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Unintentionally Unsympathetic

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"There's a difference between having a sympathetic backstory and actually being sympathetic."

When a character's supposed insecurities or embarrassing quirks are supposed to inspire sympathy, but fail to impress the audience because they're mishandled or plain written badly. It can be made even worse if they have to learn a lesson. Without being at least somewhat invested in the characters, the audience might have passed the point of caring when the character finally comes around.

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It's a cousin trope to Cursed with Awesome — it can be hard to dredge up sad feelings for a character whose life is in every respect more glamorous (or at very least, more interesting) than the audience members'. True unintentional unsympathy is generally reserved for unpopular traits such as being overweight or being a nerd, both of which tend to be grossly exaggerated on television (see Hollywood Pudgy and Hollywood Nerd) and usually have nothing to do with anyone who might have such problems.

Sometimes these are humorous things in a character's past dredged up to embarrass them. This is supposed to make the character more human without affecting their present "perfection."

This can also go for villains, and here it's an especially easy trap to fall into: sometimes one is meant to be more complex or morally gray, but their Freudian Excuse just doesn't cover the acts they go on to commit. Yeah, we're sorry your little sister died in that building the superhero battle knocked over, but that doesn't give you a free pass for trying to blow up the hero's entire planet. Note in this case that the "unintentionally" is an important part of this trope: if the excuse the villain makes is flimsy on purpose, it's likely not this trope.

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Often a problem with The Scrappy and some varieties of Mary Sue. A Designated Hero is also another case. A badly done Jerkass Woobie can also be a target of this.

However it's important to note that there are varying degrees of this. For example in one scenario the audience may not sympathize with a character in a particular scene but they can still be overall sympathetic. Whereas in another situation it's impossible to sympathize with the character at any point.

Occasionally, Values Dissonance comes into play. A legitimate cause for Angst in the country that it was produced might seem like Wangst to fans abroad, and what might be acceptable behavior in one country might lose a character a great deal of respect from fans in another.

This is the opposite of Unintentionally Sympathetic, and can be the result for those who are opposing characters who are more sympathetic than the author intended.

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Compare and contrast Hate Sink, when a character is purposely made as unsympathetic as possible by the author. Also compare Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse and Disappointed by the Motive, when it's stated In-Universe that their "sympathetic" backstory doesn't justify their wrongdoing and their reasons are lacking respectively.

See also Law of Disproportionate Response.


Examples:

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  • I'm a Mac... and I'm a PC:
    • Aside from being a smear campaign against the PC, the Mac comes across more as a smug yuppie than anything next to the poor put-upon everyman playing the PC.
    • British versions of the ads starred Mitchell and Webb as PC and Mac respectively, in a way that was reminiscent of their Peep Show characters, Mark and Jeremy. In other words, PC is a basically likable and honest, if rather geeky, guy, while Mac is a selfish, irresponsible layabout.
    • The features they chose to highlight had this problem too. All the PC advantages the ads waved off as boring were things most people actually need, while the Mac advantages were all things that are useless to anyone who isn't a dedicated artist. More than anything, it makes the Mac character come off as someone who doesn't have a job and thinks that's something to be smug about.
  • Commercials for the Toyota Highlander featured a kid bragging about how his parents are cool and not embarrassing now that they bought the Highlander. But he comes off as a smug little bastard, and we're supposed to sympathize with the other kids whose parents don't drive Highlanders, which gives off the message: "Being a nice, loving parent just isn't good enough, oh no, if you don't drive the right car your kid has every right to hate you!". Even worse, once they buy the Highlander, he's seen not only pitying his friends whose parents didn't buy one, but, to make his parents "cooler", makes them throw out everything in the house he doesn't like, including their family portrait.
  • DirecTV's ads portray a man who married a... marionette and had a child with her. Yet he constantly brags about how his TVs have no wires now that he switched to Direct TV, often right in front of his wife, son, or father in law. While he attempts to deflect he was talking about the TVs, it all comes off as a man who's hating his own family for being different.
  • This Kia Forte commercial posits the average attention span is 8 seconds and their emergency brake system, lane assist, etc. can all help keep drivers safe. They demonstrate this with a woman who gets so caught up singing along to the radio that she nearly crashes because she wasn't paying attention to the road. While emergency brake systems do have their merits, it's not hard to think a lady who can't sing along to a song and also pay attention to where she's going probably shouldn't be behind the wheel.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Orihime fell into this during the Hueco Mundo arc, which was intended to show a prolonged Break the Cutie sequence on a relatively normal girl. What many saw was a Recycled Script of Rukia's kidnapping during the Soul Society arc, one that was much more grating given Rukia was De Powered and somewhat suicidal out of her guilt over her mentor's death, while Orihime's powers (which the Big Bad describes as near god-like) are not being restrained in any way, making her come off as a bog-standard Neutral Female Damsel in Distress. Her total breakdown after Ulquiorra blasts a hole in Ichigo's chest was viewed by many as the final nail in the coffin for her negated Character Development, as there was never any payoff for her stated goal of learning not to rely on Ichigo.
    • Both of the captains who ditch Soul Society with Aizen. Tousen abandons his closest friend Komamura to travel the “path of least bloodshed” to justice, which apparently includes supporting Aizen’s slaughter of an entire town, and he repeatedly mocks Komamura’s appearance when he gains sight. Gin Ichimaru spends over a century helping the Big Bad with little reservation, and seemed to have a personal cruelty streak regardless of Aizen’s influence. When he reveals that he was always looking for an opportunity to kill him as revenge for taking a piece of Rangiku’s soul that she seems to be doing just fine without, the mournful tone over his death can feel a bit undeserved.
    • Hiyori Sarugaki, one of the exiled Vizards, comes off as incredibly bratty, hot-headed and just an overall Jerkass ever since her debut. Sure, what happened to her was a horrible situation out of her control, but the Turn Back the Pendulum arc shows she was always like that, regularly attacked Shinji for no reason and gave Urahara a lot of shit just for being promoted to Captain and replacing the woman Hiyori looked up to, not to mention the other Vizards went through the same thing and manage to not lash out at every person who even slightly pisses them off. She even casually mentions wanting to kill Chad and Orihime for getting too nosy about the Vizards, even though Shinji is the one who suspiciously joined Ichigo's school despite clearly not being a teenager in order to put pressure on Ichigo. When she gets bisected by Gin when she rushes to attack Aizen (despite Shinji specifically warning her not to do that) during the Fake Karakura Town arc, a lot of the fans felt like her brash, reckless behaviour finally and deservedly bit her in the ass.
  • Citrus
    • While Mei definitely has her reasons for being the way she is, the fact that Yuzu ends up putting in much more effort to get her to open up and keeping the relationship going to the point that it seems like the latter is carrying the entire thing on her back is not lost on many readers. This is especially apparent in Chapter 35 when it's noted that a full year had gone by and Mei is still more or less the same. Then when it's discovered that Mei is in another Arranged Marriage, the fandom hoped that she would finally open up to Yuzu. Chapter 36 then reveals that Mei did tell Yuzu at the last moment in a letter, which is basically the equivalent of getting a divorce via text message. While her reasons for doing so were also understandable, it felt like less of a want to protect Yuzu from a heartbreak and more of a result of Poor Communication Kills since there was really no reason to not let Yuzu know about it early on note . In Chapter 40, Mei becomes even more divisive when she quits school in order to rush the arranged marriage.
    • Additionally, Shou himself is meant to be seen as sympathetic given how he's remorseful for being absent from Mei's life. However, from the looks of Chapter 40, he's done nothing to make his father reconsider the situation despite Yuzu telling him that she's in love with his daughter.
  • In Happy Sugar Life, while Satou's reasons for being the way she is are explained (like how she lost both of her parents and was made to live with an aunt who was clearly unfit to raise her), this nevertheless does little to cover the fact that she commits horrible actions the most damning being murdering Shouko due to suspecting that she might go to the police to notify them about Shio's whereabouts.
  • Mai from Dragon Ball Super is seemingly supposed to be viewed as a cute Love Interest for Kid Trunks. However she can come off as unsympathetic considering she's a grown woman in a child's body, and flirts (like with a flirtatious wink) with a child who's unaware of the truth. Eventually dating the child, largely because it keeps a roof over the heads of the Pilaf Gang, and gives them food, and potential access to gadgets and the dragon balls. Made worse in the future timeline where the manga reveals she, and her comrades used up Shenron's last wish on the selfish desire for her, and her comrades to have young bodies again, preventing Future Gohan from wishing any of those killed back as shortly after Piccolo was killed causing the Dragon Balls to disappear.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • The main character had this in The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya. Nagaru Tanigawa wants you to feel sorry for her after Kyon scolded her, but take it into account that the reason Kyon lashed out at her in the first place was because she spiked Mikuru's drink for a scene in a movie, kept hitting her, and said "Mikuru is my toy." This is probably the only time she ever gets called out for her Jerk Ass behavior.
    • Kyon also gets this, as well. After acting without thinking and nearly hitting Haruhi, which is not something one would expect a logical mind like his to do, he blows off his angry outburst in the days that follow and refuses to even accept a single iota of responsibility for his actions, even when Koizumi outright tells him to go apologize, and even when Haruhi has one of her biggest Pet the Dog moments in the entire series.
  • To a non-contemporary-Japanese audience, Momotaro from the World War II propaganda film Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors comes off as a monster rallying adorable animals together to go to war and brutally kill British soldiers.
  • Naruto:
  • The way Utakata's master Harusame tries to extract the Tailed Beast from his disciple in an anime-only Filler is supposed to be seen as good intentions to the point that upon realizing this, Utakata eventually rebuilt the pedestal with him after accidentally killing him. The problem is, extracting the Bijuu from a Jinchuuriki will also directly kill the host, and with no indication of Utakata having trouble with his Bijuu, nor even knowing why his master does it in the first place against his will, it comes off as Harusame crossing the Moral Event Horizon with Utakata having every right to defy his master and killing him sounds more like a Kick the Son of a Bitch than what is supposed to be.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji's father Gendo was obviously not meant to be an upstanding or moral person to begin with, but many fans felt that his abandonment of Shinji (and subsequent horrific treatment of him afterwards), treatment of Rei and his generally Manipulative Bastard nature negated any sympathetic feeling they were meant to feel towards him regardless of Yui's disappearance.
  • The title character from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. She is an emotionally unstable, distrusting, paranoid, bad-tempered character who sometimes acts ungratefully even to people who are on her side. She dislikes grown-ups, eating meat, and abhors killing of any kind, to the point where some viewers find her alienating as a character. Case in point: she shows no gratitude to Nemo when the latter kills a soldier (to save her from being shot) and loudly calls him a murderer. She also nearly ruins her friendship with Jean out of jealousy when she suspects she may lose him to Electra (despite his occasional obliviousness, Jean is otherwise dedicated to her). The island/Africa arc overemphasizes her character flaws and turns her into an insufferably bratty jerkass. Because of this, it is difficult for some viewers to reconcile this with the show's 35th episode finally shows her maturing. (All this, despite showing scenes where she's obviously growing to care for her new friends, notably Jean and Marie.)
  • Shaman King has Hao Asakura (the manga version), who is supposed to be a Tragic Villain, and the audience is supposed to see his eventual ascension to Shaman King as a good thing. Unfortunately, the cold hard truth is that most of the cast have pretty tragic backstories too, to one degree or another, and none of them grew up to be genocidal monsters out to exterminate "baseline" humanity! Many readers instead regard him as a Karma Houdini of the highest order, and one who hasn't necessarily abandoned his plans for worldwide mass death and destruction so much as delayed them. What doesn't help matters is that Hao's goals come as petty, arrogant, and hypocritical. He goes on big rants about how Humans Are the Real Monsters with them always fighting, killing each other or things that are different than them, and destroying the harmony of nature. The final nail in the coffin is that Hao is all of those things, and he's killed far more people than he cares to count (the body count is at least in the thousands). Many of his actions killed other humans or shamans alike; one of which that caused Lyserg's start of darkness. Compared to Hao who only lost a total of three people in his past lives: his mother, his first friend Ohachiyo (by his own fault due to revenge), and Matamune (who abandoned him when Hao went off the deep end). No wonder he comes off unlikable by a lot of readers. At least the anime adaption pointed out, in-and-out of universe, how wrong his philosophy and views were, and how they are most definitely not something you should sympathize with. Plus he avoids being a Karma Houdini in the anime. The manga tries to do this, but fails spectacularly and seems to almost agree with Hao.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Aigami, the Big Bad of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, is meant to be portrayed as a Tragic Villain he is due to the hardships he endured and the death of his beloved Master Shin, but his actions throughout the film completely destroy any sympathy for him to the point that you'll feel more sympathy for his sister Sera and his friend Mani. It's been said that prior to the film, he'd been using his Quantum Cube to erase anyone he deems "evil". He wants to kill Bakura because Bakura killed Master Shin, however, Bakura was under the control of the Millennium Ring at the time, meaning he wants to kill Bakura for something that was not even his fault. He also tries to kill Yugi, someone who has shown him nothing but kindness, because Kaiba wants to resurrect Atem and if that happens, he would lose the power of the Plana, meaning he's willing to kill someone just to keep his powers. He also tries to kill Joey when the latter tries to protect Bakura by sending him to another dimension, sadistically taunting him about how he's going to slowly erase all his memories, even though Joey had saved him from Scud and his gang earlier in the film. Also, unlike Bakura and Marik, Aigami doesn't have the excuse of being influenced by some evil force as the Millennium Ring only posesses him at the climax of the film, meaning that all of his actions throughout the film were done of his own volition. The fact that he practically gets away scot-free, with the closest thing to a punishment being him losing his powers thanks to Atem temporarily returning to the physical plane to save Yugi, only makes it worse.
    • The Commons of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. They're the unwealthy majority of the city and are regullarly abused and oppressed by the Tops, with some even being forced into slavery during the Friendship Cup. The dimension revolves around gladiatorial combat where only the strong move forward, and the weak are mistreated. The problem is, the Commons are just as blood-thirsty as the Tops. Yuya sees such a competitive outlook as abhorrent and aims to change that, but neither the Tops or Commons care what he has to say unless he wins duels and provides blood entertainment. Yuya's may be fighting back a long-standing history of another world's different values, but the people he's trying to help still ignore his message and act like jerks.
      • Shun Kurosaki, the brooding Sole Survivor of the Xyz Dimension, who lost everyone he cared about shortly after his sister was kidnapped. His major motivation is rescuing his sister from the bad guys. Characters like Yuzu will point out his tragic past to justify his behavior as a cold loner. The problem is that he knowingly trapped innocent people in cards so he could lure out Reiji, kidnap him and use him as leverage against his Big Bad father. He's a cold jerk to everyone he meets and is quick to using violence. Once in the Synchro Dimension, he abandoned his mission to live out his dreams of being a pro duelist (He claimed he was going pro to get into the Friendship Cup and convince people to join their cause, but even the Lancers think it's bullshit.) He frequently rejects the Lancers every time they try to help him, even after they've saved his life twice and helped him break out of prison. Worse still, he still says that he doesn't consider them comrades and doesn't acknowledge how they've helped him. So it's kind of hard to sympathize with the lone wolf when the reason he's alone is because he's horrible and ungrateful to nearly everyone for no real reason, and still hurt innocent people because it was convenient for his plans.
      • Zarc, the show's Big Bad, has the motivation that he was an entertainer who was pressured into brutalizing people by the crowds when they cheered him on when he accidentally hurt an opponent. Therefore, he's intended as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who was corrupted by humanity's desires. The problem is, there was nothing stopping him from calling the crowd out or just not doing it again, and his initial disgust at accidentally hurting someone seems to subside really quickly in favor of hurting people For the Evulz. And even then, you'd think the endpoint of this would be him becoming a Heel, but instead he uses his vague spirit powers to try to destroy the world. More or less, his arc is "people liked it when I hurt people in the arena > I really enjoy hurting people in the arena > I am an Omnicidal Maniac," and for this, he blames humanity. It's really hard to call him the victim when minimal outside pressure sent him Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, and he made no effort to stop it at any stage.
  • WORKING!!: For many viewers, Mahiru Inami. We're supposed to feel pity because she can't help but punch any man that comes across, but that's something really hard to sympathize with, especially as she doesn't seem to do much to fix it. She also gets a romance plot with the main guy that is supposed to be endearing, but fails because it just looks abusive (and when the guy complains about being punched, he's the one shown as the bad guy).
  • Toriko: Midora comes off as this. Because Frohze died while treating his injuries he got while getting Heal Water for her, Midora throws away all of her's and Acacia's ideals to become the epitome of It's All About Me. To the point that after he defeats Ichiryuu before the Timeskip... he unleashes Meteor Spice on the entire Human World which causes 80% of it to become a barren wasteland, causes over 100 countries to break down, and displaces 32 billion people. When Meteor Spice was first revealed, people thought its because NEO intruded on his fight with Ichiryuu and killed him, and he was trying to wipe NEO out desperately, but when none of that happened... yeah... any sympathy he would have had has gone out of the window.
  • Matsukaze Tenma from Inazuma Eleven Go got this from a handful of people, especially in the western community. Many people find his trait of speaking about soccer like it's a person to be very annoying and childish, rather then cute and innocent like it's supposed to come off as. Incidentally, the characters in the show and the game make fun of Tenma for this exact reason.
  • Nakago, the Big Bad of Fushigi Yuugi, is supposed to be seen as a victim of circumstances that drove him to evil, and as a result, the intent is to make him come across as pitiable and worthy of forgiveness. Because of the horrific atrocities he commits, like driving Suboshi to murder Tammahome's family, this doesn't work so well: by the time his Dark and Troubled Past comes to light, many readers had lost all ability to sympathize with him.
  • Aquarion Evol tries to make Mikono Suzushiro come off as a shy girl that despite of having daddy issues and insecurity problems because of her apparent lack of powers as an element, tries her best to help and understand the people around her. But to many, she comes accross as uncaring, spoiled, indecisive and useless (both in and outside the Aquarion!), and only makes up misunderstandings that Amata must apologize for, showing no concern over his issues or how her indecisiveness causes him and Zessica trouble.
  • Saya Kisaragi of Blood-C. At first, the show presented her as a skilled warrior against the Elder Bairns. But the problem is that she fails in protecting and saving people. The most egregious example is episode 8 where she just watched several of her classmates die before she could attack and at the end, all of them, except the class representative, are dead. Her mourning of their deaths was supposed to come out as sympathetic. But given the track record of how many people died throughout the show and the Idiot Balls that these people had been holding on, it's not.
  • Area 88:
    • In the manga and OVA, Shin is intended to be sympathetic because his dreams were crushed after he was tricked into becoming a mercenary. However, he's not a particularly heroic or moral character. His self-absorption, wangst, and failure to contact Ryoko during his deployment make him unsympathetic in some fans' eyes. In the TV anime, he's so emotionally flat and withdrawn that it's difficult to sympathize with him.
    • Mickey, a traumatized Vietnam Veteran who struggled to adapt to civilian life, is intended to be sympathetic as well. However, he comes across as amoral, self-pitying, and self-absorbed, abandoning a fortunate life and the people who loved him. Instead of getting therapy, he chooses to fight in a bloody civil war that is tearing Asran apart. His anger issues and overbearing personality in the TV anime make him even less sympathetic.
  • Akito Sohma from Fruits Basket. While her childhood was understandably horrible, it all kind of rings hollow due to the fact that she herself horribly abused the rest of the Sohma family for the most childishly petty reasons. Just to start off, she put Kisa and Rin in the hospital due to their respective relationships with Hiro and Haru, verbally and emotionally abused Yuki, half-blinded Hatori and ruined his relationship with his girlfriend, planned on locking Kyo away from society once he became an adult, and tried to kill him and Tohru during a Villainous Breakdown. To say the fandom felt she was way too Easily Forgiven at the end would be an understatement.
  • One Piece:
    • Sanji falls under this. He's a great fighter, a great cook, and a suave guy. So what's the problem? Being a womanizer and falling head-over-heels over every pretty girl he sees tends to get him in trouble. Because he won't hit a female opponent, even if his life literally depends on it, which it often does, he ends up getting himself and/or his friends badly wounded and/or captured. The fact that he never learns his lesson after getting his ass handed to him by said girl doesn't help. A particularly bad example is Pudding below, who drove him to tears and is eager to kill him, yet he still can't get his head out of his dick, only surviving because he happens to appeal to the Freudian Excuse mentioned below, which came off as a cop-out to prevent Sanji from learning his lesson.
    • Boa Hancock can fall under this, being an extremely self-centered, misandrist and petty bitch who embodies Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!. Her Freudian Excuse that she was enslaved by World Nobles doesn't make her misandry any less irrational, as there are plenty of female World Nobles and male slaves, and the later Fishman Island arc's narrative is quite adamant about not judging humanity as a whole based on the World Nobles, making the lack of criticism toward her general hatred of men a Broken Aesop.
    • Señor Pink might be hilariously manly, the Token Good Teammate of the Donquixote Pirates, and one of the few of them shown with a full backstory but he is also completely loyal to one of the vilest pirates in all of One Piece.
    • Fujitora is clearly meant as a complex old blind man who sees right through (with all the blind/sight metaphor) the corrupt Marines and World Governement and wishes to reform it completely with his plan. However his completely passive attitude during the Dressrosa arc, doing nothing while citizens are slaughtered by the arc villain pirate and at some point crashing a meteorite that wiped out many inhabitations caused some readers to completely despise him.
    • Rebecca fell into this once readers got fed up with her frequently crying and needing to be saved, to the point that what was supposed to be a heartwarming conclusion when she abandons the throne to live a normal life with her father was instead met with impatience (partly because of the Dressrosa arc itself) and apathy.
    • Pudding, when she breaks down crying instead of killing Sanji after he calls her Third Eye beautiful. The flashback showing that her maliciousness is the result of bullying over said third eye from her childhood came off as sudden and forced; none of her family had ever displayed any of the repulsion toward her third eye that had supposedly tormented her up until this point. Big Mom in particular has been characterized as a Collector of the Strange who found a living skeleton absolutely adorable, clearly had to have willingly had sex with a Three-Eyed man for the express purpose of producing a Three-Eyed daughter, has been shown to have conversations with Pudding while the eye was exposed without mentioning it, and was stated by Pudding herself (at a point when she had no reason to be lying) to be overbearingly affectionate to her, making her disgust toward her daughter's third eye especially jarring. It doesn't help that the same arc revealed that Sanji had suffered much worse abuse under his family and came out a much better person.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Meruem, the Arc Villain of the Chimera Ant Arc. He has something of a god complex, believes that genocide is the answer for humanity's atrocities, and abducts several gaming prodigies to test his own intellect and kills the losers. One of said prodigies is a blind girl named Komugi, who becomes a Morality Pet to him and eventually falls in love with her. Meruem's relationship with Komugi is supposed to be treated as his redeemable quality, but with the way he treated her, it bordered on Stockholm Syndrome. Not helping matters is that after he contracts radiation poisoning, rather than let Komugi leave with her life, he decides to play Gungi with her one last time. While he does warn her that his condition is contagious, he makes no effort to stop her when she refuses to leave.
    • By extension, the entire Royal Guard can be this. The narrative tries to portray them as noble and heroic. However, they have no problem aiding in mass murder and genocide. Neferpitou, in particular, spends a good chunk of her screen acting sadistically. As such, this can damper the effect their deaths are supposed to have.
    • Gon can come across as this on numerous occasions due to his morality centering around his personal convienece rather than trying to accomodate to others. Some people didn't sympathize with his quest to find his father simply because he searched for a deadbeat that admitted he didn't want him, but shut out any information about his biological mother because his mind couldn't comprehend having two motherlike figures. Then in the Hunter Exam arc, he wins his fight by forcing his combat superior opponent to choose between torturing him or surrendering and hoping his next opponent will tap out early.
    • Killua. He's apparently meant to be seen as a sympathetic Anti-Villain who just wants a buddy and has some issues that he needs to work out. However when these "issues" are "I gut people who so much as take a tone with me while grinning ear-to-ear", it's hard to see him as anything but a monster.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • For Mamoru, it's his breakup with Usagi during R. He receives an apparent prophetic dream that if he stays with her, she'll die. Rather than talk to her or anyone, or even assume it's a trick by a new enemy, he acts cold to her and declares he doesn't love her anymore to prevent it from happening. He remains with this act even when she's visibly heartbroken over this. Although he expresses guilt over this, he still tries to find ways to make her lose interest, even asking his friend Motoki how to be as unlikable as possible. Ironically, this didn't work on Usagi, but it was effective in making him unlikable to many viewers.
    • Haruka and Michiru, aka Sailors Uranus and Neptune, are introduced as Dark Magical Girls in a semi-antagonistic role opposite the more idealistic Sailor Moon and her team during the Infinity arc. They repeatedly discourage Usagi and the other Senshi from investigating Mugen Academy and the Death Busters, refusing to share information or open any meaningful communication with the other girls, and especially in the anime adaptation they disparage the abilities and ideals of the main characters (even though by this point Usagi and the other girls have successfully fought off two or three different groups of world-threatening villains and are hardly untried amateurs). While they have many avid fans - especially given their depiction as a committed lesbian couple who are never subjected to the Psycho Lesbian or Bury Your Gays tropes in a time when such representation was hard to find - their smug superiority, condescension toward the established main cast, and determined clutching of the Conflict Ball combined to make them unlikable to a lot of viewers. It doesn't help that Sailor Moon was SUPPOSED TO BE THEIR COMMANDING OFFICER, as leader of all the Sailor Soldiers. It's not unheard of in fanfics to have characters with some sort of military background to call them out for dereliction of duty and reckless endangerment.
    • The Starlights in the last season were still dealing with the trauma of losing their princess and their planet being destroyed, but as the last season went on they kept making asses of themselves. Seiya's infatuation with Usagi bordered more on harassment, deliberately ignoring her repeated explanations that she has a boyfriend. There was even a scene where Usagi was scared Seiya wanted to have sex with her, and Seiya decides to go along with it for the sake of trolling her despite how clearly uncomfortable she is at the moment. Taiki, who was at the very least polite in the original manga, became rather pompous and condescending, at one point coldly scorning Ami's idealism. Strangely enough, Yaten, who tended to be a Drama Queen, was the least offensive of the three, but was the one who tended to get called on their behavior while Seiya and Taiki keep getting defended by the show itself. And even then, Yaten's behavior was frequently more justified than Seiya's or Taiki's.
    • In the original manga and Sailor Moon Crystal, Usagi's Clingy Jealous Girl treatment of Chibi-Usa in the second story arc makes her relationship with Mamoru seem completely unhealthy. Usagi spends most of the season with the firm belief Chibi-Usa, a child, is trying to steal her man. The fact Usagi accuses Mamoru of trying to score with Chibi-Usa, even after Usagi learns that she's their Kid from the Future, only makes it more problematic. And even though Usagi locks herself in her room and thinks about how horrible she's treated them, she starts acting jealous all over again soon enough. While all of this was meant to be viewed negatively, and was part of Usagi's Character Development, many feel that the development just wasn't worth the unpleasantness Usagi displays throughout the arc.
    • Luna gets hit by this two-fold in the 90s anime. While some of her griping with Usagi is understandable given how unmotivated and childish Usagi can be when it comes to doing her duties as a student and Sailor Moon, there are plenty of times where Luna was needlessly cruel and unreasonable when dealing with both Usagi and Artemis.
      • Her mocking in the infamous diet episode is especially bad, where she draws an unflattering caricature of Usagi that resembles a hippo and jokes this will be her in six months. She then makes a bunch of nasty cracks about Usagi's eating habits and her whole fat shaming attitude is just overall difficult to tolerate.
      • She pitches a fit when Usagi uses her Disguise Pen to sneak into Princess D's party, even though it made it easier for Usagi to get in so they could investigate, which was exactly why she gave Usagi the pen in the first place. Luna's complaints against Usagi actually using her equipment for the reason it was intended for just seemed ridiculous and contrarian.
      • During the last season, when Usagi is dealing with depression and anxiety over why she hasn't heard from Mamoru in America not knowing Galaxia killed him, Luna does nothing but gripe and bitch about how gullible Usagi is.
      • Her relationship with Artemis seems to run on The Unfair Sex. She gets nasty and unpleasant whenever she mistakenly thinks Artemis is cheating on her, to the point she once slashed his face when she thought Diana was his illegitimate child. Not to mention she regularly has a low opinion of what Artemis is capable of. Yet whenever Luna shows interest in someone besides Artemis, usually humans like Kakeru and Yaten, she never gets called out on being unfaithful to Artemis by any of the characters or the show itself. It reaches a point where she's even tried to kiss Kakeru and took a bath with Yaten (who had no idea she could talk which made the situation extremely creepy). Artemis is usually treated as her back-up option in this regard, with many fans reaching the conclusion Artemis is too good for Luna because of how often she disregards him as well as actually wishing she wasn't Diana's mom.
  • This trope is the main reason why Kyoma Mabuchi from Dimension W is such a divisive character. He is meant to be portrayed as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a soft spot for kids and a Dark and Troubled Past involving the deaths of his girlfriend and his fellow soldiers. But while his past is genuinely tragic, it does little to garner any sympathy for him, especially with his horrendous treatment of Mira due to her being a robot ( and resembling his deceased girlfriend.) He spends most of the series bossing her around and treating her like a robot and not a person, never calling her by name and referring to her as a piece of junk. One particularly egregious example is in episode 5 where after Mira manages to escape the other world, instead of being concerned, Kyoma punches her for not being there when he needed her (hurting his hand in the process). The fact that he warms up to Mira in the end does very little to make up for him treating her like shit for 11 episodes straight.
  • Sometimes, the Pokémon movies go just a bit too far with the claim that an antagonistic Pokémon is Not Evil, Just Misunderstood, and this is the result:
    • Though Mewtwo is indeed portrayed as a villain in Pokémon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back, it tries to mitigate by saying that he was driven to villainy by the revelation that he was an artificial being and is Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life. However, his first violent act is blowing up the laboratory where he was created, killing all of the people there, after a conversation which lasts for no more than five minutes. His creator may be a bit of a jerk by rather callously brushing off his questions, but there was no indicationOriginally, anyway  that the scientists were actually mistreating Mewtwo or were going to do so in the future, thereby making him come off as a Manchild whining about how his life sucks because he never asked to be born.
    • Pokémon: The Movie 2000: The Power of One has Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres become this thanks to Early Installment Weirdness. When the movie premiered, the anime portrayed most Pokémon as just animals with superpowers, so it could be assumed that the legendary birds just didn't have the capability of higher thought and were acting on instinct. But as the show went on, more and more Pokémon, especially Legendaries, were given fully developed personalities and were implied to have human intelligence, retroactively making the birds so selfish that they're willing to wipe out all life on Earth just because they don't want to be around one another. Pretty much every Fan Fic that translates Pokémon Speak and references this movie has Lugia rip into them for their behavior.
    • Kyurem may have had a point in Pokemon Kyurem Vs The Sword Of Justice when he attacks Keldeo as punishment for the latter's arrogance in challenging him when not remotely ready and lying about being a Sword of Justice, but that doesn't excuse Kyurem chasing him miles out of the arena and attacking a train and then a city populated entirely by people and Pokémon who don't have the slightest knowledge of their quarrel, just because Keldeo is there. He is never called out for this.
    • The Genesect Army in Pokémon: Genesect and the Legend Awakened are supposedly Not Evil, Just Misunderstood figures who were revived 300 million years after their deaths and enhanced by humans, and their driving force is trying to reclaim their homeland. However, out of the five, only one actually cares about going home (and you might say it does so too much). The rest of them, by contrast, are less angsty about their situation, and are all too happy to invade a park and attack everything living there so they can have it all to themselves. Their leader, the Red Genesect, is a full-on jerkass who mind controls its fellow Genesect constantly, attacks anyone who disobeys it (up to and including its own kind and human children), and absolutely refuses to listen to reason. Oh, and when the evicted Pokémon return and fight back later on in the film, the audience is supposed to sympathize not with all the Pokémon who lost their home and try to get it back, but rather the overpowered Super Soldiers who forced them out at gunpoint. Ash even tells the Pokémon to stop fighting them, as if the Genesect Army had merely settled in peacefully!
    • About everyone sans Team Rocket in the episode "The Path To The Pokémon League". We're supposed to see AJ as this guy who's tough but fair to his Pokémon, especially his Sandshrew, but it's hard to think so with the whips he lashes out and giving them short breaks of rest. One also finds it hard to sympathize with Ash for losing because of him being petty and bragging that AJ's Sandshrew doesn't love him. And Misty and Brock don't get off scot-free either because they don't show a lot of concern about the possible abuse and goad Ash into battling AJ only because he insulted their gyms.
  • In Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, the Huckebein are this, essentially having a condition in which they must kill others in order to remain alive. While they were apparently intended as characters doing what is necessary to survive, and the author admitted to being surprised by how many people did not find them sympathetic, they come off as sociopathic mass murderers rather than sympathetic or well-intentioned characters.
  • Bayonetta: Bloody Fate:
    • There's the titular witch herself. While the movie stays true to her characterization in the game, it also plays up Bayonetta's more negative traits such as her Blood Knight tendencies, violent sadism, and her general Sociopathic Hero persona. It certainly doesn't help that some of the fight scenes are rather anticlimactic, making her come off as a boring Invincible Hero rather than the Showy Invincible Hero she usually is. Also, in the games she was very protective of Cereza, but in here, she leaves her with Luka and doesn't think about her until near the end.
    • Then there's her fellow Umbra Witch, Jeanne. While she played a villainous role in the first game, it was only because she was brainwashed into serving Father Balder and the Angels of Paradiso. The anime, however, makes no mention of said brainwashing, so it seems she's serving Father Balder willingly and takes great joy in the chaos she causes, such as shooting up a train full of people during her first meeting with Bayonetta. Thus, her sudden Heel–Face Turn near the end of the film comes off as shallow and fake.
    • Enzo also ends up being this. While he was was jerk in the games, he was largely entertaining due to his Butt-Monkey status and was noted by Bayonetta herself to be a respectable family man. Like with Bayonetta, the film plays up his more negative traits, transferring his Butt-Monkey status to Luka and portraying him as a greedy sleazeball who overcharges families for funerals, something that even disgusts Rodin. The fact that he never gets punished for this makes it worse.
  • Danganronpa 3 has Rukura Andou. Kimura and Andou were supposed to be portrayed as two former friends that ended up having a fallout together, but it came across as a victim finally standing up to her bully. Andou believes that the only thing good about herself is the sweets that she makes, but Kimura is on a medication that has a deadly reaction to sugar, so she can't eat Andou's sweets. Despite stating this multiple times, Andou blames Kimura for their All Take and No Give relationship, because if Kimura won't eat the sweets Andou has to offer, thus nearly killing herself, she must not care about her at all. The manga anthology shows that Andou is well aware that it might kill Kimura to eat her sweets, and doesn't seem to get why Kimura might be upset about that. Made even worse by Kimura's Extreme Doormat attitude, quietly accepting Andou's abuse until Komaeda indirectly causes their fallout.
    • Ryouta Mitarai is a Hikikomori who works to the point of near-starvation or collapse, but considering it's his anime that directly results in the brainwashing of the Super Dangan Ronpa 2 cast, thus creating Ultimate Despair for Junko and he is never directly punished for this left a very bad taste in a lot of fan's mouths. While the whole thing was Junko's fault, Mitarai keeps this information to himself for years, even when he could easily create a countermeasure, and refuses to admit his part in Junko's crimes until it's almost too late. Even then, he only focuses on how he was personally victimized as opposed to the damage he unintentionally caused.
  • Durarara!!:
  • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE: Oh boy, where to begin?
    • The Vagan: We are supposed to feel sorry for them because they live in disastrous conditions, infant mortality is high, and they were abandoned by the rest of the Earth Federation following the botched Mars colonization. However, nothing justifies their brutal attacks on civilians and slaughter of innocent people who had nothing to do with their plight.
    • Lord Ezelcant: He's a Visionary Villain who lost his son to the Mars Rays Disease and only has a few months left to live. He wants to create a new humanity that will be free of war and violence, but his methods are both so brutal and nonsensical that it's impossible to think he has a point.
    • Kio: His hypocrisy, constant whining about "understanding" and stubborn refusal to listen to more reasonable points of view overrides the fact that we're expected to pity him for being a naive Child Soldier. The utter stupidity of many of his actions, and the fact that the series itself considers him 100% right, painting negatively all those who disagree with him, and the plot bends over itself to make sure he's always right... don't really help.
  • In Detective Conan. The culprit of A June Bride Murder Case, Toshihiko Takasugi. While he does have a Freudian Excuse, his eventual redemption and the fact that he got a very light sentence for his attempted murder can make some feel sour. First, there is the fact that he goes for a Revenge by Proxy, instead of going after the man responsible for the death of his mother. And even then, Superintendent Kiyonaga Matsumoto wasn't fully responsible. He didn't see her when she was wounded during a car chase, because he was pursuing a criminal, and he never forgave himself for that. At the end of the episode, he feels remorse for what he did but it's only because he realizes that his victim was his childhood friend (and crush) all along, not because she was an innocent victim.note  Moreover, he has the dubious honor to be one of the few culprits in Detective Conan who don't go after an Asshole Victim, yet he has one of the lightest punishments and gets a happy ending three years later. All in all, he comes off as an Easily Forgiven Karma Houdini to some people, when a lot of the series' Sympathetic Murderers have their lives destroyed or even die.
  • In Tenchi Muyo!, both Ryoko and Ayeka have been this to some fans, but the one character most fans strongly view as this is Haruna from Tenchi Universe, the Big Bad of The Movie Tenchi Forever! Originally Yosho's lover back on Jurai, the two ran away together because they could not get married due to her not being a noblewoman. But, on the way, she took ill and died by the time they reached Earth. Yosho buried her, and eventually fell in love with Tenchi's grandmother. But Haruna's restless spirit remained behind, and when she became aware of this, she was outraged. She kidnaps Tenchi into a pocket dimension, where she brainwashes him into forgetting all about his old life and beliving himself to be her lover. This would be creepy enough, except the film makes it pretty clear that their relationship includes sex. That's right, Haruna is, by almost every definition of the term, raping Tenchi repeatedly during the events of this film. Needless to say, most fans who pick up on this subtext are appalled and regard her as nothing more than a villain.
    • Although she's not as strongly disliked as Haruna, the OAV version of Washu falls into this for a significant number of the fans due to one particular case of Never Live It Down. Although we're supposed to feel bad about The Reveal that she had a son and a husband once, but her husband's family took them both away because she wasn't considered of sufficient social status, the infamous scene where she emotionally tortures her daughter Ryoko for giggles makes many fans skeptical that she deserved to be a parent in the first place!
  • This is without a doubt the most common reason given for a fan's dislike of The Familiar of Zero. We're supposed to sympathize with Louise because of her enormous insecurity complex, her miserable school life, an abusive older sister, emotionally distant and incredibly strict parents who are more interested in their daughter as an asset than as a person. Not to mention that being a noblewoman of minimal magical talent makes her a complete laughingstock by the norms of Halkeginia society. However, while Louise has plenty of reasons for the audience to side with her, she still drives off any supporters due to her infamously brutal and non-stop abuse of Saito; which is not only horrible on a basic human level, such as the legendary incident where she flogged him to a bloody pulp with a horse whip, but also makes her a blatant hypocrite given her home life. Less commonly, some fans view Saito himself in this light. This mostly stems from his lechery and his seemingly deliberate dedication to being a Jerk Ass, and is especially fuelled by one incident in the light novels where he makes a deliberate attempt to rape Louise. The sympathy level for Saito remains so high in comparison because, A: he genuinely does grow and become less of a hornball prick over the story, and B: most of his treatment by Louise is so awful that he looks better in comparison. The Reveal that the familiar spell on him essentially Mind Raped him to be completely loyal to Louise no matter how badly she abused him also earns Saito a lot of sympathy points.
  • The hero clan from The Testament of Sister New Devil come off as this. They deeply resent Basara Tojo for his involvement in the Brynhildr incident. It's supposed to be viewed as Jerkass Has a Point since their family and friends were all inadvertently killed when it happened... except that Basara's life was in danger from a demon hunter and would have been killed if nothing happened. Not to mention their over-eagerness to murder Mio Naruse, who Basara has sworn to protect, goes far beyond what they were ordered to do and the way they planned to throw it right at Basara once they succeed. Mio deciding enough is enough and calling them out with a Shut Up, Hannibal! was highly satisfying.
  • Altair/the "Military Uniform Princess" of Re:CREATORS wishes to get even with a world that bullied her Creator relentlessly and then drove her to commit suicide. OK, that in and of itself sounds sympathetic... except that she goes all Omnicidal Maniac about it and tries to cause a Negative Space Wedgie that would wipe out the planet and everybody in it (even the people said Creator loved), goes psycho and overkills the living hell out of the one Creation on the protagonists' side that tried to reach out to her and understand her (for having the gall of trying to understand her), and essentially weaponized Popularity Power In-Universe to manipulate reality and become an In-Universe Villain Sue that killed most of the cast via curb-stomping and then, in order to appease her, had to be given a twisted variation of Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending by the shell-shocked Creators of the people she killed and thus allowed to go away as a Karma Houdini. As a result many (and that is many) viewers felt the series had a tremendously disappointing finale.
  • Macross Delta has its own villain faction, the Kingdom of Windermere. At first glance their reasons for going to war seem understandable: they fought a bloody revolution to free themselves of the New UN, which culminated in a superweapon being detonated on their planet. Now they want to liberate other worlds from the New UN. For a portion of the fans, though, their methods of going to war, particularly the fact that they enslave anyone who tries to stand in their way via Mind Control, invalidates any moral high ground they might have otherwise had. Additionally, none of the planets they "liberate" are shown to have any problem with the New UN, making the Windermerians' actions seem unwarranted. This gets particularly bad as the series goes on and they announce their intention to conquer the whole galaxy because they believe themselves to have been "chosen" by the Protoculture. The narrative seems to want the audience to feel sympathetic to them, but the fact that they are the aggressors in the current conflict, justifying their conquering and enslavement of other people via notions of racial supremacism, made many fans give up on them as anything other than evil.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers manage to catch this in Avengers vs. X-Men, thanks to a thorough distribution of Conflict Balls among characters normally much less dickish. The Phoenix is flying through space on direct course for Earth - and destroying every planet it comes across in the meantime, killing billions.
    • While the Avengers are trying to save billions of lives, the way they go about it makes them seem like a bunch of assholes. Wolverine gives the Avengers biased information that painted a terrible picture of both the Phoenix and Hope (as well as framing Scott as being still hung up on Jean's death), and later decides the only solution is to kill Hope, the innocent teenage girl. Captain America acts antagonistically, parking an army on the X-Men's front steps and demands they hand over Hope, who is Cyclops's granddaughter and essentially a messiah to them. Cap also refuses to even think about consulting them on how to deal with the Phoenix, despite the fact the X-Men, especially Scott, are the most experienced with it.
    • When the Phoenix gets closer, Iron Man's technobabble weapon ends up splitting it, resulting in the Phoenix Five, five X-Men each empowered by a portion of the Phoenix.
    • The Avengers, who reason the P5 are dangerously unstable, decide to provoke said dangerously unstable demigods by taking Hope again. Since the P5's benign dictatorship basically takes place between issues, the reader sees the Phoenix stopped and the conflict ended, and then the Avengers immediately starting another conflict.
  • Was also a problem with Marvel's controversial Civil War where, depending on the writer, the level of sympathy one could feel for the characters at any given time wavered greatly. Sympathy for Iron Man in particular took a big hit when he and the other Pro-Registration Heroes started throwing the Anti-Registration Heroes into an extra-dimensional prison without trial(s). Again, all suffered due to the Idiot Plot and Jerkass Balls being tossed all around.
    • Came back in full force with the sequel between Carol Danvers, Tony Stark and The Inhumans, due to the fact that all three trying to act sympathetic in their causes between using and not using the Inhuman Ulysses, their actions tend to drive readers (and also drove Laura (X-23, now the "New Wolverine") and various junior Avengers who all were stuck in the middle of the chaos) away, tired of the in-fighting.
  • This proved to be a huge problem with the character Magog in DC Comics. When introduced in Kingdom Come he was a caricature of the worst part of 90's heroes, and was fairly popular for it, as he seemed so pathetic and remorseful. When he was brought into the main DC Universe he was given a huge push and eventually added to the Justice Society of America and later given his own series. He was shown to be a war veteran with PTSD, but proved to be so unlikable and mean to his teammates that he was eventually killed off in Justice League: Generation Lost.
  • Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal: Ever since the events of Justice League: Cry for Justice, Roy Harper has lost his arm and his daughter, and the miniseries is about his efforts to come to terms with the pain of both. Yet DC managed to bungle one of the easiest ways to score sympathy for someone by having him conduct himself as a Jerkass in the worst way throughout. Donna Troy tried to gently explain that his grief was not an excuse for jerkassery, and he turned around and cast aspersions on her not being there when her son died and called her a bad mother; before that, Mia Drearden, the second Speedy, tried to apologise for his daughter dying when she was taking care of her before she died and all Roy did was lash out at and guilt-trip her further, reducing her to tears and having to be restrained from doing more. The fans might have forgiven him for those things if he hadn't acted like a complete tool the rest of the time as well, pushing away everyone who tried to console him, Wangsting that none of them understood his pain and turning to drugs and painkillers to fix all his problems rather than accept it from his friends. Instead he just turned most people off.
  • Supergirl story arc Day of the Dollmaker was meant to make readers feel sorry for Catherine Grant, the Daily Planet journalist who spent one year carrying out a smear campaign against Supergirl. It was intended to remind us that Kara Zor-El behaved as a brat early on, and Cat, who had lost her son, hated starlets who waste their young lives. Trouble is, it was well-established that Cat was also motivated by petty reasons such like resentment -Supergirl accidentally got her right eye bruised as rescuing her once, and accidentally revealed Cat's boobs were fake, jealousy and a thirst for fame. In order to get even with Supergirl, Cat spent months obsessively spreading lies and slander, bad-mouthing Supergirl and complaining about her skirt's length. When she heard Kara's father had been murdered Cat couldn't care less. Her slandering pieces and interviews were taken advantage of by madmen who schemed and carried out a genocide. Even so Catherine didn't stop and even blackmailed Supergirl into helping her. When Supergirl called her out on her behavior, Cat Grant claimed her actions were fully justified and it was all Supergirl's blame anyway. Even after Supergirl saved her life, she was unable to apologize or acknowledge she made anything wrong, albeit she wrote an article stating Supergirl "might" deserve a second chance. It's real hard to feel sorry for her in such circumstances.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Doctor Octopus is supposed to be the protagonist of Superior Spider-Man, being a Darker and Edgier Anti-Hero. To some he comes off as an Invincible Villain. Some of the fans despise him and the series for various different reasons. The behavior of Dan Slott has not helped in the slightest.
    • Carlie Cooper, Spider-Man's one time love interest, was featured in stories designed to make her seem similar to Spider-Man and therefore a more appropriate love interest and a better match for him as a person than Mary-Jane Watson. Unfortunately, it caused her to come across as selfish, entitled and self-centered, declaring that Peter couldn't possibly understand what she went through. Her attempts to be seen as a more appropriate match for Peter and a more sympathetic character ultimately made her into someone the audience couldn't stand.
    • Peter Parker/Spider-Man himself has also become this, mostly stemming from frustration from the controversial One More Day and Superior Spider-Man stories. Many argue that Spider-Man's new personality, coming as it does from external retcons makes him almost an entirely different character from the one planned by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. The current Spiderman stories has Peter serving as a businessman and owner of his own industries which many argue, 1) undoes Peter's original Working-Class Hero appeal, 2) is unearned, since it came from Otto Octavious hijacking his body.
  • The dragon queen, T'mat from Gold Digger. Gold Digger operates on Rousseau Was Right and everyone is given a second chance. However, it's hard to sweep T'mat's actions under the rug. T'mat was tortured and raped by her former best friend Dreadwing during his rampage 1000 years ago and suffers from PSTD from the incident and sought revenge from two elves who inadvertently helped Dreadwing gain power and threatened death on anyone who tried to stop. This led her to have the elves captured and imprisoned for her to torment at her leisure. When the elves' friends came to rescue them, T'mat went on an assault of violence and murder, all the while ranting like a self-righteous maniac. It only ended because Summoner began to threaten revenge on her for killing Tirant and T'mat saw the error of her ways and was saved by the same elves she was trying to torture. Later, she would try and enslave Britanny for her power to paralyze Dreadwing and would injure a political leader in rage. Naturally, no one's shown any umbrage at her actions.
  • The Transformers: Robots in Disguise: Metalhawk was supposed to be written as Jerkass Has a Point by voicing the harm that the war caused to all the neutrals and to the planet itself. However many of his points went unchallenged by all but Prowl and eventually Prowl fell under mind control and purposefully tried to destabilize the political climate. Metalhawk continually tried scratching open the divides between factions, from accusing Bumblebee of murdering the Lost Light crew, to undercutting him at every turn. The result was Metalhawk trying to bring the population together under a peaceful rule, by insulting the factions, driving them further apart, and not bothering to see the other side of things.
    • Prior to him, the ongoing had Spike Witwicky, who was intended to be a badass soldier and prove that Muggles Do It Better by singlehandedly killing a dangerous Decepticon responsible for a lot of deaths. The problem was, he went about it in a patently sadistic way while breaking a mess of rules and regulations (including committing a war crime by executing a helpless opponent), and his attempted "The Reason You Suck" Speech was laden with hypocrisy. The fact that the apparent message was "the main focus of the franchise sucks compared to its most mundane element" didn't win him any favors, nor did the fact that the character he killed was a minor Ensemble Dark Horse who'd historically been Out of Focus. The result of the issue was making Spike so patently unsympathetic that pretty much every future writer treated the event as his Start of Darkness.
    • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye gave a pretty big redemption arc to Megatron, which unfortunately suffers from this quite a bit. He's given one hell of a Freudian Excuse as to why he turned out the way he was, and he does at times show efforts to change as a person - but the problem is, the narrative also establishes him much too heavily as having been a monstrously horrible person after that excuse, and enjoyed every minute of it, and the characters and narrative are much too accepting of his turnaround. One issue would have a character be treated as firmly in the wrong for refusing to admit that Megatron turned over a new leaf, and another would have the revelation that the Decepticons had explicitly Nazi-style death camps. It seems to treat his actions in the war as some kind of moment of rage or a point where he was at his worst, but he was like that for millennia, and when he's claimed "I would happily wade across a river of corpses, chest-deep in rust and grease and engine oil, just to crush the spark of the last Autobot standing", it becomes pretty hard to take it seriously that he's genuinely shocked and horrified at all the people he's killed.
  • The deer from The Root Of The Problem of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW), despite losing their home to a genuinely evil construction company, garnered close to zero sympathy from the audience as their means of fighting back was unleashing all Hell on towns and cities full of ponies that had absolutely nothing to do with the company (while inexplicably leaving the company and construction site itself completely unmolested). Some fans were actually cheering on the construction company believing at this point that the deer deserve to lose their home, and even those who are still on the side of the deer hoped it at least ended with them learning the aesop. It doesn't.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Deathstroke's mercenary team of Titans were described by writer Eric Wallace as being bad people, but it's clear that the majority of the team was supposed to be seen as tragic and sympathetic due to their horrible backstories and the recent series of traumas that pushed them into the team. This included Cheshire and Tattooed Man losing their respective child, Osiris being haunted by the man he accidentally killed to protect his sister, and the years of sexual abuse and Survivor's Guilt Cinder suffered from. However, any sympathy these characters might have gained was instantly crushed by the team's first actual appearance when they brutally slaughtered Ryan Choi, followed by Osiris's gradual transformation into a self-centered brat and Cinder stupidly letting a serial child rapist free because she rushed her attempt to murder him. The only member of the team who managed to retain any sense of sympathy from fans was Roy Harper, who was not a part of Ryan's death and had the distinction of being manipulated by both Deathstroke and Cheshire. It helps that readers were still majorly pissed off at how poorly Roy was being handled after Justice League: Cry for Justice and Rise of Arsenal.
    • Another Titans example would have to be Cassandra Sandsmark and Tim Drake during the "One Year Later" storylines. Understandably the two are still reeling from Superboy's death, but Cassandra began to sorely grate the nerves of the readers because she Took a Level in Jerkass and became an insufferable, bitter asshole. Tim came across as more sympathetic in his grief especially since the writers were deliberately ignoring parts of his backstory (like the stepmother who was nowhere to be found after his dad died), but then he became involved in a Wangst fueled on/off relationship with Cassandra that ultimately went nowhere. But what ultimately made the two unsympathetic was their constant zigzagging with Rose Wilson in the Titans, either accepting her as one of their own or viewing her as the team's token psycho and badmouthing her behind her back. In fact, Rose left the team and briefly allied herself with the new Clock King when she heard Tim and Cass profess she was a lost cause. This is all despite knowing very well that Rose's Face–Heel Turn was not of her choosing, but because her father pumped her full of drugs and drove her insane
    • Yet another would be in the New 52. In an incident that was obviously supposed to garner sympathy for the character, Bunker used his psionic bricks to slam an Ungrateful Bastard against a brick wall, because said bastard was ungrateful for being saved by Bunker and Beast Boy, because they "looked like a bunch of..." While Bunker was pissed that he was going to use a homophobic slur (Bunker is gay himself), literally nothing implies he was. So instead of Bunker attacking someone over a slur, which still would've been a little much, he's attacking a guy over something he didn't even do, with no implication that he was going to do it.
  • This is the problem with The Inhumans, especially in the All-New, All-Different Marvel era that sees them at odds with the X-Men due to the Terrigen Mists.
    • We're supposed to be sympathetic to the Inhumans because the Terrigen Mists are what activates the powers of Inhumans and losing the mist essentially means no unawakened Inhuman can get their powers. However, the mists are killing mutants who happen to get caught in its path at worse, giving them a disease and sterilising them at best, and the mutants are left trying to figure out a way to solve this problem before they go extinct. Instead of trying to help the mutants contain the clouds safely or get rid of them, the Inhumans Royal Family actually does their best to keep the mist clouds alive, guns ready to shoot down anyone who tries to interfere, citing cultural genocide (as opposed to the cloud's straight-up genocide of mutants). Even more so, this is all the fault of Inhumans member, Black Bolt, due to the events of Infinity, where he released said cloud on the world — previously, Terrigenesis was a coming of age ritual performed in an isolated chamber. Why this can't be how it is again is unaddressed, and that the cloud isn't a part of Inhuman culture, merely a changed version of the Terrigenesis ritual, is also not addressed. In a nutshell: the Inhumans are not only not helping to resolve the problem which they caused in the first place, they're canonically willing to attack people for fixing the problem. You really have to ask just what exactly makes these guys the heroes in the first place.
    • Two things suck even more sympathy points away from the Inhumans. One: there have been ways of activating Inhuman powers without the Terrigen Mists for some time now. Two: in the tie-in issue of Deadpool and the Mercs For Money, it's proven that the Inhumans value the Terrigen Mists over other races' lives, as an alternate future showed that the Inhumans declared open war with the Mutants for the latter committing the crime of... successfully altering the chemical makeup of the Terrigen Mists so that they harm neither mutants nor humans, but still activate Inhuman powers.
    • Even prior to this storyline, the Inhumans have long been considered among the hardest Marvel characters to take seriously as protagonists, as they're members of a classist and elitist absolute monarchy that practices eugenics and for a significant portion of their history even owned slaves, and when they were made to abolish slavery, they... just stuffed the slave race into a ghetto and hoped they didn't complain.
  • Bruno Carrelli in Ms. Marvel (2014)'s tie-in to Civil War II. At the end of the crossover, Bruno, furious at Kamala over how her interactions with her heroes lead him to losing the use of his left hand and all sorts college-related awards, ends his friendship with his childhood friend and decides to take up a scholarship at the only place that would take him, over in Wakanda. While this is tragic, the problem was that the situation that landed him there was his own fault - he attempted to bust out a friend who was unreasonably detained and the bomb he built and he armed blew up in his face. A friend who was going to be released the very next day, which meant that, had Bruno succeeded, he would have been in even more trouble. And he blames Kamala for all of this because she didn't want to help him break the law. Compounding on this is the fact that he turned and left his girlfriend, Mike, which hurt her even more adds on to the lack of sympathy.
  • The Punisher became this in the notoriously polarizing one-shot The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe. His backstory is changed so that his family is inadvertently killed by the Avengers and the X-Men during a fight with the Skrulls and the Brood in order to give a plausible motive for him to go along with following the orders of Kesselring and his organization of people unintentionally harmed by superheroes to kill all superhumans, plus he is wracked with guilt after he kills Daredevil and discovers him to be his friend Matt Murdock, but all of this is offset by the fact that he blindly goes about murdering hero and villain alike without once considering that the heroes' harmful actions toward civilians were not deliberate or that the heroes have loved ones of their own.

    Comic Strips 
  • Anthony in For Better or for Worse. You're supposed to feel sympathy for him because his wife, Therese, doesn't want their daughter, and he also feels like he no longer "has a home". But the fact is that he had harassed Therese into getting a baby, when she didn't want one in the first place. Anthony lost even more ground when it was revealed, that he promised Therese that he would stay home with the baby, but he didn't intend to keep his word, because he just expected "the magic of motherhood" to kick in, so Therese would want to quit her job (which was even implied to make more than his did) and become a stay-at-home-mum. But she is supposed to be the bad spouse, because she wanted Anthony to actually keep his promise and because she's not the maternal type. Then throw in that after saving Elizabeth from sexual assault - on the very same night in fact! - while she's recovering from the shock, Anthony decides that this is the perfect time to confess that he's in love with her and is so terribly lonely... while he still is married to Therese at this point, and even if he had been single, he was pretty much taking advantage of a woman, who had just nearly been raped by a stalker. No words can describe the level of disgust, that this garnered from readers.
  • Calvin's parents in Calvin and Hobbes. Parents as People is in full effect here (perhaps a little too much so). Calvin is maybe meant to be a Bratty Half-Pint, who would be a handful for most people to raise as their kid. But still, his parents will hardly ever interact with him in a loving way, even if he's not up to something wrong, and the fact that they don't seem to even try to understand him really doesn't help their cases. They will snap at him even for small things like that he "bothers" them while they're reading a book. The mother has done things like throwing Calvin (who is just six years old) out two and a half hour before the school bus arrives, only to get a morning free from having to spend any time with him. The father on his part has said things like that he would rather have raised a dog, and had an apathetic reaction to when Hobbes got lost in the woods. Not to mention that the father seemed to seriously consider throwing Calvin into the alligators pit at the zoo! There are some tender moments between the parents and their young son, but they are few and far between (like only twice a year or so). It became so bad that Bill Watterson himself had to address it in a commentary, where he expressed some regret that Calvin's parents mostly had been seen when they were in a bad mood (beause they would often only be present in a story arc to react with anger to their son's latest shenanigans). Though he also said that "they did better than [he] would've" with regards to the kid, so yeah...

    Films — Animation 
  • Sinbad from Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas can easily come off as this due to the nature of his character. He spends a huge chunk of the film being a real jackass, treating the idea of stealing the Book of Peace and holding it for ransom like its no big deal (and since the book is needed to maintain world order, this basically makes Sinbad the biggest asshole in the universe for wanting to steal it) initially plans to leave his friend Proteus to die (who, mind you, stepped up to bat for Sinbad when the latter was framed for stealing the book, at the potential cost of his own life if Sinbad fails to retrieve the book) and hightail it to Fiji with his crew, and acts like a sexist jerk to Marina. While he does eventually prove himself to be a good person, it can be hard to sympathize with him until the films third act.
  • Valka in How to Train Your Dragon 2. So a dragon smiled at your baby? Well, the obvious move after that dragon carries you off is to leave behind all your loved ones, letting them think you're dead, using the flimsy excuse that your husband is too violent a man to understand your friendship with the dragon, but then leaving your only child with said husband which will no doubt lead to an abusive relationship. It's not hard to see that she was originally intended be a bad guy, with her motivation boiling down to "dragons are good and people are evil."
  • Ricardo of The Jungle King. The story tries to present him as a funny sidekick and outright gives him a happy ending, even though he clearly helped with Chancellor Hyena's treason plan and doesn't show any signals of remorse or willingness to be good. Even if he is mistreated by Hyena, his lack of actual redeeming qualities make him unsympathetic.
  • One of the bigger complaints about Chicken Little is that the dad, Buck, is supposed to be a guy who just wants to connect with his son, but the movie repeatedly shows him to be a bad father. He neglects his son repeatedly when his son is ostracized by the community. He only gets interested when his son wins a baseball game and brings him some fame among the other parents, but when his son needs him, he turns his back again. It takes the literal apocalypse to get him to try to actually reconcile. To be fair, Buck did eventually apologize sincerely to his son for the troubles, joined him on his quest to save the town and even saved him by fist-fighting the aliens who tried to capture him, but even that's considered "too little, too late" by some fans.
  • Davey from Eight Crazy Nights apparently lost his parents in a car accident on their way to see him on his basketball game... during Hanukkah. Even worse, before he learned of their deaths, he worked himself to the core winning as a tribute to not only his parents, but to the parents who always came to watch their kids play basketball... despite the fact that they never win! While that may pass him off to be a Jerkass Woobie, the way he takes his anger out on nearly everyone and acts like an outright bully really loses him sympathy points. Yes, he eventually learns to be a better person, but he also never faces any consequences for his nasty behavior or selfish attitude, which, as many critics have pointed out, is not how someone tends to deal with what he went through.
  • Big Bad Sunset Shimmer's Evil Plan from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls resulted in her transforming into a demon, brainwashing Canterlot High, and trying to murder those in her way. This was meant to be her being corrupted into something much worse than she was normally willing to act; thus her shock, horror, revulsion, and Heel–Face Turn after her defeat. But, while Sunset never used physical violence prior (even letting Spike go when could have pulled a Hostage for MacGuffin), she had been such an Alpha Bitch through the whole movie that any sympathy she might have garnered from this felt unearned. And according to her origin-story comic, Sunset had been acting like a Spoiled Brat for quite a while before then, only coming to the human world when she threw a tantrum that Celestia wouldn't make her a princess, making Sunset look even more petty. Thus, most found her deservingness of forgiveness lacking, and many suspected she was faking remorse to get off easier. The creators used an Author's Saving Throw in Rainbow Rocks to address this, since the rest of the school was just as unforgiving to Sunset, all while putting her through constant abuse and reminders of what a terrible person she was, making her Heel–Face Turn feel more sympathetic.
  • The LEGO Batman Movie: During the segment at the Fortress of Solitude, we're meant to feel sorry for Batman because the other members of the Justice League didn't invite him to their anniversary party and generally treat him as The Friend Nobody Likes. But given that Batman only showed up in the first place to steal a Kryptonian weapon from Superman and trashes the place while he's there — even destroying the recording of Jor-El — one wonders if their apathy toward him might be justified.
  • The Emoji Movie unfortunately is quite prone to this, particularly with the main character. We're meant to sorry for Gene since he is ostracized by his emoji community for his ability to make several other emotions instead of just one. However, he later freaks out at his first day of work for just having to hold one single face, which clearly isn't too hard, causes several apps to be deleted and even leaves the Just Dance girl, Akiko Glitter, to die in the trash along with the trolls while rescuing Hi-5, which is even worse considering the fact that he's the reason she's there in the first place.
  • Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas:
    • Daisy in "Donald's Gift". She's supposed to be a victim of Donald's selfishness: First he doesn't want to go to the mall with her, and when she makes him join her anyway, he embarrasses her by destroying a Christmas exhibition. However, Daisy herself ends up coming across as selfish, inconsiderate and unlikable because she made Donald go to the mall against his will even though he needed to relax after a stressful day, and took no responsibility when he snapped due to the barrage of annoyances he faced. The whole fiasco could have been avoided if she had simply listened to him when he said he'd rather stay at home.
    • Goofy in "Christmas Maximus". He's hurt by Max's rejection, but it may be hard to feel sorry for him because he doesn't even seem to try to avoid embarrassing Max in front of his girlfriend.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Death Proof: Three women leave their jet-lagged and sleeping friend behind as "collateral" with a gruff, shotgun-toting redneck on an isolated property so they can go off on their own and recreate driving stunts in a car that he's selling. This is after one of them lies and tells the redneck their friend is a porn star. Word of God is that he raped the friend after they leave. And these three women are the heroines of this particular story. The one thing that can be said about them is that they kick the ass of someone even more vile. Within this group, Abernathy is the one that tells the redneck their friend is a porn actress - happily telling the others she's going to make him think "Lee's gonna blow him".
  • Zachariah Kull, the Big Bad of The Scream Team (a Disney Channel Made-for-TV Movie). He's the vengeful ghost of someone wrongly executed for his wife's alleged murder (it was an accident). However, he makes himself far worse than his Kangaroo Court executioners by absorbing the souls of innocent dead people to make himself powerful enough to go Person of Mass Destruction on his executioners' equally innocent descendants. And his Talking the Monster to Death-induced surrender just makes this worse — he got so caught up in his Revenge Before Reason, he carelessly left his wife Barred from the Afterlife (she refused to pass on without him). And even though he does abandon his vendetta, release said souls, and pass on with his wife at the end, it's still extremely glaring to see him go completely undisciplined by the Powers That Be (the same ones revealed as willing to penalize the titular ghosts who, despite helping stop Zachariah, accidentally exposed The Masquerade in the process).
  • Bastian Balthazar Bux of The NeverEnding Story III infamy. Fantasia depends on him to save them but, unlike the previous two films, he's now an incompetent, stupid jackass who does nothing to find his friends that are lost in his world. He doesn't tell his dad about what's going on, even though he found out about it in the second movie, and acts like a jerk when his parents try to help and when he finds out his sister uses his magic wish medallion, even though it was his fault for leaving it behind in the first place.
  • Peter Parker, in the 2012 reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, is clearly meant to be someone we are supposed to sympathize with given the tragedies in his life and the twists and turns he goes through, but a lot of audiences tend to instead see him come off as an unlikable prick. While he is grieving for half the film following his uncle's death, a lot of audiences don't see that as justifying enough, primarily because of him beating people just for looking like the guy who murdered Uncle Ben, his dumb mistakes like the one with the camera or breaking his promise to George Stacy right after his death. The writers took note of this and tried to rectify his behavior in the sequel by showing him completely racked with guilt over breaking his promise (to the point that he and Gwen break up) and by making him act more like the smart-aleck he's known as. HOWEVER, not only is him feeling suddenly guilty never explained, but also he goes back with Gwen anyways, he still makes a lot of dumb mistakes (like during his conversation with Harry as Spider-Man, because he never considers explaining why it's dangerous to give Harry his blood) and his attempts at being funny often fall flat.
    • Gwen herself suffers from this as well. She's perfectly fine with dating Peter, essentially dishonoring her father's last wish, because who she dates is his call. Her death was supposed to be heartbreaking, until you remember that she ignored Peter's wishes to stay out of harm's way.
    • Harry also hasn't earned much sympathy from fans. He is supposed to be pitiful for audiences since he is terminally ill, got kicked out of his company, and was neglected by his own father, Norman Osborn. However, Harry comes off as an entitled jerk for constantly wallowing in self-pity and demanding that Spider-Man help cure his problem. Not to mention that he crosses his Moral Event Horizon by attacking Peter and killing Gwen.
  • In Avatar:
    • Many viewers saw the Na'vi as arrogant, xenophobic hypocrites who were Not So Different from the human antagonists. For example, they hold themselves above humans because they always mate for life, but when Neytiri finds out Jake's true mission, she leaves him to die.
    • Furthermore, while we don't know who fired the first shot originally, the first time the audience sees Neytiri she's shown planning to shoot Jake with an arrow coated with a neurotoxin, simply for the crime of walking in their territory. Furthermore, the RDA machinery are covered in those same arrows, meaning that the Na'vi are just as guilty of attacking the Humans and are indeed, actively doing so throughout the film.
    • There is supposedly a Deleted Scene that would've revealed that the impetus for the current conflict, the destruction of Grace Augustine's school and the accidental death of Neytiri's unmentioned-in-the-film-proper sister therein, involved both species acting badly to various degrees, getting across some moral ambiguity not present in the final cut.
    • Jake himself, the movie's main hero, spends months dicking around with the Na'vi and enjoying having legs again while feeding intel to Quaritch, instead of warning them about their imminent destruction. Supposedly they won't listen to him until he passes his manhood ritual, but when he finally does pass, does he tell them about the invasion that will be arriving to wipe out their home tomorrow? Nope, he goes and bones the Chief's daughter instead. How It Should Have Ended calls this out, claiming that the ending of the film could have been avoided if he just did his job in the first place and negotiated with them like he was supposed to.
  • In The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, the Kids are obviously intended to be depicted as the innocent, sympathetic victims of prejudice in a story about how people should be judged for their personalities rather than their appearances. Fair enough, except they have almost no personality outside of being incredibly disgusting. Between extremely gross and/or uninteresting pointless shenanigans and frequently breaking the law, they come off more as Humanoid Abominations than The Grotesque.
  • Harry in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when he attacks Snape in the Shrieking Shack. Sure, Snape wasn't the nicest person in the world but Harry had him Blown Across the Room for no apparent reason, just because he tried to take Sirius (who was an escaped convict at the time) and wanted revenge on him (which isn't any different from what Harry wanted for most of the movie). Averted in the books, where Harry attacks Snape because Snape didn't want to listen to them and tried to subject them to a Fate Worse than Death without giving them a chance to explain themselves. Harry tried to convince Snape to at least listen to them, and only after Snape had shown that he had no intention of doing so, Harry attacked him, and had his doubts even after the fact.
  • Ethan from Due Date is supposed to be sympathetic since he lost his father recently and is desperately trying to mourn his loss. However, he also causes nothing but horrible troubles for Peter who is desperately trying to get home to his expecting wife. Not to mention that it's later revealed that he stole Peter's wallet in order to force the latter to come with him on the trip.
  • A lot of Christian propaganda films suffer from this, with the main characters often being just as bad as the atheists being set up as the main antagonists of the films by being just as stubborn towards wanting people to believe what they believe, only on the other end of the scale. The films lack any semblance of logic on either side of the debate, and have poor characterizations all around due to obvious straw characters, extremists, and universal refusal of everyone to accept any other person's beliefs.
    • In Rock: It's Your Decision, the main character is meant to come off as a good Christian trying to steer clear from the "sins" of rock and roll and save others from it, but instead he comes off as a closed-minded and bigoted jerkass to anyone who doesn't share the same values and interpretations of Christianity as the protagonist (and then in some cases, as many Christians have no difficulty reconciling their faith and an enjoyment of secular entertainment).
      • At the beginning of the movie he was a normal guy until he found out about all the dangers of rock music, and then he became a walking stereotype.
      • He even turns against his own mother, who brought the youth pastor in to get him to quit rock music in the first place, when he decides that the soap operas she always watches are evil, too.
      • His sermon in the penultimate scene of the film sees him condemn all rock music as 'evil' through various and unsupported claims of such music promoting Hell and the Devil; he also goes out of his way to decry homosexuality for no particular reason through the course of this bigotry-laden rant.
    • God's Not Dead achieves this through its protagonist, Josh. He's a religious college student challenged to debate the existence of God by his Jerkass professor. Despite being painted as a righteous Christian fighting a smug Hollywood Atheist, Josh's actions range from questionable to obnoxious.
      • Breaking up with his longtime girlfriend, Kara. Admittedly, she's painted as clingy and unsupportive, telling Josh it's a bad idea to debate Professor Radisson. Nonetheless, her concerns are justified, as Radisson outright tells Josh that he'll ruin his academic career if he goes forward with the debatenote . We also learn that Kara turned down two other colleges to stay with Josh, and even resisted her mother's disapproval to date him. Josh is unmoved by all of this, dismissing her without a second thought and (it's implied) hooking up with another girl later in the film.
      • For that matter, not only Kara but several characters note that Josh could easily drop the class and take a similar course with a less obnoxious professor. Josh's counterargument is that doing so would "mess up my schedule." Naturally he's portrayed as a principled martyr rather than a kid too lazy to move some classes around. In a similar vein, the whole thing would have been resolved immediately if anybody had told the administration what was going on.
      • YMMV how effective Josh's actual arguments are, but he's just as apt as Professor Radisson to use cheap shots and insults when arguing his points. The worst comes when Radisson confides in Josh that a personal tragedy drove him away from religion. Josh uses this in their final debate, browbeating Radisson with an Armor-Piercing Question of why he hates God, driving Radisson into an anguished Motive Rant in front of the whole class. The movie treats this as a brilliant move on Josh's part, rather than a low blow exploiting Radisson's past to discredit his argument.
    • A Matter of Faith:
      • The Bible-believing creationist father, Stephen, is presented as the usual Christian Hero fighting against the evils of "The Myth of Evolution" by protesting its teaching in his daughter's college. However, he goes behind his daughter's back to question her biology teacher, something she is incredibly embarrassed by, tries to force his belief into a class that has nothing to do with it, and practically guilt trips his own daughter into fully accepting his beliefs again based on feelings rather than facts.
      • The film attempts to portray the actions of the creationist characters as exposing the pro-evolution biology teacher of having an agenda of corrupting students away from God; however, through the film, it's clear that he's just doing his job of teaching the theory of evolution as accepted by the scientific community, and it comes off instead as them trying to force their beliefs into the public education system because someone has the gall to believe differently from them.
    • In God's Not Dead 2, the main protagonist mentions Jesus by name when answering a student's history-related question and another student reports her, setting up the main plot of the film. Not only does the fact that the circumstances in which she came to be in court afterwards have no basis in reality, as she was answering a question rather than preaching her beliefs, she later won't back down from wanting to be able to preach her beliefs in a public school classroom, despite this not only being both illegal and unethical, but actually has grounds for dismissal of a teacher.
    • In Old Fashioned, the protagonist supposed to be a devout Christian man with strong values regarding dating, however during the movie he becomes increasingly unlikable:
      • He refuses to go inside his tenant's apartment to fix her appliances while she is still there, giving the reason that "he will not be alone with a woman who's not his wife", and instead makes her wait outside sometimes in middle of the night.
      • Several other times his supposedly sweet and principled actions come across as creepy and unsettling, like when his tenant makes it clear that she's interested in him, and the first thing he does is taking her to a pastor to discuss marriage.
      • He also makes a scene on one of his friend's bachelor party by chasing away the stripper, the stripper and her manager are reasonably pissed with him. Never mind that it wasn't his own party and he had no right to decide what goes in it.
  • In Star Trek: Insurrection, the Ba'ku were supposed to come off as innocent victims of an under-the-table Federation and the devious Son'a (who are actually exiled Ba'ku), but instead, they came off as selfish/self-righteous pricks who won't share (or tolerate anyone of their own who wants to share) their planet's amazing healing powers, leaving the rest of the galaxy to die of ailments they themselves easily overcame. There's only a few hundred of them, so the vast majority of the planet is uninhabited. It's worth noting that Picard's argument that moving them violated the Prime Directive doesn't even hold up, since they were an non-indigenous group of Luddites, so they had just as valid a claim to the planet as the Federation colonists.
    • It certainly doesn't help that the movie, despite clearly treating their relocation as the Trail of Tears in space, doesn't at all play up the imagery of that event. On the contrary, the Ba'ku look more like the 1800s middle-class all-white individuals responsible for the Trail in the first place. Roger Ebert described them as a "gated community." Making it stand out even more an episode of the series had followed a very similar plot with actual Native American-descended colonists who made the comparison explicit, for stakes that amounted to nothing but a political technicality... and Picard took the other side.
  • In Unstoppable, main character Will Colson's wife has a restraining order against him, keeping him from being able to see his son. The reason for the restraining order is because he suspected his wife was cheating on him, then he got upset when she wouldn't submit to his spot check of her cell phone, grabbed her violently, pulled a gun on a police officer as well as a friend of his because he suspected he's sleeping with his wife, and she turned out to not even be cheating on him. Because he's one of the heroes of the movie, we're meant to sympathize with him and hope that he can get back together with his wife, despite the fact that he acted exactly as cartoonishly-evil as the villainous male lead of any given Lifetime Movie of the Week.
  • Hannah Montana: The Movie has both Hannah/Miley and her boyfriend, Travis. Miley, for not really trying to stay away from her Hannah persona (that was the whole purpose of her family heading out to Tennessee in the first place), and Travis for being too stupid to recognize her up-close. It took Miley accidentally removing her wig in front of him for him to put two and two together.
    • The town's people, too. They have money problems and, what do they do? They reject the construction of a mall, something that could help them get out of their debt by increasing tourism. Not to mention, it was going to be built in a large, empty field they weren't using, anyway.
    • Then, the town's people state that, after she reveals herself on stage to them by pulling her wig off, pouring her heart out to them, that they want Miley to put her wig back on and keep being Hannah, despite part of the movie's plot revolving around Miley questioning whether continuing to be Hannah is still a good idea and finally pulling the trigger to unmask in front of a large crowd. They come off more as selfish assholes rather than encouraging enthusiasts for wanting Miley to keep suffering the constant struggle she's been having ever since they started the Hannah identity.
  • Red Dawn attempts to pull a not so different moment with three Soviet soldiers by showing them fooling around before being ambushed and executed by the Wolverines. However, the rest of the film and its backstory portrays the USSR and its troops as monsters who nuked America and China unprovoked, and proceeded to invade them and slaughter their civilians (including their children) for the evulz. Even if one states that they were either drafted or volunteered before they knew what they'd be doing and said they were Just Following Orders, (a defense that famously didn't save Eichmann), A. The Geneva Convention obligates them to disobey orders that would constitute war crimes, including using illegal weapons, perfidy, killing civilians, and waging wars of aggression, and B. They show absolutely no remorse for their or their comrades actions. Much of said fooling around consists of mocking America and its culture, as opposed to the Wolverines, who were later deeply disturbed by killing the enemy combatants.
  • Griffin from Red Zone Cuba was supposedly meant to be seen as a mostly decent person who was down on his luck and held back by a Hair-Trigger Temper, and what happens to him at the end of the movie was supposed to be tragic and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, all sympathy for him is lost by the time he rapes a blind girl and murders her father, making the ending seem more like justice being done than anything else.
  • The portrayal of Lyndon Johnson in Selma, judging by reactions from some critics and historians. The filmmakers want to show Johnson as a complex figure who supports Civil Rights, but a) views it as part of a larger agenda, and b) is restrained by political realities - more or less Truth in Television. But since virtually every scene featuring Johnson shows him trying to block or undermine Martin Luther King's actions, he becomes the film's de facto antagonist; many viewers consider his portrayal bordering on Historical Villain Upgrade.
  • David and Mia, the main characters of Evil Dead (2013), are given an elaborate and tragic backstory (which is relayed all at once through dialogue even though they obviously both know the details) clearly meant to make them sympathetic, but the rest of the movie never really succeeds at showing either of them, or any of their friends for that matter, in a particularly positive light. Even though these people are all supposedly friends, they treat each other distantly at best or hostilely at worst; for example Mia is shown to be totally incapable of overcoming her heroin addiction despite constantly assuring everyone else that she can, and they criticizes her for it even though their over-the-top method of "helping" her is incredibly unhealthy and harmful, making it impossible to even figure out who's really to blame out of these assholes.
  • Jonathan Kent's stiff and uncompromising demand in Man of Steel for Clark to suppress his abilities goes so far as for him to suggest his son should have let a busload of children drown rather than out himself by saving them. It's obvious that he wants to protect Clark and let him have a normal childhood, but he never even attempts to explain why he believes letting innocent kids die was the better choice. He then refuses rescue and forces Clark to watch as he's killed by a tornado, because safeguarding his son's anonymity is apparently more important than not leaving him traumatized and fatherless. The idea seems to be partially ripped from Superman: Birthright, where Pa Kent is similarly apprehensive about his son's heritage - the difference being, that version ultimately admits he's acting stupid and lashing out at something he can't control, and apologizes for it.
  • In The Birth of a Nation, Austin Stoneman's horrified reaction to Silas wanting to marry his daughter is intended to be an Even Evil Has Standards moment, but to modern audiences it actually makes him seem worse by revealing him to be a gigantic hypocrite.
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park:
    • The "heroes" become a lot less heroic when you realise that they release the dinosaurs from their perfectly secure containers and cause them to go on the rampage that causes all the deaths on the island. Their actions also cause the corrupt corporation that owned the dinosaurs to bring a T. Rex to San Diego which causes even more death and destruction. So the heroes cause every death in the film with the highest body count in the series and never get punished for this. The motives for all this are that the dinosaurs should be allowed to live in their natural environments which a) do not exist any more and b) is in direct opposition to the moral of the first film and the books both films are based on. Dr. Sarah Harding being made into a Composite Character with Dr. Richard Levine makes her a standout example as the latter described as having "a world-wide reputation for being a pain in the ass" and lacking any idea of consequences or any training in fieldwork as he preferred to study museum samples. His poor traits makes the movie version of Sarah much harder to sympathize with.
    • John Hammond is supposed to come across as a benevolent old man who just has the dinosaurs' best interests at heart, but it's pointed out within the film that he's knowingly bankrupting a global conglomerate which no doubt employs thousands of people to do so, for a problem Hammond himself created in the first place because of his pride. Also, given the implications that he's in poor health, his sudden conversion to environmentalism seems more like a rather selfish deathbed confession than a real act of altruism.
  • Sean from the 1996 Alaska being upset over his mom's death gives him a reason to feel sorry for him. But the way he takes his anger out on everyone and his overall, unpleasant and nasty personality ends up making him more of a whiny Jerkass instead. Even going as far as to wishing his own dad had died instead of his mom!
  • In the movie Trainwreck, the main character, Amy, and her sister go and visit their Dad in a care home to tell him that Kim is pregnant. He's happy about the news and says he's excited to finally have a grandkid. Kim gets offended and says he's forgetting her step-son, Alistair. He says he cares about the boy and worries about him getting bullied but he's not, technically, a blood-relative. Kim gets so offended she yells at him and storms out, and because he was an Alcoholic Parent to Amy and Kim when they were kids, we're obviously meant to sympathise with her. But the thing is, the Dad is right in this situation and considering Kim wanted to put him in the worst care home she could find and throws out his possessions when she's sorting through them with Amy, it makes her look incredibly petty and looking for an excuse to be pissed off at him.
  • Shelby and the Kappa Nu sisters in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. The sequel takes a more sympathetic stance on them partying and disrupting the Radners' lives than it did with Teddy and his frat brothers in the original. However, the problems with it are 1) they use Straw Feminist arguments to rationalize their actions and never get called out on it, 2) the only things the Radners actually did to them was politely request they keep the partying down until they can officially sell their house in 30 days and call their parents when they refused, and 3) the things they do to the Radners are far more malicious (such as intentionally trying to break up the Radners' marriage and stealing their possessions to sell to pay for house rent). It's somewhat made up for by them buying the Radners' home from them, therefore being the solution to the problem they caused in the first place, however this still means that they got off without any real punishment or ever really acknowledging that what they were doing was wrong.
  • TRON: Legacy: Flynn lost a lot of sympathy in the fanbase once they checked out the Expanded Universe; he is something of a jerk to his friends and family, taking their devotion for granted, lies to everyone (including his wife!) about what he's up to, blows off multiple warnings about The Grid's instability, the Program/Iso tensions, Clu's ambition, etc. He was also being something of a Jackass User, not healing Dyson (which caused Dyson to sign on as of Clu's lieutenants during the coup). Top it off with deciding to self-imprison himself in the Outlands and devote everything to protecting Quorra while the Programs are left to Clu's dubious mercy, justifying it with a throwaway line about how resisting Clu would somehow make him "stronger" when Clu already has full run of The Grid.
  • The Wizard of Oz:
    • It contains one of the most infamous examples in film. The movie combined two witches — the Good Witch of the North and Glinda the Good Witch of the South — into one character. This creates an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole where Glinda gives Dorothy the red slippers but doesn't tell her how they work, causing her to go on a journey and nearly die just for Glinda to tell her later. This has caused generations of viewers to consider Glinda a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing or wonder if Glinda was really the villain and that she sent a random child on a wild goose chase to kill her enemy. More than a few jokes have been made about this, such as the Mad TV "alternate ending" sketch where Dorothy calls out Glinda.
    • The title character himself also qualifies. As written, the Wizard is supposed to be a loving and caring grandfatherly character who doesn't want people to find out he's really a humbug. However, he sends a little girl and her companions to kill arguably the most dangerous person in Oz (who has already tried to kill Dorothy and her companions several times) and bring back the witch's broom as proof... pretty much unarmed against the impenetrable castle and the Witch's loyal army of flying monkeys. His claims of being "a good man but a really bad wizard" come off as less apologetic for being unable to help and more trying to justify his own actions. note 
  • The alien in Super 8. We're instructed by the script to feel sorry for the way it was treated by the military and root for it to return home, just like E.T., even when it starts lashing out and killing several people who had absolutely nothing to do with its mistreatment and posed no threat to it, very much unlike E.T. That it's intelligent enough for the kids to reason with suggests it didn't kill innocent people due to panicked self-preservation, but out of revenge, which makes the ending seem like a miscarriage of justice to many viewers, instead of the "D'aww!" moment it was meant to be.
  • In The Kid (2000), we are supposed to feel sorry for Russ's father for trying and failing to get Russ to spend time with his family, and view Russ as a callous jerk for constantly blowing him off. But later in the movie, it's revealed that when Russ was younger, his father took his anger out on his son after Russ was sent home from school for fighting some bullies. Not only did Russ's dad blame him for the incident, but he also accused the boy of making his mother die faster (she had cancer), and then physically shakes him and rubs his eyes so hard that Russ is left with an involuntary eye twitch well into adulthood, along with major emotional suppression. Knowing about this incident (as well as realizing that Russ had to be raised by his dad after his mom died), it's no wonder Russ wants nothing to do with the man.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming:
    • Tony Stark is supposed to come off as a father figure where anytime Peter makes a mistake and we are supposed to side with him for telling Peter to stay out of trouble. The problem is, he treats Peter like a little kid and outright dismisses Vulture as "below his pay grade", giving the impression that he isn't taking Peter's claims seriously. This especially comes to a head during their argument after fixing the ferry where he scolds Peter for ruining the FBI bust on Toomes, but had he just told Peter he was actually taking this seriously and what his plan was, chances are Peter wouldn't have gotten involved or endangered. All in all, what was intended for Tony's treatment to Peter being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold mentor ends up being a straight-up Jerkass neglectful father figure who is never treated as being in the wrong or called out (this is a huge contrast to the previous movie in which he actually is treated appropriately for his wrongdoings). There is also the fact that he is responsible for creating Vulture when he forced New York City to cancel Toomes' contract and doesn't do anything to reimburse him for the costs. And yet no one calls him out for yet again causing all the problems of the film.
    • Peter himself can also fall into this category. Like every other version of Spider-Man, Peter is supposed to be sympathetic because his double life as Spider-Man makes his normal life as Peter unmanageable. But in this version, whenever Peter chooses to be Spider-Man, he usually ends up making things worse for everyone. If he had just listened to Tony Stark and tended to his life as Peter instead, he wouldn't have any reason to keep ignoring his personal responsibilities. It is somewhat mitigated in that he actually gets called out for his carelessness who does learn his lesson by the end.
    • Michelle is supposed to be seen as a lovable Deadpan Snarker Hollywood Nerd that the audience is supposed to sympathize with because she doesn't have any friends. However, most of her screentime consists of her belittling and mocking people with a haughty and condescending attitude for no reason (especially considering that all other the students, aside from Flash, are pretty nice people who haven't done anything to deserve it), so it's pretty understandable why she doesn't have any.
  • Star Wars
    • Anakin Skywalker got a lot of this in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, especially the latter two. He's meant to be a basically decent guy who's grappling with a dark side until Palpatine pushes him over, but he really doesn't need a lot of prompting to do so, and even on his own terms, he seems like kind of a maladjusted jerk. In particular, his relationship with Padme is meant to be awkward but earnest and loving, but it's so badly written that he comes off as a creep lusting over someone he hasn't seen in ten years instead.
    • The entire Jedi Order gets this in the prequel trilogy. They're meant to be the Big Good organization, a group of Lawful Good magic knights, but possessed of the Fatal Flaw of being too bound up by centuries-old dogma to see something terrible is about to happen until it's tragically too late to prevent it. Unfortunately, their questionable recruiting tactics (conscripting from the cradle, cutting them off from all family ties or any close emotional tie other than Master and Padawan), taking command of an age-accelerated slave army of clones, and their grandmaster (Yoda) giving some astonishingly tone-deaf advice to a terrified Anakin made them look like a bunch of Church Militant jackasses instead, which is even lampshaded by Luke in The Last Jedi.
    • The Last Jedi:
      • Luke considered murdering his nephew Ben in his sleep because he sensed darkness within him, and despite regretting and not going through with it, it still pushed Kylo Ren to the dark side, killing most of his Jedi pupils and several others defecting to his side. But rather than helping to stop Ren or trying to turn him back like he succeeded with Vader, Luke exiles himself for six years, leaving the galaxy to fend for itself without The Hero to help them, causing countless innocents to die. Leia's been through a much worse Trauma Conga Line (seeing her entire planet destroyed at 19, breaking up with her husband, watching her own son become a monster, etc), but she never deviates from her duty.
      • Admiral Holdo is introduced giving a rather bland and weak speech that fails to motivate her troops and then she dismisses Poe's concerns seemingly out of an effort to teach him some humility, which might seem reasonable given they don't know how they're being tracked, but still doesn't exactly make her seem like a character the audience is meant to root for. The reveal of her plan (and that Leia supported it) doesn't help much, since it reveals that Poe would have gone along with it had she only trusted him and saved the lectures for a less critical moment and her refusal to answer Poe's valid observation about the transports just seemed spiteful. Even fans who agree side with her still questioned why didn't she lock up Poe in the brig or inform the everyone else about her plans, thereby preventing him from gaining enough supporters to stage a mutiny. Furthermore, her Heroic Sacrifice, while intended to be awe-inspiring and heroic, seems rather hypocritical and contrary to her desire to preserve the Resistance since her death would be depriving the Resistance of further leadership. Subsequently, her sacrifice is visually stunning, but the story behind it feels somewhat hollow as she only had to make it because she didn't try to win Poe's trust or counter his more reckless impulses.
  • The male protagonist, Jim Preston, of Passengers. He is a cryogenically preserved passenger on a spaceship that is on a centuries-long mission to colonize another solar system, but he is accidentally awakened decades too early. To avoid going insane from loneliness, he deliberately unfreezes an attractive female passenger, Aurora Lane, and starts a relationship with her... all the while lying to her that her awakening was also accidental. He's meant to be seen as a good person who did a bad thing out of desperation and has to make up for it; reviewers and audiences overwhelmingly saw him as a pathetic douchebag who ruined a complete innocent's life out of selfishness and lust.
    • On the flip-side of the coin, Aurora herself can come off like this to a lesser extent. She is intended to be a tragic figure, but it's just as easy to see her as a spoiled Rich Bitch making a mockery of the efforts of the real colonists as she takes a 250 year long luxury vacation secure in the idea that she's effectively risking nothing, knowing that her likely safely-invested wealth will be waiting for her back on Earth.
  • In Mad Max: Fury Road, the Vuvalini ("Many Mothers"). The audience is clearly meant to sympathize with them, as their knowledge of the Old World and combat proficiency makes them valuable allies for Furiosa, Max and the Wives. They are also introduced via a ruthless Honey Trap, they loathe men so much that they'll shoot them without even thinking (one of the mothers readies her weapon as soon as she sees Max and Nux step out of the War Rig before Furiosa calms her down), they imply that a Child by Rape would be less "ugly" if it were a girl and one of them outright states that she's killed every person outside her group that she's met in the wasteland.
  • Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem has Dallas Howard. Already at the beginning of the film it turns out that he is a criminal who has just been released from prison (presumably because of an armed robbery). As soon as he meets his younger brother, he interferes in his affairs, and determines him. Later, when the xenomorphs attack the city, he gathers a group of survivors who want to save themselves from xenomorphs. But instead of trying to leave the city, he takes her to a hospital because he prefers to flee from there by helicopter. Several members of the group are killed by xenomorphs, and Dallas Howard is therefore complicit in these deaths. One member of the group criticizes Dallas' plan, which puts them all in jeopardy except for the daughter of his (soonly) girlfriend, and Dallas shouts at the man, though he has made only a sound argument. Finally, a Predator arrives there, who has traveled to Earth to kill xenomorphs (admittedly, he has also killed some humans, but his real mission was to destroy the xenomorphs before they can spread all over the Earth), and Dallas steals the laser weapon as the Predator gets into a duel with the Predalien. If the military had not bombed the city, Dallas would have been to blame for the xenomorphs spreading. He should probably be a tough, edgy anti-hero, but he's not much more than a designated hero.
  • In Snow Falling on Cedars you can see Hatsue Imada. She is an American Japanese girl who falls in love with the American boy Ismael Chambers. The two become lovers, but have to keep the relationship secret, because at that time Japanese and Americans have racial reservations about each other. When the relationship between the two eventually becomes known, Hatsue leaves Ishmael immediately, "submits" to her family, and marries a Japanese man whom her family has chosen for her. Exactly at the time when Ishmael was injured in the war and lost an arm. A few years later, they see each other again because he is involved in a murder case. Hatsue's husband, Kazuo Miyamoto, is suspected of murdering an American fisherman. And when Ishmael sees Hatsue and greets her, she immediately tells him to leave. During the plot of the film, Ishmael tries to find evidence that Hatsue's husband is innocent. And although Ishmael helps her, Hatsue mistreats him. He tells her several times how much he loves her, but she rejects him again and again. In one scene, he touches her and she wriggles out of his touch as if he were a stranger who wants to do something bad to her (you can also see in this scene that this gesture has hurt Ishmael's feelings). Finally, he at least asks her for one final hug, but Hatsue also denies him, and she knows she is hurting his feelings. Only at the very end of the film, when her husband is acquitted by Ishmael's help, she embraces him. Still, she does not seem to think it was wrong for her to treat him so badly.
    • Her husband also qualifies for it. Kazuo marries her, although it is a forced marriage for Hatsue (although it can be speculated that he did not know she was forced to marry him, by her family). Already at the beginning of the film, he wants to buy a property, and the wife whose husband owns the property is threatened and intimidated by him. Later, when he meets her husband, he starts a business, but Kazuo is anything but polite to him. Later, when he is killed, Kazuo also says that he would have liked to kill him (even if he finally proves he did not).
    • The film is likely to show that Japanese living in the US at that time suffered racial reservations from the Americans. However, Hatsue and Kazuo are such jerks that many viewers wonder why they should feel sorry for them.
  • In Pitch Perfect, we're meant to feel sorry for Jesse when Becca yells at him for constantly butting into her business and tells him to leave her alone, but Jesse has been nothing more than an annoying Dogged Nice Guy for the entire movie, criticising Becca's taste in clothes (telling her she'd be beautiful if only she took our her ear spike), constantly badgering her when she makes it clear she's not interested in him and whining when she doesn't share his hobby of watching movies.
  • Pam in Meet the Parents. As soon as the relationship started to get serious, she should've told Greg to forget about marriage because of the unlikelihood of her father ever giving his blessing. She also should've told him that in the unlikely event that Jack did give his blessing, he would spend the rest of his life treating Greg like garbage.
  • Gavin from The Ledge. Gavin basically uses the argument against religion as a means to score with Shana and screw up her marriage. Given the "point" of the movie is that atheists can be good people without religion, his enormous selfishness and the petty reasons behind pursuing a married woman makes it a massive Broken Aesop.
  • Mean Girls: Janis. She is just as manipulative as Regina (if not more so), encouraging Cady to make friends with the Plastics (and sabotage them) in the first place, then taunting her by revealing her manipulations in front of the entire school (throwing Cady under the bus in the process), and gets cheered for it. This, combined with her Hollywood Homely appearance, has only fueled some fans' theories that Janis is herself a former Alpha Bitch.
  • The mother Isabelle from the Lifetime Movie of the Week Amy & Isabelle. Her distance from her daughter and judgmental attitude is justified by having an affair with an older man in her teen years and getting pregnant as a result. However when Amy has an affair with her teacher, Isabelle attacks her in a fit of rage and cuts off all her daughter's hair. Following Amy getting abused by another authority figure, many found Isabelle's abuse to be just as awful as the teacher's and it was impossible to sympathise with her afterwards.
  • The protagonists of Don't Breathe. No matter what Freudian Excuses they give them and no matter how repulsively villainous they make the blind antagonist it's just nearly impossible to sympathize with a trio who kick the movie off with such a Kick the Dog move as to decide to break into the home of a blind war veteran to steal the cash settlement he received when his daughter was killed in a car accident. Especially Rocky, who repeatedly refuses to call the cops simply because she doesn't want to lose the cash she's stolen which gets Alex killed and allows the Blind Man to survive the events of the film.

    Literature 
  • Two big ones in The Demon's Lexicon.
    • Seb. It starts well enough, with his genuine regret for his bullying of Jamie, which is even revealed to be because he's an Armored Closet Gay who was terrified of his attraction to him. But then he's revealed to be a magician, despite which we're still supposed to think he's a nice guy whose eventual Heel–Face Turn was inevitable. Just one problem: before that turn there are not one but two scenes where the other magicians, in his presence, threaten to kill a little kid, and he doesn't raise a single word of protest. It doesn't even come off as him being too scared to speak up; his presence is simply ignored.
    • Helen. She's supposed to be seen as a Worthy Opponent who simply sides with the magicians out of pragmatism. Except at the end of book 2 she murders Annabel without a second thought, and despite her posing no real threat. This makes her Heel–Face Turn come off more as a Karma Houdini who's still just as evil, and just biding her time until she can show her true colors again.
  • Zoey and her friends, in The House of Night series. The group as a whole are supposed to be outcasts known as "the nerd herd", but it's hard to see them as that when all of them are given extra-special powers directly from the vampire goddess. All of them have a tendency to be pretty rude to each other (most often it being the Twins constantly making gay jokes at the expense of Damien and Jack), which is meant as friendly ribbing but doesn't really come across as such. Zoey herself is extremely judgmental, dubbing many female characters (including ones we never even see in the series) as "sluts" and "hos", constantly making disparaging comments about the behaviors or appearances of people in various groups (this includes, but is not limited to, goths, emos, chess club members, cheerleaders, people who use too much eyeliner, people who smoke marijuana, women who give blowjobs, people with bright red hair, girls who take dance class, and homeless people). She's incredibly shallow, constantly focusing on outward appearance first and foremost. She constantly complains about suffering stress from the various hardships she has to deal with, but she does virtually nothing to solve the problems herself. Instead, she waits until the end of the book, when Nyx magically tells her what to do and gives her the powers to do it. When we see her meeting her mother on her birthday, she constantly reacts in a condescending manner, and makes no effort at all to reach her mother halfway on any attempts made to bond with her.
  • Patch, from Hush, Hush. We're meant to feel sorry for him for losing his status as a well-respected archangel and the mortal woman he loved, as well as pity him for lacking the ability to feel things. Trouble is, he chose to abandon his job and home for a girl he hardly knew. Upon losing his wings, he sought out a Nephilim and forced the poor guy to be his slave for eternity, stealing his body for two weeks out of the year (and with the Nephilim able to feel everything). In other words, his situation is entirely his fault, but he never really acknowledges it. Oh, and his ultimate plan to become human and fix his problems centers around murdering an unsuspecting girl. He doesn't go through with it, but he does lure her to a motel room and hold her on the bed while threatening her, which is supposed to be steamy but comes across as something else entirely.
  • Pedro from Like Water for Chocolate. He only marries Rosaura de la Garza to be close to her sister Josefita aka Tita (who's stuck as The Dutiful Daughter), heavily neglects Rosaura which furthers her increasing Jerkassery and ultimately destroys her and Tita's already shaky relationship, causes poor Tita quite the misery as well (and she doesn't forget to call him out on it), and years later bullies and pressures Tita when Nice Guy Dr. Brown shows interest in her. (Not to mention, he barely seems to acknowledge his and Rosaura's children unless it's needed for the plot.) So, Pedro is supposed to be Tita's One True Love and the right guy for her... why?
  • Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God . Her first husband spends the first few months of their marriage waiting on her hand and foot, but when he eventually starts expecting her to pull her weight around the farm she runs off with the first young hottie she sees. She even tells her grandmother that Husband #1 is completely incapable of ever being loved by anyone...because he's ugly. Her issues with Husband #2 are more legit (he hits her at one point), but even then it's hard to sympathize—unlike Husband #1, he doesn't want her to work much, but then she just complains more about being bored and how the little work she has (watching the store) is too much math for her poor little head. Then she tells him off on his deathbed and at one point blames all her problems on her dead grandma, who told her not to run off with Husband #2 in the first place. Jeez!
  • It's easy for Okonkwo, protagonist of Things Fall Apart to come off this way. He's meant to illustrate a rich native culture that is destroyed by the European colonists. Unfortunately, he's also a racist, sexist control freak who savagely beats his own son after they convert to Christianity, causing them to leave the family. The finale of the book, meant to elicit despair, can instead come across as justice being served.
    • This may be intentional, showing the good and bad sides of Igbo culture. It is unlikely the reader is supposed to identify with Okwonko's actions, as even other people of his society criticise his behaviour.
  • In Trixie and Dan's interactions in the Trixie Belden book The Black Jacket Mystery, neither of them are portrayed as completely innocent. Trixie, however, is the main character, and it is obvious from the narration that the audience is supposed to side with her. However, looking at the book from Dan's perspective, a sheltered, spoiled, wealthy girl who is loved by all continually belittles and insults him, destroys his chances of turning over a new leaf, temporarily ruins his relationship with his uncle, and makes false accusations against him, and leads to a dangerous criminal being able to go undetected. It's a wonder why Dan bothered becoming friends with Trixie afterward, let alone saving her and her younger brother's life at the end of the book.
  • Bella Swan from Twilight, whose helplessness, constant whining, frequent disdain for other people, and lack of any real problems cause many to regard her as little more than a whiner. Ditto for her love, Edward, who is so smug and perfect that it's hard to care about any emotional issues.
    • The Cullens in general could count. They are held up as the epitome of generosity and goodness. Even so, they generally are cold and anti-social to anyone who isn't another vampire or Bella, they are hostile towards the werewolves even though some (for example, Alice) never even met the werewolves before, and they are perfectly fine with letting vampires that do drink human blood hang around the area. Apparently their desire to protect humans only counts as long as they themselves are killing, and so long as the human isn't Bella. Also, every one of them except for Carlisle has killed at least once in their past, and recollections of said murders are generally treated as embarrassing incidents that are swept aside.
      • There's a scene in Breaking Dawn where the Cullens invite a bunch of vampires into town and give them keys to their cars so that they can feed on humans from out of town, because apparently their friends murdering people is okay so long as they don't know the people being murdered.
    • From the latter half of New Moon and on, Jacob generally becomes this. His endless pining after Bella, even though it's obvious she'll always choose Edward over him, makes him come across as pretty dense (and also raises the question of what he finds so great about her that he constantly returns for more abuse). In Eclipse we're meant to feel sorry for him for being rejected, but he becomes unlikable when he continuously guilt-trips Bella into showing affection for him. This reaches its peak when, upon finding out she got engaged to Edward, he threatens to let himself die in battle if she doesn't kiss him... and then complains mid-makeout session that she's not putting her all into it. Any sympathy Jacob still has is lost in Breaking Dawn, when he becomes infatuated with a baby. Thanks to convenient superfast aging, she looks 17 by the end of the book, but he's still helping to change her diapers while planning to later make out with her, making him look like a pedophile grooming an infant for sex. Which he is. Naturally, this is presented as romantic.
  • Joane Walker from The Walker Papers. While admittedly having a metric ton of very good reason be sullen, cynical, and unwilling to take up her intended calling of Shaman, the way she was written comes off as bitchy, idiotically immature, and obstinate out of spite towards the world, and her redeeming qualities are there just to artificially induce sympathy.
  • Caine for a lot of the series Gone, particularly in Plague. You're supposed to see him as a misguided and twisted person, but ultimately understandable. But it's hard to feel sorry for him when he takes advantage of and abuses Diana, the only person who actually cares about him. This was fixed in Light for a lot of fans, though.
  • Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey. We're supposed to feel sorry for him because he was hungry as a child, his mother was, in his words, "a crack whore" who died when he was small, and her pimp was abusive. This supposedly justifies all his current abusive behaviour. Also despite using his past as a means to guilt-trip Ana, he never thinks about helping the 15.9 million American kids who suffer from hunger every year, despite definitely having the means to do so. It eventually got worse with the release of Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey As Told by Christian when many, including some fans, were turned off by his internal thoughts where he comes out as a creepy stalker.
    • Anastatia Steele as well. The book's portrayal of BDSM suggests that it's something only "damaged" people could possibly enjoy, and that we should pity Ana for being in a relationship with a partner who likes it (a perspective that insults both dominants and submissives). Perhaps ironically, many critics feel sympathy for the exact thing the reader is meant to envy: the stalkerish, controlling attentions of Christian Grey.
  • The main characters of Left Behind are supposedly models of great Christian virtue who we are supposed to support, sympathise with and emulate. Critics of the series are more likely to describe them as callous, spineless, misogynistic, self-righteous knobs.
  • Harry Potter:
    • One of the reasons Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is so polarizing was Harry's characterization. We're supposed to feel sorry for Harry because he witnessed Cedric's death and nobody believes him about either Voldemort or the Dementor incident, but he comes off as incredibly wangsty when he complains about it, especially since this was the third time Harry was accused of something, but handled the first two with better maturity. Then there's his breakup with Cho. Harry of all people should have known that she was still grieving for Cedric, but still decided to date her anyway. Then there's Harry dumping her because she called out Hermione for disfiguring her friend, and she had every right to.
    • On the flipside, there's Cho herself. The reader is obviously supposed to feel sorry for her because her boyfriend Cedric died, but she comes across as a demanding and whiny brat who hasn't sought out any help in dealing with her current emotional situation and repeatedly demands that Harry talk with her about it, despite him not wanting to talk about it, because he not only also saw Cedric die, but also was fearing for his own life at the time and has been suffering from PTSD and nightmares of being back in the graveyard and bringing it up in every situation won't help. The fact that Cho sees nothing wrong with the fact that her friend ratted everyone out to Umbridge, which had the consequence of Dumbledore being forced to leave Hogwarts among other things makes her come across as selfish and incapable of seeing her part in it. After all, she was the one who dragged the friend to the meetings.
    • When Harry breaks up with Ginny in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince due to It's Not You, It's My Enemies, it's pretty hard to feel sorry for her when he tries the exact same thing on Ron and Hermione less than a chapter later and they shoot him down. One can't help but wonder why she doesn't protest harder if she really wanted to stay with him.
  • Let's just say Ayn Rand invited this kind of criticism in more or less all her novels and leave it at that. Her vision of the ideal Objectivist paragon as presented in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged is contested, at best, especially given her own problems with living up to her own idealised standards.
  • In The Firebrand, a wife argues with her husband about his decision to kill their newborn son, who is prophecied to bring doom upon their city. It's a justifiable point, but her arguments are ridiculously, unnecessarily, misandrist. Apparently their son should live because she's a woman and she says so - not because they love him, or it would be the right thing to do.
    "What right has a man over children?"
  • In the eyes of many fans, Luke Skywalker became this toward the end of the Star Wars Legends continuity, frequently sanctioning drastic measures such as torture and assassination to stop villains. The intent was to show the character growing increasingly cynical with age, but the fans argue back that even so, that's not a very good way to write Luke Skywalker.
  • Kerim in From Russia with Love becomes this on sheer force of Values Dissonance. When describing his past to Bond, he blithely admits to kidnapping, false imprisonment, and Attempted Rape he committed as a rowdy teen, and his present-day self's reflection on this is essentially, "Oh I sure was stupid as a kid, huh? Besides, she didn't hold it against me." Keep in mind that even for the '50s Kerim was clearly intended as an Unscrupulous Hero - he shows himself to be okay with gunning down a fleeing opponent, for one, something Bond mentally notes he'd never do - but to modern readers taking him seriously as a protagonist at all can be difficult.
  • In Shadow Song, we're told that Bobo Murphy and Amy Lourie/Myers aren't in particularly happy marriages, and their chance meeting at Avrum's funeral is portrayed as fulfilment of a destiny, a teenage romance finally getting a chance to bloom away from meddling parents and whatnot. It's certainly portrayed as romantic, but at the end of the day, they are cheating on their spouses.
  • Circe in The Beast Within: A Tale Of Beauty'sPrince is described as being kind and compassionate, but she only curses the Prince after he jilts her personally (even though one would think she would have picked up on the fact that he's rather selfish and misogynistic in general), she extends the curse to the servants after he taunts her (essentially messing up their lives just so he'll be a little worse off), and then completely ignores him for years, without even thinking to check in on his progress until she hears her sisters are doing so behind her back (because of this, she doesn't learn about the abuse he heaped on Princess Morningstar until it's nearly too late to save her and her family). And on the subject of the last point, despite knowing how her sisters operate on a different moral sense than her and hate the Prince, she does little to enforce her order to leave him alone and is easily manipulated by them into not noticing them attempting to kill Belle and the Beast. The end of the novella also has her showing more sympathy to Belle than the Beast, who besides being the character she actually knew and claimed to care about, is on the ground, dying of a stab wound.
    • The Prince/Beast himself suffers from this in the same book. While he's meant to be unsympathetic to an extent as the majority of the book is about his life before he met Belle and thus was still self-centered, he's also meant to still be sympathetic enough for his eventual redemption and romance with Belle to feel earned and believable. Unfortunately, the author completely overshot the "flawed but redeemable Beast" portrayal and landed squarely into "complete asshole who ruins the lives of multiple people for 5/6ths of the book" territory instead; when your protagonist cruelly dumps two women who loved him - one of them with full knowledge that he's dooming her entire kingdom by doing so - and orders the murder of a painter just because he drew a portrait of him with signs of the curse taking effect on him and shows absolutely no signs of reforming or regretting his actions until the last 20 pages, it becomes quite hard to root for him to get his happy ending with Belle especially since Belle never learns about any of this.
  • Marcus Yallow, The Hero of Little Brother. You're supposed to feel sorry for him because of the abuse he goes through from the Department of Homeland Security, but he comes off as incredibly self-righteous. During the book, he gets into an argument with his father, who agrees with the DHS's methods, but he had every right to since for several days, Marcus was missing after the terrorist attack that triggered the book's conflict. He regularly ignores his friends' warnings that he shouldn't pick fights with the government. Finally, him being monitored by the DHS is his own fault because he did nothing but make himself look suspicious at the beginning of the book. He used his hacking skills to cut school, and according to his principal, it wasn't even the first time he used hacking to screw around in school. When he got interrogated, he refused to hand his phone over to the Big Bad of the story. Not because he had anything incriminating on it, but because of the principle of privacy. Finally, to make a point to his father, he tampers with the DHS's security system to cause a city-wide halt on everything, but that leads to the DHS to start increasing security, making things worse for Marcus. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! at its finest.
  • Edward Fairfax Rochester in Jane Eyre is very rude, scornful, uses other women to make Jane jealous, plays mind-games with her and other women, and even tries to trick her into marrying him although he is already married.
  • Jane Rizzloi of the Rizzoli & Isles books. Certainly the first one. The reader is presumably meant to empathize with her feelings of inadequacy regarding her plain looks and struggling for recognition at work and in her own family, but she comes across as so unlikable that it's difficult. Her dislike and resentment of Catherine Cordell—a woman who was drugged, raped, and nearly disemboweled by a psychopath and is now being stalked by a copycat—for no reason other than that Catherine is beautiful and her warped belief that Catherine stole her partner's affections from her don't do her any favors either. It's also hard to sympathize with her jealously of beautiful women when she practically refuses to put any effort into fixing herself up — the Serial Killer that she's tracking is among the people who note that she'd look prettier if she wore makeup and more flattering clothes.
  • Victoria where the protagonist, John Rumford, is cashiered out of the US Marines when making a principled stand... by refusing to let a woman Marine honor the dead of Iwo Jima. Because, you see, no women fought at Iwo, therefore no woman deserves to honor the dead as a Marine. This is his character introduction, by the way, and it only goes downhill from here.
  • The Wretch in Frankenstein. On one hand, yes, he is a Woobie whose long rants about his sore life are difficult to refute and is arguably an even more sympathetic character than the titular doctor. But on the other, he knows exactly what he is doing and is thus consciously evil. It's hard to see him as a Tragic Monster when he murders by choice.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Ashfur. Canonically, he's in StarClan, and is not meant to be seen as evil, just passionate and heart broken. However, his actions, involving attempted murder of Jayfeather, Hollyleaf, his former apprentice Lionblaze, and his own Clan leader, make him seem a lot more evil than he was intended to be. Many felt bad for him when he was an apprentice who lost his mother to Tigerstar's dogs, and even worse when Squirrelflight rejected his romantic feelings for Brambleclaw, but lost all love for him after he revealed himself to be a traitor who later had his crimes excused as "loving too much".
    • Needletail. She's meant to be heroic for helping try to stop Darktail, but people feel that she only does it after her mate Rain was killed by Darktail, thus making her actions seem more selfish. Not helping matter is that when she gets to StarClan, she lays all of ShadowClan's problems in the arc on Rowanstar and never takes any responsibility for her part in shattering the Clan. Even Yellowfang points out how absurd her way of handling it is.
  • Emerald “Emry” Blair in Only Superhuman is presented as a Broken Bird, but all her pain in self inflicted. She spent several years as a juvenile delinquent and mod-gang member called Banshee. This was a rebellion against her father, who was once a member of the Vanguard habitat-nation. However while the other members were legitimate victims of Abusive Parents she ran away because she blamed her father for her mother’s death. While they just wanted some place to belong. Her recklessness Serial Escalation not only nearly led to two of her friends death but the death of an innocent person. Since it was entirely her fault her My God, What Have I Done? didn’t hold much water.
    • She also comes across as a Karma Houdini as she got Off on a Technicality and was Easily Forgiven by her victim. What truly makes her this is that even after she nearly killed someone she still hated her father going so far as to disowned him. When he tried to reach out to her after this. Her response to this is to become angrier and blame him for not being there for her when he was forced to keep tabs on her because she violently refused to stay with him.
    • She never even bothered to find out who actually killed her mother. Specifically invoking her mother’s memory for why she didn’t do it. Stating that she didn’t want to make her an excuse for hurting someone (even though she did) but had no problem making her an excuse for hating her father. It took seven years and finding out he was dead to forgive him
    • It’s also telling that she didn’t blame Arkady the Troubleshooters that was present during her mother’s death. He even vouched for her to become a troubleshooter. While her becoming a troubleshooter could be seen as was atonement. She completely misses the point. Her obsession with modifying her body came across as another way to spite him then guilt over her actions. As it was more for her mother and the fact that she couldn’t save her friends then guilt over how she treated her father

    Music 
  • Taylor Swift:
    • The protagonist of "You Belong With Me". This is about a shy girl who has a crush on a boy who already has a girlfriend but, as the title suggest, she feels that he's obligated to be with her because she somehow understands him better, with no indication that she's said anything to him to indicate her interest in being more than friends. Then she criticizes his girlfriend for wearing high heels and short skirts. The video also portrays her as a stalker. The whole song comes off as a more passive-aggressive version of Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend".
    • "Better Than Revenge" is about a woman who is mad that another 'stole' her crush. It's quite easy to view the protagonist as very in the wrong though. There isn't even concrete proof that the woman took her boyfriend - they could have been in a steady relationship or in a flirtatious pre-dating state - but the protagonist is absolutely rabid at the other woman for having the guts to be interested in the same guy as her. There's a fair share of Slut-Shaming in the song and it's vague how far she'll go with her revenge but it doesn't sound like she'll go easy on the woman.
  • The title character of Bruce Springsteen's song "Johnny 99", who is sentenced to 99 years in prison for a murder he committed while drunk over the loss of his job. The song does its best to portray him as a victim of a broken system, even demonizing the judge who sentences him, but that doesn't change the fact that he's still a killer and that most people who have been in his situation haven't killed anyone.
  • The protagonist of 38 Special's tender ballad "Second Chance" really sells how sorry he is over a mistake he made, and the song pressures the subject to stop making such a big deal over it and take him back. The singer then proceeds to specify that the mistake was cheating on her, and defends it by saying this of the girl he cheated with: "I never loved her, I never needed her. She was willing and that's all there is to say." In other words, the guy didn't cheat because he's a flawed man who was tempted and gave in to his own weakness and selfish impulses; he cheated on her because he could, and then tries to guilt his lover for holding that against him. It makes him seem more like a self-absorbed sociopath than a man who's genuinely contrite over what most people consider a very serious betrayal of trust. It's telling that when vocalist Max Carl first heard the demo, his immediate response was "The guy in the song sounded like a real jerk."
  • In the Megadeth song "1,000 Times Goodbye", we're clearly supposed to sympathize with the protagonist, since his lover left him for another man. However, her voice clips make it clear that she's been suffering for years under him and tried repeatedly to make their relationship work, making the protagonist sound more like a narcissistic jerk than a jilted spouse.
  • The Bullet for My Valentine album The Poison has several songs relating to finding out that a girlfriend or love interest is sleeping with other people, and how painful this is to experience. However, this becomes less sympathetic and more disturbing when the protagonist is revealed to be a violent stalker in "Hit the Floor" (one who has apparently put thought into how and when he could attack his target) and that his retaliation over her infidelity is to murder her and any man he catches her with (as shown in "Room 409" and "The Poison"). Yes, cheating is bad, but stalking and murder are usually considered to be far worse things.
  • Drake's "Hotline Bling" is probably supposed to come off as the lamentations of an ex who feels a deep sense of disappointment and unfulfillment in regard to a failed relationship and can't stop being reminded of how much better than him his former partner seems to be doing. Instead, he comes off as a whiny, clingy, prudish, controlling Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who can't come to terms with the fact that his ex has become her own person and deals with it by whining about how she's a lesser person for no longer being at his beck and call.
  • The protagonist in "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood. We're supposed to root for her when she trashes her boyfriend's car, giving him his just desserts as revenge for him cheating on her. The problem is we don't even know if he's cheating; she's acting on unfounded and unproven suspicions and seems to take pride in it.
  • Icon for Hire's "Sorry About Your Parents" is about Abusive Parents/Parental Neglect and how to pick yourself up from a bad childhood. The problem are the lines "I know it's not your fault. It never is, is it? (is it? is it?)" The way she emphasises "is it?" makes some fans think she's victim blaming abuse victims.
  • Raydio's "You Can't Change That" sounds like a pretty romantic song, unless you listen to the rather disturbing lyrics. If your romantic love is in any way reciprocated, it probably shouldn't be phrased as having the second party be powerless to stop it... unless you're just trying to sound menacing and creepy. By the time the singer is promising to love the object of his affections even if she changes her phone number, address and appearance, it feels less like an expression of his loyalty and devotion, and more of an implicit threat that he'll start cutting pieces off of her if she ever tries to escape again.

    Tabletop Games 

    Theater 
  • This is one of the main criticisms of RENT. At best, the heroes—Mark and Roger in particular—are Brilliant, but Lazy and want the adoration that being a respected artist would bring, but have yet to actually produce anything to earn it. At worst, they're spoiled elitist brats who think working a regular job is beneath them and expect to stay in their apartment rent-free as they wait for inspiration to come to them.
  • The Phantom from Love Never Dies is supposed to be someone who still adores Christine and conspires to bring her back because he misses her. However, his threatening to take Christine's son (who he later learns is really his own) away if she refuses to sing for him quickly ruins that.
  • Jamie from The Last Five Years. The basic conceit of the musical is that Jamie and Cathy both contributed to their marital issues, and in the end, they just weren't right for each other. Cathy and Jamie are both shown as being sympathetic — but a lot of the fandom finds it hard to feel too bad for Jamie. While his and Cathy's marriage clearly had problems from the start, some of which were her fault, and some of which were nobody's fault, a lot of the fandom lays the blame mostly on Jamie, since the final straw is him cheating (and he had a wandering eye for years before that). The fact that he informs Cathy he's divorcing her via a letter does not help his case, nor does the song "See I'm Smiling," which shows that Cathy is trying to make it work, whereas he's given up by that point. The film adaptation made it even worse, showing Jamie cheating on Cathy with several women (as opposed to just one, like in the stage show), which makes it difficult to argue he genuinely loves his mistress — and they also added a bit of dialogue where he responds to Cathy's (correct) suspicions that he's cheating by telling her she's crazy.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Ace Attorney series, with its Loads and Loads of Characters, has a number of folks who fall into this.
    • Dee Vasquez in "Turnabout Samurai." We're supposed to feel sorry for her because it was only a Crime of Self-Defense and she'd lost her heavily implied Love Interest to the victim. However, Jack Hammer only tried to kill her because she'd been ruining his life via Blackmail for years, said Interest's death was heavily-implicitly only an accident, and she's still a ruthless Mafia Princess known to "silence" innocent people note . By contrast, the intended Asshole Victim even comes across as Unintentionally Sympathetic note  to quite a few players, as a result.
    • The That One Level case of "Turnabout Big Top" has the murderer, Acro. It's true the murder was accidental, but he was intending to kill someone else. Namely, a 16 year old girl who, due to her sheltered upbringing, didn't understand the seriousness of a prank she played that put Acro's brother into a vegetative state. He would have killed his benefactor's only child, and that made some fans think the Sympathetic Murderer angle trying to be played was forced.
    • Desirée Delite. She's helpful to Phoenix and is definitely a nice person. But she does, by the end of the game, advocate her husband's life of crime in order to satisfy her shopping habit, a habit she has no intention of stopping.
    • Ace Attorney Investigations has Justine Courtney in the second installment. She's supposed to come off as a merciless to lawbreakers and a servant to the law, and most of her actions are because she is trying to bring the corrupt leader of the legal council to justice. But she is almost needlessly cruel to Edgeworth in the second and third cases with her actions making the reveal she is working against Blaise Debeste and not with him hard to believe. In the 4th case, she introduces fabricated evidence to convict Kay of a murder, and later, is discovered to have the opportunity to commit the crime, but she dismisses this out of hand, and no one else brings this up. To make things worse, she is a Karma Houdini note .
    • Nahyuta from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice became this for two key reasons after the reveal that he was forced to align with the Ga'ran regime because if he hadn't, Ga'ran would have revealed that Rayfa is Dhurke's daughter, causing Rayfa to be stripped of her royal title and become an outcast as the child of a criminal.
      • While the above meant to justify his abrasive behavior and betrayal of his father's ideals before this reveal, it also implies that Nahyuta chose to be complicit in the murder-by-court of dozens if not hundreds of innocent people he knew to be innocent, both at home and abroad, for no other reason than to protect his sister from a fate that both he and his father showed themselves to be perfectly capable of surviving in the name of doing what's right.
      • As far as we can see, he makes no attempt whatsoever to escape his predicament, despite having a father who would have be both willing and capable of helping him if he knew what was going on, and supposedly being raised as a Determinator by said father. As a result, he comes across more as an idiot/Extreme Doormat rather than a blackmail victim, something that comes off as an even worse betrayal of his father and his ideals.
  • Long Live the Queen has Julianna, the Duchess of Ursul. As the only openly-acknowledged Lumen, she's subject to a degree of Fantastic Racism and, depending on whether Elodie bolsters the public acceptance of Lumens, may remain utterly hated by the masses; she even has a special segment in most of the epilogues and a number of special conversations suggesting that she's socially isolated because of her powers and feels guilty for not protecting Fidelia. To the player, her condescending, snobby attitude combined with her utter unwillingness to actually do anything unless she can't avoid it makes it hard to feel bad for her.
  • Danganronpa
    • The Super High School Level Idol/Ultimate Pop Sensation, Sayaka Maizono, can be this for some players, especially during the first trial. She reveals that she became an idol because they fascinated her as a child and were loved by everyone, which she desperately wanted to have, having been left alone a lot as a child by her workaholic father and is terrified of losing her status as an idol and the friends she has made with it. Then it turns out that she began to form a plan to commit a murder and having Naegi set up to take the fall, so Sayaka can leave the school. This included manipulating him and his obvious crush on her, getting the two to swap rooms for the night and her plan to backfire horribly and resulting in her death, rather than Leon's (and Leon gets a horrific Cruel and Unusual Death when he's outed as the culprit). After those revelations, however, Kirigiri tries to calm Naegi (and the player) down by saying that Sayaka wasn't as bad as this may have made her look, as she may have left the Dying Clue to clean Naegi's name in a last attempt at redemption. Kirigiri even goes to theorize that her plan failed because she was acting so much out of character thanks to the pressure of the killing game.
    • Mahiru Koizumi of the second game has the unfortunate honor of being Hiyoko Saionji's Only Friend. Hiyoko is a bully who constantly and repeatedly torments other students (Mikan being her favorite punching bag), has a severe Lack of Empathy for anyone who isn't herself, and uses Crocodile Tears to avoid being punished. What makes Mahiru unsympathetic is that she makes no attempt to correct any of these behaviors, and will snap at anyone who dares bite back. In other words, Hiyoko is free to dish out abuse at anyone she feels like abusing, and Mahiru will turn a blind eye to it until Hiyoko's target decides they've had enough, at which point they will have to deal with Mahiru lecturing them about how they shouldn't hurt Hiyoko's feelings. It's pretty telling how Mahiru is infinitely more tolerable when Hiyoko is nowhere to be found, and how much fans enjoy watching Hiyoko struggle when Mahiru isn't around to defend her.
    • Kaito Momota during the aftermath of Gonta's trial in New Danganronpa V3. Throughout Chapter 5, he becomes upset at Shuichi, refuses to look him in the eye, and he refuses to hang out with him during the Ultimate Detective's FTEs all because he revealed the truth of Gonta committing murder. While anybody can understand him being upset over the results of the trial, his treatment towards Shuichi made it seem like he is throwing a petty hissy fit over things not going his way.
    • Also, in the third game, Maki Harukawa can come across as this in the fifth trial. While Maki believes that Kokichi is the mastermind due to how he confessed to being it, and he is far from a saint, a lot of fans felt that wanting to have everybody get executed while she was thought she was the blackened for that trial all for the sake to have Kokichi be killed is going a bit too far. Especially jarring because, as he lampshades himself numerous times, Kokichi is a liar. Maki made a pretty big leap to assume he was telling the truth, which, of course, he wasn't.

    Web Animation 
  • GoAnimate "Grounded" videos: The parent characters who are punishing the trouble-making kids, particularly those of "baby show" characters such as Caillou and Dora the Explorer. The makers of these videos intend for the viewers to side against Caillou and Dora (who, truth to tell, aren't the wholesome lovable heroes that they are canonically, themselves) and with their parents. But in all honesty, the measures the parents take to teach Caillou and Dora their lessons often come off as overly cruel. Even so much as hitting a sibling can lead to getting grounded for an incredibly long time or even murdered (directly or indirectly) by their parents. Additionally, sometimes the parents even do stuff without Caillou and Dora just to be mean (sometimes even before the kid has even caused any trouble) and, in extreme cases, even tell them to their faces how much they and the world hates them. In the end, the parents frequently come off as incredibly abusive Jerkasses not worth rooting for over the Jerkass Woobies Caillou and Dora.
  • Turnabout Storm: Some felt this way about Trixie. She acts incredibly smug, arrogant, and condescending throughout the entire series, has no qualms about trying to get Rainbow Dash wrongly prosecuted simply for revenge on Twilight, and repeatedly prioritizes revenge over the truth. She's meant to get a Cry for the Devil in the form of black Psyche-locks, but these are never significantly explained or elaborated on. Phoenix at times says she's doing certain things for noble purposes, but virtually every one of these instances is actually explainable by Trixie just serving her own selfish ends. She even savors Rainbow Dash's guilty verdict, rubbing it in Twilight's face and declaring that she felt on top of the world afterwards. She never even apologizes or shows remorse for what she did, not even when Phoenix generously helps her out and saves her career. The only really noble thing she ever does, write a secret, reluctant thank-you note to Phoenix, came at no cost to herself whatsoever, and as far as she knew, would not be discovered by anypony.

    Web Comics 
  • In Doki Doki Literature Girls, there is Sayori. In the Friendship arc, Sayori reveals that she had known that her new friend Ako was infatuated with her, but she opted to be oblivious to it. While she does this as a way of preventing having to break Ako's heart since she was dating Monika, it instead comes off as Sayori being deceitful and playing with Ako's emotions.
  • Hazel from Girls with Slingshots: The author, Danielle Corsetto, has said that she deliberately writes her as a flawed character to make her more believable and relatable. However, many times this crosses into Hazel being downright unlikable. It came to the point were many readers cheered when Zach broke up with her, even though it was portrayed as a very sad thing in the webcomic.
  • A large chunk of the cast of Dominic Deegan come off as this, which is one of the main reasons for the series' rather large hatedom. Luna, Melna and Dominic himself are probably the biggest offenders, though Melna at least has a Freudian Excuse to explain her behaviour even if it doesn't justify it for many fans.
  • The Order of the Stick
    • Therkla. She's only in the comic briefly, but she's more or less every negative stereotype of modern teenage girls in human form: she compromises her mission because she has a crush on a boy, she's overly dramatic about her home life (treating the fact that her parents are sickeningly in love on the same level of harsh and disgusting as being a Child by Rape, though at least this is completely Played for Laughs), her primary complaint about the lack of reconciliation between her crush and her mentor (who are on opposite sides of a good-vs-evil conflict) is that it means she never gets her way, and she ends up committing a variation on suicide because a boy wouldn't dump his girlfriend for her. It's sad that she died young, but she spent most of her time acting like a brat with levels in Ninja. The Giant says that Therkla represents the neutral in the good vs. evil conflict, but her idea of compromise is basically asking the good guys to let the evil guys (including herself, since she's complicit in the actions of her evil mentor) get away with the murder of dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent people.
    • Celia. She was supposed to come off as the slightly naive "civilian" of the group, as well as a pacifist. However, she applies this pacifism in situations where it is very dangerous, such as against an opposing army that has no qualms about killing her and the remaining good guys hidden in the caves. The fact that she couldn't even figure this out made her go past naive and into straight up stupid.
  • Miyabi Otsuki from The Way To Your Heart. He's clearly supposed to be sympathetic due to how the death of his mother and the way his father withdrew from the family as a result deeply affected him. However, he frequently comes off as a massive Jerk Ass who overindulges in the wangst. He has friends with whom he's playing in a band that he's the lead singer of and a loving sister whose Number One concern has always been his well being. Plus, said band is very popular and is heading for mainstream stardom. However, he treats his friends like dirt, treats his fans with contempt, and is a total bully towards the school faculty and other students. He bullies the main character Yumi just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time and accuses her of trying to replace his late mother because Yumi coincidentally bears a slight resemblance to her, and then ends up falling for her, which he tries to deal with by leading another girl Yayoi (the daughter of Miyabi's manager and mentor) on and toying with her feelings (Yayoi may be nuts, but no girl deserves that), nearly getting Yumi killed by Yayoi when she gets jealous well as resulting in Yayoi's own death by childbirth, leaving her father utterly devastated. And aside from not only never receiving any real punishment for his actions, he's constantly Easily Forgiven by everyone because of his musical talent and Freudian Excuse. While the author Emi did take steps to mitigate this by giving Miyabi some Character Development, for some readers, it's way too little, way too late.

    Web Original 
  • A number of characters in Dino Attack RPG:
    • Rotor was introduced by Atton Rand in an attempt to undo his earlier Demonization of realists with a sympathetic realist character. At first, Rotor wasn't so bad. Even when he made it clear that he was willing to exploit Kate Bishop as a means to getting to Wallace Bishop, who seemed to be the most dangerous enemy on the island at the time, it was an understandably realist outlook on being willing to do what must be done. And then, he's scolding his T-1 Typhoon crew for not being willing to do what must be done; okay, fair enough, Greybeard's done it before... wait a second, is he ordering his own men to be executed by firing squad by means of Kangaroo Court? And now he's torturing prisoners, with a heavy dose of subtext that he doesn't even believe that they have the info he seeks; he might just be doing it For the Evulz? We're supposed to like this guy? He's no better than any of the previous realists Atton Rand introduced!
      • Fortunately, Rotor finally regained some sympathy when he started to clean up his act. That, and the fact that the two following Unintentionally Unsympathetic characters were introduced and made him look sympathetic in comparison...
    • Atton Rand had, to a certain extent, intended Trigger to be a sort of Spiritual Successor to Dust, inspired by his popularity to attempt to write an anti-hero of his own. Unfortunately he had the opposite reception which Atton had intended. He did attempt to salvage some dignity by at least giving Trigger a memorable death scene, but whether that succeeded is debatable.
    • Snake is a similar deal, as like his namesake he was intended to be likeable despite being an uncaring anti-hero. This backfired horrendously, especially when he was meant to look honorable in comparison to Plastic Serpent, who, to add insult to injury, became Unintentionally Sympathetic instead.
  • SuperMarioLogan:
    • Rosalina falls into this territory whenever she values the needs of Jeffy, a highly unintelligent kid, over Mario's. Sure, she is more caring towards Jeffy than Mario is and is quick to call Mario out if he abuses Jeffy in any way, but because a lot of fans find Jeffy's behavior more annoying than funny, they would rather side with Mario. She also tends to take the side of other people besides Mario despite seeing what Mario was really doing. Such examples include "Jeffy's Cellphone!", wherein she believes that Mario called a prostitute and beat him up for allegedly cheating on her, despite the fact that he was watching Star Wars with her the entire time and Jeffy got a iPhone around that time, and "Jeffy's Bad Word!", wherein she witnesses Mario spank Jeffy for repeatedly saying the F-word (The other F-word) and tells Brooklyn T. Guy that Mario likes to hit Jeffy on the butt, very hard, multiple times. Also, in "Happy Merry Christmas!", when Mario shows her a montage of some of the bad things Jeffy did to him to prove he is a bad kid who deserves coalnote , she instead blames Mario for making bad video ideas.
      • Taken Up to Eleven in "Shrek's Coma", wherein the audience is supposed to feel bad for Rosalina when Mario kicks her out of the house for finding Shrek's new body attractive and think that Mario is overreacting. While something similar did happen in "Jeffy's Parents", that was more justified as Mario and Rosalina both knew what kind of monster Nancy was, so it made sense why she'd be pissed at him in that video. However, considering Rosalina has ALWAYS put both herself and Jeffy before Mario's needs, has gotten him into trouble many times, and in general been a gigantic Jerkass, this makes Mario's break up with her more satisfying than heartbreaking, and it also makes her look like a hypocrite (So Mario looking at porn in "Jeffy's New Toy" is cheating according to Rosalina, but admiring other guys right next to the guy your dating isn't?) But no, in the end, Mario has to apologize to a woman who has almost never done anything nice for him in return.
    • Mr. Goodman in the episode, "The Bet!". The audience is expected to feel sorry for Goodman since he lost to Chef Pee Pee in the Golden Spoon competition, and Bowser puts him through what he puts Chef Pee Pee through on a regular basis. However, the episode begins with him swearing like a sailor while demanding house payments from Mario and boasting about how rich he is, and he loses his entire fortune by betting on himself.note  Even when Mario gives him a job after Chef Pee Pee goes on vacation, Goodman blames Mario for not making his house payments and complains about how he should be making more money than what Chef Pee Pee is paying him. When Bowser sends him to Wal-Mart to get him Cheetos, Goodman takes advantage of a puddle with no Wet Floor sign near it and deliberately slips on it to obfuscate an injury and sue Wal-Mart to get his fortune back.
  • Every now and then, Not Always Right gets an entry where the submitter clearly thinks the incident was funny, awesome, or worthy of sympathy and where they consider themselves to be right... only for the readers to disagree completely and make their opinions clear in the comments section. This entry is a good example; apparently most other people don't think it's funny or cute when you deliberately snub and humiliate a schoolgirl on her actual birthday, while also putting the shyest girl in class in an awkward situation by singing 'happy birthday' for her instead. General consensus? "Wow, all of you are complete assholes."
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Dr. Gero's obsession with killing Goku becomes somewhat more understandable when Bulma finds out that his son (whom he built Android 16 to resemble) was among the many Red Ribbon Army soldiers who died when Goku destroyed the organization's HQ during his youth. There is just one problem with that. The Red Ribbon Army was a tyrannical organization responsible for the injuries and deaths of many innocent people, including several of Goku's friends, and had several dangerous fighters in the ranks before King Piccolo came about. And Gero and his son willing worked for these people despite most likely knowing that. Goku's rampage that took Gero's son was most likely triggered when they screwed with him and his friends for the umpteenth time, so you can't say that Goku didn't go after them unprovoked.

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