In the stories that I am writing, which are my loud house "Lomond" horror fanfics, there are lots of victims who are very bad/evil people, this makes me wonder this: do you believe that a person/character can deserve to be a victim?

  • Sure. You could start with Dexter. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dexter_(TV_series) Though I stopped watching with the episode where he "missed" and got the wrong person and his response was basically "Eh? What are you going to do?"
    – BillOnne
    Dec 19, 2022 at 5:09
  • I suspect that answers to this will depend entirely on the answerers religious background.
    – Chenmunka
    Dec 19, 2022 at 9:23
  • 4
    do you believe that a person/character can deserve to be a victim? isn't really a question about writing, is it? If you mean to ask something like Can the serial killer in my book justify their actions with the belief that their victims deserve to be killed horribly? well, ask that question. Dec 19, 2022 at 11:00
  • 1
    Your question generally has two answers: "Yes" and "No". It's opinion based, so both answers are as valid. Maybe you can edit the question to more closely mirror the concern you're having when writing these kinds of stories? Is it "will the story work this way" or "can it be done this way" or "how do I write a victim without [insert problem here]"?
    – Erk
    Dec 20, 2022 at 0:15
  • 2
    This is a morality question and not much of a writing question. Dec 20, 2022 at 3:12

2 Answers 2


In the eyes of the law, the answer is "No" as Murder is illegal. Lethal Self-Defense as a defense to Murder only works if you can prove the person was going to harm you, which doesn't make the deceased a victim.

From a storytelling standpoint, the "Asshole Victim" trope works for two reasons. First, it desensitizes the viewers to the often gruesome way the victim dies. It's especially prominent in slasher and horror films as it allows the villain to commit horrid acts, while not losing audience from the shock value (Sure the death was gruesome, but the guy was a domestic abuser, so he got what he deserved). It also has the second effect of hiding the killer if the killer is among the cast of the main named characters. If the victim is hated by everyone, than everyone has a reason to kill them and the mystery turns to who had means and opportunity.

In the classic example from the tv show Dallas, the season cliffhanger of Villain Protagonist JR Earwig getting shot became a huge event, as the show had established that everyone in the show had a reason to shoot JR. In the summer break, Vegas Odds makers made listing for 16 of the 17 characters on the show at the time (Surprisingly the one person not on the list was NOT JR... JR was the kind of person who would have stage the shooting to get sympathy from the rest. The 17th character actually had no motive at all. An additional 3 former characters that had left Dallas for a spin off show were ruled out because that show was set in California).

  • One notes that some murderers have gotten off the hook de facto because of the unsympathetic victim.
    – Mary
    Dec 20, 2022 at 2:31
  • @Mary Are you talking about trials where the accused was aquitted of murder? Do you have any examples?
    – hszmv
    Dec 20, 2022 at 13:19
  • Consider Ken McElroy. He was shot in broad daylight, before a crowd of dozens of people, and the only person who ever admitted to seeing anything was his widow. Several attempts to charge people in relation to it foundered because grand juries simply refused to indict anyone.
    – Mary
    Dec 21, 2022 at 0:00
  • Grand Juries are not juries at trial and typically only indict, which is to say, they determine if sufficient evidence exists to charge someone with a crime. Among lawyers, the saying goes that any prosecutor can "indict a ham sandwich" just to show how easy it is to meet the evidentiary burden to get an indictment. It's not an acquittal, as a trial never happened and double jeopardy does not attach, meaning that prosecutors can continue building a case and develop more evidence to bring the case before another Grand Jury.
    – hszmv
    Dec 21, 2022 at 14:31
  • @Mary ^See above, but what you are saying is not an acquittal by a trial jury. It was a failure to charge by a Grand Jury because of insufficient evidence.
    – hszmv
    Dec 21, 2022 at 14:33

Yes, of course a person can deserve to be a victim.

Many gangsters and serial killers and (IMO) even serial rapists and drug dealers that have gotten away with murder and destroying people's lives deserve to be victims.

In the end, the law can fail us. (I'm in the USA, but in any country, and it is much worse than the USA in some.)

Victims and witnesses are not believed, or due to lawyering only available to wealthy people, or corrupt judges or jurors or lawyers, or intimidated jurors, or suppressed evidence that absolutely proves their guilt but was obtained illegally, the criminals get off scot free, or they get found guilty and get a slap on the wrist when they deserve to be put to death.

I don't even have to resort to fiction for that, it happens in real life. I won't bring up reality here, but it is quite recent.

In fiction, we can make sure the average reader totally gets it, and agrees the perpetrator deserves to suffer and die, and even with that is getting off easy because of the sheer number of others he caused to suffer and die.

I've seen a number of fictional shows and movies where the audience cheers when the villain finally does suffer and die, because they got what they deserve.

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