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Who is Spider-Man? He's a criminal, that's who he is! A vigilante! A public menace!
~ J. Jonah Jameson condemning Spider-Man as a villain (again)
Who gets stuck with all the bad luck? No one... (Donald quacks angrily) but Donald Duck! (Donald Duck: Yeah!)
~ The last few lines to No One But Donald Duck.

Scapegoats are heroes who are being subjected to upsetting situations. These heroes are often wrongfully mistreated and accused of being evil or somehow in the wrong even though they are trying to act in a benevolent manner. Often times heroes are turned into scapegoats by a villain or antagonist so as to get them out of the way of their goals. However, these characters are submitted to other circumstances that can be harsh, unfair, or even downright cruel, and because of this it could cause them to become a villain. They can be:

  • The Butt Monkey: Heroes who are constantly on the receiving end of jokes, such as being awfully abused/humiliated in an unusual or slapstick manner, such as Daffy Duck, Tom the Cat or Scrat from the Ice Age film franchise.
  • The Cosmic Plaything: Heroes that have a terrible life that rarely improves or gets even worse such as Guts, Ragna the Bloodedge and Squidward Tentacles.
  • The Love Martyr: Heroes who stay with their loved one in spite of their major personality flaws. A good example would be Mikiya Kokutou, who continues to stay with Shiki Ryougi even after she attempted to kill him, albeit with deep remorse on her part.
  • The Hurt Immortal: Characters who are killed and constantly revived just to be killed all over again such as Kenny McCormickRory Williams, and many Happy Tree Friends heroes.
  • The Hero with Bad Publicity: Heroes who are viewed with contempt by the public in spite of all the good deeds they do, usually due to someone smearing their reputation. Good examples include Mr. Incredible and Ren Amamiya. Saitama and Shiroe count as well, except they smear their reputations on purpose.
  • The Rudolph: Heroes who are viewed with contempt or fear by everyone around them just for being different, such as Inuyasha and Shrek.
  • The Designated Victim: Heroes who are constantly targeted or kidnapped by the villains. Good examples include Princess Peach and Daphne Blake.
  • The Disaster Inventor: Scientists who create and use inventions to benefit themselves or others, but their creations usually backfire, causing unintended consequences: Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory and Jimmy Neutron are good examples of this.
  • The Abel: Heroes who are forced to fight and, in some cases, kill a sibling. Good examples include Starfire, Luke Cage and Saya Otonashi.
  • The Disposable Pawn: Pawns that are unjustly mistreated or killed by their cruel leader/master or other villains for their disobedience or once they have outlived their usefulness: Quasimodo by Judge Claude Frollo (in the Disney version), Zuko by Fire Lord Ozai, Vegeta by Frieza or Scorpion (from the Mortal Kombat series) by Quan Chi.
  • The Woobie: Tragic heroes that from traumatic experiences that could cause them to fall in Despair Event Horizon as it caused the audience to feel pity for them: Asura had a horrible premonition about the death of his wife, Durga, and the kidnapping of his daughter, which led to his dark path for vengeance.
  • The Tykebomb: Heroes who were raised for combat from a very early age and so had no chance to live a normal life. Often, these heroes worked for villains before defecting to the good side. It usually takes another hero to bring out the good in them. Good examples include River Song, Shana and Sousuke Sagara.
  • The Unfavourite: Heroes who, for some completely unfair and often ridiculous reason, are regarded as a disgrace by their family, to the point that they might even get disowned by them. Peter Petrelli, Kazuma Yagami and Ikki Kurogane fit this perfectly.
  • The Remorseful Git: Former jerks who wanted to apologise to their loved one(s) for getting angry with them, only for the latter to die before they could. Example: Homer Simpson refused to love his mother ever again because she has been faking her death too much to hide from the government. Feeling bad for what he has done, he goes downstairs to apologise, but she has already died.
  • The Possessed/Brainwashed: Possessed/Brainwashed heroes who had to be killed in the end to save others as it is sometimes too difficult or even impossible to snap out of their influences. Old Yeller was bitten by a rabid wolf and Travis had to shoot him in the end.

Deceased characters almost always can go under this category as well.