Many of the characters in Alien³ were rapists, murderers or generic criminal scum. They were so unlovable that you just didn't care if they lived or died, especially as waves of pre-release criticism meant everyone knew the series was past the point of no return anyway (in the Assembly Cut, an inmate named Junior attempts to rape Ripley with a group of other prisoners, then looks at her sympathetically later when the eponymous creature corners him). It was hard not to whisper "Come on, get 'im!" or "Go on, eat your dinner!" whenever the alien cornered an inmate.
Avatar, due to its AnviliciousGreen Aesop gets a lot of backlash against the Na'vi and for RDA. Especially concerning Colonel Quaritch; see the Colonel Badass page. In fact, so many viewers found themselves rooting for the Colonel that James Cameron has already promised that Quaritch will be reappearing in every sequel.
Those unfortunate enough to watch Bio-Dome cheered when the scientists decided to lock Bud and Doyle inside the Bio-Dome to die.
Danny Elfman recalled in an interview for Hollywood Backstories on how some men in test screenings for Edward Scissorhands were rooting for Jim due to sympathizing with how a "fag" could steal his girlfriend.
Who isn't rooting for Castor Troy in Face/Off? Craziness aside, he stops his own bomb, is friendlier with Archer's FBI agents, and pretty much becomes a significantly better husband and father to Eve and Jamie and even beats up a boyfriend who tries to rape Jamie.
In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ed Rooney is only trying to prove to the world that Ferris is a truant, pathological liar who neither deserves the endless praise he gets nor should be allowed to skip school whenever he feels like it. Even though the principal goes a bit too far in trying to prove the truth about Bueller, it is easy to sympathize with the man's desire to finally bring a Karma Houdini down. Alternatively it isn't so much rooting for Rooney (who is kind of a jerk) as rooting against Ferris (who is just as much of a jerk, and annoyingly smug to boot, some people even thinking Ferris shows signs of sociopathy).
Funny Man: Okay, was anyone seriously rooting for the stupid or obnoxious human characters to make it out of the castle alive? The Funny Man is by far the most entertaining character on screen, despite being a demonic trickster who starts off his killing spree by murdering a child.
Godzilla has always been cheered and supported even when he is a destructive antagonist. However, this is best exemplified in the film Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack! when Godzilla is made into a demonic, malevolent force fighting against the "good monsters" Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. Guess who the fans were cheering for the most. However this was the first and only instance of a genuinely evil Godzilla, and he hadn't exactly done anything other, more neutral incarnations hadn't. It didn't help that of the three "Good" monsters, two of them were the villains in their previous appearances. Even when Godzilla is evil, cheering him on against King Ghidorah is instinct.
In Godzilla (2014), this can certainly happen with the Mutos, for the sheer reason that they're the ones who drive the plot. They're badass, almost take Godzilla down, and their main goal is simply to reunite with each other. Aside from them, we have one interesting human character who only lasts half an hour, his son, who is seen by many as flat and uninteresting, and Godzilla himself, who gets sparse screentime compared to the Mutos, to the point that he's effectively a secondary character in his own movie.
Hocus Pocus: Nearly everyone who watches the film (and especially the now-twenty-somethings who first watched it as children and made it into a Cult Classic) actively roots for the Sanderson Sisters to succeed, despite their plan being to suck the life out of every child in Salem, Massachusetts. Bette Midler (Winifred), Kathy Najimy (Mary), and Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah) do such a wondrously hammy job of selling the witches as comic, occasionally inept villains that it's easy to forget that they're extremely powerful and dangerous. It helps that Midler herself has gone on record as saying that Hocus Pocus is her favorite film in her career. For proof, take a look at the sheer amount of merchandise that's been released over the years—it's pretty much completely centered on Winnie, Sarah, and Mary (the only other character who's featured is Binx, with the three human protagonists barely appearing at all). While a sequel probably won't happen, the fans' devotion to the Sandersons has led to Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World in 2015—that is, twenty-two years after the movie debuted—which reveals that the witches survived the encounter (or, at least, can be revived on Halloween night again). Needless to say, the fans were positively ecstatic, and the Spelltacular has become the centerpiece of the event every year since.
James Bond: The Spy Who Loved Me: According to Richard Kiel, who played Jaws, Jaws' survival at the end was met with giant applause at several screenings. He might be a villain, but he's such a Determinator that after a while you sort of root for him.
Sometimes happens with the shark in Jaws. Mostly due to Rule of Cool - and also the shark being on its own against three better equipped human protagonists, which just doesn't seem fair. Steven Spielberg admitted that when he read the book, he disliked the characters so muchhe wanted the shark to win. It's one of the reasons he applied some Adaptation Distillation. And then there are those who react against the Jaws syndrome, and the fact that in Real Life for every human killed by a shark in any given year for the past several decades, millions of sharks are killed by humans - that's over six degrees of magnitude, and is slowly driving many shark species (who as apex predators aren't that numerous compared to most marine wildlife) to extinction.
Try not to cheer for Jet Li's Wah Sing Ku in Lethal Weapon 4. While a villain who is planning to free his bosses and kicks pregnant women to the face, he does it with style.
Man of Steel: Some found Zod to be a much more sympathetic and developed character than Superman himself despite his crossings into the Moral Event Horizon. This could be attributed to Michael Shannon's emotional portrayal of him, showing how dedicated he is to follow his fate as Krypton's top warrior. Especially his justification for his actions- he was literally born to be a warrior and protect Krypton and its citizens, no matter what. His Villainous Breakdown towards the end, where he claims that Superman has taken his soul by destroying any hope of rebuilding Krypton, definitely helped cement this.
Thor: Sure, Loki tries to commit genocide — but he's such a Woobie along the way that a lot of people feel sorry for him. It got more intense when The Avengers rolled around, despite him becoming outright nuts. After the death of Frigga he gets even more sympathy especially since he's not allowed to attend her funeral.
Several Black Panther (2018) fans side with Killmonger, outright calling him "therealhero". Granted, he experienced the worst of American racism and rightfully points out Wakanda's complicity in atrocities against Africans by refusing to intervene outside of preserving its isolationism. That said, there's also the tiny little issue of him having a black supremacist views with openly genocidal intentions and the implication that he doesn't care about other people as much as he does about venting his wrath, but those are trivial details.
In Avengers: Infinity War, some fans want Thanos to complete the Infinity Gauntlet and kill the MCU heroes. This maybe due to Josh Brolin's compelling performance as Thanos, the mad titan's surprisingly sympathetic backstory, or fans who are sick of the overuse of Disney Death for the heroes. Of course with him being the Villain Protagonist, many fans feel that Thanos has to win in order to live up to the hype. Notably, these fans got their wish though Thanos did not kill all of the heroes, he killed the majority of them.
In the movie Orphan, it's easy to start rooting for the psychopathic Esther over the rest of the family, who (barring Max) are all selfish, whiny idiots. Esther plays them all so expertly that you kind of have to start admiring her methods, and she actually brings up some legitimate points that Kate and John are unhappily married, ineffectual parents who spoil Daniel and make incredibly feeble attempts to curb his behaviour, John cheated on his grieving wife and Kate recklessly endangered her child's life by getting drunk and crashing her car into the lake, with Max still inside, which rendered Max deaf. Not to mention Isabelle Furhman's masterful performance at age twelve, making Esther all the more impressive compared to the relatively bland adult leads.
There are quite a few people who sympathize with The East India Trading Company. Many of their fans forget that Beckett fighting against pirates wasn't Order Versus Chaos, it was removing the competition, as he did a lot of piracy and murder himself.
The film's writers mention they intentionally wrote Captain Barbossa as an Anti-Hero throughout the first movie, given his singular goal is to end the ten-year-long curse that has plagued him and his crew. Throughout the film they wanted to give the audience the impression that despite being the antagonist, he might not actually be a bad guy. This is why Barbossa's scene where he explains the torment of the curse to Elizabeth was constantly being rewritten and added to by both the writers and Geoffrey Rush to get it perfect. It definitely shows. When he shouts to his crew in a later scene that their punishment has been "disproportionate to [their] crime," it's hard to disagree.
Unless you remember how they ransacked a town of innocent civilians and children, and hinted multiple times about wanting to rape Elizabeth. Yeah, Barbossa and his crew may have been sympathetic villains, but they were straight forward "we rape, we pillage" pirates. It was only in the sequels that Barbossa and the members of his crew popular with the fans became Lighter and Softer antiheroes.
The implied morality of Pleasantville made a lot of people angry, and not just because the film turned the 1950s - a time period beloved by many - into a Straw Decade. It's bad enough that the townspeople are made to look ridiculous during the first half of the movie; in the second half, they're suddenly portrayed as villains for their cultural intolerance and their bullying of characters who turn from black-and-white to color, even though from their perspective they're just threatened citizens defending their town against subversive foreign infiltrators who by all logic shouldn't be there in the first place - and, for that matter, are apparently infecting people with a mysterious sexually-transmitted disease that is permanently disfiguring its victims. And it's forgivable to feel the overwhelming urge to punch out Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon): in addition to being really smug and obnoxious, she is a hypocrite, waxing self-righteous when the townspeople riot when she is almost totally responsible for everything that's happening. For not only did she corrupt the sexual mores of the citizens who turn to color, but she literally Taught Anger to the black-and-white townspeople: they didn't even have the capacity for hatred before she came along, and she infected them with her own bigotry (calling them "nerds", for example, even if it was behind their backs). Eventually the residents of Pleasantville calm down and become more accepting, and Jennifer realizes she has her own flaws she needs to correct, but the cost of the town having to give up its original culture (regardless of how boring and backward that culture may appear to us) seems pretty harsh, making Jennifer appear to be an arrogant imperialist.
Psycho—Picture the scene and pretend you don't know the big twist ending. Norman Bates has come across his new tenant, dead in the shower. He realizes his crazy mother has gone over the edge and killed someone. So, poor, devoted Norman gathers up the body, places it in the trunk of the woman's car, and tries to sink the vehicle into the swamp beside his run down motel. The audience collectively cringes every time a car drives by as Norman sneaks around,-and gasps in horror with Norman as the car seems to get stuck half-way in the bog...but no, it slowly sinks completely into the mud. Norman has gotten away with it! And a second later, the audience remembers what Norman has gotten away with: hiding a murder victim to protect his deranged mother's murder. Alfred Hitchcock was truly a master of this- he could easily manipulate his audience into Rooting for the Empire, hoping the villain doesn't get caught and turn around and slap them back to their senses. The sequel takes this trope and runs with it, portraying Bates as a man struggling with severe mental illness and genuinely trying to become a better human being.
For people who watch Red Dawn (1984) for comedic (or drunk party) purposes, rooting for the reds naturally follows. John Milius (significantly, no Commie-lover) did go to some lengths to humanize many of the villains we see, showing a group of young Russian soldiers goofing off and taking pictures together before the Wolverines ambush them and making the Cuban officers outright sympathetic. Meanwhile, the Wolverines find themselves resorting to increasingly cold-blooded measures as the struggle wears them down. When people complain about the strict "good vs. evil" dichotomy of the movie, it usually means they didn't actually watch it.
Despite not being the main villain of the story, Hannibal Lecter is still a sadistic psychopath throughout much of The Silence of the Lambs. However, due to his legendary portrayal by Anthony Hopkins, he comes across as so cool and suave that many fans did want to see him escape (possibly without quite as much bloodshed, but escape nontheless.)
Enforced via marketing with Small Soldiers, a film about a robotic squad of toy soldiers (the Commando Elite) gaining sentience and trying to kill a group of equally sentient robotic toy aliens (the Gorgonites)...along with the human family that's protecting them. Unfortunately for the Gorgonites, the film's marketing focused almost entirely on the Commando Elite and how awesome they are even though they're supposed to be the villains. The real life toy line put more of a focus on the Commando Elite as well. In the movie, the Commando Elite were created to be the good guys and the Gorgonites were an existing concept repurposed to be the villains, before they switched roles early on. Thanks to an in-universe case of being Christmas Rushed and a Writer Revolt by the original creator of the Gorgonites their original sympathetic backstory was kept while the Commandos were a Designated Hero faction given no motivation beyond destroying them.
Many fans who watched Stargate Continuum seem to love the idea of Ba'al ruling Earth and secretly wished he'd won, probably because he promised a benevolent governance. It's open for debate how sincere he was. While he certainly didn't want to destroy Earth like all the other Goa'uld, there's a very real possibility he just wanted to covertly take over Earth without having to fight humanity forever, and he'd make them all slaves in the long run anyway.
Star Trek: Insurrection: The Federation are considered by many (including some members of the cast) to have had very good reasons for trying to force the Bak'u off the planet to study the anomaly, and they were consistently willing to use non-lethal methods to do so. Plus, the Bak'u are just so damn smug and insufferable.
"Everything he says is true: The Klingons are coming, they do need Khan, and that's that. It's just that hes going to sacrifice the entire Enterprise to get the job done, because the Enterprise started to believe Khan. But if the Enterprise had not believed Khan and had done what Marcus said, then there'd be no movie, and everything would be cool. But the great writing in this is that the Enterprise wakes the dude up and listens to his game, and then everything goes to crap. But that's the Enterprise's hubris. That's them. They screwed up, not Marcus. Anyway, sorry to go off there. I just hate that."
On the flipside, John Harrison/Khan gets a lot of this due to his sympathetic motivations to save his crew from Marcus. Throw in Benedict Cumberbatch's charismatic performance, stylishthreads, booming voice and we've got a full blown example here.
With Attack of the Clones, Lucas had this happen intentionally: the movie introduces the sympathetic Clonetroopers, who save the Jedi and rout the movie's villains. Then comes the finale, and the movie reminds that the watchers had been rooting for what will become The Empire by giving them the Imperial March as score.
In the prequels, many fans and writers agree with the Separatists and side with them over the Republic. What we see of the Republic is blindingly ineffectual and horrifically corrupt (Mega Corps have Senators), the Jedi Council are portrayed as a bunch of tradition-obsessed unelected religious zealots, and both are apparently not above using Tyke Bombs and Child Soldiers (14-year old Jedi Padawans leading battalions of 10 year oldnote growth accelerated clone troopers), leading to Black and Gray Morality at best. The Opening Narration for Revenge of the Sith outright states that "there are heroes on both sides."
For those that think the heroes on both sides line was just an Informed Attribute in the movies, The Clone Wars makes it abundantly clear theres not much between these two factions. The Separatists have their own Senate which Count Dooku is willing to bow his head too and have genuine supporters who werent beaten into submission and/or super rich. On the other hand, the Republic Senate is presented as a group of corrupt warmongers (bar a few, like Padme and Bail Organa) Who are constantly backstabbing each other and have an episode every season devoted to them stepping up war measures. Theres a reason planets like Mandalore stayed neutral.
And now with the premiere of The Force Awakens, we have the First Order to add to the list. Essentially a Galactic Empire wannabe organization (complete with unsubtle stand-ins for Palpatine and Darth Vader), the First Order nonetheless has its fans for much the same reasons the Empire before it, up to and including having better uniforms, equipment and organizational structure than the good guys (indeed, most of the film's side material is focused on the First Order's gear and composition, with Leia's Resistance being treated as little more than an afterthought). Helps even less that, according to said side material, the New Republic is even more inept than its Legends incarnation ever was, having gutted its own military in the aftermath of the original war because it thought the Empire was gone for good as well as providing said Resistance, which is fighting on its behalf against an Imperial remnant that the Republic failed bring down (and doesn't even perceive as a threat), with only a token level of support. Part of the military gutting was accidental, as the lore flat out states that the New Republic is so corrupt that the sheer amount of funds the politicians took for themselves (implied to be illegally, too) caused the cessation of production of the current iteration of the X-Wing; forcing the Republic and Resistance alike to use older models.
It helps that absolutely none of this was explained in the movies. Going from the movies it's one group of violent fanatics with no apparent ideology and a snappy Fascist aesthetic versus another group of violent fanatics with no apparent ideology and a grungy militia aesthetic.
In The Last Jedi, several fans, most notably the folks at Wisecrack, actually side with Kylo Ren in his goal to rule the galaxy. While he is a Psychopathic Manchild who killed his father Han Solo, Kylo correctly points out that the institutions upholding the Black and White Morality (i.e. the Sith and the Jedi) have only lead to binary moral judgementalism and cyclical violence. If anything, he actually wants to fix the morality and power structure that promotes Lawful Stupid and Stupid Evil beliefs and actions.
Which just goes to show how totally divorced from reality Kylo really is. Everyone has their own black and white moral judgements of what counts as good or evil. So, whether Jedi, Sith, or Joe Schmo makes no difference in that regard. The Jedi take the perspective that so long as you aren't actively harming someone when an alternative is readily and reasonably available, they'll accept whatever it is you're doing even if personally they disapprove or even despise it. The Sith take the view that you either feed their lust for power or you will be tortured either to insanity or death for funsies. It is quite difficult not to view one as good and one as evil. Even when the Sith are portrayed as deeper in the background of Legends and Canon alike, they at best achieve a culture set of values that is the complete opposite of everyone else's. To them, mortal sins would be considered golden virtues. Literally. That doesn't make them less evil, it just means they're not evil as a result of being crazy, they just (mostly) seem crazy because they are genuinely that evil.
The attempts to depict the Empire as the cruel uncaring regime that views its subjects as disposable as seen with Operation Cinder in Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) and how even hardline followers of the empire like Inferno Squad would defect.
Which falls on its face as soon as you ask yourself "if the Empire was that bad that it's own soldiers would defect, how did they have an army?" Because the answer is "that was the actions of a handful of extreme loyalists to Palpatine and the other Imperials were horrified by it and didn't know what was going to happen." Even in the game the stormtroopers didn't know about Operation Cinder. They just kept people from leaving because they were told to and even they questioned why they were doing it.
Street Fighter cast Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile and Raúl Juliá as M. Bison. The first turns in a bland, carbon-cut performance of the typical action film star. Julia, meanwhile, is a wonderfully hammy and entertaining supervillain who's often credited as what makes the film watchable, who also dies shortly after the film was completed. By the end of the film, you want to see him Take Over the World.
The Day of the Jackal has viewers rooting for the titular assassin, because of how smart and clever he's shown to be throughout the film. The spiritual remake The Jackal seems to follow the same path, but is averted after the Jackal kills the female lead, just to taunt the male protagonist.
Movies about neo-Nazis/skinheads - especially those with the skinheads as the protagonists - often drift toward (at least as much as is safe) or away from invoking the trope; needless to say, it's a precarious tightrope to walk.
Higher Learning, while less sympathetic, does take a different tack by not making any skinhead character the protagonist, or at least not the main protagonist. This has the effect of making the skinheads seem to be even more marginalized and isolated than any supposedly disadvantaged racial minority; indeed, they are treated with contempt even by the "good" characters, who are often white themselves. And while the neo-Nazis are hateful and bloodthirsty, they at least seem to be able to think for themselves (unlike in American History X, there's no Cameron figure) in stark contrast to all of the other students, who endlessly parrot PC platitudes and hypocritically enforce their own brand of segregation. On the other hand, they're also cowards, not as tough as they think they are, and ultimately self-destructive and so stupid that they're willing to accept the deaths of their own as long as it will prove a point in their favor - even if that point is in their own imaginations.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park introduces Noble Demon Roland Tembo, who many consider to be the best character in the series. While he is supposed to be the villain (as he came to capture the dinosaurs and wants to kill a male T-Rex for sport) Roland is the only one of the island who seems to have his priorities straight. Many fans feel that the "heroes" constantly create problems for themselves and make things worse for everyone while Roland keeps in mind the situation at hand while also showing more depth than any other character in the film.
The Persians get this treatment in both 300 and its sequel. Some people disliked how the ancient Spartans are depicted as heroic freedom fighters, which runs contrary to real life evidence that Sparta practiced eugenics and slavery. The demonization of Persians particularly irritated some Jewish and Israeli viewers given how historically it was the Persians who ended the enslavement of ancient Hebrews residing in Babylon. Further muddying the morality is that some critics saw Persia as a massive, wealthy and culturally diverse empire bent on expanding its influence throughout the world, while the Spartans are zealous fighters who are willing to break the rules of war and martyr themselves to resist the invaders, which makes Persia represent the United States and Spartans represent the Middle Easterners.
The Tethered beings from Us. They were created by the government as an experiment that went wrong then quickly abandoned and forgotten in an underground bunker with no sunshine or fresh air, no sense of any of the love, pleasure or even every day banalities (such as working or driving) that the surface world experiences and having nothing but raw rabbits, which are usually reserved as pets, to eat. They view their Earthly counterparts as selfish and ungrateful and wish to take over their lives (or at the very least, gain freedom) by any means necessary. Many view them and their motives as Tragic Monsters or even something better.
In The Addams Family, we see Morticia reading to a group of preschoolers the story of Hansel and Gretel from the witch's perspective and depicting the main characters as beastly children for shoving her into the oven at the end of the story. The kids she was reading to don't take the story well. Of course they are Card Carrying Villains of the highest degree so it makes perfect sense.
Invoked in Hero. This Chinese martial arts film is about a group of murderers plotting to assassinate the ruthless King of Qin who is set to conquer all of of the neighboring kingdoms. Ultimately, it is revealed one of the murderers did not want to go through with the plan, as he realized the King of Qin has highest potential of unifying the kingdoms into one empire and thus stop the constant wars and bloodshed among the smaller kingdoms. So in this case, the Empire kind of won, but actually to the benefit of the people.