And the antagonist is the hero?
Richard III is sort of the canonical example. But I imagine a wikisearch for “anti-hero” will pull up a jillion examples
Dexter comes to mind. Great show.
The first season wasn’t so much this way…the protagonist was Dexter, and the antagonist was the Ice Truck Killer, and Dexter was definitely less evil than the antagonist.
The second season is much murkier. After a while, you realize that the only reason you don’t like Doakes is because he’s threatening Dexter, who you’ve come to like, but objectively, Doakes is a good cop and not a bad person. This becomes even more apparent in his later interactions with Dexter, you realize he’s NOT as violent as Dexter and indubitably has a lot more respect for human life, all human life, even dangerous criminals. It’s an interesting twist.
Okay, a silly example, but Bring It On, where the protagonist was the rich kid who led a squad that rose to power by stealing from the more talented disadvantaged minority kids.
In Patrick Suskind’s book (and the movie adaptation) “Perfume: The story of a murderer” Grenouille is the protagonist, while Laure’s father is the antagonist.
If Tony Montana isn’t a contemptible, arrogant, self absorbed, cold-blooded villain, I don’t know who is.
He destroys everyone who ever wasted their time loving him. His mother and his wife are spared because they distanced themselves from him. He’s taken down by a drug lord higher on the food chain, but I don’t think I’d call Sosa a hero. Sosa’s a family man, but he and other drug producers control the government of Bolivia while their product destroys (willing) victims in North America and Europe.
You could say the same thing about Boston George Jung in Blow. In fact, you could say the same about the protagonist in most drug movies.