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The guy everyone just loves to hate, seeing as that's the idea.

A Hate Sink is a character whose intended role in the story (the role the authors made for him/her) is to be so despicable that the audience wants him or her to fail just as much as they want the heroes to succeed.

However, this individual doesn't have to be the main villain of the story, or even a villain at all. Let's say we have a cast of perfectly likeable protagonists, reasonable and sympathetic villains, and Bob. Bob is not necessarily the main antagonist. He is not causing the struggle that the heroes must overcome, but he is making the heroes' lives more difficult. His list of character traits includes pettiness, selfishness, stubbornness, greed, holier-than-thou contempt, cowardice and an inexhaustible penchant for making bad decisions. He may also be rude and obnoxious, bigoted, sleazy and undeservedly smug. Basically, Bob exists to be hated. Everything he does and everything he says is designed to make the audience yearn for his death just a little bit more. If we see his eventual downfall — and we usually do — it is just as satisfying as the writers can possibly make it. A particularly pointed Karmic Death is always a nice touch, and can be quite satisfying to watch. On the other hand, if the audience is denied of that satisfaction, Bob may end up being hated much more than what was intended.

Examples of Hate Sink include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • The Diamond and Pearl part of the Pokémon anime shows the heroes' first significant losing streak, which is much of the real conflict. Enter Paul, the most ruthless rival Ash has ever met, who's borderline Social Darwinist with his training methods, and the only one Ash has never beaten, but Paul's importance in the overall story is nonexistent, not even as a driving force like the others have been.
  • Also present is Meowzie who coldly rejected Meowth simply because he was poor. And although she claimed to like humans, she dismissed him as a freak when he tried to become more like one. Karma condemns her when she's abandoned by her trainer and becomes just as poor as he was.

Fan FictionEdit

Film Edit

  • Titanic: Billy Zane's character, Cal. The audience can hate this guy. He is designed to be hated. He is the anti-Jack. He disparages the Picasso paintings; he verbally and physically abuses Rose; he tries to have Jack killed; is exposed to care more about money than Rose; and finally cowardly escapes on a lifeboat using a small child. Although he survives, he is deprived of Rose in the end, loses his money through bad investments and ultimately puts a pistol in his mouth and that is the audiences' consolation.
  • Independence Day: The Secretary of Defense, Mr. Nimzicki (a.k.a. Foily McAntagonist). The aliens are inscrutable, have cool ships and bring the Monumental Damage and massive carnage that is the reason you bought the ticket. This guy knows about the aliens ahead of time but stays silent to give the President "plausible deniability." He continually pushes the use of nukes that are ineffective. He cockily celebrates victory too soon only to immediately be proven wrong. Finally he is the only person to disagree with the final plan that ends up working. His comeuppance is being fired by President Whitmore in person.
  • Aliens: Paul Reiser's company guy, Carter Burke. The aliens are already scary, so the filmmakers are hedging their bets by offering Burke as the weaselly company guy that only cares about money and fame. He knows about the aliens ahead of time and sends the colonists to investigate. He disagrees with nuking the site from orbit. He tries to impregnate Newt and Ripley with alien embryos with a plan to sabotage and kill the other heroes. Finally he cowardly retreats behind a door locking the other heroes out, where he is deliciously killed by an alien.
    • In the novel, he was to be found attached to a wall when Ridley went on her rescue mission to save Newt. Begging for death, she hands him a grenade instead.
  • Die Hard: The reporter. The German terrorists/bank robbers have awesome accents and their leader is the perfect villain to love: intelligent, Wicked Cultured, and compassionate to the hostages, but swift and deadly toward the authorities and driven by greed. So who do you hate? The annoying reporter that ends up exposing who Holly McClane really is by threatening the McClane housekeeper with deportation and terrorizes their kids all for the sake of a story. Possibly the greatest comeuppance example: he is punched by Holly McClane at the end.
    • The coke-snorting yuppie asswipe who constantly badly flirts with Holly exposes John's identity to the terrorists, problably hoping to finally get her in the sack. He ends up getting shot in the head by the terrorists.
    • To a somewhat lesser degree, the two Agent Johnsons (no relation). The are rather disrespectful to Powell and the other police, unknowingly play into the robbers hands by cutting the power, and are perfectly fine with allowing some of the hostages to die if it means getting the villains.
    • The same reporter gets zapped with a stun gun by the same Holly McClane in Die Hard 2 after revealing on international TV that the airport has been hijacked, thereby causing a panic that the authorities were desperately trying to avoid. William Atherton seems to have made a career playing jerks we love to hate. Speaking of which...
  • Ghostbusters: Walter Peck, probably the quintessential Obstructive Bureaucrat. You can't hate ghosts or Gozer. But this pencil pusher is pissed that someone has the audacity to be as cool as the ghost busters. So he shuts their containment system down causing the climax of the movie.
    • Peck must be a complete Jerkass to avoid stirring up Fridge Logic. Peck's insistance the Ghostbusters follow environmental laws is hardly unreasonable, even if he is a jerk. Egon already Lampshaded the questionable legal status of their business with his line about "unlicensed nuclear accelerators."
      • Peck is simply a case of nearly succumbing to Death By Pragmatism. He doesn't believe in all this "ghost mumbo jumbo", and there's implications that he's one of the reason for the Ghostbusters losing all credibility between films. But still, when you've got the guy who invented this machine telling you the horrid consequences for turning it off, and an unbiased electrician telling you he's never seen the likes of it before, you have to be borderline Too Dumb to Live to go ahead and turn it off anyway. At the very least he should have simply gotten a court-ordered injunction to have them stop 'busting until third-party groups could look over the equipment.
  • Twister: Cary Elwes plays the corporate-backed scientist Jonas. You can't rage at the tornadoes, right? They're a force of nature, and they inspire awe in the heroes and give them purpose. But this guy "sold-out" and got corporate funding, making him a puppet of The Man (and why would a scientist ever want funding?). His team travel in four sinisterly identical black SUVs compared to our Ragtag Bunch of Misfits' ragtag assortment of vehicles, he's a hack that doesn't know the true science and just copies the heroes or relies too much on the instruments rather than the clairvoyant way that Helen Hunt just stares at the storm and knows which way it will go. Ultimately, his whole team is sucked into the storm when he arrogantly ignores the heroes' warnings.
  • Sean Parker from The Social Network. In a story full of Gray and Gray Morality, he's the closest character portrayed as an outright villain due to what a Jerkass he is.
  • Harvey Baylor in the laughably awful Planet of the Dinosaurs. The protagonists have all crash-landed on a far flung planet inhabited by prehistoric creatures, with no way to contact Earth and little hope of being rescued. Harvey proceeds to whine indiscriminately about how he's the Vice President of Spaceways Incorporated (and therefore their boss) and he can get them all fired, complains about having to do so much walking with no clear endpoint, and repeatedly sexually harasses his secretary. You can't hate the dinosaurs because they're dinosaurs (and barely put in any appearances in the movie anyway), and you can't hate the planet because it's a planet. But BOY can you hate Harvey Baylor! Thankfully he dies about halfway through the movie by being fatally gored by a Centrosaur and tossed off a cliff.
  • You can't hate the titular eldritch abominations from The Langoliers (especially since they're just a creepy noise closing in from over the horizon for most of the story), and there's no one to really blame for stranding the characters in the past. But there's Toomy. Hateful, spiteful, assholish, with Freudian excuses and issues stacked high, who annoys, irritates and backstabs. Yeah, you can hate Toomy. You can't not hate Toomy. He gets eaten by the title Clock Roaches near the end of the movie.
    • In a similar Stephen King example, in the live action production of The Mist, the monsters are terrifying but you can't completely hate them because they don't appear to be acting with true malice. They're just following their instincts to eat and reproduce. But boy, oh boy, can you ever hate Mrs. Carmody, the shrill, hateful Jesus freak who looks down her nose at anyone who isn't as "righteous" as she is and whipped the mob into a religious frenzy that almost resulted in the murder of the protagonist's young son.
    • Let's go for King story number 3: Percy Wetmore in The Green Mile. You can't hate the racism in the '30s that put John Coffey on Death Row; you can't hate the system for making sure he'll die in the electric chair; and you sure as hell can't hate Old Sparky itself. But you can definitely hate Percy, who uses the fact that he's the nephew of the governor's wife to duck authority at every turn...even after deliberately sabotaging the execution of a convict he particularly hates and having him literally fried alive. His comeuppance comes in the form of Mr. Coffey, who "uses him as a gun" to kill a more proper villain, William Wharton, then leaves him catatonic.
  • Carl Anhauser from 2012...is a subversion of this, surprisingly. While he acts like a dick for much of the movie and occasionally lashes out at people, he's still trying to keep as many people alive as possible, and the movie never really paints him as a completely bad person.
  • Jurassic Park: Donald Gennaro, the lawyer. Specifically because of how different his character is in the book from the movie. In the book he is actually fairly competent and brave, not the useless, spineless one-dimensional character in the movie, illustrating the screenplay writers needed someone the audience to focus some hate on, because you can't hate the heroes or the dinosaurs right? He's the only person to not see any problem with cloning dinosaurs, shows his stupidity on the tour by asking if the live people are autoerotic (perhaps confusing the word animatronic?), and then abandons the children during the scene with the T-Rex. His comeuppance of getting eaten sitting on the toilet is masterful.
    • Ironically, the novel version of John Hammond fills the role very nicely; he's an arrogant, rich bastard used to getting his own way, whose refusal to listen to criticism ends up getting numerous people killed. His comeuppance is falling prey to the dinosaurs himself at the very end, after it seems as though they're safe. In the movie he's upgraded to a nice old man who loves his grandkids and whose only fault is naive overconfidence.
  • Resident Evil Afterlife: Kim Koates plays the annoying Bennett, a movie producer trapped in an L.A. prison with a few other survivors. His character is the classic hatesink - utterly one dimensional and can be lifted right out of the story. He is rude, selfish, and disagrees with every other main character on decisions. When things start to go wrong he shoots a fellow survivor and then escapes in a small plane leaving the rest behind. Then in the climax he does the bidding of the main evil character so that he is saved. But he gets his just deserts when the heroes kill the main villain and leave him to be eaten by some unseen horror.
  • Oogie-Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas, arguably. It's Jack and the other Halloween Town citizens who actually cause most of the problems in the movie, despite being well-meaning. Oogie-Boogie serves as a contrast by being actually malicious. Sort of like Blue and Black Morality / Even Creepy Has Standards.
  • Unstoppable: You can't hate a runaway train, but you can hate Obstructive Bureaucrat Galvin. His comeuppance is that he loses his job afterwards.

Literature Edit

  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen novel Deadhouse Gates the Chain of Dogs (a massive host of refugees marching across the continent) is constantly being attacked by enemy armies, but our viewpoint character for these sections of the story never gets more than a few glimpses of the enemy leaders. Without a face or personality to put to them, it's hard to dislike the armies of the Apocalypse on a personal level. Instead we're invited to vent our loathing upon a group of whiny nobles within the Chain of Dogs, who protest the Canon Sue's actions at every turn, are openly cruel to their servants, and get a lot of their fellow refugees killed through incompetence.
  • Harry Potter gives us Dolores Umbridge. In a book in which the Big Bad Voldemort is laying low, she takes the stage as the main face of opposition, and is still the character most hated by many fans. While Voldemort was never seen as the slightest bit sympathetic, he is so cartoonishly evil that he's hard to take seriously on an adult level, and so singleminded (and subsequently flawed) in his purposes that he's more like a force of nature than a person. Umbridge, on the other hand, is a good demonstration of what you get when you take a bigoted, hypocritical shrew and give her authority, and is so plausibly cruel in the course of her travesties of justice that readers find their blood seething with her every word and deed.
  • Since there's no real villain in Flight 116 Is Down by Caroline B. Cooney, the audience gets to focus their hatred on Darienne, a selfish passenger who ends up being completely unharmed in the crash. Heidi and Patrick work hard to save the passengers of the crashed plane while Darienne stands around doing nothing but complaining and being useless, yet she tries to take credit for saving people at the end. Even Patrick loses his cool when Darienne gets too much to handle.

Live Action Television Edit

  • Persons Unknown: We don't know who's behind the kidnappings of our main cast, but Bill Blackham, played by Sean O'Bryan, seems to be a repository for all the negative reactions one could have to being kidnapped and placed in a ghost town. Everything he does is selfish or irrational, especially his forcing Janet's gas mask away from her (which backfires), trying to rape Tori, and blackmailing Charlie when he finds out about Charlie's possible Mercy Kill / serial killing of his wife.

Theater Edit

  • Inspector Javert is the main villain of Les Misérables, but while he does make life miserable for Valjean, Javert honestly believes that he's the good guy and he's just trying to do his job and arrest what he believes to be a dangerous criminal; when Javert realizes that Valjean is really a good person through and through, it turns his world upside down. So who can the audience hate? The Thenardiers, the cowardly comic relieft thieves who abuse Cosette, loot bodies during the Revolution, and try to attack Valjean's house, which leads to Cosette being sent away to protect her.

Video Games Edit

  • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, the evil Team Rocket organization only turns up three times and hardly drive the plot, and end up hardly detestable as a result. However, the story features many encounters with your rude, thieving, Pokemon-abusing, borderline-sociopathic rival, who is much easier to hate.
    • Until he finally undergoes Character Development, that is.
    • Your rival in Red/Blue might count. He's not evil in any sense, but hes a rude, annoying braggart, always one upping you and WILL make you want to beat his face in
  • Final Fantasy X. As it's rather hard to develop much hatred for a giant, emotionless crustacean regardless of how many people it kills (and even harder to keep coming up with excuses to wind up in the ocean having boss fights with it), Seymour keeps popping up in the plot to provide a speaking villain for the party to fight on land instead of Sin. While he does have his own motivations and does get somewhat tied into the plot with Sin, his personal impact on the story itself is quite minimal overall aside from providing ever more complex boss fights after you kill him and he just keeps creating ever more elaborate boss forms for himself.
  • Volgin of Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater. His first action is blowing up his allies with a nuclear bomb, for the hell of it. However, despite being (relatively speaking) the Big Bad of the game, he's not the main antagonist - the game is much more interested in the relationship between Naked Snake and The Boss. Volgin simply serves as 1) A Homage and Affectionate Parody of James Bond villains; 2) a Foil to The Boss; and 3) a form of catharsis before The Reveal.

Western Animation Edit

  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic loves this character type. They include Prince Blueblood, Spoiled Rich (and her daughter Diamond Tiara), and Svengallop.
  • The Wild Thornberries Movie: Since the actual villains aren't revealed until moderately late in the movie, the movie includes a character by the name of Sarah Wellington, Eliza's obnoxious roommate who makes it clear that she is not fond of Eliza who thinks that she'll bring animals into her room and becomes jealous when Eliza befriends her friends, wanting to have them all to herself. Though she DOES eventually assist in allowing Eliza and Darwin escape, this is partly due to pragmatism, since she would once again have the room all for herself.