28 Characters Who Seemed Like The Villain In A TV Show Or Movie, But Then Actually Came Across As The Hero Upon Reflection

·14 min read

Have you ever been watching a TV show or movie, and gone, "wait a minute...the villain is right!"


Well, recently Reddit user u/Chadderbug123 asked just this — here are 28 TV and movie villains that weren't the villain at all...or at the very least, made some solid points!

1.Benny from Rent

benny coming downstairs to ask for rent from two other characters

"Benny was the 'villain' of the musical Rent. But was he the villain? He’s a gray character for sure, but I don’t think he’s such a bastard. He rents out a massive apartment in New York City to his friends who have no income or credit (probably), offers them to invest in a studio to make films and write songs, pays for rehab for Mimi, AND pays for the funeral for someone who literally murdered his dog. Sounds to me like a man trying to help his friends get their shit together and grow up. I’ll admit he’s a bit of a dick for cheating on his wife, gentrification, and says some not so great things to Mimi. But the villain? No way."


Sony Pictures Releasing

2.Ken from The Bee Movie

Ken asking his girlfriend has other bugs in her life

"I, too, would go absolutely berserk if a talking bee stole my girlfriend and gaslit me into thinking I was out of my mind."


Paramount Pictures


<div><p>"It was one of the only almost perfectly executed AI villains. He never really talks unless needed because he wasn’t programmed to, no malicious motives, and does everything efficiently. He’s only ‘bad’ because he’s following his programming: protect the humans, and don’t let them back to earth. Not out of malicious intent, but it was what he was programmed to do. And his directive isn’t even incorrect. WALL-E finding that plant was like finding a four-leaf clover in a field of grain. The planet was nowhere near habitable, and they barely know how to stand when they get back, in reality you know nobody on that axiom is going to make it very far."</p><p>—<a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74679X1524629&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.buzzfeed.com%2Fhannahmarder%2Fvillains-who-were-right&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.reddit.com%2Fr%2FAskReddit%2Fcomments%2Fxfcbr4%2Fcomment%2Fiom4kco%2F%3Futm_source%3Dreddit%26utm_medium%3Dweb2x%26context%3D3&xcust=6315575%7CBF-VERIZON&xs=1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:u/Creepercolin200" class="link ">u/Creepercolin200</a></p></div><span> Pixar</span>

"It was one of the only almost perfectly executed AI villains. He never really talks unless needed because he wasn’t programmed to, no malicious motives, and does everything efficiently. He’s only ‘bad’ because he’s following his programming: protect the humans, and don’t let them back to earth. Not out of malicious intent, but it was what he was programmed to do. And his directive isn’t even incorrect. WALL-E finding that plant was like finding a four-leaf clover in a field of grain. The planet was nowhere near habitable, and they barely know how to stand when they get back, in reality you know nobody on that axiom is going to make it very far."



4.Ozymandias from the Watchmen comics, film, and TV show

close up of Ozymandias

"He outsmarted the most powerful being in the universe, and WON. There actually weren't flaws in his logic or execution."


"Ozymandias is the greatest antagonist. He became a villain to save the lives of everyone on the planet from nuclear war and fallout. The premise of the end justifies the means at its core."


Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

5.Screenslaver from The Incredibles 2

screenslaver saying it's in control

"The monologue given during that movie regularly rings in my head. I'm sure the creepy bass robotic voice doesn't help too. ... TLDR: you think everything will always be okay and while you remain distracted, the powers that be will continue to steal from you."



6.Chuck McGill from Better Call Saul

closeup of chuck at a desk

"He was ultimately proven 100% correct in asserting that his brother being a lawyer would eventually ruin lives and hurt people. Granted, he was a total dick about expressing it, as well the way he went about undermining Jimmy...but he was right."


Ursula Coyote / ©AMC / courtesy Everett Collection

7.Aria’s parents from Pretty Little Liars

Ari's parents telling her teacher/bf that he needs to leave their house

"They’re villainized for not letting their high school daughter date her teacher??"


"I understand they tried to do it from the teen's POV however it just doesn't fit right. Like in real life he's a predator and would be in serious trouble."



8.Captain Hook from Peter Pan (the original story)

captain hook

Suggested by u/AlecShadow

"The Captain Hook that has to deal with Peter Pan killing lost boys before they age out and become pirates? Or every other sanitized version of the story?"


"This — in the original version, Peter Pan is a monster (kidnapping boys and taking them to 'Neverland', but only until they reach a certain age). Captain Hook seems more like Chris Hansen if he had a penchant for the pirate life!"



9.Squidward from SpongeBob Squarepants

squidward enjoying waking up at his leisure until spongebob shows up to start asking questions

"Not a true villain but Squidward. Damn, is Spongebob an annoying neighbor; I'd hate him, too."


"Squidward’s a minimum wage worker in a monotonous day job with a boss who explicitly wants him to earn as little as possible and cuts costs everywhere, while having a musician’s heart and playing his passion instrument to have some happiness and relaxing time for himself. He then proceeds to have his only time of peace and tranquillity stolen from him by a loud, inconvenient neighbor who doesn’t take care of his shit and makes fun of him for not being a pro at music. Most Spongebob episodes I watch nowadays have me rooting for Squidward to just murder those two morons before they induce a depression breakdown on our squid boy."



10.General Hummel from The Rock

general hummel

Suggested by u/SideQuestWriter87

"Literal terrorist, but he got sympathy from pretty much every character in the movie, including those trying to stop him. Loyal leader, made concrete demands, and never actually intended on killing anyone."


"He wasn’t even really a bad guy. He went out of his way to not kill innocents (even though he threatened to), and his mission was entirely noble."


Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

11.Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb


"The dude just wanted to resolve normal, common day problems like people who can't decide what they want to order stopping the queue. We've all thought what he thinks, but only he has the will, intellect, and resources to actually try it."


Disney Channel

12.Stevie from Wizards of Waverly Place

stevie saying that it's not fair that only one person gets to keep their powers, she would do away with the competition

"Her entire goal was to stop families from giving up their magic to just one person in the family. Like…we’re really supposed to be rooting against her? It just seemed super out of character for Alex to go against that plan."


I was thinking exactly this. Why give up your powers when everyone can have them? Only one member of the family having wizard powers seems unsustainable for the wizarding world. I get it that it was not very nice of her to trap her brother but she was 100% right. I really thought Alex would do it, I cannot understand how or why did Alex double cross her."


Disney Channel

13.Lex Luthor from Superman comics, films, and TV shows

lex leaaning against a table

"We're only safe as long as Superman think it's fun to be the hero."


"I root for Luthor as he’s my favorite DC character. I like the continuities where he isn’t cartoonishly evil but a nuanced villain who understands how dangerous an all-powerful alien could be and does some morally dubious things to ensure humanity’s survival."


Clay Enos / Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

14.Miranda in Mrs. Doubtfire...

miranda telling her ex husband to stop painting her as the bad guy

Suggested by u/nakedcupcake92

"Something you don't understand as a kid watching it, but totally get as a parent. Shit, if i was married and came home to literal zoo animals in my house, I'd def go find James Bond and a nanny instead."


"Sure the zoo part is bad, but worse is planning a secret birthday party for your kid that excludes your spouse. Even if it was a simple party without a zoo, that’s messed up."


20th Century Fox

15....and also Stu

close up of Stu

"Forget the mom, her boyfriend was really screwed. [He] was a nice guy who got hated for being a good dude."


20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

16.Gorr the God Butcher from Thor: Love and Thunder

Gor saying that the gods will use you but not help you

"He was pretty scary and his motives were fair; he was just giving the Gods what they have given others for centuries."


"Totally. Seeing all of the gods in Omnipotence City or whatever it was called really had me wanting all of them dead. Especially Zeus."



17.Doctor Zaius from Planet of the Apes

closeup of Doctor Zaius at a desk

"Dr. Zaius in Beneath the Planet of the Apes has this line which sums up his ideology to a T (paraphrasing as it's been a hot minute): "Help you?! Why should I help you? Man is evil! Capable of nothing but destruction!"

And the best part is, while yes, by refusing to help George he leads to the world being destroyed, he wasn't ever wrong. The end of the first movie has George learn that mankind caused a nuclear apocalypse whilst he was out in space, leaving the other apes to evolve in more or less a wasteland. And the second movie ends with George activating nukes underground in a last-ditch hail Mary and blowing Earth up.

While yes, it could've been avoided if Zaius just helped George, why should he have? Everything from both the Apes' religious beliefs and their knowledge of history shows mankind to be an evil, destructive species. ... And the last thing Dr. Zaius experienced was just confirmation of his belief as a human destroyed not only himself, not only Dr. Zaius, but literally the entire planet."


20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

18.Roger from Friends

Roger and Phoebe

"He saw the group for what they were almost immediately and when he calls them out on it, instead of saying, 'Y'know what? He's right, we should work on ourselves and not spend the next decade bouncing from one failed relationship to the next' they bad mouth him behind his back and throw cookies at him after he leaves the room. He was the hero they needed but didn't deserve."



19.Magneto from the X-Men comics and films

Magneto saying everything's been taking from him so now he's going to do the same

"I root for Magneto when watching the X-Men movies. He’s objectively right, and Days Of Future Past proves it."


"First Class, too. They save the world and are immediately betrayed, just how Magneto thought they'd be."


"He knew the hate humans had for mutants, and wasn't as blindly optimistic as Xavier. True Malcolm X of the mutant rights movement."


20th Century Fox

20.Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming

Vulture leaning on a table

"I still remember I’m sitting there watching that movie and I’m like, 'Hey this guy actually has a point!' After Spider-Man and mainly Tony Stark fucked him over on purpose I was like, 'Yeah Adrian, fuck those guys!'”


Chuck Zlotnick/ Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

21.Poison Ivy from the Batman comics, films, and TV shows

Poison Ivy saying it's not nice to fool with mother nature

"Poison Ivy is an environmentalist at heart. ... Both [Poison Ivy and Raj Al Ghul] were pushed into extremism after the broken system they're trying to fix simply refused to change for so long that they decided the system itself needed to be torn down."


"I also like the idea that she and Batman are very similar in some respects. They're both committed zealots in their 'war.' They both have a certain class of living beings they're trying to protect, and both recognize some Gotham inhabitants as innocents versus others as free game. Apart from Ivy being willing to kill, the major difference is that Batman just doesn't care about plants that much. If he recognized them as morally important like she does, they'd be buddies."


Warner Bros.

22.The Red Hood from the Batman comics and related movies/TV shows

the red hood being pinned against the wall

"Batman beats dangerous people up. They go to Arkham, are usually experimented on there and come back worse. In a way that makes Batman one of the worst perpetrators of Gotham's constant decline into savagery. The Red Hood just straight up kills them."


Christos Kalohoridis / DC Universe / Courtesy: Everett Collection

23.Agent Smith from The Matrix

Agent Smith saying that humans are a cancer to the planet

Suggested by u/Littlefield54

"He's accurate AF...well, except for machines being the cure. We cut down forests to urbanize all the areas on the Earth, ranch too much livestock, burn too many fossil fuels, and leave dirty diapers in the Walmart parking lot. It's not supposed to be 116 degrees in the San Francisco Bay Area...EVER."


Warner Bros. / Roadshow Entertainment

24.Roy Batty (and the other Replicants) from Blade Runner

Rutger relaying memorable moments from his life, then saying they will be &quot;lost in time like tears in rain&quot;

"Roy Batty. What was done to him and his kind was wrong and he had righteous anger."


"The Replicants from Blade Runner. Used as slaves and given artificially short lives. They just wanted to live and be free."


Warner Bros.

25.Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

closeup of the cartoon

"He really was lonely, surrounded by incompetent people, and just wanted to get home. He-man could have shared the power of gray skull."



26.Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace

Mr. Wilson turning back to a flower that once bloomed but is now dead in under his view

Suggested by u/Monsterenergyboi

"Seriously, that kid was a fucking dick."


"The live-action movie has one of those random scenes you see as a kid that sticks with you your whole life: Mr. Wilson has been cultivating this flower that takes like 40 years to bloom and then dies in ten seconds. At the moment it's going to bloom, Dennis causes a ruckus and Mr. Wilson misses the blooming he's been working his whole adult life for. Looking back, that's like one of the most disturbing moments I've seen on film, partly because it gets more relatable as I get older. I mean, damn, 40 years..."


Warner Bros.

27.Mojo Jojo from Powerpuff Girls

close up of the cartoon character

"He wanted to bring free energy and advanced technology to the people. And in one episode he actually did. He made the world an amazing place. And then the Powerpuff girls ruined it all."


Cartoon Network

28.And finally, Killmonger from Black Panther

Killmonger saying that Wakanda has the tools to liberate everyone that looks like them

"Before I get into all this, I just want to add that I’m a Black/mixed person who grew up in a neighborhood like Killmonger’s in my own hometown, so I can only speak from my own perspective here.

Dude was raised in the hood (aka a predominantly Black low-income neighborhood) and his family in Wakanda did nothing to support him or his dad. So, the fact that they, and other folks in their neighborhood, could have had financial support and didn’t receive any? Even though Wakanda had the means and the technology to help out Black folks in other parts of the African diaspora who were negatively impacted by colonialism? Yeah, I’d be a bit salty and feel abandoned, too. And on top of that, Killmonger’s father was killed by them, and he watched his father die in front of him as a kid. If that doesn’t fuck you up, idk what will, man.

Some might ask, 'Okay, so I could see where his resentment towards Wakanda comes from. Well, how does this tie into his additional resentment towards white supremacy, imperialism, and colonialism?' Buckle up, buttercup, because it absolutely fucking does. Economic decimation, health crises, police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline, and mass incarceration — and so many other systems of oppression stemming from white supremacy that still exist for Black people today — are here as a result of being forced into a country that our ancestors were forced to build. Just because slavery was abolished doesn’t mean its impacts went away (in fact, they just morphed in other insidious ways, but that’s a whole other can of worms). This is especially apparent in neighborhoods that I, and Killmonger, grew up in.

Given all this, I can 100% understand why Killmonger would therefore grow to have this resentment towards white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism; which would then fuel his rage towards Wakanda, and the abandonment he felt, which turned him into a 'villain.' These traumatic experiences on an individual level, and the heaviness of cultural and generational trauma on top of it all? This shit adds up over time.

Wakanda is essentially a look at a hypothetical African nation that hasn’t been touched by colonialism in any way, shape, or form. Its existence asks, 'How much could we have achieved had we not been decimated by imperialism? What would the health and well-being of Black people look like? What would a nation where we aren’t made to feel less-than look like? What would it feel like to have that safe haven knowing that there aren’t any larger structural systems trying to hold us, and keep us, down via poverty, mass incarceration, police brutality, etc.?' We’ll never truly know.

So yeah, Killmonger had some points. Thanks for coming to my TEDTalk."