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Anti-villains (also spelled Anti villains) are the opposites of anti-heroes. They are the characters who are not necessarily good or heroic, but have a number of things about them that make them very different from the traditional villains of fiction and folklore. For instance, Anti-villains can be friendly, respectful, honorable, and even occasionally heroic and noble in nature, but will nevertheless play the role of the villain or antagonist in certain conditions, whether it be for victory, being a winner, or seeing their heroic rivals defeated. Sometimes, they may simply be a villain with gentlemanly qualities, a code of honor or some sense of justice. Anti-villains will occasionally side with their rivals (usually the protagonist) if a greater threat than themselves comes or it is in both of their best interests. Oftentimes, if they do join the protagonists, they are distrusted. These characters are also often considered "grey" characters due to their moral ambiguity. It is possible to be both an anti-villain and anti-hero at the same time, depending on the character's goal and their methods of attaining it.

In essence, these are characters that although technically villains often serve in a noble capacity, which makes them sporadically heroic. They also can be the center of "Grey Zone" depending on their alignment. Alternatively, characters that are meant to be seen as villains in-universe or out, but are not really all that evil (such a "designated villain" or a "punch-clock villain").

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