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Much like how Anti-Heroes can be vastly different from each other, so can Anti-Villains. This scale is a measure of how evil an Anti-Villain is. Inversely related to Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness. Can contribute to Sliding Scale of Villain Threat and Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness. Compare with Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes.

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Noble Demon: Although he chooses to be evil and may in fact embrace his villainous reputation, when the time comes for him to walk the walk, he turns away. This type of anti villain has a set of standards, certain lines that he will never cross. As such, he is the first one to say Even Evil Has Standards when faced with someone who offends said code of conduct. Unlikely to Kick the Dog but will Pet the Dog. Often accompanied by a Morality Pet. Alternatively, villainy is just a job to put food on the table, thus it's never personal. Placed higher on the evilness scale than the Woobie Destroyer of Worlds because villainy is a choice for them rather than something that they are driven to. This type is the common definition of the Anti-Villain. Those in this category may become true villains if they start to overcome their restraints. Ironically, despite being the most villainous level of Anti-Villain, this type tends to be the most stable, with very little change.

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Related Tropes: Hit Man With A Heart, Minion with an F in Evil, Would Not Shoot a Civilian, Never Hurt an Innocent, Even Evil Has Standards, Wouldn't Hurt a Child, Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, a darker Noble Top Enforcer.

    Examples 

Anime & Manga

  • Tia Harribel and Gin Ichimaru of Bleach. At least, Gin claims to be this at best and acts the part, but it turns out he's actually Type III, a well-intentioned extremist whose actions have put him well beyond any level of hero territory and far into anti-villain territory.
  • Pluto from Astro Boy.
  • Younger Toguro and Yomi of Yu Yu Hakusho
  • Dark Schneider of Bastard!!.
  • In One Piece, we have Seven Warlords of the Sea Dracule Mihawk and Bartholomew Kuma.
  • En of Dorohedoro.
  • Bankotsu and Sesshomaru of InuYasha.
  • Juvia, Kageyama And Lyon and before their Heel–Face Turn in Fairy Tail.
    • Azuma as well
  • Kintolesky from Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star

Comics

Fan Fic

Film

Literature

Live-Action TV

  • Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, when we first meet him. Through Character Development, he gradually shifts down the scale, and now spends most of his days as a Type II.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • Sebastian of True Villains seems to be this; his morals often conflict with his villainy, and he admits to turning to evil because of the adventure it offered him. When faced with the option to kill his rival, he lets Gray live, even though he broke the rules of their duel.

Western Animation

Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: It's obvious that these types of villains don't WANT to be evil; circumstances just make them out to be. They may act out of Undying Loyalty or love for someone or maybe they're simply fighting for their own survival. Others are broken cuties who have snapped and want to end their suffering by destroying everything. Usually they are suffering from their alignment. The characters garners our sympathy not because their goal is good but because we can see how the Crapsack World made them the way they are. Often suffer from a damaged psyche. Anti-Villains in this category may become true villains, but they're also just as likely to turn into an Anti-Hero.

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Related Tropes: Sympathetic Murderer, Jerkass Woobie, Tragic Villain, My Master, Right or Wrong, and a typical Dark Magical Girl.

    Examples 

Anime & Manga

Comic Books

Film

Literature

  • Simone and her sisters in Moon Over Soho. Never asked or set out to be what they became (and weren't even truly aware of it until the end), and whose origin was entirely accidental.
  • Murtagh and Thorn from Inheritance Cycle.
  • Sandor "The Hound" Clegane from A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Fëanor, Maedhros, and Maglor from The Silmarillion. Mass murderers, but they are bound by an unbreakable oath to recover the Silmarils from anyone, at any cost.

Live-Action TV

  • Ben from Lost usually bounces between this type and Type I and Type III.

Theater

  • The Baronets of Ruddigore are cursed to villainy or horrible death.

Video Games

  • Tsubaki Yayoi from BlazBlue.
  • Sniper Wolf in Metal Gear Solid.
  • Brad Kilstein in Psychic Force. He's actually pretty decent provided his Split Personality doesn't take over.
  • Sarah, the assistant of Luc in Suikoden III
  • Zero's girlfriend Iris from Mega Man X4. She didn't take Colonel's death well...
  • Reptile in Mortal Kombat. It's nearly a Running Gag that if you don't off him, his superiors screw him over. Unlike most of the villains, who seek power, his only goal is to resurrect his race, of which he is the sole survivor.
  • Gaspard from Dark Cloud 2.
  • The Locusts from Gears of War was revealed to be this, despite being Always Chaotic Evil. It turned out that they were fighting a losing war against the lambent and they invaded the surface world as a means of survival.
  • Mary from Ib. Despite her Ron the Death Eater reputation in the fanbase, that same situation would force anyone to do what she does.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog starts out as this in his debut, as he seeks revenge on humanity for the death of his first and only friend, Maria. He later becomes an anti-hero, then later a hero.

Western Animation


Well-Intentioned Extremist: They may believe in a good goal, but use whatever means there are to achieve it. The sympathy the audience can garner for this character comes from the fact that they basically share the same goal as the hero, but are pragmatically, expediently, or pessimistically, ruthless about it. They can very much be conscious about their morally questionable actions, but feel that there is no other way. Common antagonist in White and Grey Morality scenarios and relatively likely to be redeemed if shown the error of their ways depending on how "extremist" they are. These Anti-Villains may become more malicious true villains, but they are more likely to either stay in this category or possibly become a Woobie Destroyer of Worlds or an Anti-Hero. The Type IV can also be a revolutionary of some sort, fighting against the main character only due to their affiliation to some government or organization, and usually fighting for a noble cause. Alternatively, they may not even realize what they're doing is wrong or making things worse in the first place. The more heroic examples tend to overlap with either Pragmatic Hero, Unscrupulous Hero, or Nominal Hero.

Related Tropes: Necessarily Evil, Obliviously Evil, Utopia Justifies the Means, Villainy-Free Villain.

    Examples 

Anime & Manga

Literature

  • Nicci of The Sword of Truth, along with several minor villains, such as Michael and Sebastian.

Live-Action TV

Video Games

Web Comics

  • Tangerine from Sinfest doesn't do the stuff she does out of malice, but as a result of not knowing any better. More recently she and Lil' E have slipped into Type IV territory.

Western Animation


Type IV: Villain in Name Only

These characters either lack any villainous traits whatsoever or have so much concern over others that any signs of villainy are nearly completely drowned out. Frequently, these characters are called villains only because they fight against the hero. Basically, these guys are NEVER actively malevolent. They usually have some other reason for opposing the hero besides evil schemes. Ironically, these characters can be extremely dangerous to the hero as their high skill at arms/competence more than makes up for their lack of vileness. Fighting them also poses a moral dilemma which can also sap the hero's morale. It is at this point where an Anti-Villain starts to blur with the Hero Antagonist. Having to kill a particularly well liked type 4 in a boss fight can be a Player Punch. Their deaths are extremely likely to be a Tear Jerker. These Anti-Villains have virtually no chance of becoming a true villain - in fact, if they did, it would probably mess up the flow of the story.

A defining trope for this type of Anti-Villain is the Designated Villain.

Related Tropes: more benign My Country, Right or Wrong or My Master, Right or Wrong, Non-Malicious Monster, Punch-Clock Villain, Noble Top Enforcer (when not a Type I), mild examples of Necessarily Evil, those who are Forced into Evil, and occasionally a Token Good Teammate (when amongst a bunch of scumbags).

    Examples 

Anime & Manga

Comics

Fan Works

Film

  • King Kong.
  • Naval Marshall General Isoroku Yamamoto from Pearl Harbor. While being charged by the Japanese Empire with the task of somehow successfully destroying the American Pacific navy at anchor in shallow waters, he is making comments such as "A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war."
  • The Spaniard from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Literature

  • Several of the Havenite military personnel in the Honor Harrington series are only villains because they happen to be part of a nation that is at war with Manticore. This is especially the case after Eloise Pritchart takes over as President and transforms Haven from a People's Republic of Tyranny into a genuine democracy. They have now become straight protagonists after Haven and Manticore allied to fight Mesa.
  • In many of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, the perpetrator or the closest equivalent turns out to have merely been the victim of the circumstances, not known what they were doing, merely committing a lesser crime for understandable reasons, or at least to be a Sympathetic Murderer taking justice in their own hands against an Asshole Victim who really had it coming. Once they're exposed and explain themselves, Holmes tends to let these characters off the hook even when they actually did do something illegal.
  • Nen Yim from the New Jedi Order was like this, putting her skills to the service of the Yuuzhan Vong more because they were her own people rather than because she believed in their cause (privately, she thinks her peoples' religion is bogus and their God-Emperor is a total nutjob, though she'd never say it out loud). Indeed, her only actually villainous appearance is in Conquest, the first book to feature her, in which she was more a sidekick to a much nastier Mad Scientist than a villain in her own right. Later on, she'd be the protagonist of her own subplot (Rebirth), helping the Warmaster root out a Starscream conspiracy (the Enemy Lines duology), a cameo (Destiny's Way) or in an Enemy Mine with the heroes followed by a Heel–Face Turn (The Final Prophecy), but any further real villainy was off-page.
    • Before that, in the X-Wing Series, there was Admiral Teren Rogriss. In his first appearance (Solo Command), he's a good-natured officer who pulls an Enemy Mine with General Han Solo to take down Warlord Zsinj. In the second (Starfighters of Adumar), more of his background is revealed, showing him to be an overall honorable man who happens to be on the side of the Empire. It's mentioned that he's fought the New Republic in ship-to-ship battles, but his name has never shown up in any so-called "dark projects" (like Imperial superweapons or Imperial Intelligence operations). Overall, he's a sympathetic character.

Live-Action TV

  • Lt. Kavenaugh on The Shield at least until the premiere of season 6 when he crosses the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Enos from The Dukes of Hazzard. He is never really portrayed as corrupt or evil, and despite his Designated Villain role (by default by being on the same side as Boss Hogg), becomes quite sympathetic and likable over the course of the show. Enos is plagued by a strong sense of duty. He's a deputy, and sworn to uphold the law. Unfortunately for him, Boss Hogg controls the law. At times, one has to wonder if his goofing up isn't at least somewhat intentional as a way of helping the Dukes. Especially considering that he was able to become the head of the Los Angeles SWAT team.
  • Sgt. Shultz and Col. Klink from Hogan's Heroes

Theatre

  • John Dickenson in 1776 is staunchly against Independency, even coming to blows with protagonist John Adams. His only claim to villainy is he's a Loyalist that truly believes America's best course is to remain with England.

Video Games

  • In NieR, The Shadowlord, who is actually the original Nier. His "villainy" is the only thing preserving human life at this point, and his only selfish actions in the series are to save his daughter - the same motivation that ironically drives the player character to kill him and ruin everything forever.
  • The Guardians from Mega Man Zero, especially Harpuia. They're essentially good people (technically, Reploids) fighting for an evil government. Eventually they make a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Meta Knight from Kirby though he can sometimes be a Type III in his more extreme moments.
  • Litchi Faye-Ling in BlazBlue. She actually disliked NOL and thinks Hazama is suspicious, but the situation forces her to join the bad guys.
  • Mid Boss in Disgaea. The worst thing he does is loot the party's picnic basket.
    • Death King Hugo in the 4th game, who like Meta Knight has elements of Type 3.
  • Garl Vinland from Demon's Souls.
    • For that matter, Maiden Astraea herself. The only reason she's even billed as a villain is because she has a demon's soul (she's the Valley of defilement's Archdemon), but it's outright stated that even in her bitter disillusionment after finding out about God's non-existence,, she still hasn't lost her kind heart, and her soul is the most impure one because she's taking all the sins and suffering of the Valley's inhabitants on herself, relieving them of some of their misery. The Valley's denizens adore her, and will do absolutely anything to protect her, including judiciously slaughtering pesky soul-hunters looking to snag her soul. Like say, the player character. And she commands such loyalty simply by being a good person at heart. Sixth Saint Astraea, indeed.
    • Same for Sif The Great Grey Wolf, a giant wolf that does nothing beside protecting his master grave, and will fight to the death for protecting it, even when he's too weak to stand.
  • The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3. Her death is one of the saddest moments in gaming history.
  • Miles Edgeworth in the Ace Attorney series is either this or a type III: he starts off as a more typical villain, trying his best to get all the defendants found guilty, but he has a Heel–Face Turn. Now, he looks for the truth, and helps Phoenix if need be.
  • Both Eltoshan or Ishtar from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Eltoshan was too much of a Stupid Good when it comes to loyalty (and dies for it), and Ishtar was really decent for children or Tinny, but just can't say "no" for Julius.
    • Ishtar, however, did go directly against Julius's orders and had children that were due to be sacrificed smuggled into Freege castle, and made it clear that anyone who laid a finger on them would be dealt with by her personally. While she does end up dying for Julius, she does show that she's willing to disobey the orders of the most powerful character in the game in order to do what she feels is right. Really, if she wasn't in love with Julius she'd probably have done a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Any generic boss who isn't an utter Jerkass qualifies.
  • General Teo McDohl from Suikoden. And you, being his son, offed him because he serves the Empire, you lead the rebels.
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • Tamoko in the first game, based on what we see of her. She's only on the side of the Big Bad, and willing to try to kill the Player Character, because she loves him, and she even wants to stop his plans to save him. However, she is officially Neutral Evil according to game files, which doesn't actually contradict her behaviour if we assume she's otherwise willing to do evil but her True Love for the villain is stronger than those tendencies. But according to what we actually see her do, her being merely somewhat amoral rather than evil would be the most sensible explanation.
    • In the sequel, Yoshimo, Tamoko's brother according to cut content. What a Senseless Waste of Human Life indeed. Even more clearly amoral rather than evil, but forced to work for the villain through a Magically Binding Contract.
  • Tales Series:
    • Leon Magnus from Tales of Destiny, who's fighting you only to preserve the life of Marian, his surrogate mother figure. For double whammy, so is his manipulator Hugo Gilchrist, who turns out to be his and Rutee's father and he's been possessed all along.
    • Arietta from Tales of the Abyss. She hates the party because they killed her mother (there were extenuating circumstances, but still) and because Anise essentially took over her job as Ion's guardian, gaining all his affection in the process. She doesn't understand why Ion doesn't care about her anymore. She doesn't know that this Ion is a clone, not the one she knew. The boss fight where you kill her is a serious Tear Jerker.
  • Sonia/Chris Ryan from Psychic Force. Her loyalty was actually programmed and any events of her death proved to be soul-crushing for her little sister Wendy.
  • Golbez and Jecht in Dissidia Final Fantasy. The first is a Stealth Mentor, the second just wants a reunion with his son.
    • The latter character was a Type IV in his original game as well, seeing how the only reason he's on the villain's end is because he fused with Sin after becoming Brask's Final Aeon with the intention of eliminating Sin, and was perfectly willing to die at the hands of his son as long as it at least ensured Sin's permanent destruction.
    • Cloud Strife and Kuja were depicted as Anti-Villains in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, being on the Warriors of Chaos side, yet not being too happy about their current position in the conflict, as well as sympathizing with the other side in the case of Cloud. It's also implied that Cloud's sympathizing for the Cosmos side is because a person he knew and cared for was there. Cloud eventually managed to defect to the Warriors of Cosmos, although at the cost of getting killed by Chaos at the end of the 12th cycle and having to be revived. Kuja, however, wasn't so lucky, thanks to Kefka and his implementing Fake Memories.
  • From Pokémon Black and White, N, leader of Team Plasma is easily the most heartbreaking example of one of these in the Pokemon series, and has a bunch of qualities of the other 3 types above this one, with none of the truly evil traits that belong to them.
  • General Leo in Final Fantasy VI.
  • Lemon Browning in Super Robot Wars Advance and Super Robot Wars Original Generation. Despite her Mad Scientist tendencies, she's generally without malice and kind enough with her creations, and you off her merely because she just have to fight for the side she's on. Oh, and her relationship with Axel is genuine. Add up that she's Excellen Browning's Alternate Universe counterpart...
    • Originally in Advance, if you feel genuine enough, you can avoid attacking her in the last stage and go beat down Vindel, leaving Lemon's fate more open than surefire death.
  • Sophitia Alexandra starting from SoulCalibur IV goes to this path. Despite starting out as the holiest and purest of all fighters, her motherly instincts decreed her to protect her children who was under Soul Edge's influence, by protecting said weapon that she swore to destroy. There's a reason why she's crying in her official art in IV.
    • Her daughter Pyrrha gets the same treatment in Soulcalibur V. Being raised by Tira and manipulated into being a new host for Soul Edge, everything out of her mouth screams she doesn't want to do any of it.
  • Donkey Kong himself when he's the antagonist, such as the classic arcade game or the Mario VS Donkey Kong series. He never has any malicious intent; he simply has trouble controlling his impulses and tends to get angry when he doesn't get what he wants, leaving Mario to stop him. After Mario defeats DK, he generally forgives him and gives DK whatever he wanted in the first place.
  • Claus, AKA The Masked Man from MOTHER 3. He's only evil because Porky revived his dead body and brainwashed him as an assassin.
  • Aphelion, the silver dragon from Radiata Stories is the closest thing to a Big Bad the game has—and wouldn't be considered evil on any conceivable moral scale if it weren't for the fact that his plan cannot go through without killing his fellow dragons and the host of his opposite, Quasar.
  • Mr Freeze in Batman: Arkham City is this with a bit of Type II. As usual his main goal is to protect his wife and he only goes against Batman once in the entire game and that's just because Bruce's stubborness lead to a miscomunication between them.
  • The Thieves Guild in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Despite being unrepentant theives they never kill, protect the poor and only target people who can easily afford the loss. Their leader the Grey Fox in particualr fits this as he only resorts to crime due to a curse which he seeks to break.
  • Ser Cauthrien of Dragon Age: Origins.
  • Lancer/Cu Chulainn from Fate/stay night is actually a laid back cool guy who's source of joy is good, fair fights and teasing. It's just that he's stuck with a Master that he finds disgusting like Kotomine Kirei (after his previous Master got yanked on the arm by said Kotomine), but too honor-bound to obey the rules despite his misgivings. Kotomine's actions and his other servant Gilgamesh disgusted him so much that he ends up defecting when opportunity presents itself (and dying as a result). It does show when the show goes Alternate Universe in Fate/hollow ataraxia, what he does is just hanging around fishing rather than being hostile.

Web Comics

  • Miko Miyazaki from The Order of the Stick starts out here, and slides up to a Type III.
  • Fuschia from Sinfest goes from Card-Carrying Villain to type I to type IV.
  • Various characters of True Villains could count as this. Cecile and Xeke only seem to help Xaneth because they are friends with Elia, and Mia is just going along with Sebastian. Had someone different taken her in, she could've easily been a hero.

Western Animation


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