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Strawman Has a Point

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Note: The guy in the black uniform is supposed to be in the wrong here.
"You can't have heroes and villains when the wrong side is making the best sense."

A Straw Character exists in a work to represent a caricature of a position which the author wants to tear apart. Authors use these Strawmen because they have a position of their own to defend, and they want to make it clear who is right (namely the characters who agree with the author's opinion) and who is wrong. Yet sometimes — possibly at the time, possibly after some thought — the audience realizes that the Strawman made the better argument, even though his position was the "wrong" one.

A particularly persuasive Strawman can cause the audience to turn their empathy from the "heroes" and start Rooting for the Empire. The presence of this trope generally indicates bad writing (a good writer could make his case without needing a Strawman to demolish). Occasionally the Strawman's argument was as weak as intended in its native context, but Creator Provincialism or Values Dissonance cause different audiences to see its merits.

Using this trope cannot be done directly: the whole point is that it's a reaction the writer never intended. To purposefully use it, the writer would either have to be criticizing some other work or use a Show Within a Show format. If there's any awareness of this from the writers (and one might suspect subconscious awareness), expect a lot of unrelated Kick the Dog moments from the villains. Alternatively, the author may attempt to work around this trope by revealing that the villain may have been using a valid argument, but only as a cover to let them do whatever they want. Or maybe they really do believe what they argue, but they think this gives them license to whatever "needs" to be done to make their beliefs a reality. This is also not a scenario where two people have a disagreement and both have valid points. A Strawman is, by definition, an overly simplified position that is so flimsy it can be easily toppled. If everyone is partially correct, no side is a true straw man — they're still not this trope. Above all, remember that a strawman argument isn't inherently wrong, only poorly stated, as per the Fallacy Fallacy.

Contrast Jerkass Has a Point, Dumbass Has a Point, Hypocrite Has a Point and Villain Has a Point, where the author deliberately has a non-credible character hit the nail on the head. Compare and contrast Misaimed Fandom, which results when the characters opposing the author's view are wrong but the fandom misinterprets the story as saying they were right, and Both Sides Have a Point, where both sides are treated as having legitimate arguments. See also: The Extremist Was Right, Informed Wrongness, Designated Evil, No Mere Windmill, Alternative Character Interpretation, Do Not Do This Cool Thing, Broken Aesop.


Alternative Title(s): The Strawman Strikes Back