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When a character's supposed insecurities or embarrassing quirks are supposed to inspire sympathy, but fail to impress the audience because they're mishandled or plain written badly.

This is generally reserved for unpopular traits such as being overweight or being a nerd, both of which tend to be grossly exaggerated on television (see Hollywood Pudgy and Hollywood Nerd) and usually have nothing to do with anyone who might have such problems.

Sometimes these are humorous things in a character's past dredged up to embarrass them. This is supposed to make the character more human without affecting their present "perfection."

Often a problem with The Scrappy and some varieties of Mary Sue.

This is the opposite of Unintentionally Sympathetic.

See also Law of Disproportionate Response.

Examples of Unintentionally Unsympathetic include:


  • One series of Hoover ads portray their new vacuum as a reward for neat freaks. Except the neat freaks depicted seem to have mild OCD or Molysmophobia[1]. An Australian run of hand sanitizer ads makes the same mistake, marketing the Dettol hand sanitizer to the 'signing a credit card slip with your elbows' market.
    • Ditto for that newfangled no-touch soap dispenser. Right, so's you don't contaminate your hands with any icky germs just before you, y'know, wash them. Anyone that unreasonably terrified of germs doesn't need to be catered to with a no-touch soap pump; they need professional therapy to help overcome an apparently Howard Hughes-level case of germophobia.

Anime and Manga

  • Famously, Neon Genesis Evangelion has Shinji Ikari. As Evangelion is a Deconstruction of all things Super Robot, Shinji is insecure, weak-willed, shy, and unstable, as opposed to the stereotypical Hot-Blooded pilot. While plenty of fans see Shinji as The Woobie, just as many find him annoying and Wangsty and wish that he'd suck it up and start being a badass warrior. Of course, these audience members are either missing the point or taking umbrage with the You Suck that Shinji forces them to acknowledge.
  • To a non-Japanese audience, Momotaro from the World War II propaganda film Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors comes off as a Complete Monster rallying adorable animals together to go to war and brutally kill British soldiers.
  • Haruna from Tenchi Forever is supposed to be a sympathetic Anti-Villain; a woman dead before she can live her romance with the man she loves and whose soul feels so alone, than she is trying to recreate this love story with the grandson of her former lover. What many viewers see is a bitch who kidnaps, brainwashes and rapes a teenage boy.
  • For many viewers, Mahiru Inami. We're supposed to feel pity because she can't help but punch any man that comes across, but that's something really hard to sympathize with, especially as she doesn't seem to do much to fix it. She also gets a romance plot with the main guy that is supposed to be endearing, but fails because it just looks abusive (and when the guy complains about being punched, he's the one shown as the bad guy).
  • GE - Good Ending has Yuki, one of the main protagonists in the series. A good part of the manga is spent trying to get Utsumi, the protagonist, help her deal with her Broken Bird issues, only to have her throw everything out the window by asking him to rape her, in order to overwrite the bad memories she had with her previous boyfriend. Utsumi calls her out on it, so she dumps him because he's always too nice to her.
  • Naruto falls into this sometimes as well. Similarly, the Belated Backstory of the legendary "Salamander" Hanzo, the ninja against whom the Sannin won their titles by surviving a battle with him sets Hanzo up as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who lost sight of his goals but is honored in defeat by his rival as a man who strove for peace. By starting a lot of wars and turning his homeland into an unlivable hellhole that produced the most psychologically broken, defeated human beings in the series, just because he was arrogant enough to think his strength could unite the world. Most fans still consider Hanzo an utterly unsympathetic character whose violent death at Pain's hands was richly deserved, as his claim of good intentions didn't make him any less of a paranoid warmongering dictator.
  • A rare case of this trope being held by one of the development staff instead of audiences regarding a character occurred with Pokémon 3 via Molly Hale. Takeshi Shudo after reading a copy of the screenplay for the movie written by Sonoda and learning that the woman accompanying Spencer Hale back to the estate in the end credits was supposed to be Molly's mother, ended up stating that she came across as a child psychopath rather than a truly tragic character as a result due to Sonoda fundamentally misunderstanding what he intended to convey with the film and making clear he would never have gone that far to get a mother.[2] This also acted as one of the reasons why he stopped making Pokémon movies afterward (the other being he was suffering from a severe illness that affected him for the rest of his life, which was also the reason the credits turned out the way it did).
    • On a similar note, it also ended up making Spencer Hale this as well in the Japanese version, since he was spending time trying to find the Unown and neglecting Molly and his wife (who was hospitalized). This probably explains why the English dub changed his motivation for seeking the Unown to him trying to find his wife after she disappeared during a prior attempt at locating the Unown.
  • For lots of yuri fans, Chikane Himemiya from Kannazuki no Miko. She whines and wangsts about Himeko, steals her First Kiss when she's sleeping and then causes her lots of emotional and mental distress, is creepily touchy-feely towards a girl from the archery club and to her maid Otoha (who is in love with her, and Chikane knows it), and ultimately sexually (and emotionally/mentally) abuses Himeko as a part of her Thanatos Gambit to "release" her from her destiny.. The audience is supposed to like her and think she's a desperate girl who loves Himeko enough to do horrible things for her, but for many she's actually a gaslighter and abuser who sees Himeko as a sort-of thing to possess, sexually abusing her because she considers Himeko too weak to face the Awful Truth and thinks it's okay to take away near all of her agency regarding it.. Even more so, all the other Orochis faced extremely cruel things in the past like sexual abuse (Corona), orphanhood (Girochi), faith crisis due to war (Sister Miyako), work exploitation plus disillusionment (Reiko), parental abuse (Tsubasa and Souma) and experimentation (Nekoko). . . whereas Chikane is a rich girl who's been extremely sheltered and privileged in comparison, only "suffering" due to her thoughts on Himeko and their bonds.

Comic Books

  • This proved to be a huge problem with the character Magog in DC Comics. When introduced in Kingdom Come he was a caricature of the worst part of 90's heroes, and was fairly popular for it, as he seemed so pathetic and remorseful. When he was brought into the main DC Universe he was given a huge push and eventually added to the Justice Society of America and later given his own series. He was shown to be a war veteran with PTSD, but proved to be so unlikable and mean to his teammates that he was eventually killed off in Justice League Generation Lost.
  • Virtually everyone in Civil War. The Pro-Reg side may have become tyrants but the Anti-Reg wasn't easier to root for, freely committing mass destruction. It was one of the many critiques of the book's Idiot Plot.

Fan Works

  • Many a Draco in Leather Pants fanfic can elicit this reaction. The writers clearly want the audience to root for their precious cinnamon roll(s) but Ron the Death Eater is actually pretty reasonable and hasn't done anything worse than Draco. Throw in the Protagonist-Centered Morality and Designated Hero that these fics live on and Ron seems to look better and more sympathetic than in their canon media.
  • How I Became Yours is supposed to be about Star-Crossed Lovers Zuko and Katara missing each other and their happy reunion once he realizes his mistake in not pursuing their relationship post-series. However, Zuko is already married to Mai and cheats on her with Katara, fathering a child and risking ruining his reputation as Fire Lord for having an kid with a Waterbender and not his legal wife. Mai hides Katara's letters about the baby, and while this isn't exactly the best way to deal with it, she's the one seen as in the wrong for trying to protect her husband's reputation, to the point that Zuko throws her to the ground when he finds out and he's still supposed to be seen as the hero. Katara herself does nothing but mope and whine even as Sokka, Toph, and the Bei Fong estate servants knock themselves out to keep her happy, makes her unborn baby's death all about her, and later kills Mai in cold blood!! But the audience is supposed to be rooting for the pair to live happily ever after, with Sokka even calling Katara a hero for killing Mai via bloodbending (something that, were she mildly IC, would horrify her). Is it any wonder more readers felt sorrier for Mai than they did for any of the main characters?
  • The Voltron: Legendary Defender fanfic Across The Multiverse features Akira Kogane/Keith traveling said multiverse desperately seeking his happy ending with Takashi Shirogane/Sven/Shiro after the latter is killed in the original Beast King GoLion 'verse. Simple, right? Except from the very beginning, Akira is selfishly obsessed with his and Takashi's love to the point where Takashi's death is all about him. Not once does he truly consider the feelings of Isamu Kurogane (whom Takashi died to protect and whom Akira saw cry as Takashi perished), Hiroshi Suzuishi (a pre-teen boy with serious abandonment issues who cried more than anyone over the loss), or Takashi's own grieving brother Ryou (heck, when Ryou tells him that he saw his brother in a dream, Akira mentally whines about Takashi not coming to him even when he has his friends' support while Ryou was all alone)! The closest to this would be him encouraging Isamu to give Princess Fala a Love Confession, but considering how he describes Fala's feelings in a passive-aggressive and borderline unflattering way, it's obviously done to get Fala off his back rather than anything else. He then tries to kill himself to find Takashi again (mind you, he does this after suddenly running off with the Black Lion right after Isamu and Fala's wedding and her enthronement as the Queen of Altea, perfectly knowing that his friends would be worried sick), only for the Space Goddess to be disgusted by his selfishness and curse him to never earn that happy ending. Akira, now Keith, proceeds to throw himself across every Voltron continuity to find his lover, whine when it doesn't go his way, get super jealous when others MAY be interested in him (i.e, in the DOTU one he seethes with envy when he believes that Jeff from Vehicle Voltron is a bit too friendly with Sven for Keith's taste), see said lover die after not loving Keith back (in what can easily be seen as a "punishment" FOR not falling in love with him), die AGAIN to keep chasing after him (and again NOT really taking his friends' feelings over his own death) and finally "sacrifice his own life" in the Legendary Defender continuity to seemingly protect Allura (which due to circumstances makes next to no sense). Instead of learning his lesson about not being a selfish twit who believes he's entitled to Shiro's cock, he's rewarded with Shiro and Honerva teaming up to fix it all better so the lovers can have their perfect happy ending (while openly dismissing the feelings of Shiro's canon husband Curtis, who's portrayed as selfish for loving Shiro while Keith's own self-righteousness over him is seen as True Love). It's hard to feel any sympathy for this ASSHOLE when his behavior is the exact opposite of Akira or Keith's in any incarnation of the franchise.
  • Cori Falls's portrayals of her "heroes" Jessie, James, and Meowth are this trope to the letter. In canon, the trio do have sympathetic backstories: Jessie was poor and her mother was very much career-first before she outright disappeared looking for Mew, James grew up in a Gilded Cage with unsympathetic parents who engaged him to a junior dominatrix, and Meowth was abandoned as a kitten and had trouble finding real friends and family. Cori's fics take these backstories up to eleven by throwing all manner of angst and traumas at the trio, particularly Jessie. Unfortunately, the trio are also unrepentant in their self-righteousness, blaming their life choices and actions on anyone but themselves-especially poor Ash Ketchum, who becomes their walking target for violence and malicious hatred for daring to want to protect his Pokemon from them. Worse, during Stage 2 of Cori's fics, Jessie and James fight constantly over every single setback and go into It's All About Me mode over each other's issues! At least one sporker of the fics has pointed out the heavy Unfortunate Implications in this arc.
  • The Ace Attorney epic Turnabout Everlasting does this to pretty much every main character except for Iris and Larry. To wit:
    • In order to protect Maya from Kristoph Gavin, rather than simply explaining things to her and asking her to lie low while he fakes their breakup, he begs Iris to pretend she and him are dating and breaks up with Maya for real. To Maya's credit, she does try to distract herself and move on, but Phoenix does nothing but wangst and mope over the loss of his true love. Later, he and Maya take forever to get it together as they keep running from each other and arguing. It makes their reunion less of a heartwarming moment than a "finally, this dumb arc is over with." Though Mia's spirit does eventually call Maya out on still making Phoenix feel badly about the whole thing later on, and she's able to make it up to him.
    • Franziska is a Clingy Jealous Girl over Edgeworth having slept with Lana Skye long before she and him were even together, and the two constantly fight about it. She miscarries one child, the second is stillborn, and she runs away from Edgeworth because she can't handle the grief and she's still butthurt over Lana. To be fair to her, losing children is painful as hell, but she lets her jealousy and wangst get in the way of trying to smooth things over with her lover so they can work through the tragedy together. Edgeworth, rather than immediately going after his lover and trying to smooth things over as soon as possible, sits and wallows in his own angst...while also criticizing Phoenix for doing the same regarding his situation with Maya. The fic is not yet finished, and the two still have yet to get their shit together as of the latest chapter!
    • Pearl Fey begins a romance with Luke Triton (the story uses the Professor Layton crossover as part of its canon) and they're your basic lovey-dovey couple...until Iris and Larry's wedding, when he catches Iris's garter and Pearl catches the bouquet, which according to tradition they'll be the next to get married. Naturally, Luke is stunned and hasn't been thinking about marriage, since he and Pearl are still teenagers. Pearl throws a hissy fit and runs away, and Mia's ghost appears, demanding to know Luke's intentions with Pearl. Because he didn't immediately swoon at the idea of marriage, the boy needs to be given a shovel talk rather than, say, Pearl needing a talking-to about not pressuring her teenage boyfriend into marriage so quickly.
    • Iris and Larry avoid this mainly by virtue of their romance being a side arc, plus they seem to behave more naturally than the main characters. When Iris is called a slut for liking Larry when she's supposedly dating Phoenix, it's easy to feel bad for her when she cries because it's hardly her fault Phoenix dragged her into some stupid ruse. Larry also shows sympathetic angst over his status as the known troublemaker and it's obvious he truly loves and cares for Iris, not pursuing a relationship with her because he doesn't want to be a homewrecker. When the two finally get married, it really feels like they earned that happy ending.
  • Played with in The Transformers fanfic Crossfire and Consequences. The plot is kicked off when a group of humans who have taken to watching Autobot/Decepticon battles up close get accidentally vaporized by a stray shot of Bluestreak's. Given that the story does lampshade how idiotic the vaporized humans were, it's unclear how sympathetic the author intended them to be, but some reviewers made clear that they had no sympathy for the vaporized humans, noting that they were literally Too Dumb to Live.
  • Rose Tyler in Through Trials and Tribulations. While there is ample reason to feel sorry for her, namely her mother being lost to her in another universe, there's also much reason to scorn her given that she seems to indulge in wangst and often goes out of her way to invoke Poor Communication Kills, refusing to tell the Doctor, her soulmate, about very important things, such as every cell in her body rewriting itself, simply because the plot demands it. After a while, she seems to be whining too much for anyone to really care about her.


  • In Unstoppable, main character Will Colson's wife has a restraining order against him keeping him from being able to see his son. The reason for the restraining order is because he suspected his wife was cheating on him, then gets upset when she won't submit to his spot check of her cell phone, grabs her violently, pulls a gun on a police officer and friend of his because he suspects he's sleeping with his wife, and she's not even cheating on him. Because he one of the heroes of the movie, we're meant to sympathize with him and want him to get back together with his wife, despite the fact that he could easily be the villain in a Lifetime Movie of the Week.
  • In the Christian propaganda film Rock: It's Your Decision, the main character is meant to come off as a good Christian trying to steer clear from the "sins" of rock and roll and save others from it, but instead he comes off as a closed-minded and bigoted Jerkass to anyone who doesn't share the same values and interpretations of Christianity as the protagonist (and even then in some cases, as many Christians have no difficulty reconciling their faith and an enjoyment of secular entertainment).
  • Belle from the 1991 version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast qualifies to a certain extent, at least in regards to the wolf incident. During the blame game, the story frames Belle as being in the right by not only having her blame Beast but also winning the argument, and indicates she was standing up for herself. However, this is ignoring the fact that Belle had earlier deliberately disobeyed the stipulation that she not enter the West Wing (with her reaction when learning what it was indicating she didn't have any innocent reasons for going in there in the first place), despite the fact that not only did Beast outright tell her not to go in there, but even the servants, who themselves disobeyed a direct order to not feed her during that time, insisted she not go up there. So it comes across less as her standing up for herself so much as not taking any responsibility for her faults or actions. It also doesn't help that her blunt statement on how Beast should learn to control his temper and her teaching him that among others may have also resulted in her indirectly endangering the Beast and his servants later on in the climax, or for that matter the fact that her even trying to leave the castle at all came very close to crossing the Moral Event Horizon due to her explicitly stating she was breaking her promise of not leaving the castle and essentially selling her dad down the river as a result.
    • In one sense, she also comes across as this a bit during the opening song. Although the story tries to frame it as her being shunned by the village for her bookworm status and not finding anyone to talk to, close analysis of the opening song shows that, barring Gaston obviously, none of the townspeople were treating Belle in a significantly cruel manner (even the baker only interrupted her because he clearly had to tend to the baguettes as part of his job), and have even implied a few times that they actually did want her to interact with them, and that if anything, Belle was the one who shunned them, with some choice lyrics implying that she shunned them largely because of their more provincial status (which comes across as even worse). It also doesn't help that, due to the film never directly indicating the circumstances behind her family moving to the town, or indicating any challenges to them simply moving out (especially when her being a bibliophile who is shown in the film to read all day and not do any apparent day-to-day work implies that she and her father have enough wealth to not even need to work), she just seems to complain without actually doing something about her troubles even when she and her dad could simply pack up and leave.[3] At least some viewers have even noted the utter hypocrisy of this situation in a message intended to not judge a book by its cover. This might explain why the 2017 live action remake made the villagers significantly nastier to Belle in the opening song as well as added in Maurice being unwilling to leave the village due to being bedridden as a result of his wife dying from the plague.
    • Ironically, Beast ends up entering this trope during the climax when the villagers were invading the castle when Beast refused to fight off the villagers, or even Gaston. It comes across as extremely problematic when his character growth was supposed to have him care for others, yet made no attempt at defending his turf or even his servants, the closest he has to friends besides Belle (and who would have very likely been killed by the villagers or Gaston himself), let alone himself, especially when Belle wasn't nearby. It also doesn't help that Beast's releasing Belle earlier basically resulted in the possibility of his servants potentially being cursed forever, even though unlike Beast, none of them had actually done anything to deserve the curse.
  • A more infamous case of this occurring was in the first Toy Story, specifically in the Black Friday reel. Although it's unclear whether the toys, or especially Woody, were intended to be sympathetic to begin with in the Black Friday version, it nonetheless had them being depicted, as John Lassetter and the other Pixar staff stated when covering its development and the Black Friday reel mentioned that the story that resulted from Jeffrey Katzenberg made the principle characters of the story, especially Woody, as being "the most unhappy, mean people" and were clearly embarrassed with the result. In particular, Woody not only deliberately attempts to murder Buzz by throwing him out of the window, but he also was clearly shown to have zero remorse for doing so and even verbally abusing his toys as well as overall being far more snide in his dialogue. This in fact was part of the reason why the film nearly got cancelled and Pixar nearly ended up shut down, with one of their first steps in redoing the film being to tone Woody back down to being how they originally envisioned him and making sure his actions are framed in such a way that the audience actually cares enough about Woody to try to tell him not to do his bad actions rather than dismissing him as an unsympathetic jerk (one notable change was Woody having Buzz fall out the window by accident).
  • The Apocalypseburg citizens in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, we are supposed to feel sorry for them when Armamageddon happens and they are all sucked into the black hole. However considering they blamed Emmet at the start for Lucy, Unikitty, Benny, Batman and Metalbeard to be kidnapped, ignore Emmet's Rousing Speech to go and rescue them and just cruelly slam the door in his face leaving him to do it all on his own and being the potential cause of Emmet failing and being stuck under the dryer for so long and losing hope and becoming Rex in one timeline. Instead of them actually deciding to make their own rescue mission that doesn't involve Emmet they just stay behind doing nothing and carrying on with their lives as if nothing has happened flat out abandoning the ones who got kidnapped why they were mad at Emmet in the first place. Makes you feel like the citizens really were not worth bothering saving and they kinda deserved it when they get swallowed up into the black hole.
  • There have been a lot of cases in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but Cap's retirement at the end of Avengers: Endgame is the big one. While the film frames it as Earn Your Happy Ending, to many fans it came off more as a rather selfish abandonment of all his friends and responsibilities, undoing his character arc of moving on, if not blatantly contradicting his Undying Loyalty to Bucky, while negating all of Peggy Carter's own Character Development for the sake of Steve's own happiness. As some fans and reviewers pointed out, both Thor and Tony also confronted lingering issues about their past over the course of the film, even speaking directly to the loved ones whom they had Parting Words Regret with, but moved on. Steve by contrast, decided to abandon everything after simply seeing Peggy again. And if one subscribes to the theory that Steve was Peggy's husband all along, rather than changing time, this means he willingly turned a blind eye to all the tragedies that befell his friends.
  • Obi-Wan and to a lesser extent Yoda come across as this a bit in Return of the Jedi thanks largely to the reveal that they knew all along that Vader was in fact Luke's father instead of his father's murderer, since Obi-Wan flat out lied to Luke, and when Luke confronts him on this, Obi-Wan justifies it by claiming it was true from a certain point of view, as well as implying that there were multiple truths rather than a single truth, and also indicated when Luke for understandable reasons was not willing to kill Vader now that he knew he was his father that the Emperor had already won, which indicated some degree of emotional manipulation, and even implied that Obi-Wan and Yoda actually DID want Vader killed, despite it being revealed later on that killing Vader would have if anything helped Palpatine's goal rather than harm it, and Yoda was shown to be at the very least complicit in the lie as well (and in a deleted scene even indicated that he made Obi-Wan not tell Luke). It also doesn't help that Obi-Wan's justification seems to be a precursor to a certain infamous line from him in Revenge of the Sith, as well as the Jedi's controversial depiction in the Prequel Trilogy as well.
  • Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel. He asks Clark to not use his powers out of fear that the government would hunt him. But to most fans, it came off more as Jonathan telling his son not to save people.


  • Bella from Twilight, whose helplessness, constant whining, frequent disdain for other people, and lack of any real problems cause many to regard her as an Anti-Sue. Ditto for her love, Edward, who is so smug and perfect that it's hard to care about any emotional issues.
    • The Cullens in general could count. They are held up as the epitome of generosity and goodness. Even so, they generally are cold and anti-social to anyone who isn't another vampire or Bella, they are hostile towards the werewolves even though some (for example, Alice) never even met the werewolves before, and they are perfectly fine with letting vampires that do drink human blood hang around the area. Apparently their desire to protect humans only counts as long as they themselves are killing, and so long as the human isn't Bella. Also, every one of them except for Carlisle has killed at least once in their past, and recollections of said murders are generally treated as embarrassing incidents that are swept aside.
  • Pedro from Like Water for Chocolate. He only marries Rosaura de la Garza to be close to her sister Josefita aka Tita (who's stuck as The Dutiful Daughter), heavily neglects Rosaura which furthers her increasing Jerkassery and ultimately destroys her and Tita's already shaky relationship, causes poor Tita quite the misery as well (and she doesn't forget to call him out on it), and years later bullies and pressures Tita when Nice Guy Dr. Brown shows interest in her. (Not to mention, he barely seems to acknowledge his and Rosaura's children unless it's needed for the plot.) So, Pedro is supposed to be Tita's One True Love and the right guy for her... why?
  • Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God is this to modern readers, who see her as flighty and fickle regarding her husbands, especially the first one whom she married expecting him to wait on her hand and foot. She also runs away from him when he mistreats her, but is fine with her second husband Tea-Cake hitting her.
  • Liv Walden in Danika Stone's All the Feels. We're supposed to feel bad for her because her favorite character died, her stern mother grounds her from fandom, and her best guy friend is dating a girl she hates. In reality, Liv is a Loony Fan who puts her entire life on hold to mourn the dead character to the point where she lets her grades drop, and the guy's girlfriend is actually a sweet person who just wants to be friends with her. On top of that, the actor who played her fave just wanted to move on from the role, so he's understandably pissed when her "he's alive" movement starts the production crew begging him to reprise it. But Liv runs off sobbing when he rightfully calls her out, and the actor is made to look like an asshole.

Live-Action TV

  • At the end of season two of Robin Hood, Guy of Gisborne stabbed Maid Marian to death, sending his Character Development and Redemption Arc back to square one. Season Three tried to turn him into a Heartbroken Badass, ignoring the fact that for a significant portion of the fanbase, he had already crossed the Moral Event Horizon when he stabbed Maid Marian to death and thus forfeited any right to the goodwill of the audience. Even the actor hated him.
    • On the same show, the death of Kate's brother did not carry the emotional weight it should have done thanks to Kate's refusal to utilize common sense in her repeated attempts to rescue him. The writers were going for "headstrong" and "impulsive" in their characterization of Kate -- unfortunately, all they really managed was "stupid." The ridiculous swinging between Wangst and trying to romance Robin didn't help her either.
      • And the cherry on top is the fact that Kate's brother was killed by Guy, resulting in a scene in which the audience has no reason to care about anyone involved.
      • And the cherry on top of that cherry is that depending on how you see it, Kate is at fault as well for the murder. he died because she got captured trying to get him out of the army and he died trying to save her. Some fans wonder if he might have survived had she just left him in the army.
  • Cirilo Rivera from Carrusel. His unrequited crush on Maria Joaquina sometimes bordered on obsession. He never stalked her -- let alone hurt her -- but he did not give up on her no matter how much she turned him down. And let's face it -- she was out of his league, which has NOTHING to do with their being of different races or even socioeconomic statuses; she, well, just didn't like him that way. But he would not stop, and kept showering her with gifts and attentions that she clearly didn't want and either upset her or creeped her out. Viewers were supposed to take Cirilo's side... but Maria Joaquina ended up being the one often favored by the audience instead, since in practice, nobody blamed her for not loving a kid that clingy (and borderline creepy) back.
  • In the old series All in The Family, viewers are supposed to see Archie as unlikable, as he's a bigot and a rude, loud, nasty person. This means that in the frequent arguments he has with his son-in-law Mike, you're supposed to side with Mike. Problem is, Mike was something of a jerk too, his left-wing Liberal views often just as extreme - and just as absurd - as Archie's right-wing Conservative views. Worse, it's made clear that Archie is just a product of the time he was raised in, while Mike uses his liberalism as a way to appear superior to others, including his own wife. Ironically, Mike's extreme leftist views ended up making Archie look Unintentionally Sympathetic to such an extent that viewers actually rooted for Archie by default, enough that Archie Bunker was immortalized at the Smithsonian.
  • Maya Hart in the Girl Meets World episode "Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels." The conflict is kicked off because Lucas called Maya short and Riley didn't stand up for her. Given that Maya regularly insults Lucas without any provocation, with Riley never standing up for him when Maya does so, you'd think she could handle one insult fired back at her. Not helping matters is everyone pointing out that Maya is short, and that Maya has never shown any angst about her height in the past so it seemed to come out of nowhere.
  • Jade West from Victorious. It's generally implied that she's jealous of Tori because the new girl has caused her to become Always Second Best. Given that Tori always helps Jade out of a truly petty series of problems that were Jade's own doing (such as salvaging Jade's toxic relationship and producing Jade's play) and all could have been avoided if Jade had any impulse control or common sense, it was somewhat hard to root for her.
    • "The Worst Couple" was a good example. Everyone is supposed to feel bad for Jade because Beck, her boyfriend of two-plus years, broke up with her but she acted like such a mega-bitch to everyone that the question was less "Why would Beck want to break up with her?" and more "Why hasn't Beck broken up with her?"
  • Doctor Who:
    • As part of the Hype Backlash that she accrued, much of what Rose Tyler did proved off-putting to newer viewers. In Series 1, she was an Entitled to Have You Hypocrite towards both the Ninth Doctor and Mickey (who was accused of murdering her when she missed a year and Rose never apologized for that). When she's trapped in another reality, where she has a now obscenely wealthy version of her father, all she's concerned with it returning to the Doctor, even working on a way to return before the Dalek threat rears its head. To many viewers, she came off as ungrateful, selfish and spoiled.
    • The Ninth Doctor to some. While he a Freudian Excuse, some viewers found him a wangsty It's All About Me Jerkass who insulted anyone who blinked funny.
    • The Tenth Doctor, Mr. Martyr Without a Cause, didn't come across too well in "The End of Time", reacting with open outrage that he had to perform a Heroic Sacrifice, something that none of his predecessors or successors did. The 2013 specials did do a bit to address this with the retcon that the Tenth Doctor was the Doctor's penultimate incarnation, explaining why he was reluctant to use up his final regeneration.
    • River Song in "The Wedding of River Song." In the name of saving the Doctor, she causes every point of time/space to collapse causing untold trillions to suffer in agony, yet River outright says that she'll suffer more than any of them if the Doctor dies. Her punishment? Get married to the Doctor and voluntarily be locked in a Cardboard Prison.
  • Jughead is often a recipient of this in Riverdale. He has good intentions but he's often overreacting to incidents that no one else considers important or championing for the cause of someone who doesn't want his help (the Southside Serpents were against his crusade to keep Southside High open and had to be convinced to aid him).

Newspaper Comics

Video Games

  • One of the biggest criticisms VideoGame/TheLastOfUsPartII faces is that, despite its numerous efforts to the contrary, Abby is stunningly unlikable and unsympathetic. While just about everybody understands why she would want to kill Joel, the fact that she actually goes through with it, the insanely vicious and sadistic manner she does it in, her lack of remorse and her overall mean & ruthless personality (including gleefully attempting to kill a pregnant women) destroys a lot of the sympathy the player may feel for her. It also really doesn't help that she basically gets away scot-free at the end, while her friends all suffer Ellie's wrath and Ellie herself ends the game with her life in ruins.

Western Animation

  • South Park parodies this numerous times. For instance, when Eric Cartman contracts HIV he constantly reminds people of it for sympathy, and any time something bad happens to Cartman, he attempts to milk sympathy and fails.

 Cartman: I'm not just sure: I'm HIV positive.

  • In X-Men: Evolution, Lance's romantic subplot with Kitty starts with him saving her life -- from an accident that he caused. He had also previously attempted to attack Kitty, and due to the nature of his powers, he tends to cause a lot of collateral damage (sometimes near schools populated by children who are never confirmed to have gotten out alive). To some people, all this makes it kind of hard to believe that Kitty would want him for a boyfriend. This also puts him in the somewhat unusual situation of being a common victim of both Ron the Death Eater AND Draco in Leather Pants.
    • A weird inversion actually happens because of this. The time Avalanche did attempt a Heel Face Turn, Scott doesn't buy it and proceeds to mistrust him. This is made out to be wrong of Scott, except, he is completely justified in mistrusting him: Lance was actually his biggest rival and had pulled crap on him and others before. While we (as the audience) knew that Lance was trying to do good things for Kitty's sake, Scott simply lacked such knowledge since Lance had given him reason to be antagonistic, and thus it's understandable to have him not trust Lance off the bat, and it would've been Out of Character otherwise.
  • Brian from Family Guy. The audience is obviously supposed to feel sorry for him since he's a Starving Artist living in a world of idiots, but he's so arrogant and prone to dropping anvils that he just comes off as a Jerkass.
    • Ironically, when Quagmire called him out on everything in one episode, he became unintentionally unsympathetic, as many found it hypocritical for Quagmire to be saying these things to Brian and felt he had no right to. That his hatred for Brain got flanderized since then, with Brian coming out more sympathetic in their encounters, hasn't helped.
    • Lois in the episode "And I'm Joyce Kinney." Lois befriends the titular news anchor and trusts her with her secret of having made a porn movie in college. Joyce promptly betrays her trust and announces said secret on the evening news, causing Lois to be ostracized by the town and humiliated to the point of tears. Poor Lois, right? Not really, for two reasons: One, this is post-Flanderization Lois, who treats her family and random strangers like shit just because she can. Two, back in high school, popular Lois played a humiliating prank on a chubby Joyce, and this was Joyce's revenge. It's hard to feel sorry for her when she hides crying in her room over the whole thing.
    • In the episode "Peter-assment", Peter's boss Angela starts sexually harassing him and eventually demands he sleep with her. She's initially portrayed as in the wrong for it, but when he rejects her, she tries to kill herself. He saves her, and then she begins to cry about how lonely she is since she hasn't been with anyone in ten years. It's supposed to make her behavior more understandable and sympathetic, but as Mr. Enter pointed out in his review, she's been trying to force herself on a married employee who clearly doesn't want her. Her weeping and wailing about how much her life sucks because she can't get laid doesn't change this.
  • A few of Ben 10‍'‍s villains happen to be this following their redemption. One example is Kevin 11. While the series reasons away why he became evil (partly because of his upbringing and partly because absorbing electricity makes Osmosians become psychopaths), he WAS willing to murder hundreds of people for money in his first appearance.
    • Another example is the Highbreed. While admittedly they were suffering from a terrible disease that was killing them, it was still rather baffling that their attempted extinction of every other race in the galaxy was forgotten about after Ben cured them and they turned good.
    • Ben himself got this in Ben 10: Omniverse. They tried to bring back his Idiot Hero qualities but took it too far to the point that Ben came across as a selfish thrill junkie.
  • Cree Lincoln from Codename: Kids Next Door fits this perfectly. While there are people who treat her like a Draco in Leather Pants, she's utterly loathed by the fanbase because of this. While is pretty clear she's a treacherous villain, we're supposed to sympathize with her because deep down loves her heroic little sister Abby/Numbuh 5 and wants to reconcile with her. Except she spends all the time treating her like CRAP, tries to kill her numerous times, and all her supposed Pet the Dog moments get destroyed by the next episode. If that wasn't enough, she wants to reconcile with her on her own terms, meaning coercing Abby into pulling a Face Heel Turn without any concern for her feelings whatsoever. And yet poor Abby still loves and cares about her, even when she repeatedly proves she doesn't deserve it.
  • Gravity Falls may have characters that are considered sympathetic but these are the ones that aren't, even though they're supposed to be:
    • Ford Pines, Stan's brother. For starters he was perfectly okay with his parents kicking Stan out when he was no younger than 17 all because of an honest mistake he made (In fact, he never seemed to realize that his emotionally abusive father only cared about his talents and successes to become rich more than anything and even seem to overlook this fact in favor of siding with them over his brother), and then had the audacity to only call Stan back into his life 10 years because he needed a favor and when Stanley objects, Ford proceeds to rub his failures in his face and doesn't seem to understand or care what Stanley had been through by his rants. This ended up getting him trapped in the portal from the ensuing fight in the process. After Stan had spent over thirty years trying to bring him back through the portal, risking arrest and death at several points, Ford greets him with a punch to the face. Yes, Ford ended up in the portal in the first place thanks to Stan's mistake; yes, Stan has been impersonating Ford and using his old lab as a tourist trap for the last thirty years; yes, he's ended up getting the unwanted attention of The Men in Black; and yes, it's soon revealed that by ignoring Ford's warnings and using the portal Stan has inadvertently given Bill Cipher a means to invade reality. All of this is understandable... except for the fact that none of this would have happened if Ford had been able to see past his self-imposed mission and realize that condescendingly treating Stan as a means of keeping one of the Journals safe was inevitably going to upset him. Ford's refusal to forgive or thank Stan and his declaration to evict him from his home at the end of the episode only soured first impressions further. His continued refusal to reconcile with Stan - combined with his short-sighted disregard for Mabel's feelings - was a sore point for many fans. Even in the end, after his condescending grammar correction for Stanley ended up angering the latter to the point that the ritual ended up failing and endangers the kids in the process, in what is supposed to be a Jerkass Realization moment for him and Stanley, he states how he is a fool for trusting Bill to get put in the position, not the fact that he treated Stanley like shit, which gives fans the impressions that he never really realized or refused to believe that he is in the wrong for being hostile to Stanley in the first place, particularly in the end when he is never shown thanking his brother for everything he had done nor did he apologized to Mabel for treating her like a burden, making him come off as someone who ended up getting Easily Forgiven by both his family and the narrative and ended up getting away scot-free for his actions.
    • "Roadside Attraction":
      • The girls who get mad at Dipper in the episode for "flirting" with a different girl at every new tourist trap are this. We're supposed to feel bad for them and know that Dipper is in the wrong for his unfaithful flirtations, but considering each girl only had one simple, non-romantic conversation with him, gave Dipper their numbers to keep in touch, and really had no expectations to ever see him again, the idea that they would assume they were now anything more than friends and get mad at Dipper for hanging out with other girls is absolutely ridiculous.
      • By domino effect, this causes Candy's more justifiable hurt to become unsympathetic, because Mabel, Candy, and Grenda's anger at Dipper is based entirely on the other girls' words rather than anything Dipper did wrong, but the situation is never addressed as, with Mabel even hissing "Betrayer" at him when he tries to apologize.
        • Candy's hurt is even less justified when considering that she became totally besotted with Dipper after he gave her a single offhand compliment, and all but forced him to go on a date with her, without bothering to find out if he really did share her feelings (Not to mention she failed to see how uncomfortable Dipper was with her advances).
    • Mabel Pines. She is supposed to be an All-Loving Hero who cares about everyone around her (especially her own brother), but her selfishness, her Ignored Epiphany towards any lessons learned and her constant taking advantage of Dipper caused many fans to question whether she is as kind as the narrative treats her. For example, in "Dipper and Mabel Vs. the Future", she starts out sympathetic as her summer vacation is coming to an end, she may never see her newfound friends again, and her brother may be staying in Gravity Falls, but she loses some sympathy when she storms out of the Mystery Shack after Dipper's harsh but well-grounded talk with her about summer ending rather than accept the direction her life is about to take. Any remaining sympathy is completely lost once she gives the rift to Bill, as she would rather start an apocalypse than mature out of her childishness. She never learn the error of her ways and ended up being just as selfish and insensitive as she was at the start of the series. In addition, Mabel's distress about seemingly losing her brother brings in a lot less sympathy since despite feeling concern about growing apart during "A Tale of Two Stans", Mabel throws away several opportunities to get closer to Dipper in the episodes "Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons" and "Roadside Attraction" by immediately rejecting his side of those episode's conflicts. This especially comes to a head in "Escape from Reality" where Mabel's role in triggering Weirdmageddon is never acknowledged, let alone addressed by Mabel or the other characters, and her actions in Mabeland (especially creating Dippy Fresh as a "more supportive" version of Dipper) aren't admirable, either. Many fans view the episode's resolution (Dipper agreeing not to apprentice with Ford) as another instance of Mabel getting what she wants at the expense of Dipper.
  • Lisa from The Simpsons can sometimes fall into this. While she's often very easy to sympathize with (being the Only Sane Man who suffers from Middle Child Syndrome), she can just as easily come across as a pretentious Honor Before Reason Hypocrite given that such morals generally apply only to things that don't benefit her. In "Lisa Gets an "A"" for example, she was willing to doom all of the school's funding so her conscience could be clear, despite how badly the school needed the basic assistance grant. On the other hand, the faculty immediately planned to cash the check and buy lots of booze with it at the end, so Lisa may have dodged a bullet.
    • Her treatment of Bart is also a sore point with some viewers. While no one will deny that Bart is a brat and that Lisa is right to be angry at his meaner jibes, there are several episodes where she takes it too far. A good example is "On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister." Bart was a jerk to her, sure, but given that she sadistically enforced a restraining order to the point of Bart needing medical attention along with Marge all but begging her to forgive her brother, it's hard to root for her.
  • The human kids in the Season 2 finale of Transformers Prime. While Ratchet wasn't blameless, there's the implication that everything is his fault, something that fanfic writers take him to town over. However, Jack outright said that the kids had been sitting there for over an hour before the Decepticons abducted them. They could have gotten a ride home from their families or called Ratchet earlier. Not helping things is how entitled they, Miko in particular, seem in assuming that the Autobots, who were at the time trying to revive Cybertron, are their chauffeurs.
  • Sam Manson in Danny Phantom. For all that she rants about no one respecting her individuality, she doesn't respect anyone else's individuality or privacy, demanding blind obedience to her views. She spied on Danny's date with Valerie out of jealousy only to be offended when he spied on her date with Gregor, out of a legitimate concern that Gregor was working for the Guys in White, and was pleased that Danny got his heartbroken. Even in "Phantom Planet", she's furious that Danny gave up his ghost powers for the sake of his friends and family and they're now stuck doing boring things (literally the same teenage activities they did during their downtime before and after Danny got his powers). It all seems to paint her as an Entitled to Have You Control Freak who loves Danny Phantom more than Danny Fenton.
  • Amethyst had a notable moment in the Steven Universe episode "Too Far." After she'd encouraged Peridot to mock everyone else about their deep and serious issues, she takes great offence at Peridot doing the same to her. The episode ends with Peridot apologizing, justifying it as her not knowing that wasn't how things worked on Earth, but Amethyst knew Peridot didn't know better and egged on her insulting, making her come across as a thin-skinned bully who can dish it out but can't take it.
    • When Steven allows himself to be taken back to Homeworld by Aquamarine and Topaz in order to stand trial and face execution for his mother's rebellion against the Diamonds, he returns to an angry, distant Connie. The audience is supposed to sympathize with her because Steven giving himself up caused his loved ones all kinds of mental anguish, and was selfish since it implied that he had no faith Connie's abilities to help fight Homeworld. However, Steven was in a lose-lose situation where a ton of his human friends were at the risk of being killed by the sociopathic Aquamarine, and she was legitimately too powerful to fight seeing as how her wand could stop a powerful fusion like Alexandrite dead in her tracks, raising serious doubts about whether Stevonnie could actually do anything to help. Giving himself up to Homeworld so they wouldn't kill his friends was the only thing he realistically could do, and Connie comes off as the selfish one for being so slow to forgive him.
    • In Steven Universe: Future, Steven's mental health takes a turn for the worst when childhood trauma from his adventures manifests as violent PTSD. While it's sad to see him suffer, plenty of fans were infuriated by his refusal to talk to his friends and family, and instead blaming them for his problems when they went out of their way to get him to tell them what was wrong. When his mental health deteriorates and he grows more and more destructive, some can't help but feel no sympathy for him and insist that he's bringing his anguish upon himself by refusing to accept that he's not okay.
  1. The abnormal fear of infection or contamination
  2. Shudo intended for Molly's mother to be hospitalized and either dead or otherwise permanently staying in the hospital, thus making her actions of summoning Entei and abducting Delia a bit more understandable
  3. Although prior Disney Princesses didn't exactly escape their troubles in their films, they at least possessed an in-story reason for not doing so. In particular, Snow White largely being oblivious to her stepmother trying to kill her, and even when she did flee when learning from the Huntsman that she was the target of an assassination, the queen still tracked her down; Cinderella, due to the setting of the film, would not have been legally able to leave her Stepmother's house without having even worse troubles ahead of her; Aurora was completely unaware of her cursed fate and thus had no way to escape from it; and Ariel had the obvious physical limitations of her mermaid form preventing her from simply living among humanity that way, not to mention that, besides Ursula, the only person capable of turning her into a human, King Triton, was explicitly shown to be xenophobic against Humanity. Belle ultimately did not have such reasons in the film either directly stated or otherwise strongly implied.