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Sympathetic P.O.V.

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One story's villain is another story's hero.
"Seeing weaklings who, despite all their faults, show signs of promise and try their best makes you want to cheer them on, it's only natural!"
Kaname Chidori, Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

Just like being on TV makes you 10 pounds heavier, the camera also makes you far more sympathetic. The same story, told from two different points of view, can flip the roles of hero and misguided antagonist simply by switching perspective.

Fits a particular kind of story that has more room for moral interpretation, without stark moral contrasts that instantly discredit the other side. If it does have clear White Hats and Black Hats, the best the bad guy can expect is a Cynicism Catalyst, Kick the Dog, Freudian Excuse or Start of Darkness detailing how they fell from grace. The end result is Protagonist-Centered Morality where because we sympathize the most with the protagonist, we will also see their choices as morally correct.

Compare Villain Protagonist, Villain Episode and P.O.V. Sequel. Contrast with In Another Man's Shoes, The Only One, "Rashomon"-Style. Informed Wrongness may be an inversion. See also A Lighter Shade of Grey and Adaptational Sympathy.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Takashi Suguruno in 7 Seeds is shown to be very much in love with his wife and a family man, caring for his daughter, when we do not focus on him being depicted through Mark's or Ango's POV, where he's more depicted as a Sink or Swim Mentor to the latter and a cold-hearted bastard who kills people without hesitation in the former's eyes.
  • The Animatrix: "The Second Rennaisance" shows the history of the human-machine war from the perspective of the machines, making them a lot more sympathetic than they are in the movies, as they were subjected to bigotry and attempted genocide before attempting to fight back.
  • Attack on Titan after 90 chapters focusing on them being villains the manga then shows things from the perspective off Reiner, the Armored Titan's POV that show how he, Annie, Bertolt and Marcel were chosen to be shifters and how they reach the island of Paradis. It also depicts Marley, from the perspective of the Eldian soldiers forced to fight for them, showing them to be sympathetic people trying to make the best out of being a marginalised race. Things get taken up a notch when Eren and the rest of the Survey Corps arrive and attack Liberio turning the place into a blood soaked battleground and framing the people who served as the protagonists pre Time Skip into a villainous light.
    • Grisha Yeager and his eldest son Zeke are also subject to this trope. In the flashbacks introducing Marley, Grisha comes off as sympathetic, with the traumatic events of his childhood fueling his outrage over Eldians being oppressed and his hatred for Marley, and he is blindsided when his son betrays the Eldian restorationist movement. However, in the flashbacks from Zeke's POV, Grisha comes across less sympathetically, having used Zeke as a pawn, and forcing Zeke to report his parents lest he be sentenced along with them. Finally, when Eren and Zeke view Eren's childhood in the Paths, we see that Grisha regrets how he treated Zeke and chose to raise Eren better, to the point of putting Eren's upbringing ahead of his goal of finding the Founder.
  • In Code Geass, characters on all sides are shown sympathetically. Even though the struggle is La Résistance vs. The Empire, the Britannian royals, knights, and other soldiers are shown as lovable characters just like the rebels. Take Gino, for instance — a charming, sweet guy who fits right in with Lelouch's ordinary high school friends when he transfers to the school — episodes after he was eagerly looking forward to wiping out a million rebels. This serves to promote the series' theme of forgiveness, that all people are just trying to live their lives and find success and happiness the best that they can, and that, as Lelouch says in Stage 4, "Your enemy is not people, but Britannia itself." It's a system like The Empire, which leads people like Gino to want to become killers and rewards them for it, that needs to be destroyed, not the individual humans who are parts of it.
  • Zig-zagged in Death Note. Light is the Well-Intentioned Extremist protagonist, but he is capable of getting quite depraved and insane. His opponents, which include the ICPO, the police, L, and subsequently Near and Mello, also do their share of morally dubious and illegal things in their pursuit of him.
  • An interesting case happens in Failed Princesses. When Nanaki Fujishiro suffers a Break the Haughty moment when her boyfriend cheats on and dumps her, Kanade Kurokawa, the girl Fujishiro had made fun of and looked down upon, comforts her. While Kurokawa comes off as a Nice Girl from Fujishiro's POV, it's revealed in Kurokawa's first POV chapter that she still hates Fujishiro, and thus wasn't quite as magnanimous as Fujishiro thought: It was actually intended as passive aggressive gloating.
  • In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga:
    • The near-genocidal Ishval Massacre is told from the point of view of the invading Amestrian soldiers, the Rockbells (heroic war-zone doctors), and an unnamed Ishvalan Warrior Priest (Scar). Nearly all the Amestrian soldiers are shown as disgusted by the orders of the higher-ups, who are mostly remorseless bastards, to the point where about 20% of the Amestrian officers are killed by subordinates tired of killing innocent people. By the end of the volume everyone except the actual villains are traumatized. In one scene Alex Louis Armstrong, mainly a source for comedy relief, is shown having a nervous breakdown right on the field while cradling a dead Ishvalan child. In another, Basque Grand, one of the Alchemists Scar had previously executed for being a State Alchemist and one of the "heroes" of Ishval, confronts and kills his commanding officer when he refuses to accept the Ishvalan leader's surrender, all other soldiers present, including Maes Hughes, creating the cover story that their commander died via a "stray bullet" due to agreeing with Grand and wanting the senseless slaughter to end.
    • This gets lampshaded when Riza Hawkeye and Dr. Tim Marcoh tell their perspectives on the war to Edward Elric and Scar respectively. Riza tells Ed that if Roy Mustang succeeds in his goal of becoming Fuhrer of Amestris, once the internal reforms are completed, then everyone involved in the Ishval Massacre will likely have to face charges of War Crimes, Roy and Riza included, something Ed is highly against since he personally knows them as nice people and is aware the Homunculi were the ones responsible for orchestrating the massacre, Riza telling him that even if the Homunculi were the ones who loaded the gun, soldiers like her were the ones responsible for pulling the trigger. Marcoh meanwhile, even though he was forced to do so by the Homunculi, tells Scar about his turning Ishvalan's into a Philosopher's Stone that was given to Scar's Arch-Enemy, Solf J. Kimblee, in the hopes Scar would kill him for otherwise slaughtering his people so the Homunculi can't use him anymore, only failing because Scar had already begun his Heel–Face Turn and stopped killing State Alchemists at random, settling for disfiguring him instead and faking his death so he can atone by working with Scar.
  • A tradition in the Gundam franchise, dating all the way to the original Mobile Suit Gundam. Indeed, the Universal Century branch of The Multiverse had so much of this for the various editions of Zeon that Rooting for the Empire is common enough that they are usually seen as A Lighter Shade of Gray in a world of Grey-and-Gray Morality.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is a sterling example. The antagonists are a Gundam-standard oppressive world government, but the protagonists (while having sympathetic backstories and motivations) slowly become a Mafia-like organization that ruthlessly slaughters anyone who wrongs them. This mainly serves to demonstrate what a Crapsack World the Post-Disaster era is, and how badly reforms are needed.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury after an episode where the terrorist group Dawn of Fold is seen at their worst when they shoot up the school of the protagonists, the next episode centers around their efforts to evacaute refugees from the heavyhanded corporate government response. The once faceless terrorists are shown to have quirks, comradery and family worth dying for. In combat they're outnumbered and using inferior equipment, dying just to Hold the Line so more innocent families can escape. All of a sudden Dawn of Fold is a band of plucky underdogs defending the people of Earth rather than the menacing threat to the main characters.
  • The second season of the Gunslinger Girl anime showed the perspectives of the SWA who were trying to protect Italy and the Padanian terrorists who were trying to free their country from an oppressive government.
  • The second and third seasons of Hell Girl swap out the original Black-and-White Morality of the series for a Black-and-Grey Morality where neither the victims nor the antagonists are completely in the right. The second season's stories are told through the perspective of the main character Ai, who is in charge of investigating and carrying out vengeance contracts; and the third season focuses on Yuzuki Mikage, who through interaction with the victims and Ai's associates gets to watch her hometown and her life go completely to Hell because of the Hell Correspondence.
  • It could be argued that Katanagatari is a traditional High Fantasy Chambara sword fights in eighteenth century Japan, but the Sympathetic P.O.V. is from the villains: It’s about the story of the Mooks who look cool for just a moment and are killed immediately by the Antihero. Togame is the Dragon In Chief who is thankful she was killed before getting a true chance to become the Big Bad. Shichika is The Dragon. The Big Bad was Shikizaki Kiki, the guy who organized all the plot. Princess Hitei is the Antihero and Emonzaemon is The Lancer. The Evil Plan was stopped. Japan’s true history was restored, and You Cannot Change The Future.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's does this for the Wolkenritter. While they at first appear to be evil when their motives haven't been revealed, the narrative POV later occasionally changes and focuses on them, their past and such. Turns out they are just trying to save an innocent ill girl that showed them what a real family is like.
  • A large factor of the Magic World arc as a whole in Negima! Magister Negi Magi From Negi's point of view, Fate Averruncus is a dangerous terrorist who is trying to destroy the world. When we see the matter from Fate's point of view, he's trying to stop some brat from interfering with his plan to save over a billion lives in the only way he knows how. Both are right, so they manage to come to a compromise, unlike the previous generation.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! is this, since Tomoko is the protagonist and we see her thoughts. More noticeable in the spin-off It's You Guys' Fault My Friend Isn't Popular, where we lack this inside-view of her mind and hence see her as a more obnoxious and difficult-to-understand person.
    • A later arc in the series focuses on Koharu Minami, who's part of a typical mean girl squad. It shows how she struggles with her own isolation after she gets put in a class away from her usual crowd and can't connect with anyone, with her situation being painted as not so dissimilar from Tomoko's.
  • Smug Snake Makoto Isshiki of RahXephon has an episode-long flashback of his childhood living with the Bahbem foundation, revealing a Start of Darkness which makes his child-self a complete Woobie. Although he remains a bastard throughout the series, this insight colours his future actions effectively and makes his motive much more understandable, if not entirely likeable.
  • In any other setting, all of the characters (except Kasumi Tendo and Akari Unryu, both of whom are practically background characters) of Ranma ½ would be horrible monsters who might occasionally do good deeds (some more then others), but are still horrific Jerkasses whose sole good quality is they constantly tear into each other instead of teaming up and wreaking havoc on the countryside. As the story focuses specifically on them, however, they can come off as amusing, sympathetic, and even tragic.
  • In Saki Shinohayu -dawn of age-, Shino, the initial POV character, ask to join Kanna's mahjong club, and gets harshly turned away, giving the suggestion that Kanna is a Jerkass. Kanna's POV of the same event, however, shows that she had a reason for not wanting Shino to join — the club was full on members, and she didn't want any of her friends to not be able to play.
  • s-CRY-ed features Ryuho, who is at first supposedly the villain, but throughout the show, both the characters have their heroic and villainous moments. After Ryuho loses his memory and Kazuma goes through a masochistic phase, neither character appears to be the villain. This also happens to Asuka Tachibana, who goes from being a villain talking about his balls to a heroic, lone ranger.
  • Tokyo Ghoul uses dual protagonists to achieve this, creating a morally uncertain world where both sides equally have positive and negative points. Ken Kaneki is a human transformed into an Artificial Hybrid and forced to live as a Ghoul, providing a sympathetic viewpoint into their world and the struggles they experience. Opposite him is his Worthy Opponent, Ghoul Investigator Koutarou Amon, who provides a sympathetic view into the CCG. This results in several occasions when the group the audience is rooting for can change from chapter to chapter, entirely depending on which characters the audience is following at the moment. The inability of these two sides to come to terms and communicate is a major theme of the series, with the relationship between the two protagonists driven by their shared desire to talk to each other. Fate, however, prevents this from happening.
    • The sequel seems to have done away with this at first, following Ghoul Investigator Haise Sasaki (an amnesiac Kaneki). The Ghouls the team hunt are fairly monstrous, leaving very little sympathy for their side of things. However, things begin to become complicated again as the story progresses. Old characters return to offer sympathetic views for the Ghouls, while several fairly sinister human Investigators are introduced to restore the balanced approach.
  • The Tower of God anime seems to go out of its way to show the internal struggles and external coercion Rachel goes through before her Face–Heel Turn; much of the last episode of the first season is spent showing what was really happening from her perspective. This was downplayed in the original webtoon — merely shown rather than elaborated, and without showing internal conflict — and she became a major Scrappy, even though the author was apparently not that unsympathetic to her.
  • On the flipside, it seems that part of the Yu-Gi-Oh! fanbase feels that the show's token leather pants wearing Anti-Hero Seto Kaiba would be a case of this if he were the main protagonist, owing to his Dark and Troubled Past, especially since many believe the Pharaoh isn't any better and consider him a case of this trope.

    Comic Books 
  • In Amazing Spider-Man Annual Vol 4 #1 "Ties that Bind" we are put into the Venom Symbiote's shoes from the moment it first wakes up in Secret Wars (1984) and bonds with Peter, to when Peter rejects it upon learning its alive in ASM #258 and it's genuinely a Tear Jerker. We see that Symbiote comes to utterly love Peter rather than just seeing him as "meat" and moreover it begins to admire his heroism and desire to protect people. Its action of taking Spidey's body over as his sleeps which was sinister at the time in the 80s is instead framed as it just trying please Peter by stopping crime as he sleeps, it even puts itself in danger from both fire and sonic attacks, simply because Peter wouldn't hesitate and it wants to make Peter proud. Seeing its anguished thought boxes as Peter rejects it and has Reed Richards blast it off with a sonic emitter is heartbreaking.
  • The comic Lex Luthor: Man of Steel looks at Superman from the perspective of his archnemesis. Here, Superman comes across as a cold, distant, incredibly powerful alien whose immense natural abilities make a mockery of human accomplishments. Although in this case, for all his supposed humanism and the angry glowing super-eyes of his rival, Luthor's actions in the comic still make it absolutely clear who the villain is.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: The story mainly takes place from the Autobots' point of view, but for two issues it focuses on a team of six low ranking Decepticons trying to get home. They all have sympathetic moments, a few have unsympathetic moments, and they even have interesting conversations about the war.
  • Watchmen
    • This is the entire reason Rorshach of is considered an Anti-Hero and not a Serial Killer.
    • Played With in regards to Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias when we flip to his prospective in "Look On My Works, Ye Mighty" it's shown his intentions are pure and he really does want peace on Earth, but we also see how horribly detached Veidt is from the rest of humanity and how little he weighs innocent lives againist the greater good.

    Fan Works 
  • Every chapter of Bad Future Crusaders is from the POV of one single character, and the ones starring the villains often depict them as fairly decent ponies: most of the R.E.A.F. fliers act like complete Punch-Clock Villains, guards chat pleasantly and joke with one another, and even Captain Rumble has a bit of a soft side when he's around Babs Seed or the members of his unit. The only two villains in the entire story to not be portrayed as the least bit sympathetic are Merrilay who is a complete psychopath, and Twilight Sparkle herself who hasn't made an appearance yet.
  • The Bridge: The stories often has several chapters focusing on the DarkHunters. Despite being villains, they are shown to be pretty sympathetic characters when not being villains.
  • In Enigma Boy, Teronusuke is fighting against people more morally upright than him in the form of Scheggia. However, his POV presents him as misguided and guilt-ridden enough to keep the reader on his side.
  • In How the Light Gets In, the author is upfront about her disdain for Oliver Queen, and this is reflected any time the POV is from Dean, who openly hates him. However, sections told from the POV of Sara or Laurel show a more complex look, as they both see him as a friend despite being aware of his many flaws. The POV from Oliver himself portrays him as a man haunted by his failures, full of regret, well aware he treated Laurel terribly, and genuinely wants to do good, even if he doesn't succeed, ultimately showing him as a flawed but still deeply human character.
  • Marooned in Madagascar: In The Penguins of Madagascar, Skipper and his team were the heroic (if somewhat crazy and callous) protagonists, while King Julien was a self-absorbed nuisance at best and an Incidental Villain at worst. In this series, however, we see the penguins from the lemurs' point of view, which doesn't show the birds in the most flattering light, sans Private. They have a very dim view of the lemurs and are even willing to take their belongings (like King Julien's plane) without the king's permission. Of course, Skipper's rampant paranoia and patronizing attitude towards mammals, Kowalski's self-aggrandizing narcissism and Rico... well, being an Ax-Crazy psychopath are all well-established canonical character traits, but once they are no longer the focal character, their nobler traits aren’t as evident, while Julien and friends come across like the more sympathetic party (despite being no saints).
  • My Perfect World, Shattered turns out to be the events of Sonic the Hedgehog from Dr. Robotnik's perspective. As a result, Robotnik is depicted as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, and Sonic is depicted as an Eldritch Abomination.
  • The One to Make It Stay:
    • Initially, Alya comes off as an overbearing Control Freak intent upon making her ships sail by any means necessary. When Marinette resists her efforts to force her into her Zany Schemes, she stages an intervention, dismissing the minor matter of her dating Luka as an attempted Operation: Jealousy. She also films one of Chat Noir's Love Confessions and uses Manipulative Editing to make it appear like Ladybug reciprocated, blowing off Ladybug when she confronts her about it and insisting she's "completely overreacting". The side-story I Owe You Every Joy of Love follows her perspective, revealing that while Alya's still a Horrible Judge of Character when it comes to Lila and her priorities are severely skewed, she's actually more cognizant of her mistakes than she's come off as, and has been struggling to figure out how to fix her fraying relationships and escape the hole she's been digging herself into. In particular, she knows that publicly admitting how she altered the footage could completely tank the Ladyblog's reputation.
    • Downplayed with Adrien's interludes. While Hearing Only Yourself presents his reasons for not acting on his newfound knowledge of Marinette's crush on him as reasonable, it's partnered with showing his blatant hypocrisy when it comes to how he treats Ladybug. Even when Plagg spells out how selfishly he's been acting, he averts Ignored Epiphany by never having said epiphany in the first place. My World is Wishing Me Asleep further drives home just how self-centered he is, as he wallows in self-pity while blaming poor Plagg for the consequences of his own actions, not showing so much as a speck of sympathy for either the kwami or anyone being terrorized by Feline Fatale.
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: Given the story's Ensemble Cast and Switching P.O.V. format, it is not uncommon to find episodes that feature the sympathetic viewpoints of both Republic and Imperial characters even as they fight each other. This is especially noticeable during the Second Battle of Axum, where the Imperials occupying and oppressing Axum are given just as much focus and perspective as the Jedi and clone troopers who are trying to liberate Axum. Quite a few Imperial POV characters from the Axum arc (namely Kallak, Nerva, and Farnus) are portrayed as Obliviously Evil Villainous Underdogs who believe they are fighting for humanity's survival against the Jedi "witches" and their army of cloned human Slave Mooks.

    Films — Animation 
  • A Bug's Life: The grasshoppers are depicted as dreaded thugs against the ants for most of the film. A brief scene in the middle movie however shows them relaxing and getting along affably in their base, even considering letting the ants off since collecting food is so tiring, until Hopper very bluntly intimidates them into going back to the ant hill, even killing some of his own men to get his point across.
  • The Prince of Egypt does this with Rameses, the Pharaoh from the Book of Exodus, focusing equally on him and Moses. He's generally shown as a nice guy struggling between responsibility and his own feelings (but with two Evil Chancellors) who genuinely loves his (foster) brother. It's just that at the same time he doesn't see the Hebrew slaves suffering and dying for his empire as people, and every step Moses takes to try and free them only makes him act increasingly villainous.
  • In Vuk the Little Fox, both the foxes and humans commit acts they mutually view as bad: humans kill Vuk's family and hunt down forest animals, while Vuk and other surviving foxes hunt down livestock and other forest critters too. As the story is from the orphaned Vuk's point of view, we're meant to sympathize with him, but everyone in the movie is a victim of some kind, including the humans and their livestock. Even the farm animals get a lot of characterization and comedic scenes, only to get mercilessly killed off, which the film simply presents as victory for the predators.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Four Lions is a black comedy from the POV of five Islamist terrorists, four of whom are just young Stupid Crooks who happen to want to blow themselves and other people up. The fifth isn't a nice guy at all (albeit almost as dumb), and is largely responsible for radicalising the others.
  • Damsels in Distress: The Damsels — an arrogant clique trying to shape their university to their way of thinking — would be the villains in most other movies but we get to know them and for all their eccentricity and flaws they are deeply lovable. Likewise the dimwitted jocks of the local fraternities are adorable goofs and characters who would normally be heroes in a university story — the editor of the college paper and a depressed goth girl — come across as judgmental jerks.
  • This is a factor in what makes Tuco (the Ugly) at least as sympathetic as Blondie (the Good) in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Tuco has done some pretty horrible things off-screen, or is at the very least a thief and a whore who made up most of his charges to drive up his bounty during the scam, but of the three protagonists, he's the one who's given the most on-screen "human" moments and displays the broadest emotional range. Blondie is an enigma who gets a few Pet the Dog moments in the last third of the film, and Angel Eyes is a stone-cold killer except for a scene in the director's cut which plays him sympathetically as well.
  • In Land of the Dead, the gas station attendant zombie gets peeved at the humans shooting his fellow zombies. Because Humans Are Bastards, he succeeds in "leading" an invasion of the nearby human settlement and even gets his share of the Bittersweet Ending, leading the "survivors" to the proverbial sunset. This sympathetic portrayal carefully ignores that no matter the humans' own savagery, the zombies are still ravenous, undead monsters who will devour the innocent along with the corrupt.
  • In the movie (well, at least the remake) The Longest Yard, most of the protagonist's football team are self-confessed scumbags and degenerates. The viewers end up rooting for them because the guards are even nastier.
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park originally had scenes that depicted the Great White Hunter beating up some drunken perverts harassing a waitress, and the "Corrupt" Corporate Executive describing how much money their company has lost thanks to that island and its dinosaurs. Both were removed to make the audience see them as villains, with very little success.

  • Alpha and Omega: The author uses this to avoid strawmen or hypocrites in this story. With the exception of Brandon, all of the characters are portrayed sympathetically, even the initially anti-Semitic Grand Mufti. Lester Stark, despite not only being a fundamentalist Christian but a televangelist into the bargain, is given perhaps one of the most sympathetic portrayals of such a figure outside of Christian fiction.
  • Conqueror: The early chapters of Wolf of the Plains are mostly told from the view of Temujin, who will grow up to be Genghis Khan, but a few segments take the view of Temuge, his youngest brother. When we look through Temujin's eyes, Temuge comes across as a greedy, whiny brat, but when Temuge tells the story, we see him as a poor kid who constantly suffers the bullying of his four older brothers and cruel father.
  • Discworld:
    • Notable in the novel The Truth, in which the protagonist is a journalist who causes some friction with the City Watch (effectively the city's police force). The Watch had been portrayed in previous novels as likable good guys, but here they appear sinister and obstructive, even though they're just the same as they always were.
    • The later book Going Postal takes the POV of con artist-turned-government employee Moist von Lipwig. From his perspective, the newspaper started by the main character from The Truth becomes little more than a tool to be played with by whoever's clever enough, instead of the struggling moral emblem it was in the previous book. Also, from his perspective, he sees the Times editor William de Worde as a pompous windbag, while in The Truth de Worde is living on his wits and trying to stay a step ahead of his enemies, much like Lipwig does in his books.
    • In Thud! we see the trouble both the Times and, to a lesser extent, the Post Office are causing from the Watch's point of view.
    • Many think that this is Vetinari's doing, since his whole modus operandi for staying in power is that everyone hates him, but hates each other more. And this "hatred" will ensure Vimes, William, and Moist never pool their power together, instead work their hardest to keep each other in check.
  • Steven Brust does this very well in some of his Dragaera novels.
    • For instance, the leader of La Résistance in the Taltos series was a servant of one of the heroes of the Khaavren Romances, and each is presented as a minor character in the opposite series.
    • Similarly, through Canon Welding, the human hero Fenario, of an originally-unrelated novel based on Hungarian folklore, turns up as the leader of a somewhat unsympathetically-presented rebellion against The Empire in the Khaavren Romances, and ultimately signs a treaty with the hero of that series.
    • And, of course, from most perspectives other than Vlad's, a cast that includes several Professional Killers, the Blood Knight daughter of the man who threw society into chaos for 250 years, a guy who went on a genocidal Roaring Rampage of Revenge that destroyed the souls of hundreds of people, and an eons-old vampire sorceress with a very pragmatic approach to morality would not exactly look like heroes.
    • It's a more minor example, but in one instance, Vlad makes a comment about how Dragaerans have no taste in wine, which shows in the fact they call a wide cross-section of beverages wine, and don't differentiate. Paarfi at one point comments on how Easterners have no taste in wine, which he bases on the fact that they oddly decided to give a bunch of names to the same beverage.
    • The novel Tiassa includes segments from the perspective of Cawti, and she comes across as far more likable than she did in some of Vlad's narration. There's a definite impression that Vlad's bitterness over their break-up meant that his presentation of her wasn't wholly accurate.
    • Oddly, the story The Desecrator has characters become less sympathetic from seeing their perspective. It's narrated by the Dzur Telnan, and in the story he meets up with/faces off against the skilled magic-user Daymar. While in Vlad's narration, Telnan comes across as a likable ditz and Daymar as an eccentric cloudcuckoolander, in Telnan's narration, he's an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight and Daymar is something of a Deadpan Snarker and not afraid to use magic against those who cross him.
  • Ender's Shadow, the sequel to Ender's Game, is mostly from the view point of Bean, whose POV is much more sympathetic and more profound. It's Bean who gives the actual final order of the War to detonate the MD device within the last fighter remaining.
  • Judy Blume's Fudge novels (Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing and its sequels) are written from the perspective of Peter Hatcher, an ordinary pre-teen boy who has to put up with such torments as his goofy kid brother Farley (better known to all and sundry, including his parents, as "Fudge") and his Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Sheila Tubman. Blume also wrote a book starring Sheila, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, around the time Fourth-Grade Nothing came out.
  • Grendel, a novel by John Gardner, tells the story of Beowulf from Grendel's point of view. Both Beowulf and Grendel are portrayed as monstrous, though since we're seeing through Grendel's eyes, we understand his motivations, but not Beowulf's.
  • Will Parry of His Dark Materials comes across as very sinister to anyone who doesn't know him well in-universe.
  • Honor Harrington: The first few novels give the viewpoints of a Punch-Clock Villain from time to time. Rob S. Pierre and Oscar St Just are given more and more time over the book series, while more minor characters given viewpoints earlier eventually take over. Not only did the former leaders of Haven gain much sympathy, as they were doing the only course of action they thought could save the government, but the ones who replace them are some of the most heroic characters of the series, despite being still at war with the Heroes. Theisman himself goes from Punch-Clock Villain to Worthy Opponent to Cincinnatus.
    • The short story Obligated Service is told from the point of view of Ensign Claire Bedlam Lecroix and portrays her cousin Noah as a spoiled man-child who is ruining his family. The sequel If Wishes Were Cutters is told from Noah's point of view and portrays him much more sympathetically as a struggling young man who is trying to do right by his family in a desperate financial situation despite lacking any sort of training or guidance for how to help them.
  • I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan is told from the point of view of Lucifer himself, all whilst he is inhabiting a mortal body for a chance at redemption. It details his take on the fall from heaven and many other aspects of his life. It's a surprisingly sympathetic take on the Father of Lies.
  • Incarnations of Immortality: For Love of Evil, the sixth book of the Rotating Protagonist series, gets told from the POV of Satan, the antagonist of all the previous books, giving him noble (or at least sympathetic) motives for all his actions in the previous novels. Turns out Satan is The Chessmaster who really does want good to triumph ... he just doesn't want God (whom we finally see for the first time in the series in Satan's book ... turns out He's a total narcissist completely absorbed in self-adoration, which is the real reason He hasn't been taking an active part in the series) to triumph. One example of something the reader only finds out from following Satan's POV: none of the characters except Satan and JHVH (who is distinct from God, and on friendly terms with Satan) remember the Holocaust, because Satan was appalled by it and changed history in order to make it not happen.
  • James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans is an example where this occurs despite the general Protagonist-Centered Morality. The passages which focus on Magua and the other Hurons make their motives more understandable and show that they have their own tragedies to bear, some of which have nothing to do with the novel's protagonists.
  • The Machineries of Empire:
    • The letters sent from Vahenz to Liozh Zai depict the state of affairs aboard the Fortress of Scattered Needles, showing the heretics in a far better light than any POVs on the Hexarchate side. They're also the source of much of the first book's humour.
    • The two short stories, Battle of Candle Arc and Extracurricular Activities, are written from Jedao's perspective and they portray a character far more likeable and unambiguous than the untrustworthy, cunning Jedao we see from Cheris' perspective. Then again, the short stories are both set before the Hellspin Massacre, his in-universe Moral Event Horizon.
  • In The Other Boleyn Girl Jane Parker comes across as a vicious and manipulative woman, who is sexually possessive to the point of giving false evidence that will lead to her husband's death because he doesn't love her. He's beheaded on her word. Jane becomes a POV character in the sequel The Boleyn Inheritance, and while still unpleasant, her motives become more understandable. Though Jane is never likeable, she's definitely a character the reader grows to pity; it helps that she is tormented by guilt over her actions all the way through the novel, and also that she suffers from a bad case of Laser-Guided Karma at the end.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a couple of these, namely
    • Tyrion, who mostly comes across as sympathetic because we see him almost entirely from his point of view, are aware of his struggles, and know the times he tries to do the right thing. Partly due to his charisma, humor, and likability, it's easy to forget that he's the same guy who ordered a singer to be murdered and carved up for soup in King's Landing, threatened to rape his nephew to keep his sister from abusing a girl she thought was his whore (though to the reader, it is clear he wouldn't do that), murdered this same whore while on his way towards murdering his father, helps his (in his own words) "vicious idiot" of a nephew remain on the throne even though in reality they don't have any right to it, and let his group of thieving, raping barbarians run wild around King's Landing.
    • Jon, although to a milder extent, as he is one of the series' heroic characters. He is a moral, caring and compassionate boy but, like his father, often comes off as The Stoic — cold and distant — to those who don't know him well. The few viewpoints we get of him that aren't from a friend (namely Theon) or a family member mostly describe the Ice of his Sugar and Ice personality.
    • Jaime, who spends two books cast as a cold JerkAss hiding behind golden armor before we get to his POV right around the time he starts to defrost and realize his errors. Even if after that, he does threaten to send Edmure Tully — who's already lost his sister and nephew to the Freys joining the Lannisters — and his unborn child on a trebuchet if he doesn't comply with a truce, though whether he was bluffing or not to avoid real bloodshed is up for debate. He also counts as a subversion. His initial POV chapters portray him as the arrogant prick we've come to think of him as, then his hand is cut off leading to a Break the Haughty moment. It isn't until after that he becomes sympathetic, largely because he himself starts to wonder how he turned out like this.
    • Cersei is actually something of an aversion; while the audience finally gets a look at the childhood prophecy which has shaped her entire life through fear, we also get a look at her utter hostility — such as her silent fury during the marriage of Tommen and Margaery and her paranoid beliefs that anyone who opposes her is working with her enemies. Even in her own POV, she comes across as petty and selfish at best, and outright psychopathic at worst. Even as a child of ten, she was capable of arranging the murder of one of her best friends.
    • Stannis is described throughout the first book as someone who is rigid and unpleasant. Then the prologue to the second book sets him up as a possibly-evil Knight Templar. Then, for the rest of the series so far, we see Stannis through the eyes of Davos, who is both the most honorable POV character we still have and probably the person who loves Stannis the most in the Seven Kingdoms (including his wife). While he does have his bad moments, like letting his Evil Chancellor kill his brother or burn his enemies alive to appease a god he doesn't even believe in, we still can't hate the guy (partially because his brother was a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who intended to kill Stannis so he could usurp the throne and because there does to be genuine power in the magic of this religion). He actually has a sizeable subset of the fandom not just liking him, but worshiping him. His Adaptational Villainy in the series is one of the most hated aspects.
    • Daenerys is an interesting example. Reading about descriptions of her from some other characters (who have mostly only seen her from afar or heard rumors and second-hand accounts about her), she gets painted as a bloodthirsty tyrant who has left Slaver's Bay in ruins and is possibly as mad as her father. Reading her POV, we see she's sane, albeit naïve, and is truly compassionate and well-intentioned in her actions; unfortunately, her good intentions tend to horribly backfire due to mistakes or sheer bad luck.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible takes Dr. Impossible's POV for alternating chapters, and makes him remarkably sympathetic for a supervillain on his thirteenth attempt to Take Over the World.
  • Star Wars Legends:
  • The Warrior Cats Expanded Universe book The Ultimate Guide is narrated in third person, but the information given is noticeably slanted towards whoever's life it's recounting. For example, Ashfur's omits his betrayal of ThunderClan to Hawkfrost, which nearly killed Firestar (as Ashfur hoped it would) in favor of saying that he "was not a friend of Firestar", and describes him as a "good mentor" when he actively sabotaged Lionblaze's training. However, this could also be the result of Flip-Flop of God — the different authors do not agree on his characterization.
  • This happens a lot in The Wheel of Time, often from one chapter to the next. This is most noticeable with Rand, who is increasingly insane throughout the books. In chapters that take his perspective, his actions and decisions make some kind of consistent, if twisted, sense. Conversely, with other characters, his behavior seems erratic and frightening.
  • The Witchlands:
    • When Aeduan's first introduced, he's presented through Safi's eyes as an inhuman monster, but his POV section make him far more human and likeable.
    • Merik considers his sister to be practically an Evil Princess. She gets viewpoints in the second book, and turns out she considers him to be a borderline Evil Prince.
  • Each Women of the Otherworld book is written from a different point of view, so the obnoxious little upstart from Stolen becomes the sincere young woman struggling to fulfill too many varied responsibilities in Dime Store Magic, and the antivillain motivated by greed in Bitten turns out in Personal Demon to have good reasons for his trust issues with the world in general and the former protagonists in particular.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: Their very own Jack Bauer in the final season after he crosses the line and goes from hero to Anti-Villain Protagonist, as his actions in his Roaring Rampage of Revenge are portrayed as anything but heroic, but he's still portrayed as sympathetic, given that he's been screwed over and betrayed so many times he truly just doesn't have any other reason to go on. The same season also has Allison Taylor for the most part, who despite a Face–Heel Turn is still mainly seen as a victim of the season's true Big Bad.
  • Angel's episode "Harm's Way" is done from the point of view of Angel's Plucky Comic Relief vampire secretary Harmony, and though she continues to be the Butt-Monkey of the episode, also shows why she can't bring herself to trust the more or less reasonable protagonists; from her point of view they're seeking an excuse to terminate any employee of demonic persuasion with extreme prejudice.
  • Breaking Bad. Series creator Vince Gilligan expressly said his goal with the series was to take Mr. Chips and turn him into Scarface. And yet, despite all the many horrible, horrible things Walter White does, a part of you is still rooting for him. As with many of the other examples, it helps that most of Walt's opponents are a significantly darker shade of gray than Walt is, though many of them get their moments as well. Which makes it even more interesting when Better Call Saul depicts more of the setting pre-Heisenberg, and all the blood, sweat and tears that went into building Fring's empire, making Walt far more unsympathetic in hindsight for destroying it.
  • Cobra Kai is all about this, as it stars The Bully Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid and shows that in spite of the man's shortcomings he's actually a pretty decent man at heart, and how more often than not he's reacting to things or genuinely trying to do good but simply making poor choices rather than just being a dickhead for the sake of it.
  • Some episodes of Criminal Minds give the killer a huge portion of screentime to the point where in a couple, they're more the protagonist than the actual protagonists. Of course, some of those guys are just generally sympathetic anyway, but the bonus screentime certainly helps.
    • The best example of this is the episode "True Night", in which the perspective is with the unsub probably three-quarters of the time; we never even see the team deliver the profile, or the witnesses come forward. It is very effective.
    • The episode "Parasite" is particularly remarkable in this regard: the killer was a horrible person even before he started killing people, but he gets so much screentime that he almost becomes sympathetic.
  • The main character in Dexter is a murdering psychopath, but comes off as a likable guy because he has all the screen-time. Not that he's completely unsympathetic, only killing other killers and sticking to his code as best he can. But if the show was called Doakes or Lundy, he would be the Affably Evil morally ambiguous Big Bad.
  • Dollhouse is perhaps one of the best examples of this trope, the fact that Topher and Adelle (and all Dollhouse employees) get so much screen time prevents the fact they mindwipe and pimp out "volunteers" for a living sinking in too far. And it is then only their very nastiest acts that horrify the viewers. It helps that they have to deal with people who are much, much worse. Exemplified with the character of Dominic. It turns out that he's The Mole, trying to keep the Dollhouse in-check to that the technology never becomes out-of-control. However, he's continually painted as the antagonist, showing the power of this trope.
  • In Game of Thrones several characters get such a POV.
    • This trope could easily be renamed Lannister POV: while the Lannister family is clearly shown as the main antagonist group, most of them have at least a few scenes dedicated to showing how miserable their lives are.
      • Tyrion is not really a bad guy as far as the audience is concerned, but gets quite of lot of opportunities to appear sympathetic.
      • Cersei. During the two seasons we realize she is trapped in an unhappy and abusive arranged marriage, she is traded like chattle to further agendas of the men in her life and she truly does what she does to further her own family interests. She loves her family, with the exception of Robert and Tyrion, very much. The advice she gives Sansa makes one almost sorry for her.
      • Jaime is the incestuous, child murdering, oath breaking Kingslayer, yet when he talks to Catelyn, he is surpirsingly sympathetic. He also shows some sympathy for Brienne when he works out that she was in love with Renly, despite mocking her for it ("We don't get to choose who we love"), tells a lie to prevent her from being gang-raped, and later goes back and gets her out of a bear pit. We also get his story of how became the Kingslayer, and what a story it is.
      • Tywin himself gets many such views in his dealings with Arya. We learn of the love he has for his family, the efforts he made to teach his dyslexic son to read and write, the fact that his father had squandered the family fortune meant he had to act the way he did. We see he is for the most part a reasonable man, who also happens to be a complete bastard.
    • Stannis gets one in a second season episode. We discover about his efforts in Robert's Rebellion and the sufferings and privitations his bore on his brothers behalf and the thanks or lack thereof he got in return.
    • Theon, despite his evil acts in the second season, gets a surprisingly sympathetic POV where the audience gets to see the desire to belong and be loved by his blood family that drives him to villainy. This gets even more in the third season where he spends all of it as the victim of the utterly psychotic Ramsay Snow. It's hard to not pity him then.
  • I, Claudius is framed as the history the emperor Claudius wrote of his family. Cladius' intellectual traits are emphasized, especially his historical scholarshipnote  as are his struggles as a disabled man in a cutthroat family at the top of a cutthroat society. His speech to the Senate on his elevation to the throne is a stirring rebuke to their hypocrisy and powergrabbing... but summarized, he's saying "I don't want to be here, but you're worse at governing Rome than I would be, and my 4,000 Praetorian Guards will sack the city if you don't agree." Claudius also ordered high-profile executions under sometimes-dubious grounds, just as his predecessors, but fewer of them are shown. His marriage and loss of power to his niece Agripinna (called Agripinilla in the series) is portrayed as a deliberate ploy on his part to be seen as so degraded and ineffectual that imperial rule will be overthrown and the Republic return.
  • Kirby Buckets is very meta with this, because the title character is an animator and storyteller. Thus, Kirby likes to portray himself as a beloved hero who can do no wrong, even when he does questionable things. Concurrently, he likes to make his sister Dawn look as bad as possible in her stories.
  • The Lost episodes "House of the Rising Sun" and "...In Translation" recount some of the same events from Sun and Jin's marriage, but from respective points of view. Each character comes across as more sympathetic in his/her focus episode.
  • Stargate Atlantis: The episode "Michael" is mostly seen from the titular character's point-of-view. From the moment he wakes up in the infirmary with amnesia, to every scene where the main characters are conferencing about his condition, he is faced with uncertainty, the sense that something is deeply wrong and that his superiors and friends are hiding the truth about what the Wraith really did to him when they captured him. Eventually, he discovers he's actually a Wraith that has been captured by the humans and has been subjected to non-consensual experimental drugs to turn him human, and follow-up psychological conditioning to try and make him believe this is the best thing for him. The episode ends with the sense that the humans have not done something good and, even if Michael is from the show's villainous species, his horror and anger at what's been done to him is justified.
  • Supernatural:
    • Both boys get this, but Dean has the camera on him far more, especially post season 3. This makes him appear likeable even while he does questionable things, such as letting Gadreel take over Sam's body in season nine.
    • When Castiel is revealed as the Big Bad of season six, an entire episode is spent detailing the difficult situation he's been dealing with, the reasoning behind his decisions, and his own emotional conflict over his choices. While the show still casts him as the villain, it's easy to empathize with him and understand the path he's taken, to the point where some fans blamed the heroes for the season's outcome as much as they did him.
  • This is basically the whole point of The Wire. The show began by examining the Baltimore police's efforts to bring down the drug dealing Barksdale Organization from the POVs of both the police and the dealers, and continued in a similar vein (with a variety of subjects) for all five seasons.
  • The X-Files:
    • "Bad Blood" is a comedic take on this trope, with Mulder and Scully going over their accounts of what happened while in a town supposedly being ravaged by a vampire. Scully's version paints herself as level-headed and tolerant, with Mulder being ridiculously over-the-top and enthusiastic about anything that even slightly points toward the vampire theory being true, while Mulder's has himself meek, calm, and investigative, with Scully being narcissistic and cold, often making sarcastic remarks when he brings up his vampire idea. His version also has the local police sheriff, whom Scully is infatuated with, have big, buck teeth.
    • "Hungry" follows the Monster of the Week, a voraciously hungry Extreme Omnivore who's just quietly trying to follow his Tragic Dream of being normal, despite his nature. Mulder and Scully only appear at the end. The episode also shows Mulder and Scully in a new light when they lose the camera. Mulder's quirky enthusiasm comes across as somewhere between "callous and jerkish" and "outright sadistic", and Scully's tendency to just let him keep going until he exhausts himself leaves her looking like either an Extreme Doormat or a passive-aggressive enabler.
  • In Yes, Prime Minister, a sympathetic BBC news journalist explains to Hacker and Sir Humphrey that while the BBC is required to be politically neutral and impartial, it still has an "editorial direction" which influences its coverage. He explains the point by describing how Britain's state broadcaster would cover a story, using exactly the same facts and taking pains to be scrupulously fair, if it was in favour of a certain course of action or dead against. Two completely opposite narratives emerge, and the Prime Minister and the Head of the Civil Service are both appalled at the implications.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The story mode of the old Forgotten Realms RTS game Blood and Magic was based around this. No matter which side of any of the five scenarios you choose, you're always at the very least a Designated Hero. On one end, the first scenario has you control either a king attempting to pacify a country so that his formerly nomadic people could have a homeland, or a champion of the old king, attempting to drive out the invaders. On the other, the last scenario involves either a wizard aiding a village in destroying a regularly occurring demon invasion...or a group of demons fighting off an unprovoked human attack, and discovering a convenient, renewing food source!
  • Rifts devotes a considerable section of the corebook showing the Coalition States (The Empire) as they see themselves: the sole strong, reliable bastion of civilization in a world of monsters, chaos and confusion.

    Video Games 
  • A campaign of Age of Empires II features Saladin vs. the Crusaders. Another, Barbarossa, at a certain point enters the Third Crusade and fights Saladin. And the expansion of the previous game had four campaigns on the Roman Empire, and another with Rome's enemies.
  • Armored Core Nexus's Revolution disc features several brand new missions set in the universe of the original Armored Core trilogy, including ones where the player work for the bad guys of Project Phantasma, the Doomsday Organisation. The text epilogues after completing these missions depict the organisation's members as believing they are doing the right thing for the survival of the post-apocalyptic world, and as being genuinely tormented by the devastation the player character has brought on their project.
  • Beyond: Two Souls: Done rather cleverly in "The Dinner". For most of the game you can switch between Jodie and Aiden at will to accomplish several objectives, making them a perfect team. In this chapter this interactivity is dropped so you control either Jodie or Aiden in sequence. Subsequently from Jodie's POV Aiden looks an obsessive stalker trying to prevent her from having her own life, while from Aiden's POV Jodie looks like she's intentionally ignoring the soul who can't help being eternally tied to her.
  • Breath of Fire IV allows the player to control the God-Emperor Fou-Lu, who initially seems like the Evil Counterpart of the protagonist Ryu and the Big Bad of the game. As the game progresses, it becomes clear that Fou-lu is a very sympathetic individual. Subverted in that the real villains of the game are far from sympathetic, particularly the obstensible Big Bad Yuna.
  • One of the four playable characters in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is Kian Alvane, a faithful soldier and apostle of the Azadi Empire, which up until that point of the game is seen only as The Empire. His presence in the game adds shades of grey to the Empire's action, both by making the Empire's motivations seem more human, and by presenting a counterpoint to April Ryan (one of the game's other protagonists and a rebel fighting the Azadi) and her seemingly-righteous goals.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Every faction gets the sympathetic viewpoint in their own campaign, and it works because the story is Grey-and-Gray Morality:
    • Wei: If you want to fix China, you have to be pragmatic and daring, willing to cast aside honour and do whatever it takes to secure victory. Ambition is power.
    • Wu: China became disunited because those who ruled it were themselves disunited. Bonds of family and love will bring China back together. Love is power.
    • Shu: China cannot abide a ruler who is not benevolent and thinks nothing of the common people. Benevolence is power.
    • Jin: The Sima Clan and those who work for it are the most intelligent and brilliant of their generation, and the rest are unworthy fools. Shrewdness is power.
    • Lu Bu: China only fractured like an egg because the last Emperor was a corrupt and cowardly weakling and everyone knew it. Who else deserves to rule China but China's strongest warrior? Might is power.
  • The interludes between stages in Elemental Gearbolt are from the perspective of Bel Cain, a Well-Intentioned Extremist prince whose Assimilation Plot is too important to wait for his royal dad to die on his own. Bel Cain's Freudian Excuse is excellent — the King is an avaricious tyrant who murdered his mother. He also gains sympathy points from being doomed to fail — the player characters are implacable weapons whose sole purpose is to thwart him.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which route the player chooses to take will result in a different view of Edelgard, Dimitri, and Rhea. Depending on the route, Edelgard will either be a tragic Anti-Hero wanting to bring about a positive change in the world or an Evil Overlord out to Take Over the World, Dimitri will either be a Broken Ace in desperate need of help or a General Ripper willing to sacrifice his own troops for the sake of revenge, and Rhea will either be a stern but Reasonable Authority Figure trying to keep things under control or an Ax-Crazy Control Freak obsessed with power.
  • Halo 4: At the end of Spartan Ops season 1, Dr. Halsey apparently decides to aid Jul 'Mdama's anti-human Covenant remnant, but many people do sympathize with her. She was scapegoated by her superiors, denied information that John was alive, and is imprisoned in the very ship that she helped build. To top it all off, when she is captured by Jul 'Mdama's forces, ONI refuses to let Lasky rescue her and orders him to kill her instead.
  • Iji has the logbooks of the Tasen and the Komato, including such things as one soldier gushing about her girlfriend and another wondering if he has his gun loaded, because he thought he saw something big right around that corner. They show that not all of the alien soldiers you're killing are heartless monsters, after all. Some of them are, though.
  • The Last of Us Part II: You spend the first half of the game playing as Ellie, who's trying to avenge her surrogate father Joel by hunting down his killer, Abby. After three days of this grueling trek, you finally find Abby... and then the game abruptly shifts into her POV. It turns out that she was hunting down Joel not only to avenge her own father, but also because he prevented her father from developing a vaccine to the Cordyceps. And then you spend the entire second half of the game as Abby to see how she spent the past three days, before eventually switching back to Ellie at the end. Many critics of the game claimed it waited far too long to start making Abby sympathetic, especially after all our time with Ellie and seeing Abby murder Joel.
  • Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: The characters of both respective franchises, whether they be good or evil, see the other side as alien invaders trying to enslave their world. They all come to their senses at the very last minute.
  • Nier: Central to the game's premise. The first time you play through the game, it's a straightforward plot of a hero saving his sister/daughter from evil shadowy monsters. The second time through you get plenty of scenes from said shadowy monsters' point of view, showing that very few of them are evil at all, and most were only defending themselves or their loved ones from the murderous psychopath relentlessly hunting them down (you). And to top it all off, the "hero's" actions have doomed humanity to extinction.
  • The jump from Persona 2: Innocent Sin to Eternal Punishment has this with Tatsuya's older brother, Katsuya. He's rather dislikable in Innocent Sin, shown as a distant big brother who puts work before family. However, in Eternal Punishment, he's a kind older brother who constantly worries about his delinquent, rebellious younger brother. What caused this sudden shift? The change in perception of course: in Innocent Sin you're playing from the perspective of Tatsuya, whereas in Eternal Punishment you're playing from the perspective of Maya Amano, who has JUST met him.
  • Interesting example in Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus: playing the Hebijo Elites' story gives sympathy and insight into their personalities and motivations. But since the player's on their side, they end up succeeding at their utterly unsympathetic endgame. It's only after playing the other stories, where the Hebijo squad are seen a murderous psychos, that their story is resolved without them crossing any lines.
  • Suikoden III centers around the "Trinity Sight System", featuring multiple protagonists on differing sides of the same conflict. One of said protagonists, Hugo, returns from a diplomatic mission to discover his village in flames, with his best friend Lulu getting cut down by one of the Zexen Knights. When viewing the same incident from Chris' perspective, we see that she and her men were attacked in the middle of what was meant to be a peaceful truce meeting, and set the fire so that they could escape. When Lulu charged at her, she reflexively struck him down in self-defense, only registering after she swung that she'd just killed a child.
    • Successfully recruiting all of your potential allies by a certain point in the game unlocks a special scenario that lets you play through the events of the game from the perspective of the main antagonists, who also happen to be the final four Stars of Destiny. That said, Luc still comes off as a Jerkass, and anyone who would willingly team up with Yuber for any reason probably isn't a nice person.
  • The game TIE Fighter applies this trope to the Star Wars movies: The Empire are the guardians of peace and order, fighting terrorists and Imperial factions.
  • In We Happy Few, Arthur is a genuinely nice and caring individual... in his own story. In Sally's he's a much more selfish and motive-driven jerk. The implication is he's still under the lingering effects of Joy, a drug that makes everything look nice, happy, and colorful, is even seeing his own behavior as better than it actually is.
  • Used to great effect in Yggdra Union starting in the middle of the seventh chapter, where the game's Grey-and-Gray Morality becomes blatant. This is the first point in the game where the important scenes starting off each battlefield are shown from an Imperial perspective, and happens to be just in time to make the remaining generals' Heroic Sacrifice moments considerably more poignant.

    Visual Novels 
  • Heart of the Woods: When it comes to the feud between Madison and Tara over the former quitting Taranormal, the current viewpoint character comes off as more sympathetic and willing to admit her shortcomings.
    • For all of Chapter 1 and much of Chapter 2, Madison is the POV character. The player gets to see her desire to take control of her life again after giving so much of it to Taranormal, of her frustration at the idea of spending so much time and money on a wild goose chase(and at Morgan for inviting them to Eysenfeld), and feeling hurt when Tara freezes her out. That said, she also realizes that she isn't being fair to Tara or Morgan, especially when Tara is taking on all the costs of the trip while still paying Madison for her time in Eysenfeld.
    • In Tara's first POV scene, the viewer gets to see how important Madison's friendship is to her, as well as the fact that Madison's decision to quit amounts to walking away from what they built together and puts Taranormal's future in jeopardy. Additionally, while the player realizes why Madison is going out into the woods, Tara doesn't, and sees those trips, along with Madison's attitude, as proof of her being uncooperative. Tara's left at a loss for words when Morgan calls her out on not listening to Madison.
    • During Morgan's first POV chapter, she sees Tara and Madison bickering over who's responsible for the footage being corrupted. As a neutral observer, albeit one who gets along better with Tara than she does with Madison, she concludes they're both to blame for the feud.
  • In Kindred Spirits on the Roof, the main conflict of Matsuri and Miyu's subplot concerns their Secret Relationship. Miyu, who's sure her traditional family would oppose her relationship with Matsuri, sets rules for their relationship forbidding public displays of affection, and while Matsuri gets where Miyu's coming from, she finds it difficult to follow them. Miyu's POV scenes come first in the month of July, and portray her as a sensible and pragmatic individual who's rightly concerned about what might happen if her parents find out about her seeing Matsuri, while Matsuri seems careless and unwilling to keep her promises. In August, the focus shifts to Matsuri, and it shows her understandable frustration with having to go without sex for months just because she's worried about what other people might think, while Miyu comes off as cold and uptight.

    Web Animation 
  • First Person Goomba tells the life story of one of the classic Mario baddies, from his childhood growing up under Bowser's regime, to his life with his family, eventual drafting into the Koopa Troop, and getting effortlessly stomped by Mario in the end.

  • In Project Blackfire, the main character Dark Flame suffers from traumatic flashbacks which give insight into his villainous actions and show a vulnerable side that might otherwise be buried. We also learn bits of history of the other protagonists' lives through various means such as flashbacks and conversations with side characters.
  • For all intents and purposes, Viole from Tower of God is a terrorist-in-training fighting a system that is a vast improvement to an earlier state of the world. However, we see him come along this path, we witness the events that shaped and broke him and we've seen the faults of the system, so we as the audience are sympathetic towards him, even if he is okay with killing people or ruining them.

    Web Original 
  • In Worm this is discussed with regard to Uber and Leet, supervillains who make money selling subscriptions to their internet TV show.

    Web Videos 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the titular doctor wouldn't be anywhere near so sympathetic from a different angle. Okay, so he has an adorable crush on a girl he barely knows, but he's also a crazy bank-robber. Or to remove more of the Sympathetic POV, he's a bank-robber who's stalking a girl he barely knows and has got it into his head that she'll be impressed by him being a supervillain.

    Western Animation 
  • A key point in the earlier episodes of Æon Flux is to repeatedly deconstruct this:
    • In the multi-part first season, or "pilot", Aeon is an assassin who slaughters a huge number of mooks, while Trevor, her target, cures an epidemic possibly by putting his own life at risk to create a vaccine. However, she comes across as "hero" and he "villain" entirely thanks to shot design and background music. The second episode depicts the bloody pile of corpses Aeon left behind her and has a dying soldier hallucinating in tragic manner in the last moments of his life.
    • In the second season, "War" constantly switches the sympathetic POV between individual fighters on the two sides, each character's section ending with their death and a switch of POV to the person who killed them. Thus demonstrating that anyone can look like the hero when the camera's fixed on them and there's epic background music, even if they were just another nameless mook literally 2 seconds before.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The series as a whole frequently switches between the POV of Aang and Anti-Villain Zuko. This eventually results in the latter becoming The Woobie. It's a rare case where you spend your time both cheering for The Hero and the guy who's trying to defeat him (well, for his redemption).
    • There is also a scene towards the end of the series from Azula's POV, where we see that she hallucinates her mother, who she argues with about whether or not her mother loved her. It doesn't make her less of a villain, but it still makes her more pitiable.
  • After the pilot episode, most episodes of The Dreamstone focused on Zordrak's mooks, the Urpneys and conveyed them as Villainous Underdogs to the Land of Dreams. The fourth season however gives Rufus and Amberley more equal POV, and conveys the Urpneys as more obstructively incompetent, causing more collateral damage for the Noops and deconstructing their Invincible Hero streak due to the villains' schemes always complicating their job, making for a rare case the story switches from the heroes, to the villains, and then back to the heroes through the revised lens.
  • Some episodes of Liberty's Kids would be shown from the British point of view. It makes it easier to see that they had their reasons and justifications in the whole span of The American Revolution.

    Real Life 
  • This is more often than not Truth in Television. Take any hated or mistrusted group and talk to a person that belongs to it for an hour. You'll often be surprised how many "villains" in the eyes of the media or the general public are not that bad after all.
    • In other words, a lot of global conflicts can be boiled down (or oversimplifed) to a large-scale Feuding Families situation.
  • It has been said that no one who is evil believes they are evil. Or, as per Socrates, no one will knowingly do that which they believe is evil. He has a point, especially when human emotion comes into play.
    • It can be argued that every time you are faced with a temptation and knowingly cave in, you are doing exactly that. On the other hand, most people feel guilty about it in some way.
    • Though of course one also has to not only know, but also care about not doing the wrong thing, as The Sociopath would demonstrate.
  • The True Crime show I (Almost) Got Away With It, about fugitives on the run from the law, does this. They often will show the prosecutor and then will flip to the (now caught) fugitive's point of view. It helps that quite a few of the fugitives are people who committed non-violent crimes.
  • Watch a nature documentary about zebras. Cheer as a lioness stalking them pounces and misses and they get away. Now watch a nature documentary about lions. Sob as a lioness stalking zebras pounces and misses and they get away. It could even use the exact same footage, but the buildup, editing, musical cues, etc. influence whether you're rooting for the zebras to survive or for the lions to eat.