Lelouch and Suzaku get this quite a bit. What are their real motives? To what extent are they lying to themselves, or to other people? Are their efforts for the good of others, or merely for their own satisfaction? And will their plans even work? These questions are present for both, albeit in different ways.
There is a theory regarding Nunnally's Living Lie Detector abilities that appears in certain fanfics, and which is possibly supported in canon by her seeing the whole Zero Requiem plan after touching Lelouch as he's dying, which says that she has some sort of unexplained psychic abilities that work via touch. This theory does require a radical reinterpretation of her character and most of her actions in order to make it work, but it does address certain other inconsistencies.
Both seasons had some, notably the revelation that Nunnally had been blinded by Geass and then shot, in order to make the crime scene look like Marianne had been murdered by terrorists, as a cover up for V.V's role. It came across as rather contrived.
Marianne having been alive the whole time and actually completely evil, in spite of the whole show being driven by Lelouch wanting to avenge his sweet mother. While her survival could've gone in any direction, having survived by essentially jumping her soul into another body and the fact that nothing was known about Marianne besides that she had a 100% Adoration Rating comes off as this and a Shocking Swerve.
In 2009, the show staff changed the epilogue for the ZR DVD, dropping the sometimes misunderstood cart scene and instead having C.C. address the audience directly and explicitly confirming that Lelouch is truly dead and that she mourns his death. As can be seen here
For those who were still uncertain about the ending of season 2, Lelouch being dead and not immortal as officially confirmed by repeated Word of God (database with official statements). The sequel movie, Lelouch of the Re;surrection, which follows the movie Alternate Continuity where Lelouch's death and Zero Requiem still happens in the exact same way, dispels the erroneous fan theory about the ending by explaining to the audience that Lelouch was a corpse who was returned thanks to C.C. resurrecting him against his wishes and world of C shenanigans. This acts as the killing blow to the already debunked notion that Lelouch was immortal.
Jeremiah was originally nowhere to be seen in the flashback of Marianne being killed, despite one of the R1 audio dramas and his HeelFace Turn in R2 being brought about because of his supposed presence there, causing the latter scene to come off as more of an Ass Pull if you hadn't known about the audio drama beforehand. This is interestingly amended in the first compilation movie, which has him make a cameo as one of the attending guards as Lelouch and Nunnally depart for Japan at the beginning of the movie, which at least affirms that he was present at the royal palace around the time.
Super Robot Wars and the compilation movies have Shirley survive, with the latter hinting at giving her a potential role in the Resurrection film.
The third Compilation Movie also depicts the Black Knights as being more reluctant with The Mutiny, and had planned to ask Lelouch some questions first, but Schneizel and his group were apparently the ones that tried to gun him down before he could actually explain. Ohgi even seems to get some Character Rerailment as the Only Sane Man he was in the first season when he doesn't believe Lelouch's claims about using them as pawns, insisting he tells the truth, and objects to Schneizel's men trying to shoot him on sight.
Awesome Ego: Lelouch, Kallen, and Jeremiah. It sometimes feels like half their dialogue consists of them boasting about how awesome they are. No one's complaining, though.
Also, the animation from some of the TV episodes could get sloppy at times. Facial expressions didn't look the way they were supposed to or characters were off-model. In particular, Episode 20 of R2 was one of the worse offenders. The DVD release cleaned up most of it.
Breather Boss: Viceroy Calares, who's about as incompetent as Clovis, is Lelouch's first enemy in R2, and decidedly less difficult to defeat than most others before or since. This was done due to Executive Meddling, which insisted that the first few episodes of R2 echo the start of R1 to acquaint new viewers to the show.
The entire second season is one for whole swaths of the fandom. In particular, the initial time skip and return to Ashford academy were quite controversial. Another issue was the Zero Requiem. Many viewers appreciate it yet, despite the end revealing that everything Lelouch did was to bring about a genuine peace people chose for themselves, as well as democracy, freedom, and happiness for all his friends at the cost of the world hating him forever, some fans were still acting like he was completely evil.Others just felt that the plan may have implicitly gone too far to register as atonement and considered it to be Suicide by Cop.
The notion of having a sequel to the movie trilogy where Lelouch is somehow brought back from the dead.. Some fans feel that this could make the entire ending of R2 completely meaningless or at least less effective. Other fans who are not satisfied with the ending are of the belief that this might potentially give a better conclusion to the story.
After seeing how vile and cruel the High Eunuchs are during their appearances along with their callous treatment of their own people, including Xingke and the Empress, its extremely pleasing to watch Xingke cut them down in rapid succession.
For anyone who disliked Suzaku for his constant hypocrisy and blatant idiocy in some instances, seeing Kallen kick the ever-loving crap out of him after he almost used Refrain on her can be satisfying to watch.
The Chris Carter Effect: This can go both ways. The predominant view among the audience is that the series subverted this, because the ultimate resolution was planned in advance and remains one of the most popularly appreciated parts of R2. It regularly does well in polls many years after the fact and is arguably one of the main reasons why the show itself still gets high user rankings. Even those who were disappointed by earlier events tend to view the conclusion favorably. However, a number of the secondary or tertiary sub-plot threads were sacrificed along the way without a fully satisfactory outcome, which suggests the story and its plot twists did get too complicated during R2. There is also a dissenting view among some fans who dislike the ending and feel that it was either not strictly necessary or at least came across as a worse alternative than what Lelouch had been doing as Zero. Both sides of the argument would agree that the narrative put Lelouch through a Trauma Conga Line to try and bring him to the brink, but the point of divergence is whether they think he truly deserved something other than a Thanatos Gambit through Suicide by Cop means instead of a potentially happier finale. Of course, there is also a similar division based on different fans thinking that Lelouch either lived or died in the end, and whether each interpretation makes for a good or bad outcome (ie: some will argue that the ending only works if he is dead, and others think the exact opposite so they insist he must be alive).
Creator's Pet: Ohgi and, to a lesser extent, Villetta. For those who despise him, Rolo counts too. He was very well liked among female staff members on the show and he ended up dying easier than he probably deserved to because of it.
Ohgi and Villetta, among other characters responsible for the betrayal of and later fighting Lelouch as Emperor. They demonize Lelouch for his use of Geass and wholeheartedly consider their betrayal of him to be a good thing, and they are presented among the heroes in the final episodes, even getting unearned happy endings. The problem is, neither have any moral high ground to stand on.
Ohgi had already betrayed Zero multiple times prior to learning his identity, starting with his rescue of Villetta, who was then the amnesiac "Chigusa". Even after being shot by her during the Black Rebellion, he remained devoted to her beyond rationality, putting himself in the line of fire to protect her after she attempted to kill him again. And despite being aware she was a Britannian Noble, he openly believed the circumstantial evidence she gave him regarding Geass, and sided with her and Schneizel over the man who gave them a leg to stand on against Britannia. Making issues even worse is that he adds a caveat to the Black Knights betraying Zero, that Schneizel return Japan to its people. This in itself is tantamount to treason due to willingly going behind the backs of the UFN, who at that point were technically the bosses of the Black Knights, and negotiating a deal with an enemy nation, setting aside the fact Schneizel doesn't even have the power to give them Japan. He goes even further by proceeding to lie to Jeremiah, Xingke, and Kaguya by saying Zero perished in battle, and would have let them believe it had it not been for Lelouch staging an attack on Kamine Island.
As for Villetta, like Jeremiah she was a member of the purist faction. Whereas Jeremiah's racist tendencies are more understandable due to blaming the Japanese for the alleged death of Lelouch and Nunnally, Villetta has no reason for her Fantastic Racism. Only focused on power for the most part, once she recovers from her amnesia she attempts to kill the man who saved her, then goes after Lelouch for the chance to rise in nobility. While Lelouch does turn her into an unwilling accomplice, she gets no sympathy after she had been leading the operation of trying to bait C.C. with him. She betrays Lelouch to Jeremiah in the hopes he'll kill Lelouch, then tries to kill Ohgi again just so she won't be associated with a Number, only hesitating once he confesses his love to her. So while she lets up on him, she still convinces Ohgi to lead the betrayal, setting into motion the cluster fuck that is the Zero Requiem.
A good part of the fandom hate Rolo got came specifically from people who thought he killed Shirley only out of romantic jealousy, believing him to be a Depraved Homosexual.
Rolo kind of has this attitude himself toward Nunnally, and in fact that was the reason he killed Shirley, to prevent her from reuniting Lelouch with his actual sibling, which was not helped by her memories having been restored and realizing that Rolo and Lelouch were not actual brothers. It didn't have anything to do with Shirley personally; he never really gave a damn about her or her feelings for Lelouch either way.
Lelouch, Suzaku, Cornelia, Mao, Schneizel, C. C. and Rolo in particular, which is ironic when half of these characters ALSO fall under the opposing Ron the Death Eater trope.
Jeremiah Gottwald identifies himself as blatantly racist and disobeys orders so that he can take part in a massacre in the very first episode. It's quickly forgotten due to the brutal Humiliation Conga he goes through.
Ending Fatigue: So Emperor Charles and Marianne's plan to create their perfect world were foiled. Normally that would mark the end of the story. Except that Schneizel's still around to execute his plan for world conquest and that the United Federation of Nations isn't bound to let Britannia off the hook so easily. Despite the connotations of this trope, it works.
Milly Ashford, the Student Council President. Many a fan is quite fond of her, and wished she had more plot relevance in series, especially with the knowledge she was not only aware of Lelouch's heritage (meaning she could be more involved in his plot against Britannia), but also had an unreciprocated crush on him that she gave up for the sake of Shirley.
Earl Lloyd Asplund, mostly due to his charmingly quirky personality, endeared himself to many fans, even more so when he took Lelouch's ascension in stride, and became one of Lelouch's supporters in the Zero Requiem.
His assistant, Cecile Croomy, may be a bit less so, but her Adorkable personality and attempts to act as a Morality Chain for Suzaku were well received.
After the betrayal of the Black Knights late into R2, a few members remained popular enough either due to being likeable, or not actually participating in the betrayal.
Tamaki Shinchiro, the only Black Knight who participated in the betrayal of Lelouch to remain popular after the fact. His general idiocy and the fact he was the most vocal against betraying Lelouch for the longest time makes him both an entertaining and likeable character amidst the other Black Knightsapart of the betrayal.
Urabe. His pre-Heroic Sacrifice declaration of solidarity to Lelouch, which helped restore Kallen's faith in Zero, as well as his ability to look past nationality or status, did not go unappreciated by the fans, especially following the betrayal by the remaining Black Knights.
Li Xingke, having remained unaware of the Black Knights betraying Zero, and unwilling to simply listen to their claim Zero had died, remained one. Helps he is the one of the most badass characters in the series, with intelligence capable of rivaling Lelouch, and skills with a Knightmare rivaling Suzaku.
Kaguya Sumeragi, while not an official member, still remained popular in part to her not believing the idea Zero died, her quirky personality, and only siding against Lelouch when he became the Demon Emperor.
Sayako Shinozaki, AKA theNinja Maid. Her Undying Loyalty to not just Lelouch but Nunnally too, along with her moments of badass quickly endeared her to fans.
Esoteric Happy Ending: Aside from the questionable events leading up to it, the Zero Requiem can come off as this. The damage to Japan and the world at large paints a rather pessimistic picture of the immediate future when all is said and done. There's also a clear contrast between the tragedy of Lelouch's death and the happiness that follows it, which may be hard to swallow. The Resurrection movie confirms the idea, as it shows there are countries who are still recovering from the Zero Requiem and other nations such the Kingdom of Zilkistan who remain antagonistic towards Britannia.
Evil Is Sexy: Lelouch, C.C, Mao, Cornelia, Schneizel, Clovis, Jeremiah, and The Knights of the Round.
Despite Word of God saying their relationship was merely one of mutual respect or perhaps surrogate mother and son, Lelouch and C.C. still get an incredible amount of shipping. It probably doesn't help matters that they were shown being awfully close in the series and official art as she knows all his secrets and is the only female character he views as an equal. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection makes them an Official Couple.
Some fans consider the original anime to be the only canonical work, with all of the side works considered Non-Canon. This is in direct contradiction to the fact that the Spin-Off works Code Geass: Oz the Reflection and Code Geass: Akito the Exiled are considered to be canon to both the original Anime and the compilation movies, with characters briefly appearing in said movies.
Fashion-Victim Villain: Lelouch's Emperor outfit is awesome, but his "Popehat" just makes him look weird, leading to much snickering from the fanbase. One has to wonder if this was meant as another atrocity to add to the Zero Requiem. The actual outfits are actually pretty snazzy. They're just... really detailed. With eyes all over them. Suzaku's outfit has skin-tight bare shoulders, for instance.
Fetish Retardant: At least the first half of the second season had a considerable amount of Fanservice that had the opposite of the intended effect for some viewers.
Villetta said she would kill Shirley a thousand times after she forced Villetta to wear a seriously skimpy bikini for the swim club. In episode 13 of R2 the advice she gives Rolo accidentally helps cause Shirley's death. Doubles as Harsher in Hindsight considering Villetta using Shirley a season earlier really helped get the ball rolling there.
Lelouch's extremely fake-looking sword, which Suzaku as Zero uses to impale him in the finale.
After causing an avalanche at Narita, Lelouch jokes that he should have consulted Nina about this. This has a relatively apparent and obvious FAM a few episodes later, when Shirley's father died in the avalanche as an unintended victim of Lelouch's plan, and a more subtle one later when Nina's scientific expertise creates a bomb that kills millions of people.
Polish fans view Monica as one of them (mostly because her surname is Polish sounding). Though her biggest fanbase is made up by Spanish-speaking people apparently (the only stories on fanfiction.net about her are written in Spanish), for reasons unknown.
Britannia not being part of the EU has become this ever since the 2016 referendum in Britain that resulted in its secession from the real-life EU. This is one origin of the "Nigel Farage makes anime real" meme.
Look closely enough in episode 22, and you can see a map where it is clearly shown that Great Britain is a neutral nation and not affiliated with neither the EU nor Britannia.
This wouldn't be the last time a character voiced by Yuri Lowenthal would have to tragically spend the last moments together with a loved one while she was on her death bed. Worse, in both cases the death was caused in some way by someone Lowenthal's character once trusted. Worse still, unlike here where he does eventually patch things up with the person he once trusted, in the other case he permanently remains enemies with the other character.
Yuri Lowenthal and Johnny Yong Bosch voicing friends who eventually become enemies only to become allies again towards the end? That sounds familiar...note For extra Irony, their roles are reversed. Both cases have Bosch play the Well-Intentioned Extremist and Lowenthal The Idealist. In Gurren Lagann, Bosch's character Rossiu temporarily serves an antagonistic role and and is proven to be wrong by Lowenthal's character Simon due to their world running on Rule of Cool, nearly driving Rossiu to kill himself as atonement only to be stopped by Simon. Here, Bosch's character Lelouch is the protagonist in a Crapsack World and his methods prove more practical than Lowenthal's character Suzaku, Lelouch going through with killing himself to complete his plans with Suzaku assisting him.
Also present in Ace Combat Zero. During the last level (which is coincidentally named "Zero"), Pixy (Lowenthal) shoots down P.J. (Bosch). It seems as if Yuri is destined to kill Johnny. Also, that level involves a nuclear MIRV missile called "V2," which is how V.V. is pronounced.
During the Guren's first taste of battle, Jeremiah says it's impossible for Elevens to have created such a powerful war machine, dismissing the notion that the Japanese are capable of creating hi-tech weapons.
Also, Kikuko Inoue (Cecile's Japanese voice actress) voices Carta Issue in that show, meaning Suzaku and Cecile are working together again. Crosses into Harsher in Hindsight when Carta dies following McGillis' orders. In other words, Suzaku sent Cecile to her death].
Some memes on the internet link the story of the series about an inefficient European Union on the brink of collapse and a modern British empire, and the fight of some people against a corrupt British establishment, to the Brexit Referendum.
Between the way C.C.'s name is meant to be spelled (which looks like it'd be said C-C rather than C-2) and her love of pizza, it can be very amusing for viewers to find there is a pizza buffet chain known as CiCi's.
Because of the Arthurian themes in the show, Suzaku has a pet cat named Arthur and pilots the Knightmare Frame, Lancelot. It becomes hilarious that his Japanese voice actor, Takahiro Sakurai, ends up voicing with two actual Arthurian Servants in the Fate franchise: the original King Arthur of Fate/Prototype and Merlin of Fate/Grand Order.
Lelouch pilots the Knightmare Frame, Gawain, in the first season. Takahiro Mizushima, the Japanese voice actor of his "brother" Rolo, voices the Saber-class Servant, Gawain, in Fate/EXTRA.
The entire premise of the show, especially at the very end, is this if you know Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch) is the Japanese dub voice of Bran Stark and how CG ends compared how the latter ends too: Lelouch became the emperor of Britannia and plans to conquer the world, just like Daenerys Targaryen planned to do in the last season, with the help of a Weapon of Mass Destruction (In Code Geass with the Sword of Damocles and the F.L.E.I.J.A. warhead and in Game of Thrones with a dragon) and both Lelouch and Daenerys ended being killed by their closest allies (Suzaku Kururugi and Jon Snow respectively) in similar ways (being stabbed). The main difference here is while there's two cities destroyed by the F.L.E.I.J.A. in the series, mainly Tokyo and Pendragon, the capital city of Britannia, Lelouch wasn't involved in their destruction, as the former was destroyed accidentally by Suzaku and the latter was nuked by his brother Schneizel el Britannia in an attempt to assure his authority, compared with King's Landing, when Daenerys orders its destruction without guilt. Also, unlike Lelouch, Bran survives the whole thing and became the ruler of Westeros. To make the irony even sweeter, Bran's role is very similar to Lelouch's sister Nunnally, who, just like Bran, she is also crippled and she became the empress of Britannia after her brother was killed.
Hype Backlash: One of the first famous examples of this is at least in the western anime community. While the show became an unbeatable hit and earned so much popularity that Lelouch became an unattainable leader in character's popularity at MAL, many viewers complained that the series is overrated and is held primarily by Female Gaze. This also led to the fact that many people accused the show of justifying extremism and propaganda of "the end justifies the means" without even watching it from the principle.
Inferred Holocaust: The Zero Requiem requires a staggering amount of bloodshed caused by Lelouch in order to work. We don't see it all happen, but the implication that he went on a worldwide mass murder spree is there, with people saying that anyone who opposed him were killed along with their entire families.
Prince Schneizel el Britannia, de facto ruler of the Holy Britannian Empire, is the only strategic match for his brother Lelouch. Seeking to force peace upon all of mankind, Schneizel operates with supposed loyalty to his father, winning countless battles for his nation while manipulating and recruiting subordinates for his own ends. By withholding key pieces of information, Schneizel even manages to wrestle away control of the Black Knights from the charismatic Lelouch's leadership to turn the tides of battle in his own favor. Arming his ship the Damocles with the destructive F.L.E.I.J.A. warheads, Schneizel aims to take it to orbit to force an end to conflict and even when beaten, Lelouch ensures he remain de facto leader of Britannia, knowing Schneizel's acumen will keep his sister safe as the new ruler.
Emperor Charles zi Britannia, 98th Emperor of Britannia, presents as a fascist Social Darwinist who believes in a world where equality cannot exist. In truth, Charles' views were shaped growing up in the brutal, cutthroat court of Britannia until he and his twin brother V.V. outmanuevered their enemies to make Charles Emperor. Secretly researching the Geass and testing his many children, Charles utilizes his empire as little more than a distraction, placing his children in Japan to eventually gain access to the Sword of Akasha. Playing the entire world, Charles eventually sees his twin brother dead for his own betrayal and to seize immortality, intending to initiate the Ragnarok Connection and kill "God" itself to merge mankind into one single mind.
Empress-Consort Marianne vi Britannia, aka "Marianne the Flash", is Charles' true love and a match for him in ruthless deception. Known for her immense piloting skill and iron will, Marianne was betrayed by V.V. who loathed her influence over his brother. Transferring her mind into the young girl Anya Stroud, Marianne remains dormant there, taking control as strategically necessary to deceive her enemies and even her own children to help Charles pull off the Ragnarok Connection and bring about the world both seek.
Misaimed Fandom: Due to the Grey-and-Gray Morality nature of the series, many characters actions are easily condemned or justified depending on the viewer, though there are cases were this occurs.
Lelouch is a pragmatist who keeps his head and makes the best use of any situation, even if it involves killing bystanders/foolish allies or disgracing those that he loves, but he's obviously not happy when his subordinates or friends die, and his end goal is to replace the current system with one that's kinder and not as exclusive. On the one hand, many fans tend to forget this and paint him as a monster who cares for no one but himself, overlooking his more noble qualities which includes becoming the object of the world's hatred and dying in order to create world peace...all for the sake of his baby sister. On the other hand, there are fans who refuse to admit that their baby Lulu isn't above lying, manipulatingnote with or without his geass, or even expending people around him to achieve his goals, and his carelessness has resulted in some pretty nasty consequences for himself and for the people he wants to help (including said baby sister). In truth, Lelouch is meant to come across as somewhere in the middle, someone with noble goals but whose mental instability causes him to both overlook possibilities and unintentionally cause others pain.
The belief that Schneizel is an honest man of peace. Where have I heard that one before? Schneizel is presented as Lelouch's greatest enemy as well as his Foil, someone with just as much manipulation skill appearing charismatic rather than Lelouch's ruthless, and is more a pessimest than Lelouch's optimism. His charisma and some of his valid opinions regarding the nature of humanity however easily paint him as someone truly desiring peace and leads some to root for him rather than Lelouch.
Nina Einstein is this Up to Eleven. She is meant to be seen as someone mentally ill in desperate need of actual help* She was nearly raped by Japanese citizens in the Ghetto when she was younger, leading to her xenophobic tendencies, and Euphemia's kindness being her Living Emotional Crutch up until her death causing Sanity Slippage, whose fragile mental state was taken advantage of by Schneizel and caused her to suffer further Sanity Slippage, before returning to her senses after witnessing the effects her FLEIJA bomb had and travelling the path of redemption by helping Lelouch construct a counter measure to it and aiding in the Zero Requiem, giving her a good deal of Character Development in the process and furthering the homage to her namesake, Albert Einstein. However, her original xenophobic tendencies, Stalker with a Crush behavior towards Euphemia, and the fact she is responsible for creating a nuclear warhead more destructive than the infamous atom bombs lead many fans to turn their back on her as their most hated character, refusing to see her change despite the contrary.
The series goes out of its way to humanize both sides of the conflicts. A series that wanted to say that The Empire is always evil wouldn't have characters like Shirley. And yet, there are always people saying Lelouch should just kill all of the Britannians, because they must all be evil. That he should have blown up the school and killed all of his friends, and Nunnally, in the very beginning. Where would that have gotten him? In any case, the people who say that must have skipped the scene where Lelouch introduces the Black Knights and saves the hostages.
Moe: Some of the female cast tend to be these, in particular Nunnally, Kaguya, Shirley, Euphemia, Tianzi and amnesciac C.C. As well as Anya, especially when we found out the truth about her. Even Lelouch is moe at times.
Schneizel makes a blatantly illegal chess move in Season Two during his chess game with Zero as a Secret Test of Character. Many viewers love to this as example of the shows "writing problems" and laugh that the writers have no idea what the rules of chess are. Although the dialog does implicate the possibility that the writers didn't know that making the move would be an instant disqualification, the entire point of the scene was to see if Zero would accept a free win or not, with it purposely being a losing move either way. A few viewers even go as far as to think that Schneizel was genuinely trying to make a smart move and that the scene "proves" he's actually terrible at chess.
The recap movies may give him bonus points for not even killing Shirley this time.
While forming a sizable hatedom in season 1, many people came around to Suzaku after he drops the more annoying/hypocritical parts of his ideology in R2 and especially after he participates in the Zero Requiem.
Possibly a more minor case, but The Black Knights in the third Compilation Movie are portrayed as more reluctant about betraying Zero and want to give him a chance to tell the truth. Schniezel's men are the ones who try gunning Lelouch down before this can happen, much to the Black Knights' objection. This could easily be seen as the behavior they should have had instead, with Ohgi and Villetta's parts being downplayed, if not Adapted Out altogether. The former possibly getting some Character Rerailment in acting more like he did at the beginning of the series.
Ron the Death Eater: Fanfics regularly depict Chiba and Asahina of the Four Holy Swords as being extremely untrusting of Zero even when part of the Black Knights, and willing to constantly call into question every single order he gives until Todoh shuts them up. In canon, they only became a pair of sour supporters during R2, namely due to the belief Zero had abandoned the Black Knights during the Black Rebellion, but outside of that were largely compliant with his orders, Asahina even getting angry at Rolo for suggesting he wasn't loyal to Zero. The point things changed was when they believed Zero had crossed the line, with Asahina it being learning about the Geass Doctorate massacre, and Chiba partaking in betrayal of Lelouch along with the other Black Knights. Outside of that, they are still portrayed as sympathetic and given likable traits, Chiba in particular being the one to stop Tohdoh from forcing himself to keep fighting despite being heavily injured, though most fics will ignore this in favor of making them sour supporters from the start.
Rooting for the Empire: There are those who disapprove of Lelouch's actions and who agree with the likes of Schneizel.
The Scrappy: In particular, Nina plus, late in R2, Ohgi and Villetta. Which is why any attempt to make them more sympathetic tends to be met with blank reactions at best and downright disdain at worst from those viewers who see them as such. By contrast, the writers pulled off a much more successful rescue for Suzaku, despite his sizable hatedom in season 1.
Seasonal Rot: The second half of R2, which suffered from last-minute changes and rushed production, is particularly prone to being labeled as this, with an increasingly absurd Kudzu Plot that dropped previously established plot threads and left the majority of the original cast Out of Focus. Furthermore, the series had come to rely on large scale Mecha battles at the expense of the strategic interplay that characterized much of the series up to that point.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: The result of having various girls in a potential or active relationship with Lelouch, whether romantic and otherwise.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The series raises a very real and still very relevant issue regarding Brittania and its treatment of the Japanese people: A government that uses its power to abuse others, especially minorities. Years since its release, persecution towards minorities is still going on.
Soundtrack Dissonance: The music for the first OP would work well if the High School subplots were the focus of the show, but the peppy, lighthearted tone does little to prepare viewers for the dark, morally ambiguous drama that comprises most of the plot.
Strawman Has a Point: Schneizel's argument that Ambition Is Evil and that our desire for happiness ultimately leads to greed and conflict is actually well-thought out and makes a lot of sense from a cynical worldview. It's not too hard to imagine someone siding with him. Lelouch's counter-argument is more idealistic, based on Rousseau Was Right or, in other words, the concept that "People Are Good" and will always struggle to overcome sadness. At the same time, he had already jumped the Despair Event Horizon and given up most of his remaining scruples to contemplate any alternatives, though. He's also likely just saying this to keep Schneizel talking so he can pull off his plan.
Superlative Dubbing: General consensus, although there is debate about this. Of course, the intensity of the show and a lot of the lines are such that to not completely understand everything that is said with all voice inflections may simply be short-changing yourself of the experience.
The Knights of the Round are considered some of the best warriors in all of Britannia, but don't really get much to do to warrant such fame. Aside from Gino, Anya, and to a degree Luciano, they all appear for a scant few scenes only to die fighting Suzaku in the Lancelot Albion simply to show off its upgraded prowess. The Oz MangaAverts this for Nonette at least.
Bismarck and Monica in particular suffer from this, as both of them are the token good members of the Group. Bismarck being a Noble Demon, having history with Lelouch's mother Marianne, and even a Geass of his own, and Monica holding no racism towards Numbers, and a similar belief set to Suzaku. While Monica gets A Day in the Limelight in the Oz Manga, both ultimately don't get much to show off in the series before their deaths, wasting any opportunity for them to influence Lelouch and Suzaku's stories.
Milly Ashford, one of the few people who knows the whole truth about Lelouch and Nunally. In spite of this and the Ashford family's ties to Lelouch's mother, her knowledge never comes into play in the main story and she's relegated to comedic subplots.
Rivalz Cardemonde, he stands out as the only Student Council member who has no bearing whatsoever on the plot. Despite being Lelouch's purported best friend and having similar issues with his father, his character remains static throughout the series.
Numerous racist/xenophobic Britannian characters (namely Villetta, Jeremiah, Cornelia, and Nina) are never actually shown in the process of getting over their prejudice (usually just skipping to them suddenly being over it or not caring anymore), or it is quickly forgotten. As a result, a number of viewers felt that they got away with their worse actions too easily.
The worst is (possibly) the subplot involving Marianne's death. She's revealed to be inside Anya and is killed in the very next episode, even though her murder had been one of Lelouch's main motivations since the very beginning of the first season. What's more, Empress Marianne herself was part of an arguably "evil" plan and abandoned her children to build a new world for them, which flies in the face of how other characters previously viewed her as admirable and near-perfect. This really should have been better explained in order to properly reconcile both sides of her portrayal.
Also, the "Euphinator incident" is despised by many, mainly because they feel that having Euphie's plan actually go into action and horribly collapse would have been a lot more interesting than having an absurd Diabolus ex Machina crush it before it starts and cause Euphie to be killed, as having it happen and fail with Euphie still alive would give her some interesting Character Development to go through, potentially pushing her to becoming someone who, while not dark and cynical, would be a lot less cheerful and optimistic, and forced to look at things more realistically. That's preferable to being Stuffed into the Fridge, in any case.
The debate over whether the original Britannian state or the island nation qualified as the true Britannia. The island nation has even less screen time than the E.U. as a whole and having Britannia in North America just seems to have been an effort to have an evil empire located in America.
Remember when C.C. entered in contact with Suzaku during the first season, which caused the two to black out several times and C.C. realized something important about him? It's never brought up again within the story but, according to the staff, Suzaku was apparently meant to either have a Geass power that gave him increased physical abilities or at least the potential for acquiring one.
The faction of Britannian nobles who wished to turn traitor and join the Black Knights. The only thing we get out of them is a conversation between Zero and Diethard. We then get a scene where Darlton arrests them and that's it, and they are never mentioned again.
Trapped by Mountain Lions: The Mao subplot doesn't really affect much in the narrative. The only things of note that occurred due to the subplot was the Geassing of Shirley to forget Lelouch, the knowledge that Geass can go out of control, and The Reveal that Suzaku killed his father. However, none of these really affect the narrative in particular in the long run. Shirley's being Geassed is rendered moot after the Time Skip, where she's already fallen in love with Lelouch again; Lelouch learning Geass can go berserk doesn't come up when his started acting oddly, leading to the "Euphinator" incident; Suzaku's being Geassed on Shinkine island to live was less about him killing his dad and more about his Death Seeker nature in general. Remove the Mao subplot from the narrative, and nothing is really lost. Even the creators seemed to agree, as when the Compilation Movie was first released, Mao was Adapted Out, and the only thing that changed was what happened to Shirley, something already rendered moot after she and her father were Spared by the Adaptation.
True Art Is Angsty: The story's cripplingly depressing at times but it's still one of the most popular anime in Japan and/or the world.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: While the Black Knights gained a reputation as Unintentionally Unsympatheticafter their betrayal, because of the complex morality of the series, just as many are quick to think the Black Knights did warrant some sympathy for the situation. Namely, while they were performing a back room deal with Schneizel to get Japan back, the majority of them were still reeling from the Tokyo Settlement being destroyed by the Fleija, and that because Zero had made numerous questionable decisions during R2, they were more willing to believe Zero was just using them and just wanted their home back. Not helping matters being their lack of knowledge on Geass allowing Schneizel to color their perceptions of it, along with Asahina trying to warn Tohdoh not to trust Zero before he was caught in the Fleija blast, and doctored evidence by Schneizel making it look like Lelouch willingly caused the SAZ massacre via Euphemia. To many, the Black Knights were ultimately just scared, hurt, and confused, making their reactions more understandable, and by time Lelouch had become Emperor, he was deadset on his Zero-Approval Gambit, making them think their fears were justified. The compilation movies seemed to agree, since it alters events so that the Black Knights aren't trying to execute Lelouch, but just want answers and are willing to give him a chance to explain himself, only for Schneizel's forces to open fire anyway, the events of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection demonstrating several members regret their part in Lelouch's seeming mental decline, with Ohgi in particular initially Driven to Suicide.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Many fans hold very conflicting views on the subject. In fact, even the series staff has admitted that the show plays around with morality so much that matters of right and wrong, as well as what is considered sympathetic or not, are quite open to viewer interpretation.
While Lelouch was acting for a greater good during the R2 finale, his actions brought chaos to the world and some fans wanted to see the show explore the fallout of the damage he caused. At the same time, even though Lelouch was presented as Jumping Off the Slippery Slope mere episodes before the betrayal, it's still not hard for the audience to find him more sympathetic than the Black Knights themselves. At that point, his endgame involved countering the Britannian Empire via an international alliance in the UFN, which appeared to be less destructive than the alternative.
On the other hand, Lelouch usually had the camera working in his favor and he still received preferential treatment right until the end, so it's very hard to claim he was ever supposed to be "unsympathetic" in absolute terms. Which in turn allows for some criticism from the other side of the argument, those viewers who think the series in general was too pro-Lelouch and should have given his opponents more sympathy points.
The Black Knights could also be considered another case, since their betrayal involved an under the table deal for Japan without the knowledge of the UFN, whose nations ceded their military to as part of their representation. They aren't called out for their mutiny and only a couple of members show any sign of regret or remorse for it, which made the rest of them come across as highly unsympathetic. So in spite of the above point that Lelouch received more screentime, they get to live at the end as in-universe heroes while Lelouch dies a pariah.
The Black Knights were only presented as "heroes" in a narrow sense, consisting of being the opposition to Lelouch, as part of an intentional fabrication meant to fool the ignorant in-universe masses. From an overarching narrative perspective, the whole point of the ending is for the audience to cheer for Lelouch and empathize with him on an emotional level, not with the Black Knights who betrayed Zero. In fact, it was the outright success of Lelouch's plan, after completely defeating the Black Knights and Schneizel, that allowed him to portray himself as a pariah and manipulate the course of events to engineer the survival of his fallen foes and the victorious return of a new Zero to the global stage. It's all about applauding the Magnificent Bastard, not the heroes-in-name-only who were left at his mercy. The last episode does not hesitate to emphasize how awesome Lelouch is, including Kallen praising him in the epilogue and the very last scene with C.C. remarking that he has overcome the isolation of Geass.
The wedding photo at the end. Ohgi, Villetta and Cornelia are alive and reasonably happy, with the former two married and now starting a family, while Lelouch lies dead.
That said, one common point of contention, which can be understood for or against Lelouch if not both in terms of sympathy, is to what extent Lelouch had been driven by a Death Wish after losing everyone. He had thought Nunnally died in the FLEIJA blast and this influenced his later actions, though even Suzaku tells him that her survival doesn't change that they were already too involved and had other reasons to keep going.
The Unintentionally Unsympathetic part is arguably shared with Rolo. It seems the audience is intended to feel bad for Rolo when Lelouch casts him out, especially due to the lack of love in his life, in spite of how he's killed several people including a random soldier who might have heard something important, a few unarmed children and Lelouch's semi-girlfriend Shirley. Not to mention that he decided to kill Nunnally, the one person Lelouch was trying to save, to keep him for himself.
Some of Lelouch's angst early in the second season, when he's afraid to confront his sister after she joined up with Suzaku in order to follow Euphemia's plan for the Special Zone. The underlying source of it is understandable, given the character's psychology, but his outward reaction was still comically exaggerated. In fact, Lelouch can't even see any news related to her, abuses his powers to release stress and briefly attempts to use drugs within a single day!
When Suzaku goes through some angst as well. His grief over Euphie is also understandable, but the fact is he's been participating in global conquest yet continues to be all "She's the only one who understood me!" at the same time.
When he accidentally Geassed Euphemia to commit genocide. It's not so much the fact that he did it as the primary reason it happened. Worst Rhetorical Request Blunder ever! Admittedly, naming an action that would be entirely contrary to nature of the victim in conversation as an example of what Geass can compel is a reasonable way of impressing how powerful it is, so it's not too unreasonable that Lelouch would use such an example.
And let's not forget that before giving this example Lelouch's eye causes him pain three times over the course of the episode. Once right before stating the example... Not once does he ask C.C.'s advice after the first one, and he makes NO effort to stop Euphemia while the two are still in the room together. He freaks out and can't reach her after she tries fighting the command for almost 30 seconds.
Lelouch didn't simply let Euphemia run away; He DID chase her, but, as we were shown before, he has such a poor stamina that he couldn't keep up to her.
Not only that, but he doesn't learn the lesson that he should not overuse his Geass, or use it frivolously, which he arguably should have started thinking after seeing what Geass had done to Mao. He continues to Geass people for petty reasons, such as to get away more quickly during a school chase or to vent his spleen on some thugs. For crying out loud, man.
At least in the case of the thugs, it was because Lelouch was in the midst of a breakdownnote whether Heroic or Villainous is up to the reader and deliberately done.
Practically everything Suzaku does starting from the beginning of the show up to his breakdown after nuking Tokyo with Fleija can be called out as this.
Really, C.C.? After all Mao's been through, did you really think that after walking out on him he'd just let it go?
Ditto the Black Knights for betraying Lelouch based on the word of the enemy commander who just nuked Tokyo.
Nunnally trusting Schneizel. You've lost your faith in the two people you spent most of your life with after being exiled in Japan, you're capable of detecting lies, and yet you choose to trust the most shady person in the world? Really?
Woolseyism: To a certain extent, the "conversation" between Schneizel and Lelouch, where he had recorded his part in advance, seems to make more sense in the dub. It's admittedly a translation quality/choice issue, in part, given that fan subtitles aren't necessarily perfect to begin with, but some viewers thought that the initial version implied Lelouch was predicting his opponent's words to the letter, at one point correctly anticipating being interrupted. In the dub, the interruption was played down considerably, and Lelouch's lines were made much more vague and believable than in the fansubs. Read the transcript here. Beware of spoilers.
Alternative Title(s):Code Geass Lelouch Of The Rebellion