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"You wanna hear something funny? Right now, they're all rooting for me."

Where the villains of a series become more popular than the good guys. The heroes start to rub the fans the wrong way, and a notable proportion of the fandom now dislikes and actively bashes the main characters. They're almost a Hatedom, yet they call themselves fans and continue to read/watch/play the source material because they like the bad guys. Often happens in series with a Designated Hero or Designated Villain. However, once they take this opinion, they tend to never care what actually happens anymore to contradict their views.

There's usually a turning point in Canon that leads to this: Fans gain too much Sympathy for the Devil, gets a subplot that's more interesting than what the main cast is doing, or a major character kicks the dog. Or maybe the bad guys are just cooler than the good guys. Or it may be that the viewer is tired of having a hero never able to make a tough decision and revels in rooting for someone who does. Or maybe one simply likes actually being on the strongest side, for once.

Tends to occur when the source material has jumped the shark and started to lose its focus, but sometimes Just for Fun or for reasons of the fans' own. It can also be a response to Writer Revolt or a perceived slight to the fans. Jerkass Dissonance often plays a part. Unlike the Misaimed Fandom, the character roles are working out as they're supposed to, but the audience willingly cheers on the enemy.Hate to the actor can also involve this, when the hated actor is playing a good guy. Contrast Draco in Leather Pants and Ron the Death Eater for when the "hero" and "villain" roles are handled fine in-canon, but Fanon tends to disagree. Also contrast Love to Hate, where the villain is just popular, but not always rooted for.

Examples of Rooting for the Empire include:


Media in General


Advertising

  • There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world who want the Trix rabbit to put a hurting on some smart-assed kids and take their cereal.


Anime and Manga

  • Many fans of the The Prince of Tennis merrily bash the Seishun Gakuen aka Seigaku regulars as overpowered Gary Stus. Specially if they're fans of either Rikkaidai or Hyoutei, which are entire teams of Ensemble Darkhorses that border on Draco in Leather Pants.
  • Pokémon has this in effect for the Team Rocket Trio Jessie, James, and Meowth. While they can succeed in some of their efforts, they are always defeated by Ash and Co. Ash has so much Plot Armor that you can expect him to win anything that's not a major tournament, and you know that he never loses to Team Rocket unless the plot demands it (just remember, waaaaay back in the third episode, James' incredulous "Beaten by a Caterpie?!"). Even then it's usually by trickery rather than a battle. This goes on for so long, with even their most brilliant schemes failing, that you want them to win at least once. Just see them steal someone's Pokemon and get away with it to prove that they are still a threat. You just can't help but get mad sometimes when Team Rocket should have gotten away, but don't because The Good Guys Always Win.
    • They have taken a level in the new Best Wishes series, and are even promoted. Jessie, James, and Meowth are able to pull off museum heists and sneak a train out of a highly monitored subway system with little trouble, but despite this Ash still beats them when it comes down to the wire. This can leave a bad taste after watching them spend 20 episodes preparing for one big event.
  • Gundam has a truly massive amount of Rooting for the Empire, spread across its multiple series. This is a result of the series' antiwar message making sure that the villains are never completely evil and have realistic motivations.
    • For a particularly large example, look no further than the Principality of Zeon from the Mobile Suit Gundam timeline. In fairness, the franchise does do its best to show that War Is Hell, there IS no "right" and "wrong" side and has introduced sympathetic Zeons like Bernard Wiseman and Aina Sahalin. However, in recent years, Zeon has received much more attention (and affection) both from fans and official sources, to the point where they get portrayed as rebel heroes fighting a war of independence against an evil hegemonic Earth government ruled by greedy old men, completely glossing over the fact that Zeon started the war by flinging nukes with reckless abandon and trying to drop a colony on the Federation's headquarters which instead obliterated Sydney, and that their Glorious Leader was PROUD to be compared to Adolf Hitler. Then there's Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, where the Zeon remnants do style themselves as La Résistance even as they try (once more) to drop a colony on Earth, and the soldier who was inspired to defect after being hated and abused by her fellows is treated as the lowest of scum.
      • It's gotten to the point that the Zeon war cry of "Sieg Zeon!" is a popular rallying cry for fans of Gundam at conventions and the like. Some fans adapt the cry to "Sieg ZAFT!" or "Sieg Vagan!" to show their appreciation for other Gundam antagonist factions.
    • There are times when it looks like the writers themselves forget that Zeon is the Big Bad, such as MS IGLOO, which at times comes off as a propaganda film about the brave, noble, heroic Zeon soldiers, or the Gundam 0081 manga, which spends more time showing that the guys who want to chuck an asteroid at Earth are a tight-knit, almost familial bunch. And all this is before you bring up the Bishonen-filled, borderline Boys Love manga set in a Zeon academy... And no, the Federation never gets this treatment - instead it's usually just a small handful of decent folk being puppets for the greedy rich elite.
    • The Titans of the Zeta Gundam era, while nowhere near as popular as the Zeon, also have their fair share of fans. Reflecting this is a number of sidestory manga starring various subfactions that can be described as "Titans, but totally not evil like those other ones".
    • Gundam Wing plays around with this, primarily because individual people matter more than factions. So while OZ might have both good people (like Zechs and Treize) and bad people (like Dermail and Tsubarov), the organization itself is only "bad" because it opposes the Gundam Pilots. In fact, at one point, Relena Peacecraft becomes the head of OZ, making it an erstwhile ally to the G-Team. Likewise, though the Gundam Pilots are the main characters and are supposed to be good guys, they commit morally questionable acts and the series actually discusses if they were needed in the first place.
    • In Gundam Seed (and especially its sequel), even trying to decide which faction counts as "the empire" for the purposes of this trope can spark Flame Wars. Suffice to say that all sides have their fans, despite the copious amounts of bastardry and/or stupidity displayed by everyone. Many viewers became fans of the Earth Alliance specifically in protest of the fact that the entire faction was portrayed as Card Carrying Villains (in Destiny anyway; they're more morally grey in SEED proper), as part of the general "screw you" attitude many have adopted towards the show's director and head writer (who are husband and wife).
    • Season 1 of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 also counts (though the second season not so much). It doesn't help that the main characters are Well Intentioned Extremists whose plan appears to boil down to "kill everyone on both sides of any fight that starts with our uberly superior Gundams", while most of their enemies are sympathetic soldiers fighting to protect their countries as best as they can even with vastly inferior mechs, sometimes almost succeeding through careful planning, as Sergei and Kati demonstrate.
    • Once Episode 15 of Gundam AGE aired, the number of fans who are cheering for the Unknown Enemy, aka Veigan, has grown exponentially. It's easy to sympathize with them as The Earth Federation left the colonists on Mars for dead, causing the said colonists to form their own nation to rival the Earth Federation. And while many of Veigan's attacks on Federation-owned colonies are horrendous, the Earth Federation's corruption, as well as growing demand to commit genocide on Veigan's residents (as hinted through their rebranding of the Diva's battle in Ambat) has made Veigan not unlike Zeon.
    • It seems no matter the series, Gundam fans have short memories when it comes to the bad guys. Whether be it the Zeon fighting and mass murdering for "independence" (hint: canon already states they held independence under Zeon Daikun), Char dropping asteroids on Earth in the hope of creating a nuclear winter (just for one last fight with Amuro), Treize killing off the UESA leadership as they were about to negotiate a settlement with the colonies (while OZ then proceeded to wipe out the Alliance remnants before becoming the Schutzstaffel to Romefellar's Nazi Party), the Earth Alliance and ZAFT performing heinous acts, or more recently the Vagans practicing all the same genocidal acts as Zeon before them (something we have yet to see Flit do, despite the comparisons to Gihren and Patty Zala), such details are easily forgotten by the fandom at large (if not outright ignored) so long as The Empire they're rooting for is "cool" enough. But then that's what this trope is all about, isn't it?
  • Code Geass - A number of people supported the Holy Empire of Britannia, some because they began to dislike Lelouch, some because they believed that Britannia actually had sensible (if cut-throat) policies, and others... well...
    • Also there's the British fans who root for their own country, barely veiled expy though it is.
    • And the only source of freedom and democracy is not represented AT ALL. Euro Universe, what Euro Universe?
      • And to rub salt in the wound, having been portrayed as a credible opposing political and military bloc to the Empire in the first season, the E.U. is summarily and utterly defeated off-screen by Schneizel with half their territory seized while implying stopping at 50% was a mercy on the Prime Minister's behalf and never mentioned again.
        • Probably because looking at a bunch of craters where towns used to be would lose its impact after the second or third one.
        • The side story Bokukoku no Akito will feature an Eleven fighting for the Euro Universe, wherever or not the EU will be portrayed as a Doomed Moral Victor or like in Gundam, a corrupt Federation remains to be seen.
  • Death Note is... a complicated example. Light is already a Knight Templar / Villain Protagonist, prone to Draco in Leather Pants, but his Worthy Opponent L is equally popular, so who you rooted for was, hopefully, irrelevant, as long as they kept fighting. Once L dies, Near was such a Replacement Scrappy, and an Insufferable Genius, those rooting for Light and calling for Near's head grew much more vociferous - as did the supporters of loose cannon Mello and the generalized Wammy partisans.
    • Whether to root for Light or the nominal forces of good divides the fandom, and anyone who has the misfortune of happening upon a conversation involving it even in the most oblique sense will regret it, even to this day.
  • Fafner in The Azure Dead Aggressor had this, since the "good" guys were so unlikable, the writers noticed this and took steps to fix this.
  • There are quite a few readers who root for the Akatsuki (and more recently, the now-evil Sasuke) in Naruto. It doesn't help that the main character himself is taking his Messiah traits straight into Too Dumb to Live territory.
    • Then there's the fans who hate Konoha and want to see it destroyed because of the Uchiha massacre being given the go-ahead. While Konoha isn't the worst of the hidden villages when it comes to atrocities - especially given what Sunagakure did to Gaara - it's certainly not faultless either.
  • Crest of the Stars, where the heroes are a conquering empire, but you're supposed to root for them anyway. Audience members who cannot accept them as good guys are rooting against an empire, yet are still Rooting for the Empire.
  • NERV and Gendo are like this. Their ultimate aim? To force-evolve humanity into a state of perfection so that everyone could live in a world where's no such thing as pain (or more specifically, individual wills and egos). All interested parties (NERV, Seele, and the Angels) want is to dictate the terms of exactly how it happens and NERV's intentions are the most "benevolent" vis-à-vis the rest of humanity.
  • Record of Lodoss War has some divergences between the OVA, novels and other series but the basic plot stays the same. While at first it might look like your regular band of good guys fighting against an evil empire called Marmo who has set out to conquer all of the continent of Lodoss, it quickly shows to be much deeper. The entire land is cursed from having been the seat of the climatic battle between the Godess of Ceation and the Godess of Destruction, and a small part of it, Marmo, is twice accursed and plagued with monsters from being the latter Godess's final resting place. Sure, the side looks stereotypically evil, being populated with a few humans and dark elves, with hordes of monsters under it's control. But their king, Beld, was a mercenary from Marmo and one of the legendary heroes who saved Lodoss by defeating the Demon King years prior. Beld claimed the demon's sword, Soulcrusher, as his reward only to be slowly influenced by its dark whisperings. His general, Lord Ashram, despite being introduced as a deadly and cold-hearted killer, proves to be a man of unfailing duty and loyalty to his king, with honor and a heart. Amidst prophecies of doom, attempted resurrections of dormant forces of destruction and a powerful witch who manipulates all factions behind the scenes out of the certitude that any side winning would upset the balance of Lodoss and cause it's doom, we get to realize that things are not so black and white. In the end, internal factions with hidden agendas and manipulative betrayers aside, the people of the Empire of Marmo really just want to get out of the terrible hell-hole that is their land and finally live in peace and safety.
  • Bleach. The way Soul Society is, some people actually root for Aizen and the Arrancar rather than an afterlife full of bureaucratic Soul Reapers. The main causes of this are Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto and Mayuri Kurotsuchi, plus the fact of how Soul Society views humans, Hollows (even non-combative ones) and Arrancar (even when they come to help). If not for the fact Aizen is a Complete Monster, he would be the hero. And Soul Society isn't the most organized and just of societies.
    • Not helping at all is the fact that filler arcs can't introduce major factions with no link to Soul Society or Aizen and they can't do anything with Aizen, so they're forced to keep writing plots about ancient evils done by Soul Society.
      • Ready for the list? Here we go: They created the Artificial Humans known as the Bount then decided they were damaging the flow of spirits through the cosmos and ordered them all murdered en masse, they decided the Quincy were interfering in the flow of souls in the cosmos and murdered them all en masse (to be fair, that time they at least tried to negotiate), when the Visored were created, they wasted no time in ordering them all killed and no effort be taken to help them (they tried to execute the one responsible, too, but they got the wrong man), they created the Artificial Humans known as Mod Souls then decided they were damaging the flow of spirits through the cosmos and ordered them all murdered en masse, their guards were bribed by one of their Captains to let the few remain Quincy be mortally wounded so he could amuse himself by dissecting them, when there was a populist uprising (by the last few Bount) against the horrible conditions for "poor" souls (READ: the vast majority of the afterlife) nobody ever considered actually making things better for these unfortunates after the leaders of the rebellion were crushed, and they consistently choose to deceive, disrespect, and bully the heroes, even when said heroes have just finished saving them. Yyyeeeeaaaaaaahhh. Paragons of justice, Soul Society ain't.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya seems to have rubbed some fans the wrong way -- there are quite a few of them who want the Computer Club President (who was the victim of Blackmail or the Anti-SOS Brigade to succeed. Granted, there's a lot of Gray and Grey Morality involved, but still...
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes is the textbook definition of this trope. Even Yang Wen-li, the military leader for the democratic government fighting the Empire, has a mancrush on Reinhard von Lohengramm, the leader of the monarchic Galactic Empire. Yang Wen-li and another wise military leader on the democratic side muse casually about how they would fight for Reinhard without a second thought if they were born in the Empire and seem to fight on behalf of a corrupt democracy with a resigned "what else can we do?" attitude. This show is also the textbook definition of Gray and Grey Morality so Reinhard isn't exactly bad...
  • Yatterman is better known for the three main villains than it is for the main heroes. In many ways the villains were the more focused part of the show.
  • In season 3 of Shakugan no Shana, many fans started supporting the Crimson Denizens instead of the Flame Hazes once war broke out between the two. Considering that the recently released final light novel reveals that Snake of the Festival Yuji and his Crimson Denizen followers not only win, but were absolutely right in believing that their dream of a paradise where Denizens and humans coexist could work and would not destroy the world, this is one of those occasions where Rooting for the Empire is supported by canon.
  • The anime version of Valkyria Chronicles really makes many of the Imperial characters more likable than the Gallian High Command (i.e. anyone above Varrot save for Cordelia). True, this was present in the game, but the Adaptation Expansion of Selvaria (already a likable Anti-Villain), Jaeger (an even more likable Anti-Villain), and Gregor (still as much of an asshole as ever, but compared to his Gallian counterpart [Damon] he's actually seen as far more competent and more genuinely deserving of respect by comparison), the Imperials look far better in terms of characterization than the Gallian Regulars, who, much like the game counterparts, treat the real heroes (Welkin Gunther and Squad 7) like crap.


Comicbooks

  • Star Wars Legacy plays with this, due to its Black and Grey Morality. For the most part the two main Big Bads, the Sith and The Empire have made major reforms. The Sith, while still quite evil, have abandoned many of their old ways in favor of working together as one (one even saves another's life after spending the whole issue arguing, because "We are Sith"), plus they have Evil Is Sexy on their side. While The Empire is now a force of good in the Galaxy and most of its anti-nonhuman ways are behind them. The Republic has been reduced to a handful of planets and ships whose only act in the comics have been a stealing a Sith Super Prototype which the Empire had already rigged with bombs so it would look like a malfunction causing the Sith to blame the Mon Calamari (who aided the Republic) and declare war (and by war, meaning genocide). The Jedi, while still good, are back to being a Hidden Elf Village to a point where they refused to aid the Mon Calamari. The main character, last of the Skywalkers, is a total Jerkass just looking out for himself (and abusing his powers) as a result of being sick of all the But Thou Must! his family (as Force ghosts) and fellow Jedi have been ramming down his throat.
  • Doctor Doom has gotten this in a big way, especially in recent years, and partly due to his Memetic Badass status in the fandom, and neither one is all that unjustified; Doom usually is that badass, and Reed Richards has a notorious history of being a total prick rather frequently. Warren Ellis gave Marvel 2099 a grand send-off by letting Doom take over the US. It worked... right up until the politicians broke out the WMDs they had previously been too scared to use.
    • Ellis even points out that the basis of Doom's megalomania is that he truly believes that the world would be better off under his rule so he could protect and provide for it with the fruits of his genius without interference. And in canon Marvel, Doom has turned Latveria into a Gothic Dubai while Reed Richards Is Useless.
  • Magneto is prone to this also, given his genuine concern for the future of mutanity and his experiences in Auschwitz; when written well, you almost want the X-Men to lose, if only just this once. Except in the Ultimate Universe. It doesn't take long to wish for the bastard's head on a pike.
  • Sinestro in Green Lantern has had this of late, owing mainly to the inept Guardians of the Universe.
  • The Marvel event World War Hulk had most readers rooting for the Hulk, mainly because of all the crap the Illuminati put him through. It even happened in the story with many bystanders siding with The Hulk.
    • Another major factor was the events of Civil War. It's hard to root for the heroes when they've forced all superhumans to work solely for the government, enslaving, imprisoning, and killing everyone who disobeys. It even leaked into Secret Invasion, with some readers hoping that the Skrulls would manage to conquer Earth and enslave the Muggles population to teach them a thing or two about freedom.
      • While the Skrulls didn't win, this led to Dark Reign with Norman Osborn as head cop. Much like the above example, some fans also rooted for Osborn and his Dark Avengers. Dark Avengers was even Marvel's top selling book month after month during it's run.
  • Fables does a pretty decent job of openly asking whether those in Fabletown should have been rooting for the empire; Gepetto committed horrifying atrocities but ruled an empire where most inhabitants lived in peace and also imprisoned a lot of frightfully powerful evil beings that as of the fall of his reign have begun to escape. On the other hand, it seems pretty clear that us mundy's would definitely be getting the short end of the genocidal stick if Gepetto had taken over our world.
  • Cobra from G.I. Joe and to a lesser extent Hydra from Marvel Comics. Both present modern society as corrupt and self-serving and should be fought against. They do make good points (just turn on CNN) except both organizations are much, much worse. Join or die was Cobra SOP at one point.
    • This is perhaps only averted when it comes to Snake-Eyes.
  • It's easy to root for the Dark Egg Legion in Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog. They do take orders from Eggman, but they aren't completely evil, and most of their members seem to be regular Mobians, bar the cybernetics. Given that the heroes are headed by Sonic, who can be a bit of a Jerkass, and the Kingdom of Acorn, an incredibly ineffectual monarchy that can barely function, it's no wonder. And they're the only group in the world who don't actively despise technology. A great example is the Great Desert DEL. They were turned into mindless Robian mooks thanks to Unwilling Roboticisation and forced to fight the Sand Blasters, an extremist group of Freedom Fighters. After being turned back into Mobians, they tried to make peace with the Sand Blasters, but where instead hit with Fantastic Racism for being former Robians. In order to survive, they went to Eggman for help, who legionized them. When The Baron, leader of the Great Desert DEL, was confronted about this by his niece, hero Bunnie Rabbot D'Coolette, he responded that being in the DEL isn't so bad. Being legionized means cybernetic upgrades, which in turn make for an awesome health plan, as The Baron pointed out, when he thanked legionization for fixing his "bum knee". He also mentioned something about D'Coolette's being oppressors, which insinuates Fantastic Racism within the Kingdom, making them look even worse.


Eastern Animation

  • In the North Korean propaganda-fest that is Squirrel and Hedgehog (although the animation was done by a foreign company, probably Chinese), the creators went a little too far in making the Americans (as wolves no less) badass. Just... take a look.
    • Recently revealed episodes, however, depict them being just as clumsy, cowardly and imbecilic as the mice (South Koreans) and weasels (Japanese). The wolves are also a fairly recent addition.
    • The American wolves have a giant flying hovercraft/AC-130/starship thing equipped with lasers, while the North Korean woodland animals have... guns.
      • A Youtube commenter summed it up pretty well:

 Protip: When attempting to make effective propaganda, having your arch enemy appear as a badass wolf with glowing eyes, sinister voice and his own laser techno-plane while having your troops look like effeminate squirrels and ducks that constantly cry is not a good idea. Hey, did those wolves just fire laser machineguns?! AWESOME.


Films -- Animated

  • Many Fern Gully watchers sympathize with Hexxus. Sympathize with the incarnation of pollution in a heavily Anvilicious cartoon about how life is precious and pollution evil. That's what you get for casting Tim Curry as your main villain and utterly forgettable main characters otherwise (save for comic relief Batty).


Films -- Live-Action

  • The Trope Namer comes from a poll they ran on StarDestroyer.net which showed that 70 percent of the participants on that forum think that the Galactic Empire wasn't that bad a place to live (if you were human). However, the sentiment is not as strongly argued as some may think:

"Complaining about technical aspects is fine, but sympathizing with one faction because of their technology doesn't make any kind of valid argument on the morals. No matter how cool or otherwise the bad guys are, they're still bad."

    • This was the reason the added celebration clips were added to the end of Return of the Jedi in the Special Edition, to show the rest of the galaxy was actually happy that Palpatine fell. Other than that, the post-fall movies focus on remote backwaters mostly untouched by Imperial presence and life deep in the military. And between the Emperor's gloating and Vader's groveling, Palpatine is seen actually taking care of state business.
    • Vader's depiction can vary from work to work. In the films, he almost chokes to death Motti for talking back to him, strangles Needa and Ozzel for failure, and uses the fact that the Emperor is even less forgiving of failure to get the Moff in charge to get the Death Star back on schedule. In other works he's a comparatively reasonable guy who only acts this way in extreme circumstances and will forgive backtalk. In others, those scenes indicate that Vader was in a good mood that day. In others, he's dispassionate to the point where someone who led him into a trap and tried to kill him only really gets his notice because the trap involved playing a board game and the person actually offered a decent challenge. And others put him as a barely contained seething ball of rage who only really cares about destroying those that threaten his Empire because he has nothing else he can care for.
    • See under Video Games the entry for Star Wars: TIE Fighter, an early Retcon that made fighter-pilot duty nowhere near as terrible (or as suicidal) as it appears in the films.
    • The case for the Empire is well summarized here
    • Ironically, the Rebel Alliance being made heroes and the Galactic Empire being made villains was a result of this trope being in play for George Lucas, as he specifically intended for the Rebel Alliance to be Vietcong members while the Empire was meant to represent America as early as 1973 (and bear in mind, Lucas is himself American) in an attempt to subvert American efforts in the Vietnam War.
    • With Attack of the Clones, Lucas had this happen intentionally: the movie introduces the sympathetic Clonetroopers, who save the Jedi and rout the movie's villains. Then comes the finale, and the movie reminds that the watchers had been rooting for what will become The Empire by giving them the Imperial March as score.
  • Godzilla in the film GMK was made into a demonic, malevolent force fighting against the "good monsters" Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. Guess who the fans were cheering for the most. Perhaps justified in that this was the first and only instance of a genuinely evil Godzilla, and he hadn't exactly done anything other, more neutral incarnations hadn't.
    • It also didn't help that of the three "Good" monsters, two of them were the villains in their previous appearances. Even when Godzilla is evil, cheering him on against King Ghidorah is instinct.
  • Psycho--Picture the scene and pretend you don't know the big twist ending. Norman Bates has come across his new tenant, dead in the shower. He realizes his crazy mother has gone over the edge and killed someone. So, poor, devoted Norman gathers up the body, places it in the trunk of the woman's car, and tries to sink the vehicle into the swamp beside his run down motel. The audience collectively cringes every time a car drives by as Norman sneaks around,-and gasps in horror with Norman as the car seems to get stuck half-way in the bog...but no, it slowly sinks completely into the mud. Norman has gotten away with it! And a second later, the audience remembers what Norman has gotten away with: hiding a murder victim to protect his deranged mother's murder. Alfred Hitchcock was truly a master of this- he could easily manipulate his audience into Rooting for the Empire, hoping the villain doesn't get caught ... and turn around and slap them back to their senses.
  • Many of the characters in Alien³ were rapists, murderers or generic criminal scum. They were so unlovable that you just didn't care if they lived or died, especially as waves of pre-release criticism meant everyone knew the series was past the point of no return anyway (in the Assembly Cut, an inmate named Junior attempts to rape Ripley with a group of other prisoners, then looks at her sympathetically later when the titular creature corners him). It was hard not to whisper "Come on, get 'im!" or "Go on, eat your dinner!" whenever the alien cornered an inmate.
  • Avatar, due to its Anvilicious use of Humans Are Bastards and Can't Argue with Elves (And the Na'Vi aren't exactly hospitable themselves) gets a lot of backlash against the Na'vi.
  • Thor: sure, Loki tries to commit genocide - but he's such a Woobie along the way that a lot of people feel sorry for him on the way.
  • Starship Troopers. A lot of people were rooting for the Bugs. In the first movie, this might have been the filmmakers' intention, but in the sequels the Federation were supposed to be the good guys and audiences still found a bunch of giant cockroaches to be more sympathetic.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Oh sure, lots of people love Captain Jack Sparrow, but there are quite a few people who sympathize with The East India Trading Company. Their horrific crime? Wanting to bring order to the seas and take away people's freedom to pillage, rape, and plunder anyone they see fit. They are the "Order" of the Order Versus Chaos dichotomy whereas the pirates are the "Chaos". They did hang children, but that was more Beckett than the company itself.
    • This, however, is more of a case of Draco in Leather Pants and Fan Dumb- the Company in the film (which is only Beckett- the part of the Company that doesn't serve him is not in the movie, period) usurps and murders the standing governor of Port Royal, after holding him hostage for trying to alert the Crown that this had happened. In the third movie Beckett is getting Davy Jones to sink vessels that simply don't belong to the Company. In other words the Company are pirates themselves, just of the Corrupt Corporate Executive rather than Lovable Rogue variety. The beef with piracy is not about Order Versus Chaos so much as it is about crushing the competition. Plus, the real East India Company as a whole might not have been as bad as Beckett, but they were certainly responsible for a large number of atrocities largely in the name of fun and profit.
    • The Royal Navy. Some fans tend to forget that the Navy was not the enemy in the first movie, and, with one or two exceptions, in the right: on the whole, pirates were bad. Navy crews were composed to a large extent by press-ganged men, who were likely to desert if given the opportunity, and as a result they were never allowed off the ship. Crews could number from one to eight hundred men. Boarding parties do not constitute the entire crew of a ship; not even half of it. Therefore, the writers made the Navy of Hornblower and Aubrey look like a bunch of idiots.
    • Captain Barbossa. And the filmmakers apparently catch on to this when he comes back at the end of the second movie as an Anti-Hero.
      • The film's writers mention they intentionally wrote him as an Anti-Hero throughout the first movie, given his singular goal is to end the ten-year-long curse that has plagued him and his crew. Throughout the film they wanted to give the audience the impression that despite being the antagonist, he might not actually be a bad guy. This is why Barbossa's scene where he explains the torment of the curse to Elizabeth was constantly being rewritten and added to by both the writers and Geoffrey Rush to get it perfect. It definitely shows.
  • Those unfortunate enough to watch Bio-Dome cheered when the scientists decided to lock Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin's characters inside the Bio-Dome to die.
  • Sometimes happens with the shark in Jaws. Mostly due to Rule of Cool.
    • Even Peter Benchley himself does this, saying that if he had written the story today, the shark would be portrayed sympathetically.
      • Well, Benchley said this in response to the way people view sharks as mindless killing machines as a result of the movie, so it's safe to assume he wouldnt let the shark act the same way, eating people and stuff, were he to re-write the book.
  • Lucas Barton in The Wizard definitely qualifies; after all, he can actually pull off using the Power Glove. His picture used to be the image on the film's page here, and Spoony believes he was cheated out of his victory at the end.
  • In Ferris Buellers Day Off, the principal is only trying to prove to the world that Ferris is a truant, pathological liar who neither deserves the endless praise he gets nor should be allowed to skip school whenever he feels like it. Even though the principal goes a bit too far in trying to prove the truth about Bueller, it is easy to sympathize with the man's desire to finally bring a Karma Houdini down.
  • Street Fighter cast Jean Claude Van Damme as Guile and Raul Julia as M. Bison. The first turns in a bland, carbon-cut performance of the typical action film star. Julia, meanwhile, is a wonderfully hammy and entertaining supervillain who's often credited as what makes the film watchable. Who also died shortly after the film was completed. By the end of the film, you want to see him Take Over the World.
  • The Batman films have all gone through this to varying degrees:
  • Green Lantern, where the hero is a lazy, irresponsible, egotistical Jerkass, and the villain, a smart, responsible, shy man who's been bullied by his father his entire life.

Literature

  • Harry Potter: A lot of fans bash the main characters, and Gryffindor House in general, because of the author's prejudice against Slytherin House, who they view as cultured and urbane in comparison to the crude, bullying Gryffindor jocks. (Never mind that in an interview on Mugglenet Rowling defended Slytherin and said "they are literally not all bad [people]," although it would have been nice if she had actually shown that somehow in the actual books.) In a slightly different perspective, they recognize most of Slytherin is evil, but criticize the author for making them so, especially considering their defining trait is "ambition", which any normal eleven-year-old would have oodles of ("I wanna be a ninja/astronaut/actor/doctor/lawyer!"). So, to rebel, they generally ignore the fact that Slytherin sucks, and reinterpret them in the fandom to make a more realistic picture of cunning and ambition.
    • As Rowling herself noted in an interview, all the Slytherins we see in the books are (or were) Death Eaters or the children of Death Eaters; the only exception is Professor Slughorn. This is obviously not true of all Slytherins throughout history. It would have helped if this had been better expounded upon in the books. By, for example, not turning around and stating that every last Slytherin ran away and abandoned Hogwarts in its hour of need. So much for "not all bad"...
      • Unless they were doing the same as Slughorn and running away to get reinforcements. Think about it, they are supposed to be cunning. What is more cunning than getting more numbers, more experienced fighters and not risking death because the only defence in Hogwarts is a bunch of 17 year old wizards? Or, since Voldemort's threat is genuine and he will kill every single one of them if Harry is not handed over, running away was the viable option. They would survive another day, could regroup and plan a proper counter-offensive. After all, that was what Harry had done.
      • Then Fridge Logic kicks in and you realise, that the Slytherins were more or less cheated of their deserved House Cup in the first book, which might explain their growing animosity in the following ones.
      • One interpretation of Slytherin is that their animosity is a reaction to the constant stream of abuse they receive from the other Houses simply due to where they were sorted. After all, having been told from the beginning that no good wizard ever came from Slytherin, you can see why they are so incredibly bitter. Likewise, every house wants to beat them in the House Cup and the Quidditch Cup, both of which they had won consistently for some years. While it could be argued that they get major points from Snape, it seems likely that they are academically one of the smartest houses next to Ravenclaw.
        • Technically Rowling wrote that there never was a bad wizard who didn't come from Slytherin. She never said good people don't come out of Slytherin. Your point still stand though.
    • Individually, fans started to dislike Harry's irritable nature more and more after Order of the Phoenix. This contributed to increased favouritism of Draco, which JK Rowling admitted to disliking; she was a bit disturbed that people didn't like the hero and preferred Draco. She even admitted to punishing/exaggerating Draco and the Slytherins where she could to counteract it (which naturally just increased resentment that led some readers to prefer the villains in the first place). Alternatively, some people just genuinely wanted the Death Eaters to win the war. Perhaps because they deemed the dark characters to be more interesting, or because the ideology seemed rational, or because they might believe the whole series had an annoyingly Black and White Morality and was a tad too Anvilicious. Or simply because Evil Is Cool.
    • This guy takes it Up to Eleven. He's a Christian fundamentalist, and seriously thinks Voldemort is God.
  • Alternate interpretations of The Lord of the Rings have it as a highly biased account given by the real bad guys: the exiled Gondor and Elvish aristocracy, Spartanesque Rohan and Hobbit mercenaries who destroyed the egalitarian revolutionary Sauron who united the oppressed peoples of Middle-earth.
  • Incredibly common in the Inheritance Cycle. It doesn't help that the book concedes that most of the people living in The Empire are happy and at peace, giving the impression that if the Varden would just stop fighting everyone would be fine. And though the emperor is a douche, his evil actions all seem to be about fighting the Varden so, again, his rule would probably be much less tyrannical if the Varden didn't keep going at him. It doesn't help matters that the main character is widely considered to be a Designated Hero with a lot of Kick the Dog moments.
    • Such sentiments seem to be mainly based in critical backlash rather than textual evidence. While this is an inherently subjective trope, it is impossible to see - when Paolini creates such a blatant Black and White Morality - how one could reasonably argue this point. The assertion that everything would be fine in The Empire if the Varden just stopped rebelling carries a whole bevy of Unfortunate Implications, as it explicitly argues, "People should just stop resisting dictatorships, and then everyone would be happy." Meanwhile, while Eragon can certainly be viewed as unlikeable because of his latent Mary Sue traits, it is much harder to argue that he is a Designated Hero; his 'Kick the Dog' moments consist of killing people in combat, like any other generic fantasy protagonist.
      • Or you know, when he further punishes a man who has already lost everything along with being tortured and having his eyes eaten out, and doing so mostly out of petty spite. Alternatively in Brisingr he agonizes over being forced to kill a man[1] and then chokes the man to death. He doesn't even try to find a quicker way such as all the swords on the ground or just snapping the man's neck (which he clearly is capable of).
      • And it's nothing to do with "resisting dictatorship". It is a medieval setting with monarchies (i.e. hereditary dictatorships) everywhere: the only non-monarchic government is the dwarves, whose "king" who is elected by the hereditary clan chiefs, not the people. The difference between the good guys and the bad guys is that the bad guys' monarch overthrew the Dragon Riders, a privileged aristocracy of superhumans who'd been "keeping justice" (i.e. running at least the court systems, and, judging by the description of them keeping rulers in line, probably the entire continent) for thousands of years… only to replace it with the Forsworn, a privileged aristocracy of superhumans with exactly the same role as the Dragon Riders.
      • Ultimately, the case of Eragon seems to be more about a Type IV or Type III Anti-Hero being treated as The Hero, and about the setting's apparent Gray and Black Morality being treated as White and Black Morality.
        • Grey and Black Morality? This is more like straight-out Evil Versus Evil. For every morally questionable deed which the Evil Overlord commits, The Hero commits one in return. The Empire slaughters villages? Well, so does La Résistance, around Feinster. The Big Bad uses conscription? Well, La Résistance whips their own soldiers for doing the right thing, to such an extent that Badass Normal Roran seriously thought that a weaker man would die. The Empire tortures people and uses "true names" to force its soldiers to be loyal to it? Well, La Résistance wields chemical weapons—unless Angela was carrying enough ordinary poison to kill hundreds or perhaps thousands of Mooks in a few hours in Book II.
      • It can also be argued that Eragon causes a lot of Moral Dissonance because of the weird way he adheres to elven philosophy. "Oh, those poor little ants I had to drain to replenish my magic by little, what a horrible monster I am. Now let's go slaughter battalions of soldiers without a second thought about the value of their life."
  • In Stephen King's The Dark Tower The Good Man, John Farson, while presented to be the bad guy (and actually turns out to be Randal Flagg at one point- and then, in later books, not) is shown to be leading a proletariat rebellion for democracy against the clearly Feudalistic system Roland and the other gunslingers seem to be rooting for. This is partly a side-effect of Farson being The Ghost in the novels, so we don't really learn a whole lot about him. The comic book prequels go out of their way to subvert this and when we finally meet Farson he is a power-hungry Complete Monster who happens to be a popular and charismatic leader, and his free and democractic society is really shaping up to be a People's Republic of Tyranny with himself as dictator.
  • Many people find that Magnificent Bitch Senna Wales of Everworld is more entertaining a character than the heroes.
  • Looking at the Star Wars Expanded Universe, despite the various books that portray the Empire as fundamentally evil, there are also books that show that not all of its members are pure evil. Timothy Zahn is the most notable of the authors who do this; Grand Admiral Thrawn, while he is decidedly not a good person, is still portrayed as somewhat better than his predecessors (which is not that great an accomplishment), and there are fans who think the galaxy might have been better off with him alive. In the Hand of Thrawn duology, the Supreme Commander was reluctantly seeking peace with the New Republic, and by that point Pellaeon really couldn't be called one of the bad guys.
  • Played with in Honor Harrington. The Kingdom becomes The Empire, but are really now The Federation with feudal trappings. The Republic of Haven goes the entire gamut though, from An Empire by any other name to the Peoples Republic, to the Restored Republic, giving viewpoint characters to root for and against the entire time. Noticeable in that few civil foes in Manticore get a full viewpoint, while all Haven Viewpoint characters, no matter where on the moral line, are given a full viewpoint including motivations.
    • To wit: Tom Theisman may have been a Worthy Opponent from the beginning and gained sympathy from Book 2 on, to his ultimate victory in restoring the Republic, but Rob S. Pierre who was supposed to be far less likable still has plenty of fans for how much he's able to do in reforming the broken Republic.
    • This may have been intentional, as Haven has undergone a slow Heel Face Turn for some time now. Now that Haven and Manticore have allied against Mesa, Haven are officially the good guys, and rooting for them is expected.
  • In his Sword of Truth book series, Terry Goodkind tries his damnedest to avert this by making villains as repulsively evil as possible so that the Designated Heroes' tendency to Shoot the Dog doesn't make the audience turn on him. Your Mileage May Vary whether it's successful or not - on the one hand, it means that the villains have all the odious habits that the heroes do, including the self-righteousness, and with extra rape (the only crime the heroes are not at some point guilty of) piled on top, but on the other hand, the heroes are the ones whose Kick the Dog moments we always get to see up close, while the villains' are usually just reported from afar.
  • Satan from Milton's Paradise Lost. That portrayal is the biggest reason why Satan Is Good exists in Western media. A case of Misaimed Fandom as Milton was just trying to make Satan a self-centred Jerkass with charming but hollow self-justifications for his behaviour, which really stemmed from him being an egotistical bastard too proud to accept how badly he screwed himself over.
  • Twilight features the three tracker vampires who are trying to kill Bella, which is seen by some as a sympathetic aim. Never mind the fact that each is an Ensemble Darkhorse in their own right.
    • It also doesn't help that the 'heroes' let HUNDREDS of innocents die to protect one human. (Especially in Eclipse.) And Bella's narration is so painfully self-centered.
    • Or that, in New Moon, Edward and Alice, two designated "good" vampires, don't have any problem with sitting in the Volturi palace watching tourists being led to the slaughter OR listening to them scream as they die. And Bella's reaction? Although she can't forget one tourist with a rosary, she says that being horrified and sickened that forty or fifty people have just been murdered within earshot is a waste of time, because she should be looking at Edward.

 I knew it was stupid to react like this. Who knew how much time I had to look at his face? He was saved, and I was saved, and he could leave me as soon as we were free. To have my eyes so filled with tears that I could not see his features clearly was wasteful — insanity.

  • Gone: Sociopath Big Bad Caine and Ax Crazy sadist Drake both have legions of fans. Hardly anyone likes Sam, The Hero, the best.
  • Some folks actually wouldn't have minded seeing Dracula actually beat the main characters. The book goes out of it way to make vampirism seem like the worse thing in the world. But outside from never seeing the sun again (well the book never really stated that. Drac actually moved around in the daylight, only with limited powers) and the inhuman hunger for blood, receiving the powers of the night and immortality didn't seem like a bad trade-off.
    • Those folks may miss the part where the vampires spend most of the time lying motionless in coffins or earth pits or where the vampires don't do anything other than drink blood or hunt victims, and live in dark, spartan, squalid households with no interest in food, drink or normal human comforts. And they may miss the bits where the vampires are shown to not really be "you" at all- more like an evil spirit has hijacked your corpse and you are trapped inside it, not knowing peace until someone stakes your heart and chops your head off after stuffing your mouth with holy wafers. So yes, its a pretty horrible tradeoff. The kind of vampires they are thinking of come from later stories and not that novel.
    • Laying in coffins when you need to sleep and the story never stated what exactly a vampire is outside a creature with a thirst for blood. Anything the protagonists say in the book is more or less speculation. For all we know those turned were going about it willingly (and yes Lucy turning isn't really elaborated on). The whole idea of "spirit hijack your body" is also based on other media.
  • Many fans of the book Fallen wanted Cam to win and hated main characters Daniel and Luce.
  • The Dark Court of Wicked Lovely, while not completely evil, is far more loved than any of the others.
  • Hannibal Lecter of the books just wants to stop the plague of cruel assholes ruining things for everyone. Commendable, except for his methods (and the innocent folks who are maimed or die simply for getting in his way).
  • In the Mortal Instruments trilogy, the designated heroes, the Shadowhunters, are descended from the angel Raziel--and pretty damn proud of it. They see themselves as above the very people they're supposed to protect: Downworlders (your werewolves, faeries, vampires, and such) and humans, otherwise known to Shadowhunters as Mundanes (or Mundies, if you want to get really ugly). Honestly, with this sort of Fantastic Racism, you'd probably get more love and respect from a demon disemboweling you and dragging your soul straight to Hell; at least demons are supposed to be cruel. To be fair, the Shadowhunters are called out on this all the time by everyone who isn't a Shadowhunter. The moral of the first 3 books is that the Downworlders aren't inherently evil and the Shadowhunters aren't inherently good and that they could save a lot more lives if they got over their differences and helped each other. Indeed, City of Glass ends with the Downworlders agreeing to help the Shadowhunters defeat Valentine in return for the Downworlders getting representation in the Shadowhunter's council.
  • The Hunger Games fandom has no shortage of fans who prefer the Career tributes to Katniss and Peeta, finding them equally sympathetic (or even moreso), considering that they have been brainwashed and bred since birth to kill other kids in a horrific child murder reality show.


Live Action TV

  • On The Big Bang Theory Sheldon identifies with The Grinch ("I was right there with him all the way until he gave in to the Holiday Who Whooey at the end") and according to Leonard roots for the Sun against Frosty the Snowman ("A trivial piece of holiday flotsom in a stolen hat)".
  • As in the Psycho example above Alfred Hitchcock Presents often presented stories in which the bad guy literally gets away with murder. The network made him add outros which indicated Crime Does Not Pay.
  • This might sometimes happen in some episodes of CSI. Even Complete Monster murderers get some sympathy when from their point of view it's either running away or facing a Bolivian Army Ending. And the often brutal manners used by the police don't gain the "good guys" any extra points.
  • Survivor uses Manipulative Editing to create heroes and villains, who the audience is supposed to root for and against. It gets laid on so thick (and with so much Glurge) that the more cynical fans rebel. They assume that "what really happened" is the exact opposite of what was shown on-screen. An example is Jerri from Australia, who was portrayed as a Card-Carrying Villain, complete with Evil Laugh. The contrarian fans loved her and said that she was a real person who told it like it was, her enemies were hypocrites, and the editing was smearing her.
    • In their most recent season, the "setup" was bringing a bunch of former all-star castaways back on the show to play dueling teams of the show's past "Heroes" and "Villains", respectively. Most of the "villains" were shocked when they were aligned with the bad guys, most likely because they were merely portrayed as such due to the selective editing mentioned above. This caused them to decide that if they were going to be the villains, they might as well be actually be the bad guys. This is exactly what the producers wanted.
      • As it happens, generally speaking, the "Villains" slaughtered the "Heroes" meaning that a) in reality, the underdog never wins and b) rooting for said underdog would be fruitless.
    • Really, a lot of Reality TV contestants are loved by the viewers in spite of being (or because they are) manipulative and deceitful.
  • In Deadwood, Seth Bullock is supposedly the main character trying to start a new life, but the show tends to focus on the more interesting Al Swearengen.
  • In the "Warrior of the Lost World" episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Joel and the Bots start actively rooting for robotic killing machine Mega-Weapon as soon as he crushes the hero's annoying talking motorcycle.
  • As an in-universe example, Barney from How I Met Your Mother apparently applies this trope to the majority of movies he's seen. He gets called out on rooting for Johnny in The Karate Kid, and the rest of the group bring up a plethora of movies, all of which he roots for the villain in them, including Principal Vernon in The Breakfast Club, and Hans in Die Hard. Barney also refuses to accept that the characters he roots for are villains.

 Barney: "Hello? It's called The Terminator."

  • Some people who watch The Vampire Diaries have actually started rooting for upcoming Big Bad Klaus and The Dragon Elijah.
    • Helps that the villains in the show are portrayed more sympathetic than the protagonist of the series.
  • Hooray for the Nazis!
  • In-universe example: in the All in The Family episode "Two's a Crowd", Archie says to Mike: "You're the kind of guy who watches a John Wayne movie and roots for the Indians!"
  • The Fellowship of the Sun in True Blood is played to look like religious fanatic terrorists, but at the same time - the Vampires they hate actually do commit heinous murders, torture, and mind control, and do not respect or submit to human authority. Taking a step back from Bill and Godric, the only two vampires in the show with half a soul, and it's very difficult to tell who're the terrorists and who are the freedom fighters.
  • A lot people were rooting for the Cylons in the new Battlestar Galactica Reimagined as many found the human cast to be self-serving, self destructive assholes.
    • Considering that the series had Humans Are Bastards pumping through its veins like blood, that may have been the intention. Then again, any portrayal of the humanoid Cylons themselves hinged on their being Not So Different from the humans (in terms of both bastardry and the potential to rise above their petty natures at times).
  • As mentioned in the film section, one of the things the Batman series was best known for was the large variety of colorful villains. In fact, some of them won Emmys.
  • While most of its American audience wouldn't be likely to root for Nazis, it could be said that most memorable and funniest characters in Hogan's Heroes were the antagonist German POW camp staff.
  • In the short-run (8 episodes) Wizards and Warriors series, the good guys were more-or-less the straight men of the ensemble, especially Prince Eric Greystone. His opposite number, Prince Dirk Blackpool, is so deliciously evil that he completely steals the show. It helps that he's played by Duncan Regehr. The evil wizard, Vector, also has a lot more audience appeal than the good wizard.


Newspaper Comics

  • 90% of the For Better or For Worse fandom was hoping that Elizabeth would end up with one of her Wrong Guy First candidates, rather than the inevitable blandness that is Anthony.
  • Drabble did an in-story version, with Norman commenting that he realized how very conservative his father was when they saw Star Wars (Episode IV, no less) and Dad was cheering for Darth Vader.
  • Jason of FoxTrot also cheers for Darth Vader. He even tried to convince George Lucas to digitally insert him into the Special Edition as "Jason Skywalker", a Jedi who eventually turns to The Dark Side. He also refers to Luke as "a fool" because he doesn't turn to the Dark Side.
  • In a Garfield strip, Garfield roots for the monster that ate Tokyo in a movie, because "anything that eats everything can't be all bad".
    • In another strip, when watching the movie "Lassie Crosses the Freeway", Garfield mentions that he's rooting for the trucks.
    • As Jon and Garfield watch a film about a man-eating lion, we know who roots for whom. Even when the lion gets killed in the end, Garfield happily notes that he ended with a score of "Villagers: 1, Lion:42".
  • Candorville- Roxanne considers the villain of almost any movie to be the real hero.


Professional Wrestling

  • This happens all the time in Professional Wrestling where a heel's antics end up being entertaining or cool enough that the fans start rooting for them, leading to the promoter either making a Heel Face Turn or kicking the heel across the Moral Event Horizon to make the fans boo him again. Smarks are more likely to do this than average fans and the smark-filled regions of northeast US and Canada have this in spades. Notable examples include Stone Cold Steve Austin, D Generation X after Shawn Michaels' injury and, more recently, Santino Marella.
  • In the example to top all examples, Bret Hart slowly became more and more evil after he returned to wrestling in 1996, feuded with Stone Cold Steve Austin, brutally beat him in a submission match at Wrestlemania XIII, became a heel while Stone Cold became a face, and the entire nation of Canada supported him without hesitation. He was probably more popular in Canada after Wrestlemania XIII than before. His apology to every country but the U.S. after Wrestlemania XIII is one of the most brutally honest, deep promos ever done. And to this day, he's seen as a Canadian hero, the all Canadian face if you will.
  • The New World Order were heels invading WCW, but were cool and popular heels that people enjoyed a great deal. Their popularity only lessened--or maybe splintered--when the group was split in two.
  • Lots of WWE fans were rooting for Randy Orton during his long feud with John Cena, even though Orton was portraying an unstable and sadistic sociopath. The reason for this was that Cena had amassed a sizable Hatedom due to a growing consensus among smarks that he was an Invincible Hero who no-sold moves that he shouldn't have and that he only used five moves. They were sick of seeing Cena win all the time, and they wanted to see him beaten. Soon, there seemed to be as many fans cheering on Orton as there were cheering on Cena. Not surprisingly, Orton soon turned face... sort of.
    • Ironically, Cena himself was this when he was a heel. It's how he got his push in the first place and he was liked by the IWC back then. Wrestling fans are fickle.
  • CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy is full of this. The bad guy in this was an anti-drug, straight edge guy who was better than you while the good guy was a guy who was fired from two companies because of his drug problems and lost his spot at the biggest show of the year because he could not keep his hands off the stuff. Overall, though, there was no reason to actually cheer for Jeff Hardy other than finding CM Punk to be an asshole—he was never really sorry for his past drug-abuse issues and he handwaved them off as just being rules that he chose not to follow because he was an "artist" and a "free-spirit." Then, you add that soon after leaving the WWE he was busted for drug trafficking, moved to TNA because of their lack of drug testing, and tried to headline a PPV while stoned out of his gourd, and Punk ends up looking like a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • An interesting meta-example surrounding Triple H: He's amassed a large amount of X-Pac Heat from sheer nepotism (he's married to the head of Creative Development, who happens to be the boss's daughter.) This leads to accusations of Spotlight-Stealing Squad, Creator's Pet, and he frequently gets Mis Blamed as the source of Executive Meddling to further his own self-serving ego. However, rumors are floating out that when he manages the shows instead of Vince McMahon, they're more relaxed and generally more pleasant, and Triple H tends to be more "with-it" in terms of pop culture while Vince thinks it's still The Eighties. This has led a lot of fans to (surprisingly) root for Triple H and hope that he begins to take a more involved role behind the scenes.
    • And then he was made head of the talent department, and despite initial fears that he would push nothing but big men, his first acquisitions were the IWC favorite Awesome Kong and Masked Luchador Sin Cara and hyped them up with video packages like the wrestling days of yesteryear. Now many are looking forward to seeing what else Trips has in store for the talent department.
    • On a more conventional level, Trips has always had his fans no matter how overt a Heel he is at the moment, because regardless of the nepotism issues, he's also legitimately talented in the ring and charismatic behind the mic.
  • A lot of the more zealous smarks might just do this out of sheer spite, especially in regards to WWE and if the heel happens to have an indy fanbase. The mindset seems to be that, since it's fake, we can cheer the bad guy and their story because they're a good wrestler, regardless of whether their character is nice or not. The biggest example as of late is probably CM Punk in his feud against John Cena as the new leader of The Nexus. Unlike his feud with Jeff Hardy, Punk showed little to nothing in the way of redeemable qualities (save his willingness to tweak WWE Management in Worked Shoot promos), as his straight edge lifestyle hasn't even been mentioned. Despite this, he still gets cheered because he's one of the better wrestlers, despite doing nothing cheer-worthy.


Tabletop RPG

  • For the Old World of Darkness's Mage: The Ascension setting, quite a few players think that the Technocracy's earth is a much safer, freer place than a world where you might be eaten by a troll the second your back is turned. This viewpoint steadily gained canon support through Mage's run. The first few Technocracy books were clearly written to help the Storyteller write better villains, and the Technocrats in those books want to do things like destroy creativity. The later ones realized that, given their history (and the fact that they, you know, create all kinds of shiny new technology), the Technocracy makes more sense as Well-Intentioned Extremists on an organizational level.
    • Finally, in the "canon" Mage: the Ascension ending, the Traditions and the Technocracy ultimately realize that they are Not So Different as they both wish the best possible future for humanity. Finally, they both Earn The Happy Ending when the world comes to a close in the best way possible for everyone.
  • While everyone is fairly evil to some extent in Warhammer 40000, even the most unambiguously evil factions have their fans, and not just for the strength of their army list. Chaos are out to destroy the entire material universe and turn it into a constantly shifting rotten eldrich hell, and they work for a set of gods who want to kill, rape, mutate and infect everything. Yet they're just so...METAL!
    • It does not help in the slightest that the Emperor, and many of the loyal Primarchs, could be absolute pricks some of the time. Besides, life in the 41st Millennium is so crappy being diseased, raped, turned into a fire-squid and having your head-thing nailed to a stake is still only about the fifth worst thing that can happen to you.
    • Chaos is, in it's purest form, about ultimate personal freedom. Compared to the monolithic bureaucracy of the Imperium, being able to do whatever you want does seem rather attractive. The downside to Chaos is that a) everybody else is also free to do whatever they want, including mount your head on a pointy stick, and that the freedom is an illusion, as you will end up becoming a slave to your own emotions, doomed to serve the Dark Gods until death (and sometimes beyond).
      • The other Chaos Gods might be very much uncaring pricks, but Nurgle is actually a really nice guy. Unlike the other gods (or the Emperor, for that matter), he actually cares for his followers. If you're feeling dissatisfied with your lot in life or suffering from sickness, he'll help you accept it and ignore the pain. He does this by not by curing you or improving your life, but by making you content to wallow in disease and despair, and drag others down with you, but it still counts as improvement, right?
        • Or at least he pretends to be nice.
      • To really drive the point home, Nurgle is nigh-identical in mannerism, action and myth to friggin' Santa Claus - he is always depicted as very "jolly", with a grandfatherly (if pleghm-coated) chuckle and even the myths around him are heavily reminiscent of those surrounding Santa. He brings "gifts" (dreadful diseases, but he and those succumbing to them think of them precisely like christmas presents) to his children (everyone) everywhere in the world. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the God of Disease, Death and Decay. Ending up as his subject is pretty much the best fate that 40k has to offer.
      • Black Crusade does a decent job at presenting the Chaos cultists' case. It admits that the Chaos Gods are cruel masters and that Chaos is anything but cuddly - but embracing Chaos is nonetheless humanity's only hope of surviving in any form. Meanwhile, the Imperium's brutal tyranny and persecution might be justified if there was any chance that it might work, but as it is, the Imperium is beyond saving and so the Adeptus Terra are committing atrocities for the sake of a lost cause.
    • The reason that the Imperium is The Empire in the first place is because it is surrounded by unspeakable horrors that Lovecraft would be proud of. Ergo, Rooting for the Empire is, in this case, the only sane choice in an utterly insane galaxy. In the Imperium, there is law and order - even if it is draconian - and not every Imperial world is a hellhole. Living in the Eye of Terror, on the other hand...well.
    • The Tau Empire. While not exactly good, they much less "not exactly good" than the others and make a refreshingly lot of sense.
  • The first published Traveller adventures had the players breaking into Imperial research stations, breaking out of Imperial prisons, and helping the rebels. Then the rebels nuke a city, and the players had to help the Imperium in a war. In the last published adventure about the Imperium, the players are Imperial nobles and generals who try to stop it from collapsing.
  • Some Rifts fans see The Coalition States in a heroic light, as defenders of humanity. This is a nation that’s blatantly modeled after Nazi Germany, including the institutionalized genocide. One of the later books actually includes a commentary reiterating the fact that the Coalition, or at least those in charge of it, really are bad guys.
    • Given the ham-fisted way in which they written as Space Hitler bogeymen, coupled with the fact that the targets of their persecution are non-humans -- and, in the Rifts universe, approximately 98% of these non-humans want to rule, torture, kill, or eat mankind -- it's hard not to empathize a little with their pro-human at all costs attitude.
      • 98% of the specific NPCs listed in the book, maybe. The average D-Bee (Dimensional Being, a catch-all term for non-humans who aren't monsters or demonic) is like the average human, just someone trying to lead a normal life the best they can. Plus, the Coalition being what it is, they tend to make hated and dangerous enemies out of people who otherwise want to be left alone. Tolkeen is a perfect example, the kingdom was peaceful (they even broke off with the Federation of Magic once they saw the kind of atrocities Nostrous Dunscon was capable of) until the Coalition started sending armies at them. This doesn't excuse the horrors Tolkeen unleashed on the Coalition, but something like the Sorcerer's Revenge never would have happened if the Coalition had just left Tolkeen alone.
        • There are also people who would argue that the game itself kind of encourages a bit of 'rooting for the empire' when the Tolkeen books had, in the same book, the coalition running concentration camps and then the coalition being forced to run from the sorcerers revenge and being portrayed as these poor sympathetic people who heroically took last stands to protect their fellow humans..who were also frequently murdering humans, invalids, etc. While I'm not a big fan of RPG.net there is something to be said for the argument that half the time the coalition wins things because either the Siembedie or someone high up has a nazi fetish.
  • Quite a few Magic the Gathering fans are rather pro-Phyrexian, to the point where one rather prominent fansite is seemingly unironically named "Phyrexia.com" (and themed around the plane). Considering that Phyrexians are not so much Always Chaotic Evil as Always Completely Evil (considering that they were created by a man who lived as a nomad visiting various civilisations just so he could release plagues and wipe them all out - in one case just to see what would happen, it isn't surprising), the level of support they've garnered is almost shocking. The fact that the Scars of Mirrodin story arc brings the Phyrexians back into the limelight, and that Wizards of the Coast was quite adamant on not revealing whether or not they'll win just contributed to this - just watch the promotional videos on Youtube, often depicting Phyrexians committing Nightmare Fuel atrocities against the Mirrans, then look at all the comments proudly shouting Phyrexian slogans. In fact, according to the statistics from when Mirrodin Besieged came out, 51% of players supported the Phyrexians. In other words, less than half of the player base is rooting for the people they're supposed to be rooting for.[2]
    • Wizards of the Coast invoked this trope during the Mirrodin Besieged prerelease: those that supported Phyrexia were given several packs containing nothing but Phyrexian cards, while the Mirran side got only Mirran cards. They gave the participants the opportunity to root for the Empire.
    • It's official. Phyrexia wins.
    • The wiki article on Phyrexia even includes a section describing in detail what a Crapsack World Phyrexia is and how a Phyrexian victory would result in the loss of free will and emotion. In a type of website that usually tends to be impartial, this seems suspiciously like a rebuttal to the Phyrexian fans.
    • Back in the day, Phyrexia was confined to Black, the (usually) "evil" color. As per the New Phyrexia expansion, though, they've branched out into all five colors, and while this has mostly consisted of twisted Phyrexian takes on each color's philosophy, some Phyrexians, most notably those aligned to Red (the color of freedom and passion), are starting to show more sympathetic tendencies.


Video Games

  • The Helghast in Killzone are just plain more interesting - and much cooler-looking, what with the ~Jin-Roh~ battle armor and goggles - than their ISA counterparts. Their backstory is at least somewhat sympathetic (essentially a case of The Dog Bites Back on an unprecedented scale), and it doesn't help a bit that the human characters are either flat or actively unlikeable. Jan Templar is as bland as they come. Rico is a belligerent, Book Dumb Jerkass and apparently proud of these defining character traits. The girl is...wait, there was a girl, wasn't there? There has to be a girl - right? It may be nothing more than the fact that the only two characters who make any sort of impression are Helghast bigwig Scolar Visari, who gives a mean speech and is voiced by Brian Cox, and your snarky half-Helghast teammate Colonel Hakha, voiced by Sean Pertwee, son of Jon Pertwee.
    • The sequel does it better, but not by much. While the ISA was made more interesting and likable, having the likes of Sev, Garza, Natko and Narville, some moron put Rico in charge, and that goes as well as one would think it would. The Helghast were given a few Kick the Dog moments to try to make them less sympathetic, but their awesomeness far overshadows that, with Visari giving a speech so awesome players are sad they can't play for the other side and the inclusion of the likes of Colonel Radec, also voiced by Sean Pertwee, who comes with less snark, but more badassery. Also, unlike the Vekta Invasion, none of the Helghast dared to defect to the other side.
    • The irony is that the Helgast not only are Putting on the Reich , but their The Dog Bites Back backstory mirrors that of Germany after WWI in the 20s and 30s. Killzone may be an example of Black and Grey Morality , or Evil Versus Evil , just like the Eastern Front from WWII.
      • Another interpretation is that the Helghast are Colonial American rebels. Both were a group of people who wanted to be freed from the corporations of another people, and were living in a colony held by those people.
    • It really doesn't help that at the end of 3, the "good guys" nearly wipe out the entire Helgast race. Now, which side is supposed to be the Space Nazis?
    • The Helghast at that point had already completely won. The bomb was a last minute gambit to stop them. And all it managed to do was eliminate the expendable and disloyal ones and proved the weapon does indeed work and will use it against Vekta territories.
    • I don't think they intended to use the bomb to wipe out the planet, though. They were acting in an emergency and didn't seem to know the weapon's full power.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics, the 1st one, featured an initial campaign against the Death Corps (or the Corpse Brigade, depending on the translation), which is run by Wiegraf, a soldier who wishes nothing more than to lead a populist revolt to unseat the corrupt nobility. We see firsthand how corrupt everyone in charge of anything is in this setting, and after the protagonist Ramza is himself on the run from the evil authorities, you're never in a position to help steer Wiegraf towards victory. Even more tragically, Wiegraf sells his soul - first figuratively, then literally - just to get by, derailing him from his original goal.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance: A kid named Mewt has magically created a world that makes everyone he knows happier. Another kid, named Marche, controlled by the player, is trying desperately to stop him. Whether the latter is actually correct to do so is not very well explained at all. Let's leave it at that.
  • There is a portion of the Morrowind fandom who thinks Dagoth Ur was really a good guy with morally-grey methods. These fans see him as a courageous rebel against a foreign empire who is only maligned because he was betrayed by his friends, who then became powerful.
    • Giving that the game itself leaves his ultimate motives ultimately unknown (though it presents ideas), it does somewhat encourage this interpretation. That the Tribunal aren't the most holy of gods either certainly helps.
      • Also, the game design doc was originally written to allow you to join with him. Sadly, time constraints and the much desired Christmas Release doomed that(as well as other story elements).
  • The Magic Emperor in Lunar: Silver Star Story would count as this. He believed that humanity would repeat the apocalypse that forced them away from The Blue Star if left without divine guidance. When the Goddess Althena abdicated her position as humanity's divine protector, he attempted to place her back on her throne, or failing that, absorb her power and put himself upon it. His means are destructive, but in order to prevent the probable extinction of the species, he considered them justified. It also helps his image that he has several Pet the Dog moments and was a well respected and wise hero.
  • There are a truly astonishing number of people who believe the Brotherhood of Nod are the good guys, not GDI. While they admit Nod does some unpleasant things, they justify those by saying that Utopia Justifies the Means and that Nod is fighting fire with fire in a world where Green Rocks are killing everything but present themselves as humanity's only hope for survival in the long term.
    • The fact that Nod (well, Kane) suckered a group of highly advanced aliens to land on Earth (prematurely) and then kicked them in the teeth and stole their technology probably only bolstered their popularity.
    • In the third game GDI is said to be an undemocratic military state while Nod never seem to actively contradict their line that they are simply "fighting for the people". Then in the fourth game Kane actually saves the world and gives his followers the promised power of inter-galactic travel.
    • And then there're those that just like them for their black uniforms, laser guns and overall awesome hi-tech arsenal.
  • A large number of Fallout 3 fans are adamant supporters of the Enclave, with many quite displeased that joining the Enclave was not possible in the game. This is due to the Enclave shifting from their "kill any non-pure human" agenda from Fallout 2 to just taking over the wasteland (mostly anyway, President Eden wants to continue with the genocide idea but Dragon-in-Chief Colonel Autumn and his men do not). Furthermore they do nothing evil except for Autumn's Kick the Dog moment when he shoots an innocent scientist. The conflict the Brotherhood of Steel and the Lone Wanderer have with them seems to be one purely of pride, that they sweep in to take control of the purifier after Rivet City and the Brotherhood are the ones who have been running the project since conception. Otherwise, between their vertibirds to fly clean water to cities and their advanced technology that makes them able to wipe out the hostiles of the reason, there's no reason to not want to ally with them.
  • Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas is a truly inexplicable example of this trope. It's repeatedly stated, and admitted by its leaders and all of its members, that the Legion ideologically endorses conquest, crucifixion and torture, rape, foregoing all modern technology (except certain weapons), enslavement of all women, genocide, genetic cleansing, totalitarian social homogeneity, and survival of the fittest. They also tolerate decimation (the practice of killing every tenth soldier in your own army in order to sustain morale through fear) and cannibalism. The Legion's only upsides are that crime is nonexistent in Legion territory (due to the harsh penalties), that they do not tolerate drug usage, Alcohol and that the Legion doesn't mindlessly butcher some factions in certain endings to the game. The reason why some fans consider the Legion to be the "good guys" is because they are allegedly more tolerant of homosexuality than the New California Republic, though even this itself is controversial and contradicted in-game.
    • To make it even worse, it is repeatedly stated by multiple NPCs from every faction that the Legion will fail when Caesar dies. Assuming Caesar doesn't die over the course of the game, he still isn't going to live much longer.
  • Organization XIII of Kingdom Hearts seems to be much, much more popular among the fandom than the heroes. They even got their own game.
  • Starcraft: Brood War has the United Earth Directorate, who, despite being set up to be villainous, have pretty honorable goals. Their mission statement is: depose Emperor Mengsk and bring the Terran Dominion back under Earth's control along with the rest of the independent human factions, "pacify" the Protoss, and enslave the Zerg Overmind and take control of the Zerg to assist them in their first two goals, simultaneously removing the threat the Zerg pose to civilization. Sure, the Protoss part is a bit ambiguous and could mean anything from negotiating peace to exterminating them, but otherwise the UED's goals would have laid to rest the constant social upheaval, civil wars and alien invasions that make the Koprulu Sector such a nasty place to live. There's a definite air of Kick the Son of a Bitch hovering over their campaign because they spend most of their time making life difficult for Mengsk and Kerrigan, who are, the Bigger Bad in the sequel not withstanding, the main villains in the series. The "villainous" actions they take prior to Kerrigan and Mengsk convincing the heroes to fight them was their blockade of the Protoss on Braxis, which they went about fairly diplomatically by ordering the Protoss to surrender peacefully rather than attacking.
    • Part of this is due to the UED's true nature being entirely in the manual for the original game. The reason the Terrans are where they are is because Earth is ruled by a fascist government that rounded up all its criminals, including political dissidents and the genetically impure, and loaded them into shoddy colony ships to be sent off to a nearby star system but got horribly sidetracked (there is little evidence there were absolutely no changes in the couple of centuries since). In Brood War, the UED is conquering the sector out of nothing but paranoid fear of the Protoss and the Zerg. Still, the two commanders they send, DuGalle and Stukov, are Reasonable Authority Figures and aren't unwilling to ally with the sector natives such as Duran, and aside from the Braxis incident they mostly concern themselves with the Dominion and the Zerg instead of bothering the Protoss. This is probably why the campaign that focuses on their fall stars Kerrigan as a Villain Protagonist--the actual good guys had no reason to fight them.
  • World of Warcraft.
    • Although the Orcish Horde were the main antagonists(and Villain Protagonists) in the first two RTS games and were the more popular of the two factions in those days. They are given a redemption storyline at the end of Warcraft 3.
    • Chris Metzen, the main author of World of Warcraft's storyline, is on record as saying that the Horde are the faction that he is emotionally closest to.
    • The Horde have traditionally been by far the most successful of the two factions, in terms of both PvE and PvP. Nihilum, a European Horde-based guild, were considered the greatest PvE guild on the planet between 2006 and 2008, and at Blizzcon took that title in the PvP category as well.
    • Although they were initially the minority, the Horde are gradually becoming the more highly populated faction in terms of players, as Blizzard gave them a less "ugly," and more "humanlike," race. (The Blood Elves in TBC)
  • In Tales of Symphonia Dawn of the New World there's a considerably large fan-base rooting for the villains Alice and Decus which might be explained by the fact that they peg Emil as wimpy coward and reduce Marta to her Clingy Jealous Girl-tendencies.
  • Flight duty as portrayed in Star Wars: TIE Fighter is a fairly cushy job, when compared to the matching duty in the Rebel Alliance, with rapid promotions and secret society membership benefits, both of which lead to better fighters. Indeed, TIE Fighter pilots are expected to fail against superior Alliance fighters, and since most battles take place in Empire-controlled space, recovery after ejection is highly likely. By the time you're in serious missions against rebellion forces, you're in TIE-Advanced Fighters or even TIE Defenders.
    • The Imperials have it better. They control the galaxy and are on the winning side of the civil war.
    • Also, it's stated in some sources that the X-wings were originally designed for the Empire either to replace or supplement the TIE Fighters. The Rebels stole the plans and the prototypes and started building them for themselves.
  • Space Channel 5 Part 2 has the Rhythm Rogues, a group of villains who want to force the galaxy to dance for them. Their leader Purge is one of the more popular characters in the series, next to Ulala and Pudding. Rumors are going around that the real reason Part 2's getting an HD port is because of the fanbase for these guys.
  • Touhou has the on-going Enforced Cold War between Yukari who want to maintain the status quo versus Kanako who want to bring in technologies (and thus gaining power for herself). Kanako is generally depicted as the less nice one, what's with her nuclear plan going out of control and requiring Reimu's/Marisa's intervention to stop Utsuho from torching the world. There's also that history of her conquering Suwako with overwhelming power. However, a truly astounding amount of fans are rooting for Kanako, if only for her champion, Sanae, being very relatable due to coming from the outside world. You're not going to see this conflict in the first glance.
  • Gears of War: The Locust. Because they are eeeeeevil. And extremely Badass. And they have all the nice shiny monsters and freaky biological transport. And a banging hot chick for a hive queen.
    • It doesn't help that the COG themselves are portrayed subtly as morally, questionable fascists and some of the characters are unlikable bigots. Plus the Locust themselves are only invading the surface because 50% they want to free their homeworld which was devastated by humans for centuries and 50% they're trying to get away from the Lambent, and the COG 'won' the first war by nuking the entire surface of the planet and killing more humans than the Locusts themselves. They had to portray them as Always Chaotic Evil just to try and avert this trope.
  • A minority of Mass Effect fans, if not actively rooting for the Reapers, certainly think that they are by far the coolest race out there.


Web Comics


Web Originals

  • This Youtube video. Many of the commenters are rooting for the escapee (thanks to his skill and luck) and deriding the police for putting people's lives at risk during the chase (despite the escapee himself putting those lives at risk to begin with by trying to outrun the police on a major highway.)


Western Animation

  • There is a subset of Captain Planet and the Planeteers fans that cheers for the Ecovillains, just because the show itself makes them Anviliciously nasty to support its Green Aesop.
  • A small contingent of Transformers fans feel that the Decepticons are the real good guys, and that the Autobots are evil. Despite stories where Decepticons take small children hostage (or killed a puppy).
    • Given a bit more weight in Transformers Animated in which the Autobots are the ruling empire led by someone who's just a bit too willing to do bad things to achieve victory for comfort while the Decepticons are the scrappy rebels, albeit vicious and ruthless ones.
    • In the IDW comics the Autobot government was evil (well corrupt at least) and the Decepticons were laid off blue collar workers living in slums until this one miner showed up... (Most of the story is set millions of years later, by which point they're rather less sympathetic.)
    • One of the movie prequel comics showed one part of the falling out between the Autobots and Decepticons was Prime wouldn't allow Megatron to attack a hostile force on their way to Cybertron, until they arrived and started attacking. Megatron was just trying to protect Cybertron.
    • In the Transformers: War for Cybertron continuity, Megatron was initially a gladiator who rebelled against an oppressive, caste-based society ruled by the Autobots, so initially it was the Autobots themselves who were the Empire and you should have rooted against. But Megatron became too prideful and ruthless, to the point his ideal of a caste-less society was buried by his desire to rule. Transformers seems to have been moving over the years from "Decepticons evil, Autobots good" to an almost Star Wars-like setup, where Cybertronian society badly needed shaking up but the Cons went too far and the necessities of war turned the Autobots into the casteless society the Decepticons wanted.
    • The Megatron in Beast Wars seems to imply that the Predacons are currently stuck as servants to the ruling Maximal class and its Council of Elders. Megatron himself is made into a very nationalistic figure, fighting to improve the lot of his suffering people after their terrible losses in the last war, damn the consequences. And get power himself in the process.
  • Several Fairly OddParents fangirls now do that in the Norm the Genie episodes. Timmy Turner can become very hard to root for when he's generally being a jerk. And also Norm has great lines. Being voiced by Norm MacDonald probably helps, too.
  • The villains from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog were popular even before Youtube Poop caught on. This may have something to do with the cartoons' vague similarity to a Road Runner cartoon. (Think about it.)
  • In Chuck Jones' autobiography Chuck Amuck, he lists ten rules that every Road Runner cartoon had to adhere to, the last of which was "The audience's sympathy must remain with the Coyote." See The Other Wiki for the full list.
    • Tom, Sylvester, and Wile E. Coyote from the Tom and Jerry, Sylvester and Tweety, and Road Runner cartoons respectively, amass a lot of sympathy given their opponents are jerks or Invincible Heroes and reality seems to bend to their will. Tom seems to get the most of it, which is understandable because he's taking abuse from both the mouse who is breaking into his home and often his owners for failing to catch the trespassing mouse.
      • Many episodes make it IMPOSSIBLE to root for Jerry. Jerry sabotaging Tom's attempts to woo a girl cat and ruining his concerto performances, for example, make him downright unlikeable. To compensate in a lot more shorts in the 50s and 60s Tom actually DID win (usually when Jerry acted without provocation).
    • Yosemite Sam was actually created by Friz Freleng because he feared Elmer Fudd's haplessly more Affably Evil demeanor would actually provoke this trope and make Bugs look like a "bully". A lot of later shorts went to extreme lengths to present the foes' losses as extreme Laser-Guided Karma that they brought on themselves (eg. De Patie Freleng shorts such as Moby Duck and Well Worn Daffy, which evolved Daffy Duck into a needlessly ruthless villain (if still hapless and bumbling) against an excessively empathetic and forgiving Speedy Gonzales).
  • Who hasn't wanted Dick Dastardly and Muttley to succeed? Whether it's at winning a race or stopping that pigeon. Interestingly the two bad guys always got much more screen time then the heroes in their shows.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - In some of the post-film (and some pre-film) episodes, Mr. Krabs' schoolyard-bully gloating of Plankton's failure makes Plankton the more sympathetic character to the audience - even though he once took over the town with mind control devices.
    • Considering some of the things Krabs does, this should not be much of a surprise.
    • What doesn't help is that the mass Flanderization of both characters has led Krabs to have less redeeming aspects than Plankton. In some cases, Krabs actually goes out of his way to ruin Plankton's rare legitimate efforts or make him miserable in the same ruthless manner as vice versa, and due to their roles, is actually more likely to succeed (eg. Plankton's Regular).
    • Can happen to Spongebob himself, especially in episodes where he goes up against Squidward. He may be a Jerkass, but Squidward is also the show's Only Sane Man, Chew Toy, Butt Monkey, and Deadpan Snarker, so he gets sympathy from a lot of fans compared to the obnoxious, inane, callous, and occasionally sociopathic title character. It's different in episodes where Squidward picks on or tricks Spongebob, but often his motivation is just to avoid him and be left alone. Imagine if you had a neighbor like Spongebob, and this becomes a rather understandable desire.
  • Batman the Animated Series had Mr. Freeze. More than a few fans wanted him to save his wife. Unfortunately it essentially involves killing someone else.
    • In a world populated by guys like the Joker, Bane, Firefly... lets just say he didn't think broadly enough.
  • X-Men Evolution: the original Brotherhood members just don't come off as evil to many fans. An adult Storm frying a fairly pathetic, bullied teenager Toad only makes him look more pitiable. The Brotherhood are constantly being abandoned or dumped on by their adult allies Mystique and Magneto. Avalanche/Kitty Pryde (Lancitty) is one of the most popular canon pairings of the show.
    • in this version the Brotherhood are just the "Bad" in a The Good, the Bad, and The Evil situation, so a certain degree of sympathy goes with the territory.
    • This may be because they were not intended to be evil, considering that the "of Evil" part of the "Brotherhood of Evil" as they were known in the comics was dropped.
    • Though the Brotherhood does do a number of considerably heinous acts. Such as Avalanche destroying his school, possibly killing hundreds of students, or Pietro abandoning a run away train to crash into a tanker train full of fuel. They only get some Pet the Dog Moments. It was a Grey/Gray morality situation as the Brotherhood were total jerks at most times but were so pathetic it became funny or sympathetic, while the X-Men were entirely good, but only human teenagers who were still capable of acting as such.
  • A great deal of Invader Zim fans sympathize with the Villain Protagonist's goal of conquering the Earth. Some of this sympathy even extends to the Irken Empire at large, albeit less so.

 GIR: [watching a sci-fi movie on TV] Hooray for Earth!

Zim: No GIR, Earth is the enemy.

GIR: I understand...

Zim: Stupid human propaganda...

    • At least some of the support of Zim is due to the humans of the series being, for the most part, Too Dumb to Live, and well deserving of being conquered and/or wiped out.
  • There were a few Kim Possible fans that at least want Shego to actually beat Kim whenever they have a confrontation as they find it a bit too much to swallow that Shego keeps being defeated by a teenage spy who shouldn't have been able to take on a superpowered foe hand to hand. Which explains why you have fanfics that say Shego purposely held back in each confrontation they had. For various reasons.
  • The Venture Brothers. Daddy Venture commonly forgets about everyone and everything important to him. Anything halfway decent he horribly abuses. The villain, the Monarch, cares about his named henchmen, cares about the emotional health of his prisoners and participates in the 'Scared Straight' program when he spent time in the slammer. If it wasn't for the Monarch's occasional efforts to outright rip apart the Ventures, it'd be hard to tell who was the villain.
    • Lampshaded at one point when Dr. Venture is groomed to be a villain, and shown to be a better potential villain than heroic Super Scientist.
  • The Urpneys in The Dreamstone due to the extremely overwhelming Sympathetic POV, and the fact so few of them are genuinely malicious outside serving Zordrak out of fear (who himself seems interested solely in giving people nightmares). The fact they are usually more complex and amusing characters than the sickly sweet Land Of Dreams doesn't help.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom, some fans root for the Fire Nation out of the opinion they're the best candidate to advance technology and bring 'progress' to the world. These fans also believe that the Avatar himself is a symbol of outdated superstitions and supernatural forces holding back humanity from its true potential, and that the 'Balance' the heroes are fighting to restore is merely the forced stagnation of civilization. As for the millions of people killed or enslaved by the Fire Nation, and the millions more that they're planning to exterminate along with their native cultures, that's a small price to pay for a one-world government and an industrial revolution.
    • Furthermore, the bad guys (some of them anyway--Zuko, Iroh, Ty Lee, and Mai) are presented as very sympathetic and somewhat ambiguous. In Zuko's case, it's mostly because when he's at his evilest, he's also at his most Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain; in Iroh and Ty Lee's cases, they're just so adorable you can't dislike them! Also, some root for Azula not because of sympathy, which she only garners at the very end, but because she's just so good at being bad.
    • It helps that the people of the Fire Nation aren't portrayed as universally evil, but as a group as multidimensional as any of the others. Sure some of them took the Evil Overlord's propaganda to heart, but one look at anyone else in the Fire Nation and you'll see that they're not all like that. This was one of the aesops of the series!
    • It should be noted that, as of The Legend of Korra, the eventual defeat of the Fire Nation has been revealed to have led to... another industrial revolution that this time spread prosperity to other countries, without any war and oppression required (and in The Last Airbender, it's shown that the machinists were the ones who gave the Fire Nation a large chunk of their new technology).
  • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra fandom, some fans support the Equalists striping all benders of their abilities as the only way to put all people on a level playing field and end the oppression of non-benders, even if the benders themselves don't consent to the procedure. Debates on whether or not bending is an intrinsic part of a person and the show's civilization/culture, and if what the Equalists are attempting is a fantastical form of mutilation or not, can get quite heated. The show itself is a bit grey on the issue, showing that some benders can be oppressive but also portraying the process of benders being unwillingly striped of their powers as analogous to rape. It gets much easier to call them bad guys after episode 6, where They bomb the pro-bending arena and in episode 7 where they attack innocent civilians and kidnap the metal bending police. Complicating matters is the fact that some corrupt benders namely representative Tarrlok feel that rounding up all non-bending individuals, Equalist or not, and imprisoning them, is a perfect way to neutralize the threat.
  • There were some people rooting for Discord when he showed up in the first episode of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic season 2. It didn't hurt that he was voiced by John de Lancie (or Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation). Hence, pieces of art like this.
    • Another, even more popular version of this can be found in the New Lunar Republic - a LARGE group of fans who resent the reign of supposed "tyrant" Celestia and would rather Luna take the throne. Alright, so Luna is ultimately good (if only a little impulsive), so they are at least somewhat justified. Those who flat out rooted for Nightmare Moon... less so.

Notes

  1. completely ignoring the fact that he had over an hour to find a way to avoid them and the ability to turn invisible
  2. Actually, the fact that the Phyrexians are the most abhorrent beings to have ever lived might be why they're so popular.
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