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"You can't have heroes and villains when the wrong side is making the best sense."

An author sets up a Straw Character, or some other kind of straw-man argument. The author attempts to demolish said man of straw. And then, sometimes later, sometimes right away, the reader realizes that the strawman has a point; that is, the straw-man argument is not as weak as the author intended it to be, sometimes to the point of being better than the "correct" argument.

This may be caused by Creator Provincialism, Not Doing the Research, or just plain bad writing. It has also been known to result from Values Dissonance, in the case of works written in a culture/era different from that of the audience (e.g. "strawman" arguments against things like racism), or from the audience and the work falling at very different places on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism (see example from which the Ebert page quote was drawn, but also almost any instance where a work promotes love, faith, emotion, etc. over logic and depicts the logicians as "the bad guys").

For those who are wondering "Is a straw man with a good argument still a straw man?", the answer is "Usually." The point in question is presented as bad, the audience is supposed to see it as bad, but the writer failed to consider that it might be a lot more reasonable than it's actually depicted. The straw man can still have stereotypical, oversimplified arguments, they're simply more convincing than the author wanted them to be. If gone too far, it can result in actively rooting for the bad guys over the good.

Occasionally, it happens in a reverse manner when the side the author intended to be right loses credibility because their own arguing techniques or methods are worse than they intended. This is especially common in depictions of hearings/legal proceedings, where the "hero" talks out of turn, refuses to obey decorum or consider the validity of the other side, makes logically-fallacious arguments that appeal to emotion and in general insists that their point is so important they can screw whatever rules or procedures they regard as a hindrance to getting their point across.

And sometimes the author did in fact do their work on their opponent's position and presented the opposite viewpoint in a favorable light... then failed to present a similar argument for the side they supported, usually because they thought that their position was a priori right and/or didn't need much explaining. This has the side effect of creating a reverse strawman (ironman?). Death of the Author or Word of God on what the moral was supposed to be usually reveals this. Machiavelli's The Prince is the textbook example of this, though he might have just been penning satire.

In rare cases this can be a deliberate choice and the author might confirm after the fact that the audience was indeed meant to see the words of the straw man as having a grain of truth. When applied to old works, it can at times be the result of viewers Flanderizing a character in retrospect due to Values Dissonance.

Note: This trope is in play only when there is an actual Strawman involved, ie the argument is presented as completely wrong despite realistic arguments in the other direction. The argument may be simply weak or suggests a Slippery Slope Fallacy without actually being strawman. It does not require that the character be flat, a Villain or the underlying issues to be completely black and white. An antagonist may have sympathetic motives and sound arguments to explain their reasons to make the audience think about which side is right or wrong, which only hits this trope when they kill the debate by Jumping Off the Slippery Slope (e.g. in Act Two, learning that not only do they want to register all mutants, but they also want to kill them). If two characters are arguing but both the arguments and the characters are presented as having their pros and cons, it isn't this trope. If the Straw Man character espouses a good point but either doesn't actually subscribe to it, or is using it to manipulate the people around them, see Hypocrite and Manipulative Bastard.

If the Strawman's points are taken up by fans, while conveniently ignoring canonical evidence and arguments against it, there is much potential for Draco in Leather Pants.

Contrast Jerkass Has a Point and Dumbass Has a Point, where the author deliberately has a non-credible character hit the nail on the head to make a point about something being so true that the Jerk Jock or The Ditz has to come and point it out. Compare Misaimed Fandom, which results when the bad guy really is wrong but the fandom misinterprets them as having validity. Some of these Strawmen may also qualify as a Designated Villain.

See also: Informed Wrongness, No Mere Windmill, Alternative Character Interpretation, Do Not Do This Cool Thing, Broken Aesop. Has some similarities to Affectionate Parody, if you think about it.

No Real Life Examples, Please

Examples of Strawman Has a Point include:


Advertising

  • A commercial for Kleenex paper towels (in a tissue-like box and not on a roll) uses a split screen shot of a cloth hand towel and a box of their paper towels, and shows people pulling out towel after towel, and reusing the cloth towel. The implication is that the cloth towel is dirty and gross... but it really ends up making the paper towels look wasteful and environmentally unsound.
  • A Russian ad against draft-dodging shows a guy playing videogames all day long in his mother's house[1] while a masculine voice narrates how not joining the army will make you less cool. And if that's not enough, the ad ends with the guy's mother saying:

 Mother: Why does he need to join the army anyway? He's a nice guy, he's got a better purpose than that!

  • This trope led to one of the biggest advertising mishaps ever: "An unfair comparison between the Mustang and the Javelin." In this 1968 magazine ad, American Motors proudly compared their new Javelin to the Ford Mustang. Aside glossy photos of both cars, the sparse ad copy stressed laughably petty things like "the Mustang's thin blade bumpers don't photograph well" and "our Javelin lists for no more than the Mustang." And the Mustang just plain looked better. To make matters worse, AMC ran the same ad for their Ambassador (vs. the Rolls-Royce), the Rambler (vs. the popular Volkswagen bug), and two other cars. So not only did AMC spend millions of dollars on slick, effective ads that made their competitors' cars look better, they did so to their entire product line. See the Javelin ad here.


Anime & Manga

  • Chapter 48 of Bakuman。 . Granted, it may be a case of extreme Values Dissonance, but you'd think of an editor-in-chief's decision to put a manga on hiatus as the smart, logical, sane, and responsible thing to do when one of the teenage authors has been hospitalized due to overworking and that the doctors said that it could worsen to the point of being terminal if the kid didn't get some adequate rest. Not to mention that the kid's mangaka uncle practically died from the same thing himself. Yet the editor-in-chief and the staff's decision is thoroughly put down by several other characters in the manga as a stupid decision, even by some of the editors in his staff. To the point where they actively try to undermine it by threatening a boycott. Even the argument that the decision was made due to an overreaction caused by the aforementioned uncle's death making the magazine worried about having another person from the same family line suffer the fate doesn't change the fact that the decision makes sense.
  • Code Breaker takes this Up to Eleven. Ogami is constantly chewed out by Sakura for being a ruthless killer who shows no mercy, in order to ram in the lesson that killing is always wrong and impossible to justify. However, this is completely undermined by the fact that the majority of people Ogami kills are Asshole Victims who couldn't have been dealt with any other way, and killing them ensured that no more innocent people will suffer because of them. Making matters even worse is that Ogami is well-aware he isn't a particularly good person and admits as much multiple times. It gets to the point where Sakura comes off as the strawman instead, since for all her preaching about how killing is evil, she also never suggests any alternatives, and rarely does anything to stop Ogami from killing, despite supposedly being an expert martial artist who's immune to supernatural powers, almost as though some part of her knows it's them or the killers but she's too stubborn to admit it. So, despite the series' attempts to portray her as an All-Loving Heroine, she instead comes off as an arrogant, shallow and highly judgemental idiot who's trying to force her childish beliefs on this guy she barely knows.
  • In Code Geass, Suzaku and Lelouch call out the head of the Japanese Government in Exile for retreating to China when Britannia invaded rather than staying to fight. He protests that retreating and building one's forces is a perfectly valid tactic, and, well, it is. In fact, it's not all that different to Lelouch's own actions prior to the start of the series. Lelouch does the exact same thing in the next season. Of course, the real reason Lelouch is opposing him is because if he wins, Japan will just be a puppet of the Chinese Federation, so it's more of a downplayed case.
  • Kaze no Stigma: Kazuma is constantly portrayed as being in the wrong for his cold attitude towards the Kannagi family, especially by Ayano. What this fails to take into account, however, is that these are the same people who treated him like crap his whole life just for not being able to control fire and ultimately disowned him when he failed them one too many times. It hardly takes a genius to see that today's society has No Sympathy for Grudgeholders but the simple truth is that Kazuma has no reason to forgive the Kannagis, especially since, as shown in the first episode, most of them aren't the least bit sorry for how they treated him- in fact, they claim it was his fault for being weak.
  • Naruto has several cases:
    • The Leaf Village's elders' decision of keeping Naruto on the Toad Mountain during Pain's attack to the village was portrayed as unequivocally wrong, and Tsunade's outburst and calling them out for their lack of faith in Naruto (and in the anime, subsequent lecture to them about believing) was put as the right position. However, the elders' decision was not entirely unreasonable, as the target of the attack was known to be Naruto himself, and there was no guarantee at the time that Naruto could beat Pain (a villain who had already killed Naruto's master, Jiraiya). And then they were proven utterly right when Pain kicked the crap out of Naruto, who was saved only by a timely intervention by Hinata. The anime even retconned the decision as being shown to be influenced by Danzo, adding more fuel to the discussion of Danzo's motives. Interestingly, in later arcs: the Kages make the same conclusion of hiding both Naruto and Killer Bee to keep them safe during the war, with only Tsunade and the Tsuchikage objecting to it, and it's Gaara who shoots down Tsunade's argument of putting Naruto on the frontlines.
    • The Raikage is painted as a stubborn-headed git for refusing to forgive and rescind the 'kill on sight' order of Sasuke for the suspected murder of his brother. The manga tries to make it so that the Raikage's desire for revenge is clouding his personal judgment to the point where he's willing to start a Cycle of Revenge, but the fact remains that A) Sasuke is still at large, working for a terrorist organization, B) Raikage's brother and other such targets hold the equivalent of a WMD, C) Raikage isn't the only person who wants Sasuke's head.
    • The whole argument of a Cycle of Revenge as consequence falls apart when considering that Sasuke just started it by making an unprovoked attack on the Cloud Village. The Raikage even makes the perfectly valid point to Naruto of: "I'm going to kill Sasuke, it will be up to you that it ends there!"
    • Danzo himself is a rather textbook Well-Intentioned Extremist who's generally portrayed in a negative light because he is in opposition to the main characters. He's put in a situation where a neutral, rational head of an international alliance would have put him in charge if he wasn't so busy making sure he was put in charge. Immediately after this, he gets caught in a fight with Sasuke, and the reader is shown that he was pretty much right all along, he was just a dick about it.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, the Koorime are made to appear to us as heartless bitches who would willingly condemn a child to death just because his mother made him with someone from a different race (albeit a demon) and he looks "a little" creepy at birth. Even his sister, by far the purest creature from the series, thinks their whole kind deserves to be killed for what they did to her, her mother, and her brother. The problem is, their point is completely valid. All the male offspring so far have killed many Koorime, who can only reproduce at intervals of over a century. And Hiei was only saved from staying a Complete Monster by The Power of Friendship.
  • In Black Cat, Baldor's desire to murder Kyoko after her Heel Face Turn is supposed to be a sign of how demented he is, which will make us root all the more when Train fights him and his partner, Kranz, to save her. Problem is, Kyoko, pre Heel Face Turn, was not only a member of a group determined to plunge the world into chaos, but a Psycho for Hire who enjoyed burning people alive from the inside out, while kissing them. On top of that, her switching sides is motivated, not by the realization that what she's doing is wrong, but from fear of Big Bad Creed, and a crush on Train. End result, Baldor comes off looking far more reasonable than he ever should when he recommends they just kill her. Happens again when one of the heroes tells him that just murdering your enemies is wrong. Cue one of the enemies she'd just spared blowing himself up to try and kill her. Baldor's maniacal laughter ends up being less Kick the Dog, and more "told ya."
  • Pokémon has Paul. Created as a Straw Fan to the "Stop Having Fun!" Guys of the game franchise of the same name, he was an all-around Jerkass who abused his mons and disrespected everyone that didn't battle like him. On paper, this could've made a good Take That, Audience!; too bad that he almost always wipes the floor with everyone he battles, including Ash, and other trainers praise his skills despite his abusiveness.
  • A real thinker in Rurouni Kenshin. The central Aesop of the series circulates around Redemption Equals Life, Everybody Lives, and Forgiveness, and main character Himura Kenshin breathes this philosophy in order to atone for his past crimes. However, Kenshin's rival, Saito Haijime, deconstructs Kenshin's no-kill philosophy, stating that by allowing his enemies - who are usually Ax Crazy, sociopathic Card-Carrying Villains - to live, he endangers more lives than he saves. And this has happened. Many times throughout the series, Kenshin's friends and loved ones have been at the mercy of villains he previously spared, and have only managed to survive through sheer dumb luck.
  • In Freezing, Scarlett Oohara is portrayed as being wrong for wanting to turn ordinary girls into artificial Pandoras to fight the Novas which plague humanity. The argument is that there is no point making civilians fight the battles when they're supposed to be the ones being protected, and that humans shouldn't try to reach for more than they have. Never mind that natural Pandoras are getting killed off faster than they can be born and that the current system is plenty cruel enough in that if you're born with the potential to become a Pandora, you have no other choice but to be one. Giving one a choice would be a huge benefit. Not to mention that Dr. Aoi Gendo, Oohara's main opposition, is okay with the Limiter system, which sends plenty of willing, once-civilian boys into the battlefield. Scarlett's point is then undermined since the E-Pandora project was never really meant to succeed in the first place. It was merely a publicity stunt to buy time for the Type Maria project. The girls who suffered and died because of the E-Pandora project did so for nothing.


Comic Books

  • Jack Chick has works that are afflicted with this trope:
    • His Gun Slinger tract assumes that the amount of sin you commit in your life has nothing to do with salvation, because everyone sins at least a little bit, and no one with sin can get admission to heaven. To show this point, it depicts a hardened criminal who repents just before he is executed and gets saved, while the good-natured lawman is condemned to hell because he never thought he needed to repent. It's quite easy to side with the lawman and see him as having been judged far too harshly for what amounts to a petty technicality.
    • Similarly, Flight 144 features a pair of elderly missionaries who die in a plane crash and are sent to Hell, while their seatmate, an ex-con, goes to Heaven. The story is an attempt to demonstrate how it is faith, not good works, that save a person; BUT the reader is much more likely to empathize with the sweet, kind missionaries who devoted their lives to serving the less fortunate.
    • In the tract Somebody Goofed as well as the "edited for black audiences" version Oops!, a man named Bobby overdoses on speed and as his friends and family are gathered around a Christian shows up to tell them all about how Bobby is burning in Hell right now. When another man shows up to stop him we're supposed to side with the Christian. Of course, whether the Christian is right or not, moments after the death of a loved one is usually not the best time to preach to people, making the other man totally justified in trying to shut him up. Less justified, but still understandable is when he physically assaults the Christian.
    • There are many tracts in which straw characters label the people that push Chick's views as "fundamentalist fanatics" or "religious nuts", a perfectly valid description for them.
    • In several Creationist Anti-Evolution tracts, an Author Avatar "defeats" the arguments of a science person with long refuted arguments that even other Creationists advise not using.
  • X-Men:
    • Robert Kelly's arguments (such as comparing mutant registration to gun control) actually made sense to some readers and viewers. Then they turned an otherwise logical argument into an Anvilicious allegory to McCarthyism when they had the senator hold up a "list of names of identified mutants", shifting the argument from "Some mutants are dangerous" to "All mutants are dangerous". Of course, once the killer mutant-seeking robots come in (and they always do), it seems clear that Kelly is Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, even if his arguments do have a grain of truth to them.
    • In The Movie, Kelly specifically mentions a girl who can walk through walls, and asks "What's to stop her from walking right into a bank vault -- or the White House?" In the very next movie, a Brainwashed and Crazy Nightcrawler is able to teleport into the White House and kick the Secret Service's collective ass, proving Kelly right. Of course, Professor Xavier's point (in all versions) is that mutants need to be trained to use their powers responsibly, and that treating innocent mutants who have done nothing criminal as requiring surveillance is counter-productive, the more moderate (and since he's a main character, the one we're supposed to see as "correct") response. According to the director's commentary, this degree of ambiguity was completely intentional.
    • Sometimes the point for Senator Kelly is intentional, showing that it stems from a genuine concern about safety for normal humans. These stories usually contrast him with Graydon Creed, who's just an outright bigot.
  • The whole Marvel Civil War arc had this problem.
    • It was supposed to be a nuanced exploration of whether or not compulsory registration for superheroes was necessary to curb catastrophic mistakes and potential abuses of power. Both sides were supposed to have valid points (but supposedly supporting the Pro-Registration overall). Unfortunately, due to insufficient coordination between the writing teams of different books (as well as a serious difference in the skills of the writing teams - the anti-reg side got J. Michael Straczynski), Mark Millar failed at making readers sympathize with the pro-registration side and both sides ended up looking like straw men, with the pro-registration side looking particularly monstrous. For starters, the SHRA criminalized the act of apprehending a criminal when you yourself are an average citizen, as well as SHIELD trying to arrest Captain America for refusing to join the pro-reg side, before it was actually signed into law. To make matters worse, the actual specifics of registration varied from book to book:
    • In pro-reg books, registration was treated as a prerequisite to a superhero being a crime=fighter. Supers were given the option of not using their powers, getting trained in using them properly and to establish that they were not a threat to themselves or others, and going to prison. If they did not want to fight crime after they were finished being trained, then they didn't have to, and there was no indication that they would be forced. It was just shown that a lot of people chose to fight crime because they had made friends with their fellow trainees and they felt like they should use their powers for good. However, the pro-registration side was still not sympathetic because Tony Stark and Mr. Fantastic were portrayed as being jerks, who felt like they knew what was best, as well as committing some blatant war crimes. But they were making excellent points throughout and if Mr. Fantastic's math can be believed, it was the lesser of a few evils.
    • In anti-reg books, SHIELD forcibly conscripted anyone who happened to have any kind of superpowers whether they wanted to fight crime or not, and the pro-reg heroes were Well Intentioned Extremists. When Luke Cage, Hero for Hire said he just was going to not use his powers and stay out of it, armed gunmen showed up at his door on midnight of the day the act went into effect. In Avengers: The Initiative, kids recruited were told that they either join the initiative, get their powers taken, or go to jail. Cloud 9, whose power was a little cloud that could make her fly, was recruited, turned into a sniper and sent to killing missions, even though she never wanted to use her power for crime fighting. In addition, Stark orchestrated an attack on Black Panther, foreign chief of state, because his wife (who had diplomatic immunity) refused to sign up. It was quite clearly a case of "work for us or else".
    • There is also Sally Floyd, the straw news reporter who argued to Captain America that the ideals he represents had already died a long, long time before he did. Though it doesn't bode well for Cap, it may very well be a case of sad but true.
  • The first comic appearance of Alejandro Montoya/El Aguila (Marvel) has the hero returning to his home village and being attacked by random villain El Conquistador for being "the shame of Spain". Consider El Aguila has just mysteriously returned from (fled?) New York after living there for decades and constantly wears a rather ridiculous bright red and black Zorro-esque suit. Well...
  • Rorschach from Watchmen is pretty much built on this. The reader first sides with him, as in a grim and gritty world where crime is unstoppable, isn't evil stark black and good shining white? Next to Rorschach's absolute refusal to compromise, and his cathartic attacks on criminals, the rest of the morally conflicted Watchmen pale in comparison. But while certainly memorable and fun to read about, he's still a violent, ineffectual, anti-intellectual, homophobic, hypocritically mooching, misogynistic, self-righteous hobo. He basically self-destructs because he can't deal with moral complexity above the level of a small child: compare his childhood essay on why bombing Hiroshima was a good thing with his reaction to Adrian Veidt's use of a similar act of mass destruction to ensure world peace -- he can't see in shades of gray, which makes him into a hypocrite when he has to deal with real human suffering and the complexity of actions on the global scale. Even those who see him to an extent as Moore intended can favor his belief in telling people the truth, rather than manipulating them and leaving them ignorant. Strawman Kind Of Has A Point (even if on the whole he's not a character to "root for").
  • In Green Lantern: Rebirth, the fact that Batman immediately doesn't believe in Hal Jordan (for reference, the story retcons Hal's Face Heel Turn into the villain "Parallax" as being the result of an alien fear entity named "Parallax" possessing him) and won't let him lead the charge against Parallax is supposed to be indicative of his mistrustfulness and paranoia. The reader is supposed to cheer when Hal punches him out. But if you think about how in his former time as an Omnicidal Maniac, Hal!Parallax showed no signs of being anything other than Hal Jordan-turned-evil, it seemed very reasonable of him to not put so much faith in him, especially given that there was no proof that Hal's intentions were benevolent except his own word.
  • Kingdom Come deliberately invokes this as part of its Deconstruction of both the Dark Age of comics and of the Anti-Hero comicbook character (particularly the Nineties Anti-Hero). At one point, one of the "newbloods" calls out Superman to argue the logic that their brand of "lethal justice" has saved lives, thanks to their willingness to kill Complete Monsters like Ra's Al Ghul (semi-immortal ecoterrorist who plans to exterminate much of humanity for the planet's sake) and Cosmic Horrors like Eclipso. While the new "heroes" are clearly reprehensible, vile, and just plain wrong, the reader is almost certain to find themself agreeing that there are some criminals who should be taken down permanently, rather than being given relatively light sentences. Notably, the story really begins after Superman self-exiles himself due to the public support for Magog killing The Joker, who had just killed several hundred people in The Daily Planet Building, the icing on a cake of murder, torture, and madness spanning several years in the series.
  • From the Silver Age: Action Comics #176 Muscles For Money, where Superman decides to start charging money to save people. While it's certainly true that Superman was doing some reprehensible things (charging insane amounts, forcing people to sign contracts before he'll save their lives, etc) the primary argument seems to be that Superman doesn't deserve any sort of reward for the good he does. The worst part is when Superman politely requests the $10,000 reward for two criminals he brought in only to have everyone declare him a money-grubber for it, despite the fact that this is a reward the police themselves had offered and which anyone else besides Superman would have been given happily.
  • Batman's Jason Todd (the second Robin, who was murdered by the Joker), following his revival, goes on a violent crusade on crime and becomes convinced that the only true way to defeat crime is by controlling it and killing any villain instead of simply arresting them. While his methods are definitely brutal, he still raises a good point on the naivety behind the idea that someone like Joker can continue to walk the earth even though he'll continue to kill countless people. While he is a typical strawman in the sense that any hero willing to kill is portrayed as a total psychopath, his comments about the Joker are portrayed fairly. Jason challenges Batman, asking him how he could have any justifiable reason for letting the Joker live. In a significant variation to how most writers approach the issue, Batman tells him that it's not a matter of it being too hard; rather, he won't kill him because it'd be too easy. He really wants to kill Joker, but he's scared that he won't be able to stop with just him. Jason points out the slippery slope nature of that argument, asking why heroes always say "there's no going back". He's not asking him to kill regular criminals, or even any other supervillains. He just wants him to kill the Joker, an unrepentant mass murderer who's far beyond redemption and personally killed Jason himself. Batman can give no other answer than a solemn apology.
  • Batman himself in "Tower of Babel" story arc and it's film counterpart with his contingency plans for rogue League members. He even gives us this comment when the League calls him out on it.

 Batman: "My actions don't require any defense. In the same situation, I'd do it again. As individuals, and even more so as a group, the Justice League is far too dangerous to lack a failsafe against any misuse of our power. If you people can't see the potential danger of an out-of-control Justice League, I don't need to hear a vote. I don't belong here."

  • Red Sonja - She-Devil with a sword" #1-7 has the Borat-Na-Fori religion, which practices human sacrifice. The Celestial, the antagonist, and some sort of strawman for organized religion, points out that his religion is the only thing keeping the entire realm from plunging into barbarism, and that Sonja is only going to make things worse by bringing him down. Turns out that he is absolutely right. At best, the moral of the story is that the Mexican Indians had it coming.
  • Magnus, Robot Fighter eventually ascended the straw point -- the hero accepted that the robots' reasons for rebellion were basically sound, and tried to arrange a peace. And then it descended it again (or possibly just applied He Who Fights Monsters), and Magnus even destroyed robots that weren't rebellious.


Fan Fiction

  • When Diana Gabaldon declared war on fanfic in 2010, one of her supporters posted the following summation of the dispute:

 Diana: The thought of my characters used pornographically disgusts me.

FaFic {{[[[You Make Me Sic]] sic}}] Apologists: Well YOU have them get raped and abused and they have LOTS of sex.

  • Edfred of Naruto Veangance Revelaitons complains about the protagonist's misbehavior in his shop, which includes viciously assaulting him on several occasions, but the author expects us to view him as unreasonable and mean.
  • In the Dragon Age II fanfic "Magic's Blade" by TheNuttyAuthor, there are Maric Penderghast, and Feynriel, who is taken in by Hector Hawke (the protagonist). Feynriel argues that people should be free to do what they want without consequences, and that Hector shouldn't be telling him what to do even if it is what Hector feels is best for him. The author intends for the reader to feel exasperated with Feynriel and side with Hector, but some readers might believe that Feynriel is in the right. Likewise, with Maric, he is set up as an extreme contrast to Hector Hawke, the rough-around-the-edges swordsman Straight Gay -- in comparison, Maric is far more Bishonen, and wears clothing that would be deemed "cool" in other media. The fact that Maric constantly spouts pro-homosexuality, extremely misogynistic, and anti-Chantry/pro-Old Gods views in his appearances and has two companions who are often considered "cooler" than the canon ones may earn him audience sympathy. The author intended for the readers to despise Maric for being a spoiled, stuck-up brat, but for many readers he's a gay Bishonen who wants to break up Carver and Merrill and make sure that he and Carver are paired up together forever. The idea of Carver/Maric leading to true love may cause the readers to sympathize far more with Maric than Merrill (despite Carver/Merrill being stated by the author to be a pairing in Magic's Blade.)
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender webcomic How I Became Yours, Mai hides letters from Katara to Zuko telling him that she's pregnant. When confronted by Zuko, she gives a reason that does make sense: She wants to prevent a possible civil war coming from all the succession problems that the existence of a bastard child of the Fire Lord would bring. (And not to mention, well, Zuko impregnated Katara when he already was married to Mai). However, since this is Mai and she is Katara's love rival for Zuko, she's presented as a petty and clingy Designated Villain who does this only out of bitterness and jealousy... and we're supposed to side with Zuko when, in response to her rant, he humiliates and beats her before abandoning his war-torn nation to run away with his babymama.
  • About two-thirds of the way through Dumbledores Army and The Year of Darkness, Zacharias Smith decides to leave the DA. When he does so, he explains that the DA is sounding more and more like a martyrdom cult with each passing day, and the focus of the group has changed from "Resist the Death Eaters" to "Die heroically". The DA counterargument is... to agree with every word he says and ask, "What's the problem with that?" Bear in mind that all of the members of Dumbledore's Army are teenagers, and Zacharias Smith (who was a strawman in canon!) suddenly becomes the Only Sane Man.
  • In Hogwarts Exposed, the Obviously Evil school bully Dick rants about what an idiot Jamie is for diving into the freezing lake to rescue a child's doll. He's right, because however much sentimental value a doll has it's not worth drowning or freezing to death over, especially as she could just have said "Accio doll" and had done with it.
  • The so-called villains in The Conversion Bureau see ponies as a threat to mankind - and given that the ponies' goal is to remove all of humanity and make them conform, they're absolutely right.


Film -- Animated


Film -- Live Action

  • A Lifetime Movie of the Week that was attempting to preach a Gay Aesop ended with a mother crying over her son, wondering "where did I go wrong?" However, what she was crying about wasn't that her son was gay, it's what he was doing. Firstly, he was having a lot of one night stands with men he barely knew after finding a gay bar. Secondly, he had to keep lying to his parents and his girlfriend about where he was going, what he was doing, and why he was doing it. Naturally, he shows no remorse about any of this. The mother even makes it clear she thinks he's ruining his life, but the movie still expects us to hate her for trying to convince him to not throw his life away. While you're supposed to sympathize with the gay son, he comes across as such an unrepentant Jerkass that it's impossible to feel sorry for him.
  • Patch Adams:
    • While reviewing, Ebert and Siskel agreed with the film's strawman villains. Yes, they were shown insisting on being professional at all times, which apparently includes things such as flatly telling someone they had a few weeks to live and then heading off to complete your rounds without another word, Ebert and Siskel said they would run if they got a wacky doctor like Robin Williams' character. The option of having a reasonable amount of bedside manner without going overboard is never offered. This is a bit of Viewers Are Geniuses - on their face, the traditional doctors seem reasonable.
    • Also, Patch's roommate is supposed to be a Jerkass Straw Vulcan whose hostility is motivated by his frustration over Patch's subversive antics. When Patch calls him out after he turns Patch in for suspected cheating, the roommate points out that he's seen how little studying Patch actually gets done and asks how Patch still manages to get such high marks. The viewer has yet to see Patch do much studying either, so it seems primed for Patch to defend himself with a recitation of some medical jargon or explain how he's got Photographic Memory and doesn't need to study or something. Instead, Patch launches into another speech attacking the roommate for being a Jerkass, and the viewer is left to assume Patch wears his smart hat offscreen because he's the protagonist, so he couldn't possibly be cheating to excel in an academic system he has such little regard for.
    • One line by Adams about how "it's not like getting involved with your patients causes you to explode" completely destroys the movie's moral when one character getting involved with a shady patient causes them to be shot in the head. Adams's methods directly caused a main character to die, but we're not supposed to notice that.
  • Ebert's review of The Life of David Gale, which is a different type of this trope: the movie's central characters go so ridiculously far to show that their position is right, you can't help but be disgusted with them.
  • In Cape Fear, Bowden gets the chief of police to try to drive Cady out of town before Cady has done anything illegal. Cady hires a lawyer who is portrayed as fussy and over-liberal, but who makes the entirely legitimate point that Cady is being harassed for no reason. Of course, Cady does not stay innocent for long.
  • In Look Who's Talking Too, the mooching brother-in-law is essentially a strawman for everything that is not a Proper New York City Attitude, including the fact that he has a gun. However, it's a little difficult to argue with one of his rationalizations for having it:

 "You know, you people really amuse me, stockpiling your canned food and your water in case of disaster. But when the shit really hits the fan and you're sitting over here with your stuff, and the guy next door has a gun, who do you think's gonna go hungry? Him, or you?"

    • Notable is that John Travolta's character doesn't even try to refute this. He just gives an exasperated yell, apparently the audience is expected to automatically share his frustration.
  • In the Killer Bee movie The Swarm, Michael Caine's character, Dr Bradford Crane, is clearly supposed to be the hero and Richard Widmark's General Slater the villain. The trouble is that all of the schemes for dealing with the bees suggested by Slater all seem eminently sensible but are shot down by Crane on the grounds of the "environmental damage" (even after the bees have already blown up a nuclear reactor, killing upwards of 30,000 people) whilst none of Crane's schemes actually work until the end. On top of that, Crane defeats the swarm of bees by setting an oil slick on fire, even though that's not exactly great for the environment.
  • Contact:
    • It plays with this trope, with National Security Advisor Kitz being a Jerkass with very valid concerns, such as if the device meant to achieve Faster-Than-Light Travel is actually a Trojan Horse doomsday device. Given the themes the movie touches on, however, this trope is likely to have been deliberately incurred; in the book at least, it was definitely deliberate. Near the end, Kitz accuses Arroway and the other scientists of faking the events of the story, Arroway initially thinking he is in denial but comes to realize that from an outside perspective that is indeed how it must look. She eventually takes his offer to quietly look for evidence that would support her claims rather than making public accusations of a Government Conspiracy. On the other hand, he really is concealing convincing evidence (that the recorder had only static, but the length at least proved the time dilation effect was true).
    • Kitz does agree to give Arroway more money for research. Furthermore, in the film Kitz loses his temper at the congressional interview. That is not a sign of a person willing to consider dissent.
    • On the other other hand, Arroway herself is a Strawman With A Point (strangely, considering author Carl Sagan's point of view on the subject), as her arguments on the qualifications for the pilot of the machine are perfectly reasonable and is subsequently dismissed because of her anti-religion views.
  • Its a Wonderful Life: The tropes of Straw Man Has a Point and Inferred Holocaust overlap. Pottersville, for all its faults, has a thriving nightlife and a stable economy. Bedford Falls only has a moderate manufacturing economy, no obvious places to find excitement, and an oppressive lack of culture. Once the factory closes down Bedford Falls will suffer depression and unemployment. Pottersville has backup industries, such as the nightclubs, that can encourage outside investment.
  • The Mexican film Un Mundo Maravilloso (which was made as a leftist Take That to the liberal and free market economic policies of recent Mexican governments), has the Minister of Economy as the antagonist, and he is portrayed as an ignorant, insensitive and greedy dick who lives comfortably on a mansion while the protagonist (a homeless, jobless hobo) is shown sleeping in the streets; however, at one point of the film the minister is shown having a conversation with the protagonist, and he mentions that sometimes he would like to be "Just as free as you are". This is portrayed as another ignorant blather from his part, but when you consider that he, being the Minister of Economy, in reality has the tremendous responsibility of keeping the economy of an entire country smooth and running, and the fact that the hobo has practically zero responsibilities and commitments, it becomes hard to argue against that. In this case, the point is not that the minister had it worse than the hobo, but the notion that success always comes with responsibilities and commitment, the film doesn't dwell on that and even portrays the middle class (a more inspiring example) as the Butt Monkey.
  • The closest thing that 2012 has to a villain is Oliver Platt's heartless presidential adviser, who's an obvious Take That to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. However, after the fifth or sixth argument where his level-headed pragmatism is contrasted with the Honor Before Reason Save Everyone bleeding-heart attitude of the rest of the cast, you kind of have to wonder if maybe the writers didn't secretly agree with him. Some examples:
    • People act like Platt is a monster for not trying to save his own mother, but he points out that she's very old, very sick, and "would want to meet her Maker on her own terms".
    • Ejiofor complains that "only rich people" are being let onto the Arks, to which Platt responds that the money they spent buying tickets is what funded the Arks in the first place. (Well, that and snarking "Oh, you mean life isn't fair?!")
    • When Ejiofor wants to open up the Ark to save one more family, Platt chews him out for wanting to risk everyone's lives just for a slim chance of saving five or six more people.
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space. Eros. Would you allow an alien species to get their hands on a device that could blow up not only the world but the universe? Compare and contrast with Robert E Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still.
  • A frequent problem in Cowboy Cop type movies, particularly Dirty Harry, where the wishy-washy liberal superiors chastise Harry for his flagrant abuse of the rights of the suspect and ignorance of police procedure. But the thing is, they're right, and Harry would be a terrifyingly dangerous person in real life. This whole issue was deliberately acknowledged in the earlier film, Bullitt, where the superior turns out to be completely right: it's not good to be a loose cannon. Dirty Harry itself acknowledged this with the second movie, with the primary antagonists being a group of Cowboy Cops. It is instructive to note that despite all the other rules he breaks, Harry never actually killed anyone outside standard law enforcement rules of engagement.
    • Even in the first movie, Harry isn't portrayed as completely in the right. Everyone seems to forget (probably because the sequels retconned it) that at the end of the movie, he quits the force because things just don't work. Not to mention that the killer goes free because of Harry's misconduct: it's certainly not the case that Harry's methods get things done in spite of being unconventional and illegal.
  • In the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, various characters from the government and military are depicted as being callous, paranoid, and inhumane when they immediately imprison the injured alien visitor and attempt to interrogate him about what he's doing on Earth. Even though the viewers are supposed to be disgusted with their behavior, there's one minor problem; Klaatu is indeed planning to destroy the entire human race, taking all of a day and a couple interviews to verify it as the right course. The "inhumane" government officials were completely correct to treat him as an enemy.
    • Except, of course, he wasn't actually an enemy until they treated him as one. When you meet a civilization far more powerful than you (which should absolutely be your assumption when they aren't limited to a single planet's resources like you are) that has yet to act in a hostile manner, is it really very wise to abuse their ambassador?
  • In 28 Weeks Later, the American military eventually order the total execution of all non-military personnel in London, infected or not, rather than risk letting the newly-resurgent virus spread. American soldiers gun down hordes of frightened civilians who are obviously not yet infected, which is pretty horrifying. However, we also know that the virus completely wiped out Britain in a matter of weeks, so this extreme position does not seem so unreasonable. By the end, we learn that the heroes' successful escape from the mass execution has, in fact, allowed the virus to spread to the rest of the world and possibly doomed the human race. It's likely that the film always intended the heroes' position to seem somewhat dubious, albeit with good intentions.
  • Christmas with the Kranks expects the viewers to side with the neighbors who criminally harass the title characters for simply deciding to to celebrate Christmas by taking a cruise instead of how they usually did. Their daughter went off on a Peace Corps assignment and this is the first time in almost two decades that they've had this kind of time to themselves, except that the annual Christmas lights competition in which the neighborhood competes annually would count against them having a family out of town and not competing, and they couldn't have that. That's right, the entire plot of the movie is because the neighborhood wants some little certificate or maybe a trophy to put in Town Hall for a year. Makes you wonder how the film would expect them to react if, say, a Jewish or Muslim family moved into this neighborhood. The film was critically panned, with many critics pointing out the horrific Unfortunate Implications and arguing the message was downright vile.
  • In the film version of Sgt Bilko, the villain is a military higher-up who wants to run Bilko out of the Army for essentially running a team of Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters out of an American military base, and also for getting him blamed for a crime Bilko committed and getting the villain transferred to Alaska. Since this is actually a completely reasonable thing to do from any objective viewpoint, the villain is made to accomplish his goals through methods even more criminal and underhanded than Bilko's, in order to make sure he doesn't get the audience's sympathy.
  • In South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut, Sheila Broflowski initially has something of a point, which is actually illustrated in the early scenes of the movie. Just as she argues later, despite Terrence and Phillip: Asses of Fire being rated R, children still find ways to see it, and it actually does turn into a bad influence on them, Up to Eleven with Kenny, who accidentally kills himself imitating the movie (though it's a scene where a character kills himself setting a fart on fire). It's only once she becomes a Knight Templar and prompts other Moral Guardians to ban it (and, you know, start a war with Canada) instead of admit any responsibility over their children's actions, that she becomes a villain.
  • In The Incredible Hulk, General Ross is wrong because he's obsessed with weaponing the Hulk Out for an army of Super Soldiers. At one point, he says "As far as I'm concerned, that man's whole body is property of the US government". In a way, he's right: Banner tested the procedure on himself, and that automatically made him the government's responsibility, since the experiment was Backed by the Pentagon to begin with. Ideally, the solution would be to give Banner a place to relax and be humanely treated while they work on a cure/synthesize it. However, Banner is determined to prevent the Hulk from being weaponized, so he stays on the run until he finds a cure. Of course, Ross could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he hadn't lied to Banner about the project's purpose(radiation treatments instead of Super Soldiers) so he could recruit a known Technological Pacifist for such a project in the first place... except that he seems to believe that most scientists ARE Technological Pacifists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

 Ross: He's a SCIENTIST. He is NOT one of us.

  • In Easy Money, Rodney Dangerfield's wicked mother-in-law uses a substantial inheritance to basically blackmail Dangerfield into giving up the things he enjoys most -- smoking, drinking excessively, gambling (it is shown early on that he can't control his urge to go too far and blow his winnings) and doing drugs (which he hides in the bathroom he shares with his twelve year old daughter), and losing excess weight.... and probably adds healthy years to his life by doing it.... she is made out to be all bad by the way she mistreats the staff at the department store she owns -- but when Dangerfield shows up there with his friend, they both are mocking and abusive to all the staff they deal with.
  • In the made-for-TV movie Zenon: The Zequel, General Hammond (not that one) arrives to decommission the station, which was still suffering the after-effects of the sabotage in the previous film. His actions are seen by the main characters as evil. Here's what he really does: decommission an unstable space station before it falls to Earth, doing untold damage, attempt to apprehend a girl who thinks it's ok to smuggle aboard a shuttle, chase after spaceship thieves, and other actions perfectly in line with what any good soldier or policeman would do.
  • Lex Luthor in Superman Returns accuses Superman of selfishly withholding the advanced alien technology he inherited from his dad, so that the planet is forced to stay dependent on Superman. While he's probably wrong about Superman's motives, he has a point. Sharing, say, what Kryptonian science knows about medicine or space travel or producing food would probably save a lot more lives than individually putting out fires with super breath. Ultimately, however, Superman withholds the tech because he doesn't want it to be exploited by power-hungry despots like Luthor.
  • In Ferris Buellers Day Off, vice principal Ed Rooney is depicted as a Dean Bitterman-type who's seemingly trying to stop Ferris and his friends from having fun for no good reason. Except he does have good reason: it's his job to enforce school regulations, and Ferris has been breaking the regs by skipping school at least nine times before he hacks into the school computer to alter the records, and does so by blatantly exploiting the good will of everyone around him, including his parents. Yet, the movie turns the audience against him by having him go way too far in trying to catch Ferris; breaking into his house and assaulting his dog and having him act as though he's trying to catch Ferris out of spite instead of trying to enforce the rules.
  • Dean Wormer's point of view in Animal House is understandable -- no sane college administration would want the Deltas around, and the rest of the student body might well have been good and tired of their endless pranks, hell-raising and rule-breaking. The Deltas may have been Affably Evil, but evil they were nonetheless... a lot of the stunts they pulled would get people who tried them in Real Life tossed straight into jail. The fact that Wormer goes overboard ultimately justifies him being the villain.
  • In the hilariously Anvilicious and Narmy Lifetime Original Movie Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, the mother of the protagonist freaks and panics upon learning that her son is looking at Internet porn. The father is very unconcerned and doesn't think there is anything abnormal about a teenage boy looking at porn. We are expect to consider the father an oafish buffoon over this for some reason. We can argue all day about the morality of pornography, but it's not like people looking for dirty stuff on the internet is, you know, uncommon. We know that he is wrong because he is a) a male, b) disagreeing with a female, c) in a Lifetime Movie of the Week.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, two government agents angrily interrogate Indy after Russian spies kidnap him and an old partner of his, murder several American soldiers at a top secret test facility and make off with an alien corpse. Considering what just happened and that Indy's old partner was working with the Russians, the interrogation doesn't seem that unnecessary.
  • In Accepted, a high school senior rejected by every college ends up inventing one out of thin air. The thing spins out of control and becomes an actual, factual school set out of an old mental institution. The Dean Bitterman at the nearby traditional college wages an accreditation jihad against the upstart. The guy's a Jerkass, and the new school (with its emphasis on the students) is presented as a brave bastion of new educational methods. But as Dean Dick points out, the new place doesn't have a health center, more than one faculty member, or even a library. One doesn't have to be a crusty old academic to argue that a college should at least have a freaking library.
  • An extremely disturbing example of this occurs in the Saw series. In the first two movies, Jigsaw is shown as a psychotic (if somewhat atypical) Complete Monster who deserves no one's sympathy. However, some fans actually thought he had a point with his "those that don't appreciate their life don't deserve to live it" philosophy. In the sequels after II, he goes from Complete Monster to a Well-Intentioned Extremist and is portrayed in a much more sympathetic light, especially compared to the other villains in the series. By the time we get to Saw V, several characters actually say, outloud, "We deserve this". So, the movie makers saw that people were sympathizing with their psychotic character, and instead of discouraging it by making him more crazy, they encouraged it by making him less of a strawman. The end result is that many fans wind up thinking that the psychotic murderer is in the right... somehow...
  • The title character of Hitch makes some very valid points about continuing with one's life, adapting, and moving on after a relationship goes sour. He gets called out on this by one of his clients who outright calls him a coward for not chasing after one's love; granted, in the client's case, the breakup was because of a misunderstanding, but on Hitch's case there was a very clear and valid reason for it. As expected, since the film is a Romantic Comedy, Hitch gives in and goes great lengths to get back his love interest even after several rejections, incurring extreme behavior and injuries to himself. Try imagining how that would work in Real Life. All which leads to the Why Would Anyone Take Her Back moment in the end.
  • Other People's Money:
    • One of the rare deliberate examples. In it, we see a ruthless corporate shark played by Danny DeVito (no stranger to playing ruthless and underhanded business types) who launches a hostile takeover bid for a failing 'mom-and-pop' wire-and-cable company run by an idealistic, noble-hearted businessman (played by Gregory Peck, of all people), so that it can be broken apart and sold. The battle lines would seem to be clearly drawn in favour of 'ruthless corporate guy = bad', 'idealistic fatherly small businessman = good', and indeed Peck's character makes a stirring, idealistic speech to this effect towards the end. All well and good -- until DeVito's character stands up a moment later and makes a similarly convincing, if more ruthless, practical, and greedy, speech about how the company is dead in the water with or without him and should Know When to Fold'Em.
    • This point is also set up earlier in the film, when the company's lawyer tries to use a quasi-ethical maneuver to buy him off. He turns her down flat, pointing out that would work out fine for him and the owner, but the stockholders would get hosed.

 Lawyer: So, you're Albert Schweitzer now?

Larry: Not Albert Schweitzer, Robin Hood. I rob from the rich and give to the middle class. Well, the upper middle class. Caviar?

  • Many critics who disliked Lions for Lambs felt this way about Tom Cruise's character. A Senator with Presidential ambitions, his role in the film is an interview with anti-war journalist played by Meryl Streep discussing his new plan for Afghanistan. The Senator outlines a reasonable plan and makes some good points, but the film basically expects us to side exclusively with Streep's character simply due to her being anti-war and it being an anti-war film.
  • In Jaws 2, it's obvious that the viewer is supposed to side with Brody, who's in the same position as he was in the previous film -- he knows there's a shark out there killing people, but no one wants to listen to him and everyone wants to keep the beaches open in order to keep the tourist dollars rolling in. However, the filmmakers seem to gloss over the fact that Brody started a panic on a beach full of people -- sounding an alarm, screaming at people, and firing his gun -- actions that could have resulted in someone being injured or even killed, not to mention the possibility of a lawsuits that would cost the town even more money than a canceled summer season. Even though the day after they fired him the shark went on a rampage and killed several teens and nearly killed several others, including the Mayor's own son, Brody didn't exactly endear himself to the town with that stunt.
  • The Green Berets, a 1968 film about the Vietnam war starring John Wayne. The film's agenda is pro-war and one of the characters is a strawman journalist with anti-war arguments that are shown to be "weak". Most people watching the opening scenes of the film today will root for said journalist. The fact that the verdict of history has not been kind to The Vietnam War and those who were in support of it probably doesn't help.
  • At the end of Innocent Blood, the vampire Marie, having just inadvetently created a bunch of Mafia vampires and having to clean it up, walks towards the rising sun with the intention of killing herself and thus preventing herself from making the same mistake again. She's talked out of it by her new love interest, but now that we have just seen just how easily it is to make a vampire - indeed multiple vampires in a single evening - it's hard to say she shouldn't kill herself.
  • In The Gamers 2, one of the players goes on a long, bitchy rant about how the roleplayer of the group squandered an Unlimited Wish spell on raising the Dungeon Master's character. While this was done to showcase how he's a whiny bitch with no sense of play, the fact that they raised another party member from the dead as a means to infiltrate the church they were in means that yes, she really did waste it. His real problem was 1. Doing it in a bitchy way, and 2. Storming out and quitting the game forever.
  • The government in The Crazies locks down the town whose water supply was contaminated by a bioweapon that causes extreme aggression and proceeds to kill anyone who even has a chance of being infected and burn the bodies. They also file the uninfected into buses to be evacuated, only to have them all murdered and burned. In the end, they nuke the town, although the protagonist and his wife survive and make it to the neighboring city. The guy in charge of the containment proceeds to order the containment of the entire city. The post-credits news report shows that nuking the town didn't work. While the army are definitely in the wrong, given they created the bioweapon in the first place, the lack of a cure for the condition and its extreme virulence make stopping a global pandemic more of a concern.
  • In the 1971 film of On the Buses, the audience is encouraged to support Jack and Stan as they bully the female bus drivers whose only "wrong" is working in traditionally male jobs and getting angry at Stan for intentionally disrupting their work. We're also encouraged to support them when they humiliate Blakey for the unforgivable crime of hiring female bus drivers and getting angry at the men for groping female staff.
  • Cypher from the The Matrix is disillusioned with being pulled out of the Matrix and learning the Awful Truth that the real world is a Crapsack World future. On top of that, he's living on a cramped hovercraft and working under a guy who risks the lives of his crew to fulfill an oracle's prophecy. After he sells out his crewmates to the Agents so he can return to the Matrix with his memory wiped, he tells Trinity that he'd choose the Matrix over his cramped existence of doing what Morpheus tells him. Quite a few folks, including an in-universe faction from the Matrix Online called the "Cypherites", think he was right in his belief that a blissfully-ignorant life in the Matrix can be more real than life in the dark, desolate future of the real world. It also doesn't help that the 3rd film completely forgot that the rebels don't free adult humans from the Matrix because they have a tendency to Go Mad From the Revelation, making the reveal of the Matrix to the whole world an Esoteric Happy Ending.
  • In the live action film of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the evil fashion exec Cruella Deville is dismissive of the idea that Anita, her employee, should leave her job in the event of marriage. This is meant to show Deville as callous and cynical, but her observation is most likely correct: In her words, "More good working women have been lost to marriage than war, famine, disease, and disaster. You have talent, darling. Don't squander it."
    • Then again, the belief that starting a family is a bad thing --even if it's what one chooses to do-- and a waste of one's talent is absolutely brimming with Unfortunate Implications.
  • Enemy of the State has a retroactive example in the Big Bad, an NSA official who believes the government should have the power to secretly wiretap American citizens due to the threat of terrorism (the full scope of which most Americans, particularly those opposing the bill, were unaware of). He's shown to be willing to frame or kill off anyone who opposes him, furthering the message that the government shouldn't have the right to surveille unsuspecting Americans. The film predates 9/11 by ~3 years, while staying faithful to the NSA's full communications capabilities, but in light of the fact that a devastating terrorist attack (whatever you belive its origins to be) in the real world prompted the government to give the NSA explicit authorization expand its warrantless wiretapping authority to American citizens, it makes the issue of whether or not the government should have this authority[2] much less black and white than when the film first came out.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl, pirates are shown to be evil, murderous, and a dangerous lure for Will Turner, who only helps Jack for the sake of a rescue mission. Fast forward to the third film At World's End, where the film wants you to totally sympathise with the pirates and despise the ruthless Lord Beckett. But realistically, Lord Beckett is simply cracking down on murderous criminals who deserve punishment. His actions would be socially progressive, had he not Jumped Off the Slippery Slope and then crossed the Moral Event Horizon by having a child hanged. The intent seems to have been to portray Grey and Grey Morality, with everyone involved some level of corrupt (except for Will Turner), with even the heroine becoming a lying, murderous bastard.
  • In La Haine, the more one observes the main characters and their tendency to escalate every small issue into violence, the more one feels the police are absolutely right to treat them with suspicion and loathing at every turn, including the use of force. Though it is no doubt a Grey and Grey Morality tale, it is not that hard to be Rooting for the Empire.
  • In the 1976 stinker Rattlers, at one point the female lead goes off on the sexism in the professional world; it's treated dismissively by everyone in the film (including the male lead) but really, she's got a good point about how men at the time systematically denied deserved recognition in all professions to women of high accomplishment. Doesn't help that the movie's godawful.
  • Many reviewers, particularly Roger Ebert, found this happening in Star Trek: Insurrection. While the Bak'u were supposed to come off as innocent victims of the Son'a and an under-the-table Federation, they instead came off as selfish pricks who won't share (or tolerate anyone of their own who wanted to share) their planet's amazing healing powers, leaving the rest of the galaxy to suffer diseases and ailments they themselves easily overcame. The Federation and Son'a land grab does violate the sovereignty of the Bak'u, but since the Bak'u are such jerkasses, it's hard for some to sympathize with them.
  • Despite his decision to shut down the containment grid (primarily out of spite), Walter Peck was right. The Ghostbusters were operating very dangerous equipment that should have been examined beforehand. His initial plea to see the containment grid was reasonable, but because he was crudely brushed off by Venkman, he overreacted. Had Venkman not treated Peck and the E.P.A. like an enemy from the beginning, they could have avoided the massive meltdown. That said, Peck should have listened to the Engineer who was working for him and thought twice before de-activating the Ghostbuster's power grid. His initial approach also wasn't helped by the fact that, although his motives and concerns were reasonable, his attitude was condescending, evasive and quick-to-get-hostile, thus making it not entirely a surprise that Venkman was rubbed the wrong way by him.
    • His request to see the containment grid isn't really all that reasonable. For one, he has no reason other than vague suspicion he invented himself to explain why he would need to see the power grid. Ultimately his accusations against the Ghostbusters have nothing to do with the environment at all... he thinks they're bilking people and that, despite it not being his purview, job, or power, that because he's involved with a powerful government agency he can make them stop. And Venkman's refusal to let him see it makes sense as well. The containment grid is proprietary technology and the backbone of the Ghostbusters' business... if Venkman let anyone who stopped by and asked to see it do so, they could theoretically be put out of business in months by a wave of knockoffs.
  • In the second Iron Man film, Tony Stark is Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee in which a senator tries to convince him to hand over his Iron Man armor to the government, insisting that the armor is a weapon other hostile nations are intent on reproducing. Tony refuses, arguing over the definition of the armor as a "weapon", proves the other nations' Iron Man knockoffs are not a real threat and that he alone is managing a type of nuclear deterrent, leaving the committee chamber to thunderous applause. However, the film purposefully shows Tony's mistakes in judgement as Tony (before later Character Development) is a very unstable individual (getting drunk while wearing the armor and using his repulsor weapons wildly), and that all it takes is one smart individual to make a breakthrough to that can challenge his superiority (meaning he isn't as unique as he think he is). At the end of the film, Tony ends up consulting for the government (a tie-in to the Avengers film), while still maintaining ownership of the armor and the government is developing their War Machine companion armor. The Senator still hates him, though.
  • Teaching Mrs. Tingle: the title character is a high school Sadist Teacher who has it in for the lead character, who is just trying to become valedictorian. At the start of the film, Mrs. Tingle gives a C grade to a project she worked 6 months on, a historical recreation of the diary of a girl accused of being a witch during the time of the Salem Witch Trials. Except that the diary describes witch-burnings, when the accused witches at Salem were all hanged, meaning the teacher was well within her rights to mark the assignment down.
  • Extreme Measures features Dr. Myrick, who violates just about every single ethical tenant of being a doctor while researching traumatic spinal cord injuries and how to repair them. He argues that all the red tape is getting in the way of science and that lead researchers on several medical fields are being hampered by them, and they're not getting any younger. The film had him experimenting in humans back in 1996; in Real Life, it was not till 2010 that researchers were finally successful regenerating spinal cords in mice.
  • In the film of The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to her poor, put-upon assistant Andrea, who just wants to be a writer and doesn't understand why everybody looks down on her for not being a fashionista. The problem is that she works for the editor of a fashion magazine. Miranda's speech shows quite nicely that problematic though it is, the industry influences everyone and is ignored at one's own peril. Moreover, thinking that you're "above" the field you work in is not a professional attitude or one you should display in front of your boss and coworkers, who have slaved and sacrificed to succeed in an intensely cutthroat line of work.
  • In the film of Silent Hill, Sean Bean's character, Chris De Silva, is openly against Rose, his wife and the heroine, taking their daughter to the town of Silent Hill in an attempt to cure her mental illness. We're obviously supposed to side with Rose and her maternal instinct to help her daughter, and thus think of Chris as a jerk for being against it and having her credit cards cut when she tries it, but the problem is that her plan is almost suicidally stupid. In-universe it is public knowledge that Silent Hill is a very dangerous place due to a coal fire making the area uninhabitable, something she should know about especially since she apparently extensively researched the town. Not only that, she also didn't seek assistance from people who are familiar with the area to help navigate the town (something that Chris does as soon as he reaches it as well, mind you), and is thus risking both her own life and her daughters. To top it all off, she's doing this under the incredibly vague assumption that going to the town will somehow cure her illness, and not simply make it worse. It should also be noted that Rose is essentially kidnapping Sharon, and thus Chris is completely in the right to try to stop her.


Literature

  • The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series is full of this. Richard (the avatar of the author's ex-husband) frequently rants against the murder, rape, hypocrisy, greed, and general bad behavior of the Mary Sue protagonist, allegedly to show what a self-hating mess he is. The author is apparently unaware that he's the only one who makes any kind of logical, intelligent points about the heroine -- and she doesn't even dispute the things he says.
  • In the second Death World book (the Harry Harrison series), a major character exists solely so the Author Avatar (and Mary Sue) can explain to him the virtues of moral relativism. Only problem is, while the character is a dog-kicking Designated Villain, the arguments he makes against relativism aren't really shot down, just ignored in favor of the main character being made to look much cooler than him.
  • The Pale Woman in the Realm of the Elderlings novel Fool's Fate actually has a very good point: reviving an apex predator with the capacity to wipe out humanity and no real reason not to is a pretty darned stupid idea. It is primarily the political implications that drive Fitz to oppose her, though.
  • Left Behind:
    • This is a huge, huge problem with the series of books, as noted in the Slacktivist blog deconstructing it. The main heroes are such Jerk Sues that many of the people with whom they argue come off looking much better by comparison. For example, in the first chapter, a drunk Texan wakes up and sees the carnage wrought by the Rapture (plane crashes, etc). He is mocked as a silly drunk by the narrators, but he is the only one to express any sort of horror at the proceedings. In the next book, we are clearly supposed to cheer for the alleged hero as he is insubordinate to his boss - whose main crime seems to be being a woman who doesn't fawn over him and expects him to do his job.
    • Arguably, the "heroes" are supposed to be callous to the suffering at this point, as they haven't been "saved" and are still unrepentant sinners. The problem is, even after they are saved and supposedly become model Christians, they are still obnoxious jackasses who consider others' suffering an inconvenience. The only notes of genuine regret or contrition come from the supposedly un-saved.
    • The overall premise of the entire series is this. God is set up as the good guy and Nicolae Carpathia (the antichrist) is the bad guy. Although Carpathia is definitely a murderous tyrant, his actions pale in comparison to the billions actively killed by God.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Palpatine (and later Thrawn) justified his massive military spending by citing the threat of an extragalactic invasion, which he knew was coming based on evidence from the Chiss, the events of Rogue Planet, and a couple other bits of material. 25 years after Episode 4, that's exactly what happened.
  • In the Fate of the Jedi series, Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala enacts various policies to reign in what she see as the unchecked power that the Jedi have within the Galactic Alliance. Coming off a major galactic civil war started by a corrupted Jedi who enacted a coup and seized control of the Alliance, she is not entirely without precedent or reason to be concerned over potentially uncontrolled actions by Force Users. These policies grow excessively draconian and begin to cost her public opinion due to various publicised incidents. However, instead of using the mounting public pressure and political scandals resulting from her actions to legally reign in Daala's excesses (as had already proved effective in overturning the siege of the Jedi Temple and eliminating the Court of Jedi Affairs), the Jedi embark on a coup to remove her from power that involves taking hostages, attacking government facilities, killing the appointed acting Grandmaster of the Jedi Kenth Hamner, and removing Daala from power to install Hamner's killer as part of an acting Triumvirate over the Alliance.
  • The Turner Diaries: a strawman proclaims the "heroes" of the book as "depraved, racist criminals." He's supposed to be a strawman, yet this is a 100% accurate description of the "heroic" white supremacist Right-Wing Militia Fanatic group known as the Order.
  • The Pro and Contra chapter in The Brothers Karamazov, including its influential Grand Inquisitor story, gives us Ivan's nihilistic message and a rejection of God, which is a message Dostoyevski wanted to ultimately reject. The following parts involving Alyosha and Father Zosima provide sort of a counterpoint, a defense of God and existence. However, Ivan's accusation has a greater dramatic impact and is far more memorable.
  • The Saga of Seven Suns has a very odd case of this, not with the strawmen having a point, but the good guys (Theroc and roamers) not having one. Like, the roamers complaining about the Hansa not lending assistance to Theroc after just having denied any access to starship fuel. Or the roamers complaining that the Hansa killed a rogue roamer who was blowing up random Hansa ships. Or the roamers complaining that a rogue hansa blew up a roamer vessel that was illegally selling stuff to Hansa colonies, and then the roamers procede to cut off the hansa from starship fuel, so that most of humanity would starve to death, and the other half would get blown up by aliens. Or the roamers... Let's just leave it at the fact that the roamers are somehow good guys, while the hansa are the villains.
  • The protagonist of Cryptonomicon gets in an argument with some academics who are clearly meant to come off as hopelessly deluded, politically correct, stuck-up elitists whose work has no basis in reality and is just about furthering trendy bullshit as a career. How? By pointing out, however exaggeratedly, that a white male from a middle-class background is more likely to end up in engineering than someone less privileged. Note that they don't say this is the protagonist's personal fault, just that the system he's in is often unfair. He responds by getting defensive and trying to claim he himself is oppressed by their "attack", using the exact same sort of language. (They're his wife's friends, he's sick of them, and it's hinted he's not sincere, just doing it out of sheer cussedness.)
  • In the fourth Maximum Ride novel, Max is furious that, after she and the Flock come to the government's attention, they would dare to try to put them in a boarding school. A few of their concerns -- being told they would be studied to a certain extent, etc -- were valid, given their history. Several others not so much, especially when Max basically tells them "we've had it harder than you and we know better". It's kind of difficult to argue that they are properly prepared to move to civilian life when they decide to dive-bomb the Pentagon for amusement and then are surprised that there's retaliation.
  • Twilight:
    • In the novel New Moon, Bella is annoyed that Jessica won't talk to her, and thinks that Jessica is being petty and evil. This is after Bella has ignored everyone for four months, used Jessica to get Charlie off her back, ditched her shortly into the movie to pine over Edward, and then nearly frightened Jessica to death by walking up to a very dangerous-looking biker in a bad part of town that Jessica clearly wanted to avoid, all because Bella thought it may be the same one that Edward rescued her from before.
    • In Breaking Dawn, Leah calls Bella out on some of her more selfish actions in trying to manipulate and keep Jacob with her despite knowing full well how much it hurts Jacob to be around her knowing that she's chosen to die and become an undead monstrosity with Edward over a life with him. Even Bella admits that she's being selfish, but chooses to keep doing it anyway. Everyone else gets angry at Leah for upsetting Bella, including the guy Leah was trying to stand up for. And any point Leah made is completely forgotten.
  • On a far more highbrow and (for lack of a better word) sensible level, Friedrich Nietzsche had this reaction to Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov: Raskolnikov at first believes himself to be an Ubermensch, but is wracked by guilt and eventually gets his redemption through a religious (specifically Orthodox Christian) experience. Nietzsche regarded the religious-redemption bit as bull and disdained Raskolnikov's feelings of guilt, but agreed with the unreformed Raskolnikov's Ubermenschian perspective.
  • An in-universe example appears in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, in the form of Emmanuel Goldstein, a strawman politician invented by the ruling party in order to draw out dissidents. Orwell uses Goldstein in order to set out his own views of totalitarian societies; in the book he is entirely correct, but the authorities do not even try to suppress his message. Instead, they attempt to condition the population into being unable to comprehend objective reality.
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, Galbatorix can be seen as this. While later books established him as being thoroughly evil and tyrannical, his depiction in early books left him looking pretty good for many readers. His rise to power (in which he won humanity's superiority over the elves and killed the all-powerful dragon riders) is portrayed as a Moral Event Horizon, and he wants to stomp out the urgals, a warlike species whose rite of passage is to find something, anything, and kill it. He's done plenty of unsavoury things and isn't to be praised, but he's made humanity safe and superior, and even his enemies acknowledge that his batshit insanity doesn't touch most of his subjects. And he is the established power, with a clear-cut law, as opposed to the Varden, who will gladly accept you into their group provided you A.) follow your flawed and suicidal orders to the letter, and B.) be sure to always shower praise on Eragon, the elves, and your visionary leader, Nasuda. In the end it isn't so much that the Strawman Has A Point, but that the other side has even less of a point.
  • Harry Potter:
    • When Dolores Umbridge became High Inquisitor of Hogwarts and fires the Divination Instructor, Prof. Trelawney, for failing to make a prediction on cue, it is supposed to be a Kick the Dog moment; except that Trelawney is a de facto Phony Psychic: she relies primarily on the credibility of descending from an actual renowned seer while making fake/vague predictions. The Divination class itself is portrayed as an "Easy A" class, with Harry & Ron making up stories as their "predictions", as opposed to whatever "genuine" methods Trelawney uses for divining the future [3]. In the next book, it's even revealed that Dumbledore was planning to discontinue Divination when Trelawney applied for the teaching post; he hired her only because during her interview she fell into a trance and made the prophecy of The Chosen One who could defeat Voldemort.
    • When Cho Chang tries to speak up on behalf of her friend Marietta after Marietta told on the DA and got Hermione's jinx of "SNEAK" pimpled across her face for it, she points out that Marietta's mum works at the Ministry and that it's been really difficult for her. Harry furiously replies, "Ron's dad works for the Ministry too! And in case you hadn't noticed, he hasn't got 'sneak' written across his face!" It doesn't take a lot of Fridge Logic to realize just how feeble Harry's retort is. Sure, Ron's dad works at the Ministry, but Ron's dad is also Dumbledore's Man Through and Through, a person who when forced to choose between believing Dumbledore or the Ministry when it was impossible to choose both, chose Dumbledore. Marietta's mum made the opposite choice. If Marietta had a good relationship with her mother, then yes, it would've been really difficult for Marietta in ways that it never was for Ron (and the very fact that Marietta didn't tell on them until 6 months after the DA was formed indicates the decision didn't come easily to her). Furthermore, Ron knew about the jinx, while Marietta didn't. Which leads us to...
      • Cho also says that the jinx was a "really horrible trick" of Hermione's and she should've told the DA that the list they all signed was jinxed. Harry interrupts by telling Cho it was a "brilliant" idea. And again, Cho's point is stronger than Harry's. Hermione tricked not just Marietta, but the entire DA into signing a jinxed list without telling them beforehand that it was jinxed, which is ethically questionable at best, and well, really horrible at worst. And telling the DA about the jinx afterwards would've been the only way the jinx would've actually prevented anyone in the DA from talking in the first place, making the idea somewhat less than brilliant. And Cho's whole argument becomes much stronger at the start of the next book when it's revealed that Marietta's hex is apparently permanent and Hermione has potentially disfigured her for life.
    • In general, the portrayal of Cho Chang in the fifth book is an example of this. She's made to seem ridiculous for the fact that she can't get over Cedric and seems to be dating Harry purely because of his connection to him, but when you consider that many people's first break-up is enough to send them into emotion turmoil for a while, how else do you expect a sixteen-year-old girl to react to her boyfriend dying? It's especially true given that the wizarding world appears to be one in which There Are No Therapists.
    • During Chamber of Secrets, caretaker Argus Filch scolds the protagonist fiercely for not cleaning his shoes before entering the castle, leaving the floor splattered with mud and grime. While Harry tries to defend himself with a pathetic "it's just a little mud!", Filch makes the very valid point that for him, it means two hours of cleaning. Throughout the book, Filch is meant to be seen as a humorless, cruel man, but this rings pretty hollow when you realize that not only is he the one cleaning after the entire school's wacky antics, he's also the sole resident who cannot use magic.
    • Dolores Umbridge is rather a poster child for this trope. For instance, her pronouncement “progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged.” Anybody who has worked in the corporate world and suffered through a succesion of new bosses with big egos who want to change everything just so they can leave their mark on the company will be nodding sympathetically with this staement. Unfortunately, Dolores was a sadistic administrator spouting reasonable-sounding slogans while pushing her own agendas. Hence, the straw.
  • Isabel Allende's House Of The Spirits, arguably, provides an example of this trope. Esteban Trueba's feudalistic views on his workers are unacceptable by today's standards. Still, it would indeed be quite idealistic (if not downright unreasonable) to believe that barely literate people are fully qualified to participate in political life.


Live-Action TV

  • Stevie from Wizards of Waverly Place. Her grand and "evil" plan is to overload some whatchabajigger and allow all wizards to keep their magical powers (as opposed to losing them if they lose a competition. Said competition is between siblings, almost invariably breaking families apart.) While she she may be rather extreme in her measures, she made a good point. But Alex and co. ignore her and proceed to kill her accidentally.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • A great many episodes have situations in which they have an opportunity to do something that would be very advantageous for the crew, only to have Captain Janeway refuse for reasons typically related to the Prime Directive. Some character inevitably complains about her decision and points out that her moral arguments for why they can't take advantage of the opportunity don't actually make any sense, but they're always portrayed as being wrong, while Janeway is right.
    • In "Prime Factors" the crew discover an alien race with the technology to cut 40,000 light years from their journey. They have a strict policy of not trading technology with outsiders, which Janeway decides to obey. When a few crewmen do the trade behind her back and attempt to understand the technology, it proves to be completely incapable with their systems and nearly destroys their ship. They were treated as being wrong for going behind Janeway's back, but if it worked they would be home the next day.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In the episode "Q Who", Q appears on the Enterprise, offering himself as a possible crew member. Picard refuses on the basis that they (the Enterprise crew) doesn't trust Q, despite the cosmically powered entity stating that the Federation was simply unready for what they were about to encounter and that they needed someone like Q in order to deal with the threat. During their encounter with the Borg, Q continually tells the crew of the Enterprise that they cannot reason with the Borg, they cannot threaten the Borg, and that the Enterprise is absolutely not up to the task of fighting the Borg cube. No one, at any time, listens to Q, despite Q being absolutely correct in all regards... because, after all, he's Q and thus is not to be trusted.
    • Back when the Federation forcibly relocating a people was considered a bad thing, Picard had to relocate some people descended from Native Americans from a planet that was about to become Cardassian property. The problem for the aesop was that they were trying to do this for the colonists' own protection... and not in some thinly-veiled excuse, as the episode tried to imply by historical comparison, but because the Cardassians were brutal to the inhabitants of planets they occupy. Leaving the colonists on the planet would basically be selling Federation citizens into slavery or leaving them all to be killed, which would not only be bad in itself but also possibly shatter the fragile peace the border redraw had been done to maintain. In this case, historical bad taste or no, the relocation (forced or not) was in fact for their own good. The Federation citizens in question opted to join the Cardassians so they wouldn't have to relocate, but had acknowledged the dangers involved.
      • Events in DS 9 would support the Federation case, as colonists who remained in Cardassian space were brutally oppressed by the Cardassians, causing them to form the Maquis resistance. Eventually, when the Cardassians allied with the Dominion, the colonists would be massacred by the Jem'Hadar.
    • "I, Borg" has the crew find a living borg drone and seek to understand a way to use it to implant a self-destructive signal to destroy the entire collective. While everyone was on board at first, they grow attached to studying it and it eventually develops a personality, creating a new individual calling himself Hugh. Starting with Geordi and Crusher, the rest of the crew decide their plan to use it as a living weapon was immoral and the holdouts, Picard and Guinan (who have more personal issues with the Borg) are portrayed as allowing irrational feelings to cloud their moral judgement. Eventually they agree in the independance of the drone and let it return to the collective peacefully. Although the events are later continued in "Descent" Picard admits the moral decision may not have been the correct decision in the long run.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The official guidebook to the series refers to editor Donald Pabst as the villain of the episode "Far Beyond the Stars" because of his reluctance to publish Benny Russell's stories about a black space captain on the grounds they would be considered controversial. This ignores the fact that Pabst was actually pretty progressive, employing Benny, a black man in 1950s Manhattan, as a writer at a time when most employers wouldn't have offered him anything higher than a janitor, and that, when he compromises and agrees to the story being rewritten as a black boy's dream of the future rather than objective reality, he is proven completely right and the publishers pulp the issue and fire Benny. Apparently Pabst should have stood up to the publisher, even though doing so would likely have cost him his job and made no difference to Benny's situation.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • Bates, Kavanaugh, and Ellis usually have legitimate concerns or complaints, but because these are against the main cast of characters (Bates seeing Teyla as a security risk, Kavanaugh complaining to Weir about Weir degrading him in public, Ellis wanting McKay to cut the exposition and get to the point), the characters are presented as reactionary jerkasses. There is also a trend of portraying Kavanaugh, in his few appearances, as a coward even though every time he is up against a situation in which his fear is perfectly understandable.
    • There's also Senator Kinsey in Stargate SG-1. While his character very quickly evolves into a Jerkass, the episode that introduced him had him find out about the Stargate program and shut it down. Why? Because it's a big drain on the defense budget with few or no returns. At that point in the show, the main method of interplanetary travel is via the stargate, so shutting it down and burying it seems like a good enough plan to prevent further alien incursions. Yes, Kinsey is unaware that the Goa'uld are fully capable of reaching Earth in starships (with a single Ha'tak enough to suppress all Earth resistance), and Daniel's story of parallel dimensions doesn't even sound believable to his own teammates. Incidentally, SG-1 turns out to be right. Earth barely survives the attack, and the team is hailed as heroes, while Kinsey is forced to back off. Later on, he Jumps Off The Slippery Slope, losing any likeability. Additionally, later on, the program does indeed start paying for itself (figuratively speaking).
  • NCIS:
    • Why is Abby right about her colleague's familial relationships? Because... well. Why is she right when she decides they should all reconcile with their fathers? Understandable with Gibbs, since it's just old resentments, sort of understandable with Tony considering that his father really does care about him behind the dismissiveness and manipulativeness. Not even a little bit understandable with Ziva, whose father left her to be tortured to death, without going to help or diverting a single piece of his considerable resources towards helping her. Though he had no problem trying to get her arrested for murder afterwards, even though she was innocent. Yes, Abby? Why should Ziva try to fix their relationship? Yes? WHY?
    • Abby has another one in the episode Dog Tags, where a "drug sniffing" dog is believed to have killed his handler. The same dog attacks and hurts McGee in the beginning of the episode, yet he's treated like crap for not trusting the dog that attacked him. Not only that, the evidence throughout most of the episode points to the dog as the killer, so McGee has even more reason not to trust the dog. What's Abby's counter-argument? Animals Are Innocent and dogs are man's best friend. And yes, she really does use the "dogs are man's best friend" line as a reason why the dog should be trusted. Of course, Abby forces McGee to take care of an animal that he not only clearly dislikes, but also attacked him. And then she yells at him for having shot the dog when it was trying to kill him. A German Shepherd is attempting to maul him and he was supposed to... what? Pet it?
  • Fan-hated Sam Bosco on The Mentalist actually has a pretty good point when he says Jane has damaged the team by persuading them to resort to illegal tactics repeatedly in the pursuit of justice. Once, when Rigsby and Cho are trying to convince him to let Jane off for bugging his office, he asks in return if they'd be willing to do borderline illegal things for him in return. When their immediate answer is yes, he reveals that it was a Secret Test of Character which they absolutely failed since as cops they shouldn't be so willing to break the law. He's absolutely right.
  • 24:
    • On at least one occasion, the audience is supposed to support Jack in his hatred of the 'wishy washy liberal human rights lawyer' who (quite correctly) calls Jack on his tendency to illegally hold people with no firm evidence and then torture them into giving him information. In Season 4, Jack even yells "How can you sleep at night!" at a human rights lawyer brought in to defend one of Jack's prisoners who has every right to have an attorney. Season 7 attempts to address this tendency with a few scenes of introspection but ultimately still cheers Jack on as he runs around shooting and kidnapping people. Jack has had torture fail before, and at least on one occasion tortured someone who really didn't know anything, but the writers didn't do more more than have Jack angst instead of showing real consequences of using torture that have been around since Medieval Europe -- not that it can make people tell you the truth, but that it can make people tell you anything you want, even if they're not actually guilty of anything.
    • In Season 5, Lynn McGill is portrayed as being mentally unstable for accusing almost every single member of CTU of conspiring against him. However, since many of them, from Buchanan down is seen to be conspiring against McGill, or at least keeping vital information from him, he does have something of a point.
  • All in The Family regularly used Archie as a comic foil to promote Mike and Gloria's liberal views. However, watched across the gap of almost four decades, Mike and Gloria can sound dreadfully naive, while Archie, notwithstanding the small-minded bigot that he was, actually scores a good number of points off them. This was entirely deliberate on the part of both the writers and Carroll O'Connor, the actor who played Archie. O'Connor was an old-school socialist (he was much further to the left than even Mike) but he disliked naive, idealistic "limousine liberals" (known as "latte liberals" today) almost as much as he loathed conservatives, whom he regarded as selfish, amoral, and manipulative. His Archie was meant to be a victim, not a strawman of any kind. O'Connor played him as an example of how in his opinion conservatism deliberately and callously abused the working classes, leaving them uneducated, barely literate, bitter, angry, and self-destructive - but still willing to vote against their own interests because they've been convinced that the other side is immoral and treasonous.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Knights of Byzantium in season 5 are pretty harsh: they plan on killing Buffy's younger sister, "The Key", to prevent a Hellgod from another dimension from using her to open a portal back to her dimension that would plunge this world into chaos. As hard as it is to blame Buffy for defending her sister and going against this, the fact remains that in doing so she is risking the fate of the entire world merely to attempt to save one magically created metaphysical entity that Buffy falsely believes to be her sister. Looking at things from a rational standpoint, what the Knights are trying to do makes perfect sense, and in fact Buffy comes to agree with that after a few years of Character Development, telling Giles in season 7 that if given the choice again she would sacrifice Dawn for the good of the world.
    • The Social Worker from the episode "Gone". We're meant to hate her for making Buffy's life harder and cheer Buffy on when she's invisible and gets revenge, but really, Buffy's in no state to look after a teenage girl with issues, even if she is her sister, especially considering the way she handled that was by making the social worker look like she was insane to her boss. Way to make sure that other children are being looked after, Buffy.
    • A strange example where both sides fall into this trope revolves around Spike in season 7. Robin wanted to kill Spike as he considered him a threat to the group, but while he was primarily driven by revenge for Spike killing his mother and didn't consider that the person who killed her didn't actually exist anymore, the point remains that Spike had spent centuries being a mass-murdering monster and had just recently gone on another killing spree under the influence of the current Big Bad. Meanwhile, Buffy wanted to keep Spike alive because she considered him no longer dangerous to them and a valuable asset, but while she was clearly being influenced by her feelings for him and didn't actually have any guarantee whatsoever he was free from the control of the First, the point remains that the First had much worse at its disposal and they needed literally every advantage they could get against it.
    • Xander is portrayed as a Strawman after the initial shock and dismay of Angel being back from hell has worn off on the Scoobies. The audience is supposed to feel that Xander is just being jealous and can't understand the love that Buffy and Angel share. Except that he is totally correct in that Angel is a huge threat, which he proved in the previous season when he lost his soul. Everyone eventually gets over the fact that they were tortured or attacked except for Xander and brings up that Buffy should slay or at the very least not be in contact with him several times over the next few episodes, for which Willow and Buffy admonish him. Buffy assures them that she is keeping things professional, but every time we see them they are making out. This wouldn't be a problem if she knew exactly how far she could go before he would lose his soul, but the terms of his curse are vague at best and it can be broken by other means.
    • Ironically, Buffy and Xander end up on the opposite side of the argument when it turns out that Anya, Xander's vengeance demon ex-fiance, is responsible for several deaths. Buffy instantly decides she's a danger and needs to be killed, Xander disagrees because... well, Anya's their friend and they're kind of used to them turning evil by now. In the end, Willow Takes a Third Option.
  • On The Daily Show March 18, 2010 episode, while making fun of Glenn Beck making fun of progressives, Jon Stewart Lampshades this when he says "Hmm... Strawman-Slippery-Slope-Dumb-Guy might have a point." Does Jon read TV Tropes?
  • A rather unfortunate real life example of this involved The Daily Show in 2009. Comic Jason Jones went to Iran and recorded a parody news segment, posing as a stereotypical "ignorant American" convinced that Iran was a tyrannical and evil country. He interviewed Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, who calmly explained that simply wasn't true. The next day, Bahari was arrested by the Iranian government, imprisoned for six months, beaten, and forced to sign a confession that he was a spy.
  • Speaking of faux-news programs on Comedy Central, the humour of The Colbert Report is primarily based on this trope - Colbert plays the role of a Straw Conservative pundit who unwittingly argues the progressive side, and as such tends to really nail home out there arguments when interviewing a guest. Sometimes, however, he'll end up making a really good point if the person he's interviewing isn't fully prepared. Most famously on display during the White House Correspondents' Dinner speech, where Colbert, in character, suggests that the President's dissatisfaction rating is based in 'reality', but it's okay because reality 'has a liberal bias'. Sometimes the strawman Colbert does make sense, leading some to think he's intended as a parody of the left and their strawmen, not the right.
  • In True Blood:
    • The struggle of the vampires to "come out of the coffin" and fight for civil rights is intentionally analogous to the civil rights struggles of gays and minorities. Standing against the vampires is a religious sect sworn that is clearly supposed to be seen as a bunch of corrupt, bigoted fanatics. However, the show also pulls no punches in showing how vampire society is still built around killing humans and treating them like cattle. Even the lovable Bill is no stickler for due process when Sookie is involved, gleefully killing the Ratrays and Sookie's incestuous uncle. The religious sect brings up a number of valid points against allowing vampires to live in human society. Most really are a threat to public safety. The intended aesop was probably that the best way to handle the vampires was to integrate them into normal society since they'd be less likely to kill humans that way, but it wasn't handled well.
    • And of course, none of this deals with the fact that most of the vampires that everyone wants to 'integrate' are probably legally guilty of more than a few felonies. Even if they've never killed anyone, we can go down a list: Malicious wounding, assault and battery, potentially attempted murder, stealing precious bodily fluids, etc. Assuming that the 'next generation' of vampires are, in fact, interested in integration, then that's one thing, but it's hard not to see the 'older' vampires as, for the most part, criminals. Not only that, all of the vampires still have a readily available source for blood that costs nothing and which is easily accessible. Integrating them has all the feeling of letting a fox into the henhouse.
    • Furthermore, new, inexperienced vampires tend to get carried away when draining their first humans, killing them even when they aren't trying to. Bill admits he did this "a couple" of times when he first started out, and we see Jessica do this at the end of Season 2. Which makes it highly likely that every single vampire we meet, even the "nicer" ones, are guilty of at least one count of manslaughter.
  • This review of the made for TV film The Beast points how the characterization in the film suffers badly from this trope. We are meant to cheer for the Designated Hero Whip Dalton and boo the Designated Villain Schuyler Graves. Unfortunately, practically the only sign we're given that Graves is evil is when he's criticizing Whip for destroying a raft that Graves was trying to claim as his property -- perfectly legitimately in accordance with maritime law.
  • On ER, Kerry Weaver was seen as a villain for wanting people to follow rules and policy.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the serial "The Invasion", aspiring glamor photographer Isobel suggests getting proof of the Cybermen's presence in the sewers by going down to take pictures. The Brigadier agrees, but intends to use his own men instead, on the basis that such a situation is no place for a lady. Isobel blows up at how backward and sexist he's being, but the Brig refuses, and both girls gang up on Jamie for agreeing with him (despite the fact he's from the 18th century and has a legitimate excuse for being old fashioned) and both she and Zoe walk away in a huff to get the pics themselves with Jamie worriedly tagging along, which ends up getting a police officer and one of the UNIT troops sent to rescue them killed. While it could easily be argued that the Brig was in the wrong to assume they couldn't handle themselves for being women, it might have been better to let trained and experienced soldiers do the dangerous work, and neither of the girls are called out for their reckless actions getting two men killed.
    • The Tenth Doctor is terrible with this, as he is The Hero and therefore Always Right, but his thought processes are... a bit suspect at times, the worst examples being in the episodes "The Christmas Invasion" and "Journey's End". In the former, the Doctor forces the Sycorax to retreat from Earth, until Harriet Jones orders their destruction with captured alien technology, and the Doctor is furious, berating Jones for attacking someone that was retreating while Jones replies that she was acting in self-defense, quite reasonable considering the Sycorax intended to kill hundreds of millions of people and demonstrated that they could easily not honour their promise not to return, with the Doctor winning because... somehow. In the latter, the Doctor's half-human clone (long story) kills the Daleks, a literally Always Chaotic Evil species with no redeeming characteristics - deliberately engineered to be that way, and proud of it! - yet the Doctor berates him for genocide and dumps him in an Alternate Universe because... because.
    • The Eleventh Doctor seems to have finally snapped out of this "holier than thou" phase, not shying away from properly punishing those who are an active menace.
  • In Roseanne, Leon is portrayed as wrong for wanting to fire Roseanne, even though she really is a lazy and sometimes intimidating employee who backtalks him almost every time he asks her to do something, even if that thing is something completely reasonable for an employer to ask of an employee. Of course, Leon is often a bit of a jerk in his own right.
  • Similar to Roseanne, Everybody Loves Raymond had Ray often act as a straw-misogynist to prove Debra's superiority, even in occasions when he was justified or right in doing what he did.
  • On The Gruen Transfer in "The Pitch" segments, some topics, while unsellable, do get mighty-convincing ads. This is naturally intentional, since the whole point is to demonstrate exactly how effective advertising can be.
  • Any time anyone doubts the legitimacy of offender profiling in Criminal Minds, particularly when it's the only evidence for an arrest (Third-Act Stupidity ensures the unsub always greets the arresting officers with enough evidence for a conviction; things rarely go well when they don't). Profiling IRL has never been proved to be effective and tests show "experts" have no more success with it than laymen.
    • In the episode Tabula Rosa there is an especially egregious example where Hotchner is testifying at a criminal trial. When the defense lawyer claims that all the FBI's profilers are doing is simply cold reading, Hotchner responds by cold reading the defense lawyer. This of course defeats this lawyer despite actually proving his point. Even though Hotchner was correct in his predictions, this doesn't prove anything of value. If that was a real defense lawyer that had been inteligent, he should have called a fake psychic to do the exact same thing as a rebuttal witness. Of course at the end of the episode, as always, they end up proving themselves correct with other evidence.
  • Lois and Clark: When Tempus mind-controls the entire city into turning against Supes, a lot of what happens seems like Reality Ensues. For example, he catches a couple of bank robbers and drops them off at the feet of an unassuming cop, who turns around and lets them go, insisting that it's Superman's word against their's that they were robbing a bank (although at the very least the cop would have held them on suspicion until they sorted the whole matter out). Later, a bunch of bureaucrats demand to see his license to fly as well as asking questions involving taxes. Technically, Superman pays taxes as Clark Kent, but the public at large isn't supposed to know he has a Secret Identity, making it more a question of why some non-mind controlled Jerkass bureaucrat hasn't at least asked this question of the IRS.
  • Merlin:
    • This is played with (usually consciously) with King Uther. The man hates magic due to the fact that it killed his wife, and his genocide of all those who practice magic, no matter how benevolent, is seen as terrible. And yet, most the time the threats against Camelot are entirely magical in nature (though in turn, many of Camelot's magical enemies are striking against Uther out of vengeance of what he's done to them). It's a vicious circle.
    • Other times, Uther has to make tough decisions about how to rule, and though he's often portrayed to be in the wrong, it's not difficult to see his point when he refuses to help a small village in a neighbouring kingdom because sending armed knights in to help might be construed as an act of war, or when he cuts off supplies from the lower towns during a famine because he needs what little food is left to feed the knights and thus maintain Camelot's safety.
  • On Babylon 5:
    • Garibaldi gets brainwashed into developing an irrational hatred of Captain Sheridan. Thing is, while his accusation that Sheridan has bought into his own hype is completely bogus, his comparison of the station to a military dictatorship is not. That's actually precisely what it is: its "government" consists entirely of Sheridan giving orders and his troops carrying them out.
    • He also points out that Sheridan's demands that he censor himself are somewhat in contradiction with a belief in free speech.
    • Writer/Producer Joe Michael Straczynski has claimed that it was intentional that Garibaldi had a valid point. Jerkass Has a Point might be the case here.
  • On Law and Order:
    • Prejudice had a double-version; a lawyer for a guy who killed a Black man based the Insanity Defense on his client's racism being so strong that he had to be insane. Except when the defendant gets on the stand to rant against Blacks, his complaints weren't the rants of an insane nutcase; rather, he made nuisance complaints about talking during movies and other stereotypical differences between Whites and Blacks that numerous Black comedians have pointed out as part of their routines. He only "had a point" inasmuch as whomever he was presumably plagiarizing and the sensibility of his arguments undercut his defense as well; he was supposed to be an irrational madman but he came across as a guy who watched too many Chris Rock films.
    • Serena Southerlyn was an in-universe version; anytime a defendant had a liberal-leaning defense, she'd jump to their side (i.e. a homeless man claims homelessness made him kill, she'd go "You don't think his lawyer has a point about homelessness being a problem?" She oscillated between just playing the Devil's Advocate and outright missing the point that, in this case, not everyone who is homeless goes off and murders someone.
  • Law and Order SVU:
    • For example, there's an episode where a boy has raped a celebrity, allegedly due to the influence of listening to and idolizing a radio shock jock. The shock jock is portrayed as a complete asshole who cares more about freedom of speech than his point -- at one point, he refuses to testify that the perpetrator admitted he'd raped the girl while he was on his show. Of course, the only reason that he even has to testify to this fact is because the censors took his show off the air in mid-broadcast, before the boy made the confession. Meaning if not for the rampant desire to censor him (Which the protagonists of the show shared) there would be a taped, nationally broadcast confession. He is a complete asshole, but he does have a good point.
    • SVU also has plenty of in-universe invocations where the validity of the criminal's ridiculous excuse-du-jour (alcoholism, porn, etc.) gets debated with the members of SVU stopping what they're doing for a minute or two to turn the squad room into an Internet forum of sorts, talking about the issue at hand. Munch was usually the guy in the defendant's corner, and could be counted on to work the issue into one of his various anti-government/anti-corporation rants.
    • Benson is effectively Munch's misandrist foil, often turning her back on an argument if it implies that a man did not rape someone he is accused of raping despite a lack of evidence or motive. One particularly egregious example is an episode where a man's DNA is found in a dead victim (but with no visible sign of sexual trauma). She says his DNA will tell everything. This is fairly shocking considering two episodes earlier she was framed for murder with a technique that removes DNA from blood samples and replaces it with someone else's. "Looks like your free ride's over." No. No it's not.
    • One episode had the detectives interrogating a man whom they suspected of raping a disabled woman. The man insists that the sex was consensual. When the detectives scoff at this, the man chides them for assuming that just because someone is in a wheelchair, he/she is incapable of sexual desires or feelings. While his point is undermined by the fact that he's guilty, it's a valid point just the same.
    • Another episode has a woman allegedly raped by her policeman husband. While the squad is very clear that, uniform or no uniform, rape is rape, the marital-rape issues cause more squad-room debate. At the end, when the case has devolved into he-said-she-said and the defendant (who waived a jury trial) has been acquitted, Benson complains that this means that a woman claiming her husband raped her had better be battered too. Well, maybe not battered, but-since one's mate's DNA in/on one's person is hardly evidence of rape-yeah, some physical evidence would be helpful.
    • One episode has a boy who has a psychotic episode and shoots two of his classmates, and so the SVU team blames the pharmaceutical company that produced the pills he was on at the time. When confronted, the representative from the company makes some very valid points: the medication was sent only to people who had already been prescribed it previously, it was sent completely free of charge, the instructions were very clear that it wasn't meant to be taken by children, and it was prescribed to the boy's mother and not the boy himself. The fact that the boy's school demanded he be medicated or he would be expelled doesn't matter. The fact that the mother's HMO refused to cover regular therapy (with a doctor who didn't think the boy needed to be medicated at all) doesn't matter. The fact that the boy's mother, who gave him the pills without reading the instructions or consulting a doctor, continued giving them to him after he developed severe insomnia and paranoid schizophrenia doesn't matter. All that matters is that Big Pharm is bad, and that's why the CEO is arrested. Granted, the CEO was morally shady (he had pills sent directly to patients through doctors' lists) and he's not charged with murder - only for reckless endangerment and misuse of the mail - but the audience is still expected to think of him as directly, morally culpable for the killings. For extra fun, consider that the doctor who gave his patient list to the pharmaceutical company did it specifically so that his patients could get, free of charge, the medications they needed but couldn't afford!
  • Played with in Wire in The Blood. Penny Burgess, a manipulative journalist who has sex with a police officer for inside information, points out that it is wrong to arrest a suspect on purely circumstantial evidence and release his name to the public. Because she is a villain, the audience isn't encouraged to take what she says seriously and none of the other characters agree with her, but she is proven right when the man they arrested commits suicide in prison and is later proven to be innocent.
  • Due to Values Dissonance, it is jarring when Blakey in On the Buses is depicted as an uptight bully for getting angry at Stan and Jack for groping the female staff and being lazy.
  • On Smallville, a number of characters have tried to force Clark/The Blur out of hiding and into the spotlight of the public eye. Since the series as a whole was building to Clark eventually coming out as Superman, the arguments for Clark staying hidden became less credible over time. The evil reporter from Season 2 who tried to forcibly expose Clark's secret argued that the public had a right to know about a powerful alien living in their backyard, which makes sense from a purely ethical standpoint of journalist ethics (as well as the aforementioned fact that the public would eventually find out about him) even if Clark does indeed have a right to a private life. There was also the corrupt DA from Season 9 who wanted The Blur to show his face and answer for a series of screwups that were blamed on him that were really the fault of the Wonder Twins trying to impersonate their favorite hero; his corruption was revealed last-minute as a means to give the Wonder Twins a heroic gesture and kill any debate on whether or not the Blur should have to reveal himself to clear his name.
  • In Glee:
    • Kurt relentlessly pursues Finn, knowing full well that Finn is straight. He orchestrates their parents into getting together to get closer to Finn. When they move in together, they end up sharing a room. Kurt redecorates it romantically and Finn, fed up with Kurt's advances, gets angry and ends up using the word "fag." Kurt's father Burt hears that and throws Finn out of the house for it. While it's obvious Finn should not have used that word, Kurt's behavior bordered on sexual harassment. While the writers intended the scene to make Finn the wrong one, over the hiatus, they heard fans' reactions to the scene and in season two wrote in a scene where Burt calls Kurt out for it, telling him that if Finn pursued a girl that way he would, indeed, be called out for sexual harassment.
    • Bryan Ryan, a guest character played by Neil Patrick Harris, is an ex-glee-clubber who goes on a crusade against school arts programs out of his own frustration that his singing and acting career didn't exactly pan out. While the point is lost in how far he takes it - basically encouraging kids to give up on their dreams - he's not wrong that most of them will not end up in Broadway or Hollywood and that they should have back-up plans. The show doesn't help by having background characters like Tina be the ones to argue for their arts dreams.
    • Upon his return, Jesse St. James is painted as a massive Jerkass for pointing out things like being talented isn't an excuse not to practice and rehearse. More than a few people in fandom agreed, and some even went so far as to say they were hoping New Directions didn't win at Nationals, since the fact that they weren't preparing any songs, weren't prepared to practice, and really didn't care showed they didn't deserve to win that year, and agreed with the decision in the finale.
    • In another episode, Will wants Emma to embrace that she has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by wearing it printed on a tee shirt in front of the club. She chickens out and instead says her flaw is that she is a ginger. When Will confronts her, she says that she did not confess she has a serious mental disorder because as a staff member, it is highly inappropriate to talk about such things with students. And while she does later admit that that was just an excuse and goes out in the ending number with a shirt reading OCD, she was initially quite right that her personal psychiatric health is not a subject she should discuss with her students.
  • In Carrusel, Jorge tells on Bibi, since Bibi was cheating on a test. The audience is supposed to take Bibi's side, since Jorge is such an abominable character overall. But cheating is wrong. It is unfair for Bibi to cheat and get away with it. And at age 9, nobody will be faulted for saying it loud and immediately instead of waiting till later and telling the teacher in private.
  • In Memphis Beat, Dwight and the other cops are issued smartphones. They prefer their regular phones, and treat them with contempt. Dwight even quips "there's an app for that" just before he uses his to break a window. Problem is, smartphones can actually increase productivity and effectiveness, with proper training, which Dwight and Co. admittedly had not received (yet). Also, Dwight was risking damage to an expensive phone and associated services on the Memphis taxpayers' dime.
  • In the unaired 2011 Wonder Woman pilot, Diana has dinner with a Senator who expresses concerns about the way she does things - namely, using Cold-Blooded Torture to get information from criminals, giving the metaphorical finger to Reasonable Authority Figures, and outright committing slander by holding a press conference to accuse Liz Hurley's character of being a murderous Corrupt Corporate Executive and admitting that she doesn't have any proof besides gut instinct. In fact, the only reason she's meeting the Senator is to get justification so she can go after Hurley. Of course, since Wondy-In Name Only is the hero of this story, she's ultimately presented as right.
    • It's really difficult to say. Though everything consistently turns up roses for "Wonder Woman" in most of her endeavors, the end of the episode shows her alone and fairly miserable. It's difficult to say whether the characters she opposes were meant to be the strawmen, or if the protagonist herself was being made into a strawman, who presumably would have been "redeemed" as the series went on.


Music

  • "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)":
    • By the Beastie Boys, is about as tongue-in-cheek as songs get -- even if some listeners didn't recognize it as a joke. Its lyrics are essentially one big spoof of the attitudes of stereotypical young "rebels without a cause." However, the quintessential rebellious teen whom the song is sung from the perspective of does make one good point: "Your pops caught you smoking and he says 'No way;' that hypocrite smokes two packs a day." Statistically, children are definitely more likely to smoke if their parents do. It's not that the Beastie Boys are wrong to make fun of misbehaving children, but obviously they need to point out the bad parenting that leads children to misbehave, too.
    • Also, to further that point, the next verse is "I'll kick you out of my house if that's the clothes you're gonna wear, I'll kick you out of my home if you don't cut that hair. You're mom busts on in and says 'what's that noise?' Aw mom; you're just jealous! It's the Beastie Boys." So inadvertantly, they end up removing all doubt that yes; the teen may be a bad boy but a big part of that is that his parents are stuck-up jerks who act like Moral Guardians but exhibit unhealthy behaviors themselves.


Newspaper Comics

  • A September 2009 Funky Winkerbean storyline has Susan defending Wit -- the story of a middle-aged woman dying of cancer -- as the choice for the [High] School Play against parents who want their kids to perform something light and fun instead of a drama with challenging and potentially depressing ideas. The point being made was that True Art Is Angsty (or at least can be) and can and needs to be explored even at the high school level, but at the snarking blogs The Comics Curmudgeon and Stuck Funky, comments sided with the parents in this situation, pointing out that it would probably be tough to stage with high school students and lack appeal to teens and their families and thus not sell tickets, losing money and possibly forcing cutbacks in the art department. Why not do something light and fun that many people will be able to enjoy and want to see instead? It didn't help the argument that the story was interpreted as a giant Take That, Critics! at readers unsatisfied with Funky's Cerebus Syndrome, which most famously manifested itself in the death-of-Lisa-Moore-from-cancer storyline. Not just the cancer arc, but also that the strip itself has become very somber in tone, with most jokes and puns becoming more and more related to fatalism, death, and accepting the finality that life is not, and will not end, happy.
  • Right-wing cartoonist Chuck Asay:
    • Every now and then he'll do a comic showcasing "Which situation would you rather have happen?". The one that he tries to show as evil and wrong will unintentionally come off as acceptable to most readers. Or take this one, intended to tar Global Warming as junk science as bogus as… evolution.
    • And then there's this one, where you have to wonder if it's not intentional. It shows Bush, McCain, and Lieberman coming up with a strategy that is literally just cheerleading the Iraq war, after which a generic Democrat comments to an agreeable house, senate, and media that it's going to be a tough sell. This would seem to be a clear-cut anti-Bush comic... except that his other comics indicate that he wholeheartedly endorses the war and the new strategy, and the audience is supposed to come across as cynical and manipulative.
    • A similar case is this cartoon. Supposedly drawn with Tea Party sympathies, it depicts the Tea Party as a man pissing in a kid's Trick-or-Treat bucket (and exposing himself to a minor in the process).
  • In an extended arc of 9 Chickweed Lane a British commander was held to be wrong be all the characters for believing that Edna was a collaborator- but because they hadn't told him the facts (like her being an American spy), that really was what it looked like with what he knew, so he ended up far more sympathetic than intended.
  • The last few years of For Better or For Worse suffered from this.
  • The spoof editorial cartoons by Kelly featured in The Onion purposefully invoke this trope all the time. The Chuck Asay cartoon linked above would be right at home.


Professional Wrestling

  • While in ECW, Mick Foley invoked this during his "anti-hardcore" gimmick, making real points about the fans (who were hungry for more and more risk-taking and violence by the wrestlers that would get to be too much) and still being considered a villain. He'd also invoke this trope when he "quit" as Cactus Jack while in the WWF, citing that he and Funk had been beaten pretty badly and the audience didn't seem to care once they heard uber-popular Steve Austin was in the building and started chanting his name.
  • When Stephanie McMahon turned heel for the first time by betraying her then-face dad and marrying top heel Triple H, she cited earlier in the year when her dad covertly arranged her own kidnapping from the Undertaker (and various other things that made her fear for her life) in an overly complicated Xanatos Roulette to screw Stone Cold Steve Austin out of the title. Honestly, it's hard to blame her for that one when you take a step back.
  • Sometimes, a heel will hate a face for some pretty solid reasons and still be a heel nonetheless. An example would be when Chris Jericho had a feud with Shawn Michaels in 2008. Most everything Jericho said about the fans being hypocrites for supporting HBK (Michaels) were pretty much true -- except that it wasn't long before Jericho began calling the fans hypocrites for pretty much any reason.
  • Smug Straight Edge CM Punk frequently called out Jeff Hardy over his past drug use during their 2009 feud. Hardy's lame excuses (like that he's just "living in the moment" or that he's not perfect), combined with the fact that he never admitted fault for his past, caused more than a few fans to turn against the supposed face. Of course, this didn't at all justify Punk's cheating or using cowardly sneak attacks.
  • CM Punk:
    • He tends to get this a lot. His point toward John Cena that he's not as high on morals as he claims can be argued to be true. John Cena's done some pretty awful things and was saved from being booed by being a face. Of course Punk, being a heel, was booed for pointing this out.
    • And further down the road, he's the heel in his possible feud with Randy Orton, but it was then-heel Orton who attacked then face-Punk years ago when he was champion, and punted him in the head, forcing him to forfeit the title via injury. Of course, Orton being a pretty textbook Draco in Leather Pants (even as a face) Punk was booed. Then again, Punk himself can be a bit of a Draco at times.
    • But where this gets particularly dark is that Orton has recently taken to using the same punting move on members of Punk's Nexus group. He's already done it to two, and you can pretty much guess he'll do it to more. When you look at it, Punk is seeking revenge for something that a person would be extremely justified in being angry about, but he's the villain, when Orton himself has barely changed from his vicious, psycho heel persona, but the crowd cheers him anyway. Since Punk has never really done anything horrible during his the feud against Orton, it's almost like the crowd is cheering for the Villain Protagonist to, as Orton put it, put the just as if not more popular hero in a rehab facility. It's almost baffling that they wouldn't boo Orton on the grounds of, up until now, being a Karma Houdini.
  • Lita:
    • His story reason for turning heel in her retirement speech. Read between the lines of the typical heel self-aggrandizing and it was pretty sound. She felt WWE Women's Wrestling wasn't given any respect by fans or the WWE corporation despite busting her butt to bring up diva's wrestling to the level it was at the time.
    • See also: Beth Phoenix and Natalya Hart's Divas of Doom team-up. Whilst describing the rest of the divas as "perky bimbos" may be going a little far, consider that the two of them have in fact wrestled from an early age and yet often lose to former models who never wrestled before joining the WWF and it can be a little hard to see them as outright heels.
  • Muhammad Hassan:
    • He has spent his entire career in the WWE pointing out the prejudice and racism he has to go through as an Arab-American. When you hear fans chanting "USA" at him despite being billed from Detroit, Michigan, you know he has a valid point. And let's not talk about his appearance in the Royal Rumble match...
    • It Got Worse. The first words out of Steve Austin's mouth when face to face with Hassan? "I see Sand People."
    • What drove home his point is that during his feud with The Undertaker, he had several masked assailants attack Taker. A newspaper (maybe the New York Post) ran a story headlined with "Undertaker Attacked By Arabs." Hassan brought up the very valid point of "How did they know they were Arab if they were wearing masks?"
    • Sad thing is, he's a Kayfabe Arab. In real life, he was descended from Italian Americans, so it's really just because people see non-white skin and assume everything they hear that is negative to be true.
    • Jerry Lawler: "They don't boo you because you're Arab! They boo you because you're a couple of obnoxious jackasses!" Fans: "eeeeehhhh"
  • During the whole "Eddiesploitation" fiasco, when Chavo Guererro turned heel against then-Champion Rey Mysterio, Jr., he accused Rey of using the Guererro name to further his own career. He was supposed to come off as jealous (since he failed to win his own tribute match to his uncle), but considering that Eddie's death has been used as Rey's motivation (even before his Road to Wrestlemania), some fans agreed with him to the point where he was considered to be the true face in all of this.
  • The Fourtune/EV 2.0 feud in TNA seems to be based around the fact that Fourtune is pissed they have to make room in the spotlight for all the old ECW guys, most of whom they feel can't wrestle. Ric Flair stated that until [the ECW guys] survive a plane crash like he did, they can't tell him shit about being "hardcore". Likewise, AJ Styles feels he's helped make TNA what it is through his duty to the company, calling TNA "The House AJ Built" and declaring ECW has no right to push him and the other originals out of the spotlight. They both have a point. What sends this into a combination of Viewers are Morons/Mind Screw territory is that the ECW/EV2.0 guys were famously loyal to Paul Heyman because they always came first to him (other guys would come in but he never put them over at the expense of his originals). The audience is supposed to boo Fourtune (the original TNA guys, for the most part) because they're complaining EV2.0 (the invaders) are taking over their show, when their original company (ECW) achieved its success because the original ECW manager was loyal to his originals and never pushed them aside. Furthermore, the ECW guys are supposed to be faces, but they're doing something that the original ECW despised (pushing aside original talent in favor of other, more famous people).
  • Another TNA example would be the decision by President Dixie Carter to fire "The Monster" Abyss. She was shown bullying General Manager Eric Bischoff into enforcing her wishes, which is admittedly her right as his superior. The problem here is that she wanted to fire Abyss not because he has been randomly attacking and even attempting to kill high-profile wrestlers (such as his assault on then-TNA Champion Rob Van Dam, forcing Van Dam to vacate the title), but because Abyss took Dixie hostage in front of the entire TNA "Impact Zone" (what TNA calls its in-studio fan base) and reduced her to a sniveling wreck on national television. While firing Abyss is (in Kayfabe, at least) almost certainly a good idea, the point here is that Dixie comes across as an egotistical Manipulative Bitch for caring more about looking good on camera than about the safety of her employees. Granted, this is a bit of an inversion of the trope since the strawman in this instance does not have a point (Abyss is a Complete Monster, after all); it's just that the anti-straw woman indeed has a point, but it's a self-serving and hypocritical one.
  • The way Batista was treated after Over the Limit was particularly Egregious, not the least because it happened on his very last night with WWE. He and John Cena competed for the WWE Championship in an "I Quit" match that culminated with Batista giving up after Cena threatened to F-U him off the top of a car. Cena smiled -- and then F-U'ed him anyway, nearly killing him! The next night on Raw, Batista showed up (in a wheelchair) to protest Cena's cowardly attack on him and to threaten to bring a lawsuit against WWE, claiming them responsible for nearly ending his career. Raw General Manager Bret Hart then appeared and told Batista that he would be granted another chance at the WWE Championship if he could win a qualifying match to be held immediately. When Batista pointed out that he couldn't even walk, Hart rather rudely stated that Batista therefore forfeited. Batista went ballistic and screamed at everyone, announcing that he was quitting WWE for being treated so unfairly -- and every single person in the arena booed him, like they would any other crybaby heel. Kayfabe aside, it was a really disrespectful send-off for a wrestler who, for the past five years, had been arguably second only to Cena in popularity.
  • On the Backlash after Wrestlemania XIV, prior to Triple H's match with X-Pac, he and Chyna talked about how much of a Ungrateful Bastard X-Pac was as he was the reason he got a job in the then-WWF in the first place. While Triple H was a heel at the time and could be dismissed as a Jerkass trying to justify himself betraying DX, after thinking about Chyna betraying Triple H for the Corporation and how he was all alone with none of the other DX members coming to his aid, it's no surprise that Triple H decided to sell out his buddies in DX.
  • When Jerry Lawler wrestled The Miz for the WWE title, the next Raw, Michael Cole did have a point in that Lawler was partially at fault, although not in the way he intended or the way he said. While the point Cole made was slightly valid, it really wasn't Lawler's place to interrupt a new champion's victory celebration, but The Miz is a frankly pathetic heel who more or less cheated to win his title and most faces would have done the same, there was a point in that Lawler technically did screw himself out of the win. While yes, Cole did pull him off the ladder and temporarily stop him from winning, Lawler berated and then assaulted Cole on this for at least a full minute. If Lawler had simply given Cole a well-deserved punch in the mouth and gone back to his business, Lawler would have been champion. Although it was still fun to see Michael Cole get beaten down.
  • Michael Cole gets one during the 3/25/2011 segment when he was trolling the hell out of R-Truth. Booker T says he lost respect for him, his reply:

 Michael Cole: "It's not about respect. No one gave me respect for fourteen years."

  • Ric Flair and Mick Foley's feud was based on some comments Flair made about Foley in his autobiography, which in turn were reprisal for some unflattering things that Foley said about Flair in his own book. Amazingly, EITHER man could be considered the Strawman here and EITHER could be said to have a good point anyway, depending on your point of view; Flair is right when he says that his criticism of Foley's technical wrestling prowess was sound (but possibly still in the wrong if those comments were rooted in personal malice), but Foley may also have been right when he pointed out that he was justly critical of Flair's treatment of him backstage and Flair's boneheaded booking decisions, not Flair's in-ring legacy (but possibly still in the wrong if he was using those things as an excuse for a petty Take That against Flair).
  • On NXT Season 5, Rookie Byron Saxton wants nothing to do with his pro Yoshi Tatsu due to the latter's courtship with Maryse rather than being his pro. While the viewers are supposed to be sympathetic towards Yoshi, the fact that Yoshi's infatuation with Maryse has interfered with mentoring his rookie (To the point where it cost him a match) makes Saxon appear more sympathetic.
  • The number of people who have turned heel for no other reason than because they had the audacity to be angry after being attacked and/or bullied by Stone Cold Steve Austin for no apparent reason is pretty high. Prominent examples include Ric Flair during the initial brand split who was attacked despite doing everything he could to get on Austin's good side, and arguably Vince McMahon himself, who started a nearly five year feud simply by asking Austin to be a bit less anti-social.
  • Bobby Roode, since turning heel to take the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, has seen the bad side of new authority figure Sting. Sting has tried to punish Roode for his outright cheating tactics and Jerkass tendencies including taking advantage of injured ex-partners and practically shooting them In the Back, using Dixie Carter as a shield and spitting in her face, among other assorted tactics, by making life hard for him as the champion. However, Sting in the process has taken to forcing Roode into repeat title defenses the Impact after certain pay-per-views as well as physically involved himself in world title matters. Roode is a selfish traitor with no redeemable social qualities whatsoever, but he's got a point about Sting's zeal for screwing with him to get a more virtuous champion - he's even recently exploited that to recreate an old Bret Hart title defense.


Tabletop Games

  • Deliberately invoked in the VII sourcebook for Vampire: The Requiem. Wanting to kill bloodsucking monsters with easily exploitable supernatural powers is a perfectly justiable position, Greg Stolze and those other guys who wrote it reminds us.
  • This is how Warhammer 40000, despite every faction being thoroughly unpleasant, falls into Black and Gray Morality territory instead of outright Evil Versus Evil most of the time, most of them having some good points and the Strawman With A Point changing depending on the viewpoint faction. For example, if the Imperium are the protagonists fighting against the Eldar, the Eldar are completely valid in their position that humans are destructive savages who have irrevocably screwed over the entire galaxy. Likewise, if the Eldar are the protagonists in this scenario, it's equally valid to point out that the Eldar are just as responsible for the threat of Chaos facing the galaxy, were too busy having violent hedonistic orgies when they could have done something about it, are more than happy to cause the death of billions of planets full of humans to further an unexplained ridiculously complex scheme, and, when it comes to backstabbing, always pulls the blade first.
  • Mage: The Ascension had this pretty bad. The Technocrats were set up as a terrible conspiracy bent on destroying art and imagination and generally ruining the world. Except... they were responsible for every good thing that's happened to common people throughout history, from better farming to television. And they're also the only people who are organized and powerful enough to actually land a blow against the supernatural powers that be and saving countless people with their, admittedly harsh, actions.


Theatre

  • A staple of the comedies of Aristophanes:
    • Is a contest or debate between representatives of traditional ideals and new ways of thought, with the new ones exposed as dangerous, and the traditional side proving decisively victorious. (Sound familiar?) Unfortunately for the playwright's point, most of these debates consist of the supposedly sophistic side making a good argument which the traditional side dismisses out of hand as blasphemy, without making any intelligent counterarguments. Then people follow the wrong argument because it makes more sense (it's even lampshaded in Clouds) and bad things happen to them as a result.
    • That makes it sound like Aristophanes may have been parodying both sides, telling the people who he otherwise agreed with that "you can't just say 'that's blasphemy' because it doesn't address their appeal to the masses and rings hollow; you have to actually explain why they're wrong". It's like a religious person making fun of both Richard Dawkins and Jack Chick. The bad things that strike the followers of the new ways are Aristophanes' attempt to do just that.
  • Moliere's Don Juan:
    • In what might be an Invoked Trope example of this, the play is ostensibly condemning its evil atheist Villain Protagonist and most of the other characters remark on how horrible a person Juan is, including his servant, Sganarelle. The thing is, Sganarelle is certainly no saint himself besides being too much of a coward to stop Juan, is happy to profit from Juan's evil actions. Thus, both contemporary audiences and modern ones tend to think that instead of validating the views of Moral Guardians, Sganarelle instead serves to make Don Juan's philosophy actually come across as better, and some of Moliere's contemporaries considered the play "diabolical" for this reason.
    • Quite a few plays from that time period revolve around what is essentially their version of Shock Rock -- a Magnificent Bastard has a wonderful time doing all those things the Church says are so awful, and then at the end he gets dragged into Hell to appease the Moral Guardians with what is effectively an And That's Terrible ending.
  • In Legally Blonde: Callahan points out that Enrique being flamboyant, effeminate, and knowing a lot about shoes does not automatically imply he is gay. He even sings a song about it -- "Gay, or European?" in order to illustrate the difference. Callahan ends up sexually harassing Elle and thus being one of the bad guys. And Enrique did turn out to be gay. But Callahan is right that effeminate does not automatically equal gay.
  • In Porgy and Bess, "It Ain't Necessarily So," which argues that sin is a nonissue since most of the Bible is probably false, is the primary Villain Song of a cocaine dealer and bootlegger who tries to trick the male lead into incriminating himself for (justifiable) murder, forcefeeds cocaine to the formerly addicted female lead, and blackmails her into moving up the coast with him. In the coming decades, it was taken up by numerous jazz and rock singers without a hint of irony.


Video Games

  • Dr. Breen's speech in the early levels of Half-Life 2 raises an interesting point about the nature of immortality and the responsibilities it brings. This may actually have been the writers' intention, as it's common for villains to use reasonable arguments to justify unreasonable actions, even in Real Life. All is moot on the ground that he's working for an interdimensional empire that has killed and enslaved countless billions and drain Earth (and many other worlds) of much of its natural resources, oh yeah and suppressed breeding. On the other hand, it's hinted that if Breen hadn't arranged for Earth's surrender, the Combine would have completely wiped out humanity. Whether Breen is a sycophantic power-hungry quisling or a deluded guy who honestly believes his propaganda about the "Universal Union" that the Combine bring is a subject of much debate.
  • No matter what character interpretation you may subscribe to in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (whether or not you see Marche as a Villain Protagonist), it's hard to argue with some of the justifications that both sides use. If you believe that Marche is in the right, the royal forces (who are attempting to stop Marche from destroying the crystals and returning to St. Ivalice) are very correct when they claim that he is destroying the one place where his friends and brother are happy. On the other hand, even if you see Marche as a dangerous Jerkass, he is still right when he claims that Mewt and Ritz (among others) are using Ivalice to avoid facing their real-world problems (and because the Ivalice world actually replaces St. Ivalice instead of existing separately, they are forcing other people to cease to exist in the process). Basically, no matter who the player personally supports, the "villains" are correct when they call the "heroes" out on their selfish attempts to impose their own form of reality on the world. Needless to say, intepretations on who was "right" are fodder for much debating.
  • The Jackal from Far Cry 2, on his interview tapes, sounds a lot more logical than the game seems to want you to think of him as, given the tape descriptions. While many of them are blatantly MORALLY wrong, his logic to justify what he does makes a scary amount of sense. This is especially invoked in the tape asking him why Africa, when he gives the interviewer a small Hannibal Lecture, asking him if there's someone else's home he doesn't care about that he should sell weapons in.
  • Mass Effect 3: During the meeting with the Council after escaping Earth, regardless of which one it is, they shut down Shepard and Udina's alliance argument with the pragmatic fact that with the Reapers focusing on Earth, they can use the time they have to start defending their own borders. The game treats this as a selfish act typical of the Council, and a sign that they still view humanity as expendable despite years of them attempting to prove themselves to the galaxy, but when one really thinks about it, it's hard not to see their point. Many fans have been annoyed with Shepard's obsession with Earth, pointing out that Earth isn't the only important planet in the galaxy and that it makes sense trying to save what can be saved and pile resources instead of wasting them trying to regain lost causes. Of course, this is downplayed as Shepard and Udina aren't wrong either when they say the races need to stand together; in fact, it's precisely because of the Asari's initial refusal to cooperate that Thessia gets taken by storm, when logically they should have had all the warning in the world.
  • Bully features a feud between the Math and English teachers. Mr. Hattrick, the Math teacher, is a tyrannical monster who uses his wealth and connections to bully both the students and the other teachers with impunity, whereas Mr. Galloway, the English teacher, is kind and mild mannered, and has been bullied by Hattrick for so long that he's turned to alcoholism. The problem here is that Galloway actually shows up to class hung over and even drinks during school hours. Hattrick catches him at it and tries to get him fired. The game itself presents it as Hattrick Wrong Galloway Right because it fits in with its themes (In particular, that people in positions of authority are oblivious to what is and isn't actually Harmful to Minors; the students are aware that Galloway drinks, but it doesn't offend them or encourage them to drink themselves, while Hattrick is a classist bully who maintains a clear-cut appearance to keep anyone from suspecting him). But, regardless of the reason he's drinking, firing a teacher who shows up to teach drunk makes more sense than just brushing it off as "a chap can have a drink when he bloody well wants". In Real Life, any teacher who did that would be in serious trouble.
  • As time goes on in the Mega Man X series, the games start leaning heavily on the idea that it's far more the mistrust of the humans and the trigger-happiness of the Maverick Hunters that are causing everything to go wrong than it is because of the Mavericks themselves. But considering that Mavericks, both infected and free-willed, have started multiple genocidal wars because they have a gross misunderstanding on how evolution works or are flat-out insane, or find the act of provoking a shooting war to be preferable to clearing their own names for the sake of honor, is it really any wonder that the population at large doesn't trust them?
  • Channel4's game The Curfew is meant to be a look at the oppressive checks and Orwellian surveillance instituted in a hypothetical UK in the year 2525 by the Shephard party, where most are legally bound to be in by 9PM, and immigrants have to earn "citizen points" before becoming citizens, or moving from citizen Class B to the privileged Class A. The player's job is to listen to and play through the stories of the four people they're stuck in a hostel with so they can figure out which to give information that might topple the ruling regime. While the question of what human and civil rights are and should be is an interesting one, the event that propelled the party into power was a major, catastrophic nuclear attack on Great Britain, which had been preceded by a major economic depression. The titular Curfew is aimed at preventing another such attack.
  • This is a common criticism of Spec Ops: The Line. While the game goes out of its way to portray Martin Walker as a monster who's trying to blame others for things that he is clearly responsible for, a lot of players couldn't help but feel the events of the game really were out of his control. As it stands, the game doesn't give you any other options besides the various atrocities you commit; in the infamous white phosphorous incident, enemies infinitely respawn until you pull the trigger and you don't find out about the civilians you kill until after the deed has been done. And most of the other 'atrocities' can simply be chalked up to self-defence. The developers anticipated this reaction and state that there is another option- stop playing the game- but this has led to some critics Stating the Simple Solution- don't buy the game in the first place. One critic even argued that attempts to blame the player were just a cowardly way to absolve the developers of any responsibility for making the product in the first place, which in turn makes the lesson that you shouldn't blame others for your actions completely hypocritical.
  • Valkyria Chronicles:
    • Faldio is a strawman for advocating the use of the game's parallel of WMDs, which the game is staunchly against. The problem is that he was right. Forcing Alicia's Valkyria powers to awaken is the only reason Gallia is still standing by the end of the game, because on at least two occasions, when the situation was the most dire, they saved the day. Faldio is treated as a power-hungry monster and no better than their enemies, but that doesn't change the fact Gallia only won the war because of precise application of the weaponry the game's Aesops condemns.
    • In Faldio's case, an additional problem was with the fact that he was treating Alicia as a weapon to be used against Gallia's enemies, not as a person who has feelings and free will -- which is, incidentally, the same way Maximillian was treating Selvaria. This varies somewhat between the English and Japanese versions; the English script implies that Faldio didn't ask nicely because he just couldn't risk the answer being no, resulting in an I Did What I Had to Do scenario. The Japanese paints him as much more sinister.
    • The anime version throws in UST between Faldio and Alicia despite being based on the Japanese script, slanting his motivations in the English script's direction to a degree.
  • In the dev's effort to discourage piracy, Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk 2's villains sometimes take a more sympathetic stance than the heroes. "Hey kid, want a mod chip? You'll be able to do things like cheat!" "Don't listen to her! Isn't it more fun to play the game as the devs intended it to be played? Good kids obey authority!"
    • It comes to a head, or at least a more balanced light, during the rematch with CFW Brave. He and Uni have a pre-fight debate in regards to the importance of making children happy vs. the integrity of happiness through underhanded means. Both sides raise understandable points and despite Brave inevitably losing the resulting boss battle, both of them end up respecting each other and their goals.
  • Used deliberately in Pokémon Black and White, since the plot is a Decon Recon Switch of the "cute monster pitfighting" premise. The enemy Team is a Pokemon rights group trying to have said pitfighting activity banned as abuse. By, you know, mugging Trainers. Some members are portrayed as extremely sympathetic, along with their figurehead leader, who is recognized as a hero by the Powers That Be for his efforts in Pokemon liberation. The others kick wild Munna.
    • Team Plasma's perspective on things is even more understandable if you play by a Self-Imposed Challenge whose rules dictate your Pokemon are Killed Off for Real if they get KO'd, such as the Nuzlocke Challenge.


Web Comics

  • This Subnormality comic was probably intended as a massive Take That to professional sports, but it ruins it by making Brian the Brain seem like a whiny elitist and the other two characters intelligent guys who just enjoy turning him off and relaxing every now and then. In fact, "Take a break from intellectualism every now and then" is probably a better moral than "Watching sports will make you an idiot misogynistic racist homophobic criminal". It's just as easy to take the comic as intentionally arguing the former moral, rather than the latter. Rowntree himself commented that it could be interpreted either way, and the comic is meant to point out the "cognitive dissonance regarding hockey in particular".
  • This Dinosaur Comics strip. Granted, it's not really clear that we're supposed to side with Utahraptor, but given that he is fairly consistently depicted as being smarter and more reasonable than T-Rex, having him argue a point which essentially boils down to "Hitler Ate Sugar" is somewhat jarring. On the other hand, it's also entirely likely that Utahraptor could simply be teasing him.
  • In Jay Naylor's comic Original Life, the small girl Angelica was created as a strawman into which Naylor stuffed everything he hated, from politics to spirituality to musical taste. She's also widely considered the most likeable and sympathetic character in the strip since she seems to be one of the few characters that doesn't act like a complete Jerkass to everyone around her. For five months, she's been waging a campaign against the strip's Objectivist protagonists, and most reader reaction is rooting for her.
  • In the Sonichu webcomic, several trolls are on trial for murdering a character. The trial is quickly derailed to have more to do about their respective webcomics, and one of the characters, stoned off his mind, complains about the author's lack of work ethic. There are several tirades about letting the author write as he wants, but the stoner was right. Not updating can be a serious detriment to the success of any franchise. Sadly, this was played dead serious (literally, as this was used as evidence for their executions), rather than lampshading the hell about the absurdity of it all.


Western Animation

  • In the G.I. Joe episode "Satellite Down," Storm Shadow and some of the Joes are forced to make a temporarily alliance while under attack by a tribe of apemen. Storm Shadow, while being assaulted by a group of apeman children, flings one of them against a rock, causing Lady Jaye to object. Storm Shadow defends his actions by pointing out the obvious: that they are under attack. We're supposed to think the Joes have the moral high ground, but Storm Shadow is the voice of reason.
  • This was a frequent occurrence on Captain Planet and the Planeteers with the character Wheeler, who was portrayed usually as an arrogant and obnoxious jerk and hence always wrong, despite the fact that he often made sense. In one episode, he was mocked and declared selfish due to his opposition to keeping endangered and injured animals picked up in the groups travels on Hope Island, despite the fact that not taking exotic species out of their natural habitat is a perfectly valid Green Aesop on its own. This is not the only example. He has been "wrong" to espouse two entirely contradictory positions in two separate episodes, and was somehow wrong both times. See The Complainer Is Always Wrong for details.
  • Batman: TAS:
    • Villain Lock-Up uses extreme (for a kids' cartoon) methods to keep the Arkham inmates in line, so bad that Scarecrow escapes simply to get away from him. But his justification, Arkham Asylum's "revolving door", is perfectly sound. It helps that the more monstrous inmates like The Joker were conspicuously absent, so more sympathetic ones like Harley Quinn and Ventriloquist could plead their case. And as Scarecrow shows, his improved security system isn't a hundred percent perfect -- if, by some miracle, another inmate escapes, they'll probably do ANYTHING to avoid going back there. Even when Scarecrow was brought back in the first act, he was in full costume and brought in by Batman and Robin. Sympathy aside, the episode implied he'd still pull his shtick again, meaning he's still a dangerous psychotic, despite wanting to stay away from Lock-Up.
    • The Penguin from the episode "The Ultimate Thrill" who, in the transition to The New Batman Adventures, had become a Villain with Good Publicity. When Batman busts into his apartment to interrogate him about Roxy Rocket, he sarcastically asks to see Batman's search warrant before opening a can of submachine-gun fire on Batman. Considering that Batman is a vigilante operating outside of the constraints of the law, it was a rare moment in which the cartoon pointed out that he had no legal authority to bust The Penguin for anything and killing Batman on his property would have been justifiable under the Castle Doctrine.
  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
    • A number of people sided with Twilight Sparkle's outlook in "Feeling Pinkie Keen," as opposed to the lesson "sometimes it's better to just have faith" Pinkie Pie was supposed to teach. The intended lesson was either "you shouldn't dismiss things you can't readily explain," or possibly "accept that your understanding will always have limits." Sadly, both are very difficult to convey gracefully, especially if you don't want them to come off as family unfriendly.
    • The Canterlot Elite in "Sweet and Elite" are depicted as smug elitists for treating the ponies from Ponyville as hicks. Consider though that a bunch of Ponyvillians trashed the highest profile social function in Equestria, and proceeded the trash the second highest social function, one wonders if the reputation for being boorish hicks is actually somewhat deserved.
    • In "The Super Speedy Cyder Squeezy 5000," Flim and Flam were technically correct in their original claim; that their machine could outproduce the efforts of the Apple family alone, and although they agreed to change the conditions and then lost because they got cocky, Applejack ends the episode getting equally cocky about a pretty hollow victory--she only won the bet via labor intensification; having to double her workforce on short notice. With the lack of industrialism established, next season either the town will have to face the same sort of shortages it did in the beginning of the episode, or be forced to suspend most other facets of its economy, possibly including the more necessary ones, just so it can create a large supply of consumer goods that are nice, but far from necessary.
  • In Justice League:
    • This once happened to the writers. During "A Better World," Batman and his Mirror Universe counterpart are having a battle/argument in the batcave. League!Bats is arguing that freedom is worth preserving, even at the risk of harm, while Lord!Bats argues that by taking away freedom they have ensured security. Initially, League!Bats was supposed to win the argument, but when they wrote the Armor Piercing Line, "[W]e've made a world where no eight-year-old will ever lose his parents because of some punk with a gun," for Lord!Bats, the writers could not think of any counterargument that League!Bats could give. Despite the writer's own intention of having League!Batman win, they had to re-write the scene to have Lord!Batman win since there really was no adequate response. In the end, League!Bats shows Lord!Bats the world he created, in which a man gets arrested and beaten for stating he wouldn't pay for his food and notes that mom and dad would be proud of the world he created.
    • The entire Cadmus story arc was centered on Cadmus' attempts to thwart the worst-case scenario of the league taking over the world like their Justice Lord counterparts. As it was framed in a "Who watches the Watchmen"-type debate, the strawman struck back on both sides. Amanda Waller justifies Cadmus' shady business by pointing out that the League has a Kill Sat, they have made some questionable decisions in the past, and normal people don't have a way to defend themselves against the league if they overthrew the government as in the "Justice Lords" world. In Question Authority, Green Arrow lampshades the whole thing by saying that if the League ever decided to cross the line and become the Lords, there's nothing that the rest of the world could do to stop it. In an inversion, Batman points out that Green Arrow and the league's more grounded heroes were meant in part to keep the heavy hitters honest, but they only served as the overall conscience against them Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, not an actual Restraining Bolt if they were to truly abandon their principles and attack the government.
    • This led to the aesop being resolved on two fronts. First, The League, in a pivotal moment, proved they were not the threat the Justice Lords were by being willing to turn themselves in to the government and hold themselves accountable for the orbital satellite mishap until their names were cleared, proving that the government didn't need to be as powerful as the League to keep them in line (though Batman pointedly thought this was idiotic, and spent his time doing the name-clearing instead). Meanwhile, Cadmus' screwups (Doomsday going rogue and Luthor/Brainiac trying to assimilate the universe) showed Waller how Cadmus was ultimately responsible for the very threats to the world it was meant to guard against.
    • And finally brought full circle in "Patriot Act". Following the prior events, and Superman's speech about the league's "hubris" being partly to blame for why the world was afraid of them, the league has made better inroads towards gaining the people's trust, including dismantling the aformentioned Kill Sat. However, given the preceding events, it's still not completely unreasonable for General Eiling to use a Super Serum on himself to become an actual physical match against the league possibly going rogue. Granted, he callously puts a crowd of innocent people in danger when he attacks a group of Badass Normal leaguers but he also subverts the strawman portrayal when he listens to the crowd of civilians calling him out on his own hypocrisy. Eiling halts his rampage and leaps off, promising to return if the superheroes ever did become a threat.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Several episodes often centered on Hank opposing some person or organization that conflicted with Hank's view of life, and Hank is almost always portrayed as being the correct person in these conflicts, though many of the apparent straw men often had good enough positions. Occasionally, however, Hank would lampshade it.
    • A particular example comes in "Reborn to Be Wild", where Bobby finally gets interested in religion thanks to a group of hip skaters who are also devout Christians. Hank reacts with horror and tries to force Bobby back into more traditional avenues of worship, while the hip preacher says that Christianity needs to do more than an hour-long lecture every week if it wants to attract the younger generation. While Hank does ultimately make a good point (he doesn't want Bobby to treat faith as just another fad), this only comes at the very end of the episode, after 20 minutes where he's treated as right despite being portrayed as an intolerant Luddite.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: In the episode Equal Fights, the character Femme Fatale makes a good point about the lack of original female superheroes, though this is Played for Laughs considering the source media.
    • More accurately the girls accepted her premise but ultimately rejected her conclusion that the shortage of female superheroes and supervillains means she should be allowed to continue her crime spree.
  • One episode of Phineas and Ferb has Candace decide to give up on trying to bust her brothers. The show presents this as wrong, and Candace changes her mind at the end, but since Candace has spent many, many episodes trying and failing to bust her brothers, usually because of some sort of Deus Ex Machina, her decision actually looks sensible.
  • X-Men Evolution:
    • When Lance joined the Brotherhood to be with Kitty Scott doesn't trust him and eventually accuses him of being behind a series of joyrides which have totalled the various X-Vehicles. He's presented as being in the wrong for not trusting Lance and being so aprehensive, in order to motivate Lance to stick with the Brotherhood, even after Scott realizes he was being a dick about it and appologizes. However, Scott had every right to be suspicious and aprehensive as A) Lance had only recently developed feelings for Kitty, and until recently was a very aggressive criminal who regularly caused a lot of property damage, B) Was only interested in joining because of Kitty, and had no interest in learning (and when Evan showed no interest in learning, they were going to give him the boot for it), C) The moment when Scott is supposed to come off as being a dick about it was when he reactivated something in order to trip Lance up for a joke, which was massively out of character for Scott anyway, and was in retaliation for Lance's previous acts of jerkery towards Scott, D) Scott did actually try to welcome him at first, but became disuaded when Lance screwed up two different lessons for no other reason than to be funny, and was way behind the newbies in terms of skill, regularly throwing up and coming in last in races, E) That Scott spected him of the joyrides, as did Logan, because of both great reason (Lance had taunted Scott about it after his car was destroyed) and that when confronted about it he not only doesn't deny it, but later actually admits it in order to anger Scott. Scott was supposed to come off as being a hostile jerk, and to many he did, but even people who like Lance have noted he wasn't exactly an innocent little flower here. If he had said that he didn't do the joyrides, actually got his act together and did the lessons, and didn't respond to Scott's few attempts at being friendly with uncalled for hostility himself, he could have became a valued member of the team.
    • A small one in a later episode, Cajun Spice, had Remy kidnap Rogue, play up their similarities and show her a good time, they try to get her to help him save his adopted father. She gets mad upon finding out the truth, but comes to his rescue later, and defends him when Logan gets ready to cut him to ribbons. Except, this is forgetting that Gambit had drugged, kidnapped, threatened, and manipulated Rogue, but the fact he's doing it for a noble cause and appologizes once she finds out seems like they were trying to gloss over the fact that, well, he was being very sleezy about it.
  • In the Digital Piracy Is Evil episode of The Proud Family, enough people pirate the music that the local music store loses its customers because they don't bother to buy music from him when they can get it for free. Despite how much of the episode is obviously exaggerated; that scenario is actually plausible. Especially since they don't start losing money (and customers) when just Penny downloads music.
  • Often occurred on Daria, though this could often be chalked up to Values Dissonance, Daria often took positions that the show's initial target audience of anti-social teens would agree with but most wouldn't, but those opposed to her would be portrayed as obviously wrong by emphasizing how shallow, stupid or petty they were, even when they weren't that unreasonable.
    • The episode where Daria ends up on the yearbook committee is a prime example. Daria convinces the teacher overseeing it to cut the clubs and sports sections from the yearbook, primarily out of spite toward those involved. The show tries to keep sympathy on Daria's side by making everyone trying to stop this be extremely underhanded and shallow, despite the fact that they just want a standard yearbook feature and Daria is mostly just being petty. In the end the sections are restored to the yearbook after one teacher getting shafted by it assaults the overseeing teacher and gives him a vicious beating, neither teacher is portrayed as sympathetic, but somewhat disturbingly the scene is simply played for laughs.
    • This also started out the case in "Fizz Ed", where thanks to budget cuts the school was forced to take sponsorship from a soda company to make up the missing money. Daria was staunchly opposed simply on the principle of corporate sponsorship of education. But early on the episode made it clear how badly the budget cuts were hurting, and the usually reasonable character of Jodie actually explained why she was OK with it. The show then makes it appear as if Daria was right all along by showing how the corporate sponsor later takes control of the actual curriculum and ends up worsening the educational value, when in fact this was never Daria's concern or brought up.


Web Original

  • Neopets: Xandra did have a legitimate point: the Faeries do comparatively little for Neopia, and yet everyone idolises and reveres them. However, her response was... well... not the right thing to do, shall we say.
  • In Super Mario Bros Z, Shadow's arguing that they should leave Princess Peach in Bowser's hands while they instead focus on finding the last of the Chaos Emeralds and stopping Turbo Metal Sonic is used as an excuse for Sonic to call him out on how he's become more of an asshole since Mobius was destroyed. However, while he was a jerk in how he put it, Shadow did have a number of valid points:
    • Bowser is, particularly when it comes to Peach, practically a Harmless Villain. He kidnaps her all the time and would never harm her.
    • Bowser outright told them that he wouldn't hurt her and would wait for them to finish gathering the Chaos Emeralds to hand over as her ransom.
    • Turbo Metal Sonic, in contrast to Bowser, is a Complete Monster and an Omnicidal Maniac who will happily butcher his way across the Mushroom Kingdoms looking for the last Chaos Emeralds while they are distracted dealing with Bowser's umpteenth harmless kidnapping.
    • Once they have those last Chaos Emeralds, they can transform into a group of Super Mode versions of themselves and lay waste to Bowser's whole army in the blink of an eye, then track down Turbo Metal Sonic and tear him to scrapmetal.
      • Ultimately, while it was intended to show just how callous and fixated Shadow has become, it really does make more sense for the Mario Bros, Yoshi, Sonic, and Shadow to prioritize finding the Chaos Emeralds over saving Peach.


Other

  • In The Secret Life of Dolls:
    • Anna is persistently paranoid and accusative of Edward, which the author condemns her for. However? Edward Tallen is a dangerous, antisocial dollpire -- and just committed pre-meditated murder.
    • This was darkly foreshadowed, when Anna insists that the reason she wants to kill Edward is that killing vampires is what her family does. Cleolinda says "Yeah, well vampires are supposed to eat people and he's not doing that!"
  • A somewhat famous example from Computer Science: "Worse is Better"[4], a famous paper describing two methodologies of software development. The "New Jersey" methodology (called "Worse is better", thus giving the paper it's name) is purposefully set up as a strawman, to contrast with the approach the author was trained in, the "MIT Approach" (called "The Right Thing" methodology); and yet, it turns out to be "better" at certain things, even in strawman form. Acknowledging this fact is part of the point of that section of the paper.
  • Most Robot War stories want us to sympathize with the humans. But in most every case, the humans started it, and the robots are defending themselves, if being extreme about it.
  • In almost any given story where the hero argues that If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him, the point of the opposing side -- usually that the ends justify the means and that taking one murderous life to save many innocent ones is nothing like taking many innocent lives for selfish reasons -- will come off as this to a fair amount of people.
  • Conversed in a criticism of the Straw Feminist trope by Feminist Frequency. Anita Sarkeesian noted that while most such characters are portrayed as being always wrong, many of the actual points they made are perfectly valid, and points out that many of the writers of such characters seem to confuse real feminism with "female supremacy".
  • The Epicurean trilemma is probably a forgery by Christian philosophers who were unhappy with some of his other ideas (like Cessation of Existence and ataraxia), since it first shows up in anti-Epicurean/anti-Stoic works written under Constantine and doesn't quite fit with the theology of Hellenistic Athens. 1400 years later, Hume felt Epicurus, well, had a point, and "his" presentation of the problem of evil has since been a fixture in works attacking the idea of a single, benevolent God.


Notes

  1. which isn't really frowned upon in Russia due to high prices on apartments
  2. although the program is not constitutionally sound in theory, a court of review found that the program was constitutional and there are a lot of conflicting opinions as to its legality.
  3. While divining the future by those lacking The Gift is possible in the Potterverse, only the Centaurs are ever suggested to have actual knowledge of how to pass it down to others
  4. The statement, it should be noted, is (intentionally) misleading (and explicitly noted to be so); "Worse" in this case refers to an incomplete but sufficient implementation right now, rather than a perfect implementation years from now. Further, there is a point where less functionality ("worse") is a preferable option ("better") in terms of practicality and usability. Software that is limited, but simple to use, may be more appealing to the user and market than software that is more comprehensive, but harder to use.
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