Listen. What did Amon want? Equality for all. Unalaq? He brought back the spirits. And Zaheer believed in freedom. (Korra: I guess...) The problem was those guys were totally out of balance and they took their ideologies too far.
~ Toph explaining to Korra that even though what her enemies did was wrong, they still had understandable reasons.
I was just trying to make the world a safer place for children!
~ Sheila Broflovski, attempting to explain her evil actions.

Anti-Villain is the opposite of an Anti-Hero. While the anti-hero often fights on the side of good, but with selfish motives; the anti-villain plays a villain's game, but for a noble cause, at least in "their" eyes, though sometimes in others' as well. They may be more noble or heroic than an anti-hero, but the means to achieve their ends are often considered exploitative, immoral, unjust, or just evil.

Anti-villains will occasionally side with their rivals (usually the protagonist) if a greater threat than themselves comes or it's in both of their best interests. Often times, if they do join the protagonists, they are distrusted but can get along and eventually redeem themselves. On the other side of the coin though, is that they are easier to redeem than regular villains. What's more, similar to anti-heroes, the most prominent personification of anti-villains is that they are kindhearted towards their opponents and treat them with equality, but it can be possible for them to treat other villains around them with brashness and rudeness, which is a very unusual trait for such a villain to have. Also, some heroes who were good or normal at first can sometimes become villains after.

In essence, these are characters that, although technically villains, often serve in a noble capacity, which makes them sporadically heroic. It is possible and, in fact, very common to be both an anti-villain and an anti-hero at the same time, depending on the character's goal and their methods of attaining it. They can also be in the center of being in the Grey Zone, depending on their alignment (though an anti-villain is not necessarily in the Grey Zone and can be outrightly evil).

Alternatively, characters that are meant to be seen as villains in-universe or out, but are not really all that evil, such as certain designated villains or "Punch Clock Villains", may also be this.

Popular anti-villains include Char Aznable from Mobile Suit GundamMagneto from the X-Men, Shadow from Sonic the Hedgehog, Mello from Death Note, Benjamin Linus from Lost, V from V for Vendetta, Jin Kazama from the Tekken series, Agent John Bishop from the TMNT franchise, the Puppet from Five Nights at Freddy's, Itachi Uchiha from the Naruto series, Pink Diamond from Steven Universe, Kurumi Tokisaki from Date A Live and Severus Snape from Harry Potter.

IMPORTANT: Anti-villains can NEVER be Pure Evil because Pure Evil villains are never presented positively, while you're supposed to sympathize with anti-villains, even if you do not approve of their methods. Pure Evil villains who claim that their deeds are for a noble cause are merely delusional, if not mentally insane (e.g. Koba, Andrew Scott, Light Yagami, Unalaq, the Duke, William CarverGeneral Lunaris and PAMA).

Also, note the following:

  • Redeemed villains are not necessarily anti-villains if they didn't pursue a noble goal before their eventual redemption.
  • Just because a villain has too many redeeming qualities, they are not necessarily anti-villains. They must want to change the world or their environment for the better by using villainous ways.
  • Just because an anti-hero is on this wiki does not necessarily mean they are an anti-villain; in order to qualify as an anti-villain, the character needs to have a noble goal (e.g. SCP-049).

See Also

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