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This villain trope is for people we love to hate.
"Love to hate" is a term we (and others) use to describe villains we enjoy. We love them for various reasons, such as excellent character development, being hilarious, possessing the best writing, having a memorable personality, or were lucky enough to have a top notch performance by their actor. (Of course, the fans still want to see the wretch get his comeuppance in the end, hopefully with a flamboyant Villainous Breakdown and delicious Humiliation Conga sequence. This is still hatred, after all.) Also named Heel Hate.
Faux Affably Evil, Affably Evil, Laughably Evil, Magnificent Bastard, and Card-Carrying Villain are sub tropes for different reasons. Being a Large Ham definitely helps (see also Evil Is Hammy). An Anti-Villain is often one of these due to the character development they often get. A villain who is The Smug Snake, The Scrappy, and Creator's Pet, is typically not eligible for this trope as are some villains who cross the Moral Event Horizon or qualify for Complete Monster.
Do not confuse with Draco in Leather Pants, which is when a villains' fandom is over-eager to gloss over the actual nastiness of a villain and insist that he or she is just misunderstood. Also not to be confused with when the heroes would love to hate the villain, but just can't manage it.
This is someone whom the fans enjoy and even maybe respect because of their unapologetic evilness. Their shamelessness is cathartic to us, and they retain their awesomeness as time goes by without Villain Decay.
In order to be eligible, a villain must be generally well regarded/well liked by said fandom while the same fandom still acknowledges they're a villain (again, if the fandom instead likes the villain so much that they want to falsely claim the character isn't a villain, it's not this trope but rather Draco in Leather Pants instead). Being here means that said villain is part of the pantheon of great villains.
Anime & Manga
- Inu Yasha: Complete Monster Naraku, and his Quirky Miniboss Squad minions Kagura, Kanna, Hakudoshi, and the Band of Seven all have their own legions of fans.
- While most of the major villains in Dragon Ball Z have their share of fans, Cell is easily the most popular, largely due to the fact that for much of his arc, he shares the Saiyans' love of a good fight, and the search for one. He's also much more Affably Evil than Freeza, and less of a Complete Monster that Majin Buu's later incarnations turn out to be.
- One Piece
- Digimon: Myotismon and Ahikiro Kurata get this treatment, though Myotismon and Ahikiro Kurata are both among the vilest villains in the Digimon series.. Both characters seem to be treated like The Joker in fandom - people can't get enough of talking about how so sick and twisted they are, but it's definitely love... compare to the treatment of anyone in the way of a popular pairing.
- Monster: Johan Liebert.
- Several villains from the Gundam franchise:
- Char Aznable of Mobile Suit Gundam and Chars Counterattack.
- Gihren Zabi of Mobile Suit Gundam. He's universally acknowledged as the biggest psychopath in the show, and loved for it.
- Paptimus Scirocco and Yazan Gable of Zeta Gundam.
- Haman Khan of Zeta Gundam and Gundam ZZ.
- Katejina Loos of Victory Gundam.
- Rau Le Creuset of Gundam Seed.
- "Prince" Ali Al-Saachez and Ribbons Almark of Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
- All factors seem to indicate that Decil Galette of Gundam AGE is also heading in this direction.
- Agon from Eyeshield 21 is this to parts of the fandom. He's just such an over-the-top depiction of a Jerk Jock (with absolutely no traces of a Freudian Excuse to justify it), that even those who despise the character will agree that the series was at it's emotional best when Agon was the main antagonist.
- Not strictly a villain, but Puella Magi Madoka Magica's Kyuubey has this going for him. Quite popular, and quite hated.
- Izaya from Durarara, at least to the part of the fandom that does not simply love him.
- Dio Brando from Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure is well-loved by fans for his incredible dickheadedness, unabashed desire to use others and control the world, being Dangerously Genre Savvy, starting a memorable Memetic Mutation and being an all-around For the Evulz monstrous, bastardly cool villain.
- Medaka Box: Kumagawa Misogi is a compulsive liar, Manipulative Bastard, twisted, and pisses off the protagonist on a whim. Fans still love him because he's hilarious and entertaining character.
- Team Rocket in the Pokémon Best Wishes series. The recurring trio Took a Level In Badass and are now more straightforward villains who rarely show the silliness or softer side they used to flaunt, and are thus easier to dislike. Yet they still keep the flamboyant style, overconfidence, and eccentric motto recitals that they built their career on, which makes (most of) the audience love it when they're on-screen.
- 2 antagonists in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime:
- Marik/Dark Marik from the Battle City arc. While Marik was pure Estrogen Brigade Bait despite the acts he committed, Dark Marik was so twisted and Axe Crazy that we can't forget him.
- Dartz from season 4. He's pretty much the most evil villain ever, considering the things he's done compared to the other villains, and that was a Filler Arc!
- The Homunculi from Fullmetal Alchemist, especially Wrath. Kimblee also gets a lot of love from the fanbase, for being the well-dressed Hannibal Lecturing bomb-throwing SOB that he is.
- Envy is this for the saner contingent of the fanbase (those who don't try to put him in leather pants), since it's easy to see him as cool, yet still despise him not only for killing Maes Hughes, but for starting the Ishvalan War. Then there's Pride for being a Creepy Child and The Dragon to Father, not to mention how unsettling he is.
- Fate/Zero has Bluebeard, whose seiyuu shows the talent for the dramatique. Meanwhile, Fate/stay night has Kirei, who does Evil just-because, making a nice Foil for Shirou who does Good just-because. Of course, both have their arses kicked with much gusto.
- Bluebeard and his master actually discuss this trope in-universe. Ryuunosuke claims that in his world-view, God is a playwright writing the greatest tale known to man and thus loves all of his characters no matter how wicked they are; after all, what good is a tale without a villain? Bluebeard embraces this vision and decides that the pair shall honour God by performing an act of villainy unmatched so far in Creation.
- Though Gaara wasn't exactly hated by the audience (mainly due to how miserable his life was as a child), he was considered to be a very popular Naruto villain. This may have played in a role for the author giving him redemption.
- Light Yagami from Death Note. He is loved for his habit of outgambitting and manipulating everyone around him, as well as for his hamminess (this includes both his original VA, and dubbed VA). While there is a subset of the fandom that do put him in leather pants, they are still the minority.
- The Joker in Batman. Rare example of an eligible Complete Monster due to being so dang funny.
- Magneto in X-Men. There's a reason he's never completely Heel-Faced.
- Apocalypse from the same series, as one villain so dangerous and detestable even Magneto wants him dead.
- Doctor Doom of Fantastic Four.
- Lex Luthor of Superman.
- Captain America: The Red Skull, even though he's a former Nazi and certified Complete Monster. It helps that he was only into Nazism for the Facism and mass murder
- Clown/Violator of Spawn.
- Loki of Thor. Gotta love the brotherly hate they feel towards each other, but gotta hate his attitude and his complete monsteriness.
- When well-written, Mephisto, enemy of Ghost Rider, Thor, and Silver Surfer, is this in spades.
- Erich von Stroheim is practically the Trope Namer, as "The Man You Love to Hate" was the nickname he earned for his silent-era villainy.
- Any evil character played by Alan Rickman. Examples:
- Similarly, although in a slightly different way, any villain played by Gary Oldman. Especially Norman Stansfield ... *shudder*
- The robbers, Harry and Marv, in the first two Home Alone films. Sure, they may be two crooks who are trying to rob the McAllisters...but if you take them away from the movie, it wouldn't be nearly as funny.
- Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films, though the former actually redeems himself.
- Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. Who doesn't love a monster who sings like that?
- Most James Bond villains. Goldfinger in particularly memorable.
- Both the portrayals of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger as The Joker. Unfortunately, Heath Ledger died following his role AS the Joker, and Jack Nicholson is retired.
- Lampshaded by Tony Montana in his Say Good Night to the Bad Guy speech towards the end of the movie.
- Col. Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds. He's far too much fun for his own good.
- American Pie series: Though not a true villain, Steve Stifler, particularly the first two, has been dubbed this in the commentaries by the directors.
- Lucy Steele in Sense and Sensibility.
- Grand Admiral Thrawn in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Also Nom Anor, Recurring Boss of the New Jedi Order and probably the most universally popular character the overall-controversial series introduced.
- In Harry Potter, Dolores Umbridge is an interesting example. There are eviller villains in the series, to be sure, but none of them are quite so passive-aggressive about it, nor are many of them the type of people readers might actually encounter in real life. As a result, Umbridge is more fun to hate even than the Big Bad.
- Bellatrix may be a better example, because she actually has enjoyable qualities as a character - she is bad-ass, sexy, hopelessly insane, and her actress gives a deliciously over-the-top performance in the movies. By contrast, Umbridge's character mostly exists to be a Hate Sink.
- Voldemort himself arguably qualifies, seeing how he was voted the #1 villain in a poll that decided which character was the best literary villain.
- Draco Malfoy and his father Lucius. Well, they SHOULD be this.
- Venandekatra the Vile from the Belisarius Series can be like this despite being a Complete Monster. Just the sheer effort of cramming so much evil and vice into the same character is amazing.
- Sauron and Morgoth from Tolkien's Legendarium.
- Joffrey Baratheon from A Song of Ice and Fire. Pretty much one of the biggest douches in the series, but so fun to loathe.
- Lucifer, or Satan. There's a reason why he's considered the most iconic and consummate villain.
- ...Largely thanks to corruption of the mythology, misinterpretations, and Paradise Lost.
Live Action TV
- Ben Linus on Lost.
- Gul Dukat and Weyoun on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- The Sheriff (Vaisey) and Prince John from The BBC's Robin Hood.
- Adam Monroe from Heroes would probably count though, being both cool and sexy and an Anti-Villain to boot.
- On Dallas, J R Ewing was given this nickname.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel:
- Glory. She's just so mean and so stupid and so awesome.
- Spike. Dammit, he was so awesome pre-Badass Decay.
- The Master (no, not that one). He's so hilariously hammy.
- The Mayor, in all his Affably Evil greatness.
- And Faith, and the Trio, and Holtz, and Lilah Morgan...JossWhedon is just so good at creating villains who fit this trope!
- Sylar, also pre-Badass Decay. Watching him trap and trick people was way more fun than it should have been.
- Alfred Bester from Babylon 5 may have not been the Big Bad of the entire series, but you knew he was up to no good any time he was around - and it would always be awesome.
- The Master. Yes, that one. Always evil, always hammy, always magnificent.
- Davros as well. There's a reason even casual fans know his "to hold in my hand" speech.
- The Daleks.
- Another good one from the BBC is Madame President Servalan. Dear God, she usually walked away with whatever she was after and made the alleged heroes look like idiots in the process. Totally evil, but you can't help but admire her sense of style.
- Smallville: In sharp contrast to the Draco in Leather Pants treatment received by his son, Lex, Lionel Luthor embodied this trope. He's just so good at what he does that it's hard not to admire him, even as you root for the heroes to stop him. There's a reason the fans nicknamed him the Magnificent Bastard.
- Brainiac recieves similar treatment. He's utterly cold and never shows a hint of emotion or remorse. And that's why the fans love him. Brainiac brought back Pure Evil to Smallville at a time when it was drowning in Lex's Wangst and it's what he's beloved for. James Marsters snarky performance helped.
- Sue Sylvester from Glee is so petty and nasty and just so entertaining. Even people who dislike the show feel she does a great job.
- In Game of Thrones the evil Joffery (like his book counterpart) is so despicable that his actor Jack Gleeson gets a lot of praise from the fandom for making him so easy to hate.
- Ric Flair is a famous Professional Wrestling example.
- Fans prefer Edge as a heel.
- Chris Jericho is fast approaching Flair heel status.
- Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, CM Punk...this is really the place most people wrestling as heels aspire to get to.
- Basically, if the heel does his job well, he or she fits this trope. If it's simple hatred, that's X Pac Heat.
- Chaos Space Marines and Orks from Warhammer 40000.
- Chaos Warriors in Warhammer. Contrast with Chaos Daemons due to Tier-Induced Scrappy status.
- Kefka in Final Fantasy VI. Similar case to Joker, also a rare example of an eligible Complete Monster.
- The fans of Final Fantasy VII who don't Draco Sephiroth (yes, both of us) see him as this.
- Seymour. Such a detestable Smug Snake Complete Monster, but oh so fun to loathe.
- Yuna from Breath of Fire IV game can arguably be counted, as well. Despite being an outstanding Complete Monster and a Smug Snake, he is considered to be one of the best villains in the series by most of the fandom.
- Eliphas the Inheritor and Gorgutz in Dawn of War. The former for his dark charisma and wit, the later for laughs.
- Eliphas is coming back for Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising. There was much celebration amongst the fans.
- Now we just need Gorgutz to make an appearance, and we'll have a winner.
- Apparently Gorgutz was killed off in a side-comic some time ago. Unless it was just another warboss with the same name. To be far his death was pretty funny: he got crushed by a Gargant's flying head.
- Omega from Mega Man Zero 3. Despite being a one shot villain, he's easily one of the most popular in the franchise, earning him a spot as an Ensemble Darkhorse and Bonus Boss in Mega Man ZX. Contrast with Weil who is a Complete Monster and benefits from Diabolus Ex Machina retcons.
- Prometheus and Pandora from Mega Man ZX due to how their battles never fail to entertain, especially the one where you fight both of them at once.
- Vanitas from Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep is starting to get this. Despite being associated with and created by Complete Monster Master Xehanort, it seems that no amount of evil can quite push him past the Moral Event Horizon in the eyes of the fans, even though he's literally Made of Evil.
- Like the Sephiroth example above, there are Organization XIII fans who aren't so eager to get them in the leather pants.
- Master Xehanort himself. And all of his reincarnations.
- Bowser from Super Mario Brothers
- Dr. Wily from Mega Man.
- Ganon(dorf) from The Legend of Zelda.
- Dr. Eggman/Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog. A rare case of Villain Decay actually making him more popular (due to being more sympathetic). Contrast with Eggman Nega.
- Also Mephiles the Dark, one of the few redeeming things about the 2006 game.
- Most villains from the Metal Gear Solid series except Volgin. Many of those examples are also Anti Villains themselves.
- Manhunt has Lionel Starkweather. The game wouldn't nearly as entertaining without his dialogue. He's basically the game's mission control, though you'd be hard pressed to find a person in charge of mission control as twisted as Lionel Starkweather is. And his death at Cash's hands (after he murdered his family) is the most satisfying execution in the game, which is really saying something.
- A rare exception to the Smug Snake not being eligible is Zetta from Makai Kingdom. Hilarious to watch, and intentionally done to be a parody of the Smug Snake.
- Gig from Soul Nomad and The World Eaters. One of the most evil characters Nippon Ichi has ever made, but done with such awesome comedic wit and even more awesome acting (Yuri Lowenthal FTW) that he is practically universally loved by the Nippon Ichi fan base.
- Lezard Valeth of Valkyrie Profile. Somewhat problematic because half of his fanbase is in the Draco in Leather Pants camp, but even those that find him abhorrent believe the series wouldn't be half as good without him.
- Luca Blight from Suikoden II, who is also an eligible Complete Monster.
- Dracula from the Castlevania series, who just continuously keeps coming back, just to get killed and then revive and then get killed and, you get the picture...
- Albert Wesker is awesomely evil.
- Erol from the Jak and Daxter series, who is a colossal Jerkass to Jak from the second his character is first introduced to just before he blows himself up. As if that isn't enough, he comes back from the dead in the third game and takes over the position of Big Bad.
- Kane lives.
- General Sarrano from Bulletstorm, a foul-mouthed Complete Monster who taunts and swears nonstop at the player until you are FINALLY able to kill him at the end of the game...or so you think.
- SHODAN and SHODAN's speeches are essentially the main draw of the System Shock series. No other villain makes their taunting feel so bizarrely immediate, or so strangely personal.
- Portal's GLaDOS until the sequel, anyway.
- Wheatley, too.
- Blaz Blue: Both Hazama and Relius Clover exude this trope to the max. Hate their depravities, but admire their awesomeness while doing so, making them really solid villains to the series.
- Dragon Age Origins gives us Rendon Howe and Loghain Mac Tir. In contrast to the incoherently violent, Always Chaotic Evil Big Bad of the game, Howe and Loghain had identifiable intelligences, with dialog that provided players heightened impetus. The battle with the Archdemon has inevitability beyond the need for motivation, but the confrontation with Loghain is character-driven, and approaches with increasing dramatic tension.
- More than anyone else in Saints Row 2, Shogo Akuji, leader of the Ronin, so much that his fate goes unpitied, and makes Ax Crazy Johnny look reasonable. And almost as hated is Maero's girlfriend Jessica. Perhaps the comparison to these two makes the Big Bad look a little more sympathetic; by the time of his confrontation, the player's character has generated a little of this trope on himself/herself.
- Nearly any villain from the Ace Attorney series. Each villain is thoroughly explored and wonderfully played. For me, the best was Matt Engarde. He drove a woman to suicide, had a man assassinated, and had Maya Fey kidnapped as bargaining chip, at which point she was nearly starved to death. Why? To preserve his image. He also manages to sneak a glass of bourbon into the detention center. Not to mention that his reveal to Phoenix Wright was top notch, and the fact that he taunts you about Maya's capture makes him all the better.
- Most Warcraft villains fit this trope. Special mentions go out to Arthas (as Death Knight. His Paladin and Lich King personas were more divisive), Illidan Stormrage, Gul'dan, Deathwing and Kil'Jaeden.
- Ridley from Metroid, beloved for his design, which is badass to the hilt, and for his apparent Joker Immunity, as well as the Awesome Music that tends to accompany his fights.
- Pretty much all evil organizations in the Pokémon series. Especially hateable are Team Rocket, Cipher, and Team Plasma.
- Iris, from Rosenkreuzstilette. Even though she's a Complete Monster and a Smug Super, she's so cute, she's able to infatuate anyone into loving to hate her.
- Saren Arterius from Mass Effect and, once finally revealed, his boss. Few villains are as effortlessly terrifying. Kai Leng from Mass Effect 3 is paradoxically both hated and loved for being 1) a huge douche and 2) extremely gratifying to kill.
- The Thalmor from "Skyrim". Almost literally Nazi Elves, the fans adore massacring any Thalmor patrols they see on the road for a variety of reasons, not limited to their smugness, various acts of dickery, and complete openness about trying to kill or enslave anyone who opposes or looks directly at them. Hell, they get more hate then any of the series' heralds of the apocalypse!
- The Order of the Stick: Played for Laughs with Evilly Affable Cloudcuckoolander Xykon and Evil Twin Nale, among others.
- A lot of the fandom love for Xykon stems from the fact he's a convincingly written For the Evulz Complete Monster who still manages to be a Brilliant but Lazy Cloudcuckoolander.
- Miko's fall from grace turned her from simply Scrappy to this. When she killed the Cool Old Guy, the hatred she'd garnered up to that point reached critical mass, in-universe and out.
- Most recently, Tarquin who manages to be smug, Genre Savvy, helpful, and balance competence with being a Large Ham.
- Eight Bit Theater: Black Mage Evilwizardington. He's technically a protagonist, but only technically.
- Miguel/Rojo in Cuanta Vida definitely qualifies.
- Clio Gabriella of Survival of the Fittest, full stop. This is a girl who relishes her kills. Yet to quote one of the members of the site:
Clio is an absolute bitch who will eventually get what's coming to her. But, you know, Clio could easily be a character that I actually WOULD hate just on principle alone, were it not for how she was written.
- This did not however stop some members of the site being incredibly happy to see her go when she eventually bit the dust.
- The Federal Epidemic Containment Agency (FECA) from the live zombie game/event Dead Town. Within the narrative, FECA agents routinely shoot at the protagonists, even calling air strikes on them and more the less ignoring zombies to instead attack the heroes. The Dead Town creators told me that FECA merchandise is the most popular they sell. I have a button with a cartoon man in a gasmask that reads, "FECA: We're Here To Help." Even though FECA did not help me when I played Dead Town! They're fun to hate!
- The Joker is already this, but Mark Hamill's performance made him even more lovable... while being as monstrous as ever.
- Most Disney Animated Canon villains.
- Pre-Heel Face Turn Prince Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender is an Anti-Villain example. Considered the most well-developed character in the show.
- Viral siblings Megabyte and Hexadecimal are considered two of the coolest characters in Re Boot.
- We will never forget you, Tony Jay.
- Megatron from the original Transformers series.
Tarantulus: (getting the drop on Dinobot and Rattrap) DIEEE, MAXIMALS!
Dinobot and Rattrap: (look over from their bickering) SHUUUT UP! (WHAM)
- Transformers Animated Megatron is working on it. He's definitely recognized as an example of Took a Level In Badass (as compared to Megatrons past) but it remains to be seen if he'll be loved and remembered for years to come the way Beast Megatron is.
- Animated Starscream certainly qualifies. Hilarious and sometimes very deadly, the guy steals pretty much every scene he appears in.
- Transformers Prime Megatron looks to be running for most threatening and psychotic Megatron to date. His sadistic tendencies, brutal methods of engagement and overall creepy voice brings out his inner-monster to many.
- Transformers Animated Megatron is working on it. He's definitely recognized as an example of Took a Level In Badass (as compared to Megatrons past) but it remains to be seen if he'll be loved and remembered for years to come the way Beast Megatron is.
- Skeletor from the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated series is fondly remembered as someone we loved to hate.
- Slade from Teen Titans.
- David Xanatos of Gargoyles = Greatest. Villain. Ever.
- Osmosis Jones: Thrax a.k.a. The Red Death - one of the deadliest and coolest germs out there.
- South Park: Eric Cartman (after crossing the Moral Event Horizon). Most of time he's just so utterly despicable that you just want to punch in the face, repeatedly. (So it was extremely satisfactory when Wendy did exactly that at some point) However, if you remove him from the show, it suddenly becomes a lot less funny. He's a Complete Monster, but an amusing one nonetheless.
- Galaxy Rangers: The Queen of the Crown - you don't often see a villainess with that kind of leverage over The Hero. Nor are eighties cartoon foes that creative with Mind Rape.
- Mok from the cult hit Rock and Rule.
- Discord from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. His combination of being Laughably Evil and a borderline Complete Monster (at best) makes him fun to watch but very easy to hate.
- Being the thinly-veiled expy of Q (complete with sharing the same actor) went a long way to making him this and earning him the Fan Nickname DisQord
- Nightmare Moon also has her share of followers, being the Super-Powered Evil Side of an arguably Badass Princess. Of course, since her plan was to bring The Night That Never Ends (and in order to achieve this she was willing to kill members of the main cast) she's not exactly a lovable little angel.
- The evil and creepy Professor Pericles the parrot from Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated.
- Skullmaster of Mighty Max was an incredibly powerful, threatening and dangerous villain who threatened to eat a child's heart in the opening scene of the first episode, but with the voice of Tim Curry there's no way not to love this hateful monster. The fact that he never suffers Villain Decay, but instead becomes significantly more threatening as the show progresses only sweetens the deal.