up charge and sent to a prison/labor camp in Australia for fifteen years, Todd (a.k.a. Benjamin Barker) finally escapes and only desires to get revenge on Judge Turpin and Beadle Bamford, the two men who organized his destruction so they could help themselves to his wife (who they raped and drove to suicide or so Todd thinks) and are now keeping his daughter prisoner. The problem comes when, after the Judge manages to escape Todd's grip the first time, he goes absolutely insane and decides that he's going to kill everyone in London, reasoning that death will either be justice for the wicked or relief for the downtrodden. Fans still love Todd even after he cracks and continue to root for his campaign of vengeance, even though he, by his own admission, loses sight of that goal and gradually becomes completely deadened to the fact that he's a mass-murdering serial killer.
    • There's also Mrs. Lovett, especially since Stephen Sondheim himself is on record as calling her the "true villain" of Sweeney. Whereas Todd is at least at first motivated by revenge for his wife, and even Judge Turpin (as despicable and repulsive as he is) has some degree of conscience (in his typically Cut Song, he's depicted as a deeply repressed individual whose belief that Sex Is Evil is so strong that it's permanently warped his understanding of the world and ability to interact with others; Sondheim has expressed frustration that the song is often removed, as it removes Turpin's more complex motivations), Mrs. Lovett is an unabashed opportunist whose only goal is bettering her own situation. It's clearest when she outright lies to Todd about Lucy, his wife, being alive just because she's in love with him herself — she says she's doing it for Todd, but it's patently obvious that she's lying, but it also manifests when she comes up with the idea of turning Todd's victims into the meat for her pies. But she's so fun and funny that it's easy to forget what a horrible human being she is (the aforementioned plan is developed in a song that's pretty much a Hurricane of Puns about how different professions will taste).

  • In Cucumber Quest, Rosemaster turned out to be such a compelling and interesting antagonist that numerous readers said they were rooting for her to beat the heroes (or, at least, to somehow not lose).
  • Dominic Deegan:
  • Five Nights At Freddy's: Lost Souls: Even after Golden Freddy snaps and grows violent toward the humans, specifically Kelly, readers still found themselves sympathizing with him more than the aforementioned Kelly. In fact, many a comment cheered for Golden Freddy when he implied he would break Kelly's arm, mostly due to Kelly being The Scrappy and Unintentionally Unsympathetic, while he himself had shown understandable reasons for detesting her so much.
  • A variation on Girls with Slingshots: Many readers actually rooted for Zach to break up with the protagonist Hazel, considering how selfish and immature she had been with their relationship and throughout the entire webcomic run, the same thing for misfortune to hit back at her as comeuppance for her jerkass behaviour, which is why they cheered when these things started to happen near the webcomic's end.
  • There is a small but vocal subset of the Homestuck fandom that believes that the Alternian Empire is a fully justified society and that the Condesce is an admirable leader. While a fair portion of them simply don't know any better, there are some that believe that the trolls have every right to do what they do given the situation and some that just flat-out hold neo-fascist beliefs. The fact that troll culture and civilization is easily one of the most richly detailed and interesting parts of the comic doesn't help either.
  • A comic strip by artist Mallorie Jessica Udischas, author of Manic Pixie Nightmare Girls, presents the artist's Self-Insert character laughing about a "millionaire gamer-bro douchebag" getting robbed (a reference to PewDiePie, who was robbed in early December 2019). Her co-worker, a white male character whose nametag reads "New Guy", asks her "Hey, how'd you like it if you were robbed?". Mallorie's self-insert sarcastically tells the guy they could be friends only to say "Hell no" when he asks for confirmation. Many people wound up sympathizing more with the New Guy's empathy than the ostensible protagonist's schadenfreude and sarcasm. Starting in 2020, "New Guy" was taken by Twitter users as a symbol of empathy, even trending on the site. The meme was almost immediately co-opted by far-right groups who used New Guy as a cover to attack Mallorie Jessica Udischas for being trans, before dying out in a couple of months.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Miko, whom some believe was in the right with her actions that were supposed to be her Moral Event Horizon.
    • Redcloak does have some valid reasons for what he's doing, but that doesn't mean he's not planning with his dark god to hold the world hostage with the threat of an apocalyptic living Continuity Snarl-that-can-permakill-anything unless his demands are met.
  • The Patriarchy arc in Sinfest seems to have provoked this reaction due to just how polarizing the Sisterhood (Xanthe in particular) is.
  • Vampire Cheerleaders: The larger part of the comic's fanbase (on Facebook) actually favored Lori and her Coven of vampires, despite their actions, and hated the Paranormal Mystery Squad, who they saw as a group of knights templar that were guilty of committing Van Helsing Hate Crimesnote . So you can imagine how well they reacted to the cheerleaders being casts as the villains (which they always were) during the "Vampire Cheerleaders Must Die!" arc, which ended with them being taken into custody by PETM.

    Web Originals 
  • This girl is rooting for the empire. And a Jedi will guide her to the Siths' Academy.
  • This Youtube video. Many of the commenters are rooting for the escapee (thanks to his skill and luck) and deriding the police for putting people's lives at risk during the chase.
  • A common phenomenon in the 1999-2002 timeframe on World War II themed forums: a large percent of forum posters rooted for the Wehrmacht, as the side with the coolest tanks, planes, uniforms and dashing war heroes like Wittmann or Hartmann. It died slowly after 2002, most people gained a more balanced and neutral attitude for those involved in the war. However, the "Wehraboo" community has swelled again what with a new generation of internet users coming into contact with a more diverse and unorthodox political sphere, and its beliefs now range from modern-day promotion of the "Clean Wehrmacht" myth and German-inspired aristocratic conservatism (often acting as a cover for straight Nazism) to practically doing its detractors' job for them by idolizing German military capabilities even more intensely, and blaming the collapse of the Eastern Front solely on Russian weather.
  • This trope is present to an extent in the infamous "X Gets Grounded" videos made with GoAnimate. No one will really be surprised if you say that you wish that Caillou, Dora, or the other kids would actually win for once instead of being grounded so much. Helping their case is the fact that the parent characters are ludicrously strict at best, Ax-Crazy abusive sociopaths at worst who ground, torture, or even kill them for the slightest of offenses or even for doing something good or heroic. Even the non-ironic, baby-show-hating fanbase often shows sympathy for them when the aforementioned parent characters go too far.
  • RWBY:
    • Some fans honestly believe that the White Fang are actually good guys. The logic: they're a civil rights movement for an oppressed ethnic minority, who just want to be respected and sometimes resort to extreme measures. They wouldn't have so many recruits willing to lay down their lives if they didn't have some merit, right?note  In reality, the Fang started as a civil rights movement and became a faunus supremacy terrorist movement, one member of the eponymous team left it for precisely that reason, the Fang murdered the family members of another note , they have no problem attacking innocent non-combatants including Faunus, and at the end of Season 3, they willingly participated in a literal terror attack so bad it that makes 9/11 look like a house of cards fell over. So once the Fang were done Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, what do their defenders do? Blame bad writing, even though the Fang are clearly modeled on the many real-life political movements that fell into the same pitfalls.
    • There is a good portion of fans who take Ironwood's side in volumes 7 and 8, ignoring, downplaying, or justifying his actions while demonizing Team RWBY for lying to him and hiding the truth about Ozpin and Salem, accusing them as hypocrites for being angry at Ozpin for keeping it a secret while doing the same thing to Ironwood. Even when he goes off the deep end such as planning to abandon and eventually threaten to bomb the city of Mantle, declaring martial law and become a dictator, ordering everyone’s arrest, shooting Oscar who tried to reason with him, executing councilman Sleet, and forcing Dr. Watts to hack into Penny who refuses to cooperate. The fans that don’t try to justify his actions tend to blame bad writing as their defense for how Ironwood's character was treated in the show, conveniently glossing over his numerous failings in previous volumes and the fact that his actions are pretty much expansions of his prior behavior, just driven to their logical extreme under lost sanity and suppression of his fear.
  • A lot of people thought Zod was the best part of The Nostalgia Critic's Man of Steel, and while they know he couldn't 'win' and torture Critic to death, him getting a lazer Groin Attack defeat was a little disappointing.
  • Some entries in the Ayn Rand Rewrites series inspire this. In Ayn Rand's The Devil Wears Prada, for example, the commenters cheer on Objectivist Andy telling her "friends" where to stick their Tall Poppy Syndrome.
  • Escape the Night: While everyone is always rooting for the main cast to escape, in some challenges, the show clearly wants us to root for one character while the other character is meant to be seen as cannon fodder. This is especially the case in season four’s rematch between DeStorm and Alex. Destorm seems to have mellowed out considerably since the last time we saw him and has become an entertaining Wild Card, while Alex has become more selfish and arrogant. When Alex wins purely because of DeStorm’s Heroic Sacrifice, many fans were disappointed as Destorm’s character arc was far more interesting than Alex.

In-Universe Examples:


  • Discworld's Tiffany Aching had always rooted for the Wicked Witch when reading fairy tales because the witches were always more interesting than the Princess Classic heroines. Also, the witches were always dark-haired and dark-eyed like Tiffany, not blonde and blue-eyed like the princesses.

    Live-Action TV 

    Newspaper Comics  
  • In The Boondocks, Huey says he hated the The Patriot (2000) so much that he found himself wishing the British would win so he could go home.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, one night when Calvin's dad is reading him a bedtime story; Calvin requested a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood where the Big Bad Wolf succeeds in eating her. When Calvin's dad suggests Hansel and Gretel, Calvin says he wants the witch to eat them and then have the wolf eat the witch. Another strip had him rewrite Goldilocks and the Three Bears except the bears were tigers and they eat Goldilocks. His dad was disturbed by it.
  • Candorville- Roxanne considers the villain of almost any movie to be the real hero.
  • Drabble did an in-story version, with Norman commenting that he realized how very conservative his father was when they saw Star Wars (Episode IV, no less) and Dad was cheering for Darth Vader.
  • Jason of FoxTrot also cheers for Darth Vader. He even tried to convince George Lucas to digitally insert him into the Special Edition as "Jason Skywalker", a new younger brother of Luke who is Force sensitive too and eventually turns to The Dark Side. He also refers to Luke as "a fool" because he doesn't turn to the Dark Side.
  • Garfield:
    • Garfield roots for the monster that ate Tokyo in a movie, because "anything that eats everything can't be all bad".
    • When watching the movie "Lassie Crosses the Freeway", Garfield mentions that he's rooting for the trucks.
    • As Jon and Garfield watch a film about a man-eating lion, we know who roots for whom. Even when the lion gets killed in the end, Garfield happily notes that he ended with a score of "Villagers: 1 Lion: 42".
    • In an Evil Versus Evil example, Garfield goes to the movie theater to see The Sludge Monster Meets Vermin Man no fewer than nine times, always wearing Sludge Monster memorabilia and holding up a sign cheering on the Sludge Monster — even though the Sludge Monster absolutely terrifies him, to the point that he can't sleep at night for fear of being Sludged.

  • Homestuck:
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Invoked with Tarqin, who explains that he follows all of the Evil is Cool tropes to a T to provoke this sort of reaction from anyone who hears of the story, thus immortalizing him into a legend.
    • In a sequence referencing Dune Belkar is reading the original, and getting quite agitated when Baron Harkonnen's life is threatened.
  • One-Punch Man:
    • The primary reason why hero slayer Garou started his rampage. When he was a kid, he always had to play the monster part in his classmates' heroes vs. monsters game which the other kids used to bully him. He therefore started to identify with the monsters rather than with the heroes which he saw as degenerated and arrogant.
  • Penny Arcade:

    Web Originals 
  • The Nostalgia Chick admits that she sort of wants Hades to win in Hercules, because he (and Megara, who starts as one of his Mooks) are the only characters she finds interesting. Also, being a Child Hater herself, she seems almost perplexed that Matilda presents the Trunchbull as an unsympathetic character.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • He's prone to this when he thinks the hero of a movie needs to be killed quickly (which, given the calibre of the movies he watches, is surprisingly frequent). Best exemplified in The Wiz, when both the Critic and Todd in the Shadows think the few minutes of the Wicked Witch are fun enough that they hope she wins.
    • He's also had more than a few times when he's found the "hero" to be far less likable or otherwise worse than the "villain", like in Flubber where he firmly believes the villain would be the better husband for the Love Interest because he would at least be there for her and actually seems to treat her quite well despite being a diabolical mastermind, unlike Professor Brainard who has stood her up at the altar four times now and is so careless and devoted to his work that he's not once shown any qualities that imply he's a good husband.
    • Similarly, he is firmly on the side of the "evil" establishment of old-school doctors in Patch Adams. While he admits they are humorless asswipes, he'd still rather have a humorless jerk who coldly treats his ailment and moves on rather than the overly emotional clown that Patch was being. Even after being informed by fans that bedside manner back then really was terrible and a hell of a lot worse than it is now (read: non-existent), he still feels that Patch went too far the other way and, if given the choice of one or the other, that he'd still take the asshole doctor.
      Critic: But I'm sorry. If choosing my doctors comes between this...
      Doctor: Stabilize the blood sugar. Consider antibiotics. Possibly amputation.
      Critic: ...and this...
      (A clip of Patch flailing around and slamming repeatedly into a window)
      Critic: I'm choosing the amputate guy! I don't trust him with a saw!
  • Allison Pregler:
    • She finds herself siding with the mutant frogs in the Frogtown series.
    • For Vampire Assassin, she played the "Lonely Man" music from The Incredible Hulk (1977) when "Vampire Hulk" gets staked.
    • She was actually pulling for Radu for all four films; even as he became less and less violent, and more like an Anne Rice character.
    • Radu automatically does this with every film he reviews.
    • Gimli coming at Golddigger with a garden hose. (Robot in the Family)
      "Yes, YES, kill it!! John Rhys-Davies, you're my hero!"
    • Radu interprets Tommy Wiseau as the true demon in The House That Drips Blood on Alex.
    • The only person on Sesame Street she can even tolerate is Oscar, who really speaks to her.
    • In her Charmed reviews, she considers the Charmed Ones (particularly Phoebe) to be Designated Heroes. It gets to the point where, in Season 4, she says, "It makes you root for the Source of All Evil because he seems nice in comparison." In season 6, during the high school reunion episode, the Alpha Bitch calls Phoebe a selfish whore to her face in as catty a manner as possible, and Lupa can't actually argue against it. In the same season, they're put on trial for misuse of magic. A recurring antagonist, Barbas, prosecutes them so effectively that they're almost convicted... and he's basically just repeating everything Lupa has said through her review of the series.
  • In his "Top 15 Characters I Hate In Films I Like" list, Duckyworth admits that, for Wreck-It Ralph, he couldn't stand his personal scrappy, Vanellope Von Schweetz, due to her screeching voice. Hence, he rooted for King Candy/Turbo to crash into the wall and kill her, and when he captured and forced Ralph to "watch [Vanellope] die together" by the cybug swarm, he thought 'Yes... devour that sickly sweet shrieking schmuck, you Cybugs...'.
  • Phelous is pretty sure in his reviews of Crocodile (2000) and Crocodile 2: Death Swamp that we're supposed to be rooting for the crocodiles. Or maybe Princess the dog, when he thinks she's constantly luring the humans to the croc on purpose.
  • SF Debris: in Star Trek series, Chuck Sonnenberg tends to believe that usually the Strawman Has a Point in bad episodes and/or seasons, and are thus the good guys and he is rooting for them (with double points if their plan succeeding would involve a sudden lack of Neelix). It gets to the point where he has to specify that for "The Measure Of A Man" he has no interest in defending Bruce Maddox as the hero against the early-season TNG cast because Maddox is just that much of an asshole.
  • When Linkara, Film Brain and Nash review the failed Wonder Woman (2011 pilot), they quickly find themselves agreeing with the story antagonists who come across as level-headed and reasonable while Wonder Woman herself is rash, impulsive, openly violent and flaunts her disdain for the law at every possible chance. Her callous murder of a security guard pretty much cements their opinion that the "villains" are merely acting out of self-defense at this point.
  • Every single person that has reviewed The Groovenians, which includes Hewy Toonmore, Rowdy C, Mr. Enter and The Cartoon Hero, found themselves siding with Norman the Normal and his claim that the Groovenians and their friends can't expect to just party and create art all the time without having to pay for the resources they use.
  • Yahtzee has expressed this opinion when reviewing games with unlikable protagonists or in modern military shooters a.k.a. Spunkgargleweewee that feature overly militaristic "good guys".
    Yahtzee: Aww, bless. Is the mean old foreigner trying to take away your infinite supply of poor, innocent, remorseless kill-droids? Boo hoo, Doctor fucking Doom!
  • The point of view character in the Fallout 4 machinima series, Fallout Lore: The Storyteller, is quite proud of the directions that the Brotherhood of Steel has taken, despite the fact that most fans consider the Brotherhood to have Took a Level in Jerkass to the point of becoming villains since Fallout 3.
  • Spoony repeatedly finds himself rooting for the evil military in Final Fantasy XIII, noting that while they are ultimately wrong they're portrayed surprisingly sympathetically in that they're genuinely trying to protect civilians, are opposed to wholesale slaughter and prefer non-violent tactics when possible, and are at worst Obliviously Evil who don't realize they've been misguided into evil. It's made worse by how, by comparison, he finds the protagonists to be much worse despite their ultimate goal of saving the world, as they have no problem with collateral damage, terrifying and attacking civilians, and even go out of their way to kill as many soldiers as possible for fun even when just leaving would have been the more effective tactic.

    Western Animation 
  • In Undergrads Rocko, ever obsessed with college stereotypes, decides he wants to spark a rivalry between Central State Junior Community College and State University by showing up to their games in a CSJCC hoodie and beating the crap out of the State U Manatee. However the State U students hate that stupid manatee and instead end up cheering on the "Crazy Beatin' Guy" for showing up and beating him up at every game, much to Rocko's chagrin and frustration.
    Rocko: Don't cheer me on, goddammit! HATE ME! I just beat up your crappy manatee! AGAIN!!!
  • In the Kim Possible episode "All the News", Jim and Tim are fans of the episode's villain (who previously had an extreme stunts show until it was revealed she'd been faking everything) and root for her when she televises her fight with Kim, earning a scolding from their dad.
    "Jim, Tim, there will be no rooting for your sister's foe."

Alternative Title(s): Rooting For The Villain