Stories showcase heroic champions battling the forces of evil. The protagonist wins the day while the villains whimper off into corners, licking their wounds.
However, sometimes stories get it wrong. Occasionally, we follow the hero, rooting for them, cheering when they win, only to realize later that they were in the wrong.
The antagonists have a point in many stories, and our beloved heroes are actually the bad guy.
While scrolling through one of my favorite Reddit communities, R/askreddit, I stumbled upon a fun question asking users to share which “bad guys” were right.
The answers may have you rethinking some of your favorite stories!
Disney’s favorite Duck gets a bad reputation. He’s portrayed as grouchy and confused and never wants to have fun like everyone else.
For kids, he represents the mean old man who never lets anyone have any fun. However, when we become adults, we realize he’s right most of the time.
“Dude usually just wants to chill out without being bothered, and there’s always someone bothering him, and then he gets blamed for standing up for his own needs. The older I get, the more I empathize with Donald Duck,” commented one Redditor, receiving over 30,000 upvotes and the gold award.
Another pointed out that Donald’s cartoons were more popular because he was more relatable.
Now that I’m older, I get it.
Stuart in Mrs. Doubtfire
We only say Pierce Bronson’s character in Mrs. Doubtfire from Daniel Hillard’s (Robin Williams) perspective, making him look like a usurper out to steal Daniel’s family. The audience roots for Daniel, hoping he can become a great dad and get the family back together.
In reality, Stuart’s a stand-up guy.
“Pierce Brosnan was really nice and was a lonely middle-aged man who wanted a family, but Mrs. Doubtfire was so mean to him and even tried to kill him with pepper knowing he was allergic!” exclaimed one Redditor.
“He genuinely loved Miranda and the kids. He was excited for the chance to get to be a part of their family without pushing dad out. He deserved better!” said another.
Robin William’s lovability is the only thing that saved Mrs. Doubtfire from becoming a horror movie.
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The Giant in Jack & The BeanStalk
Mr. Giant is living his life in his gorgeous castle in the sky when one day, some kid sneaks in and robs him. And we’re supposed to root for the kid?
However, some users pointed out that the giant was a thief and kidnapper in the original story.
“The very first published print version of the story had an entire “flashback sequence” about the giant killing Jack’s father and stealing his stuff, and has Jack sent on his mission to get his stuff back by a fairy who meets him at the top of the beanstalk,” shared one user.
Another reminded the original commenter of the singing harp held captive in the giant’s castle. “But the giant was keeping a singing harp hostage, and she was held against her will. The giant was a kidnapper at the very least,” they said.
The Pirates in Peter Pan
In some fan theories, the pirates are lost boys who grow up.
“The pirates are just grown-up lost boys that he brought to never land. They just want to leave and return to their lives,” said one user.
Others claimed that no cannon story supports that theory. “This isn’t true. Why is this getting upvoted? It sounds like you are mixing up a retelling with the actual book. At no point does it say they were once lost boys,” argued another.
Regardless of the truth behind the lost boys’ theory, some users think Peter Pan is the real villain. “Also, if you read the book, he’s been kidnapping Wendy’s female ancestors for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. Every time the laundry and dirty dishes stack up too high, he goes to Earth and finds a Wendy to come clean up for him so he never, ever has to clean up for himself.”
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Tom, the cat in the beloved Tom & Jerry cartoons, has a bad reputation, but he’s not a bad guy.
“He was trying to rid of a mouse that frequently stole food and trashed the house. Tom was just doing his job as the cat of the house,” replied one user.
Another pointed out that the series wasn’t consistent. “At least in the original show, it depends entirely on the episode. Sometimes Tom is the good guy, sometimes Jerry is the good guy, sometimes they’re friends, sometimes they hate each other. You can’t generalize for the whole show because there’s not really any canon to it.”
Squidward isn’t shown as a bad guy, but he’s the antagonist who constantly gets in the way of Spongebob’s fun.
As kids, we roll our eyes at his grumpy attitude, but as adults, we can relate.
“Squidward is not necessarily a “bad guy,” but as an adult, you feel a lot more for him and how annoying Spongebob would be to have as a neighbor/coworker,” commented one user.
“Squidward isn’t a good guy, but he’s relatable,” added another. “I would never react the way he does, but I get where he’s coming from. Let’s be honest. SpongeBob is more than mildly annoying. Many of his antics caused property damage or bodily harm.”
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The Lady Who Sued McDonald’s Over Coffee
Sometimes, true stories get twisted more than fiction.
In 1992, a 79-year-old woman ordered coffee through the McDonald’s drive-through. She accidentally spilled it, and the coffee was so hot that she suffered third-degree burns in her pelvic region, resulting in an 8-day hospital stay.
The McDonald’s propaganda machine worked overtime to make her out to be the villain – coffee is supposed to be hot! She was careless!
However, in reality, McDonald’s knew their coffee was too hot. “Even state health authorities had previously told McD’s to turn their water down,” claimed one Redditor.
“Legal discovery also uncovered hundreds of complaints across the nation of people asking McDonald’s to turn the temp down and that the coffee was too hot. It was very clear that McDonald’s was well aware that they were serving dangerously hot coffee,” added another.
Most stories portray Medusa as a villain, forgetting she was a victim. In the Ovid myth, Medusa was a beautiful maiden, transformed into a hideous creature by the goddess Athena after being sexually assaulted by Poisedon.
She was banished to an isle and hunted by numerous “heroes.”
“Minding her own goddamn business, and dudes keep showing up to kill her,” sighed one user.
Others pointed out that Ovid changed the story. In early myth, she was a Gorgon, and her appearance was natural. However, she wasn’t really malicious in those tales either, although her curse of turning anyone who sees her into stone killed numerous people.
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In The One With The Cat, Phoebe finds a stray cat and becomes convinced it’s her reincarnated mother.
Most of her friends rally around her, supportive of her quirks. However, she’s actually the bad guy here.
“That weird episode of Friends where Phoebe is convinced her dead mother is reincarnated as a cat, so she tries to steal it from its owners, and Ross is presented as the bad guy for pointing out how ridiculous this is,” stated one user.
“Little girl misses her cat. Crazy lady thinks her mother is in a cat,” says an exasperated Ross, while the other friends are fine with Phoebe stealing a little girl’s cat if it makes her happy.
Ariel’s dad in The Little Mermaid was right.
“He was trying to wrangle in his 16-year-old who, as the youngest tend to do, had zero desire to listen to her dad. On that note, Ursula also understood how dumb Ariel was being for wanting to give up her voice for a dude, so she sang her an entire song about it & catfished the prince to show Ariel his true colors,” said one user.
Others pointed out that Ariel wouldn’t have run off if King Triton hadn’t destroyed her stuff, but acknowledged he was a single dad doing his best, and making a mistake doesn’t make him a bad guy.
“Yeah, he’s not a villain, he’s a single dad with anger issues trying to wrangle a particularly difficult teenage daughter alongside ruling an entire nation. Dude’s got a lot on his plate,” said another.
Villains Aren’t Always Wrong
Sometimes we root for a character because we only see their perspective. However, when we view the story as a whole, we realize that our favorite protagonists aren’t always right, and the villains aren’t always wrong.
The Reddit thread gives some great examples of villains who had a point, but there are plenty of others who may not be 100% correct but who we can sympathize with.
Compelling bad guys who have a point make for a truly interesting story!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.