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Sliding Scale of Character Appreciation

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While having good characters doesn't make a good story, there are some characters who can make or break a series simply by walking onstage. On the one hand, you can have a minor character from an obscure and poorly liked series who nonetheless inspires thousands of fanfics. On the other hand, some characters are so hated by fans that some feel the only way the show will ever be watchable again is to write the character out of existence. If the negative audience reaction is coming from outside the target demographic it is a Periphery Hatedom.

Characters We Like To Watch:

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    Characters Who Impress Us Once 
  • One-Scene Wonder: A character that has limited screen time, and usually not much in the way of plot relevance, but is still one of the most memorable things in the movie. They may even be given top billing, or at least an "And Starring" credit, along with the more obvious stars. This is not the same principle as Ensemble Dark Horse, because the character is often played by an established actor, nor is it the same as Dead Star Walking, because the intent is not to fool you into thinking that the actor will appear more often. The character just appears, gives a show-stealing performance, and then is gone. Like a Spear Carrier, only way more righteous. Like a Celebrity Cameo, except you don't have to recognize the actor to appreciate the scene for all its worth. You know you're dealing with this sort of character if you start referring to "their scene".

    Characters We Love To See, Even If Just Standing In The Background 

    Villains We Sympathize With 
  • The Anti-Villain: The Anti-Villain is a villain with heroic goals, personality traits, and/or virtues. Their desired ends are mostly good, but their means of getting there are evil. Alternatively, their desired ends are evil, but they are far more ethical or moral than most villains in the story and they thus use fairly benign means to achieve it, and can be downright heroic on occasion.
  • The Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: A potential villain who is consistently a failure or never gets the respect that they think they deserve, and may even be angry that the heroes don't take them seriously. They may not necessarily be inept or have a laughably mild idea of what counts as villainy. Villain Decay is usually too simple an explanation. This is sometimes a relative situation, and the hero's Rogues Gallery just happens to include people more showy, better financed, or just plain scarier than him. This does not mean that he doesn't bear animosity; that's a Punch-Clock Villain. He's probably jumping at the opportunity to outdo his rivals and the hero. But there is something about his perseverance or attitude about the whole thing that is just short of sympathetic.
  • The Magnificent Bastard: If there was ever a character that deserved to be called "Magnificent", that character is the Magnificent Bastard. The Magnificent Bastard is what happens when you combine The Chessmaster and the Manipulative Bastard: bold, charismatic, independent, and audacious. Capturing the audience with their charisma, incredible intellect, mastery of manipulation, and boldness of action, this character is a show-stealer, demanding your reverence at every turn.
  • The Noble Demon: A villainous character who does good in spite of themself. The Noble Demon doesn't care that they have a bad image — they actively cultivates and embraces it. They'll practice their evil laugh and iron their cape so that it billows just right when they makes their entrance. However, every so often a situation presents itself and they're just not willing to go the extra mile necessary to be completely evil. They'll topple your castle, but they'll do it right after everyone has cleared out first. They'll also be obsessed with explaining this behavior so people won't think that they've gone soft. Killing enemies or servants who have failed but are loyal is "a waste of resources" and their inevitable newfound friends are "tactically advantageous allies". Their goals are evil but their means, not so much.
  • The Unintentionally Sympathetic Villain.
  • The Draco in Leather Pants: When a fandom takes a controversial or downright villainous character and downplays their flaws, often turning them into an object of desire and/or a victim in the process. This can cause conflicts if the writers are not willing to retool the character to fit this demand. In fanfiction, they are frequently the love object of the local Author Avatar, who uses the power of love to redeem the character or are part of a fix fic to save the character. In extreme cases, the affection these characters receive from fans can lead them to forget that they're actually still supposed to be villains. Or, on the flip side, any crimes the character commits can be rationalized, while any insult from the hero towards the villain is cast as deplorably mean. Common reasons for this include the character being wicked in a classy or cool way. A physically attractive character is much more likely to be subject to this trope than a physically ugly one or it can be the result from certain fans sympathizing greatly with the villain's backstory in which case it overlaps with Unintentionally Sympathetic Villain or Jerkass Woobie or Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Sometimes, this is the result of the villain coming off as less evil than other villains in the story also (like the Trope Namer, who was a mere annoyance as opposed to Lord Voldemort).
  • The Affably Evil Villain: Then there are villains who are Affably Evil. There is absolutely nothing separating them from being normal, polite people except for the fact that they want to Take Over the World or use human souls to power their Artifact of Doom. They're not the Stepford Smiler — their affability is a genuine part of their personality, not a mask. If they have underlings, expect them to be a Benevolent Boss. In one way, they're the opposite of an Anti-Hero. They may Pet the Dog on occasion, but won't hesitate to kick it with steel-toed boots the next second if it helps them accomplish their Evil Plan. They may well be a Villain with Good Publicity because, after all, being evil doesn't mean you have to be rude.
  • The Faux Affably Evil Villain: A villain whose polite mannerisms only serve to enhance their evil. They lack a villainous demeanor yet they are truly, wholly and unrepentantly evil regardless. This kind of villain maintains a friendly, courteous mask even as they commit incredibly heinous acts. Unlike Affably Evil characters, whose niceness is genuine, Faux Affably Evil villains adopt this pleasant persona. An Affably Evil villain will treat The Hero like a friend, and will be reluctant to make an enemy of them. A Faux Affably Evil villain will throw in a jolly "Ooh, my friend, aren't we having a lot of fun?" as they are torturing them. A Faux Affably Evil character's demeanor is an act. At heart, they're utterly soulless, but they mask it with a pleasant, polite, "normal" attitude, perhaps because they have social standards to live up to or because their pleasantness reflects their sheer enjoyment of evil. It's anyone's guess what this kind of villain will do if they suffer a Villainous Breakdown; maybe they will drop all pretenses and find that they are Not So Above It All or maybe they will fall into a state of Dissonant Serenity, blabbering off-kilter pseudo-mannerisms as they go crazy.

    Characters We Love To See Suffer 

    Characters Who Allow Us To Live Vicariously 

    Villains We Love To Hate 
  • The Big Bad: The cause of all bad happenings in a story. A Big Bad could be a character with Evil Plans or it could be a situation, such as a comet heading towards the Earth. The Big Bad can (and often does) exert effect across a number of episodes, and even an entire season. Note that Big Bad is not a catch-all trope for the biggest and ugliest villain of any given story. The leader of the outlaw gang that the heroes face once or twice isn't the Big Bad. The railroad tycoon who turns out to be using the gang as muscle is the Big Bad. If there is a constant Man Behind the Man story going on in order to reveal the Big Bad, then whoever is behind it all is the Big Bad, not every major villain in the lead-up. At other times, if a new enemy shows up to replace the previous Big Bad, then they are the Big Bads of their individual storylines.
  • The Manipulative Bastard.
  • The Complete Monster: The Complete Monster is the most depraved of all characters; a villain utterly lacking in redeeming features. Trying to put a value on the evilness of a Complete Monster is like calculating the credit score of Bill Gates: it's a moot point. Or, anyway, that is how the character is presented in the story. The character is a bad guy, full stop. The author has not taken the character through any actions toward redemption, or at least any that stuck. Characters like this that commit especially horrendous and Squicky acts may end up in Hate To Watch territory instead.
  • The Hate Sink: The guy everyone just loves to hate, seeing as that's the idea. A Hate Sink is a character whose intended role in the story (the role the authors made for them) is to be so despicable that the audience wants them to fail just as much as they want the heroes to succeed. However, this individual doesn't have to be the main villain of the story, or even a villain at all. Let's say we have a cast of perfectly likeable protagonists, reasonable and sympathetic villains, and Bob. Bob is not necessarily the main antagonist. He is not causing the struggle that the heroes must overcome, but he is making the heroes' lives more difficult. His list of character traits includes selfishness, stubbornness, greed, holier-than-thou contempt, cowardice and an inexhaustible penchant for making bad decisions. He may also be rude and obnoxious, bigoted, hypocritical, sleazy and undeservedly smug. Basically, Bob exists to be hated. Everything he does and everything he says is designed to make the audience yearn for his death just a little bit more. If we see his eventual downfall — and we usually do — it is just as satisfying as the writers can possibly make it. A particularly pointed Karmic Death is always a nice touch, and can be quite satisfying to watch.

    Heroes We Love To Root For 

    We Love To Watch Them Get Needlessly Killed 

    We Love To See Them Semi-Naked 

    Characters We Hate To Watch