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Cleanup thread: Magnificent Bastard

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  • Why do a cleanup?: This trope definitely exists and has has a well documented history of use. That being said, it frequently gets misused to a character who meets one of the components, namely that they are smart, charming while not necessarily even being a villain, or create good plans. While these are components, there is also a certain personality required, not to mention that all of the above are required to be present for a character to be a true Magnificent Bastard. As the trope attracts interest, it unfortunately brings in a lot of misuse and I thought the best way to rectify this would be a Perpetual Cleanup Thread, as is being done and has seen success with Complete Monster.

  • What makes a Magnificent Bastard: Below are a list of the individual components to make this character. Note that they must all be present, not just some, which has lead to frequent misuse:
    • Must be intelligent: Goes without saying, to be a Magnificent Bastard, the character has to be smart in the first place and use their brain to work towards whatever their end goal may be;
    • Must be a Bastard: While going overboard in how vile the character is can be detrimental, a key aspect is the Bastard part of the trope, whether the character is an out-and-out antagonist in the work, some manner of Villain Protagonist, or something in between, they at least have some unscrupulous qualities to qualify for this trope;
    • Must not be too detestable: Again, there is a ceiling on how bad the character can be before they just become too nefarious, blocking out the Magnificent part of the trope. A genocidal racist or child-raping Sadist aren't going to make the cut;
    • Think on their feet: In addition to being a Chessmaster, a Magnificent Bastard, if the character deals with situations in which their initial plan is ruined, has to be able to pull a Xanatos Speed Chess and at least come up with a competent strategy to make up for lost time, otherwise they fail for being unable to think in tough spots;
    • Have charm: Even if they don't necessarily make every character they meet fall in love with them and can even be detested by others, the audience has to find an amicable social relation to the character, or they are failing to make the impact required for this trope.

  • What to do if a character is listed on a page but has not been approved?: They need to be removed, all candidates need to come through the cleanup thread first. The character could well count but they need to be analyzed properly and voted on first.

  • Do we list Playing With this trope?: No, while this, like any other trope can be played with, we only want examples that explain it being Played Straight.

  • What do I do if I want a character to be listed as a Magnificent Bastard?: The greatest success Complete Monster saw for its cleanup effort was from the invention of the effort post format, so, borrowing from that, a troper wishing to propose a Magnificent Bastard will create such a post in the following format:
    • Begin by describing The work, this will help establish the setting the character is in and for the reader to understand what kind of a scenario they are in;
    • Summarize The character's actions, this will provide a listing for readers to understand what they do and how it applies to this trope because charm and lack of smugness are so crucial, this is a good time to be incorporating exactly the flavour of how they operate to explain this;
    • List circumstances in which the character must Think on their feet, these are times where a wrench might be thrown in their initial plan and they have to adapt on the spot or even come up with a new scheme all together, this is also a good time to explain how the villain reacts to defeat when they have to face it, a true Magnificent Bastard won't break down into tears at the thought of death, they should have known such a possibility could occur and be able to handle it with more dignity;
    • The competition, similar to the Heinous Standard dealt with for a Complete Monster, this section is to deal with how successful the character is in carrying out their plans compared to other characters. While, as a villain, they probably are going to lose in the end, it is good to explain how other characters handle the same situation. There is no exceptionalism case to be made for this trope but explaining the variety helps the reader have a better understanding of the proposal.

  • How do you know when the character's arc is done so they can be proposed? When their tenure as a villain or antagonist finishes. This could happen in a single Story Arc in an entire work, a single work of a franchise, or the whole series in general. We'll show lenience to Long-Runners with constantly recurring candidates or series with outstanding continuities (ex. comic books), and it's entirely possible to count in a work or two but not in general for a reason like Depending on the Writer.

  • What about candidates evil because of external sources? Those Made of Evil can qualify if they show enough individuality and tactical acumen — in other words, they have the personality to fulfill the magnificence requirement. Conversely, those brainwashed, especially if they're a better person without it, may fail the individuality aspect and cannot count.

  • What if they are under orders from a higher-up? Depends. If the boss created the plans down to the letter and the candidate is just following them, sounds like we should discuss the boss instead. However, if the candidate takes creative liberties with the orders, adds their own charm and flair to them, fills in holes in the orders, and/or actively deals with obstacles their boss did not talk about, the candidate shows enough individual thinking to qualify.

  • What about Character Development? An MB is something a character can develop into... a nice person who plots well might become more morally grey as the work goes on and hits the "Bastard" criteria, thus making them viable. Likewise, a Smug Snake might shed their ego, become more understanding of the threat others pose and gain the personality or "Magnificent" criteria, likewise making them viable. Conversely, a character who looks like this trope might suffer from a Sanity Slippage or just get outed as not being as smart as they thought they were and become incompatible with MB.

  • Can an MB be a good guy? Not in the conventional sense... it is required they have at least some dubious traits lest they fail the "Bastard" criteria. That being said, a character who pulls a Heel–Face Turn or eventually stops taking villainous actions is still fair game: as there was a point in time where they were both "Magnificent" and a "Bastard" at the same time and they've merely adapted as time goes on. Now... if such a character begins showing other issues (i.e.: becomes prone to freak outs or starts getting outwitted) then they're compromising their Magnificence and will probably be deemed a cut. What's important is stylishly operating while at least for some time being willing to take at best underhanded methods to see aa job done. A Heel–Face Turn in itself isn't a disqualifier but they do have to have been "Magnificent" and a "Bastard" at the same time and afterwards can't start slipping on the former front.

  • Is there a timeframe rule like with Complete Monster?: Yes, please wait two weeks until after the work has concluded before proposing a character (again, usually using the North American airdate). As is the case with CM, we want to give a reasonable time frame so that everyone interested in seeing the work has done so and can participate in the discussion without having anything spoiled.

  • Can I propose my own work's character as a Magnificent Bastard?: No, this is a YMMV subject and the creator of a content is way too biased to be able to evaluate the criteria we're looking for without a second opinion taking over. That being said, you are more than welcome to encourage someone to consume your creation and if they feel a character counts, are more than welcome to suggest them.

Thread rules

When voting a troper must specify the effort post they're voting on and cannot merely vote on "Everything I missed" as in the past it has indicated the poster didn't read the effort post and is guessing instead of analyzing.

Resolved items

In general, a character listed on this trope is considered "settled". This means they should not be challenged unless information used to list them was incorrect or information was missed in the initial discussion.

This especially applies to the characters listed below, whom have been discussed excessively and repeated attempts to get them listed/cut may result in punitive action for bogging down the thread.

Definitely an MB

Definitely not an MB

  • South Park: The show's frequent use of vulgar comedy and mean-spirited humour leaves any potential candidates devoid of the dignity or charm to qualify.

Edited by 43110 on Feb 3rd 2021 at 6:27:09 AM

DemonDuckofDoom from Some Pond in Hell Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Morgenthaler Lawful Evil.
Lawful Evil.
Feb 22nd 2021 at 3:26:14 PM

New one:

What is the work?

From Paris with Love, a 2010 action comedy from Luc Besson. Think of it as the Lighter and Softer version of Taken. James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is working in Paris as an aide to the US ambassador to France, with a beautiful French girlfriend (Caroline). Reese is also a CIA analyst who expresses to his bosses in Langley that he wants more important assignments, so they make him partner to one of their best field agents: Charlie Wax.

Who is Charlie Wax? What has he done?

Charlie Wax (John Travolta) is a braggadacious and Crazy Awesome assassin working for the CIA. Reese is introduced to him as Wax is being held up by French customs and cussing them out over a collection of soda cans he refuses to surrender. Reese compromises by slapping a "diplomatic mail" label on the bag. Turns out, the cans were actually just a ploy to smuggle Wax's favorite weapon into the country. Wax and Reese visit a Chinese restaurant before Wax threatens the waiter and gets into a firefight with triads who run the place. He shoots a few holes in the ceiling, exposing a large-scale cocaine operation on the second foor. He has Reese collect some in a Chinese ming vase and carry it around Paris with him.

Wax lets the waiter go so he will immediately report to his boss. Wax beats up a street gang single-handed, takes out several more triads, before confronting their leader while he's attending a play performed by the leader's children. Wax and Reese force him at gunpoint to give up the location of his supplier, adding "think of the children". They escape from their warehouse after killing more mooks. Although initially lying to Reese about the raid being because of a politician's niece who OD'd, Wax instructs Reese to snort some along with him before leveling with Reese that they're hunting terrorists who are selling coke to gather the funds for a major attack at a coming international conference. Wax and Reese go to a Pakistani pimp so they can hire a hooker for Wax. They break into an adjacent room, ordering the customer to leave at gunpoint and stealing his charger so Reese can charge his cell (Caroline saw them and Reese is trying to contact her). Wax bangs the hooker while Reese observes a terrorist-owned shop through the window. When the pimp comes knocking, Wax allows Reese to get beaten up and camly takes his place at the window to note the license plate before finally helping out Reese and shooting the pimp.

They track down the van to a ghetto outside Paris with a spy satellite. To get into the building, Reese and Wax ask the locals for some coke, getting robbed in the process. When the local drug dealer gets angry when Wax demands more than 1 kilo (which carries a minimum sentence of 15 years), Wax orders Reese to drop the Chinese vase (which easily contains 5 kgs of product), scaring off the petty criminals. They break into an old man's apartment who lives above the terrorists so Wax can rappel in through the window while Reese takes out anyone coming through the door. The few who escape are killed with a bomb that Wax times to throw onto their car. They then steal a police car to get away, but Reese points out that their own car still has their prints. Since they don't have time to clean it up, Wax instead rams into a row of cars to blow it up too.

Later that evening, Reese has invited Wax to have dinner with him and Caroline and one of Caroline's friends. Wax acts witty and polite, before Caroline's friend receives a phone call asking if "Rose" is there. Then Wax immediately shoots her in the head. He explains to a shocked Reese that Caroline is a terrorist and so was her friend, proving that the ring she gave him for their anniversary is a tracking device. Caroline escapes, and her and her cell use a decoy while she herself will go to the conference with a bomb vest hidden behind a burka. Reese realizes this just in time for Wax to take out a terrorist who was planning to kill another ambassador on the highway. Reese himself confronts Caroline at the conference, being forced to shoot her when his attempt to talk her down fails and she reaches for the trigger. Wax and Reese reminisce over a game of chess before he leaves France.

How do his actions and personality show him to be a Magnificent Bastard?

What made me hesitate to bring him up is that he's clearly heroic (I added the Guile Hero entry on the work page), but looking over his actions has me thinking he might be enough of a dick to qualify nevertheless. He breaks a shit-ton of laws to achieve his ends, such as smuggling, breaking and entering, threatening a gang leader's children, and shooting a terrorist suspect in cold blood. He's not particularly concerned about his partner either, lying to him, letting him get beaten up, forcing him to snort cocaine, etc. Of course he's a government assassin and not a law enforcement officer so he's not planning to take in anybody alive, but I think that does make him unscrupulous enough to fit.

As for character, damn straight is he magnetic. He's always friendly and cheery with a sketchy, manipulative side, never letting his partner fully in on the loop before he throws a curve ball at him. When the old man whose apartment they broke into offers him tea, his response is "Sure, why not?" before he jumps out the window. Oh, and don't forget he does most of the shit described above while high as a kite on cocaine. And yes, at one point he does sit down to eat a Royale with Cheese.

Verdict?

I heart Paris!

Edited by Morgenthaler on Feb 22nd 2021 at 3:31:23 AM

Ah, the eternal refrain of humanity. Pleading ignorance while begging for mercy.
miraculous It's kind of romantic from South Africa
It's kind of romantic
Feb 22nd 2021 at 3:27:00 PM

[tup]Wax

"Why would I keep my head down. When I'm this good at acting. This is the kind of performance that won me an award for best actress"
Feb 22nd 2021 at 3:29:45 PM

Oh damn! I was thinking of Charlie Wax too at some point!

Of course [tup] to Wax!

Heck, the Taken comparison is very apt. Pierre Morel directed both.

Edited by futuremoviewriter on Feb 22nd 2021 at 3:32:09 AM

SkyCat32 The Draftsman of Doom from Nakatomi Plaza Relationship Status: Longing for my OTP
43110 You should start singing for yourself now. from Mars Relationship Status: Abstaining
You should start singing for yourself now.
Feb 22nd 2021 at 3:33:13 PM

Yes to Wax and no worries Looper, I was confused and thought you were referring to an MB from a story you had written: if it's just one you got approved you can definitely put them on the YMMV.

Pending MB writeups MB Drafts MB Dates
jjjj2 Mario goes Super Saiyan! from Mushroom Kingdom
Mario goes Super Saiyan!
Feb 22nd 2021 at 3:36:30 PM

[tup]Moriarity. I think Wax is unscrupulous enough to count for this. [tup] Wax.

You can only write so much in your forum signature. It's not fair that I want to write a piece of writing yet it will cut me off in the mid
Feb 22nd 2021 at 4:11:43 PM

[tup] Moriarty and [tup] Wax, and noticed an unapproved MB entry on YMMV.Powerless.

" Magnificent Bastard: Wilson Fisk - but is there any wonder? He even has the balls to give Matt Murdock a eulogy, after killing him with his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Luckily, Castle punishes him as he deserves."

Going just by that it almost sounds more like a potential CM candidate, but I'll have to read the book first. Either way it should be cut as-is.

EDIT: Got done reading Powerless and it's definitely more CM territory; will propose there.

Edited by lalalei2001 on Feb 22nd 2021 at 8:52:35 AM

The Protomen enhanced my life.
Libraryseraph Family is something you make from Canada Relationship Status: Longing for Dulcinea
HamburgerTime The Merry Monarch of Darkness from Dark World, where we do sincerely have cookies Relationship Status: I know
The Merry Monarch of Darkness
Feb 22nd 2021 at 5:36:56 PM

[tup] Moriarty and Charlie Wax.

The pig of Hufflepuff pulsed like a large bullfrog. Dumbledore smiled at it, and placed his hand on its head: "You are Hagrid now."
falcontalons from Earth-2
Feb 22nd 2021 at 6:07:21 PM

Yes to Warp, Romac, Moriarty, and Charlie Wax.

DemonDuckofDoom from Some Pond in Hell Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
MalleoWeegee Evolution Requires Sacrifice. from Eurasia Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
Feb 22nd 2021 at 6:44:02 PM

[tup]to Warp, Romac, Moriarty, and Charlie Wax.

It seems like the Goblin Slayer character is too moral for this trope.

It's always a balancing act with a MB, can't be too good, can't be too bad. I have come across some Complete Monster villains with some interesting schemes and manipulations (1982 comics Skeletor, SNES Malebolgia), but their end games seem too evil for them to count, IMO. It's why I usually propose anti villains or generic villains instead here.

43110 You should start singing for yourself now. from Mars Relationship Status: Abstaining
You should start singing for yourself now.
Feb 22nd 2021 at 6:50:14 PM

I'd concur and it's why I'm such a hard ass about pruning the crossover list when I feel it's raising false precedents. Cutting something is never a fun discussion but we can't have future discussions coming here and citing "But what about X" when "X" really shouldn't have been listed in the first place. There's a difference between MB and a Bastard who's a manipulative chessmaster.

Pending MB writeups MB Drafts MB Dates
Feb 22nd 2021 at 6:54:50 PM

Yep. We've had some objectively nasty characters qualify, but in every case, their magnificence outweighs their monstrosity in the eyes of the audience. They generally make people talk about what smooth operators or charismatic figures they are before the subject of their horribleness is brought up.

Complete Monster quotes cleanup
Feb 22nd 2021 at 6:58:23 PM

[up][up] Yeah, for all the Star Trek characters I proposed here and in the CM page, there was no crossover between the 2 categories, for example.

Edited by Overlord on Feb 22nd 2021 at 6:59:07 AM

43110 You should start singing for yourself now. from Mars Relationship Status: Abstaining
You should start singing for yourself now.
Feb 22nd 2021 at 7:04:17 PM

Well yes, being "objectively nasty" will net a character a spot for the bastard spot, that goes without saying. I don't wanna dwell too much on the balancing aspect because that's about it and you and Overlord have pretty well covered off the entire topic and when/when not being one of the worse MB candidates for crimes when/won't qualify.

Pending MB writeups MB Drafts MB Dates
Feb 22nd 2021 at 7:25:07 PM

I do wanna post one movie example now...

What's the work?

Captain Harlock is a 2013 CGI animated film with the legendary space pirate, based on the anime and manga by Leiji Matsumoto...Captain Harlock is a space pirate and captain of the legendary spaceship Arcadia with his motley crew. Harlock is often a champion for his beloved world of Earth, even as it refuses to acknowledge him and falls prey to corruption. Well...this is the darkest take on the character yet.

Who is Harlock?

The legendary pirate who sails the ocean of stars in the Arcadia, designed by his greatest friend, the late Tokichiro...in the far future, the earth had been enveloped in a brutal resources war, with Harlock attempting to end it by encasing earth in a protective field...but the dark matter used went wild and obliterated most of the earth. The Dark Matter used also condemned Harlock to immortality....vowing to atone, Harlock lives on. Plotting against the Gaia government, Harlock steals a group of warheads and allows the brother of an admiral serving as an assassin to infiltrate his crew, a young man named Yama.

In effect, Harlock proceeds to stow away his warheads in strategic spots through the universe...in effect, detonating them will disrupt the timestream, allowing Harlock to go back and reverse his old mistake, saving earth. Yama considers fulfilling his mission, but is swayed by Harlock's own charisma...with Gaia closing in, Harlock demonstrates why he's the captain, utilizing holograms and tactics to outmaneuevr their fleet, with Harlock taking Yama's brother Isora captive.

It is then Isora reveals Harlock's true intent: it's NOT to turn back time. Harlock plans to break the universe apart and create a new one, one free of mistakes, a better one, as he sees it....in the ensuing war, Yama is able to sway harlock from his plan and to a peacefulresolution. Harlock reveals earth's true devastation to the people of Gaia, which shakes Gaia's hold on them, as the government promotes a religious veneration of Earth....Harlock and Isora face off, with Harlock mortally wounding him, giving praise to his enemy at the end, saying he acknowledges his true love for earth.

Harlock, still believing the war is inevitable...he gives Yama the detonators and gives him the choice. When Yama refuses to restart the universes, Harlock passes him the mantle and the Arcadia, fading away at last, with it ambiguous if he dies or achieves mortality...with Yama commanding the Arcadia towards an uncertain future.

How's he operate?

Harlock is manipulative, strategic and brilliant. He's a charismatic, haunting, soulful figure who truly believes in the necessity of what he does. He truly loves his crew, he cares deeply for those close to him...there's no doubt, Harlock hits every point of this. He is a brilliant plotter, from the get go, very little doesn't go as planned, even accounting for his biggest error and hot damn does he spend the movie trying to fix it.

Is he a bastard?

He's trying to destroy the universe...yes he is. Harlock is easily the most villainous incarnation of the character ever put to screen, but he truly loves his crew, he cares for Yama, he gracefully abandons his goal at the end, convinced by Yama's idealism and oh yeah: he truly thinks he's doing the right thing to build a better universe.

Conclusion?

Absolute yes.

Feb 22nd 2021 at 7:37:04 PM

I have another comedy candidate

What is the work?

The Hustle is a 2019 remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Penny Rust (Wilson) is a low brow con artist in America, catfishing men and then convincing them to give her money for a boob job. She travels to France to get richer marks, but in the way she encounters Josephine Chesterfield (Hathaway), a high class con artist whose main prey are the same rich men Penny is trying to scam. The situation puts the women at odds with each other, so they decide to settle things once and for all by betting the territory on a single master con.

Who is he? What has he done?

Thomas Westerburg is the grandson and successor of legendary con artist, Medusa. Posing as a billionaire who created the Ya Burnt tech app, when con artists Penny and Josephine arrive in France intending to make him their next victim, Penny pretending to be blind and Josephine pretending to be an eye doctor named Dr. Schauffhaussen. Thomas pretends to go along with their stories.

When Josephine shows up in Thomas' hotel room intending to seduce him into having sex with her. Josephine taking a shower before they start, Thomas takes off with her clothes, jewelry, phone, laptop and Jimmy Choos after tricking her into "investing" $500,000 into his app.

Telling Penny that Ya Burnt isn't actually his and that the seed investors bought him out saying that he only has $400,000 left but says that he will pay the $500,000 for her eye treatment. Lying about the payment he cons Penny into transferring $500,000 into his account as a way of "paying him back" before leaving France.

When the two women realize they had been conned, Thomas reveals via text that his grandmother was the original Medusa, having inherited her title, though his feelings for Penny were genuine.

A fortnight later,, Thomas returns under the alias of "Ritchie" performing a scam against wealthy tourists, convincing Penny and Josephine to team up with him he includes them in his con.

The film ends with Penny and Josephine conning a man out of $200,000 while Thomas acting as a civilian misdirects the police.

Is he cunning/magnificent?

He successfully conned two experienced con artists and is the most successful con artist in the film being the legendary Medusa's successor. When up against Penny and Jo he acted like a naive young man to catch them off guard and outwitted them effortlessly.

Is he a bastard?

Well yeah he's a con artist.

Verdict?

Being an Expy of Janet Colgate from the previous film, I would say Thomas is an easy keep.

Feb 22nd 2021 at 8:00:40 PM

Yea to Thomas and absolute yes to 2013 Harlock. Quite fond of that movie.

"You mean it's not obvious yet? I'm about to celebrate becoming an only child!"
43110 You should start singing for yourself now. from Mars Relationship Status: Abstaining
You should start singing for yourself now.

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