People Share The Best Real Life Examples Of The Villain Defeating The Good Guy
Jon Tyson on Unsplash

In literature, the protagonist always coming out on top is almost a guarantee.


And while the outcome is what a good majority of causal readers expect and enjoy, a story in which the antagonist comes out as the ultimate conqueror can be a refreshing take on a plot twist.

In real life, however, a scenario in which evil trumps good is not a favored narrative.

Curious to hear examples of this, Redditor ActualWater1994 asked:

"When was there a time where the villain defeated the hero in real life?"

There are villains among us.

Stealing Credit

"Anytime someone stole someone else’s work/invention and the original creator never received fame or recognition for it. It unfortunately happens all the time."

– audreymarilynvivien

Arrogant Prodigy

"That one youtube comment for that piano tutorial video that said his piano playing sucks and he could play better. Tons of people tried to call him out of just being an a** in YouTube comments but he finally made a video of him playing the same song on piano and it was a masterpiece."

"I think Charlie did a video on it."

– ammonite89

Crafty Boss

"Me in my early career. Boss took credit for a bug that I found in IBM software that was derping our system. Lost that job shortly thereafter."

– siliconsmiley

History is rife with real-life villains.

Offing The Presidents

"When JFK and Abraham Lincoln got assassinated."

– FreneticAtol778

A Contradicting Historic Portrayal

"Thomas Edison basically man stole a lot."

– D-C-A

"Seriously, what was his deal? Like was it common practice in the past for people to steal patents like that? I can comprehend corporate espionage or sabotage, but the dude straight up sent goon squads to hurt people."

– DaemonDrayke

Consequences For Exposing Shady Business Dealings

"Daphne Anne Caruana Galizia. The journalist who broke the Panama Papers and got carbombed for it."

"Edit: As u/newbootgoofin99 pointed out, I misremembered the details here. The reporter who broke the Papers was actually named Bastian Obermayer; Galizia was killed instead for drawing connections between local corrupt government and the papers."

"The message is still clear, of course: speaking out against the rich and corrupt rarely leads to the justice you see in comic books. Far more often, those who seek justice get silenced."

– PsychicSPider95

"In a nutshell, they're a collection of documents--about 2 terabytes worth, iirc--that contain financial information regarding the world's richest people. They're proof that the elite of the world are hoarding their wealth in offshore accounts and being shady about their business dealings."

"The only thing that happened as a result of their publishing was that the journalist who did it was killed."

– PsychicSPider95

Resistance Leader

"Jean Moulin is a French man who was one of the head of the 'resistance' during WWII. He and his couterparts were denouced by a friend and caught by the Nazis. He was questioned and tortured daily by head of Gestapo Klaus Barbie. He tried to commit suicide multiple times until he died while being deported to Berlin. He never gave them a single information. He is our hero."

– Calodyn

Gruesome Discovery

"In the somewhat early 1800s a wealthy woman named Delphine LaLaurie (a slave owner) had her mansion burnt down. When firefighters arrived to the scene, they made a disturbing discovery. In her house where dozens of slaves who had undergone various grueling surgeries and mutilations. Some had their mouths sewn shut, others had undergone partially complete gender changes. All of them had suffered some form of abuse. When the public found out, many were outraged. However, Delphine fled to France and was never brought to justice."

– Hitman_2025

The Absolute Ruler Of The Congo Free State

"King Leopold getting away with brutalizing Congo."

– DubiousPeoplePleaser

"Yes its awful. I live in Belgium, and I disgust Leopold the second. Right now, statues of him are getting taken down/broken or vandalized by fellow Belgians. Im proud that some people have the balls to stand up against the royal family from back in the day."

– AdFront1172

The Movie Director

"When back in 2007 many celebrities signed to free Roman Polanski, who is proven to drug and rape a 13 yo girl."

"Polanski is still free and no one does nothing."

"You can wtach the list of evrryone who signed. You won't want to watch movies again. Most of the greatest actors, actresses, film makers, etc. are in the list, even those that we all thought where the less evil."

"People like Natlie Portman is there."

– STJ41

British Intervention

"The English burnt Joan of Arc at the stake, who was fighting for French Independence."

"The English also killed and mutilated William Wallace, who was fighting for Scottish Independence."

"The English basically were the villians in many countries' fight for independence and often times the English won."

– WorkLemming

Conceptually, Redditors talked about what makes a villain.

Observing Perspective

"Perspective is the key, we don’t often have black and white hero vs villain situations, typically you only get one side where the people controlling the message create the hero side."

"Not to mention that your idea of a villain might be someone else’s hero and vice versa."

– Destron5683

Ambiguity In Classification

"In real life, it's relatively rare that heroes are unambiguously heroes and villains are unambiguously villains: the heroes are the ones that you happen to be rooting for."

– wwplkyih

​The Reputation Of A Corporation

"Nestle sent thousands of shipments of formula to Africa that had to be mixed with milk when they could have sent one that used water and were responsible for the deaths of approximately 66,000 infants. I have seen basically 0 major news outlets actually cover this because they know nestle will royally f**k them over and they’ll never be heard from again if they do, or nestle has them in their back pocket. No matter what restrictions or regulations we have in place, major corporations will always find a way to exploit citizens and violate human rights illegally and get away with it Scott free every time."

"If you’d like to read more about the atrocities nestle has committed against countless people head on over to r/f'cknestle, they have a lot more information on why you should stop supporting nestle if you want their human rights violations to finally end."

– Necessary_Rich_1477

Turning A Blind Eye On Indiscretions

"Winston Churchill was a noted racist, misogynist, and imperialist. He was also an alcoholic and an a-hole. He made some fairly unconscionable choices (such as Coventry) in the pursuit of defeating the Nazis. But because he did defeat the Nazis, a lot of his less laudable traits get conveniently ignored."

– IrascibleOcelot

Propogandistic

"History is written by the winners..."

"Edit:all these people using the confederacy as proof I'm wrong may need to rethink what the real reason is..."

– DickieGreenleaf84

As a few Redditors pointed out in the thread, the distinction of who is the villain is not exactly black and white.

This is why it's such a fascinating conflict in literature.

Everyone is flawed. But it's a fine line as to whether or not the choices a character makes–as a result of being wronged by society–determine if they are worthy of praise or condemnation.

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