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why do we root for the bad guy (Scarface and many others)

Updated on May 27, 2014

The bad guy (Scarface)

Rooting for the bad guy on TV or in Movies

Do you ever notice that bad guys or villains are often our favorite characters. this goes for adults and children, in TV and in the movies. There is something about a villain that is truly appreciative. Is it the fact they are willing to do what us good people are not. Or is it that we feel a bond to them because we feel there is a part of them within us. Villains in some ways stay disliked, when you think about Lex Luther (Superman), the Green Goblin (Spiderman), or Two Face (Batman), there is no hope for the success of evil. Yet, when we watch a villain like Scarface move his way through the ranks through murdering people we love it. Did anyone want to see Scarface die in the end. No we wanted him to kill everyone who broke into the house. Its strange but we wanted him to continue to evolve into the top drug dealer. Even though what he was distributing kills people we wanted him to make it. His speech about the bad guy was incredible and on point with this article. He really lets people feel his hatred for being considered the bad guy and how someone has to be the bad guy. He basically says everyone is the bad guy you just pick the worst guy or someone with morals similar to other and choose the bad guy based off of that. Every cruel thing and immoral thing the average person does looks for ways out of it. This way they say that someone else made them do it like the devil (Lucifer's Question http://joedolphin88.hubpages.com/hub/Lucifers-Question)

Say goodnight to the bad guy

Is it the redeemable qualities

I think one thing Scarface had was the redeemable quality. He spoke of honor, his bond is his word, and no killing wife and kids. The humane side of him keeps us all thinking this is the hero of the story he's really not a bad guy. Similarly, Carlito from Carlitos Way is an ex drug dealer but he has many redeemable qualities. The entire time he tries to go legit but he tries to make that little extra illegal money for his girlfriend and unborn child. He ends up being too kind and letting a new kid on the block live, who kills him at the end of the movie. We all wanted him to get on that train and live.

Benny Blanco shoots Carlito

Majin Vageta

Even in television shows kids root for the bad guy

When I was a child there was a show called Dragon Ball Z. The main character was Goku and his son Gohan. They were both extremely kind and good. There power in a sense stemmed from there kind spirit. They were of an alien race called saiyins. Living on earth they defend and do things in the name of justice and peace. In this show however, the first super bad guy (not Raditz) to come to earth is a saiyin named Vageta. He comes with his Sidekick Nappa to recruit Goku for domination of the universe. Vageta was Prince of the saiyins. Now vageta through out the enitre series becomes a main character. he eventually turn good but always has evil in his heart. Through out the Television series he murders the innocent destroys planets with living inhabitants he feels weak. He is purely ruthless and evil. He'll use anything and anyone to win and will kill his ally's if he feels they are disregarding orders. He is murderous and wishes to fulfill his selfish desires. He is fueled through his desire to defeat anyone who stand in his way and revenge. This was my favorite character in the show and many other. In this case not everyone rooted for him but myself like many did root for his success. There was something to admire in his evil ways. Again it was that redeemable quality of the means to some of his evil. Revenge can be understood and the willingness to act on it is something we can only do through a television character.

Vageta kills Zarbon

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    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 4 years ago

      Great thought into why we root for the bad guys. There is something to be said for redemption. Al Pacino is an amazing actor and really brings depth to the villains so that they are not pure evil but complex characters with humanity.

      As a kid I usually love the bad because they were cooler. Luke Skywalker was a cry baby and Darth Vader was this huge armored giant. He-Man was just a buffed blond guy, while Trap Jaw had all those cool hands. GI Joe had regular army vehicles and Cobra used these science fiction vehicles.

    • joedolphin88 profile image
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      Joe 4 years ago from north miami FL

      Not huge in star wars but I've always chosen Vader over Luke. He's just sick and awesome anti-hero. Al Pacino always makes the bad guy intense and layered. You have great points on the childhood cartoons too.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I always root for the bad guy and the under dog in sports. No idea why, but it's cool when they win!! I was sad when Al Pacino died in Scarface. Some times the movie just gets it wrong.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      Bad guys are often rooted for when you see hope in them that they can become better. As for Vageta, I'm not an Anime fan, but I know they are popular because the stories become rather complex (I've been told). I still have to wrap my head around the vicarious revenge part, however.

    • joedolphin88 profile image
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      Joe 3 years ago from north miami FL

      It just feels like we get involved in there development more then the stereotypical good guy, they just have deeper issues and flaws and they take a hold of us. Thank sunshine and grand old for your opinions and insight in to this topic

    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 2 years ago from United States

      We root for the bad guys because the good guys don't need it. The bad guys often present a glimmer of light in the beginning like they might, just might, throw down the gauntlet and follow the good road until the end of the movie (book) and you see they'll always be bad to the bone. It was nice to root for them up till that point, hoping against hope that they might reform, but knowing deep down that they never will. If the author doesn't give us someone to root for along the way, there is no sense in viewing (reading) the story.

    • joedolphin88 profile image
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      Joe 2 years ago from north miami FL

      Very good points but even when the good guy is bad and we know he's bad there just a pull to root for him. He offers a side that maybe deep down inside we all wish we could portray from time to time.

    • joedolphin88 profile image
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      Joe 2 years ago from north miami FL

      thanks for the comment rachael

    • amandajoyshapiro profile image

      amandajoyshapiro 2 years ago

      Totally agree with you that we sometimes like watching the villain more than the hero. The villain always needs to fight for something too, even if it's for selfish reasons. There is no hero without an antagonist just as there is no compassion without suffering. But what really draws our attention to them are things they are allowed to say and do (especially sarcasm) that a hero can't. Your using Scarface is a perfect example!

    • joedolphin88 profile image
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      Joe 2 years ago from north miami FL

      Thank you Amanda, yes Scarface is kind of the perfect example for this sort of thing and everyone knows the role. You're absolutely right on the sarcasm and yes the boundaries they cross really makes them more appealing.

    • profile image

      MissCapri 2 years ago

      Hmm, Well, I actually love it when the good guys really come back at the bad guys with a ton of attitude. And I find it hilarious when the bad guys fail and get really forked off about it. also, without them, there wouldn't be a story. I preferred everyone else in Star Wars over Darth, that breathing mask of his - ugh. He sounds like a walking life support machine, and his "Listen to me, I'm really scary" voice failed to frighten me.

      There are a few things I like about villains which aren't terribly bad, because they are pretty normal human frailties, but in figures like The Green Goblin, they can run unchecked enough to make interesting problems for the rest of the cast, and it's funny how they get in trouble for it all later. After all, haven't we all been less than angelic in our thoughts and actions, only to get in trouble for it later at some point in our lives?

    • joedolphin88 profile image
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      Joe 2 years ago from north miami FL

      Thank you for the comment Miss Capri and yes sometimes you get attitude but sometimes the hero just comes back with a cheesy act. They need to really expand upon the attitude sometimes and the villain or anti-hero usually has much wittier dialogue.

    • profile image

      MissCapri 2 years ago

      Oh, that reminds me - I used to co-write stories with someone, and not only were her ideas very often just disturbing, what really drove me up the wall was that her evil characters had all the attitude, and her *cough* good/decent/etc. characters were absolute whips, with or without the power to fight back.

      I think one of the chewiest things I've heard of, actually came from a villain. It wasn't something she said, but what she did that was just "Oh, seriously!?" shake-head-worthy.

      Not sure if you're familiar with Law And Order Criminal Intent, but the main detective, Robert Goren, had this enemy, Nicole Wallace. *Scowl* First, I thought the whole business of the both of them playing off the other's bad childhoods stunk. I mean, come on, people, come up with something more original, everything doesn't have to come from that, and it doesn't excuse Nicole anyway, she was just a cold-blooded cuss who was born that way. Bad to the bone.

      Then there was this stupid sickening crush she had on Goren. Yeah, she was a pathetic power-tripping, overgrown fangirl, and she wanted Goren under her thumb. Nothing would've pleased her more than to conquer him, especially in a seductive sense. She would have been overjoyed if he had left the police force to join her in a life of crime, and then she would have cheerfully bumped him off when he was no longer useful to her, or she just got bored with him. And she was the sort who, if it had gone that way, she would've said some infernally gloat-tastic thing in his ear before snuffing him out.

      She was a recurring character, for a few episodes. What, seriously? I wanted her permanently gone after the first episode, but the harper kept coming back periodically, being her usual obnoxious cocky self, getting away with it all, and when she finally did kick the bucket, here's where the cheesiness comes in. She willed, and had her heart, literally, sent to Goren after her death. *Rolling eyes* Oh, brother! At least, that's how I remember it, the episodes with her were so convoluted.

    • joedolphin88 profile image
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      Joe 2 years ago from north miami FL

      I don't have a lot of knowledge on Law and Order other then watching it a few times but I can grasp what you are trying to say definitely. Cheesiness is always there.

    • profile image

      MissCapri 2 years ago

      And it's not hard to find in a character one despises. *Grin*

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