Tyrion: I'm guilty of a far more monstrous crime: I'm guilty of being a dwarf!
Tywin: You're not on trial for being a dwarf.
Tyrion: Oh, yes I am! I've been on trial for that my
entire life!
~ Tyrion Lannister lashing out at his father for his lifelong poor treatment of him due to being a dwarf.
What did I ever do to deserve such a family?!
~ Papa Bear expressing his disdain for his family.

A scapegoat is a villain who is punished much more than he/she would actually deserve. By definition, they are the polar opposite of Karma Houdinis.

Just being a "bad guy" and having bad intentions is rarely enough to suffer such a punishment, which must be given according to acts. Some villains, however, are submitted to a retribution that can be very harsh, cruel, or even unfair, thus occasionally winning over the audience's sympathy to an extent, as their punishment outweighs the crimes they committed.

The very definition of a scapegoat is an individual framed for something done by someone else, although scapegoats also include:

  1. Villains whose fates are so horrific that the audience feels pity for them (e.g. President Haltmann, Charles F. Muntz, Viserys Targaryen, Arthur Reeves being driven insane by the Joker or Scuttlebutt being forced to drown in the river under the sealed tunnel alongside Chief McBrusque, the latter of which was the only one who deserved to actually die).
  2. Villains who are subjected to some horrendous torture as a way of karma that they did not deserve (e.g. Theon Greyjoy, Hexadecimal and Patolli).
  3. Villains that have horrible lives that almost never improves or even gets worse (e.g. Hansel & Gretel, Akaza, Carrie White, Tyler Down, Lucy and Andrew Detmer).
  4. Minions that are often unfairly abused or killed by their master, either for failure or because they've outlived their usefulness (e.g. Lefou by Gaston LeGume, several Makuta by Makuta Teridax because he does not need their competition for power, Nute Gunray by Emperor Palpatine, Charlie Walker by Jill Roberts because she did not actually love him, Shazam by Superman after he realized that the regime had gone too far and several henchmen by both Shao Kahn and Shinnok), unless the minion deserves it for committing heinous crimes (e.g. Brixton Lore by Eteon Director, Shang Tsung by Shao Kahn and Krogan by Drago Bludvist because Krogan also mistreats his minions and kills them for their failures).
  5. Tragic villains who, in the end, suffered more than they made others suffer or whose tragic past outweighs the extent of their crimes (e.g. Gollum, Rameses, Daniel Cross, Aubrey Davis and Kiritsugu Emiya).
  6. Remorseful villains who wanted to redeem themselves, but their chance was either rejected or they died before they could do so (e.g. Gríma Wormtongue, Siren, Krika, King Nachtigal and Jamal Elliot).
  7. Incompetent villains, whose defeats (recurring or otherwise) are often humiliating and degrading and they did nothing to warrant it (e.g. Disney's Captain Hook, Dr. Neo Cortex, Plankton and Lord Betrayus).
  8. Comic reliefs who are defeated or punished in a slapstick manner, sometimes brutally so.
  9. Villains who are constantly revived and killed over again even if they didn't do anything that bad (e.g. Lifty and Shifty).
  10. Anti-villains who intend to do good and never resort to dirty tactic, but just go about it the wrong way (e.g. Rinne Sonogami, AUTO and the Brain).
  11. Affably evil villains who only wanted to get along with the heroes, or other particular characters, but are disrespected, scolded or badly admonished for doing so, even if they never did anything that particularly bad.
  12. Insecure villains who wanted to make friends in the first place, but people are too scared and/or disgusted by their looks, which drove them to villainy in the first place (e.g. Frankenstein's Monster).
  13. On & Off villains and their heroic enemies who have to temporarily put their rivalry aside for the greater good, or there's a worse threat that puts the real "villain" to shame, which also leads to certain Evil Vs. Evil scenarios where the more "important" villain is the only one strong enough to defeat the more dangerous threat. (e.g. Dr. Eggman is bent on world domination, but sometimes, there are villains such as Black Doom and Solaris who are bent on destroying the world, preventing Eggman from building his Eggman Empire. He is then forced to "join" the heroes and "help" them defeat the dangerous threat.)
  14. In Love villains who are regularly cheated or abused by their crush, yet keep protecting and taking care of them out of devotion (e.g. Harley Quinn who is abused by the Joker, or Misa Amane, who's a mere pawn of Light Yagami's plans).
  15. Possessed/Brainwashed villains who instead of snapping out of their influences, had to be killed in the end (e.g. Quirinus Quirrel was possessed by Lord Voldemort and had to be killed by Harry Potter's mother's sacrificial protection and Cujo was brainwashed due to being bitten by a rabid bat and had to be killed either with a baseball bat or the sheriff's gun by Don Trenton).
  16. Villains who get a tragic sendoff: they might not even have a tragic/sympathetic background, have any positive qualities, be affable or anything, but their deaths are still silent moments where the characters show a deeper, more complex personality and that they may not be entirely evil, maybe showing insecurity as their primary motive and/or trying to fit in (e.g. Envy was a hateable sadist for the biggest part of the series, but during his death he is revealed to have been jealous of humans and always wanting to be like them, even committing suicide because of it. There's also Colonel McCullough, who may have been horribly genocidal and putting innocent apes through torture, but in the end he truly wanted what was best for humanity, and may even not have been so different from Caesar).


  • If any villains turned to the good side, they would no longer fall under this category, unless they have been expiated thus saving their souls after being suffered with their transformations which led to their villainy or made their existences miserable (e.g. Morgan Moonscar and Constance Nebbercracker).
  • Villains can only be qualified for this category if they face at least three, four, or numerous defeats from TV shows and/or video games (e.g. Bowser and Zim).
  • Villains who are tragic and/or insecure might still not qualify because their crimes are too heinous (e.g. Randall Boggs, Balthazar Bratt, Tom Cooper, General Grievous, Saruman, Prince Hans, Lilly, Nigel, Lord Shen and Sentinel Prime).
  • Villains do not automatically qualify as a scapegoat if their comeuppances are justified and well-earned, and their crimes far outweigh their feelings for sympathy, no matter how excessive their punishments were (e.g. Ernesto de la Cruz, Jafar, the Devil, Crawford Oberson, Ripslinger and Percy Wetmore).
  • /!\ Pure Evil villains will NEVER qualify as they are in their normal senses, display no redeeming qualities and the acts they do are always taken seriously. Therefore, basically every defeat and/or death they get are equal to what they have done and their defeat or death, regardless of brutality, is warranted. Often, their actions are so vile and loathsome, that the fate they've earned is nothing compared to what they did to their victims. That said, there are at times where they start out as a scapegoat before becoming devoid of any sympathy.

This category is for characters whose punishments are not only BRUTAL and EXCESSIVE, but STILL had redeemable and/or sympathetic traits (e.g. Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Trina Riffin, Mr. Burns, Sylvester J. Pussycat Sr., Wile E. Coyote, Marvin the Martian and K-9).

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