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Villain Ball Magnet

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A character who simply cannot become liked or even viewed by the other inhabitants of their world as basically good, no matter what they do.

If they kick a soccer ball to a child who lost it, it will instantly morph into a puppy before the poor kid's very eyes just to retroactively force evil on this villain. If they have a Love Interest, almost all other characters (and possibly even the viewer) will think of their affections as Stalker with a Crush or worse material. This character is often the object not merely of bad luck or karma but of active stereotyping, with the world at large openly calling their lifestyle, deeds, or even their very existence (in the case of those with powers) things like "criminal", "wrong", or "abomination against insert god here."

Generally treated by the author as either a figure of comedy or of tragedy. A comedic mandatory character will generally keep on trying throughout the entire series or story to make themselves good, and will generally keep their spirits up despite the misfortune visited upon them. On the other hand, a tragic mandatory character will sometimes become so fed up with their lot in life that they decide to deliberately cross the Moral Event Horizon into genuine villainy, and doing so may be treated either as a sign of the character's deep inner pain, as a sign that You Can't Fight Fate, or as a sign that the character was too morally weak depending on both the author's intent and in the seriousness of their suffering. When stereotyping is the thing that forces the villainy, there will sometimes be a stated or implied Aesop that all the suffering could have been avoided but for the type-casting committed by the less sympathetic characters.

Compare with Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds for the tragic version of someone who snaps and does evil after much suffering and with Reformed, but Rejected for those who actually started out as villains at some point and it is out of mistrust and lack of forgiveness for what they did that they become rejected. Also compare with Trapped in Villainy for a character whose inability to reform comes from outside sources, mostly with genuine villains who threaten them into helping them. Contrast with Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain for the comedic — with the difference being the intended morality at which the comedic character fails. Compare Hero with an F in Good. Often appears in a Kafka Comedy.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The entire premise of Angel Densetsu is that its protagonist Seiichirou Kitano is an All-Loving Hero with a huge case of Face of a Thug. Through no fault of his own, Kitano gains the reputation of a legendarily strong and ruthless delinquent, not helped by his lack of social skills constantly causing him to say and do things that can be easily misinterpreted by others. Kitano is largely oblivious to all this.
  • Demon King Daimao: The core of the entire show. No matter what Akuto (whose name literally means "villain") does, he just can't seem to convince the other students he's not evil.
  • The title character of the manga Ratman often fits this troop. Despite this "hero" working for a villainous organization. Especially towards a girl he likes.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami involves Sailor Mercury being forced to become a Keeper. It becomes almost impossible for her to convince the heroes of the land that she isn't, in fact, evil.
  • The Art of Failure shows a possibility of why Jack Spicer keeps on trying despite the fact that he never seems to win
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act VI: After the actions of Arc Villain Babylon turn humans against monsters, Moka and co. suffer this to the extent that, after shooting down the rylo that was menacing a human city in chapter 25, the HDA still holds them at gunpoint and accuses them of being behind it. At this point, Moka gets sick of enduring this trope and chews them out, pointing out all the good her friends have done and demanding to know what they have to do to prove they're the good guys; this actually reaches the HDA director, Hothorne Tamaka, who agrees to give them a fair chance.
    Moka: We put an end to Fairy Tale! We stopped Alucard! We killed those that destroyed your school and city! My friend here just shot that massive demon out of the sky by means I can't even begin to fathom! What do we have to do to prove to you that we aren't evil?!

  • Both Tyrion and Jaime Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire. Tyrion is a fundamentally decent guy who actively tries to help the people of King's Landing while serving as Hand of the King. However, the deck is stacked against him because he's a dwarf; most of his family hates him and the common people regard him as a monster. Being mutilated doesn't make him much popular either. When Tyrion is blamed for the death of King Joffrey he decides that, if he's being punished for murder, then he may as well commit one, and kills his father. His brother Jaime, on the other hand, is regarded as an oath-breaker for killing King Aerys, even though he secretly saved the lives of a city's worth of people doing it. Even as he tries to redeem himself and become a better knight, his name becomes associated with treachery due to circumstances beyond his control. An especially striking example of this trope for him: he threatens to send a baby to its death in a trebuchet to prevent a bloody siege of Riverrun castle. He'd previously made an oath not to raise his sword against House Tully, and this helped solve the situation without bloodshed - but everyone in listening distance got the impression that he was evil.
  • This trope is both invoked and subverted, and having an inversion of that at the same time, early on in Plato's The Republic, making it (kind of) Older Than Feudalism. In a Devil's Advocate attempt to present injustice as more profitable than justice by contrasting the perfectly just man (who appears to be this trope, but isn't because he's actually The Hero) with the perfectly unjust man, who is the exact opposite. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, despite Penny's firm desire to switch to the side of good things just never seem to work out that way, as even when they manage to do good, people just continue to assume The Inscrutable Machine are supervillains. By the end, they get tired of correcting them and just roll with it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sometimes Dr. Kelso from Scrubs appeared to be suffering from the effects of a mandatory Villain Ball.
    • Probably the most notable case of this was in "His Story 4." He has actually built up a modest level of appreciation from the other doctors by instituting an employee discount at the hospital's coffee shop. However, when the dangerous topic of the most recent war comes up and the doctors are fighting and ignoring each other, Dr. Kelso realizes the only way to get them unified again (and less likely to accidentally hurt a patient through lack of information) is actively become the target of their aggression. He takes away the discount.
  • Vampire Aidan from Syfy's Being Human (US) is doing everything in his power to be a better person. Except every single thing he does blows up in his face in a way that either makes everything he does look worse in retrospect or leaves him with no choice but to Shoot the Dog.
  • Mordred from Merlin (2008): Despite his attempts to do good as an adult, Merlin (and some of his allies) distrust him because of the prophesy, resulting in him being left for dead on several occasions. While this frustrates him, it doesn't break him to turn into a villain until... his lover is sentenced to death for (repeated) murder of Camelot's guards and attempted regicide.

  • In H.M.S. Pinafore, everyone is prejudiced against Dick Deadeye simply because of his looks and his Unfortunate Name; as a result, everything he says, no matter how sensible, is perceived as utterly shocking.

    Video Games 


    Web Original 
  • The titular Doctor Horrible of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. The tie-in comics make him even more of a Villain Ball Magnet by outright stating that his world considers anyone not popular in high school to be little more than potential supervillains. Or, rather, Captain Hammer thinks so and no one argues with him. And then Doctor Horrible goes along with it...
    • A great example of this is in Captain Hammer's introduction scene. Dr. Horrible is using his cellphone to remotely control a van. Hammer leaps onto the van and smashes up the apparatus receiving Horrible's signal, which causes the van to go out of control and very nearly run down Penny, Horrible's Love Interest. After saving her — by yeeting her into a pile of garbage bags as Horrible regains control of the van — Captain Hammer self-righteously blames Horrible for the whole thing, even though the loss of control that endangered innocents was Hammer's fault.

    Western Animation 
  • In X-Men: Evolution, Avalanche became this, if only for one episode. Tired of failing, being pushed around by Mystique, and generally being unliked by people he respected (Scott) and liked (Kitty) Avalanche defects to the X-Men. However, Scott and several of the others don't trust him, and when something goes wrong, immediately blame him. The younger X-Men even start taking advantage of this, doing extremely risky things that Avalanche gets blamed for. At the end, Scott admits he was wrong, and Kitty kisses him, but because Status Quo Is God, he still decides the whole thing is too much effort and heads back to the Brotherhood.
  • Prince Zuko from around season 2 to the middle of season 3 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, experiences this. Whenever he tries honestly to help people in general, it is usually twisted in some way to become worse. He also gave the page quote when he accidentally burned Toph's soles after she was the only one of the Gaang to stick up for him.
  • The Penguin reformed in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, but his past deeds made him the target of suspicion for Batman and the target for mean-spirited pranks for the social elite. He turns back to evil by the end of the episode, though it's implied that with a little more patience he would have been accepted back into society.
    • His return to evil seemed to have a LOT to do with finding out that the one woman he thought was looking beyond his unfortunate appearance and sinister past was only hanging around him as a prank. That she had begun to develop some genuine affection for him by the time he finds out about the "joke" just makes it all the more tragic.
  • The Urpneys hold the ball to ludicrous levels in The Dreamstone. While most of them are cowardly Punchclock Villains who only serve Zordrak out of fear for their life, they are consistently viewed as irredeemable scum by the otherwise messianic Land of Dreams, for trying to give them nightmares no less. Their only willing attempt to truce with the Urpneys was by Heel–Face Brainwashing them. Ironically between the two, the heroes actually performed the nearest to a genuine Villain Ball (the Urpneys pull Idiot Balls by the thousand, but rarely Kick the Dog outside orders). The nearest to a case where the heroes "lost" the Urpneys was a result of them getting smug enough to drag one of their Disproportionate Retribution schemes long enough that the Urpneys found a way to turn it on them. Curiously, the heroes toyed with the Urpneys a lot less after this instance, if perhaps only out of fear they were Not So Harmless Villains as well.
  • This gets Played for Laughs with Brian and Quagmire in Family Guy. Under normal circumstances, Quagmire is a complete sexaholic who routinely drugs women and is into all sorts of kinks. Of course, the one time Brian tries to relate to Quagmire about his relationship with a woman, it turns out to be Quagmire's sister who had been horribly beaten by her husband. Another time, Brian tries to strike up a conversation with Quagmire and Quagmire's "nephew" while in line to meet a mall Santa. Quagmire's nephew is actually his niece who has brain cancer so her hair fell out from the chemo. Granted, sometimes Brian is purposely a jerk, but he also can't catch a break where Quagmire is involved. The feud reached a climax where, after one too many gratuitous outbursts from Quagmire, Brian bites back and decides to hit a very personal blow for revenge by stealing his ex-girlfriend (apparently Cheryl Tiegs). Since then, their rivalry has been shown in more sporadic but mutually hateful bouts, even if Quagmire's standoffish nature towards Brian remains a more defining trait than vice versa.
  • Jack Spicer in Xiaolin Showdown. There have been times when Jack has tried to be good and even saved the heroes on multiple occasions but somehow it always goes wrong for him.
  • Princess Luna of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic had to endure this, albeit thankfully for her only for a single episode. Fresh from her Heel–Face Turn she decides to swing by Ponyville and see what Nightmare Night is all about, but swiftly learns that her archaic mannerisms are terrifying by today's standards and that Nightmare Night is basically a holiday that demonizes Nightmare Moon for eating children who don't bring her candy. From there all her attempts at fitting in or being good either fail because she's a Nightmare Fetishist or because Pinkie Pie keeps inciting panic until they figure out that they can play up her spookiness because ponies like being scared.