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Unpopular Popular Character

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A character who is liked in the fandom that, within the work, is the exact opposite: being treated badly, overlooked, or just plain hated by all other characters. In some comedic works, this can be a Running Gag on the part of the creators, in which the character in question isn't actually annoying or doesn't actually display the traits they're ridiculed or hated for. It's just funny to have everyone constantly mock and belittle them. Of course, not every character in this category will necessarily be a lovable loser. Sometimes it's a case of the audience latching on to the work's resident Jerkass, villain or Anti-Hero: dangerous characters whom the cast have a legitimate reason to hate and fear but are sufficiently powerful enough or have enough Plot Armor that everybody else has little choice but to put up with them.

Part of it may be reflexive sympathy from the audience, but sometimes it's born out of the character being able to genuinely incite sympathy. On the other hand, some shows have such a large fandom that it's difficult to find common ground about who likes/dislikes any one character. Often it comes from the very large difference between what makes a character likable to impartial observers of a situation, and what makes him likable to the people he's interacting with. To be blunt, being a jerk is a horrible way to make friends, but seems to do wonders for fans.

Compare Ensemble Dark Horse, Cool Loser, Tough Room, Creator's Pest, and Designated Monkey. Contrast Ascended Extra, Creator's Pet, and The Scrappy.

Note: Although this is subjective, only blatantly obvious or creator-acknowledged examples should be listed in the pages below.

Examples Subpages:

Other Examples:

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  • The Trix Rabbit. Who doesn't want him to get that cereal, kids watching the commercials included?
    • The company has, at least five times (1968, 1976, 1980, 1984, and 1991), run polls to see if he should get the cereal. When they do, the answer is inevitably "yes" in a landslide. (Indeed, if the message the commercials is trying to get across is the benefits of being selfish and mean to someone, as they suggest, it hasn't rubbed off well.) And at least once, the rabbit has gotten his wish with no strings. (Oddly enough, that one time, where he won it in a bicycle race, the kids in-story had no say in the matter; the contest judges who gave it to him were adults.)
    • One interesting example had him disguised as a human and hurriedly buying Trix (along with other cereals as decoys) before hurrying back to the house and pouring a bowl... before discovering he was out of milk (the entire thing being an admittedly clever Got Milk? ad).
    • One time, the Trix rabbit was moping in front of a little girl's house, when she said she would be willing to give the rabbit Trix. The rabbit actually was able to eat a spoonful before the girl's big brother woke up and took it away. Oddly, this had two versions. Originally, the girl is whispering the whole time, and the brother discovered them. For whatever reason, it was re-shot with the girl yelling "Be very quiet! We don't want to wake my big brother!" as if she's warning her brother to get in there before the rabbit eats too much.
    • The Trix Rabbit often loses things he gains legitimately when the kids take away his Trix as well, such as one where he entered an ice-skating competition and wowed the judges—when the kids took away his Trix, they took away his trophy too. (There was no indication he was not qualified to enter.)

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, Wolffy is rightfully recognized as a threat by the goats he wants to eat, but his Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain personality has endeared him to fans as much as the goats have. It helps that he's also the target of a lot of abuse by his wife Wolnie whenever he fails to catch the goats, painting him in a more sympathetic light; he just wants to get some food for him and her, and while he loves his wife, he obviously can't stand the slapstick she puts him through. His popularity is to the point that he later got not one, but two films called I Love Wolffy and I Love Wolffy 2 specifically centered around him.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spidey himself, and arguably the Trope Codifier: one of the most beloved and popular of all superheroes in real life, in addition to being one of Marvel's flagship characters; but widely feared and distrusted by the Marvel U. public with frustrating consistency. One of the key factors that made him such an effective Deconstruction of the Super Hero at the time of his creation, it's become an integral part of his character to the point that he has it worse than pretty much anyone else in the Marvel U. (where practically everyone who isn't Captain America or Tony Stark has to deal with this, and even they have had their moments).
    • Linked to Spider-Man is his recurring enemy Shocker. He's widely regarded as a loser and a coward by the rest of the supervillain community and isn't taken very seriously by any of the superheroes he's battled (Ultimate Spider-Man went as far as to depict him as a pathetic Butt-Monkey). And yet he's one of the most beloved villains in the Marvel Universe due to being a professional, Badass Normal Jerk with a Heart of Gold who relies on his wits and skill to get him through the day. Even in-universe he points out that all the things he gets mocked for are the traits that keep him a.) out of jail, b.) alive, and c.) not bogged down in a pointless feud with Spider-Man.
  • X-Men:
    • The X-Men as a team are much the same, they are hated by most of citizenry of the Marvel Universe because they're mutants, in fact the comic largely revolves around this, but they are among Marvel's most popular superheroes. This made for an ironic situation: In-Universe, the X-Men are feared and hated by those they protect while The Avengers are "Earth's Mightiest Heroes". In Real Life, X-Men was Marvel's most popular team book and a flagship series, while Avengers was considered a second-tier title filled with B and C-list characters until Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe all boosted its popularity a great deal.
    • Cyclops was never the most popular X-Man in or out of universe, often seen as the least interesting member of the X-Men, and actively disliked by some for his straight-laced, sometimes brusque and cold personality. However, Marvel's treatment of him post-Avengers vs. X-Men has turned him into this. He's reviled as a monster on the level of Hitler by the general public, his former lifelong friends, and his own time-displaced teenage self, however many fans agree with him. It doesn't help that his Face–Heel Turn occurred when the X-Men were at the bottom of Marvel's priority list, and suffering from serious mishandling as a result. Fans started to develop sympathy for him, mostly out of frustration at how unfairly he was treated, or as part of the wider backlash to unpopular creative decisions at the time, such as the unwanted pushing of The Inhumans as a replacement for the X-Men, established characterisation being completely disregarded in service of plot lines and regular contrived conflicts between good guys. This peaked with Death of X, which Marvel spent a full year building up as his Moral Event Horizon and then completely fumbled, showing him dying a horrible death while trying to save the entire mutant race. Eventually, they had no choice but to bring him back as a hero.
  • Scott Pilgrim, on his own comic book, is depicted as being the butt monkey of almost, if not all, of his friends, and his own girlfriend, Ramona, to the point that (being played for laughs), Stephen Stills told Knives Chau (Scott's previous short-term girlfriend, and stalker) that EVERYBODY hates Scott. To the reader, Scott is just a shy, cute, awkward, video gamer guy, who's trying to come out into the world. Becomes Played With as the story goes on and Scott is deconstructed due to making the same mistakes and revealing to be not as good as initially thought. This created a backlash against the character. However, thanks to his Character Development, he won back the audience.
  • Deadpool might be one of Marvel's most popular characters right now, but he's disliked by heroes and villains alike. He's one of the most talented mercenaries in the Marvel Universe (he beat Taskmaster with his hands cuffed behind his back) but he can barely get a job because of his bad reputation. That and his Chronic Hero Syndrome normally kicking in only when he's employed by the bad guy, and vice versa for when he's working with the heroes. And he's annoying.
  • The Sandman's Death of the Endless is the Perky Goth beloved of the fanbase, but in-universe is very much subject to Everybody Hates Hades.
  • Watchmen: Rorschach. This is an unintentional example, as Alan Moore didn't intend for Rorschach to be as popular as he was. Moore intended Rorschach to be somewhat sympathetic and intriguing and even claimed he was his second favorite character at the time of writing (the Comedian being the first). It's more that he was taken by surprise by the large number of fans who think Rorschach is absolutely right about absolutely everything.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Whirl, twice voted the most likely Autobot to defect, and when a party is held to dress up as one's most hated person, most of the crew dresses as Whirl. Out of universe, this is his first grand role in fiction and is liked for being a hilariously crazy badass.
  • In Original Sin, it seems that Bucky Barnes wasn't very well-liked by anybody other than Steve and Natasha while he was a superhero. Even Nick Fury, who mentored Bucky after he came Back from the Dead, said he never liked Bucky (though it was an LMD, they generally act how Nick acts). Bucky himself is a very big Breakout Character, who averted being a Replacement Scrappy for Captain America, to the point that readers actually didn't want Steve Rogers returning to the role, and even got second billing in a critically acclaimed movie. May be a case of Depending on the Writer for Jason Aaron, since this isn't shown anywhere else.
  • The Punisher doesn't exactly win popularity contests in the Marvel Universe. Villains hate him since he spends all his time slaughtering them, while other heroes hate him for how much of a ruthless, violent psycho he is, and Frank (Depending on the Writer) holds most heroes in contempt for being soft on crime. But for readers he's a fan favorite, due to him slaughtering creeps who have it coming, his status as one of the most Badass Normal characters in Marvel history, and how even when he's written at his most sociopathic he isn't above some acts of compassion.
  • Marvel Universe villain Ultron is feared and hated by both hero and villain alike for his ruthlessness, sociopathy, and genocidal ambitions. In the real world, those traits are what's led to him being considered one of the best Marvel villains.
  • You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in the DC Universe that actually likes The Joker. Well, there's Harley Quinn, but even she's had her days. Anyone that knows him hates him with a passion and simply can't tolerate him (including other villains), because he's such an unpredictable, maniacal sociopath. This hatred also spans other universes, because as seen in Mortal Kombat 11, the entire MK cast makes it clear how much they despise him, with several of them having no issue with killing him. And yet, he's hailed as not only one of the most popular villains of comic book history, but also pop culture.

    Comic Strips 
  • Charlie Brown from Peanuts. He's a lonely kid who always fails, the other characters rarely respect him, he has very few friends who treat him well, and even they have their moments of treating him like trash - fans love him. When he gets only rocks at Halloween, bags of candy flood in from fans as gifts for him, and when he gets no Valentines from his class, fans send him them by the hundreds. Why, you might ask? Mainly, it's because a lot of people know exactly how he feels because they've been there throughout their own lives.
  • In Pearls Before Swine, we have Rat, an ego-driven Jerkass and Pig, The Ditz, as the main characters, along with the even stupider Crocs as Ensemble Darkhorses.
  • Garfield: Jon Arbuckle. Up until he got into a relationship with Liz, his dog and his parents were the only ones who ever really liked him. He's constantly belittled by his cat, people tend to hate him within a few seconds of meeting him, and he drives women away in droves, and that's when he's just trying to get a date, not to mention ones he's actually dated, who frequently go to ridiculous extremes to avoid him, but he's pretty popular with fans. Both sides probably have to do with him alternating between incredibly boring and utterly (if harmlessly) insane.
  • Luann has Tiffany as an antagonist to the star lead, but a lot of readers wonder why her trying to advance a career as an actress is constantly treated with derision by the aimless Luann, and why this is supposed to be a good thing.

    Fan Works 
  • Paradoxus (Winx Club, World of Warcraft): Trisha has a rather delicate situation as Domino's crown princess. Due to being the daughter who resembles Bloom the most, Domino's denizens regard her as a Replacement Goldfish, however, Trisha has failed to live up to their unfair expectations and, as a consequence, they don't deem her worthy as Bloom's successor. For starters, Trisha certainly lacks her sister's charisma and doesn't own victories as impressive as her mother's. Also add to that she is a brooding, stoic Shrinking Violet who hates being put in the limelight. Later in the story, her Roaring Rampage of Revenge does little to help her gain points from both the corrupt Rocalucce Council she's hunting and the general public. Despite all of that and, in some cases, because all of that, plus her status as the resident Woobie, Trisha is quite popular among Paradoxus readers. It goes to the point most of them want to hug the poor girl and some even go as far as to justify her morally black deeds. Proof of this is that she's got some of the better fan arts such as this one.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Misty's Psyduck is a great source of annoyance for his trainer, but also a great source of amusement for the readers. Also the Pokédexes with their quirky personalities; Ash's annoys him and his friends to no end, and Paul can't stand his, but the fans can't get enough of them.
  • Yasuhiro Hagakure from Never Say Never is hated by almost every member of the cast for his stupidity, while the readers love him for the same reasons.
  • Much like Bruno in canon (see the Films — Animation section), Isabela from How Far Do These Roots Go Down? is hated and feared by the townsfolk for her powers as well as her troublemaking ways. Meanwhile, the readers unanimously love her due to the fact she was basically forced to take on the image of a troublemaker and being the only one to realize that trying to strive for perfection constantly is unhealthy and wrong.

    Films — Animation 
  • Wreck-It Ralph gives us the title character Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz, victims of severe Fantastic Racism in the world of video games they live in. They were both shunned by their fellow inhabitants for being a Punch-Clock Villain and a glitch. Now...go ask the fans what they think of Ralph and Vanellope and prepare yourself for a very long session of squealing and gushing. This is brought up in-universe when King Candy argues that the players will dislike a glitchy character like Vanellope being made playable and will report the game as broken because of her. Ralph counters with the possibility that the players will love her. In the end, Ralph's right.
  • After Elsa's ice powers are revealed in Frozen, the citizens of Arendelle and the dignitaries become wary of her, several characters even attempting to kill her throughout the movie until she becomes loved and accepted at the end. Outside of the movie? She's one of the most popular Disney characters in general, her Signature Song "Let It Go" broke out in a huge way, and she topped the 2014 list of TIME Magazine's most influential fictional characters.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: Nuka, The Un-Favourite among Zira's sons, is constantly mistreated by his own mother, neglected by the rest of the pride, and hardly considered as a threat by his foes. The only characters who are somewhat sympathetic to him are his siblings, and even they don't show him much sympathy until he dies. However, he has gained a substantial amount of fans thanks to his Tragic Villain status (he's not evil per se, he just wants to gain his mother's love) and his unstable, yet funny, personality. His tragic last moments surely helped too.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989): Ursula is shown to be extremely unpopular In-Universe, between Triton banishing her from his kingdom, her reputation as someone to be avoided reaching the likes of Flounder and Sebastian, and even a deleted opening scene showing that people on land dislike her too, with sea tales that depict her negatively. It even goes to a supernatural extent, where the Animals Hate Her trope is what ruins her wedding with Eric, the resident Evil-Detecting Dog growls at her and later bites her butt, and while the wedding guests initially accept her in her “Vanessa” disguise, that all goes out the window immediately after she returns to her true appearance and they react with horror. It really seems as if Flotsam and Jetsam are the only people who actually like her. That hasn’t stopped fans in Real Life from absolutely loving her though for her personality, having fun Large Ham tendencies, and even being seen as a role model for her positive traits. Notably, she is seen as a body-positive icon for loving herself and her body as a bigger woman, and as an icon of female empowerment for being a single, confident, and very powerful woman. It has even reached a point that, during an era of Disney villains getting their own movies to show them from a sympathetic point of view, Ursula is far and away one of the most requested to get one of these movies herself.
  • Hades from Hercules. He's hated by every other god and it's implied he has his job in the Underworld because of it, due to the way he treats mortals as pawns for his sick amusement. The fans, on the other hand, consider him one of the best Disney villains due to his hammy personality and James Woods's stellar performance.
  • Encanto has Bruno, who is a social outcast both within the village and with his own family (at least until the end of the movie) who do not even allow the mention of his name, but extremely popular within the fandom, with millions of people who adore him and even some fans stating that they would like to have him as a husband.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Big Lebowski: Really, all three of the bowling team members, including The Dude, who is shown to be a hopeless loser in-universe ("You don't draw shit in this town, Lebowski."), Walter, whose wife left him and whose bellicose nature seems to mean that most people in-universe barely tolerate him (or don't), and especially Donnie, who's always put down by the other two ("Shut the fuck up, Donnie!") and isn't shown much appreciation until he dies from a sudden heart attack.
  • Possibly Riley Poole of the National Treasure films, whom the filmmakers seem content to treat as a standard Sidekick.
  • James Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean is the epitome of this. He didn't get his girl, his entire ship and crew were destroyed, he was killed in At World's End saving the hides of Elizabeth and her Chinese crew, and he apparently didn't deserve a first name until the second movie (except for in the deleted scenes). But ask your average (female) Pirates of the Caribbean fan; he is very popular. He's a decent role model, too. A man principled enough to stand against both piracy and the nefarious deeds of the East India Trading company, their mortal enemy. Even in the face of death, humiliation, and non-girl-getting. He's almost The Woobie because he didn't get the girl; while he said that he was fine with her marrying Will, every time he looks at her it's clear how agonized he is that he didn't get her, and it's acted so well it tugs the heartstrings.
  • Both Bruce Wayne and Batman are often not well perceived by the people of Gotham in The Dark Knight Trilogy. The viewers see him in a much more positive light.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Stifler from American Pie is a loudmouth Jerkass barely tolerated by the core characters, and stated to be outright loathed by everyone else in the Direct to Video sequels. However, his popularity among the franchise's fans is one of the big reasons the movies were successful.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader is not a very popular person in the galaxy. Citizens hate and fear him for terrorizing the galaxy, Imperials hate and fear him for his Bad Boss tendencies, his Sith master Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious views him as a disposable pawn, his former Jedi masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda believe him to be beyond redemption and are training his son to kill him. Only his son Luke has any affection for him. Needless to say, Vader is easily the most popular character in the entire Star Wars franchise.
  • The Last Duel: Pierre is an immature hedonist and a complete dick who is barely tolerated by even his own wife, but reviews consistently noted him as a highlight due to Ben Affleck's performance and for being a welcome source of comic relief in such a grim film.

  • In A Brother's Price Princess Trini gets hate from all her sisters for not wanting to marry again...after her late husband tortured and raped her. As all sisters in a family marry the same husband, she gets in her sisters' way, but the reader, who likely has a different view on male-on-female rape, will likely sympathize with her. She is also implied to be the most kind-hearted of the princesses, as she immediately changes her opinion on marrying Jerin when she is told that a family she thinks will mistreat him has also offered for him.
  • Fitz Kreiner of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe Eighth Doctor Adventures basically constitutes a subversion. All but one of the recurring protagonists are genuinely fond of him, and the only one who isn't doesn't like anyone but tolerates him more willingly than she does most people. It's just that they also see him as The Ditz and a Kavorka Man. Even the Doctor, who really does like him quite a bit, has been known to insult his intelligence to his face repeatedly over the course of a single conversation.note  And it's not so much that he's an Ensemble Dark Horse; he gets good plotlines and is second in "screen" time only to the Doctor. He just is also accused of never taking an interest in anything he can't "drink, inhale, play, dance to or --" even though he totally does. He reads Sartre, for goodness's sake. And it's often said that he competes with the Doctor for popularity among the readers, who generally see him as The Woobie. So, basically, he's well-liked by the audience and the other characters, but the other characters all treat him like the Butt-Monkey.
  • Mat Cauthon of The Wheel of Time is one of the most badass and popular characters in the series, but he tends to be treated like dirt by many of the other characters, who still think of him as a lazy, Handsome Lech farmboy despite the fact that a few books in, he's a brilliant general, a supernaturally lucky low-level Reality Warper, is fated to marry the most powerful woman in the world, defeated two trained swordsmen with a staff, has an artifact that makes him immune to magic, invented cannons, and has a nice hat. This has a lot to do with the fact that most of his Character Development took place while everyone else was out doing their own thing, but he still doesn't get the respect he deserves until people see his awesomeness with their own eyes.
    • Pushed up to eleven by Mat's background and personality making him actually insecure— he frequently thinks of himself as a lazy lech of barely-non-criminal origins always overshadowed by friends with greater abilities. He has several moments where he basically monologues to himself about how either of his friends would bring more to the table while simultaneously ruthlessly exploiting a fairly minor luck-power into a string of military victories that permanently reshape the continent's politics in ways Rand could only dream of.
  • Edmund Pevensie gets this treatment in the first book of The Chronicles of Narnia, in his family, but this is probably due to his... not-so-positive attitude. Still, this created his Anti-Hero status, which made him the most popular character in the series.
  • The Heroes of Olympus:
    • For much of the series Leo is the only lead without a love interest and is treated as an annoyance by all his friends. Listen to the fans and he's the best thing about the new series. He's also got a line of fangirls a mile long. Team Leo!
    • Quick, find a page where Nico di Angelo is a) in the vicinity and b) not described as "creepy." Unless his sister is the POV character, it's easier to find rooster teeth. Meanwhile, he's a fangirl darling. The reveal that he's gay and had a crush on Percy both boosted his popularity further among fans, and seemed to mark the point where people found him less creepy in-universe.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Name one character who likes the Hound. Only Sansa is even slightly fond of him; every single other character (and there are many) thinks he's frighteningly unpleasant at best. He doesn't get much luck from the author, either: a ridiculously awful childhood has led to a ridiculously brutal life and culminated in being left for dead after unsuccessfully begging for a clean death and crying over thoughts of Sansa. Now ask the fandom how they feel about Sandor.
    • Tyrion does have a few friends and allies, but ultimately even they are either killed or abandon him, and everyone else... His father and sister despise him, the court finds him repulsive, and the common people call him things like "twisted little monkey" and very unjustly blame him for all the problems of the realm. Absolutely nothing works out well for Tyrion in the long run, even though he's very clever and is one of the few characters attempting to be heroic. Perhaps due both to his misfortune and his considerable wit, however, he's among the most popular POV character among fans and even the author himself.
    • Brienne of Tarth, a lesser noblewoman unfortunately born with an unattractive, manly appearance, who as only heir to her father took it upon herself to become knight. In-universe she is constantly made fun of for her ugliness and not taken seriously as knight. Among the fans, she's popular for her prowess as well as taking her vows and oaths as knight seriously, one of the few to do so, but also for showing a gentler, more feminine side, and not being someone who just goes round killing people. Basically, the fandom has a soft spot for good characters who subvert the in-universe expectation that Beauty Equals Goodness.
    • Daenerys has elements of this as well. Even her own people don't really like her for much of her arc, she grew up with an abusive brother, something made only more pitiful by her moon-eyed narration. Later on, she had smothered her husband to death after someone she thought she could trust rendered him catatonic. Add in the fact that her current political activities have amounted to sinking three nations into murderous anarchy and at least one campaign of mass murder and the fact that she has pets she thinks of as her cute little children that eat people, and it's not hard to understand why the other characters find her less of the charming and strong young woman the audience usually sees and more of a crazy Bond villain who might strike unpredictably in any direction at any moment.
    • Jaime Lannister is reviled behind his back and known as the Kingslayer for his Bodyguard Betrayal of King Aerys II, among a few other horrible things he's done. For a while this was the attitude among fans until he became a POV character in A Storm of Swords, and we got the story behind his killing of Aerys. Afterwards, he became one of the most beloved and sympathetic characters among the fans because of his desire to redeem himself of other crimes he's committed.
    • There is a grand total of two people in-universe that like Stannis Baratheon, one of whom is his daughter; although almost everyone respects him as both a masterful commander and a truly just man who will see the guilty punished and the virtuous rewarded while his troops will follow him to the bitter end. Out of story, he's by far the most popular character who doesn't have a point of view, tends to rank in the top ten even with them, and his fanbase of self-proclaimed King's Men are fiercely loyal to him. In large part this is because of his very modern sensibilities; he promotes by virtue of merit rather than birth, favors a centralized society over decentralized feudalism, and is uncomfortable at best with religion if not a downright atheist-but it also helps that he came riding to the rescue of the Night's Watch while everyone else was busy slaughtering each other for the throne, is the only person in any position of power who takes the Others seriously as a threat, swore to avenge the Starks despite his dislike of them, and has a hilariously dry sense of humor. His brother Renly is quite the opposite, a charismatic charmer who easily rallied a massive army to his cause; but is universally despised by the fans due to his total lack of substance, his antiquated view on society, his mocking of both Brienne and Shireen's appearance, and his attempt to usurp his brother's rightful position. Even Stannis' detractors don't tend to hold killing Renly against him, especially as Renly was clearly intending to have Stannis killed and shows no remorse about it, and Stannis is clearly upset at having to resort to killing his brother, and there is a very good argument that he isn't aware of his role in his brother's death, yet still feels responsible.
    • Stannis' loyal Knight Ser Davos Seaworth also gets this. He is looked down upon by many of the lords and nobility for being new nobility, as Davos was a smuggler who grew up poor but was knighted for Stannis when he smuggled food to him during a siege. However, Davos throughout the books shows himself to be one of the most decent and kind characters, always trying to do the most moral thing while at the same time showing Undying Loyalty to Stannis despite Stannis' orders sometimes conflicting with Davos' morality. Also, Davos acts as a useful contrast to other social climbers like the arrogant and corrupt Janos Slynt and the manipulative and treacherous Petyr Baelish, always trying to be humble and feeling unworthy of the honors Stannis gives him, such as when he is made a Lord and Hand of the King by Stannis.
    • Edmure Tully is not treated well in-universe by his uncle Brynden Tully and nephew Robb Stark for messing up their military plan by holding back Tywin Lannister at the Fords. His sister Catelyn sees him as young and foolish and doesn't like the way he lets smallfolk into Riverrun for protection. However, he is very well-liked among the fandom, many people thinking it was unfair to blame him for the strategic failures as he hadn't been informed of the plan and understandably misunderstood the order hold Riverrun. He also seems to be one of the few Lords who actually takes his duty of protecting his people seriously and would make a great ruler in peacetime. And despite marrying Roslin Frey at the infamous Red Wedding, where his sister and nephew were murdered along with a large part of his army by his treacherous father-in-law Lord Walder Frey, and he was made a prisoner of the Lannisters, he doesn't hold it against his wife and genuinely loves her, saying she was forced into it by her family.
    • The crannogmen in general and the Reeds (Howland, Jojen, and Meera) particular are victim of Fantastic Racism in-universe due to being one of the poorest lands in Westeros and living in mysterious swamps away from civilization. They are actually Memetic Badass people who are not only very loyal to the Starks (Lord Howland is one of Ned Stark's closest friends, the Reed kids are Bran Stark constant companions), but also their swamps make a terribly strategic territory, where Everything Trying to Kill You and thus virtually impregnable and very good to use for sneaky guerrilla warfare. Not to mention that crannogmen are famous for being experts in poisoning and probably seer. Sounds cool enough now?
  • Harry Potter:
    • Luna Lovegood is a quiet, unpopular, bullied Cloud Cuckoolander, and even the few who like her seem to find her more than a bit strange. Among the fandom, she's probably the only character just about everyone likes. Of course, she becomes quite popular in-story during Book 7, where she ends up one of the Big Damn Heroes alongside the likes of Neville Longbottom and Ginny Weasley.
    • Severus Snape is really unpopular in the books among his peers and students, but he's easily one of the most popular characters in the fandom. So popular, in fact, that in a poll that ran after the seventh book came out he was voted the best character in the entire series.
  • The Twilight Saga: Leah, the only female werewolf. Everybody in-story seems to hate her, but some people especially will argue that she's the most badass and well-developed character in the series.
  • In The Mortal Instruments, Simon is constantly mocked and belittled by the Shadowhunters for being a "mundane", no matter what he does. Even Clary, his childhood friend and love interest, can hardly be bothered to remember him most of the time. A number of fans, especially those not overly fond of the Shadowhunters, love him for his snark, geeky personality, and willingness to do nice things for Clary. It helps that he's one of few not afraid to call out Jace on being a jerk.
  • Caine Soren from GONE had this in spades. Justified seeing as he's kinda the Big Bad of the entire series.
  • Kurda Smahlt from The Saga of Darren Shan. In-universe he's looked down on by his fellow vampires because they mistook his pacifism for weakness, and the only one that seems to like him is Darren. Among the series' fans, however, he's one of the most popular characters and were sad when he betrayed the clan in a Well-Intentioned Extremist moment and ultimately executed. The "unpopular" part is downplayed in the manga adaptation, as his two assistants and Glalda genuinely like him.
  • Animorphs: Tobias is a shy, poorly treated boy and a fan favorite.
  • In-universe in the Inheritance Cycle, Murtagh isn't really liked or trusted by anyone save for Eragon and Nasuada; after Eldest, he's pretty much universally despised after he's Forced into Evil. Amongst both fans and even anti-fans, he's one of - if not the - most popular characters in the series.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Magicians: Todd is resented by the main cast for his awkwardness, his attempts to ape their style, and (at one point) earns their ire by temporarily overtaking their status as the party-thrower du jour while they're away. However, he's well-loved by fans for his charmingly and hilariously un-self-conscious personality.
  • Ashes of Love: Run Yu. In the series, he's abused and mistreated by his father and stepmother, and overlooked or disliked by many of the other characters. Among the series' fans, however, he's one of the most popular characters. Some even like him better than Xu Feng and Jin Mi.
  • The Daleks from Doctor Who are an Always Chaotic Evil race that across a Universe full of Scary Dogmatic Aliens are regarded as The Dreaded. Despite this, they are very popular among the fandom.
  • Sherlock:
    • Mycroft Holmes is usually treated with cold civility at best by his brother (although this seems to be a bit of a Holmesian trait), John isn't terribly enamored of him after their first encounter in the warehouse in "A Study in Pink", and Lestrade seems to resent him a bit if his attitude in "The Hounds of Baskerville" is anything to go by. He's never shown in any sort of social circle either, and the probability that he has actual friends is quite low. But he's well-liked by fans, to the point where's he's become an Ensemble Dark Horse (the fact that he's played by Mark Gatiss helps out a lot).
    • Sherlock treats everyone around him shabbily; if at any point he takes your sensibilities into consideration, say by apologizing, consider yourself deep in his inner circle. But he's a jerk with such panache that audiences can't help but love it.
  • Although a fan favorite, Seamus Harper of Andromeda was treated increasingly worse in each subsequent season, becoming the butt of stupid jokes and the target of the other characters' unwarranted hostility, even raped by Magog.
  • All of the Bluths in Arrested Development count technically, but special mention has to go to Gob, as even his own family don't really care for him.
  • Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory is seen as the weirdest nerd out of the whole group by far, which is really saying something, but he is also very popular with the fans, much more so than the creators intended.
  • Xander Harris, Butt-Monkey (and trope namer at that!) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • Spike, who is largely detested by the rest of the characters (barring Dawn in seasons 5 and 6, and Buffy in season 7, and Fred in season 5 of "Angel") and an Iron Butt Monkey but was so popular with fans that he became a Breakout Character, despite the writers' best efforts to combat it. note 
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • Jerry Grgich, although mostly rule of funny. Also played with, since this status only seems to apply to him when he's at work; outside work or in his home life, he's apparently The Ace.
    • Jean-Ralphio Saperstein is very obviously an obnoxious ass, but Ben Schwartz plays him so marvelously that the fandom likes him anyway.
  • Almost identical to Jerry's case is Britta Perry from Community, a Phrase Catcher for "Ugh, you're the worst."
    • Britta's borderline Butt-Monkey status is actually lampshaded in "Critical Film Studies", where Annie even says "Everyone hates Britta".
    • Ben Chang. Although he came in for a fair amount of fandom backlash after the creators responded to his popularity by exaggerating his character to the point of Flanderization and building long, elaborate plot arcs around him.
    • Pierce Hawthorne is the only character hated more in-show (and in the case of his actor, in Real Life) than both Britta and Chang, and yet is loved by the fans for his Crosses the Line Twice humor.
    • Perhaps subverted with Abed, however, who is perhaps the most popular of the main characters in the show, while also apparently being much better liked among the Greendale student body than his other friends.
    • Actually, from what we can gather, the group as a whole (referred to as the Greendale Seven, rarely in a positive tone) seems to be a bit of an annoyance to the rest of the student body for the trouble they cause and the Dean's very obvious favoritism toward them.
  • Topher in Dollhouse. In-universe, he's a bit of an Insufferable Genius, but the fangirls don't mind.
  • Family Matters:
    • Steve has ended up being a zig-zagged case. He played it straight at first when the fans loved him and most of the other characters on the show (which included his own parents) did not like him. But as the years went by and Steve went through plenty of Flanderization, more and more viewers started to look at him in a less sympathetic light.
    • Waldo. Like Steve, although to a lesser extent, he's likely to annoy nearly everyone on the show, even Steve, but he still is loved by fans.
    • Myra. Lots of people like her more than Laura, despite the fact that the writers of the show did their best to portray her as the Abhorrent Admirer.
  • Carlton of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was often the Straw Loser to Will and often an embarrassing Butt-Monkey. Yet fans often find him much more hilarious than the protagonist. Jazz is constantly kicked out of the Banks' house but fans liked him not just because of the Running Gag but because of him being good pals with Will.
  • Lucy of I Love Lucy by way of Values Dissonance. The viewers at home know that Lucy is immensely talented, and certainly worthy of being in Ricky's show... but is usually humiliated at the end of every Zany Scheme and is told to Stay in the Kitchen.
  • The central family from Malcolm in the Middle. In one episode, they discover that their entire neighborhood has a block party whenever they go on vacation.
  • Sam from iCarly is disliked and feared by many in-universe, but is by far the most popular character in the fandom, or at least she was before her Flanderization in later series, which led her to become a Base-Breaking Character among some fans.
  • Dwight Schrute from the U.S. version of The Office is a fan favorite but in-universe is generally considered annoying by the other characters.
  • Red Dwarf has Arnold Judas Rimmer. The fact that the other characters regularly go out of their way to tell us how unlikable Rimmer is probably just makes the fans more defiant.
  • Radek Zelenka, from Stargate Atlantis, is a gifted scientist, but never got much respect from Rodney McKay, and by the fourth season, is not getting respect from anyone. Fans, however, like his capacity for comedy... and his ability to curse violently in Czech. It also helps that he showed a little wonder at getting to do what some of us would give our left arm to do, as evidenced by his poetic description of Atlantis' rising.
  • Karmic Thief Omar Little on The Wire is an interesting case. The drug dealers hate him because he robs them and makes them look foolish and the cops hate him because he kills people and gets away with it. But the random people on the street practically worship him because he's such a badass, and audiences love him and regularly name him as the best and most liked character.
  • The Nanny: C.C. Babcock is usually disliked by everyone in the main cast but Maxwell, however her verbal sparring against Niles is among the funniest aspects of the show.
  • Married... with Children: Al Bundy is despised by pretty much every person in his neighborhood, and barely tolerated by his greedy (Peggy), perverted (Bud), and brainless (Kelly) family. But ask any minimum wage worker in the real world what they think of him, and he's venerated as a man among men.
  • Tyrion from Game of Thrones is mentioned in the Literature section as well, but it's worth repeating him here, because the TV version is possibly even more popular with fans, being played masterfully by Peter Dinklage.
  • Barney of How I Met Your Mother. He's The Friend Nobody Likes to an extent, with the other characters disliking him for being a womanizer, but he is adored by the fans.
  • On Once Upon a Time, Rumplestiltskin is a very magically powerful Magnificent Bastard, Manipulative Bastard, and master of Xanatos Speed Chess. He's treated in-universe as The Dreaded. The fact that he has strong paternal instincts, can out-ham anyone and is sometimes incapable of more than monosyllabic greetings when the woman he loves enters a room has made him a fan favorite.
  • Alan Partridge is, in his universe, a dismal failure of a man who is incredibly narcissistic and unlikeable, has very few friends, a television show which hardly anyone watched and which bombed terribly, and an increasingly failed career in local radio. Outside of his universe, he's one of Britain's most-loved comedy characters.
  • The eponymous character from Adam Ruins Everything is disliked by practically everyone for debunking common misconceptions about everyday things, causes tons of property damage in the name of Edutainment, and is generally extremely socially awkward, but few viewers catch that.
  • The Umbrella Academy:
    • Klaus, who to his siblings is a nuisance who can’t take things seriously at worst and an Annoying Younger Sibling at best, is essentially worshiped by the fans, declaring he be deserving of all the hugs. God knows how many Klaus fanfics there are.
    • Vanya, who has earned the ire of her siblings with an autobiography spilling their most painful secrets, painting herself as the constant victim of their cruelty, and casting them as the villains of her story, has quite a sizable and vocal fanbase, some of whom go out of their way to absolve her of all responsibility for her more harmful and self-centered actions.
  • Derry Girls: Uncle Colin is an annoyance to the cast for his dull way of telling stories and long ramblings. He’s beloved by the fans for the exact same reason.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: Gary Green is incompetent, overly cheery, and often does more harm than good, but fans love him for his enthusiasm, his tendency to be the butt of jokes, and Adam Tsekhman's terrific performance. So much so that after being a bit part in Season 3, he was promoted to recurring cast for Seasons 405 and finally main cast in Season 6.
  • ER: Dr. Kerry Weaver was not at all liked among her co-workers at County thanks to her abrasive personality, insistence on following the rules, and unfortunate tendency to put advancing in her career ahead of her relationships with her colleagues. However, Kerry was also an incredibly talented, dedicated doctor with an excellent bedside manner who was shown from the outset to be a Friend to All Children with a Sugar-and-Ice Personality and a surprisingly vulnerable side. All this won her a lot of support among the fanbase; to this day, a number of fans cite her as their favorite character on the show, and many more cite her as among their favorites.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Princesses of Mirrors in Princess: The Hopeful are disliked in-universe for being insufferable immature brats who won't shut up about how they are better and prettier than everybody, coupled with a strong tendency for megalomania. For fans, however, this makes them all the more hilarious to roleplay as, and their powers are impressive enough that they can potentially back-up their ego, making them a surprisingly popular Court.

  • John Adams as portrayed in 1776. He's obnoxious and disliked, antagonizes practically everyone he speaks to (including, occasionally, his closest allies) and his own wife teasingly describes him as being pigheaded. At one point he even yells at God for cursing America with Congress. Audiences love him for his razor wit, unshakable principles, and because they see the vulnerable and self-doubting side that the other characters (barring Abigail) do not. His unpopularity drives both the funniest and most dramatic parts of the show. The musical's authors have noted that casting for Adams is one of the greatest challenges for a production because the actor has to be believably rude and overbearing, yet still sympathetic to the audience.

    Web Animation 
  • The Annoying Orange: Orange himself. Marshmallow seems to like him and Passion Fruit has a romantic subplot with him, but he's barely tolerated by the rest of the group. Even more so with Grapefruit.
  • Helluva Boss: Chaz was shown to be loathed by every major character he appeared with in his sole appearance on the show, with Moxxie and Millie naturally hating over him over how their relationships with him ended extremely poorly, Crimson finding him to be extremely annoying due to being an utter sleazeball and wastes no time in offing him the moment he realizes that Chaz played him and even Blitzo comes to hate him after his horrible experience sleeping with him as well as over what he did to Moxxie and Millie. The fans, however, loved him, both due to him being utterly hilarious as well as his implied Hidden Depths and many were saddened when he got Killed Off for Real.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Strong Sad gets dismissed by just about every other character as mopey and boring, but audiences get to see that he has a variety of interests.
    • The King of Town started out as The Scrappy when his personality was fixated only on food, but he became funnier when he started to focus on fixing his own unpopularity, turning him into this trope instead.
    • Homsar is peak Cloudcuckoolander, owing to his origin as a typo of the title character's name. None of the other characters want to acknowledge his weirdness, but fans flock to him because of it.
    • The sub-series Teen Girl Squad has What's Her Face. One of the early episodes has the other girls deliberately ditch her for a beach vacation.
  • Boxing Glove from Object Overload is treated by the contestants as a murderer, despite not really meaning to cause harm. Fans really love him because of this.
  • Red vs. Blue:
  • Hazbin Hotel: Charlie. To most characters, they don't take her too fondly and think her idea to help sinners is a waste of time. To the fans, however, she's just downright precious and you'd be hard pressed to find a fan who isn't rooting for her to succeed.
  • Battle for Dream Island: Golf Ball. While she's hated in the show by nearly everyone besides Tennis Ball for being a tyrant who has things done her way or the highway almost all the time, she's absolutely adored in the fandom for being a cute, nerdy Well-Intentioned Extremist that fits the example of "girlboss" to a T, as well as her outlandish competition strategies that are always Crazy Enough to Work and her rivalry with Snowball. It says something when, even though she didn't get enough votes to join BFDIA, she still managed to be a contestant thanks to one of two fans who won a contest deciding to guarantee-vote her in.
  • Shrapnel: Given the Ugandan Knuckles originate from a controversial internet meme, the characters themselves are this both in and out of universe, as while it’s easier to make a list of characters who don’t like them, they get a much warmer reception among Shrapnel fans, due to their Ugly Cute designs, odd mannerisms, and the fact that when the chips are down, they can be surprisingly capable (sometimes), and some fans who consider the original a "shitty internet meme", admit to liking their depiction/members in Shrapnel. Of course, for anyone who still doesn’t like the meme that much, there’s something of a Catharsis Factor in seeing them get injured.

  • Belkar in The Order of the Stick is a casually murderous jerk with no real loyalty to his companions, and the feeling is definitely mutual, as they only keep him around because he's useful/can be "aimed" at the villains. Readers on the other hand love his antics, some so much that they gave him the Draco in Leather Pants treatment (such as insisting he's Chaotic Neutral even though he's canonically identified as Chaotic Evil on multiple occasions).
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • Black Mage is an ugly, smelly, rude, wanted Omnicidal Maniac who sacrifices orphans for fun and the only person who likes him is too stupid to know any better. Even the universe hates him. Yet he's the comic's most popular character.
    • King Steve also applies, having approval ratings so low the majority of people would rather die than have him rule.
  • Rebecca Sue McKay of Shadowgirls is treated like dirt by just about everyone at school because of the circumstances surrounding her birth. Fans of the book, however, want to give her a hug whenever she's feeling down.
  • Kali of Enjuhneer was created as a literalization of the "invisible roommate," but the author has mined her abilities for so many jokes that at times she practically feels like a second main character.
  • Homestuck:
    • Eridan Ampora falls under this. He already had very few friends before his breakup with Feferi, after which he becomes intolerable. After crossing the Moral Event Horizon, nobody likes him, nobody mourns his death, and even the person who killed him doesn't feel any regret. Despite all this, he has a very large fanbase, mostly due to him being seen as The Woobie.
    • Vriska Serket has a similar effect - at the start of Hivebent, most of her friends have stopped liking her due to her abusive, sociopathic personality, and the only troll willing to give her the time of day as a friend is Kanaya, with her association with Equius being due to their mutual desire to manipulate each other, her fling with Eridan being antagonistic and her friendship with Tavros being blatantly abusive. She treats everyone unpleasantly, even her eventual best friend John, who puts up with it out of inherent kindness. While she's a controversial character, she's definitely one of the most popular in the fandom.
      • As of the Omegapause (summer 2015), this is turning around; she's undergone some character development (due to John's ability to retcon history allowing Terezi to Take a Third Option on whether to kill Vriska or let her go off to confront Jack Noir) and, while still somewhat abrasive and egotistical, she's now recognized in-universe as a competent planner and effective leader.
    • Gamzee Makara has been all over the map on this. He was initially a one-joke character (a stoner slacker juggalo; okay, maybe that's three jokes) who was regarded both in-universe and out as, at worst, irrelevant. Then some stuff happened and the most common in-universe quote about him became "Because seriously, fuck that guy" while his popularity with fans skyrocketed.
  • In Ensign Sue Must Die, the eponymous Sue is about as popular In-Universe as your average self-insert is in fandom. However, the fans of the webcomic find her difficult to hate because she's comedic and cute. It's like trying to hate a 5-year-old playing make-believe. And that's before she stops being so bland and Character Development happens to make her genuinely sympathetic.
  • Vampire Cheerleaders: Leonard is the series' poster boy for the trope, which can be seen in the comments of this thread about this particular strip on the comic's official site. Due to the split that resulted from the "Vampire Cheerleaders Must Die!" arc, the comic lost a significant portion of its fanbase. Which is the reason Adam (the writer) starred Leonard in the final volume:
    Adam: As for which characters would lead the series... I split the difference. Readers liked Leonard, so I paired him with one character from Vampire Cheerleaders and one from Paranormal Mystery Squad and just shifted ahead to the next school year.
  • In Nebula, Earth and Pluto are both quite unpopular with the other characters, with Earth being seen as annoying and Pluto being seen as creepy. Fans, on the other hand, find it very easy to emphasize with how both of them just want to have friends (and know thanks to a Sympathetic P.O.V. that Pluto is just a shy Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold and that Earth is a Genki Girl who comes on too strong when trying to make friends), and find the two of them to be adorable.
  • Yumi's Cells: Yumi's Naughty Cell, which governs her libido. The other cells find him annoying/embarrassing and constantly try to suppress him. But he's so popular with readers that he became something of a mascot for Webtoon itself, being used to advertise its merchandise page.

    Web Videos 
  • Channel Awesome:
    • Ma-Ti, in-'verse, is ranked somewhere between "object of pity" and "The Scrappy" by his compatriots unless he's packing heat. In fandom, he's a woobie of epic proportions and is usually paired off with at least one hot chick by the end of the fic. They seem to be aware of this though, since in Kickassia, while Ma-Ti was only in it for one scene (partially because the actor did not want to be typecast), he gets to call The Nostalgia Critic out on his douchebaggery, cementing his place as an Ensemble Dark Horse. As of Suburban Knights, Ma-Ti finally got his due. Sure, he died, but he died being AWESOME.
    • Nella gets paid to be treated like dirt in The Nostalgia Chick's show. When she turned into Dark Nella and got some modicum of payback, the fandom cheered like they were at a football match.
    • Arguably most of the reviewers and characters from Channel Awesome are this. The actors have a fondness for Self-Deprecation and writing themselves as hating each other, and each one has a fanbase of some size.
  • Matthew Santoro:
    • Eugene is disliked by Matt and the other clones for being too nerdy and annoying, but is loved by the fans.
    • Hugo is disliked by Matt and Eugene for doing crazy things like eating the cat, but is adored by the fandom.
  • The Press Buttons 'n' Talk Let's Play of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney trilogy created the bit of the people in the gallery being called the Charlie Brown Adults. They are mostly know for their increasingly absurd and disruptive antics during trials and being obnoxious to the point that everyone else In-Universe of their canon cannot stand them, especially the Judge. During the course of the let's play, they became very popular with the audience. They were brought back for Investigations as much as they could despite not being in court, with their version of Edgeworth still not having any patience for them.
    ProZD: People love the Charlie Brown Adults!
    Manky: I think the most popular character on this let's play —
    ProZD: I'm kinda glad because it's fun to keep doing them.
    Judge (ProZD): I don't like them.
    CBA (Manky): You know what we did this weekend?
    Judge: We don't care.
    CBA: Well, we do.