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In order to properly evaluate a Hate Sink candidate, the following questions must be answered.

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What is the work?

State the work and which medium it is a part of, as well as what the work is about.

Who is the character, and what do they do?

State who the character is, and what courses of action they take.

What makes them personally despicable?

State the specific reasons they are despicable, such as petty behaviour and personal villainy.

Evil Is Cool traits? Complexity? Freudian Excuse?

State whether or not the character has any traits which get in the way of them being despicable, and if so, whether said traits are de-emphasised in favour of their despicable behaviour.

Verdict?

State whether or not you believe the criteria are met.

In order for this trope to be in effect, the character in question must actually display detestable qualities, and be hated by other characters at least, or treated by the narrative like someone you are supposed to hate. The author’s declared intent cements an example, but is not needed if the narrative itself treats the character as someone who is supposed to be hated.

Haman the Agagite, for instance, displays qualities of ego, bigotry, and pettiness; additionally, there is a custom of jeering at his name’s mere mention. It goes without saying, according to this thread, that Haman was intended to be despised by the audience. Being a Draco in Leather Pants, like Draco Malfoy, or a character people Love to Hate, like Joffrey Baratheon, doesn’t preclude being a Hate Sink; being a Complete Monster, like Haman, certainly doesn't preclude this trope either.

The main concern is whether the narrative treats the character as someone intended to be despised.

With regards to this trope, actions still generally speak louder than words. The format of editing which brings up characters who don't fit the bill, doesn't generally go into enough detail with regards to what makes these characters loathsome.

The entries for this trope should focus on who does qualify, not the characters who do not.

Admittedly, this trope is less complex, but, because a Hate Sink carries out loathsome actions the same way a Complete Monster carries out evil actions, and a Magnificent Bastard carries out clever actions, it is ostensibly necessary to write these entries with a similar structure, albeit usually with a shorter paragraph.

Edited by gjjones on May 28th 2019 at 5:46:22 AM

Shadao Surprised Satoshi
Surprised Satoshi
Jan 17th 2019 at 8:56:07 PM

[up] Perhaps if the main villain is the only antagonistic force, then they should not be on the Hate Sink page. But I say if there's more than one villain running around, the main villain should be a contender for HS even if they, as the Big Bad, are already the focal point of contempt. Otherwise, how do we deal with Big Bad who also have a big HS on their back?

After all, Fire Lord Ozai is considered by many fans to be a Hate Sink character, but he's also the Big Bad that you would obviously root Aang to fight against. Is Ozai disqualified by the virtue of being Big Bad?

Edited by Shadao on Jan 17th 2019 at 9:00:45 AM

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Jan 18th 2019 at 6:09:31 AM

I don't really know. A Big Bad can have redeeming traits, and Ozai has none whatsoever.

WarJay77 Spooky Scary from Upstate New York Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Spooky Scary
Jan 18th 2019 at 11:31:05 AM

I mean, having no redeeming traits doesn't necessarily mean Hate Sink. The way I see it, Hate Sinks and Big Bads can't overlap because you're expected to root against and hate the villain, so much so that rooting for the villain is a trope on it's own. I see a Hate Sink more as like, they're not the Big Bad, they're not the most evil or powerful villain in the story, they're not even necessarily a villain. They're just unlikeable.

It's not necessarily that they don't have redeeming traits but that all the traits they do have serve more to just irritate and enrage the people around them, both in and out of universe, and yes often it is because if they weren't made to be hated the conflict wouldn't work out as well. In some way they might exaggerate the flaws associated with villains into just being downright obnoxious- rude and petty rather than just mean, cowardly rather than just pragmatic, pointlessly cruel rather than just ruthless, and it's the combination of the traits that make them a Hate Sink.

Female troper who likes Pokemon, ARGs, Writing, and more. / Links: Sandbox.Zero Context Example Thread - Sandbox.Roleplay Cleanup Thread
Shadao Surprised Satoshi
Surprised Satoshi
Jan 18th 2019 at 12:51:10 PM

[up]Perhaps, but the wording of the trope suggests that a main villain can be a Hate Sink, though it's not required. There's nothing suggesting that being Big Bad disqualifies a villain from being a Hate Sink.

However, this individual doesn't have to be the main villain of the story or even a villain at all

This is also why I brought up Ozai. Ozai's personality fits the bill of being an unlikeable villain who ends up making other villains in the run (Zuko and Azula) sympathetic characters that we root/pity for. Him being an Evil Overlord bent on conquering the world is bad enough for us to root against him, but the show runners went on the extra mile to make him be defined by how he treats his family. Simply being cut from Hate Sink because he's the Big Bad seems to be off for me.

Then you have Toy Story 3 where the production team flat out admit "that they increased Lotso's cruelty in the final version in order to ensure that people understood that he got exactly what he deserved, as the test screenings had some kids still sympathizing with him after his backstory was revealed."

That alone fits the description of Hate Sink since it's the authors' intent to make Lotso unlikable, but he's also the Big Bad... so is he not qualified?

I think being Big Bad doesn't automatically make them a Hate Sink. It's more or less a big position of antagonism that can be played around with. The Joker from the Lego Batman Movie is the Big Bad, yet I don't think anyone would say he's a Hate Sink by default since he pretty much treats his role like a performance (and it's Batman who is rude to him). Hate Sink, from my understanding, is the writer going the extra mile to hammer down on the audience that "this person is really, really terrible and you should not like them at all."

Edited by Shadao on Jan 18th 2019 at 12:54:46 PM

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WarJay77 Spooky Scary from Upstate New York Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Spooky Scary
Jan 18th 2019 at 12:56:45 PM

I know a villain can be a Hate Sink, just that Hate Sink =/= villain due to the fact that villains are intended to be hated; so I would agree that the Big Bad isn't the same thing as a Hate Sink and rarely is a Hate Sink. However, I see your point with Ozai and Lotso- with that explanation I can see how they can be considered Hate Sinks.

Female troper who likes Pokemon, ARGs, Writing, and more. / Links: Sandbox.Zero Context Example Thread - Sandbox.Roleplay Cleanup Thread
Shadao Surprised Satoshi
Surprised Satoshi
Jan 18th 2019 at 1:02:21 PM

[up] That I agree. Villains are not a necessity to be a Hate Sink which is why I brought Gilbert Huph as an example. I'm just a bit confused of the whole Big Bad and Hate Sink relations, that's all.

As I've stated before, I believe the main criteria to qualify a character as a Hate Sink is for the story to focus and amplify the negative aspects of their personality to the point of being irritating and unlikeable. Personality, rather position, is key here and it can be any character in the story.

Edited by Shadao on Jan 18th 2019 at 1:03:26 AM

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Jan 18th 2019 at 1:04:23 PM

But then we risk people mixing this trope up with Complete Monster.

Shadao Surprised Satoshi
Surprised Satoshi
Jan 18th 2019 at 1:11:44 PM

[up] That is indeed an issue. However, I will say there are Complete Monsters that don't really qualify as Hate Sinks.

Micheal Myers, for example, is a classic Complete Monster but his personality is completely blank. No one knows why he wants to kill his family or why he kills people at random. There's nothing for the audience to identify Myers with, and thus we are more inclined to be afraid of him rather than hate him. And when you think about it, the only hatred people have with Myers is more out-of-universe "Just retire him, he's getting boring."

With that said, I think we do need specific litmus criteria along with a more defined description of what a Hate Sink should be.

I'm thinking along the lines of "the focus on the loathsome aspect of their personality overrides any other aspects of their character."

Edited by Shadao on Jan 18th 2019 at 1:16:02 AM

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WarJay77 Spooky Scary from Upstate New York Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Spooky Scary
Jan 18th 2019 at 1:18:03 PM

I mean, there could definitely be overlap with a Complete Monster and a Hate Sink. We just need to set the standard for how they're different and enforce it.

Female troper who likes Pokemon, ARGs, Writing, and more. / Links: Sandbox.Zero Context Example Thread - Sandbox.Roleplay Cleanup Thread
Shadao Surprised Satoshi
Surprised Satoshi
Jan 18th 2019 at 1:25:49 PM

Well, Hate Sink is focus on personality. A character can be obnoxious, rude, cowardly and all around an unpleasant fella. But they don't have to actually commit any crimes to show it off. For example, a next-door neighbor hurling racist insults and telling The Protagonist to get off of his lawn is a Hate Sink character but he lacks the heinous factor that a Complete Monster is required to have.

A Complete Monster focuses on the scale of their crimes they actually committed or willingly to commit (and are able to) balanced by their morality (or there lack of). They don't have to be an obnoxious Hate Sink character to qualify. They just need to have no regrets for their heinous actions that outclasses everyone else and signify Serious Business for everyone else.

Edited by Shadao on Jan 18th 2019 at 1:27:47 AM

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Jan 18th 2019 at 3:31:34 PM

One thing we should keep in mind is that a Hate Sink will (probably) not make for an interesting character if they have little (if any) personality beyond being an unlikable jerk. They should be more nuanced in their cruelty.

AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Jan 18th 2019 at 7:33:49 PM

Ozai's clearly a Hate Sink. The series as a whole has a bunch of villains to direct your hatred towards, not just Ozai. Probably where it would be interesting to list an example is when they highlight some of the antagonists (mostly Zuko, but also the girls) as sympathetic.

The way I see it, Hate Sinks and Big Bads can't overlap because you're expected to root against and hate the villain, so much so that rooting for the villain is a trope on it's own.
If you're expected to root against and hate the villain, you have the very definition of a Hate Sink. That's explicitly an overlap.

I know a villain can be a Hate Sink, just that Hate Sink =/= villain due to the fact that villains are intended to be hated
Not all villains are meant to be hated. So yes, obviously, not every villain is a Hate Sink.

Micheal Myers, for example, is a classic Complete Monster but his personality is completely blank. No one knows why he wants to kill his family or why he kills people at random. There's nothing for the audience to identify Myers with, and thus we are more inclined to be afraid of him rather than hate him.
Actions can most certainly be used to get the audience to root against a character, so personality isn't necessarily a requirement for Hate Sink.

However, if a character is treated as just a force of nature rather than as an actual character, I don't think they count. At that point, the audience doesn't want them to fail as much as they want the heroes to just survive, and maybe hinder the antagonist for a while. In that category, you also have a bunch of horror and splatter villains, and those you're kind of expected to want to succeed a little bit, since at least a few people have to die for the film to be fun.

Anyway, I don't see a distinct relationship between Complete Monster and Hate Sink for them to either exclude or include each other. Whether a character fits those tropes are two separate discussions.

[up]Why? A character being interesting or not has nothing to do with whether they fit the trope.

Edited by AnotherDuck on Jan 18th 2019 at 4:34:59 PM

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Shadao Surprised Satoshi
Surprised Satoshi
Jan 18th 2019 at 7:49:23 PM

[up] I am curious to see examples of Hate Sink being defined by actions rather than personality. Most examples I've seen emphasize on the personality.

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RJ-19-CLOVIS-93 from New Zealand
Jan 18th 2019 at 9:22:13 PM

I have my doubts Nappa is a true example of a Hate Sink since he was explicitly shown to be A Lighter Shade of Black to Vegeta, with Vegeta killing him more empathizing Vegeta' evil than being an Asshole Victim scenario. It comes off as Vegeta was the Hate Sink in that arc(though not as much as Raditz), though obviously Vegeta lost that with his team-ups and prolonged Heel–Face Turn

Representing New Zealand, TV Tropes addict
Jan 19th 2019 at 9:04:38 AM

[up][up][up] Well, this trope, by definition, seems a bit simplistic. I was wondering if there was a way for anyone to be a Hate Sink without being a Flat Character.

WarJay77 Spooky Scary from Upstate New York Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Spooky Scary
Jan 19th 2019 at 10:21:39 AM

Of course. Hate Sink characters can still have backstory, have development, have complex motivations and desires and beliefs... while still being completely unlikeable for their personality and actions.

Female troper who likes Pokemon, ARGs, Writing, and more. / Links: Sandbox.Zero Context Example Thread - Sandbox.Roleplay Cleanup Thread
AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Jan 20th 2019 at 9:18:36 AM

[up][up]The trope is simple. It's a character meant to be rooted against so the audience is encouraged to cheer for another character (or group). It's fundamentally about creating a bias in favour of the creator's intended favourite.

But simple tropes don't mean simple characters.

Edited by AnotherDuck on Jan 20th 2019 at 6:18:49 PM

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Jan 20th 2019 at 11:36:47 AM

Here's this from the Anime & Manga section:

  • My Hero Academia has Endeavor. Between a sea of villains that love to kill and wreak havoc they manage to be more likable than the No.2 Hero himself. The man is a cruelly Abusive Parent that dedicated his life to a petty One Sided Rivalry against All Might, who is the Number One Hero, and screwed the life of his kids, who he never cared about, his wife, who he is implied to have raped into having his kids, and Shouto, who he has been putting into a cruel physically and emotionally abusive training ever since the boy was four. Even the show's Big Bad actually has a somewhat caring attitude towards other villains. He does eventually have a Jerkass Realization though and is taking steps to change for the better, not that his family are in any hurry to forgive him.

It says he's taking steps to change for the better. Doesn't that automatically disqualify him?

WarJay77 Spooky Scary from Upstate New York Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Spooky Scary
Jan 20th 2019 at 11:47:52 AM

Taking steps for the better implies the narrative wants the audience to at least sympathize with him or see him capable of redemption- if he was intended to be hated, I doubt they'd let him get better.

Female troper who likes Pokemon, ARGs, Writing, and more. / Links: Sandbox.Zero Context Example Thread - Sandbox.Roleplay Cleanup Thread
Jan 20th 2019 at 1:30:51 PM

On the subject of "redeemed" Hate Sinks:

  • Adventure Time:
    • Subverted with Martin, Finn's human dad. Finn and Jake risked everything to reach this guy, with their quest to reach the Citadel he was imprisoned in resulting in Prismo's death and the Lich releasing a ton of super-criminals. And what does Finn find? A complete Jerkass loser who abandons him yet again, as well as causes him to lose his arm. Needless to say, many fans were pissed. However the "Islands" miniseries, which featured his backstory, showed him to be a more sympathetic father towards Finn in the backstory as he was the one who got Finn off the island he was born in to protect him from danger but under circumstances beyond his control, Martin was forcibly separated from Finn. This revelation caused a lot of the hate towards Martin to evaporate.
    • The Earl of Lemongrab was a Hate Sink during his most hateful moments back in Season 4 and especially Season 5. He tortured several children and Jake with Electric Torture ("You Made Me"), threw Princess Bubblegum in the dungeon twice and even tried to attack her with his sound sword, was physically abusive towards his children and his brother with a sadistic glee ("Too Old"), and unlike most villains in the show, his Ax-Crazy behaviour was downright nightmarish. Thankfully, he returned to being sympathetic in Season 6 due to now being combined with his brother, who had learned actual kindness and empathy.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • For the longest time, Diamond Tiara, who's really just a ordinary filly with an Alpha Bitch streak was presented as the least sympathetic character in the show and only appeared to exist to make life miserable for the Cutie Mark Crusaders and other school-aged characters. It wasn't until Season 5 that they presented her in a sympathetic light and shouldn't be considered an example of this trope any longer. However, the same episode also introduced her mother, Spoiled Rich, who's an incredibly nasty snob who looks down on everyone for virtually no reason and holds Diamond Tiara to ridiculous standards, with no forgiveness should she fall short.
    • Fluttershy's brother Zephyr Breeze in "Flutter Brutter" is a much milder case. For most of the episode Zephyr is lazy, obnoxious, and narcissistic, and his constant, clearly unwanted hitting on Rainbow Dash doesn't much help. It's clear that viewers are not supposed to like him until the end.

Martin: Is his redeeming portrayal too far removed from his Hate Sink? As written, it seems more fan reaction to him as opposed to how the show portrayed them.

Earl of Lemongrab: The only thing suggesting Hate Sink is "unlike most villains in the show, his Ax-Crazy behaviour was downright nightmarish" but the Lich was also nightmarish yet they're Evil Is Cool, so why isn't Earl?

Diamond Tiara: The only reason she may count is lacking the coolness or charm of other villains, but her entry doesn't reflect that. It is intentional hate or just lazy writing?

Zephyr Breeze: Will cut since he shows redeeming traits same episode. Does he count as a subversion?

How's this as a rule, all Hate Sink examples should explain how or why they lack the cool or likable traits you'd otherwise expect from the series/genre?

AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Jan 20th 2019 at 2:22:09 PM

Regarding "redeemed" Hate Sinks, I don't think that disqualifies them. I think what matters is their overall role in the story. If they're jerks with no redeeming qualities in 90% of the story but get some kind of sympathetic detail revealed in the end, the latter part doesn't mean the former part never happened.

I'd probably put the limit on that where they've served a clear majority of their screen time as a Hate Sink in a consecutive chunk. If it's not consecutive, you've got sympathetic traits spread throughout, and it's a more ambiguous character. If it's less than that it's not their main role in the narrative.

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Shadao Surprised Satoshi
Surprised Satoshi
Jan 20th 2019 at 5:44:51 PM

I think it's worth noting a Hate Sink even if there's a subversion at the end. Remember, Hate Sink is writer's intent. The writer can make an unlikable character and yet pull a 180 at the last minute for some moral lesson of character. Like Professor Snape, where JK Rowling has gone on record to admit that Snape was never meant to be good person (just a more complicated figure than Harry realized) and that even when dying, Snape is still a horrible man for treating Harry like crap.

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AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Jan 20th 2019 at 6:44:07 PM

A subversion means that the character never actually fits the trope. It does not mean that the character fulfills the trope for a while, but gets turned around later on. That's an ambiguous character (which means not an example). "Played straight and then subverted" is not a thing that can happen.

A subversion is setting the trope up, but then twisting it around before it gets into play. Now, considering Hate Sink has quite a long buildup and application (it's an overarching character trope, not an event trope), there's some leeway, but if there's any conflict for the Hate Sink to draw hate in, then it's gone too far.

What matters isn't if they're secretly a good person; what matters is what role they play in the narrative.

Snape is a bit of a complicated character. He pulls some Hate Sink work, but he's less important for it than the main villain of the current plot. It's kind of like a substitute duty for when the tension of the story is slightly lower than whatever it is the main villain is cooking up. That also means he doesn't as much stop with it as gets overshadowed by larger threats.

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Jan 27th 2019 at 12:14:25 PM

I found this under Fan Works:


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