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Villain Respect

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C'mon, when's the last time you've seen a bounty hunter turn down the bounty?
Professor Moriarty: Rest assured, if you attempt to bring destruction down upon me, I shall do the same to you. My respect for you, Mr. Holmes, is the only reason you are still alive.
Sherlock Holmes: You've paid me several compliments. Let me pay you one in return when I say that, if I were assured of the former eventuality, I would cheerfully accept the latter.

In some works, there's an antagonist who isn't known for being friendly with the protagonists. But sometimes, in situations when one of said protagonists (often the main/lead character, but supporting characters qualify as well) exhibits a heroic or otherwise positive character trait that sufficiently impresses the antagonist, the latter will not be above commending them or otherwise showing them approval of them or their character trait in question. It will particularly stand out if, previously, the antagonist was hostile or (more usually) simply dismissive of the targeted protagonist.

The action may usually be performed by the Noble Demon, but bonus points if it's the Big Bad delivering the praise. Note that the commendation is sincere, and is not an attempt by the villain to screw with the hero's head. The villain may also do it because they and the hero are Mirror Characters. It may also be a Pet the Dog moment to show the villain isn't such a bad guy after all (even if they won't admit it).

A Lawful Evil character, or a character with Evil Virtues, may have this as part of their personality, especially in a situation where Villains Never Lie. This can also be a trait of the Friendly Enemy (though depending on the work, it probably won't reach Go-Karting with Bowser levels). The Antagonist in Mourning may also do this as a tribute to the fallen hero (whether the hero is actually dead or not).

May frequently overlap with Combat Compliment and Worthy Opponent, where the praise is given during a fight. Compare Villain Takes an Interest, where the villain may become interested in being a mentor to the hero, and compare and contrast We Can Rule Together, where the villain tries to convince the hero that they would do better working together instead of against each other. Naturally there is also a large overlap with Sympathy for the Hero.

Compare Admiring the Abomination and Wowing Cthulhu. Contrast Your Approval Fills Me with Shame, where a villain praises the hero for a negative trait or action and the hero feels disgusted as a result. Compare Villainous Valour when there's something admirable about the villain's efforts. Also different from Baddie Flattery, wherein the villain is still sincere in his praise of a positive trait but the praise comes across as utterly creepy and disturbing (though this might be a sister trope to that one). And, again, note the second paragraph above.

Please note: The character to whom the praise is given is generally a true-blue hero. If the Anti-Hero or the Anti-Villain is the recipient of the praise, it's a bit trickier since the former has villainous characteristics while skirting the line between good and evil, and the latter has heroic characteristics while still not being a clearly good guy. If the villain respects something relatively minor about the hero, it's The One Thing I Don't Hate About You. If the villain respects another unambiguous villain, that's Villain Cred. The Complete Monster may appear to apply this trope, but it is only out of pragmatic reasons since they have zero respect for the heroes or fellow villains whatsoever.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, while at first Adam Smasher sees taking out David's crew as just a chore, after a prolonged duel with David, he muses he had some fun after all, and offers to make David into an Arasaka construct. When David instead curses him out, he executes him with a headshot, preventing him from being recreated.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • When King Piccolo is killed by Goku, in his last moments he actually manages a smirk and calls it "admirable."
    • Vegeta develops this to Goku over the course of the Frieza Saga. He still wants to kill Goku for the hard time he gave him on Earth, but he does genuinely respect Goku's strength and sees him as a necessary ally against Frieza. In the anime, Vegeta sees Goku as a Super Saiyan after he's revived, and rather than be jealous or angry at the sight, he's close to shedding Tears of Joy.
    • Frieza, during the Namek saga, shows his respect for Goku's strength by giving him an offer to join his army, considering it would be a waste if Goku died and even added that Goku would receive more work than Ginyu. Although, Frieza knew Goku would refuse, knowing how Saiyans are. Frieza gives subtle ones to Goku again, but this time, after he's brought back to life in both Resurrection 'F' and Dragon Ball Super. When Sorbet tells him that Goku has gotten much stronger, Frieza isn't surprised and expects it to be the case. When told the extent of Goku's growth, he's both surprised and impressed. When Frieza realizes what a God Super Saiyan is and what it implies for Goku, he takes a sincere bow in respect to Goku for having achieved godhood. Of course, he follows it up with an insult about how the God of Saiyans is still a Saiyan, but the sentiment was genuine. When he's brought back as a Villain Protagonist during the Universe Survival arc, Frieza consistently refers to Goku with the polite-respectful prefix of "Anata" (which is the rough equivalent of "My Good Sir"), even when he is enraged or thinking to himself. This contrasts the instances when he roared "omae" ("You~!" when addressing equals or social inferiors) or "Kisama" ("SCUM") after his Villainous Breakdown on Namek, and his uncontrollable contempt for Goku after being resurrected.
      • Frieza also respected Bardock, Goku's father, for his last stand against him, to the point that when he first sees Goku, he immediately remembers him — the only one among the millions he slaughtered.
      • Likewise, he shows a slight degree of respect towards Nail, the prodigy Namekian he battled during his attempts to get the Dragon Balls, owing it up to his impressive power level, which Frieza even said would have made him a worthy minion of his army. Granted, he proceeds to humiliate him after to show off, but compared to others who Frieza didn't even bother to praise (such as Vegeta later on), him at least sincerely recognizing Nail's strength is notable.
      • In the Tournament of Power, Frieza is one of the only characters other than Piccolo to actually take Gohan's role as "team leader" seriously. Because Gohan was perceptive enough to recognize that Frieza was a Fake Defector and discrete enough to go along with his plan without tipping off Frost.
    • Out of all the foes Cell fought, he has the most respect for Goku. He had so much fun fighting Goku that he wanted Goku to eat a Senzu so they could keep fighting. When Goku bows out of the Cell Games and tells Cell that there was someone stronger than him, Cell didn't believe him, saying that Goku was stronger than Vegeta and Trunks combined.
    • Goku Black, the primary villain of Super's Future Trunks Saga, has virtually nothing but respect for Goku, to the extent that he comes off as a Loony Fan; every time they come face to face, he heaps praise on him and tries to copy everything he does. He even says that being like Goku is his life's goal. It's taken to truly disturbing levels upon the reveal that Black is in fact an alternate version of Zamasu, who became so fixated on Goku after losing to him in a sparring match that he used a wish on the Super Dragon Balls to swap bodies with him. He also praises the Super Saiyan Blue form, applauding Vegeta when he assumes it and declaring that it's magnificent to see a warrior race garbed in godly Ki.
  • While few of the antagonists of Eyeshield 21 are evil, characters originally portrayed as Jerkasses like Kakei or Mizumachi do come to respect their opponents. Also, it's revealed that Clifford, possibly the most antagonistic character in the series, came to respect Sena as a player and invited him to play for Notre Dame.
    • In the Distant Finale, Agon gets a notable mention.
      Agon: "Please. There's no trash on the field that can touch that kind of speed."
    • Shin gets these moments for everyone, especially after Yukimitsu manages to see through his plan.
      Shin: "Even though you're an enemy... that was brilliant.
  • Fist of the North Star: Three examples stand out, each time delivered by Raoh.
    • When Raoh first fully appears in the series, he holds Toki, one of Kenshiro's staunchest fighting allies, in considerably high regard — in fact, for him, Toki is the only fighter around who could conceivably match him in a fair duel, the only drawback being that Toki is suffering from a terminal illness caused by nuclear fallout. It helps that Toki was previously seen as a Messianic Archetype and, prior to the nuclear war, was considered (including by Kenshiro himself) to be the most suitable candidate to become the Hokuto Shinken successor and would probably have, were it not for his illness. (It also says something when even Jagi is acknowledged by Ken to have admired Toki greatly.)
    • Juza of the clouds earned Raoh's respect by not only mounting Kokuoh (Raoh's huge horse that can crush humans; only a few had mounted him) but by also being a formidable opponent that chose death instead of betraying the last general of Nanto (in the anime, Juza kept fighting even after his death). After that, Raoh ordered his army to give Juza a respectful burial.
    • Raoh also gives this to Ken himself following their final fight (initially, Raoh had been dismissive of Ken being the Hokuto Shinken successor). It pulls multi-duty as a Final First Hug.
      Raoh: Come, let me see the face of the man who has defeated Raoh… You are magnificent, my little brother.
      Kenshiro: Big brother…
    • In the 1986 movie, when Kenshiro finally arrives to Southern Cross to face Shin, it turns out that Shin had been defeated off-screen by Raoh himself before Kenshiro's arrival. Shin was already dying but he held onto life so Kenshiro would come and defeat him. Shin wanted to be defeated by Kenshiro's hands and nobody else because they loved the same woman: Yuria. This sign of respect was actually reversed from what happened in the manga and the TV anime: Shin refused to die by Kenshiro's hands so he took his own life by jumping from the palace balcony. Kenshiro buried him out of respect for their mutual love for the same woman.
  • In the manga of Fullmetal Alchemist and both of its anime adaptions, Slicer shows respect for Edward Elric during their duel, commending his skill, speed, and agility, even going so far as to show him his weak spot. Doesn't stop him from trying to kill Ed, but hey. (Contrast this to Barry the Chopper, who spends his entire fight with Al trying and failing to intimidate him.)
  • In the 2015 The Heroic Legend of Arslan, some Lusitanian soldiers openly admired the captured Shapur for being Defiant to the End, even if he was a "heretic" in their eyes.
    • Silvermask has some respect for Narsus's tactical planning and offered Narsus a chance to serve him.
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure:
    • Part 5 Big Bad Diavolo gives his respect to Risotto Nero for keeping his pride and choosing to try and kill him in his final moments instead of accepting a quicker death at Diavolo's hands in exchange for returning the iron he stole from Diavolo's blood. Sadly, it didn't work.
    • Likewise, Prosciutto acknowledges Bruno as a worthy capo and the best person for the Boss to trust with Trish after he drags both himself and Prosciutto off a moving train to save his team from Prosciutto's Stand's Rapid Aging ability.
    • DIO, Big Bad of parts 1 and 3, views all of humanity as beneath him. Except for his adopted brother, Jonathan, the only person he truly respects as his equal and loves as a brother. Of course, that respect and love is rather twisted, but still impressive considering everyone else is either a pawn or food.
    • Wammu of Part 2 believes that only the strong truly live, and will give his respect to anyone who proves themselves a true warrior, including Joseph and Caesar.
  • In Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger, during the first encounter with the extremely powerful Genen the Cruel, the other Eto Rangers have all been driven back, but Bakumaru is staring her down, firmly rooted to one spot. She compliments his bravery before being forced to leave due to other circumstances. It turns out she had him Mistaken for Badass; he wasn't standing up to her, he was frozen in peril and fainted standing up because he's a mouse and she's a cat.
  • Kenichi of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has gotten this from several antagonists, including three members of the Yami group's One Shadow Nine Fists martial artists and at least one member of Yami's disciple group YOMI:
    • Agaard Jum Sai, the One Shadow Nine Fists' Muay Tai master and the Rival Turned Evil to Ryouzapaku's Apachai Hopachai, is the first noted example among the One Shadow Nine Fists. Shortly after Kenichi defeats Tirawat Koukin, Agaard's student and a member of YOMI, Agaard commends Kenichi on his tenacity and praises his ability as Apachai's disciple, while at the same time telling Koukin there's no shame in losing to such a skilled opponent. Plus he gives Kenichi pointers on defending himself against a Master-class weapons user moments afterward, himself unable to help directly due to being temporarily paralyzed from his fight with Apachai.
    • The second example is "God Fist" Akira Hongo, the Rival Turned Evil to Ryozanpakou's Sakaki Shio. When he momentarily derides his student Sho Kanou's Redemption Equals Death sacrifice to protect Miu during the D of D Tournament arc, Kenichi angrily declares that Sho's sacrifice was not a waste and he won't allow Hongo to say it was (interestingly, insulting Sho's memory is in fact a Berserk Button for Hongo). The exchange between them goes this way:
      Hongo: (Sho) committed a mistake...and it is my responsibility that the softness inside of him was not totally erased.
      Kenichi: THAT'S WRONG! He...that time, I thought that he was really incredible! As a person and as a man! That's why I don't want you to say that his last action was some kind of mistake!!!
      Hongo: ...Sakaki's disciple, huh...your name?
      Kenichi: Ryouzanpaku first disciple...Shirahama Kenichi.
    • The third example is the One Shadow a.k.a. Saiga Furinji himself, who commends Kenichi for his determination in protecting Miu, and later flashes his gauntlets to Kenichi from a distance as a mark of respect. Possibly subverted, since he was Good All Along anyway.
      One Shadow: A man like you is worth trusting.
    • As recently as Chapter 500, the newest member of YOMI Berserker expresses acknowledgment of Kenichi's fighting prowess even as they begin their skirmish at the amusement park where Kenichi and his friends had gone to relax (meanwhile, the other YOMI members are fighting Kenichi's friends).
      Berserker: Indeed, you're quite good. No one has been able to dodge my attacks so perfectly after I trained as a YOMI, so far. I was right in choosing you as my target, Kenichi Shirahama.
  • This basically defines why Lupin of Lupin III, is a Friendly Enemy to Inspector Zenigata. After all, Zenigata's dedicated and determined enough to keep on Lupin's trail no matter how many times the master thief dodges him, but is also reasonable enough to realize that many times the criminals they both have to face off against are far worse than Lupin himself. As a result, Lupin will go out of his way to ensure Zenigata isn't killed, while Zenigata in turn will sometimes seem to allow his rival to escape just so the chase can continue.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, Louis Moriarty comments that Sherlock Holmes is the one man respected by his brother, Professor William James Moriarty, although Louis does not feel the same toward Holmes. However, after The Final Problem arc, Louis has something of a change of heart and credits Sherlock's accomplishments to Mycroft Holmes.
  • Several villains in My Hero Academia feel respect, if not admiration, for the top hero All Might. The most prominent of these is "Hero Killer" Stain, who hates the greedy, self-serving nature of the current hero system and believes more heroes should be like All Might (read: straight-up Capes). He acknowledges those who have similar heroic personalities, like All Might's hand-picked successor Izuku Midoriya, and even saved Izuku from being abducted by a less scrupulous villain. Even villains who outright despise All Might acknowledge him, since they view him as the pillar holding up both the hero system and normal society, and target him in the hopes of destroying both.
    • During the USJ arc, even Tomura Shigaraki has to pause for a moment to acknowledge Eraserhead's coolness when the latter prevents him from killing a student despite being beaten to a bloody pulp by the Nomu. During the Paranormal Liberation War, he acknowledges Eraser Head's coolness again when he charges into battle despite knowing that Shigaraki is now powerful enough to destroy cities, in order to protect Izuku.
    • Muscular is a firm believer of the Might Makes Right trope, to the point that his concept of right or wrong boils down entirely to "if you can do what you want, then what you wanted was right". This, however, makes him respect whoever manages to survive or even fight back against him, to the point that he's outright happy and proud that a hero managed to take out his eye: the hero wanted to stop him and partially succeeded, so Muscular believes that losing an eye was the correct outcome.
    • During the Internship arc, Kirishima and his mentor Fat Gum end up facing off against Rappa, an enforcer the Yakuza hired from an illegal pit fighting arena. Together, the two manage to beat him, and over the protests of his Yakuza handler, Rappa admits defeat and tells Fat Gum about a nearby room with a first aid kit where he can treat Kirishima's wounds ("Take care of that, that man before he bleeds out."). Admittedly, Rappa wants to show his respect properly by fighting Kirishima to the death, but that's just how he is.
    • And Toga, in one of the few instances where this isn't because of bloodlust, has this to say about Izuku.
      "Dang, Izuku. Nice."
  • Naruto:
    • Itachi's interactions with Naruto have been quite polite for an antagonist, and he ends up giving a smile when Naruto declares that he will bring back Sasuke to Konoha. As well, he acknowledges Might Guy's Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass credentials, escaping as soon as the latter shows up when he and Kisame first show up in the series. This may be a complicated example, though, since he's not exactly a villain in the full sense of the word.
    • Madara Uchiha is the epitome of a Smug Super, yet he loudly declares Might Guy to be the greatest Taijutsu fighter that he's ever seen.
  • Wilhelm Josef Von Herrmann, a Noble Demon in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, gives a respectful but laughter-filled compliment after being defeated by Negi (Chapter 71 in the manga).
    Von Herrmann: I gotta thank you, Negi-kun... I'll look forward to the day I get to fight you, all grown up... don't disappoint me, young man!
  • In One Piece, Luffy gets this from at least four major figures over the course of the first half of his journey. Post-Time Skip, this is posed to continue as he earns the respect of many of the top-tier pirates in the New World.
    • The first is Dracule Mihawk, who, as a member of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, is technically an enemy of all pirates, but who proves himself to be somewhat of a Friendly Enemy to the Straw Hat crew and to Luffy and Zoro in particular (Luffy due to Mihawk's past association with the former's idol Shanks, Zoro due to Mihawk being impressed with his tenacity as a swordsman).
      Mihawk: Youngster, what is your goal?
      Luffy: Pirate King!
      Mihawk: [smirks] That is a path of incomparable danger. Even more difficult than to surpass me.
      Luffy: I don't care. I will become one anyway!
    • Later on, during the Marineford Arc, Mihawk is again impressed by Luffy's determination and decides to test him on the battlefield. Despite how Luffy is no match for him, his charisma causes Whitebeard to order his commanders to keep him safe. Mihawk comments that this ability to turn everyone around him into his ally is 'The most dangerous ability on the seas'.
    • The second is God Eneru, the Big Bad of the Skypiea arc, when Luffy declares that he is going to be Pirate King (this example could also be a Combat Compliment, since they're in the middle of a fight at the time).
      Eneru: Pirate King? What country does he rule?
      Luffy: He is the king of the sea!
      Eneru: That doesn't sound half bad... Let's finish this in the sky.
    • The third is Rob Lucci, during the Enies Lobby arc, who commends Luffy on his leadership skills and tells him that he (Luffy) is a better leader than Lucci's Pointy-Haired Boss Spandam.
    • The fourth is Blackbeard, who commends and encourages Luffy to pursue his dreams no matter what anyone else says. Notable because this happens both before and after Luffy finds out who the person actually is, and the second time may be interpreted as being closer to Baddie Flattery.
    • Post-Time Skip, Charlotte Katakuri. The absolute strongest of Big Mom's subordinates, out of all the examples listed here, he is perhaps the one that has come to respect Luffy the most. Over the course of their fight, Luffy's determination and refusal to condemn Katakuri for his physical and personality flaws inspires Character Development in the man, and by the end, he's stopped fighting Luffy for the sake of his family's expectations and instead fights Luffy for himself. By the end of the fight, Luffy is such a Worthy Opponent to him, that when Luffy proclaims he will defeat Big Mom and become the Pirate King, Katakuri genuinely believes him.
      Katakuri: (exhausted) Someday... will you... come back here... to defeat Big Mom?
      Luffy: (similarly exhausted) Of course! I am the man... who will be the Pirate King!
      Katakuri: (smirks) You're looking... pretty far into the future...!! (collapses)
    • The sixth is Kaido, who gains respect for two people, Kozuki Oden and Luffy.
      • With Oden, he was the first to physically wound Kaido, leaving a deep scar on his chest. Kaido only won after Oden got distracted by a shapeshifter posing as his son. When Oden was to be executed in boiling oil, he manages to survive it for a full hour, and Kaido, as a sign of respect, puts him out of his misery with a bullet, while also revealing that he killed the shapeshifter that disrupted their fight.
      • With Luffy, he saw him as yet another "upstart brat" in a long line of them. When Luffy attacked him in a village, Kaido barely felt his blows and simply took him out in one hit. When the raid on Onigashima happens, Luffy confronts him and delivers a punch that actually hurts him. Kaido smiles and starts to fight. Even after knocking him out twice, Luffy keeps coming back. It looks like the fight is over, but like last time, Kaido's opponent is distracted (this time by a government agent) and Kaido manages to smash Luffy's head. An upset Kaido seemingly kills the Cipher Pol agent in retaliation. But Luffy is still alive and ends up awakening his Devil Fruit's true power. Upon seeing Luffy return, Kaido is grateful and even apologizes for the distraction.
  • Boros from One-Punch Man gives massive respect to Saitama, as he is the first person who has ever given him a good fight. He's even fairly nice to him before they even fight unlike his minions. Even when he died, he didn't mind because he enjoyed Saitama and his fight.
  • Queen Millennia: Leopardo salutes a surviving Millennium Thief who've made a large circle in space to avoid getting tailed to its mothership.
  • Rebuild World: The protagonist Akira gets the remark "you're really loyal, aren't you" as this from multiple villains because his strict adherence to I Gave My Word and I Owe You My Life.
  • Record of Ragnarok has it in almost every fight of this Gods VS Mankind tournament (with the Gods being the "villains"), usually when the God fighting calls his human opponent by his name.
    • First round:
      • Thor and Lu Bu are both battle maniacs that only take pleasure in combat. In this fight, Thor ended up displaying his finest smile while Lu Bu met it with his worst.
        Thor: Human. No... your name was Lu Bu, right? I have one request to make... don't die on me now.
      • After Lu Bu's death, his subordinates and horse chose to follow him in death and charged at Thor. The latter smiled and gave them what they wanted in a sign of respect for Lu Bu.
        Thor: Very well... I'll send you as offerings in his name, to Lu Bu.
    • Second round:
      • Zeus VS Adam. Adam can replicate any move and technique he sees; because of this, Gods such as Ares acknowledged his strength. Adam earned everyone's respect because of his absolute selflessness. Zeus stated he was foolish for thinking he could have defeated Adam easily and so he was forced to use his Adamas form in order to win. The fight then became so intense that both gods and humans spectators cheered as one.
        Ares: I never once thought, that a fight could be so beautiful.
        Hermes: Indeed. How wondrous...
      • After being pushed back on the defensive, Adam can't do anything besides withstanding a barrage of attacks. At this moment, everyone was certain that Adam was done for, but Odin's raven comments that he was "one hell of a guy". Then Adam engages in a punch-out with Zeus. Adam dies in the midst of it, but even in death, his body relentlessly continues to punch back and only stops when Zeus is brought down to his knees.
        Zeus: Hey kiddo. Seems you managed to put this geezer flat on his ass. You're one hell of a man... What a shame... If this were a contest of endurance... no doubt about it, I'd have to give it to ya.
    • Fourth round: This time, the "villain" is on humanity's side: Jack the Ripper; and he faces Heracles. In the end, Jack kills Heracles, but is saddened by this, as Heracles showed indomitable love and kindness towards all humans, but also to Jack in his last moments, choosing to hug him with his remaining strength instead of killing him.
      Jack: If my wish... could come true... I would like... to see you again.
    • Fifth round: Shiva VS Raiden Tameemon. Both could give it their all, no holding back, and by the end of the fight, they were both grateful to one another for this opportunity.
      Shiva:'re one helluva guy. 'Til the very end... You stood firm on your feet. The thanks is on me, human. No... Raiden Tameemon. With your help... this was... the best match of our lives.
  • Rurouni Kenshin:
    • During his time as The Dragon to Takeda Kanryu, Aoshi Shinomori has just unleashed his illusionary sword technique to inflict a (he thinks) fatal wound to Kenshin. Upset at this, Yahiko declares that he's not going to run away even if Aoshi kills him, prompting this response from Aoshi (fortunately, Kenshin gets back up shortly afterward):
      Aoshi: You've got spirit. Too bad you're going to die here...
    • A later example is seen when Hajime Saito first appears, arriving at the Kamiya Dojo while posing as a medicine man. Sanosuke immediately sees through his disguise and punches him in the face (in the manga, hard enough to send him flying). However, while Saito suffers absolutely no ill effects from the punch, he commends Sano's strength even as he then outlines why the punch was ineffective.
      Saito: Your punch is worthy of your reputation. However… your punch was born during the peaceful Meiji era. It would not have any effect on a fighter from the Bakumatsu.
    • Makoto Shishio, the Big Bad of the Kyoto arc, gives an indirect version of this about Sanosuke after the latter has blocked Shishio's henchmen's bullets by punching the ocean surface and destroyed his battleship. Shishio freely admits that it was because he underestimated Sanosuke's worth (as well as Kenshin and Saito's Genre Savviness) that his plan to bomb Kyoto with said battleship ultimately failed.
      Shishio: [after Sano bombs the ship] So he's not just a weakling...
  • Sailor Moon Eternal: Hawk's Eye is this to Sailor Jupiter due to them sharing the same dream of running a shop. Though he still exploits her insecurity and sets Lemures on her after he finds out, he is quite friendly to her after she mortally wounds him, accepting defeat and encouraging her to realize her dreams no matter what.
  • World Trigger: Considering that Border is something of an underdog in the grand scheme of things, the invading Neighbors often express respect at how far their tech level has progressed in the past four years as well as how Border fights after suffering defeat.
  • In the Virtual World filler arc of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Noah Kaiba praises Yami Yugi's skill during their duel, then tries to convince him that they could rule together.
    Noah: You possess both the skill and judgement necessary to catch your enemies off guard the second they lose focus. When you think about it, you and I have no reason to be enemies. If you swear your loyalty to me, I'll save all your friends from hell this very instant!

    Comic Books 
  • Avengers: The Kree/Skrull War: Ronan, who is in straight-up villain mode for the story, admits partway through that despite their being aliens he's impressed by Vision and the Scarlet Witch.
  • Batman:
    • This characterizes Ra's al Ghul's attitude toward Batman, as he consistently addresses the Dark Knight as "Detective" as a show of respect to the hero's intelligence and determination. The few times he faces Superman, he calls him "Icon." The only other person Ra's extends this honor to is Tim Drake (Robin III/Red Robin), who is regarded by Batman as the one person who will surpass his skills as an investigator.
    • This is perhaps best seen in one issue of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic. After Batman is mortally wounded, the Phantom Stranger summons every Robin to help, and they concoct a plan to break into one of Ra's's Lazarus Pits to heal the Bat. While Dick, Carrie, Damian, and Jason go in to fight their way through the League of Assassins, Tim and Stephanie guard Batman — and are confronted by Ra's himself. Instead of fighting, all they have to do is explain the situation to Ra's, who agrees that Batman deserves better and has his own men carry Bruce to the pit.
    • Depending on the Writer, The Riddler doesn't just have respect for Batman, but is driven by it. For Riddler, it's not about money; it's about matching wits with the World's Greatest Detective. In Batman: Zero Year, he even shows this for the few civilians who challenged him in Batman's absence.
    • In Batman: Gordon of Gotham: Montoya is kidnapped while serving as the body double for the wife of self-centered South American ambassador Carlos Trujillo. She's quite a Defiant Captive (never breaking cover), and her impressed captors comment that "her" country made the wrong Trujillo their ambassador.
  • Black Dynamite: Even after promising to kill him and everyone he loves, The Man still tells Black Dynamite "God, you're good..." after getting defeated and impaled by him.
  • Diabolik may be the King of Terror, but has heroes he really respects:
    • The best known is inspector Ginko, in whom he admires his intelligence (one of the few people Diabolik considers an intellectual peer) and indomitable will (so great that Truth Serum just doesn't work on him, and when he was forcibly addicted to heroin, he quickly recovered with no ill effect once he got treatment), and has been known to get pissed (sometimes to the point of murder) when someone insults him. Best shown in "Challenge to the Police", where a congress of criminologists all but called Ginko a coward, prompting him to resign, and Diabolik went out of his way to humiliate the man who had taken over the hunt for the King of Terror while covertly preparing a heist that Ginko foiled — something Diabolik flat-out declared only Ginko could have done.
    • In "Death in the Fist", we meet Big Bolt, a former champion-level boxer who, after having his leg busted for refusing to take a dive, opened a boxing gym where he'd have small criminals train and learn an honest job, also using a list of secrets of the criminal world to keep the mob from retaliating for taking away their low-level workforce. His personality and cunning quickly gained him the respect of a young Diabolik (who had infiltrated the gym believing he was turning low-level crooks into elite criminal mercenaries for the mob), and mob boss Sonia Yanez respected him enough that when she was led to believe Big Bolt had robbed her, she decided to not retaliate and instead let him have the satisfaction. When one of Yanez' men, who believed himself smarter than he was, tortured Bolt to find out his information, Yanez left him to the police and Diabolik beat him to death.
  • Doctor Doom:
    • He usually combines this with Worthy Opponent and The Only One Allowed to Defeat You, with regard to Reed Richards, due to both of them competing for the title of smartest man in the world (albeit the competition's mostly one-sided on Doom's part).
    • He also has a kind of grudging respect toward Doctor Strange, as the sorcerer was willing to aid him in rescuing his mother's soul from Hell.
    • He also has respect for fellow brainiacs Tony Stark, Henry Pym, and Bruce Banner — the top men in their various fields. Their accomplishments are mere child's play to someone like Doom (though at least in Stark's case, he has on at least one occasion implied that Stark is the better weapons designer), but they are worthy of respect nonetheless.
    • Doom also respects Luke Cage after getting beat down over 200 dollars that he owed to Luke.
  • The Flash: His Rogues Gallery tends to have this as their defining trait toward their nemesis (prominently toward Barry Allen when he was wearing the mask, but also toward Wally West as well), to the point that the code of conduct of the ones actually calling themselves the Rogues forbids them to ever kill any Flash. It helps that most of them have standards to begin with. (However, this doesn't carry over to their Justice League Unlimited incarnations, where they're more than willing to kill Wally West at the first opportunity.) It does carry over to their incarnations in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, albeit limited to Barry Allen (they are dismissive of Jay Garrick and Wally West).
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: The reason Major Victory was spared when the Badoon first attacked humanity. The Badoon in charge of the invasion knew of him, and thought he was impressive (which, given the Badoon despise anything not a Badoon, is something) and wanted Vance to join them willingly.
  • At the beginning of the Lucky Luke comic, "The Bounty Hunter", Lucky Luke sends a bandit called Bloody Bart to prison. When the sheriff tells Luke that there is a reward for capturing Bart, Luke refuses the money and tells the sheriff to give it to Bart's victim, causing Bart to shake Luke's hand and telling him he's proud of having been captured by Luke.
  • Magneto has this attitude toward Charles Xavier, despite their widely-differing views on human-mutant relations (it helps that he realizes they both want what's best for mutantkind, even if their methods can't mesh).
  • In DC's Richard Dragon series, Richard battles against his Rival and Arch-Enemy, Lady Shiva (also a Bat-family Anti-Villain). Both of them have been, at different points in history, considered the greatest martial artists in the world, but Lady Shiva believes that the only true fight is a one-on-one Duel to the Death. During their match, Richard gains a decisive advantage and is poised to deliver a fatal attack, the Leopard Blow. With Shiva sure to die, several of her over-protective Mooks jump in to save her. An angry Shiva immediately kills the Mook and apologizes to Richard for the interruption. They resume the fight, and this time Shiva comes out on top, killing Richard. She expresses sincere regret that the fight ended this way because by all rights Richard should have won.
  • After being captured by Sonic and Tails in the Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW), Zavok doesn't understand why their punishment is only to be banished back to Lost Hex. When he swears Sonic's mercy will come back to bite him, Sonic's only reply after remembering what happened when he spared Eggman is that he refuses to sacrifice his principles out of fear. Zavok can only begrudgingly acknowledge his respect for Sonic's reply.
  • Spider-Man: In Identity Crisis, Prodigy, one of the alternate hero identities Peter came up with to clear his name, was such a boy scout that even Norman Osborn couldn't help but respect him for his Incorruptible Pure Pureness.
  • Superman:
    • Superman treats everyone well regardless of their legal status and only shows disdain for the most despicable of bad guys that even the other bad guys find repulsive.
    • In one comic, several low-level criminals tell stories about their run-ins with various other DC heroes. At the end, it's revealed that Superman is taking them to the police station by flying their car over the city. When he gets there, he simply escorts the men out while at the same time respectfully giving them a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech about getting out of crime. The last scene is of one criminal explaining to the other that this is why they operate in Metropolis.
      Criminal: Does that answer your question? At least when Metropolis' super guy catches you, he's not a jerk about it.
    • During The Death of Superman story arc, many prisoners in jail are shown as being happy that Superman is gone. At the same time, another majority of the prisoners admonish them for their attitudes, showing that even though Superman would put them in jail, they still respect the fact that he's a hero.
      One Prisoner: Hey man! Show some respect!
      Another Prisoner: Yeah man! Superman saved my mom's life!
    • During the Critical Condition story arc, Superman is poisoned with kryptonite radiation and is slowly dying. He's trying to find Lois, who has disappeared, and enlists Batman's help in finding her as he is too weak to do it alone. When Batman tries to question bikers at a biker bar where another woman disappeared under similar circumstances to Lois, they surround Batman and are ready to fight him when Superman, who is at this point barely able to walk, comes in pleading for their help. The next exchange is between Batman and Superman in the Batmobile after they get the info they need.
      Batman: They're never afraid of you, are they? Glowing green. Seeping radiation. You could crack this planet in two. And yet when they see you standing there, struggling to keep yourself up in a doorway, they trip over each other to help you.
    • In The Supergirl from Krypton (2004), Batman threatening to destroy Apokolips if Darkseid does not free Kara grudgingly earns him the tyrant's respect.
      Darkseid: Well played. Had the Kryptonian or the Amazon taken this gamble, they would have lost. They do not have the strength of character it would take to destroy an entire planet to achieve success. A human. You kill your own kind to win battles. It admirable quality.
    • Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom: When the titular villainess complains that she was only defeated because Superman is a coward who needed Supergirl's help, Darkseid retorts Superman is no coward, and she is completely out of her mind if she believes she can kill either of the Kryptonian heroes.
      Darkseid: The attempt to make a gift of Superman's head failed. Why?
      Maelstrom: There was another Kryptonian, a female. When I was about to kill her, he attacked. Such is his cowardice.
      Darkseid: Cowardice? Superman is no coward. You are a fool to believe yourself a match for either Superman or Supergirl.
    • In The Super-Revenge of Lex Luthor, Superman does not know why Luthor is saving him from several assassination attempts (later, he realizes that Luthor is trying to drive him mad with paranoia), but even so, he gives Luthor credit for that in an interview. As reading the newspaper, Luthor has to admit Superman is fair.
  • When Thanos of Titan was dead, his ghostly specter visited the wasted and cancer-ridden Captain Marvel on his deathbed, saying "I've always had great respect for you, Mar-vell. You have always been my greatest foe, my arch nemesis. For one such as you, death should not come gnawing like some vermin. For you, death should be... a glorious event!" Thanos then seemingly restored Captain Marvel to his full health and provided him with his costume so that they might have one last battle together.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon):
    • Played With by San. After his Heel–Face Turn, it's clear when he's recalling the death of Thor's son by him and Ghidorah's other two heads that he thought the opponent died quite honorably, as he fought to the end even after he was dismembered.
    • Ichi/Eldest Brother, the middle head of Ghidorah, expresses a brief moment of this for Monster X during his Defiant to the End after Keizer Ghidorah is defeated.
  • Begrudging Assistance Requests: Dmitri shows this towards Ellie for her trickery and attempt to betray their deal, but then mocks her for her shortsightedness. He later shows this again towards both Ellie and Henry for putting aside their differences to defeat him.
  • Biomass Effect: The Leviathans consider Blacklight to be a fellow apex race. Considering in canon they believed they were the only apex race in the galaxy, that is probably the highest compliment they could possibly give to anyone.
  • Boldores And Boomsticks: Watt's inner monologue is rather complimentary of Lillie as she tears through the Grimm. Being the pragmatic sort, though, he responds with a headshot.
  • In Child of the Storm, Lucius Malfoy, The Chessmaster extraordinaire, expresses this — albeit rather reluctantly because he utterly despises the man — towards Director Nick Fury.
    • Baron Zemo is prone to this, when someone actually merits it. He is genuinely impressed by Harry's improvisation, noting it twice, before complimenting him to his face. He's also impressed by T'Challa's speed and, on their rematch, the improvements he has made to his technique, approvingly remarking that he is growing from "complacent cub to fearsome cat." Since he killed T'Challa's father in single combat, T'Challa isn't too pleased about this.
    • Maddie Pryor, at this point an Anti-Villain, is impressed by Harry's unconventional but effective use of his powers, which allow him to keep ahead of more nominally powerful and skilled opponents. She's also later impressed by the fact that, while he's less powerful than she is, he's strong enough to fight on even footing with her.
    • During the Bloody Hell arc, Dracula compliments Harry on the villains he has defeated and the reputation as a Terror Hero he has built amongst the supernatural community, specifically the fear he has inspired in its darker denizens — which, as one professional to another, he respects. However, it comes with this coda...
  • Lord Commandant Jeor Mormont from The Difference One Man Can Make is actually a Reasonable Authority Figure who opposes Harry and the Norfolk because his sworn duty as a Black Brother compels him to protect the Seven Kingdoms from threats beyond the Wall, and a potential invasion force led by a powerful sorcerer certainly qualifies. He still was very grateful to Harry for killing Alfyn Crowkiller — responsible for many Black Brothers' death — and acknowledged him as strong and competent enough to become King-Beyond-the-Wall. Nowadays, he's more friendly since the Norfolks don't make plans for going south.
    • Varys is a more straight example, since he Does Not Like Magic and has no qualms about putting a hit on Harry's life. However, he notes the wizard must be an exceptional leader to take the wildlings and make them into a true nation.
  • Tywin Lannister in A Dovahkiin Spreads His Wings honestly respects Jon Snow/Whitewolf for making a name for himself and building a respectable life from the ground up despite his status as a bastard.
  • Equestria Girls: A Fairly Odd Friendship: The Dazzlings come to respect Timmy after he nearly beats them singlehandedly.
  • Mayor Wilkins in the epilogue of False Smiles genuinely congratulates the Scoobies for successfully preventing (or rather, delaying) his ascension. He's genuinely impressed they succeeded and set him back three hundred years.
  • Voldemort admits to himself in For Love of Magic that he would actually admire all Harry's accomplished over the years if they hadn't come at his expense, noting that in a few years Harry undid decades of work.
  • In A Hero, Dalek Sec has a profound admiration for human determination and considers them the second greatest species in the universe (after Daleks, obviously). The fact that the Incubators have been undermining them just so they could be used for their master plan... angers him greatly, even by Dalek emotional standards. While he admits it's a solid plan and one the Daleks might have carried out, he still thinks the humans deserve to make their own choices.
  • Heroes of the New World; Izuku Midoriya comes up with a plan to infiltrate Kaido's quarters when he's distracted, steal the keys to Yamato's handcuffs, then skip town with her without anyone noticing until the next day. When it goes off more or less without a hitch, in between his moments of Unstoppable Rage Kaido can't help but admit it was a ballsy plan worthy of being written into legend.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel fic Home Before Dark, Holtz feels as though he's received this when Angel(us) tells the Scooby Gang that Holtz is a good man who can be trusted to keep his word.
  • After Pinkie's chat with O'Malley in I Against I, Me Against You — and in the midst of a successful purging of the Meta's collected A.I. via the Elements of Harmony — he gives her a grateful look before he disappears.
  • Invader Zim: A Bad Thing Never Ends: Zim's minion The Announcer legitimately admires Aldrich Coathanger's Hard Light technology, presumably due to his own extensive use of holograms.
  • Kings of Revolution:
    • Quattro becomes so much as a best friend for Lelouch as they're very similar to one another.
    • Jail Scaglietti pays his respects to Zero over his achievements at Narita. That extends from using a landslide to eliminate Cornelia's forces to capturing Cornelia herself and defeating Nanoha in a one-on-one battle.
  • In Lost Boy, Alva thanks Hiccup for sparing Snotlout's life in their duel regardless of her feelings towards him.
  • The Many Dates of Danny Fenton: Danny manages to impress Darakseid in After the Dates: Danny and Barbara after using his Ghostly Wail on him, to the point where he contemplates having Granny Goodness train him to be one of his warriors.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf seems to genuinely respect the better fighters of Danaerys' court. Unfortunately, said respect is delivered in so heavy-handed a manner that they want nothing to do with it.
    • During the siege of King's Landing, Jon Snow kills one of the Wolf's marauders after the latter goes berserk, cutting down Lannisters, Unsullied, and civilians alike. The next day, the Wolf shows up to give Jon the berserker's axe, armor, and severed head, telling Jon it's a good start for a collection.
    • Grey Worm is regularly congratulated by the Wolf for his courage and skill, especially when butchering unarmed prisoners. This particular praise is so odious that Grey Worm orders a halt to the massacre.
    • The Wolf addresses Daenerys as Dragonqueen and seems intent on helping her conquer King's Landing (he only stops killing Lannister prisoners when told that she'll decide their fate). However, he seems fixated on the idea that she do so by force, even arranging for her to be pushed into attacking the city when it looks like their surrender will come peacefully.
    • Tyrion gets hit with the Wolf's obnoxious friendship after he wins a Drinking Contest and drunkenly reveals how he came to kill a man with a shield and once walked up to a pair of dragons to unchain them. As a result, the Wolf refers to him as Shield-slayer and even offers him a spot on his ship.
    • Despite the two never actually talking, Wulfrik/the Wolf seems to respect Sandor Clegane, viewing him as a skilled warrior.
  • My Abominable Monster Classmates Can't Be This Cute!: In Chapter 38, Cinder and her cohorts confront Jaune in the hallway over the risk of their infiltration mission being exposed after Jaune, Weiss and Ruby flooded the CCT Tower with spam bots from porn-surfing to sabotage Watts' virus, effectively turning themselves into school-wide legends overnight in the process. Cinder is clearly irritated that she can't murder Jaune over all the attention Team AWRY are drawing, Emerald looks at Jaune like he's the scum of the earth, and Mercury? Mercury just gives him a friendly nod and a shit-eating grin over what he did.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Paul has been shown to be capable of acknowledging Ash and his skills if he does something impressive, such as when he manages to defeat a Mudsdale with Pikachu, overcoming the odds despite having everything against him.
  • In Powerless, upon learning that Xander brought Buffy back from the dead, Jack O'Toole compliments his work and mentions that his grandfather would love to talk shop with Xander some time. Of course, he doesn't know Xander simply gave Buffy CPR.
  • Scarlet Lady:
    • Played With by Gabriel Agreste, who proves to be Entertainingly Wrong about Scarlet Lady; he repeatedly assumes that she's far more competent, cunning, and crafty than she actually is. For instance, he assumes that she has Chat Noir handle the bulk of the fighting so that she can keep her Earrings safely out of his reach, when she's just a lazy Glory Hound who keeps Stealing the Credit from her partner. Once Gabriel finally learns the truth, he continues to insist that she's employing Obfuscating Stupidity and "playing the fool", unwilling to admit that he's being outplayed and outwitted by such an incompetent Nominal Heroine.
    • Played Straight by Nathalie's admiration of Marigold, which is implied to be because she recognizes her as a fellow Hypercompetent Sidekick.
  • In The Scorpion Jar, Akaguro Chizome, also known as Hero Killer Stain, comes to respect and admire Izuku after hearing his testimony about what makes a hero in an interview.
  • Doctor Doom in Spider-Man: Shoulders of Giants thinks Spider-Man is deserving of respect for not only disabling Doom's highly advanced nuclear missile, which even he thought was impossible, but managing to survive getting blasted into space with it.
  • A Supe of a Man: In chapter 15, while talking to Clark privately about his concern about his plan to deal with Homelander, Stan Edgar admits that Clark is one of the few superheroes he respects for his ability to manage any situation that he finds himself in.
  • There's No Rule That Says A Wolf Can't Be A Jedi: Being the polite and philosophical wolf that he is, by the time he's done on the Sith world of Korrigan, Swift has earned a degree of cordiality from the spirit of the ancient Sith Lord Thrain, who admits that he "could almost get to like you, Jedi" and will miss the company.
  • This Bites!: Luffy manages to get this a lot:
    • Lucci and Jabra admire Luffy's Determinator status and fighting ability.
    • Crocodile respects Luffy's ability, mostly since it proves he didn't lose to some pathetic rookie but rather the next rising star.
    • Sengoku respects Luffy enough to offer him a Warlord position after Luffy defeats Lily Carnation and has Baron Omatsuri buried with his crew.
      • This goes the other way in that Cross actually respects Sengoku. Until Enies Lobby anyway.
    • The Straw Hats cause so much chaos that Doflamingo openly declares that he can't wait to see the sheer madness the Era of the Straw Hats will bring.
    • Cross' To the Pain speech to Spandam impresses Sadi-chan enough to have her copy down his ideas and state that if he weren't a pirate, he'd make executive at Impel Down within six months.
    • To say nothing of virtually all of the other Supernovas, including characters like Kidd and Bege.
  • In To The Night Sky, Justin Everson is a petty, nasty doctor who couldn't stand the idea of twelve-years-old Edward Elric succeeding in becoming a State Alchemist when Everson himself failed in spite of years spent studying (mainly because he was Axe-Crazy). He nonetheless concedes that Edward is just that brilliant and rightfully earned his title.
  • Unbreakable Red Silken Thread:
    • Despite Heather's hatred for Gwen, she had always respected that she was able to beat her with honesty, determination, and not giving a fuck what other people thought. And not go to her level, using underhanded tricks, deception, and backstabbing.
    • Averted with Alejandro, Duncan, and Leshawna. With Alejandro and Duncan, it was the fact they used the same tactics as her. For Leshawna, Heather admitted she earned some respect, but she ultimately fell short and lost it because she was too easily cowed into submission by the desires of her team. Heather also admits she was still bitter at her for forgetting about the truce they made during Action when World Tour started up.

    Films — Animation 
  • Peter Pan: As much as Captain Hook hates Peter for cutting his hand off, he does seem to respect him to some degree. When Peter has apparently been killed by the exploding gift he gave him, Hook takes a moment of silence for him, even removing his hat.
    Hook: And so passeth a Worthy Opponent.
  • Rattlesnake Jake from Rango initially dismisses the titular hero as a joke, but after Rango rises to the challenge and manages to outsmart and defeat him in the climax, Jake congratulates him on the win and leaves without further issue.
    "I tip my hat to you. One legend to another."
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: At the end of the movie, the horse Spirit and the Lakota Little Creek who is riding him are being chased by the United States Calvary, led by an unnamed Colonel. They successfully make an incredible leap of faith over a ravine, landing where the U.S. Cavalry cannot follow them. The Colonel and the horse stare each other down for a moment, but when one of the soldiers is about to shoot Spirit and Little Creek, the Colonel stops him. He nods his head to Spirit and Little Creek, acknowledging them as Worthy Opponents, then takes his men and leaves the pair to their freedom.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Thanos expresses respect for Iron Man after their knock-down drag-out fight, which has concluded with Tony only managing to inflict a teeny scratch on him, while Thanos has smashed his armor and run Tony through with his own weapon. Compare that to his alternate past self from Endgame, who dismisses the Avengers as "wretches".
    Thanos: You have my respect. When I'm done, half of the universe will survive. I hope they remember you.
  • At the end of The Babysitter: Killer Queen, as the teens perform the ritual, they all suddenly start dying. It’s then that all they realize, much to their horror and anger, that Cole had lost his virginity to Phoebe, thus tainting the blood of their would-be Virgin Sacrifice... all except for Max, who gleefully proclaims how proud he is of Cole for losing his virginity even as he and his friends die painfully.
    Max: You fuckin' stud, Cole! I ain't even mad, bro! Respect!
  • In Fast & Furious 6, one of the Big Bad's underlings refers to the protagonists dismissively as "common criminals." Shaw then points out that those "common criminals" came very close to shutting them all down, and tells the underling to show them the respect they deserve.
  • Faust: Love of the Damned: In the climax Mephistopheles acknowledges the Faustian superhero main character to be the best student he ever had.
  • Garth from the opening of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, who looted the Cross of Coronado and had it stolen by young Indiana Jones. After chasing young Indy across Hell's half acre, over a moving train, and finally to the boy's home, he convinces the Sheriff that he was the legal owner of it and retrieves it with ease. By this point he's thoroughly impressed by Indy's own pragmatism and sheer determination, and gives Indy his trademark fedora and some genuine words of encouragement:
    Garth: You lost today, kid, but that doesn't mean you have to like it.
  • Kill Bill has O-Ren Ishii acknowledge the Bride's skill with the sword and apologize for mocking her before.
  • In Man of Steel, when Colonel Hardy draws his knife on Faora after witnessing her slaughter his men and absorb countless bullets without even flinching, she seems genuinely impressed by his courage.
  • In The Man with the Golden Gun, Professional Killer Francisco Scaramanga genuinely respects the hero James Bond as a fellow assassin of equal skill, to the point of refusing to kill him immediately because the prospect of testing his mettle in a Duel to the Death with the legendary secret agent was too great for him to pass up.
    Scaramanga: [raising a glass in a toast] To us, Mr. Bond; we are the best.
  • In Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, Simmonds makes it clear that he finds Orson's plan to infiltrate his compound a very impressive one.
  • At the end of Ready or Not (2019), Mr. Le Bail, the demonic figure who the Le Domas family made a deal with in exchange for their wealth, slaughters the entire family after they fail to sacrifice Grace before sunrise as per the rules of their deal. On the other hand, he not only allows Grace herself to live, he gives her a respectful nod for having survived the night.
  • In RoboCop 3, there's a Japanese Corrupt Corporate Executive who commissions a very humanoid-looking robot to destroy RoboCop. Naturally, Robo trashes the Japanese 'bot... and when the executive meets Robo in person at the end, he bows in traditional Japanese style as a show of acknowledgement.
  • Depending on how one sees them, The Bandit and Sheriff Buford T. Justice from Smokey and the Bandit affect this at the end. They're communicating via CB radio, and Justice doesn't realizes that Bandit, Cledus, and Carrie are right behind him:
    Bandit: Before I tell you where I am, I just wanna say something. You must be part coon dog. 'Cause I've been chased by the best of 'em, but you make 'em all look like they're running in slow motion. Just want to tell you that.
    Justice: [somewhat humbled] Well, thank y' kindly, Mr. Bandit. And may I just say that as the pursuer, you're just about the godddamndest pursuee I ever pursued. Now that the mutual bullshit is over... WHERE ARE YOU, YOU SOMBITCH??!!
  • Supreme Leader Snoke may have feared Luke Skywalker, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, for his Godlike mastery of The Force, but it was Rey who earned his respect with her courage by drawing sword not once but twice to defy him, in spite of not being able to approach, much less strike him.
    Snoke: Ooh! And still that fiery spit of Hope! You have the spirit of a true Jedi! And because of that... you must die.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Magneto and Xavier are former friends who are disapproving of each other's methods in dealing with human-mutant relations. Though they fight one another, they never hate each other and can see the other's point of view. This is emphasized in X-Men: The Last Stand when Magneto chews Pyro out for indicating he (Pyro) would have assassinated Charles Xavier if Magneto had given the word.
      Magneto: Charles Xavier did more for mutants than you will ever know. My single greatest regret is that he had to die for our dream to live.
    • Bolivar Trask expresses his respect for the mutants in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

  • The Beginning After the End In Volume 10, In battle for the Vildorial, Viessa and Melzri were confident that the Wraiths will kill Arthur and they will win. However, To their surprise Arthur Kills the Wraiths and returns still exuding power. Arthur throws one of the Wraith horns and tells them that Agrona is testing his patience then tells them to leave or die. Melzri and Viessa bow to Arthur before retreating showing him their respect to Arthur.
  • The Bible gives us an example in Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Although he overthrew Judah, as documented in Jeremiah 39, he gave orders that the prophet Jeremiah should be well taken care of (it helps that Jeremiah, under orders from God, had tried to convince the Jews to submit meekly to Nebuchadnezzar instead of trying to revolt). Later on, in the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar showed regard to Daniel as the man who correctly interpreted his dreams (despite throwing Daniel's three friends into the fiery furnace). Both cases occur before his Heel–Face Turn, which he himself talks about in Daniel 4.
  • In the final book of The Dark is Rising, Silver on the Tree, Will turns down the Dark Rider's Hostage for MacGuffin offer. He's impressed. A similar moment occurred in the second book The Dark Is Rising when he refused to trade his sister Mary for the Six Signs.
  • In Deryni Rising, Charissa finds Morgan in the royal library while he researches Kelson's empowering ritual. During their tense verbal fencing match, she mentions having just looked in on the prince as he slept, and Morgan insists his magical Wards Major are impenetrable.
    Charissa: That is probably true. You set your wards most effectively. In fact, even I was impressed with your skill. I had thought a half-breed Deryni incapable of such highly developed expertise.
  • Neither of them fit hero-villain molds neatly, but in Dinoverse Janine and her old bully Candayce have a stormy confrontation, where it comes out that Candayce is half-scared of Janine partly because she can't control or easily hurt her, half because she admires Janine. Janine would never betray a friend, and she isn't afraid of what people think.
  • Several villains, including Cowl and Nicodemus, express respect for Harry Dresden in The Dresden Files, usually trying to recruit him or asking him to stand aside because they think he's got talent and ability, and would rather not kill someone with so much potential just yet.
  • In the Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) novelization, the radicalist eco-terrorist Emma Russell, despite her deep resentment of her ex-husband Mark for his failures as a husband and a father after their son's death, can't help being genuinely impressed that he brought himself to stick his neck out and put his life on the line trying to save Emma and Madison.
  • Voldemort to Neville (former Butt-Monkey) at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
    Voldemort: You show spirit, and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom.
  • A Master of Djinn: Abigail tells Fatma she admires her after being buried alive together in rubble, after Abigail's been revealed to be the main villain. Fatma does not reciprocate.
  • Ezra Squall, the Big Bad of the Nevermoor series, wishes to become Morrigan's mentor and make her his heir, partially because he sees a lot of himself in her (a thought that she finds utterly revolting). He believes they're both superior to everyone else because they're Wundersmiths, and expresses genuine admiration for her strength and abilities, seeming pleased whenever she manages to exhibit some control over Wunder. It's partially because of this that he has very little patience for her naivete or insecurities; as Wundersmiths, such things ought to be beneath them.
    You are not a mouse, Morrigan Crow. You are a dragon.
  • Path of the Eldar: In Path of the Seer, Thirianna is surprised and impressed by Imperial void shield technology on their warships, which she'd originally thought was beyond humanity's comprehension.
  • This trope is kind of a signature of Hannibal Lecter. In Red Dragon, he seems to have some respect for Will Graham, the FBI agent who caught him, and in the sequel, The Silence of the Lambs, he grows to genuinely admire the new protagonist, Clarice Starling. Notably, when he escapes from prison, Clarice knows instinctively that he won't come after her, because that would be rude. The third book, Hannibal, made the, um, controversial decision of having Hannibal and Clarice fall in love at the end.
  • Near the end of The Rithmatist, the Humanoid Abomination villain actually apologises to Joel for not initially seeing him as the Worthy Opponent he has proven himself to be. He then takes it a step further in the final scene — as he sees Joel and Melody destroy another of his plans, he watches in what almost seems like a reversed, villainous form of Admiring the Abomination.
    Nalizar: It's beautiful. I have to watch those two carefully. They are amazing.
  • Darken Rahl to Richard Cipher in the first Sword of Truth book, Wizard's First Rule. Rahl's reaction on finding out Richard had resisted torture by partitioning his mind, a trick that only those with the Gift could pull off, his reaction is to assure the torturer that he was not going to kill her for failing because the failure wasn't her fault, and he shows some respect to Richard for pulling it off.
  • In Warrior Cats, Tigerstar (grudgingly) admits that Firestar has great strength and spirit and says that he would need both if they met again.
  • Moridin from The Wheel of Time generally comes off as much more respectful of his opposite number Rand than he is of his own Quirky Miniboss Squad; while he frequently comes off as deeply exasperated dealing with them, he saves Rand's life during a brief Enemy Mine and later is quite civil when they start showing up in each others' dreams, chatting about his personal philosophy and their opposing roles so civilly the narration actually compares them to old friends. (Which they actually were in the Age of Legends, before Elan Morin went to the Shadow.) He remains respectful right up until the Final Battle when Rand really sets him off by calling him irrelevant because this respect only flows one way — Rand respects the man Moridin once was, but has only a kind of horrified pity for him currently.

    Live-Action TV 
  • And Then There Were None (2015):
    • In the climax, U.N. Owen expresses admiration for his final victim's resourcefulness before yanking the chair she's balancing herself on out from under her, leaving her to suffocate in a noose.
      U.N. Owen: What a beguiling woman you are, Ms. Claithorne. Vera. Quite my favorite, really.
    • At the moment of his execution, Edward Seton realizes that Wargrave was just as bloodthirsty as he was and flashed him a smile in admiration for his ability to hide his nature.
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "The Illusion of Truth", commentators on the martial-law-era ISN network make a point to praise Sheridan as a great hero of the Earth-Minbari War, but put on "experts" who state that he was psychologically damaged and fell prey to "alien influences" through no fault of his own.
    • A group plotting the subjugation of telepaths makes clear that they consider telepaths to be better than ordinary humans. In fact, that's the reason for their plotting: they believe that humans can't possibly compete with them unless we have an unfair advantage.
    "We have homo superior versus homo sapiens. On a level playing field, homo superior wins every time.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • Shawn makes Robby's time in juvie hell but respects his fighting skills to the point that when Shawn's little brother needs help with bully trouble, Shawn sends him to Robby.
    • Similarly, Terry Silver who has nothing but disdain for all of his other enemies like Daniel, Chozen, and even Mr. Miyagi, actually does show some fleeting respect for Johnny Lawrence. It's not much, but he does seem to at least admire his former friend's student's bravado and strike-first attitude enough that he actually gives him a begrudging compliment after Johnny's been beaten senseless by his henchmen:
      Silver: You got guts, Lawrence. I'll give you that. But just not much upstairs.
  • Doctor Who: In "School Reunion", Mr. Finch has a healthy respect for the Doctor's intellect, and he is the only character Finch treats as an equal, even offering to share power with him. Now, Finch is a Manipulative Bastard, so he might be trying to play on the Doctor's ego, but either way, it almost works.
    • Lady Cassandra from "The End of The World" gains a bitter respect towards the Doctor and his intellect after being bested by him and decides to work with him after possessing Rose Tyler in "New Earth," thinking that they have a better chance at figuring out the secrets of the cat nuns together. She also becomes infatuated by the Doctor's new looks to the point of giving him a passionate kiss and seems to enjoy her time as his companion without even bothering to reveal her facade.
    • Cassandra also seems to develop a grudging admiration for Rose's beauty. She is a high-class Lady and a supremacist xenophobe so she possesses Rose due to her being a pure human and as part of her revenge plot, but she eventually becomes enamored with her new (Rose's) appearance, to the point that she goes out of her way to show off her new looks. Despite her classist hatred towards Rose, Cassandra also seems to enjoy being in Rose's body and even proudly calls herself "The Last Human" even while possessing her, meaning she recognizes Rose as an equal that fits her conservative and eugenicist views. So despite the bitterness, Rose is still one of the people Cassandra shows the largest amount of respect towards, reflecting her pretentious and materialist views.
  • In Downton Abbey Thomas is a condescending ass to everyone and loathes the aristocracy, but he does respect conviction. When his time in the military places him under the command of Matthew, Thomas would later relate, in private, that Matthew was a good, honorable man, and when he's injured Thomas wishes him well in his recovery. He was stationed with Lady Sybil at the local hospital, and together they cared for dozens of injured soldiers from the war. Her death crushes Thomas who remarks that she was one of the few genuinely kind people he's ever known in his life.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Rivals and peers may usually mock or deride Jaime Lannister as a kingslaying, incestuous cripple, but will also genuinely praise or esteem the combat prowess of his Glory Days.
      Euron Greyjoy: When you rushed through the breach and started cutting people down, it was glorious. Like a dance.
    • When composing a letter addressing Joffrey's lineage, Stannis refers to Jaime as both the Kingslayer and as Ser Jaime as for all of Jaime's flaws, he remains a knight and should be treated as one.
  • In Kamen Rider Fourze, the Big Bad Chairman Gamou generally treats the members of the Kamen Rider Club in an Affably Evil manner, but holds a special respect for the main Power Trio. He worked alongside Kengo's father, and obviously sees echoes of his former friend in the young man. Yuki managed to impress him with her enthusiasm for and knowledge of space exploration, and actually regarded her as a kindred spirit when she said that as a child, she heard voices she was convinced came from aliens trying to make First Contact (because Gamou heard the same voices in his own youth).
    • As for Gentaro, in one episode he outright goes to Gamou to try and resolve a conflict between Yuki and the Monster of the Week, the Chairman seemingly impressed by Gentaro's honest and forthright nature. Not to mention The Movie, where Gentaro is in danger of dying and needs the help of 40 people with strong feelings for him; when time is running out and they're one person short, Gamou appears and offers his services of his own free will. The fact that his efforts worked speaks volumes.
  • Played for laughs on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, "The Day The Earth Froze", when Tom Servo and Crow voice two of the witch's mooks as they watch watch the hero Lemminkäinen at one point
    Tom Servo: Yeah, he's the enemy but you gotta admire him.
    Crow: Yep, yep, tip your cap.
    Tom Servo: Pretty much.
  • When Reva Sevander goes to Tatooine to kill young Luke Skywalker in the finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi, she's impressed at how hard Owen and Beru fight to protect their nephew, despite being ordinary farmers against a Force-wielding Dark Sider.
    Reva: You really love the he's your own.
    Owen: He is my own.
  • Displayed posthumously in Rome: Having triumphed over her long-time rival, Servillia, who killed herself after Brutus' death at Philippi, Atia nonetheless suffers a reversal of fortune. But when she bounces back, this time locking horns with her new daughter-in-law, Livia, she combines this with a Badass Boast of her own:
    Atia: I know who you are. I can see. You're swearing now that someday you'll destroy me. Remember: far better women than you have sworn to do the same. Go and look for them now.
  • Zig-zagged a bit in Stargate SG-1 with Ba'al, who seems to hold SG-1 as a whole in relatively high regard (for a Goa'uld). But looks down on and insults Carter every chance he gets, apparently due to being a chauvinist.
    • Lord Yu might be a straighter example, who, despite his senility, does not appear to be a chauvinist.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed", Khan is impressed when Dr. McCoy (at whose throat he is holding a scalpel) advises him on which artery to sever to make his own death a quick one.
  • Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine often compliments those who say they don't trust him, with "There's hope for you yet." He gives a similar compliment to Dr. Bashir in "Our Man Bashir" after the latter shoots him non-lethally and then lets Garak know he might have been shooting to kill.

    Multiple Media 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Thor: The Dark World. Though throughout the movie exactly how villainous Loki actually is put into question somewhat, there is the line:
      Loki: You lied to me! I'm impressed.
    • Luke Cage (2016): Mariah tends to show twisted forms of this towards Luke.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Adrian Toomes thinks Peter is a good kid and admires his tenacity as well as the fact he saves both his and his daughter's lives over the course of the film. Even when Peter continues to try to thwart him, he'd rather convince Peter to step aside rather than have to kill him. Even at the end, when Gargan wants to know Spider-Man's identity, Toomes pretends not to know rather than sell Peter out.
    • Avengers: Infinity War:
      • Thanos becomes genuinely impressed with the heroes who fight him on Titan and compliments them even as he's beating them half to death.
        Thanos: You have my respect, Stark. When I am done, half of humanity will still be alive... I hope they will remember you.
      • He also expresses admiration for Peter Quill and Scarlet Witch when they are willing to sacrifice the ones they love most to keep Thanos from getting more of the infinity stones, even if their efforts are ultimately futile.
    • Avengers: Endgame: Subverted. A version of Thanos arrives from 2014 and finds that the heroes are trying to undo his culling of half the universe. He dismisses them as ungrateful losers who can't give up on the past (note his whole quest was an attempt to prove himself right to his dead species). He decides to use the Stones they collected to kill the entire universe and then remake it so that the new universe won't know what they lost.
    • What If…? (2021): In "What If... Ultron Won?", Ultron comments to Captain Marvel that she has spirit when she manages to blast him through the planet Xandar to its core, putting up an impressive fight against Ultron and coming closer to defeating him than anyone else in this timeline since he gained the Infinity Stones.

  • Avengers: Infinity Quest: After the player acquires an Infinity Gem, Thanos will occasionally admit that he admires their resilience — "misguided as it is."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Nomine: Habbalah, demons known for their belief that they're still angels despite all evidence to the contrary and the destructive "tests of character" that they put other beings through, like and respect the Malakim, Heaven's warrior angels, and see them as some of the few beings who meet their high standards of strength and purity. In practice, this just means that they test them all the harder, however, and the Malakim very emphatically do not return this respect.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Warboss Ghazhgkull Mag Uruk Thraka pays this towards Commissar Sebastian Yarrick, to the point of releasing Yarrick from captivity (after Yarrick led a slave rebellion and ripped apart the space hulk they were on of course) and referring to him as "My best enemy". Yarrick, for his part, is utterly revolted by this.

    Video Games 
  • In Among Us, when an Impostor is executed via lava bath on Polus Outpost, they resurface just long enough to give anyone still watching from above a hearty thumbs-up.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • In Assassin's Creed III, after Connor kills his father Haythem, before he dies he tells Connor that he's proud of the qualities Connor has (having great conviction, strength, and courage).
    • In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Torres uses his last breath to praise Edward for finally fighting for a cause greater than himself.
  • Jon Irenicus from Baldur's Gate II reacts with both respect and thunderstruck amusement when the player releases all the captives from Spellhold Asylum. Consider: this is a fantasy world with monsters, necromancy, and sorcery, and THIS is where they lock up the crazies. "You've released them all. How deliciously mad of you..."
  • One side-quest in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! has you fulfilling the last wishes of a dead soldier. When completed, Colonel Zarpedon thanks you for doing so and forwards you the co-ordinates to a small cache of white/green rarity gear. Upon turning in the mission, Zarpedon states that while you don't have her mercy, you do have her respect.
  • In City of Heroes and City of Villains, we have Big Bad Lord Recluse, a no-nonsense, nigh-immortal, super-genius of the highest measure. The man rules his own country as a Social Darwinist utopia — to the point that he encourages assassination attempts against him, though, he assures everyone only gets one chance. However, when the Player Villain goes to the near identical future and kills him, then returns with his helmet as a trophy, Lord Recluse all but gives them a golf clap and declares he acknowledges them as his peers — ones which he will of course kill if they interfere in his plans but otherwise leave to their own schemes. Likewise, Lord Recluse has an automated airship of doom that routinely spawns over his capital as a "Giant Monster" type, the badge for destroying it claims: "You have successfully brought down one of Lord Recluse's flyers. Lord Recluse is amused." This sort of treatment of his fellow villains has resulted in both NPC and player villains having more respect for Lord Recluse than any other arch-villain. He’s a blatant Card-Carrying Villain but he’s also an Equal-Opportunity Evil, Benevolent Boss, and that goes a long way to a country of outcasts, thieves, and psychos, grateful for a government that lets them be themselves.
  • In Dragon Age II, you can earn the respect of the Qunari Arishok (the Final Boss of Act II) by always staying honest and blunt with him and his people. Doing so even earns you the achievement "A Worthy Rival".
    Arishok: I have a growing lack of disgust for you.
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ:
    • At the end of the villain story arc, the player is given respect by (of all people) Frieza, even offering a chance for you to join his army.
    • After Gohan shows his stuff as a fellow "Super Sentai" Stance connoisseur, Captain Ginyu acknowledges him as a true warrior, honors him with his finest fighting pose, and states that, were he not an enemy, Gohan would make a fine addition to the Ginyu Force.
  • Dagoth Ur's relationship with the Player Character in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is... complicated, but one can make an argument that at least his reaction to you stating that you are a self-willed hero making your own fate fits here (he expresses admiration for it, even as the context means you're saying that all his previous offers and compliments weren't actually for you).
  • Rubicante of Final Fantasy IV is a Noble Demon who believes in fair fights and respecting his foes, taking time to compliment Cecil and his companions at multiple points. In fact, while the other Four Elemental Fiends spend their last words in bewilderment about how they could lose, Rubicante wishes his opponents well and praises their bravery and strength.
  • Grandia III:
    • Upon both defeats, Violetta will comment that you've got some nice moves.
    • Each time you cancel one of Emelious' attacks (you cannot knock him down), he will reply with "Not bad!"
  • Maleficent, in Kingdom Hearts II, politely bows to Queen Minnie Mouse upon realizing she is in the room with her. Even while claiming that she intends to corrupt and steal the castle.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: Byrne continues to address Anjean as his "Master" despite no longer being under her apprenticeship, and it's implied she only survived the battle between them because he chose to let her live. He also acknowledges that Alfonzo has great skill with the sword for a human, though this doesn't stop him from completely brutalizing him and then dismissing it as "hardly a fair fight."
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:
      • Demise, the Demon King, is legitimately impressed with Link when they meet, as Link is the only human in history who has ever stood up to him rather than fleeing in terror. This is enough for him to offer to fight Link in a duel, giving Link time to prepare rather than attacking immediately. Doesn't stop Demise from cursing Link's entire family line with an eternally resurrecting incarnation of pure rage and hatred upon his death.
      • Downplayed towards Groose, as Demise is mildly impressed that Groose was brave enough to dive in and catch Zelda after she was freed from Ghirahim's ritual.
  • In Love & Pies, Sebastian, Corrupt Corporate Executive of Global Megacorp, praises Amelia for doing well in the business competition between her mother Freya's and his daughter Edwina's cafés. He also offers to help Amelia because he cares about her mom, no matter his job title or if Edwina acts callous towards Amelia. She still doesn't trust him, but he tells her to believe him when he says that he's on her and Freya's side. This is because Sebastian is Amelia's father, and he's favoring her over her half-sister, Edwina.
  • LunarLux: Downplayed with General Saros, who has both admiration for the Grey family and contempt for them. He respects Thomas and Thea for being brilliant scientists and states that Thomas inspired him to become one too. He also admits that Thea is the superior fighter between the two of them. As for Bella, he admits that she has a lot of resolve and that she can get people to open up to her. However, he also considers them all too soft to appreciate his insane plans to forcibly evolve humanity into antimatter beings and states that they're always thorns in his side.
  • Implied in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, where the security system in Bowser's Memory Banks is a Dual Boss fight against crude, blocky representations of Mario and Luigi. Keep in mind Bowser has an ego about as big as he is, which all but guarantees that his mind would choose a representation of Bowser to defend itself, or maybe an army of his minions. But it chose Mario and Luigi, showing that Bowser has a lot of respect for their fighting skill, at least on a subconscious level.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3:
  • Mass Effect 3:
    • The Illusive Man constantly shows respect for Shepard and believes that they should be working together to save the galaxy from the Reapers (unaware that by this point he's been indoctrinated by them). Averted however by Kai Leng, who seems to be offended at the idea of showing respect to Shepard, who he sees as a traitor to both Cerberus and humanity, and underestimates at almost every step of the way.
    • The Reapers also show this, albeit in a more limited way considering what they are and their (not completely unjustified) egos. They note that Shepard has genuinely hindered their plans and will turn their guns away from entire fleets to attempt to kill him/her.
      Harbinger: Shepard. You have become an annoyance.
    • Before all of the above, despite his intense hatred of humans, Saren admits that Shepard's actions on Virmire earned his respect.
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Senator Armstrong spends his last moments praising Raiden's ability to follow his own path, and gives him his blessing for the latter's plans to bring down the war economy once and for all.
  • Nintendo Wars: In Advance Wars, this is a big part of Hawke's personality. While he generally treats anyone, friend and foe alike, who is incompetent with scorn, he tends to take an interest in those who he sees as being worthy opponents: he's become interested in Andy to the point it borders on Foe Romance Subtext by Dual Strike and considers him a rival, he apparently is the one who promoted Flak to CO after seeing potential in him, and one of his win quotes is "You're not badI'm just that good."
  • In Octopath Traveler II, Kaldena has some of this for Temenos. She does complain often about him getting in her way, but she also admits that he's intelligent and offers to let him work for her. Temenos shoots her down, though.
  • At first, Professor Tsuchida of Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners barely maintains a friendly veneer towards the tour group he's roped into accompanying him into the ruins. Once they're actually inside, he sees nothing wrong with insulting and demeaning their intelligence, and is more intrigued by the judgments than concerned about anyone getting potentially killed. However, he gradually takes a shine to Ayuto, to the point that he offers him legitimate advice, seems legitimately worried for his sake when Nei's life hangs in the balance, and ultimately spends his last moments entreating Ayuto to be careful that he doesn't end up like him.
  • Persona:
    • The Final Boss of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment claims after going One-Winged Angel that the party is the first to ever see this form before proclaiming "Die with my highest praise!"
    • Persona 4: Arena Ultimax: Adachi admits to Yosuke that he actually thinks quite highly of him and the rest of the Investigation Team, pointing out he wouldn't have let them decide his fate, nor accepted his following imprisonment, otherwise.
  • The Resident Evil antagonist Wesker greatly respects the combat prowess of the S.T.A.R.S. team, not that this does them any good as he remarks to Dr. Birkin in Resident Evil 0 that he plans to have them slaughtered by B.O.W.s because their superior training will make them perfect candidates to test the combat abilities of the creatures. He also respects his former students' determination and sacrifices an opportunity to kill one of them, Jill, so he can turn her to his side instead.
    Wesker: [monologuing] And unfortunately I had to give up my lovely members of S.T.A.R.S.
  • We have Roger Bacon (actually Albert Simon) a British Gentleman Warlock from Shadow Hearts who happens to want to set off an Apocalypse and has multiple plans to test run it. At about the halfway point of the game Bacon summons an Eldritch Abomination to test run a ritual, an abomination that protagonist, Yuri Hyuga, deals with by letting it possess him to try to fight from the inside and emerges sane... eventually. After this Bacon feels ethically obligated to treat Yuri with the utmost respect. Throughout the game Bacon conducts himself with so much respect for Yuri that even at their climatic final battle both agree A, It’s going to be a battle to the death and B, It’s Nothing Personal. To the point that in the sequel Yuri is prone to beating the crap out of his new antagonists for even pretending they are better than Bacon.
  • Scrutinized: Tanner is actually a fairly polite and affable man for a Deadly Doctor Serial Killer. If Luna survives long enough against his predations and avoids capture, he non-lethally drugs and kidnaps her and then after a short chat in the basement of her house, passes over to her an extensive file on the Blueblood Killer she has been looking for, seemingly out of nothing but a genuine desire to help her out.
  • In Starfox 64, Star Wolf will reply with "You're good, but I'm better!" each time you damage him on Venom.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, at the end of the Imperial Agent's Act I, if they manage to deal with the villain by convincing them to surrender said villain will bid them farewell by stating that few people live by earning both his hatred and respect. Considering that this is one of the most powerful Sith Lords in the Empire saying this to a Non-Force Sensitive Spy, he isn't saying this lightly.
  • Some of the character-specific win quotes in Super Street Fighter IV qualify.
    Vega: [to Chun Li] Your beauty and strength impress. I shall remember this day.
    Juri: [to Ryu] I enjoy taking on fighters like you. You actually put up a fight.
    Seth: [generic post-fight quote] I did not expect you to put up such a fight. You have impressed me.
  • In Street Fighter X Tekken:
    Heihachi: [to Ryu] Heh, if I'd met you 10 years later, it would've been bad news. Good thing you're still a pup.
  • In Super Robot Wars X, Professor Wolfgang praises the X-Cross when their encouragement allows Black Might Gaine to fry the mind control device that Hoi Kow Loon was using on the robot, viewing it as a lesson that there are some things that not even science can overcome.
    Professor Wolfgang: A broken machine can be repaired, but there's no replacement for a person's life...I never expected them to teach me that lesson. Maito Senpuji, X-Cross, thank you for this invaluable lesson! As a man of science, I believe that scientific research is the best way to search for truth! But I understand there are some walls that science can never help you climb! Thank you for reminding me of that today! And I know just how to express that gratitude! I'll give you the honor of being crushed by my cutting-edge robot army!
  • Dhaos from Tales of Phantasia praises the heroes for saving the World Tree from its death, something he wanted to avoid in the first place. This doesn't stop him from engaging them in a Final Boss fight seconds later.
  • Rufus from Triangle Strategy develops some of this for House Wolffort. He may be a money-hungry Blood Knight of a mercenary, but he lacks respect for people who are weak-willed. This results in Rufus calling out Silvio Telliore (his current employer) for his lack of spine while praising Serenoa for sticking to his convictions.
  • In the Warlords of Draenor expansion of World of Warcraft, the leader of the titular Warlords, Grom Hellscream, is known as the Warlord with the iron will. He is fearless in battle, and even when his raiding party is exterminated, he's crucified on a tree in a desert, and starved until he's little more than skin and bones, he is strong enough to kill his captor with his teeth and escape. So it means that much more when, after the players defeat his army and he's captured by the traitor Gul'dan, his defiant speech is no longer about himself, but about how the players are an even more unstoppable force that Gul'dan has no hope against, using the same sort of descriptors used to define himself in legends.
  • X-COM:
    • In the final mission of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Ethereals openly praise the Volunteer and his/her squad as they fight through the Temple Ship, because the Volunteer and, by extension, all of humanity, have proven to be a species strong and intelligent enough to serve as the basis for their next generation of bodies.
    • XCOM 2 takes this even further, with the Ethereals personally commending the Commander him/herself for their skills during the final battle while controlling a repurposed Ethereal Avatar, and even trying to recruit him/her back to their side after the Commander was rescued in the game's introductory mission.
  • Yakuza 0: After being defeated by him in their third fight, Daisaku Kuze suggests that Kiryu surrenders Makoto Makimura to the Tojo Clan to save himself from more trouble. Kiryu warns that if anyone from the Tojo Clan so much as lays one finger on Makoto, he'll bury them all to the last man, and walks out with the now-deceased Tachibana in his arms. Needless to say, Kuze was impressed by his determination.
    Kuze: I'll be damned. The punk kid's finally turned... turned into a true yakuza.

    Visual Novels 
  • Changeling (Otome): In William's route, Nora has the opportunity to bargain with Reul in order to break the Changeling Contract and return her to her own body in exchange for both of them surviving the miasma infection. This impresses them greatly, and they remark that Nora "grew up well" before accepting the deal.
  • Exit/Corners: Ink gains Sent's respect after proving that the latter was lying about being a recording. This develops into a Villainous Crush, much to Ink's dismay.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: While whether she's a villain is debatable, Oryou Sonozaki is used to getting her way in everything, mostly because everyone is terrified of her. In Minagoroshi-hen, when Keiichi appeals to her to rally the village to help Satoko, she asks what he would do if she refused. He immediately replies that he would bash her head open and install Mion as the new head of the Sonozaki family. Though she reacts in fury at the time, Keiichi is later told that it was this proclamation that convinced her to support him. In private, Oryou tells her daughter Akane (Mion's and Shion's mother) that if she should die in the near future, Akane should look after Keiichi.

    Web Animation 

  • The Rock Cocks: In the contest in Track 2, the Rock Cocks' competition the Rocket Rollers were at first smug in their apparent superiority. When the Rock Cocks play, the entire audience was so into it they all start taking off their clothes and begin to "release their newly acquired sexual frustration". At first bewildered and spiteful, the Rocket Rollers become so turned on they start masturbating backstage.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: The Lich admits that Finn is strong (in fact, the only reason why the Multiverse still exists is because countless different Finns keep besting countless different Liches in alternate universes), but adds right after that he is a being beyond strength.
  • Arcane: Silco outright tells Vander that despite his betrayal and trying to straight-up murder him, Silco still respected Vander. Vander choosing peace over rebellion is what caused Silco to lose it for him.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In "Joker's Wild", Cameron Kaiser has a casino built originally with a medieval theme, but then redecorated in a Joker theme. He makes a few dismissive remarks about the Clown Prince of Crime and has one of his goons let the Joker escape. The Joker intends to destroy the whole place, which was the plan of Kaiser after the cost of building the casino nearly bankrupted him, to collect the insurance money. The Joker's reaction when he finds out he was being manipulated? To tell Kaiser, "It was a scheme worthy of me."
    • The Joker also repeatedly shows a degree of respect for Batman, considering him a Worthy Opponent. In "The Man Who Killed Batman," a low-level mobster seems to murder the Dark Knight, and the Joker enters a Villainous BSoD. He even arranges a mock funeral for Batman and delivers a heartfelt eulogy about how much the hero meant to him. Granted, said eulogy is also being done as he prepares to kill the mobster who "took" Batman from him, but it's surprisingly sincere.
    • In "Harlequinade," Batman enters an Enemy Mine with Harley Quinn to help track down the Joker in exchange for her being freed from Arkham. At the end of the episode, Harley has realized that the Joker planned to blow up Gotham with a bomb and abandon her to her fate, and has him at gunpoint. The Clown Prince of Crime taunts Harley, saying that she doesn't have the guts to shoot him—and then she pulls the trigger. It turns out it's one of the Joker's fake guns, but he's genuinely impressed that Harley was willing to stand up to him and cries "Baby, you're the greatest!" as he embraces her.
  • DuckTales (2017): Magica de Spell greatly respects Scrooge McDuck, her enemy for around a century. Throughout the first season, she constantly builds and prepares for a mythical "Final Clash" against him, despite multiple opportunities to have him killed, simply because she wants to defeat him on equal terms.
  • Gargoyles: David Xanatos respects Goliath, and the rest of his clan (to a degree).
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: In "Enter The Viper", Valmont and the Dark Hand are quite impressed with Jackie's supposed theft of the Pink Puma diamond.
  • Justice League: Orion is the only one of Darkseid's sons he truly respects, despite Orion having been raised in New Genesis and considering Darkseid his Archnemesis Dad. It helps that his competition is Kalibak.
    • In "Hereafter," one of Toyman's inventions seemingly kills Superman. Lois Lane is furious when Lex Luthor shows up at the funeral, but the billionaire admits that he genuinely liked the Man of Steel and will miss him now that he's gone.
    • A dark version shows up in "Injustice for All," when Lex Luthor creates a new version of the Injustice League. The Joker crashes the party and helps the villains capture Batman when he comes snooping around to investigate. Once the Dark Knight is sufficiently Bound and Gagged, Joker immediately tells Luthor to kill him, saying that if he's left alive, he will find a way to escape and foil their plans. It's a sign of just how much the Clown Prince of Crime views Batman as a dangerous foe.
    • In the Grand Finale of the series, Darkseid launches a full-scale attack on Earth. Superman fights him one on one, and though Darkseid eventually has the upper hand, he commends the Man of Steel for his efforts and promises that he'll cut his heart out and place it on a pike in his throne room as a prized trophy, which is about as "respectful" as someone from Apokolips can get.
  • The Owl House: Emperor Belos commends Luz when she manages to catch him in a sneak attack and chip off part of his mask during their "fight" in "Young Blood, Old Souls", though he warns her that things will end very badly for her if she tries something like that again. In Season 2, it's revealed that Emperor Belos's respect for Luz is partially due to her being a fellow human being like himself.
  • In the Season 6 premiere of Rick and Morty, Rick Prime is genuinely impressed by Jerry of the Cronenberged Dimension, his Jerry in fact, when Jerry tricks him into dropping his guard to slit his throat.
    Rick Prime: Ha ha haa! Goddamn, dude! Bad-ass!!!
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): As much as he hates Sonic, Dr. Robotnik does respect him, admitting in "The Doomsday Project" that he considers him "a most worthy adversary."
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: At several points, the droids and leaders in the Separatist army are rather impressed by the Jedi and other Republic figures.
    • "Destroy Malevolence":
      • After Obi-Wan effortlessly clears the battle droids set to ambush him in the hyperdrive control room and runs off, one says "That was impressive." Grievous responds by knocking its head off.
      • When another droid claims that Anakin's maneuver was clever he ducks when Grievous raises his fist, though this time Grievous lowers it instead of taking its head off.
    • In "Prisoners", Tamson says he respects how difficult Lee-Char was to capture "as a hunter to his prey". Lee-Char replies that he neither needs nor wants the respect of his people's vicious oppressor.
    • In "Shattered", a villain showing respect to another villain occurs. While Darth Maul despises his former master, Darth Sidious, when he learns what Order 66 is and the full extent that Palpatine has manipulated every aspect of the Clone Wars, he can't help but express sincere admiration for his machinations.
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn has this for the crew of the Ghost in Star Wars Rebels. Despite being only one ship with five people and a (possibly homicidal) droid, the Ghost crew did enough damage to the Empire in Season 1 alone to warrant his attention. Several times, even when he's on the brink of destroying them, he is Affably Evil (or Faux Affably Evil, depending on the episode) and makes it clear that he admires what they've managed to do.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Even though the Shredder hates Splinter more than anyone in the series and wants to personally kill him, Shredder still respects Splinter saying he is the only one worthy of facing him and even showed excitement one time when he had the chance to face him.
  • Transformers: At various points across the franchise, Megatron has feelings of respect towards Optimus for continually standing against him. This is most apparent in iterations following Transformers: Prime, which set the two as close friends before the war.
  • WordGirl: Despite his massive ego and the fact that she constantly foils his schemes and rebuffs his affections, Tobey does respect the titular superheroine for her intelligence. In "The Robot Problem", he even calls her "practically [his] equal", which says a lot considering his high opinion of himself.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Villainous Respect


Colonel Radec

Known as "Visari's Hound", Col. Radec will not hesitate to dispatch an enemy to fulfil his Autarch's will. Even one of the series previous Protagonists.

How well does it match the trope?

4.86 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / NoNonsenseNemesis

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