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Unintentionally Sympathetic / Animated Films

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  • Jade winds up being this in Arctic Dogs. She has aspirations of fame and went through it the way she knew how, in the way she would send her inventions to Otto Von Walrus under the promise of fulfilling her dream. When it turns out Otto Von Walrus was using her inventions to build a potential doomsday device, she turns against him but he responds by throwing her in a cell apart from the rest of the heroes. She is vilified by them because apparently if she was stupid enough to be deceived by the villain she's just as evil as he is. Despite the movie wanting us to agree with Swifty in that she did the wrong thing, we know what it's like to be hosed by a worthless friend so Jade is awarded our sympathy.
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  • Ken from Bee Movie. Yeah, he's got anger issues and he did try to squash Barry, but to be fair, his girlfriend was for all intents and purposes leaving him for Barry (although that wasn't Barry's intention). Can you really blame him for being ticked-off? Also, Ken is allergic to bees, so Barry does pose a threat to Ken (not that Barry intended on harming Ken, of course).
  • Cats Don't Dance: The scene where a furious Darla sicks Max on Danny after he upstages her in "Li'l Arc Angel" is meant to show what a horribly spoiled brat Darla is and how she has no qualms about putting potential rivals back in their place through violent methods. However, quite a lot of viewers noted that while Darla's reaction wasn't justified, her anger was pretty understandable. Danny had not only ruined the entire scene by singing over his fellow extras, but also actively pushed Darla out of the spotlight and stole her solo (while Darla herself, though clearly irritated had tried and failed to stay in character and pull the scene through to the end). Overall, Danny comes across as less trying to make a name for himself by breaking out of a restrictive role and more like a stage hog pushing everyone aside to have his moment.
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  • The Carnotaurs in Dinosaur were intended to be portrayed as insane, nonstop killing machines in DVD bonus features, but in the film many fans see them as minor, but developed characters. They seem to be a mated couple who only kill for hunger, are smart enough to know when not to attack the herd, and after one's death, the other goes insane with grief.
  • Akiko Glitter from The Emoji Movie was meant to be seen as an antagonist, but she can't help being part of the Just Dance app and being subject to its rules. Plus, it's Hi-5's fault the app was activated in the first place. This, combined with her personality, made her the movie's Ensemble Dark Horse, to the point that a major criticism of the movie is that she gets deleted when the bots catch up to Gene in the JD app, but he doesn't rescue her alongside Hi-5 when he goes to the recycle bin.
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  • The director's commentary for Kung Fu Panda states this almost word for word about Tai Lung. He is raised up for most of his life believing that he is destined to receive the legendary Dragon Scroll, a belief that his master Shifu actively fed and encouraged. When he is denied that right and Shifu says nothing in his defense, he unsurprisingly goes completely ballistic, attacking Shifu and then rampaging through the village. Interestingly, in the original script Tai Lung's only crimes were a) trying to take the Dragon Scroll and b) attacking his master and father. While this latter crime, filial impiety, was extremely serious in ancient China (and to some extent still is), Values Dissonance caused test audiences to sympathize greatly with Tai Lung since he hadn't hurt anyone else and was only taking out his anger on the one who, arguably, had failed him by not teaching him proper humility while at the same time raising his hopes too high. So the rampage was added in precisely to make him less sympathetic.
  • Two of the shorts in Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas feature characters who are supposed to be jerks at first learning An Aesop, but their pre-Character Development behaviour ends up being too understandable:
    • In "Donald's Gift", Donald suffers through a stressful day of Christmas-related annoyances. When he gets home and tries to relax with a cup of hot chocolate, Daisy drags him to the mall against his will. Once there, he's bombarded with sound effects that seem to play "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", which stresses him out to the point where he finally snaps and destroys a Christmas display. This causes Daisy and his nephews to ditch him, and a security guard chews him out for having no Christmas spirit. He's supposed to be a grumpy, unlikable Christmas hater, but it's easy to feel sorry for him when many of his Christmas-related grievances are in fact legitimate, and no one ever seems to care about how he feels.
    • In "Christmas Maximus", Max is portrayed as selfish for resenting Goofy's antics instead of accepting Goofy the way he is. However, Max's reaction is a lot more understandable when you consider that Goofy almost seems to go out of his way to embarrass him (which includes showing his current girlfriend one of his baby pictures for no reason), and the song used in the short suggests that his antics have already ruined Max's previous chances for romance. It also helps Max's case that he's never outright rude to Goofy — the worst he does is saying things like "this embarrasses me, so stop doing it" and rejecting Goofy's offer to have cookies inside when he wants to go for a walk.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
  • Reeka and Draggle, the two antagonist daughters of Hydia in My Little Pony: The Movie (1986). Sure they're evil, but they have a seriously abusive mother, genuinely sympathetic qualities, and far more developed personalities than the really boring titular ponies. The Nostalgia Chick felt more towards them than the ponies, and even considered them to be the main characters because of how much of the film's focus is on them.
  • Shunack, the Big Bad of Origin: Spirits of the Past. While he is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wishes to undo the damages done to Earth by the apocalypse and correct his mistake as he is the one who unwillingly caused it, he's still supposed to be in the wrong as he advocates for dangerous and extremist measures. However, some fans end up siding with his cause, arguing that it would be a good thing to destroy the sentient Forest that has a bit of a Blue-and-Orange Morality. His decision to destroy Neutral City as well out of spite marks the point where he loses the audience's sympathy.
  • Vincent from Over the Hedge. He's spent the entire summer hoarding food to get him through the winter, only for all of it to be destroyed when RJ the raccoon tries to steal it (who, given his size, surely didn't need to take all of it). The two come to an agreement: RJ has to replace everything that he lost, or else he'll be eaten. Vincent is portrayed as the bad guy simply because he's trying to survive — just like every other animal in the movie. Bears Are Bad News, but the fact that Vincent ends up in a Hannibal Lector gurney and mask feels like overkill for an animal that was just trying to reclaim what was rightfully his in the first place. The filmmakers seem to have realized this late in the production and gave Vincent an out-of-the blue monologue about how he got where he is by selling out, betraying, murdering, etc. all of his former friends. This (and Vincent's praise of RJ for being just like him) is of course the catalyst that starts RJ on the path to redemption, but remove those two lines and you've got no villain.
  • Captain Hook, the Big Bad of Peter Pan ends up coming across more as a woobie. Portrayed as a sinister threat, he never actually accomplishes anything, being effortlessly outclassed by Peter Pan in every fight, and even his own crew makes fun of him.
  • Pocahontas: Percy the pug, who is supposed to be a spoiled and unpleasant purebred dog. The film does this so badly that the only thing that really counts against him is one growl in agreement with Ratcliffe, his loving (to him) master. The rest of the time he's just enjoying the luxuries that come with being a governor's pet and getting justifiably angry at — similar to Over The Hedge — raccoon stealing his food.
  • Marcel's rivals in Ratatoing. They only cut off his source of fresh ingredients (stealing food from a human restaurant) because they believe his restaurant is hurting their business, and that having to risk their lives once a week just to get ingredients is unreasonable. When they find out that sabotaging Marcel's restaurant didn't really help their business, they're forced to try to steal food anyway. Sure, they encounter the "heroes" and want to take their cheese, but they immediately agree when Greg tells them to get their own cheese because there's enough for everyone... and then the "heroes" decide to capture them and have them sent to a lab anyway.
  • At test screenings for Toy Story 3, the filmmakers were surprised how many people sympathized with Lotso and wanted to see him have a Heel–Face Turn. They responded by going back and adding in some things that increased his cruelty to show that while he had a sympathetic backstory, the way he reacted to it was no excuse and he deserved what he got in the end.

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